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19.8.06

The End of Blogging

OK folks, the time has come to wind up operations and focus my written energies elsewhere. I always looked at the Daze as a casual-selective record of artistic items consumed & processed during my stay in Ireland, and now that I’ve left that Land of Errors, I mean to give the Slow Review all the prose-reviewing oomph it deserves. Don’t get me wrong, blogs are a great way of spreading cant and opinions, but in terms of serious writing and prose-smarts, well, the concept of blogging is more of a taint than a marketing boon. Neither am I the kind to adopt marketing postures in effort to get my name across, but by golly, it’d be nice to write for a vehicle that could one day pay out. Opinions are so lonely… they crave the comforting folds and regularity of editorial column-space and printed ink. Above all, in the end, down with the brass tacks, opinions wanna get paid…

So then, below is nearly three years’ worth of reviewing content. I’ve enjoyed the Balzacs and the DFWs and Lisa Burkes and Elvii the best. I’ve also enjoyed the sloppy overlong paragraphs and the minimal typeface {font-family:Verdana;font-size:10;} and white space. I regret not having written more like Sterne. I tip my hat to the few commentating friends who bothered.

I’ll endeavour to keep the blog live on blogspot, but in the meantime direct your attentive energies to www.SlowReview.com.

rino

posted by rino breebaart  # 12:55 pm (1) comments

10.8.06

Neko Case, Black Listed & Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Sometimes I get a thing for a singer purely because of her voice. A long time ago I had a special feeling for The Clouds’ Trish/Tricia Young, who I thought just kinkyplum as backing vocalist and occasional lead singer. Something in the character of her voice had me hallucinatin’ lazy eyes and husky cool and low-slung basses and groove smarts and flannel. Neko Case kicks up the same boyish reaction of Oh I Like You, Will She Like Me? Her timbre is rich and throaty, extremely strong in the high range and confidently ringing in any key. She’s so much more than the generic alt.country tag can hedge and fence her in. The independence and woman’s smarts of country, the poetic naturalness of confident songwriting, a sexy intelligence and sharp, redheaded good looks. Canadian blood. Hard-working tourbus (actually, a tourvan called the Beaver) attitude and self-made woman pith. But above all, that clear-open voice ringing out with full reverb. Sometimes country-sounding (vis early Maria McKee) and sometimes mixed with a radio-friendly 50s bandstand/pop sound and sometimes just cool and smokey, in love with old record players and dusty guitars and smart girls in skirts or overalls and childhood popsicles. It’s a rich timbre to my ears at least. My thanks to the lads at 3hive for pointing me her way. Here’s to clear and bold voices.

posted by rino breebaart  # 6:04 am (0) comments

22.6.06

Farid Ayaz Qawwal & Brothers, live at Liberty Hall, Dublin

In many ways, Qawalli music has it all: committed and intense vocals, call and response chorus and verses, syncopated rhythms, and great group dynamics. On top of the devotional Sufi content and strong testamental power, it still retains the music-for-converting-people aspect of the Persian marketplace. Songs of poets, prophets and Islam, sung with suasion and passionate spirituality, sung with physical-performative rhetoric and virtuosity. Eight mustachioed musicians in the party; an amazingly dynamic song structure and ordering and dynamic control, hands reaching out like conduits. Fine voices with great sustain. The spinal tingle of the first group note and devotion to Allah. A group can say so much more than a single singer… spirituality begins in numbers.

Musically, it’s where Arabic vigour and lilt meets Indian precision and rhythm. It’s so much more passionate and lively than your average white Christian band testifying to ambiguity in a church; it’s people-to-people spirit, just as at home on streets as concert halls. Even if the evening didn’t quite match the expected pyrotechnics of the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, there were moments I was lifted inside.

posted by rino breebaart  # 12:45 pm (0) comments

15.6.06

Bush is 'inspired'

Of all the weird, hokey and downright idiotic things to say after a visit to Baghdad (and his grinning glee to get the words out right), President Bush says he was inspired to visit the capital of a free and democratic Iraq, and impressed with what he saw. Inspired by what? Daily carnage and sectarian violence? Downright chaos and bloodshed? Beheadings? What inspiration! To be inspired by that... means there is something dire and wrong not only with his perception and message-politics (and the yawning reality-chasm), but that in all likelihood Bush seriously likes all that killing and violence.

OK now, there's an election coming up and all that implies for Republican America, but imagine by analogy if Putin went on a little junket to Chechnya and says he came back 'inspired'. Inspired by his executed vision of controlled democracy. The Russian people of course would have the sanity not to believe the propaganda, not a word of it. How long can the politics of denial persist, or is this the shark-jumping turnaround the media, the voting public of America and the rest of the world need?

posted by rino breebaart  # 10:24 am (2) comments

30.5.06

Circle of Complicity – Dublin property prices

I’ve been a-thinking about this a lot, and it’s a representative analogy of the unique bubble of the Celtic Tiger. It’s also a riddle and a conundrum that explains why property prices in Dublin have been skyrocketing for the last ten years; pricing almost everyone out of the market – everyone except the desperate and the fabulously wealthy. Here’s the problem in a nutshell.

When the Irish government of the early 90s lowered interest rates and introduced incentives for companies (esp in the Finance and IT sectors) in the hope of boosting a long-stagnant economy, they also created ways of defraying tax back as economic stimulus. A company could minimise its bill by investing back in property development. Result: property speculation became big business; new building developments went up everywhere and cranes began to dominate the Dublin town aesthetic. Hotels, residential housing developments, major refurbishments, huge commercial estates. Which meant extra jobs and a greater need for housing, so the demand helped supply and tax incentives along.

With many property developers benefiting from tax breaks and high demand, property prices went through the roof. Everyone who owned a house or two in Dublin suddenly became semi-millionaires. This is why the Celtic Tiger was perceived as a success. Everyone refinanced and got brand new BMWs, investment properties, summer houses in Spain. Quality of life was perceived to have improved but nothing was really fed back into infrastructure, kinda like the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will benefit everyone. The hospitals are still shite. Inequality is second only to America.

An interjection at this point would point out that a) the Irish taxation system is about 40 years behind the rest of Europe and b) the government was happy to be getting so much more revenue from its range of new stealth (or hidden) taxes as well as all the extra income tax and stamp duties. Not that this meant revenue went back into infrastructure, not by a long shot. And not that this streamlined or modernised the taxation system; for instance, it was only until recently that you could get away with not declaring income from overseas accounts. In fact, the government doesn’t care at all that many people get away with dodgy declarations (you declare what you want, in essence, if you don’t pay PAYE) because the system is obtuse and expensive accountants are very willing to overestimate your projected income in the hope of securing a loan, or point you to ways of defraying your bill…).

