Tuesday, 29 December 2009

How angry about Day of the Triffids is too angry about Day of the Triffids?

I think the watershed moment for me and every single film and TV programme ever came in the year 2004, when as a skint young buck living in Canada, I ended up watching all the 'making of' extras on Deb's copy of The Two Towers at least three times. It sort of shattered the magic of cinema for me, seeing as how it made me realise that films these days consist not of fluid action, but millions of two second long close ups, filmed at opposite ends of New Zealand, in different years, in front of blue screens, then arbitrarily pasted together into a masterpiece by gore-obsessed beardmeister Peter Jackson.

Anyway, ever since then my joy at the celluloid medium has been haemorrhaging at a rate of knots. Whatever happened to that innocent little boy who used to slump pissed in front of Big Brother at 5am and be thoroughly entertained by watching some boring people sleep? HE DIED.

So yeah, people who don't watch TV and make a point of saying they don't watch TV are the most hateful people on the planet, so I take no pleasure in suggesting that I might be done with the medium, but I watched two innocuous shows with my parents last night and they left me in a seething rage, and not the good kind.

First some programme about how people of the past coped with climate change, presented by Tony Robinson. It was beautifully shot, and clearly everyone involved had got a nice holiday out of the deal, but SERIOUSLY: the show starts with Robinson talking about this ancient Peruvian empire that had somehow profited from drought in the past: he simply refuses to tell us why for 20 fucking minutes, he's just killing time, reiterating the same thing, and I point this out, angrily, and my dad has the TEMERITY to not really mind, he's quite enjoying it. And don't get me started on the ten second establishing shot where Baldric has to stand in a church graveyard at night just so that he can say '... the Black Death' while some portentous strings play in the background. Then I watched Day of the Triffids and I hated every single thing about it. I think I swore in front of my parents for possibly the first time ever as a result of the fact that I thought a sci-fi show about giant killer plants didn't plausible explain why everyone on the planet had gone blind. Seriously, it took me about an hour to calm down afterwards.

Admittedly these were but two programmes but I don't think being taken to these summits of rage by TV that is meant to divert and entertain is really very good for me. Maybe I can get some of my license fee back.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Lo! A player on which you can listen to my favourite songs of 2009

Er, yeah, I was meant to have done this for DiS about three weeks ago... OH WELL BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. Anyway, look, it should play and everything. Um and they're probably not exactly my favourite tracks of the year, more kind of favoured strays on records that weren't 100% amazing. Though some of them aren't. Oh well, you get the picture. Possibly. In any case, my favourite of the year is the Land of Kush one, m'kay?

The magic of 2009 by MrLukowski

Not many celebrities of prior eras embarassingly adopted went for 'that Nineties look'...

...John Lydon, bless 'im, was one of them. Probably all of them.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

A letter from Vic Chesnutt

Back in May, I did a feature on Constellation Records for what turned out to be the last ever edition of Plan B mag. One of the people I interviewed (by email) was Vic Chesnutt, an artist I guess I'd always been a fan of by association more than I was actually a straightforward devotee of the music; Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe were huge fans, he was signed to Constellation... anyway, he was clearly a remarkable man, but he did get his answers in late and I never used them, and now he's dead under horrible circumstances, for which there is the full story here and a very moving tribute from Kristin here.

Anyway, I feel a bit weird just having said answers lying in a dusty corner of my inbox, unused, like I'm hoarding a microscopic portion of his soul or something, so I'm going to delete the mail but put the contents up here, as it feels equally wrong to erase them forever. Er. Yes. A 'normal' blog will be along soon, I think... um, but yeah, I'm not sure if I've really put this up to be read, or just so it exists outside of my responsibility... Anyway, it's here now.

Vic Chesnutt

to me
show details 10 May
i lost your email
if i missed the deadline i apologize
i hope i didn’t

On 5/1/09 1:38 PM, "Andrzej Lukowski" <lukowski@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Vic

This is Andrzej from Plan B - sure Ian has explained this all to you, but we're doing a big piece on Constellation records, its past and its present, and it would be super great to get your input as I guess somebody pretty emblematic of the changing face of the label.

Here's a list of questions - I understand that you'd rather not answer by email, if we can set up a time early next week to go over this then that'd be great. Questions pasted below and attached.



