Saturday, November 29, 2003

the devil's footprints - this book is a collection of a series that appeared from dark horse publishing, along with a couple of shorts. brandon and waide are the sons of a notorious dabbler in magic, though they think that is all in the past with their father's death. brandon has dabbled, in terms that he has experience of some white magic and some reading. so he grows suspicious when his girlfriend and his brother's wife both fall ill, and he starts to get nose bleeds. which is all they need, when their father's legacy still leads to whispering behind their backs as well as regular beatings from the town's tough guys. being close to the infamous salem it probably wouldn't take much for a lynch mob to set upon them, and with the discovery that a frustrated demon still seeks reparation from their family it looks entirely likely. a story of black magic and growing small town tensions. artistically mixed, but capturing at various points the feel of the demonic potentials and threats.

assembly #1 - the first in a new series from antartic press, what seems to be a company respsonsible for a range of american manga. the main character is keen to follow her families footsteps and join the army in an ongoing war. but her sister insists that she carries on her education. things are tight though and food is scarce. meanwhile battles between mechanical forces are daily events. there is a certain potential to this piece, mystery being generated by the kinetic backdrop of daily violence.

hellblazer - the second part of a five part story line that has been building over recent issues, john constantine has gathered a group of mystics in the hope that they can stop the spread of a great beast from another dimension. casuals murders are spreading as the beasts poison contaminates individuals. but if it isn't stopped it will become part of the under mind, working it's way into the group mind of the human race and reeking havoc in the process. the art by frusin is particularly scrappy in this issue, looking rushed at points, not his best work by a good deal. but still quite a readable thread.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

n5MD news

On Monday November 17, almost exactly 3 years to the day that MD1 was
released, i received a rather interesting email reply from Sony in regards
to a query i had about the imminent pressing of MD8. "I am sorry, but we
don't make Mini Disc anymore." It seems that they (Sony) have deemed
pre-recorded MiniDisc obsolete. I could smell this coming but didn't think
it would be so soon.

It would seem as a very serious issue being that n5MD has the format's
general abbreviation in it's moniker. But it's not. It's not as big a deal
as i thought it would be.sure it's a shame. But i move quickly and I'm not
going to let something small like this get in the way of the awesome tunes
that the n5 roster consistently makes. Sure, I will miss picking up the MDs
from the PO when they first arrive.the way they smell.the little small
palette they come on...and all the airmail stickers...i will miss
it...but...we're gonna move on to bigger and better things.

So what's in a name? Nothing! n5MD has not only been known for pre-recorded
MDs but for quality music on a whole slew of formats. So, i'm going to keep
the name...no changes there...

So what will the changes be? The Proem Live Disc and MD8 will be pressed on
CD. Both will be released in early 2004. There is lots planned for 2004 so
keep your eyes peeled to our news section because we've signed up a few new
folks, we have releases from some of the familia planned, and we'll be
working on new ways for you to get n5MD tunes quicker, easier, and hopefully
cheaper (don't unload those MD players just yet).

I'd like to give a personal thanks to all of you who supported the MD format
by either buying it or agreeing to make music for it. They were fun
releases. And you all made them possible!

Now...lets get back to making good music...

-mike c. | n5MD

Icaro 1 by Moebius, Jiro Taniguchi - looks interesting, first of a 2 part story collaboration between comic legend moebius and japanese artist jiro taniguchi. book one comes out in december from simon and schuster print ibooks - 160 pages for £9.99.

his voice has been a constant, there has been no escaping it, she can't even plug her ears, occupied as they already are by earphones that broadcast his giddy whisperings stereophonically in either ear. theres no microphone on her headset, only on his. the tactics of brainwashing.
the savage girl - alex shakar -i've decided to take a week off quicksilver, its too much bulk to carry around, and this week i would rather use that space for my CD folder. so i finished NP last night, started the savage girl this morning. i saw this book on the shelves when it first came out and i was kind of curious, but never got round to following it up. that is of course, until as usual, i saw it for a couple of quid, and thought 'aye, go on then.'

when ursula's sister, an aspiring model, has a breakdown, she comes to visit her in the city. soon she finds herself with a job as newbie cool hunter, a trend spotter who spots a savage girl with home made clothes and eating rats. seems interesting so far, especially when put into the picture of gibson's pattern recognition, going further into the whole trend spotting/branding thing, and how that fits into our modern culture ('s downfall?).

instal 2003 - i'll start with my periodic disclaimer, i hate doing live reviews. there is something so transitory about the live environment, and with that my thoughts and feelings about that. you can't hit play again and re-examine what happened. so it is all so momentary and done. i hate writing about that.

which also gets me thinking about a piece of hate mail we got a while a go in relation to live reviews. we all got emailed about our live reviews, told off for hating everything - with conclusions like we didn't get out often enough, and if we hated everything why didn't we bother going out? which of course makes lots of sense. but the answer? why do i keep going to gigs? a lot of the time it is curiosity. but i'm always looking for something to interest and excite. to inspire to some degree. which always seems to be harder than it should be.

how is any of that relevant to instal? this is the third year that the instal event has been run at the arches in glasgow, and it is also the must disappointing and unsatisfying year yet. in the past highlights have been clear. in 2001 the highlights were fennesz and koji asano. in 2002 the highlights were ryoki ikeda and alva noto. this year? hmm.

with bands like merzbow and whitehouse playing this year there was a lot of excitement being associated with instal 03. it sold out this year, not so sure that it has in the past, and there was certainly a big crowd there.

unlike previous years the performances only alternated between two arches, one of which was seated. for the room with the standing, the stage was at a decent height and we had a pretty good view. for the seating area the stage was too low and you couldn't really see half of what was going on - especially given that the acts on this stage tended to be sitting down.

for the third year local improv-avant-classical purveyors the paragorn ensemble were on the bill. the last two years they really haven't done anything very interesting. so we went straight to the bar when we got in this year. which meant we could still hear the sound carrying through from two arches away, but didn't have to crowd in or watch them. although it did sound as though it was perhaps their best performance yet, we could hear enough from where we were.

whitehouse are mentioned in hushed voices in certain circles as being incredibly influential on the power electronics/industrial noise scene. despite having scottish connections they don't seem to have played in scotland before this year. there was a gig at omptimo earlier in the year, but due to the queues to get in there was no way we were getting in. so now we had our chance to see what the fuss was about, to deal with our curiosity. whitehouse are a joke. even those that did enjoy their set did so because they found their posturing funny. these two grey and balding men get up on stage, with their shirts open to reveal bony chests, and sun glasses to make them look cool. they start their noise machines going and its very repetitive. they swagger about, making changes here and there. then take turns shouting absurdities and swearing into a microphone. they exude a charisma somewhere between barry manilow and sylvester mccoy - with sylvester's hysterical warbling. they flex their muscles, strip to the waist, get the audience to shout rock and roll. and are generally so bad that at times you can't help but burst out laughing at their antics. but on the whole they were pretty pathetic.

ryoji ikeda, highlight from last year, and from the recent kill your timid notion, which was put on by the same curator, returned to instal with a new piece. a set which made use of a wall of marshall amps, switching sound between those and Mylar speakers. musically it was a departure, starting off more as crunching industrialised dance music. which bemused us as a starting piece. the set evolved so that it became more cut up, interspersed with some of the pulses and bass stabs that ikeda is more known for. these were striking given the nature of the speakers and you could feel the results. at points there were vocal samples mixed in, some seeming to hark back to bursts in last years set, and reminding of tracks like his contribution to the END ID compilation of experimental musics. on the whole ikeda's set wasn't bad, and i pretty much enjoyed it, however having seen him twice before this was the least inspiring/interesting performance i had seen him give.

cosmos were on next, back in the sitting area, two japanese girls, one crouched down so you could barely see her the other standing behind a mic. cosmos is sachiko m and ami yoshida, who according to the event flyer we should have expected "distilling elements of techno, nose and electronic music into a unique hybrid" and "abstract vocalizations that both jar and rival the extremity of sound sachiko throws out". the bar was closed, and moved into an arch further away, people were told that this performance was going to be quiet so to keep background noise down. a plan that didn't entirely work as sachiko delivered a monotonous sine wave, with occasional attempts at adding something to the mix, which failed. while ami stood and coughed and hacked at the mic, giving the impression she had something stuck in her throat or was about to be sick - producing wan, half hearted noise that didn't rival or jar anything. i had high hopes for this set, i had heard sachiko m through her work with toshimaru nakamura, who played glasgow before; both sachiko and ami have been described as being involved with the onkyo scene, which the little of i've heard has been interesting. but this set was uninspired and not very interesting.

