The Visual Well Tempered Clavier

Saturday, 30 May, 2015 0 Comments

“In 1722, Johann Sebastian Bach began one of his most ambitious works: a 24-part comprehensive guide to the keyboard, demonstrating the musical qualities of every major and minor key. The first part, C Major, saw Bach create two masterful compositions that explore musical structure in very different ways.” So says Alan Warburton, a designer and director who specializes in 3D animation and CGI. His Well Tempered Clavier video clip takes its inspiration from graphical notation, “an alternative to traditional sheet music notation that evolved in the 1950s and often involves abstract symbols and experimental visual codes.”

Alan Warburton’s video was commissioned by Sinfini, which encourages people to develop a passion for classical music.

True Love on the Faroe Islands

Saturday, 14 February, 2015 0 Comments

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.

Tolkien is not your classic Valentine’s Day quote source, but his timeless sagas have much more to do with the true nature of enduring love than the modern industry that’s devoted to churning out “romance.” Our guess is that he would have loved Eivør Pálsdóttir, who sings in English and Faroese, one of four languages descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages, the others being Norwegian, Icelandic and Norn. Life on the Faroe Islands may be hard but this does not mean that it lacks passion. Even Death can be persuaded to reconsider his grim business if shown True Love there.

The deep, dark music of Marissa Nadler

Saturday, 24 January, 2015 0 Comments

“Running through the song is the refrain ‘Nothing like the way it feels to drive,’ which made me think of the French artist Bernard Faucon, whose recent work is shot entirely from the front seat of a car as he travels all over the world.” So writes Naomi Yang, director of the video clip for Marissa Nadler’s Drive.

Marissa Nadler was busy last year. She issued an album titled July in February and followed up with an EP of unreleased songs. Like Edgar Allan Poe, who played a key role in the American Romantic Movement, Nadler has Boston in her bones and there’s Poesque mystery and dark romance in Drive. The deep woods of New England and the lonely highways of Bernard Faucon linger in this music.


Saturday, 6 December, 2014 0 Comments

“In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.”

A verse there from The Piano by D.H. Lawrence. The poem served as the inspiration for Cucurucu by Nick Mulvey, and the musical influences were provided by the Santo Daime community of Brazil. The video clip was shot by National Geographic’s James Morgan on Nihiwatu Beach in Indonesia.

Our Road Goes Ever On

Wednesday, 3 December, 2014 0 Comments

Early reviews suggest that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which marks the end of Sir Peter Jackson’s 15-year trek into Middle-earth, is a bit of a pre-Christmas turkey. Writing in The Telegraph, Tim Robey felt it was padded-out and “begs not to exist“. He dismisses the film as being “neither very terrible nor remotely unexpected. It’s a series of stomping footnotes in search of a climax”.

Still, Peter Jackson is to be congratulated for his tenacious devotion to JRR Tolkien’s legendarium, and he provided us with some memorable images and scenes of grandeur. Let’s see if the next generation of filmmakers can do better. Whatever their efforts, Tolkien will endure because there is something eternally inspirational about his storytelling. Take The Road Goes Ever On, which Bilbo Baggins sings in chapter 19 of The Hobbit, at the end of his journey back to the Shire:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

The spirit of The Road Goes Ever On is captured beautifully by Erik Wernquist in his short film, Wanderers, which is a “vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like.”

Favourite scene: humans base-jumping off the tallest known cliff in the Solar System: Verona Rupes on the Uranian moon Miranda. Voyager 2 flew near to the moon on 24 January 1986, and snapped the image. The cliff might be as high as five kilometres.

Music to brighten up a dull November day

Saturday, 29 November, 2014 0 Comments

“Let’s light it up
Until our hearts catch fire
And so the world, a burning light
They’ve never shined so bright
We’ll find a way
To keep the cold night
From breaking in over the walls.”

David Guetta, Lovers On The Sun

A Tax on Bunny Rabbits

Monday, 24 November, 2014 0 Comments

“I’m a hands on director who loves to experiment with different techniques,” says Nathaniel Akin of Riotsquad.TV. This is excellent in so many ways.

The Vimeo deal with the Weed Guy

Monday, 17 November, 2014 0 Comments

The New York-based video-sharing website, Vimeo, is ten years old this month. Different yardsticks can be used for measuring its tenacity and its success. The 170 million unique visitors a month, for instance, and then there’s the reaction of the censors. Vimeo is blocked in China and in Turkey, too. In May, Tifatul Sembiring, Indonesia’s Communications Minister, announced the banning of Vimeo, citing the country’s anti-pornography law. Coincidentally, the ban followed a global wave of acclaim for Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary, The Act of Killing.

With 70 percent of Vimeo’s audience residing outside the US, the company is rolling out new feature to enable filmmakers “subtitle their work in dozens of languages,” says Bloomberg. And it’s taking a jab at the Netflix behemoth. High Maintenance is a tentative step towards capturing a sliver of the streaming audience. In essence, Brooklyn immigrants and natives call upon the services of the Weed Guy to help them manage the stresses of borough life. Ecologically correct, he delivers by bike and helps his clients handle their crises, with an air of Stoicism and an eye for the main chance. Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, the pair behind the series, have the talent to advance Woody Allen’s observations of neurotic New Yorkers to the gluten-free, hipster level.

Jessie Ware: Tough Love

Saturday, 25 October, 2014 0 Comments

At midnight on 13 October, Jessie Ware tweeted, “#ToughLove my second album can now be yours. Goodnight!” Following the release of her debut album, Devotion, in 2012, Ware was called “the missing link between Adele, SBTRKT and Sade.” Pitchfork says that her latest, “Tough Love” compares to “Prince at his minimalist ’80s best.” This is modern pop + R&B, and along with the Adele and Sade echoes there are hints of FKA twigs and La Roux in the mix.

Southern music

Saturday, 11 October, 2014 0 Comments

They’ve been described as too country for rock and too rock for country. Blackberry Smoke, from Atlanta, Georgia, blend folk, bluegrass and blues into what they call “southern music.” Their next album, Holding All the Roses, is due early 2015.

The Innerworld of Electric Youth

Saturday, 4 October, 2014 0 Comments

Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin are Electric Youth, a synth-pop duo from Toronto. On Tuesday, they released their debut album Innerworld and here’s the second track.