Monday, 27 July 2009

The Magnificent 20 - a dance-rock acoustic adventure!

Behold, as promised, I present to you THE MAGNIFICENT 20 - a dance-rock remix of The Clash's "Magnificent Seven" with all sounds made by acoustic guitar.

Hear it now on the myspace page here:

This has been a little project of mine for a few weeks. As I say, all sounds are made by acoustic guitar (with the obvious exception of vocals) - "instruments" you can hear include:

-Bass drum
-Snare drum
-Cymbals (really, really crap ones, but still)

It's more an exercise in crafting and sound engineering than actual musicianship, but still, these days it's much more about getting somewhere rather than how you get there, which I definitely approve of.

The track is a "remix" of the Clash's white-hip-hop-punk track "The Magnificent Seven", which is a reference to both the 1960 western film and the G7 (as it was at the time), with lyrics & rhymes covering modern consumerism and the drudgery of 9-5 work. While the recorded version is undeniably cool, the live version is an absolute belter.
Anyway, the title "The Magnificent 20" is, as you can probably guess, updating the name to reference the G20.

Two things to note:
-It's just one in a forthcoming series of dance-rock tracks made from acoustic guitar sounds, which will be released under my new alter ego "Acoustic Warrior" because they're just simply so different from my normal stuff
-I'm not making this a free download, there will be an EP and/or an album!!!

Hope you all like it, cheers

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Promises promises...

...or "lies lies lies" as you may refer to them. Yes, I know I have been making lots of claims on the creative front lately, switching ideas with perhaps a lack of focus. Here's a quick lowdown:

Short story collecion
Okay, this hasn't quite got off the ground yet. But the concept is brilliant so you'll definitely be seeing it later this year, with two or three going up free on the website. Also I have a (separate) short story almost ready to go up, hopefully this will be posted very soon but maybe not quite that soon.

Youtube album
I was getting down to this when I was directed to some free recording software that I can record actual demos with - so this has obviously taken a back seat. However, I've got such a wonderful random mishmash of covers on youtube that I'd love to put up a collection of my own songs. Expect this some time after the first demo album comes out.

Song about dinosaurs
I promised you good people a song about dinosaurs, then did one about lighthouses. Lighthouses don't look like dinosaurs, even if you squint really hard, unless there's some as-yet undiscovered tall and stripey dinosaur that likes fishing a lot. Unfortunately this song won't be going on the debut album - I'm saving it for when I know my way around the recording software and when I'm using proper drum/bass/guitar sounds. You'll just have to come and see me play live if you want to hear it.

There's some others as well but I can't recall. Anyway, here's something to get excited about. I've been taking the idea of just using my acoustic guitar, and pushed it in a rather crazy direction - dance music! So coming up is an acoustic-dance-rock-techno track complete with drums, hihats and (very dodgy-sounding) cymbals. Plus crazy synth/space sounds. Oh the joys!

I have a horrible feeling it's more fun for me than the final result will be for any of you, but keep your eyes peeled.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Morning sun. Run.

Hello to you and you and you and you

It's 8:20am, it's winter, and the sun is just peeking out across Wellington. I am going for a run.

I bid you all good morning!

Friday, 17 July 2009


After the panic and shenanigans of that recent blog, I today walked into immigration and managed - there and then (okay, after waiting 2 hours) - to extend my current visa. This is pretty awesome as I thought I'd be giving in my passport and waiting forever without an answer before I knew.

Sorry New Zealand, Jezmarelda Kemp is here a bit longer.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Demos - Sunshine and Lighthouses

A couple of my new demos you might have missed. The music is made using just sounds from my acoustic guitar and my laptop's in-built microphone - pretty cool eh?

Tracks are free to download from

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Terminator-style visa re-think

Okay, okay, it wasn't quite a "blogging frenzy" as I promised the other day. It takes quite a while for me to write stuff ('cos I'm always checking it), and I was also going to throw in a post moaning about how shit winter is here. It is shit, but I've done enough moaning.

Today the visa stuff I'm going through came to a head, a rather frantic and stressful head, in which I realised I don't have enough time to apply for a partnership work visa at the moment. I fly back to the UK at the end of September (9 weeks away), and these visa applications can take 6-8 weeks to process (e.g. 8-10 weeks), and my police certificate still hasn't shown up yet (2+ weeks after they put it in the post, a fine way to waste £70 for the express processing). I fly back into New Zealand the day my current visa expires. So you can imagine the hi-jinks all of that could present.

So, in the style of the Terminator re-routing his power supply, as happens in so many of the four films, I have changed my plan.

The answer is to extend my current visa now. As a British person, I can extend my current current working holiday visa for another 11 months. There's some issues with being able to work I think - it's all rather ambiguous - but it's very straightforward, and I can stay in the country where my girlfriend is, which is the main thing, and work on the partnership visa when I get back in October.

Not sure you really needed to know all this, but I guess it fits in with giving you an insight in the experiences/trials/tribulations faced by someone gone off to live in foreign lands.

