Saturday, 8 August 2015

Sound Art Experiment number 11


Music can be a powerful force when used correctly.

Full of the joys of summer and the sounds of diplo I made my mixtape comeback with the latest instalment of Tayalarz, and the news of Dr Dre finally delivering on his long-awaited promise of a new album that fans have been waiting more than a decade for had prompted me to make a start on a 'Compton' influenced mix.

And even tho that creation may be in the extremely early stages and may eventually be lost to gestation, with the computer fired up and the hours growing small I chose to revisit a few neglected folders on the harddrive.

Lo and behold did Saturday morning creep up on me and shake me from my bed with a new desire.  

In this age of stealth albums nobody was expecting the penultimate SoundArt to grace the world with its presence.  Very few people were even wanting it.  But regardless.

The SoundArt project was a simple idea.

Instead of giving my brother my music and asking him to produce artwork influenced by the sounds he heard we would flip the script, he would provide artwork and I would be influenced.  12 images and 12 tracks produced over 12 months to create a full length experimental album within a year.

Track 1 debuted in December 2008....

(ahem)

SoundArt11 is a curious creature.  Staring at the stars and asking the ultimate questions as the artwork seriously suggests that we are not alone.

Other tracks have been much more of a sound collage, this perhaps could have been but now sounds more of a sound presentation... Taking it's musical cue and liberally borrowing Doorly's dubstep remix of Calvin Harris' 'Not Alone' as theories jacked from YouTube play out over it.

Previous instalments have heaved with creativity, either pulling things apart or putting them together, SoundArt11 was always intended to play out that way too, but the whole ethos of this expression of art was to let it find it's own way...

Only this morning was the majority of this track spun on its head to give it a more complete feel, choosing to play with a larger chunk of the original remix than originally intended and then swinging by the buena vista social club to provide a backdrop to a healthy discussion on the intelligence of our species that had been longing for a dancing partner for a long time.  The last piece of the puzzle fell from the sky, hailing from a planet that no longer exists.  I rented Man Of Steel two years ago in order to reuse a message that seems to resonate throughout this track, and also through the entire project.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Afew thoughts on Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

Well this nifty little package features a cheap looking toy of some strange robotic animal that also appears to be some sort of featured villain in this DVD release, along with some other dubiously designed animal-bots that appear to be throw-backs to the knock-off transformer toys of my youth, plus superheroes, apparently quite a few superheroes. And Batman.

Of course, And Batman.... this is, after all, Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts.

So let's get this straight.... A redesigned animated Batman, robo-animals, super villain team-ups and then chuck in Green Arrow and Flash alongside an already present pair of sidekicks and I would guarantee that this feature length cartoon should be written off as a disaster, a shameful toy tie-in or child-centric superhero brand recognition exercise.

I'll humbly admit that I was wrong. I tuned in with low hopes and perhaps for the first twenty minutes could have turned off convinced that I was right and may have been wasting my time. A lot happens quite needlessly, some of my favourite heroes pop in sporting wardrobe choices that the jury are yet to pass judgement on, but thankfully the action is under way, and it rarely lets up.

Villains of an animal based appearance take centre stage to kick off the caper and before you know it we have the good guys all on scene in Gotham. Origin stories, introductions and exposition go hurtling out the window and any real sense of canon is deliberately mishandled and left ambiguous, ripe for discovery as the adventure plays out...

Bruce Wayne knows Oliver Queen is Green Arrow, we have two previous Robins reporting for duty as Nightwing and Red Robin. But this seems to be everyone's first encounter of Penguin and Man-Bat. Flash's secret identity is never even addressed...

All these curious threads and more are dangled like nerd-bait for those that like their continuity to be regimented and follow comic book tradition. Yet the story is never dumbed down at all and it is best enjoyed if you simply strap in and go with the flow.

If it has flaws then they are easily forgotten and happily forgiven as a real sense of fun sits at the forefront of this potentially polarising team-up that somehow seems to go someway to follow up the magnificent Brave and Bold series and meet a high standard against almost impossible odds.

 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fast, Furious and Fascinating.

The initial hype and excitement has receded and the queues at the multiplex are already moving onto the next blockbuster when I finally allow myself to be dragged along to the latest Fast and Furious film.

And to be honest, the franchise genuinely fascinates me. Particularly the fact that with this many sequels to its name it still guarantees itself a top billing due not just to petrol heads and actions fans, somehow morphing itself into a cinematic event with a global audience that is gripped by the further exploits of these former street-racers whose ongoing antics have taken them further than the initial concept should feasibly allow.

