Amelia’s Magazine | The Composer, John Barry 1933 – 2011

John Barry Goldfinger Kayleigh Bluck
James Bond, Goldfinger(1964). Illustration by Kayleigh Bluck

We all know his music. It’s roaring and consuming like a giant wave. Working with big bands, sweeping strings and jazz and latin beats John Barry didn’t believe in subtle introductions. For me, his music is the sound of being young. In the deepest, brownest 80s. There I sat watching the lions on Born Free, with the soundtrack mirroring the epic landscapes and joy on my chubby cheeked face. The lion my favourite animal (see: post 80s Simon King love), I was besotted: “Born Freeee…” – you can imagine. Similarly I remember sitting on the creaky dining room chairs whilst my mum did the ironing and watching James Bond films, Goldfinger and Dr No in awe. Even writing these words I have the soundtracks playing in my head.

On the day of his death, composer, Howard Shore of Lord of The Rings said in an interview with Rhod Sharp: “The world John Barry created with his music was enormous, iconic. He wrote scores for some of the greatest films in the latest 30, 40 years […] “If he had just written the 11 Bond films it would’ve been an incredible legacy to the world of music and art.”

But he did so much more than Bond. He won Oscars for his music for Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa, The Lion in Winter and two for Born Free. Barry also gained an OBE in 1999 and a Bafta Fellowship in 2005. What’s so obvious is his ability to capture the essence of the film. As Shore said: “He loved getting inside the film.” This you can really feel. His music is dramatic, emotive and despite the BIG MOTION PICTURE SOUND, it’s very real.

John Barry portrait Kayleigh Bluck
Illustration by Kayleigh Bluck

John Barry was born in 1933, in York, England. His father ran a chain of cinemas, and his mother was a pianist. They had a grand piano in their living room and Barry worked at the cinema. It was there that his love of film was nurtured. He started with classical piano and then moved onto Jazz, before playing the trumpet in the army. The 1950s saw him form a Jazz Rock group called The John Barry Seven and together with singer Adam Faith, they enjoyed hit singles.

Barry wanted to be a musician more than a pop star however, and moved into film with the 1960s movie, Beat Girl. This caught the attention of Dr No’s producers. In an interview with The Associated Press in 1991, Barry said: “The James Bond movies came because we were successful in the pop music world, with a couple of big instrumental hits. They thought I knew how to write instrumental hit music.”

Another of the 11 Bond soundtracks by Barry: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Barry went on to create many other film scores, including; the Beloved Country, Jagged Edge, Walkabout and The Deep. He also worked with Duran Duran and A-ha in the 80s and won four Grammys, the aforementioned five Oscars, a Bafta for The Lion in Winter and a Golden Globe for Out of Africa. Sir Richard Attenborough said of him in 1992; “He’s never satisfied with what he does. Every day he wakes up and believes that into his mind and soul is going to come some magical arrangement of notes that he’s going to ultimately either entrance you with in a concert hall or cinema.”

My personal John Barry favourite is Midnight Cowboy. I love the strings he is so famous for.

Barry is survived by his fourth wife, Laurie, four children and five grandchildren.

John Barry_sm_sm
Picture source.

Categories ,Bafta, ,BBC Radion 5 Live, ,Born Free, ,Goldfinger, ,Grammy, ,Helen Martin, ,Howard Shore, ,James Bond, ,John Barry, ,Kayleigh Bluck, ,Midnight Cowboy, ,new york, ,Oscar, ,Out of Africa, ,Rhod Sharp, ,The Lion in Winter, ,York

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Amelia’s Magazine | Gabby Young introduces the video for new single I’ve Improved

Gabby Young by Emma Farrarons

Gabby Young by Emma Farrarons.

Gabby Young and Other Animals have announced their return this April with a brand new album, the third from the acclaimed North London songstress. One Foot In Front Of The Other is Gabby’s most personal collection of songs to date, yet still retains the lush big band instrumentation for which she is known, with polished production by fellow Animal and partner, Stephen Ellis. Here Gabby exclusively introduces the new video for the first single from the album, I’ve Improved, which is a jaunty upbeat affair that was inspired by a trip to the Middle East.

Gabby Young-Ive-Improved cover art

For the first time ever I actually had very little to do with the concept of this video… I just left it in the very safe hands of my old school friend’s company – Lovelove Films – who did our stunning video for In Your Head in 2012. I am so astounded by how well Lovelove put together this video: I gave them an almost impossible task of coming up with a video along the theme of ‘paper world’ in 3 weeks and they came through with not only flying colours but a stunning video! Right from day one I they were sending me amazing concepts and treatments which I loved then before we knew it the band was filming in the studio which was the most fun I have had on any shoot. Just over a week later they have delivered an original, exciting and completely ‘on brand’ video that I can’t wait to show the world. Thank you Lovelove – you’ve done it again… I can’t wait for the next time now!

Gabby Young with candles

As for the actual song – every one of my songs is written differently – some come to me, others have to be written and this track was born out of necessity! I was working on all my songs and ideas for album 3 and realised I had focused too much on the shade and wanted to have lots of light in my album to make people feel good about life, dance and escape so I when driving along I tried to write an upbeat song, which very rarely works, in fact I hate TRYING to write songs but time was against me! So I just pressed record on my phone (in the safest way possible in a car!) and started singing the chorus – it instantly came to me and then the verse tumbled out – it was a complete song by the end of my short journey. When I returned home I ran into the house, grabbed my guitar and found out I had written another 2 chord song which I have done a few of in my time but I couldn’t help but develop a soft spot for this simple, fun ditty and decided that I found my light to all the shade and here is a bonafide album track ready to go! As for the lyrics – I had just been on tour in the Middle East, which I loved and where I learnt so much, so I knew I wanted to sing about how I was improving my world knowledge and how I have been a little sheltered and it’s time to wake up and notice the world around me.

Gabby Young

Gabby Young - One foot in front of the other

I’ve Improved and the album One Foot In Front Of The Other are both released in April on Gift of the Gab Records.

Categories ,album, ,Emma Farrarons, ,Gabby Young and Other Animals, ,Gift of the Gab Records, ,I’ve Improved, ,In Your Head, ,Lovelove Films, ,One Foot In Front Of The Other, ,single, ,Stephen Ellis, ,video

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Amelia’s Magazine | Snow Palms, Intervals: an interview with Dave Sheppard

Snow Palms by Grace Coombes
Snow Palms by Grace Coombes.

If, like me, you are partial to a bit of modern classical music, then your must buy album for 2012 must be Intervals by Snow Palms, a collaborative project between musician/composer David Sheppard and numerous other creative types. Channelling the repetitive strains of Philip Glass and intricate, polyrhythmic bleeps and glitches, Intervals is an eerily beautiful and hypnotic album that you will want to play over and over again. Just don’t call it World Music.

david sheppard Snow Palms
There is a dizzying array of instruments featured in your album… who played them all and which was the one you fell most in love with, perhaps surprisingly?
The multi-instrumental Christopher Leary (from Ochre) contributed lots of woodwind, additonal electronics and percussion and wrote and played some of the string parts. Josh Hillman (from Willard Grant Conspiracy, etc) played violins and violas and I played all the mallet instruments (glockenspiels, marimbas, xylophones, etc), as well as classical and electric guitar, piano, harmonium, drums and so on… One of the most resonant sounds is based on a little faux electric harp effect on an old Suzuki Omnichord (it’s on ‘Index of Rivers‘) which we ran though tons of effects to create this big, sepia ‘cloud’. It’s sort of sonic Proust; it billows up here and there over the track like bursts of nostalgia. 

Snow Palms by Mireille Fauchon
You’ve mixed genres and styles from different countries. Have you travelled a lot and if so what place has inspired you most musically?
I’m not sure if there was a delibarate mixing of specific national or ethnic ‘styles’ – that sounds too much like, shudder, ‘world music‘. It was more about trying to recontextualise different types of ‘exotic’ or ‘elevating’ musical approaches, like alloying vaguely Eastern Gamelan-type percussion with Western baroque strings. But it was less scientific and far more intuitive and spontaneous than that sounds.
 
Snow Palms by Mireille Fauchon
I have travelled a fair bit, I guess, but the music that consistently excites me at the moment comes mainly from West Africa, and I have yet to visit… Sometimes just the vaguest impression of a ‘foreign’ music can be a more potent influence than thorough immersion in it.

Snow Palms by Mireille Fauchon
Snow Palms 1,2,3 by Mireille Fauchon. I wanted to create imagery which could capture the enigmatic quality of Snow Palms – Intervals, it seemed appropriate to respond using colour and pattern in order to create illustrations which, much like the compositions, are multi layered and textural and open to interpretation.

How did you ‘sort the wheat from the chaff‘ with producer and arranger Chris Leary?
I’d begun a lot of tracks on my own and there were some that wanted to be left spare and minimal, others that begged for additional arrangement and still others that needed shelving. Chris helped with the general winnowing process.

Snow Palms Intervals cover
What inspired the polyrhythmic structures? Were you listening to anything else particular when you created the album?
A lot of the influences weren’t specifically musical. I was definitely thinking architecturally and about map contours, wave patterns on the ocean, trees growing up through city grids… all kinds of vaguely moiré things. I was also listening to various Gamelan records someone brought back for me from Indonesia, and Moondog‘s ‘Elpmas‘ recordings for marimbas. Of course, once you start layerig up idiophones it’s almost impossible to evade the pervasive influence of Messrs Riley, Reich, Glass, Nyman, etc… I was also bending an ear to old ‘exotica’ records, Arthur Lyman in particular, to Carl Orff‘s ‘Schulwerk‘ music for children, and to lots of European film soundtracks, specifically those by Krzysztof Komeda.

Snow Palms by Alexa Coe
Snow Palms by Alexa Coe. Whenever I listen to music I often retreat to a fantasyland. I found the music hypnotic, unable to really describe what really came to mind, I found myself in a state of automatic drawing, which is why I’ve presented here my inner child, like a doll waiting to wound up and spring into action,

Will you be performing the album live? if so How will that happen?
Almost certainly not, unless the Arts Council get heavily involved! It will require a very dextrous ten-to-fifteen piece band!

Dave Cartoon Snow Palms
How did this comic strip image of you (above) by Darren Hayman come about?
Because Darren and I are working together on an instrumental album, called Semmering, about the eponymous ‘cure house’ retreat in the Austrian Alps. Also, I play a little bit on some of his more recent albums.

Snow Palms by Margaux Cannon
Snow Palms by Margaux Cannon. I ran with the childlike quality of the music, the chimes and the idea of winter.

Darren says you like to hide, hence we didn’t get many images of you to work from, what is the best environment for you to create your music in?
I’m hardly J.D. Salinger, but I do believe mystery, shyness and inaccessibility are underrated qualities in these hyper-connected, self-aggrandizing times. Anyway, I prefer the cloistered laboratory envrionment of the recording studio to the ‘showbiz’ of the stage. I like to be surrounded by lovely musical instruments, especially ones I have no idea how to play. 

