Check out some of these newly catalogued Vinyl in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…
Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…
Human League A very British synthesizer group
Chocolate Watchband Melts in your brain… not on your wrist! : the complete recordings 1965-1967
Gillian Welch Boots no. 1 : the official Revival bootleg
New books on movies and TV offer a great summer read in a wide variety of topics. They include the lovely biography about Bill Murray and the official guide book of the much-loved TV series Outlander. A Star is Born and The Fashion of Film can be fantastic coffee table books. Check them out!
The Tao of Bill Murray : real-life stories of joy, enlightenment, and party crashing / by Gavin Edwards ; illustrations by R. Sikoryak.
“People love Bill Murray movies, but even more, they love crazy stories about Bill Murray out in the world. For The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing, best-selling author Gavin Edwards tracked down the best authentic Bill Murray stories. People savour these anecdotes; they consume them with a bottomless hunger; they routinely turn them into viral hits. The book not only has the greatest hits of Bill’s eye-opening interactions with the world, it puts them in the context of a larger philosophy (revealed to the author in an exclusive interview): Bill Murray is secretly teaching us all how to live our lives.” (Syndetics summary)
Last girl before freeway : the life, loves, losses, and liberation of Joan Rivers / Leslie Bennetts.
“Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Her life was a dramatic roller-coaster of triumphant highs and devastating lows: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers’ career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life. A juicy, intimate biography of one of the greatest comedians ever-a performer whose sixty year career was borne, simply, out of a desire to make people laugh so she could feel loved-LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world around her.” (Syndetics summary)
The making of Outlander : the series : the official guide to seasons one & two / Tara Bennett ; introduction by Diana Gabaldon.
“Get an exclusive look behind the scenes of the first two seasons of Outlander with this official, fully illustrated companion to the hit Starz television series based on the bestselling novels. Best of all, The Making of Outlander offers a veritable feast of lavish photographs–including an array of images spotlighting the stars in all their characters’ grandeur and up-close personal portraits. Featuring an introduction by Diana Gabaldon herself, this magnificent insider’s look at the world of the Outlander TV series is the companion all fans will want by their side.” (Syndetics summary)
A star is born : the moment an actress becomes an icon / George Tiffin.
“Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve… Feted, adored and desired, successful movie actresses are icons of modern culture. But what was it that made them true stars? Was it looks, talent, drive, personality – or just plain luck? What was the first captivating image or unforgettable line that etched them indelibly on our collective memory – and transformed the screen actress of the passing movie credit into the screen goddess of eternal legend? In a sequence of elegant pen-portraits, George Tiffin takes a microscope to the movies and the moments that established 75 female icons of cinema. These penportraits are supplemented by quotes, notes and anecdotes, including script excerpts from key scenes. A STAR IS BORN is a seductive celebration of the eternal feminine at the heart of the movie business – and an informal and engaging history of cinema itself.” (Syndetics summary)
The fashion of film : how cinema has inspired fashion / Amber Butchart.
“The Fashion of Film is the perfect book for the fashion fan. In it, fashion historian Amber Butchart takes a journey through the last 100 years of cinema style and its influence on the catwalks. With beautiful imagery and thoroughly-researched text, she looks at how our most iconic movies have transformed the world of high fashion. Karl Lagerfeld was influenced by the dystopian vision of Metropolis, the picture-perfect world of Wes Anderson’s films are echoed in the collections of Miuccia Prada, and Audrey Hepburn was key to Hubert de Givenchy’s work. Fashion designers have long taken their inspiration from silver screen idols, and continue to do so today.” (Syndetics summary)
The real James Dean : intimate memories from those who knew him best / edited by Peter L. Winkler ; foreword by George Stevens.
“In the decades following his death, many of those who knew James Dean best–actors, directors, friends, lovers (both men and women), photographers, and Hollywood columnists–shared stories of their first-person experiences with him in interviews and in the articles and autobiographies they wrote. Their recollections of Dean became lost in fragile back issues of movie magazines and newspapers and in out-of-print books that are extremely hard to find. Until now. The Real James Dean is the first book of its kind: a rich collection spanning six decades of writing in which many of the people whose lives were touched by Dean recall their indelible experiences with him in their own words.” (Syndetics summary)
The impossible has happened : the life and work of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek : a biography / by Lance Parkin.
“8 September 2016 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the debut of the world’s most successful science fiction television series: Star Trek. In this new biography Lance Parkin, author of Aurum’s acclaimed Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore, will go in search of the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. This book will reveal how an undistinguished writer of cop shows set out to produce ‘Hornblower in space’ and ended up with an optimistic, almost utopian view of humanity’s future that has been watched and loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world.” (Syndetics summary)
Stanley Kubrick and me : thirty years at his side / Emilio D’Alessandro with Filippo Ulivieri ; translated from the Italian by Simon Marsh.
“This intimate portrait by his former personal assistant and confidante reveals the man behind the legendary filmmaker–for the first time. Emilio was the silent guy in the room when the script for The Shining was discussed. He still has the coat Jack Nicholson used in the movie. He was an extra on the set of Eyes Wide Shut , Kubrick’s last movie. He knew all the actors and producers Kubrick worked with; he observed firsthand Kubrick’s working methods down to the smallest detail. Making no claim of expertise in cinematography but with plenty of anecdotes, he offers a completely fresh perspective on the artist and a warm, affecting portrait of a generous, kind, caring man who was a perfectionist in work and life.” (Syndetics summary)
In such good company : eleven years of laughter, mayhem, and fun in the sandbox / Carol Burnett.
“Comedy legend Carol Burnett tells the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of her iconic weekly variety series, The Carol Burnett Show. In In Such Good Company , Carol Burnett pulls back the curtain on the twenty-five-time Emmy-Award winning show that made television history, and she reminisces about the outrageously funny and tender moments that made working on the series as much fun as watching it. This book is Carol’s love letter to a golden era in television history through the lens of her brilliant show. Get the best seat in the house for “eleven years of laughter, mayhem, and fun in the sandbox.”” (Syndetics summary)
The birth of a nation : Nat Turner and the making of a movement / edited by Nate Parker.Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement
“This official tie-in to the highly acclaimed film, The Birth of a Nation , surveys the history and legacy of Nat Turner, the leader of one of the most renowned slave rebellions on American soil, while also exploring Turner’s relevance to contemporary dialogues on race relations. Based on astounding events in American history, The Birth of a Nation is the epic story of one man championing the spirit of resistance as he leads a rough-and-tumble group into a revolt against injustice and slavery.” (Syndetics summary)
Sanford Meisner on acting / Sanford Meisner and Dennis Longwell ; introduction by Sydney Pollack.
“This book, written in collaboration with Dennis Longwell, follows an acting class of eight men and eight women for fifteen months, beginning with the most rudimentary exercises and ending with affecting and polished scenes from contemporary American plays. Throughout these pages Meisner is delight–always empathizing with his students and urging them onward, provoking emotion, laughter, and growing technical mastery from his charges. With an introduction by Sydney Pollack, director of “Out of Africa” and “Tootsie,” who worked with Meisner for five years.” (Syndetics summary)
Alan Partridge : nomad / Alan Partridge with Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons and Steve Coogan.
“In ALAN PARTRIDGE: NOMAD, Alan dons his boots, windcheater and scarf and embarks on an odyssey through a place he once knew – it’s called Britain – intent on completing a journey of immense personal significance. Diarising his ramble in the form of a ‘journey journal’, Alan details the people and places he encounters, ruminates on matters large and small and, on a final leg fraught with danger, becomes – not a man (because he was one to start off with) – but a better, more inspiring example of a man.” (Syndetics summary)
Some staff DVD picks to round out the year- an acclaimed HBO drama, Italian comedy, Japanese animation, German horror, and an in depth examination of the Cimemax oeuvre. We will be back early next year with the picks of our favourite DVDs of 2016.
The night of.
Critically acclaimed HBO drama starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed. New York student Naz (Ahmed) embarks on a wild night of drugs and sex with a mysterious woman after picking her up in his father’s cab. The next morning he wakes to find her stabbed to death in her bed. With no recollection of the previous night’s events, Naz flees the scene but is quickly brought in by the city’s police and identified as the main suspect for the murder. Scuffling precinct- crawling defence lawyer John Stone (Turturro) finds himself in the right place at the right time to take Naz’s case, and after initially thinking of it as a way to lift his own fortunes, he comes to believe in his clients innocence. Based on the UK series Criminal Justice, it had initially been a passion project of James Gandolfini, who was to play the part of lawyer Jack Stone before his untimely death. However Turturro steps up instead and delivers a knockout performance. Scripted by novelist Richard Price, it succeeds on every level. Recommended. (Mark)
Our kind of traitor.
