Monthly Archives: June 2009

And, speaking of mechanisms

To offset my severe irritation at not being at Glastonbury right now, and to mark the fact that it’s exactly one month until the album comes out, I offer you a new episode of fOwl! This one is more documentary than game show or theatre, and will give you an insight into the creation of my most ambitious song to date, The Irritating Maze:

Many, many thanks to everyone in this video, and also to people like Alex Jackson, Lizzie Parle and John Jones, who you don’t see in the video but who are just as integral to the song as anyone you do. I hope when you all hear it in a month you’ll agree that it was worth the pain and suffering…


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All the Mechanisms

I’ve paid a bit of attention to my oft-neglected Last.fm page, adding an artist description (no shame) and the whole of Campfire Songs. I’ve removed the demo that used to be there, but To Infinitives Split will replace it when it comes out in a month.

For those of you who don’t know, Last.fm is an internet radio station which constructs playlists of music it thinks you might like, based on what you’ve listened to previously. It’s quite sophisticated these days, and there’s now an at least theoretical chance that total strangers could start listening to FaceOmeter tunes and liking them.

They haven’t, of course – Last.fm provides even better testimony than myspace to the fact that FaceOmeter remains hilariously unlistened to. That’s fine – if I was after money, respect and babes, I’d have gone to law school – but if I’m not in it for the adulation, it’s reasonable asking why I spend so much time setting up these professional looking web services you’d normally associate with bands who have fans in the low billions.

I’m not sure I have any good answers. It makes me feel like I’m doing music work without putting pressure on me to write anything, which is nice. It gives me a warm feeling of professional satisfaction, albeit a completely unjustifiable one. It satisfies the more anal wings of my nerd personality (brilliant sentence right there). And I think it is important for low-yield bands to get together on sites like Last.fm as well as the big hitters – it’s pretty easy to do so, it’s free, and even if you only get two or three new fans, or find two or three new bands yourself, it’s worth the effort. I have several real-life friends who I first met because of myspace, and that’s worth thinking about.

If I’m honest though, none of these are the main reasons I devote so much energy to getting Facebook fans and such. I think mostly it’s a consequence of blind hope – if, one day, that elusive ‘breakthrough’ happens, then all the mechanisms to make the most of it will be in place. I don’t need that day to come, but I’d hate to miss it if it did. Who knows.

Check out Last.fm if you haven’t already.


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Good news, everyone

So ‘A Strange Visitor’ and ‘Californian Styled #2’ came back from Mastering Jones today. They’re both sounding hot and have given me renewed hope for the finished album, which will be with us shortly.

There’s a staggering amount of organising still to do but I’m even more irritatingly chipper than ever about the impending joy, which can only mean that something is about to go horribly wrong. I suspect that whatever it is, it may be linked to the fact that I’m playing as Casnewydd again. He’s in the background here, watching dumbfounded:

The world has changed since I left it in 2006 – you can get motorbikes now. And druids have a non-reagent based resurrection spell. Fuck.


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Faster than my eye can see

For the sake of my future recalling skills rather than because I expect it to interest you, here are some true facts about the last week, starting on the 16th of June:

Tuesday – Shit baguettes. Napping with the shipping forecast. Show at Gardener’s Arms involves on-stage capers with vegetarian green curry. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing music – thanks to everyone involved.
Wednesday – Reactivating a certain account, for a game which may or may not be called W____ Of W_______. Not actually playing said game because it takes 7 hours to install.
Thursday – Britten vs. Tchaikovsky at Symphony Hall. TCHAIKOVSKY WINS!!!
Friday – Configuring interface mods. Taxing the Cannon Hill Park/Balti Cottage Combo Move (380 damage, 10% chance to crit). Total madman who likes my shoes entirely fails to ruin it.
Saturday – Somewhat ridiculously, in Oxford long enough to buy New Scientist and dive into the covered market; in London long enough to notice that bread and butter costs

Still, at least they reduced hearthstone cooldown to 30 minutes LOL

So there we all were in the pub, and there wasn’t any beer. Only mushrooms. And ice cold milk. And then to top it all off, Jay pointedly sat a seat away from the rest of us. We made a glum party.

