The Moomins Theme (1983) – Graeme Miller & Steve Shill
Did I really watch this show as a child? hallucinatory, morbid, melancholy and delightful folk tales for da kidz. I must have been… 6-9 years old? when I was exposed to this strange stop motion animation series inspired by Finnish authors Tove Jansson’s series of Moomins children books, first published in the 1940’s. Continue reading
whiskeytown – avenues (1997)
well, goddamn!!…the entirety of ‘strangers alamanac’by whiskeytown, a stone cold alt country rock classic in my humble opinion functions as an alternative valentines day album, over flowing with beautifully rendered tender,raucous lamentations. but this little twilight hour heartbreaker hits you right in the gut; acoustic guitar, organ and a youthful ryan adams vocalizing with the battered whiskey soaked wisdom of a much older man. I first clapped my giant ears on this record back in late 1999 maybe, working in a Dublin record store, got me through a rough period at that time and well, now with hindsight and all, now it sounds quite timeless.
Schoolly D – PSK – What Does It Mean? (1985)
yeah, the flow and all that. I do not claim to be any kind of expert on hip hop history after watching a few documentaries but I know what I like when I hear it; here, it’s the attack,the delivery, the sparseness, brutality, harshness of the beat, drum machine pulverising like gunfire, grabbing the ears, commanding your attention. Philadelphia son Schooly D’s on the ground account of thug street life is seen as the prototype for the ‘gangsta’ rap phenomenon of the late 80’s to mid 90’s for better or worse.
An extraordinary recreation of the technicolor style late 60’s/early 70’s melodramas/horror films is a heady, strange and often hilarious tale of Elaine, a beautiful modern day witch searching for love in a glossy californian soap opera b movie timewarp. She casts her considerable spell on various men so that they will fall in love with her but she finds them to be somewhat wanting; they find her femininity overpowering, quickly surrendering their sanity and dignity and unable to see her as anything other than an object of desire and worship. Anna Biller’s film is a lush, mesmeric trip; a stylized battle of the sexes with a wicked sense of humour and through line of sincerity, offering a unique female perspective on love and desire through a distinct genre filter. the score alone is to die for; a lush ennio morricone meets krzysztrof komeda deal and the visual aesthetic of the film is like a mashup of rosemarys baby beyond the valley of the dolls and italian b movies. grade: B+
charles was an unmarried satyr
here there everywhere he did roam
no satisfaction could he find
til one day like magick a figure
neither man woman nor animal
did appear, it did said to him
‘ dear sir…what do you want? what do you need?’
to which charles confused did reply
‘fucked if i know! both, please!’
we are the flesh (tenemos la carne) dir- emiliano rocha minter
teachers report – emiliano tries very hard and clearly possesses talent but his focus on being controversial results in work that seems designed purely to provoke shock, anger, revulsion, frustration whilst often inciting boredom and triggering sense memories of the works of noe, jodorowsky, von trier and kubrick. however, he does demonstrate an ability to work with actors and knows how to compose striking images and create an unsettling atmosphere. could do better. * although i will concede that emiliano’s film could be possibly be a transgressively allegorical statement on the current state of things in mexico but without sufficient knowledge to confirm this, I am simply offering a measured, unbiased response to the work of an artist/technician/craftsman/professional on a cinematic level. grade: C+
magnificent, prolific, versatile with a distinctively regal, sandpaper voice, looking back at the late John Hurt’s numerous credits, it’s astonishing how many of his film projects I was exposed to in my formative youth – alien, watership down, the elephant man, the plague dogs, the animated lord of the rings, 1984, scandal – it felt like i grew up with him, the somewhat dissolute, craggyfaced uncle with a razorsharp wit and a heightened sense of his own mortality. from the late 60’s up until the present, hurt worked consistently on film, television and the stage consistently working with interesting directors and never seemed to age. his lived in, somewhat frail physicality always made him seem old or older than he was thus he never seemed to age. there were few better actors at conveying weariness, wisdom, venality, suffering, eccentricity, quiet intelligence, gentle defiance from his breakthough in 1966 with A Man for All Seasons up until his recent supporting role alongside natalie portman in Pablo Lorrain’s Jackie in 2016. he will be missed.
