Monthly Archives: October 2008

Filling in the Blanks

First track from the forthcoming Vibe, Drill and “It” EP:

When we first met, there was this blank page in my head
And words and pictures formed on it with every word you said
And every move you made just slightly shifted every sign
Till they eventually cemented, but these things take time

Most pages don’t get finished, and it’s odd to think that yours
Was once so like those others, now discarded or ignored
And odder yet that whilst the words took sharper, clearer form
A piece of paper in your head was also being born

And galaxies of subjectivity all got arranged,
Faces that we placed amidst the archives of our brains
And set out to discover more about what was going on behind…

Now exploration’s risky, and I’ll tell you that for sure
There’s danger for explorers and much more for the explored
But it seems we’ve been encumbered with this cartographic curse
The urge to find each other out, for better or worse

So blankness turns to maps beneath the aegis of perception
Places that we laced with all our subtle preconception
We’re all drawing up the charts in the hopes that our hearts can collide.

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London It

You find me in the capital again, dear friends, and it’s my pleasure to share with you the gleanings of the Eurogamer Expo 2008, the least nerdy videogames gathering I have so far experienced. Games going mainstream is all well and good, but what’s the point if I can’t every once in a while find loads of exceedingly special ultra-dorks wearing faded SNES t-shirts and talking about multithreading?

Anyway it doesn’t matter because there were some sick-up games on display including a couple of surprises, and here are the FACEOMETER CHOICE O’TH’ CROP CHOICES OO-ARR:

Jumpgate Evolution (PC) – EVE with the accessibility of Freelancer, this MMO looks like it will do exactly what it promised to and make space fun as well as enormous and ridiculous. The arcade factor has blended expertly with sections that are clearly a direct rip-off from every other space game ever, but assuming it gets the community to support it (I shed a single tear for The Ship, yet again) this will be a favourite of next year for me.

Mirror’s Edge (Everything) – This game doesn’t sound like much on paper – a ridiculous free-running sim – but having played it and even just watched other playing it I can tell you there’s something captivating about it. Especially when more levels are up and the time trial factor takes full effect I can imagine this being a really satisfying light choice for the end of your busy day. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Left for Dead (Everything) (Yes, I choose to spell it correctly) – There shouldn’t be too many surprises here because it’s Valve and we know they like to make incredibly good FPS titles incredibly well. I’d be nervous about their move to survival horror multiplayer if it wasn’t simply the logical extension of two of their previous endeavours, Team Fortress 2 and the Ravenholme level of Half-Life 2. I had to play this on a 360 and I’m reliably informed the PC version will be even more thrilling (no more splitscreen, for a start), so though I’m usually less into zombies than John “Zombie” Parkes, I decree this to be worth speculation, especially as it’s out in like ten minutes.

Crash Commando (PS3) – This was running on one screen off to the side and no-one was paying much attention to it, but if it finishes as good as it looks at the moment it’s almost a system-seller for me. I hate that it’s a PS3 exclusive – it looks and feels just perfect. It’s a standard platformy deathmatch thing with a jetpack aspect and, I suspect, a heck of a lot of subtlety which will make the online gaming indescribable. The right analog stick is game-breakingly sensitive at the moment but if they fix it this will become the second of two current reasons to head back to Sony (the first being whatever Team ICO is up to, naturally. Oh and littlebigplanet looks fun!).

And that’s my list! Nintendo phoned things in again and Fallout 3 looks okay but you didn’t need me to tell you that. There are some shit racing games which I’ve forgotten the name of, FIFA looks good if you’re into that sort of thing, I have no time for Gears of War 2, Street Fighter 4 makes me uneasy, and they wouldn’t let us play Dawn of War 2 so that can piss off (in fact the PC was horrendously under-represented).

