Goodbye Twitter, it was fun

In case you were interested I have now completely come off twitter. The two main accounts I had have been deactivated. I couldn’t see a reason to stay with it under new ownership. It has got worse over the years, but now it is set to get much worse, and I won’t be a part of that.

The Langham Research Centre at Cafe Oto

I first saw the Langham Research Centre at the Barbican last month. I was really impressed by them. So when I got an email from Cafe Oto sent an email about them playing I decided I should go. Cafe Oto is a lovely place to see music, and I even played there once myself.

The LRC were great, as expected, and I also managed to have a quick chat with Robert Worby about sound and the words we use to describe sounds, or rather the fact that we have very few words that actually do describe sounds. It’s an interesting subject and one that needs some thought.

Next I think I need to probably buy some of the recordings. There is plenty on Bandcamp, which is where I will start. I am especially drawn to their piece ‘Gateshead Multi-storey Car Park’.

Goodbye Sony Clie

A little while ago I posted about trying to make old technology useful again, and specifically, useful to me rather than in some general sense. The first device in my list, was a Sony Clie NX73V. This is a lovely device, a lovely piece of engineering, and, in its day, an incredibly useful.

I tried a variety of things (mainly software) to make it useful, but, in the end, I had to concede that I had no real use for it whatsoever. Which is a shame. However, on the upside, I sold it to someone who had always wanted one. Which is great.

Fifteen years of Nouvelle Vague

When I first heard Nouvelle Vague I was really amazed. I remember it clearly. It was at WOMAD and they were playing ‘Blue Monday’. Of course it didn’t sound like ‘Blue Monday’. I knew all the words but I could not for the life of me think of what the song was.

Since them I’ve seen them a few times live and have always enjoyed their music, or rather the music they play. So I was looking forward to seeing them again, especially at Union Chapel, which is such an amazing venue.

But I’m sad to say I found them less than inspiring. Firstly there were only four of them and no bass player at all. Their selection of songs was poor. There were some good songs, and in fact they made a good start, but after that it was a little dull. I have no idea if anyone else there had similar thoughts, and there were a lot of people there.

I still like a lot of what they’ve done over the years, but for now, I doubt I’ll go to see them again.

Nonclassical: Listening to Place at the Barbican

I found out about this event from an email from ‘Cities and Memories’, and, as someone who is very interested in field recording I was keen to go along. Also as a Londoner I need little persuasion to head to the Barbican.

This was more than just a performance though. This was a whole day about field recording, comprising multiple performances and a panel discussion as well. There are a few details on Nonclassical’s site. Personally I was most interested in the panel discussion, which was interesting, but mostly because of the contributions of Robert Worby from the Langham Research Centre. He had some really useful insights into the practice of field recording. Food for thought.

The performance was a bit of a curate’s egg on the whole. Some very good pieces, some less successful in my opinion. I particularly liked the performance by Li Yilei which I thought integrated field recordings most successfully. Kate Carr’s work was also very good, but it felt like it lacked a direction, or at least it every time it felt like it was going somewhere interesting she changed direction. Just my opinion of course.

The Langham Research Centre was a high point for me and I’m looking forward to listening to more of their work in the coming days.

These kinds of events are few and far between, and for the most part I usually hear about them long after they’ve happened. So I was really glad to actually make it to this. I really enjoyed the whole day, and it was both interesting and inspiring.

Well done to Nonclassical and the Barbican for organising it.

Blancmange: Nil by Mouth IV and V

I have been listening to Blancmange since the 1980s. In recent years, I have found their (his) music much more introspective at times, and especially this series of instrumental albums ‘Nil By Mouth’. In this latest iteration, albums four and five arrive as a double album, and both live up to the previous quality.

I wrote about the first ‘Nil by Mouth’ back in 2015. I have bought all of them so far, and I expect to buy any that get released in the future.

When I was listening to these two (IV and V) I found, much like with the previous albums, this music seems to fit my mood very closely.

At some point, and possibly on a long journey somewhere, I might listen to all of them in one go.

The Southern Reach Trilogy

My interest in this book / trilogy began when I saw the film ‘Annihilation’ on Netflix. I thought it was an interesting story and I wanted to read the book, if there was one. Little did I know that the ‘book’ was in fact a trilogy called the Southern Reach. I decided to read it. In part because I found the film version fascinating, and in part because I love a good trilogy.

At this point it is only prudent to point out that if you haven’t seen the film or read the books you might not want to read any further. I don’t want to give anything away, or at least that’s not my intention, but you never know.

I really enjoyed the film. I had no expectations of it at all and no idea what the story was about, but after watching it I realised that it had some very interesting concepts. Hence wanting to read the book(s). Of course, as with any movie made from a book as the original source material, the book is often better, or at least adds a great deal of context. Even more so with the South Reach Trilogy. In fact, the books add so much that they make a lot of the story make sense. Having said that, in the trilogy, the story is complicated, or rather the core concept is complicated, or perhaps a better word is dense, or even impenetrable.

I think that I enjoyed reading the books. In a way they shed no real light on the film, and the film sheds no light on the books. The books to add a lot of context though. I enjoyed both. With both I am wondering what happens next. Perhaps that in itself is a good thing. Perhaps that in a sense, is the point.

Winchester Cathedral

Over the last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit Winchester Cathedral. I don’t think I have been here before, or at least if I have, I have no memory of it. Winchester is the oldest cathedral in England, and, when it was first built, the city was the capitol, which is a strange thought in itself. Winchester city is small. Not that that is a bad thing in any way. I quite like it.

The cathedral itself is rather beautiful. Whilst there I was lucky enough to go on two tours around the building. Both of these tours focused on the history and politics of the building, which, whilst very interesting, seemed to miss the essential purpose of the cathedral, as a place of worship. Now I understand that these kinds of tours are aimed at tourists, that’s a given, but I still consider that at least some mention of why it is there and what its core purpose is, would be not just relevant, but really quite essential.

Whilst I was there I also listened to a rather beautiful performance by a choir. It was only 20 minutes long, but thoroughly enjoyable. If you’re interested in it, you can find it on my podcast.

What else will Disney remake?

I noticed that Disney is making a series of the original film ‘Willow’, which made me wonder what else they might make. If I had any say in the matter I would want them to make ‘The Black Hole‘ again. It was an excellent film back in its day, and in fact it still is pretty good. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well.

The original film is on their streaming service. I had bought the DVD a few years ago, and even went as far as to read the book. Which was almost identical to the film of course, and gave no more clues to the ending (see my previous post).

I think that this is a story that is just ripe for revisiting, especially as science fiction is very popular right now. I’m sure I’ll be wrong though. I have every expectation that this will never happen, but you never know. Stranger things have occurred.