In the first years of the boom, real estate agents and speculators made huge sums of money and consequently lent the industry an air of cutthroat greed which trickled down to the bottom, with desperate renters trying to outbid one another for subdivided crapshacks (and landlords taking the highest bids). New money made a lot of landlords very arrogant. But, people selling property could make even more because most sales-deals are not of the Western, above-board kind but a dodgy three-part system of closed auctions where bidders are played off against eachother via a ludicrous, nominal guide price. A house sold at auction can go up to four, five times higher than the guide price, especially if already near the million mark. The agents can treat buyers like pawns, hanging on for the competitive bidders, and of course they make huge commissions when trumped-up prices go higher. Even when the closed auction seems to be over and done, there’s still an opportunity for a higher bidder to come in and outbid the final offer. To wit: it’s all deliciously corrupt and greedy if you know how to fake a few bids with your real estate chums. The industry regulator, of course, thinks there’s nothing wrong with the current system, writing it off as merely the economics of a booming economy. Speaking of write-offs, one of the tax incentives makes it more worthwhile for a company to leave a property empty than to lower the rental price and get tenants in. Go figure. Keep them prices high.

So, tax incentives and speculation spiked the prices, and real estate agents benefit from a very dodgy system (as do their notaries and solicitors). Add in the banks willing and eager to lend everyone huge sums at low rates, and then price hikes are no biggie. If it continues at this rate, they say, then imagine what it’s worth in 35 years when you’ve finished paying your mortgage! (Do a quick calculation: if you pay a third to two thirds of your mortgage in added interest, and the average price of a house in Ireland is around €350,000, and there are several hundred thousand in the same boat, then you can see why Ireland is perceived as a wealthy economy: the finance sector is laughing all the way to, or rather, inside its own bank).

Now, in an average year the government pulls in well over a BILLION euro in stamp duties (hey, like a stealth tax), so of course the government benefits from all the speculation too. None of that money goes into regulating the industry properly or fairly. Government has cosy relations with developers (see tax breaks: those hands don’t wash themselves) and government favours dodgy or corrupt developers (one roads/construction company favours exploiting Turkish labour at half the minimum wage. No harsh penalties or regulation there. Of course they can outbid all the other companies for government tenders, they don’t even pay their workers properly, the workers are dependent on the company for work visas). Many property developers are either corrupt in not paying fair taxes and fees, or completely circumventing regulators and auditors (think dodgy changes in name) and others are adept at exploiting government contracts (like the hilariously useless LUAS) by dodgy workmanship, dodgy and slovenly planning and by coming in over three times the alloted budget (thankyou taxpayer!). Which, for a government tender, you’d think would have the entire nation up in arms. But no, the two LUAS lines don’t even connect, or integrate well with other public transport, or even travel in meaningful directions. But says the government: everyone’s lifestyle is good, property prices are healthy and high, there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong! Well, unless of course you’re a first time buyer looking at €400,000 for a two bedroom flat not too close to the city, which is probably poorly constructed or leaky or showing signs of early structural damage. Thank the builders, contractors, tax laws and governmental incompetence for that one.

When everyone gets a kickback – owners, developers, agents, the government – there simply IS NO PROBLEM. The classic Irish head-in-the-sand. The beauty of which is that there’s really no fine line between mild corruption and general incompetence, from the government on down. Which is worrying.

But, it has created a bubble of artificially exaggerated and unreal property prices – the banks are only happy to lend acres of money – but it cannot last and the entire circle of complicity will fall apart when the banks start to ratchet up interest rates by whole points, by necessity. If I remember rightly, several EU reports have indicated this is becoming glaringly necessary and long overdue if the economy is to stay viable. Most people paying off a second or investment property will be forced to dump it, there’ll be an oversupply of property all over the shop, and prices will be forced down by simple economics. There’s already a feeling of oversupply in commercial lets. Many middle-income folks won’t be able to keep up repayments and go into hock, and the bank will cash in again. And the contractors will be fat enough by then to move their money and projects to new EU countries looking to repeat the magic Celtic formula.

In sum then: dodgy government » dodgy tax laws + dodgy real estate agents » cheap loans = unreal property values » imminent collapse of the value bubble. And everyone does of course suspect that it’s unsustainable, but whatchoo gonna do?

posted by rino breebaart  # 11:29 pm (1) comments

21.5.06

Prince, Diamonds and Pearls

I can say, without equivocation or pimply hyperbole or excessive superlative, that Diamonds and Pearls is the greatest pop song of all time. No question. It’s got it all: funky tight rhythms, catchy melodies, affecting and natural choruses, light but definitive hooks and the surest pop touch (the kind of pop mastery that Prince would barely shrug his shoulders at). Chintzy synth lines, call and response vocals and harmonies, soul-pop vibes and trademark guitar licks, and supremely tight / varied changes (indeed, about four times the amount of changes you’d expect in a basic hit, including a major key change and turnaround). And it never seems to waver for a second, every part interlocks and leads to the next, every drum fill / lick sits right, it’s perfectly crafted and flowing. Super slick and layered production values with ferocious bottom and typically deep snare attack. I remember an interview with Michael B saying they nailed it in a single take in Japan or someplace; which, considering how long it’s taken me to ge the whole bass part down, is testament to superior musicianship. Listen to the subtle bass-behind-the beats between Sonny T and Michael B from 1:20 (‘Which one of us is right…’) to about 1:40 – supremely funky and deep in the pocket. The pompous key change to D# at 2:06 leads to tight funk at 2:24, repeating the opening bass riff. Sonny’s work is amazingly tight and nuanced at every point; it’s not until you play along that his pacing and emphasis come out clearest. Compared to the rather straight-ahead Cream, D&P has all the intricacy of a Swiss timepiece. Pure pop with deep pocket grooves and vocals stacked on top. Catchy as all hell. Pure Prince.

