Safe European Home

Not so long ago, it seemed that you couldn’t turn on the news without seeing some story or another about the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico. The media darlings couldn’t get enough of the enigmatic Subcommandante Marcos and his stylishly sexy balaclava-and-pipe combo. But, as is the way with the corporate press, they soon became bored with their latest ‘discovery’ and moved on, quickly forgetting the people and the story.

However, for the indigenous people of Chiapas, the story is very much far from over and their struggle for dignity and autonomy against the Mexican state continues. For them, this is not a cheap thrill story that can be instantly discarded once the excitement wears off. It is one of necessity and, sometimes, it carries a very heavy price indeed.

But, despite the forces that they face, the Zapatista communities have not surrendered. Far from it in fact – their efforts to reach out and engage with oppressed people the world over demonstrate just how much liberty means to them. They recognise that strength lies in unity and solidarity, and that victory in Chiapas is just the start not the end.

Since the uprising began, links have been formed between the Zapatista communities and their supporters from around the world. One of the UK support groups, KIPTIK, has been working with the communities since 2000. Volunteers provide practical support in four main areas – water, health, media and arts. The water projects are their primary focus – mortality rates and poor health are greatly reduced when a community has access to clean fresh water and so it tends to be what they ask for first. KIPTIK try to use the most appropriate technology for the construction, and leave local people with the skills needed to maintain it once they have gone.

So what’s my point?

It’s actually a really simple one. It costs about £4000 to provide something that we take for granted to 300 people. To help raise money that literally saves lives, KIPTIK have produced a calendar for the year ahead. It’s a high-quality piece of work and, as well as info about the communities and KIPTIK’s work, there are 12 striking images from the communities included.

The calendar only costs £7 including postage* from the Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group, and you can order online from their website. Not only will you get a year’s worth of calendar but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped kick another brick out of the wall of power.

And all from the comfort of your armchair, a luxury that some others don’t have.

*UK only – if you want one and you’re from elsewhere, let me know and I’ll get back to you.

VA – Punk Rock Christmas Present

Artist: Various
Title: Punk Rock Christmas Present
Source: mp3 download
Bitrate: Various
Running time (h:m:s): 00:34:18
Size (mb): 36.7
Label: Low Profile Promotions
Year: 2007

I’ve only heard a couple of the bands on this compilation (the first and last as it happens), but that was enough for me to grab this free sampler from Low Profile Promotions (the word ‘free’ also helped sway my decision). Like any sampler, it’s a mixed bag, and some tracks hold their ground better than others. But they all get an ‘A’ for effort. For me, the stand out track is the Sex Patels (which I half-expected anyway, having seen them play live) and the sampler’s worth grabbing for their track alone.

OP’s opinion: Three

Here’s the lowdown straight from the horse’s mouth:

Low Profile #3 – Punk Rock Christmas Present

01 – Officer Down – We Are Not the Enemy
02 – The Something Somethings – Ol Fashioned Way
03 – Pirates of Heroes – The Burnouts of Harbour City
04 – Paul Carter – Eco Warrior
05 – Circus of Invention – Beautiful Ones
06 – Beans on Toast – Christmas at Tesco
07 – Roadkill – Outta Bog Roll
08 – Agent Ape – Eye for the Blind
09 – Dammit – Quit While Your Ahead
10 – Buff – Shrooms
11 – Clown Shoes – Fuck Officers
12 – Sex Patels – The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

Download Now!

Now there’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Do-It-Yourself Takeaway

I’m a curry-holic. Curries are cheap, tasty, comforting and, made properly, some of the most nutritious food known to vegankind. Over the years I’ve learned how to make some pretty good dishes. Nowadays I feel confident enough with spices to generally not use cookbook recipes as anything more than a starting point. These two recipes are quick and easy enough for anyone to have a go at. There may be quite a few different spices included but you can substitute pretty much whatever you have to hand if you’re adventurous and don’t mind taking a chance.

Serves about 3 hearty appetites.

Chana Masala

This is also known as chhole or, if you’re dead common, chickpea curry. Whatever it’s called, it’s one of my faves.

