Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Seomra Selecta! A Night of Drity Music For the Chilean APST

When passing through Chile I stayed with some members of the Agrupación de Pobladoras y Pobladores Sin Techo (APST). That mouthful basically translates into the organisation of those without roofs.

There's no real corresponding word for popladores in English, it's essentially a term for those dwelling in the popular communites, that is where most people live and of course in societies with sharp economic contrasts this is term is conflated with a lower economic status.

Those I met from the organisation were active in the historically fascinating district of Nueva Habanna - an area of land occupied by the revolutionary left wing movement MIR under the space afforded by the Allende regime in order to build housing for overcrowded workers. In a documentary we watched on the movement you got a real glimpse of the optimism of the period prior to the Pinochet coup and the magnificent effort that a whole newly formed community invested in an effort to build a school, playground resources and housing for about forty families on what was once an idle farm.

When the dictatorship came to power, the area was placed under military occupation and practically all of the activists whose determination and effort alongside their communities had birthed what the state had failed to provide "housing with dignity" were rounded up and executed. The name of the area was changed to New Morning to negate the communites postive nod towards Cuba.

The city of Santiago eventually grew up and crept around the site where the housing movement made its stake for land, and its now an island in La Florida one of the main barios in Santiago. Walking through it you can see the playground and school (ironically now used by a church group) built by the movement.

Locals can point out to you how the Pinochet regime broke the solidarity conciousness of the community by offering those with money the ability to buy out the collectively built high standard houses and forcing the rest into shabbily constructed council house equivalents.

Those active in the APST in the area are attempting to pick up where this movement left off and reigniting the communities memory of its own bith. They did this recently with a mural ( 1 ) commemorating those who struggled to bring it in to being 36 years ago. More importantly they do it through organising and struggling for housing to over come the crisis of the allegados, people living with AN over crowding of large families cramped into unsuitable housing.

The gig on the tenth is an effort to raise money for this movement. To place it all in a historical context, there'll be a film screening of the classic account of the Pinochet coup the "Battle of Chile" @ 7pm and a brief intro to the APST by somebody previusly involved with them.This is one of two Chilean Solidarity Nights taking place in March. Details of the hip hop, beats and punk meltdown that is the second one can be found here.

You can check out Lakker on Myspaz, they can range from quite sublime electronica to ragga jungle and heavy rave sound system action accompanied by two full on spring loaded nodding heads, them be the boys in Lakker.

Meanwhile PCP, who is one half of Homo Ludo regularly has a radio show over on Radio Na Life (as does Krossie) where you can tune in for a taste of his interests. Homo Ludo played at a recent Drumcorps gig in Kennedys. Quite the sight. Full on two man, deck versus guitar action with PCP marauding all over his records isolating beats from everything from Irish hip hop acts like Scary Eire to breaks from Aaron Spectrea and Shitmat's gabber kicks while a guitarist chugs alongside it. Pure jump up friend of the dancefloor stuff.

KALPOL regularly plays at Kaboogie gigs and delivers a really nice fluid mix of breakcore and glitchy electronica, there was a mix from a recent gig in the Cavern supporting Murderbot floating about online somewhere but its vanished for the moment. Krossie, that old don of fundraisers also has a Radio Na Life show where you can vet his interests for you and your friends . Usually you can expect a mix of hip hop, bhangra, the pop ass menage a trois of Brazilian baile funk and wonky bass lines from dubstep and krunk.

Me in my uber guise as a train crashing mixer, promises a display of similar heaving bass lines and spliced in surprises. It's also pretty nice to have scored a VJ for the night called Kavi who is from the Oger crew, she's been pretty much working on a set fresh of loops for the night, and of the tiny, TINY pieces I've seen of her work they promise to be great. Maybe next time we'll keep it simple and do an auld table quiz for you, while someone plays some jingles on a Casio..