What’s all this “…of War” stuff right now? GEARS OF DAWN

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Dreaming Spires

There’ll be an episode of fOwl at some point, but who knows when, right? So with that in mind, je presente

“I’m Having Trouble Letting Go”
A Return to Oxford
(divided by the changing of one day into another)
this month of October
written by
M. Gme Tattersdill, The Face Ometer
with the assistance of
Mers. Skipinder Doe & Maximum Jones
and featuring

PART THE FIRST (23rd October)
4:40pm The Peug, Brian Davidson, Kilmer and I arrive in Oxford.
4:47 The Dapper Swindler emerges triumphant from the Oxford Tube.
4:52 Dithering on whether the Peug’s current parking spot is legal.
4:53 Upon sighting traffic wardens, Peug moved hastily.
5:05 Walking deftly into dear Coco’s. Two teas. Max discovers Assam. I piss it.
5:45 We embark for Noke to experience the Blighty.
6:05 At the secret special Noke place, the Jones runs into the middle of a field and experiences the autumnal blast. I should mention at this point that the weather is really brutal grey, fading now to dusk, orange leaves blustering everywhere. Driving down on the M40 the Peug was noticeably harder to handle under the onslaught.
6:15 As the sky fades to black we play a cramped-up version of ‘Five Figs Down’ for the Peug Cam (forthcoming).
6:30 Extremely weird field-running-jumping acousitc gogol bordello/the coral/terry taylor jam, culminating in an expansive “THANKS NOKE, GOODNIGHT” from me.
6:50 Thanks Noke. Goodnight.
7:00 Re-entering Oxford town.
7:05 Parking it in the Tesco.
7:10 We compare phone games in the brickworks. My new thing has quite a good game actually, which is just as well considering its shit battery life. Me to Max: “Your phone is doing a rollercoaster” Max: “That’s fine”
7:15 Max nearly has a fag moment with the barmaiden, but phone calamaties prevent the scheme.
7:35 Into Tescos to pick up supplies for the night ahead. Queues are so huge that I immediately get in one whilst the Jones goes on a scouting mission. This takes a seriously long time – I have to go to the back of the queue again, he was only supposed to grab some reebs damn him.
7:45 Frenzied negotiations with the automatic Tescos checkout machine. We have to be in the zone by 8!
8:00 We’re in the zone. Skip already there, disguising day’s work with enormous friendly jumper.
8:10 Lovely people start arriving. Some of the remember us from before, we have some nice chats. Some of my former colleagues join the fray. I do a Bonus Combo +300.
8:30 Catweazle. Fabulous as ever. Skip flexes some new stuff, Max and I play ‘A Strange Visitor’ and ‘Five Figs Down’. The highlight of the entire evening for me was definitely when Max opened a can of beer during somebody else’s ultra-quiet intense acoustic song and it fizzed up in his face really brutally.
11:00 The post cat chat. Everyone super-lovely. Some very nice Swedish girls buy my CD (at last!). Properties to Matt, orchestrator of the Weazle.
11:07 Skipper takes his leave. All too brief was his stay, but we’ll be back.
11:10 Max and I still bonusing hard (multi combos throughout the night have got us both into nine figures); Liz’s hospitatlity offer therefore rejected (she has work in the morning alas); Max decides not to tube it back until the morrow; we decide to walk the Oxford with our brand spanking new friends, named and shamed here for all eternity – Lucie, Sophie, and Matt.
12:00am Several organisatory trips to the Peug and decision factor readjusts (plan didn’t emerge quite as inorganically as above entry suggests). Sophie’s house makes me miss my undergraduate life.