posted by rino breebaart  # 8:15 pm (2) comments

7.5.06

Reimer | Setzer, Together

Reviewer’s confession: I brought this disc purely on the basis of its ad slogan: "Only voice and bass guitar - does this work?" The link came from a TalkBass forums byte, the CD came from CDBaby and the CD was in my hands within a week (bless you internet). The slogan appealed to me because I’m trying to work out something similar myself, something basic and folk-y using only basic bass for melody, rhythm and chordal movement, and a call and response vocal on top. Reimer|Setzer approach it more from a Eurojazz angle: Sabine Reimer is schooled in standard phrase and projection, bending up to a note, relying on timbre for expression (alas, I can’t think of a direct parallel). Markus Setzer plays 7 and 6 string bass instruments (yes, pretty exotic stuff) like a jazz guitarist does counterpoint and chords. Which bugs me a bit because when you’ve got six strings and above, you’re playing guitar, not bass per se. You might as well be playing jazz chords all the time: at least Setzer steps out occasionally with a slap routine to reinforce the bass angle. It reminded me of a time seeing a six-bassist doing jazz cuts (could be Soup Plus in Sydney); I was disappointed he only played chords. Sure it sounded deeper and warmer, but some of that minimal magic of the bass was lost. Bass is about simple lines and foundation. Which makes me think that cutting it back from the jazz-chords angle (and Setzer definitely plays in the vein of the modern virtuoso) and keeping it limited and grounded: most bass remember is just dum-de-dum-dum. If your bass tone and vocal interlocking is tight, related and rhythmically melodic (that is, implying rhythmic counterpoint), you should have enough foundation (my other thinking lies with the expressive supremity of the timbales: two drums and percussion, so much funky freedom). But back to Reimer|Setzer. The music is thoroughly proficient; the range and vocal/song choice a little limited (some covers might’ve anchored this better, a broader lyrical range and attack) and almost same-y in the end, which is regretable 'cos it’s a very interesting duo-experiment. I might’ve opted for a different range of bass tones, but then again I play a Warwick 4. But in the end it does work, it’s a tasteful exercise in jazz motions.

posted by rino breebaart  # 11:19 am (0) comments

28.4.06

Absurd Homerism of the Day

Okely, after a brief but hospitable sojourn in Bordeaux (St Laurent d'Arce) with more quality wine and cheese than is safe to mention without wilting, I chanced, upon my return, on an absurd little televisual nugget in a Simpsons repeat. I could've focused more on quality content here of late, but with all my other energies going into the Slow Review, y'all have to be patient and make do with such little nuggets now and then. Of course, it doesn't make half as much sense unless your hear Castellaneta's intonation and singing attack, and of course's Homer's mildly absurd dance interpretation, and it's all over in a matter of seconds and could arguably be derided as a minor or lo-humour-value gag, of which there are quite a few, on occasion, in the later series, though without reservations I can pledge my own continued and singing allegiance to the show as a non-issue, taken for granted, signed and authenticated as cast-iron-clad solid gold opinion and conviction, the show is simply the greatest of our generation. No ifs nore buts about it. Anyhoo, here it is.

Homer's Safety Dance
You can dance,
You can dance,
Everybody look at your pants.

posted by rino breebaart  # 1:12 pm (0) comments

2.4.06

Shane Carruth, Primer

Just quickly then, a lucky batch of selections from the well-below-par, not so local video store we joined recently (where it always smells, the service is shite, the movie you want is never available but everything's for sale). Primer is an amazing first film. A beacon of hope for lo-budget DIY filmmaking which is nonetheless challenging, professionally constructed cinema. Basically a team of young garage inventors make a time-shifting device and lose themselves in the paradoxes and cause-effect permutations the shifting incurs. Issues of trust and ego stretch over manifold dualities and little mind-warps; the confusion and miscomprehension of the characters feeding onto the audience. Carruth's commentary track is worth the price of rental alone, not so much to explain the diffuse obscurantism of the plot but to lay bare the simple efficiencies of shooting a movie with one camera, editing on a home computer, writing your own music, ensuring minimal dubs with good sound recording, the hundred minutiae of self-driven, self-funded and self-organised filmmaking etc. I learnt a lot. Also of note was the dense jargon of four tech-wonks talking over one another: capturing the spirit of post-uni research and innovation with an air of naivety and realism. Guys in shirts and cheap ties who don't really know what they're getting into (cutting up the microwave, do you really need that catalytic converter?), not quite perceiving the nature and implication of what they create, that is, philosophically unprepared for the moral imperatives or responsibilities active outside regular time and limitation.

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:52 pm (0) comments
Brad McGann, In My Father's Den

Pacing is the major subset of plot that drives the cinema experience. Now if you can rearrange and massage the plot in service of pace with plenty of flashes backward and forward, there's a good chance your film stands outside predictable plot patterns and expectation. At times a fine mix of Janet Frame novel and a film like The Boys (not in terms of suspense, but in terms of scene/pace-driven narrative), this is one of the better dramas available to rent recently. The peculiarly NZ mix of small-town isolation and mountain-ringed enclosure drive this prodigal son returned / old wounds narrative. Yet not for a single second is the film predictable or familiar in its movements. Maurice Gee wrote the source novel; the film retains sufficient novelistic breadth of perspective. The dialogue lacks clarity at times (I missed whole chunks due to the rapid flurry-mumble of NZ accents) but it's extremely handsomely shot. And that pacing is superb: part mystery and analysis, generously clued yet always unexpected — balancing character with audience-minded development. The strength of misinterpetation and incomplete knowledge, long-standing enmity and ideas of worldliness. As well as a grizzly metal party teabagging scene. It feels like I'm writing a review entirely using review-cliches, so I will end there. Four stars.

By the way, Ads, on a completely unrelated note, did you like that Roots track Water?

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:50 pm (1) comments

30.3.06

The (ultimate) Guns 'n Roses Use Your Illusion mix?

