You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2008.

Originally released in 2003 on Stones Throw Records, Champion Sound by Jaylib, a collaboration by two of Hip Hop’s best producers J Dilla and Madlib, is one of my favourite albums of recent years. During the making of the album the artists never actually met but sent beat tracks to each other to rap over. Heavy, heavy, heavy beats and rhymes! What more could you want?5/5.

Jaylib – Red

A strange combination, Blues music and the search for extra terrestrial life, but they did indeed come together in 1977 when the two Voyager spacecraft were launched into space to search for intelligent life outside of our solar system. On board each of the space craft was a golden record containing “The Sounds of the Earth”, a ninety minute selection of  music from many cultures of our planet. One such song was Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground by the great slide-guitarist Blind Willie Johnson. A depression era song from the early 20th century, Blind Willie sings a wordless hymn of an unknown sorrow. Incidentally, this is the same song which Ry Cooder reworked for the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas.

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

Two great new releases on Static Caravan. Both on 7″ Vinyl, both brilliant! The first is by New York artist Cheval Sombre (Christopher Porpora). The title track I Found It Not So is a dark moody affair with echoing guitars and breathy vocals. Produced by Sonic Boom. Sleeve by Ben Javens.

Cheval Sombre – I found It Not So


The other release Two Systems, a split EP by Wrangler and Scanner features two songs each composed entirely on one vintage analog synthesizer. It comes as a companion piece to the soon to be released CD by Benge (one half of Wrangler) Twenty Systems which charts the developmet of synthesizers over a twenty year period between 1968 – 1988. Both songs on this release are solid beat driven electronic numbers and the vinyl has the added bonus of being a picture disc which shows a close up photo of the instruments used in the recordings. Essential purchases! 5/5.

Wrangler – 1968 Moog Modular

On first listening this album really surprised me. Unlike anything else I had heard by Neil Young, Trans featured synthesizers, vocoder effects and drum machines. Released in 1982 it was a bitter pill to swallow for many fans who dismissed it, being a far cry from earlier rock based works. However, it contains some gems, most notably Sample And Hold where NY sings about ordering an android wife “I need a unit to sample and hold, but not the angry one, a new design”

Neil Young – Sample And Hold

A Neil Young album released in 1973 as the follow up to his hugely popular Harvest. Much darker in character, it followed the death of guitarist and friend Danny Whitten and was the first of his so called Doom Trilogy which included the albums Tonight’s The Night and On The Beach. It was only ever released on vinyl and has never been reissued on CD. I managed to find a bootleg download on the web. What can I say? An amazing album consisting entirely of live recordings featuring that classic 70’s NY sound of rock fused with country vocal harmonies and an amazing back up band. The album features eight songs most of which are full band numbers but two solo affairs, Journey Through The Past and Love In Mind. The album finishes with the epic “doom rocker” Last Dance where the song builds up until the whole band sing in unison “No, No, No” over and over, the vocalised despair of Modern Life profoundly expressed before Young launches into another wall of sound guitar solo. An essential addition to any NY fan’s collection. 5/5.

Here’s a taster below – Don’t Be Denied 


A new Italian film which interweaves several stories of people involved in the organised crime world of Naples, known as the Camorra. Following in the footsteps of several other recent European films it uses a documentary style of film-making with strong use of handheld cameras, a realistic soundboard and absence of added music. The film builds in intensity slowly, following the lives of several youths in the slums of Naples, a struggling Tailor and a young man working for a Toxic Waste Disposal company. Ultimately all of the characters will be affected by the crime ring, and we see how the corruption, drugs and gun running lead to the break down of society. A timely film reflecting the state of New Europe. 4/5.

It was a beautiful blue sky autumn morning in Hyde Park. Time for my first half marathon. Along with 12,000 others I anxiously awaited the start. After a quick warm up and a last minute dash to the bushes for a final pit stop we were off. I felt almost like cattle herded into a long line slowly heading towards the start. Pod on, I jogged away confidently, three months of solid training under my belt, running out of the park, past Buckingham Palace and towards Big Ben. Crossing Westminster Bridge I almost felt like stopping and taking a photo, golden light over the Thames. I ran at a steady pace replaying in my mind words of advice from friends not to try and compete with those around you. With so many other runners it was at times quite crowded on the track but everyone was in good cheer and respectful of other runners. As each mile came and went I checked my stopwatch sticking to my plan of 8 minutes to the mile. Finally after 12 miles exhaustion kicked in. Finish line in sight I pressed on until 200 metres from the end adrenalin took over, Trans Am came on the Pod and I made a mad dash for the line! A memorable day and I hope the first of many half marathons to come.

Conspiracy Of The Gods by Trans Am

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.” The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.” – Excerpt from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones edited by Paul Reps.

Mukaiji-Reibo excerpt by Goro Yamaguchi

I often find that when looking for a new book to read that the right book finds you and not the other way around. Such was the case last week during my lunch break from work. I had just finished reading Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh and having nowhere else to be I slipped into the Oxfam shop just off the Hampstead High Street. It was here that I found a cheap secondhand copy of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. An author I had heard much about and seen one or two film adaptations but never read. Two pounds forty-nine later it was mine. Suffice to say from the first paragraph to the last any spare moment was spent devouring it’s lovely prose. Chandler’s first book, originally published in 1939, it follows the private eye Philip Marlowe as he attempts to solve the blackmail case of a dying rich widower and his two wild daughters. An essential read! 5/5.

An excerpt – I braked the car against the curb and switched the headlights off and sat with my hands on the wheel. Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness.