Studio 24, Edinburgh, Tue 1 Jun; Stereo, Glasgow, Wed 2 Jun

People! Are you stuck for a truly stand-out birthday present? Or undecided as to which song should soundtrack your wedding? Then fret no more . . . just check out the website of legendary lo-fidelity recording artiste Jad Fair (, wherein he promises to record and mail you a personalised ditty on the subject matter of your choice, all for the modest sum of US $300.

Mr Fair . . . is this correct? ‘Actually, yes it is,’ attests the softly-spoken Texas-based singer- songwriter. ‘And it’s proving to be quite popular. I’ve done about 12 of them this year - four wedding songs, three birthdays, one marriage proposal, a couple for different record stores. The song I did for my brother’s wedding is the one closest to my heart, though.’

His brother being David Fair, of course, the other fulcrum of indie torchbearers Half Japanese. For over three decades now, the Fairs’ band have helped light the way for a generation of artists who have come to learn that passion and enthusiasm count for at least as much as that which is stuffin referred to as ‘musical training’. In fact, Half Japanese celebrate their rudimentary skills with the mixture of punk spirit and politeness which has served, say, Jonathan Richman so well, or which proved to be - in their case - a heavy influence on the young Kurt Cobain.

The full band is actually playing in Norway prior to these shows, although David can’t make it for the UK jaunt. So these are

ostensibly Jad Fair solo spots, although he’ll be joined by fellow Half Japanesers Gilles Rieder and Rob Erickson - Rieder will play drums, while Fair and Erickson combine to create a sound he describes as ‘mostly a cappella, but with tons of effects’. Which might sound a little too out there for some, but Fair has made a career out of tinkering experimentation and it’s paid off so far.

By way of proof, Fair’s recent exploits have involved a roster of sometime collaborators which includes Yo La Tengo, J Mascis and the


THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Cathouse, Glasgow, Wed 9 Jun


To know them is to love them. To not know them is to probably be quite frightened of them. The Dillinger Escape Plan are quite a daunting proposition to the uninitiated but. then again. so is jumping Out of aeroplanes and licking live hallucinogenic frogs. but that doesn't mean you should go out and embrace this kind of thing.

Although most of the publicity the band receive is in the regular ‘rawk' press. straight metal they are not. Resolutely octagonal pegs rammed into ugly, square holes. they straddle rock's predictable

canon of genres (progressive metal, math rock, free 187/. biscuit metal. etc) like Cher in that 'Turn Back Time' video: legs swaying. arms waving, sailors intimated. They do covers of Aphex Twin songs and Mike ‘Faith No More' Patton loved them so much he recorded an EP with the band.

Musically. it's a heady brew: the grind and clang of the two six-stringers (who appropriately enough hold their guitars at their chest like machine guns) is perpetually undermined by a hectic battery of rhythms that is constantly chopping and changing in pace and structure. Over the top is the sergeant major bark of Greg Puciato and Adam Doll's eVil sounds and samples. It actually bears more than a passing resemblance to chaos. but on closer inspection the Dillinger Escape Plan make something much more disciplined and structured than that.

Live? Now here's a live hand. For sheer technicality and intensity. there's no other to touch them. They endeared themselves to the Offspring- loving hoards at the last Gig on the Green by coming on at 1.15pm and throwing their own shit at the crowd. Story goes Puciato managed this feat at the same time each day for each festival they appeared at that weekend another discipline of theirs to be admired. (Mark Robertson)


All’s Fair in love and song

Velvet Underground’s Mo Tucker. Amidst them all, however, there’s a strong Scots connection in the form of Teenage Fanclub, the Pastels, Bill Wells and Edinburgh label mrw44, which is distributing his latest releases. Citing the Fanclub as one of his favourite team-ups, Fair explains: ‘l’m very well-travelled and I’ve met a lot of people, and I’m very lucky in that people who I find entertaining seem to also enjoy my music. Or at least no one’s turned me down when I’ve asked yet!’ At 300 bucks a pop, we know their hearts are in it. (David Pollock)

PARAGON ENSEMBLE: ANCIENT VOICES OF CHILDREN Paragon Ensemble, CCA Glasgow, Sat 5 Jun, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh,

Sun 6 Jun

Sometimes. a piece of music just sticks in your mind and won't go away. That's what John Harris. artistic director of Paragon. experienced when he first heard Ancient Voices of Children, the setting of Lorca poems by the American composer George Crumb. And the impreSSion left is now behind Paragon's programming of the hauntingly beautiful and deeply moving Crumb song cycle in their final concerts this


'lt's just the best piece in the universe.‘ says Harris. ‘I came across it at college' (he did a Masters at the RSAMD after studying metallurgy at Oxford) ‘and after hearing an ancient recording of it. | just listened to it again and again.‘ Written in 1970. it features solo soprano and Harris is delighted that this will be Edinburgh-based Angela Tunstall. ‘She is an amazing contemporary singer,‘ he says. 'She works from memory and although it's a huge. vast score. she loves the piece and always wanted to do it.‘ In addition to female soprano. there is boy soprano, musical saw. toy piano - a chromatic verSion of what you'd find in a toy shop oboe. mandolin, harp and percusson ranging from Tibetan prayer stones to Japanese temple bowls.

'It's all to do with childhood and is extremely evocative of ritual and what it is to be a child.‘ says Harris. ‘Ever since I started working for Paragon I wanted to do this piece.‘ So not quite a childnood dream coming true. but surely something not far

(Carol Main)

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The kids are alright

27 May—10 Jun 2004 THE LIST 49