A civilian couple (Ewan McGregor & Naomie Harris) on vacation in Marrakesh to work on their marriage befriend a flamboyant and charismatic Russian named Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), who, unbeknownst to them, is a financial wizard/money launderer for the Russian mafia. When Dima confides to his new friends that he plans to escape from the mob, they agree to be the go-between for him with MI6. He promises the accounts and names of prominent British Politicians receiving bribes to open a new London based bank that will be a front for Russian Mob money, in exchange for asylum for himself and his family. But with MI6 officer Damien Lewis running an operation unsanctioned & opposed by his political bosses, how can they get Dima and his family out? While it perhaps lacks the gravitas of The Constant Gardener, or A Most Wanted Man, this is a solid adaptation of the John Le Carré novel from 2010. McGregor & Harris are good as the ordinary couple, Skarsgard chews scenery as the larger than life Dima, and Damien Lewis is excellent as the clinical upper-crust MI6 agent. Definitely worth a watch. Perhaps the main issue it has, is that it had the misfortune to be made/released around the same time as the excellent The Night Manager, which showed just how much Le Carre’s tales benefit from a longer running time and a more detailed approach. (Mark)
My Mother = Mia madre.
Margherita is a renowned film director but struggling to complete her latest film. She’s broken up with her partner and doesn’t have the slightest idea what her daughter has been up to. Her life is in tatters, and furthermore and most importantly, her beloved mother is dying. Italy’s leading film maker Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room, We have a Pope)’s new film is about facing mortality. The theme is naturally sombre but Moretti, who is one of the unique auteurs of today, shows his flair of comedy and ingenious skill to make it a tender, charming family drama. It’s a perfectly constructed film in which every detail is in the right order, and has a beautiful balance of melodrama and comedy. Before we know it, we share the story rather than watching it. After all, we are all someone’s children. (Shinji)
Eerie German ‘horror’ film sees 9 year old twins Lukas & Elias living in an idyllic isolated summer cottage waiting for their Mother to return from having plastic surgery. When she returns her face is covered in bandages, and slowly little things emerge about her seem that seem off. Gradually their suspicions increase… Is that really their mother under the bandages? Some have criticised that the twist is telegraphed far too early & easy to guess. Maybe so, but the film isn’t really about the twist, it’s about the insular nature of the world of ‘childhood’ , the slow build of tension & atmosphere. More for those who are into the new ‘wave’ of non-slasher horror films as represented by films like It Follows, Babadook & Under The Skin. (Mark)
Down-on-their-luck punk rockers ‘The Ain’t Rights’ agree to a last-minute gig in a backwoods Oregon roadhouse. The gig soon takes a sinister turn as the band members stumble upon a grisly murder scene and find themselves trapped in the Roadhouse, targeted by a ruthless club owner and his associates, determined to eliminate all witnesses. Effective indie thriller sees the talented Anton Yelchin in one of his final roles, and a nasty turn from Patrick Stewart as the leader of a bunch of Neo-Nazi’s. Makes the most of its claustrophobic setting. Definitely worth a watch. (Mark)
The tale of the Princess Kaguya.
Watching at home last week, I found ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ to be an absolute revelation. The film retells one of the earliest recorded Japanese folk-tales, a story of love and obligation which plays out between humans and the denizens of other realms. It blends the fantastic with the everyday, and handles both with deftness and great emotional charge. Coming from the famous Ghibli studios, its elegant design and thoughtful storytelling are a cut above even its famous stable-mates; the animation style is particularly striking, drawing on traditional modes of brush painting and contemporary digital techniques to produce some startlingly expressionistic and charged moments. The sound design is likewise exceptional, building an elegiac mood of dreamlike fantasy around the film’s stunning images. I have rarely been more moved by any film than by ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’, which manages to draw memorable moments of great lightness, sublimity and humour, and weighty human realities, into one perfectly formed whole. Due to the film’s length, I wouldn’t recommend it for the smallest people, but it’s excellent for the thoughtful older child who loves a strong story, as well as adults of all ages. (Alex)
Currently riding high with the success of the adaptation of Max Allan Collins’ gritty Quarry crime novels which is getting favourable comparisons to the first season of True Detective, the following reviews are a look at the guilty pleasure of some of Cinemax’s (or ‘Skinemax’ as it is better known) attempts at legitimate TV programming…
Melissa George helms this Spy drama, created by X-Files alumni Frank Spotnitz, a joint production between the BBC & Cinemax. George plays Sam Hunter an operative for a private Intelligence/Security firm called ‘Byzantium’, who is ambushed after a rescue operation in Tangiers. Barely managing to survive she recuperates for a year in secret before returning to Byzantium, where her new assignment is to infiltrate the family of a wealthy British criminal who has leveraged his entire fortune into winning the bid on a Dam construction project in Upper Khyber. Paralleling this, Sam attempts to uncover which of her Byzantium colleagues was behind her assassination attempt, and why it seems to tie into a traumatic incident from her childhood. At only 8 episodes this slick spy show throws in a lot of plot, sometimes becoming overly convoluted, and most of the secondary characters don’t make much impact. However it’s entertaining enough if you’re looking for a post-Spooks spy fix with plenty of action. Dropped by the BBC after this series.