1. So first off, when did you first become aware of Constellation? Was post-rock (for wont of a better term) something that you were into as it happened? Care to name a favourite Constellation band?

jem cohen was my entree into constellation. he showed me his godspeed cd, it was beautiful, he said he would give it to me of course but it was too precious, so i taped it on cassette and i used to rock that thing so loud in my studio when i needed inspiration. years later on their last tour, i saw godspeed maybe on their last tour, wow, it was unforgettable.

2. And then who made overtures to who vis a vis your signing to the label? It’s a ways to go, I’m assuming somebody must have lured you there? Who did you know already..?

when jem cohen produced my album at hotel2tango north star deserter we thought it was for new west records, but instead, they dropped me so that we could keep it in they family, my new found montreal family.

3. Had you heard of Hotel2Tango already?

hotel2tango is famous outside of constellation, yes, i knew of it, well. and i’d heard tales from jem.

4. How was recording North Star Deserter there? You got some pretty good Constellation collaborators, there...

it was magical. i was scared because i didn’t know any of these people except guy picciotto. but the whole constellation reputation from cohen had me terrified. i didn’t think i was up to the task. but immediately from the time howard bilerman, the engineer from hotel2tango picked me up from the airport i felt welcome and inspired and among comrades.

5. Obviously it’s early-ish days yet, but how does Constellation seem to be different to others labels you’ve been with? Do you feel they understand your needs better?

constellation is the best thing that ever happened to me.

6. I don’t need to point out that as an American whose work is located in the folk idiom, you’re rather an anomaly at Constellation... what’s your take on that? A conversation along the lines of ‘this isn’t what we usually do’ must have taken part at some point?

i don’t think about that, at all, really, with a good hunk of the heart of constellation characters surrounding me in the band, it feels like the only place for these albums.

7. It strikes me that community is probably quite key to Constellation... do you feel removed from that at all? Or not? Would it be journalistic wishful thinking if you could draw some amazing parallel between it and the early Eighties Athens scene?

well, constellation crew seems a lot more put together than the wild early 80’s athens scene.

8. Are you friends with Carla Bozulich at all? I guess you’re in a similar boat as ‘veteran’ US recording artists who’ve found their way to Constellation...

i know carla, of course. she’s amazing. but i haven’t thought about the constellation thing with us.

9. How do you politics stack up with the label’s politics? Are you as left leaning? Is it an issue?

oh yeah, i’m a lefty, alright. and we talk politics.

10. I gather there’s a new album due September... what can we expect? Was it done at Hotel2Tango again? Who were the personnel?

yes, we recorded at the new hotel2tango and it is silver mt zion sans sophie, guy picciotto, and
two-thirds of the witchies, single lp length. i can’t give away anymore details.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Mental blockages partly swept under carpet thx

Hello there, the internet. It has been quite some time (er, apart from those other blogs I put up, but I started this one earlier and wrote something long and a bit pompous and decided to just strip it down, like)... I suppose there are a variety of reasons, most to do with lack of free time of late, but at the core of it is the thing I was kind of alluding to a couple of blogs back, namely that I've felt mentally blocked writing about certain things here, mostly because I didn't want to jinx stuff. Anyway brief pubic announcement, already probably know to everybody who reads this thing, and then we shall move on.

1. After a somewhat nail-biting wait, I got the job of Fringe Theatre Editor at Time Out. Which probably either sounds really impressive (if you're unsure about what Fringe Theatre technically is) or awful (if you know), but is actually somewhere in between.

2. I have a girlfriend. Called Rachael. It has now been over two months, so I suppose it 'counts'.

3. Um, I had a bit of a falling out with my ex-housemates and it was all a bit blah for a while and I thought I wasn't going to find anywhere good to live, but then I did and now I live in a large house in Clapton and it's all good.

4. Still hanging in the air is my ballsing up of the medical portion of my Canada application, had to wait a fucking age to get my GP notes transferred to London from some obscure corner of Leeds, the elusive yay or nay OUGHT to come soon, but it's now taken so long I can see the 'hilarious' scenario occurring wherein it's taken so long that I get kicked off, as they've sent me a couple of notes saying they need the information ASAP. Not really in my hands. Anyway, if I did get it, I think I'd still like to go, but probably delay by a year, at least to be in the UK for various weddings and give the Time Out job a better crack of the whip...

Yes, right, that's the self-indulgent clearing of the blockage blog, is what that is.