The medium of icing

My dear mother makes a point of baking a cake to me on my birthday, and posting it to wherever I happen to be in the world. Not for her a simple Victoria sponge sandwich or fruit cake: The gateaux must carry some bespoke decoration. In her time she’s managed cake crosswords, football club crests, a variety of public transport vehicles, and a three-dimensional representation of Marlinspike Hall, Captain Haddock’s ancestral home, with chocolate button roof slates (this was circa 1989, before the advent of the many cake building technologies we now take for granted).

However, I have yet to see anything quite so post-modern, as the offering I received this year.

My blog in cake form

Yes! A rendering in icing of an electronic page, which itself metaphors paper. Thank goodness I don’t have Google AdWords on the site at the moment.

I have to say I’m disappointed no-one has entered anything in the comments, but I guess my mother didn’t have time to whip-up any RSS biscuits.

Working with icing is no mean feat. I refer you to an amusing interview with the anarchic Todd Trainer, drummer with the seminal Shellac, leader of the bizarre Brick Layer Cake, and something of an icing artist:

Yeah. Icing has definitely always been a part of the visual aspect of Brick Layer Cake. All four records have had icing on the covers, both front and back covers – literally all the artwork that has ever appeared on my records is icing, so that’s a theme, an aesthetic theme … Icing is a rather limited medium – I shouldn’t say “limited”. It’s an unforgiving medium to work with, because you only get once chance to really do it right.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

Revisiting old songs and exploring new ways to sing them is something of a Will Oldham/Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy trademark. Three of his last four album releases have been covers of pre-existing songs. Summer in the Southeast is a live album, The Brave and the Bold is a collaboration with Tortoise, consisting of 10 cover songs, while in Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy Sings Greatest Palace Music, Oldham and friends perform updates of music he composed earlier in his career.

It was a delight to see another iteration of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy last night, this time performing with the folk band Harem Scarem. Hearing tunes I know quite well re-arranged to fit with Harem Scarem’s fantastic female harmonies became another reason to enjoy Oldham’s music. In performing with four other voices, a couple of violins, a flute, an accordion, a banjo, a guitar and an enthusiastic drummer, it is clear that everything has been carefully rehearsed. Nevertheless, he meanders around the beat (and indeed the notes) of each song, as if he is experimenting, trying out a new version. The sheen of uniqueness and immediacy remains.

New Year Honours

Happy New Year everyone. Time to announce some additions to the blogroll.

I am delighted that a few high profile sites I read regularly have added this site to their list of recommendations, and I am more than happy to return the favour. Chicken Yoghurt, and fellow Edin-bugger Devil’s Kitchen are pretty prolific hubs, of the type that have to post messages of apology if they do not post anything for more than 24 hours! I am not sure I will find a political soul mate at The Kitchen, but as one of his other endorsements declares: “I disagree with him quite a lot of the time but I actually have to use my brain to articulate why.”.

Stef at Famous for Fifteen Megapixels probably leans more my way. He presents articles that are thoughtful, amusing, or both.

The rise and development of the Internet is a subject that fascinates me. We are still at the beginning of the communication revolution, and those who campaign for good practice and good design deserve particular praise. A List Apart is a “website for people who make websites.” As well as carrying a fantastic design, it is impeccably coded and offers advice on how designers can mirror those traits on their own sites. Website design should be so much more than simply visual design for the screen, and these folk are the best advocates. Elsewhere, the simple site by Clay Shirky carries some concise and perceptive essays on the Internet and the digital revolution.

It is an oversight that two organisations I have collaborated with on a few projects are not present in my associates list. Radio Magnetic are a Glasgow based radio station, perennial nominees for online station of the year awards. Digital technology opens up whole new ways to communicate, for those with the confidence to try.

Radio Magnetic have commissioned a series of podcasts from Scottish artists, giving an insight into the process of creating new music. The FOUND Collective bring us the first podcast in the series. its quite funny.

Protest through music, not guns.

Remi Kazani reviews FREE THE P! over at The Electronic Intifada. Visit the link to get three free MP3s!

A quote from rapper Tamer Nafar, again emphasising that the goal for Palestinians is mere equality, not a jihad against Jews or Christians:

“It’s not that I don’t love the flag. I do.” … Yet, Nafar doesn’t want the Palestinian flag to be altered with a symbol of exclusion, like the Israeli flag, which focuses on the Star of David. Nafar noted that “Muslims, Christians and Jews” made up Palestine before Zionist gangs pillaged the state, and emphasised that the injustice and racism which has enveloped the Israeli state cannot suffocate or hinder the Palestinian cause, which seeks justice, unity, and peace for all Palestinians. The audience of Muslim, Christians, and Jews erupted as the beat rolled on in the background.

Its also nice to know someone agrees with me about symbols on flags.