P.S. I am HELLA excited about the possibility of one of my close friends coming out to join me, even just for a visit.

P.P.S. The above visa solution was down to my awesome awesome girlfriend, thanks honey.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

No Lies Chapter 7 - Etheport

Yes, Chapter 7 is now online and on time:

Things are awkward between Czioc and Miza to say the least, as they travel through a strange land - well, an even stranger land - in search of the Etheport...

I've just spent "Christmas" with a lovely lovely bunch of people, teaching kiwis how a winter Christmas looks like (roughly), and ate and drink my way through the afternoon. Special times. Bed now though.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Comments on previous post

I'm trying to straddle two platforms here - my blog, which no-one comments on, and Facebook, which people sometimes/often comment on. So rather than post a little comment on facebook and leave out those who are actually reading this on Teh Internetz, I thought I'd post a little all-round reply to several valid comments.

A friend who is a strong supporter of the Liberal Democrats pointed out a number of shortcomings - first and foremost that simply a lack of awareness of their policies isn't enough to tar them with the same brush as the other parties. True. My main criticism was really a disappointment in disguise - over the last 5-6 years, they have dropped off the radar and have a leader less charasmatic than the last one. A good point I missed is about openly opposing the renewal of the trident nuclear weapon system (while not dropping nuclear weapons completely) which is a highly commendable policy. My friend also reminds me that they are for green taxes, more progressive tax rates and free higher education which are also highly commendable, but again it's hard to verify with them being out of the public eye so much - and despite being halfway round the world I've been on the BBC site almost every day (sad I know).
Points that don't carry too much weight are:
-Opposing ID cards - who isn't? Even the Conservatives are against them (for now)
-Continually pushing for electoral reform - as the third party in a two-party system, it'd be pretty odd if they weren't

Don't get me wrong, I will still probably vote Lib Dem because, as my friend says, they are the closest thing to a "credible, progressive, centre-left party who give a shit about civil liberties". But it will be more because they aren't the Conservatives or Labour than actually voting for them as I've done in previous elections. (Also it depends on your constituency - mine is usually a 30/30/40 split between Lib/Lab/Con, which means 60% are against Conservative, but they get in. It's a good advert for electoral reform, but this time round, I think it'll be more a Lib/Con race.)

Some apparent achievements that I missed:
-Child tax credits
-Free nursery places for three and four-year-olds
-Free Swimming for Under 16's/Over 60's
-Free bus travel for the elderly, eye tests & tv licences
-Free entry to national museums and galleries (this is brilliant actually)
-Freedom of Information Act
-Introduced Civil Partnerships
-Scrapped Section 28 (I had no idea! Thought they gave up)

Some that don't really carry that much water:
-Human Rights Act - this is European legislation that we had to implement and was long overdue
-Record police numbers and new PCSO's - to be honest, we were promised a government that would be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". But our prisons are even more full than 12 years ago, and record numbers of police doesn't exactly signify a drop in crime.
-Record numbers of doctors/nurses/teachers - after 18 years of under-investment from Thatcher and Major, even GW Bush would have paid for more teachers and doctors#

It's always easier to criticise from the sidelines than actually do something. Obviously I don't exactly have answers coming out of my face. But here's a couple of tips:
-Vote tactically against the Conservatives. As said above, your constituency will most likely be between 2 main parties. Labour are obviously in for a hammering, and even if they win your constituency, they're going to have to raise their game anyway. Conservatives are odds-on to win the next election, but the less seats they win, the closer the result and the more all parties will have to knuckle down.
-Vote for local, non-crazy fringe parties. If you can't bring yourself to vote for any of the main parties, vote for some local cause (e.g. the hospital issue in Kidderminster 2001), or the Monster Raving Looney Party. Hell, if you really want to throw away your protest vote you could vote for the legalise cannabis alliance. Protest votes rarely elect independent MPs (as in the case of Kidderminster), but the parties and media are all watching the numbers - if every MP in the country, regardless of party, won by half as many votes as at the last election, it would be a huge wake-up call for the entire political establishment. The key things about protest votes are 1) it's better than not voting at all! and 2) don't vote for crazies like the BNP!. You'd think it would be obvious, but clearly Yorkshire didn't understand that at the European elections.

Over and out for now

Friday, 10 July 2009

Reasons not to vote Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem at the next UK general election

Yes a UK election is not far away - next May assuming the current government clings on as long as it can - and despite being on the other side of the world, I'm cynical enough to say why all 3 of the major parties are useless and don't deserve your vote.

