Friday, 29 January 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Duran Duran.

Surely you remember the Second British Invasion? Why, that was back when MTV (let's put some quotation marks around the "M" nowadays) actually displayed music. What a concept. Now we're stuck with bullshit tripe such as New Jersey Whores, or something like that, but in the greater scheme of things, it's not quite important. But let's go back to when MTV actually meant something. Here, my friends, is one of the bands that made it all possible - Duran Duran. Named after a character from the cult 1968 Roger Vadim film Barbarella (starring the most beautiful Jane Fonda), these Birmingham, England lads truly let loose on American shores with an almost imperious regality. Here, from their 1981 eponymous debut album, is the seminal classic, "Girls On Film". I suppose I might also add that this video is NSFW. So I have!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Visage.

Visage, sprouting from London's Soho district in 1978, was at the forefront of the New Wave during the heyday of the post-punk movement. Consisting of Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, and Ultravox's Midge Ure and Billie Currie, alongside Magazine's John McGeoch and Dave Formula, it can be safely said that Visage was certainly the "supergroup" of their time and genre. From 1980, here is their most popular single, "Fade To Grey." Check out the sexy French vocals in the background, courtesy of Brigitte Arendt from Luxembourg, who was dating Egan at the time!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Review: Construction Time Again.

Released on 22 August, 1983, Depeche Mode's third studio album Construction Time Again remains, for me, at least, one of the benchmarks for 80s synth-pop perfection in both sound and mood. This album also marks Alan Wilder's debut in the band and, listening to the aural soundscape on parade here, it's easy to tell what magic it was that he brought to their style. Let's give it a listen then, and I'll try and tell you exactly why it is that you should (if you don't have everything Depeche Mode has done already) add this to your collection of electronic oeuvres.

Savaged by critics upon its release (The British press was never terribly fond of Depeche Mode's output, and would usually use their column inches to heap ridicule on the band), Construction Time Again is an important piece of work, not only for bringing Alan Wilder (who replaced Vince Clarke, one of the founding members, who'd left Depeche Mode after they'd recorded their first album Speak & Spell) into the fold, but also for the fact that on this album they'd finally found the sound they were looking for. Whereas their second album A Broken Frame was Martin Gore's first chance to compose full-time, it still felt fragmented and unfulfilled, a mere ghost of what they were capable of. To this day, A Broken Frame still feels just ... underwhelming. Sorry, Depeche, but that's the way I feel. So let us take a look at the sound borne from the machinations of the newly-minted foursome.

Listening to the album in its entirety, one of the first aspects of Construction Time Again's framework one would probably notice would be the heavy usage of samples, and how industrial it all sounds. Alongside their longtime producer Daniel Miller (of Mute Records fame, and also sole member of The Normal, known for "Warm Leatherette") and engineer Gareth Jones, they would visit junkyards, construction sites, iron bridges, and factories armed with a reel-to-reel tape recorder, hammers, and drumsticks. To this day it makes me smile to imagine them wandering around and beating metal and concrete with hammers, capturing the sound in a microphone, and using those sounds to compose a large proportion of an album. In fact, track number three, the nearly six-minute "Pipeline," is made up entirely of these captured sounds!

Something else that strikes me about this record would have to be the inclusion of two Alan Wilder-penned tracks, "The Landscape Is Changing" and "Two Minute Warning." The latter, a chilling parable about a nuclear holocaust, and the former, a treatise on the destruction of the environment, give Construction Time Again a rather timeless feel. In fact (and I hate to use this phrase, but it'll have to do), the record comes across as a concept album. "Shame" touches on the guilt of Western Civilization as it wrings its hands at the utter poverty of Third World nations.
"Do you ever get that feeling
When the guilt begins to hurt?
Seeing all the children,
Wallowing in dirt,"
Dave Gahan sings in his deep, pained voice over minimalist drumbeats and a desolate, throbbing bass line. Then there's the timeless classic "Everything Counts," a meditation on corporate greed; "Told You So," a rollicking and seethingly angry track that confronts religious radicalism; and "And Then ... ," about picking up the pieces of a fragmented world and how "to put it all down and start again, from the top to the bottom, and then ..." Hell, did I say Construction Time Again is a timely record? Nearly thirty years after its release, we as a society are still going through a lot of this shit!

Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Alan Wilder really touched on a nerve in the universe of electronic music with this metallic masterpiece, and I heartily implore you to (if you haven't already) add this gem to your collection. You'll thank me later!

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is Depeche Mode performing "Told You So" live on The Tube in 1984. Enjoy!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Monty Python Monday (Part II).

From their 1979 film Monty Python and the Life of Brian, here is the "Stoning" bit featuring John Cleese. It's amazing how strongly this movie holds up, what with the religion-stirring-shit-up nonsense that's been going on for as long as I can remember. A bit like an especially poignant article from The Onion that can be as cutting as it is funny, Life of Brian was able to hold in its hands the irony that is "religion" and still be able to tear it to pieces and analyze its cold black heart at the same time. The actions of the faithful are only as holy as the voice that tells them what to do.

Monty Python Monday.

From Episode Thirty-three "Salad Days", here is John Cleese and Michael Palin performing the most brilliant (in my opinion, of course) sketch of their career, "Cheese Shop". The tension builds like crazy, and you might learn something about cheese. You never know. But you may never look at (or listen to) a bouzouki the same way again, seriously.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Jet-Lagged And Ready For Bed.

Hey there, boys and girls! I've just returned home from across the pond, and as a result I've got some hunger and sleepy-time issues. As a result, I will get back to you all sometime tomorrow with more electronic music goodies and all that nonesuch that is becoming a mainstay here at my humble site. I'll even throw in some little slices of life that I came across during my time in London Town that may (or may not) be pertinent! We'll see.

But don't worry - I'm not going to leave you all completely empty-handed. While I head off into the overcast and drizzly streets of San Francisco in search of sustenance (I'm currently leaning toward mac and cheese ... mmm, yum), I'm going to give you a Ladytron redux, because that's the kind of guy I am. I was just remembering having seen them perform for Velocifero at the Fillmore, and what an amazing experience it was! So I'd like to let you chew on their live performance of "Ghosts" at the FORWARD Festival in 2008. Everybody enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and peace out.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Review: Light & Magic.

Taking their name from a song by the legendary band Roxy Music, Ladytron first made waves on the music scene of Liverpool, England in 2001 with their debut album, 604. The first single, the irresistibly catchy "Playgirl," got them some much deserved world-wide attention with that, their career blossomed. The next year, 2002, saw the release of their sophomore album Light & Magic, saw them take their 80's synth-pop revivalist sound to new, and more expansive heights. The gang of four - DJs Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu paired with dual singers Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie - take their cue from late-70's and early 80's technological tunesmithery (I know it's not a word - but here I am, making it up and trying to make it stick) - think Kraftwerk mixed with a touch of glam pop and a dash of nihilistic je ne sais quoi mixed vigorously and strained into a chilled Cosmopolitan glass - and then run with it in new and exciting directions. This, in essence, is what makes Light & Magic tick, and what makes it such an interesting and exotic addition to any electro fan's collection of modern classics.

Lead member Daniel Hunt has referred to his band's sound as "softcore techno," and when one listens to their music, it's not hard to see the definition take shape, for a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts are woven into their musical tapestry, flowing along effortlessly like a black snake through the boughs of a skeletal tree. I'm not sure if that analogy makes the record sound dark, for not all is gloomy here. But there's something that boils under the surface, a certain "something" that is ambiguously dangerous and fierce. But it's also a something that has quite an elegant structure, and is startling in its eloquence and dictation. Let's take a look at some of the tracks that make up this piece of work, shall we?

"Hey, where do you come from?

And, why don’t you stay where you belong?

Seek, everyone that you kissed,

Do they cease to exist, when you stop being missed?”

And thus goes the chorus for “Cease2exist,” just one of the thirteen tracks that make up Light & Magic. There’s an idiosyncratic quality to the lyrics here that, when superimposed over the song’s throbbing and vaguely menacing rhythm, make them particularly poignant and loaded with double-meaning and innuendo. One of the reasons that the songs work so well, besides the multi-layered density of the music itself, is the simple fact that the vocals are so damned dreamy. The singers, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo, are in possession of starkly different timbres and styles. Marnie, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, has a voice that seemingly floats in the ether; it’s somewhat wispy, up there in the clouds, but one can tell there’s a toughness lurking beneath the airiness. Aroyo, on the other hand, is from Sofia, Bulgaria, and the deep richness of her Eastern European upbringing shows through in her stern and vaguely austere style. Now, when you put those two voices together, then voila! Magic happens.

Well, Light & Magic certainly happens. And that’s what makes Ladytron so special. Take, for instance, the track “NuHorizons.” Sung entirely in Bulgarian by Aroyo, it is, ostensibly, a paean to NuHorizons Electronics (unless, of course, it is not. But I like to think that it is). I don’t speak a word of Bulgarian, and lyrics are not helpfully provided, so it can mean anything – anything at all. And that, right there, is reminiscent of the power wielded on this album, foreign languages or otherwise. With its stark drums, a menacing organ blaring its dirge-like squawk, strange little bleeps and bloops careening in the background, and mysterious otherworldly voices whispering here and there, it’s hazily threatening, and I wouldn’t have the ambiguity any other way.

Then there’s the opening track, “Seventeen.” Deceptively simple, it pretty much repeats the chorus seven times, but there’s a dark undercurrent at work here. When Marnie sings,

“They only want you when you’re seventeen,

When you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun.

They take a Polaroid and let you go,

Say they’ll let you know,

So come on,”

I personally look at it as a denunciation of our modern throwaway culture and how we tend to value women when they’re younger and prettier, and then discard them when their time has come. It’s a sinister song, but one with no easy answers. It’s completely open to interpretation, and I’d like to say one more time that that’s one of the aspects of Ladytron’s work that I find so utterly refreshing. Not that having solid and quite danceable music doesn’t hurt.

Ladytron have two other albums under their belt: 2005’s Witching Hour and their most recent, Velocifero from 2008, two pieces of work that are absolutely fantastic in their own right – full of vigor and a dense, psychedelic power that has the power to overwhelm the senses. But I would recommend adding Light & Magic to your collection first, if only to introduce you to Ladytron and their dark, brooding, and brilliantly realized soundscapes. You won’t be disappointed, not by a long shot, and you might even pick up some Bulgarian while you’re at it! Cheers, and have a lovely day.

While I'm on the subject, I'd like to share the video for "Seventeen."

And here's another track off of the album, "Evil." Enjoy!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Clan Of Xymox.

From the 1986 4AD album of the same name, here is Clan of Xymox and the video for their hypnotic track "Medusa." Can't help but notice, though, that the timing of the lip-synching is vaguely not on track with the actual vocals! Still, it's a bloody great song from the legendary Dutch gloomsters.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Depeche Mode.

Directed by the one and only Anton Corbijn, here is Depeche Mode and their video for "Behind The Wheel," off of the 1987 album Music For The Masses. I love the imagery in Corbijn's videos he did during this period. One needs only to see Depeche Mode's 30-minute 1987 film Strange. There was a definite theme going on in Corbijn's direction, and it was magical.

Review: Roulette.

Today, for your electronic music consideration, I would like to introduce you to a fantastic and shimmery record from Cicada, Roulette. Based out of London, England, Cicada consists of producers extraordinaires Aaron Gilbert (AKA Mr Natural) and Alex Payne, with the beautiful Heidrun Björnsdottir from Iceland taking reins of the vocals.

When I listen to Roulette, many words spring to mind. "Lush" would be one of them. So would "energetic," "playful," "sleek," and, my favorite, "soulful." (And, yes, I am a fan of the Oxford comma.) There's just so much to be found here in this sonic landscape, and I have made it my duty today to spread the gospel and explain the myriad reasons as to why you should include this sparkling gem in your record collection. So let's go, shall we?

Opening track "Falling Rockets" starts the proceedings off with a bang (sorry), launching (sorry again) from the speakers with all its electro-disco arsenal blazing. Beginning with shadowy and mysterious sound-effects that whisper in the ether, it then introduces a crisp and driving drumbeat that propels the listener into a series of whirlwind synthesizers that nicely complement Björnsdottir's dreamily icy (think of a Scandinavian Blondie) voice. Exciting stuff, this. When she sings, "So this is what they call entertainment!", hardly ever has a statement seemed so completely apt.

Coming up immediately, the funky grooves of "Metropolis" (their first single off the album) begin to wend their way into your ear. The technological imagery of the lyrics match the notes with a singular perfection that's screaming to be turned up, loudly. There's an edge of wistful melancholy to be had here, as well as some nifty sci-fi synthesizer effects floating around like abandoned satellites whizzing through the expanses of space. It's catchy and heart-felt in equal measures, and I can listen to it over and over again without it once getting boring or old.

For my money, I'd like to nominate track number three, "One Beat Away," as the standout song on Roulette. You've got some grooving guitar bits jangling in the back with a fantastic disco beat and a rolling bass line throbbing like a freight train - it's wonderful to listen to. And when the chorus sets in with a rousing "Oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-oh!" rising analog synths squelch in the background and raise this track to some serious heights. When they perform "One Beat Away" live, it's a veritable show-stopper, complete with an audience sing-along.

Roulette even features a couple of guest vocalists! Björn Synneby from the Swedish dance band Pacific! takes hold of the R&B-tinged "Talking," and Tom Smith of Editors lends his silver tongue to the rainy-day doldrums of the provocative "Executive." The latter of the two has a bit of a darker heart; with a lonely piano, a sexy bass, and the sampled sounds of an office interspersed throughout. Listening to it now, it really strikes a nerve - I think it would make wonderful bad-weather music!

There is a smorgasbord of highlights on Roulette that make it, in my opinion, perfect for listening all the way through, from front to back. There's the jumpy and fun "Psycho Thrills," a pure frolic with a disco heartbeat; "Don't Stare At The Sun," a track that proudly wears its 1980's synth-pop influences on its sleeve; and then there's the beautiful and vaguely sad "Green Light." Frankly, there's not a bum song on this album. I heartedly recommend it to one and all. It's geared to be a dance classic, one that starts off with a bang (sorry a third time) and doesn't lose sight of its aspirations once during its hour-long duration. Monsieurs Gilbert and Payne, with the gorgeous Ms Björnsdottir have knocked this one out of the park, and then some.

From Roulette, here's Cicada and the single "Metropolis."

... And here is "Psycho Thrills," as well!

Quote of the Day.

"No I'm not going to tell you anything about any of the songs. But they're great, and they cover a variety of topics from bloodshed to hairy animals to young girls masturbating in bathtubs ... on the first album you felt the weight of distended testicles swaying in the breeze of a mid-life crisis, whereas this one is a magic carpet ride floating over the rich spectrum of life."

-- Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman describing their upcoming second album to NME.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Monty Python Monday (Part II)

And here, from Monty Python's first full-length film And Now For Something Completely Different, here is the delightful little sketch entitled, "How Not To Be Seen."

Monty Python Monday.

From Season One Episode Four "Owl Stretching Time," here's John Cleese teaching "Self-defence Against Fresh Fruit." It's also notable in that this sketch features the first appearance of Monty Python's "16 Ton" weight, which was brought out from time to time to abruptly end sketches.

Enjoy, and happy Monday!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Review: Apocalypso.

Hailing from beautiful Sydney, Australia, The Presets consist of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes, a daring duo of electronic maestros who are more than willing (and able) to shake their groove sticks and get participating asses out on that dance floor to do their bidding. If you like your dance music with a bit of a darker flair and in possession of both outspoken ferocity and an impish sense of humor, then by all means include The Presets' 2008 sophomore album Apocalypso in your collection.

Allow me to proselytize.

The Presets first came on the scene in 2003, after classically-trained university chums Hamilton and Moyes grew tired of playing earnest instrumental compositions in their previous band, Prop. According to Moyes in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, "We kind of just went, 'Fuck this shit, let's do some good stuff about life and partying and drugs and girls.'"

And how.

After releasing two EPs, 2003's Blow Up and its 2004 follow-up The Girl and the Sea, The Presets saw fit to unleash upon the world 2005's Beams. It was immediately apparent to the record-buying public that this duo was a force to be reckoned with. But don't take my word for it. Just listen to the record itself - it doesn't (and please, pardon my French) fuck around; it really doesn't.

Take Apocalypto's opening track, "Kicking and Screaming." (Please. Ha ha, I've always wanted to say that. Ahem.) It really sets things off in the right direction, what with its multi-layered assault of crunchy drumbeats and a hard, focused trance-like melody that basically orders you to dance your ass off whilst Hamilton intones:

Never can believe how much fun we're having
Can't believe how much fun we're having
Never can believe how much fun we're having.

And then from there it's just gem after gem, as we slide merrily along into the tribalistic anthem "My People" and the flexed-muscle magic of "A New Sky." There's genuine emotion and lovely lyrics in the poignant "This Boy's In Love," a brilliant and fast-paced love song that showcases a clever and touching lyricism. And we're talking about the first four tracks on the album! Seriously, tune for tune Apocalypto does not disappoint. Designed for optimum listenability, it's a roller coaster of an aural feast. Go and get it now; you will thank me later.

Like I stated previously, don't take my word for it. Have a listen and a look-see for yourself. From the aforementioned album, here is Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes in the video for "My People." Enjoy!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Tubeway Army & Gary Numan.

Vive Gary Numan and his band from the late '70s, Tubeway Army. From 1979, at the Old Grey Whistle Test, here's his seminal classic, "Are Friends Electric?"

Review: Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious.

You know the old saying, "The candle that burns twice as bright only burns half as long," don't you? In the classic film Blade Runner, the phrase is uttered to Roy Batty by his creator, Dr Eldon Tyrell, in answer to a query regarding a short life-span. "And you have burned very, very brightly," he says, before having his head crushed and eyes gouged out.

And so, in the drawer of extraordinarily bright candles, pop-music-wise, might I draw your attention to the cream of the crop in Iceland (where candles burn everywhere, by the way), a short-lived Reykjavik supergroup known as Sometime.

Formed in (I believe) early 2007 by veterans of the Reykjavik music scene, they released but one album and a handful of singles, played just a slew of local shows, and then, inexplicably, packed up their bags and went quietly into that good night. However, they quickly became legendary, and their music lives on even though the four of them went their separate ways. It's simple to see how they gained such notoreity during their brief life-span. First, they had Danni, a hyper-technical and disciplined drummer from the indie rock band Maus; DJ Dice, from Iceland's largest rap group Quarashi; a veritable super-producer, Curver, who also performed with Einor Orn (you may remember him as Bjork's sidekick in the Sugarcubes) in Ghostdigital (who I will be highlighting in a future entry); and the beautiful and talented jazz singer Diva de la Rosa, who's voice can alternate between sharp and soft with the deftness of an expertly wielded strop razor.

I am here today to tell you about their sole album, the challengingly named Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious (henceforth referred to as SCFXPD).

To put things into a rather simplistic spin, the first word that pops into my head when I think of SCFXPD is "fun." The opening track, "Getting Ready," does just that - it gets you ready for the hour-long aural ride you're about to take. Rolling along a bit like a freight train, its deceptively monotonous rhythm pulls you with it, introducing multi-layered tracks as it chugs along, with sampled string plucking, an energetic snare, otherworldly sound effects, some brilliant scratch-work by DJ Dice, and, floating over everything is de la Rosa's unearthly vocals - and she's scatting! Like I said, "fun."

And then we have as a follow-up the love song "Heart of Spades." "Do you want to follow me around?" asks de la Rosa. Yes, at this point we certainly do, and we follow along on this glorious paean to the undecided future of a love affair that has, decidedly, turned into something a bit deeper, a bit more serious. "You take your chance or you'll never know," she purrs. It's lovely, without being too mawkish, and the electronic soundscape swirls around you like a meteor shower.

Things turn a little mean and spooky with the dark and jangled "Catch Me If You Can." Documenting the mental goings-on of a lady who's fed up with an abusive relationship, it's certainly the most hard-edged track on SCFXPD, and you can hear it in de la Rosa's voice as she confronts the "big and tough" man: "You can beat me up, huh? Catch me if you can." At the end of the track, she intones, "Don't you worry about me, don't you worry about me. Look at yourself."

Other stand-out songs include the slow-building (and rightful heir to Malcolm McClaren's "Buffalo Gals"'s scratching glory) "Take A Ride," "Faeri Fjöllin," the only song on the album sung in Icelandic and meaning, I think, Fallen Fairy (which would make sense - the Icelandic people are very much in-tune with the Hidden Folk), and the French track "Samedi," in which the multi-lingual de la Rosa has, apparently, woken up and knows not where:

"Je me réveille ce matin
Mais je ne sais pas ou
Endormie dans un sofa

There is also an excellent and quite dreamy cover of The Penguins' 1954 doo-wop track "Earth Angel." It really must be heard to be believed. If I ever end up getting married, I'd definitely consider playing this song for the first dance!

So there you have it. Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious is fun, infectious, dazzling, and as full of glittery moments as Times Square on New Year's Eve. True, Sometime didn't last too long; in fact, I'd go so far as to say they were around for a criminally short time. But they left us this, and I hereby say that it's an astounding feat of shimmery electronica. By all means, check it out.

UPDATE (24 January 2010): I have just received word from Danni himself that not only have Sometime NOT broken up, but they are currently in the studio RIGHT NOW, busy recording their second album. Don't know about you guys, but I'm SERIOUSLY looking forward to hearing it! I now return you to the blog in progress...

And here, for your enjoyment, is Sometime performing "Catch Me If You Can." Peace out.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Review: Bolshevik Disco.

As this blog begins to grow and find itself, I find myself thinking more and more about music, and using this space to put forward and review interesting bands and albums. The blog title, by the way, refers to where I keep my favorite concert T-shirts, in case you were curious; so without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to an album I recently found in the Electronic section of Rough Trade Records in London - The Polyamorous Affair's Bolshevik Disco.

The introduction track, "The Interrogation," starts thing off with, quite literally, a bang, as the listener is barraged with a sampling of warfare with a militaristic drumbeat and vaguely menacing gunshots with a static staccato of fuzzy voices in the background while a slowly building crescendo of synthesizers begins to blanket everything, enveloping the track with a purveying sense of tension. It's a bit like one of those WWII propaganda films fed through a filter of European electronic je ne sais quoi. It's a fine intro, and the album itself moves forward effortlessly, like a disco shark through the turquoise waters of a pastoral sea. My imagination is piqued, and Bolshevik Disco takes off running with it.

The Polyamorous Affair were founded in 2008 by Eddie Chacon and Sissy Sainte-Marie. Based out of Los Angeles, they self-released their eponymous debut to critical acclaim (Perez Hilton was an earlier admirer) and were then signed up by Manimal Vinyl (who also have under their umbrella the amazing Bat For Lashes). Bolshevik Disco is their second release.

Here are some of my thoughts of this album.

First off, I'd like to take a moment to enthusiastically put forward my choice for stand-out track "You Are." Consisting entirely of a delightful back-and-forth vocal exchange between Chacon and Sainte-Marie, this song features a series of fun and whimsical plays on rhymes; it's infectious and hypnotic track, to say the least. Sample lyric:
"You are my dark side of the moon,
A room without a view,
A song that ends too soon,
A helium balloon ..."
I can easily picture "You Are" as spoken vows at an intergalactic space-age wedding. Very cool.

Their cover of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" evokes a melancholic ennui that is furthered delicately by Sainte-Marie's breathy vocals shimmering over a wobbly rhythm of synthesizers and a steady percussion, stained with a distant current of gentle guitars. It makes an impression of how one must feel loneliness in the vacuum of space, staring at the stars as they whir past in a frenzy.

Flexing their rave muscles on "Eastern," the sound conjures up fond memories of New Order when they camped out in Ibiza for the recording of their dance masterpiece Technique.

"White Hot Magic" takes me back to the 80's heyday of synth-pop, on a trail that was blazed in Europe by such acts as Cetu Javu and Camouflage. Very danceable, and mesmerizing.

My only complaint (and it is but a minor quibble to say the least) is that the album itself is quite short, clocking in at just over thirty minutes long. Most of the ten tracks on display here fall into the two-to-three minute range, and I feel they could have let loose just a bit more often, resulting in meandering soundscapes suitable for losing oneself in.

That being said, I quite look forward to hearing more from this spacey and quite interesting electronic duo in the future!

Oops, looks like "In Love" was cancelled by YouTube. Here, from Bolshevik Disco is the awesome and sweet "You Are". 

Monday, 11 January 2010

Bláa Lónið.

From my Christmas 2007 visit to Reykjavik, Iceland.

The shuttle picked me up from Hotel Borg at 15.30, and loaded me into a chartered bus with a few other people at the Reykjavik Excursions station near the massive Perlan. It's a 45 minute drive to the Bláa Lónið -- better known simply as "The Blue Lagoon." (Not the dreadful 1980 film starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins, mind you.)

It was a fascinating trip. I watched the barren snow-flocked landscape hurtle by, all black volcanic rock covered with ice and snow. Large volcanoes lurked on the horizen, shaped like Stepford tits, plumes of steam pouring like smoke from unseen fissures in the crust of the Earth. Timeless. One can easily imagine NASA practising the moon landing in this terrain (which they did). Chances are good that Aldrin and Armstrong were vaguely disappointed by the Moon after taking in
this landscape. Ha ha, I kid - but not too much. It's fascinating to watch as it drifts past, and it gets your mind and imagination racing, visualizing the explosive power of exploding rock and magma as it violently pushes upward and out, creating this alien world of volcanoes, geysirs, fissures, and steam. The Sun said its bless and winked out, leaving behind a pastiche of purple clouds. It was night, and the bus turned off the major highway 1 onto a weavey winter road. Ice crackled underneath the tires. The engine rumbled like an old man and my seat vibrated ever so slightly. I thought Bjork would be nice, and I plugged her into my ears. "It's so quiet ... shh, shh ..."

We arrived. I walked through the FREEZING COLD (it was 23 degrees with a blustery wind - felt like 5) past hulking lava boulders to the entrance. You can rent a towel and a bathing suit, and you get a nifty bracelet with a computer chip embedded in to lock and unlock your locker (and also purchase beverages at the little cafe next to the lagoon). Change, shower, and enter the indoor introduction to the water. And then ...

... Speechless. I just ... it's so ... I ... I have never in my life experienced anything like it.
Ever. There were no words or thoughts with valid meaning in my brain except a single, sustained whisper that echoed back and forth for minutes. Wowwowwowwowwowwowwow My mind returned to a somewhat normal level of reasoning, and I went out into the hot water to explore the place.

It's rather large, and on average is about three to four feet deep. The water, true to its name, is a bright milky blue in color, from the thick soup of minerals and algae that leach in from the porous lava. 70% ocean water and 30% fresh water from glacial ice, it has a distinct salty tinge should any of it get into your mouth. On average, the temperature hovers between 100 and 110 degrees, though every now and then a mildly cold or a wince-inducing boiling current will brush up against your body. Your skin feels slick and healthy as it absorbs the ingredients, and steam filters from the surface, making everything around you transform into dark silhouettes from time to time. I found that I liked to walk on my hands, the mud and black gritty lava sand squooshing between my fingers as I pulled myself through the water. There was not a single cloud in the sky, and the moon looked as if somebody had rubbed it vigourously with sandpaper. Bordered on all sides by lime-encrusted black rock that somehow still managed to maintain a solid dusting of their Christmas snow. Passed the mud pots and pulled out a semi-frozen lump of silica mud and clay with little flecks of rock inside and smeared it on my face like a warrior of old. It was freezing, but my skin was thanking me as it tingled. Out past those pots was the most interesting feature of the Lagoon - the steam vent!

Rising out of the centre at a height of about three feet, it burbled, spat and sputtered boiling-hot water from its peak, each little drop leaving a wake of steam behind it as it hit the rock and became one with the lagoon. Being in its close proximity was quite a bit hotter than the rest. Sometimes it was a little
too hot, but I was willing to suffer momentarily. It made an interesting sound - I likened it to little brittle marbles of sugar being flayed alive by a dying vacuum cleaner. I relaxed my body in the water, surrounded by nature and the weird and somewhat ominous lights of the industrial power plant that provides Reykjavik with all its power (steam, it's the way to go!). People from all over the world drifted about here and there, and a bright spotlight turned back and forth over the scene, turning everybody into black silhouettes. The monumental amount of steam from the vent (I'm talking monumental in every sense of the word) changed directions every now and then and would sometimes pass over you, coming like a freight train. Everything would become white, and that, I imagine, is what being inside of a cloud is like. I floated on my back and pushed off into the centre of the waters. I stared up at the sky. And - just like that - pfoosh, pfoosh, two little shooting stars rocketed through the sky. Hmm. Maybe I was on the Moon.

Made it home, hugging myself slightly on the bus. Come to think of it, do you know how I feel right now? You know that sort of dreamy, sigh-y, lackadaisical feeling you get after earth-shatteringly awesome sex, and you're just laying about, maybe smoking a cigarette or drinking a
coupe de champagne? Just an overwhelming sense of well-being? That's how I feel. Maybe I just had sex with Iceland! Maybe ...

Monty Python Monday.

From Season One, Episode Three "How To Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite A Long Way Away," here's "Bicycle Repair Man."

Happy Monday!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Turtle Vs Pigeon. Who You Got?

In one corner we have a common variety water turtle, of the order Testudines (the crown group of the superorder Chelonia.

In the other corner we've got a regular old thirsty pigeon, from the bird family of Columbidae within the order of Columbiformes, who seems to have perched himself just a little too close to the water's edge for its own good.

I ask you, "Who you got?"

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Cat Piano.

Narrated by Nick Cave, this lovely piece of animated film noir is ... well, it's something else entirely. Poetic, lovely and purr-fect - this is what cats might dream of after a wee over-doing of catnip.

"Poised with tooth and fire and paw, we would finally settle this musical score."

First Blog Entry.

After quite some time, I've finally decided to come around to my 21st Century senses and create a blog of my own! Sounds pretty awesome, it does, so allow me to begin piecing this thing together.

What will be the running theme of this blog, you ask? Good question, good question.

There will be blood. Politics will figure large, as will unsettling animal videos, diatribes on the breakdown of human society, music, poetry snippets, reviews of various aspects of media I (and, by extension, you) find interesting, feelings regarding certain flotsam and jetsam of popular culture, and a veritable cornucopia of various bric a brac that may or may not be amusing. Naughty language could figure largely in this blog's future as well. Who knows, I'm just going to fucking make it up as I go along, and then see if anything gels. But I'll do my damnedest to make it interesting.

Now I'm off to watch snowflakes, fluffy and pristine, fall from the London sky and coat the ground with silent, cold precision. A shot of Bailey's in my coffee might be warranted. For now though, my special and unique snowflakes, I leave you with Empire Magazine's brilliant (and quite profane) tribute to the one and only Malcolm Tucker's swearing jags from the fantastically funny comedy In The Loop. Enjoy, and catch you on the flip side!