Monday, December 29, 2003

Title: The Medusa Frequency
Author: Russell Hoban
Publisher: Bloomsbury

the notes on the back of hoban's fremder suggest that in some ways it is connected to the medusa frequency, at least in some thematic form. reading the medusa frquency i would propose some thematic connection between it and kleinzeit. apart from the fact that these are the earliest two of the four books that i have read by him to date, they both have references to orpheus and the underworld, they are both more straight flipped out there than the more recent works like amaryliss and the bat tattoo.

herman orf is a novelist. his first novel sold 1700 copies, his second 1200, he has been struggling to write his third for some time now. in the meantime he has been working for a company adapting the classics into comics. one day a card comes through his door, offering a treatment that will let him access the parts of his mind that he dearly needs to access to be able to start writing his own works. however it turns out that the man behind the treatment advertised was the man he stole the woman who still haunts him from. but he goes through with the treatment and as a result becomes haunted by the head of orpheus, inheriting it from the other man, who was previously haunted by orpheus.

through the medusa frequency we see the usual themes from hoban's work - the relationships between men and women, the past and futures of those, the strange ways in which people meet and interact. there is also the cultural mix that hoban uses to bring his work to life, the pop and classic culture references. in the medusa frequency like kleinzeit the core of these references is orpheus and the underworld, but rather than death as a dark figure we have the kraken, the embodyment of terror; along with recurring reference to medusa, eurydice and hermes. in some ways the medusa frequency comes across as an extension of those themes, orf bearing personal similarities to the character kleinzeit - both spending time as ad-writers, both trying to write a novel, both favouring yellow paper, both ending up in hospital.

on the whole hoban's work tends to provide slim volumes, with the medusa frequency being the shortest of the 6 books i own. still he manages to provide a story which is in some ways based in reality, and others in a defiance of reality, an embrace of the absurd. a combination which keeps me coming back for more, a mix which holds a strong appeal for me, in much the same way as the likes of murakami. with which it seems odd that hoban who has been writing for so many years doesn't have a more evident following.

maps are of two kinds. some seek to represent the locations of things in space. that is the first kind - the geography of space. but others represent the location of things in time - or perhaps their progression through time. these maps tell stories, which is to say they are the geography of time.

-dylan horrocks.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

He said before that literature,
indeed all culture,
was a celebration of life,
if not a declaration of love for things.

-"Girl", Midnight All Day
-Hanif Kureishi

Do more than think.
More and more people will tell you they have magic.
Magic like the sticks of dynamite.
Don't Believe them.

-"Translations", Night Geometry and The Garscaden Train
-A.L. Kennedy

I went down to the kitchen and opened the fridge.
There were three cans of beer,
most of a salami,
a mouldering of old cheeses,
half a tub of margarine,
half a jar of marmalade,
half a pint of milk
and the head of Orpheus.

-The Medusa Frequency
-Russel Hoban

-with the end of quicksilver i have been playing about with reading some short stories, notably from collections by kureishi and kennedy. which i will continue to read bits and pieces of over the next while. however with three hoban books sitting waiting to be read i've been tackling the medusa frequency. which i've been quite enjoying, still seeing comparisons to murakami with this piece, though perhaps getting undercurrents of gaiman what with the head of orpheus and the presence of eurydice and the kraken in this piece. nearly finished the book though, so more comment once i've done that!

other recent listening

gruntsplatter - chronicling the famine - one of the worst habits i have developed in recent times is putting CDs in the wrong boxes, this leads to losing track of discs. so while i knew where the box for this gruntsplatter album was, i seemed to lose all track of the CD itself. which was incredibly frustrating, especially as i had barely listened to it. so i was rather pleased to come across it yesterday by accident after actively searching for it for a while now. so the last thing i listened to last night, while reading in bed, was chronicling the famine. gruntsplatter are one of my favourite bands when it comes to this kind of grizzled music, spitting and buzzing distorted layers, contrasted by the hum and pulse of more bass heavy drone layers.

troum - sigqan - this three track troum album is a new release on the same label as gruntsplatter's second full length - desolation house. this disc features two tracks which are representative of troum's live set from a european tour with ultrasound. the CD features a third track which is along the same lines, but has an element of studio manipulation to it. in some ways the result is a down beat, understated album, with the contrasts between the two layers of guitar work, one more wandering and melodic, one lower and bass heavy in its drones. for me this is one of troum's most consistent and appealing releases to date.


asa chang & junray - jun ray son chang - i first heard a track by asa chang and junray on one of those rare occasions where i was tuned into john peel, one of those rarer occasions where i actually heard something interesting. at a guess i would say it was the track hana, the first piece on the album jun ray son chang, which was played. the combination of string and vocal struck me as curious, cut up and elusive tones seducing my attention. later i heard a compilation track, one taken from the EP which followed this album, and one very much in a similar style to the other piece i heard. between the two i decided that asa chang and junray were someone to check out.

so when i found a record shop which had a section for leaf records, who are responsible for this UK version, which seems to join tracks from a couple of previous non-UK releases, i flicked through it till i found jun ray song chang. finding it i bought, buying it i put it on at the first opportunity. the track hana starts the album, and it does not disappoint. an eclectic mix of strings, that provide strong and attractive melodies, with cut up male/female vocals dispersed throughout. the result has a curious rhythm, something exotic and compelling.

from there however, on that first listen, i found that there wasn't a single other track which sounded like that first piece. and somehow that put me off the album, i just didn't get into the album at all. so i was disappointed. but even so, i intended to go back and give it another go. my impressions had still left the idea that the tracks were actually all very similar - a mixture of an instrument playing to a certain level, contrasting with a vocal playing through that. with the separation afforded by time, and the stripping of expectation i returned to jun ray song chang. allowing myself to appreciate more what they are doing with this release.

each track follows a similar kind of pattern, but each piece is performed with a different sound. trumpets, or drums, or strings, or whatever - performing variations on that theme that is established through the album, mixed with the pattering rhythm of voices, which are quite often accelerated and manipulated. the result, when approached with some patience, is a curious, and energetic album. noting that one of the guest vocalists is a member of the boredoms, it might be fair to say that this release is perhaps more likely to have an instant appeal to people coming from that background. though there is certainly enough here for someone looking for an interesting release, with the tracks nigatsu and goo-gung-gung joining hana as real standouts, while several others start to make greater impressions with repeat listens.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

uzumaki - junji ito - uzumaki translates from japanese as something like vortex, and the serial of uzumaki is about the obsession and curse of the vortex. as quickly becomes clear uzumaki was originally published as a serial in japan, which gives it a quite episodic feeling. original american publication was through the pulp magazine, pulp being an imprint of the american manga company viz. to some degree the episodic nature is the work's greatest weakness - leading to a level of repetition - it feels like something new happens every episode that is weird, and the girl tells her boyfriend, he says its the spiral, and they should leave town. this is one of the things the film adaptation of uzumaki manages to address, mixing the episodes up more, so that it feels like it is also coming together and creates more of a gravity and tension. though the scope of the three collected books goes beyond the film, and certainly by book 3 things have pretty much flipped out into pure madness.

kirie goshima is the main character/narrator, and things start to go wrong in the town of kurozu-cho when she finds her boyfirend shuichi saito's father entranced in a dark alley by a snail. through this first chapter saito's father's obsession with the vortex escalates, and shuichi warns kirie that it is this town, begging her to run away with him. with the death of saito's father the uzumakiphilia flips, so that his mother becomes an uzumakiphobe - every spiral an opportunity for her dead husband to talk to her, to mess with her mind, she starts to become terrified of spirals. sheering off her hair, her finger prints, and going into screaming fits any time she is confronted with a spiral.

from there each chapter adds the latest manifestation of the vortex. some of which are included to various degrees in the film adaptation, others are skipped over entirely. granted any adaptation can only do so much with the original material, but there are things from these graphic novels that really should have been included. though its not like the film wasn't mad enough without neglecting some of the items here.

where the film uzumaki stops kind of abruptly, the book has ideas fleshed out - like the boy who jumped out to scare kirie, kirie's father's extraction of mud from the town pond, development of the medusa hair. and most crucially the snails, the twisting of people and the hurricanes - which lead to the devastation of the town and the real horrific conclusion that awaits.

junji ito writes and illustrates these books, providing a striking detail, some of the best material i've seen from manga. an art form which i find very hit and miss, there are only a handful of artists that really make their works vivid and alive. ito is clearly one of those, there are things he does here which are disturbing, and probably only work as seamlessly in this medium. which is likely one of the reasons why certain things were neglected from the film adaptation, things that would have been difficult to pull off, and if they had pulled them off would most likely have messed with people's heads more than the results already did. one of the big reasons the book works better than the film though is the amount of more human detail that is worked in, everything has more to it in the original. so that it makes a lot more sense, but is also easier to relate to - the school bullies, the obsessions, desires for mystery and adventure, or just for attention.

Title: Wilbur (Wants to Kill Himself )
Cast: Jamie Sives, Adrian Rawlins, Shirley Henderson, Lisa McKinlay, Mads Mikkelsen, Julia Davis, Andrew Townsley
Director: Lone Scherfig

for someone like myself, who stays in glasgow, the proposition of a danish film set in glasgow is a curious thing. lone scherfig writer and director of the film was responsible for the reasonably successful dogma film italian for beginners, while co-writer anders thomas jensen was the writer of the dogma films mifune and the king is alive. Mads Mikkelsen as the doctor in the hospital is obviously not scottish, and has had his own experience in dogma cinema, with open hearts, as well as the pair of films bleeder and pusher. the rest of the cast is pretty much british, and mostly scottish.

the film starts with wilbur's latest attempt to kill himself, which comes soon after the death of his father. though wilbur's problems go a lot further back than that. on this occasion harbour, his long suffering brother, gets wilbur to hospital on time. upon his release harbour tries to convince wilbur to take more of an active role in the book shop that their father has left them. the book shop takes a pretty central role in the film, and its interesting to see a familiar location.

but the film is not just about wilbur and harbour, alice is a regular customer, a bumbling single mother, desperate to raise her daughter right. we are introduced to her and witness her problems, the long hours she has to work, scraping money together to make ends meet. with progression though her story intermingles with that of the brothers, and it isn't long before it is her turn to save wilbur's life and not long after she is marrying harbour. bringing the four together under one roof.

of course that doesn't trigger a happily ever after, with all four characters experiencing their trials and tribulations. wilbur is a dark comedy, as many of the dogma films are, though this is not one of those. the fact that the two writers are both danish makes this film even more impressive, the local input in terms of setting scenes, and dialogue is striking. wilbur could easily have been one of those tediously lauded scottish films like my name is joe or orphans, which dwell on the darkness alone, and seem to be almost cliched in themselves. thankfully it may be dark, but it breaks out of the too obvious scottish background and produces something which is much more worth watching. it does make me somewhat curious as to how this film will be received elsewhere, especially in the likes of denmark to which it owes so much of it's genesis.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

update - not been online very much over the last few days. probably be the same for a time yet, especially at this time of year. in the last few days i have seen:

black angel 2
wilbur (wants to kill himself)
lord of the rings: return of the king

i've finally finished quicksilver - neal stephenson
-also read:
hicksville - dylan horricks
uzumaki books 1-3

recent listening:
gridlock - formless sounds promising.
bad sector - xela/survival tools - yup its cool.
converter - exit rituals will take some more listens till i decide what i make of it, parts of it really don't sound like converter at all, but then there are a couple of bits i would swear i had heard on previous releases.
troum - the completion of the tjuukurrpa trilogy, nice stuff.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

[klangstabil][newsletter december 2003]

[video information]
** 3 new and full-length videos from the maschinenfest 2003
track: kantorka (pflichtkauf - kantorka LP) 14 mb / 4 min 28 sec.
track: gloomy day (ant-zen - daruma compilation CD) 15 mb / 4 min 57 sec.
track: push yourself [MHz 7" tsuba / Pflichtkauf - mf03 CD] 21 mb / 6 min 18 sec.

** klangstabil AKTIV video (release dec.1998 david/MHz [VHS])
** full length web-version for download
** excerpts from klangstabil live acts at:
** ultraschall munich / faerberei 4 reutlingen / prag stuttgart

tracks taken from "straftat gegen das leben" LP (david/MHz) 45 mb / 13 min 40 sec.

[contact klangstabil via:]
stammler str. 6
72108 rottenburg

fax +49-7472-441999
e-mail: klangstabil@megahertz.org

He takes oranges and orange scent from a brown paper bag.
'Fifty pence for five. That's not bad. They're big.'
'You're mean, you know that? I've noticed.'
'They're big oranges, look. i'm not mean.'
'You're stingy.'
'Nice, cheap oranges. I am not stingy.'
'You're a stingy, grouchy, old man.'
He was wearing the big coat. The blue one. It smelt of evening weather and the car. I slipped my arms inside it and around his waist. That was something i did a lot.
'You're just after my oranges.'
'That's right.'

a.l.kennedy's collection night geometry and the garscadden train -from the short story "Tea And Biscuits". my brother came across night geometry in his local oxfam, picked it up and put it in an envelope for me. its one of the few a.l.kennedy pieces i don't have, hopefully i'll get given "Now That You're Back" this week, and as for "Looking For the Possible Dance" - i am, looking, that is, so if you see it, let me know.

-other additions to reading pile:
hicksville - dylan horrocks
the man in the maze - robert sivlerberg
the ticket that exploded - william burroughs
the cybergypsies - indra sinha
pilgerman - russel hoban
the medusa frequency - russel hoban

cell auto mata - the devil is in the detail - i gave this cd a first listen last night. which i had mixed feelings for. quite why celluloid mata has been discarded in favour of this collaboration with synapscape member munch (though kniep is present too) i don't understand - side project status like noosa hedz should have served just as well. especially when this is such a departure from celluloid mata. liking both synapscape and celluloid mata i should like cell auto mata. in theory. however the collaboration is more of a retro endeavour, perhaps nodding in the direction of electro clash, but more likely to those electronics which influenced those artists. there are parts of devil in the detail which work well and from a first listen i enjoy. but the more retro aspects, and the inclusion of various vocals at various times leaves me more conflicted. but. its a first listen we will see how it goes from here.

