Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Flight of faith




There's a song called Hope doing the rounds of the blogosphere, with some saying it is a leaked Justice track from the long-awaited Ed Rec Vol. III (I picked up Ed Rec Vol. II about this time last year).

When I saw it up on Buzzendirekt, I thought that maybe he was pulling a similar stunt to what the 'guys' over at IHEARTCOMIX (not all of the contributors are of the strictly male variety) did with renaming that Eagle Eye Cherry track as a new Justice track.

Giving the song a decent listen over the weekend, I thought the song seemed a bit piss weak. Mind you, I didn't expect Justice to come out with the funky D.A.N.C.E. after the far-grittier Waters of Nazareth, so I guess it never pays to assume too much.

The Ed Banger hype washed over the net when they released Justice's rejected Fabriclive mix as a Christmas gift for the fans. The mix featured on almost every blog worth reading (apologies to the worthy few who didn't post the mix) and gave birth to comments slagging off Fabric for not accepting what most of us consider a really good mix (interesting song choice + well-executed transitions + well-managed pacing = a really good mix).

Now, compare that with the staggered reaction to Hope. I've only seen it picked up by three well-respected blogs (well I hold them in quite high esteem) and the posts offering the song to the masses have tended to not say very much. I don't know if they've become flooded with fanboy comments, and that's a failing on my part.

It would be interesting to see if the lack of interest from the blogosphere is a reflection of the song's authenticity or its quality (or perceived lack thereof, on both counts).

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Be my baby, one more time




I love Cut Copy.

I really do.

I desperately want to see them live (again) and I want my heart to be set on fire by a live rendition of their song, Hearts On Fire.

And so it was with just a hint of disappointment that I embraced their video for soon-to-be-released single Lights And Music.



I like the song. It's catchy and it sounds like a Cut Copy song. I guess it just didn't grab me as much as I was hoping for.

The video is also a bit boring with shots of Dan looking gaunt, Tim banging away on drums and Mitchell popping in every now and again albeit too few times for my taste. Given this was made by the same guys who put together the Cat & The Eye video for Van She, I would have expected more.

Really.

Cut Copy are embarking on what looks like a world tour through the States and Europe, and it looks like someone will be seeing them before I next get the chance. So in the meantime, I'll just have to settle for their second album In Ghost Colours, expected out in March sometime. Colour me full of high expectations. No I haven't pre-ordered a copy. At least, not yet.

In thrall to the written word

I'm not sure why but I've been in the thrall of the written word of late, digesting a few choice books in recent days.


Donna Tartt is an SFTWM favourite after her debut effort The Secret History proved so compelling. Her sophomore effort The Little Friend didn't disappoint either, and in many ways mirrored the same approach she took with her first book. The ambling first half. The fantastic use of language to bring simple events alive. The deft change in tone bringing out different moods and ways of viewing things. The flick of the switch halfway through the book that sees the pages fly almost uncontrollably.

The story itself is fairly simple, but made complex in the way it is told. It is essentially the story a young girl whose family life is tormented by the mysterious death of her older brother almost 14 years beforehand, and the man she believes took her brother away from her family all those years ago. He suffers his own family-born torments, and it is in this almost-shared suffering that the story lines for the two main characters wind ever closer and more interestingly towards the climax of the book.

I quite enjoyed it, but ultimately felt the book went on too long, continued beyond the point where it perhaps should have ended.


Next up was Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty on recommendation of a certain someone. It won the 2004 Man Booker Prize and it is easy to see why. Essentially the story of a man lost in circles above his station in life and his attempts to find a place for himself in a time when England was gripped by Margaret Thatcher, AIDS and the consequences of increasing liberties.

The story centres around Nick Guest and his observations of his evolving post-uni life in a similarly changing England, but the key aspects of the book that prove so engaging are the way Hollinghurst describes the achingly-subtle exchanges of what isn't said when people come together for whatever reason. Elements of body language conspiring with secretly known hints of the past written so very well, helped this book be consumed in a day.

Its a bit faggy, and unlike E Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, I think it needed to be so. I don't know that the almost teenage infatuation and inner thoughts that plague the central character would make much sense otherwise. The gay person's dilemma of needing to mature prematurely in many ways, but struggle to grow in others.

What made the book seem a bit dated though, and I don't know if this is just me not quite understanding how things were back then, but the ultimate betrayal seemed to end up being written a lot harder than I would have thought likely. Sure this is all a matter of creative license and the author is more than empowered to write things as they see fit, but I found it slightly disappointing how everything came to a crashing end but with very little collateral damage along the way. Almost like witnessing a horrific car crash only to realise no-one was in either car.

After reading this book, I am left wondering if the person that recommended this book hoped I might learn a few lessons from the character Wani.


The third effort is Greg and Lucy Malouf's Turquoise. The follow-up to their earlier Saha, Turquoise is a culinary exploration of Turkey and the foods eaten throughout the country. Broken down into sensible sections like soups, dips, seafood, etc. the book is an inspiring breakdown of how people have come to appreciate food in all its forms and how tradition and circumstance have combined to produce something so good from things that are otherwise so simple.

I'm almost inspired to start working on my own cookbook. Well, seriously so. It pisses me off how so many people buy cookbooks to be told exactly how to prepare a dish, when such a rigid approach to food only holds them back from exploring possibilities and giving things a go. I'm not saying people should be reckless with their cooking. Just that they should build their own understanding of ingredients and how they can be used, so that cooking can continue to be spontaneous, relevant and do all it needs to satisfy the moment. Greg and Lucy Malouf have managed to do that with Turquoise, Saha before that, and perhaps most-influentially through the ingredients-based Arabesque.

Turquoise is a pretty heavy book, but like the seminal culinary encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique, books on food ought to be a struggle to consult. The difficulty almost forces one to think more laterally and to imagine culinary possibilities, to help make such things almost instinctual.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

What am I going to do with my Wednesday nights?




Damages screened the final episode of its first season and what an ending to the season it was. The final 40 minutes got a little confusing as it hurriedly tried to tie up all the loose threads the show had scattered from the beginning (I wasn't expecting Patty to have Ellen killed, were you?).

I'll definitely buy it on DVD so I can watch it again... and again... and again. Well I would if anyone in this cultural desert of an island nation stocked the region 4 version. Ugh!

There wasn't any commentary after the episode finished about when or if the next season might appear on our screens. Has the next season even been filmed yet? Apparently the show is running kinda like Murder One did, where each season focusses on the resolution of a particular case, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the next season.

TVONE is replacing Damages with the tepid and generally uninteresting Cold Case. I really don't like the lead actress and the rest of the ensemble are fairly cookie-cutter in the stereotype department. It also lacks the politics and subterfuge and positioning that makes other crime shows a hell of a lot more interesting and ultimately, enjoyable.

In an ideal world, TVONE would instead screen The Wire (the best show ever conceived for TV), but I doubt we could ever be so lucky. It has suffered from seriously crap timeslots in this country, and yet back in the U S of A, The Wire is in its final season and the word on the street after three episodes having screened is that it is the best season yet and there won't be a happy ending for any of the characters.

Why does TVNZ hate us so?

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Dib dib dib




Thanks to a heads-up from Disc. Go. Is. Um... I've gone and pre-ordered myself a signed copy of The Presets soon-to-be-released second album, the ominously-titled Apocalypso.

On the basis of their performance at Never Ever Land alone, you should head over to JB Hi-Fi's online store and order yourself your own copy here.

If you weren't at Never Ever Land to bask in the glory of the pyramid and their support acts, then you should pre-order your copy on the basis of their first single My People.




Failing that, check out this teaser that Disc. Go. Is. Um... snapped of what was then an untitled track that only The Presets had heard.

Either way, pre-order the CD. It's only AU$20 plus a paltry AU$6 for shipping to New Zealand. Now that is what I call value for money. Apocalypso will be released 4 April 2008.

I bought the issue of Dazed and Confused that featured The Presets on the cover. I had some spare cash and time to kill at the international terminal for the flight back home from Never Ever Land late last year and it made for a good read. I never realised Julian co-wrote Silverchair's Straight Lines. What proved more interesting though was the story on the violent world of ice cream vans. Fascinating stuff.

Reality can be such a letdown




This is the official line-up for Coachella this year.

There are some hot acts I would have been keen to see, but there isn't quite enough of a concentration of must-see-ness to warrant the reckless booking of flights or wanton hunting down of tickets to the three-day event.

Why?

Because I was hoping for something more like the fake line-up.



No Kylie, no Gossip, no Girl Talk, no Moving Units, no Chromatics, no VNDLSM, no Black Ghosts, no Crystal Castles, no Bloody Beetroots, no Switch, no SymbolOne, no Underworld, no Aphex Twin, no Asobi Seksu, no Danger, no Yelle, no Stateless, no We Are Terrorists, no Knife, no Goldfrapp, no We Are Scientists, no Futurecop! means I may as well stay put.

Ugh!

So, what are you doing in April?

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Fuzzy busts of former dictators?




I'd buy this if it weren't US$350 + shipping/handling.

Love the quote on the base. Fuck you GI, indeed.

Ho Chi Minh's flocked 18" tall bust comes with a flocked hat and a flocked weapon. The hat gives him that fresh-from-the-rice-paddy appeal. No, I won't get the flock out of here.

Holier than thou

I've become bored with playing Oblivion on the XBOX360, and had already worked my way through a couple games JJ had kindly lent me (Gears of War and Splinter Cell: Double Agent), so felt it was time to invest in some new challenges.

First up, Assassin's Creed is perhaps best described as Hitman-meets-Price of Persia.



Set in the Holy Land around the time of the Crusades and occupation of various sites by the Templars, Hospitallers and others, the player adopts the role of assassin within the Islamic Hashashin offshoot. The plot is a bit more involved than that but you basically roam old world environments with swords and knives to take out whomever you should or could take out. You can kill pretty much anyone you want.

The game has very free-form environments that let you go parkour pretty much anywhere that takes your fancy. There are a mixed variety of short missions and sidequests to take your fancy or not if you can't be bothered. I'm hunting down the second of my seven or nine targets (I forget which) and already guards are attacking me in the streets, which helps keep the game interesting but also has me wondering what awaits me further into the game.

The other game I've bought is the free-from RPG Mass Effect, but I haven't had a chance to give this a decent go just yet.


Looks good though.

I wanted it for myself





Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan has been getting a fair amount of love of late with Saw Something garnering a fair few plays on the ipod since he released the music video that accompanies the song. The video itself is fairly ordinary with slo-mo shots of Dave Gahan and who we must presume is the love interest of the song, but the song is a good'un.

Maybe its the melancholic refrain, the easy pacing or the swooning vocals but I am REALLY enjoying this song.

On top of previous singles Kingdom and Use You, Dave Gahan's second album Hourglass is really growing into a very strong effort. Sure it sounds so very DM at times, but I don't quite know how that works against the album.

My one gripe is that Saw Something hasn't been getting anywhere near as much of the remix love as Deeper And Deeper or Kingdom, which is a shame. I do enjoy a good remix, especially where it takes an already good song and produces something just as good if not slightly better.

Unsolved mysteries




Ladies and gentlemen, this was what was left of my german stick from the fromagerie at the Kirkcaldies & Stains Ltd Cuisine Centre, and next to it the tub of butter I smear upon said stick most weekday mornings.

Now, one of my strongest memories* as a child is of my parents smearing butter on every piece of bread that came near them. Being an annoying little shit at the time ("at the time" is an important qualification), I was oft-prone to asking the ubiquitous "why?" The answer? "Because it tastes better."

I never really believed them because the bread seemed to taste just fine without adding slabs of butter. So I enjoyed my bread plain. And it was good.

Well it seems I have since developed the same habit as my parents, and that is really starting to mess with my head.

I mean, if they're right about bread tasting better with butter, then what of every other piece of advice they've ever given me? Could my parents have been right all this time??? About... everything!?!?!?

Dear God I hope not. They'll never let me forget it. Not that they're spiteful. No, far worse...

They'd be right.


* I have a food-based memory that tends to recall significant events based on what I was thinking about food or drink at the time. Weird I know but it works a treat (most of the time). Feel free to head here for a taste of how scary it can be.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Sight unseen




My thoughts on vinyl art toys have never featured that strongly on here except to skite about what I'd just bought. Well I've decided that will change for 2008, and to kick things off, Plastic and Plush have announced their top 5 customisers of last year and the list makes for some impressive viewing.

As much as I like what the others have done, it is the work of Doktor A that leaves me wishing I was a more creative person.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Right now....

... I'm eating corn on the cob.

I was hallucinating earlier that your girlfriend wasn't slicing the ginger they way she should have been slicing it, so I may have yelled at her to "TAKEAFUCKINGCOOKINGCLASSALREADY!!!" or something along similar lines. Let me know if I need to swing by with decorative cupcakes as an apology.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Oh and...

... to anyone that has sent me a txt, left a voicemail, or sent me an email, I'll get back to you when I'm more... 'myself'... again.

I almost forgot to add...

... yes I am still moping, but proper posts shall resume health and sanity permitting.

A number of drafts have been sitting idly in the background. You shouldn't expect greatness. Just more of the same really.

Colour me not so well

It seems my body has reacted badly to something that happened Friday night and I've been bed-ridden ever since. This wouldn't normally be such a bad thing if not for the crippling pain in my legs, inability to generally rest in a comfortable position, and the process of standing up takes 25 minutes to achieve under my own steam.

On the upside I've been experiencing the weirdest hallucinations. Friday night I swear I was with Republican Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter as he pulled out one bullshit rosy-tinted nostalgic view of the America he imagines existed to defend his rubbish ranking in all the polls. At one stage I swear I was talking with Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on how he wasn't as cool as his daughter was trying to make him out to be with jam sessions with local bands as he toured important states for the primaries.

Yesterday saw me arguing for the rejuvenation of the Canadian TV industry in light of the WGA strike. Fuck knows why. One minute I'm thinking my leg REALLY hurts, and the next I'm recalling some REALLY hot chick from a show called Traders that I used to watch back in the day. It was complete rubbish but I loved it from the first episode to the last. Anywho, somehow my mind wandered into how one of the guys on that show has turned up in one of the Stargate franchises and next thing you know I'm thinking about every Canadian actor I've ever seen on TV or in a movie (and I've seen a fair amount of TV and movies).

I was thinking a combination of better-targeted national support schemes would help spread the load instead bottling it all up in Vancouver. That and post-production specialisation, much like we have here in New Zealand.

Well today was less interesting with me simply arguing with John Carpenter about Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, most notably The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West. Both truly excellent films. I think I was just arguing with him for the sake of arguing because I don't recall us actually disagreeing. To be honest, I don't recall him arguing back so maybe I was just ranting away for no reason.

What makes these hallucinations additionally incredible is that they have emerged in the absence of pharmaceuticals that normally bring them on. Weird.

I've tried watching DVDs but the delirium tends to kick in at the most inopportune moments in a film's progress.

Fingers crossed I'm mobile enough to head into work tomorrow to escape the insanity of my own company.

So, how was your day? Good?

Friday, 11 January 2008

This just in




Daft Punk's song The Brainwasher just came on the ipod and I swear lights started to dart in front of my eyes. Greens and blues, from left to right, throbbing to the beat, rushing along to the rhythm of the song.