merzbow has been doing a series of dates in the uk over the last week or two. if not the first, then very rare dates in the uk. merzbow is the king of japanese noise music, known around the world for the noise that he churns out on endless CDs. he is well known and raved about by many, though personally the handful of releases i've heard have failed to impress, i've heard noise which has been more interesting to me. with that there is a certain reputation/curiosity that goes with merzbow, reports of how light shatteringly loud a gig a couple of nights before was, only adds to the expectations. merzbow was sat behind a table on the higher stage, on which it looked like he had two laptops and a mixer. as expected he certainly produced noise, though everyone seemed to be complaining that he was not very loud and was actually pretty tame. sound wise i actually found him better than i expected, the glitchy squeal of tape loops present in some of the pieces i've heard wasn't part of this. rather it was in denser, growling, bristling noise territory, which is more my kind of thing. though there were parts where it started to feel like he was going on a bit, he did vary it, which kept the set from becoming entirely stagnant, but perhaps should have shifted sooner. overall better than i expected, but still not exciting.

amm were greeted with a round of applause in the seated hall before they had even done anything. keith rowe, eddie prevost and john tilbury are hailed as great innovators and hugely influential in the improv and experimental scenes. the set they performed here was filled with stray piano notes, scraped strings and general concrete soundscapes, which i've heard loads of times before. someone behind me started to discuss how they preferred the all out assault of merzbow's noise to this "so-so ambient". in the end that kind of summed up this set that we started to feel like we could fall asleep during.

being more interested in the electronic bands it then came as a surprise that the boredoms were the highlight of the night for me. performing a special set as v(infinity)redoms they had a set up of three drum kits in a circle facing the main guy who was doing electronics and offering a certain amount of conduction to the group. shimmering blossoms of cymbal washes started the set, building into thick drumming - which at times ranged from rapid assaults to more coordinated and hard rituals. throughout which the main guy contributed accompanying electronics and enthusiastic shouting. at points through the set the one girl amongst the group would also sing, use a whistle and do some other bits and pieces. the boredoms lent an energy and enthusiasm which seemed to be lacking from the sterility of the event as a whole. at times they maintained sections for too long, but on the whole their set was at least fun.

vibracathedral were the last band on, and not one i was especially familiar with. the people i did know that had seen them before didn't say encouraging things about them. it was also getting late and people were already starting to leave. so we decided that after everything else we might as well leave on something of a high.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Title: That Day [Ce Jour-Là]
Cast: Bernard Giraudeau, Elsa Zylberstein, Jean-Luc Bideau, Jean-François Balmer, Christian Vadim, Laurent Malet, Féodor Atkine, Jacques Denis
Director: Raoul Ruiz

the reason i was looking for something light to read was because i was going to another film in the french film festival which is still running this week. quite often i'll go up to the GFT early enough that i have enough time to read a little while having tea and a muffin, so that is what i did.

so far with this year's french film festival i have been a little underwhelmed. the last two films ("fear and trembling" and "body snatch") were not bad, but didn't really inspire or excite especially. however, last night made up for that.

the screening started with a short called "total rabbit", which to some degree was very silly. but on the other hand, it was rather wonderful. a man is sleeping when woken by his door buzzer. he struggles out of bed, wearing a neck brace and with one arm in a sling. half asleep he manages to lock himself out of his flat and finds that a friend is waiting on the door step of the flats.... in a full rabbit costume. this leads to bizarre and silly adventures as the man with one functioning arm in his boxers and t-shirt and a man wearing nothing but a rabbit costume try to find someone who will help them out.

ce jour-la (that day) is written and directed by raoul ruiz, a french director who has been writing and directing since the late 60's. this is a curious piece, the absurdity of the rabbit short being well suited to the oddness which crops up here. we are introduced to livia, who while the doctor's may assure is perfectly ok, her family believes to be insane. livia is filled with energy and enthusiasm, subject to quick changes of mood, and likely to spouting what seems to be nonsense to most. she is also heir to a fortune, which if she takes it on will make her very rich. a fact which is too tempting for her bankrupt father.

emil is definitely insane. he is in an institure to prove it. but certain unscrupulous people have been using the homicidal diabetic to do their dirty work. leading to a string of regrettable "escapes" from the hospital follwed by murders. here emil is let out, with the instructions that god wants livia dead.

the police decide to take a novel approach to the latest escape of the crazed killer. they decide to do nothing. sitting in the local cafe they drink coffee, play billiards and read the paper. the world moves around them, and the world leaves clues.

ce jour-la borrows from farce, without necesarily entirely being farce. a conspiracy becomes clear as the film goes on, with various folk trying to make sure things go to plan so they can get their hands on the money. this leads to folk getting chased about the garden, cartoon like pursuit round the house and blows to the head with hammers. through it all livia talks of angels and devils, oblivious to what is really going on as emil wanders the house. as a film it could be very grisly, very dark, but somehow it manages to retain a sense of humour that carries it and makes it shine.

livia is wonderfully performed by elsa zylberstein, who despite having apparently been in about 40 films i have never come across before. though i do find it curious to note that she is married to antoine de caunes, the presenter of euro trash (a programe which focuses on the various sexual quirks to be found around europe) on british tv.

meanwhile emil is played by bernard giraudeau, who was ironically also in la petite lili, the most disappointing film of the festival that i've seen so far. curiously he was also in water drops on burning rock with ludivine sagnier, who was the title character in la petite lili.

regardless ce jour-la has a strong charm and at last offers the inspiration i've been finding lacking from the other viewings in this season.

N.P. - banana yoshimoto - was looking for something light weight to carry with me when i went out last night, as opposed to the brick that is quicksilver. banana came up, her stuff tends to be slight in length and generally a quick read. previous work i read, lizard and kitchen, left me with mixed feelings about her work - but i cam across n.p. for half price and decided to give it a go. i think i'm almost half way through it already, and i am actually enjoying it more than the previous work - probably because it feels like it has a plot and is going somewhere. the basic plot is about a book called "n.p." which was written by a japanese author in english while he was living in america. the book was a collection of 97 very short stories, and was the main work by the author who then killed himself. the main character was going out with a man who had been given an unpublished 98th story, he was working on translating it into japanese with the plan of publishing this revised collection. in the process he introduced his girlfriend to the author's children at a party - the twins being about the same age as she was. unfortunately her boyfriend kills himself before finishing the translation, becoming the third person to attempt to translate it and to commit suicide. four years have passed and the narrator suddenly bumps into the twins again for the first time since that party and quickly finds that they are all caught up in the mythos of this book and the deaths that surround it.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

instal - reminder - in glasgow tomorrow we have this years instal one day festival. this is the third year of the festival, which takes place in the unique venue that is the arches, located under central railway bridge. this year live acts are:

ryoji ikeda

-an update sent out from the arches the other day suggested there were still some tickets left, though it was expected to sell out. there will definitely be a group of us there tomorrow night!

Friday, November 21, 2003

weirdism - reasonably new online strip, seeming to focus on three girls who live in a house together. there is a demon in the basement, nadia sets kiki on fire, brogan beats up a reporter as part of a non-violent protest. whats it about? who knows? but it looks like it could be good.

soul-d - graphic novel in progress, chapter 1 introduces us to a girl who is desperate to become a singer, chapter 2 brings in devils in hell. the suggestion seems to be that the girl will end up selling her soul. looks like it has potential from the material so far.

return to sender - another graphic novel/work in progress. a guy moves in to a flat which was suspiciously cheap. then a letter box appears in the back wall, with mysterious notes appearing through it. which is just the start of the oddness when weird people turn up on his doorstep. i really enjoyed this one - the style of the art, the blue/white colouring, the characters etc. - loved it. need to remember to check back for more!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

"one of those moments had arrived: jack had been presented with the opportunity to be stupid in some way that was much more interesting than being shrewd wpi;d've been."
-neal stephenson - quicksilver

"not anotehr interview for your term paper! i had mine finished, like, weeks ago. you are totally gay."
"yeah well, you're fat. if my term paper was a discourse on weeping gorilla i'd have finished weeks ago too!"
"oh, you slut! weeping gorilla is completely the best!"
-alan moore - promethea book 1
-did i mention that promethea was great? the scenes where there is that kind of interaction crack me up, but moore quickly gets pretty hard core into this discourse on the history of magic, combining it with the ideas of reality versus fiction. promethea being a fictional character that the lead, sophie, is researching for a school paper. however, as she is warned:

"listen, kid, you take my advice. you don't wanna go looking for folklore. and you especcially don't want folklore to come looking for you."

-by which time it is too late, and folklore pretty much changes her life as she becomes the new embodiement of promethea, a kind of science hero based on a mystic curse 100s of years old. the first 3 books are available as paper back collections, the fourth is still in hard back only - filled with tarot, cabala, demonic hosts and weeping gorilla....

Title: Corps à Corps
Cast: Emmanuelle Seigner, Philippe Torreton, Clément Brilland, Vittoria Scognamiglio, Yolande Moreau, Marc Duret
Director: François Hanss

corps a corps is showing around the UK briefly as part of the annual french film festival, accompanied by the writer (arthur-emmanuel pierre) and director (francois hanss). the film has been given an english title of "body snatch" for this festival, though this seems to be a name that the pair are unhappy with, while on imdb it is given the alternative title "body to body", which strikes as being a more direct translation; from the discussion after the film the pair suggested that they would have preferred "skin deep" to "body snatch".

emmanuelle seigner plays the part of laura, who explains through the voice over and flash back that she was in an accident and woke up from a coma with little memory. laura had been a stripper, but one of her customers, marco played by philippe torreton, convinced her that he was rich and they would be happy together. driving away from the strip club on her last night she had an accident, she was found thrown from the car and was only saved after hours of surgery which left her deaf and with considerable scaring.

this has obviously all been very traumatic, but laura finds that slowly she can accept her body and life with the love of philippe, so that indeed they are happy together. six years later and they have a son, but when his teacher says there is something strange about him laura starts to realise not everything is as it seems. philippe has been lying to her - his past is not what it seems, and he evidently has plans for the future.

in a lot of ways corps a corps is not the most original of films, i am sure that many of us have seen at least one film with the basic plot of a woman finding out that her man has been lying to her. evidence is unearthed stage by stage, he starts to realise what she is doing. he gets annoyed with her, but the way things are done it could all be in her head. tension grows, characters start to feel unhinged, trapped, confused. build to climax and revelation.

taking that into account however it is an effective film, dark and moody once it gets going. the mutilated lead is a curious role for any woman, seigner appears naked in several scenes - making the extensive scaring and misformed limb very much evident. torreton provides phillipe with a depth of emotion, deeply in love with laura regardless and tortured to a point of mania by her accusations and the fact that he might lose her. in between them is a child, caught up in growing frictions he can't understand - with a teacher being told by both parents that he isn't to be given to the other parent because they are unbalanced.

Q&A sessions can be interesting and awkward affairs. in this case the two are interviewed through a translator, which adds an extra layer. from this we learn that corps a corps is the first full length feature by the pair. a film which was produced independantly of the french film system, and appears to have been slated by french film critics, though reasonably well recieved by viewers.

the demolution engine - a new comic series by Steve Esslinger and Eduardo Herrera, starting with an initial 7 part story, and published by disgruntled fanboy comics. the first issue is pretty much a set up, with little being revealed at the moment. a man called trent picks up a girl hitching to vancouver - but she dies in the car, so he leaves her in the house she asked him to take her to, and runs away. meanwhile special crimes police officer john aureliens has got a call in the middle of the night, which has taken him to a rich part of town, outside his jurisdiction. there he finds a ritual murder, blood and symbols everywhere, with a savagely mutilated corpse in the middle of it all. to add to that a bloody message has been left "we are awake". there is more to this issue than that, but at the moment those are tangents leading to the future. as a first issue the demolution engine works well enough, gets us in, but without too much information as to what is going on - part crime, part supernatural, part wait and see. artistically herrera's work is striking, it is a big factor in what made me pick this up in the first place - art always is when it comes to comics. he has a very particular style, in the ballpark perhaps with a few others at work in the field at the moment, but definitely seperate from any of them. one down side of the art might be the ease with which we can re-identify characters, which is to say how able are we to recognise a character the next time we see them? i suspect this could lead to some confusion, but we will see, and for now the art works.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Title: Young Lilly [aka Little Lilly or La Petite Lili]
Cast: Nicole Garcia, Bernard Giraudeau, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Ludivine Sagnier, Robinson Stévenin, Julie Depardieu, Yves Jacques, Anne Le Ny, Marc Betton
Director: Claude Miller

the 12th annual french film festival started on friday, young lilly was the second film in the season and the first that i caught. ludvine sagneir starts in the title role as lilly, and outdoes herself by being naked before the title sequence has even finished. but even that from this rising actress, who has appeared in the likes of water drops on burning rock, 8 women and the swimming pool, doesn't really make much difference from this tiresome little effort. based on a russian classic which makes commentary on theatre, it has been updated to modern day france and film. a family are hollidaying on an island for the summer - the mother is a famous actress, her current boyfriend the acclaimed director of her most recent film. her son wants to be a director as well and the film starts with him presenting his experimental short to the assembled friends and family. but he is headstrong and filled with a vicious passion. the result is that there is lots of pouting and pontificating self importance from the youngster, which is met with understanding and been there done that acknowledgement from the older director who he is trying to provoke. julie depardieu appears as a local woman who is clearly infatuated with the young director, while his girlfriend ludvine is more interested in the director. and so on, one character more interested in another, with an attempt at intrigue and tension to go with that. the end shows some attempt at recontextualising all of that as it is transformed into a film of that summer. the result however comes across as clumsy, trite and not really holding the promise that was perhaps suggested initially.

midnight, mass: here there be monsters - i'm glad to see that midnight mass is back for a second six part series from vertigo in the new year. the covers are still done by tomer hanuka, though the interior art is unfortunately not by jesus saiz, with paul lee now taking up that role. featuring the kadoman's a married couple, who are paranormal investigators - this looks to feature more of the magellan, who appeared in passing in the previous story line.

daniel menche - invoker - invoker is a 3 track CD from the american noise musician daniel menche. as far as i can determine the 3 tracks are untitled, and the running time of the disc is just over 60 minutes. as with other recent releases it isn't entirely true that this is a noise release, verging towards more of a lasting drone sound than total noise. the release is, to some degree, intended to act as an invocation - perhaps of a mood, or perhaps of something more esoteric? regardless menche's releases do on the whole tend to invoke a sense of mood, his sound being textured and atmospheric, so that with this release he remains one of the "noise" musicians that i appreciate the most. invoker is released by the greek extreme sound label anti-frost in a card sleeve, with a black sun outline on the outside, and a more exagerated sun image on the inside panel.

Title: The Medallion
Cast: Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, John Rhys-Davies, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Christy Chung
Director: Gordon Chan

the medallion is the latest outing by jackie chan, and one that isn't that different from some of his recent productions. in particular the medallion has some parallels with the tuxedo - rather than an enhancing suit jackie gains abilities from the "holy grail of the east", and instead of jennifer "luv" hewitt giving it her all as handy sidekick/love interest we have brit babe claire forliani (meet joe black, the mystery men). the cast is rounded out by brit comedian lee evans, who compliments chan with his own form of prat falls, and as soon as we see the name julian sands go up at the start we have already worked out who the villain of the piece is. like so many of chan's films he is a hong kong police officer, who is involved in big jobs, only to see those jobs require him to go abroad. in this case it is a joint operation with interpol and that requires him to end up in ireland. on the whole the medallion is jackie chan by numbers, only speeded up in some cases. with that there are parts of this film which are really bad, squirmingly awful even. but with that, or perhaps because of that (?), there are parts where we find that we are laughing quite a lot. the medallion is what it is, and in some cases people will hate that, and in some cases they won't. you probably know which case you fit into already, so you've been warned. or something.

Friday, November 14, 2003

According to the campaigners, Imcine is the last dam preventing Mexico being not merely flooded but drowned by Hollywood blockbusters and little else

-report about plans for mexico to sell off it's film industry, met with protests and the fears for what this could mean for mexican culture.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - lets face it, that is just a dreadful name for a film, leading to an even worse website address. i haven't seen the film, and from the trailer i'm certainly not going to. as far as i am concerned casting russel crowe is the course for a sure fire shit. oh sure, i'm probably being a little harsh, but who cares, he just annoys me. please stop casting russel crowe! especially when everything he says is just going to sound like something from gladiator.

33 minutes of your life (CDr, ltd.edition)

It's a 5-tracks cdr co-written by these two experimental sound artists between Italy and Norway. This new material contains fragments of digital noise, ambient textures,patters of notes which describe very delicate and dense soundscapes.
This mini-album reflects an intense aesthetic quality. An impressive release...and it's just 33 minutes of your life.

Out now on Loud!

queen and country - greg rucka's current story arc with art by carla speed macneil has just finished. one of the strongest stories to date in this spy-thriller focusing on the UK's secret service and inspired by old school intrigue.

each "arc" of about 4 or 5 parts features a new artist, this one featuring the talents of macneil who is responsible for the finder series. despite the original old school inspiration queen and country remains contemporary - from hits in eastern europe, intrigue in afghanistan, to industrial espionage. this current story line is more in the industrial espionage department like the one with chace's old school friend. but this takes it to another level, starting with the apparently legitimate death of one of special ops 3 minders. a business man has been kidnapped and chace and the replacement minder are sent over to negotiate if they can a hasty release. but things turn nasty really quickly. leading to desperate flight, aborted mission, covert actions, and nasty responses. all rather well done, with rucka cranking the tension up and mcneil really bringing the characters to life.

i'm sorry to see this run end. queen and country - remaining one of the few ongoing series of the moment which is consistently worth reading every month (or so).

in the mood for love - i was sure i had a tape of chungking express somewhere, but thanks to recent rearrangements and the fact that i might have been imagining it, i couldn't find it. so that left with the choice of fallen angel or in the mood for love. in the mood for love wins out from that selection, at least in this mood, it is so sumptious.

reading quicksilver by stephenson at the moment, and the current character daniel waterhouse is having a conversation about negative space with a dutch man. and it strikes me watching in the mood for love that the idea of negative space extends to film, especially films like this one. where to the casual observer it might appear that there is nothing there, while in reality it is the spaces between there that we are looking into. the slow motion movements, the glances, the encounters in noodle bars, all to that cello heavy soundtrack. the way that the partners of the two leads are the reason things are happening, but are never seen - their voices might be present in scenes here or there, but wong kar-wai very deliberately creates a negative space around these people. with this space comes the realisation by the two leads that there missing partners are actually with each other.

unfortunately i was 10 minutes or so from the end of the film when my computer crashed. a little annoying, especially with the time of night it was. but for those that don't know, in the mood for love is the most recent film by reknowned hong-kong director wong kar-wai (i know there were other films in the works, but i'm not conscious of any having been released yet... at least not with subtitles). the film is set in hong kong in the mid to late 60's. two couples move into the spare rooms of two neighbouring families. but from the start we only ever see mrs chan and mr chow - the partners are always abroad on business or working late. this leaves the visible two circling around the same space aimlessly. casual conversations lead to compared notes and confirmations of suspicions. from there the two try to understand how their partners infidelity came about, as though comprehending will mean it makes sense. instead they start to discover feelings for each other, which they resist in a desperate bid not to become as bad as there other halves.

a definitely striking and memorable piece with so much visual work and suggestion.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

reading - i have expressed the idea that i am a little manic when it comes to reading in the past. i have just confirmed this for myself by going through my current to read pile and establishing that i have a considerable back log. it is time to stay away from book shops for a while me thinks.
to read:
auster, paul the new york trilogy
bidisha too fast to live
brin, david k'iln people
bulgakov, mikhail the master and margarita
carter, angela nights at the circus
chandler, raymond farewell my lovely
delilo, don the body artist
delilo, don underworld
dick, philip k time out of joint
dick, philip k flow my tears
dozois, gardner the 15 mammoth collection of the years best SF
ferguson, will hokkaido highway blues
fischer, tibor the collector's collector
fowler, bo the astrological diary of god
franzen, jonathan the twenty seventh city
garcia, eric casual rex
glazebrook, chrissie the malodescents
greene, graeme the end of the affair
gutierrez, pedro juan tropical animal
isherwood, christopher goodbye to berlin
loriga, ray tokyo doesn't love us any more
moorcock, michael the brothel in rosenstrasse
moorcock, michael jerusalem commands
murakami, haruki the elephant vanishes
murakami, haruki underground
palhanuik, chuck diary
robinson, kim stanley the years of rice and salt
selby, hubert jr. last exit to brooklyn
shakar, alex the savage girl
sheriden, sara the pleasure express
silverberg, robert the book of skulls
stephenson, neal quicksilver
takami, koushun battle royale
thorne, matt dreaming strangers
vonnegut, kurt sirens of titan
wallace, christopher the resurrection club
warner, alan the sopranos
yoshimoto, banana n.p.
stephen baxter/paul mcauley split book
eric brown/ken macleod split book

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

How do you say to your child, I am sending you away, because enemy bombs may fall out of the sky, because the streets of the city may burn like forest fires of brick and timber, but I myself am staying here, in what I believe may be daily danger of burning, burying alive, gas, and ultimately perhaps a grey army rolling in on tanks over the suburbs, or sailing its submarines up our river, all guns blazing?

- The Thing in the Forest - Little Black Book of Stories - A.S. Byatt - an extract from one of the short stories in byatt's collection "little black book of stories". i've not read any byatt, but have noticed this collection. this extract covers the strangeness of evacuating children during the war, the sense of bafflement and new found companionship.

Additions to Avanto Festival programme + Avanto on radio

The Dutch sound art group Staalplaat Soundsystem will present "Avantilator", a new work commissioned by Avanto Festival. "Avantilator" is a performance for 100 office fans and will be premiered at Kiasma Theatre on Nov 23 at 18.00-21.00. Led by Geert-Jan Hobijn, one of the founders and the current director of the legendary Staalplaat label, Staalplaat Soundsystem will also play a DJ set at Avanto on Nov 22 at 17.00-20.00.

Simon Wickham-Smith is an English cult underground artist, who combines musical influences stemming from his Buddhist faith with noise, minimalist drones and various idiosyncracies. He will play at Kiasma Theatre on Nov 21 at 19.30. The event is Pekka Airaksinen's record launch concert: Love Records releases a double CD compilation of this Finnish cult underground artist's works spanning his career from 1968 until present. The CD includes remixes by Simon Wickham-Smith, Nurse With Wound, Mira Calix, Curd Duca, Philipp Quehenberger, Notchnoi Prospekt, and 5 others.

In addition to screening Chris Petit's "Radio On" (1980), a classic road movie by one of Britain's greatest directors, Avanto will also present "Radio On (remix)" from 1998 - a fast-paced Godardian essay on driving and alienation with a soundtrack by Bruce Gilbert. It will be shown in one of Avanto's traditional Avantoscope screenings, which survey the international scene of sound-driven avant-garde/experimental/underground films and videos. Avantoscope screenings feature premieres by two upcoming Finnish directors, Minna Långström and Anu Pennanen, as well as works by Joost Rekveld, Pierre-Yves Cruaud, Siegfried A. Fruhauf, Michaela Schwentner, Kulo Murugaiyan, Ian Helliwell, Benny Nemerovsky Ramsay, Bas van Koolwijk, Leon Grodski, eddie d, Billy Roisz and Pip Chodorov.


The run-up to Avanto Helsinki Media Art Festival starts today. You can hear about the festival and its artists by listening to radio today, Wednesday 12 November. Pekka Airaksinen and Avanto's Anton Nikkilä are guests in Timo Kaukolampi's programme on Radio Helsinki (95,2 Mhz in Helsinki region) from 19.30 to 21.00 Finnish time (17.30-19.00 Greenwich Mean Time). Those outside Helsinki can also listen to the Finnish show by logging on to www.radiohelsinki.fi.

Straight after that at 21.00-22.30 Finnish time or 19.00-20.30 GMT Mika Taanila, Anton Nikkilä and Tommi Keränen tell about the festival and play music from the films and artists of Avanto on London's Resonance FM. If in London, tune into 104,4 Mhz. If elsewhere, listen to the programme on http://www.resonancefm.com/audio.htm. The show is in English.

Staalplaat Soundsystem visits Jukka Mikkola's Avaruusromua programme on Yle Q (103,7 Mhz in Helsinki region) On Sunday 16 November at 22.00-23.00 Finnish time (20.00-22.00 GMT). Outside Helsinki log on to

Title: Asphalto
Cast: Irina Björklund, Peter Franzén, Ilari Nummi
Director: Ilppo Pohjola

asphalto is a short film, about 40 minutes, from finland, which is shot in both english and finnish mixed together. described as being a metaphor for the relationship between men and women it is safe to say that asphalto is somewhat abstract. with an intro and epilogue asphalto is told in thirteen parts - each of those parts made up by scenes of a demolition derby, a petrol station and a model dressed in a near fetishistic representation of that petrol station. from what i can gather part of the core idea is that there is a road which stretches from one end of finland to the other, with 13 intervals of 89 miles, each represented by a girl and a petrol station.

meanwhile a man and woman are in a car, but instead of travelling that road they are stuck in a warehouse, each movement bringing them into collision with another car. the soundtrack is to the fore, grinding metalic sounds, burgeoning with noise potential, which is increasingly realised with progression. mixed into that are the growls and squeals of cars and their tires. with each new chapter we have the repetition of the phrase "asphalt up your ass" - which is shouted out by the girl in the car, and quickly becomes tiresome. there is some expansion on that statement, but that seems to be a little down played compared to the repetition of the clear catchphrase.

ballardian references are obvious, with ideas of cars and sexuality, perhaps most explicit with the final scrapyard scene, where the slack bodies of the petrol station girls lie, discarded and apparently broken, scattered amongst tires like the shells of the demolished vehicles. this is a particularly striking scene, as is the introduction and epilogue of the man that is in the car, shirtless and panicked he runs down an abandoned road - breathless as he works his way through the weeds that rise through the cracked asphalt.

