ditto is... back in time for brunch

This weekend I celebrated the return of ‘London’s original brunch party’ to its spiritual home. In honour of one of my friends’ birthday, we headed to MODE in Notting Hill, for LOVE BRUNCH.

The event started in 2009, when five friends started hosting a communal brunch on a Saturday afternoon. From this relatively humble beginning, LOVE BRUNCH has gone on to grow to a 200+ guest event, attracting partygoers and celebs from all over London.

As well as marking LOVE BRUNCH’s return to its original home, the event on Saturday was also launching the brand new club MODE. The weather over the weekend was incredible, and it seemed a bit of a shame to be entering a big club at half past one. However, we entered the venue to a whiff of fresh paint and a décor that ranged from planes hanging off walls to a huge organ at the top of the room.

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There were all maner of entertainers walking around and demanding our attention, including gymnasts and even fire-eaters! The food and drinks were flowing and we spent the whole day dancing to some great DJs. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and, before we knew it, the lights came on and we were out the door. We spent six hours in there, but the time absolutely flew by, we were having so much fun. Even better, we walking out into the lovely evening sunshine, able to look forward to what the rest of the day had in store.

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I’d definitely recommend heading to LOVE BRUNCH if you get the chance – although you’ll likely have to book well in advance. There’s another event on in April in London, then the party moves to LA and eventually Ibiza. Maybe aim for the London one first though!


ditto is… after the vinyl Holy Grail

Earlier this week one of the copies appeared for sale , with a hefty $13,500 price tag, on http://www.discogs.com/Caustic-Window-Caustic-Window-LP/release/482493

photo-mainThirteen and half grand is a fairly significant number, even for the most ardent collector – but the dudes over at We Are The Music Makers are working on an alternative. Having negotiated with the artist, they’ve organised a kickstarter page where you can pledge $16 for a lossless digital rip of the album. It’s said that once the digital files have been delivered, the original vinyl will be auctioned on eBay. The proceeds will be split three ways between the artist, the kickstarter backers and an as-yet-unnamed charity.

I’m in…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/watmmofficial/cat023-caustic-window-own-the-legendary-record-by


ditto is… skyping from beyond the grave

A number of films like the soon-to-be-released Transcendence have examined the thorny issue of housing a human intelligence in a digital context. I’ve always enjoyed these movies, in part because the concept is still so clearly the realm of science fiction. However, how would it actually feel to be contacted online by a deceased family member?

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Believe it or not, some folks are considering leaving a digital version of themselves behind when they kick the bucket. A company called Eterni.me aims to provide their customers with a virtual avatar that will extend their online presence beyond their death. The avatar will even be capable of responding to messages from loved ones.

The company aims to provide its customers with the means of leaving a digital legacy behind them. Eterni.ne will comb through interactions on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as emails and pictures, and then run this data through their proprietary software to develop as complete a digital persona as possible.

However, this isn’t about providing a means of extending or dealing with the mourning process. The idea is that the data will be condensed into a digital ‘alter-ego’. Customers will be required to interact with their digital selves frequently in order for it to be as accurate as possible. As CEO Marius Ursache has said, “We’re building a product for living people to curate their memories, not a grieving solution.”

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You can understand why some people might be a bit squeamish about the idea, but Eterni.me have seen significant uptake. More than 18,000 participants have signed up for the beta test, expected to launch in 2015. If this sounds like something that you’d be interested in, you can sign up and apply at www.eterni.me. My advice: give your relations time to prepare for their first ghost-poke!


ditto is... wondering about pono

This week saw the launch of the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for pono: Neil Young’s long-awaited digital music player. The project has evolved into a high quality audio ecosystem boasting ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files.

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Neil’s ‘mission’ is to bring quality audio recordings to a generation without vinyl. Although I don’t want to deride all the mp3’s benefits (immediacy/wide reach/file size/ease of use), the compression they employ does detract from a quality recording. In comparison, the pono system boasts around 30x more data than your regular mp3.

The player houses a DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) chip that is touted as being the best one available to date, and boasts minimum phase – all of which look set to revolutionise our listening experience.

Obviously all this audio goodness means whopping file sizes – and a dedicated online store from which you can buy albums ‘as the artist intended you to hear them’. Pono will face challenges - cheap and quick (iTunes/mp3’s) versus more expensive and slower. In my opinion, music lovers of a certain age will lap this up, but only time will tell if it catches on with a new generation…

https://vimeo.com/88705147


ditto is... dining in the dark

Last week I visited Clerkenwell’s Dans le Noir, a restaurant that forces you to experience their cuisine using all of your senses by being completely shrouded in darkness. As you cannot see what’s on the plate in front of you, the four tasting menus on offer are so vague as to be more of a hindrance than a help – Meat, Seafood, Vegetarian and ‘Surprise’. This, combined with an entirely blind waiting staff, meant that I was feeling the full mysterious force of the place as I walked through the front door.

However, the first room was a well-lit bar where we ordered some cocktails. We were soon approached by a waiter who explained how the evening would go. Anything that might have lit up over the course of the evening – mobile phones, digital watches etc, had to be removed and placed in lockers to preserve the complete darkness of the dining room. Once we’d surrendered our gadgets we were asked to choose between the four set menus. We chose the ‘Surprise’ menu, as it seemed more in keeping with the theme of the restaurant and neither of us are that fussy about food.

