Yes For Scottish Independence

There are only a few days left before 97% of those who are eligible to vote in the Scottish Referendum cast their votes. I’m one of the 3% who didn’t register. I grew up in Northern Ireland during the 1980’s and by the time I became old enough to vote I had already decided not to bother, inspired by the words of Billy Connolly – “Don’t vote, it encourages them !”. However, a couple of days ago my blood was boiling enough that I decided that I should register. Unfortunately, I was too late.

Little Britain

I have lived in Scotland for almost a decade now. I have a Scottish wife, and family and friends from all over these islands. I even work for an English company, and I’m very happy to do so. There are loads of reasons to be a happy citizen of the U.K. – none of which have been celebrated by the Better Together tribe. To me, their whole campaign has been completely bizarre. I mean, they could have been singing “Hey Jude” and showing us footage from the Olympics, or blaring out Winston Churchill’s greatest speeches over a UK Garage beat. Instead, they have attempted to inspire us via the words of banks and supermarkets. What ?! Did I miss a meeting ? Are these the same banks that we’ve been blaming all our woes on for years now ? ( Yes. ). Are these the same supermarkets that have helped to kill off our High Streets and small businesses ? ( Yes. ).

However, the straw that broke this camel was the following video. Aimed at undecided Scottish housewives who are just too busy to think ( Blood boiling…. ), “I mean, there’s only so many hours in the day.” ( Teeth clenched…);

So, that was the end of the “No Thanks” campaign for me. I mean, would you want her to sit beside you on the bus ? What if you fell on the street in front of her ? I mean, if she’s too busy to make up her mind about the future of the entire country, what chance have you got lying there with your fractured pelvis ?

In stark contrast to all of the above nonsense, the Yes campaign has went from strength to strength. Apart from having the most positive word of all on their side, they seem youthful, vibrant, inspired and very well connected – thanks to the internet.

The Scotland that I love is full of humour and positivity. If ever I have a bad day it’s usually been down to a chance encounter with a “Though shalt not” type, with a face that could curdle milk. There are plenty of people like that around, but now – thankfully, it suddenly seems like the happy people are taking over.

I really hope that Scotland decides to say Yes to independence. Tradition and conservatism seem to be being replaced by a love of change. People are becoming much too well informed to live in fear. Change is life’s one true constant – the one thing you can rely on. Keep smiling and get ready to embrace the future;

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


Modern Music

During the first decade of this shiny new millennium the same thing happened to electronic music that had happened to typography during the Grunge period. It was crumpled up, glitch-ed, mutilated, stretched, deformed and filtered into many new shapes and, just like Grunge era typography, was often difficult to understand. Now that Stadium Rave is a reality, I’ve suddenly found that I don’t want my ticket to it. It seems as though electronic music is no longer for the intelligent outsider, instead it has found a home in the Ikea furnished homes of middle-everywhere. Now that I’m faced with a choice of either standing in a field full of iPhones listening to piss poor EDM pumped out by some dick dressed like Mickey Mouse, or some other twat throwing cakes, or switching everything electronic off and walking up a Scottish hill in the pouring rain, I choose the later, and it’s a good choice.

Several years ago I was involved with a group of artists that attempted to put Edinburgh on the map as a “Scene” – we failed. As usual, at the same time as our collective were doing our thing ( playing innovative music in interesting places, to audiences of about 50 people ), a bunch of chavs from Glasgow, dressed like glue sniffing car thieves, broke internationally by playing Chipmonk inspired Hip Hop that made you want to drown them ( I think that’s why it was called Aqua Crunk ). It was just another example of history repeating itself – there were plenty of decent Edinburgh Post Punk bands, but why bother with that when you can listen to Altered Images and stick a compass in your ears ?

I’ve since moved on with my life, and my music. These days I’m more interested in spoken word poetry than the collected works of Aphex Twin. If I do listen to music, it tends to be of an ambient nature. Maybe Deep House, maybe Brian Eno, maybe I no longer care. I occasionally find myself recording the sound of my toilet flushing as I hum a bass line, or switch on my Dyson and jump up and down on my neighbours’ ceiling. I do like the work of Four Tet, as it can be very melodic and filmic, but the compositions produced by Flying Lotus do nothing for me – they’re way too messy. I’d rather have Kraftwerk over to stay, I mean, at least they’d wash up after themselves.

A couple of days ago I received an invitation to a gathering in Edinburgh where some of the old faces are, once again, trying to put a scene together. Although I’ll not be there for the second wave, I hope they make it. It’d be nice if they left a little mark on the musical landscape that we could all look back on with pride and pretend we were there for. You know, like that Lesser Free Trade Hall Sex Pistols gig that everyone in the north of England went to ? In the meantime, I’ll be up in the hills, covered in rain and trudging through sheep shit if you need me.

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


An Ode To Walks In Earthy Woods

An ode to walks in earthy woods

Where bodies lie the living prowl

Soft padded crunching under foot

When feeling foul


They buried his body facing down

His daughter had opened their door to crime

Seven years crawled by before they found

The end of time


Today I strolled in the morning sun

Swinging the sky around my skin

My warm body held a loaded gun

Drunk on sloe gin


Find me on Facebook;


Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt took my favourite photograph in 1939. It’s called “East End Girl Dancing The Lambeth Walk”, and it looks like this;

The girl in question is likely no longer with us, and Brandt himself is long gone too. Yet, I can’t think of another image that so completely captures the joy of life.

I first came across the photo in this excellent book;

It lead me to purchase a book containing only Brandt photos;

Since then I have decided that Bill Brandt is my favourite photographer. He took photographs of lots of different things in lots of different ways, and I love them all. For example, this abstract “nude”;

I could now bounce onto Wikipedia and then rattle off a lot of information on the man, but I’m sure that you are more than capable of doing that yourself;

Suffice to say I’m glad that he existed, and that he picked up a camera so that we could all enjoy seeing the world through his marvelous eyes.

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


Peter Cook

“I think that farting is a very important part of Scottish life.”

- Ross McPharter

Sometime around the turn of the millennium I wandered into a HMV store in Belfast and bought a copy of Derek And Clive “Come Again”. I can’t remember why I did that, but I’m forever grateful that I did. That album has given me many hours of hysterical laughter. I’m talking, of course, about private hysterical laughter – as the world of Derek And Clive ( Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s darker alter ego’s ) is not a world into which you’d invite the whole family. Thankfully though, there is a sketch that I’m happy to share here on my blog;

Since then I have read a Biography Of Peter Cook;

Through which I discovered those fantastic old Pete And Dud sketches. The best of which never fail to make me laugh;

I just love the path that Peter decided to meander down in life. The offbeat film Bedazzled is fabulous but, for me anyway, the fact that he used to regularly phone up a late night radio chat show and pretend to be Sven from Swiss Cottage – a heartbroken Norwegian fisherman – is what puts the cherry on top of the icing of his comedy genius;

However, it’s always Derek And Clive that I come back to in those secret hours between dusk and dawn. The original album “Derek And Clive (Live)” is rumored to have been a favourite on Led Zeppelin’s private jet. It contains the following marvelous tale;

Peter Cook died in 1995 after making many people very happy for a very long time. I’ll leave his old chum Stephen Fry to neatly wrap up this post for me;

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


Deep Music

Being every bit the introverted loner, I’ve always been drawn towards ambient music. I like long films with one central character in which nothing much happens. I like quiet art that comes in from the fringes of humanity. I like the tales of the last man standing, with nobody left to talk to. Baring all of this in mind, I’ve decided to write this blog post in order to shine a little torch over some of the darker corners of my private collection.

Stillhead / DFRNT – “Forget Everything”;

Alex Cowles has produced some fantastic music in recent years under the name DFRNT. For reasons best known to himself he has decided to draw a line under this alias. However, he has done it in style by releasing over 3 hours worth of previously unreleased music for only £8. I have pre-ordered this, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m actually so impressed by the deeper sounds that the music of DFRNT has opened me up to, that I went onto Soundcloud and downloaded a lot of the recommended music as well – by artists like Phaeleh, Lostlojic, Sorrow and Coreless.

It’s likely that Alex got his new moniker, “Stillhead”, from the title of a great track by Mike Sheridan;

Alex posted a link to this track on his Facebook page recently and it really was a great experience listening to it for the first time. To me, it sounds like modern electronic music filtered through the mind of a classical composer. I couldn’t quite work out what was going to happen next, and I haven’t felt like that about a piece of music in a very long time.

I look forward to listening to this, rapidly expanding, folder of new deep music over the coming weeks. I find it’s glacial landscapes perfectly fit my current state of mind. I’ve always loved the world of sonic space created in music – from Phil Spector to Joe Meek, Jamaican Dub to Ambient House. I think that there is the possibility of something new happening here. Somewhere between Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Riga. Somewhere between the ice and rain and those virtual reverberation chambers. Something different is sailing out to someplace new.

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


John Peel

I was in Edinburgh visiting my younger brother, Paul, on October 25th 2004 – the day that John Peel died. I can remember walking along the Royal Mile and seeing the headlines on the late edition newspapers. I’m really glad that I had the chance to listen to lots of live John Peel broadcasts during my teenage years and into my early twenties. His eclectic taste in music helped to fuel my own.

Thanks to his legion of fans, there are still loads of ways to enjoy the magic of John Peel. For example, there are LOADS of his radio shows from the 60’s to the 00’s that you can download by following the instructions on this page;

His classic Fabriclive DJ mix CD is available for very little money here;

However, my favourite way to get into the Peel zone is via the John Peel Youtube channel;

This is a real treasure trove. Here you will find the complete television series “Sounds Of The Suburbs”, the wonderful show “Autobahn Blues” and even his appearance on Room 101.

There are so many videos that I could showcase here, but I think that you’d be best to just dive in to the above channel and discover your own favourites. However, during a recent day of leisure I cued up all of my John Peel videos and one called “Father And Son” jumped out at me. It appealed to me mainly due to the way he discusses how upset he got at the state of his eldest son, William’s, bedroom;

I just thought that it was so cute that despite all of the influence that he held over the nations teenagers, the sight of a messy bedroom in his own home was driving him crazy. It just seemed very real and true to life. I guess that’s what we all know was so special about John Peel – the reality and honesty that helped him to bring you into his world. That’s why we would listen to everything that he played. You never knew what would happen next, or if he would manage to work the Mini Disk player, and that’s just what real life is like.

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke