Tag Archive: Chicago

LOCKE – Fuck Chicago

Screen shot 2019-11-04 at 22.15.46LOCKE directed by Steven Knight (UK, 2013)

Locke is Samuel Beckett in a BMW X5. From the creator of Peaky Blinders. A riveting one man show. Tom Hardy brilliant as Ivan Locke. A Welshman who works in construction. Concrete is his speciality. He’s good at his job. A fixer. He gets things done. He knows that details matter. A huge Chicago contract is worth millions. Everything depends on him. Everything must be in place. He knows one mistake can be catastrophic.Sooner or later cracks appear if anything goes wrong. Even the most stable structure will eventually fall.
Locke is driving from Birmingham to London. On the motorway he makes calls by speakerphone. To business associates. To his two sons. To his wife. To Bethan. Locke is the only face we see.
Ivan Locke’s life is built on firm foundations but is falling apart. His job and marriage are on the line. A one-night stand was all it took. An error of judgement. A moment of weakness. The woman is no oil painting. Not young either. Bethan.
She was lonely. He was too that night. He felt sorry for her. He still does. They drank wine. They had sex. One time only. Enough for her to get pregnant. She decided to keep the baby. It could be her last chance to be a mother.
Locke is a father already. His sons are home watching a big match. He is supposed to be there watching with them. But Bethan’s waters have broken. Two months early. He is the father. He feels responsible. He is not her partner. She is nothing to him. But he caused the situation. Now he needs to fix it. To make it right. He will be with her when she gives birth. His father abandoned him. He will not do the same. He imagines his father in the back seat of the car. Mocking his predicament.
Locke is not a bad man. He has everything to lose.
His son has taped the match. He says he they will watch pretending not to know the result. When he comes home. But life has no replay options. We live with the choices we make. What is done cannot be undone.
Owning up to the truth means confessing to infidelity. It means risking the Chicago contract. He could lie. He could say he’s sick. He does neither. Fuck deception. Fuck Chicago.

TORTOISE – Locomotic Club, Bologna 19th February 2016 


It’s gonna rain? Tortoise are ready for all weathers.  L-R: John McEntire, Doug McCombs, John Herndon, Dan Bitney & Jeff Parker

“No moving lights please”. This is the polite but firm request made to lighting engineers by Tortoise’s Dan Bitney after the first song.

The message is clear; the beats may sometimes be danceable but this ain’t no disco.

But the question as to how exactly you do begin to categorize the music of Tortoise has been an ongoing challenge for the past 25 years of the Chicago band’s existence.

Calling it post-rock, as many still do, runs the risk of implying that the band are somehow opposed to conventional rock music. In an interview with The Wire in 2001 John McEntire said “As far as I’m concerned all we’ve ever been is a rock band” and on the strength of their brilliant sold out show at Bologna this is clearly still his position.

What makes them less conventional, and thus harder to pigeonhole, is that no-one sings and they are so clearly wide open to sounds and rhythms from other genres. Jazz is an obvious influence but there are also strong elements of funk, soul and R’n’B. Continue reading


Well, “a-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop . OBAMA-boom!!!!!”

What a relief  to wake up to the news of Obama’s victory!

I really feared for the future of America and the world had Romney been elected.

Writer Dave Eggers and music manager Jordan Kurland , two guys originally from Chicago, set up a website to compile 90 Reasons why Americans voted for Barack – these included :  “Because this is an election with existential implications” (Paul Simon) ;  “Obama still has some respect for the truth” (John Sayles) and  “Thanks to President Obama, nearly 50 million American women have access to contraception and preventive health services” (Isabel Allande).

My personal favourite came from David Lynch who wrote : “I have noticed something in Mitt Romney’s name, which I think speaks to what he is about. If you just rearrange a few letters, Romney becomes R MONEY. I believe Mitt Romney wants to get his Mitts on R Money. He would like to get it and divide it up with his friends, the Big Money Bunch”.

In his acceptance speech, Obama was right to emphasise that the future of America depends a lot on self government – on people taking responsibility for their own actions. But they also rely on governments and politicians and Obama has the mandate to prove that politics is not just “a contest of egos or the domain of special interests”  but about helping, not hindering, ordinary people to realise their hopes and dreams.

In the last four years I think he has been too cautious – there’s nothing to be gained form being reckless but he now needs to take more risks and show that the vision of the truly United States of American so eloquently expressed in his victory speech in Chicago is more than just rhetoric.

The vote today  is as he said himself , “a vote for action”.


The full merchandise selection.

The trailer for the new album (Beware And Be Grateful) by the arty Chicago quartet, Maps & Atlases is intriguing. Is this the shape of record promotions to come- highlighting the band’s postmodern attitude rather than pushing the actual music?

A brief snippet of one of the tracks (Remote And Dark Years) can be heard at the end, but most is taken up with a curious monologue by a guy who looks the worse for wear.

He tells of being witness to a car on fire on a bridge and “whoever was inside” jumping into the river below he describes the flames as a  “deep dark, like orange color – like a rotten pumpkin”  and being surprised that there was no news coverage of the event.

Did he witness aliens? Should we open an X-file? What does this tell us about a pop band?

If I were to attempt a deconstruction I would say that Maps & Atlases are presenting their music as existing in a zone beyond what the guy calls the “preset garbage” that you hear on the radio – in a roundabout way they  are telling us to trust own ears and not wait for some media endorsement.

The album is officially released by Fat Cat records on April 16th in the UK and one day later in the US – I have a review copy so have added my voice to the more traditional promotion at Whisperin’ & Hollerin’; the trailer is here:


IDM stands for Intelligent Dance Music, in other words, dance music you can’t dance to but is good for you brain cells –  a happy marriage of industrial-techno-ambient.

I was born too early to be part of any rave scene so I don’t pretend to be an expert…….but I know what I like.

One of the best labels I have come across specialising in this genre is Tympanik Audio, founded in 2007 , based in Chicago and trading in sounds from just about anywhere on the globe.

One of the best of their recent releases is the second album (10:10pm) by a Polish artist,  Maciej Pasziewicz, who performs under the name Undermathic. I recently reviewed this for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’.

I love the mood of menace and drama of the opening track Big City Nights  which this video captures  perfectly:

There are plenty of free downloads from Tympanik’s website to give you a taste of the excellent music they are putting out. Particularly recommended is the 16 track 2010 catalog compilation entitled Approach The Lights.

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