-10p tax. Quite simply the most outrageous, UN-Labour policy this Labour government has put through. Gordon Brown, current Prime Minister and then Chancellor, removed the 10p tax band for people on low-middle earnings. Raising the tax-free allowance from £5500 to £6000 a year is a slap in the face to all those people on a crappy £12,000 a year who will now pay more tax.
-Transport. Yes, the trains needed sorting out after 17 years of under-investment and horrific crashes. But train prices are still rising and are shockingly unaffordable for a) the same low income people who can't afford a car and need affordable public transport, and b) people who want to cut carbon emissions by leaving the car at home or avoiding cheap plane tickets. Yes Labour needed to ditch their promise to return to the "workers" the "fruits of their labour", but you don't need to re-nationalise the railways to make them work and make train travel affordable - you need correct investment and firm price regulation of a market that clearly cannot regulate itself.
-Brown is not the anti-Blair. We all hoped he would be the real Labour we wanted, a serious politician. We got nothing. It took a global financial crisis for Gordon Brown to actually look like he was doing something, in turn reminding us his Chancellor Alistair Darling is clearly unnecessary.
-Surveillance and civil liberties. Labour is a left party - this doesn't mean it needs to be an authoritarian society. ID cards are unnecessary and will not cut crime. It's not impossible to protect civil liberties while governing for the majority and not the minority.
-Wasted promises. 12 years and 2 landslide election victories, and what did we get? All that stands out to me is the minimum wage.
-Running on empty. Labour won a historic 3rd term in 2005, thanks to Blair's charisma, middle-of-the-road policies and pandering to the private sector. But this party has no energy left, no ideas, and quite frankly needs to be in opposition to remind itself what it's about.

-The party of self-interest. The Conservatives are not the party of everyone, they are the party of business and property owners. It's very easy for them to criticise removing the 10p tax rate, yet Conservative tax cuts do not help those on lower incomes who a) deserve lower taxes more and b) are more likely to spend their extra earnings and help the economy. Remember this is the party that was against any form of minimum wage (i.e. a living wage) and consistently opposed any raises to it.
-Surveillance and civil liberties. It's all very easy for the Tories to criticise ID cards as an attack on civil liberties, yet they love being tough on law and order when in power. Let's not forget the Conservatives are, as their name suggests, the most cynical party on social issues for disabled people, gay people, sex equality and ethnic minorities. When the Conservatives are next in power, rest assured civil liberties will drop of the agenda.
-Iraq. While Labour at least asked themselves some questions about being led by America into a phoney war in Iraq, the Conservatives were for it the whole time, and were the last to admit it was a bad idea.
-Cameron. You know you're in trouble when the next potential prime minister is a Tory who clearly worshipped Tony Blair. He is as liquid as Blair, he has a vague charisma, but he has no solidity and lacks the moral basis for (domestic) politics that Blair had. Next to Obama he'll look like a private schoolboy. I'm cringing with embarrassment already.

-No seriously, who are they? What do they stand for? At least under Charles Kennedy they were the party left of centre, left of the Labour party, against the war in Iraq and tuition fees and for more progressive tax rates. Now I can't even remember who their leader is, let alone what their policies are (Chris Hulme? Or did he lose to Nick Clegg?). Menzies Campbell is a great politician but clearly wasn't leadership potential. Charles Kennedy may have had a drinking problem but you can treat that and get rid of it; considering he took over after Paddy Ashdown stood down (one of Parliament's finest recent politicians), and held his own, I think he still had/has a lot to give.

MP'S ALLOWANCES has nothing to do with it. Surprise surprise, a Tory politician was using taxpayer's money for a fucking duck pond. What do you expect from the party that gave us Jeffrey Archer, Neil Hamilton and cash-for-questions. The recent debacle with misusing their allowances is just part of the modernisation and cleaning up of Parliament, necessary but boring and systemic. Most of the misused public money was much less than private companies and rich individuals get away through tax evasion. The real reason the parties don't deserve your vote is not the corruption of individuals but the bankruptcy of modern progressive policies.

THE WORST PART IS people have already started following this advice, and what did we get? 2 BNP MEPS and even more BNP councillors. You give the British public a reason to dislike mainstream politics and they vote for a bunch of racists. I don't know what's worse, voting for the BNP because they didn't know what the BNP stood for, or because they knew exactly what the BNP stands for. Give them half a chance and the great British public would bring back public hangings and the stocks and put themselves in it.

Are we fucked? Probably. Do we deserve it? Probably.

No Lies Chapters 5 and 6 now online (and 3 and 4)

Looking back, it seems I didn't even blog about chapter 3 and 4 going up - lame I know. They're awesome (obviously) but ancient history, so here's 5 and 6 fresh up:

Chapter 5 - Partyocalypse!
Probably the wildest thing I've ever written - Czioc and Miza arrive at an end of the world party, full of vomitting, cannibalism, fellatio competitions and drum'n'bass. But can they find anything out about Noksalika, before they too are killed?

Chapter 6 - Oral
...Meanwhile Noksalika travels with Hanaman and his crew to Goltangi - a disputed desert with religious outlaws and renegades. But more importantly, this desert is a social desert - it's off the electronic map, and off the Ethe...

Blog frenzy

Hi. It's been ages, so I'm sitting on here for the next hour (possibly) catching up. Exciting eh.