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LIVE: Jeremy Loops @ Roundhouse, London

WORDS BY DOM TAYLOR       PHOTO BY ANNE BETTMAN

Jeremy Loops is an infectious pop/folk singer songwriter who is arguably one of South Africa’s most famous musical exports. He brought his sell out Critical as Water tour to London, his only UK date on this excursion. Situated in the beautiful Roundhouse venue just north of the buzzing Camden Town, people lined the streets in anticipation, many donning South Africa flags with beaming pride. Jeremy is the first South African to sell out the venue in its history, a particularly impressive feat for an independent international artist who said himself “the British media don’t pay much attention to.”

The opener set the tone for the rest of the show as he energetically (for a man for whom this was his last show at the end of a world tour) leapt onto stage with a microphone and harmonica in hand, and a loop pedal at the ready. Thanks to the likes of Ed Sheeran the art of the loop pedal has become somewhat overused, and is seldom taken that seriously anymore. Jeremy Loops however is a master of the art as his name suggests, and he gets the Roundhouse bouncing with his looped beat-boxing and harmonica rhythms.

The rest of the set saw him and his impressive band jumping between tracks from his 2014 debut Trading Changes and his most recent release, all of which were received with rapturous enthusiasm from the crowd. He also brought along frequent collaborator and fellow South African Motheo Moleko, a fan favourite who’s been on some of Loops’ biggest tracks. The set was filled with his classic brand of upbeat folk pop bangers which no one could help but shake a leg to. His raspy vocals accompanied with intricate melodies are even more impressive live, and the chemistry he has with his band-mates is palpable and heart-warming.

 

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A Great Crowd of People! London by size is only just over 1500 square kilometers, and within that space lives approximately 8.8 million people. Put that into perspective, and it is guaranteed that you will almost always be in a crowd. There are bad crowds, these are the ones you get consumed by during rush hour. Good crowds, these are the ones you encounter in pubs, at restaurants, and littered across parks and recreational areas, they are in places you kind of choose to be! Then sometimes there are great crowds. The crowd at the @jeremyloops concert at the @roundhouseldn was a truly great crowd. It was a crowd you wanted to be a part of. A crowd that consumed you, inspired you, and truly just enjoyed you. There was an atmosphere that was electric, accompanied by absolutely amazing performances. It was the kind of crowd you wanted to be a part of in a city full of crowds. In a city full of people. #JeremyLoops #LevitationTour #RoundhouseLondon #London #Camden #Photography #phonephotography #iphonography #Crowds #Inspire #MyPeople #Travel #Adventure #Tour #LoveTour #EuropeanTour #RushHour #Inspired #Smile #ExploreMore #ExploreLondon #DiscoverLondon #VisitLondon #POTD #concertphoto #Concert #LivePerformance #moodygrams

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Not having the most in depth knowledge of Jeremy Loops’ discography allowed me to take a step back and really see the adoration his fans have for him, and it’s not surprising. An indication of the Loops squads dedication is one fan named Dianne for who this Jeremy Loops gig was her 19th. She has travelled the world just to watch him perform, and watching his performance I can understand why. His charm and his positive outlook on life shines through his music, but seeing him live is a truly heavenly experience which brought some much needed South African sunshine to a cold London night. You can listen to Critical As Water as well as the rest of his discography on all major streaming platforms.

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LIVE: Miles Kane @ O2 Academy Brixton

WORDS BY LISELOTTE VANOPHEM

In 2007, the music world was introduced to The Rascals, an English Indie rock band from Hoylake, Merseyside. Sadly, two years later the group was no more. However, from something bad always comes something good and in this case, it was lead singer Miles Kane. While working alongside Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, Kane decided to go full force for his own solo career and the rest is history. Two solo albums later, ‘Coup De Grac’” was released earlier this year and would mean the start of a full year of touring. After having try-out gigs in the UK in May and going to Europe in October, Kane returned back to this side of the pond at the end of the November to start his new UK tour in Glasgow. We were with Miles Kane when he played the O2 Academy Brixton in London and we can only say one thing: He certainly knows how to combine retro pop and Indie rock in the best way possible.

Is it the trend these days that there are two support acts or it’s just a coincidence that a lot of bands do that at the same time? Anyway, we get two chances to get warmed-up for Miles Kane. The first one was The Mysterines and their electrifying rock music. There are a lot of upcoming bands who decide to go for a female lead guitarist/singer being backup up by a few males bandmembers. The Mysterines are no different when it comes to that but they are unique in their own way. Because of Lia Metcalfe ’s vocals filled with rawness and rock ‘n roll, the band is often compared with the Patti Smith and The Breeders and it’s a well-deserved comparison. During the entire set, they bring rock and indie music from an incredibly high level. While the O2 Academy Brixton was relatively empty, the audience came closer to see what this great music was all about and when The Mysterines’ debut single ‘Hormone’ was unleashed, the audience really sucked up the rock ‘n roll vibe and was getting ready for a steamy night. The first hands went into the air and the first lyrics were sung alone

Something that would happen more and more during the second act of the night, Cabbage. It became clear from the start that a lot more Cabbage fans turned up than expected. The five-piece band from Mossley in Tameside started off with a bang(er) ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’. Full speed rock with a capital R. The high tempo songs will the key throughout the entire set. While lead singer  Lee Broadbent asks to the change the volume of his microphone, the sound was great and so was the evening so far. It became even better when Cabbage closed their set with ‘Necroflat In The Palace’, the most catchy rock song that would stick into your head for the rest of the night.

Then, the O2 Academy Brixton was immensely heated-up for the main act of the evening. Just like during the previous Miles Kane gigs of this year, he chose for a silver background on which “Coup De Grace” was written as well as a disco ball coming down from the ceiling. The ‘90’s vibe was already literally in the air and when Kane entered the stage, it was complete. Dressed in a purple outfit and colourful makeup, we certainly knew that Kane grew a lot throughout his career. Growing and still very experimental. It’s was no surprise that he opened the set with ‘Silverscreen’, as a reference to his stage background. While this was a relatively quiet song to start the evening with, the tempo went through the rough from ‘Inhaler’ to ‘Too Little Too Late’. The first beer flew through the air, something that will keep going during the entire night. The classic rough indie rock songs such as ‘Cry On My Guitar’ and ‘Better Than That’ were combined with more pop-y and slower songs such as ‘Loaded’ and ‘Killing The Joke’. A few elements that were found throughout all the songs were the flair, gracefulness and rock ‘n roll Kane enchanted the audience with. Things went even more experimental and psychedelic when the first notes of ‘LA Five Four (309)’ filled the O2 Academy Brixton.

 

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@mileskane doing his thing in Brixton last night

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We were halfway in the set when Kane and his band decided to decrease the tempo with songs such as ‘Rearrange’, ‘Wrong Side of Life’ and ‘Colour of the Trap’ but was still capable to obtain the high the standard we’re used to seeing and hearing from him. He even showed us his inner Donna Summer with her “Hot Stuff”. The venue already became hot stuff but the temperature raises again immensely during the ‘Coup De Grace’ and ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, the last two songs of his regular set. ‘Coup De, Coup’ and ‘La la la, la la la la la la. Don’t forget who you are’ was shouted along even long after the band left the stage. Not able to resist the audience, Kane came back smiling from ear to ear for two more songs. While with ‘Shavambacu’, Kane showed again his pop-y and eccentric side, ‘Come Closer’ was the perfect closer of the evening. As fast as a speed train, as catchy as any earworm and backed-up by an audience who clearly wanted to sing along for one more time. They even wanted some more encore numbers but sadly they didn’t come.

However, the audience who were able to buy a ticket for this gig got incredible value for their money.  The two support bands were bands to keep an eye on as they brought rock ‘n roll and indie music just like you would expect and Miles Kane delivered an outstanding set. One in which he combined retro pop and indie rock in the best way possible.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Through The Eyes Of Ruby

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        IMAGES BY THROUGH THE EYES OF RUBY

They’re the maverick photographers often seen at the front of a hectic gig, analogue camera in hand, bottle of wine in the other. Through The Eyes Of Ruby are Ste Fletcher and Owen Godbert, making a name for themselves with their unconventional methods of photographing artists (on and off stage) that lands them with distinctive shots. Amidst a brief break in their schedule, we caught up with the pair to learn more about why/how they do what they do best.