PART THE SECOND (24th October)
12:30 Walking it. Astonishingly rapid chip van service nets us all a portion of the fried ones with the money gleaned from that evening’s CD sales. Pui bene.
12:45 Book vent off. Disappointment and scepticism all round.
1:00 Walking the Oxford awesome. 10,000 extra bonus points for all concerned.
1:15 Saluting the English library. William Golding recommended.
1:30 Attempt to visit Pater forestalled by tramps.
2:00 Back at the Peug for a quick reconfigure and meter top-up. Sleeping bags out and Sophie’s spare bed set as objective. What lovely people.
3:00 Massive really ace tea and chat vibes.
Unknown Sleepover-atmos infects the attempt-sleep of the fO/DS team. Miscellaneous banter (actual sense) until goodness knows when.
Seconds Later Waking up. The Jones even harder to stir than usual.
10:00 Stepping out after tactically getting under Sophie’s feet a few more times as she tries to prepare a day of ecoawareness seminars. Sophie’s parting shot to me: “Ummmm yeah move back here”. Me: “Yeah”
10:10 After another glorious Peug reconfigure (it’s really getting comfy in the Tesco carpark) we set out for the covered market, meandering via G&Ds for takeaway teas. We walk agonisingly slowly due to painfully low sleep levels and the need for the Tea to slop but not slosh.
10:30 Walking the covered market. Brilliant.
11:00 By roundabout means, we reach Brown’s. Brutal breakfasts ordered. Lisa joins us as they arrive and wisely elects not to have one. We tuck in.
11:00:01 We regret tucking in
11:00:02 But I love it
11:00:03 This breakfast is the perfect metaphor for my wider Oxford experience.
11:30 After being updated on the inner workings of the English Faculty, we hit Ben’s cookies. Genius, although serving-girl slightly less unbelievably lovely than usual.
11:40 For the whole of the above I’ve been mentioning to Max that I really want to bump into somebody awesome who I’m not expecting to bump into and who I know slightly, but not well. Exactly this now happens. 8,000,000 bonus points and unlock of the secret level, known only as the “next level”.
12:00pm Blackwells. I manage to resist purchase (cookery book shopping always cheaper
after brutal fryup). Max declares intention to depart. I have to be back at 1 for Liz so we motor along.
12:10 I keep forgetting to mention the weather: whereas yesterday was brutal blighty at its most majestically subdued, today is clear blue skies and unlimited visibility – winter-cold-fresh-crisp with the summery edge adding the hue to the autumn leaves. In short, perfect.
12:30 “Leaves” also describes what Max now does. I trek it back to Bodley.
1:00 I meet Liz and her colleague for lunch in an effort to atone for yesterday’s spurning. She seems to have taken it well, though she does conspire to make me spill ribena all over myself. We confess that we occasionally read each other’s blogs. Hi, Liz.
2:00 Having seen Liz back to the RSL I teeter on the verge of walking to Summertown but remember the car’s time is ticking so I stroll it back yet again to move the thing.
2:40 Battling with the ridiculous parking zones of North Oxford. Joy eventually found in the vicinity of Wolfson.
2:45 Picking up a viola from the shop.
3:00 I have an hour till I meet Lisa and Andrea; the walk from here is only 20 minutes. I guess I’ll just lie back for a second and-
3:47 Ah, yes. Whoops.
3:48 Gogol Bordello are good for increasing average walking speed, but I’m still clearly going to be late.
4:10 Rad Cam a perfect picture in this weather. Awesomes from the team.
4:20 Grabbing drinks; hitting christchurch meadows.
4:30 Doing a leg dangle on the river while the sun wanes. Indescribable beauty – the kind so england-clich

Inevitable, perhaps

If I had just spent double the repair costs on my last computer breakage in May and bought a completely new tower, it would have stuffed up my thesis – but hey, I did a pretty good job of that on my own anyway, and it’s not like I would have failed outright – and my dear old faithful tower would not have been able to blow its final gasket at around 7pm this evening.

It’s a funny story actually, because I was just in the middle of reinstalling windows in the hopes that I could make the thing last me another year. I had everything backed up as a result – so don’t worry everyone! – but it has a few important repercussions for FaceOmeter, because there’s no way I’m spending money on my ol’ single-core again and I can’t afford a new one either.

The album of course is indefinitely delayed, but few of you won’t already have been expecting that. I had two new fOwls and a fOld I was planning to spring on you in the next three weeks, but they’re all on hold too. Also the music video for Five Figs Down, which I was halfway through editing.

Of course, the flipside of all this is that without a PC I won’t be so easily distracted from the meticulous ivory tower which I inhabit whenever I’m not firing a salvo of nukes at Parkes, and I’m working on writing some pretty badass tunes which I plan to unveil at some live shows (the next time I can be arsed to book some live shows) in the very near future.

