Archive | July 2015

soundCHECK 310 – July 30th 2015

Ever purchased a gig ticket online? Good. You will be familiar with the hell of ticket handling fees. Anyone with the nerve to charge consumers over the odds for the privilege of executing a simple online transaction should be passed through a threshing machine and used as filler for cut-price cat food.

For the uninitiated, handling fees are essentially an additional charge on top of the cost of your tickets. Other definitions are available, but wouldn’t get past The Journal’s sub eds. Handling fees are getting increasingly expensive. And nobody – including ticket retailers themselves – seems equipped to rationally explain what they are for.

I don’t live under a stone. Online retailers have operational costs. But come on. The other day I purchased tickets for a gig in Bristol. The handling fee was £2.50, allegedly to cover the cost of the debit card transaction. Hmm. I purchased four tickets. By the time I checked out I had paid a tenner in handling fees. For one transaction.

How can it possibly cost £10 to cover a single debit card payment? (I asked the retailers. They haven’t got back to me.) That money could have paid for four pints of mood enhancer in a stinking, sticky-carpeted pub frequented by alcoholics, divorcees and men seeking emancipation from verbal interaction with their wives.

Other online retailers cite website maintenance costs in their justification of handling fees. Again, fair enough. But I expect to be charged pence, not pounds. Your failure as a business to find a good deal for web hosting, payment security, storage or ecommerce systems is not my problem. The whole thing reeks of a sorry, shameless swindle.

Here’s an idea. How about you stop charging customers through the nose for the benefit of buying your product?

No such woe with tickets for Croyde View Festival, which takes place next Saturday (8th August). The line up features a slew of talented North Devon musicians, including Small Town Jones, The Tuesday Syndicate, Roseanna Ball, Roughnecks and Chris Millington. The festival site is at Croyde View Camping on Stentaway Lane and looks down over Croyde Bay, the rugged North Devon coastline and out to the Atlantic. Good luck finding a more beautiful festival backdrop this summer.

Best of all? No stupid handling fees. Buy your tickets in cash from The Thatch or any North Devon Saltrock store (Barnstaple, Braunton, Woolacome) or purchase online through PayPal – where you’ll have to pay a matter of pence extra. Prices begin from £2 for kids and £12.50 for adults. Camping and – if you’re feeling fancy – glamping tickets are available too. All the need to knows are at

Anyone know where I can find some antiquated farming machinery?

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 309 – July 23rd 2015

Thank heavens for British tourists, liberating the world from cultural tedium. Take the influence of the Brit aboard in Spain, for example. Armed with nought but a bottle of tan intensifier and the British penchant for destroying stereotypes, enterprising young bucks from Britain have flocked to Spanish coastal resorts to raze the haggard cultural cliché of castanets, quiet sophistication and sangria; replacing it with lairy drunkenness, vomit-stained streets and the palpable sense of adventure that is de rigueur when you merrily bingo-card your way through the list of sexually transmitted infections. (This insouciant gotta-catch-them-all mindset towards STIs is directly attributable to a society that left its children to grow up worshipping Pokémon.)

Sadly, traditional Spanish culture has had the indecency to retaliate. Not only has it landed here in Blighty, it’s about to rampage through innocent North Devon communities with the jacked-up ferocity of a bull in Pamplona. For that you can thank local musician Jules Moberly, who began destroying the good work of our sunburnt, hedonistic diplomats the moment he picked up his Spanish guitar.

“Necessity being the mother of invention, I have at last recorded my own material,” he matadors. “The usual shenanigans: me, a Spanish guitar, loop pedal and effects; an exploration of afro-latin-jazz, flamenco-funk, dub, folk, prog-rock and soul.”

A heady cocktail, no doubt. But one that leans proudly towards the kind of finger-plucked guitar melody you might hear filling the balmy Castilian midnight air outside a restaurant in old town Madrid. Which is about as far as you can imagine from where Moberly actually pens his tunes.

“In May I recorded an EP, live from the barn near Newton Tracey where I live,” deadpans Moberly. “I had to alternate between using the space for recording and allowing my daughter to go all Louie Spence with her dancing, in alternate half-hour slots.”

The result is seven tracks that writhe and wriggle with a feverish rhythm; shimmer and shine with a coruscating beauty. Layers of fleet-fingered guitar melody are built up with the loop pedal to create a sound that is at once non-imposing and urgently arresting.

“In the vein of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, it’s a lo-fi affair. Each track was recorded live with a digital recorder strapped up against the acoustic amp’s speaker – it picks up the faint click of the loop pedal and effects being switched on and off, and if one listens really carefully, the moo of a cow and rumble of a tractor might also be audible in the background.”

So where can you hear this post-flamenco-agricultural-jazz? Jules Moberly performs at Lilico’s in Barnstaple next Wednesday (5th August). (Where else? These are tapas tunes.) CDs will be available on the night. But before that, I compel thee to listen to Aldeia De Ogum from the Spatial Branch EP at

Talented guy.

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse