On Sunday 10th December I presented the first ever Manchester Digital Music Archive show for NTS Radio. I had a brilliant time choosing the records, old and new. All have a Manchester connection. You’ll be unsurprised to hear it’s quite a contrary selection. There are plenty of stories to go with the music, because that’s what the archive is all about.
Harlem Spirit – Dem A Sus
The Eccentronic Research Council feat. Maxine Peake – Autobahn 666
Pete Shelley – Witness The Change (Dub Mix)
10cc – Blackmail
Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames – Music Talk
Moloko – Forever More
E Davd – Ice Moon
Shura – White Light
The The – Helpline Operator
The Smiths – Wonderful Woman
Lord Kitchener – If You’re Brown
Annette – Dream 17
Magazine – The Light Pours out of Me
Barry Adamson – Mr Eddy’s Theme 1
Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats
Al Green – How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?
JS Zeiter – JS05R
Floating Points – Peroration 6
Manicured Noise – Faith
Gerry & The Holograms – Gerry & The Holograms
Jane Weaver – The Architect
Nev Cottee – If I Could Tell You DigitalJustice – Theme from It’s All Gone Pear Shaped
Manchester Digital Music Archive is an online community archive established in 2003 to celebrate Greater Manchester music and its social history. In September 2017 we are holding two (identical) training days on how to curate online exhibitions within our website/archive.
Passionate about Manchester music, past and present? Got a story to tell?
MDMArchive Online Exhibition Training Day #1, International Anthony Burgess Foundation Sep 23rd 2017
A relaxed training day led by curator Abigail Ward for people who are interested in creating their own online exhibitions within the Manchester Digital Music Archive website. Book your free place here.
MDMArchive Online Exhibition Training Day #2, International Anthony Burgess Foundation
Sep 30th 2017
A relaxed training day led by curator Abigail Ward for people who are interested in creating their own online exhibitions within the Manchester Digital Music Archive website. Book your free place here.
Please note: the content of the two training days will be the same.
Lovely lunch provided!
What is an online exhibition?
An online exhibition is a curated collection of digitised artefacts (scans, photos, images, audio, video) that anyone who has access to the internet can view. Online exhibitions are like physical exhibitions in real museums, but they exist digitally instead of in the ‘real’ word.
Abigail Ward, trainer & co-founder of MDMA, has been creating online exhibitions about Greater Manchester music since 2008. You can view some of hers here:
Who is this training day for?
This training day is part of Manchester Digital Music Archive’s Rebel Music project, which aims to celebrate and document the musical achievements of women & LGBT+ peoplein Greater Manchester. We are encouraging members of those communities to attend this training day and learn about how they can create online exhibitions with us. It will be accessible for anyone who is interested in Greater Manchester music, and has a basic standard of computer literacy.
What will this training day cover?
• An introduction to the work of Manchester Digital Music Archive
• How to digitise material using scanners, cameras and phones
• How to upload images, audio and video to MDMArchive
• How to curate a digital exhibition within MDMArchive
• How to share your work through social media
Refugees, tourists, circus acts, smugglers, a destitute Russian princess and escapees from the industrial mainland: Hayling Island’s many sea-level lives exposed through a digital story map and a series of spoken word events
Acclaimed artists will collaborate with a literary geographer to explore the hidden histories of Hayling Island’s working class community using short stories, spoken word, audio soundscapes, visual art and an evolving online map of the island.
Work in progress versions of short stories and audio will be shared at three literary events across October 2017 held in Hayling, Manchester and Durham.
The short story collection will explore themes including climate change, human migration, economic shift, disability, and LGBT+ issues
A true island completely surrounded by sea, Hayling is off the south coast of England in Hampshire, near Portsmouth. It is home to a working class community and is rich in overlooked histories, from the arcades and smugglers’ tunnels to the nearby military base. It is a place of resilience and contrasts, and as the water rises, there are no climate change deniers to be found.
Using remembered histories of local people and the geography of the island itself as inspiration, four Manchester-based artists, led by writer and spoken word artist Michelle Green will create an interactive digital map housing a short story collection and accompanying audio.
