Thursday, 15 May 2008

Buy It Here

I was going to write a long piece about how the old way of selling records/CDs through shops meant that the artist got very little of the money that the audience paid for music, about how downloads make it possible for a lot more of what you pay to actually get back to the artist and about how downloads are enabling lots of small-scale artists to make their music available in ways they never could before. Then it occurred to me that everyone knows that already.

Ok, the big download sites such as iTunes still take a stupid chunk of the cash, and impose all sorts of restrictions on how things can be sold (they set the price, for example) but if artists can set up their own download store linked to their own website then most of the middlemen are taken out of the chain and you get more of a 'fair trade' situation where you know the money you pay is mostly going where you want it to, back to the artist.

It has been suggested that in purely capitalist terms an mp3 file has no value because the supply is effectively infinite, and it is definitely true that if you want to, and know where to look, you can probably download almost any tune you want for nothing. But, the great thing is that if you actually want to support your favourite artist so they can go on making more of the music you love then buying from their store will do exactly that and you know you are not just giving money to retailers, distributors, manufacturers, trucking companies etc. etc...

Guessed where this is going yet?

The Big Announcement:

On Monday we are unveiling our new download store. We will have available all the Banco albums and singles so far released since the 'Desert Wind' EP in 1993 up to the 'Kara Kum' remixes in 2006, plus some other goodies not easily/ever available before. We will be making them available cheaper than other commercial download sites and in higher quality than other sites, and the cash comes back to us so you know it makes sense to buy it here, right?

And those other 'goodies'?

Firstly: we are packaging all the remixes from all the singles from 1993 onwards into one 'album' (I'm not sure what you're supposed to call it these days when there is no physical album, but I'm sure you get what I mean). That's 24 tracks, including some very rare and one never even commercially released before, all for a very silly price.

Secondly: we are packaging all the Banco tracks from the old 'Ambient Dub' compilations from 1992/93 into another 'album'. 7 tracks, including the extremely hard to find (unless you have the even older cassette albums) 'Soufie', and all for an even sillier price.

And thirdly: finally available will be the full length version of the Banco cover version of Pink Floyd's 'Echoes'. That's the full 23 minute version in all it's humble tribute glory, Dave Gilmour guitar impressions included...

Later on we're planning to put up all sorts of other bits and pieces which won't be seeing a full CD release, including live recordings from various periods and possible collaborations with other artists. Also, we hope to be adding releases from some of our other favourite artists and friends so hopefully you'll be able to check out some other interesting music you might not otherwise have come across.

So there you are. A new store and new tunes (and old tunes) and a new way to support what we're doing. Announcements will go out on Monday and I'll also post the website address here, as well as a link appearing at but remember, you heard it here first.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Torn between two lovers

It's a funny thing, loyalty. Sometimes it's the easiest thing in the world to commit to something and stick to it come what may but other times the world just doesn't make it that easy. Particularly if that world is based on competition.

Tonight I am going to watch a football match. A rare treat I don't get to enjoy very often, I'm off to the home of Bristol City FC with my mate Jon to watch them play Crystal Palace in the second leg of their Premiership promotion play-off semi-final (sorry, bit of a mouthful, that). If you're not interested then it won't mean anything but if you do vaguely follow English football, and the Championship (what used to be the second division) in particular, then you are probably aware that the gulf between the top 20 teams in this country (collectively known as the Premiership, what used to be the first division) and the rest of the ball-kicking population is pretty huge, so getting promoted to the Premiership is a pretty big deal. And it's all down to money.

You see, millions of people all over the world watch Premiership matches on TV and the money which that earns for the clubs is huge. We're talking millions. Lots and lots of millions. Millions of millions. Of pounds. It is estimated that the extra income from TV rights alone if a team gets promoted to the Premiership is worth about £40 million a year, which is enough to buy a whole team. And a pretty decent one at that. So, every year the top teams spend loads of dosh improving their squads with the pick of the finest players the world has to offer whilst everyone else has to choose between decorating the gents toilets or resurfacing the car park. Or maybe buying the odd player if they are feeling really flush.

It's just the way it is, free market capitalism at work, and as such not something to be too surprised about. It's the same mechanism whereby Madanna gets to ponce about on huge stages wearing solid platinum bras surrounded by a cast of 800,000 professional belly-dancers whilst some undiscovered genius with an accoustic guitar has to make do playing in the corner of an empty pub for half a pint of shandy (if he's lucky). The more commercially sucessful you are the more money you are given to go and be even more sucessful, etc, etc...

So back to City vs Palace and my opening comments about loyalty. Well, you see when I was a kid I lived in South London and the team I supported was... yep, Crystal Palace. A few years back they managed to work their way into the Premiership and have a year (or it might even have been two, I can't quite remember) of being beaten by vastly superior, and hugely more expensive, teams before being relegated back down to the Championship again. And I must admit I got rather fond of them again, having not really thought about them since I was 14.