  • 15ml vegetable ghee
  • 2cm piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 5ml cumin seeds
  • 5ml yellow mustard seeds
  • 2.5-5ml dried chilli flakes
  • 10ml ground coriander
  • 10ml paprika
  • 5ml tamarind paste concentrate
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 2cm cube fresh ginger, shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 400g tinned chickpeas
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt

Mix the coriander and paprika with a little water to make a paste and set aside. Melt the ghee over a low heat and fry the onion and celery for about 15 mins until soft. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the coriander and paprika paste and stir for another minute. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes (I prefer to liquidise mine), tamarind and sugar, stir well and bring gently to the boil. Add salt to taste and it’s ready. Like most curries, this improves if left to sit for a few hours then gently reheated before serving.

Sprinkle some fresh coriander on it just before you slop it on the plate with the spud recipe below.

Bombay Aloo

For me, potato is the perfect accompaniment to just about everything, but served as a dryish curry it sits particularly well alongside the chickpeas.

  • 500g small / new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 30ml vegetable ghee
  • 2 medium onions, quartered and sliced
  • 8 dried curry leaves
  • 5ml dried chilli flakes
  • 2.5ml onion seeds
  • 2.5ml black mustard seeds
  • 2.5ml fennel seeds
  • 5ml turmeric powder
  • 2.5ml cumin powder
  • 2.5ml amchoor (mango) powder
  • 1.25ml asafoetida powder
  • 5ml lemon juice
  • Salt

Mix the turmeric, cumin, amchoor and asafoetida with a little water to make a paste and set aside. Steam (or gently boil) the potatoes for around 15 mins until soft. While they’re cooking, melt the ghee over a low heat and fry the onions for about 15 mins until beginning to soften and go clear. Add the curry leaves, chilli, onion, mustard and fennel seeds and stir fry for 2 mins. Add the spice paste and lemon juice and stir fry for another minute. Mix in the potatoes and coat well in the spice mixture. Add salt to taste. As above, leave this to sit for a few hours if you can, reheat and serve with the chana and some basmati rice.

Break open a beer, stuff your face and relish the warm and content glow that spreads inside you.

Culture Shock – Go Wild / All The Time CD

Artist: Culture Shock
Title: Go Wild + All The Time!
Source: CD LP
Bitrate: FLAC
Running time (h:m:s): 00:54:49
Size (mb): 94.5
Label: Bluurg Records
Year: Original vinyl – 1986 / 1989, CD comp – 1995

Go Wild:
1. Punks on Postcards
2. Go Wild (My Son)
3. Messed Up
4. Six Foot Rooms
5. Ten Per Cent Off
6. Circles
7. Mother’s on the Phone
8. All (Messed up) Together

All The Time:
9. Countdowns
10. Twenty Questions
11. Upside Down
12. Time It Takes
13. Four Minutes
14. Northern Ireland
15. Northern Ireland (Dub)
16. Onwards

These two releases straddled either side of ‘Onwards & Upwards’ and round out the Culture Shock collection (minus a couple of demos). They were originally released on vinyl, but I’ve used the CD version for this upload – Treeman asked if I had the rest and this was the quickest way to do it (i.e. I’m a lazy bastard who couldn’t be arsed ripping the vinyl right now). You’ll have to make do without the life-affirming crackles and pops and settle for squeaky clean this time. And I’ve not had time to do the artwork photos either – it’s cold and dark ouside and natural light works much better than flash. You’ll just have to wait. Oh, the hardships I make you endure.

OP’s opinion – Go Wild): Four
OP’s opinion – All The Time: 5 – Five

Click here to request the download link.

If you are the copyright owner and want us to take down your music, just click here and let us know. We’re really not trying to piss anyone off, we just want to share rare and out-of-print music with people who want to hear it.

The Aural Equivalent Of Sniffing Glass*

Random webtrawling occasionally throws up the odd piece of interesting flotsam amongst all the detritus. Today I found just such a ‘gem’. Well, maybe gem is too strong a word, but Mobile Sonic Warfare Unit certainly live up to their name and their mission statement:

MOBILE SONIC WARFARE UNIT exists solely to agitate and aggravate the civilian population of the United States of America. They perform improvised noise concerts on a moment’s notice, usually in an inappropriate setting (e.g: coffee house, golf course, church). Their instrumentation varies from set to set but it often involves computers or synthesizers, as these are most compact and easy to flee a scene with. They will play until their unsuspecting victims force them to stop. Mainly, they are an attempt to condition the lazy, apathetic, indecisive American public to react willingly, readily, and as a whole against anything that may cross them for the worse.