Organised by Electronic Resistance | With the kind assistance of Seomra Spraoi

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Asbestos: The Man Who Lost Everything

Its easy to swoon over at Wooster Collective about the imagined variety and talent of the international street art scene hubs like New York but we really need to go ahead and admit that Dublin has been relatively lucky this past while. One reason for this is Asbestos, who has been sustaining his one man bombardment of the city with a "Lost" sticker series mimicing the classic street poster calling for sightings of a lost dog. While digital cameras and wallets may easily fall from your handbag as your heel collapses over the cobblestones of Temple Bar on a Saturday night, Asbestos' stickers more lose the plot and commit small tales of randomness and contradiction to lamp posts in pursuit.

His best work was an earlier series of Doll heads pasted all over the city in ambitious A2 size cut out photocopy and smaller versions backed onto various pieces of plaster board and wood. This production method of pasting graphically altered photographs onto various found backings was wholly new to Dublin and has only slightly been taken up since as a solid alternative to stickering.

The Asbestos style prompted several similar efforts ( 1 , 2, 3 and 4) from myself some summers ago, with my usual blend of enthuasiasm and impatience set aside they could have turned out better. You can view plenty of Asbestos works over here and also on his chokingly well designed site. I got a nice surprise when I arrived home one evening to see that my girlfriend had found one such gold leafed doll head on her way home from work. When a similar piece sits in a gallery for nearly 200e you can be sure there was no ethical dilemna about removing it from the market and placing it on our own wall for the eyes of the many street art fanatics we know.

Who is Asbestos?

A street artist based in Dublin.

What or who influences your work?

Wow! Influences are many and wide. I take a lot of photographs so people like Martin Parr, Zach Gold, Martha Cooper and Boogie have influenced the photos I take. I’ve also been influenced by artists such as Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Swoon, D*Face, Ron Mueck and Faile. But all art and design I see around me will influence me. I love the feeling I get when I see something new and exciting that makes me want to work even harder at my art.

What sort of music do you listen to while working?

I like a lot of ska, Mf Doom, The Knife and anything that’s got an ounce of passion.

Have you any tactical advice for those planning on erecting work in the streets? Banksy for instance advises that drunk nights will result in some great work but some arrests as well.

Being drunk does help as you can feel a bit odd at 2am when everyone else is drunk and lairy. I suppose it’d just a matter of keeping your eyes open, having a mate out with you doesn’t hurt. I like to look around during the day for good spots that I can hit at night. You want to find spots that are visible where you know your work will last longer than a few days.

Why did you take the name Asbestos? It's a material you use a lot right?

Street art is a little bit like Asbestos. Asbestos is all around us, (in the walls and in the very fabric of many buildings) but it often goes unnoticed. When we realise that it's there it really gets our attention and we question it and it gets discussed. When I started putting work up on the street, that's what I wanted my work to do, to become part of the fabric of towns and cities and to make people notice, question and discuss what's really around, the name Asbestos represents my message perfectly. As for the material Asbestos, I’ve not used it as I’d be a bit paranoid about giving myself lung cancer so I use plasterboard for my Dolls heads.

From the Dolls heads and some sporadic lost stickers there was a gap of about a year in any real street level output from you. Why was this and how come there has been such a sudden resurgence of activity from you?

Just like the rest of the world I was trying to pay the rent, and was also doing a lot of travel. I’ve also taken a long hard look at the work that I was outputting and decided last year that I needed to focus my style, concentrating on painting and more handmade work. I love the idea of putting up uniquely painted one off pieces on the street. I started doing more of these paintings in the run up to my show ‘Hope & Despair’ with Canadian artist Other in The Bernard Shaw last year. I love this new direction, so you’ll be seeing more of my paintings on the streets. I’ve also done a lot more Lost stickers (36 different ones to date!) and have put up over 2000 of them all over Dublin and London in the last few months.

I noticed some signs on Henry St warning Saturday shoppers of 'dry paint' paint on lamp posts - was this, you?

Not me I’m afraid, but strangely enough I did put up a few Dry Paint signs about three years ago. Not saying that this person is biting me as I put up so few they may have gone unnoticed. I’ll have a look out for them though.

How do you feel about people picking up some of your stuff like the tile work off the street and bringing it home? Don't you find it funny people can do this while others pay money in the likes of Cool for the same?

