Noise Annoys: Arborist, New Pagans, Punk as F*ck and Defying Gravity

David Roy

David Roy

David has been a features reporter at The Irish News since 2001, writing about music, cinema, comedy, theatre, books, art, TV, travel, motoring and more....

Arborist man Mark McCambridge. Picture by Aaron Cunningham
Arborist man Mark McCambridge. Picture by Aaron Cunningham Arborist man Mark McCambridge. Picture by Aaron Cunningham

:: Arborist – Dreaming in Another Language (single, Kirkinriola)

FIRST up this week, some long overdue words on the excellent new single by Co Antrim's finest, Arborist: Dreaming in Another Language is our first taste of the new album An Endless Sequence of Dead Zeros, which is due out on April 21.

The PR maestro representing Arborist (aka Mark McCambridge) describes the song as "a spiralling, looping slice of kaleidoscopic psychedelic Americana which mediates on dreams and our submission to a dreamlike state" – and, to be honest, I can't really argue with any of that (fancy writing all of my reviews?).

I would maybe add that the sampled-sounding drums and guitar loops give this hypnotic slow-building seven-minute monster a definite hip-hop-informed, almost Beck-esque funky quality, which is something we've not really heard from Arborist before. It suits him.

There's some intriguing analogue synth flourishes in the mix also, all of which makes me even more super curious about what else we will hear on the follow up to 2020's fantastic LP A Northern View.

You can pre-order An Endless Sequence of Dead Zeros now via arboristmusic.bandcamp.com, while Dreaming in Another Language is available to stream on all the usual digital music platforms. There's also a great, Lynchian video for the song by Sam O'Mahoney which you can view at youtube.com/@arboristmusic, and indeed right here below..

Mark and band also have some Irish tour dates planned around the release of the album on April 21, including a show in Belfast on April 24 at the Ulster Sports Club and a show at The Braid in Ballymena on May 13. Tickets via arboristmusic.com/shows.

:: New Pagans – There We Are John (single, Big Scary Monsters)

ANOTHER local band with a new album ready to drop is New Pagans: the latest single from Making Circles of Our Own – which is released next Friday – is There We Are John, a delightful combination of thumping drums, jagged guitar work and sweet melodies which finds the quintet paying tribute to the life and work of the late Derek Jarman.

The song takes its title from a short documentary based around a candid interview with John Cartwright. Bassist Claire Miskimmin explains: "Derek Jarman was a visionary avant-garde artist and film-maker, with a career spanning four decades and multiple genres. An important figure in the history of gay culture, he's been described as the Queer Pagan Punk."

New Pagans have a new single out now
New Pagans have a new single out now New Pagans have a new single out now

Singer Lyndsey McDougall continues: "I first encountered the work of Derek Jarman through his coastal garden, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. When we wrote this song, we had just lost our home and had moved in with my parents [due to loss of income during the Covid lockdowns] and my dream of owning a garden seemed further away than ever.

"Somehow, studying Jarman's Prospect Cottage garden brought me great serenity and hope. In a place considered so desolate, Jarman created a beautiful, fruitful landscape. This song is about hope."

There We Are John can be heard on your favourite streaming platform now, wile Making Circles of Our Own can be pre-ordered via bsmrocks.com. New Pagans have also announced new tour dates for March, kicking off with an album launch show at the Ulster Sports Club in Belfast on March 2.

Support on the night will come from post-punky Dublin alt-rockers Extravision (extravision.bandcamp.com) who you don't want to miss. Doors are at 8pm and tickets are £11.01 in advance via eventbrite.co.uk.

Micky Cassidy's Punk as F*ck is out now
Micky Cassidy's Punk as F*ck is out now Micky Cassidy's Punk as F*ck is out now

:: Punk as F*ck: Belfast Punk 1978 -1982 by Micky Cassidy

BELFAST punk veteran Micky Cassidy called at Noise Annoys Towers the other day armed with a copy of his new book, Punk as F*ck, in which he shares his recollections (along with those of fellow travellers) of the original Belfast punk scene which offered escape, entertainment and hope to many misfit kids across a north blighted by 1970s Troubles mayhem.

It's an evocative read which brings to life a time when, for better or worse, you had to combine the looks – ripped, bleached, dyed, studded, sloganised and otherwise customised clothing/hair/body parts – and the lifestyle – seeing as many bands as possible at The Harp Bar and taking verbal and/or physical abuse from spides, cops, soldiers, parents, colleagues and others – in order to be considered a 'real' punk and not be sneered at (or worse) for being a part-timer poseur.

Cassidy also offers thoughts on the impact, 'meaning' and legacy of the Belfast punk scene, which provided a unifying force for disaffected youngsters to ignore sectarianism and tribal politics in favour of creativity and good old fashioned hedonism. Of course, the scene's cross-community nature – which fostered otherwise unlikely life-long friendships which endure to this day – also meant that those sporting its highly obvious visual identity became easy targets for cretins of all creeds. Thus, late night post-gig/party journeys home to various parts of the city beyond central Belfast's 'ring of steel' became an even more dangerous affair where with 'safety in numbers' was a must.

And, having toured beyond Ireland with The Outcasts back in the late 70s, Cassidy also shares his memories of how punks were (mis)treated on the road in Europe, where punk bands and their entourage became "magnets for trouble" and certain punk accessories sported for shock value back home took on rather more serious connotations in formerly Nazi-occupied cities like Paris.

Punk as F*ck offers a vivid memoir of a vital youth-driven 1970s counterculture that thrived for a few short years against all odds. Wisely, most names have been omitted to protect the guilty – have a read and see if you can identify yourself. If you weren't there, this book is the next best thing.

:: Punk as F*uk is on sale now at Metro Barbers in Belfast's Great Northern Mall or by emailing Micky at michaelcassidy@live.com.

Models Eilish and Eabha with Defying Gravity compere Julian Simmons. Picture by Press Eye/Darren Kidd
Models Eilish and Eabha with Defying Gravity compere Julian Simmons. Picture by Press Eye/Darren Kidd Models Eilish and Eabha with Defying Gravity compere Julian Simmons. Picture by Press Eye/Darren Kidd

:: Defying Gravity: A Punk Odyssey, March 16, Banana Block, Belfast

ON THE subject of punk, a new fashion event at Belfast's Banana Block next month is taking inspiration from one of England's original punk icons, the late Jordan Mooney.

As co-organiser Sinead Green explains, Defying Gravity "is borne from our friendship with Jordan Mooney, and in tribute to her – hence the name Defying Gravity, the title of her memoirs detailing her life and career from its beginnings working in Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's King Road boutique to becoming a counterculture icon.

"She was our original guest judge and as she passed away last year, we wanted to continue with the show in her memory and deliver something that she would be proud to be a part of."

The event at Banana Block on March 16 promises models and choreography by Style Academy, a live soundtrack from DJ/composer Phil Kieran, AV by Visual Spectrum, visuals and film courtesy of Stephen Hackett, and costume design by TV-trained Cathy Prior (Derry Girls) not to mention the one and only Julian Simmons as compere.

A selection of local fashion designers will showcase their work for the public and a panel of guest judges – Glasgow fashion designer Pam Hogg, Belfast hairdresser/stylist Paul Stafford, fashion designer/illustrator Sara O'Neill and musician Marco Pirroni (Adam Ant, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Sinead O'Connor) – who will select one lucky winner to receive a prize of £1,000 in cold hard cash and work experience with a TV network.

"We want to create an annual event that showcases and engages with multiple disciplines across the creative industries in Belfast, but with a celebration of music at its core," explains Green, who is also co-owner of Belfast vinyl emporium Starr Records.

:: Tickets for Defying Gravity are available now via starrrecords.co.uk