Saturday, March 08, 2014

More music... the new Elbow single / album....

The new Elbow album is magnificent. Beautiful. Melancholy. Uplifting, Emotional. Wonderful. Downloaded it tonight, been on continual rotation all night. The single New York Morning has all the anthemic, festival pleasing stuff going on, but I think by year's end it will be some other fabulously mellow track gracing the end of year list....


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dementia and me....

My mother.... Christmas 2005... at our house, Christmas, well groomed, loving being with her family....


My mother... Christmas 2013... a shell of her former self. If she had any idea I'd be showing this photo she'd be mortified....



Is it wrong that I wish my mother dead?

Is it wrong that I see her, at best, every six months?

Is it wrong that she's effectively dead to me already?

My mother has been suffering with Alzheimers for many years now. She's two and a half years in a home, my dad (almost) finally free of the guilt putting her there caused, finally getting some distance from her.

It's the long goodbye.

My mom and I were never that close, the relationship fracturing in my teens, never really to recover. Looking back I start to question how much of the intractability, the fury, the obsessive nature that I remember so well when I remember who she was, was actually merely early signs of the dementia to come. In some ways I'm grateful that our relationship became toxic, as it saves me from the pain and guilt of seeing her this way. In other ways, it makes me sad and guilty that I'm not deeply affected by seeing my mom laid low by this horrible disease.

She'd seen her own mother go through it. I remember Grandma Hancox suffering from dementia, seeing mom go to her house, get upset, chastise grandma for doing all the stupid, illogical things dementia sufferers do, all the lost clothes, al the boiling kettles dry stuff. And I remember how upset she was by experiencing it.

She always said, only half joking, that if ever she started showing those same signs, we should put a pillow over her face and end it all then. Thing is, I knew she meant it.

God knows, when I say the same to Louise and Molly, I know I bloody well mean it.

Suffice it to say, Louise and Molly already know my wishes.

I do hope by that time wiser heads have prevailed and we have a reasonable assisted suicide route in this country. My wishes are simple, as soon as I start showing signs, Louise is instructed to thrust fags, cigars and G&T into my hand (fuck it, I'll hopefully have been quit 30/40 years by that stage, but lets make those final years pleasurable eh?) and let me get on with it.

The key moment is when I don't function properly, stop enjoying reading, find my cognitive abilities restricted. Louise will be the best judge of that. And then it's simply a case of booking me in to the clinic, feeding me gin, and fags, and cigars until the end, one last night to see the stars and then goodnight. Terry Pratchett may want to see a final sunrise, I've always been a nightowl, I'll be happy seeing the stars when I go out.

If they can cope with it I'll have Louise and Molly with me at the time, both of them reading from Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.

If they can't cope with it (and no guilt if they can't) a nurse will do the job instead.

An overdose of whatever is legally (I hope) mandated will see me to sleep. God knows that is so much better than the hell I see my mother go through whenever I see her.

I wish my mother dead. I don't think that makes me a bad person.

What makes me a bad person is that I don't walk into her care home tomorrow and do the bloody deed myself.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Seriously.. you failed to tell me about this why?



Daft Punk with Giorgio Moroder - Giorgio by Moroder. (From Random Access Memories, 2013)

This is beautiful, this is powerful, the sound of the future, the click track, the wonder as the beat kicks in. Nearly 10 minutes of perfection, running a gamut from spoken word to bare electronica, from early synth beauty to full orchestration all the way through to daft Punk and their oh so modern reinterpretation of the sound.

This is beauty and brilliance and has been playing over and over and over and over and over since I discovered it (too damn late) today.

The moment when it all comes together, when you get the name, and it just goes on and on and on. Oh my.

Granted, I reckon Moroder is at fault for going to the comfortable, to the easy far too often, but there's always that sense of being in the presence of a pioneer, even if he did throw it away later on. This captures some of the majesty of Moroder the pioneer. I recommend it to you heartily. (And yes, you can expect it on the end of year list).

"I wanted to do a album with the sound of the '50s, the sound of the '60s, of the '70s and then have a sound of the future. And I said, "Wait a second...I know the synthesizer – why don't I use the synthesizer which is the sound of the future?" And I didn't have any idea what to do, but I knew I needed a click so we put a click on the 24 track which then was synched to the Moog Modular. I knew that it could be a sound of the future but I didn't realise how much the impact would be
My name is Giovanni Giorgio, but everybody calls me Giorgio
Once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So, nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do."

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year's Resolutions - More writing and Infinity #5 - Reviews of Room For Love, Winter's Knight, Blood Blokes.



One of my New Year's resolutions for 2013 is to spread my writing wings just that little bit, writing more, writing different, writing for more places. Part of that involves the renewal of Fictions, where I'll be posting as regularly as I can, not just new material but various links to other writing not on the FPI Blog.

This absolutely doesn't mean I'll be stopping writing for the FPI Blog, not a bit of it, I'll be contributing regularly, reviews, news, opinion pieces all year long. But I'll also be putting up links to other work here.

So, first up....

Infinity Magazine Issue 5 has three of my reviews
Adam Cadwell' Blood Blokes,
Robert Ball's Winter's Knight,
Ilya's Room For Love.

Cheers to Russell Willis for including them, and you can pick up you copy of Infinity either on the iPad or as a PDF.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Of The Year 2013 - Music

Every year, for the past years, I've made a best of year cd, partly for my own entertainment and partly for friends who get them with Christmas cards. I'm one of those people who think I should always be discovering new music, and every year I'm shocked to discover my best of year selections are a mix of old favourites and new stuff. John Peel I'm not. 

But it does represent both the best new stuff I've heard this year, and some older stuff I've either rediscovered or found for the first time.....

I did play with the idea of simply whacking up a Spotify playlist this year, but the cds are nostalgic so they stay. However, should you want that Spotify option, this should do it: Richard's Best of 2013 Spotify List



Everest  - Public Service Broadcasting (2013)


When I first heard the strains of PSB's Everest, I knew it was special, that beautiful, haunting melody just so enticing. Just as with Spitfire from 2012, this is spoken word footage that inspires, the rhythms building so well, until the moment...
"two very small men cutting steps in the roof of the world....."
Beautiful. Hairs on arm standing up time. Did the first time I heaard it, has done every single time since.




What Goes Boom - Pixies (2013)


Pixies are back (again). This is great news (again). Missed them in concert for many years after first hearing Monkey Gone To Heaven on Peel. Had the chance to see them in '88 at Burberries Birmingham when they toured with the Throwing Muses, and never had chance after that until 2004 when they were doing a reforming tour, playing second on the bill at Manchester Move Festival under The Stereophonics (I know, how ridiculous? I've never seen a crowd empty so fast for a headliner as I did that night). That gig was amazing - they came on and everywhere I looked during the first few songs all I could see were middle aged men with shit eating grins of near diselief on their faces.

Ok, they may be missing Kim Deal here, but there's still the essence of the band's original sound here. Or rather there's the essence of the band's later sound. This sounds like a cut from Trompe Le Monde that never made it but should have.

Oh, the Jools Holland performance is the first time I ever heard this song, and just sat there delighted at the sheer noise coming from the tv. Loved it.





Dream Come True - Jim Bob (2013)


Jim Bob, ex Carter USM, full of invention and ideas still, many years later. In Carter the biggest draw was Jim Bob's words, so playful, so clever, puns and poetry combined. Years later, he's still doing it.



Lost In The Plot - The Dears (2004)


Okay, this is a fair few years old, but I only heard it for the first time this year, and instantly loved it. Thought it was a weird Blur song I'd never heard before at first, or something from Damon Albarn's patchy solo career. Lead singer's voice goes from Albarn to Morrissey, and that's just fine.

Best bit is still three and a half minutes in, when the vocals crash back in, lead singer screaming his way through the last minute of the song.



That's Alright - Laura Mvula


Great vocals, great lyrics, a tune to die for, one that you'll hum and hum and hum. The first of three great new female voices this year.



You Will See Me - dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip (2013)


Late entry onto the best of year list this one, and in truth the album this single came off is a bit poor. But not this, this is typically lyrically inventive, laden with threat and doom, Pip screaming to the world with invention and passion against a minimal backdrop of synth.



We No Who U R - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)


The album is a thing of beauty, few better this year. Even putting this cd together I had three songs from it in contention, but when it came down to it this opener was the one I loved most. It just drifts along so beautifully, Cave's vocals so languid and lugubrious, Leonard Cohen's angry love child.



Reflektor (with David Bowie) - Arcade Fire (2013)


Simply epic, in length and scale. So much to it as well, and a little Bowie mixed in there at the end.



Metroland - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (2013)


I heard this early in the year and was impressed with the stripped down classic sound OMD had regained. Yes, it was actually Kraftwerk's striped down classic sound, but they were upfront about that in interviews at the time. Essentially this is Trans-Europe Express done OMD style. The single was spectacular, the album a huge disappointment.



Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monae (2013)


Janelle Monae. A star, a huge, huge star. Glastonbury 2011 she lit up the stage with a performance that blew almost everyone else away. Dance Apolcalyptic captures almost everything that makes her electric live.



Work Bitch - Britney Spears (2013)


Nope. I'm not being ironic, not trying to be clever. Work Bitch is simply a staggeringly good pop record with a stunning beat underpinning it. So there. I do embarrass my daughter at times such as these.



Section 39 (Blurry Up The Lines) - The Polyphonic Spree (2013)


Another great song on a poor album, Blurry Up The Lines is The Polyphonic Spree at their over the top best.



Is Your Love Big Enough - Lianne La Havas (2013)


Final fantastic new female voice of the year. Everything about it is perfect, the clapping background, the soaring vocals, the playfulness in her voice, the stop start things going on. And ice cream.



At My Most Beautiful - R.E.M. (1999)


I've had something of an R.E.M. re-evaluation this year (thank you Spotify) and worked my way through their entire back catalogue to discover that some of my absolute favourites come late in their career. None more so than this, a truly beautiful piece of music, with Michael Stipe's voice against a simple backdrop, a perfectly beautiful Beach Boys style love song. And Mick Mills is just superb on those harmonies. Get me in the right mood and the tears flow to this one.



Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA) - David Bowie (2013)


It was going to be Where Are We Now, the mournful, melancholy single that so surprised everyone this year. Until I heard this remix by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Steve Reich clapping, simple synth lines, a great bit of Bowie 2013 mixing with a perfect Ashes To Ashes moment. 10 minutes of perfect Bowie weirdness. The clapping that starts as a minimalist echo comes in again halfway through,m a small but significant round of applause for a masterpiece before the remix kicks in for the latter half of the song.

Great way to round out the year.