Goodbye Mick West

We have lost an important member of the Was Ist Das? family, Mick West (or Michael Linden West as he liked to be known on the credits). I first met Mick when I was setting up my first gig in Hebden Bridge, Damo Suzuki at the Trades club in the Summer of 2010. Mick would go on to be one of Damo’s sound carriers for every show Damo played at Hebden Bridge but his support ran far deeper than that.

L-R: me, Mick, Clive

Nearly every Was Ist Das? gig I put on around Hebden featured at least one of Mick’s amps. I can’t drive so I had some intense experiences lugging that monster around town but the results were always worth it. From Kawabata Makoto to Natural Snow Buildings, many greats from around the world had a go on that mighty, vintage, heavy amp.

It didn’t stop there, though, Mick also did the sound for lots of Was Ist Das? gigs including the final Hebden show with Skullflower. However,even when he was just showing up as a punter, Mick made a huge difference thanks to his recording gear. He made many excellent show recordings and given access to other people’s recordings of the same show, he would skillfully mix them together.

There was no need to ask him, within a couple of days of one of my shows happening, a CDR would land on my doormatt. It was hearing the mix he’d made of two audience recordings of the Cosmic Dead’s show at the Trades Club that inspired me to start the Was Ist Das? record label. The whole ‘Noise In The Wood’ compilation of shows owed so much to him it could have been called ‘Best of the West’.

Beyond the music, Mick was always good company. His humour dry and dour with a healthy dose of knowingly grumpiness. He was also one for suddenly dropping surprise anecdotes such as the fact he once worked at RER Records and as a crossword compiler for a major British broadsheet newspaper. He was also incredibly generous. One visit to his house lead to him handing me an original copy of Can’s “Soundtracks” and 14 LPs of library music, casually adding “one of them is really valuable, can’t remember which one”. He wasn’t kidding, either. That house too, the walls were covered in instruments, the floor was covered in debris with a path from the ill-fitting front door to the kitchen and the desktop computer.

He was a Hebden Bridge legend, one of those people you were always guaranteed to run into when you left the house. Although he was maybe best known for playing with The Ukranians, he played with so many different bands and collaborations that no one act could truly claim him as their own. He belonged only to himself and the music.

 

We had been swapping messages about a possible release for another of his beautifully mixed presentations of a Hebden gig. He’d been his usual supportive self and completely unprompted had gone off and made a new master of it for me and sent me the link via Dropbox. I thanked him and set the files off downloading then went off to life. When I checked my computer two days later, I found the files had not finished downloading. I tried his Dropbox link again but he’d already taken them off, no doubt to send even more files for even more projects to even more people. I dropped him a line asking him to re-upload them but never got a reply back. I found out later that the message went too late and would never be seen by him. Now I’m haunted by these two unfinished files in my download folder

Living out here in Arizona, its hard to believe that there is a still such a thing as Hebden Bridge without Mick. It feels to me like he’s still sat outside Marco’s café every morning before going off to jam with someone else at the mill. All the great things I did while in Hebden Bridge, Mick made so much of it possible, I could never thank him enough. I wish I could get those last files he sent me, I’d love to have heard his latest master. The original was already amazing, just like Mick. He’d probably laugh at all the sentimentality going on in his name. Oh well. I’d raise a beer to him but he wasn’t really much of a drinker. I’d raise a guitar to him but I’m not much of a musician. All I can do is salute the man, the memories and the legend. You will be missed, Mick.

The Was Ist Das? Interesting Movies test

The world is full of list these days and movie list tests. Inspired by a particularly insipid list of supposedly cult movies, we decided it was time to make a more interesting list. We are not claiming it is better or bigger or more cult or more obscure or anything like that. It is just hundred movies beloved by Was Ist Das?

Here is the list and don’t be downhearted if you score low, it just means you have a lot to look forward to.