Also, they want your money.

If I was sat in a cafe with an LCT (lovely cuppa tea) and this lot started up, they’d soon be wearing it. But I’d be highly amused too. It may be horrendously unlistenable once you’ve been subjected to more than a minute’s worth, but you’ve got to admire the sheer punk attitude of the whole enterprise.

*Ten bonus I-Spy Punk Points for the first person who can identify the author of the original quote I bastardised for this heading and the band s/he was referring to.

Free Noise #18

Artist: Blaggers I.T.A.
Title: Blaggamuffin
Source: Vinyl 12″ mini-LP
Bitrate: V0 VBR
Running time (h:m:s): 00:23:05
Size (mb): 42.3
Label: Words Of Warning
Year: 1991

1. Pitbull Mentality
2. Ten Years On
3. Bastard Chilling
4. Emergency
5. The Gun Is Cocked
6. Brixton 91

Although Blaggers I.T.A. had already released some vinyl prior to this, ‘Blaggamuffin’ can probably be considered the record that defined the politics and sound that the band has become best known for. Samples and brass are layered with tight and creative punk rock noise and words to create an irresistibly catchy brew that stimulates both brain and body in equal measure. Unflinchingly prole in attitude, the lyrics aren’t afraid to take things on head on, bare-knuckled, uncompromising and unfettered by liberal niceties.

The Blaggers proudly wear their working-class hearts on their sleeves, whether they’re recounting toe-to-toes with fascists or remembering Irish freedom fighters. They earned a lot of respect as well as a lot of animosity for this, even from within the ‘radical’ punk community (where some puritanical sack-wearers denounced their decision to release a later record or two on EMI, despite the fact that it allowed them to take out full page ads in the mainstream music press in support of Anti-Fascist Action and channel much-needed funds to the cause). But they never backed down, and quite right too.

Blaggers I.T.A. went on hiatus for a while but are now back in action as Blaggers AKA, with Olaf from the Stage Bottles admirably filling the vocal void left by the untimely death of Matty Blag a few years back. I saw ’em a couple of years ago in this latest incarnation and they’re still up for it in every sense. They were great to watch, great to hear and just as relevant now as they ever were.

OP’s opinion: 5 – Five

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Excess All Areas

I like to fool myself into believing that I’ve got my finger on the pulse, sonically speaking. But, to be honest, underneath it all I’m aware of just how much self-deception is going on. The fact of the matter is that there are simply too many bands making too many good tunes (and a lot more making shit ones) for any human to keep up with (although the chimps might have a better chance). However, that doesn’t stop me getting a buzz the first time I come across a mob of musicians who grab and engulf my ears and brain with their audio extravagances, even if they’re already ‘out there’ and adored by thousands well before I find ’em.

One such mob are total mash-up terrorists Sonic Boom Six. Last week I heard my first track by ’em. This week I’ve got all of their tunes and am waiting for the t-shirt. According to the wiki entry they sound like ‘Notting Hill Carnival on a punk CD’, which to my mind is under-egging the pudding (moral dilemma – is it OK for vegans to use animal-based expressions?). Punk, ska, drum ‘n’ bass, ragga, calypso, dancehall, metal, hip hop, dub, samples and loops all fuse perfectly for a full-on booty-shakin’ experience, but that’s only half the story. The lyrics are just as fiery, fiesty and fun and make the whole package well beyond complete.

I can’t recommend any of their albums in particular, they’re all pretty much spot-on, just take a lucky dip and prepare to be impressed with whatever lands on your doorstep. Having said that, ‘Sounds To Consume: Champion Edition’ has the best version of ‘Safe European Home’ that I’ve ever heard, easily surpassing the original.

They’re some of the most intelligent, talented and up-for-it political partyheads I’ve had the good fortune to stumble across this year, so let your hair down and join in the fun.

OP’s opinion: Five

And if you’re in the Hull area around solstice time, check this out:

Love Music, Hate Racism benefit gig flyer

The best bargain of the season I reckon.

If you live further afield, they’re also playing these venues beforehand:

12 Dec 2007 WHITE RABBIT, PLYMOUTH
17 Dec 2007 BRICKYARD, CARLISLE
18 Dec 2007 BAR ACADEMY, BIRMINGHAM
19 Dec 2007 VIVAZ, SCARBOROUGH

Time to get yer dancing legs on.

Hot Off The Presses

Just a quickie…Punk Torrents will be open for registration from sometime around teatime today until Sunday eve. It’s free, it’s friendly and it’s full of moist musical morsels.

And thanks to Burke for this email:

I just wanted to say thanks for posting this Culture Shock LP. I havent heard this in probably 12 years but has always been a record that I’ve been very fond of, although I unfortunately never owned it nor did I ever find it to buy.

Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that you made my week by posting this.

Cheers!

Burke
Brooklyn, NY

My pleasure mate. Look out for more in the near future.

Free Noise #17

Artist: Hellbastard
Title: Ripper Crust
Source: Coloured vinyl 12″ LP (mauve)
Bitrate: V0 VBR
Running time (h:m:s): 00:40:16
Size (mb): 70.6
Label: Grind / Crust
Year: 1993
Notes: Mastered from original 4-track (!) studio tape

1. Intro…
2. Nazis Killed
3. Massacre
4. Deciever (sic)
5. Insanity
6. Death From Above
7. Life For Who?
8. Kill Or Be Killed
9. Outside Claustrophobia
10. Skag K.D.P.
11. And Now…(pt 1)

RISE OF CRUST!!! Yep, the band that gave us the term released this, their first demo tape, back in the dark days of 1987. Recorded in just six hours for twenty-five quid, this isn’t exactly hi-fi material. But it’s probably all the better for it – the primal power captured here stands strong in its own right and set the standard. The bells and whistles came later and, ultimately, Hellbastard morphed into just another boring extreme speed metal band by the time of the ‘Natural Order’ album, complete with dodgy wailing and even dodgier hair. Shame.

Ripper Crust vinylThe first track I heard from ‘Ripper Crust’ was ‘Massacre’ and it gave me the same hit that I’d got the first time I’d heard ‘Scum’ by Napalm Death and the Extreme Noise Terror side of ‘Earslaughter’. I began to hunt down a copy of the complete tape straight away, desperate for a bigger fix. Fortunately, my mate Pete (guitarist with Pro Patria Mori, a band that didn’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserved IMHO, but that’s another story) had a few and sent me one. The tape, which has long since passed on to C90 heaven, was a semi-permanent fixture of my audio environment for many years. No matter how muddy and hissy it got, I didn’t get bored with it. Fortunately, the vinyl re-release means that I’m still enjoying its rumbling rawness to this day. I suggest that you take this opportunity to experience it too if you haven’t already.

Best listened to with scrumpy and empty bowels.

Trivia fact: Scruff (vox / guitar) was part of ultra-leftist insurrectionaries The Apostles before getting Hellbastard together. I hold The Apostles in high regard for what they did, and will probably get round to putting up one or two things by them too (although compiling the artwork could be a bit of a task because every release came crammed with inserts).

OP’s opinion: 5 – Five

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Free Noise #16

Artist: Culture Shock
Title: Onwards And Upwards
Source: Vinyl 12″ LP
Bitrate: V0 VBR
Running time (h:m:s): 00:45:38
Size (mb): 83.6
Label: Bluurg Records
Year: 1988
Notes: Some minor background noise in places

1. Pressure
2. Colour T.V.
3. Fast Foward
4. You Are Not Alone
5. Joyless
6. If You Don’t Like It
7. Civilization Street
8. United
9. Catching Flies
10. When the Fighting’s Over
11. Open Mind Surgery
12. Don’t Worry About It
13. I.S.D.

Centred around Dick Lucas (Subhumans), CS ran for around 3 years in the late 80’s and played in a tight, energetic dub-ska-punk stylee. They were always big free festival favourites and I had the pleasure of this experience, jumping around like a loon on acid, on more than one occasion.

The change in sound from the Subhumans gave Dick a chance to use his voice and words in new ways. The lyrics are more introspective and the vocals, while just as impassioned, have a gentler edge to them. The music bounces around nicely and matches the lyrical mood well. It’s driving and catchy but manages to add melancholic moodiness to the darker elements of the lyrics too. Each song is solid and coherent with just the right amount of variation to ensure that you don’t have time to get bored, and every one is more like a story than a verse-chorus-verse affair. You can read a pretty good track-by-track review written by someone else here.

And, as promised, I’ve also created and uploaded the CD cover and label art (which is why there are no pictures in this post).

OP’s opinion: 5 – Five

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