Doing stuff sems to be getting harder. Your continued interest is encouraging. A year ago I was reading Cornelia Sorabji, and I bet I’m the first person in a while to get emo about that one.

PS. The Hectic Eclectic are still coming to Oxford tomorrow, unless they all puss out. Be there!
PPS. FaceOmeter Industrie would like to extend the royal bosom towards the omnipresent Parkes and Jay Southwood for their technical assistance during this difficult time.
PPPS. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is actually not bad.

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An excellent soundtrack

I recently saw Juno for the first time (there are some light spoilers in the following), which is funny because I also recently discovered The Quietus (thanks Jim) and not very long before the sweet sound of Kimya wafted out of the television set I had been reading their diatribe against Los Campesinos!, in which Steven Wells subtly suggested that the band should be locked in guantanamo bay in the first stage of his brilliantly-titled ‘The War Against Twee (TWAT)’.

Now I like Los Campesinos!, and not just because I know someone who knows one of them and I once taught Gareth, the singer, how to toggle map modes in Mario Kart DS. They are, I suspect, an acquired taste, and I think a recent review (The Times’ perhaps, I can’t remember) which said that listening to an album felt like eating a whole bag of haribo was right on the money. I don’t think the author of that comparison wanted you to think that there are times when a whole bag of haribo is exactly what you need, but there are, and I recommend certainly the first LC! album wholeheartedly, because the day may come when you’ll need it.

The haribo comparison isn’t useless with Juno, either. The film is painted in an panoply of exciting colours, among which move characters whose dialogue is constructed with the same lurid enthusiasm – vaguely shocking, quite pretty upon occasion, with hints of the American Pastoral working away quietly in the background. At this point I should disclaim hastily that I didn’t dislike Juno at all – after all, it has CJ in it, and nothing with CJ in it can be bad. I laughed in all the right places and felt suitably warm when the inevitable ending took place, but then – this, I think, is the part the film’s creators didn’t plan for – then I went home. And now, 72 hours later, there remains within me a quiet uneasiness about the film which I’ve been trying to pin down without much success. It’s always dangerous to watch films that you’ve been told you’ll love, of course, and I’m sure there’s a level on which this is the inevitable reaction against that. But there’s something else going on, too, and I’m pretty sure it’s related to the fact that Juno sells itself, more or less, as a little bit off-the-beaten. Steven Wells has a question for music in his article which applies here: “Was twee ever genuinely radical?”, he asks.

Wookit da colours

Some of you know that I spent the last few months getting myself a master’s degree at some university or other, and whilst I was there the most excellent Peter McDonald gave a seminar on ‘high’ and ‘low’ literature to which he brought along a copy of some recently-bestselling supermarket bodice-ripper of the kind which no-one in the room would have looked at twice. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the author’s name, but McDonald told us that she had once disclosed to him the secret of her art

Something different

Another musical project with which I am involved, The ABBA Confusion, has gone online today. There’s just a little intro video at the moment:

I’m not going to blog about The ABBA Confusion here because it’s going to have its own blog run by the project’s mastermind, Ollie Pyper. But I thought I’d give you all a nudge to go and check the video out. I’ll throw the blog address your way when it comes out as well!

It’s great to be working with Ollie again, and on something so fresh. I hope fervently that we don’t die.

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Yes, yes. Suffice it to say that as you all know by now the Jones and I have been absent on a tour of Spain and Portugal with Ora Cogan:

…and that she has almost entirely recentred herself after the spiritual horror of 10 days in our exclusive company. A full report on the situation is coming, as are a new fOld, about 3 episodes of fOwl, and a music video (our first) of a brand new song! All this requires time I don’t currently have, but I expect to start shovelling these treats into your eager little face by next week, so stay tuned!

Also, if you dwell in Oxford, the Hectic Eclectic are planning to crash Catweazle next Thursday, the 23rd. You should pop down if you can because it’s a great evening and loads of HE bands will be assembled, including FaceOmeter…

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The Return… again

Well once again Birmingham has me in its thrall. Obviously you can expect a full report on the unfolding of IDIET in due course, but in the meantime please enjoy this short film:

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