Category: music


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Mark Fisher – 11th July 1968 – 13th January 2017

Today is Blue Monday according to the depression experts. Apparently, if you’re going to feel low any time this year, today’s the day.

I never set great store by such notions, more often than not such stories amount to nothing more than clickbait.

But the post festive gloom descended heavily upon me this morning when I woke to the sad and shocking news that music critic and modern culture guru Mark Fisher has passed at the ridiculously young age of 48. Continue reading

FORKS OVER KNIVES documentary film directed by Lee Fulkerson (USA, 2011)
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There are three main reasons why I am a vegan :
1. I oppose the unnecessary and unjustifiable maltreatment and slaughter of animals.
2. I believe that the intense factory farming is slowly but surely destroying the planet.
3. I have personal experience of the health benefits which far outweigh the minor inconveniences and small sacrifices needed to maintain this diet.

I gain sustenance for my position from some excellent documentaries that make the case for veganism.

For the animal welfare issues, Earthlings (2005) sets out the arguments powerfully and compassionately.

The environmental effects are efficiently outlined in Cowspiracy (2014).

Forks Over Knives focuses on the health question centering primarily on persuasive views of two eminent doctors – Caldwell Esselstyn and Colin Campbell. The former is a physician and heart surgeon while the latter is a nutritional biochemist. Both have spent a large part of their professional lives researching the links between diet and wellbeing. Continue reading

Top albums of 2016

One of the reasons whjambinaiy there have been fewer blog posts
this yeswordar is that I spend a lot of my free time writing music reviews for the online ‘zine Whisperin’ & Hollerin’.

This year I reviewed a grand total of 240 releases and although 2016 was by no means a vintage year there is still plenty of good music around. This, as always, exists on the margins away from the mainstream.

My preferences continue to veer strongly towards weird folk and post rock and the following are the ten albums that I enjoyed the most with links to my reviews:

  • JAMBINAI – A Hermitage  Jaminai are a trio from South Korea and I wrote that “The power and intensity of their music taps into the feelings of anger and isolation felt by a new generation suspicious of the conservative forces that seek to control them”.
  • YAIR YONA – Sword  Yair Yona is a gifted Israeli musician and this powerful instrumental album “covers universal themes of personal endurance and trauma”.
  • MODERN STUDIES – Swell To Great  Ornate and dreamy British folk music from a supergroup of sorts.

Continue reading

The 3D magic of The Wizard Of Oz

THE WIZARD OF OZ directed by Victor Fleming (USA, 1939)

the-wizard-of-oz-posterI first saw The Wizard Of Oz in a fleapit cinema in my home town in the English Midlands when I was around 10 years old. The contrast between the rundown movie house and the glimmering images on-screen were striking.

Seeing it now for the umpteenth time in a lovingly restored 3D version brought back all the magic.

As a pre-teen in the 1960s, Disney was the dominant force for young adult films. The Love Bug, Jungle Book and Blackbeard’s Ghost were among my favorites at that time. I expected Oz to be a cartoon so it was a big shock to be confronted by a live action musical. And how was I supposed to categorize this movie?

On one hand it’s in the classic fairy tale tradition but the good versus evil themes were presented in a manner I hadn’t seen before and have rarely encountered since. Continue reading

THE GREENLANDERS by Jane Smiley (Anchor Books, 2005)

franzen_smileyIs life too short for big books?

When it comes to novels like Infinite Jest or Middlemarch, I’d say not.

David Foster Wallace was so overflowing with ideas that he needed the space to expand his thoughts while George Eliot used a larger palette to create a world with a world.

Yet, there seems to be a trend (or requirement) for writing 500 or more pages as a demonstration of a writer’s prowess.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s  sprawling ‘Here I Am’ is one recent example of a novel that would have greatly benefited from trimming by at least 200 pages.

Jane Smiley’s epic Norse saga is another. Continue reading

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