Once our table became available we were introduced to our blind waiter, who advised us to pour our drinks out of the martini glasses and into plastic safety cups. We shuffled single-file into the dining room, a hand on the shoulder of the person in front. As the room became darker and darker the noise got louder - the waiters would shout out what they were doing and where they were going to avoid any collisions. Once we were seated our waiter told us that, if at any point we needed anything, we would have to shout out too to attract a waiter’s attention, which was hilarious. You’ve never experienced the truly ridiculous until you’ve spent the night screaming in a dark room for some more bread rolls!

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Our starter was pretty easy to figure out. If it smells like fish and tastes like crab, it’s probably crab. However, just because we knew what we were eating didn’t mean that eating was going to be a walk in the park. After some time trying to figure out where the food was on the plate, you’d have to get some on a fork and then get the fork to your mouth. For something that I’ve done every day of my life, it was surprisingly difficult in the dark! Our main course came in a fairly small portion, but was very tasty. It was quite a bit tougher to figure out, but we eventually settled on beef, potatoes and cabbage.

As soon as we were finished we where whisked back out of the restaurant in the same way we entered, holding onto our waiter’s shoulder. As we blinked away the glaring light, we were presented with a list of what had gone into our set menu. We had hit our starter right on the head, but were shocked to find out how wrong our guess on the main course had been. We had actually been served a plate of crocodile, springbok & ostrich! Had I known this was in front of me, I’m not totally sure I would have had any, so I was glad to get the chance to try something new.

The entire Dans Le Noir experience was fantastic and our attempts at trying to eat the food were hilarious. The menus might have been a bit pricey if it had been a ‘regular’ restaurant, but tasting the food without seeing it or knowing what you had ordered was very interesting. Just trying to work a knife and fork round the plate was a challenge!

Dans Le Noir is definitely worth a visit if you get a chance.

http://london.danslenoir.com/


ditto is… baiting the Super Bowl crowd

I’ve never liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Of course I understand that many people do. I even think that Flea is a rather decent bassist, although clearly he’s not up to Nick Oliveri’s level… However, when their most recent televised appearance – Super Bowl 48 – rolled by, it provoked a resounding ‘meh’ from the ditto staff. Our Head of Design had to take Monday off, but in his defense he had an American guest staying with him who had to watch the spectacle.

I learned to my delight over the twittersphere that Bruno Mars and his band played the half time show to a pre-recorded track, as did the Chili Peppers. Mars’ and Anthony Keidis’ vocals were live - the instrumentals were not. My 3-year old daughter thought that Bruno Mars was way cooler, settling the court of public opinion. Take that RHCP.

My point is, everyone knows that huge global events need a ‘no live’ policy to secure sponsors – but aren’t we missing the point? The result of the sporting game (we hope) isn’t pre-determined. I’m sure that America wouldn’t have been in uproar over the possibility of a band fluffing a riff. To be honest, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been playing together for over 30 years - they shouldn’t miss a beat.

We should also consider the flaccid old rockers who agreed to this. At one point (I assume) they had the belly of the beast and would have told the NFL to fuck right off. Paydays must be tempting at a certain age, but I still think they should have thought it through properly. I’m with my daughter on this one – Bruno Mars won the cool cat cream at Super Bowl 48.

Perfect might suit the organisers, but in my opinion perfect doesn’t give, and we need to let them know in terms of engagement and social media measurements. Folks like seeing acts perform live. They should have let live rule proceedings and bathed in the results. Just saying.


ditto is… drifting through space

The Hollywood awards season is in full swing, with the Golden Globes already over and the Oscars only a few weeks away. Gravity is one of the latest films to be released for the awards season.

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The gripping space thriller features Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone & George Clooney as Matt Kowalsky. Gravity has received 10 Academy award nominations, 11 BAFTA nominations and won Best Director by Alfonso Cuaron at the Golden Globes.

I found myself totally immersed in the film, holding my breath as the oxygen in their tanks begins to run out. Although there are only two actors on the screen for most of the movie, I found that this only increased my focus as events unfolded.

A moment which will stay with me for a while is when Sandra Bullock’s character becomes detached from the shuttle. The camera shot pans around to focus on Stone’s visor, making you sit on the edge of your seat as you come face to face with the dead silence and complete loneliness of space.

I love the fact that Gravity takes place entirely in the present. The entire film occurs in space – there is no build up or flash backs to the characters’ lives before their journey, nothing to distract you from the tension that Alfonso Cuaron creates so skillfully.

With so little of the characters’ personal information to go on, it’s an impressive feat of storytelling that Gravity can so absorb an audience into Stone and Kowalsky’s fight for survival.

Gravity is definitely a big contender for this year’s big movie awards. In my own opinion, it’s absolutely vital that you see the film in 3D to get the full effect – see it at an IMAX if at all possible!


ditto is… trying to look behind the scenes

I’ve started to wonder why, in this world of big data, streaming services and all of humanity’s information available at my fingertips, I cannot dive down into the details of my favourite music.

Where is the metadata that tells me where and when a particular track/album was recorded? Come on Spotify and Rdio – you should have this, not just some pasted-together band bio. I want to know who played on the session, what they played, and have links to pics from said session.

Who was the engineer? Who produced the album? Who made the tea? Would it be too much to know who did the cover art?

I found this 6-minute clip of the Stones strolling around LA, stills from which became the sleeve artwork for “Exile on Main Street”. I’m sure there’s more content just like this floating around the web somewhere, it’s just a matter of finding it and making it more accessible.

If you can get extras in 1972 – people need to take note…