Strike back. Cinemax season one.
Two things are clear from then first moments of Cinemax’s ‘Strike Back’ Season 1. The first is that it has incredibly high production values, and the second is that it has almost zero intellectual content. The Cinemax series is technically Season 2 of this show, as it was originally a BBC Sky 2010 UK mini-series entitled Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (Reviewed here) which starred Richard Armitage in the lead role as John Porter, a member of Section 20 a secretive branch of the British Defence Intelligence service. Supposedly envisioned as a continuing role, that idea came to an end when Armitage left to work on the Hobbit movies. However American channel Cinemax decided to continue the series, rebooting it as a joint US/UK production with two new leads, Philip Winchester (an American playing a Brit) & Sullivan Stapleton (an Australian playing an American – who would later turn up as the lead in Blindspot). When Porter is kidnapped & killed by mysterious Pakistani terrorist Latif, who is masterminding a upcoming terror plot, Michael Stonebridge (Winchester) is tasked to find dishonourably discharged Delta Force operative Damian Scott (Stapleton), who is the only other person who can positively identify Latif. Scott is soon recruited into Section 20, and the five stories (10 episodes) are essentially stand alone, but all connected by the unifying search to find Latif. Sort of 24 minus the moral questions & hand-wringing, and with more gun fights & gratuitous sex scenes. Strike back would go on for 3 more Cinemax seasons: Cinemax Season Two, Cinemax Season Three & Cinemax Season Four before wrapping up.
Banshee. The complete first season.
Of the Cinemax series’ before Quarry ‘Banshee’ was the most critically & commercially successful. Created by writer Jonathan Tropper & produced by Alan Ball (creator/EP of True Blood) ‘Banshee’ is, if anything, more lurid and violent than ‘Strike Back’. It begins with a thief (Kiwi Antony Starr) just released from jail after serving fifteen years of hard time. He persuades his foul mouthed drag queen/computer expert friend (a hilarious Hoon Lee) to track down his ex-flame and partner-in-crime Anna (Ivana Milicevic), and the diamonds she got away with. Arriving in a crooked Pennsylvania town called Banshee he soon finds her living under an assumed name and married with 2 children, one of which could be his. Seeking solace in a bar on the outskirts of town he and bartender and ex-con Sugar (Frankie Faison) witness the brutal death of Banshee’s incoming sheriff Lucas Hood, whom no one in town knows. He then decides, while burying the body, that assuming Hood’s identify is this best way to disappear off the grid and stay near his ex-girlfriend [No spoilers, as this all takes place within the first 30 minutes]. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the show: in that it’s somewhat preposterous, but also addictive & incredibly intense. Each episodes is stuffed full of action, with brutally realistic fight scenes, gratuitous sex and intense character interactions. The arrival of ‘Hood’ causes decidedly mixed feelings in Milicevic’s Anna (now married to the local D.A) in that she still harbours feelings for him but is scared his presence will cause the mysterious Mr. Rabbit, the Ukrainian mob boss whose diamonds they stole, to find her. In turn Hood finds that the corrupt town, controlled by Amish overlord Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) is the perfect vehicle to dilute his barely contained anger, and proceeds to dispense some distinctly non-by-the-book Policing. Starr is excellent as Hood, his wounded countenance the perfect balance to the American Gothic hardboiled noir of the story. The hidden secrets, relationships, shifting alliances between the characters, Hoods Deputies, the local Indian Tribe, the Amish community & criminal factions all provide enough backdrop & character arcs for Banshee Season Two, Three & Four.
For more Cinemax see also The Knick Season 1 & Season 2, and the upcoming release of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast. (Mark)
Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…
Metallica Hardwired… to self-destruct
Jean Michel Jarre Electronica 1 : the time machine
Alicia Keys Here
Margaret Glaspy Emotions and math
Frank Zappa The lumpy money project/object
Neil Young Peace trail
Miles Davis Freedom jazz dance
Keith Jarrett A multitude of angels
Bill Evans Some other time : the lost session from the Black Forest
Some new CD picks from our staff. Plenty of different genres, and lots of local music, to give you something new to explore over the holiday season. We will be back in January next year with a roundup of our favourite music from 2016.
