Posted: April 13, 2013 in Album Review, Culture, Music
Tags: 4AD, Album Review, Daughter, Ellena Tonra, Folk music, Guitar Band, If you leave, Music
Why So Pale and Wan?
This is a record which was never going to set your pulse racing. In fact it is far more suited for wafting round the house or for suffering from a nasty dose of unrequited love. The landscapes of the London trio’s first album are certainly starkly beautiful yet the lyrics show us far darker places. The album starts with a minor discord before singer/guitarist Ellena Tonra’s soothing voice lulls us and deceives us, ‘I needed you to run through my veins like disease’. There is a resonance of Florence in that first track, Winter, which thankfully this fails to re-appear in the rest of the album. Tonra’s voice is far more fragile and subtly haunting than that.
The album’s instrumentation which comprises of Elena and Igor Haefeli’s shimmering guitars and Remi Aguilella’s suppressed drumming is mostly shrouded in reverb and it is not until the eighth track that we hear anything as prosaic as a snare drum. This is all well and good but sometimes you just want them to let go and reward you with something normal like a crash cymbal (one that isn’t going backwards that is). This is especially true with Youth, which is probably the strongest track on the album but one which finally disappoints when it builds and builds but doesn’t quite deliver the goods in the end.
I really like this album, it is beautiful and I will play it a lot. But you get the impression there are some much bigger songs that want to get out.
Well I enjoyed reading this book immensely but I really haven’t got a clue what the hell it was about. It masquerades as a novel but basically it is a collection of short stories. It starts off (and finishes) well, with Hawthorne and Child racing to a call-out, but the intervening chapters veer off in wildly different directions. All the time you feel that the characters and stories are connected but you can’t really put your finger on what it is that links them.
The writing is both in-your-face and arrestingly beautiful at the same time. The voices of some of the madder characters were truly haunting, and in places it moved me a lot. But when I finished, I felt like I’d woken up after some crazy drunken night out. One where you managed to make it safely home but you haven’t got the foggiest idea how.
I was so inspired after attending the Festival of Writing that today I spent my train ride to London writing a to-do list. It’s the sort of thing people often do in the morning, although I expect my one was a little different.
This is what it contains:-
Create more conflict in the office.
Introduce more chaos.
Research mind control drugs such as Rohypnol and LSD.
Torture Detective Sergeant Glamis.
Let’s hope no one was looking over my shoulder.
Posted: June 21, 2012 in Stuff
Tags: camping, rain, summertime, weather, wind
We’re going camping. Whoopee.
There’s a big ol’ storm heading our way and we’re going to be stuck in a tent. I can’t wait.
It’s summertime in England so that means that we all get out there and commune with nature; except we wont be. What we will actually be doing is enduring another hellish weekend cowering inside our tent while it is being flailed by high winds and rain. But that’s OK though because we’re British, which means that our stiff upper lip and steady resolve enables us to put up with situations like that with dignity and decorum.
Experience has taught me that that there is no point getting down in the mouth about all this. There is nothing to be gained from being sad and moping around because you just end up tripping over cold wet guy ropes and pissing everybody else off. It seems that whenever I go camping, everyone else begins to suffer from some sort of a group hysteria, it manifests itself in a strange form of irrational optimism. They start to say things like, ‘Don’t worry it’ll brighten up in a minute,’ or ‘Shall we go to the beach tomorrow?’ when it should be patently obvious to anyone with even one eye that the sky is getting darker and and it’s getting colder and colder.
These days I take solace in two things, firstly skin is waterproof, and secondly I can always get drunk to dull the pain.
I did something today that will change me for ever. I went to my first ever literary seminar. It was at the Bloomsbury Publishing offices in London and it was amazing. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that there were real authors there, people who have actually written books that the public have read and love and keep in their bookcases. And there I was in the same room as them, I was completely dumbstruck.
I arrived hot and flustered from the Tube in time for wine and nibbles and stood like a wallflower, glass in hand, while the other delegates mingled and chatted around me. I must admit I felt just a little out-of-place. Then we were shepherded into the to the grand old salon which is a beautiful room complete with an enormous book-case which runs the entire length of one wall and which is crammed with Bloomsbury first editions. There we listened to a talk by three established and experienced crime writers.
It was chaired by the very talented Claire McGowan whose debut novel The Fall I couldn’t put down and Anne Zouroudi and James Runcie whose books I can‘t wait to pick up. They gave us tips about plotting, characters and research but more importantly they gave us an insight into their modus operandi as crime writers. I loved every minute of it.
Everyone was friendly too. I said hi to Claire and it’s probably good news that at the time I didn’t know that James Runcie has made a film about J.G Ballard otherwise I might have got a bit scary and stalkery and on top of all that I met lots of other very nice people.
I feel different somehow. I feel like I have come of age as a writer.
My dishwasher has started beeping recently. I don’t know how or why it’s got this habit but it is bloody annoying. It’s almost as if it’s saying:
‘Look at me, I’ve just done your washing up, aren’t I great!’
Well big deal! I don’t really care. I’ve had dishwashers before and that’s what you are supposed to do. The reason I got you is so that I can just shut your door and forget about the dirty dishes. What I don’t want is you pestering me half way through True Blood to tell me that you’ve finished cleaning them. OK?
I have a suspicion that the reason the dishwasher started doing this is because it’s heard our new washing machine doing exactly the same thing. That new super-efficient shiny appliance announces the culmination of each and every wash cycle with a series of Teutonic beeps. It’s driving me bonkers. What is it with modern appliances?