Something about my love of Slash's sweet/fine solo tone made me do a personal compilation of that over-ripe, overextended, hyped over-everything double-single album by the Gunners. I still think it's music for bullies; there's a lot of tripe on the album; and it was cunning marketing to not release a proper double album but two overloaded single albums (bigger bucks for models and filmclips); and the sound takes me back to the very early 90s, when Nirvana and all that was just around the corner (though the Pixies had already happened); and that if you stole a car in Brisbane in 1990 then there was a good chance the Gunner's first tape would be in it, and when black t-shirts and tats and mullets were not yet exercises in visual comedy; and that when two guitarists play Gibsons through Marshalls they always sound the same; and Axl's schtick is very, very tiring after two point two hours and that after playing with Elton John at the MTV video awards it just wouldn't be the same; but nonetheless, here's my personal Gunners/Illusion mix (loosely faithful in order); it's heavy on the long songs of course, and all them sweet sweet Slash tones that make practicing hard rockers weep and weak with envy.
Coma | Double Talkin' Jive | The Garden | November Rain | Civil War | 14 years | Yesterdays | Breakdown | Locomotive | Estranged | Don't Cry (Alt. Lyrics).
73 minutes: that is, not cramming it all the way to 80. Have yourself a really super album.

posted by rino breebaart  # 8:48 pm (1) comments

27.3.06

Gus van Sant, Last Days

Even by arthouse standards of disengagement and snobbish distance, this film is a milestone in heavy-going, artless emptiness. I can't think of anything as mind-numbingly arch and failed and overextended except for maybe Brown Bunny, which has much in common here. A completely impenetrable lead character; a state of complete narrative sloth and breakdown; a hopeless cast (with the exception of Michael Pitt's accurately hunched shoulder blades); and a blandly perspectival play on repetition which begs 2x and then 4x fast viewing. If this film didn't have the clear Kobain-suicide context it'd quite possibly be the worst tripe ever filmed; that said, the context is far from sufficient to extricate this mess into coherent meaning and feeling. The same scenes and set-ups, the same unmoving shots, the repetitive putting on of clothes, the lamely sycophantic hangers-on, and even a totally-beside-the-point homoerotic scene which (even by van Sant standards) is in incredibly poor taste (as though he couldn't help himself, as though there was no other way to suggest depth and complexity and deliberate disadherence to Kobain-reality). The only nice touch, the only welcome relief from the glaring monotony was a guest spot by Kim Gordon as a record executive. Again, why not cast her as Kim Gordon, musician? Also, Asia Argento has some lovely tats, Gus, why couldn't you focus on them? I mean, your Kurt was so reductive and clearly damaged and incoherently aloof (sans explanation, source, drugs) you could just as well have spent all that film on Argento and her wobbly, g-stringed arse.

posted by rino breebaart  # 1:10 pm (0) comments

18.3.06

Georgian Architecture

I don't often write about architecture, but Dublin has such a rich preserve of Georgian-style buildings, indeed they so define the city's aspect and ambience, that after two and a half years it'd be slightly unfair not to have reported on them. By Georgian architecture I mean the 18th Century English design of (terraced) townhouses of flat and regular frontage with Palladian/fanlighted doorways, sometimes running for the entire lengths of streets; with a below-street basement storey (fenced off), a stepped access to the door (brightly coloured, sometimes flanked by columns) leading to a generous but compact entry-level, a series of high-ceilinged rooms on the first floor with larger windows, and usually two floors of decreasing height above that. As mentioned elsewhere, the general impression is of regular conservatism: the British design is thoroughly practical in terms of strong, easy construction and resistance to spreading fire (no balconies or extruding windows, and thick walls). But the external minimalism is betrayed by an inner opulence which can de staggeringly acute: fine plasterwork, chandeliers, elaborate marble fireplaces and of course huge paintings or panelling – in rooms whose height and sheer dimension profess a nobility we no longer cherish. These were, after all, the ordinary townhouses of the normal middle class as well as the excessively monied. The contrast between inner/outer is the crux of this typically British design (just don't remind Dublin too often… that what so solidly defines the city (after its people) is or was thoroughly British). The added Irish contrast to which is that the vast majority of Georgian buildings have now been taken over by businesses and commercial lets, eager to get historical frontage whilst gutting the noble interiors and squeezing in sublevels and subletters and cruel lighting. Which, residentially, was nothing new either over Dublin's last 150 years of poverty and crowding; now it's slightly odd to think these houses enjoyed their best years as residential homes. There has been a lot of senseless destruction and wilful decay, and some of the acts of preservation seem limited to the street-face or lip-service to the spirit of design, but there are cases of amazing restoration (see the James Joyce Centre on North Great George's Street).

The web is rather poor on reading materials on the experience of living in these buildings, and frankly I can't afford the rent to even begin conceiving a work on the subject, but I have to admit that after two years of mild bafflement and occasional slow drives down streets of sheer British planning, or sneaked peeks at normal lives under noble ceilings (and alas, so few interiors seen and experienced), I have warmed and melted to the aesthetic purity and elegance of the design, especially as part of a consistent, uninterrupted street of townhouses. With silver grey cast-iron streetlights, stone pavements flanking a broad street, and of course the cold black chill of Dublin winter casting an abstract stillness. There's an air of logical townplanning and coherence, the pleasing ideal of uniform exteriors and inner individualism, as well as the only-remaining vestiges of a sensibility appropriate to what JJ called the Second City of Empire. Because the Georgian buildings attest to the only Golden Age of Dublin (that is, by a retro-definition of sorts: a nation's Golden Age can be determined by its strongest architecture, cf Amsterdam, Venice, Vienna, Paris etc) which peaked in the 18th Century.

So, with all that in mind, I set off late on a weeknight to take some photos of Georgian buildings. Possibly with an eye to a future small-format coffee table book, stacked prominently for tourist's eyes ("Georgian by Night"). There are moments in winter especially where the crisp chill and the amber-yellow floodlights on some buildings seem wholly congruent for a Northern city, especially with a skinful of brew. There is a calmness, a wet blackness, and a reassurance that people can live like noblemen in these. That these buildings are carriers of a continuity with the past, in starkest contrast with thoughtless oblivion...

posted by rino breebaart  # 6:50 pm (0) comments

11.3.06

Duke Ellington, Blues in Orbit

There's a tendency to think of the Blues as an easy genre for amateur guitarists and old black singers with lotsa heartbreak, an all-too-familiar vernacular riddled with cliches and guitar faces. But jazz did manage to do something amazing with the blues, with swing and the blues together. And it was The Duke who turned the blues into a sophisticated artform. A complex, composed and supremely flexible artform. First he made an ensemble of distinct voices, and then scored them with adventurous elaborations of the blues mood. There's not a single three-chord progression on this album; just superlative little pockets of blues in and around three minutes in length. Moody chords and warm solos. Hodges in fine, clear form. Nance, Carney, Strayhorn. All in compact/expansive jazz miniatures. Laid-back, lively and amazingly free with its genre, really putting the format out there, composing by tonal band colours, a supreme understanding and mastery and brevity. Not a cliche to be found.