Snow Palms – Motion Capture

What are you working on next?
An album by Ellis Island Sound (aka Pete Astor and me) which explores some of those African influences, and the aformentioned Semmering instrumental album. If the planets align, I’ll also be embarking on an entirely solo album in the New Year.

Intervals by Snow Palms is out now on Village Green.

Categories ,Alexa Coe, ,Arthur Lyman, ,Carl Orff, ,Christopher Leary, ,Darren Hayman, ,David Sheppard, ,Ellis Island Sound, ,Elpmas, ,Gamelan, ,Glass, ,Grace Coombes, ,Index of Rivers, ,Intervals, ,Josh Hillman, ,Krzysztof Komeda, ,Margaux Cannon, ,Messrs Riley, ,Mireille Fauchon, ,Moondog, ,Nyman, ,Ochre, ,Pete Astor, ,Philip Glass, ,Reich, ,Schulwerk, ,Semmering, ,Snow Palms, ,Suzuki Omnichord, ,Village Green, ,West Africa, ,Willard Grant Conspiracy

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Amelia’s Magazine | Free single download and video from I Break Horses: Hearts

I Break Horses Hearts
I’ve been falling in love with quite a few new female artists of late. One of whom is Stockholm based duo Maria Lindén and her musical partner Fredrik Balck who together are I Break Horses. Their debut album Hearts is due out on 15th August on Bella Union and I have been listening to the headline single time and time again. Hearts is a scuzz filled shoegaze influenced sonic delight, seek the snap and crackle of electronic beats building with tremulous intensity as Maria’s pure vocals remain angelic at the very centre of it all.

I Break Horses Maria Lindén
The suitably enigmatic and beautiful video was directed by Alex Southam of OOF Video and the single is free to download from Soundcloud. What are you waiting for?


Categories ,album, ,Alex Southam, ,Bella Union, ,electronica, ,Fredrik Balck, ,hearts, ,I Break Horses, ,Maria Lindén, ,OOF Video, ,review, ,shoegaze, ,single, ,video

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Amelia’s Magazine | Dan Deacon – SPIDER MAN OF THE RINGS

Bands like Okkervil River are eminently missable. They’re so redolent of a slew of others, pill more about and if you’re not on friendly terms with their songs they’ll pass you by like so much jaunty, information pills pleasant Americana. They’re also a great illustration of why you should persist with music.

And that’s not some pious, try rockist view meaning you’ve got to put down what you’re reading, sit up, and pay complete attention. It’s just good to give things a chance to get beyond your initial scrobbler – which makes quickfire connections, comparisons and judgments based on an increasingly convergent shared knowledge-bank of 50 years of pop. It’s about checking in music’s hiding places for that spark that turns a casual recommendation from a friend into your favourite album of the year.

You need to listen to Okkervil River because the real star attraction is the lyrics of Will Sheff. Like a Prozac-ed Conor Oberst words tumble out of him in stanzas, cascading, beautifully chosen, but always controlled. “Although I put my lips to your face / trying to push his kiss out of its place / although my heart started to race / now it has slowed / I’ll let it go,” he sings on ‘Song Of Our So-Called Friend’.

Behind him five guys playing the alt-country instruments you’d expect stay out of the way. Childlike drummer Travis Nelson (who has excellent wiry drummer’s hair) and keyboardist and trumpeter Scott Bracket sing along with every word, like their own band’s biggest fans.

Six members is often a bad, self-indulgent idea but OR’s are always serving and augmenting their songs. The slow-burning ‘The President’s Dead’ segues masterfully into ‘Black’, which is a pretty straightforward three chord stomper but when Okkervillised it comes out yearning, wistful and layered. They’re like “partytime!” Wilco, Being There-era. There’s a touch of Arcade Fire in their scope and ear for an epic. This sometimes skirts too close to hokey, but with lyrics as good as Sheff’s they’ve earned their slide guitar solos.

On latest album The Stage Names, everything comes together during the final song ‘John Allyn Smith Sails’. All the words, all the fear, all the joy, all the themes that have preceded it fall into place when it morphs into something from a very famous album. It’s one of the most beautiful musical moments of 2007. Ruining it before you’ve heard it would be a spoiler on a par with that Planet Of The Apes video cover featuring the Statue Of Liberty.

It’s a transcendent moment tonight. They know exactly how good it is. They audaciously don’t even end the set with it. They’re rightfully confident. They may be America’s best band.

Why is it so great being 16? It’s an angsty, pill uncertain time in which you doubt everything, troche struggle with a bunch of new and confusing ordeals and inevitably puke down your top talking to the guy/girl you like at an underwhelming party. But we largely remember it with total fondness.

You needed to work your problems through to their logical conclusion, buy more about no matter how labyrinthine they seemed. You’d not yet developed the coping strategy for later life – blithely shrugging, saying “well, them’s the breaks” and getting on with it. We can all agree that that’s a far simpler and more practical way to deal with things, but Jamie Lenman of Reuben is stuck in adolescence. His last thought is his best, and he’s going to yell it at you. This is thrillingly vital. I worry for him.

Slightly overweight, borderline ugly, he’s preaching to a small and dedicated throng. It’s a metal crowd – everyone is either unfathomably young and infectious or crusty and old enough to know better. It’s like being back at your first ever gig. An unexpected obscure song, a friendly moshpit, loud, people screaming.

Lenman’s band expends tangible effort, like the best air guitarists. Drummer Guy Davis reaches Canty-like levels of inventiveness, buried under a relentless propulsive drumstorm. He sits up throughout, a skinny Rollins, if he shaved his head he’d be a nutter. Bassist Jon Pearce does a textbook tall man, long instrument, purposeful sway thing. The three of them look moments away from combusting.

They tick lots of my boxes. Inventive, heavy, melodic, loud, fast, screamy, catchy. These are mostly the wrong boxes for 2007. ‘Some Mothers Do Ave Em,’ with a gargantuan riff that Josh Homme would divorce Brody (remember her?) for, is tossed away, apparently unaware of its own greatness. ‘Let’s Stop Hanging Out’ is their pop hit – a problem, because like almost everything they’ve done, it’s structured as if written by an Asberger’s sufferer. It lurches from A to B via, like, 37, each section marginally better than the last.

This analysis is all very silly and waaaay too glowing for a band you could fairly dismiss as dunderheaded nu rock – big riffs, often-daft words, sometimes cheesy tunes. But there’s something elusive, weird and brilliant at work which makes it seem completely unfair that Reuben are playing a half-empty goth club rather than enjoying Biffy-like love and adulation at the Astoria.

Their tour DVD, documenting life in a band too poor to give up jobs at supermarkets, is the saddest music film you’ll see this year, including ‘Control’. There’s a purity to Reuben, because you feel deep down they’ve realised they’re never going to “make it”. They’re getting as much out of nights like this as they possibly can.

They will surely disappear within five years, but Lenman will be back, I assure you. He’s a genius, that kid at school who was amazing at everything he tried but strangely awkward. His songs, once you’re over their ever-so-slight similarity to a bunch of nu metal we all wish hadn’t happened, are like nothing else in 2007.

I emphatically resist that getting older means you need to listen to cerebral, reflective music. It’s patronising, and a denial of where you’ve come from. Reuben are funny, but they’re also extremely earnest, and that seems to be a dirty word these days. But why should we forget what it’s like to be earnest? Why are we ashamed of being heartfelt? Why is it ok to call directionless, indulgent “folk” beautiful and intelligent when loving heroically crafted “rock” gets you laughed at? By your early 20s these are questions that seem too unanswerable to worry about

It’s fair to assume that most bands are having fun; travelling around the country playing music and generally being outrageous on tour buses is fine work if you can get it. Kotki Dwa however sound like they’re enjoying it even more then everyone else, buy more about not only have they rummaged around the musical toy box but they’ve emptied the shop. Robin’s Clogs is a wonderfully crafted indie pop song, mind with slicing guitars not dissimilar to Foals except without the edge and with a squeaking synthesiser over the top playing out a melody as catchy as they come.

Kotki Dwa then are one of the new generation of British pop bands who are re claiming the fun in indie from across the Atlantic. Vocalist Alex, unlike so many of his contemporaries, is actually able to sing melodically and belt out fine vocals with a painfully delicate voice, sometimes sounding on the verge of tears, yet conversely remaining wistfully upbeat, lips smiling but eyes crying. You know the type. This is never more apparent than on B-side Halogen, which holds it’s own to make a single of two fine songs. Oh, and they can even sing in French.
New ways, more about new ways, site
I dream of wires.
So I press ‘c’ for comfort, information pills
I dream of wires, the old ways.
Gary Numan, ‘I Dream of Wires’

Not only an underrated Gary Numan B side, but the latest retro clothing shop to open off Brick Lane. On the opening night, I Dream of Wires offered a kaleidoscopic mix of vintage fashion and nostalgic trinkets creating an environment Mr Benn would have reveled in. Had he actually existed outside of television. (For those who were not raised on children’s cartoons, Mr Benn was my childhood hero and the eponymous character of the classic children’s television show. He tried on clothes and was transported to exciting and dangerous worlds through the back door of the dressing-up shop. Now you know.) The rails ached with an eclectic clothing range as a cropped Moschino jacket with candy-striped lining hung beside a fluorescent pair of ski pants and bejewelled sweatshirt. Carla created a strong look Gary Numan would have loved, pairing a vintage dress with animal emblazoned leggings. In the display cabinets, curious and peculiar ornaments were arranged, the sort your grandparents displayed lovingly on tabletops and shelves. The changing room was continuously occupied as treasures came back and forth to be tried on for size and, happily for all, there were no January sale style brawls. Visiting the shop was like being in my own Mr Benn inspired magical adventure, starting out in the wardrobe of my babysitter in the eighties and stumbling through to my Nana’s bungalow. With so many second-hand and vintage clothing shops located around Brick Lane, I Dream of Wires is sure to appeal to those who get kicks poking fun at retro styles to create eccentric, outrageous ensembles.

carla.jpg
In amongst the glut of sugar coated schmaltz vying for the rather hollow accolade of Christmas number #1 for 2007 is this rather lovely cut from Welsh Wizards Super Furry Animals. A gift it is indeed. The track will be available free to fans in download format, view complete with B side and artwork on Christmas day. It’s safe to say this won’t be troubling the upper reaches of the charts then, viagra but when did SFA ever sell any records? The band’s lack of relative commercial success is still somewhat perplexing.

It matters not. Never intended to be a Christmas single, TGTKOG is one of many highlights from long player Hey Venus! released earlier this year. There are no bells or lyrics about snow. Just Gruff’s gorgeous tones, a meandering brass line and some intricate harmonies. Nadolig Llawen.

Imagine you’re watching one of those American hospital dramas on TV. Perhaps it’s the Christmas episode or season finale, medicine either way something is bound to go wrong. And when the shit hits the fan it breaks down into a montage of various characters in their scrubs, and remorseful, shop head in hands. Then, think of the music that accompanies those tearful medics. It’s emotive, driven by acoustic guitar and piano, with mildly folky vocals and a healthy dose of strings. Deadman, by House of Brothers, is one such track. Both sad and uplifting, this song has been strictly tailored in the studio to drag listeners up to peaks and down into troughs.

House of Brothers is Andrew Jackson’s solo project and is vastly different from his work with Scarecrow and The Death of Rosa Luxemburg. When I read the name of this EP I instantly thought of Jim Jarmusch’s film of the same title. House of Brothers’ release has little in common with the black and white western. I suppose you could say it’s lyrically bleak but the upbeat arrangements prevent Jackson from plumbing the depths.

Although lacking the polish of the title track, the other material has the same guitar/piano/strings, or indie-folk, sound. They are too long and it’s hard to maintain any kind of enthusiasm by the final track, correctly named The Last Ballad.

This EP is also aptly titled, because it retreads a musical style, which doesn’t have much life in it. It feels a little tired, as though most of the effort went into the first track. And was that effort worth it? As Jackson sings, “Don’t want to rise and shine for the second time. Just leave me be.” Perhaps we should.

tnp_press_pic_3_dean_chalkey.JPG

Having already waxed lyrical about These New Puritans after seeing them live in September, viagra approved I was more than ready and willing to get stuck into their much anticipated full-length offering, pharm Beat Pyramid. After much to-ing and fro-ing with release dates, cialis 40mg it looked like this one was going to up in the air for some time, however news is that’ll hit shelves this January and if you’ve an MP3 player, turntable, cassette deck or CD car stereo, I urge you to go out and buy it in every format and play it at high volume wherever you go. This is not THE perfect album, if such a thing even exists, and I won’t and can’t vouch for its life changing properties. However, what this is, I’d like to hope, is the beginning of something great. An album that delivers some absolutely stompingly good tracks, interspersed with a few that never take off; however it’s all a matter of context. Reaching such heights of brilliance at some points, if they fall short for just a moment at others, it hits as a minor disappointment. The fact is some of their lesser tracks would put most ‘indie’ hits to shame. Not a bad position to be in.

Beat Pyramid starts as it means to go on. The opener, …ce I Will Say This Twice which is picked up again in the closing track, sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the album. A beautiful slice of 80′s inspired, sharply constructed electronica, vocals nothing more than a mysterious, androgynous voice stating ‘I will say this Twice’. At just 16 seconds long its peculiar hypnotic effect leaves you wanting more, the sudden end coming frustratingly too soon.

Luckily the stomping drums that usher in Numbers make everything better again. As with their live performances, the beat is king on this record and having seen George Barnett (ringleader Jack’s twin brother) do some quite incredible things with a set of drumsticks, I was more than pleased to see all that demonic, tightly controlled energy translate onto record. “What’s your favourite number/What does it mean?/What’s your favourite number/what does it mean?” Jack never lets up. Insistent repetition is very much the order of the day with TNP, words becoming a beat within themselves, not what is said but more the pattern in which it’s spoken, over and over until it loses meaning but never effect.

Swords of Truth’s distorted trumpets swoop in like the opening of a Dancehall track, the beat conjuring similar reference, it’s easy to spot those unexpected influences that transform this band into something far more interesting and complex than your average post-punk outfit. It would be easy to mistake their eclectic tastes for pretension (Sonic Youth, Dubstep, the Occult, David Lynch) but they’re all laid out here, grabbed and borrowed from seemingly disparate genres. When mention was made of hip-hop whiz kid J Dilla I had my doubts, but they meant it; his irresistible, inside out beats littered throughout.

And now onto Doppelganger. I first heard this track online and immediately spent a good hour trying to track it down and just own it. A stuttering, Timbaland-esque experiment in beat and rhythm, it’s sparsity and directness carried along by, what can only be described as a ‘jangly’ electro dreamscape, giving it a kind of futuristic grandeur and irresistible head nodding appeal. It’s very rare that a band actually creates anything new but Doppelganger is so wilfully unusual and unexpected that it becomes almost impossible to place. At points I’m reminded of The Fall, Aphex Twin, GGD, Klaxons but as quickly as the comparisons come to mind, they’re dashed aside. This is something else and I’m having trouble putting my finger on it. I gave up trying. Whichever way you read it, at its core is something that just works, ultimately making it the standout track of the album.

Infinity Ytinifnl, £4, mkk3, all march along in a similar vein, perhaps a little less instantly striking, they nevertheless continue that ‘new sound’ with some impressive angular rhythms. Aggressive, brash, disjointed, taut. Heard outside of the context of this album, they would probably have had me frantically scrambling for the volume dial. Instead I just sit back and enjoy.

Things come to an unusually melancholic close with Costume, all drawn out, languid keyboards harmonising with Jack’s slow, deliberate vocals as they rise and fall through what feels like one continuous chorus. Interruption in the form of George’s powerful stuttering, staccato drumbeat, take this track to another level. The obligatory ‘Downbeat Finale’ this is not.

So, we return to the beginning again with I Will Say This Twi…, this time just 7 seconds long and ending abruptly like a sudden pull of the plug. The album comes full circle and while none of the mystery surround TNP has been solved, as impenetrable and cryptic as ever in their themes, even their intent, what they do reveal is a unexpectedly accomplished collection of off-beat, otherworldly tracks that remind you that taking a risk sometimes pays off.

Candles – pillar, symptoms tea lights and especially church candles in wine bottles. I love them all. Once I bought a load of tea lights, visit web lined them up on the windowsill behind my bed and lit them, hoping to create a nice atmosphere in my squat (ok it wasn’t actually a squat, but we did have a beetle and maggot infestation – who thought these life forms could co-exist so happily?) This ambiance lasted for about half an hour, until my friend forgot they were lit and leant back too far whilst sitting on the bed. His hair caught fire. After this debacle I’ve been banned from candles just incase I drop out of University to pursue arson as a career. But fate was quick to intervene, as some delightfully scented Diptyque candles were delivered to Amelia and I got to spark up. Diptyque began producing candles in 1963, and in the ensuing 45 years it has cornered the candle market with its exotic wax concoctions and beautiful packaging. In time for Christmas and the New Year, Diptyque have produced three limited edition winter candles – Encens (incense), Gingembre (ginger) and Epicea (spruce). These are candles your mum will actually appreciate as a gift, and so will everyone else within smelling distance. With 60 hours of burning time per candle, this seasonal trio are sure to last through the festive period to deliver the perfect aroma to cure January blues.

epicea-small.jpg
I was told I’d really like The Chap by a good friend of mine. He went on to tell me he was drawn to them for two reasons; their name, this and the fact they had a song called Woop Woop. Luckily my friend isn’t four, cure he has a BA (!), more about so I took his word for it and waited in anticipation for what I hoped would be a pop feast.

I didn’t like Morviscous straight off the bat cause they all looked like sixth formers and I had a prejudice against their brass instrument collection. It didn’t help that the barman wouldn’t adhere to the advertised deal on red wine. But I grew to embrace their grim appearance over the thirty minute instrumental set and began to indulge in the progressive bass workout, the guitarist’s Django noodling and yeah, even the brass guy’s freeform squawk was good. I was a 21st Century Schizoid Man by 10 o’clock.

Zombie-Zombie let loose next and raised the bar completely. It doesn’t take a genius to pick out this duo’s influences. Their mix of synth and OTT echo on the vocals wreaked of Suicide, circa ‘77. If you ever wondered whether that effect could stay fresh after half an hour on repeat, in a live environment, the answer is yes. Top that with this dude, who calls himself CosmicNeman, perched just above a circle of drums of all sizes, bashing out relentless tom-tom beats that send the audience into a cosmic trance of their own, aided only further by the dark shifting light patterns that almost obscure their stage telepathy, and you’ve got one helluva kosmische party man! He even proceeded to leave his perch and dance uncontrollably in front of the stage for 5 minutes yelping like The Boss dodging a State Trooper, while accomplice Etienne Jaumet kept space wailing. Good it was!

I should have been more pumped up for The Chap but I think energy levels at that point were waning. More’s the pity that they couldn’t fix the situation; I think even my + 1 (who did the recommending) was having doubts after seeing Zombie-Zombie. The Chap were a horrible mess of irritating sing-a-long twee vocals without an ounce of soul. There was the odd flash of an interesting riff here and there but all I could think about was how much the singer looked like Tom Hanks in Big.

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We decided to meet at 10.30ish in Hoxton for Ghost School. Suitably, erectile t’was raining, help windy and freezing for the haunting of the Macbeth on a gloomy Friday night in East London. A bit of a venue du jour of late, I finally rolled up at nearly 11.30pm, leaving our Fashion Editor, Catherine, shivering in the bone achingly cold side alley next to the Macbeth, vainly attempting to shelter from the icy rain (sorry Catherine). She kept having to tell people that, no, where she was standing wasn’t another entrance into the venue, but that the door was around the other side.

When I arrived, there wasn’t anyone lining up outside – nor were there any loitering smokers either. And that’s because everyone was already all toasty warm and inside. And lo, the smokers were upstairs, as they have a covered roof terrace to puff away under, rain, hail or snow. The venue was rammed – we had missed the two bands playing, Betty and the Werewolves and Kasms who were on earlier in the night. Being my virgin time at the Macbeth and after reading up on the Ghost School manifesto, I expected it to be trendoid central with egos abounding. But immediately, I warmed to the venue, and to the crowd – who were uber friendly and diverse as advertised. And when Rihanna got a spin (YES, it was played unashamedly, unabashed and guilt free, without a hint of irony…I was reveling in it), that was it, Ghost School had me possessed (har har).

An eclectic and choice array of music – though Catherine was craving a bit of Wham!, a request for the next night please Ghostly DJs (Friday February 8th). Though it took a while for people to properly bust a move, by the end of the night the stage had been hijacked and people were up and cutting a rug. The singularly annoying thing was how insanely difficult it was to cross from the bar to the dance floor; theoretically only about three metres apart, but a logistical nightmare with the amount of people in the place. The only question is, how long a night like that can stay like that. Let’s hope it’ll haunt the Macbeth as is for a while longer before it gets ghostbusted. See you there next month innit!

London’s Royal Academy was the prestigious venue for the MA Show 2008, prescription presenting the MA portfolio from students at the London College of Fashion. ‘More champagne madam?’ asked the young waiter dressed in black. ‘Why not!’ After all, visit web it seemed to be the finest accompaniment for the minuscule Yorkshire puddings topped with rare slices of beef that came round. Walking around the first room, glancing at the four walls, each graduate presented their final work, their inner selves…

Photographer Joanna Paterson’s presented her fashion series beautifully. In hues of green, pink and yellow, a model stood in the dark, wet location, amongst a flock of birds. Almost unnoticed in the room, stood randomly located light boxes; apparently the perfect resting place for the half empty champagne glasses the ‘art crowd’ had carelessly left. These containers, made by photographer Michael Verity, had a 3-D view of a stark white room with a black chair and a man randomly changing positions within it. Although it created simple, yet poetic compositions, I did wish I could have understood what it all meant. Adam Murray’s colourful display of over 100 Polaroid’s of young men and women captured the youth culture of today in a unique style. Lutz Vorderwuelbecke’s fashion photographs, whose over-Photoshopped images were pretty amateur, did little to inspire me, especially when the styling seemed so cheap; a perfect example of one graduate who didn’t MA-ster their skills! Fashion designer, Jula Reindell’s transparent body suits, adorned and filled with hair left me wondering if any humans were hurt in the making!

From the Journalism course, students had presented their final magazines. Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s cute and colourful illustrations using felt tip, reminded me of my childhood days, in a good way. And it was refreshing to see that men’s fashion was taken seriously with Lucy Preston’s Young Man’s Fashion Journal ‘Manual’. One of the magazines that I loved was ‘Goo‘ (below) by Rachel Gibson; a feminist magazine with a good sense of humour. Now, I only got the time to read small snippets, but the content was intelligent, and the use of imagery was creative.

It was a shame I missed the performances showed throughout the day, presented by the new MA Costume Design Course, as it would have topped off the energy that came out of the evening.

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Much hype surrounds Dev Hynes, what is ed the devilishly handsome genius behind Lightspeed Champion. He’s a former member of Test Icicles, pilule a trio whose music and general on-stage movement resembled characters in a flick book. In contrast to this, Hynes’s current incarnation takes a drastic departure from his musically angular Test Icicle work. Tell Me What It’s Worth, the third single from his debut album, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge is a melancholic ode complemented by backing vocals worthy of a Disney Princess (actually the work of Emmy the Great). Mesmerising as this vocal combination is, once I listened closer, I found the lyrics humourously abrasive as Hynes coos ‘negros turn a blueish-grey when they’re dead, well that’s funny ’cause I’ve just gone quite red‘. Hynes’s lyrics provide a welcome contrast to the sing-song melodies of most folk music.

When watching Channel 4 at a ridiculous time somewhere between Friday night and Saturday morning I came across Hynes being interviewed. After confessing eternal devotion to American rock band Weezer, he took to the stage and played an acoustic set complete with violin accompaniment. It’s refreshing to see an artist who refuses to be pigeonholed into one musical category, be it folk, anti-pop punk or rock, but welcomes all influences.
It was Saturday, prescription I had a free afternoon, patient and so I decided to go to an exhibition. I like to do things like that because I often find something that inspires me… so I decided to go to the photographic exhibition by Darren Almond at the White Cube Gallery. With no expectations, I walked in…

Starting from the ground floor, there were large-scale landscape photographs on the wall, a series called ‘Fullmoon’. They weren’t just landscape photos. When Darren takes the photos, he uses an extremely long exposure in moonlight. As soon as I looked into them, I started noticing something strange. He seems to take them in remote locations; places with running water, like rivers, waterfalls or the sea, and where everything else in the photo stands still, like trees, mountains and cliffs. Because of this long exposure, the running water becomes blurry in the picture, making very beautiful and surreal images. The water looked like a very thick fog, creating a strong atmosphere. These very peaceful and calm images made me feel safe and secure. There was one fantastic picture, which was taken at sunset…I had to stand there for quite a long time because I couldn’t get enough of looking at the beautiful image. It was nostalgic, yet something I had never seen. Also, the softness of the water made different textures – like the surface of cliffs or trees – stronger and more powerful. That contrast and power of nature was fascinating.

When I went up to the first floor, there were other inspiring pictures from Tibet. They were pictures of flags. Actually, one of my friends brought one home from there when she went, so I have seen the flags before. But this picture was all about the flags; hundreds of them piled and hung together, making an infinite world. Plus, the flags were so colourful and bright, creating such eye-catching images.

When I was about to leave the room, a couple with a little boy came in to see the photographs. As soon as the little boy saw these pictures of flags, he had big smile on his face. I think that says just how good this exhibition was!

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A selection of Mike Perry‘s delightful drawings and words of wisdom slipped through the letterbox this morning in a tantalising yellow envelope. The rather prolific illustrator/designer, viagra 40mg who honoured us with a drawing for the back cover of issue no.5, patient seems very busy at the moment creating books AND starting up a brand new, order beautifully designed fashion magazine. Keep it up!

To see more of Mr Perry’s work, have a look at his website, MIDWESTISBEST.

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You can file Paul Pfeiffer as an elder statesman amongst an emerging generation of incisively critical American artists working within relatively new modes of digital media. Thus as Pfeiffer’s close kin we can count the ever excellent Seth Price, visit the BEIGE kids: Paul B. Davis and Cory Arcangel, a collective like Paper Rad, or on a more serious/theoretical note, someone like Paul Chan.

Above all what unites this new batch of practitioners is an edgy dissection of the techno-plurality of the contemporary moment: rather than be transfixed adoringly by the cornucopian delights of the Google-age, an artist like Pfeiffer rejects explicit hyperworld-positivism (art from the ‘technology is really great and can do nothing other that amazing, interesting things school’ – a la someone like John Maeda), favouring a somewhat more disenchanted creative turn.

Live from Neverland (2007), the central work at uptown West End gallery Thomas Dane, is a two part video installation inspired by none other than Michael Jackson (remember him? Mates with Uri Geller as I recall). Now, rather ingeniously Pfeiffer takes the full 10 minute dialogue from an interview conducted by Jackson in 2003 in which he squeakily enunciates his innocence regarding claims concerning certain nefarious nocturnal activities involving children and beds and restages it as a performance by 80 cherubic Filipino theatrical students. The nice poorly graded video footage of the Filipino students is projected large scale in one corner of the galleries main room (think school concert captured by an adoring parent) while the original interview footage – muted, synched and delightfully blended with the youthful chorus – is displayed in the opposing corner on a small floor monitor: the vision of Wacko’s weird surgically enhanced mouth appearing to speak in multiple youthful tongues being eerie to say the least.

In short a tricky issue: paedophilia, dealt with in a reasonably sensitive manner and diffused via a well recognised contemporary art trope: that big’ol nasty mass media thing and the many wonderful and weird conceptual personae it intermittently coughs up for our scrutiny

The second work Study for Koko (2008) is more immediately Pfeiffer-esque in its deployment digital erasure as a means to generate a simple but stimulating visual effect. It’s not bad, but the main show remains next door with the Jackson work.

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Don’t underestimate Thao Nguyen. Her slight form and delicate features do little to indicate the intensity of her billowing voice that at once erupts into gusts of breathtaking passion. Trickling in and out of the guitar strings, order her fingers work faster than the eye to create an electrifying urgency more akin to a four-piece rock band than a singular acoustic guitar (Thao doesn’t use a plectrum, prescription instead preferring to strum with the backs of her fingertips). Her exceptional acoustic strumming takes centre stage but excels through the contented marriage of Willis on drums. The drum sections roar and retreat with grace, lending Thao the best possible platform for her breathy vocals and licks.

Through songs like Swimming Pools and Geography we are taken on a surreal voyage across America. Alluding to her American roots, she introduces each song as ‘another song from Virginia’, her home state and with her lingering vocals, Thao adopts a Californian drawl, tinged with the bluesy warmth of the deep south but garnished with the cynicism of New York. A timeless American artist, she has the ability to speak to all, her affecting lyrics (‘we don’t jump, we canonball‘) are heartfelt and stirring. Snippets of her affable American accent touched in between songs as she entertained with light flickers of humour, inviting the meek crowd to shimmy forward to the front of the stage.

Monto Water Rats in Kings Cross proved to be the perfect place to showcase such a vibrant, spell-binding performer. Think old-man-pub dinginess with a comfortingly musty aroma and comfortingly honest prices, thus providing a certain genuinity which would have otherwise been lost had Thao played at a more polished, larger venue.

Launching into songs from her debut album, We Suffer Bee Stings and All, Thao quickly finds her feet onstage, side shuffling in her cowboy boots with the odd flick of the ankle, stamping a certain country effervescence to her music, charming it with occasional light hearted élan which helps it to break free from the ranks of her more earnest contemporaries, namely Cat Power.

Thao has capably brought to life the whimsical and powerful meanderings of her album, resurrecting the poignant simplicity of a voice, a story and a guitar. If you ever take a roadtrip, take Thao with you.

Although they’ve been opened just six short months, price Recoat gallery have generated more interest than most galleries could in six years. A well stocked print rack and their Bargain Basement night has made owning contemporary urban art accessible to the masses while a choice of attention grabbing exhibitions showcasing both international and home-grown talent has earned them a reputation as one of Scotland’s must see galleries.

Their latest show, sildenafil ‘Of Beasts and Machines’ is by Andrew Rae; illustrator, animator and member of the Peepshow collective. Best known for his work as art director on BBC Three’s ‘Monkey Dust’, Rae’s doodlings have also been picked up by MTV, Orange, the Guardian and the New York tourist board.

The exhibitions takes its name from one of Rae’s postcard books, and neatly sums up the chief motifs of his work. The exhibition includes pieces from Rae’s portfolio of prints and original postcard sized drawings as well as a mural drawn by Rae on one wall of the gallery. All are executed in the same clean yet gallivanting line, where intricate detailing meets a childlike imagination. In one piece, ‘King of Beasts’, a huge prehistoric looking monster is made up of lots tiny animals, from snake lips to feline haunches; in another, ‘ADD Brain’, flailing wires form a tangled brain, knotted up with hamburgers, human limbs, Nintendo consoles and amplifiers.

The dark twists that fans of Monkey Dust will be familiar with are never sinister, being deftly steered into comic, tongue in cheek territory – like in ‘A Nice Day Out’ where a father and son, chest deep in waders and beaming from ear to ear hold up their catch of the day; a dying, doll-sized mermaid.

Rae’s illustrations are surreal and sublime, clever and darkly comic. At times ‘Of Beasts and Machines’ holds a mirror up to modern life and we see our reflection like in the back of a teaspoon. But his world, populated by hybrids of animals, people and machines is always oddly beautiful.

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The prospect of free drinks will do an amazing amount to shift this society into action. Having strolled up to the entrance of Cargo happy and optimistic from a generous supply of champagne at a previous viewing, this site I was ready for a cheeky bit of entertainment from the grammatically complex Does It Offend You, information pills Yeah? The effects of the champagne slowly ebbed away as we stood outside in an enormous, stagnant queue of eager alcohol-vultures for almost an hour, but when we finally got through the doors the long wait had done nothing to diminish my enthusiasm. We joined the throng of people waiting – not ever so patiently – at the bar to collect their token beverages, and tried to stand our ground while the crowd heaved and pushed like a pack of sweaty wildebeests.

As our elbows grazed the bar the band came on, so we dashed with our treasured drinks towards the front. I was expecting a lot of energy from this gig, but strangely the entire session felt slightly flat – maybe that was purely the fault of the sound system, but I have to say I was left a little disappointed that I had been neither enthralled nor offended, but oddly subdued.

The music seemed to seep away quickly, and we were left wanting more, but not in a good way; more in a sort of “I queued for an hour for this? An outrage!” Not to mention the fact that the free drinks had so many terms and conditions, plastered literally onto the barman’s t-shirt on A4 paper, that I only managed to get one of the five I was promised. Ah well, maybe more drinks would’ve been a bad idea anyway.

I will conclude this anecdote with a positive message: the band are great, and I’ll put the poor performance down to an off-night. But did it offend me? No, and I’ve always got the paradoxically more lively CD to listen to. Besides, I learnt something valuable that night; that complimentary beverages can make wonders happen in London.

Recently the weather has been getting warmer and we seem to be having less miserable days. It’s almost like Spring is on its way; until the wind picks up, sales the skies turn grey and the rain pours down. But January mustn’t be remembered for the side effects of global warming, cheap as Canon is about to launch a new camera for this spring – the digital IXUS 80 IS. They have four colours to choose from: Classic Silver, Caramel, Chocolate, and Candy Pink. Highly compact and super stylish; they’re not just pretty, they’re also uber-functional. Canon have introduced a new clear 2.5” PureColor LCD II screen, which means that you get to see your subject in true colour (which is sometimes a bit of a reality shock at the end of a night out). I gave it a try and the screen was as advertised, particularly compared to the one I bought two years ago. But before you head off to your nearest electronic shop, there’s more! It has brand new Motion Detection Technology, enabling the camera to sense movement – no more blurry pictures! This is technology at its finest, if only it could magic the January rain away…
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The unsigned power-pop/electro-pop/indie-pop London four-piece known as The RGBs were Thursday’s main attraction at Brick Lane’s Vibe Bar. Three sparkly sparkly gorgeous girls (wearing the RGB colours – red gold and blue) took to the stage. Joining them was a hoodied drummer – ‘the French boy’. He was not so sparkly (yet still pretty gorgeous) and looked slightly out of place amongst the glamour of the sequins, doctor beads, glitter, sparkles and glittery sparkles. Nevertheless I wouldn’t really want to see him all glammed-up and I felt he was needed to help avoid the girl band stigma.

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The Everlaster opened the gig in a so-called Charlie Chaplin version. It was such a shame the microphones weren’t working for this particular song, with its powerful Bonnie Tyler meets Kate Bush vocals. Luckily the mic did what mics are meant to do in time for the second track – a self proclaimed ‘indie shimndie’ song called Your Scene – and there was a cheer from the growing audience (in size and enthusiasm). And what a diverse and random audience they were. There was a good handful of your Brick Lane trendies, a rowdy, energetic and sparkly groupie at the front, your token celebrity – Danny aka Shrek from Hear’say, a bunch of chavs and two suited, floppy haired business men who had probably gotten lost between Canary Wharf and Kensington.

I was torn between the entertaining performances from the band and their audience, notably the dance-off between the chavs and the floppy haired sing-along businessmen (super-fans). The band, fortunately won my eyes over. The RGB ladies have such a stage presence; the lead singer gave an aerobic like performance, with lunges, stretches, grapevines and the occasional sly leotard wedgy picking – all the moves reminiscent of Mad Lizzie. The moves really got going to Chicken Licken – an apparent tribute to Beyonce with a drum intro by the French boy just like that of Mucho Mambo by 90s dance/rave act shaft. And with the “Shake your, shake your, shake your booty…” the keyboardist stole the stage with her booty shaking. The businessmen seemingly knew every word to Chicken Licken and at this point got into the swing of their dad dancing.

After more vigorous moves, infectious pop tunes and glittery sweat, the gig sadly came to an end. There was a plea for an encore from the crowd – the sparkly groupie, the chavs, the trendies, the enthusiastic suits, Danny from Hearsay and from my friend Adam and I, of course. All in all a fantastic performance from a band who shone as much as their outfits and who are as truly colourful as their name lead us to believe.

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Having grown tired of the sort of vacuous, viagra 40mg disposable music that has infiltrated our world in recent years, drowning out the quiet geniuses that modestly create wonders amongst them, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Junkboy‘s auditary universe of considered, positively unfashionable sounds.

With nature-derived titles such as There Is Light, Volcano Mono and Kano River, and the reverberating sound of crickets fading out the end of Tonight, Three evokes a stirring sensation of an imminent revival of nineteenth-century Romanticism, whilst slipping you softly into a lunar dream of skin-tingling dischords.

The sound of the sea, by which the Brighton-based band live, seeps lucidly into each and every track in a mesmerizing fusion of nature and technology, devoid of irony, sarcasm or the general post-modernist attitude that so many bands of this decade seem to operate around.

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Tonight and Held Inside have the strange, distorted resonances of a medieval folk song that, with carefully placed silences, tinkling bells and soporific vocals, drowsily transcend the categories of folk, classical and electronica and, to quote the legend of Alexander Pope, will “wake the soul by tender strokes of art“. It is certainly the right time.

It’s easy to dismiss Poppy de Villeneuve as a girl-about-town with splendid connections (her mother Jan was a famous fashion model in the 60s, ed her father Justin was a photographer credited for discovering Twiggy and her sister Daisy is quite a well-known illustrator who regularly graces the society pages). But her first solo exhibition entitled ‘This is a Story of Hope and We are All Characters in it’ in Paradise Row provided a venue with which to scrutinize, buy not her pedigree or even her social capital (although the excellent turnout did prove that it doesn’t hurt to have a lot of friends) but her talent. The exhibition was a testament that behind the socialite façade lays depth and compassion intrinsic both in the photographs and the photographer.

The exhibit was a culmination of de Villeneuve’s trip to Rio Grande, ed where she had initially planned to document the migration of the Monarch butterfly but ended up taking photos of people who live in the desolate desert that flanks the Rio Grande (the river separating Texas and Mexico) instead. The landscape and the state of the place was the juxtaposition of the American Dream, the complete opposite of the fame that Hollywood represents or the wealth that New York embodies. Instead of fame or fortune, the people and the desert gave one the impression of hopelessness and defeat. But de Villeneuve was reluctant to portray her subjects as forever rooted in their wretched surroundings and opted instead to photograph them against simple backgrounds, silently pointing the viewer to the Humanist belief in empathy as purportedly articulated in the pictures. However, the six portraits failed to capture any empathy from the viewer as although the photographs were quite stark and vivid, the subjects seemed to lack any emotion. Some of the pictures though, notably two landscapes were powerful and lucid in their imagery.

de Villeneuve’s documentary-style photographs, though certainly not in the same league as Lee Miller‘s or Henri Cartier-Bresson‘s, has that glint of potential. And as a young photographer in the process of honing her skills and her style, de Villeneuve still has a lot to offer. Socialite or not, as a photographer, de Villeneuve is one to watch.

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Call me a pessimist, viagra 40mg but the world as it is today seems to be fuelled with the need to grow up too quickly, and the value of youthful innocence is lost altogether faster then you could say “Fancy a fag?” to your 12-year old brother.

But low and behold there is a saviour – once you listen to the tracks of I Want You To Know There Is Always Hope by rising stars, I Was A Cub Scout, memories of old school never-should-be-talked-about-again naïve teenage crushes, impulse summer road trips to nowhere, and mooching around with your closest friends anywhere, because it didn’t matter where you were, only that your friends were with you, come flooding back again. This record takes you back to adolescent youth; days when it was perfectly acceptable to release the fickle rebellion inside because ‘you were going through that phase in life’, and when love (or lust, however you view it) could hurt. Bad.

The teenage (ish) duo made up of Todd Marriott, 18, and William Bowerman, 20, produce the kind of untarnished music, which makes you want to hug everyone in the room unashamedly. Todd’s voice oozes of heartache and emotion that evoke empathetic life experiences, and most importantly the music is, and feels real (unlike some of the more generic ‘bands’, which keep popping out from some sort of indie band pez dispenser). They re-coin the meaning of emo with their abstract but intellectual mixture of a little punk, a pinch of rock, extract of pop, and a generous smothering of indie.

Their first track of the album, Save Your Wishes, my personal favourite, sets up the mood of the entire album, commencing with an upbeat and captivating synth sequence combined with an equally up-tempo drumbeat, which allows the introduction of almost tear-inducing, (of the good variety) vocal chords, courtesy of Todd himself; young as he may sound, he doesn’t half know how to sing with his heart, which is hard to come by nowadays.

Then there is their forthcoming single Pink Squares, which also fails to disappoint; the juxtaposition of mellow synth lines with thrashing guitars and over-excited drumsticks sway to and fro states of tranquillity, and then back again; a parody of life that anyone can relate to.

Tracks in between manage to accumulate the best bits of an array of genres, from the indie-esque atmospheric keyboard lines in Echoes, to the reflective, and almost melancholic introduction of We Were Made To Love, which speedily picks up with a more playful, humorous pop beat. The closing track A Step Too Far Behind, is truly the delicious icing on this indulgent, feelgood cake of a record, ending with a glorious spectacle of Todd’s heartfelt vocals and Will’s pounding drums, guaranteed to hit the spot; I challenge anyone not to be moved by the last one and a half minutes of this track especially.

This album won’t knock your socks off, but could certainly well be the soundtrack to your life; after all, everyone has a little child inside them. And if it could put a smile on an often cynical, old before her time city girl, it could well save the hearts, and minds, of all the misguided alcohol swigging twelve year olds out there.

According to the Moving Brands representative giving the speech (who was like a tearful parent watching their child leave home) the Weare launch party was to celebrate the coming together of social media and fashion. He talked about this concept as if it was the Second Coming. I was slightly disappointed when he revealed a scarf, drugs rather than Jesus. This scarf (modelled below) was created from image contributions sent to a window gallery at the Moving Brands studio. Over 500 people participated, ask creating a garment designed by the consumers rather than simply for the consumers. This hands-on approach to design allowed anyone to participate, which is why the scarf featured everything from phallic symbols to Pac-Man. Apparently, the first suggestion for the launch garment was a cape. Personally I think this would have been amazing. Imagine – you could swish around the streets like a modern day Dracula. Maybe this is what Norton and Sons, a bespoke tailor of Savile Row, were thinking when they agreed to be the first to collaborate with Weare. Count Dracula was a dapper man after all.
The night gave me an insight on the future of designing and even if it was just in the form of a scarf, the concept was something a bit different than a launch for a lip-gloss. The Moving Brands employees were more than happy to talk and interaction seemed to be the theme for the night – there were blocks of post-its stuck onto the wall and you could re-arrange or remove them to your own delight. There was also an interactive table-top featured in the room, I wasn’t quite sure why it was there, but I suppose it went with the general theme of the evening. I felt like I was in a science dome.
I’ve never done a shout out before but I’m sending one to the exceptional waiting staff – my champagne glass never emptied. Wow. I feel like Tim Westwood now…
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Try imagining a musical mash-up of a relaxing and melodic slice of Mogwai combined with an electronic club beat and maybe your getting close to this one. Skibunny‘s single Aah Ooh is juxtaposition between so many genres stemming from the DJing background of the band. A dreamy pop vocal draws you beyond the common electro-acoustic sound to create something else.

