You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

ontheroadI’ve just started reading Jack Kerouac again. Having my ipod out of action and a long train ride south of the river to bear I dug into the mountain of books piled high in the corner of the lounge room, sifted through yellowed pages to find the cover of Big Sur looking up at me. It was like meeting an old friend. Kerouac is an author I always find myself re-reading and never tire of. His words never fail to inspire and amaze. Like all his novels Big Sur is Autobiographical and follows Jack after the publication of his breakthrough novel On The Road as he struggles to deal with the pressures and expectations of success and fame. It begins with Jack waking from an alcoholic daze in a cheap hotel. His friends have given up waiting for him and have headed up the coast from San Francisco to a shack on a beach in Big Sur. Jack, desperate to escape the City follows them up and eventually finds himself alone at the shack. Here, before heading back to the City to see old friends, he meditates on his life and his initial peace of mind slowly unravels until he is once again left to struggle with his demons and self-destructs into an alcoholic delirium.

Here is a recording of Kerouac reading the first section of his book Old Angel Midnight, a collection of spontaneous prose pieces first published in 1959.

entropyThis 12″ came out in ’93, the first release on the West Coast Hip Hop label Solesides whose roster included other great acts such as Latyrx and Blackalicious. It’s a split release by Asia Born (who later changed his name to Lyrics Born) and DJ Shadow.  Shadow’s song Entropy (by DJ Shadow And The Groove Robbers) is a 17 and a half minute epic divided into 5 parts. All except part 3 (which features vocals by Gift Of Gab) are instrumental, completely contructed out of samples. 

This record was one of the first I ever bought. I started buying vinyl after hearing DJ Shadow’s amazing EP What Does Your Soul Look Like. At the time his only other releases, including this one, were on vinyl so I had to get them. Fifteen years and several crates later I’m still hooked on vinyl. This song takes me back to a time when I found my passion for  music, when labels like Mo Wax, Ninja Tune and Metal Headz were pushing the boundaries of electronic dance music. A great song which still sounds as fresh as it did when it was released!

DJ Shadow And The Groove Robbers – Entropy

Robert FrostNature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

A beautiful and profound poem by American poet Robert Frost. Frost was 86 when he spoke and performed a reading of his poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20 1961. Exactly 48 years later a new President is inaugurated who also speaks profoundly and brings a renewed optimism with his inspiring words.

Frost once said “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life – It goes on”. 

Here is a recording of Frost himself reading another of his poems…

CheThe latest film by director Steven Soderbergh about the Argentinian revolutiuonary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Benedicio Del Toro who stars as Che gives a brilliant performance as the young freedom fighter. (He won best actor at Cannes for his role.) The story follows Che, Fidel Castro and their fellow rebels as they build up an army and fight a guerrilla war in Cuba against the American backed Dictatorship. The film is a kind of gritty “Boy’s Own” adventure; Che and his soldiers trekking through the jungles of Cuba, recruiting peasants, ambushing army troops, you can almost smell the sweat on their exhausted bodies as they hike up through the mountains to their next camp. I can’t say whether it’s historically accurate but the film is beautifully crafted and it cuts nicely between past, present and future, Che plotting the Revolution with Fidel in Mexico, the fighting in Cuba and later as Cuban Ambassador in New York giving a speech at the UN. The film builds in pace and tension as the rebel forces grow and slowly conquer the Government troops. In the end we are left with Che driving towards Havana for the final liberation. I look forward to the seeing the conclusion in Part Two when it comes out next month!

I've Loved You So LongWith so many good films out in 2008 it was difficult for me to pick my favourite but in the end I had to go with the french film I’ve Loved You So Long starring Kristin Scott Thomas. The story follows a woman just out of prison who is trying to rebuild her life and deal with a terrible secret she has lived with for many years. A sublime film; well written, brilliant acting, beautifully shot and edited – a flawless film in every aspect. Other notable films for the year included:

Man On Wire
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
The Wackness
Waltz With Bashir
In Bruges
The Visitor
Burn After Reading

kruderThis 12″ EP by Austrian electronic duo Kruder & Dorfmeister came out in September 1993. Four tracks, all great with a real summer vibe to them. Interestingly enough it was the only real record that K & D ever released. After this they did a string of remixes which were eventually collected on the album The K & D Sessions and then they went their separate ways, Richard Dorfmesiter formed Tosca and Peter Kruder, Peace Orchestra. The only other single they released was the accompanying 12″ for their DJ Kicks mix album which featured the track Black Baby. The cover of the G-Stoned EP features a black and white photo where K & D emulate the cover of the Bookends record by Simon & Garfunkel. Very amusing when you see the two side by side.

Sit back, grab that cocktail and listen to the sounds of summer…

K & D  – Deep Shit Pt.1 & Pt.2

29174_07_BECK_BKlt.qxdSome brilliant albums came out in 2008! Here’s a list of my favourites:

Beck – Modern Guilt
Autechre – Quaristice
Toumani Diabate – The Mande Variations
Portishead – Third
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Pivot – O Soundtrack My Heart
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Secondo – A Matter Of Scale
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms
Bill Dixon With Exploding Star Orchestra – S/T

I could fill a post on each of the above albums explaining why I find them so appealing but instead I will just encourage all musicophiles to seek them out and find out for themselves. Here is a song by Beck off his Modern Guilt album which features some beautiful production by Danger Mouse…

Beck – Walls