15
Feb 18

2018 Music Diary Week 6: The Week Of Wakanda

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NEW MUSIC

sekundenschlaf

Day 36: тпсб – Sekundenschlaf: Philip Sherburne’s Pitchfork review goes in deep on the enjoyably ridiculous backstory of this dude, how these are supposedly found tracks from the hard drive of a PC from the Chernobyl isolation zone or some such, but multiple listens revealed this as an album for which such frippery can easily be forgiven. Broody, bare-wired ambient rumbles and surly beats in the (superior) first half, crude but effective retro-rave in the second. Good stuff. Found via a ‘if X then Y’ Spotify link where X was (I think) fellow German techno revivalist Nadia Struiwigh.

11
Feb 18

DARIUS – “Colourblind”

Popular30 comments • 1,460 views

#932, 10th August 2002

9107BD35-B240-405A-9FD3-5D696EB34B86 Such was the grip of Pop Idol on the singles-buying imagination that two winners weren’t enough – bronze medalist Darius Danesh got a career too. But “Colourblind” is not just a participation medal. In Darius we see not one but two of the classic reality pop tropes make their appearance. First of all – in his note-strangling debut on the Popstars series, wrestling “Baby One More Time” to the ground like prehistoric man tackling an aurochs, there’s the Freak: the terrible performer armoured in their own self-confidence who we indulge because we want to see what on earth they’ll do next.

There’s little question that if the public had been given any say in things we’d have seen more from Darius in Popstars. But by the time they got a chance to vote for him and carry him to third place in Pop Idol, he’d reinvented himself to fit the second trope, the Artist: the figure who is Actually Talented but who must yet put themselves through the circus of a singing competition to gain recognition. “Colourblind”, fittingly, was a self-penned composition he’d been ‘working on’ before Pop Idol. (Actually this is entirely believable – its procession-of-colours lyric certainly feels like the kind of solid but banal structure a beginning songwriter might try.)

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Feb 18

The Inaugural FreakyTrigger TV Poll: #24 – #13

Do You See + FT6 comments • 263 views

hqdefaultHi we’re the Telebugs, unloved 80’s British cartoon characters who traded on British kids loves of robots and television and still failed to create a following across our 88 tedious episodes. Part of this disdain might be that whilst we a robots with TV’s as heads our TV’s only ever show our faces, which is even more boring than watch 1980’s schools TV. These days the three of us have hacked our firmware and take it in turn to watch prestige TV on each others heads, though since our heads are in 4:3 a lot of it doesn’t fit into our aspect ratio

Thanks B.U.G., C.H.I.P and S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A. Seriously. S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A.* I doubt you’ll be getting a Danger Mouse like remake. Still I am sure you have watched all of these shows on each other fizzogs.

5
Feb 18

2018 Music Diary Week 5: The Week Of Lassitude

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john surman

Day 29: JOHN SURMAN – Invisible Threads: Pastoral, ruminative jazz from an English composer and saxophonist. Very much a set of mood pieces, it seems to me, whose folky calm is upended at one point by a much brisker cover version. Chosen because a write-up of his 1971 debut appealed to me, but it’s not on Spotify, and as a point of principle I try and check out new work by people I don’t know if it’s there. Glad I did. “The Admiral” is a good sample of its mellow pleasures.

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Feb 18

Read Harder Challenge (3 of 24): DATURA

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Datura, or a Delusion We All SeeDatura, or a Delusion We All See by Leena Krohn

(Read as part of the Book Riot Readharder challenge 2018. Category: A single-sitting book.)

An anonymous woman in an anonymous (though clearly Nordic) city receives a flower for her birthday. She begins dosing herself with its seeds, to help her asthma. At the same time, she takes a job working for The New Anomalist, a magazine devoted to the uncanny and paranormal, whose publisher is always looking for a fresh (and profitable) angle. Datura is told as a series of vignettes – disordered notes, according to the narrator – of encounters with the uncanny. Some are under the aegis of the magazine – but others, increasingly, seem to be spontaneous, and the notes grow less and less reliable…

1
Feb 18

GARETH GATES – “Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake)”

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#931, 20th July 2002

gates anyoneIf you’re going to apologise for infidelity, “it could happen to anyone” is not the best starting point, but in its very callowness this is a much more suitable song for Gareth Gates than any of the other stuff he was handed. Gates’ selling point – the reason he’d almost won – was his teen idol innocence, a perception of naivety which gave the tabloids a stereotype-fuelled field day when he had a fling with Katie Price.

31
Jan 18

Read Harder Challenge (2 of 24): HORTUS VITAE

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Hortus Vitae: Essays On The Gardening Of LifeHortus Vitae: Essays On The Gardening Of Life by Vernon Lee

(Read as part of the 2018 Read Harder challenge. Category: A book of essays.)

Vernon Lee, pseudonym of Violet Paget, was an essayist, story writer, and aesthete active in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. She’s not quite forgotten now – there’s a Vernon Lee society with its own journal – but her essays come quite low down the list of things people remember about her. She’s better known for her supernatural fiction, her feminism and pacifism, and her theories of psychology and aesthetics – she was one of the first people in English to use the word “empathy”.

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Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2017: #20 – #11

Do You See3 comments • 172 views

CiIKHzWVEAE2lJKHi, I’m Lori Quaid, just an ordinary boring housewife living my suburban life, doing housework and maintaining my 80’s hair. 2080’s hair of course, its 2084, the future where I live with my even more boring husband Doug. He’s so boring he doesn’t want to go on holiday but rather wants to have the memory of a holiday implanted in his head. Hooo – boy, is he going to be surprised when that all happens and I end up kicking him in the head a lot. You see I’m not really his wife. I’m basically a plot device. And as such, once I have sorted out stupid old secret agent Doug, and sent him to Mars, I’ll probably go back to that implant centre and get the best films from 2017 implanted in my head to watch. They are proper oldies to me!

Thanks Lori, I was always on your side. And yes I think you will enjoy this batch, with a few strong females who are more than just plot devices.

20: Your Name

A bit of a cheat here as it was actually released in the UK for a day only in 2016. But the dubbed version was released in 2017 so I allowed it. And it still stands as a terrific little fantasy, a body swop, catastrophe take on The Lake House, hitting a perfect tone for the humour in the first half that grounds the high melodrama in the second half. I am sure the dub is inoffensive, but this is a great bit of anime.

19: John Wick 2

Fighty fighty, kicky punchy. Keanu Reeves gets back into the suit, the film has a bit more money so can globe trot a bit more, but on the whole it is much more of the same just a bit more violent, a bit less focused and a lot more pointless. Still Keanu is always worth watching doing this kind of thing and the practical stunts do deliver a lot of OOOF for your buck.

18: Lady Macbeth

A bit like Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, Lady Macbeth takes the British period drama and shifts the perspective to a more modern, feminist position. It also rolls strongly with its lead identification character, who is hard enough to initially be admirable, and her actions are always understandable if increasingly horrific. Florence Pugh commands the screen and the film is composed and controlled enough to fool you into thinking it cost a lot more money. A regency version of don’t hate the player, hate the game.

17: Cameraperson

One of the great things about the more experimental trend in journalism, Cameraperson is a slightly more dour out-takes clip show. But what these out-takes tell us about the process of documentary, and about the person who is filming them is huge. Kirsten Johnson has worked with some of the biggest names in documentary, and we see takes from work with Poitras and Moore, but also we see how operating a camera is authorial, and how it is an empathy machine – both from the big projects and the more personal items she has shot. Plotless, without a clear timeline, with no linking narration or context, it tells a strong story about how cameras create stories on both ends of the apparatus.

16:The Beguiled

Sophia Coppola’s remake of the Beguilled has its critics (it doesn’t engage in the racial politics of the Civil War), but its female gaze makes it a fascinating pairing with the original with Clint Eastwood (watch the trailer to the original to see how many similar shots with a different gaze there are). The women are the stars here, and once Colin Farrell’s injured soldier starts to flirt you can see how the tensions between the women will stretch their relationships but eventually it becomes a very one sided battle of the sexes where the power imbalance leads to triumphant tragedy. A steamy little potboiler.

15: Logan

Perhaps it pushes its Shane / revisionist Western tropes too far but it takes almost twenty years of an often trashy and incoherent film franchise and creates a moving and satisfying conclusion for a wholly ridiculous character. It does that by granting Wolverine a surrogate child, an infirm father figure and a hopeless picaresque impotent quest, there are more Western cliches in here than you can throw a stick at. But the returning actors are so comfortable and pleased with how they are developed, Mangold leans into the myth making and there is a great physical performance from Dafne Keen. Franchises punt out so many films these days some will be good, and some will even end up being quite artful.

14: Manchester By The Sea

I saw Manchester By The Sea at the London Film Festival in 2016, and was impressed by the way it managed to create empathy with a man living with grief and guilt, and positing that growth still probably does not allow you to give all of that away. But I was also aware that Kenneth Lonergan, with all of his skill, ended up falling back on a number of less subtle tropes, the man who expresses with his fists what he cannot deal with verbally, the leaning on thoroughly manipulative (and cliched) music in scenes which did not require them. In one scene Michelle Williams does more, and conjures up a more interesting movie, and whilst It thing it is a hugely powerful piece of work, it didn’t really blow me away (and the Casey Affleck issues certainly haven’t help win it over for me).

13: Baby Driver

Speaking of actors with issues. Its OK, Kevin Spacey plays a despicable bad guy here. They all do. And perhaps that is my problem with Baby Driver, is its flip, impeccably sound synced car-dancical was – unlike any of Edgar Wright’s previous movies – in the service of terrible characters being cool. So yes, Baby had a pretty lousy upbringing, but he is still a car thief and dangerous driver, and perhaps looks saintly in comparison with the rest of the cast, but he isn’t. I am pleased therefore with his denouement, but there was half an hour of less fun cars grinding in car parks to get there. And also, the mid-nineties was not the golden age of soundtrack pop this film seems to think it was.

12: Blade Runner 2049

Did the world need a sequel to a flawed cult movie that even its own director is completely sure what the best version of it is. Did it want one that was almost an hour longer? Hmm, its box office receipts suggest not, but what Denis Villeneuve has done is to be faithful to the original without being slavish, to move on that vision and try to find something else in the mix of Philip K.Dick’s pulp and Scott’s monolithic art design (and even Harrison Ford’s original uncommitted acting). He succeeds on nearly all counts, with a beautiful, intriguing puzzle of a film, with some terrible politics and gnomic mysteries. It still feels like a lesser hit from the same drug, but that is a pretty potent drug.

11: Certain Women

Kelly Reichardt’s triptych of small town Americana yet again demonstrates how good she is at quickly creating low stakes but high intensity slices of life. Here she fits in three stories, all with development and drama and wonderfully played female leads, and all which feel contemplative and even slow in its swift running time. Of course the casting is impeccable, which makes the fact the film is more or less stolen by a newcomer Lily Gladstone even more impressive. The moments of emotion in the Gladstone/Stewart story contain some of the tenderest sequences of cinema last year.

Top ten is on its way…. Feel free to express your anxieties about the films that you now think might not make it below.

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Jan 18

2018 Music Diary Week 4: The Week Of Peel

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NEW MUSIC

first aid kit ruins

Day 24: FIRST AID KIT – Ruins: Slickly produced, occasionally countrified, notes on romantic disappointment by a pair of Swedish sisters who sing with a Nordics-meet-Nashville twang. There’s nothing off-putting or irritating about this record, and several tracks hide a melodic twist which rouses me into brief attention. But that’s about it.

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Jan 18

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2017: #10-#1

FT22 comments • 526 views

baloonWotcher me old muckers. I’m Nena’s 100th Red Balloon, the one edited out of the final version of the song because I ‘wouldn’t scan proper’. We only come in packs of 100 you know. Whatcha got against a nice round number eh Nena? Can’t complain though, I’ve kept myself busy over the years. After a bobbing about in Paris for a bit I had to make a sharpish exit, but thankfully I landed a good stint as the stunt double balloon in some circus movie – blimey, that weren’t half a scary business! Later on I did a bit of modelling for some rando graffiti artist in East London, that kept me in high grade helium for a good few years I tell you. All the kids love their balloons these days, why, just yesterday I saw a bunch of teenagers with one each, laughing away like they were having a whale of a time. I love a happy atmosphere! Anyway, enough of me gassing on, let’s get on with the poll!

Thanks, Nena’s 100th Red Balloon! Here’s our final batch of results: