Categories
Indie Rock Music

Shameless Self Promotion: Nauseous Skies & Downstreamers

Time for a little Shameless self promotion. Jason Jarratt, singer, guitarist and primary songwriter in my band Nauseous Skies has unearthed a 2018 home recording we made of our song Without You. Without You has never been recorded in a studio so Jason decided to upload it to Soundcloud as a gift for those in isolation. It is a darkly psychedelic dream pop song with a strong ‘80’s influence. We were thinking of bands like The Cure and Psychedelic Furs when we were writing and rehearsing it.

As well as Without You, Jason and I also began a more electronic based side project called Downstreamers. This consisted of guitar, voice and electronics. We finished one track, Shine On in 2019 but didn’t get around to releasing it. We uploaded it to Soundcloud yesterday. This isn’t dissimilar to our main band but has more emphasis on synth sounds and uses exclusively programmed drums.

Hope you enjoy these tunes. They make me wonder how many other bands are sitting on unreleased material which would be well received right now while we’re social distancing/isolating.

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Categories
Indie Rock Music

No Age – War Dance/Feeler/Turned to String

No Age make me feel like I’ve travelled to a parallel universe. Like the guy who travelled to a universe where the Beatles never broke up and stole a tape of a Beatles album that was released after they broke up in our universe (details) The universe No Age inhabit is one in which, instead of Thurston Moore being obsessed with the Ramones, the Ramones are obsessed with Thurston Moore. Actually, the Beatles comparison isn’t entirely unwarranted either.

No Age, who describe their sound as Dream Punk, play lovely simple punk pop music very much in the vein of the Ramones or the Beatles. Straightforward power chords chugging over precise and powerful drumming. Simple, effective melodies. The secret ingredient is the wall of sound the guitars create with the help of a plethora of effects, which give their music a Shoegaze or Dreampop like quality, and a collection of noisy and exciting synth modules. 

War Dance is a wall of lo-fi noise built around a simple guitar riff and a bleeping synth loop. The vocals have a shouted, Mark E Smith-like quality, at least partially due to the cheapness (or simulated cheapness) of the vocal mic. It reminds me of the legendary Iggy Pop vocal for The Passenger, famously recorded through a guitar amp.

Feeler is the catchiest pop song of the three. Heavily degraded distorted sounds, which could be either synth or heavily processed guitar give way to a hummable, melodic line which is embedded deep in the noise. The vocals, while simile, are more melodic and less shouty than War Dance. The chorus is incredibly catchy, revolving around a simple power chord pattern and lyrics about “my astral plane”. 

The power pop feel continues on Turned to String. This probably sounds more like Ramones than the other two songs and the production is cleaner and less noisy. It still sounds very lo-fi but relies less on the swirling walls of guitar noise for its power. Chugging powerchords, simple melodies and straightforward drums. It’s a particularly pleasing arrangement and it suits the song well.

These three songs leave me excitedly looking forward to the new album Goons Be Gone when it releases in June.

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Categories
Music Poetry

David Marchese on David Berman’s suicide

As you can probably tell by now, I really like David Berman. This is a quote I found in the New York Times Magazines ‘The Lives They Lived’ article by David Marchese. I’m found it particularly moving and terrifying. The ‘100 nights’ quite Marchese uses is, in fact, from the interview win Berman I discussed in this blog post.

In an interview not long before he died, Berman said, “There probably were 100 nights over the last 10 years where I was sure I wouldn’t make it till morning.” One hundred nights he made it. One he did not. My scrambled brain is stuck on what those numbers might mean. Destiny or contingence? Tragedy or resilience? An obstacle to Berman’s gift or a source of its sublimity? I don’t know, but I keep going back to one of the last times I heard from my friend. “David Berman’s songs,” he said, “make me feel gratitude and hope. Even when forces seem to be conspiring against such things.”

David Marchese, New York Times Magazine December 23rd 2019

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Categories
Electronic Music Music Visual

13x – Antiscene EPK

If you like your beats dirty glitchy and industrial, then you could do far worse than to check out 13x’s Electronic Press Kit for the Antiscene EP. It’s chock full of brutal electronic music and distorted and glitched visuals. Strange disembodied voices float by in a sea of reverb as the punishing aural assault bludgeons you into submission.

If you enjoy this then subscribe to her YouTube channel and head on over to bandcamp and download it. Support small, independent artists. especially in the current economic uncertainty.

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Categories
Science Fiction TV

Tales from the Loop – Amazon Prime

A group of people in a boat on a body of water

Description automatically generated

Tales from the Loop is a new science fiction series on Amazon Prime. It is based on the retro-futurist artwork of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag and has a nostalgic, almost elegiac atmosphere to it. The camera work is beautiful. The technology of the town looks amazing and the soundtrack is lush and evocative. As well as being hauntingly nostalgic, it is also emotionally engaging and devastating. Many of the characters appear to be depressed and there is a lot of death and sadness throughout the series.

Tales from the Loop (2020)

The setting is a midwestern American town in a vaguely defined version of the 1980’s. It’s clearly an alternative America to the one in our timeline as the town is built upon a huge scientific research institute known as the loop. The setting is lush and forested. Huge science fiction towers loom in the background of many shots. Unknown and unexplained machines rise from the lake (which is frozen in the initial episode, pictured above). Robots lurk in the woods and fight each other. Discarded pieces of machinery lay around the forest like something from Grandaddy’s seminal 2000 concept album, The Sophtware Slump. There is a sense of stillness and stasis over the town. Strange things happen but everyone is just trying to get from one day to the next as best they can.