These days I am fond of Bristol City thanks to my occasional visits with the aformentioned Jon to see them play and this year they have been very rude and gone from being promoted into the Championship at the start of the season to trying to get promoted out of the Championship at the end of the season without even hanging around for a few years proving they're good enough. Palace have at least had the decency to pay their dues for a few years before now aiming for the big time again and as luck would have it these are the two teams battling for a place in the play-off final (which will be against another team who are also trying to get promoted, but we don't need to worry about that for now).

So, my dilemma: will I be pleased whoever wins, or equally will I be a bit disappointed whoever wins? I would honestly like to see both teams win and be promoted but that can't happen. In the grand tradition of competitive enterprise for there to be a winner there has to be a loser, no way round it unless you change the basic principles of the game and reward teams for helping the other side help them put the ball in the back of a neutral goal, which frankly would be both dull and daft. So for this to have any meaning there has to be a winner and a loser, and it's what both sides signed up for and what they are there for so I have no problem with that. (Unlike a few other competitive exercises I can think of but let's not go there today).

One team will ultimately win, one will lose, and I'm in the fortunate position that I really don't mind which is which. On this occasion my split loyalties are a blessing. Really.

As long as City win. (Well, I haven't lived in London for a very long time...)

Sunday, 11 May 2008

It's summertime

Today is summer. Well, maybe technically according to the calander it isn't, I never know when seasons are supposed to start or finish, but if you were here today you would agree it is definitely summer. Has been for a few days in fact.

Those of you unfamiliar with UK weather might wonder why that is worth commenting on (apart from the fact that us English have a reputation for discussing the weather endlessly) but if you've ever been here for Glastonbury Festival then you'll know that good weather right now is definitely worth commenting on. Last year IIRC it had already rained every day for about a month at this point and it carried on for another 3 months after that and that's no exaggeration. Well, a bit of an exaggeration maybe, but really not much.

So, we are all desperately praying that this isn't another false start and the annual monsoon isn't waiting just around the corner. The run up to Glastonbury always seems to involve biblical amounts of rain but maybe, just maybe, not this year. Please. I would dearly love to be able to sit around listening to some good music and chatting with good people rather than taking part in the annual re-enactment of the battle of the Somme, surely not too much to ask once every decade or so?

Anyway, back to today. Having been for a walk and picnic on the hills, a pint in a pub garden and a visit to the supermarket, and finding it to be still only mid-afternoon, I decided it was time to do some 'pottering in the garden'. That's something else the English seem to be renowned for although I most definitely am not, usually. But today I had a mission: to pot up my chilli plants.

Somewhere in the last decade I developed a fondness for extremely spicey food and, like many addicts, ended up going even further and trying to produce my own. So for the last few years I've been growing chillis, various varieties with various degrees of success.

This year sadly my initial attempts failed and none of the dozen seeds I planted in March developed into anything at all, I've no idea why except that the source of the seeds (central Bristol) may have been slightly less than reliable. So on friday, when it was also summer, we went down to Devon to get some seedlings from the fine folk at South Devon Chilli Farm and came home equipped with one Jalapeno Telica, one Hungarian Wax, one Pimiento de Padron and one Ring of Fire (yes, it really is called that).

BTW, I know it doesn't warn you anywhere in the blog title but I'm afraid I might be spending a lot of time telling you about my chilli plants over the next few months. Well, if you're reading my blog I assume it's because you want to know about what matters to me, right? Well, there you go, chillis matter to me. Not as much as perhaps my wife or my cat or whether Pink Floyd will ever re-form matter to me but enough to be worthy of comment. A bit like the rather good weather we're having, actually...

And so, having cleverly brought this monologue full circle I'll stop now. At some point I will tell you how chillis can play an important part in your experience of Glastonbury (or any other) festival but right now I need to go back out and sit in the sun and watch my plants grow.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Hello, I'm new here...

Ladies and Gentleman... my name is Toby and I am a blogger.

So, as you see, I've started a blog. Someone said it would be a good idea and to be honest there's so much I would love to share with you all and generally get of my chest I thought I might as well go public. I have no idea off-hand what I'm going to write about but I'm hoping to add something every day or two (do all new bloggers say that?) even if it's just a weather update. Who knows, it might even get interesting.

I'll leave it at that for now, give everyone time to find this and subscribe (please, makes it so much more satisfying knowing it's being read). Do spread the word to anyone you think might be interested and comments are always welcome (do all new bloggers say that?), not that there is much to comment on yet...

Hasta manana


Thursday, 26 October 1995

Tuesday, 26 September 1995