Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Never mind the width, feel the quality

Here's a choice tune from our double CD, "Now That's What I Call Keshco", hopeful of proving that Side 4 is as interesting as Side 1, and that you should forget the originals when listening to our re-imaginings:

It's available for download with no minimum price - yes, you can grab the whole thirty tracks for free if you want, as an album or individually, and maybe that's the best way to listen, shuffling away on your iPod or performing ringtone duties on your mobile. Who knows - one of the songs might have some personal resonance and you may wish to share with friends via email or whatever social hell site you use.

However, the limited two CD set features quite a bit of artwork, and you get smouldering shots such as this:

Ladies, grab one now!


The original Now 1 is available from Amazon UK, naturally, and is far less economical.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Keshco's Now is out Now

Our 30-track tribute to the original 1983 compilation is available here: http://keshco.bandcamp.com/

As usual, please treat track 30 as importantly as track 1; some of the songs you're not originally familiar with may be the more interesting ones to click on; it's not all comedy songs; it's not all synthesized; it's not all folk; listening to the start of a song does not necessarily indicate how it ends; if you like any of it at all please comment, share and give us the faith to do more silly time-consuming projects like this.

Open your ears and your heart, and enjoy the free sound of Keshco, otherwise known as Bleak House, whose future regenerations may be many - but we promise we'll never become anything you'd hear on Radio 1.

Our previous releases have attempted (mostly failed) to bring together listeners of netlabels such as WM Recordings (Netherlands), 23 Seconds (Sweden), Silent Flow (Moldova), 4-4-2 Music (Australia), A.M.P-Recs (Mexico) and Pan y Rosas (United States). There's a lot of interesting sounds out there.

Anyway, now you've read about our version, why not check out the original? It's here on Amazon UK for 100% more money than ours.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Now That's What I Call Imminent

Our new album, and new website, are imminent. Firstly, here is a preview track from our 30-track tribute to the original Now That's What I Call Music album (released in this month thirty years ago):

"That's All" turns up midway through Side Four, which is on Disc Two.

Here are a couple of drawings courtesy of Robert. See if you can work out which tracks they relate to:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Here are some things to watch and listen

Hello there,

On 19th October 2013 we returned to London's Resonance FM, making our third appearance on the Hello Goodbye Show hosted by Dexter Bentley. Our previous shows were in February 2008 and December 2010. Andy had the norovirus thanks to his workplace, but Bob and Luke steered him onto the Tube and the performance was able to proceed. Richard and co made us feel very welcome. You can now see the video footage of that performance, here:


Marvel at how Bob gets sounds from an even tinier kit, Luke turns his slide into a chaos of tweeting birds during Wafternoon, and at the live mixing during Top Deck.

A few weeks earlier, on 22nd September, we'd performed in a Sunday afternoon slot at London's Hidden River Festival, inside an empty dark big top (though it was being pumped around to the roughly 500 people on site). You can watch/hear that too:


Meanwhile, our uStream channel Beware! Vision is getting into gear, and on Sunday 20th October we broadcast a poetry show featuring Socialist humorous wordsmith Andrew Walton, whose entertaining and strident blog is here. You can watch the show on catch-up:

A separate YouTube episode will follow, with several different poems as well as interview footage from the Bloomsbury Festival launch of In Protest: 150 Poems For Human Rights, to which Andrew contributed a poem.

The next live Keshco event is on the weekend of Saturday 23rd November, celebrating 19 years of Keshco, 30 years of Now That's What I Call Music, and 50 years of Dr Who!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Johnny Cocktail: Obscured By Masks production notes

On 20th October 2011, beat combo Keshco unveiled an hour-long psychedelic comedy film starring Robert Follen as unorthodox lifestyle guru/private investigator Johnny Cocktail. This particular project had a long and tortuous journey before making it onto YouTube; indeed, that it even appeared at all is testament to a certain kind of unhealthy obsession that should be a lesson to any would-be film-makers out there. So, Johnny made it past the masks, but how did he get so obscured?

If you've read the previous blog, you'll remember that we intended an entire series called "Johnny's Quest For The Truth", starting with Johnny recovering from an off-screen breakdown and finding his way again through exploration of art, food, religion, nature etc. As part of the first episode, Johnny was to have a pill-induced seizure, and whilst unconscious to have a brief dream sequence, before waking up fresh out of hospital. This little sequence turned out to be the most enjoyable section to film, and we rapidly went way beyond any notion of fitting the sequence into 90 seconds. Characters, visual metaphors, dialogue... we kept filming more and more for the dream, whilst the series around it ground to a halt. Eventually there was an awful lot of random dream footage. Faced with this confusing about-turn, we got stuck for direction and put the project to bed for a while.

In mid-2008, I took another look at all the dream footage and edited it down into about 45 minutes, 45 rather unsatisfying minutes as there was virtually no understandable plot progression save a couple of scripted scenes. Now we had a better digicam at our disposal, we could add new footage and push up the overall quality. This would be a nice quick process, just to get it out there.