I’d prefer that someone takes a piece down because it inspires them, not because they want to destroy it. When I put something up on the street I relinquish all control over it, if someone wants pull it down then I can’t stop them. But I don’t think it’s strange to sell work in a gallery as I think it brings my art to people who may not have seen it before or who’d prefer to leave my street stuff on the street.

What exactly were the Doll heads all about?

The Dolls Heads represent innocence, their eyes blindfolded from the evil of the world – lonely icons of lost souls. I love doing them on plasterboard with gold leaf as they’re like little jewels for the public to find. Some people love them others get a bit freaked out by them.

When will you run out of ideas for the lost series?

How longs a piece of string (actually that’s a good idea for a new one). But yeah I’ve got lots more sketches in my black books. When they start getting really stupid I might stop them, but for now I’m still enjoying them.

What was with all the genetically challenged animals?

Too much cheap wine and a dodgy copy of photoshop.

In Portobello there is a large more traditional mural piece with your name on it - do you come from this more traditional writing background or was this a once off? How did you get involved in street art?

That piece was done by some of the guys who were over for the Eurocultured event in Smithfield last year, they signed it with the names of all the artists who’d painted at the event that day. I’ve always loved the traditional graff movement and got interested in it when I found a copy of Subway Art as a kid, but I never painted graff. I got into street art years later when I started seeing art by Faile and Swoon in New York. I realised that there was no reason why I couldn’t try the same.

How do you feel about the way ICN and others have scrawled all over
Dublin - do you see it as visual piss or writers delight?

I kinda like it. The thing about tagging is it can be ugly and is the simplest form of graffiti, but it’s still the most democratic act that a kid can do. I like seeing tags in a city as it means that there’s a heart and personality to the community. When I go somewhere without street art or graffiti I feel that something is not quite right. ICN are the most up people in the city as is Grift, so I gotta take my hat off to them, they’ve really hit this city big time.

Do you feel more attachment now to the gallery scene or the street art scene at the moment?

The street art scene is always my first love. I think a lot of galleries sell stale art that they know they can sell to bland middle class people. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good galleries that takes chances. I don’t need to sell my work in galleries but it has challenged me to do different things with my art.

Remind us again what the Secret Santa Swap was and how important it was in the street art global community?

It was a desire to make peoples Christmas a bit happier by organising a Chris Cringle between 300 street artists. It turned into huge event with some great art being produced, but I’m not sure if I’ll do it again as it took over my life for a few months. But it was worth doing for a couple of years as the reaction and excitement from artists around the world was inspiring.

Friends have noticed some D*Face material appearing in
Dublin - are you putting up these as some relationship of exchanging favours?

A relationship of exchanged favours, how dare you! But yeah, he was over here a few weeks ago and we went out pasting. He got about 10 or 15 posters up, most of them have been torn down by now, so I may have to get him back for some more street improvements! It’s good to see some more stuff on the streets of Dublin.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Last Spanish Civil War Pen and Ink Soldier Dies

The last surviving artist behind the gallant mobilizing posters lighting up the walls of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War passed away earlier this year. Fontsere, one of many "pen and ink" soldiers, produced the famous FAI poster of a peasant raising a scythe in defiance while strong modernist letters issued the battle cry of "libertat!" Fontsere escaped into exile as the revolution subsided and spent some time in NYC, but his concerns lay with the plight of those third class emigrates ignored by what he termed the "relevant figures" of the republic and trapped in a cycle of concentration camps and production in the French war industry.

Looking at some of the revolutionary works produced during this period, influenced originally by South American revolutionary artists, you are struck by a chronic lack of output of original artistic material put to the service of political movements today. This is even more startling given the emphasis some activists insist on placing on art for containing some sort of inherent radicalism striving to promote its own autonomy against the market. What we have is recycled images churned through a mill of Photoshops and an unfortunate aesthetic that fails in its mimicing of street art all too often. Now Fontsere - there was someone who knew how to produce truly original street art.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Irish Blog Awards: Feed Me Your Votes.

Soundtracksforthem has been on the go for about two years properly now. This year for the first time it has been nominated for best music blog, best designed blog and best arts and culture blog in the Irish Blog Awards.