On the cover notes to this three disc set, NME’s Neil Taylor confesses that he always wished that NME had done a follow up to the wildly popular C86 cassette that helped spawn an entire future genre. This lovingly compiled collection represents that compilation that never was, assembling 74 tracks from as many bands, some of whom, such as the Shamen and PWEI, went on to greater things, but most of whom never made it past a couple of singles. In 1987, at the tail end of Post-punk, before Britpop, before Baggy and before the term ‘indie’ went mainstream, there was a fervent underground scene in the UK comprised of disaffected young musicians armed with guitars, drums and songs of love and naïve aspiration and this collection captures that time perfectly. (John)
Radio gnome invisible trilogy.
Australian poet, muso and visionary, Daevid Allen, passed over to that great teapot in the sky last year leaving behind an intriguing and inspiring body of work. A key member of the original Soft Machine, he formed Gong with local French musicians after becoming stranded in France in 1967. They quickly gained a reputation for their highly original sound and commune based lifestyle. Daevid Allen was committed to keeping the playful aspects of the ‘60’s alive through the ever more serious ‘70’s, and this trilogy of Gong albums, originally released in 1970-71 and now available as a 4-disc box set, fully capture that playful spirit. Featuring the Pot Head Pixies who run a telepathic pirate radio station broadcasting from a flying teapot, it would be easy to dismiss these albums as whimsical novelty records, but these highly accomplished musicians, who mix up everything from free jazz, rock, pop, prog and electronics through cabaret and poetry to full blown psychedelic trance, create a bewildering and seductive sound that is quite unlike anything before or since. (John)
Give up on your health.
Teeth & Tongue is the moniker of Melbourne based, Wellington raised songwriter and musician Jess Cornelius. Her family moved to Wellington when she was 11, and music was the one constant, her parent’s record collection played a huge role in fuelling her desire to make music. She entered a couple of local “battle of the bands” comps while at school, but it wasn’t until a move to Melbourne at 19 that she fully tapped into her musical potential. 2008 debut record Monobasic received critical acclaim from Australian media, and her 3rd album Grids led to three The Age Music Victoria Award nominations, for Best Band, Best Album and Best Female Artist. Latest album ‘Give up on your health’ is a swirl of Giorgio Moroder 80s synths, but underneath the fantastic production is a set of serious songs that focus on fracturing relationships, isolation, and past regrets. Electro-pop tends to veer towards cool beats, hip choruses and emotional detachment, but Cornelius and her backing band plunder the digital sounds to record the messy analogue organics of real human interaction. (Mark)
The last panthers.
UK electronic artist, Chris Clark, has become one of Warp Records leading electronic producers, alongside Aphex Twin, Autechre and Plaid. A fiercely creative artist, each of his seven albums since 2001 have displayed a clear musical development, while fine tuning his excellent production skills. His latest project is a fully ambient work, being the soundtrack to the moody UK crime mini-series – The Last Panthers. The sound designs he creates, using piano, strings and electronics are suitably sparse and foreboding, yet possess a strange beauty, complementing the film perfectly. For this CD Clark teased out and reworked the incidental soundtrack music into complete tracks for a stand-alone album and has created an excellent immersive ambient experience. (John)
Young UK producer Matt Cutler, aka Lone, is representative of a new generation of electronic producers who have grown up on dance music and ‘Levitate’ is his seventh album in as many years. His last two releases, 2014’s Reality Testing and 2012’s Galaxy Garden received high critical praise and here he shifts focus slightly, paying tribute to the early ‘90’s rave scene, exploring a breaks based sound to drive his subtle and intelligent take on dance. His distinctive ambient flourishes and synth pads and patches are still evident alongside classic ‘90’s snare rolls which combine to create 33 mins of beautifully produced uplifting electronica. (John)
Golden sings that have been sung.