By 2010... well, we'd got a little further, picking up the threads every 3 months or so. Every new scripted scene and silly moment helped the overall flow, with my repeated passes through the video editor aiming to keep the overall run time under 1 hour; and an actual plot developed, involving a race of clones from another dimension, and the idea of Johnny's essence being harvested to provide fresh creative impetus for a war fleet - they were scanning the galactic frequencies when they came upon transmissions of Johnny's old programmes, and took his false-advertising statements of world-saving heroism seriously.

From here, all the new footage was planned and scripted first, leading to that familiar Keshco phenomenon of chance elements weaved together through the thinnest of references, to give a false impression of coherence. It's not a script you'd sit down and write from beginning to end, that's for sure; but our overall aim was for something peculiar and daft, not watertight. Some scenes are almost definitely in the real world, some scenes are almost definitely in a dream world, and the narrative/pictorial logic works both ways at different times.

It's quite sad looking at the YouTube stats which show a massive viewer drop-off midway through part two, just after the baddie has outlined the full horror of his nefarious plan to Johnny. It suggests that the viewers so far were predominantly wrapped up in concerns of plot. The fools, they've got it completely the wrong way round! The result is that most people haven't seen the best effects sequences of the film (and a couple of the best jokes) which are in the last 10 minutes.

Yes, the video effects. Moving from the glitchy VideoStudio 10 to the barely-less-glitchy VideoStudio X2, I faced a tedious amount of lost saves (the program crashing on preview, or usually on exit) and broken effect chains. Overlays would be programmed, then lost and angrily reprogrammed. VideoStudio has many restrictions as a creative tool, though this forced me to find workarounds that were often well worth the effort. The FX-heavy nature of much of this project made real-time previews impossible. I'd have to render sections, make notes on the wildly off-target effects, then take best guesses before rendering again.

We must ponder Robert's sterling character work in all this. In another world Robert would have been the next Kenny Everett, and indeed JC is menaced by a film producer in one section who acts just like one of Kenny's creations. This was only one of many, many characters you meet in the whole film who are brought to life courtesy of Robert's mastery of costume, make-up, prosthetics and accent.

The rest of us filled in where we could, with Luke contributing some clients and Caroline taking the important role of Johnny's long-suffering PA.

Ultimately, it was a valuable learning experience, and has taught me a lot about editing and timekeeping, but it's still searching for its appreciative open-minded audience. I suspect those who enjoyed "Lint" by Steve Aylett may be receptive.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Never trust a Tory


Reclines the porcine
Post dine, necks fine wine
His stocks dropped but no loss
He watched, flogged then tax dodged
There's cash in the chaos
Plump pensions and pay-offs

Mysteron beams on the desperate doleys
Big Brother bullies, battering bullshit
Government hotwire for benefit fraud
The irony so deep, you want us to applaud?
The swagger so blatant, hidden in plain sight
They float legislation to wither the first time
Knowing the endless flow will obscure
Give it a year then float it once more
Wait til they're fighting to stop something else
Cos they can't plug a system with this many holes
- are we all in this together?

Never trust a Tory. Never trust a Tory. Never trust a Tory. Never trust a Tory.

From the Keshco EP "Bees" released in April 2012.

A couple of people have asked why I don't write more political lyrics nowadays. Well I still do, but it doesn't seem like people are listening. Or if they are, we're preaching to the converted. Anyway, I thought I'd stick this up to remind - well myself, as much as others - of our leftist foundation.

Meanwhile, here's an article I was just reading:

And here's a political blog from old Keshcologist Drew Walton:

Meanwhile, you can check out (and, if desired, buy) the latest Keshco EP, "The Blood, The Horror", which is mainly about atmosphere, character and comic chills, from our Bandcamp page: http://keshco.bandcamp.com

"Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Support your struggling artists

We enjoy the freedom of working outside label/management structures, allowing us to follow whatever whims we like and put the results out directly to you, dear reader. However, we don't make money from it. Now, one of our most-visited net presences is at the Free Music Archive, where we have a page...

Keshco at the Free Music Archive

From there you can see that our recent EPs have been downloaded many thousands of times - Accountants By Day alone is approaching 45,000 downloads. It's great that so many people have shared in our music, which is shared under Creative Commons licensing.

On the top right hand corner of the page at the FMA, there's a box with a dollar ($) symbol, saying "Tip The Artist". We're looking for ways of making this free music idea work financially, and micropayments seem a good way to go. You can click on the tip box, and then via Paypal, donate anything you wish, as little as $0.01 if you feel like it, towards our past and future music-making. If we get enough little tips, we can put the money towards something useful, like monitor speakers or better mics, or just towards the rent. It also gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling that people appreciate what we've put out.

Have you heard of any alternative money-making schemes for musicians or other creatives?

All the best now x

PS: If you, like us, are skint, you may appreciate the wise words of Alvin Hall, in Your Money or Your Life: A Practical Guide to Getting - and Staying - on Top of Your Finances (Amazon UK affiliate link; Amazon US for those differently-docked - oh go on, every little helps). The early stuff is of more immediate use for scrapers in making tiny budgets stretch, the latter bits aimed towards those who have already put by a little cash and want to know how best to invest it.