Several other blogs well worth voting for in the second year of the awards are OldRottenHat and Nialler9's shit hot music blog, which I predict will storm it home for a well deserved win in the music category.

The voting closes this Friday 16th so get lively, do what the grinning punter says and get your vote in now.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Some Mixing Barbarism On The Auld Sony Acid.

Taking a peak around my laptop lastnight led me back to some strange places, including some lost and now disregarded folders of mashed up samples in various states of chopped up hopelessness. One of these shunned folders contained a 30 minute mix (90mb mp3) I made using Sony Acid about a year and a half ago and then forcefed semi-live to a rather bludgeoned and bewildered crowd at an Anarchy Night Cafe up stairs in the Liberty Bell on Francis Street.

As a record of what I was listening to heavily at the time it features some Robocop samples, Woody Guthrie in a car crash with Scotch Egg, Belladonnakillz on party advice and a whole Shitmat melody in the middle. I think there's even some Authecre in the background being mangled by Hellfish and the best bit of all the rousing Scooter finale. I listened to it last night and its hardly the worst but seriously if any of the above sounds interesting enough to make you download the thing, then please be careful some of the belching , squeeling and peaks in this train crash of a mix may damage your ears.

With Sony Acid as a topic of conversation, there's an odd feature on the DVD that comes with Computer Music this month - nearly 65 minutes of Shitmat on how to produce a track using Sony Acid and one or two other programmes. He starts with chopping beats, moves on to getting bass lines sorted, adding ragga chat and gabber kicks for dance floor hops. At 10e that's a hefty price to pay, but why not...

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Monday, February 05, 2007

That Chomsky For Social Democrats Tony Benn, Kicks It Off In Dublin.

This Indymedia contributor stumbles out of their weekend lethargy long enough to dust off a hangover and type up this report on a Tony Benn address entitled "Peace, Faith and Power" delivered over two weeks ago on January 23rd to Trinity's Hist. With the dazzling might of the Internet age at my disposal, contemporous reporting has never been so exciting…

First the platitudes, Tony Benn is one of Britain's most graceful statesmen, serving over half a century in the British parliament before famously leaving to “devote more time to politics” and declaring himself "free at last" of the parliamentary shackles delaying real struggle. While many of his generation of leftist politicians hold no interest in and add even less to today's movements Benn is remarkable in how many cling to him as an icon. He remains well received at gatherings such as Glastonbury's left field when voicing the concerns mobilizing those many decades younger than him.

With his popularity in mind, this Hist meeting took place on the quite with no posters around Trinity and an absolute silence among most left circles. But no surprise there - these sort of college meetings appeal to few outside those directly interested. They are mainly a play pen for society hacks to engage in a gymnastics of the intellect with all the prowess Richie Kavanagh displays musically. After I found my seat, two such sorts next to me lusted for controversy and filled each other in on the upcoming immigration debate featuring Aine Ni Chonail. "Is she a good looking woman?" One said to the other.

Arriving not exactly on time, Benn took to the podium with a clunky old cassette player and an IPod recording this speech as he does all of them. He opened up by loudly declaring that "the Irish cause is burnt into his heart" and how he once put up a plaque to Countess Markivicz as if to ingratiate himself to an audience who overwhelmingly come from a generation politically defined by anything but the North. He hoped the evening is a "discussion rather than of an academic character" and so did I, knowing that anything but an audience led discussion would mean Hist morons bravely defending the progress of history against Benn's foolhardy economy wrecking throwback-ism...continues at Indymedia.ie

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Aaron Spectre Interview: "Sometimes You Have To Abandon All Previous Work and Start From Scratch."

Aaron Spectre really doesn't demand much of an introduction for regular readers of this blog. His unique blend of on the fly mixing sees him deconstruct tracks from across the musical spectrum through Ableton and then complement them live with his own programmed loops, junglist horns and brutalist breakcore rattles roaring away in the background.

In Aaron Spectre mode his DJ sets set venues alight before firing your head with re-mixers and producers to scan the net for, as Drumcorps he uproots his own musical background in an astonishing flurry of metal tinged guitar, pained vocals and pounding laptop electronics. Here he talks to Soundtracksforthem about his own background, the move to Berlin, relentless touring and making music.