Pussy Riot at Summer Hall, Edinburgh

The pair met almost twenty years ago during their teenage skateboarding years. From there, Owen took up film photography as a hobby whilst Ste became involved in music and wound up in “a few dead-end bands” until he craved a new side project back in 2016. “I started with Digital (photography) but I soon got bored of that, all the images look the same.” As regular gig-attendees already and Ste making the switch from digital to film photography, it was a natural decision for them to join forces and shoot together at gigs and music venues. With Owen based in Glasgow and Ste in Manchester, theirs is a working relationship that works, with both being able to travel to either or different cities.

Over the years, one band have seemingly brought them both together. In 2015, a combination of Eccentronic Research Council and Fat White Family members, merged together to create the outlandish rock act that is: The Moonlandingz. A defining moment for both Ste and Owen was when they both, separately saw the band for the first time. Ste at The White Hotel equipped with one of his early digital cameras and Owen at Stereo in Glasgow, both shows ignited their passion for live act photography. “I didn’t know what to expect, it was completely insane” mentions Owen whilst thinking back to the gig that landed him with the below shot of the band.

The Moonlandingz at Stereo, Glasgow

With an organic ethos to not take things too seriously, the pair shoot acts that they admire and would enjoy seeing if they were a regular punter. Most memorably, at the start of the year they shot The Starlight Magic Hour for So Young Magazine at The Five Bells in London. “The most memorable gig, which ended up pretty mental with copious amounts of wine” brought with it a missing camera, a broken lense and a missing passport. “Start as you mean to go on” they joke but even still, some candid, expertly snapped shots survived from the half roll of film that made it out of the weekend. They have a charm and ease that fortunately gets them out of trouble and some how always lands them with stand-out images.

Speaking of their style, the duo commend their ethos as well as a pre-gig pint for their confident nature. “When it’s a band that you like and they’re going for it – your confidence just skyrockets and all boundaries go out of the window” both nod, clearly inspired by the bands that they’re fortunate enough to work with. Difficulties do come into play though when shooting a live performance, with a mention of another time they shot The Moonlandingz at Gorilla. “It was just like a mosh pit, it was too manic – one minute you’re getting pushed, the next you’ve got a pint of Guiness poured on your head.” A frenzy of activity can leave any photographer struggling to work in an environment but also add to that, bad lighting at a venue and it becomes ever harder to get the right shot.

Mold at Gullivers

Over their time together they’ve learnt that the smaller venues are their friends and are part of the method that suits their madness. Going forward, there’s no sign of Through The Eyes Of Ruby slowing down: “the goal for us is to keep going, do more exhibitions and go on tour with bands.” The same as with anyone involved in the creative industry, money in the Arts is an issue which they try to ignore. “Sometimes I do think maybe I shouldn’t have spent ten pounds on some film but what’s the point” is their monetary management programme – one that suits their homespun aesthetic. Coming up they have Psych Festival in Manchester, Strange Waves IV featuring Brian Jonestown Massacre and calendar that seems non-stop when they start to reel off what’s coming up. As we part, they’re off to shoot The Jesus and Mary Chain in at the O2 ABC in Glasgow (after the pre-gig pint of course).

Think they’re easy on the eye? Discover Through The Eyes of Ruby on Facebook and Instagram 📸
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gaika basic volume

Review: GAIKA – Basic Volume

Gaika Tavares’ full-length debut for Warp records

In a scandal-consumed post-Brexit, post-Windrush world, the highlighting of the immigrant experience in London seems more necessary than ever before. Gaika Tavares has been encapsulating feelings of otherness in his music for the last three years, hopping across and blending a whirlpool of genre tropes that directly reference the diasporic value of sound system culture and the rich, historic, tapestry it weaves. But as knife crime figures soar in Britain’s capital, Basic Volume (Tavares’ debut full-length for Warp Records) feels more timely than any of his previous releases, and appropriately walks the line between navigating an alien, insurmountable cityscape and a guided tour through a lack of belonging.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Tavares outlined an encounter in the immigration line at Stanstead airport upon returning home from Barcelona. Despite brandishing a British passport he was singled out and questioned persistently about his purpose in the UK. Aligned with the fact that the title of the record is an ode to his father, who passed away last year, Basic Volume immediately stakes its claim as Gaika’s most personal and emotionally charged LP to date. His music has always been bitter, angry and desperately searching for a sense of self, but here he uses London’s bleakest side not as a tool by which to sue himself into submission, but as an emboldening foundation upon which life for black people, and particularly the kids at the mercy of gang crime, can be improved.

A record as thematically sprawling as Basic Volume is theoretically difficult to find a solid sonic palette for, but Gaika’s vision is steeped in pulling elements together in ways which require three or four listens. Here his fusion of dancehall, hip-hop and industrialism feels more gruelling than the more accessible R’n’B flavoured climbs of 2016’s Spaghetto. The opening title track sets a cinematic precedent, built on a hyper-coloured synth overture that glazes along a crawling boom-bap groove that oozes the rusting mechanisms of London’s more fragmented areas, and immediately unpacks the fears that come with “being naked and black in a white man’s world”.

The nightmarish low-end dissonance and ear-piercing squeals of ‘Hackers and Jackers’ sits perfectly as the backdrop to tales of inner-city corruption and physical brutality simultaneously, whilst the metallic, brick-to-skull intensity of ‘Black Empire (Killmonger Riddim)’ is as fitting as can be a foundation for a gloriously unashamed and righteous call to arms for London’s black community. There are softer moments, like ‘Ruby’, and an eerie (but gorgeous) 4th dimensional melody is a powerful weapon at the heart of tunes like ‘Born Thieves’ and the celestial highlight ‘Immigrant Sons (Pesos & Gas)’, both a fist-clenching feminist mover, and a declaration of the individualism and distinction of all of the UK’s minority communities.

The push-and-pull equation between personal and cultural lows that runs through the whole record unerringly magnifies the need for a real change of status quo (something which Tavares himself has said he hopes to achieve with the album). Nowadays, with the crushing cuts to arts facilities and venues across the city, it’s easy to feel like art is losing its ability to mobilise real social change. But Basic Volume wonderfully underpins the notion that by not giving up, by consistently challenging in consistently leftfield and creative ways, an escape is provided not just for those faced with grim reality but provides a sense of belief for those who are really living it.

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Holding a Mirror up to Society: Whiskey Chow

Chinese-born Activist turned Artist and Drag King, Whiskey Chow, arrived in Manchester to showcase her newest performance adding to her already impressive catalogue of work. With a thoughtful but energetic demeanour Whiskey met me in the gallery she performed in, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

From the beginning of our chat, Chow launched into a discussion of her experiences in the world of Performance Art and Drag, as well as the issues surrounding gender and sexuality both in China and the UK.

MCR: What drew you to performance art? 

Chow: As I began to grow as an artist, I began to use my body as a material. Performance Art is interactive and very human. Sometimes there will be a happy accident. In one performance in China, I was handing people a cigarette. Some refused but one woman took the cigarette from me, we finished our own cigarette while looking into each other’s eyes, in the end, she started kissing me. It adds layers to the performance, you never know what could happen but you have to let it happen and work with it in front of people. It’s an adventure for me. It also develops my own personality to become much more fluid. To do a performance, I can’t spend too much time thinking/planning, I have to follow my instinct because when the show time comes, I have to just do it! 

MCR: Your performance at the CFCCA, ‘Unhomeliness’ communicated vulnerability against an assault of typically ‘Chinese’ imagery added with the use of a mirror covering your face it implied that people see the fact that you’re Chinese rather than you as a person. Is that what you wanted to say? 

Chow: When people come to mean and think one thing, then someone else says another, it’s great. I don’t like giving a standard answer because then 100 people have one interpretation and by not defining what I mean it allows 100 people to have 100 different opinions. In my understanding, all the work isn’t limited to the/its performance but all the work is a combination of different symbols. The use of the mirror was playing on the fact that you might see your face on my face but you can’t see mine, I think my work such as drag, is all about performing as the Other. Regarding the Chinese imagery, the footage is shot in Chinatown, London. I go there very often and the feeling of a magical reality around there has never gone. They use too many strong symbols together to trigger a sense of belonging or directly informing those not from the culture, and both become a target. These things aren’t in China constantly and intensively, because Chinese people don’t need to have these dominant symbols every day. Chinatown and the London Gay village in Soho, another area full of dominant symbols, are right next to each other. One set of symbols is inserted among the other set and they don’t necessarily combine, but when people see them they are. It’s interesting to see what has been triggered by this random but ingenious combination for people from different places.

I have to point out that the timing of my work is poignant, this year is difficult for the Chinese LGBT community with the issues surrounding Eurovision, the removal of gay content on Weibo (which has now stopped) as well as many other incidents highlighting an obvious repression of the queer community. But people on Weibo protested the ban on gay content and the outcome is very exciting, many (non-activist) people have sent their voice to support the LGBT community. The movement isn’t small. 

MCR: You created a show in China, ‘For Vagina’s Sake’. What was the response like?

Chow: Some men felt uncomfortable. They said we should have ‘The Penis Monologues’ and then a gay man said we should have ‘The Anal Monologues’. But we did have a Q&A with the audience and a lot of people would say that it’s too heavy – why did you display that on the stage or what’s the solution? We mixed heaviness and happiness with more proportion of heaviness because that was the reality. We showed and shared what we see, but we’re not politicians or social workers so we are not providing solutions. The Hong Kong audience couldn’t understand the problem with sexual harassment between professors and students. Coincidentally, there was a famous case in China recently where a student committed suicide after being coerced and manipulated into a sexual relationship with her professor. 

 

MCR: Is sexual harassment in Chinese universities that prevalent? 

Chow: I won’t use the word ‘prevalent’, but we can’t deny that the exposure of these cases has been increasing. When students plan to study aboard, some of them have to ingratiate themselves to their professor to get the reference letter. Some male students also undergo this because the professor could demand everything. This kind of power abuse becomes common. Since the socio-political context and higher education system in Hong Kong are hugely different, they couldn’t understand how this could have happened – but that was actually the starting point of our conversation. People are very keen on going to the theatre to watch gender-related work as there were not many in the mainstream scene, so we reached the maximum capacity for the shows in Mainland China and had to turn people away. They really wanted to see the show and engage with this topic. 

MCR: What are the gender norms like in China? we’ve heard of ‘Leftover women’ but there aren’t any leftover men.

Chow: It’s a harsh gender culture for both men and women because most of the parents are expecting the man who wants to marry their daughter to own a flat, a car and have a decent job. The responsibility for men to provide is very heavy and intense. But there’s a saying in China that the female PhD is the third gender in Chinese society because most of the men are intimidated by their intelligence and independence. The whole society requires everyone to be the same so if you are different, even a little bit, you can expect to be questioned by people, like “why isn’t she married?” “why are they married but have no children?”  This kind of culture has a strong family value emphasis. A lot of queer people will say that Chinese New Year is a disaster for them because they are questioned about marriage when they reunite with their families. 

 

MCR: What goes into your process when creating a show? 

Chow: I went out a lot when I was studying and witnessed different types of performance including contemporary art, live art, queer cabaret and drag itself. I gained inspiration from everywhere and to do my piece at the CFCCA I did research of the work of Joan Jonas. Her practice is very interdisciplinary – she used video projection a lot in her live performance. My own practice is usually messy, I normally use paint and yoghurt, whereas Jonas’s work is quite clean. To keep getting inspired, you just need to look at the world carefully and curiously, not even need to visit galleries too frequent. For example, when I finished my most recent performance, I gained a lot of inspiration from exploring Manchester and taking pictures of anything I thought interesting. I remember when people were asking me about Chinese performance art of the 80s and 90s and its influence on me and I replied with “not a lot”. My motivation is not only from the study of performance art but also from myself. It focuses on the now. My activist experience also has a big impact on my practice. Making art is one of the careers in the world that you never really have time off, because everything you see, everything you think of, everything you make, are all somehow connected.