american honey (2016) dir – andrea arnold
english director andrea arnolds fourth feature is just as bold and striking as her previous work (red road, fish tank, wuthering heights); a thrillingly alive road odyssey/character study of discarded american youth; vibrant, poetic, erotic, tragic funny, scary, indulgent, messy, ugly and beautiful in equal measure.
american honey is ostensibly the story of star (debutante Sasha Lane), a teenage girl trapped in a deadend home life somewhere on the fringes of working class america. she stumbles upon a ragtag group of lost boys and girls led by the charismatic, ponytailed Jake (Shia La Boeuf) whom she locks eyes with and offers her the chance to escape her impoverished, abusive existence and join his motley crew in their battered volkswagen selling magazine subscriptions to rich neighbourhoods for cash. she seizes the opportunity and throws herself into a headlong journey of self discovery that is both epic and intimate in scope.
arnold and cinematographer robbie ryan shoot the film in a 4:3 aspect ratio, normally reserved for television and still photography. this serves to emphasize Star’s point of view. we see the world through this defiant young woman’s eyes as she chooses to experience it. immediate, raw, surreal and fascinating with convincing performances from a cast of first-timers and professionals, particularly Lane and La Boeuf whose intense chemistry powers the film forward, sideways and every other way as it careens to a perfect (in)conclusion.
life is short as they say whilst pointing out your greying hair, regrets, failures especially as one ages….oh, my creaking bones!!! Tis true it is far too brief to waste on the pablum grinded out by cultural meat factories. though often we are cast forth into the arts of darkness without aid, academic knowledge or wifi access with only instinct or personal taste as our cultural compass. with limited mortality time, choices feel vital and we must try everything no? at least this has been my impulse thus far. taking into account some delusion, perhaps the brain and heart filter has become more discerning with maturity. (the audience laughs)
killing joke – you’ll never get to me (2003)
1) Defy; to refuse to obey someone or something. try and do this every day for the rest of your life. if not manageable within ones normally compliant schedule, try at least once a week. this is an applicable, all purpose strategy areas such as family, business, work, study, leisure, relationship, geopolitical,cooking and manufacturing.
phil lynott – old town (1982)
i can feel myself shrinking, getting smaller, beset on all sides. when this happens, i freeze. an animal on the run. chased, judged, hated. my response? shut down. stay away. hide in the shadows, sneak around the edges of existence. never fully alive. disengaged. one foot out the door. afraid of being caught, trapped or blamed for things I did not do. sometimes i allow myself to be freed, led to a promised land. the sadness and the fear fading into the background. then, i am the closest to a best, true version of myself. it doesnt seem to last and the floor falls from under my feet. i try to cling on. i do. i swear. but it’s not quite enough for them. the deciders of fates. nor is it enough for me. we do our best in the moment. in the day. in our lives. when is it enough? how do we know?
david bowie – no plan (2017)
happy birthday to the late mr bowie, who passed away on January 10th of last year. today the legendary pop icon would have been 70 and to mark the event, a new EP of music has been released, including a track entitled ‘No plan’, the video of which you can view above. Below are some links to Bowie related content posted on this blog in the last few years so why dont you take some time to remember and appreciate the mans magnificence.
twas the year of the monkey and if you squinted your eyes a little.. from a certain angle, 2016’s face resembled a somewhat sadistic, hairy, unpredictable bastard did it not? but it wasn’t all bad, I mean I actually managed to get the hang of driving a 1976 Fiat with a manual gear shift on the left hand side of the the road for the first time whilst on a trip to the Balearic isle of Menorca. what an achievement! what an anecdote eh?!
MEW- she came home for christmas (2002)
danish progrockpopcombo with a typically dark, sad and lovely scando tale detailing some past traumatic experience we dare only to speak of in balladsongform. when the singers voice soars to heavenly heights just before the climactic chorus, the winterfrost in your souls and perhaps on your homesteads will melt into christmas tears.
