Black Affair is the electro solo project of Steve Mason, ex-member of bands King Biscuit Time and, more noteably The Beta Band. He released his first album "Pleasure Pressure Point" on July 13th, 2008.
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26 September 2008
Black Affair join Concrete and Glass
Black Affair have been announced as the latest band to join the bill of the Concrete and Glass festival. The latest incarnation of Beta Band and King Biscuit Time lynchpin Steve Mason are headlining the Vibe Bar on Thursday 2nd October.
The festival is a two day celebration of the most original, innovative and exciting artists and musicians around, all spread around various venues in East London on the 2nd & 3rd of October.
Other artists on the bill included Ox. Eagle. Lion. Man,The Oscillation, Ludovico Einaudi ,Cats In Paris Euros Childs, Lykke Li as well as radio DJís Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq and John Kennedy.
To ensure you donít miss a trick and can navigate your way through the endless talent on show over the 2nd & 3rd of October, Concrete and Glass have installed an online scheduler at www.concreteandglass.co.uk/schedule. By clicking on all the gigs and exhibitions you want to catch the scheduler will create an automatic diary for you then you print it out and voila you have your schedule for the evening!
Set to release the the sublime new single 'It's Real' next week, former Beta Band member Steve Mason's new act Black Affair have now announced their album 'Pleasure, Pressure, Point' will be released in July.
They've also announced a clutch of dates to promote the new record.
June 2008 21 - Dalwhinnie Lochstock
July 2008 5 - 93 Feet East, London
12 - Edinburgh Green Room
25 - Dublin Crawdaddy
26 - London Proud Galleries
30 - Liverpool Bluecoat
While attending a concert by New Young Pony Club (review to appear here soon, folks)we were slightly suprised to see a a man all in black at the start of the gig looking incredibly like Steve Mason, former member of The Beta Band. We all thought he had retired after his last incarnation did nothing at all. It couldn't be, we thought. Surely it's just a bloke who looks, stands, dances, sings and talks in the same accent as Steve Mason....
Well, it bloody well was him! Now performing with the help of a bass player and touring around the country as we speak, Black Affair is the latest chapter of Steve's wonderous career. Describing his new sound as "electro r'n'b" you can get a taste of his new approach by going to http://blackaffair.co.uk/ and downloading the latest single for free. Or you can wait a while and buy TAK! ATTACK! as a 12" on 22nd October. Go on, do it. You know you want to...
Frontman of King Biscuit Time and ex-Beta Band singer, Steve Mason has spoken out about his mental health problems and the role that drug-taking may have played in their inception.
In a new documentary entitled 'Demons, Going Around My Head' (to be broadcast as part of Colin Murray's BBC Radio 1 show on February 28th), Steve talks about the possible effect drug taking has had in sparking off mental health problems. He says,
"I think some people can take drugs and some people just really shouldn't take drugs especially acid, magic mushrooms. Cocaine is a bad one as well...and speed. For me anyway those things really brought out the darkness in my mind and the depression in my mind. If you take them and you keep taking them you can leave that dark door open in your mind for quite a few years afterwards. You've got to be so careful."
Fellow original Beta Band member and now frontman of neo-Beta outfit The Aliens, Gordon Anderson (Aka Lone Pigeon) also suffered for years with mental health problems while the band he had been a part of went on to ridiculously mild success.
The debut King Biscuit Time album 'Black Gold' similarly failed to make the impression fans would like it to have and, probably due to unrelated circumstances, Steve announced he was quitting music last year - only to cancel his retirement a week later.
After making an announcement on his MySpace last month to say the upcoming tour was cancelled, Steve Mason of King Biscuit Time has updated his site to thank fans for their support and to announce he will be carrying on. He writes,
"I want to say thank you all so much for the messages of support and love. Ithas been a whacked out time for me and the messages meant so much, really. "I`m very lucky to have such people who are into the moosic I make. Thank you. I do feel a lot better now and will return. Want to apologize for cancelling the tour but it was not possible to do it at the time. But that will be happening at some point. Working with a friend on her music right now which is helping me get back into it. Album came out Monday, very happy with it and hope you get on it. Peace and general warm vibrations to you all, Steve"
The excellent album `Black Gold` was released as expected on Monday as planned.