Normally remixing music, troche Skibunny have built up a solid reputation in the DJing scene, with a club of the same name holding a very good reputation for alternative nights. Now we see their first release of original material and it is an enjoyable song. Although slow and slightly pathetic at the start, the song has a steady build up throughout that draws you in to its tranquil sound. The vocal, with its echoing Aah Ooh’s, invites you to dream away about sitting in the sunshine with your friends and has a very positive summer feel. At the same time the beat does not distract from the dreamy mood of the song, only creating more of an atmosphere behind the calming vocal.

Slightly cheesy, but given a chance this song is actually very enjoyable. Anything that provokes such feelings of summer and drinking with friends is positive in my book. The single features a remix by Japanese producer and DJ Handsomeboy that has more electric knobs tweaked and piano bits. This is more upbeat than the single but equally pleasurable. The calming Aah Ooh is perfect listen on these cold days as we look forward and daydream about the summer.

So it’s down to the Coningsby Gallery for the opening night of SH OW. The Coningsby Gallery has a wide reputation because of its connection to the agency Début Art. The gallery acts as a shop window for the emerging illustrators of the agency as well as other artists. The reason I was there was for the free beer and to check out some up and coming illustration by a collaboration called ‘Lie-Ins And Tigers’. It was raining outside and pretty cold, order and therefore a lot of people had squeezed into the exhibition space, look leaving very little room to move around the work. Beer was located down stairs and awkward to get through to, but rewarding it was when I finally got there.

Lie-Ins and Tigers is a collaboration of three image-makers. Sam Kerr, Walter Newton and Russell Weekes. Together they offer their individual styles to forge a humorous mix of work. The group’s concept is comical illustration that is usually simple and straight to the point. Some of the humor is childish and yet still engaging and fun because of the style it’s produced in. A beer was the perfect accompaniment to this slightly laddish humor.

Sam Kerr’s work fuses together a realistic illustration style with humorous elements that, at times, makes you laugh out loud. The illustration of someone masturbating, only the penis is replaced with oil paint spurting out of the tube, was a particular highlight. His realistic style lends well to some of the commercial work featured in the show. Illustrations of Gordon Brown and David Cameron for The Guardian newspaper show the MP’s in cartoon like sketches.

Walter Newton’s work is a more cartoon illustration style often taking things and putting them into a new context. The missing wasp poster saying, ‘Have you seen my wasp with distinctive yellow and black markings,’ is a very funny piece that made me laugh. I found some of his other pieces more childlike and less humorous.

Fans of David Shrigley‘s illustration will enjoy Russell Weekes work. The humour is less in your face and has to found within his, at times, strange images. Two figs, written as if it were figures in a textbook, are another highlight.

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Some poor saps believe that this country’s most talented singer/songwriters are best exemplified by dullards like Newton Faulkner, website KT Tunstall and James Blunt. But if anyone can save their souls it’s School Of Language. This glorious first release from ex-Field Music man David Brewis proves that you can be inventive with a much-pillaged genre, while keeping each melody completely singable.

A glittering example of what laptop recording can create, Sea From Shore starts as it ends, book-ended by two completely identical songs titled Rockist Part 1 and Rockist Part 4, with parts 2 and 3 sandwiched neatly in between. A series of daydreams on words, their meanings and the decisions which follow from them, these offerings are as compelling musically as they are lyrically – driven by woozy guitars, clattering rhythms, fuzzy basslines and a loop of incessant nonsensical vocals which sneak their way into your subconscious from first listen, while simultaneously giving the record an incredibly satisfying symmetry.

It’s an eccentric concept, but one that proves an undeniable highlight, along with such other stand-out tracks as the gorgeously squalling Disappointment ’99, which includes appearances from Brewis’ hometown pals Barry Hyde and David Craig of The Futureheads on vocals. The soaring psychedelic squelch-pop of Poor Boy and the infectious Marine Life are also hugely impressive, as is scratchy riff-tinged and time-change-ridden ballad Extended Holiday, which features an additional performance by Craig alongside former Kenickie/Rosita star Marie Nixon and friend Sarah McKeown.

Although it would seem that Brewis’ old collaborative approach to album-making is a hard habit to kick, his full-time band days seem to be behind him for the foreseeable future: in April 2007, Field Music announced that they were heading into hibernation to help the three core members, individually and collectively, ‘get creative and produce more and better music’. And while this decision disappointed both a large number of devoted fans and excited critics who had tipped the trio for greatness, it has worked out wonderfully for Brewis whose new project hints at the warm, catchy and quirky efforts of his former incarnation, while showcasing a strong desire to push himself and innovate both sonically and lyrically.

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of sampling any of this chap’s creations then you’d better start playing catch-up, as Sea From Shore heralds the latest twist in what promises to be a long and compelling career.

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Dan Deacon will survive the media hype thrown at him in recent months because he knows he’s a space brain from Wham City, cheap USA (or Baltimore, Maryland to be exact). He knows what he likes; obsolete synthesizers, multiple effects pedals and the Looney Tunes. And he more than likely knows he’ll be compared to the original rock n roll space brains, Devo, at every opportunity.

But while the mass of similarities between the two rekindle happy memories, I’ve always loved Devo records for Mark Mothersbaugh’s social commentary-come-overall vocal bonkers-ness. And while Spiderman of the Rings comes close with Deacon’s own brand of chipmunk delay, he has decided to take the head crushing drum machine and synth route even further. And it works.

His Looney Tunes fascination is cemented after only 10 seconds as opening track Wooody Woodpecker loops the famous cartoon bird’s signature laugh over a dramatic build up of synth pulses and xylophones. This combination sets the tone for the whole record, immediately giving way to the best two tracks; The Crystal Cat and the epic 12 minute long Wham City. The first, beginning like an 8bit cartridge racing game, repeats one synthesized note with a steady bass drum until it explodes into a euphoric melody any pop producer would be proud of. Rolling Stone placed the track #84 on their list of the 100 best songs of 2007, and it’s easy to see how when a song clocking in at almost four minutes feels like it’s over before you’ve even had a chance to get up and dance. Wham City comes on like the first ever electro opera, flowing from calm xylophone loops and muted chords to pummel drumming and siren squeals headed by a choir of militant troops chanting a new age fairy tale over and over before fading to a down-beat game of drum ping pong and computerized harmonies. By the time an a-capella rendition of the chant kicks back into all out electro-popathon the listener is ready for bed. Big Milk provides the much needed rest but then comes the problem. There are still 20 minutes left of the record and you’ve peaked too early.

Much of the second side of Spiderman of the Rings carries the same traits as the first. A lot of synthesizer and drum machine driven computer music and a glut of high pitched vocal effects begin to take their toll. That said there are some great bass driven grooves in Okie Dokie and Snake Mistakes. The latter’s bass and shaker combination, reminiscent of the infectious Tom Tom Club, brings a welcome change of pace. Shades of Daft Punk form a strange interlude but Deacon pulls it back with the beautiful Pink Batman which allows a MIDI harpsichords and guitars to mix with organs and oscillators in a far more successful way than you’d imagine.

Running at nearly 46 minutes Deacon’s vision of an epic electro-pop showpiece almost comes off. The record is perhaps, just too long, but a definite grower. At first it may seem like you’re hearing the same song in 9 different ways, but once you notice the subtle dabbles with sine waves, vocoder blasts and discover his palette of garbage retrieved weapons (instruments), Spiderman of the Rings is a mini masterpiece in one man bandship.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Live Review: HOT FICTION at the King William IV

Dana-Sirena-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The Dana Sirena with her captain, approved for sale by Yelena Bryksenkova.

When I was offered the opportunity to speak to designers in Copenhagen I jumped at the chance. And then, page of course, case I realised that I would have to figure out how I could travel there without flying.

Grand house Scania
A typical Scandinavian country house. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It’s not a great secret that I’m no big fan of flying. I haven’t gone so far as to vow never to fly again but I’ve taken a two year break without any serious life shattering consequences: I’m perfectly happy and don’t feel my life has been any less rewarding for my lack of carbon emissions.

I resolutely won’t fly short distances – and by that I mean anywhere that is within easy reach by some other form of transport. Train, coach, ferry, bike, pony, foot. There are many other ways to travel which don’t involve standing in line at some horrible airport then having my ears pop in utter agony as we breach the upper atmosphere. Watching a crap movie in some tiny uncomfortable seat whilst being fed disgusting airplane food? No siree, I do not miss flying one iota. In fact, I have developed quite a severe phobia of flying in recent years – I would sit there several kilometres above the ground and think “Ye gods, I shouldn’t be here. It’s wrong. If I was meant to be this far above earth I would have been born with wings.” So I’m always in a vague panic, especially when it’s turbulent.

Denmark roadtrip copenhagen
A typical building in Copenhagen.

So it was that I happily set out to find another way to travel to Copenhagen for my Underwerket Projects talk on design and sustainability. Cruise ferry seemed the most obvious way to travel and one which I was eager to try, having heard very good things from activists who had travelled by boat to the Copenhagen Cop15 summit last December. I contacted DFDS Seaways to see whether they might be amenable to sponsoring a trip aboard their North Seas flagship the Dana Sirena, and was very pleased when they agreed to let me travel with my boyfriend and car. I had already planned that we would take a late summer holiday as well – it seemed sensible to make the most of the trip, though it is possible to take a cruise ferry to Esbjerg for a long weekend. If booked well in advance it’s not expensive either – a crossing for a car with two people costs from £139 each way – but I do recommend planning such a trip some months ahead.

Dana Sirena view deck
The back deck of the Dana Sirena, which also carries freight.

Catching the ferry to Denmark involved a short drive to Harwich, where we boarded the Dana Sirena with ease. I love boats… I love standing on deck to watch the cars load, then watching the ramps go up and feeling the wind in my hair as we leave the harbour and pick up speed. My job involves so much sedentary gazing at a computer screen that I grasp the chance to feel the elements on my skin when I can, and there’s nothing more elemental than travelling by sea: it’s so much more pleasant than being trapped in a cramped and airless cabin. As we left I noted lots of wind turbines laid out in a vast facility, an offshore crane ready to tow them to their destination. As an international port in a crucial location, Harwich is perfectly placed to build renewable technologies.

DFDS Seaways Dana Sirena Columbus Lounge by felice perkins
The Columbus Lounge Crooner by Felice Perkins.