posted by rino breebaart  # 10:34 am (0) comments

8.3.06

Jean-Luc Godard, Alphaville

What a very strange film. Largely plotless, obsessed with stairs and corridors, liberally plagiaristic with SF, dystopian and comicbook tropes, completely impersonal and yet strangely consistent and whole. Consider its lineage: Le Mépris (1963), Bande à part (1964), Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965), Pierrot le fou, (1965), Masculin, féminin: 15 faits précis (1966) – this is a director at the height of creativity and stylistic diversity. There is also quite simply no other film in this mode – bristling with cerebral shadows and future-paranoia and a weird, a-violent inertia. There's a hint of classical Modernism throughout – the sets, the orchestrated music, the old-school idea of the automaton and the machinic dictator with his ruthlessly logical programs. Another director working today would've made this with much more sinister music and references, with a greater sense of historical inevitability and politico-cultural reality. Would have made the timeless, ahistorical trap of the present (theme) something shorter and more blandly superficial, filled with useless products and a culture of irresponsibility. Question: how can you make a film about conscience in the era of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Blair? Answer: you go for the throat. Our idea of the future is the inevitability of the next invasion; we no longer have a vision or a capacity for big humane principles. I'm in a good mind to chase up Eluard's Capitale de la Douleur in preparation for the work on torture I'm dreaming up.

posted by rino breebaart  # 2:19 pm (0) comments

15.2.06

David Foster Wallace, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way

Expansive in scale yet involved in detail: pure DFW. The question and paralysis of PostModern fiction is dealt with like a turning point in the/his ouevre, with personal finality, to be done with it all, tired of internal argument and hungry to consolidate the forces of fiction that make it worth having at all. Whilst of course using all the touchstone techniques of meta- and pop-cultural -reference, authorial intrusions and uncloakings, stories within stories, academic buzzwords masquerading as literary fidelity. There is a real wrestling with the format (and what it means) at the same time there’s real trickery and messing with the reader. Dotted, as always, with real character-driven pathos and amazing group dialogues.

DFW keeps things contemporarily relevant: an adman with an apocalyptic idea-event to end all need for advertising; dysfunctional sons sans fathers and unlocked daughters and excesses of body-consciousness and of course sports analogies. A discourse melding PoMo theory with Advertising’s usurping arrow through fear & desire, as well as pop culture’s pure entertainment slash vapid cultivation of the solipsistic and drug-addled self. Yes, and still managing to pull enough narrative weight to keep it interesting.

If it weren’t for DFW’s acute humour (the Ronald clown going "Varoom!"), some of the Creative Writing classisms would certainly ache and fatigue by story’s end. In terms of raw analysis, the structure of Westward is wholly improbable and diffuse, yet nothing is wasted – unless, with for example the workshopped story near the end, it’s clearly marked as flowery and overdone. It’s remarkably in line with the other stories in Girl With Curious Hair. It’s the point where the no-hands-isms of Broom anticipate the toasted teens and pathos of the Jest – where the real state and issue of literature are perceived and nailed with prose precision. Where graduate writings programs are discarded, their petty themes and discussions jettisoned like so many watery clichés.
"You saying there’s no politics going on on that show?" [Hawaii Five-0] […]
"Pure entertainment." […]
"Especially in reruns, syndication, that you’ve seen before," Sternberg says, into it, feeling, feeling disembodied, other, flaccid. "Incredibly comforting. You just know how the universe is going to be for the next hour. Totally secure. Detached but connected. A womb with a view." [p317]

posted by rino breebaart  # 7:02 pm (1) comments

14.2.06

Dick Cheney’s Pellets

A very quick post on media sanitation/dumbing down: after Dick 'Elmer' Cheney shot his hunting buddy in the face & chest whilst 'fixated' on bagging a quail, many reports claimed he was using a 'pellet gun'. Now, admittedly, the 28-gauge Perazzi he was using is a slightly lighter weapon, but it’s still a fucking SHOTGUN. Why not go all the way and say he was using a pop-gun and the 78-year-old lawyer-buddy merely got the cork in his eye. 'Accidentally sprayed?' — my eye. It's all part of the media's role in excusing reality with dishonest language.
TV is the place where phrases are redefined | like "recession" to "necessary downturn" | "crude oil" on a beach to "mousse" | "civilian death" to "collateral damages" | and being killed by your own army | is now called "friendly fire."

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:21 am (2) comments

6.2.06

Brad Mehldau Trio, live at Vicar Street

Something I had forgotten, until about halfway through the first set, is that Mehldau approaches improvisation not from a pure jazz tradition but from a hybrid that’s strongly informed by classical. It’s just then that I missed the element of swing and sophisticated blues that you get with the purists. Which is not to say the Trio is anything less than an improvisational force, in fact, it’s improvisation on a level of rhythmic acuity I haven’t seen in a long time. Precise chops, absolute sharp syncopation on the breaks, and free extension of fills. And always improvised on an ensemble-level, not just backing/solo, backing/solo. Everyone’s ‘on’ most of the time except at the start and return to chorus, but always damn tight. Sometimes with jazz virtuosos you get the feeling that solos can break into real subjectivity and complex meaning; with the Trio I got the feeling that the expressive range of solos didn’t quite matter as much as the tight group dynamics. There were some great solos, but I got kicks just listening to their precise timing. If swing’s not yer bag, then rhythm’s still key.

Actually, I have been meaning to write more about Brad, but haven’t balanced the time/resources equation very well. I gave the Tokyo solo concert a good listen (and from the next room it sounds clearly keyed by classical ears) and loved the Nick Drake tracks, and LaunchCast turned me onto Brad in the first place (especially with his Anything Goes album) without giving me the overall sense of Brad as musician and composer/interpreter. But I’ve lacked download/purchase resources to invest in more of his works, and really investigate his line. He sounds like an interesting and open chap in interviews too.

So then, Brad strikes an interesting balance between hard-core improv stuff with the band, that is, his original compositions; and cover-interpretations. You just can’t call them ‘covers’ in the sense of the Tijuana Brass Orchestra doing schmaltzy pop-orchestra facsimiles — Brad does Interpretations. The chorus melody and structure are vaguely there, but the music within the chords is opened up much more; at times, it seems the structure is being improvised alltogether. And extended, stretched and freely elevated rhythmically, until you’re left with a hybrid that is part meditation on form and part displacement (wider, ever wider) of boundaries. So, you have Black Hole Sun served up Brad style (which I’d now really like to see Necks style), She’s Leaving Home, Nick Drake’s Day is Done, and Knives Out, amongst newer compositions.

On the level of musicianship though, I’d kill to have 5% of the ability these guys have. To have such chops and work together so well… and for it not to be pure (restrictive) jazz whilst improvising on an ensemble level, is quite something. It’s jazz but-not-jazz; an interesting evolutionary branch on the tree of improvised music.

Admittedly, my attention flagged sometimes, but the reactive thoughts were just as interesting. The audience was mostly middle-aged but extremely well-behaved (no ringtones, no yack) and quirky like all jazz audiences (hair-wise). Brad is a humble and genuine player, posture perfect, attentive. Some of his crossed-hands techniques looked decidedly classical. His shirt was fly. The sound was pretty good for Vicar Street, probably because the volume was much lower. Drummer Jeff Ballard was rich on chops and variety and amazingly consistent/tight changes, but almost a little too frenetic for my taste. It still worked on the group level though. Larry Grenadier did some hot solos and the fastest walking lines since the 50s. I wish we had slightly better seats to appreciate his sound; the PA wasn’t perfect on that score. Larry really anchors the band.

And now I gotta check out Brad’s new album.

posted by rino breebaart  # 11:18 am (0) comments

31.1.06

Tom Hodgkinson, How to Be Idle

The Idler has been a bit of a champion in my book lately: writers digressing at length and leisure on their favourite habit: pondering, ruminating, slacking off and creatively wasting time. And creating all the while, mind you. Time is the great commodity of our age, and genuine artists are those that know how to manage it well. Hodgkinson does a fine job of hacking into the working mindset instilled by the Industrial revolution and refined by the Protestant work ethic and of course the modern work culture that takes and takes and just owns all your time in the end (whilst chopping your rights). Another documentary on TV recently illuminated just how much longer we work now, both partners, in an effort to stay afloat. The downshot of all which is: Quality of life is diminishing in spades. Working people have little time to themselves, and the dominant message being communicated is that work is the answer for everything. Want the lifestyle, the products and a chance at big bucks on the corporate ladder? You gotta sacrifice everything, you gotta work. Want the image and digs propagated by the media? You gotta read the lifestyle sections, then work to pay for the products. Want a holiday? Go to our packed activity deals. Want the security of fitting in? Work is the answer. Need more cash… etc.

To which the idler, of course, says Fuck all that codswallop, I’m going back to bed*. The problem here is control over how you live your life, an ethical problem at heart, whose boundaries interact with your societal participation. If you want to control the time you give to others, you have to radically re-think your priorities re: work, lifestyle etc. And that is the brilliance of idling: it’s a deliberate choice to slack off and find ways of creative living that are fulfilling on a soul level. To find the personal groove that fits your skin. And, once found, to not be afraid of being greedy with that time, to indulge and cultivate the self. And thence to mould your life around it. Prioritisation, people. Like Slow Food, it’s a way of extending your experience of quality time. Time is good for you.

Hodgkinson is damn convincing when it comes to planting the seed that becomes the faultless logic of the idler (call him the Alain de Botton of Bludging? Creative bludging). The book is full of fruity and pithy-serious ideas like the Sabattical Year, the right time to sleep in to, the appreciation of beer and bacon, fishing and smoking. The context of work and go-go-getting he draws against is pretty depressing and hollow, so even the smallest piece of advice shine with obvious glee: want holidays more often? Move to a place where normal living is like an everyday holiday (Tom chose Devon). Never forget that an Idler is capable of serious industry and application (think Dr Johnson). Quit work (or the working mentality) and take time. Become a part time consultant, or start your own magazine (speaking of which, Mr Hodgkinson, if there’s any room for editorial expertise and serious writing chops, email me). The fruits of idling cannot be measured but we live in their vicinity all the time.

Until I get a site design together, it’ll be a small while before I get to apply this my way at the SlowReview.com.

* Comment at time of purchase: 'You need a book to tell YOU how to be idle?'

posted by rino breebaart  # 1:01 pm (1) comments

21.1.06

WG Sebald, Austerlitz

The novel as travelogue of recollection and loss. Of the rootless migrant, adrift in denial yet governed by the dark impulses of deep memory. Of stories, pictures and observational lists told at a narrative degree removed (She said, Austerlitz explained, etc) and consequently perilously close to abstracted distance. A novel without much corporeality or bodily ties; a work of remembrance addressed to the vertiginous void of oblivion, fiendishly devoted to details and the conceptual slip of time and generations lost. And yet powerfully European in a geographic sense, informed wholly by the world lost after WWII. Actually, I'd hesitate to even call it a novel in the formal/dialogic sense of the word, with narrative contours and inexorable movement; it is almost pure travelogue set on the rails and stations of memory. Ahem. There is sufficient mastery in 't (especially on migrant mentality, unbelonging etc), for sure, but also a touch of aloofness in its fortresses and death camps and myriad vaulted objects. Leaves one hungry for the cerebral finesse of the full-blooded writer.

posted by rino breebaart  # 6:16 pm (1) comments

20.11.05

Federico Fellini,

Commencing with the nightmarish traffic shot of silent, hemmed-in despair, and ever after that open to dream, suggestion and imagination, this is the culmination of a kind of cinema we’ll never see again. The era of Cinecitta, of oligarchic producers and fabulous set pieces and swirling arrays of extras, littered with personal recollection, wish fulfilments and fear. And total dubbing. And wholly personal, boyish, poetically inventive direction. I love that his critic character, besides spouting an endless bilge of intellectual clichés (all of their time), states early on that his film is nothing more than a sequence of disconnected scenes; a film about filmmaking must employ self-criticism at some point, and when he talks about the failure of a scene with the dream-girl at the therapeutic springs, which we’ve just seen, well, it’s significant that it doesn’t deflate the narrative at all. And of course the critic hangs later on (how could he not see that coming).

The strong mover of the film is the sense of being carried along by large events one is complicit in creating, yet losing all willed responsibility for; the alienating fear of losing the thread, to get off the moving train and admit to not knowing. The endless circus of faces asking for their parts or opinion, always a circular chaos of distractions crossing the line of sight or sweeping up from the corners. The continual demands. The unspoken fear of failure, hungrily grasping at every (feminine) distraction. One of the great films about failure, fact. Fellini has a gift for controlling very large studio spaces, making them buzz and thrive with visual activity and eclectic peoples; contrasted of course with Guido’s unflappable calmness at the centre, the quiet heart of adriftness.

Along with childish masculinity, the distractions of feminine beauty, the injection of personal drama (the wife, the musical director, and of course the producer) and ceaseless directorial invention. In a film that is ever erupting into dream and fancy, or rather, which is more dream than real (hence honest about the illusions of cinema). The scenes in the steam baths, the profound nocturnality of the film contrasted with the washed out, over-exposed daylight scenes, the sheer improbable cohesiveness of it all… again, one has to resort to lists to distil the breadth of the scope, and avoid wanting to analyse everything (fear of women, Catholicism etc).