Title: Miranda
Cast: Christina Ricci, John Simm, Kyle MacLachlan, John Hurt
Director: Marc Munden

one could be forgiven for not being aware of miranda, given the seeming invisible status it has. the national site i use for cinema times had nothing about the film, the cinema showing it had no details about the film. miranda it seems is a small british film, though it has a reasonably known cast. john simms plays the lead frank, a librarian who is about to become out of work with the closure of his library. the film starts with the library's last week and the arrival of a strange young woman. frank is quickly besotted with her, and though he expects to be shot down pretty quickly he asks her out when given the chance.

this is how frank meets miranda, played by christina ricci, who much to surprise agrees to have a drink with him. miranda is involved in some dodgy deals, with frank suddenly presenting her with a chance for some cover. for a week or so it looks like they have a serious and happy relationship. then miranda disappears, but she leaves a clue behind and frank decides to find her. this puts him into the middle of a deal with the seemingly psychotic business man played by kyle maclachlan. it also means he is interfering with the plans of miranda's boss, played by john hurt.

in some ways it could be said that miranda was a by the numbers romantic comedy, with the token gesture of touches that could make it a thriller. which would be true, there isn't anything starkly original or surprising about miranda. but miranda has a certain warmth, something which makes it somewhat endearing as a film. the four characters work well, even if maclachlan and hurt could be considered as caricatures, ricci and simms make up for that. the director's eye for detail - the little flares of discarded cigarettes, the heightening of ricci's sexuality with lingering or teasing shots - also contributes to the film's small success.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Title: Fear And Trembling [Stupeur Et Tremblements]
Cast: Sylvie Testud, Kaori Tsuji, Taro Suwa, Bison Katayama, Yasunari Kondo, Sokyu Fujita
Director: Alain Corneau

young lilly was followed by fear and trembling, which i hoped would be more engaging, and to some degree it was. based on a belgian book, it was the story of a girl who was born in japan and raised there till she was 5. returning to belgium with her family she retained memories of her child hood and was determined to return once she was old enough. now qualified as an interpreter she returns to japan as a foreigner and manages to get a job with a japanese company. however things don't go entirely to plan and she quickly finds that she has no work to do. this leads her to try and make herself useful, but one incident leads to another and she quickly descends from from token tea lady to token toilet cleaner. there is a certain level of spite given with each demotion as she continually manages to prove how un-japanese she is with each step, despite her resolve not to quit, because to quit would be to lose face. in some ways fear and trembling is a funny film, with sylvie tetsud bringing the characters plight to life with a certain farcical expression. however there is also something a little depressing about how near she comes to a break down, in fact there are points where you could be forgiven for thinking that she has gone well over the edge. the choice of soundtrack is a curiosity, while going for traditional japanese music may have been a cliche it may also have been more appropriate than the selection of twangy irritating bach that the director opted for instead - a sound which quickly becomes grating, and feels like it really doesn't fit for a film set in japan.

-the french film festival is running in a selection of locations across the UK for the next week or so, no doubt a further selection of films will be seen in that time.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Title: Mystic River
Cast: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Emmy Rossum
Director: Clint Eastwood

adapted from the novel by denis lehane and directed by clint eastwood - eastwood's involvement having been a selling point for the reluctant lehane who didn't want to sell his work. the pacing and balance of this film are curious, it isn't a roller coaster, and it is not entirely gripping, which gives mixed results. the story revolves around three boys who were friends, until one of them was abducted. the ordeal that the one faced, and the guilt the other two felt, changed their relationship. now the three are grown up, one a reformed criminal, one a policeman, the third still coping with that abduction experience. one night dave comes home covered in blood, coming out with some strange story, and gradually breaking down as he relives that traumatic past. the same night jimmy's daughter doesn't come home, and is found to be brutally murdered. the circle being completed with sean being the police officer who is on the murder case. from there we follow as evidence is put together, a couple of suspects coming up, but the question of which did it remains until the end. the final conclusion has a certain inevitability, though the epilogue that comes after that provides a curious light on the whole thing and the morality of the actions taken.

Title: The Matrix Revolutions
Cast: Keanu Reaves, Carry-Ann Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Monica Belucci
Director: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

the third in the series. i never made a lot of comment about reloaded at the time, so i guess i'll pass comment on the two now. a lot has been said about the pros and cons of both, and i'm not really that interested in contributing to that mass. reloaded was deeply flawed, the problems were evident to most - for me it went too far from the first film, became too alien, without retaining what made the first human. the second was also rank with excess, scenes where they stepped over the line effects wise, so that it no longer looked impressive, but rather a little crap. but on the whole it had its moments as far as i was concerned. revolutions is better, it manages to avoid a lot of those excesses, and while it remains very different from the first, straining that link, it also is more in tune with the first, so we feel a better connection and continuity. the scenes where the computer animation goes hyper are kept for the masses of robots attacking zion - this creates a swarming effect, and is kept at a speed where we don't analyze what we are seeing too much - unlike the big neo-smith fight of reloaded which was a big problem. in turn the neo-smith scene in revolutions learns some lessons, they might kick into the superman territory, but avoiding certain close ups and keeping it one on one lends the feeling of reality (....) that was missing from that previous confrontation. there are some curious aspects, which i perhaps shouldn't mention without getting into spoilers. one thing that did strike me, and i admit its superficial level, is how bad monicca belucci looked in reloaded. a token gesture part in revolutions she might have, but at least looks far better. there are of course excesses and problems with revolutions as well, but maybe they back off a little from being too philisophical realising the hash they made of it in reloaded? still, there are plenty of people who reckon revolutions was bad, i could hear them at the end of the showing i saw. but for me putting too high expectations on a film like this is being too ambitious - cinema is a flashy visual medium, especially when it comes to hollywood. steps forward count for something, but for real innovation and challenging thinking i prefer the likes of a novel or good comic.

street photography - a photography site which mainly features street photos, many of which are out and about in edinburgh.
more street photos - similar idea, but more focused in glasgow.
helsinki - this photo in particular from this helsinki series made me laugh, she does not look impressed!

the cat returns - i had mentioned that the cat returns was showing as part of the london film festival on tour. two showings on saturday there, i had my ticket sorted in advance and everything. but when we turned up for the evening showing it was discover that the film had been cancelled. which, i have to say, was quite disappointing. i was really looking forward to seeing this. but apparently the film was withdrawn from the festival altogether for legal reasons - which seems to related to the people who submitted the film not having ownership of the film, or something along those lines - there wasn't really much of an explanation to be given. no doubt we will now need to wait a couple of years before disney pick it up, dub it, and see fit to allow us to see it in the UK. crap.

Friday, November 07, 2003

- i bought the first FLCL book a couple of months ago, been looking for the second since. it turned up this week so i bought it. i may not have understood book 1, but doesn't mean i didn't enjoy it. also out this week Demo 1, the first of 12 stories by brian wood and becky cloonan.

box jams doodle - one of those strips i've read a few in my time, but never find the time to keep up with. so i'm bored senseless at work, and finding the time to read some strips. this one in particular made me laugh - i'm sure we've all had that email!

alladeen - well i managed to catch this last night, the first performance of the three night run. it was in the tramway, which is in the old tramworks. not somewhere i've been a lot, the only other time i can thing of was the touch tour with biosphere, fennesz and hazard, and it was in the same hall as that had been.

-the story has the aladdin myth as a back drop, with the suggestion that none of the characters in that were who they seemed, or from where they ended up. also from that were the ideas of wish fulfilment, and at that time the prime commerce would have been the silk route - which is then updated to the drift of technology and call centers and how that relates to modern commerce. with that drift comes the idea of identity, how we have these call centers in india, but they are pretending to be british or american depending who they are dealing with.

-although the play has it's basis in america, i think the issues of call centers and work moving to india is a bigger deal over here. of course the fact that i used to do the software for a small call center also makes it something i am particularly conscious of. here we hear the stories of a man phoning to look for tourist information on a visit to scotland, and being met with the question of where scotland is - not something you would expect from someone in your country - true story? the play has its own examples of cultural misunderstandings, which is where a lot of its humour comes from - the bemusement of staff in india as they deal with the random colloquialisms of americans.

-the play is one of those new fangled multi media things - at the start we are presented with a big screen, on to which we see a new york back drop. we witness a woman complaining about the ability of someone she is speaking to on the phone - do you even speak english? transporting us to bangalore, mixing in documentary footage from the real call centers about the training to become americanised, to give up traces of the mother tongue. again there is humour with the repeated mistakes and misunderstandings that result.

-the bulk of the play is then set in the call center, the actors taking turns as caller and recipient, inbound and outbound. mixing the live action, with live music, and video effects - mixing images on the big screeen to reflect and contrast what is going on on stage.

- with progression we see the two extremes - a woman threatened with being sacked because she still speaks with too much of the mother tongue, compared to a man who is become too americanised in some ways, mounting debt on credit cards on his attempts to keep up, though in the end being rewarded for having the most sales. mixed in with that we have the wishes of the staff, their wishes to get out of the call center, their wishes to get to america, again mixed with real footage from call centers and their commentary.

-the play ends in london, a wandering salesman, trying to sell the bangalore call centers to new customers. then bumping into the woman from the new york scene in a london kareoke bar - another scene for people to pretend they are someone else by singing the songs of their favourite star.

-overall the production is fun and well staged, some interesting observations being made, while providing a commentary on the current state of technological drift. the end perhaps was an anti-climax, the kareoke bar under played given that its supposed to be the big last scene, as is the last phone call from the salesman - giving more of a fizzle than a bang.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

the cutting room - louise welsh's cutting room gets adapted into a play, its been running for a while at the citizens theatre, and is still there till the fifteenth. i had mixed impressions of the book, as i've stated elsewhere. though i am a little curious to see how it works in theatre. the blurb says that the novel has been translated into 12 languages, and of course the film is already in the works. all very curious.

caper - Written by Judd Winick; art and cover by Farel Dalrymple

A 12-issue maxiseries by Judd Winick delves into the world of organized crime in turn-of-the-century San Francisco! The first of three 4-issue story arcs (the latter two illustrated by John Severin and Tom Fowler, respectively) tells the tale of Izzy and Jacob Weiss, brothers and co-workers for San Francisco's Jewish Mafia who've done the dirtiest work for years. But this time, their Boss may have pushed them too far!

- i nearly missed this, it is very rare that i buy anything from DC Comics, so to be honest i don't even notice them. if they are doing anything worth while it is most likely to be on their vertgio imprint. strangely Caper is not on vertigo - which is odd, given that it certainly is more of an adult comic - with swearing and nudity that seems out of place for DC. initially judd winnick's name caught my eye - though not for his work on "green arrow" which DC keep mentioning in relation to this title, rather for his own titles like "barry ween" and "blood and water" (which was published by vertigo). but winnick has done super hero material before and that is what i kind of expected till i spotted art by farel dalrymple - of meathaus and pop gun war - and it struck me as such a curious combination. a quick flick through it and i bought it. disappointed to learn from the above blurb that dalrymple is not on the full 12 issue run, but it seems to read well enough from the first issue and is something to watch for the moment at least.

information wants to be free - this festival was announced just before we went to berlin in october. the only location till now that has had a lineup available has been berlin, which is where a small group of us are going. just within the last day or so (the info wasn't there earlier in the week) stockholm and london have started to have some acts announced. at this point, i think berlin is entirely the event for us, none of the others inspire to the same degree (if at all). i also find it ironic how much secrecy there was around line up, and how late it is taking them to announce it all, when it is called information wants to be free! anyway. we have tickets ordered, flights booked and hotel reservations - we are sorted.


-well i keep promising myself that i will write more about our trip to berlin in october, and with a return to the city planned for the start of december for the information wants to be free festival then it makes sense to get some of that done.

-while we were there before it had been the holiday weekend for the reunification of germany. that weekend we had wondered along to the brandenburger tor and the reichstag. the tor is a gate way through which royalty used to pass along one opening and everyone else through others. it became a symbol of victory and was central to celebrations held in berlin. in the war against napoleon the statue of the chariot on top was taken as spoils, but was later returned. ironically at the moment as you walk down the road, past the embassys and coffee shops the gate is obscured. apparently, not being a football fan, germany have the next world cup, or something, so there is a giant football positioned right in front of the gate. this means the gate doesn't become visible until you are closer.

- through out our trip to the city we had seen statue/models of bears everywhere - the bear being one the symbols of berlin. these bears we kept seeing were based on the buddy bear collection - a work commissioned for peace - where artists from all round the world painted the basic bear to represent their country. these bears were, until this week, located in a big circle by the brandenburg gate. many of this bears bore striking designs - with a guide book available to show the various design stages, artists details, and in most cases an explanation of what the designs actually represented. the exhibit has now finished, and the bears should be on tour - eventually being dispersed after an auction to raise money for unicef.

- through the gates the park lands of the tiergarten lie, stretching from here to the zoological gardens. the this garden covers a big area in berlin, and although it was deforested after the war, by people desperate for fire wood, it has been restored since. to the right of that point you can see the reichstag - the german parliament building. the building contains the history of the attempts to bring democracy in under the kaisers, how things changed after the first world war, how that led to a period of flux, the constantly changing governments that led to the rise of hitler and the second world war. upon reunification the reichstag was made the seat of government for the new germany - with the dome on top being refitted as a big glass structure, with a crystallized spire that plunges into the building and to the top of the dome. entry to this building is free, but it can take a considerable length of time to get in - as it is the government building, security is high and this is what takes the time. air lock style entrances lead to metal detectors and the whole airport security type set up. from there a lift takes you up to the top of the building. you can wander around the roof, looking across the city from there. but you can also go up a spiral walk way that takes you to the top of the dome, which puts you higher, and gives a clearer view of the area.

-when we went that sunday there was a considerable queue, which was seeing little movement. even the distraction of a brass band playing ABBA's greatest hits didn't encourage us, so we left that day to come back the next morning. unfortunately it was busy again, even worse the weather on our visit had started to turn. so we spent a particularly cold hour queuing to get inside. returning a couple of nights later, to get night photos of the dome, we found the queue was a lot smaller - so we decided to go in again, and this time it was a lot quicker. entry is possible to about 10, with the actual closing time being later than that.

-when we had turned around and left the reichstag that first time we decided to see if the queue at the Fernsehturm was any smaller. the Fernsehturm is a radio tower which was erected by the east germans during the cold war, located in the alexanderplatz area of the city, and visible from a lot of places. like many radio towers/tall buildings, you can enter and go to an observation level at the top. while there were people waiting, we decided to hang around to see how long it took. in the end it didn't take that long, though perhaps wasn't really worth the visit, the observation deck gave a good view from the top, but personally i enjoyed the one from the berlin dom church more on the first day of our visit. one item of novelty value, and no doubt related to the aforementioned football - the urinals in the gents at the top of the towers had green netting on the inside, with little goal posts from the top, and a little football hanging by wire from the cross bar. which was different.

-as i already mentioned at the other end of the tiergarten from the brandenburger tor there is the zoo. while much of our time in berlin was spent in the mitte area, the trip to the zoo was one of only a couple of trips into charlottenburg. i have mixed feelings about zoos - seeing some of the apes and big cats, and their obvious discomfort can be distressing. on the other the chance to see all these animals in the flesh, and hopefully preserve some of them can be a good thing. regardless, we spent several hours wandering around the zoo, and were quite lucky in that it didn't start raining until we were just about leaving anyway.

-sony have large offices at Potsdamer Platz, a huge glass structure, which includes a film museum, a cinema with several screens, a shop to buy the latest sony merchandise, a number of restuarants/bars, as well as a chunk of a preserved hotel which used to be on the site and was particularly trendy in pre-war days. depending what you are looking for will depend what you make of the sony center. we had been told it was particularly worth seeing by my sister, who had been there coincidentally a few weeks before our trip. the day we were there the film museum was closed and it felt like a big captive advert for sony, so i wasn't especially impressed.