Friday, December 19, 2003

lore brand - just been pointed in the direction of this weekly strip, updated on thursdays. can't have been going for too long, took me no time at all to work through the archive, definitely some classics here!

banksy - i guess i had been aware of banksy's work, apparently he did some cover work for blur, which when i see the images i recognise. also saw one or two of his works on the street art fotolog. but was looking about for gift ideas last night when i came across one of his books - Exitstencilism: Black Book. a collection of his graffiti work. anyway this site hosts a collection of his images. no doubt banksy's own site does as well, but the powers that be have blocked it for some reason! i love filters i do.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

xochimilco - a 16 page online strip from jessica abel, which was originally published in LA Weekly. it fits in with the four part series la perdida, which she has been doing through fantagraphics, about a young woman who decides to move to mexico from america. this piece is particularly manic, and it is quite odd to be reading subtitles in this kind of format!

tolkien - as is no doubt being advertised/discussed everywhere, the film adaptation of tolkien's lord of the rings reaches it's climax this week with the release of the third film return of the king. not sure when i'm going to see it yet. normally by brother comes home for christmas, and a few of us will then go and see it. he isn't coming home this year, and other folk seem as disorganised as i am. but no doubt it will be seen soon enough. till then i'll need to avoid reading too much about it, taking up too many people's opinions - i prefer to approach things for myself, hype and opinion are dangerous things, and the most likely to spoil a film.

but it gets me to thinking. lord of the rings. i read the book. twenty years ago. damn that makes me feel old. in primary school i read the hobbit, had read it a couple of times before i tackled a borrowed copy of lord of the rings. at that time it was the biggest and most complex work i had ever read. as a result it took me a year to complete, which by my rates since is a ludicrous amount of time to take. but from there i was a big fan of tolkien's work - i have copies of the silmarillion, the unfinished tales, the lost tales, and sundry other bits and bobs. of course by the time you got into the lost tales things were becoming more tenuous, the this was something he wrote on the back of a napkin and never expanded on kind of discovery, or the 100 page lists of who begat who. which are of course dry reading and take a special kind of obsession.

regardless, i guess its fair to say it was tolkien that started a lot of the reading that i did over the years that followed. the immersion in the works of michael moorcock, the derivative, but still fun reading of terry books sword of shannara. from david eddings to terry pratchet, leaking at the same time into science fiction. i'm not really one for dwelling on nostalgia, but all things considered, it probably is time that i read the lord of the rings again. though refreshing myself before the films might have been a better idea, that might have just lead to the nitpicking that goes hand in hand with an adaptation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

new listening - just got a couple of big orders in, from ant-zen and drone. i tend not to make too many orders. but when i do..... they are big.
hopefully. this will keep me for some time. should probably also make a list of
the things i came back from berlin with!

nihil est excellence/moglass split
kallabris - hafalgar
troum - ljubimaya
kallabris/tam quam tabula rasa/troum - kasha
cascone/kiritchenko/berthling/kotra - fourfold
alva noto - transrapid
troum - sigqan
bad sector - survival tools
ntt - i fucking hate you
coil - the restitution of decayed intelligence
ryoji ikeda - formula
moljebka pulse - sadalmelik
telepherique - stahl und strahl
baradelan - somnolence and shivers
contagious orgasm - flows out
daniel menche - deluge
xabec - electric mandela part 1
troum - tjuukurrpa 3
urawa - a dog called demolition
gridlock - formless
maschinenfest 2003 compilation
kraken - forsilsa
l'ombre - simulations
converter - exit ritual
vromb - rayons
vromb - jeux de terre
neutral - caller ID

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

information wants to be free - afterword - having, to some degree, anticipated how the weekend in berlin would go, we decided to take the monday in the city to recover. with the sunday night not running quite so late we were able to get up earlier in the day. heading into mitte about lunch time we had brunch in a bakery at the hackersmacht (?), which i had visited on the last day we were there before.

from there we were round the corner from the museum island/berlin dom, so we did a walk past there. that whole area is filled with old buildings and things to see, given the weekend's fatigue, and the fact that museums aren't open on mondays, we just did a walk past. this led us to the intersection with freidrichstrasse, from which we headed down to check point charlie, then past the topography of terror/berlin wall exhibit. from there we headed down to potsdammer platz, and into the sony centre.

this was a hive of activity, looking like there was perhaps an ice rink about to be set up, certainly the place was filled with folk putting up lighting rigs and the like. hanging above the fountain was a huge replica of the ring from lord of the rings, obviously in preparation for the return of the king opening this week. while we were there we popped into a wee cafe, filling in warm drinks, since things were starting to get dark and cold again. still not really 100% we decided rather than walking about too much more we would head in the direction of dinner.

the cafe orange restuarant in oranienburgerstrasse was one we visited in october and enjoyed the food. so we got the train up to the station and went there for drinks followed by food. after dinner we wondered round the corner to schwarzenraben, which was another place which we had particularly enjoyed last time round. while our favourite waitress wasn't working that night we still had a good night. plans to go to the reichstag at night went out the window though, and we stayed there till after 12.

tuesday was the day we were heading back, but the flight wasn't till 5ish. so we reckoned that ostbahnhof should be big enough for us to leave our bags - and we were in luck, dumping our bags into a big locker and grabbing breakfast in the station. which turned out to be ill-advised, as the toast i ordered looked as though it had barely seen a toaster, and tasted several days old. but hey, i could have ordered chips and cheese the night before with dire results, like certain members of the team...

from ostbahnhof we trecked up to the experimental record shop dense, where we all bought some CDs, though some more than others. having heard of a couple of other record shops in the area we checked those out as well, though none really bore fruit in the same way. which left us time to head back to ostbahnhof, grab our bags, and back out to the airport at schonefeld.

flying back the berlin to stansted part went fine, we went through, hung out, got on plane, flew. but arriving in stansted we found that it was fog bound. which was probably one of the factors in why it took longer for the desk to open for check in. that done we went through and had dinner, in the garfunkels this time, which had served well on previous trip. though this time it took ages to get seated, which was annoying.

from there we were through to the gate on time for boarding, but as we did they announced that our flight was delayed. which gave us another hour and a half to kick about, read, stress out about how late we were going to get home. eventually our flight took off, about an hour and half late due to fog. which got us into prestwick about 12.30, and after the last train. luckily we were able to get a lift, and by the time we got back to mine and i then took j0hn home it was 2.30. the end of another festival trip.

count zero - rather than carting the hardback of quicksilver over to germany (or finishing savage girl for that matter...), i decided to go for the long promised re-read of william gibson's count zero. i had read neuromancer again after finishing pattern recognition, and been promising myself count zero since, of course now i'm in the mood to go for mona lisa overdrive and have done with it. but i'll stick with quicksilver, and at least get it cleared before i go back.

count zero is classic. following three threads, alternating three characters until it becomes clear that their stories are all connected to the big picture. starting by blowing turner to bits in chapter one is a memorable move for me - the description of the hound set on him in india, the subsequent rebuilding, and flight from his past, all so vivid. following that i guess we start with the low point of all the character's narratives - bobby pulls a wilson, just about flatlining on his first run into the matrix as a cowboy, marly is a disgraced gallery manager who tried to sell a forgery and has been in hiding since.

it is funny to think how hard, hi-tech and baffling i found the sprawl series when i first read it way back. i think this is my third reading of the cycle, and now it doesn't seem quite as hard, the tech seems to be just about right, and things start to make a lot more sense. given all that it probably explains why pattern recognition is set in a now, rather than percieved future.

need to go for mona lisa overdrive soon. then what? another re-read of snow crash wouldn't go a miss. and i keep promising myself to re-read headlong by simon ings, and to start again from the start with ken macleod, go for star fraction and join the dots out from there. but of course there are so many new things that are waiting to be read at the moment.

uzumaki: 2 and 3 - despite the fact that i still haven't got round to reading the first uzumaki book (well it was only friday), i was out shopping last night, and decided that i would buy the other two books since they were sitting there anyway. i know from experience that as soon as you think "wow, that was good, better go and get the others" then they will vanish. finder book2 being the perfect example - how come i just haven't seen that since it first caught my eye and i decided to buy book 1 then and come back for 2? fool. but yeah, i'll try fit uzumaki in some time this week.

Monday, December 15, 2003

live journal - given the flexibility and wide spread use of live journal i've just set up a companion journal to this blog. they should both run together, with the intent of allowing people to access the information in the easiest form for them.

information wants to be free
sonntag / 07.12.03 / sunday / december 7th:

01 - 20:30 - pure + m:l:p [austria/france - sinewave-acoustics and tinkering static - special-videos]

-given the running of the last few nights we weren't really in a hurry to turn up for doors opening. while i was curious about pure, he has quite a varied release history, it was really cruelty campaign that was the first band we were quite keen to see. so we aimed to arrive later, having dinner in the same restaurant as the night before, and coincidentally, though at the time we didn't realise, cruelty campaign was at the next table.
-we turned up at the venue approximately at 21:30, time that des esseintes should have been starting, however it was like the previous nights - not a lot happening. so that when the first band went on after us arriving it was still the first band. pure sat at one corner of the stage, with a lap top open. i wasn't sure who m:l:p was, but i'm guessing it was the girl stood with another lap top at the side, where the visual artists were set up for the weekend. he performed the music, covering a range of his sounds, building from the more ambient, through soundscape/sine towards the more active territory. presumably having concentrated on the more beat heavy material with his performance on the other floor the night before.
- i was glad that i hadn't missed this set after all, because on the whole i quite liked his set. in terms of stage presence he didn't make a big impact, though the visuals, which i unfortunatly can't remember much about now, worked well. [there was a constant stream of visuals throughout the weekend, some obviously band orientated, some short films, and some just filler, so it became difficult at times to remember what was what, and what was when.]

02 - 21:30 - des esseintes [sweden - apocalyptic industrial]
-i didn't really know anything about des esseintes, they are not a band i am familiar with, though one of our group said they were a megapatera side project and he was really keen to see them. on stage it was a guy and a girl, and they were set up with a table full of gear. they produced dark ambient, grindy kind of material, what a lot of folk refer to as roughly cold meat industry type sound. for me the label CMI can be hit and miss, but for the most part this set worked quite well. not mind blowing by any means, but certainly enjoyable enough.
-at various stages before/after bands the organisers would add other things. there had been a couple of spoken words (one guy in front of the stage talking in german with some lame beats from a drum pad) and the previous nights suspension. with the end of des esseintes set an american/canadian (wasn't quite sure which), took to the stage, and seemed to convince the guy from des esseintes to provide some sound for at least part of his spoken word. he then went on about information countdowns, whether information really wants to be free, or whether we have enough information already. this kind of worked to a degree, though verged on cheesy. at the end of this piece des esseintes left the state, and the speaker went on to rant a little. unfortunately like most of the weekend's propaganda there was a certain aimlessness, quoting familiar information, and in such a style that was intended to be ironic, but just seemed to fall a little flat.

03 - 22:30 - cruelty campaign [usa - industrial radio plays]

- i was bemused to find that we had been sitting at the next table from cruelty campaign for pizza earlier in the night, how odd. almost as much as i was bemused to find that cruelty campaign on this occasion was just one guy when i was expecting two. how odd. the visuals were clearly set up for his set, coming up with the band name and description. like the sound there was a certain stray effect to the imagery, capturing abstract scenes and moods. i recognised a couple of piece from the distressed signals album, though suspect there were probably more pieces that were different enough. despite having been looking forward to this set, there was something which just didn't click for me with the performance. which i suspect was more of a mood/venue/instance kind of thing, subjectively i enjoyed what i was hearing, but just didn't seem to get as much out of it as i hoped, which was a pity.

04 - 23:30 - bad sector [italy - extraterrestrial radio signals meats oldskool electro beats - special videoshow]

-undoubtedly bad sector were one of the performances i was most looking forward to, and he didn't disappoint! set up behind a load of gear, he clearly had something set up which reacted to hand motions, which gave a really dramatic sense to his set. sweeping gestures and abrupt stops causing equally sweeping pads and bass. starting off his set had a certain impact, which wasn't entirely what i was hoping for, but striking enough. but as he built it up bad sector really kicked in, really giving the punch and depth i was hoping for. visuals gave images of hands appropriately, mixed with binary foetuses and the like, thematically matching the ideas of information and identity to tie it into the weekend. bad sector was the highlight of the night, and definitely one of the most memorable of the weekend.

05 - 00:45 - error [latvia - noisy deconstructions]

-given the timing of the trains and the fact that we weren't familiar with error it is likely that we would have called it a night after bad sector and gone for the last train of the night at 1.30. however things of course ran on and it was more like 2am by the time error came on. with the fact that trains started again about 4.30am and the idea that it was cold outside and the bands at this rate would finish in time for trains starting, we decided to stay.
-with that error was one guy and a laptop playing grinding repetitive rhythmic noise. it was pretty one dimensional, as was the almost plain text graphics that went with his set. he chundered along quite happily, despite the fact that he did seem to experience some problems. but in the end there was very little of interest from error live.

06 - 01:45 - einleitungszeit/sangredans [cz/sk - harsh noise-performance - outro]

-the last performance was old school industrial noise. lots of clanking, smacking sheet metal with hammers, using a grinder to send up sparks, shouting through filters to create a general noise. sound wise it was ok, not really challenging, not really something we hadn't heard before. yeah, it was ok, not really remarkable or memorable for finishing a weekend long festival though. with them done, we pottered about some until we could get a train and filtered back to the hotel for about 5am.

rainy dog - i think it is fair to say that rainy dog is not the best of takashi miike's work, certainly not from the selection of his films that i have seen to date. rainy dog is the second in a trilogy of triad/yakuza films, which might affect the plot, though the DVD box stresses it is a thematic rather than narrative trilogy. however there are definitely parts of the story that don't seem to make sense within the context of this one film alone.

rainy dog is described as being a dark noiry gangster film. dark it certainly is, and that is one of its biggest failings. while a certain atmosphere might be created by a lack of lighting, it can also lead to obscuring all action, creating a sense of confusion, and the idea that the viewer isn't really seeing everything. in rainy dog's case spending a little more on the lighting would have made a big difference.

the film is the story of a yakuza in china, starting with the day he finds that his boss has been killed, meaning he won't be brought back to japan. the same day that an ex-girlfriend turns up on his door to leave him with a mute child that she claims is his. the fact that he barely says anything himself tends to lend some weight to this suggestion.

the yakuza tries to go about business as usual, doing some hits for a local triad leader, so he can get enough money and a passport to go back home. however the fact that he is superstitious and reckons bad things happen on rainy days affects him as much as the fact he suddenly has a child following him about. the fact that it seems to rain all the time obviously hinders his work, as well as providing part of the films title.

hope seems to be offered on two fronts, sheltering from the rain he meets a prostitute with big dreams, and his latest hit just happens to be carrying a load of money. together these look to provide an escape route for the yakuza, his son, and the girl. however with the dead man's brother on his tail, and the triad not really caring what happens to him, things of course can't follow an easy path.

rainy dog is slow and moody, low on lighting and dialogue, which does provide a certain atmosphere. though when you compare it to the likes of city of lost souls by the same director, or even bangkok dangerous (pang brothers) or fallen angels (wong kar wai), then you know that this film could have been a lot better.

Saturday, December 13, 2003


To all our partners, friends and allies out there....
Time to introduce two new EIBON releases.....
......probably the very last ones in 2003.........
here they are.....