Steve Mason has announced he is leaving the music business just weeks before his new album with King Biscuit Time hits the shops and with a UK tour next month which will now be cancelled with refunds available from point of purchase.
††Steve made a final web-post to his fans this week:
††"Peace to you all. I'm out of here. It's been amazing but I've had enough. The mountain beat me and sadly you too. That don't mean you should give up. It just wasn't me. Over and out, Steve."
††It's not clear whether the album release will still go ahead, and CDX is hoping it will as it's a fitting document of sounds that have influenced Steve over the years. Moreover it's a really good record.
††Steve's ex-band mates Aliens release their debut EP next month.
The first new material from ex-Beta Band and King Biscuit Time man Steve Mason is, I'm disappointed to report, far from his usual high standard. Save for the former singles 'Tak Attack!' and 'It's Real' which shine, perhaps undeservedly, against drab number after drab number, this album is a far cry from what we expect from Mason.
It's 1987 and a teenage Steve Mason nods sagely as the DJ introduces something called acid house to the dancefloor. Fast forward twenty one years and Mason, fresh from the shortest retirement in the history of music and no longer sporting the King Biscuit Time moniker, has returned with a sound heavily-inspired by the rudimentary house sounds of yesteryear. With Neon Neon having already brought back the sound of the 1980's, Deloreans and Miami Vice to the album chart, there's every suggestion that Steve can reclaim his Beta Band fans of yore with this scintillating slice of electronic pop wizardry.
New Young Pony Club / The Ting Tings / Black Affair
Itís been about ten years since I last went to the Ritz, and they still havenít cleaned the carpet. Fucking hell, it probably hasnít been cleaned since John Cooper Clarke was last here as a punter. Apparently itís been fully refurbished. It looks exactly the same as it did in 1973.
For those of you who donít know, The Ritz in Manchester is a bit of a grubby legend around these parts. JCC immortalised it in Salome Malone, but itís also appeared on films and television as far back as the 1950ís. Itís also been the unofficial knocking-shop for many a local band. The Happy Mondays were regular attendees of the Fridayís 'grab a gran' night. Liam Gallagher was once refused entry because the bouncers thought that everyone would want to start a fight with him if he so much as looked at someoneís girlfriend. And you know what? They were right. Iím pretty sure that back in the mid-eighties, when he was still working for Sale Benefit Agency, Ian Brown would go down for the Monday night student disco, or even the Wednesday night mix-up. I can just imagine him, still in his work shirt, slightly bouncing up and down on the wooden dance floor. And it is a very bouncy floor. Bez created his freaky dance on that floor - he was trying to walk normally on it at the timeÖ
Every now and then The Ritz goes back to its original purpose and puts on a concert or two. And it seems appropriate that tonight we get three bands that epitomise the very antithesis of lad rock. But in a strangely enough also show how much they have in common with it.
First up are Black Affair Ė and what a surprise they are. So, there I was with my JD and Coke in my hand whenÖ well Iíve already mentioned it in this article. So instead let me concentrate on the music. Itís a very pleasing electro-pop with slight nods to American soul Ė thereís nothing overly wrong with it, but it is surprisingly inconsequential. No, hang on, that sounds far too mean. It all sounded very good and I was impressed with what I heard. Steve Mason still has a fantastic voice Ėactually it sounded better than ever. The beats are smooth and built up in energy as they went on Ė hey even my foot was tapping by the end. There were plenty of gentle hooks and impressive refrains. Look, just go and get the new single. You will love it. But Iím not surprised that the small part of the audience that had arrived early for the gig spent more time buying drinks and talking to each other than listen to it. As good as it was it wasnít essential. And I donít know how I feel about that. Still, as the crowd got bigger enough people were starting to applaud not out of politeness, but because they enjoyed it. I want to hear more.