Awesome.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Excuses, excuses

I've just recently borne some unpleasant news, so I'll be going offline for a few days until I sort out just what it all means.

Hope you don't mind.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Some enchanted evening




You'll never guess what I saw last night. Never in a million years.

I was advised by a friend of previously-questionable taste in... well... everything that I needed to be drunk to enjoy this film and lo and behold he was right. This now means I'll have to get him something better than decent for his 21st in a couple weeks, but I digress.

The first half seemed awkwardly trippy through the beer-induced haze with the forced melodrama of saccharine behaviour brought to life by Amy Adams and mancrush-du-jour James Marsden (I don't see it myself, but apparently he looks quite manly in his celebrity GAP spot). Much of the film seemed unintentionally funny, but as sobriety slowly took hold of me the guffaws soon turned to groans.

Reading really needs to serve beer in the cheap seats.

Are we feeling happy now?




This reminds me of that episode of Home Improvement where Jill discovers Tim's stash of car mags in the garage and hands them back to him devoid of the women one normally saw draped across the hood.

Hat-tip to Monsieur P for sharing some of Von Brandis' Obscene Interiors. You should check out the rest of the set here.

I'm particularly fond of Obscene Interior 11 and the questions posed by the blue suitcase by the dresser.


Are they going somewhere exotic? Have they just come back from wherever they bought that 'distinctive' bed spread? Did he hurt his back carrying it in his blue suitcase? What is the deal with those curtains?

So many important questions.

Best Christmas present ever?




The Daft Punk Be@rbricks & CD Boxset comprises 100% Be@rbrick figures of Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem Christo from Daft Punk packaged together with the Japanese Edition of the Alive 2007 tour CD that includes everything on the standard edition of the CD as well as the spine-tingling encore, live video of Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and other goodies.

Would this have been the best Christmas present ever?

Well it might have if Santa had thought to leave one for me in my Christmas stocking.

Yes, I still have a stocking.

What of it?

You want to fight about it?

Eh?

Eh?

Eh?

Didn't think so.

Online store We Sold Out have sold out and I don't think Good As Gold or POPUP would be able to get them in, so I guess I'll have to hunt this down on ebay.

If you don't hear from me in four days, I'd appreciate it if someone could please tell my parents that I loved them.

It started with a kiss




Actually it started with Daft Hands, but this turned up on SOVIETPANDA earlier this evening and I simply had to share.

I like how it gets more 'distracting' as the song starts to pick up the pace.

Don't you?

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Holy shit!



This "WHAT THE FUCK???" moment was brought to us by C4 show Insomnia and sees Bloc Party going all NRG with their new-ish song Flux.

The video is weirdly heavy-handed with the whole kaiju asethetic.

Colour me bewildered.

Howsabout you?

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

"How can you not?" indeed




Following on from the awkward fawning over Ladyhawke earlier, I've since managed to dig up from the vault a couple more Ladyhawke songs that I thought you might enjoy.

First up is Paris Is Burning. This is arguably the song most of us have come to know and love while it sat for so long on her myspace, almost as a herald of good times ahead.

Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning

It just screams carefree summers spent in continental climes, of happy 60s films and summer dresses. Every bit the summer anthem. I love it.

Next up is Manipulating Woman. This is a more recent addition to her myspace page and what an addition it is too.

Ladyhawke - Manipulating Woman

I could wax lyrically about how this sounds more modern and more immediate than Paris Is Burning, but that doesn't matter quite as much as simply knowing that this is really quite good. Simple as that.

I remarked in another post that we're starting to see the blogosphere mark their picks of "artists to watch in '08". Well, ladies and gentlemen, Ladyhawke is on my list of artists I'll be watching this year.

Watching to see if she performs live the next time she's in Wellington.

Watching to see if she busts out any new material.