Boiled down to the basics these movies were essentially a testosterone fuelled mix of fast cars, the casting of scantily clad extras to gyrate, jiggle and share the screen when the aforementioned cars were stationary, and some action packed set-pieces to quicken the pulse. This formula was then taken and multiplied, with the inclusion of a ever-growing rotating cast of characters until it flipped the script on a possible future of sketchy sequels with diminishing returns and marked itself as a legitimately bankable franchise with the reemergence of Vin Diesel for the fourth instalment.

It has hardly hit pause since, with the rotating cast being brought together as 'family' for heists and adding additional big-hitting action stars to the mix to create a boiling pot of machismo that trumps the premise of The Expendables fused with the crime-caper team-up of Oceans 11 and it's own sequels. The Rock, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell... I can hardly wait to see who they draft in next time.

I'll admit that my own interest wobbled slightly when scriptwriters have pushed more story rather than just fast-thrills and maybe the London based adventure felt too close to home for me to sufficiently suspend my disbelief, but thankfully Furious 7 remedied this by being so unbelievable that turning off and tuning in was the only option.

The whole thing, from start to finish, was bat-shit crazy. Almost every logical next step in the story was sideswiped in favour of more jaw-dropping preposterousness, fights and fast cars and military operations and so forth, all turbo-charged with barely a toe dipped in reality, it became hilarious in its audacity, but by consistently topping itself in each new scene it had me enthralled.

 

Forget street-racers, criminals and FBI agents, everyone involved in these films have now been granted superpowers and clobber each other in ways that even the Marvel Cinematic Universe would shy away from, the plot structure played just like a 16-bit video game with baddies periodically turning up at the end of level to take a beating and then disappear until the next stage, and the plot holes are more like gaping wormholes, but it doesn't matter, because it's fun. Seriously, I have seen criticism and vitriol poured on superhero movies for inconsistencies and unbelievable circumstances.... think about that for a moment, movies... about superheroes... that do not exist!! But Furious 7 leaps these minor details with a steroid injected stride that carries it to some higher level of action film.

But with the inevitability of another sequel looming large I just don't know where the franchise could go next while it travels on this kind of trajectory.

Or perhaps I do... With the rumour of Jump Street crossing over with Men In Black for an upcoming sequel it seems that this franchise-hopping may be the obvious escalation needed to keep the Furious films from slowing their pace. It is a well used concept in comics and has been seen in video games, but only on rare occasions have these pop-culture mash-ups made it to the big screen, but I'm going to be disappointed if the next chapter in the story does not feature a climactic battle with Dominic Toretto at the wheel of Optimus Prime or Bumblebee. Perhaps a computer hacking angle could be replayed to counter Cyberdine Systems and the apocalyptic rise of Skynet. And the crowning glory of the movie will be Robocop joining the fray as a shining beacon of hope as he rides in to save the day on a majestic mech-unicorn that has been custom fitted with NOS.

 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Having a laugh? Jared Leto's Joker.

As is inevitable in this ever connected society, people giddily sharing, shouting about or snidely remarking on certain 'geekier' developments in the world make it difficult to keep myself from seeing the things that I may not want to see.

Case in point: Suicide Squad.

I relented to my own curiosity and peeked at the first cast photo, just to acquaint myself with the talent on display, I briefly glimpsed the initial morsel of Jared Leto that now seems a red herring with fanboys and theorists clamouring to point out the allusions to The Killing Joke.

But before I even knew I'd have to start avoiding the first full image of Leto's Joker it had been splashed across facebook.

And I don't like it.

I'm not a fool. I'm not gonna simply shoot my mouth off and say it's wrong and gonna be terrible. Geeks have been burned before by exuberant expectation and unfounded ire. We've still got a massive promotional trail to get through, heck, they've gotta start shooting the bloody thing!! And all we have to go on is one out of context image that didn't even hint at any kind of mystery or subtlety.

But I still don't like it. I would at least walk you through what I think are my rational decisions.

Obviously previous big-screen incarnations of The Joker have been about re-envisioning or reinventing something that has already been firm in our memories, from ’66 to ’89 and again in 2008, each new portrayal had to break the mould of the previous and this new version is no exception, so allow me to scrutinise a little further...

The deathly pale, skinny, manic look of a deranged crack addict... I can live with this.