FIRST HUMAN FERRO brand new album
"Guernica Macrocosmica" and the long-awaited
ESOTERIC repressing.
Guernica macrocosmica cd

Title: Guernica macrocosmica
Catalogue number: Fhf045
Format: Cd
Tracks: 9
Length: 50'31''
File under: Melodic dark ambient (?)
Release date: 04.12.2003
Retail Price: 15 Euros // 16 Dollars

Who said dark ambient has nothing to share with melodies ? Who said it is not possible to combine dark, deep and dense drones with traditional music and melodies ? These phenomenal russian musicians are here to prove there are NEW seemingly undiscovered ways to conceive and create dark ambient. Put your imagination to work, and try to figure out something like AMON meets Red Army choirs, LUSTMORD meets sad russian popular music. Very hard to explain with words alone..... You'd better check it out..... Prepare yourself for a strange and challenging listening experience - n.o.t.h.i.n.g. in this record sounds like a "dejà-heard" (?).........

"Guernica Macrocosmica" comes in a beautiful digisleeve with booklet.

ESOTERIC - Metamorphogenesis cd

Title: Metamorphogenesis
Catalogue number: Eso015
Format: Cd
Tracks: 3
Length: 44'15''
File under: Tortured doom metal
Re-release date: 04.12.2003
Retail Price: 15 Euros // 16 Dollars

Repressing of this monumental milestone of tortured, hateful, pernicious and depressive doom metal. One of the darkest albums ever from one of the darkest bands ever..... A must for all those in touch with the darkside.... Originally released in 1999, and now repressed for
all those who missed it back in time......In clear-trayed jewel box.
teful, pernicious, durg-influenced, depressive doom.... The album for all those in touch with the darkside....
* Final retail price for these items is set to 15 Euros (or 16
dollars). Postage paid everywhere.
* Trades could be accepted, but write first for agreement.
* Serious distributors are more than welcome: just write for
wholesale prices.

About payment, you can choose one of the following methods:

* cash in a letter. Please use registered mail to reduce risks
with lost/stolen/missing mail. Long-handed postal thieves are

* postal money order (no western union, thomas cook,
postal cheques or similar.... Only Postal money orders.)
No postal money orders accepted from U.s.a. and Canada

* paypal. we finally accept this fast, easy and quick
payment method. Your payments should be addressed to
canaan@azure.it, but please take notice that paypal fees
should be at your cost, so get in touch for detailed info.

Other relevant news in the EIBON fields:

* BLOOD BOX are putting the finishing touches on
"The iron dream"...... the wait is almost over..... and the
anxiety grows up.......

* In the coming months, we'll have the privilege of releasing
arrow and the wound". It will be a co-production with NTT
own label Annihilvs. More news will follow....

* The AMON 2xcds repressing is being shifted to mid 2004.
Stay tuned....

* Somewhere in 2004, there will be a new GRUNTSPLATTER
cd on Eibon, right after the successful "Chronicling the
famine" on Relapse/Release sublabel Desolation House.

* Check out the EIBON website for last-minute changes, news
and info.......

Take care and enjoy the magic of music.
The one and only EIBON commander


"lost at sea" - bryan lee o'malley - this is one of the latest OGN reduced size books to come from the publisher oni, a format they seem to be favouring recently for these one off stories, and one that works quite well. of those i think that "lost at sea" is the best i've read, the atmosphere and dialogue providing a definite charm.

raleigh is an 18 year old girl who comes from vancouver, who has some how managed to get herself caught up in a road trip from california back to vancouver with 3 kids she went to school with, but barely knows. she is an awkward girl, finding it difficult to get on with people, unaware of how attractive and cool other people actually do think she is. the story meanders in the same way as the journey north does, the four not reall in any hurry to get back to school, and not really sure where they are going anyway. as we go on raleigh reveals how she thinks she lost her soul, which is now in a cat somewhere. with this raleigh also suspects she might be crazy, but it also seems to stem from the year when she lost her best friend (she moved away) and her dad (her parents divorced).

on the whole it is an odd little book, but there is a definite humour and some real laugh out loud lines. in particular the scene where the four of them are looking for cats to see if they have raleigh's soul is a total winner. in character terms the interaction between raleigh and stef (the other girl in the group) is warm and endearing, driving along the relationship aspect and growth of the characters. while i bought lost at sea thinking it might be not bad, i enjoyed reading it a lot.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Title: The Shape of Things
Cast: Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Fred Weller, Gretchen Mol
Director: Neil LaBute

the shape of things is the latest film by director neil labute, behind "your friends and neighbours" and "in the company of men". the shape of things was apparently a play, also by labute, which he has adapted for cinema. a fact which is clear, and seems to be one fo the major criticisms against the film, which is to say its wordy and perhaps a little static. however for me that isn't really a big deal, it is something which is easily accepted as is.

like many plays the cast is restricted, in this case to four characters, though the relationship between adam and evelyn (or adam and eve...) is the central one. both are students at a local college, who meet in a local art gallery, evelyn is an artist who is staging a protest against the censorship of a statue, while adam is working as guard protecting the statue. with this scene we are given the initial idea of shape - the statue in question was a male nude, but due to scandal with the shape of his "thing" it had been covered up.

from this meeting the two start dating, with adam undergoing a clear transformation. from overweight, bad hair, bad clothes, glasses, adam becomes fit, gets a hair cut, gets contacts, and starts dressing better. for jenny and philip who have known adam for years this seems to be a miraculous, yet strange transformation. philip and jenny's relationship is a curious one, perhaps strained by the fact that jenny was initially attracted to adam, and it was through him she met philip. with that comes some awkwardness, but it is the changes in the shape of adam that remain central, and his deep love for evelyn that goes with that.

one of the other main criticism is that there is a certain obviousness to the end, and to a degree, especially after a certain point this is true. the ideas behind the shape of people and the relationships between them, and the emotional impacts those have are the themes that come across. in a way that expresses a certain dark humour, labute's reputation for being caustic is certainly evident in this piece. the performances of all four characters are strong, though it is undoubtedly those by paul rudd (adam) and rachel weisz (evelyn) that really make the film work despite it's flaws.

uzumaki - when i first saw a reference to uzumaki there was a mention that there was a film and book. while i've spotted the DVD a few places, i've never spotted the graphic novels till today. my local comic shop had the first three volumes printed in english by the pulp division of viz publishing. flicking through the three it looks like they go beyond the scope of the film which i just watched last week, based on that viewing of the film i decided to buy the first book. hopefully it will make more sense of the story and encourage me to read the following volumes.

-also bought this week:
"lost at sea" - bryan lee o'malley
"queen and country" #21 - greg rucka, mike hawthorne
"demo" #2of12 - brian wood, becky cloonan
"nyx" #3 - joe quesade, joshua middleton
"dark days" #6of6 - steve niles, ben templesmith

scorn/quoit - i am not sure if mick harris tours much, certainly i'm not especially aware of him doing so. i saw him play as scorn a couple of years ago at maschinenfest in aachen, where he was memorable from his considerable wall of bass. last night he played a gig in edinburgh, combining his scorn and quoit projects. to this end he started slow, down beat, scorn. building up the thick wall of bass, with thick bass pads, and thick bass beats. once he had some thick bass going he started to chug along in a thick bass manner. building this as he went, picking up the pace an increment so the beats were harder/faster. reaching a manic climax at the end of his set, breakbeats flying and crashing. the bass frequencies shifted through his set, so that while the venue's sound system wasn't really up to a full harris we could still get the effect standing where we were - various bodily vibrations and oscillations.

mick harris was of course the performance of the night, david jack was the main support band. a three piece of bass guitar/electronics, live drummer and turntables. for me this was not very interesting at all, tending towards a very traditional feel, with the predictability of each track starting with sampled material before they rocked on. there was a certain toe tapping funkiness to what they were doing, but entirely not for me.

the first band on were giant tank, who were just about to start as we arrived. this is the third time i have seen the edinburgh based band, and each time they have been quite different. this time it was mostly drones, bass heavy and atmospheric, with lots of twitching manipulations. around the middle there was a heavy repetitive drum section, which was quite effective, but went on too long before anything else happened. when it did the trumpet and bass guitars joined in, leading to the climax of three of the members drumming. this was a better performance than the previous time i had seen them, which had been pretty wank, though i think the first time with godflesh and sine wave sound was probably the best.

