October 25, 2007
A good month, with new stuff from old favourites and some cracking vintage reggae courtesy of Graham.
CoH – Strings
LCD Soundsystem – 45.33 (mp3)
Ergo Phizmiz – Cassowary (mp3)
Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
Keith Hudson – Flesh of My Skin, Blood Of My Blood
Yabby You – Jesus Dread
King Tubby & Glen Brown – Termination Dub
White Mice – White Mice
Rockstone – Native’s Adventures With Lee Perry At The Black Ark
Underworld – Oblivion With Bells
Fripp & Eno – Beyond Even (1992 – 2006)
Einsturzende Neubauten – Alles Wieder Offen (supporter album)
Harmonia – Live 1974
To Rococo Rot – ABC123
Wire – Read & Burn 03
Rechenzentrum – Silence (dvd audio files)
October 24, 2007
Braved a chill and foggy evening to catch a BAFTA screening of the new David Cronenberg film ‘Eastern Promises’.
After his disappointing A History Of Violence, I didn’t expect too much from this new tale set in the world of Russian gangsters in London… but how wrong I was.
Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassell and Armin Mueller-Stahl deliver slow-burning performances which carry a palpable air of menace, their threat unspoken or understated. Naomi Watts is the only disappointment (and it’s a minor one), not because she doesn’t deliver in the acting stakes – she gives an excellent performance – but because her role as the innocent embroiled is, for me, a less entertaining one. It’s certainly less focussed on in terms of screen time.
Being Cronenberg, the film is punctuated by the occasional burst of extreme violence – there’s a particularly unpleasant knife fight in a Turkish bath and a more than fair share of grisly throat-slashing to look forward to. But other than that, there’s little to identify this as a Cronenberg piece – the almost fetishistic portrayal of Mortensen’s gangster tattoos being about the only other thing that might hark back to his earlier predilection for body ‘horror’. If anything, the piece seemed to carry more similarities with David Lynch’s work – before he disappeared up his own arse.
Still, a highly accomplished cinematic excursion, and certainly one of the best films I’ve seen this year.
From the best to the worst – got home in time to see ITV’s new contemporary adaptation of Frankenstein. To describe it as execrable would be doing it a favour. So bad was it that I can’t persuade myself to write anything further on it. Avoid at all costs.
October 17, 2007
Another BAFTA screening this evening, this time for Sundance break-out hit wimp musical ‘Once’. Didn’t have high expectations going into this one, but…..
Although undeniably overloaded with lengthy and mawkish ‘poor me’ heartbreak strumalong songs of a kind beloved by bedsit singer-songwriters everywhere, the film actually carries a truth and uneasy warmth in its characterisations of the thirty-something vacuum cleaner-repairing busker and his fragile relationship with an immigrant single mother. It’s not a snappy, sharp Hollywood narrative, but its ramshackle structure does suit its subject well, and its unforced ending manages to offer both grim poignancy and fragile hope.
I won’t be singing its praises, but am happy to admit taking some pleasure from it.
The soundtrack album’ll be one to avoid though.
Kinda glad also that the screening clashed with Scotland’s miserable performance against Georgia in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier. The ‘highlights’ proved bad enough.
October 15, 2007
Just back from a precious few days in Bruxelles, where we attended two special 30th anniversary dates by Tuxedomoon at the minimalist, arts-friendly Beursschouwburg venue near the Bourse – a smaller hall than we’d anticipated with a capacity of only 350, but one which made for intimate performances. Amusingly, when we went to collect our tickets immediately beforehand I discovered that my name was down as the first person to have reserved tickets for the shows.
Excellent, crystal-clear sound and good mixing, particularly on the sold out first night, on which the band played a selection of their older material including a blinding version of ‘Time To Lose’ with Blaine adding lovely plucked violin. Good to see Bruce Geduldig back doing performances and live video work too.
The second night featured stuff from Cabin In The Sky and newie Vapour Trails and was strangely muted by comparison, although Steven’s minor hissy fit at his keyboard not being audible through the on-stage monitors lead to some cracking bits of manic improv. Perfunctory encores of ‘This Beast’ and ‘Reeding, Righting, Rhythmatic’ were an odd way to end the show, though perhaps the demands of the video crew who were shooting both nights were being taken into consideration. I hope some kind of release is planned for the footage – sooner rather than later.
L’Archiduc pub was to rendezvous point before both shows for Waki and I to meet for the first time with around a dozen lovely people from the band’s Yahoo group site who’d similarly travelled from all across Europe to be at the shows. Hello to Erik from Norway, Hector from Portugal, Willem from The Netherlands, Nikola and Maria from Bulgaria, Mariana from Germany and Isabelle, Alain and Géraldine from Bruxelles (sorry to those whose names temporarily escape me). We all had a tremendous time meeting pre and post gigs for drinkies and discussions. Particular thanks to Isabelle, who took us all backstage after the second show where we set about the band’s rider with some gusto, leading on to a 2.30am drinking session in the Falstaff.
On our third (last) night we were invited to a trendy downtown bar for the joint birthday celebrations of Annik Honoré & Géraldine Bussienne, two avant-music scenesters (Annik having co-founded Les Disques Du Crepuscule). Mort Subite was drunk in perhaps unwise quantities given we’d to be up at 5am the next morning to catch our flight home.