Bright green hair, a single purple glove and either some pimped out teeth or a hygiene problem (possibly even both?)... This could all work, I'll let it slide.

But the one thing that bothers me the most is those tattoos...

 

The grin synonymous with The Joker tattooed down his right forearm, a skull in a jesters hat and repeated Ha Ha Ha over the chest and arm, again it is proved that subtlety definitely was not a consideration for this project. And this is without even mentioning the dubious facial tattoos and other ink that is just about visible without being fully revealed.

Now we could discuss versions of the Joker all day, but in my mind I have never taken his chaotic tendencies to be easily placated long enough to endure multiple tattoo sessions.

This is clearly only casting aspersions but the overall tone seems to paint our new Mr J as a ruthless street thug. To me he looks more like a real-life obsessive Joker fanboy.

And with my imagination running on overdrive here is where I start to piece together my own wish-list of boxes this new DC cinematic universe needs to tick.

What if this isn't the Joker? What if this actually is an obsessive fanboy, a street thug, possibly the chief of operations that is at pains to prove himself to his boss... The real Joker.

Following Heath Ledger's near legendary portrayal I was holding out for a more laconic and brooding spin on the character, a darker and much scarier villain that is less likely to be seen cracking a smile. And with so many indicators pointing towards Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns as a major inspiration in these next formative stages, the Leto Joker image that we've so far seen feels like a rather ill fit.

Having said all that I have been thoroughly enjoying the way that TV's Gotham has been playing hard and loose with established mythology to create its own world that borrows liberally from what we know and refines it in its own image to defy expectations, and all this fuss created is still based on just one image and not a lot else, I'm curious to see where this will all eventually lead and I'll do my best to keep an open mind until we get there.

 

 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

the return of.

Something like sunshine was seeking to stream through the slithers left undefended by the black out blind in the spare room as I awoke from slumber in the spare room, driven to the second-hand ikea sofa-bed again by my fiancé's nocturnal wheezings and mumblings as a cold got the better of her and my desire to sleep undisturbed had got the better of me.

Yesterday was something special.  It really was going to take something to top that.



Oh, how about some international airplay?

The second-hand ikea sofa-bed was unwilling to relinquish me just yet, so I instead reach for my ageing gizmo and fire up the emails... A missive from half the world away causes seismic smiles to ripple through my body and across my face.  Those guys that had been good enough to seemingly pick my remix of The Enemy from thin air a number of years ago had pulled it out of the bag yet again.

Fraserhead and The Herbalist, fantastically named audio adventurers and known Anglo-philes had responded to a fleeting email I had dropped their way (their way being over 11 thousand miles away in Queensland, New Zealand) and said yes.

Yes. They would play my latest track. My miserable slice of realism. My dark downturned beat and it's message of ever promising negativity. In the land of sunshine and mystical sea monsters.

In some strange parallel universe that exists at least one sunrise away is a sunny Saturday afternoon that is soundtracked by 80s legend John Carpenter, pioneering proto-dubstepper Burial and myself, with my near-undanceable budget-tronica...

Stranger things have happened, but they don't always happen to me.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

reviewed.

and so.  Just like the hunter becomes the hunted, the reviewer has become the reviewed.

Safely on silent in my pocket, my sinister phone was making noise on a friday afternoon.  Even with the quivering capabilities of a stone, it sent good vibrations into the world, alert after alert, favourite after favourite, retweet after retweet.

I reflected upon this briefly,  Shot Of Hornets: nice review, cheers!

strange, I don't remember reviewing those guys...

with meagre downtime I backtracked to that original tweet

January reviews.  featuring Me.

on Misfit City?  I was confused and concerned, I'd not written for this blog?  Had they half-inched a recent review and reproduced it without permission?

Far from it.

Sat at the peak of the page was an earth-shatteringly glorious justification of why I create art.  Digitally documenting my place in the world in words that astounded me.  Such kind and uplifting words.

'anxious water-tank electronica'

'perpetually uncomfortable budget-tronica'

'near-undanceable'

I feel I shall be using these as straplines for my music for a long time to come... superseding Akira The Don's beautifyingly bestowed 'Super-Ugly Beat-Stuffs' as my go-to quote of choice....  

Yet could this also be a career peaking?!  I brace myself for the Hunchbakk-lash to begin.




Sunday, 18 January 2015

hesitation.



Hesitation.

It haunts me.

Hangs in the air beside me, an apparition that seldom leaves me.

Holds me, holds me back.

I hesitate.