Cafe conversation, Crystal Palace, 27 June 2009

Je rends visite a Cafe St Germain en Crystal Palace. Je prends un cafe et un croissant au beurre et confiture arome framboise.

I couldn’t sleep last night, threw in the towel of attempted unconsciousness at 5:30AM, and decided to go for an early walk from Croydon to Forest Hill. I got to Crystal Palace, about two-thirds of the way there, just as cafes were starting to open, and it seemed a good point for a coffee break, just across the road from the park. So I’m sitting at a table outside in the morning sun, a grey haze of yesterday’s ozone and fox piss starting to lift from the streets.

The couple at the far table have a copy of The Sun, whose front page lists the drugs that Michael Jackson may or may not have been using in the months prior to his recent death. The headline reads:

Xanax, Prilosec, Vicodin, Paxil, Demerol, Soma, Dilaudid, Zoloft.

At the bottom of the page we’re promised “Jacko coverage: pages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 19, 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15.”

It’s not as catchy a headline as “Wacko Jacko.” I doubt people will adopt it as an everyday phrase, verbatim, in the same way: it’s more difficult to memorise; I had to sneak a cameraphone photo in a newsagents’ to make sure I got it right. But I thought it was interesting, as it sounded a similar list, or at least a similarly long list, to that of the drugs my granny Cosgrove was taking from her mid-80s until she died in her early 90s. She was a habitual singer herself, actually – and no slouch on the dancefloors of 1930s Manchester and the Isle of Man. Although she didn’t make the mistake of committing to 50 gigs at the O2 arena when she was fifty years old.

She used to moan about how pop records just fade out at the end – something which I think influenced me to get into techno, whose tracks typically finish with some definite crash or device of percussive punctuation. She also used to moan about how late 20th century electronic music was “all bass,” a development which I never succeeded in convincing her was a marker of genuine musical progress. My mum now has, and still plays, her old upright piano. Her work colleagues used to sit her on top of filing cabinets and get her to sing whatever songs were popular at the time. She knew hundreds, she was the original human juke box, she was a 512MB MP3 player in biological form.

Put another nickel in,
in the Nickelodeon,
all I want is loving you
and music, music, music.

A Moston twang and nasality in the vowels. Light, delicate consonants. Old school Moston, when people still relied on friends and neighbours to make music. I tried to get her into Ableton Live to lighten long days in her nursing home, perhaps the occasional knees-up round the old MacBook Pro, but she’d have none of it.

The couple with the paper are talking to the woman at the next table; she’s obviously a friend. She leans across and says, “They say it was the pain relief he was taking.”

And I’m struck by how multiply redundant that observation is. What reason could she possibly have for thinking, for it even to flicker-flash across the hindmost corner of her mind, that her friends could possibly not already know what “they” think killed Michael Jackson? We’ve seen and heard precious little else, on 13 24-hour news channels, for the past 36 hours. I’ve heard that 46-character message about six hundred times now, in this newspaper on my table, on ITV, on BBC1, BBC2, BBC News 24, on Sky, on BBC Radios 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, on VH1, on Capital Radio, on Heart FM, on CNN, on NBC, by email, by tweet, on multiple discussion fora, on Google News, on Google Video, by phone, over the fences on either side of my front and back gardens, and mysteriously, in the pattern of raisins in a fruit scone two days before he died. It’s like culture is having an epileptic fit, short-circuited, the same half-dozen words burnt stroboscopically into the occipital lobes of every language-speaking brain on the planet. We know this rumour and  the rhythms of the manifold media by which it has been delivered so well that we’d be more or less able to write the next week’s editorial content of the top-selling half-dozen broadsheets and tabloids ourselves, now, on this napkin using chocolat from this pain au chocolat if we weren’t catatonic with prurient tragedy repetition overload.

It’s about as constructive a contribution to contemporary world discourse as saying, “my thin lips are moving up and down, and a reedy sound is being emitted from my windbox as I blow air through it with my lungs.” The culturally-transmitted aspects of our human consciousness are at the point of collapse from a lack of narrative biodivesity. Human society could go down unless we start talking about a sufficient number of other things to sustain the linguistic transactions on which it depends. We don’t need to hear this message again, from her, while we’re trying to caffeine-punch through a fug of insomnia, or relax out from under a hangover with our wife at eight o’clock on a  Saturday morning in Crystal fucking Palace.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it turns out that she was talking about her uncle Keith rather than Michael Jackson, so I am forced into an apology, and offer to buy her a new pair of spectacles, before hastening on my way towards Forest Hill.

Mr Braidy’s Thoughts on Crime #1

Two years ago, there was an attempted burglary at my house in South London. I don’t own a television or any related paraphernalia, and I’d cunningly left a bunch of useless, old keys obviously visible in the back room – almost like a decoy – so the thieves didn’t manage to steal anything. In fact I gained from the crime, to the tune of one bright orange human turd, left for me on the garden path outside the kitchen.