He has only two albums under his belt but Ryley Walker has already gained quite a reputation as a singer and a guitarist. His jazzy folk sound, based around his acoustic guitar- playing and characteristic voice, reminds us of Tim Buckley and John Martyn, and with this third album, produced by former Wilco’s Leroy Bach, he made great stride. Walker was born in Illinois but began his career in Chicago playing everything from punk to experimental music, and takes the sonic milieu of Chicago’s post rock band, such as Gastr Del Sol, Isotope 217 and Tortoise, into his music, which makes his music very unique. Showing tremendous confidence and originality, this could be his first masterpiece. (Shinji)
The fifth Metronomy album finds the project reverting back to the solo venture of UK synth obsessive Joe Mount’s debut album. Using old skool drum machines, post acid house synths and irresistibly funky bass lines to accompany his ironic hipster lyrics, Mount creates a cool seductive electro funk pop that sits comfortably alongside other left of centre UK funksters like Hot Chip and Fujiya and Miyagi. Sounding at times like a white, post millennial version of Prince, the earnestness of the songs, the quality of the production and the sheer confidence of delivery serve to frame the retro influences as homage to rather than imitation of music that recaptures the fun of dancing. (John)
The third album from the LA based female quartet finds them further exploring their downtempo art-rock, influenced this time around, in the bands own words, by artists like Q-Tip, Erykah Badu, OutKast, and Kendrick Lamar. The result is moody, atmospheric, densely layered post rock that features their distinctive sound loosely presented within the bruised modern pop idiom of bands like the XX. With surprising grooves lurking beneath the reverb drenched harmonies and distorted guitars and electronics, the sound of Warpaint is tight and confident as they successfully incorporate several styles into an original sound that rewards deeper listening. (John)
Great new album from Eva Prowse, that forsakes the violin country/folk of her first album I can’t Keep Secrets and jumps right into the electro-pop world of bubbly midi’s, bouncy pop tunes, and fond musical memories of growing up in the 80s. She first explored this territory in 2013 with Henry Marks as the duo ‘H & Eva’ and the EP Crazy Eyes but this time it’s her voice & songs that are at the forefront, and that EP now sounds like a tentative stab in a new direction that is now fully formed with ‘Humid Nights’. Sits comfortably alongside any of the many international artist’s working within this retro synthy sound. Definitely one of the best ‘Wellington Releases of the year. (Mark)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
This double disc version of the first album from the ‘supergroup’ formed in 1970 that unfairly gets blamed for all the excesses of prog rock , features a remastered original and an ‘alternate’ mix by Steven Wilson. With Keith Emerson’s recent death it only seems fair that his works become fairly appraised and this stands up well. The sounds he created with the moog synthesiser were state of the art at the time and still impress, his classically trained piano playing is beautiful and, backed by the very sharp rhythm section of Greg Lake on bass and vocals and Carl Palmer on drums, this is a great snapshot of an exciting time in music when musicians were actively tearing down genre barriers. (John)
Richard James, aka Aphex Twin, continues his return after a ten year hiatus with a 7 track ep, made with, and named after, one of his favourite instruments – the Cheetah MS800 Synthesiser, that has been described as “one of the most unfathomable instruments ever made.”. Following the experimental Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 EP and the frenetic Orphaned Deejay Selek (2006-2008) EP , yet another facet of this prolific electronic producer is featured here – the tunes being relatively slow paced, the beats simple and the sounds surprisingly warm and user friendly. Throughout these instrumental pieces his exploration into rich timbres and woozy frequencies creates pretty much perfect electronic listening music. (John)
East west moon / Jonathan Crayford, Ben Street, Dan Weiss.
The previous album Dark Light (2014) was a fantastic achievement by the jazz pianist Jonathan Crayford who was born and raised in Wellington. Teaming up once again with New York’s top-notch rhythm section; Ben Street (Bass) and Dan Weiss (drums), he presents another stellar album. Like its predecessor, all music is composed by Crayford, and the trio seems to dig deeper and evolve larger artistically. It’s a melancholic, akin to ECM, ambient jazz, and the shadow of the likes of Bill Evans and Bobo Stenson is evident, but Crayford seems to just stay true to himself. There is no showing off here. He simply crafts his music from his heart and this dark lyricism is something rare. Exquisite. (Shinji)
The looped brass fanfare that begins this CD is a fitting introduction to this strikingly original work by Scottish composer Anna Meredith which finds her entering the world of pop and electronica after 20 years in the classical world. Using acoustic instruments, electronics, guitars, drums and vocals she moves through a range of styles from indie pop to gorgeous strings based instrumentals to sweet electro pop to wildly deranged sequencer driven grooves. Her classical commissions have included making music inspired by MRI scanners and performing body percussion pieces at the BBC Proms and ‘Varmints’, her first attempt at contemporary popular music is, while like nothing you have ever heard before, quite accessible and oddly satisfying. (John)
La araña es la vida.
Those lucky enough to have seen this band play in Wellington recently will need no convincing to check out the latest release from Kid Congo Powers, who is, arguably, the coolest dude on the planet. Veteran guitarist of legendary bands, The Cramps, The Gun Club and The Bad Seeds, Kid Congo now tours the world keeping the lo-fi, trashy surf guitar, garage rock, Chicano punk flag flying. On the fifth album with his latest band, The Pink Monkeybirds, they have really hit their stride, incorporating electronics alongside the reverb drenched guitars and primal drums to deliver a wildly varied raucous, joyous noise that has to be played loud to be really appreciated. (John)
The 11th sky.
Just when you think Electric Wire Hustle can’t get any better they (or rather Mara TK, the last man left of the original three piece band) up their game yet again. His fantastic voice sits comfortably in that late period Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware pocket, but the sound of ‘The 11th Sky’ is harder and fuller. Moving away from the patented psychedelic Neo-soul of the last 2 albums they move into a sonic realm of darker, heavier, beats that envelop Mara TK’s analogies to Maori mythology, and metaphysical concerns on the pressures of money, love and expectations that weigh down peoples journey towards a better place within themselves. A real sense of searching for meaning pervades the album, and the benefits of being a one man band include the freedom to add whatever you want into the final mix, such as a harpist on ‘Golden Ladder’, lovely strings on ‘I Light A Candle’, and vocalist Deva Mahal (the sister of Ahmed Mahal aka. Imon Star of Olmecha Supreme, who is now based in New York) on ‘March’. (Mark)
Xiu Xiu plays the music of Twin peaks.
In 2015 Californian experimental noise group Xiu Xiu were invited by The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art to perform a series of Twin Peaks soundtrack covers for a David Lynch exhibition. The marriage of Xiu Xiu’s experimental sound with original composer Angelo Badalamenti’s unsettlingly surreal noir soundtrack works perfectly, bringing an uber contemporary slant to a now classic suite of music. The arrangements incorporate the feel of the originals and actually manage to enhance them using ambient industrial noise, xylophone, guitar pulses, synths and keyboards to not merely create a darkly surreal and engaging homage, but, paradoxically, also a strikingly original work. (John)
There’s no need for UK duo ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’ to put on sweet little girl vocals because these two 17 year olds really are not much more than sweet little girls! Playing all instruments, including saxophone, glockenspiel, synthesisers, bass, ukelele and keyboards, they weave sweet harmonies around their dark, fragmented hallucinatory songs that can be sickeningly sweet and disarmingly dissonant at the same time. Sounding a bit like Bjork’s gothic love children, they have been described as ‘somewhere in between the child-like innocence of Hansel and Gretel and the spectral qualities of the twins from The Shining’ but despite their youth these teenagers have created a unique take on electro pop that is unusual and occasionally bewildering – they even rap on one track. An interview and video can be found here. (John)
From patterns to details.
The second album from Wellington electronic producer Oliver Peryman, aka Fis, has been released worldwide on Bristol label, Subtext. Inspired by the organic patterns that occur in nature, Peryman explores a similar textural soundworld to artists such as Tim Hecker and Ben Frost, who, although not using beats, create dramatic and, at times, unsettling music that cannot be described as ambient, demanding the listener’s full attention. With little room for melody and at times a difficult listen that could be compared to sharing the room with a wild animal, this is nevertheless an impressive work of powerful and visceral electronic sound production. (John)
‘Soft Hair’ is the self-titled collaboration (long in the making apparently) of Connan Mockasin and Sam Dust (La Priest, Late of the Pier), with the album cover making a pretty good motif for the music within. If Prince’s early 80s backing band crashed on a deserted island populated by decadent, slinky, long haired natives who liked to get down & dirty, this is the kind of music that would probably result. Proto-Indian rhythms, cheesy synths, burbling electronic noodling, pervy lyrics. Is it all a knowing pastiche? A sly nod at the homo-erotica of tough guy rock bands? It’s hard to tell if they’re serious about any of it, from the sometimes deliberately creepy lyrics to the 80s PC game music, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hell of a lot of fun to be had in listening to all the weirdness. Hailed as part of a wave of New-Bromantic bands. (Mark)
Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…
C Duncan The midnight sun
Rumer This girl’s in love : a Bacharach & David songbook
Radio Dept Running out of love
A lot of intriguing books on popular music have been added to our collection. They include Total Records, which is the wonderful art book about album covers, and Uproot : travels in twenty-first-century music and digital culture. Fantastic biographies about Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog give you a great summer reading selection. Check them out!
Total records : photography and the art of the album cover / edited by Antoine de Beaupré, Serge Vincendet, Sam Stourdzé.
