Category: music

A NEW DAY YESTERDAY by Mike Barnes (Omnibus Press, 2020)

book cover

The decision to undertake a full survey of Progressive Rock music in the UK up to the mid-1970s is as bold and bonkers a project as a band embarking on a triple concept album. Yet, it works for me.

Progressive (Prog) Rock evolved in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of what Wiki defines as a “mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility”

Mike Barnes challenges the common prejudices surrounding this much maligned genre.

In setting the record straight, he immediately dispels the myth that Prog songs were mostly about wizards, elves and hobbits. He also shows that, contrary to common belief, bands were not universally trying to bridge the divide between classical music and rock. Rather, jazz, blues and psychedelia were key influences. Continue reading

I wrote this blog 8 years ago but I think it’s more topical now than ever. I was trying to get to grips with what it means to be an online teacher and with studying at a distance. This is the new normal these days. Though I say it myself, I think the video is pretty good.


“Where are all the other students?”

The brief for the final assignment of the Open Education MOOC run by the Open University (#h817open) was to reflect on the question of openness in education. Participants were asked to create a video covering one of the following elements:

  • What aspect of openness in education interests you most (and why)?
  • What the future direction of open education will be in your opinion, justifying your answer.
  • Your experience of studying an open course versus traditional, formal education.

My contribution (my first ever video creation!) was made with the help of Xtranormal.

It is a not too serious look at how students can feel isolated by the open online courses.

It doesn’t necessarily help to be one of thousands enrolled on a course if you can’t make any real connections with other learners.

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CALM WITH HORSES directed by Nick Rowland (UK -Ireland, 2019)

220px-calm_with_horses_poster “I’m told I was a violent child” is the opening line in a  voiceover in this bold and bruising tale of toxic masculinity.

The narrator is Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong , an ex-boxer, now employed as an enforcer for an unscrupulous criminal family.  The setting is rural Ireland in a claustrophic community where conflict and violence are the accepted ways of life.

Douglas is a physically imposing presence, lumbering from scene to scene like a wounded beast. His handler is the manipulative Dymphna (Barry Keoghan) who plies him with drugs much as a dog owner might seek to placate a doberman pinscher. Continue reading

Burial tunes for a broken world

BURIAL – Tunes 2011-2019 (Hyperdub, 2019)

“The world is falling to pieces, but some of the pieces taste good”. So wrote Adrian Mitchell in his poem ‘Peace Is Milk’, first published in his ‘Out Loud’ collection in 1968.

This remains an accurate statement even though the world is a very different place from half a century ago. Technology and technocracy have made even digital natives long for an analog age they have no direct experience of.

Allied to this is an entrenched pessimism towards the shapes of things to come. By and large, the consensus among Science Fiction writers and filmmakers is that there is little to gain from imagining what the future will be like when the present is already dystopic enough. 1984 has been and gone and the Brave New World is here and now. The plots of Black Mirror are no fiction. As William Gibson, the creator of Neuromancer, noted “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” Continue reading

Screen shot 2019-12-31 at 18.08.08Since 2013 I have set myself a challenge of reading 50 books a year and then I track my progress on Good Reads.

I fell three short in the first year but have hit my target ever since. This year I gave the maximum five star rating to six titles: Continue reading

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