Yes, yes, I’m back. And it’s on.


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When it’s time to Alton, I will always Alton hard

Slumbering away the other day (Monday), I dids’t dream a dream. “Lo”, swam before my eyes the argument. “What would it be like if you went to Alton Towers with key members of the Mountain Parade about twelve hours after coming back from Greece?”

So vivid was my dream that I can even now recount it with approximate timestamps:

08h53 Mark and Roxy arrive at Birmingham New Street, where I fail to meet them because I’m buying some wine gums which, thinking about it, I still haven’t eaten.
08h54 I meet them.
09h00 Leaving Birmingham on THE MIGHTY ASTON EXPRESSWAY, THROUGH BRILLIANT SPAGHETTI JUNCTION, WHICH IS THE BEST
09h06 Mark having called shotgun at an alarming volume, it is up to us to listen to the Neverhood soundtrack and discuss various videogames whilst Roxanne skulks in the back.
10h15 After only a couple of false turns, the almighty Peug is ushered in to Alton Towers, which turns out to be OFFICIALLY SPONSORED BY PEUGEOT OH MY GOD
10h25 Queuing to get the monorail (!) in to the park proper, I choose this moment to reveal that I don’t actually like rollercoasters. At all.
10h30 Roxy applies factor 50 suncream. We realise we left the umbrellas in the car, but we won’t need them, right
10h35 Jaunty audio commentary for our monorail ride is provided by a real live bee. Seriously.
10h45 Queuing to buy entrance tickets to the park. Ah, queueing.
10h50 Mark and I discuss Slipknot while Roxy finds a bin.
11h00 To disconcertingly epic music, we enter. The other two are already planning numerous trips on rides with names like ‘The Deathinator’ and ‘Seriously’. “Oh, there are Congo River Rapids”, I exclaim, hands aflutter.
11h10 Brilliant Cablecar to somewhere with a name like ‘The Dear Lord Zone’. “There are lots of lovely parks here as well, for the mums and stuff”, says Roxy. “Oooh”, I say. “SCREW THAT”, cries Mark. I paraphrase.
11h15
Queueing for the ‘Air’ rollercoaster. I figure I have to do one of these things. And apparently this just makes you feel like you’re flying. I like flying. I assume.
11h30 …yeah. I mean, hmm. Yeah. Well. It’s done now. My main memory of this one will probably be Mark’s insane, loud, and heartwrenchingly earnest laughter, which was constant.
11h40 The others decide it’s time for ‘Ripsaw’. This is a ride in which you are thrown around jets of water by an apparently insane machine. Before I tell you how totally I didn’t go on it, I think I need to illustrate exactly how much fun the other two were having at this point:

12h00 I totally didn’t go on Ripsaw. It is promised that I can be involved in the next ride, ‘Duel’. A ghost train in which you shoot the ghosts with quasar guns? This can’t be bad.
12h30 It is bad. It’s terrible. I don’t want to talk about it.
12h33 It is decided that lunch is required, but-
12h35 Our road takes us past the Congo River Rapids. “Yes, let’s!”, I cry.
12h50 Roxy gets totally drenched and has to use my jumper as a towel, and Mark is thrown around by the boat so much that he bruises his leg. I am mysteriously unscathed, but still smarting from how bad Duel was. The sun goes in, there’s no good food anywhere in sight, and everyone becomes completely miserable suddenly.

01h00 Roxy looks like she’s about to cry. Horrible muzak is playing at unreasonable levels from small speakers everywhere around us. As if to emphasise his miserability, Mark eats a hot dog – just the sausage, not the bun. This will become important later. Meanwhile, some ducklings eat discarded burger king fries.
01h25 The Sea Life Centre (oh that’s right, there’s a Sea Life Centre) sorts us the fuck out. We see rays being fed, and an octopus, and a shrimp cleans my fingers, which I personally did not see coming. This was clearly the best bit of the day, and all I can say is FUTURE DAY TRIP TO THE BIRMINGHAM ONE ANYBODY?!
02h00 A pleasant walk through some lovely park lands. “Lovely”, I say. Everyone looks at me funny. “Oh, we’re nearly at the Peugeot Driving School! I have to go!”, I say. Everyone looks at me funny.
02h15 The Peugeot Driving School is for very small children. “But I’m glad I saw it!”, I cry, doing what I suspect may be a caper.
02h16 I am arrested for indecently assaulting pizza ingredients. AHAHA BUT SERIOUSLY
02h30 We go on a slightly patronising chair swing. Roxy and I discuss the two types of twee as a plummy woman on a PA tells us how magical her mushroom kingdom is.
02h45 We go in to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. We aren’t expecting much.
03h15 Oh gee, you know, that was actually quite good.
03h30 The others apparently having decided that the day is beginning to lack what might be called chest hair, we enter ‘The X Sector’. A sign at the entrance says ‘you will never be the same after you enter’.
03h31 I don’t feel any different. But maybe that’s because I wouldn’t be fucking stupid enough to go on these insane rides.
03h32 The nearest one is called ‘Oblivion’ – you basically go downwards totally vertically, really fast. That’s all that happens. Roxy and Mark leap off towards it like thirsty gazelles. I dutifully hold the bag, read the map, call my insurance people, and so on.
03h45 We leave the X Sector. Why was there a KFC in it?
04h00 Queueing for ‘The Spinball Whizzer’. Well, Roxy and Mark are. I’m too tall to be allowed on this rollercoaster. And that’s the only reason I’m not queueing with them, of course. Naturally I really quite wanted to go on this ride, the concept of which is that your car rotates on its own axis as it goes around the track. I was all engines go, seriously. I was up for it. Oh yes. But cruel fate has intervened once again.
04h07 I pass some time by really pissing off an Alton employee (paying for a cup of tea with loads of coppers)
04h10 Whilst Roxy and Mark are about halfway down the queue, the ride breaks. People are like stuck on it and things. The jaunty apologetic technical difficulties tannoy announcement is pre-recorded by an actor. I love Britain.
04h15 Roxy phones me from the queue. “Since this ride is clearly unreliable and it’s now raining, we’re doing the safe thing and coming to join you”, she says. No, I’m kidding. What she actually says is “loads of people are leaving this queue because the ride’s broken, so we’re going to stay in it until we get
on!”
04h30 They get on.
04h40 In the now torrential rain, we go on ‘The Beasty’. Now THIS is what I call a rollercoaster – no twists and only a few corners, child-sized seats, most exciting feature: a short tunnel made out of fabric stretched over a metal frame. We get TWO laps on it because of the incredible old man operating the machinery.
05h00 We shelter from the rain at the shop, in which Mark spends

SAILING! Good man

I’m back from the fringes of society again, everyone. Soon will come posts galore, but in the meantime the weather is beautiful here in the old country, and alton towers beckons, after a brisk nap. Photos from the beyond and album information are sidling up apace…


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Success… sort of

The album is with the Mastering Jones! So we’re actually on target for once! Plans for the release show continue apace! Artwork is on route, although I’m not showing it to you yet! All is very brilliant! Talk soon! FaceOmeter out


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Brilliant

Someone remind me to make a one-act play about the incidents in Radcliffe Square last night.

For those who weren’t there, but who were at Catweazle, I say this: my favourite one ever, and not just because I was pissed. Fantastic show from everyone!

For those who weren’t in either location, you have my extreme sympathy.

Oxford residents can catch FaceOmeter at the Gardener’s Arms on the 16th of June, which will be the last live appearance (barring the possibility of a whimsical open mic) ahead of the album release on July 28th (more on that tomorrow).

The only other fO news is that Max had excellent T-Shirt ideas which I think we may transform into a grim reality. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has any size or colour requests rofl


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