The stories and soundscapes will be shared as work-in-progress at the following events:
All events are supported by Arts Council England and New Writing North.
Michelle Green is an acclaimed writer and spoken word artist born on Hayling, now based in Manchester. She was two when her parents left the island, and so her ‘memories’ take the form of many stories from her extended family, centred on the arcades, bingos, cafes and clubs they ran in the 70s along one of the tourist strips, just as the arrival of package holidays was beginning to take its toll on the local economy. Hayling has always been a tenacious place, and it is from this that interesting stories grow. Michelle is particularly interested in the lives that are pushed to the margins – working class, disabled, disenfranchised – and those living at the water’s edge as the sea rises.
Ahead of the events, lead artist Michelle Green says: “This map has been growing inside me for years. My family moved around a lot, and so I carry a map of other people’s stories and landscapes as a way of connecting to the places that have shaped our lives. As mainstream discussions of class and economics become a binary caricature with talk of ‘strivers and shirkers’, good and bad, I want to push back with the complexities and resilience that I know lives within every ignored or abandoned working class community. I want to push back against the idea that art and culture is inherently middle class. People who live on a low lying island know just how near the edge is, and I want to invite the audience to walk along those edges and listen, a short story at the tip of each finger.”
The Hayling Island digital story map will be designed by Maya Chowdhry, an interactive artist, writer and poet. It will comprise collage of historical documents, hand-drawn elements and audio hotspots where audiences can listen to or read the stories. The map will also link to local tidal reports and will change according to the real-time tide on the island.
The audio elements of the map, overseen by facilitator in sound and ‘sonic enchantress’ Caro C, will take a sensitive radio-quality approach, adding depth to the world of each story and providing access to audiences who struggle with text. Caro will also create a unique piece of music that responds to the sonic environment of the island.
Creative non-fiction co-author and literary geographies consultant Dr David Cooper is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University. He will co-author pieces of creative non-fiction with Michelle Green, as a geographic exploration of the island that takes subjective experience of the place as the starting point.
For further information, images and interviews please contact:
Flyer for Attitude at the Academy, 1990 Design: Homocult
Queer Noise Launch Night
People’s History Museum
Thursday, 13 July 2017 18:00 to 20:00
Book your FREE place
Join Manchester Digital Music Archive for the launch of our small but perfectly formed Queer Noise community exhibition at the People’s History Museum. Curator Abigail Ward will be in conversation with Rod Connolly and Zoë McVeigh (LIINES) – the DJ/promoter team behind Bollox Club – one of Manchester’s best-loved alt-queer hangouts.
Abigail will also deliver a lively visual presentation celebrating highlights from the history of queer music and club life in Greater Manchester. Material includes rarely seen photos, flyers, posters and videos from the 1950s to today.
In the foyer DJ Kath McDermott will play classic tracks from legendary queer nights Flesh at the Haçienda (1991-1996) and Homo Electric (1998-2002).
Performance artist Grace Oni Smith will be doing a 10-min projection-based ‘Welcome’ performance in response to the DJ set.
Fairtrade drinks provided by the Co-op.
Queer Noise tells the story of how proudly queer musicians and clubbers in Greater Manchester helped to redefine attitudes towards sexuality across the city and beyond. The exhibition is on display at PHM from July 1st until September 10th and is based on the digital project of the same name.
Seventies secrecy in Salford pubs, joyous Gaychester resistance and cutting-edge, late-nineties, alternative club culture. Manchester’s musical LGBT+ history explored with exhibition and digital archive revamp:
Exciting, rarely-seen footage and photography from the dancefloor of the Hacienda’s famous FLESH club night evoke the unassailable spirit of ‘Gaychester’ in new exhibition
Photography from 1970s Salford and Manchester gay bars and the provocative, alternative dance scene of the millennium tell overlooked stories from the famous music city
Articles from influential fanzine, ‘The Mancunian Gay’ as well as flyers, badges and membership cards are retrieved from personal archives tell a tale of struggle, resilience and celebration.