Big Star – Jesus Christ (1974?)
Like much of Big Star’s Third/Sisterlovers ‘final’ album, the track begins off kilter then gains a steady foothold but remains curiously forlorn, empty and bedraggled like springsteen and the eband on prozac. what should be a spiritual celebration sounds more like a surrender, a defeat at the crossroads of ambitious will, talent and apathy that is both beautiful and sad. jesus gets a lookin with a semi-rousing chorus but God has left the building. Merry f***in Christmas music lovers! Now go read your Beano annual! (chortle)
8.Tom Waits – Silent Night (1989)
well, if you want to scare the kids at chrimbo, forget yer arsenic laced puds or gremlins and bad santa dvd combo pack and press their ears up against the possessed hobo yuletidings of the bard of the bar-room, patron of lost angels and weird eggs, mr waits. so scary and yet so tender and bright…this is his first ever top 10 hit (Rod the Sod’s 1990 fairlight keyboardin ‘downtown train’ cover notwithstandin)
10.XTC – Thanks for Christmas (1983)
…and straight in at number 10 is an entry by Swindon’s finest export aside from double glazing from way back in the daft early 80’s pop landscape when it both the cool and uncool seemed eager to whip up a festive musical fever. nowadays, coming up with a new xmas tune is akin to askin someone to work down the coal mines; they have a hazy recollection of what it involves but can’t be arsed puttin the graft in so just fart out a deadeyed 21st century facsimile of some seasonal fave.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – I Need You (2016)
Oneohtrix Point Never – Animals (2016)
The Verve – Never Wanna See You Cry
Oasis – Don’t Go Away
Bjork – All is Full of Love
don’t look back. dangerous to lose oneself in the past, especially your own. but you still have my copy of JG Ballard’s Crash somewhere. God, i was and perhaps still a pretentious fuckface. But you understood I think. any road buddy – i never liked that word in a dublin context – a brief tribute. i had almost forgotten but music prevents that from ever becoming a 100% reality. and old age will probably seal the deal but I hope not.
megafaun – hope you know (2011)
let me ask you somethin….If you knew what you know now 5, 10, 15 years…hell…fuck it! 5, 10, 15 minutes ago would you act the same way, make the same decisions, spend your time in the same manner? the answer is….who the fuck knows? it depends right? cop out answer bro. but if we get a chance to do things again in a different way, maybe we fuck that up too. human nature. we can’t help ourselves. maybe it’s better to live in the moment. are we living otherwise? tell me! what would you do? friend, if i gave you the chance to tell him or her or it how you feel about them because you didn’t when you had the chance or many many fuckin chances perhaps, would you have the nerve to take the path less travelled? or maybe you are an existential type sons o’ a bitch and you choose to take life as it comes and whatever will be will be and whatever is meant to be is meant to be or not or some such bullshit. you have no control over your fate and affairs of the heart you keep saying to yourself…to make one feel better about our bad decisions and indecisions, our goddamned regrets.
you know what i regret? i know you don’t wanna hear it but i’m gonna tell you , i’m on a roll here. i regret never having a dog..or a pet, not even a fucking goldfish. my folks they hated animals, nature, completely irrational and well, I never got around to it. maybe if i had some dumb animal to take care of, clean up their shit and piss, attend to their basic needs i could have turned out a better man. what do you think? ok, ok, i can see you are gettin tired. let me get on with it. so if you had the second chance to tell that someone how you felt, truly even if you knew the outcome would be rejection or worse indifference, would you pull the trigger, risk your weak, pathetic heart being broken one more time…would you compadre?
even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.
there is no end. there is no beginning. there is only the infinite passion of life.
you want it darker (2016)
first we take manhattan (1988)
waiting for a miracle (1992)
so long marianne (1967)
depeche mode – enjoy the silence (1990)
the knife – silent shout (2006)
the dickies – sounds of silence (1978)
Low – when i go deaf (2005)
new order -your silent face (1983)
John Cage – 4’33’
Sometimes, words are indeed most unnecessary. Such is the case here. Although I have written a few words now, probably unnecessary so…. why don’t I piss off?
mansun – i can only disappoint u (2000)
blood orange – always let you down (2013)
Cult chester 4-some mansuns’ last gasp of greatness way back in 2000 from the underwhelming Little Kix album ; sharp, simple, melodic hook, slick vocal theatrics and lacerating self-examination, think the police meets bowie meets duran duran meets u2 and you may get close to what they serve up here. romanticism and withering self defeat wrapped in a shiny new wave pop rock package.
Eno -Hyde – Daddy’s Car (2014)
Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove (1978)
Can – Halleluhwah (1971)
Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (1981)
A:’What’s the connection here,man? explain it to me cos I ain’t seein it, I’m not feelin it?’
B:’You ain’t feelin it? You ain’t feelin it man? are you goddamn serious with that shit?’
A:’Yeah, serious as a fuckin heart attack dude. i don’t see the connection with these four songs. i want you to explain your shit to me. i want you to expound on this shit man. I want you to present, to theorize, to analyze give me some muthafuckin theme or somethin!’
Purple Rain (1984) Dir – Albert Magnoli
Purple Rain is technically a feature-length movie; its running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes,was shot on professional film stock it has a semblance of a plot or narrative, has a slick polish to it and it was released by a major studio (Warner Brothers) back in 1984. It is a pop star vehicle, possibly the pop star vehicle; an efficient, stylish delivery system to sell as many records as possible whilst placing it’s star on an iconic pedestal.
It is also essentially a glorified home movie, a strange, intensely personal project populated by Prince’s friends, musical collaborators, shot in his hometown of Minneapolis, with a central conceit that is borders on autobiographical – the sensitive, misunderstood, charismatic, talented rock star known as ‘The Kid’ trying to escape his troubled family life and win(?) the heart of a beautiful singer called Apollonia. This self mythology dreamt up in the mind of a teenage boy locked away in his bedroom with only his music and his instruments for company; an intense diary entry of grand self realisation splashed up on the big screen for all to see.
Prince was like many of us a gawky kid teased and made to feel like an outsider and Purple Rain is both a glorious revenge on his detractors and a celebration of transcendence and self realisation through his music; a way to create and inhabit his own artistic universe where he could truly be himself.
There are several supposedly romantic scenes between Prince and Apollonia throughout where it seems the diminutive one expresses an odd mixture of contempt, amusement and desire towards this clearly smitten lady. He withholds, teases and even slaps her around at one point. As the film draws its characters as such broad archetypes, it’s fair to say this erratic, somewhat misogynistic behaviour is down to his troubled father’s influence whom we see treat ‘the kid’s’ mother in a similar fashion as opposed to any issues with Prince’s performance.
The film works on a pure emotional, musical level and of course without the music, there would be nothing at all and like a musical, the story is there in each number. When The Kid/Prince plays with his band The Revolution his electric performances function are a communication and exorcism; the shy teenager and little boy lost unleashing everything of himself, overwhelming all who are witness.
Above, The Kid and his band seduce the audience with a stark & sexy confessional called ‘The Beautiful Ones’ and it perfectly captures the adolescent fantasy of being a performer; the sublime moment of victory shy kids daydream about. When they can finally show the world what they have been up to and at last, tell that one special boy/girl/man/woman their true self, how they feel, To lay bare their soul in public and finally achieve transcendence; for a few fleeting moments, worship, love and acceptance are finally theirs.
Q: So, you claimed that you were attempting to resurrect the ghost of Elvis and Ian Curtis with this track. Quite a claim, no? Do you think you succeeded?
DM: (laughter with a large dollop of false modesty) Maybe I was going a bit far with that statement.
Q: Okay, so how would you describe the intentions now, in retrospect?
DM: Intentions? Not sure. It was all very…organic. Sorry, I’ve overused that word a bit much, sound like a prick. I was watching an interview with um….who was it? oh yeah, garry shandling! do you know the larry sanders show?
Q: yes. i’ve heard of it. somewhat esoteric comedy.