Our cabin on the Dana Sirena had a sea view which meant we could assess the weather from the comfort of our own room – the cabins are small but eminently spacious for a relatively short journey. Although it takes approximately twenty hours to get to Esbjerg in Denmark much of that time is spent asleep, lulled by the motion of the waves.

Denmark Seven Seas buffet crabs dana sirena
Dana Sirena food
Denmark trip Seven Seas buffet Dana Sirena
The Dana Sirena Seven Seas restaurant buffet… yum.

For supper we ate yummy Danish food from the smorgasbord laid out in the Seven Seas restaurant, then sat in the Columbus Lounge with cocktails and a live crooner for company.

Cruise-Ship-by-Mina-Bach
Cruise Ship Singer by Mina Bach.

Cocktails are the same price as a pint of beer, fact fans, so you may as well eh? Certainly not the kind of laid back experience one can expect when travelling by plane.

Abby_Wright_Danish_Pudding
Danish Puddings by Abby Wright. The Danish are VERY good at puddings.

One of the biggest bonuses to travelling via cruise ferry is the opportunity to take your car with you. Or bikes; as people left the ferry with their touring bikes at the other end I felt a pang of envy, but the fact remains that the freedom of car travel remains unrivalled. We passed great colonies of seals basking on the sandy banks as we arrived at Esbjerg, where we disembarked immediately and headed east on completely clear roads. Denmark is small and there is very little traffic so it takes just a few hours to cross the islands and reach Copenhagen; from there it is but a quick hop over the bridge to Scania in Southern Sweden, where we also spent several delightful days exploring the countryside.

Scania Sweden campsite
Our campsite on the beautiful southern coast of Sweden.

Because we had a car we were able to visit lots of places that were well off the tourist track. In fact we hardly heard another English accent the entire time we were away – though of course we heard plenty of English because nearly all Scandinavians speak it perfectly. Taking the Dana Sirena to Denmark made us realise just how close Scandinavia is to the UK, something we had never really considered before but is obvious in the many historical links we share. My next blog will round up some of the best things to do if you take a cruise ferry holiday to Scandinavia in your car.

Land Art Funen
Land Art at Tickon Park near Tranakaer on a remote island of Langeland off the coast of Funen.

As we headed back to the port in Esbjerg a few weeks later we passed many British cars laden down with belongings. As well as being the perfect way to cut back on carbon emissions at a time when we desperately need to consider the effects of our individual and collective actions, a cruise ferry holiday allows for the freedom of a road trip. And yes, we managed to fill our car up too. But more on that in my next missive…

You can read about another journey aboard the Dana Sirena from the Man in Seat 61 here and book your trip aboard a cruise ferry at the DFDS Seaways website here.

Buffet chef by David Merta
Buffet chef in the Seven Seas restaurant by David Merta.

Dana-Sirena-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The Dana Sirena with her captain, find by Yelena Bryksenkova.

When I was offered the opportunity to speak to designers in Copenhagen I jumped at the chance. And then, approved of course, buy I realised that I would have to figure out how I could travel there without flying.

Grand house Scania
A typical Scandinavian country house. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It’s not a great secret that I’m no big fan of flying. I haven’t gone so far as to vow never to fly again but I’ve taken a two year break without any serious life shattering consequences: I’m perfectly happy and don’t feel my life has been any less rewarding for my lack of carbon emissions.

I resolutely won’t fly short distances – and by that I mean anywhere that is within easy reach by some other form of transport. Train, coach, ferry, bike, pony, foot. There are many other ways to travel which don’t involve standing in line at some horrible airport then having my ears pop in utter agony as we breach the upper atmosphere. Watching a crap movie in some tiny uncomfortable seat whilst being fed disgusting airplane food? No siree, I do not miss flying one iota. In fact, I have developed quite a severe phobia of flying in recent years – I would sit there several kilometres above the ground and think “Ye gods, I shouldn’t be here. It’s wrong. If I was meant to be this far above earth I would have been born with wings.” So I’m always in a vague panic, especially when it’s turbulent.

Denmark roadtrip copenhagen
A typical building in Copenhagen.

So it was that I happily set out to find another way to travel to Copenhagen for my Underwerket Projects talk on design and sustainability. Cruise ferry seemed the most obvious way to travel and one which I was eager to try, having heard very good things from activists who had travelled by boat to the Copenhagen Cop15 summit last December. I contacted DFDS Seaways to see whether they might be amenable to sponsoring a trip aboard their North Seas flagship the Dana Sirena, and was very pleased when they agreed to let me travel with my boyfriend and car. I had already planned that we would take a late summer holiday as well – it seemed sensible to make the most of the trip, though it is possible to take a cruise ferry to Esbjerg for a long weekend. If booked well in advance it’s not expensive either – a crossing for a car with two people costs from £139 each way – but I do recommend planning such a trip some months ahead.

Dana Sirena view deck
The back deck of the Dana Sirena, which also carries freight.

Catching the ferry to Denmark involved a short drive to Harwich, where we boarded the Dana Sirena with ease. I love boats… I love standing on deck to watch the cars load, then watching the ramps go up and feeling the wind in my hair as we leave the harbour and pick up speed. My job involves so much sedentary gazing at a computer screen that I grasp the chance to feel the elements on my skin when I can, and there’s nothing more elemental than travelling by sea: it’s so much more pleasant than being trapped in a cramped and airless cabin. As we left I noted lots of wind turbines laid out in a vast facility, an offshore crane ready to tow them to their destination. As an international port in a crucial location, Harwich is perfectly placed to build renewable technologies.

DFDS Seaways Dana Sirena Columbus Lounge by felice perkins
The Columbus Lounge Crooner by Felice Perkins.

Our cabin on the Dana Sirena had a sea view which meant we could assess the weather from the comfort of our own room – the cabins are small but eminently spacious for a relatively short journey. Although it takes approximately twenty hours to get to Esbjerg in Denmark much of that time is spent asleep, lulled by the motion of the waves.

Denmark Seven Seas buffet crabs dana sirena
Dana Sirena food
Denmark trip Seven Seas buffet Dana Sirena
The Dana Sirena Seven Seas restaurant buffet… yum.

For supper we ate yummy Danish food from the smorgasbord laid out in the Seven Seas restaurant, then sat in the Columbus Lounge with cocktails and a live crooner for company.

Cruise-Ship-by-Mina-Bach
Cruise Ship Singer by Mina Bach.

Cocktails are the same price as a pint of beer, fact fans, so you may as well eh? Certainly not the kind of laid back experience one can expect when travelling by plane.

Abby_Wright_Danish_Pudding
Danish Puddings by Abby Wright. The Danish are VERY good at puddings.

One of the biggest bonuses to travelling via cruise ferry is the opportunity to take your car with you. Or bikes; as people left the ferry with their touring bikes at the other end I felt a pang of envy, but the fact remains that the freedom of car travel remains unrivalled. We passed great colonies of seals basking on the sandy banks as we arrived at Esbjerg, where we disembarked immediately and headed east on completely clear roads. Denmark is small and there is very little traffic so it takes just a few hours to cross the islands and reach Copenhagen; from there it is but a quick hop over the bridge to Scania in Southern Sweden, where we also spent several delightful days exploring the countryside.

Scania Sweden campsite
Our campsite on the beautiful southern coast of Sweden.

Because we had a car we were able to visit lots of places that were well off the tourist track. In fact we hardly heard another English accent the entire time we were away – though of course we heard plenty of English because nearly all Scandinavians speak it perfectly. Taking the Dana Sirena to Denmark made us realise just how close Scandinavia is to the UK, something we had never really considered before but is obvious in the many historical links we share. My next blog will round up some of the best things to do if you take a cruise ferry holiday to Scandinavia in your car.

Land Art Funen
Land Art at Tickon Park near Tranakaer on a remote island of Langeland off the coast of Funen.

As we headed back to the port in Esbjerg a few weeks later we passed many British cars laden down with belongings. As well as being the perfect way to cut back on carbon emissions at a time when we desperately need to consider the effects of our individual and collective actions, a cruise ferry holiday allows for the freedom of a road trip. And yes, we managed to fill our car up too. But more on that in my next missive…

You can read about another journey aboard the Dana Sirena from the Man in Seat 61 here and book your trip aboard a cruise ferry at the DFDS Seaways website here.

Buffet chef by David Merta
Buffet chef in the Seven Seas restaurant by David Merta.

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Hot Fiction by Aniela Murphy.

The King William IV, clinic located north of ‘where the hell am I?’, or on this Saturday night, the river Thames, is a relatively secluded venue that doubles as a hostel. This is where I find myself for tonight’s Hot Fiction gig, the blues and riff led garage band that have been unashamedly filling up my commute time for most of the past week since discovering their debut record Dark Room. Arriving at the venue, having been drenched by what appears to be the second flood, I was ready for a stiff drink and a warm welcome, and luckily I was greeted by both.

Once the band took to stage, which at first I incidentally thought they were staff; due to their laid back and approachable manner, they enthusiastically introduced themselves and got to work at rocking the room. Easing any newcomers in with their blissful sound of soul filled vocals that can make the toughest man quiver to his knees; Andy Yeoh has a great set of pipes. The tracks flowed with ease throughout the hour long set, with a couple of covers including Stevie Wonder’s Superstition were thrown in for good measure. Highlights of the night were extended versions of Get out of My House, and Autumn Girl, with a momentary law breaking moment when a familiar volunteer (fellow gigger and buddy of mine) took to the stage to shake the hell out of a tambourine. (Only two people are allowed on stage at the King William IV, reducing the number of band nights considerably.)

Hot Fiction kept the room charged with their honest and heartfelt approach to live music, and even during technical difficulties the tunes rolled out and with such gusto that it would be hard not to like these guys. A thoroughly enjoyed night from a band that took their debut record and mixed it up to create fresher takes on their already contemporary approach to a classic sound, this band aren’t afraid to squeeze a crowd of their blues.

Hot Fiction are a UK based two piece garage blues and rock band, currently playing between London and Bristol. Click on this link to hear the whole Dark Room album streamed for free.

Categories ,Andy Yeoh, ,Aniela Murphy, ,Dark Room, ,Hot Fiction, ,King William IV, ,review

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Amelia’s Magazine | Beirut

In today’s over-saturated electro market it would be easy to dismiss Simian Mobile Disco as just another bleep and whistle DJ duo. However, stomach troche if the reaction of the Hoxton Bar crowd was anything to go by it would seem that what we have on our hands is a bona fide rave outfit.

I’m not talking lamé leggings and novelty over-sized jewellery here (although the room wasn’t short of any of that), but in a scene that’s more about the fashion than the music SMD stand out as one of the few acts who understand what the phrase ‘Rave’ actually means.

A sweaty, hands-in-the-air music industry crowd is a rare sight, and while many tried the obligatory arms folded, ‘contemplating the relevance of the sound look’, it wasn’t long before the irresistible combination of the spectacular light show and pounding, dance heavy hooks and beats had everyone moving like it was 1992.

