Categories
History Politics Visual

VE Day, 75th anniversary

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the defeat, by the allied powers (British Empire & commonwealth, USA, USSR & many partisan resistance forces) of the fascist regimes in Italy Germany. After years of sacrifice and hardship by predominantly working class men, the forces of European fascism were finally defeated. I celebrate this day with a visual post showing some of the celebrations carried out by soldiers and civilians alike.
We must never forget the sacrifice made to combat far right extremism, and going forward, in respect of those who sacrificed everything, we must destroy far right extremism wherever it raises it’s ugly, intolerant head.

Solidarity.

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Categories
Folk Literature Music Poetry

Has Bob Dylan just teased his next album?

Edit: initially published 2am, 8th May 2020. Republished after technical issues

Bob Dylan has tweeted what many believe to be the cover art for his impending new album. If this speculation is correct then Dylan’s new album will be called False Prophets. This is presumably a clap-back to when the late Pope John Paul called Dylan “the wrong kind of prophet” in 1997. Obviously, the gutter press at the time printed headlines like “Pope calls Dylan False Prophet”.

If, as some believe, the album is scheduled to drop tonight then we can expect to see it at 9pm Pacific time. This is around 5am here in the U.K. so I’ll be finding out when I wake up tomorrow.

Following the release earlier this year of two new singles, the 17-minute epic Murder Most Foul & minimalist folk ballad I Contain Multitudes, a new album does seem likely.

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Categories
Art Literature Music Videogames Visual

Cultural Significance in Art (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cultural significance of art and what gives a piece of art the kind of longevity enjoyed by the works of people like Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dickens, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso and others. I’m wondering a lot about the art that has been produced since the millennium and if that art is worthy of things like Guernica or Macbeth.

Picasso’s Guernica. Image from Encyclopaedia Brittanica

I have recently studied the concept of creativity from a linguistic standpoint and feel like this may be, subconsciously, why I have been thinking about this. My study materials offered a definition of creativity which I found useful. The introduction to the block of study titled “Language, Creativity & Humour” states that:

“for something to be creative, it must be:

  1. novel
  2. appropriate to the task at hand
  3. considered to be of high quality.”

So, this gives us a functional definition of what creativity is but assigns no level of significance or importance to it. Is, for example, Banksy’s Love is in the Bin (the self-shredding framed print which sold at Sotheby’s for £860,000) more, less or equally as important as Petscop, the mysterious Playstation game Let’s Play YouTube series? The Banksy piece is more likely to be thought of as culturally significant by those educated in art, but Petscop uses modern technologies (Playstation, coding, YouTube) in novel ways which are “appropriate to the task at hand” and the cult-like following, or fandom, on forums such as Reddit and YouTube certainly perceive it to be of high quality. Saying that, by incorporating a shredder into the frame of Love is in the Bin, Banksy too used technology in a novel manner.


Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

How much of a factor in this is marketability? As previously noted, the Banksy piece managed to fetch £860,000 from obviously wealthy art collectors. Petscop, meanwhile, made by one person who had an idea for a mystery story and the skills to make it work, didn’t make any money as it was just released to the public free of charge. This reinforces observations I have made (and heard discussed in various media) about working class voices being frozen out of the arts. Working class people cannot afford to take the time, let alone the materials, to create engaging and well thought out pieces of art. This, however, is a topic for a different discussion.

The reason I chose these two pieces to discuss is because they are both very recent. Petscop ran between 2017 and 2019 while the Banksy piece was made in 2018.

People in the 21st century appear very reluctant to assign cultural significance to art, myself included. I can only think of a small number of pieces which I find possess that strange quality which lends cultural significance to something. I intend to write more about this going forward but, for now, here are some of the pieces of art made since the start of the 21st Century which I feel have enough cultural significance to carry them forward into the future in the same way as a Shakespeare play.

Petscop (2017-2019)

Petscop is a gripping mystery told through a new artistic medium: the YouTube Let’s Play video. The story goes that the narrator, Paul, found an old PlayStation game (with an important note) and decided to record his playthrough. What starts out as a colourful ad childlike game about catching pets soon turns into a dark and sinister mystery involving murder, child abuse and allusions to real life crimes. The series ran for 3 years and the creator, Tony (@pressedeyes on Twitter), planned, developed, coded, scripted and performed the whole thing. He even built that actual game (using it to record the videos rather than merely animating them) from scratch, using only technology and styles which would have been available for a PlayStation game.