DM: esoteric? i guess you could say that. anyway, where was I? yes, so i was watching him do an interview and he was using that word quite liberally throughout without a hint of self consciousness.
Q: What word?
Q: I see, go on.
DM: Right. so ‘shake my bones’….yes, it came quite naturally, the sound i think. no! thats bullshit! That’s a lie. It was a very self-c0nscious attempt to create a song that sounded like The Cramps, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave or something that could have come straight out of a David Lynch movie. Primitive, reptilian back to basics rock and roll, retro but timeless; sweaty, twitchy, tortured desire with a groove to it you know?
Q: Really? Quite lofty comparisons.
DM: maybe. I mean, it’s a pastiche in a sense but then again, it isn’t, that bluesy singing style – in the higher register at least – comes quite naturally to me. i put 100% of myself in it so…
Q: And that’s your guitar playing?
DM: yes, basic three chord riffs on a fender telecaster. But i think basically its me trying to sound like PJ Harvey in a David Lynch production.
Q: Tad self-aggrandizing surely? Isn’t up to the listener to decide?
DM: Sure. Maybe it is. But if you are going to record and perform music, self delusion and self indulgence are usually what drive you forward, a mixture of blind faith and self belief. Otherwise, you will never even try. You need a benchmark, an inspiration to get the engine going.
Those who are restless
Seeking their solace at night
drift in time sweet time
small hours (1977)
please fall in love with me (1981)
John Martyn passed away in County Cork, Ireland in 2009 at the relatively young age of 60 but he packed several lifetimes into a career that began in the late 1960’s in which he explored different musical genres -folk/blues/jazz/ambient/rock – whilst retaining his own unique style and personality. Like some but not all great artists/performers, Martyn’s music seemed to be inextricable from his own lifeforce and it felt like he poured everything of himself into every recording and performance, as if he would cease to exist or function without musical expression. His wild, emotive performing style could sends shudders down the spine of less committed artists.
in these solitary moments, deep inside the corporal stillness of the midnight hour, listening to a song from decades past that still affects my body and soul with its opulent melancholy, a graceful collision of classical and – circa 1981 – modern electronic sound.
It longs for something beautiful already fading, dying; it is also a grand yearning for its own romantic essence, existing in an era when electronic patterns, rhythms, melodies were no longer the cultural vanguard, already subsumed into the fabric of popular sound.
Now its grand gestures and opulence resonate with even more poignancy or is that just me projecting as I look back with nostalgic reverie perhaps clouded by sentiment? Is it difficult for me to separate my childhood associations with the song from a clear-eyed view of the song as an adult?
I don’t think so. The emotions I clearly felt as a 4-7 year old as the song played on a turntable in my family’s home for the umpteenth time or when the video aired on someones chunky television set were the same emotions I feel now. For better and for worse, I have had that sense of drama and sadness in my being for as long as I can remember or forget.
Why or how I’m not sure, perhaps it’s genetic or maybe the seeds are planted by music and before we know it or gain awareness through maturity, it is too late to go back and this secret language bypasses common sense, residing forever in the soul.
Does ‘Vienna’ lament the fall of Old Europe? Or a love affair set amidst its decline? Signalling a creative peak that went as quickly as it came and is now a legacy of a particular time of striving in music, 34 years ago, ‘Vienna’ still haunts me; its spectral synth heartbeat, impassioned vocals, grandiose piano crescendos echoing through winter courtyards, empty palaces, cracked marble columns and desolate ballrooms forever more.
A slow dance with tears in my eyes, if you will.
Ultravox – Vienna (1981)
For Halloween and all that.
The following are a boutique* choice of movies tinged with a touch of the old horrorshow that have not been given their due for one reason or another over the years, be it poor reviews, bad distribution, poor box office, short memory spans etc.
*The use of this word has become widespread in the Emerald Isle to signify something that has or suggests a unique or special, enhanced quality from clothing stores, music festivals to bus shelters and sandwiches. If you can’t (literally) beat them, join them! I hope your reading of this petty personal rant won’t affect your reading of the article in part or in full. enjoy.