With all the retina burning, multi-coloured strobe action and the fact that I was stuck behind a couple of six-footers, it was difficult to catch a glimpse of Misters James Ford and Jas Shaw, although it was clear from the head-bopping shadows on stage that these two were enjoying their music just as much as their sweaty disciples. As things reached their climax with the brilliant It’s the beat, there was barely a still foot to be seen and with the whole night taking on a distinctly retro air it was long before the ‘ironic’ old skool hand movements made an appearance, probably in a bid to disguise the fact that GASP, they were actually enjoying dance music. Like it or not, SMD had brought out the Bez in all of us.

This year the RCA’s Summer show combined various fields in an all-encompassing exhibition space that was both innovative and exciting to explore.

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Amelia’s Magazine | George Pringle at the Social: Live Review

George Pringle by Maria Montiel

George Pringle by Maria Montiel

It seems strange to think that it’s been three whole years since George Pringle last graced a stage. I’d seen her a few times at various venues around town, a resolutely awkward presence usually at complete odds (musically, anyway) with the other bands she was on the bill with. Describing herself as a diseuse, her vaguely autobiographical spoken-word delivery, set to GarageBand beats from a Mac laptop, earned column inches, even before the appearance of her first album, the self released Salon Des Refusés. She also managed to bag a support spot with Air on a European tour, before seeming to disappear from view.

And yet here we are at the Social, in a narrow basement in a narrow bar tucked away from the bustle of a West End Saturday night. Antonioni’s L’Eclisse is projected soundlessly onto a screen behind the tiny stage, with the accompaniment of what sounds like 1970s and 1980s Italian pop tunes playing over the PA. The lighting is low, and a crowd (including friends and family) gathers, awaiting what is described as a “recital” of the long awaited new album.

George Pringle by Sam Parr

George Pringle by Sam Parr

Golfo Dei Poeti (or the Gulf of Poets, apparently a colloquial name for La Spezia, in northern Italy), is Pringle’s first musical work since Salon Des Refusés. Described as “music for lonely cowgirls”, it embraces the same DIY ethic as its predecessor, but it’s a much more sophisticated affair. With the glitchy beats of the first album reined in, Golfo Dei Poeti is both fragile and lush – an electro-pop soundtrack for a late night taxi ride home. Pringle’s delivery has also changed, with her lyrics more spare, and she actually sings now!

As she stepped on to the stage, another difference from the George Pringle of old was clearly evident – instead of solely being accompanied by her trusty laptop, tonight she was the musician, with a keyboard and bass guitar arranged around her.

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The set opened with Golfo Dei Poeti itself, the album title track (also, perversely, the final track), a simple repeated phrase bathed in echo and set to a sprightly drum beat and a looping synth line, before a complete change of mood and pace with London, My Lonely Smoke RingPringle’s delicate vocal over a bare, mournful organ (though the crowd got a bit carried away and started cheering during the long pause before the song’s big finish). She picked up a melodica for To Augustus With Love, and returned to it for La Notte, adding textures over the latter’s cascading keyboard melody. The second half of the set featured Pringle on the bass guitar, a highlight being Real As Sound, which built up from a sparse, ominously wailing soundwave, with simple, repeated verses, to a pulsing lo-fi floor filler.

George Pringle by Gabriel Ayala

George Pringle by Gabriel Ayala

Pringle seemed much more confident as a performer than I remember, and there was a fair bit of banter between songs, including reminiscences of people thinking that injuries obtained falling off stage at the Luminaire were all part of the act.

George Pringle by Maria Montiel

George Pringle by Maria Montiel

The set closed with Physical Education (Part 1), the night’s sole representative from Salon Des Refusés, with frantic electro beats and cheeky hints of I Feel Love, before Pringle’s brother took on DJ duties.

It was a welcome return for George Pringle, and I just hope that it’s not such a long wait before we get to see her again.

Categories ,Air, ,Electro Pop, ,Gabriel Ayala, ,GarageBand, ,George Pringle, ,Golfo Dei Poeti, ,Maria Montiel, ,Michelangelo Antonioni, ,Salon Des Refusés, ,Sam Parr, ,the Luminaire, ,The Social

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jarvis Cocker: I Want To Sleep With Common People Like You

Undercover: Lingerie Exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

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“Welcome to Limehouse.” With those words, about it Jarvis Cocker set off on the latest instalment of his 30 year musical odyssey, visit this site launching into set opener Pilchard from his new solo album, Further Complications. For such a long, often tortuous journey which began at a Sheffield secondary school and the formation of what was originally known as Arabicus Pulp, the Troxy did seem a rather apt stopping point – a former theatre turned bingo-hall in the deepest End End, where Stepney and Limehouse blur into each other, now restored and reborn as an unlikely concert venue.

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In fact, Cocker did remark, in his own inimitable way, that the place reminded him of an ice-rink from his youth, where he went to “cop off” with someone, and you still half expected to hear calls of “clickety click” and “legs eleven”, even as support band the Horrors were going through their Neu! meets Echo and the Bunnymen infused motorik indie.

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There were a few half-hearted requests from parts of the audience, but tonight was most definitely a Pulp-free zone (the presence of longtime sidekick Steve Mackey on bass was as near as we got). The set leant heavily on Cocker’s sophomore solo effort, which has a rockier, heavier edge to it than its’ predecessor (not surprising given the pedigree of producer Steve Albini). That said, old Jarvis still has the wry wit and subtle smut that made albums like Different Class such stand outs back in the day (witness news songs Leftover and I Never Said I Was Deep), and he still has plenty of those weirdly angular dance moves up his sleeves. As if that weren’t enough, he even dusted off his old junior school recorder skills on the introduction to Caucasian Blues.

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A couple of numbers from Cocker’s debut solo album made an appearance towards the end of the set, including a driving Fat Children, whilst the encore opened with Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time. We ended on the closer from Further Complications, You’re In My eyes (Discosong), where Jarvis appears to channel the spirit of Barry White – there was even a glitterball to dazzle the Troxy’s faded glamour.
As Jarvis took the adulation of the massed faithful, it seemed like, after a bit of a wilderness period post-Pulp, old Mr Cocker has most definitely got his mojo back.

Categories ,Britpop, ,Indie, ,Jarvis Cocker, ,Live, ,Review, ,Sheffield, ,The North

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Amelia’s Magazine | Emily Hall presents Folie à Deux at Spitalfields Music Festival

Emily Hall  profile
As one of the Spitalfields Festival Associate Artists, award winning composer Emily Hall is curating the Sound Among Sounds event at Rich Mix where she will be debuting her latest work ‘Folie à Deux’. The new production, presented by the Mahogany Opera Group, is a sonic voyage into a shared psychosis and endeavours to explore love and loneliness within a relationship. The weekend (June 6/7) will include installations and performances sparked from her new opera, showcasing some of the most exciting artists working across the classical music field. Emily takes a few minutes out to explain the inspiration behind, and the making of, ‘Folie à Deux’.

Folie a Deux trailer

Folie à Deux’ directly translates to ‘A madness shared by two’. What gave you the inspiration for your new work?
It was a conversation with a good friend who is a psychiatrist. She told me about ‘Folie à Deux‘, the psychosis where a delusion is transmitted from one person to another, normally a partner or family member. It seemed to me like an exaggerated version of many relationships and a gift for an opera. Initially I workshopped the idea using “delusional parasitosis” where the delusion is some kind of insect infestation but it was so deeply uncomfortable even to research! Once Sjón came on board we happened upon the idea of the delusion involving a pylon and the power it might hold. I liked this idea immediately because of the sonic possibilities it held.

Emily Hall
You just mentioned the Icelandic author and lyricist Sjón. Was this the first time you worked together? How did that relationship come about?
Yes – the first time. I knew I wanted Folie à Deux to be simultaneously an opera and a concept album. Sjón has written many lyrics for Björk as well as many strong opera librettos. I had also been blown away by his book, ‘The Blue Fox‘ so I just got in touch and I was very happy when he accepted the challenge.

Interview with Emily Hall

The new piece enjoyed its world premiere in Bergen, Norway last month. What sort of reception did you receive?
It was a real pleasure to premier Folie à Deux at the Borealis Festival in Bergen. The festival audience was very warm and supportive. We got some great reviews and it gave us a really strong start to the tour.

Folie a deux stage
I hear you invented a brand new instrument, specifically for this production and album. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Yes – Folie à Deux includes a specially invented instrument, the electro-magnetic harp. It is a specially adapted harp basically with multiple ‘ebows’ on metal strings to create drones much like the sound of pylon, all stemming upwards from 50 Hz, the pitch of a UK mains hum. Sound designers David Sheppard and Jonathan Green created the electro-magnetic harp especially for this piece.

Sofia Jernberg
What can people expect from the stage production?
A minimalist tale investigating love and loneliness within a relationship. Performed by Sofia Jernberg, a truly unique vocalist and classical tenor and Finnur Bjarnason, on the acoustic harp and the specially created electro-magnetic harp against an incredible back-drop of responsive lights. The audience isn’t spoon fed the narrative – one of it’s strengths is people have drawn different conclusions about how it ends.

Sofia Jernberg2
You have another new work being performed by Women Sing East during the Spitalfields Music Festival. What’s the concept behind this piece?
Yes – on Monday 8 June Women Sing East, an all female amateur choir based in East London, will premiere my new work in Shoredich Church. It’s called ‘We are Passengers’. I’ve set text-art, old and new, juxtaposing some specially made by the artist Caroline Bergvall with an epic visual poem by Benedictine monk Rabanus Maurus (b.780). I have recorded all 45 members of the choir speaking the letters one by one of the 45 lines of Rabanus Maurus’ Latin poem. I have also woven recordings of material written for the amazing viola de gamba player Liam Byrne and Women Sing East sing quite simple, self-contained lines over the top “We are Passengers” “everything happens all the time”, “keeping still means stopping”… The audience will be able take away limited edition reproductions of the text art I have set. Pop choir Lips are also singing in this gig who are totally inspiring to watch.

Catch Emily Hall: Sound Among Sounds during the Spitalfields Music Festival 2015 at Rich Mix, London on Saturday June 6 and Sunday June 7. Check website for ticket details and performance times.

Categories ,bjork, ,Borealis Festival, ,Caroline Bergvall, ,David Sheppard, ,Emily Hall, ,Finnur Bjarnason, ,Folie a Deux, ,Jonathan Green, ,Liam Byrne, ,Lips, ,Mahogany Opera Group, ,Rabanus Maurus, ,Rich Mix, ,Shoredich Church, ,Sjón, ,Sofia Jernberg, ,Sound Among Sounds, ,Spitalfields Festival Associate Artists, ,Spitalfields Music Festival, ,The Blue Fox, ,We are Passengers, ,Women Sing East

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