- as i've been writing i've been checking out some relevant sites, where i have just across this site in particular - which seems to have a good selection of photographs covering many of the things i have mentioned in this and previous reports of our trip - http://www.berlin-motive.de

- in terms of eating and drinking there were a number of places we visited, and plenty more that we never got to for various reasons. one place we stumbled on while looking for lunch one day was schwarzenraben, which we quite liked the look and feel of - so we returned quite regularly in the evenings for drinks. since then i've discovered that this is apparently quite a trendy venue in east berlin, but even with that we found it to be a spacious and comfortable bar to hang out in. past the actual bar there is a long restuarant area, which seems to have garnered a good reputation, although other than the lunch where we found the place we never got round to trying the food. down stairs was a cocktail bar, which seemed to also be used for functions. and it looked like there was perhaps a beer garden at the back of the restuarant. on top of all that, there were additionals which made it even more of a flexible and enjoyable place to hang out - service was at the table, so no need to stand at a crowded bar for a drink; at the weekends there was fresh ramen noodles for sale, a noodle kitchen being set up at the front of the bar; there was an AOL sponsored computer in a corner, which allowed customers to access the internet for free (within reason). it is strange to think that the building used to be a cinema, which was split into for men and women - especially as a couple of nights after we were there, they were having a showing of short film and party to go with that.

-there were a couple of other places that worthy of note food wise. but i can't find the details of those just now, so i'll post about those when i get home.

time of the wolf - i meant to mention in my review of this film about how while there no mention of the legend the name of the film came from there were a couple of references to other things. a couple of people mention the concept of the just - breathless tones, describing people who are incredibly important and influential, the suggestion that there are only ever 36 just, and that if even one of them were to die disaster would occur. this would seem to create a subtext as to the disaster which has caused the circumstances which the film is set against. another curious idea was of the brothers of fire - men who were sacrificing themselves in flame to save the world - each sacrifice repairing a degree of damage. the idea of the just and the numberic significance of 36 reminded me of foucault's pendulum - there must have been some parallel in there - but then there must be parallels between everything and foucault's pendulum given how dense it was in conspiracy and mystic organisation.

alva noto + ryuichi sakamoto - vrioon - a 6 track collaboration between these two artists. i was first aware of this release with a friend picking up the considerably elusive clear vinyl edition - something which i ordered, but wasn't able to get. with the performances by carsten nicolai at kill your timid notion in dundee as cyclo and alva noto, i found this CD for sale on the merchandise stall. so i decided to pick it up then. apparently nicolai had met sakamoto on his first trip to japan, after which he was asked to do a remix of some sakamoto material, from that vrioon stems - a two year process. sakamoto's influence is more immediately obvious, the spare, melodic piano work operating at a higher point in the mix than nicolai's typical glitches and pulses. but as you listen to the disc you become more conscious of how these sounds compliment each other and work together to provide a particularly understated release - even by nicolai's standards.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

alladeen - time permitting i would like to see this, it sounds interesting. however it is only on for three days at the tramway in glasgow. the site itself is a striking piece of work, multi layered, multi media. as a theatre piece it is described as:

a cross media performance exploring the impact of technology and globalisation, set in the surreal world of the bangalore call centres. here a group of young indian recruits are being taught to 'pass' themselves off as americans through 'neutering the mother tongue' and acquiring a passing knowledge of american football and other cultural trivia. taking on the alter egos of characters from friends, the operators are on call 24/7 providing information on services from route planning to astrology. alladeen transposes fragments from the tale of aladdin by dissonantly mixing the global and the local in a shifting map of cultural identity.

-on thursday 6th to saturday 8th of november.

Neko No Ongaeshi/The Cat Returns - the cat returns is showing saturday coming as part of the london film festival on tour. there are two showings at the GFT - i decided to get a ticket just to make sure that i see it. the latest film by studio ghibli, about a girl who saves the life of the cat prince.

Chinese blogs are mostly neatly designed websites, done by good-looking young women. Unfortunately, also most good-looking young Chinese women tend to have lives that are as boring as those of their nerdy counterparts.

- an amusing observation on the rise of blogging in china. part of a blog which is trying to keep up with the rapid changes in media in china.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

quicksilver - i ended up buying stephenson's quicksilver before we went to berlin the start of october (something else which i've been meaning to write more about!). so i finished original bliss monday, which i had been reading over the last few days. from there i was assessing what to choose from the pile next, having forked out for the hard back i thought i might as well get on with this one. the extract that has been posted variously from quicksilver didn't really inspire me, but some good feedback from other folk that picked it up as it came out made me decide to go for it anyway. so i am about 40 pages in, time allowing only that much so far, but it is going well enough - i've got past the lackluster start and am more into the reasons why the initial character enoch the red has arrived in colonial america. with the likes of snow crash and cryptonomicon they are more memorable because they had high impact starting points - a manic car chase, and a rush to the docks as evacuation. the wandering into to town and witnessing the hanging of a witch doesn't really have the same punch, the same hook. but quickly with references to the original cryptonomicon we are into the origins of math/cryptography that make this the prequel to stephenson's cryptonomicon.

16:00 - 00:00: 23/11/03
The Arches
Box Office: 0141 565 1023

Instal, The Arches annual new music blow out, is your chance to experience ground breaking and genre defining live experimental music in the unique surroundings of the Arches. In its third year, Instal features one-off performances from some of the most striking artists in contemporary music today. Running on two stages with tightly packed acts performing from 4pm till midnight, instal 03 is your chance to take a chance and expand your musical horizons.

[just added to the bill and on early, so don't miss them by pitching up late]

Formed as means to realise William Bennett's goal of "a sound that could bludgeon an audience into submission¡± and on the backdrop of Birdseed, the group's most inventive and sonically sculpted noisescapes of their 23-year existence, this is an extremely rare chance to catch the pioneering, brutal and headsplittingly radical electronic force of nature that is Whitehouse.

Infamous for their much debated, taboo-shredding lyrics, [spine-chillingly dramatic and involving/ sneering indictments that have recently developing a degree of complexity and intellectualised psychological probing], they remain utterly dedicated to what they do, still displaying a readiness to experiment and re-birth their core palette of explorations into unchallengeable sonic extremes, electronic noise and feedback. Whitehouse remain an oft-misunderstood group, but one that deserves a wider audience. Here¡¯s your chance.

V¡Þredoms: [The Boredoms]

For 15 years the Boredoms' specialised in a legendary and manic post punk explosion of disaffected youth. Finally in 1999 they achieved international acclaim with the release of Super AE and its attendant shift in focus to studio manipulations, layers of bombastic guitar noise, insane bursts of tape manipulation and the wax and wane of desperate screams and urgent percussion. It¡¯s follow up, Vision Creation Newsun, cemented them as the most urgently experimental avant-rock act currently recording. Their performance at instal03 will be only their second in the UK since the release of those seminal recordings.

Merzbow: [Masami Akita]

For those of you not familiar with it, Merzbow is the noise project led by Japan's Masami Akita. If you recall your art history, Kurt Schwitters began a project in the 1930s of constructing the Merzbau -- a house which was shaped, dissolved, and built out of junk. Akita's project of a similar name takes the junk of sound and transforms it into blistering noise assaults with an incredible spectrum and impact. He is the defining artist in the noise canon, one who opened up new ways off appreciating sound and whose influence can be traced across huge swathes contemporary music: from Scandinavian death metal to the harsh experimental electronica of the Mego set. This extremely rare performance at instal03 will be his first ever in Scotland.

[Keith Rowe + Eddie Prevost + John Tilbury]

With each new release and every [admittedly rare] live performance AMM provide yet another reason why AMM music could be considered the primer for all 'experimental' music. What makes their music seem so timeless is the degree to which they are successfully 'listening', so present with one another as listeners during performance that you can only imagine that their ears must extend far into the reaches of the music culture at any given time -- spanning the years since 1966 with the release of the first AMM record. AMM have undoubtedly been the most important contributors to the UK free improv scene for nearly 40 years and we are extremely proud to be able to be working with such distinguished musicians who still rarely play live in the UK.

Vibracathedra Orchestra + Matthew Bower + John Godbert

Veterans of the psych-infused UK free noise scene, the Vibracathedral Orchestra is a hypnotic ur-drone group hailing from Leeds. Specialising in dreamy phase patterns, stratospheric noise, and vaguely rockish hypno-drone, made up of squealing Egyptian reeds, drum circle grooves, random sustained notes on a cheap Casio, hazy electric guitar distortion, flanging sitars, and lots of acoustic guitar strum 'n' scrape, in the end they fall squarely between the free jazz of Albert Alyer and the dissonance of the experimental sides of Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo

Live is definitely where the VCO come into their own, stretching and exploring the sonic possibilities of rock and roll, and coming up with some of the most gorgeous and transcendentally intense droning free-rock around at the moment. For this one off performance they are joined by Matthew Bower and John Godbert from mighty UK heavy/drone/psych behemoths Skullfower, Sunroof! and Total.

