Richer than a glass of fizz

If, and you’ll have to bear with me on this, you compare albums to drinks, some are like coke: they’re fizzy and immediately tasty, they’ll give you a hit and, in the right mood, can be refreshing. Some albums are more like whisky, an acquired taste that doesn’t necessarily provide an instant rush but requires time to appreciate and enjoy fully.

If you drink too much coke, you end up with a cloying, sickly, sticky, gummy aftertaste and you probably think that it’ll be a long time before you want another. If you drink too much whisky too quickly, you’ll get pissed but, take your time, savour the malty nuances and let them mellow, and you enjoy a far richer experience than any glass of fizzy pop.

The Baron in the Trees by the Loafing Heroes is definitely whisky not pop. There is no immediate taste gratification but, in the longer run, you appreciate it more.

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Mongolian metal? Chilean rappers? Must be at FMM

Sines, a coastal town two hours south of Lisbon, is principally known for three things: heavy industry, world music and Vasco de Gama. It is blessed with especially deep waters that allow its port to welcome the largest of container ships. Huge refineries encircle the town, processing all the oil and gas and petrochemicals that come in through the port. It all makes for a surreal, sci-fi sight, far from idyllic.

In parts Sines retains its old fishing village charm and its beach is good but industrial progress has undoubtedly spoiled the landscape. By way of an apology, Galp (Portugal’s leading energy company) sponsors the town’s annual world music festival: FMM (Festival Músicas do Mundo). The sponsorship enables the organisers to keep the festival cheap (indeed much of it is free) while attracting an impressive array of headline names.

I say "names”, but of course most people have never heard of the acts they come to see. The programmers have earned the trust of festival-goers over the years and visitors turn up in their droves ready to be charmed and to get on down to whatever music is thrown their way. One of the most popular acts this year was a Mongolian folk metal band (alas we arrived the day after their gig) while last year we’d waited to see a Chilean rapper with mild curiosity, only to be totally blown away – Anna Tijoux rocks!

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SASStonbury without the glas’ or getting stoned

Summer solstice this year saw the dawn of SASStonbury, a mini drink- and drug- free music festival organised by Sheffield Alcohol Support Service, a charity otherwise known as SASS, hence the derivative. It was a bit of a gamble. It was something we thought would be a nice idea but we were plagued by worries that there would be no proper ‘festival’ atmosphere once you removed the stimulants and we also wanted to do it properly, an all-day affair with different acts, food and lots of people. We needn’t have worried: apart from one dicey half hour when the power failed; SASStonbury was fantastic and a real eye-opener about not needing alcohol to have a good time. So here’s our mini guide on how to put on a mini music festival without the need for booze or other dodgy substances:

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Fencing by numbers

Some music stands the test of time. Some doesn’t. It simply disappears into obscurity. For every song that lasts, thousands have been lost along the way, casualties of changing tastes. And then there are those which don’t deserve to have survived and yet they linger like a bad smell.
 
A quick look at some of the 12” singles I bought in 1983/84 and I find The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen, Living on Video by Trans-X, The First Picture of You by The Lotus Eaters, The More You Live The More You Love by A Flock of Seagulls and Every Breath You Take by The Police. One of these songs remains in the collective consciousness of the 21st Century, the others have been consigned to the archives. But on an individual level this forgotten music can live on, an instant evocation of time and place. A song instantly transports you back to a time and a place far more effectively than a photo ever could.
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Itinerant music man makes world his studio

French-born Hugo Labattut crossed paths with Red House Work in Lisbon. He is now working in Turkey, his latest stop in a world-wide life-long adventure, making music wherever he goes, be it Mongolia or Bolivia. He is pictured here recording his latest album in Istanbul. Here’s his story so far, in his own words:

I was born in the south west of France in a little city called Dax, I actually never lived there but all my family is originally from that place. When I was little, music was not really important, although I have some memories of my mother’s records, such as Sonny Rollins or some blues and jazz collection that I still listen to. My father never really listened to music: he is more like a silent person, I guess he doesn’t know it but his mind is probably full of music. The only French records I remember were from Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Higelin and Arthur H. This music is actually a big part of my life now but at that time I never really felt passionate about music... until I listened to Michael Jackson! I couldn’t stop listening to him. I knew everything about him and I was inventing the “lyrics” because of course I couldn’t speak any English. I don’t think he is a big source of inspiration now in my music but I guess he is the first artist that made me feel something. After that, Michael Jackson’s time, I remember listening more to jazz and blues records and particularly Sidney Bechet and his version of Summertime, that always amazed me.

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Of Bukowski’s and birthing pains: 1

Tuesday, 10:30 pm

Looking over the bar at the same old faces, each one sat on their own, each one lost in their thoughts or in the music playing: O Brother Where Art Thou?, quite apt really. The churning swoosh of the dishwasher coming from the kitchen, the clatter of plates being stacked, the metallic clink of cutlery being sorted and deposited into the box, ready for wrapping the next day. Looking over the bar at the same old faces. Faces I had never seen a year before but now familiar characters playing their own parts in this scene. I’m playing my part, Maggie’s playing hers, just the two of us left working after another desperately quiet night. Looking over the bar at the same old faces, sometimes I wonder at how we arrived at this place.

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Twerking our stuff - down in Sotiello

Instructor Sylvia Blanco Martinez warms up before the class

In 180 countries around the world, a reported 15 million people gather weekly in more than 200,000 venues to step and twerk and shimmy their way through an hour of Latin-infused exercise classes. A dozen or so of the 15 million meet in the community centre in Sotiello. This pretty but industry-scarred village near Gijón hardly suggests the high-temperature rhythms of Columbia, where the dance exercise system was born, but home to a zumba class it is. Beam me down to Sotiello, Scotty.

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Fado from afar...

Portugal! Ahh Portugal! The very name conjures up... well not a lot really. I first went to visit a friend, JT, in Lisbon three years ago and at the time, if I’d had to dredge my brain for anything Portuguese-related, I would have come up with the following: Eusebio, C.Ronaldo and something to do with Christopher Columbus. In other words I didn’t know much, still don’t.

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About

Red House Work is the body of music, songs and videos written and produced by the band, Red House, based in Pinzales, Gijón. Here we also give you a flavour of our cultural and musical interests and those of others. Contact us on: redhousepostbox@gmail.com

Red House Work es el conjunto de la música, las canciones y los vídeos escritos y producidos por el grupo Red House, con base en el pueblo de Pinzales, Gijón. En esta web os ofrecemos también una muestra de nuestros gustos culturales y musicales y los de otra gente afín a nuestro proyecto. Podéis contactar con nosotros a través de:redhousepostbox@gmail.com