You've a Converge sticker on one of your midi-keyboards, do you come from a punk/hardcore background? If so, how does a punk end up mashing things up ragga styl-ee and what drew you away from hardcore and into electronic production?

I grew up in the middle of Massachusetts, outside Boston. A lot of what I saw in the all ages shows resonated with me and still does. I wouldn't say I was a punk or hardcore kid or what not, as I've never been into the whole fashion part of it but I have my local favorites: Converge, Cave In, Sam Black Church, anything with honesty and fire! I learned a lot during those days that still keeps me going.

Around age 15-16 I was playing drums in a few small hardcore bands, but I was also first getting into producing electronic music - I'd sneak into my school's MIDI lab during lunch and bang out tunes on the DX7 / Mac Classic. I discovered Orbital through a local record store's tiny electronic music section. I saw the Orb play on their Orblivion tour and a whole new world opened up. As soon as high school was over with most of us moved away for university & that pretty much finished off the band. Now out of the country and in the city, there were lots of other musical influences floating around. It seemed like a natural progression to start getting into electronic music... Jungle, Drum & Bass, Ambient... strange weirdness and crazy nomads. Many Drumcorps fans have followed a similar route in their music tastes... punk / hardcore early on, developing a taste for electronic music a little later, and now rediscovering their roots.

What made you make the famous move ala Hawtin and skip over to Berlin?

New York City had given me what I needed and it was time to move on. New York was (and still is) an awful place to be creative, for certain kinds of people. It's a great place to learn, to see crazy high-end awesome stuff, but not a good place to focus, too distracting and too expensive. In Berlin, now that I wasn't spending mad cash on living expenses, I was able to invest in proper music gear... sit down and develop, figure out how to make that sound I'd been hearing in my head for years.

Are your sets all on the fly mixing, or do you set out with a vague idea of what you are going to play, aresome tracks given the Spectre pre-treatment at home and then hopped off the laptop to the venue's speaker system?

Most of the Aaron Spectre set is on the fly. I have a good idea of what combinations work, but I like to leave it open to the feel of the night, what's appropriate to play at that time.

Just on production again, some would say breakcore is the new punk - does your music and breakcore more generally contain the DIY ethos of the punk scene?

Breakcore is sorta the new punk, but it's different this time around. I like the slogan Droon (from Breakcore Gives Me Wood) has put on his MIDI guitar, "WOOD IS THE NEW METAL"! The Wood crew have the right idea, with their other slogan.. "my subculture can kick your subculture's ass anytime 24/7" It's not about subdividing into a little insular clan, it's about enjoying the music. Breakcore is raw, powerful, and pure. The music moves people and makes them totally freak out! If that was what punk was about, it's the new punk. I wasn't around in the original punk days so I don't really know, and so much has been distorted by now. Nowadays there's a growing right-wing police state, overbearing fear, similar conditions to the 1980s reagan days.... this oppressive political climate influences the music somewhat, maybe there are some parallels.

You've got to be DIY now, it's the way everyone operates. There are a million different niches and flavors. All you have as an artist is your word and the quality of your work. I like that, it keeps things pure. Those things are all you ever have really, but in a totally DIY environment you never forget it. I imagine one could lose sight of stuff like that once too many other people get involved...

In an XLR8R interview Parasite claimed that people like yourself and The Bug all have a political message to convey, aside from shitting all over copy right laws - what is this message?

I can't speak for The Bug or anyone else, but my root message is one of self-reliance and self-criticism. Our heads are filled with so much marketing nonsense by an early age... talk to any 7 year old and you'll find them repeating a host of brand names, slogans, whatever they saw on TV. You need to clear that out, dig deeper and evaluate, think for yourself, LIVE for yourself. This can mean different things for different people, but the world would be a better place if people sorted themselves out. The first step to not being deceived into having false goals and ideals is to be honest with yourself. Many other political motives stem from this...

Where would you advise heads wanting to throw themselves into making/playing music to start?