-another late night, got home at 2.40, with a 6.30 rise. brilliant! especially after the week to date. but its all cool.

information wants to be free - day 2
samstag / 06.12.03 / saturday / december 6th:

01 - 20:30 - detritus [uk - symphonic downbeat]

-after sleeping the day away in order to recover from the previous 24hours and preparing for the night ahead we found a small pizza place across the road from the venue. keen to see detritus we turned up at the venue for 8.30, only to find that there was quite a queue building. though it turned out most of that was for the das ich gig in the building across the courtyard from the venue. so that when we did get inside it appeared that we were amongst the first to arrive and things were very much in the preparatory stages. the venue lights were still up and there was a lot of messing around with lights/videos and that kind of thing.
-it was a good while before everything was ready for detritus to take to the stage, which he did set up with his laptop and gear on a small table at the front of stage. dave talked later about some of the problems he had with soundcheck and with performance, and to some degree these showed. his set was at times to bass or beat heavy, grinding and solid, losing the subtlety present in the rest of the material he played. overall it was a good set, up beat, with dave clearly getting into it with periodic head nods.

02 - 21:30 - mago [sweden - poetic film music with an edge]

-detritus was followed by another ad noiseam band in the form of sanctum side project mago. the visuals that went with the performance were obviously band related, featuring the rabbit character from the threesomes album cover. their music was slow and doomy, and didn't really do very much for me, especially not with the kind of gothy vocals that went with it.

03 - 22:30 - xabec [germany - floating ambient, dry beats and clicks]

-this is the third time i have seen xabec live, following two previous years at maschinenfest. i think the first time i saw him was the best time, because he was more about the atmospheres and was entirely new to me. like the previous performance by xabec this had more of a beat influence than that first one. at times this doesn't entirely fit, though does have its moments, and even with that there were a couple of pieces which were obviously from his album on hands and catered more to the atmospheric and soundscapey parts of his sound.

04 - 23:30 - silk saw [belgium - pulsating soundtracks for emotional episodes]

-despite being listed next in running order, silk saw actually switched to after the 2nd gen performance. the last time i saw silk saw they were a definite highlight of the festival, however on this occasion the previous night's rob[u]rang set catered more to that sound. here the duo were more difficult, losing something to the sound problems of the weekend, which didn't particularly compliment the fact that they were going for an abstract build. this set had more in keeping with the claudicating live album than any of their other releases, with the long build before they hit their groove. but taking that on board and getting into the organic and difficult rut one started to get the proper appreciation for what they were doing, so that in the end it was a pretty cool set.

05 - 00:30 - 2nd gen/uniform [uk - fragmented hip-hop electronics and deep ambient]

-things got strange about the 2nd gen set, as though things weren't running badly enough. they swapped forward with silk saw and it looked like they were ready to play, when there was suddenly a suspension added to the bill. at various points bands were delayed by spoken word acts taking to the stage, but this was of a different scale, going through the whole sequence and preparation of piercing and pulling up on ropes a guy at the back of the hall. in the meanwhile uniform/2nd gen floated about waiting so they could get started. i saw 2nd gen before, a couple of years ago in zurich, he didn't do a lot for me then, and he didn't do a lot for me this time either. for the first part of the set the main guy was joined by a girl, who was doing some electronics, and appeared to be trying to do some vocals - though she was striking in her black dress and feathers she didn't make the desired impact, her voice being inaudible entirely, a fact that seemed clear to her from the expressions of annoyance on her face. the second part of the set she was replaced by a guy who did more angry vocals, throwing himself into the performance. mostly between the two there were loads of beats and noise, but without really anything that made it particulaly more than that.

06 - 01:45 - telepherique [germany - experimental ambient-drone-soundscapes]
-i've been a fan of telepherique for years, through their albums they have been quite unpredictable. previous live experience was a collaboration with roger rotor, which was a lot more beat oreintated/techno influenced than much of their material. so i was interested to see what the three members would do on their own. their sound was accompanied by familiar visuals, train tracks, and city scenes - accompanying rail rhythms and straightforward, perhaps a little old school, melody. they were totally into the atmosphere and mood side of their sound and i found myself caught up in the performance. as a result telepherique's set was the highlight of the saturday for me.

07 - 02:45 - vromb [canada - francophone analog beats-n-drones - special 10-year-anniversary performance]

- for years vromb was elusive, but in recent years he has been a lot more prolific. the first time i saw him perform he was in classic form, hitting the spot entirely with his hypnotic trance industrial rhythms. the second time he had lost some of what had really made him striking, playing more to his more watered down material. whether it was the sound system or just part of the ongoing evolution of new vromb this performance did little for me. the set came across as beat heavy, the strikes being far too tinny, rather than solid, with the spirals buried beneath. it wasn't until later in the set, and the climax where vromb really showed his potential, showed what he is really made of, but even then he didn't come across as well as he had in the past.

08 - 04:00 - xanopticon [usa - 'maximum breaks per minute' combined with intense atmospheres]

-xanopticon were the last band of the night, and like the previous night things were running late. so that by the time he went on it was already 6.30, two and a half hours behind schedule. he pretty much went straight on after vromb, with little hanging about. straight into being beat heavy, loud and pointless. lots of frantic movements, but there was no evidence of the promised "intense atmospheres" just dull and repetive beats. after 10 minutes of that i decided it was time to call it a night and left the building. another 7.30 to bed, to sleep the day away.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

information wants to be free - day one

01 - 21:30 - audiokollektiv [germany - festival introduction with ruptured soundscapes]
-by the time we arrived at the venue it was the back of ten, the place wasn't too busy. there was a guy on stage playing around with a lap top, but music was pretty quiet and there seemed to be some faffing about with the visuals for the venue.
-initial exploration revealed a front room, with the main stage, big screens hanging on either side, a screen/suspension structure hanging in the centre and another screen on the back wall. from there, there was a short corridor, stairs leading up to toilets/merchandise room. at the back of the corridor was the DJ/breakcore area, with a long bar against one wall and DJs/projectionists up top.
-after kicking about a bit, it was starting to get to about 10.30, and three guys took to the stage with laptops. at this point it was unclear who they were, but it became obvious that they were audiokollektiv going on an hour late. their music covered a range of styles over the period they played, from the sparse and open soundscapes reminiscent of bad sector to the more beat heavy breaks that they climaxed with. a bit of a wandering set, but on the whole it was quite a strong start to the weekend musically.

02 - 22:15 - echokrank [cz - low-fi C64-melodies]

-i have the most recent echokrank release kicking about somewhere, though of course quite which pile i put it in eluded me when i was trying to find it before we came over. still i recognised the band from the sleeve picture - two guys in bobbed hair cuts/wigs, one black hair, one blue, one with a right fitted leather jacket, the other with black shirt, tie, and black skirt. combining live drum and electronics, to give a retro electro mish mash, which no doubt fits somewhere into recent electro clash stylings. on the whole echokrank staggered sonically, having their moments, though perhaps tending to become a little irritating as they went on.