The police explained that thieves are often very excited immediately prior to breaking into a property, and that this excitement can cause them to need to void bowel at very short notice. So, if you live in an area with a heightened risk of crime against property, it might well be worth your while investing in a child’s potty and a roll of toilet paper for your back garden. And, if you really want to reduce your risk of being severely inconvenieced by burglary, I would further suggest having no cash and owning only a small amount of unattractive possessions.

The police finger-printed the house, but apparently you can’t dust a turd, nor do they contain any of their producer’s DNA. I suggested that the colour of the item bespoke an unusual if not unique approach to food, a bowel significantly out of balance, and that they might be able to narrow the field of suspicion by looking at supermarket till receipts in the area and picking up anyone who obviously survives on a diet of tomato soup and Wotsits.  They left me to clean up with a plastic bag.

Happily, the break-in happened in winter, and the faeces froze solid in the cold of the night. I imagine that the biochemistry was not unlike that of Bird’s Ice Magic ice cream topping.

I’ve often wondered why human beings are so obsessed with hygeine, and why we replace our own, unique scent with the generic, categorised smells of aftershave, cologne, perfume, body spray, anti-perspirant. Meanwhile, most mammals live in a fug of their own excretion-funk, marking territory with their bodily waste. But for a smell to claim a territory, we need to link the odour to its owner. So I’ve come to the conclusion that in ancient times people recognised, and reacted strongly to each other by smell as well as by sight. Knowing whose manor you were on was very important, and – especially in the days when everyone lived on a diet of diseased mammoth and raw fish – you’d very likely smell the locals before you saw them.

People find the smell of stale urine on public transport strongly offensive – I’ve seen the looks on their faces, week in week out, for years. Is that because, subconsciously, they interpret the stench as a territorial claim? As though they’re in an area very much owned by a very specific person, someone they don’t know? Perhaps if we cover up and flush away all our natural odours, that makes it easier for us to move around crowded public places without clashing over the territory. Perhaps we feel less threatened when the people we have to brush past in corridors smell vaguely of sugary flowers, rather than of themselves.

I spoke to my local Crime Prevention Officer, but he hinted that the Police might not enjoy collecting samples of faecal solids from kids they stop in the street as much as they enjoy collecting swabs of saliva, which is a shame, as their current policy of stop and search on the grounds that they’re investigating terrorism is so obviously taking the fucking piss.

New Sherry Sessions video: Theology and Man Scratchings

17 Jun 2009 | Comments (0) | Technicians, Video

Just up on Youtube now: our new video, Theology and Man Scratchings: Mr Braidy continues our exploration of theology, and Mr Cornwell recounts a disturbing culinary incident at the Blue Whale public house, Woolwich, South London.

New Museum track online

1 May 2009 | Comments (4) | General

We are developing a set of tracks, based on techno and acid house classics, which are suitable for quiet environments like restaurants and new age emporia. We present here an example of our work: a “new age” reworking of Hardfloor’s classic “Acperience 1“. We hope that you enjoy it.

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“Hardcore Continuum” at UEL Wednesday 29 April

27 Apr 2009 | Comments (0) | Music

Found this on the occasionally, just slightly over-written but usually fantastic Blackdown Soundboy blog: I’m going to try to get there – maybe see you there?

The Hardcore Continuum? A discussion

Presented by the Centre for Cultural Studies Research, University of
East London In association with The Wire


Wednesday April 29th 2009 2:00pm-6:00pm

Simon Reynolds’’ commentary on the ‘’hardcore continuum’’ – the
mutating sequence of dancefloor music to have emerged from the
breakbeat hardcore matrix of the early 1990s – has recently generated intense debate in the musical blogosphere.

What is the value of this concept? Does it still usefully describe the
context from which dynamic new beat musics emerge? Can the conditions of creativity in the 1990s be replicated in the era of web 2.0? Should we even want them to be?

Speakers: Mark Fisher (K-Punk), Alex Williams (Splintering Bone
Ashes), Steve Goodman (Kode 9), Lisa Blanning (The Wire), Dan Hancox (Guardian, New Statesman), Kodwo Eshun (Author of More Brilliant than the Sun), Joe Muggs (Mixmag, The Wire), Martin Clark (Blackdown), Jeremy Gilbert (Co-author of Discographies)

Attendance is free but pre-registration is recommended. For info or to register contact

Location: UEL Docklands Campus (Cyprus DLR) Room wb.1.01

Technicians on Resonance FM

24 Apr 2009 | Comments (2) | General

Oh my actual non-existent God: we’re going to do a radio show on London’s Arts Radio station, Resonance FM!