The history of Manchester as a home for free expression and resistance through music, dance and culture is told through stories, unseen videos, photographs and rare artefacts drawn from the personal archives of the city’s LGBT community for a new exhibition, Queer Noise: The History of LGBT+ Music & Club Culture in Manchester, opening at the People’s History Museum between Thu 1 July – Sun 10 September 2017. As part of Never Going Underground 2017, a major exhibition marking 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, Manchester Digital Music Archive gathers notable artefacts, imagery and music to tell the story of how pubs, gig venues and dance floors gave rise to flourishing, creative and diverse scenes once known as ‘Gaychester’.
The small exhibition, a contribution to the museum’s larger focus on LGBT+ rights, coincides with the archive’s relaunch and drive to attract more music lovers to upload their artefacts, with the archive’s founders expressing concern that the vital LGBT+ and women’s histories are in danger of being lost forever without more collecting and sharing.
Punk provided an expressive sanctuary for LGBT+ communities in post-industrial Manchester as the wake of the Sex Pistols’ appearance in the city in 1976 left bands like Buzzcocks (fronted by openly bi-sexual, Pete Shelley) and clubs like The Ranch, a bar owned by renowned drag artist and entrepreneur, Foo Foo Lammar, to soak up the city’s disenfranchised youth. As well as photographs of the punk era, including contributions from Kevin Cummins, exciting, rarely-seen evidence of the otherwise well-documented dance revolution of the early 90s and the Hacienda’s legendary Flesh night also features in the exhibition. Shot from the Hacienda dancefloor, film featuring a travelling contingent from London club, Kinky Gerlinky, shot by film maker, Dick Jewell and up-close shots by Manchester photographer, Jon Shard, evoke a sense of unbound freedom in a community threatened by the oppression of Greater Manchester Police and ‘God’s Cop’, James Anderton.
In addition to the LGBT+ perspectives on these famous episodes in the city’s music history, it is the lesser known people and places that also find space in the considered selections of archive co-founder and curator, Abigail Ward.
Ahead of the exhibition, Ward says: “‘Queer Noise’ spans some of the most famous moments in the city’s cultural history, and highlights the incredible influence of queer artists, club promoters and fans. But queer club culture in this city didn’t just start with punk and the end at the Haçienda, it existed and thrived in the post-war period and continues to evolve today. The purposely provocative alternative queer scene of the late 90s reflects as many stories of true, expressive freedom as the remarkable footage from the famous ‘Flesh’ night at the Hacienda or images of Salford’s underground taken four decades ago.”
A Salford pub, the name forgotten, was captured by renowned musician, artist and photographer, Linder Sterling in the late 1970s and is the subject of three, unseen photographs loaned for the exhibition, alongside a further three shots of the inside of the notorious Dicken’s Bar on Oldham Street during the same period. As the popularity of Canal Street boomed at the turn of the millennium, DJs, musicians and dancers turned to smaller clubs on the fringes, giving rise to nights like the legendary, Homo Electric, eschewing the ‘glam’ of polished bars and commercial dance music for eclectic playlists in sweaty, run-down cellars. Candid footage of nights in much-loved, pre-Manchester regeneration clubs, like the demolished Legends, provides a window onto an electrifying subculture.
Ward continues: “Manchester Digital Music Archive can trace some of these histories through the contributions of our LGBT+ members, but the exhibition also gives us a chance to reflect on the fact that more LGBT+ music lovers, and women in particular, need to share their memories and artefacts with us or face the prospect of their individual and shared histories going undocumented and unavailable for study by future generations. There are so many photos, posters, videos and other items out there waiting to tell incredible stories.”
Manchester Digital Music Archive was established in 2003 to celebrate Greater Manchester music and its social history and has 2953 active users, uploading artefacts from their personal collections. A relaunch of the site, including updates to allow easier and more instantaneous smart phone uploads, has gone ahead to encourage the 30% female base of users to share more items as well as offering a potential solution to an evident shortfall in the number and range of uploads relating to the region’s current and historic LGBT+ music culture.