Cosmos: [Sachiko M + Ami Yoshida]

Sachiko M and Ami Yoshida are two of the most prominent members of the burgeoning Onkyo movement. Onkyo, a Japanese word meaning 'reverberation of sound', places much more emphasis on sound texture than on musical structure, distilling elements of techno, noise, and electronic music into a unique hybrid. Sachiko M has developed a unique style utilizing a memory-free sampler, coaxing pure, piercing sine waves with the device's built-in test tones and noise. Ami Yoshida, using only voice, creates abstract vocalizations that both jar and rival the extremity of sound Sachiko throws out. They both minimize their music to a gorgeous maximum.

CCI Sound System: [Ryoji Ikeda]

Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda has been the key artists to define experimental electronic composition over the past decade, breaking new ground every new release since. Currently undergoing a brave and intriguing surge in creativity; he is leaving behind the pin-point pricks and digital purism of earlier works and refocusing on mathematical and spartan compositions, decidedly different from his previous works, but equally challenging and unique. The culmination of this is the world premiere of ¡°CCI Sound system¡± at instal03, a performance in which his new material will be mixed and phased between two huge PA¡¯s, one a precise Meyer system, the other a wall of Marshall amps!

Paragon Ensemble:

Single handedly responsible for bringing avant classical music out of airless concert halls to a wider audience in Scotland, and having been one of the highlights of instal02 with their commissioned collaboration with Japanese sound artist Koji Asano, Paragon return to the Arches, this time with some of the best improvising musicians in Scotland in tow for a special one off performance.

Monday, November 03, 2003

This Saturday, 8 November - 2pm-6.30pm
Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium
Admission £10 (£7 concessions)

Featuring five leading artists and theorist in the field of contemporary sample culture, this symposium will mix talks, discussions, screenings nd performances to investigate the practice of sampling and its impact on contemporary art. Participants will include sound-artist and cultural collagist Vicki Bennett (aka People Like Us), German art and music theorist Diedrich Diederichsen, Cultural critic Kodwo Eshun, and artists Mark Leckey and Christian Marclay.

To tie in with this we've just put many hours of People Like Us audio
and video online for free download. http://www.peoplelikeus.org/dnload.htm
This was made possible by Ubuweb http://www.ubu.com - many thanks.

Coming up also, PLU concert at Craig Baldwin's Other Cinema in San Francisco, plus a performance as part of Matmos's residency at the Yerba Buena Center, also in San Francisco. More news on these - http://www.peoplelikeus.org/whatsnew.htm

And don't forget - very Wednesday 7-8pm EST "DO or DIY" on WFMU - http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/PL

Bye for now


Title: The Time Of The Wolf [Le Temps Du Loup]
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Béatrice Dalle, Patrice Chéreau, Rona Hartner, Maurice Bénichou, Olivier Gourmet, Brigitte Roüan, Lucas Biscombe
Director: Michael Haneke

Michael Haneke despite being german born makes another film in france, apparently that is because regardless of the fact that he seems to have had some sucess it remains difficult to get the backing to make more films, with the result that the french arts seem to be his best option. with the time of the wolf he is perhaps back in the same kind of territory as funny games, though there has been talk of the themes of code unknown and his ideas on poverty and refugees. which to a degree is the case, but to say that the time of the wolf entirely captures that kind of idea would be an over simplification, especially when there is a certain level of dramatization. one which was less present in code unknown, which was ironically a considerably less satisfying film.

the title of the film refers to a legend about a wolf which will eat the sun, causing the end of the world. while there is no actual reference to this within the context of the film, the film does set up a narrative that is very post-apocalyptic, in an undefined fashion. part of the strength of the time of the wolf is the feeling that we really don't know what is happening - without knowing what the problem is we can't dismiss it, without knowledge we can't propose quick fixes. the disaster just is, and the characters have to cope with that fact.

a family pull outside their weekend cottage in the country, the car packed full of supplies. at this point everything seems normal. but as they come into the house they are confronted by another family who have broken in. from there they are forced to flee, and we quickly become aware that this is not normal. night seems to last, villages seem abandoned and fog bound, people that used to be friends repel them from their properties. the field is filled with a pyre for burning cows.

from here on it is a struggle to survive. random acts of violence. stray bodies. other "survivors". all dotted about until they reach a train station, where they are promised that one day a train might come, and if the train stops then they will all be ok.

the time of the wolf is a bleak film, oppressively atmospheric. while it does not remain night all the time, which i found odd given the title's origin, day light brings little relief. city folk are suddenly living day to day, barely enough clothes to keep them warm, lucky if they have a roof to sleep under and having to get used to a new economy of trade or die. those familiar with Haneke's funny games should be somewhat prepared for his approach to casual violence and the real impact he can give that. but with the time of the wolf it takes on a darker tone, and in the end this film will leave a more lasting impression.

while there is no mention of the legend the name of the film came from there were a couple of references to other things. a couple of people mention the concept of the just - breathless tones, describing people who are incredibly important and influential, the suggestion that there are only ever 36 just, and that if even one of them were to die disaster would occur. this would seem to create a subtext as to the disaster which has caused the circumstances which the film is set against. another curious idea was of the brothers of fire - men who were sacrificing themselves in flame to save the world - each sacrifice repairing a degree of damage. the idea of the just and the numberic significance of 36 reminded me of foucault's pendulum - there must have been some parallel in there - but then there must be parallels between everything and foucault's pendulum given how dense it was in conspiracy and mystic organisation.

one of the things that i find particularly striking about Haneke's work is the way he abandons certain conventions. most noticeably sound track - the titles at the start and end of the film go up in silence and the only music featured through the film is the incidental of someone listening to a tape. this was the same in funny games as well, though i can't recall with code unknown. the lack of accompanying sound gives an extra starkness to events, gives them a gravity that a comodified sound track would not.

cast wise the time of the wolf stars two of france's most well known actresses - isabelle huppert (8 women, the piano teacher (also by haneke), amateur, the bedroom window, etc) and beatrice dalle (17 fois cecile cassard, trouble every day, clubbed to death, betty blue, etc). florence loiret also features, who i recently mentioned here for her parts in olga's chignon and vendredi soir - though she doesn't really have a big part here. but it is really anais demoustier who steals the film, apparently the first film for this young actress, who plays the part of huppert's daughter, and is our witness to the layers of horror from the start.

for me, of the three films by haneke i've seen to date, the time of the wolf is his most striking and memorable. achieving a depth of disturbing moods and effective in that it leaves such a lasting impression

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Title: Malèna
Cast: Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Luciano Federico, Matilde Piana
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

malena is the story of a woman called malena in a small italian town during the second world. as witnessed by a 12 year old boy, who puts her on a pedestal, because she is his first realisation of sexuality. malena is not originally from this town and hence is always an outsider. with the outbreak of war, and the departure of her husband the gossip starts. malena, played by monica belucci, is regarded as being beautiful, and the assumption is that as soon as her husband is away she will sleep around. this creates an environment where as soon as she steps out of the house all the men are leering at her, coming on to her, chancing their arm. while all the women look on at this attention with disgust, and sully her name. the effect of this worsens as the war goes on, malena's reputation going down hill all the time, regardless of whether there is any truth in the matter. to the point where if she wants to eat and survive here then she is going to have to some compromise - which means that malena is forced into a downward spiral, one with landmarks of personal tragedy. for the most part malena is about how cruel and wrong people can be, the treatment this one woman receives becoming progressively worse, so that in the end it is pretty disgusting. the other main theme is the sexual awakening of the boy, how he follows malena about and sees that she isn't what people say she is, but also he stands and listens while they talk behind her back. he struggles to cope with her problems, but ultimately he is our witness.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Title: In The Cut
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Meg Ryan, Sharrieff Pugh, Nick Damici, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Jane Campion

tonight i went to see in the cut, which i think just opened this weekend. it was one of those showings where i was put off and distracted and annoyed by other members of the audience. the periodic knee in the back from someone trying to make themselves comfortable at my expense. the couple of older ladies, who didn't know what the film was about and kept up a running commentary of how shocked they were - concluding that it was shit.

personally i thought it was an ok film. some nice touches, visually and atmospherically. as a thriller it perhaps doesn't keep you guessing. though there are certainly options there for you to guess - the ex-lover turned stalker, the ambiguous police officer, the serial killer obsessed student. all given a level of credibility.

sexually it is reasonably explicit. especially the oral sex scene at the start, which is convincing enough, even though i read an interview with the director where she assured it was a prosthetic. a scene which i had actually forgotten about, until it happened. a territory more often reserved for the likes of catherine breillet.

i guess on the whole it comes across as being somewhere in between genres, a shadowy mixed up thriller, backed up by a seedy environment.

recent listening:
hazard - land
mika vainio - in the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king
beduoin ascent - music for particles
funkstorung - appetite for disctruction

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Site Meter