We’ll kick off with a one-hour special, in which we want to give you an in-depth tour of the museum; and then we’ll begin a series of shorter but no less informative regular shows. We’ll be featuring richly learned discussions, useful information for the home techno producer, track reviews and interviews with luminaries from the UK and international electronic music scene.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported us so far – and we hope you enjoy the show.

Kind regards

Mssrs Braidy and Cornwell
Technicians, Museum of Techno

Latest Sherry Sessions video: Down to Work

24 Apr 2009 | Comments (0) | General

We’ve had an amazing reaction to this one – and there’s more to come. For now, though, get yourself over to our Youtube page to familiarise yourselves with our Sherry Sessions, so that you can best appreciate… the following:

Sherry sessions: Down to Work

TWO new Sherry Sessions videos online

28 Nov 2008 | Comments (2) | Technicians, Video

Yes, you heard: since I last communicated to you via our website, we have released not one but twain (“two” in contemporary youth-speak) videos on the subject of seeking inspiration for a track.

The context to these videos is that Cornwell, having fallen in love with a famous European lady disk jockey, wishes to express his affections in the medium of eurotrance. However, as a dyed-in-the-wool techno producer, he is lacking inspiration for his tune. Fortunately, several of our fans – including Elite Force, Bassrock Records and Mac “Wave Maker” Melto – have sent us their tracks for review, discussion or mastering, and Cornwell hopes to derive inspiration from this music.

We also consider local club dances, and ways of enhancing one’s experience of listening to music.

We hope you enjoy both videos. Tell everyone you know, and then devise ways to tell everyone else.

Technicians – Sherry Sessions 3 – Inspiration (part 1)

Technicians – Sherry Sessions 4 – Inspiration (part 2)

New photos online on our Myspace profile

21 Nov 2008 | Comments (0) | General

We have uploaded a new album of photographs relating to our trip to the United States to film a video diary at the 2007 Winter NAMM music trade show in Anaheim, California.

You may view them here – we hope that you enjoy them, they certainly brought back some very pleasant memories for us:

New videos on the way…

12 Nov 2008 | Comments (0) | General

Our first, experimental Sherry Sessions videos (Cheese and Spiders) have achieved a high degree of critical acclaim following their recent release on Youtube, and have given rise to a desire for a wider audience.

So we have decided to develop a format in which we start to interact with our many friends on Myspace and Youtube, taking inspiration from them for our own techno, making techno live in the studio, and dispensing the deep wisdom garnered therefrom.

We have already received numerous contributions of music for review and discussion; if you would like to join in, please drop us a line via Myspace or Youtube.

Kind regards

Mr Braidy

Technician, Museum of Techno

Technicians Sherry Sessions Video – Spiders

11 Nov 2008 | Comments (0) | Technicians, Video

In order to broaden the scope of our videos, Braidy and Cornwell have decided to release edited video highlights of their legendary sherry sessions in the Technical Department offices at the Museum of Techno. We hope that this more relaxed format will allow us to explore a wider variety of topics in even more philosophical and scientific depth than our famous tutorial videos.

In this, the second video in the series, the sherry kicks in in earnest and we offer some observations on mankind’s favourite eight-legged friend: the spider.

Technicians – Sherry Sessions 2 – Spiders

Technicians Sherry Sessions Video – Cheese

18 Oct 2008 | Comments (0) | Technicians, Video

In order to broaden the scope of our videos, Braidy and Cornwell have decided to release edited video highlights of their legendary sherry sessions in the Technical Department offices at the Museum of Techno. We hope that this more relaxed format will allow us to explore a wider variety of topics in even more philosophical and scientific depth than our famous tutorial videos.

In this, the first video in the series, we start with a few observations on one of our favourite subjects: cheese.

Technicians – Sherry Sessions 1 – Cheese

Mr Braidy’s Mix Tape 2008

12 Oct 2008 | Comments (1) | Music, Technicians

Recently, Mr Braidy made some tunes, and attempted to sell them on the Internet. Having made a small amount of money, Mr Braidy then decided to give something back to his small number of fans, by mixing the tunes together into a mix tape, then giving away the resulting music on his website.

Download and enjoy the beats!

Thank you

Mr Braidy

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Technicians Podcast – Mic Technique

3 Sep 2008 | Comments (2) | Podcast, Technicians

To accompany their video tutorial, How to Rock the Mic, Braidy and Cornwell present this experimental podcast which explores in depth several aspects of advanced microphone technique, and care of aural health.

Download Podcast – Mic Technique (MP3)

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Technicians Tutorial – How to Rock the Mic

31 Aug 2008 | Comments (1) | Technicians, Video

The latest tutorial video by our Technicians, entitled “How to Rock the Mic”, is now available on Youtube.

Technicians – How to Rock the Mic

  • Museum on Youtube
  • Museum Technicians on Myspace
  • Original Museum website
  • Technicians on iTunes

Do you have any appalling early attempts at making electronic music? Can we broadcast them?
Send your rubbish tunes