AMERICAN HUSTLE directed by David O. Russell (USA, 2013)
Following on his superb Silver Linings Playback, David O.Russell makes use of some of the same actors for this highly enjoyable yarn inspired by a FBI operation that went pear-shaped in the late 1970s; hence the pre-credits caption: “Some of this actually happened”.
The sting of a sting of a sting tale left me floundering to follow all the twists and turns of the plot so it’s probably a movie that benefits from a second viewing (I’m only glad I didn’t see it dubbed into Italian!).
Having trimmed down and worked out for The Fighter, Christian Bale has flabbed up for his role as Irving Rosenfield and is all but unrecognisable. With his dodgy hair piece and very 70s fashion sense, he looks like he’s adopted Frank Booth’s smart man disguise from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
As a slick con artist, his partner in crime is the seductive Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who pretends to be an aristocratic English woman Lady Edith Greensly because this sucks in more victims – desperate men in search of loans. Continue reading
The 7″ single Carnival/Canter on the DIY imprint ITLAN based in Edinburgh, Scotland marks the welcome, and long overdue, return of Tissø Lake, the recording project of Ian Humberstone.
I blogged about his album Song Of The Black Dog in 2008 but since early 2010 he has gone off the radar.
Now he’s back and the good news is that the single will be closely followed (on April 14th) by a re-release of ‘The Hollow Wood And Wondrous Cold’ which was recorded in 2005. Unless you live in America and snapped up a copy of this on the now defunct Banazan Records label, the ten tracks on this mini album will also be new to you.
Both records are highly recommended for lovers of quiet, introspective folk music. I love ghostly yet intimate quality of his songs which, to borrow a line from the song I Am A Lake, leaves you with the feeling of being “breathless and alive”.
Ian very kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his song writing and the background to these releases:
How come The Hollow Wood And Wondrous Cold was only released in the U.S and why has it taken 8 years to reach Europe?
The Hollow Wood and Wondrous Cold was recorded when I was still in my teens, making music with whichever instruments fell to my hands, borrowed microphones and a reel-to-reel recorder salvaged from a local sixth-form college (it was headed for the skip, though with some care it’s served me well since). There were few people interested in releasing the album at the time and the best offer came from a U.S. label who wanted exclusive rights to the album. Those rights only recently expired, freeing up the record for re-release. Continue reading
Neil Young says he’s not an audiophile but his Pono music device is surely destined to get most of the early adoration from discerning hi-fi enthusiasts.
Young’s pledge is that with he is saving a dying art form but lossy music and streaming sites are what most consumers have grown up with and persuading the masses that they need another format and dedicated player is a hard sell.
On top of that, the failure of the Super Audio CD (SACD) does suggest that there is at best only a relatively small market straining at the leash for high-resolution digital audio. Having said that, the huge success of the Kickstarter campaign means that Shakey’s brainchild should not be dismissed out of hand. Continue reading
A Hawk & A Hacksaw – husband and wife duo Heather Trost & Jeremy Barnes performing at the Bronson club, Ravenna as part of the Transmissions Festival they curated.
Father Murphy, A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Mouse On Mars at the Bronson Club, Ravenna.
The juxstaposition of styles presented during this concert showed how sonic transmissions in our technically challenging (and challenged!) age can be by turns nostalgic, alienating and invigorating.
In Keywords (A vocabulary of culture and society) Marxist academic Raymond Williams wrote that, in the 18th century, the verb ‘to modernize’ was mainly applied to buildings and was not automatically regarded as something positive. Nowadays, modernization is generally associated with improvement and forward thinking. Williams noted that when we say modern now we generally refer to something which is “unquestionably favourable and desirable”. It signifies that you are up with the times and at one with the contemporary world.
Compare this to words like ‘tradition’ or ‘traditionalist’ which are commonly used to dismiss something as quaint yet old-fashioned and contrary to notions of innovation or change. We associate these terms with the work of artisans and craftsmen and think of outdated skills handed down from generation to generation.
When applied to music, ‘tradition’ is usually linked to an analog philosophy while to describe sounds as ‘modern’ is to say the artist is making a break with the past. However, an incessantly forward momentum has its pitfalls. The fact that discerning listeners will still seek out vinyl releases or lossless audio is a sign that the ‘modern’ day digital revolution is regarded in some quarters as a step backwards.
On the third and final day of Ravenna’s Transmissions festival the stark contrast between the old and the new was very evident. After being gently wooed by the Balkan-influenced folky charm of A Hawk And A Hacksaw (+ special guests) we were abruptly wowed by the uncompromising techno beats of German duo Mouse On Mars. Continue reading