Bob Dylan – Murder Most Foul (2020)

Released at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in the US & UK, Murder Most Foul is both a poetic retelling of the assassination of JFK and a mournful goodbye to post-war age we appear to be finally exiting. I wrote a review of this when it was released on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

Undertale (2015)

Undertale is a videogame that I am still playing but I am already convinced of it’s status as a masterpiece. I am already blogging about it regularly:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Going forward with this series of posts, I will consider other pieces and if they fit into this ideal or not. An important thing to consider is that the evolution of the technologies we use to produce art & entertainment will force us to not only create art in different ways but also give us more things to express and address in our art.

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Categories
Electronic Music Music Synth Pop

RIP Florian Schneider, Pioneering Kraftwerk founder

Florian Schneider, founding member of pioneering electronic music group, Kraftwerk, has died today following a short battle with cancer. He was 73.

It’s safe to say that without Florian Schneider’s contribution to music, the world would be a different place today. The robotic rhythms and experimental synthesiser work outs that Kraftwerk were known life have influenced almost all music we listen to today.

My own field, electronic music, would be practically non-existent without Kraftwerk. Their contribution to experimentalism, with tracks like the 22-minute classic Autobahn, is equal to their contribution to synth pop, with tracks like beautifully simple The Model.

It is difficult to imagine a world without the musical influence of Kraftwerk.

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Categories
Literature Poetry

Mayakovsky, A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE

A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE is the 1912 manifesto for the Russian Futurist movement. The word ‘manifesto’ is intended to be used loosely. I love the abstract poetic feeling of it, personally. Ive encountered it published, as a poem, in a collection of Mayakovsky poetry. At least 50% of my motivation for buying this particular volume was the glorious collage style cover artwork. It gives me  something of the feel of a punk or indie rock fanzine. The writing too resembles my ideal, stylistically speaking, of an imaginary punk fanzine writer if they were writing in the dying years of Tsarist Russia.

Written in the style of an open letter to society at large and, more specifically, to the art world, A SLAP IN THE FACE OF PUBLIC TASTE is a hugely influential and important piece of literature. I particularly appreciate the demand to honour the “rights of poets” and the humorous broadside against Maxim Gorky etc. As explained in the footnote below, the writers were on good terms with the Futurists and the broadside was received with good humour.

That footnote from the first image:




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Categories
Indie Rock Post Punk Punk

Wire – The Art of Persistence

I was surprised, pleasantly, by the release of a new Wire single today. A reworked version of The Art of Persistence from their forthcoming compilation of reworks and stray (I’m guessing they mean unreleased) tunes, 10:20.

10:20 was initially conceived as a Record Store Day exclusive but after the organisers pushed the event back due to the pandemic, Wire decided to release the album on 19th June, reading it today with The Art of Persistence. Originally intended as a vinyl only release, 10:20 will be released on all platforms in the absence of Record Store Day. 

The Art of Persistence is a hauntingly atmospheric slice of almost elegiac New Wave. The lyrics seem to detail failed attempts to communicate, saddened by the anxiety of failure. “Persistence, survival, a test of the wills”, sings Colin Newman, giving this Communicative impasse an almost competitive element which is helped along by the quick pace of the songs galloping rhythms. 

Wire previously released Small Black Reptile in March, which also appears on 10:20. Both singles are available now from digital outlets & streaming services.

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Categories
Indie Rock Music

Pavement, live at the Khyber Pass, 30th July 1992

As a massive Pavement fan, I was extremely pleased when YouTube user Pete Sounds uploaded this amateur camcorder footage of an early ‘90’s Pavement gig as a gift for indie rock fans in quarantine.

It’s a delightfully noisy set full of classic tunes from their first album, Slanted and Enchanted and earlier. It also contains a couple of tunes from the Watery Domestic EP – Frontwards & Shoot The Singer (One Sick Verse) – as well as older tunes like Home & Debris Slide.

Its good to see original drummer, Gary Young, and his crazed energetic stage presence. Especially on the incendiary version of personal highlight, In The Mouth A Desert where he stands on his drum stool for the intro, before dropping down onto it in time to play the opening drum fill with anxious precision.

Here’s the excellent track list

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Categories
Music Punk

RIP Stranglers keyboard player, Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield, keyboard player with the Strangers has died at 71, after testing positive for Covid-19.

His band members paid tribute to him.

 On the evening of Sunday May 3rd, my great friend and longstanding colleague of 45 years, the musical genius that was Dave Greenfield, passed away as one of the victims of the Great Pandemic of 2020.

All of us in the worldwide Stranglers’ family grieve and send our sincerest condolences to [Greenfield’s wife] Pam.

 Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel, Bassist

We have just lost a dear friend and music genius, and so has the whole world.

Dave was a complete natural in music. Together, we toured the globe endlessly and it was clear he was adored by millions. A huge talent, a great loss, he is dearly missed.

Jet Black, Drummer

I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dave Greenfield. He was the difference between The Stranglers and every other punk band. His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band.

Hugh Cornwell, Singer/Guitarist

Greenfield’s organ and keyboard playing gave the Stranglers a unique sound among the furore of three chord, guitar/bass/drums punk combos crowding the late ’70’s music industry, prompting comparisons to ’60’s psyche-rockers The Doors.

Greenfield wrote the bands biggest hit, Golden Brown, which reached #2 in the UK charts in 1982.

Hs impressive and energetic playing can be seen and heard on this Top of the Pops performance of another hit single, No More Heroes.

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Categories
History Literature Politics

Contemporarily relevant dialogue by Chernyshevsky

“Your books say that we’re not supposed to live like this. Don’t you think I know that, Verochka? But in those books of yours it says that in order not to live like this, everything has to be organized differently; now, no one can live any other way. So why don’t they hurry up and set up a new order? Hey, Verochka, do you think I don’t know anything about those new systems described in your books? I know they’re good ones. Only you and I won’t live to see them! People are really stupid—how can you set up a new system with the likes of them? So let’s keep on living in the old order. That includes you! What sort of a system is it? Your books say that the old order is one of filching and fleecing. That’s true, Verochka. So if there’s no new order, let’s live by the old: filch and fleece. I’m telling you all this because I love you, becau . . . zzzz.”

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What Is To Be Done?

Let us remember though, with the looming environmental collapse, we are on a deadline. If we don’t introduce new systems and ways of doing things soon, it will be too late. We are literally on a deadline here. Planet Earth cannot sustain capitalist models of society any longer, that is the only certainty we have now.

Let us “filch and fleece” no more. A kinder gentler world is not only possible. It is imperative.

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Categories
RPG Videogames

Scruffy Undertale Adventures (Part 4)

So I came across this Spider Bakesale. You could buy Spider Donuts or Spider Cider. 9999 gold each. I declined.

This poor fool did not decline. He spent everything he had on a Spider Donut. Rookie error.

After a boss fight with the spider lady running the bakesale (Muffet), I was ambushed by the killer robot Mettaton again. This time he sung a romantic, operatic song for me. The words actually seemed to fit perfectly with the chiptune opera soundtrack.

He then opened up a trapdoor beneath me and I had to solve some puzzles to escape from a dungeon.

I met some of his fans outside.

I’d defeated these two Royal Guardsmen (on the right) earlier by convincing them that a) the one on the left had a crush on the one on the right and b) to go and have an ice cream. They found the Ice Cream Seller (left) and bought all his stock. They told me they were taking a raincheck on the whole killing me thing.

I then came across the Resort. I had some dinner with Sans. The note to the right of me said to check the alleyway for great deals. Fearing it might be a trap I decided to check anyway. Milking this game for all the content I can.

Down the alleyway I encountered these two teenage girls, Bratty and Catty, who also happen to be an alligator and a cat. They were a laugh.

After buying some junk food from them, I proceeded to enter the Resort. The lobby was full of interesting looking characters. Note the Mettaton statue in the fountain.

And that was the end of this evenings gaming.

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