This is filmmaking on the genius side of Italian cinema: the Fellini method. Renown, production excess, cartoon humour, gorgeous dolls, a frenetic chaos externalised yet humanised by uncertainty and a search for clarity, or simple, useful and effective filmmaking; and still to be able to say Yes, this is my (mad) method but there’s more to it than that… there are lies, begged indulgences, cover-ups and denials, tawdry lovers, common gossip, domestic despairs, staged resolutions and uneven or badly-paced ambiguities in life, and producers bearing gifts… So much personal free reign will never be given in a studio environment again.

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:51 pm (2) comments

17.11.05

Diverting attention, away, away

You gotta love the management of news-issues and debate-framing by the White House. Distract people from Katrina and the price of oil & petrol, distract them from Rove, Libby and DeLay and then divert them from all that Plame implies, then obfuscate on torture, Iraq, health care, and maybe heap a little blame on false WMDs with the Democrats, as though they're complicit in this illicit war, or unpatriotic in the very least... and in the meantime all the telling but smaller-scale stories of absolute significance get brushed aside like autumn foliage. Obfuscation and issue-management provide the best cover for spin. Take the Chalabi Tour. He got a bit of gladhanding press-coverage when he went to Washington recently, and the administration pundits all agreed he's a top bloke who gets stuff done; but he's also a convicted felon and highly suspicious fraudster whose information is always informed by personal politics; and yet, hard on the heels of his visit to Iran, not many analysts that I've seen are putting two and two together on the nature and possible narrative content (from Iraq to Iran to America) of his visit. Is he building a new case for war, or selling his Iran-line for whatever reason, or simply having lunch with his NeoCon pals..?

Anyway, I've gathered together some quotes through Google News, in what could be construed as quoting out of context, but I think the words say plenty already.
Washington Post
Ask about Chalabi among members of the administration, and off the record there is general agreement. "Very astute fellow," says one very high government official. "Extremely bright and competent," says a senior military man.

Chalabi says the administration knows "how little we influenced the decision."[to go to war over unreal WMD]
Myrtle Beach Online
"We are heroes in error," Chalabi proclaimed at a time when the post-invasion chaos had long since evolved into full-fledged, murderous insurgency. "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."
Time (via Egypt)
DID YOU MAKE ANY SPECIFIC REQUESTS [to the Americans]? We put forward the idea that Iraq should buy American weapons. It will go a long way toward raising the morale of Iraqi troops and giving them something serious to work with. We discussed Syria and how we stop infiltration from Syria by getting the Syrian government to act responsibly.

WHY SHOULD IRAQIS TRUST YOU TO BE PRIME MINISTER WHEN YOU'VE BEEN CONVICTED OF FRAUD IN A JORDANIAN MILITARY COURT? Because they know that this is a false charge. And they also know the record of Jordan being the hub of corruption on the basis of Saddam's illicit dealings.

DO YOU THINK THE U.S. SHOULD SEND MORE TROOPS TO IRAQ, AS SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN PROPOSES? I think more troops in Iraq would make more casualties and would contribute very little to improving the security situation. I think the way to go forward is to arm the Iraqi army in a way that it can deal with the insurgency and the violence in a more professional way. The most important thing to do is revamp the intelligence collection. [That's beautiful, that is]
Petroleum World
According to senior associates of the Iraqi official, who have accompanied him to meetings with Bush administration officials, Mr. Chalabi has been threatening his friends in the Bush administration that if they do not support his candidacy to become the next prime minister of Iraq that there will be no way to contain Iran. He has told them in no uncertain terms that he is the only one who can make the Iranians behave.

"If Iran and Venezuela decided to team up and squeeze the United States, Uncle Sam might have to scream uncle," explained one of Chalabi’s friends.
Al Mendhar
What is more surprising is Al Chalabi's boasting of obtaining the approval of Tehran for occupying the position of Iraqi Prime Minister. After meeting with the Iranian leaders, Al Chalabi said in an interview with the New York Times newspaper that the Iranians promised him that they would not fail him or oppose him in case he attempted to become an Iraqi Prime Minister.
The New York Sun
"The Syrians are guilty," Mr. Chalabi said. "Foreign fighters are traveling through Syria to Iraq." He said Syria was providing both a "transit route" and a "safe haven" to the foreign fighters, and he said he hoped that would stop.

Mr. Chalabi also reflected on seeing Saddam Hussein after the Iraqi dictator's capture. He said he felt "sadness for the people of Iraq that this idiot ran their affairs for all this time." [This from Chalabi, mind you]
Now... I'm no wizz at spotting credible sources from the Middle East and MSMedia, but I thought it nice to do a bit of standard blog-mongering and stitch a narrative together, before the story becomes just another stale fact in the miserable war on conscience and truth.

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:22 pm (2) comments

16.11.05

The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

Yes, it’s still OK to like reference books – they’ll never be Starbucks cool. They only make them expensive to keep them away from the rabble, the great unwashed etc; or, to recompense the intensive tertiary scholarship that goes into them. Seriously. None besides grammar nerds and pedants read them, or copy-editors coveting sub-editing jobs ("Got the latest Chicago Style Manual the other day. Essential reading") and maybe the odd head of English looking to round off a budget application. Of course anything that promotes crisp and "maximally considerate" writing is good in itself, such materials need not be defended. But in case it ain’t obvious already, I’ve a rather persistent weakness for reference books that in no way corresponds to being a grammar fiend expounding subordinate clauses or squinting at modifiers. I like correct usage, efficient punctuation and well-cast prose. I don’t find reference boring in any way; it’s just another of the manifold entry points to superior writing-insight. As well as being etymologically interesting, and precision-ennobling, and usage-clarifying. Am I alone? Thank God, I thought I was alone!

Naturally there was a significant by-reason (ugh) for buying this particular thesaurus and that was DFW’s contributing editorship. Dave and me we’re like this * when it comes to reference. OK so his brain has far greater memorial firepower than mine (I must say part of the appeal of reference-reading lies in my inability to store facts for long. To which counter-laughs I respond that a slacker memory might leave the creative membranes looser and more responsive for improvising), and his upbringing was laced with hard-core grammar instruction and jollies compared to my lazy second langage. In fact, this is all starting to sound like my coming clean on a dirty or at least nerdy little secret: a) I buy reference books (lemme talk about Johnson, and later I will) and b) I brought a book purely because DFW’s name graced the cover. And worse, I brought an American reference book.

I should’ve guess from the flap byline "For the writer in everyone" that this is a beginner’s book. Which is not to say the book (1087 pages) is pedantically simple; but that in flipping through it the dominant impression is of standard-usage words being drawn to their nearest synonymous neighbours for everyday-acceptable essay writing. The dataset lacks a certain thoroughness or completeness that would otherwise gloss archaic or exotic words of limited but fecund usage. It feels limited to American English rather than Wordly Rich English (again, the title: my fault). This is a thesaurus for the average American college student: the kind that sits all robust and futile on a bookcase with a kegger in full swing next door. Mixed with a whole lotta usage guidelines and helpers and pointers. A college-usage-thesaurus then.

There’s stacks of guides (The Right Word) and Word Banks (taxonomic lists) and Word Spectrums (a scale of near-synonyms towards an antonym; see what I mean about undergraduate simplicities…), and, for the original purchase incentive, Word Notes by famous contributing editors (including Zadie Smith). DFW is on home turf here, dressed in full didactic regalia. He cannot but betray his teaching style and dry comedic precisions; and neither can he hide his mainline to grammar buzz & thrills. The man is a word fiend, and of all the contributors comes across most authoritative on usage for writers, and on rare and exotic sources and variants and the despicably changing state of usage and context (further, always pointing out he’s writing in 2004). But as always he’s well worth quoting in full:
WORD NOTE dysphesia
This is a medical noun with some timely nonmendical applications. Educated writers already use aphasia to refer to a brain-centred inability to use language, which is close but not identical to the medical meaning. Dysphesia can be similarly extended from its technical def to mean really severe difficulties with forming coherent sentences. As anyone who’s listened to our current president knows, there are speakers whose lack of facility goes way beyond the range of clumsy or inarticulate. Our president’s public English, like that of his father’s before him, is dysphesiac.
Actually, George W gets another nod somewhere else too. Regretably, these occasional glosses and rhymes (!) are just momentary personalisations, snapshots of the language in action from ardent practitioners; but this is by no means a thesaurus written by its contributors. Which is not to say that piffle and guff don’t have a place in reference, I mean, the peculiar inflections of interpretation that so humanise Johnson’s Dictionary are what make it a great work of reference. In any such text there’s a goal of prescriptive clarity and precision which overrides any descriptive rendering or accounting of the (historical) language at hand: which is always a matter of not un-subjective intelligence and perspective (just like encyclopeadias, dictionaries provide wide-screen pictures of how we understand ourselves and the world. And now to Wittgenstein). If the contributors worked on the floor of this book instead of just phoning in some anecdotal briefs, then maybe we’d have a nicely saucy and fallible and eminently quotable work of reference. We wouldn’t say, Oh, that Yankee Oxford, we’d say DFW’s Dictionary. We would have a thorough and indicative description of the state of English Of Our Time, with full glosses and footnotes. Such books, of course (and this deflates my argument completely) already litter the eye-level reference shelves: The Story of English. The Story of Johnson. The Story of the OED. The Story of the Comma etc. But I’m damned sure DFW would make an hilarious and maniacially thorough dictionary and pre/descriptive usage guide.

In the longest gloss in the book (1.25 column lengths), DFW kinda breaks down from his original and detailed explication of hairy (barbigerous, cirrose, crinite, glabrous, hirsute, hispid, lanate, pilose, piligerous, piliated, pilimiction, ulotrichous and tomentose ["covered with dense little matted hairs – baby chimps, hobbits’ feet, and Robin Williams are all tomentose"]) and provides the following, rather epiphanic footnote:
N.B. If you’re thinking of using any of the more esoteric adjectives here, you’d be well advised to keep an OED close at hand. This is not simply a gratuitous plug of another Oxford U. Press product. The fact is that some of these hair-related terms aren’t in other dictionaries; plus, the terms are often specialized enough that you’re going to want not just an abstract definition but a couple sample sentences so that you can see how the words are actually used. Only the OED has both defs and in-context samples for just about every significant word in the language. Actually, why not screw appearances and just state the obvious: No really serious writer should be without an OED, whether it’s bought or stolen or hacked into the online version of or whatever you need to do. Nothing else comes close.
Refreshingly honest, I’d say. Maybe the King’s English is next.

posted by rino breebaart  # 8:04 am (0) comments

15.11.05

State of British music IV: Supergrass, Life on Other Planets and Road To Rouen

What do you do when you’re in a guitar band and you get sick of making riffs and choruses with three of four pop chords? Every band comes to an impasse of this kind, from Black Sabbath to U2. The options out are pretty simple: you either bring in interesting producers to fiddle and tweak your songsounds, or you write songs with strings and horns in mind, and begin to stretch the format somewhat. Supergrass did the latter. From the punchy high of Life to the brief but crafted vignettes of Rouen (which I’ve combined into a killer twofer), the Grass are making interesting pop again, beyond mere 'spot the precursor and have a lark'. The last of the former (the wonderful stoner cut Run) seems to segue perfectly into the first of the latter. The production is crisp and clever, the instrumentation fresh and broad (with some welcome piano work), the canvas has been stretched and opened, and there ain’t a single flaky moment. Yet it’s distinctively BritPop: easy melodies, clear choruses, good guitar fun; and the sense that George Martin could’ve been involved in the project. And it’s great value at 35 minutes — I agree with shorter albums: greater quality and concentration on fewer songs rather than endlessly sprawling CDs stretched with b-material. I love the sense of containment and sufficiency of such albums: it reminds me of soul records somehow. Have yourself a really super album.

posted by rino breebaart  # 3:54 pm (0) comments

14.11.05

Martin Amis, Experience

Yes, again. This blog has now officially achieved circularity. What takes the average PostModernist a lifetime of reference and pose I've achieved in a year and a half. And I don't just mean Repetition. Which reminds of a nice little PoMo Manoeuvre involving laugh tracks and spare irony, which I'll have to relate at a later date. The thing I like, nay love about this book, besides the palpable enjoyment-factor of its prose and its contiguity to literature's furnace, is that it's a book about Family. Not just a dual biography, not just a stab at the fourth estate of Britain, but a meditation on the writing life seen through the lens of familial bond and narrative order. It's also one of the most pro-childbearing books in the genre. It is... a surprising book.

posted by rino breebaart  # 9:32 am (0) comments
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