‘An environmentally conscious horror film from the director of Woodstock, written by a guy who claims to have been molested by aliens with Brit sex dynamo Albert Finney portraying a streetwise Noo Yawk cop as your lead? I can’t wait no longer! Where are my movie tickets?’ – Anonymous American moviegoer, July 1981, probably.
Not quite a werewolf movie though it most definitely features some wolves and not quite a police procedural and not quite a pro-nature, anti-capitalism polemic, Wolfen is a strange beast but one that lingers in the imagination thanks to the then innovative, elegant wolf pov photography of Gerry Fisher, gritty New York atmosphere, gruesome violence, a chilling score by a young James Horner and Finney’s steamy love scenes with Diane Venora. Well maybe not the last part though Finney is – accent aside – suitably crumpled and charismatic throughout.
Tom Waits – Hold On (1999)
A consummate musical storyteller, Waits has inhabited that strange hinterland just outside the mainstream for four decades now somehow remaining unique and unclassifiable. He’s been a seeker, romantic, troubadour, oddball, degenerate, carny man; a performance artist traversing hearts and minds.
‘Hold On’ from his 1999 album Mule Variations, weaves evocative short story imagery around a weary, battered torch song plea like only he can.
Nadine Shah – Stealing Cars (2015)
out of the blue, i strike again putting fear into the hearts of lazy, procrastinating wannabe’s the globe over…
or something like this…this moody little number from Tyneside songstress Nadine Shah is already two years vintage but insinuates itself into the old brain memory room in quite a magnificent way, subtle hints weaving in and out, colours change from autumn to winter then back again; imperceptible changes in colour mood texture, subtle aftertaste remains.
algiers – the underside of power (2017)
a propulsive intense collision of post punk industrial and Motown – Suicide, Curtis Mayfield, PIL, A.R. Kane – this title track from Atlanta,Georgia quartet Algiers second album – a follow-up their acclaimed 2015 debut Algiers – is an exhilarating call to arms; a super charged dance floor demon that resurrects pop/rocks original insurrectionary spirit; making a mockery of pop celebrity cultures facile narcissistic gestures of political and emotional engagement. a plea and a warning, ‘dystopian soul’ for and by the dispossessed.
the late adam west bears striking physical resemblance to a fellow -an acquaintance I met recently on a work exchange trip to the Andalusian foothills close to the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. he was a British expat and ex-actor in is his late 70’s.
from pre millennial technological angst of 1997 to post millennial 21st century technological resignation? an unreleased song from the Ok Computer recording sessions with a suitably unsettling video by Polish film-maker Michal Marczak, capturing something the street spirit of those times and these; dislocation,resignation,numbness,loss,longing….but what is the source of this pain? our confusion collectivized, compartmentalized, anger and sadness smushed into a tiny digital bottle; how to release anxiety completely? unscrew the bottle with a quintessential radiohead ballad. then check yourself in the mirror. oh, I am not a pompous, self-absorbed 18-19 year old boy/girl anymore it seems, but a real grown up man/woman! bollix! *
Paul Westerberg – Ghost on the Canvas (2009)
Glen Campbell – Ghost in the canvas (2011)
the song was originally written and recorded by former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg for his self-released, home recorded 2009 solo EP, PW & The Ghost Gloves Cat Wing Joy Boys.
‘We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy them when they come. We are therefore a civilization which suffers from chronic disappointment — a formidable swarm of spoiled children smashing their toys. ‘ – Alan Watts.
‘time is on my side
yes it is
time is on my side
yes it is’ – The Rolling Stones
18 hours of new David Lynch material….what more needs to be said? analysis is not required but necessary in the modern culture. we have to pore over every detail, understand what is happening, why it is happening but forgetting that one of the necessary states when taking in the work of one of the world’s more unique artistic voices should be…fear? confusion? disgust? amusement? boredom? anger? arousal?
i’m not telling you. decide for yourself. you are a grown up for goodness sake! sure, twin peaks can be whatever you want it to be but this way lies frustration, unhappiness, despair. it can only not be one thing…everything else.