Initially I was certain that I would never want to hear anything ever again by The Ting Tings. As soon as they walked onto the stage all I could think was that they were a bunch of desperate wannabes who would do anything and anyone for a bit of fame. I looked at their clothes, their hairstyles, their eager beaver smiles and all I could think of was the word 'cunts'. Itís partially because weíve been down this road before. People who look so much like they would happily give up any thoughts of a music career if they could get a regular presenting job on T4. Fuck it, 4Music would make them happy.
Unfortunately, Iím wrong. Yes, they are overly eager. Yes, they do have a whiff of desperation, but they are bloody good. The thing is their songs are just so up and happy and powerful you canít help but warm to them. Thatís not My Name is as catchy as a song can get without wanting to punch someone and they have loads of songs to back them up. Probably. Look, this was a five song set. No sooner had they started they had finished, leaving the crowd baying for more. Okay, it was a partisan crowd, butÖ
Attitude - thatís the thing that can put you off a band. Iíve already seen NYPC once this year at the Roskilde Festival. It was the smallest tent on the site and they strutted around like they were gods. They were demanding the audience to jump along with them and a fair amount of the audience just walked away. And believe me, with the amount of mud that was around at the time that took a lot of effort. I think a lot of people were like me that day. We just looked at them, watched their smug faces and thought ďwho the fuck are you?Ē I mean, the songs were okay, but they werenít that good. It would appear that the majority of the Mercury Music Prize panel thought the same.
I think NYPC are beginning to realise that maybe they are not going to be as big as they thought they would. I only suggest this as occasionally tonight they would show something I wasnít ready to expect from them Ė humility. I think not selling out a venue that can hold about 600 (and thatís a reduced figure for what it can hold, no one was allowed on the balcony) makes you humble. I think it makes you realise that nobody has to watch you; the people who have turned up have made the effort just by being there. Itís your job to entertain them.
So there was a lot of "thanks" and "so nice to see you" tonight. There were veiled references to the fate of Londonís Astoria. "This is a really nice venue. Iím glad youíre supporting it. Theyíre pulling down all the character venues in London. You need to preserve this place." I thought that was an interesting turn of phrase. Donít bother about supporting the band, support the venue so bands can play in it. Nice thought, although if she lived near The Ritz when itís chucking out time on a Friday she may have a different view.
Very quickly the audience was responding to what they were doing. Ice cream was given the foot plodding treatment youíd expect, but the biggest cheer of the night was for a fast paced version of Technotronicís 'Pump up the Jam'. And this is EXACTLY why there is no difference between the new dance scene and lad rock. You can fill it with airs and graces, but what people like about the scene is having a dance to familiar sounds. Because when you get down to it how exactly how different is the music bands like NYPC make to, for example, Blondieís 'Heart of Glass'? You can imagine them being played side by side in the same club and they quite often are. Itís not their uniqueness that makes people warm to them, itís the familiarity. Most of the crowd was in its early twenties to mid thirties, of course they are going to respond to Technotronic. Itís their guilty pleasure from when they were growing up. Exactly like The Pigeon Detectives doing Huey Lewisí 'The Power of Love'. So long as people can shuffle to it, and sing along to it, and not feel overly intimidated by it, theyíll buy it.
Put it this way. Almost every review for M.I.A goes on about how sheís so brilliant and innovative and ends with the reviewer wondering why no one buys her records. Well, she is very clever and makes very unique music. Thatís the problem. There is nothing for the mass audience to relate to. There is no hook for that communicates to them, no attitude to identify with. Just a lot of reviews that tell you how knowingly clever it is and how much attitude she has. Great Ė thatís just the right combination of words to make the vast majority of people go ďwell, I wonít bother then.Ē Yes, it's a pity because they are missing out on something great, but donít be surprised because itís a perfectly normal reaction. On the other hand Amy Winehouse is nothing more than Motown rip-off artist with a bit of spunk and an above average voice. And people will be happy with that. People want comfort in sound.
Most people left tonight with exactly that comfortable feeling. Tonight hasnít been mind blowing all the way through, but both support bands have been impressive and Iíve left with a happier feeling towards the main band. Still, itís the Ting Tings whose record Iíll be going out to buy first. Anything to stop their career on T4Ö