Over the last few months I’ve been involved in an exciting project for Drake Music that has focused on introducing members of the hacker/maker/coding community to disabled musicians.
Four teams, each made up of both musicians and makers, have been commissioned to design a prototype for a brand new musical instrument that overcomes a specific barrier experienced by disabled musicians.
Both events will be presented by the wonderful Kris Halpin (Winter of ’82), who will be talking about his own journey as a disabled musician-technologist and demonstrating his amazing MiMu motion-tracking gloves (see video!)
Seeing Kris perform live with the gloves is an unmissable experience. Watching him conjure strings out of thin air and kick start a drum sound with a single gesture is – quite simply – magical.
DMLab North West Challenge – Development Launch
Meet our teams and hear about their ideas.
I went to Iceland in January. It was a truly mind-expanding experience. Awesome is a word I steer clear of, but its original definition fits the feeling: inspiring awe, wonder or dread; extremely impressive or daunting, intimidating.
Gazing out at those endless lunar landscapes, filled me with joy, but isn’t all joy tinged with a kind of vulnerability or dread at its passing? This is a mix that attempts to capture those conflicting emotions. It’s a bit chilly!
Three poems by Jónas Hallgrímsson
Ulver – Desert Dawn
Philip Glass – Protest (Jóhann Jóhannsson Remix)
Nils Frahm – Said and Done
Sigur Rós – Meo Blodnasir
Ólafur Arnalds – Árbakkinn ft. Einar Georg
Plaid – Wen
Petar Dundov – Then Life
Emilie Simon – Aurora Australis
Jóhann Jóhannsson – Melodia (Guidelines For A Propulsion Device Based On Heim’s Quantum Theory)
Blanck Mass – Sundowner
Brian Eno – I’m Set Free
A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos IX
Max Richter – War Anthem
Björk – All is Full of Love (Strings Version)
Aphex Twin – Blue Calx
Max Richter – Morphology
[From the vaults: a blog for Pop ‘Til You Drop, 2011]
“I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer
I spat out Plath and Pinter…”
A fortnight ago, whilst working my penultimate shift on the counter at Piccadilly Records, I was rendered flustered and giggly by the sudden appearance of James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire from Manic Street Preachers. They were in Manchester, it transpired, to perform a secret gig at Night and Day Café. I haven’t listened to the Manics for years, but seeing them up close and personal in the record shop environment made me ponder the influence of their music on my teenage years.
When ‘Generation Terrorists’ first came out in 1992, I was still, at thirteen, an enthusiastic attendee of my local Free Methodist bible group. I was troubled by all the usual teenage questions about evolution, mortality and morality, and persuaded, for a time, by the adults around me, that the answers could be found, if not in the dense and bloody Old Testament, then certainly in the eminently accessible, and rather funky, New. When, one Sunday, my bible group leader – a not unlikeable lad in his early thirties – pulled out a copy of ‘Generation Terrorists’ and cited it as an example of all that was wrong and evil in the world, I felt spasms of both shame and excitement. My sister owned the record and we’d been playing it for weeks.
Trying to work out how you really feel about things as a teenager is like starring in your own complex and slightly hallucinogenic detective story. You pull in clues from all manner of sources, to compare, contrast, reject. You believe what you think you ought to until you can’t any more. On the one hand I had the fluffy platitudes of Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still water”), which made Christianity sound like a really nice day out in the Lakes, and on the other I had the Sylvia Plath quotation from the back of the ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ twelve inch: “I talk to God but the sky is empty” – a much more accurate description of what I was actually experiencing.
Thinking that Plath may be able to shed some light on the matter, I went to Waterstone’s one day and picked out ‘Ariel’, a slim volume – the only one I could afford – and immersed myself in it for weeks. Not the frothiest of reads, it has to be said. And not much help on the God front. But that’s what the Manics did. They forced you to investigate. Richey and Nicky spewed out reference points incoherently and indiscriminately, like cultural muck-spreaders, inviting their fans to work it out for themselves. It seemed like they were desperate to tell us something, but what?
Pre-internet it wasn’t easy to track down all those writers, those thinkers, those mysterious mind-shapers. Trips to the library were all part of the detective work: “Thus I progressed on the surface of life, in the realm of words, as it were, never in reality.” (Camus/’Love’s Sweet Exile’ sleeve.)
We got Henry Miller inside the ‘Generation Terrorists’ sleeve: “The tragedy of it is that nobody sees the look of desperation on my face. Thousands and thousands of us, and we’re passing one another without a look of recognition.” (I won’t forget reading ‘Quiet Days In Clichy’ under the duvet in a hurry.)
We got Marlon Brando: “The more sensitive you are, the more certain you are to be brutalised, develop scabs, never evolve. Never allow yourself to feel anything, because you always feel too much.” (‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ sleeve.)
We got Ballard: “I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit and force it to look in the mirror.” (‘Mausoleum’ sample.)
The work of all of these people, and many more, became familiar to me through the Manics. Their music inspired my jubilant descent into atheism and its attendant vices – an experience entirely comparable, I suspect, to being born again, and one for which I shall forever be grateful.
(The Manics perform ‘Faster’ on TOTP – watch out for Vic and Bob)
In terms of actual songs, for me, ‘Faster’ is the Manics’ best – as lean as they ever sounded, stripped of the pop metal excesses of their previous albums, but still angry as fuck. The sample at the beginning is John Hurt in ‘1984’: “I hate purity, I hate goodness, I don’t want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt.” I love JDB’s guitar solo, which pops up unexpectedly in the last minute of the song, so waspish and wonky. In an interview, the band said they’d been listening to Magazine, Wire and Gang of Four. You can tell.
On June 9th 1994, the Manics opened Top Of The Pops with an incendiary performance of ‘Faster’. At the time they were wearing a lot of military gear, in tribute, they said, to The Clash. JDB was sporting a paramilitary-style balaclava with JAMES sewn on it. He looked like he’d been working out. Many viewers felt the band were aligning themselves with the IRA. The BBC received 25,000 complaints.
Four months later I saw the boys play Manchester Academy. They’d covered the venue in camouflage netting and were still in their army and navy shop fatigues. They came on to a ricocheting loop of the last phrase in ‘Faster’: “So damn easy to cave in! Man kills everything!” It was a powerful gig. Loud, mean, genuinely unsettling. Richey was there. Rake thin, of course, naked from the waist up, hanging over his upturned mike stand like the original James Dean in ‘Giant’.
Another four months on and he was gone, leaving behind a second ‘Holy Bible’ for me to pore over. With themes including prostitution, American consumerism, fascism, the Holocaust, self-starvation and suicide, it proved only slightly less punishing than the first.
I created this mix while high on Night Nurse. It contains some of my favourite Fabs solo tracks and some heartfelt Beatles-inspired moments by other artists. I’ve dug out a couple of curios (a Gene Simmons solo effort, an Eno/Manzanera live track), plus lots of Harrison-esque slide. As always, there’s an emphasis on the melancholy. Thanks to SJP for ‘Bedspring Kiss’ and numerous others.
01. The Beatles – Because
02. Cian Ciaran – You & Me
03. John Lennon – Steel & Glass
04. 801 – T.N.K.
05. George Harrison – Art of Dying (Take 36)
06. Emitt Rhodes – Ever Find Yourself Running
07. ELO – Telephone Line
08. Paul McCartney – Jenny Wren
09. Jellyfish – Bedspring Kiss
10. The Paragons & Roslyn Sweat – Blackbird
11. Wings – Let Me Roll It
12. Nilsson – Jump Into The Fire
13. Gene Simmons – See You Tonite
14. Todd Rundgren – It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference
15. XTC – The Disappointed
16. Aimee Mann – How Am I Different?
17. Paul Weller – Song For Alice
18. Marmalade – Reflections of My Life
19. Field Music – Measure
20. David Bowie – Try Some, Buy Some
21. The Beatles – Because (Love version)