News A colony of ants have set up home in the International Space Station as part of an experiment to see how their behavior changes in an environment of low gravity

It's hoped the way they adapt their foraging behavior will help to develop smarter robots

First Night: Mogwai Astoria, London - Drifting along with the riff

JANUARY IS the awards season in the music business, and for the past few years the NME has countered that industry orgy of self-congratulation, the Brits, with its riposte, the Brats.

Pop: They came, they saw, they missed the boat

NME PREMIER GIGS: SEBADOH, ELLIOTT SMITH, HEFNER, QUASI

Arts: There's no feeling like a lo-fi feeling

Nothing much to do this weekend? Then why not attend the LaBradford Festival of Drifting

Pop: Nice song, shame about the attitude

BELLE & SEBASTIAN

First Night: Almost too good to be infuriating

Belle & Sebastian, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Music: Breaking the sound barrier

Where is all the modern music in the Edinburgh Festival? The Flux Festival is answering back in maverick style.

Pop: Post-rock with a raw edge

James Young, of Scottish outfit Ganger, has ambition. He wants to write the Tour de France theme tune. He wants to supply mad, loud music for TV adverts (though he'd probably suggest that they use Slint's "Good Morning Captain" first) and he wants to play US arenas supporting the likes of Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails (both of whom he's been told like the tough Ganger sound).

Music: Pop - Just what the doctor ordered

With their subtle blending of disparate sounds, Spiritualized know a thing or two about musical alchemy. James McNair meets the band's lyricist, Jason Pierce, to find out what makes the ingredients mix so well.

Rock: After this experience, you'll be Spiritualized too

Instead of being sold in the usual easy-crack Perspex box, the new CD by Spiritualized comes in a prescription medicine packet. The sleevenotes, on a folded piece of paper, list the possible side-effects, while the disc itself lodges aspirin-style in a dimpled white plastic tray, sealed in foil. Whether Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space (Dedicated) is deemed the Album of the Year remains to be seen, but as for Packaging of the Year - no contest.

DINOSAUR JR: Hand It Over

Blanco Y Negro 0630-18312-2

Andy Gill on albums: Pavement - Brighten the Corners Domino

Steve Malkmus & co have applied themselves with some conviction here- to make music this shabby and whiskery after four or five albums takes real dedication to the cause of lo-fi incompetence.

White punks on blues

In a busy Camden diner, a weary Blues Explosion contemplate their greasy eggs and try to think above the swelling lunchtime hubbub. Midway between two of life's more draining experiences - a gig the night before, and a transatlantic flight that afternoon - they seem as exhausted as befits a band involved in two of the year's rawest, most spirited recordings. Their latest album, Now I Got Worry, is the kind of delirious rockabilly- punk-blues avalanche you keep hoping The Cramps can make again. Better still, for the tremendous A Ass Pocket of Whiskey, the three young Explosions, whining theremin in tow, hooked up with grizzled Mississippi bluesman RL Burnside for an alcoholically charged afternoon of boogie blow-outs.

Pop: Sonic Youth, The Forum, London

When Sonic Youth come to town, you discover who your friends are. As you try to get someone to accompany you to the band's first London show in three years, you realise that everybody is either washing their hair, mucking out the budgie or flossing their toes. You can sympathise. At the end of last Wednesday's show, you expected to be handed a certificate - "I survived Sonic Youth," perhaps. It wasn't so much a gig as an art exhibition with guitar feedback.

Schuback takes third title

Bowls

McStay the master

Celtic 2 McLaughlin 40, Van Hooijdonk 59 pen Aberdeen 0 Attendance: 34,010
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