Daniel Zolghadri in Tales from the Loop (2020)

A major criticism of the show, which I don’t personally agree with, is that it is too slow. Perhaps for many modern audiences who are looking for a quick fix of action, a gratuitous space battle, a high-speed chase or graphic violence, Tales from the Loop would be too slow. Its story unfolds slowly across the series. It’s presented as something a little like an anthology show but there is a timeline, recurring characters and story arcs that span form one episode to the next. Storylines include all of the old classics like: 

  • Young girl time travels to the future and is helped back to present by her future self
  • Black holes devouring family homes
  • Body swapping, friends betraying each other over body swapping 
  • Betrayed friend body swapping into robot body 
  • Gifted but depressed young girl repairs time stopping technology 
  • Bored security guard accidentally travels to parallel dimension 
  • Children experiencing the death of a loved one for the first time 
  • Depressed and financially unstable father of comatose son (body swap betrayal kid) Buys giant robot to protect home from intruder 
  • Young boy gets marooned on offshore island with a robot
  • Robot is kind of his brother
  • Young boy gets lost in the woods with his brother who has body swapped into a large robot
  • Giant robot brother battles scorpion shaped giant robot
  • Giant robot brother defeats opponent but is badly damaged and dies
  • When young boy returns from the woods thirty years has passed but he hasn’t aged a day
Tales from the Loop (2020)

You know? All the old clichés. It’s a solid watch for any science fiction fan who is more interested in the cerebral died than the action side. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful visuals, soundtrack and acting. Just prepare for the rollercoaster ride of emotions you are letting yourself in for.

Alessandra de Sa Pereira and Dan Bakkedahl in Tales from the Loop (2020)

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Categories
Literature Music Poetry

David Berman Interview and Pics

On August 7th of 2019, Indie rock poet laureate and enigmatic Silver Jews frontman David Berman took his own life. For years previous he’d struggled with what he referred to as “treatment” resistant depression. A particularly sad aspect of his suicide is that a month earlier, on July 12th, Berman had made a triumphant return to the indie limelight with a new album from a new project under the name of Purple Mountains. This followed a ten-year hiatus following the dissolution of Silver Jews in 2009 after the release of their final album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea in 2008.

Purple Mountains is a particularly bleak record. His depression, the death of his mother and recent separation from wife, Cassis Berman, all explored in forensic and often uncomfortable detail. Despite this, he seemed to have benefited from cathartic release of all of these pent-up emotions and was even looking forward to the upcoming tour in the August of 2019.

His suicide was felt keenly by the indie rock world. J Mascis, of Dinosaur Jr, succinctly tweeted “Fucking Shit, come on man this is BullShit” alongside a photo of Berman. Others, like Kurt Vile, Cat Power wrote long, thought provoking pieces about how much of an inspiration he was. Former Silver Jews members, Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich also tweeted in remembrance of their friend.

In June, he gave an interview to the Kreative Kontrol podcast, linked here. Berman gives a candid interview in which he discusses his father (ultra-conservative, union-busting lobbyist, Richard Berman), his depression, bereavement of his mother, separation and much more. Despite the subject matter, he sounds upbeat and optimistic about the future, especially in regard to his upcoming tour. If you have time, and you’re a fan, I strongly suggest listening to the interview as it is incredibly insightful and comforting to hear him sound almost comfortable with himself.

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Categories
History Politics

Festa della liberazione

Today, 25th April, is Liberation day in Italy. This annual celebration marks the liberation of Italy from the forces of Mussolini’s Fascists and Hitler’s Nazis.

Following from Wikipedia Liberation Day (Italy) (click any links in this blog post for interesting reading):

The date was chosen by convention, as it was the day of the year 1945 when the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy (CLNAI) officially proclaimed the insurgency in a radio announcement, propounding the seizure of power by the CLNAI and proclaiming the death sentence for all fascist leaders (including Benito Mussolini, who was shot three days later.

By 1 May, all of northern Italy was liberated, including Bologna (21 April), Genoa (23 April), Milan (25 April), Turin [2] and Venice (28 April). The liberation put an end to twenty-three years of fascist dictatorship and five years of war. It symbolically represents the beginning of the historical journey which led to the referendum of 2 June 1946, when Italians opted for the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic, which was followed by the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic in 1948.

Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci. Artwork (surprisingly) by comic actor Jim Carrey
Monument to fallen partisans, Bologna
Italian communist party Liberation Day poster

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Categories
Literature Politics

Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done? – Bureaucratic bungling

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the publication (and circumvention of censorship) of a landmark in 19th century subversive Russian literature.

In late 1862 Chernyshevsky asked the prison commandant for permission to begin work on a novel. His request granted, he set to work and produced the entire novel within four months, between December 14, 1862, and April 4, 1863. The first part of the manuscript was then submitted to the prison censor, who, whether carelessly or for devious purposes, passed it and forwarded the manuscript to the censor of the journal Sovremennik. Passed again, the novel was sent to the journal’s editor, Nekrasov, who promptly lost it in a cab. He managed to recover the manuscript only after advertising in the official gazette of the St. Petersburg police. With what is perhaps the greatest irony of Russian letters, the novel that the police helped to retrieve turned out to be the most subversive and revolutionary work of nineteenth-century Russian literature. Its publication has aptly been called “the most spectacular example of bureaucratic bungling in the cultural realm during the reign of Alexander II.”

Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done? and the Russian Intelligentsia,
Michael R. Katz and William G. Wagner

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Categories
Visual

It’s everybody’s god

A village road in Kerala, India
James Joyce, Ulysses
Sonic Youth & Pavement
Apologies to the artist, I was sure I made a note of who it was but now I can’t find it. I find it beautiful though.
David Berman, Actual Air

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Categories
Visual

David Berman, Existential Comics, Communism & Windows 3.1

Found this fascinating, like something David Berman might actually publish as a poem in it’s own right
Okay then….
Beautiful Soviet Union produced edition.
Nice

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