Archive for the ‘music’ Category
March 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the murder of Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. I watched the series for the first time last year and it is a gloriously odd. Not just odd in the way we might describe a work as Lynchian these days but often straight up baffling and sometimes simply bad. That goes double for Fire Walk With Me. But when it works, it really works. So I thought I would share my favourite scene from the series, one of the most unexpectedly powerful bits of television I can remember:
The score for Twin Peaks was composed by Angelo Badalamenti and has proved as enduring as the television series itself. This includes ‘Laura’s Theme’ which was a part of my life long before I’d even heard of Lynch via Moby:
Badalamenti describes composing the theme with Lynch at the beginning of this extraordinary Essential Mix by Nicolas Jaar:
(That mix truly is essential, make sure you download it.)
The paradoxes of being a heavy reader is that you don’t really like to receive books as gifts. “Oh, a book! Wonderful! I’ll pencil that in for 2018…” But, of course, a book is never unwelcome. My wife got me The Breakfast Bible by Seb Emina and Malcolm Eggs (of the London Review Of Breakfasts) for Christmas and I’ve been reading it in bite-sized chunks since then. I have learnt many things along the say but the most important is that to make a perfect soft boiled egg, all you need to do is place a large room-temperature egg into simmering water and then put on ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush:
When the song is finished so is the egg.
Strange Horizons has published its year in review which features – as it does most years -a contribution from yours truly. Mostly I use it as an opportunity to praise the shortlists of last year’s Kitschies (whilst still managing to get a quick dig in) but I also just had space for The Water Sign by CS Samulski. As Kameron Hurley says in the comments, it isn’t a book without flaws but it is bloody exciting. In terms of other reviewers, I think the book that gets the most recommendations is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I enjoyed her previous fantasy work, Not The End Of The World , and, to a lesser extent Case Histories so this goes on the list.
In terms of my non-SF recommendations for the year, well, you need to have this:
Yeezus is mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime (usually within the same song), written and performed by a total arse who just happens to be a genius.
Romain Gavras directed the ginger genocide video for MIA’s ‘Born Free’. He subsequently expanded this idea into the truly terrible film Our Day Will Come. So let’s ignore that and watch his badass video of MIA’s ‘Bad Girls’ instead:
I’ve mentioned my love of Girl Talk before and it hasn’t gone away. ‘Feed The Animals’ and its follow up ‘All Day’ are never off my iPod and are invaluable in the gym. As I have been running along like a hamster in an underground bunker where I am forced to watch Loose Women with the subtitles on, I’ve often thought what a good soundtrack these music collages would make for a piece of contemporary dance. Turns out Wild Combination had the same idea and produced Girl Walk. Here is the first chapter:
So, if you ever see me on the streets of London, that’s what I’m doing on the inside.
I’m probably late to this party but I’ve just discovered BRAT Productions. Most of his productions are above average mashups featuring cheesy Seventies rock but this combination of The Eagles, Lamb and American Beauty is rather special:
(This post was delayed from last month because I couldn’t work out how to embed Vimeo videos so the party is even later. I still can’t centre align it. Bah.)
The shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize was announced yesterday and it was a bit of a damp squib. Not that it doesn’t contain a lot of good music but I can’t remember a more conservative list. As coincidence would have it, I have been absolutely rinsing the xx album (one of the shortlisted twelve) this week. It is the most immediate album I’ve heard in some time, an accessibility that isn’t at the expense of depth. It is also one of the most sensual. I remember someone telling be that Soulvaki by Slowdive was their favourite make out album at college and this is an album very much in that mold. You picture half-closed blinds, tiger-striping a room with morning light, full ashtrays, lethagy and lust. Regardless of this – and the fact the xx are bookies’ favourite – I will be sticking a fiver on Laura Marling.
Jackson Browne – I was raised on Browne but he is too Seventies, too California, too rich hippy to have endured. So Glastonbury should have been the perfect place for him. He didn’t draw much of a crowd though. Still, a nice enough way to spend Saturday morning, although I was glad I had a copy of the Guardian. And ‘I am A Patriot’ no longer sounds like much of an antitode to patriotism, particularly in this surroundings.
Imogen Heap - I’m a casual fan of Frou Frou and Heap herself so I thought I knew what to expect. When we arrived, however, she was leading the crowd through quite the most tortuous sing-a-long I’ve ever heard. Nah, mate.
The National – A massive buzz about them leading up to Glastonbury and they sort of delivered. That is to say, they put their all into the performance, even if it didn’t necessarily collect at all times. (I should note at this juncture that where you are stood and who you are stood with has a massive influence on this so all judgements should be taken with a pinch of salt.)
Shakira - Pop is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Shakira doesn’t really have the tunes though; Michael Eavies, if you are listening, get Beyonce to headline. She was still great though, even if it was only with the singles like ‘She Wolf’ that you could proper get into it. And to be honest, the eye candy was not unwelcome either. Hips don’t lie, indeed.
Kelis - We arrived fifteen minutes late and fifteen minutes after that there was still no sign of her. Instead Mr Jamm continued his DJ set by playing a series of not very classic classics. We sacked it off…
The xx - …in order to see The xx, just across the way. By this point we had the wrong mindset and just listened from outside the tent. Which wasn’t ideal.
Pet Shop Boys - I don’t remember anything about this set. I am told I fucking loved it and sang along to every song.
The Hold Steady - Another of my dad’s tips. I struggled down to the Other Stage to get some breakfast and caught most of their set. I think it is time to accept that I just don’t like The Hold Steady.
Teddy Thompson – He’s a rum one, Teddy Thompson. A great voice, a decent guitarist, acceptable but forgettable songs – all this would be fine if he wasn’t such a sour bastard. I know some of it is stage persona but still. Keane were playing immediately after and for one horrible moment it looked like we would be trapped there by the influx of bed-wetters at the end of Thomson’s set. Luckily we escaped.
Grizzly Bear – Must do more research.
MGMT – I had been going to see the Blues Band, Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright on the Acoustic Stage but in the end decided to stay with my crew and stay electronic for the evening. The sound was a bit weedy but that is no excuse for for the weediness of MGMT themselves. The crowd loved the old singles but were otherwise pretty indifferent. They have also got ridiculous speaking voices. To top things off, someone tore off half my big toenail during this set which was unpleasant and messy.
LCD Soundsystem - This, on the other hand, was not at all weedy. You know what I said yesterday about older artist not needing to me cool? Well, that doesn’t apply to James Murphy. This was a sort of evil twin version of Hot Chip’s set and, in its own way, just as good.
Orbital - I’ve seen Orbital, you’ve seen Orbital, everyone’s seen Orbital. And yet the pull is always there to see them again. This was a classic set right from the opening track of ‘Impact’. They are a funny pair – the one motionless in a suit, the other gurning in a vest – but together they are fried gold. But then up pops Dr bloody Who. There is no escape.
My fifth Glastonbury and an absolute blinder. I’d had my money’s worth by Friday night and the next three days were a free bonus. It was also bigger and fuller than I remember from even a couple of years ago, there are just so many stages. Here is what I saw:
Bang Face – We got there for early evening on Thursday and the place was already rammed; Wednesday is apparently the new Thursday. Having humped all our gear across the site and then set up, it seemed like a good idea to get on Glastonbury time quickly since I was still calibrated to London. And what better way than to plunge into a rave? It was everything you would expect from a Bang Face night – sweaty, wrong and full of inflatables – although people were clearly holding a bit in reserve.
Rolf Harris – After a night of raving, this is the perfect way to ease into Glastonbury. Obviously it was pretty cheesy but he is such a showman that it is impossible not to smile. Despite looking slightly frail and not being in full voice, he had the huge crowd eating out of his hand. It was also the first time I’d ever heard ‘Two Little Boys’ which seems to be some sort of crime according to my peers.
The Stranglers – I didn’t actually see them because the time on my printout differed from the actual timetable. However, everyone says they were shit. So there is that.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – A pretty self-explanatory name. They actually went off after their first song due to some sort of equipment snafu. At which point Shlomo came on to keep the crowd warmed up. It worked. He’s a beat boxer but he also uses a sampler to catch the sounds he is producing live with his mouth and throat and then layer them to create a whole song. I probably prefer his pure beatboxing but this is definitely growing on me too (it was slicker and more lively than when I saw him last year). It was certainly far better than the funky noodling that was herald by the return of the band to the stage.
Snoop Dogg – Like a chump, I’d been thinking of skipping this on the grounds that he would only disappoint. I know, I’m an idiot. If Rolf is a showman, Snoop is a superstar. He is a man so charismatic that he turned Julie Bindel into a gangsta rap fan which tells you all you need to know. Towards the end he was joined by Tiny Tempah who you would have thought would be cacking himself at meeting a hero in front of 80,000 people but actually acted like he owned the place. Which he did for the duration of ‘Pass Out’ thanks to the largesse of the Doggfather.
Vampire Weekend – They are a band who attract a lot of antipathy for tediously familiar reasons relating to the Art School vs Working Class Hero divide. I love ‘em, in short order they have produced two albums will no filler at all (well, except maybe ‘Blake’s Got A New Face’). We get a fair chunk of these songs here and it is great stuff. If Vampire Weekend don’t have a particularly developed live presence, it is still sexy and euphoric and, by the time they have finished their set, they have given their all.
Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood – I was just having dinner opposite at the Thali Cafe when they came on. We’d been tipped off that they were the mystery special guests but that didn’t alter our plans to go and see Hot Chip instead. Still it was nice to hear a couple of songs off The Eraser before we left, it is just a brilliant album. Oh, and the thali was great too, even if they had just run out of poppadoms.
Hot Chip – They are a band you tend to think of as producers rather than performers but this was a storming set that showcased a group who are clearly very used to play together and also fucking love it. It was, in a word, tight. However, in another word, it was also loose, a rolling, seamless mixtape played live. They then took it to the next level by bringing on a steel band. This performance finally gave me the key to unlock their last album, One Life Stand, transforming something which can seem bizarrely happy-clappy into something which is genuinely emotionally effecting.
Broken Bells – This was my dad pick of the day and certainly looked good on paper. Unfortunately, the couple of songs we heard on the way to see The Flaming Lips sounded like Richard Ashcroft at his worst.
The Flaming Lips – I had heard their live gigs were good but I still wasn’t prepared for this. It is not the theatrics (although they are welcome) but the connection with the crowd. I don’t think it is overstating the case to say that Wayne Coyne is a messianic figure on the stage and their set was simultaneously immensely playful and gravely serious. Like Hot Chip, this was passion allied to a weight of age and experience which is often lacking in younger bands. There are more things than being cool. I cried as they when they closed the set with an extended version of ‘Do you Realise?’ (my wife did too but then she cried during ‘Two Little Boys’ so she doesn’t count).
The xx – Walking up the hill, dazed from what I’d just experienced, I did catch the tail end of this set. It sounded quite good. Did I manage to see The xx properly when they played a different stage later on in the festival? Tune in tomorrow to find out.