MCR: What interested you about drag? 

Chow: For me I think the masculine woman always has a special dynamic with their own female body, my MA dissertation researched into ‘butch in performance’. I read a book on drag kings in the 90s in London and New York and you can see the masculine performance as either the hyper-masculinity which is stereotypically the gay man’s sexuality or a straight man’s but there’s no in-between. I talked to Jack Halberstam who published the book and they asked me if I thought the drag scene is still radical and I think it’s a good question. I don’t go to drag shows very often now because I know what it’s going to be like and it’s very interesting to see it done in a new way. For my own drag practice, I am interested in creating the drag character in a different way to do with race and culture. As well as challenging the nature of existing drag shows themselves and the imagination towards the drag shows. I dragged myself by using the reference from my culture (Chinese Opera) and it’s history of cross-dressing from its own to the context of western drag scene.

MCR: What’s next? 

Chow: I’m not sure, it depends on what kind of opportunity I receive, I’m quite open about it. I would like some kind of long-term research based work and I want to explore more about cultures in China and have more of a conversation with the Chinese audience. For now, working in the UK allows me to have conversations with institutions and individual audience about queer culture, post-colonialism and Chineseness. To digest the feedback from the different audiences is an important way for me to look back at my practice, but the inspiration only happens when the conversation is at the same level. 

 

 

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The Wytches

GIG REVIEW: The Wytches @ The Shacklewell Arms

The Wytches have a knack for whipping crowds into a frenzy. Whether this is conjured up from their infectious doom surf riffs, long-standing cult status (or some other kind of voodoo at work) – its business as usual for the band as they cast their spells on an enthralled audience for a sold-out London show.

It’s a Friday night gig meaning that the crowd are expectedly boisterous. To set the scene: as people mill about in the smoking area waiting for the show to start, a security guard bellows, “Only smoking cigarettes are allowed in here. For anything else, please go outside.”

So, when everyone *eventually * piles into the back room of The Shacklewell Arms, it doesn’t take long before more inhibitions are let go. Even before the band are on stage, the air hangs thick with sweat with crowded bodies filling the room – needless to say, it only gets messier & madder from here.

Things are sombre as band begin their set with ‘Intro’, an aggressive 24-second instrumental track that sets the dark tone for the evening, but chaos quickly ensues after. It doesn’t take long (or much) to get people bouncing off each other and for pints to be flying into the air. By the third song ‘Can’t Show How’, drummer Gianni Honey is topless to the cheer of hecklers whilst the other boys’ characteristically cascading hair turn to limp strings of sweatiness.

The Wytches back catalogue proves to be coherent live material with songs off all three albums sitting comfortably beside each other. Naturally, older material including singles ‘Gravedweller’ and ‘C-Side’ receive the warmest reception and – with that – the most violent of moshing. However, even relatively slower songs like ‘Throned’ and ‘Wide at Midnight’ manage to hypnotise people into an aggressive sway.

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The band are without doubt on top of their game with every single song of the evening played with no-nonsense gusto – amid the noise and pandemonium, the boys are incredibly focused in everything they do. There is a strong hiss of power in all elements of The Wytches delivery; be it frontman Kristian Bell’s rasped anguished vocals, Daniel Rumsey’s frantic bass lines, keyboardist/guitarist Mark Breed’s fuzzed distortion or Honey’s precision drumming.

The Wytches constant onslaught of sinister riffs and snarling screams are matched so freakily against Shacklewell’s kitschy tropical decor; whilst ominous green lights might flash constantly throughout the gig, the doom-esque band conjure up a visually & aurally weird and wonderful evening.

Like this? Check out our interview with Manchester’s equivalent, MOLD.

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