02 - 22:45 - jean bach [germany - musica abstracta]

-from a couple of tracks here and there i was curious about how jean bach would sound, but from his set i'm not sure if he was crap or if the sound was letting him down. there were certainly sound issues across the weekend, most notably several performances were too bass heavy, so that everything else was washed out. in jean bach's case he was too bass light, so that all we got were dull, repetitive beats, some techno inspired dance floor material, with very little to offer, other than the odd almost catchy moment.

03 - 23:30 - andrey kiritchenko [ukraine - fairy-like clicks-n-cuts ambient]

-kiritchenko has been making a name for himself in the last couple of years, though i admit to being under-educated when it comes to the ukranian. of the sets this was the most abstract so far, lots of cut up sounds, sparse at times, ethereal on the unataible edge. the results were mixed, so that at times andrey came across as being entirely striking, then at others meandering and pointless. particularly as the set went on his intros were pretty impressive, but then lost direction, this also led to the impression that he was going on to long and would have benefited from a more compact performance. personally he was a striking figure in his woolie jumper, seen smoking a pipe over the course of the weekend, though certainly he would have been told to take the jumper off by my gran while inside, because he wouldn't get the benefit of it once he went out - with the plummeting temperatures in berlin, those sound like wise words from the departed....

04 - 00:30 - rob[u]rang [belgium - beat box organics and electro dance - vj: antonin de bemels]

-i'm trying to recall what visuals went with this performance, since they are specifically listed. all performances had visuals of some kind, though they were variously random or related to the band in a clear way. rob[u]rang has released a couple of CDs, both of which are quite different, however this set came across as having more in keeping with his work as half of silk saw. this was the first real highlight of the weekend, even though the bass was starting to get cranked up, to some degree this was integral to rob's set while it may have entirely ruined some following sets. slow, sludgy and organic, sparse deep bass mixing with beats to give a certain up beat/down beat impression. the bass absolutely filled the room and rob became extremely hypnotic as his set went on.

05 - 01:30 - skanfrom [germany - minimal oldskool robotfunk served on 80s plasticsounds]

-at times i suspect skanfrom is too retro for me, but can work quite well with the whole electronica sound, and isn't as excessive as some in the genre. however tonight he was entirely too overloaded, washed out by nostril shaking bass and thick distorted beats. at times the impressions of melody came through, so that i did enjoy the potential of what i could make out. but on the whole his set was a wash out from where we were in the hall, though i've been told it wasn't as bad closer to the stage.

06 - 02:45 - monokrom/morgenstern [germany - crunchy ritual ambient and structured noises]

-this was a strange double performance, schramm and borner taking to the stage for a rhythmic ritualistic morgenstern set. several pieces were familiar and the set had the feel of classic morgenstern, without the distorted power noise excesses of the second full length release. the second half of the performance was more elaborate, the pair being joined at least by the munch and kneip of synapscape behind a white sheet. a repeating visual on the two screens at the front of stage showed the word monokrom and some abstract visuals. a giant sheet fell in front of the stage so that the band was concealed. flashing cuts of light and strobes picked out demonic shapes, whip cracks, and demon rabbits, cutting back and forth and rotating. this was a startling effect, and went with the brutality of sound generated, dense and distorted, grinding and threatening - monokrom were brutal and entirely memorable.

07 - 03:45 - gridlock [usa - chiseled electronica and broken beats filigree]

-despite the projected time of 3.45 for gridlock starting it was actually more like 5.30am by the time the duo took to the stage. from various conversations with detritus through the night it seemed that gridlock had been backstage all night, drinking heavily, so it was probably something of a miracle that they were still ready to go at this late stage. but they took to the stage, and performed for the poor numbers that were remaining - about 50-60 people at the most. their set was great, playing a good range of material from throughout their career. there was a joy at the crispness and beauty of familiar sounds, mixed with the opportunity to heat material from the latest album. gridlock managed to convey a certain enthusiasm with their performance, which was greatly appreciated and helped make their set. from there they finished at 6.30am, and we were in our beds back at the hotel for 7.30am, a full 24 hours after getting that train to the airport back in glasgow.

information wants to be free - travelling

-we left glasgow on the 7.30am train to ayr, the morning of friday the 5th of december. the train line goes through prestwick airport, where we were catching a flight to stansted in london. sometime was killed here, but pretty much it was a process of checking our bags in right away and getting through to the departure floating around zone till it was time to fly.
-stansted airport is a long walk from arrival, along corridors, down stairs, up stairs, along more corridors. this leads to baggage reclaim, and luckily in this instance to checking our bags straight back in again so that we are sorted for going through to departure. where we grabbed lunch in wetherspoon's windmill restaurant, one of those places where you order at the bar and they mishear your table number so you end up with only 20 minutes to eat before your next flight. or was that just us? bemusingly and unexpectedly as we come out of the windmill we bump into dave dando moore from detritus, who is coincidentally on the same flight - the name calling started around then.
-it was the back of 5 by the time we arrived in berlin itself. with a projected doors opening time of 9pm. so from schonefeld we worked out what trains to get - the zoological gardens line to ostbahnof, then wartenburg line to springful. checking into the etap hotel and back out again to frankfurter allee and looking for the venue. we found the venue about 9ish, but still hadn't eaten, so we wandered back to a little chinese/thai place we had spotted while looking.

back - i'm back online, back from berlin, catching up with stuff, though at the moment impeded to some degree by local server restrictions. normal service shall hopefully be.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

information wants to be free - 5th, 6th and 7th of december in berlin -

freitag / 05.12.03 / friday / december 05th:
00 - 21:00 - open doors
01 - 21:30 - audiokollektiv [germany - festival introduction with ruptured soundscapes]
02 - 22:15 - echokrank [cz - low-fi C64-melodies]
02 - 22:45 - jean bach [germany - musica abstracta]
03 - 23:30 - andrey kiritchenko [ukraine - fairy-like clicks-n-cuts ambient]
04 - 00:30 - rob[u]rang [belgium - beat box organics and electro dance - vj: antonin de bemels]
05 - 01:30 - skanfrom [germany - minimal oldskool robotfunk served on 80s plasticsounds]
06 - 02:45 - monokrom/morgenstern [germany - crunchy ritual ambient and structured noises]
07 - 03:45 - gridlock [usa - chiseled electronica and broken beats filigree]

samstag / 06.12.03 / saturday / december 6th:
00 - 20:00 - open doors
01 - 20:30 - detritus [uk - symphonic downbeat]
02 - 21:30 - mago [sweden - poetic film music with an edge]
03 - 22:30 - xabec [germany - floating ambient, dry beats and clicks]
04 - 23:30 - silk saw [belgium - pulsating soundtracks for emotional episodes]
05 - 00:30 - 2nd gen/uniform [uk - fragmented hip-hop electronics and deep ambient]
06 - 01:45 - telepherique [germany - experimental ambient-drone-soundscapes]
07 - 02:45 - vromb [canada - francophone analog beats-n-drones - special 10-year-anniversary performance]
08 - 04:00 - xanopticon [usa - 'maximum breaks per minute' combined with intense atmospheres]

sonntag / 07.12.03 / sunday / december 7th:
00 - 20:00 - open doors
01 - 20:30 - pure + m:l:p [austria/france - sinewave-acoustics and tinkering static - special-videos]
02 - 21:30 - des esseintes [sweden - apocalyptic industrial]
03 - 22:30 - cruelty campaign [usa - industrial radio plays]
04 - 23:30 - bad sector [italy - extraterrestrial radio signals meats oldskool electro beats - special videoshow]
05 - 00:45 - error [latvia - noisy deconstructions]
06 - 01:45 - einleitungszeit/sangredans [cz/sk - harsh noise-performance - outro]


uzumaki - how do you explain uzumaki? i suspect you don't, at least not with out exclaiming - its mad, so it is! and it is. uzumaki, which translates as vortex, is about a village in japan which has become cursed. people become obsessed with the idea of the vortex, and end up dying. to some degree i think there is an explanation on the box for the DVD about a girl who died in a whirlpool haunting the town, but that is not made clear by the film itself.

uzumaki gets progressively weirder, little spirals appearing in the background from the start, gaining momentum, stranger and stranger deaths as the whole town becomes affected. meanwhile the lead girl is just trying to understand/survive it all. the result becomes unsettling and not entirely predictable. the atmosphere and the just sheer out thereness of it all makes uzumaki a memorable piece that is totally worth seeing.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Title: Nói Albínói
Cast: Tómas Lemarquis, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson, Elín Hansdóttir, Anna Fridriksdóttir, Hjalti Rögnvaldsson, Pétur Einarsson, Kjartan Bjargmundsson, Greipur Gislason
Director: Dagur Kári

what to make of noi? his age isn't entirely obvious, but he is still at school, and from other suggestions i would put him at about 17. noi lives in a snow bound town in iceland, the opening sequence showing someone digging their way out their front door. noi lives with his grandma, but still has to put up with his drunken father periodically. despite cutting school all the time, and generally having a bad attitude, it is suggested that noi is actually pretty smart - he sees a psychiatrist at school who thinks he might be a genius, and we witness how he is good at puzzles.

life in iceland is bleak, this is the message that is set up, and certainly one that comes across from other icelandic films like reykjavik 101 and angels of the universe. however it looks like noi might have something to cheer him up with the arrival of iris, a new girl working at the gas station. they hit it off, and dream together, but when it seems that she isn't as serious as he is, things start to look worse than they ever were.

nói albinói drags at times, and is not the most cheerful film ever, but as i already said this seems to be a part of what makes the icelandic films that seem to breakout. like those mentioned though nói albinói is not without a certain (dark) humour, but it is clear that this is a tragedy. the ending of nói albinói coming with a particular punch.

Title: Visitor Q [Bizita Q]
Cast: Kenichi Endo, Shungiku Uchida, Kazushi Watanabe, Shoko Nakahara, Fujiko, Jun Mutô
Director: Takashi Miike

miike takashi goes all the way with his taboo bashing in visitor q. starting with a series of questions - the first being have you ever had sex with your father? quickly followed by the father paying to have sex with his daughter. then have you ever hit your mother? followed by the son beating his mother with a carpet beater. this is the set up an introduction to the family at the center of visitor q - who seem entirely unbalanced without the help of the titular visitor - a man who follows the father home one night. his role seems really to be witness to the final stages of something that has been building, though it is also possible to interpret him as being a catalyst.

the father is a tv presenter, who likes to make challenging programmes about the state of the nation. one night he was attacked, and decided to show the resulting footage of his humiliation on tv. this seems to be the key event - his daughter left home, and he finds her selling her body in a small flat, his son is being bullied at school, and as a result he comes home and takes out his rage and impotence by beating his mother, who consoles herself by taking drugs, the money for which she gets by being a dominatrix.

as a whole this is quite charged, and as the film goes on it escalates further, pushing each of the characters while the visitor watches it all. the climax leads to death, and finally the absurdity of the presentation becomes too much - the constant stream of inexplicably shocking material gets to a point where one can't help but laugh at the results.

for me there is something more raw and challenging than a lot of miike's work. audition was considerably polished, and its pacing didn't entirely work for me. ichi was shocking and violent, but based on a manga and it showed with the sense of the over the top. but visitor q is somehow more inexplicable, bemusing and intriguing by degrees, and no doubt appalling with it - there are certainly times of gasping jaw dropping disbelief. in particular the ambiguity and effects of the opening scene where the father is recording his daughter propositioning him, intermixed with her taking pictures of him with a polaroid is particularly striking and effective, the fact that it also sets up a certain unease can not be underestimated - at this point we don't know for sure that the two are related, but it is put in our mind. which is where a lot of visitor q's ability to disturb comes from, the way it is able to get into your head and mess with you.

Title: N.P.
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Publisher:Faber and Faber

banana yoshimoto's books tend towards the slight end of the spectrum, which takes in anything under 200 pages really. previously i read kitchen, which was one story split into two parts, with a second story tacked on as filler, and lizard which was a handful of short stories. both had their moments, but i found something about them lacking, though still there was a certain attraction.

which means i have been wary of reading more of her work, but NP appears to hit the spot. as a novel it is actually a novel, it fills the entire book and sorts out a lot of the issues i was coming across in those other works. thematically NP explores the same territories - love and death, with a dose of the "out there" and not entirely explicable.

a curious circle is created with the narrator who was dating a man who killed himself after attempting to translate the story collection NP, and the three children of the original author. this gives us four characters, three connected by blood and other more sexual relations and this fourth outsider.

but at the core it is the book that connects them, creates some special connection between them. this creates an uneasy energy, which could lead the narrator into a sexual relationship with any of the three, while at the same time anticipating that anyone of them could be the next person in a line of people to kill themselves.

like her other work there is a certain wandering, spacey feel to the narrative, but it works well here. so that in the end i rather enjoyed NP, and undoubtely it is the best of her work that i've tackled so far.

ruule - the ganglords of china town - this is the first of five in a prestige format comic series, which is to say its 48 pages, card bound for regular price. the regular price being just as well, because if i had spent much more on it i would have felt even more ripped off than i do.

don't let the david mack covers fool you into thinking that this is an intelligent and worth while comic. its not. really, it is badly written and illustrated. i think we are something like 10 pages in before there is a single word of dialogue, a trend which continues through the remainder of the book. relying too much on drawn out visuals to tell a story. with the result that there is very little content and very little context to this story which seems entirely too reliant on cliche and caricature.

a cartoon biker gang are terrorising areas of san francisco. which i assume from the subtext of broken down areas is intended to be near future, though like many things that remains unclear. china town appears to have been a particular problem for the gang when it comes to collecting money as is demonstrated by a terror attack and rare lines of grunted dialogue. we are supposed to become intrigued by the last couple of pages, where a mysterious man kills a couple of gang members to protect a woman (who he will of course fall in love with YAWN!), followed by a strange broadcast which talks about false idols and worship. this is all very ham fisted, and only the telegraphing for the next issue really tells us that there is supposed to be something mysterious or interesting going on.

art wise the images have a sub-disney cartoon vibe going on, with attempts to look serious and tough at times. strangely the dialogue stumbles over swearing with such gems as calling gang members a bunch of nannies, cutting off mother fu, and the old favourite of #@$£ styled filler. which is then even odder when we have a gory beheading, and a tiresome tracking shot of said head. all of which would seem to be more adult content than any swear word, but who can follow this kind of logic. the head shot in particular is an example of the kind of artistic excesses at work in ruule, where pages are filled with repeated shots of nothing happening. which might be intended to be atmospheric, but with nothing to back it up, instead comes across as wasted space and wanton filler. at times the work is far too cartoony for its own good - the smiley pommel of a sword, the face of an old woman while a statue gets struck by lightening in the background.

for me this is really lazy comics, entirely too disposable for it's own good, with no incentive to read any more of this series. in a dwindling market, plagued by the mono culture of super heroes, it should be a good thing for someone to be branching out, but we need a better standard than this.

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