Watching to see if she rekindles her collaboration with Pnau's Nick Littlemore in Teenager.

Expect greatness people. I know I do. On the basis of her work so far, how can you not?

It seems being on the other side of the world has its advantages after all




Upon hearing Culture Prophet would be handing out CDs at their NYE set in Spartanburg (I have no idea where this is other than somewhere in the US of A), an immediate if plaintive cry for help from down here in the deep dark bowels of the South Pacific saw a little treasure arrive in my inbox almost anon-like.

Ladies and gentlemen, Culture Prophet have just dropped their latest homegrown effort and it is rather good. The song is Here Comes Nasty.

Culture Prophet - Here Comes Nasty.

You can taste hints of their earlier song Hustler, the familiar hand clap-thump refrain in their remixes of other people's work, and the lashings of distortion we've come to know and love. I really quite like this. I really do.

I've been sitting on this for a few days now, not really sure what to do with it. Its a good song and I'm really enjoying it, so it wasn't through damaged pride or disappointment. I guess I just didn't want it to get lost in the thunderous torrent of fairly-banal end-of-year lists that have stricken the blogsophere in recent weeks.

With attention seeming to have since shifted to "artists to watch in '08"-type posts and with so many of their remixes getting more and more attention on the blogosphere, I'd say the time is right for more of their own work to be given a chance to shine.

Tis' the season




Down here in the ass-end of the world we are experiencing what some might describe as an 'Antipodean summer'. This means that while most of the globe's bounteous population would be going through the tail-end of their White Christmas, we have sunshine and mosquitoes.

Glorious.

On the subject of glorious, I've found myself awash in a song that has really been helping me get into the holiday mood. I can't remember when it went up on myspace (maybe a month ago?) but it is swiftly becoming one of my most-played songs of this summer.

Ladies and gentlemen, the song is Back Of The Van by the very-international Ladyhawke.

It is an achingly 80s tune that brings to mind a dizzying array of singer-songwriter references, and that's a good thing. After all, summer is all about stumbling into new experiences through a haze of the familiar, along the well-trodden path, all the while adding to the collective understanding of what summer is all about.

Cerebral, I know, but work with me people.

Ladyhawke - Back Of The Van.

My first experience of Pip Brown aka Ladyhawke was through her collaboration with Pnau's Nick Littlemore on a little something called Teenager. I remember listening to the radio while holidaying in Melbourne when Teenager's song Alone Again emerged. I'd bought their album less than an hour later (amen for Polyester Records). I've waxed lyrically before now how good they are but here's a reminder for you (of how good they are) and for me (of where my summer experience began).

Teenager - Alone Again from album Thirteen [ buy ]

Ladyhawke's myspace says she splits her time between Sydney, London and of all places Wellington. I'm insanely curious to know why she counts Wellington among her 'places I go' (more the 'why' than anything else), but to be honest I'm more interested in knowing if and wishfully when she might next perform here in our nation's capital.

After all, 'tis the season for wishful thinking.

Wreaking equation-based havoc


Benny Benassi's Satisfaction




Aphex Twin's Windowlicker




The new-ish video for Simian Mobile Disco's Hustler

Well, what do you think?




Ghelectro over at Emptydancefloor seems to think this is the new SebastiAn track (or at least he/she did back in November, and my Dutch isn't so good - well I'm assuming the blog is written in Dutch - it looks Dutch - well, what I assume a Dutch-language would look like).

Me? I don't rightly know. I don't recall him playing this in his set at Never Ever Land, and yet it sounds just like something he'd produce.

Gritty distortion. Random pitched siren whines.

The thing that doesn't sit too well with me is how empty the track seems. Most of his tracks are really quite complex in their myriad of irregular rhythms and sonic traits, but I don't hear that in the youtube vid.

It could be a remix he's done, but then I can't rightly tell which song he's remixed.

I don't know.

What do you think?

Could this the new SebastiAn track?