Develop your tastes and find some good mentors, older people who can give you pointers. If you're making music for DJs, start mixing vinyl. It will give you perspective on what works and what doesn't. Get as many gigs as you can. Play everywhere, take chances, don't hold back. Don't wait for anyone to "discover" you, those days are long gone. Stay honest and make the music you want to hear. The tech is relatively easy to learn, it's that inner vision that matters.

Did Pitchfork linking to your Bastardmix do much for you or do you think your popularity is more due to the hard slog of touring and working?

Every bit of press helps, but there's no substitute for that hard touring. Just gotta go out there and do it...

Who's coming out with the best tunes in your opinion lately?

Dev/Null's new record is amazing, he just destroyed it at the Wasted 4 fest in Berlin. Elemental, Vex'd, Search & Destroy, Toasty Boy, Rotator, Cardopusher, DJ C for electronic stuff... Converge's new album is amazing. The new Isis is great ... I can't wait to hear the new Aarktica..
there's so much good music coming out right now it's hard to keep track of it all.

With you using Drumcorps tracks in the end of most "Aaron Spectre" mixes, I'm confused as to why you saw the need for two distinct personas?

Aaron Spectre sets are more geared for dancing, club music. I change those sets up to suit the mood of the venue and time of the night, and the tone doesn't generally get dark & depressing. it's about dancing.... I do get a lot of requests for Drumcorps tunes so I tend to play a track or two in my sets if I can.

Drumcorps sets are strictly metal / breakcore. It's a performance presenting an idea, and it doesn't adapt as much to the mood of the place... more like a band. Drumcorps has a lot of darkness and brooding, bad feelings, anger, tension, resolution, emotions that don't go well in dance music. I use live guitar in the Drumcorps sets and it's a different thing, you'll see the difference at the Dublin gig.

The Lifewepromote and Bastard mixes seemed to define the general direction of your gigs over the past while, does the recent Reptiledub mix signal the way you'll be delivering things at future shows?

The studio mixes, like Reptile Dub, are more a reflection of the new tunes I like and the way things are developing. Sometimes that is reflected in the live sets but not always. I love dubstep and I've been following it for quite some time now, so i had to put it on a mix. Playing live is a different beast though, and it's best to approach each show on its own merits. It's not good to plan things out too much before a show - it's far better to just have a lot of options available and then go for whatever works at the night.

At a recent London gig, I had such an occasion. I had just bought a lot of new dubstep 12"s and ripped them into the computer and finished up a few of my own, and I was all stoked to play a deep dark dubstep set in the heart of south London but by the time my set rolled around the previous DJs (who were also stoked to play their new finds) had run the gamut of all the current dubstep releases! Every single one of them... it was the peak of the night and I couldn't be getting all halfsteppy, so I just threw out all I had prepared and played some jungle & breakcore & more uptempo music. The crowd exploded and things went great. Sometimes you have to abandon all previous work and start from scratch.

A mate heard a rumour that you and Scotch Egg were starting a grindcore band with Bongra - anything in this?

We are doing a project together, and I'm doing the drum programming. It's nice to be just a drummer again... but as far as forming a live band that's a little far fetched, as we all live in different cities.

The Drumcorps shows on Youtube look like carnage, with the next Dublin gig being a punk versus breakcore night i imagine it'll be just as mental. How have you rated your other gigs in Dublin? Doesn't the constant touring ever tire you?

Touring is rough, but you develop tricks to get by. The worst part of touring is the endless downtime and waiting. I love to read though, so the quiet time suits me fine. The hardest thing is
finding a steady stream of good books. Dublin has always been one of my favorite places to play, such good enthusiastic people there. It's always been mental - can't wait!

Aaron Spectre will be playing !Kaboogie in the Underground at Kennedies alongside Prince Kong, The Banker, Nihl, PCP and Richie Kaboogie on Friday Feb 16th. To get yourself in the mood pop over to the Kaboogie Myspace for a gawk at some Drumcorps videos. Meanwhile his own website is brimming with mixes and mp3s to pack out whatever Gigerwatt it is you play your music on. Watch an interview on Drumcorps over here.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to antropheatgmail.com

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