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Very late in the evening in Bern

Wednesday, 23 April, 2014 0 Comments

In Bern, the capital of Switzerland, the official language is the Swiss variation of Standard German, but the lingua franca is a dialect called Berndeutsch (Bernese German), and it’s tricky. Here, for example, is a Standard German sentence: “Als ich hereinkam, hatten sie bereits gegessen.” (English: “By the time I came in, they had already eaten.”) And here’s the Berndeutsch version: “Won i bi inecho, hei si scho ggässe gha.” Q.E.D.

If you’re interested, My Bärndütschi Syte offers a comprehensive introduction to the dialect, and includes a very useful dictionary and a grammar.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Saturday, 29 March, 2014 0 Comments

Describing his early poems, Dylan Thomas said that they were “eggs laid by tigers.” Peter Bruun, Martin Ullits Dahl and Jonas Westergaard from Copenhagen liked the Welshman’s phrase so much that it became the name of their band. Along with their name, the group get all their lyrics from the Swansea bard, who was born 100 years ago this year.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Born to run

Saturday, 22 February, 2014 0 Comments

Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley of Banyak Films hire “all the kit needed to make documentaries, music videos and shorts” at their studios in Hackney in London. The results have attracted international praise. Here, they bombard runners with intimate questions and extract “funny and brutally frank confessions.”

“Someday girl I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run.”

Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run


Saturday, 15 February, 2014 0 Comments

Filmmaking as choreography, filmmaking as wordplay, filmmaking as wit. For Celia Rowlson-Hall, all three hold true. Right in time for Valentine’s Day, she created this clip, which was inspired by her “teeny tiny terribles” drawings. The result is “in tents”.

Forest Swords

Saturday, 11 January, 2014 0 Comments

Matthew Barnes, known by his stage name Forest Swords, is an English music producer and performer. His debut album, Engravings, was released in August last year to unanimously positive critical response. Interestingly, the album was mixed on Thurstaston Hill in that bastion of Liverpudlian lore, the Wirral Peninsula. Barnes credits the outdoors recording for giving the album a natural and atmospheric sound.

Geography: Thurstaston Hill is the home of Thor’s Stone, a house-sized block of red sandstone, where Viking settlers were supposed to have held sacrifices to placate their thunder god. Others say that the stone was raised by the Danes to commemorate the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. More scientific theories suggest that post-glacial erosion removed the softer surrounding rocks and produced today’s landmark.

Etymology: The Danish masculine name Thorsten comes from the Old Norse name Þórsteinn, which meant “Thor’s stone” from the name of the Norse god Þórr (Thor) combined with steinn “stone”. Variants include Thorstein (Norwegian), Torsten (German) and Torsti (Finnish).

Immunity with melancholy

Saturday, 4 January, 2014 0 Comments

In his time, the London-based producer and musician Jon Hopkins has worked with Brian Eno, King Creosote, Imogen Heap and Coldplay. His fifth album, Immunity, was hailed last year as a perfect synthesis of melancholy and dance. Jon Hopkins is one to watch in 2014.

Winter Trees

Saturday, 30 November, 2013 0 Comments

Emily Staveley-Taylor, Jessica Staveley-Taylor and Camilla Staveley-Taylor from Hertfordshire are The Staves. Music journalist, James Christopher Monger, wrote: “clear, confident, and classy, the Staves know that their ability to harmonize (or just sing in perfect, familial unison) is their calling card.” Their debut album, Dead & Born & Grown, was released in November last year, and from it here’s the perfectly seasonal Winter Trees. “And I lost myself on that November night / White winter trees / Covered in snow.”

Pouring in Mumbai

Tuesday, 12 November, 2013 1 Comment

Containing notions of frugality and deluge, the concept of “the rainy day” offers endless opportunity for cogitation and blogging. “The Rain” is a video clip by Harshal Chavan, who describes it as a “small compilation of footage I shot during rainy days.”

Jesus time

Saturday, 26 October, 2013 0 Comments

A quick look at the New York Times Bestsellers earlier in the week — Hardcover Non-Fiction — showed Jesus topping and tailing the list. In first place was Killing Jesus, an account of the life, times and crucifixion of our Saviour by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, and in tenth position, Zealot, a biography of the revolutionary Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. And there was even more faith in fourth position with I Am Malala, which is about a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Islamist Taliban, while in fifth place was My Story, in which Elizabeth Smart tells of being kidnapped from her Utah home in 2002 at age 14 by a couple noted for their “religious idiosyncrasy”.

All this brings us to Amos Lee, whose fine new album, Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song has come into our possession via iTunes. Although the name may not be familiar to all, Lee has built a sterling reputation by touring with Adele, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. Along with composing his own songs, he’s a superb interpreter and his version of Fred Neil’s A Little Bit of Rain is splendid. This is from the Mission Bell album.

Toronto rises thanks to rooftopping

Tuesday, 8 October, 2013 0 Comments

Heard of the daring Ukranian known as “Mustang Wanted”? He’s the star of a newish trend that cannot be defined by any single word. Essentially, it involves climbing buildings and bridges and then hanging on to the edges. Maybe it should be called “skywalking” after Vitaly Skywalker, who pioneered the hobby, but he ran into trouble with the law in Russia and his place has been taken by intrepid Mustang Wanted.

Instead of skywalking, Tom Ryaboi does “rooftopping,” which, in his case, involves climbing tall buildings to get the best photographic angles on an urban scene. Last year, Ryaboi decided that he wanted to create a video clip of Toronto where “the boundary between earth and sky is unclear.” With the help of a theatrical score by Hans Zimmer, these rooftopped shots are breathtaking. Tomorrow, here, in honour of the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair, an Austerian interlude.

The original Lisa O’Neill

Saturday, 5 October, 2013 1 Comment

To celebrate the release of her new album, Same Cloth or Not, Lisa O’Neill will play a headline show at Whelan’s in Dublin on Saturday, 19 October. O’Neill started writing songs and music in her native Ballyhaise, County Cavan, and then moved to Dublin for a full-time career in music. She’s on the way.