Update

I don’t know if anyone is still here amidst all the blowing tumbleweed but seemed like as good a place as any to post. The website is now 12 years old. When I moved to Hebden Bridge from Huddersfield I gave the site a drastic overhaul. As I’m now in Phoenix, Arizona, a good refurbishment seems in order but this time just doing a bit at a time. So far, just changed most of the buttons. The new theme is taking a picture of the UK and having the words cut out of a picture of the US. Seemed apt. Hopefully slightly easier to read to.

I’d hoped to be as radical in my overhauling as I was when I moved to Hebden but I didn’t have kids then so, steady away.

Love & Burritos

Ned

Safe As Milk Festival

The people behind Newcaste’s well-loved Tusk Festival are branching out with a full-on holiday camp festival called “Safe As Milk” at Prestatyn Pontins 21-23rd April 2017 in North Wales and it has one hell of a line-up:

Shirley Collins, The Residents, Nurse With Wound, Omar Souleyman, This Is Not This Heat, Ulver, OOIOO, Grouper, Acrtress, Michael Rother, Gaika, Anna Meredith, Chrome, Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, Hieroglyphic Being, Dopplereffekt, Islam Chipsy & Eek, Princess Nokia, Brainbombs, Ata Kak, Circle, Carla Dal Forno, Moot Mother & Horse Lords.

More are to be confirmed and all the holiday camp facilities will be available. More info at safeasmilkfestival.com/

The Cosmic Dead’s debut US tour begins today!

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Recent statistics reveal that 80% of the population of Europe have had an insane, psychedelic rock n roll experience from seeing The Cosmic Dead. However, until now, Americans have not had the pleasure (unless they were in Europe). Well, that’s kind of ending right now because they are doing a quick eight date jaunt all over the place.

18.08 – (USA) Reggies – Chicago, IL
19.08 – (USA) Globe Hall – Denver, CO
20.08 – (USA) Barracuda Austin, TX
22.08 – (USA) Yucca Tap Room – Tempe, AZ
23.08 – (USA) Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA
24.08 – (USA) The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
25.08 – (USA) Vinyl Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
27.08 – (USA) Psycho Las Vegas Festival, NV

New Calexico side-project explores landscape of the SW

In one of those nice, well-timed coincidences, a press release arrived promising “the perfect soundtrack to a drive through the desert Southwest”. It’s an album called “The Western Suite and Siesta Songs” and is the first release by newly formed duo Naim Amor and John Convertino (Calexico). Its coming out October 26th on Living Music Duplication and here is a taste of what to expect

Was Ist Das? has moved

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Was Ist Das? was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in the summer of 2005. After a couple of years it went offline, only to be relaunched in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire on its third birthday. Now, after an intransient year divided between friends in Todmorden and Family in Brighouse, both West Yorkshire, Was Ist Das? has moved to Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

The site continues as normal. The label continues as normal. Events? Nothing planned at the moment – there’s a whole new world to explore first.

HCMF 2015 brings AMM to Huddersfield

ammThe 2015 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is back again this Winter, running November 20th to the 29th. There’s a lot of highlights but of particular interest is the closing concert from AMM, the first appearance together in a decade of John Tilbury, Eddie Prévost and Keith Rowe!

Other high points include a never performed adaptation of Stockhausen by Derek Bailey, sound installations by Composer In Residence Jürg Frey, The Theatre of Eternal Music Brass Ensemble performing works by La Monte Young, Berlin Splitter Orchestra and much more.

As ever, go to http://www.hcmf.co.uk/ for more details

Exciting New German Festival TROGLOBATEM

Bear_Bones_Lay_Low__nov2014A new underground music festival has started up in Stuttgart on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th September at a venue called TAUT (Temporary Artists Utopia Tool).

Lots of Was Ist Das? favourites on the bill including Head of Wantastiquet (Paul from Sunburned Hand of the Man), Eugene Chadbourne with John Schröder, Hartmut Geerken with Jooklo Duo, German free jazzers Fifty-Fifty, Fuchs Flamingos (the wonderful Flamingo Creatures in collaboration with Limpe Fuchs of krautrock mentalists Anima), Günter Schlienz, Bear Bones, Lay Low and many more.

Know more by going to http://irgendeinscheiss.de/shitstock/2015_troglobatem