“The history of photography is teeming with portraits of musicians made iconic by their album covers: Thelonious Monk by W. Eugene Smith, Miles Davis by Irving Penn, Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude, Laurie Anderson by Robert Mapplethorpe. The history of album cover art also includes collaborations between prominent figures, such as Mick Rock and David Bowie, Annie Leibovitz and John Lennon, Lee Friedlander and John Coltrane, Nobuyoshi Araki and Bjork, Anton Corbijn and U2, and Robert Frank with the Rolling Stones–not to mention Francis Wolff’s legendary work with Blue Note, the record label he cofounded.” (Syndetics summary)
Fashion + music : fashion creatives shaping pop culture / Katie Baron.
“As twin agents of creative expression fashion and music have long shared a powerful mutual attraction: from the Sex Pistols to Madonna, Kylie Minogue to Lady Gaga, fashion has consistently amplified our understanding of the band (and in many cases the brand) – fuelling the fantasy, giving context to the sound and adding depth to artists’ wider agendas. From pop videos to editorial shoots, via the evolution of some of the industry’s most significant and era-defining pairings/collaborations this book will focus on the power of fashion as a make-or-break tool within the music industry’s creative process.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The art of songwriting / Andrew West.
“How do you turn songwriting talent into a professional career? This essential guide tackles that question, alongside many others, taking songwriters through all the developmental phases and commercial experiences along the way in order to inspire and encourage the reader to find their own voice and write successfully within their chosen genre. Collating the best-available expertise with fresh ideas about the industry, Andrew West equips the reader with what every productive songwriter needs to know. Armed with this knowledge, the songwriter is able to engage creatively and financially to make the most of their potential.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
I can sing, but where is my voice? : a modern singer’s guide / Ricci Carr.
“Wondering how you can get to sing that song you always wanted to without running out of breath, and sing it all in tune? Need to sing at your best friend’s wedding or maybe in a school production? Perhaps you want to sing with a band. Start a professional career or maybe you are a grandparent who just wants to know that every time you sing to your grandchildren you are singing those family songs in tune. With this book finally there is a guide for the student who wants to know how to sing well. This guide will help you to identify what it is you need to know and gives you the tools to apply the skills required. Advice that works given time and genuine input from you – the singer.” (Syndetics summary)
Uproot : travels in twenty-first-century music and digital culture / Jace Clayton [aka DJ Rupture].
“In 2001 Jace Clayton was an unknown DJ who recorded a three-turntable, sixty-minute mix and put it online to share with friends. Within weeks, Gold Teeth Thief became an international calling card, whisking Clayton away to play a nightclub in Zagreb, a gallery in Osaka, a former brothel in Sao Paolo, and the American Museum of Natural History. Just as the music world made its fitful, uncertain transition from analog to digital, Clayton found himself on the front lines of creative upheavals of art production in the twenty-first century globalized world. Uproot is a guided tour of this newly-opened cultural space. With humor, insight, and expertise, Clayton offers an unparalleled understanding of music in the digital age.” (Syndetics summary)
Born to run / Bruce Springsteen.
“In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.” (Syndetics summary)
Prince : purple reign / Mick Wall.
“Prince was an icon. A man who defined an era of music and changed the shape of popular culture forever. There is no doubt that he was one of the most talented and influential artists of all time, and also one of the most mysterious. On April 21, 2016 the world lost its Prince. This book will open a door to Prince’s world like never before – from his traumatic childhood and demonic pursuit of music as a means of escape, to his rise to super stardom, professional rivalries and marriages shrouded in tragedy, internationally bestselling music writer Mick Wall explores the historical, cultural and personal backdrop that gave rise to an artist the likes of which the world has never seen – and never will again.” (Syndetics summary)
Hero : David Bowie / Lesley-Ann Jones.
“HERO: DAVID BOWIE is an intelligent exploration of the man behind the myths and the makeup told from the very beginning. Respected music journalist and biographer Lesley-Ann Jones knew David Jones from the days before fame, when he was a young musician starting out, frustrated by an industry that wouldn’t give him a break and determined to succeed. Here she traces the epic journey of the boy from Bromley born into a troubled background to his place as one of the greatest stars in rock history. Drawing on this new material and meticulous research, This is Bowie as you’ve never seen him before.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
A tribute to Keith Moon : (there is no substitute) / compiled by Ian Snowball & the estate of Keith Moon.
“With an introduction by Pete Townshend, There Is No Substitute is a tribute to The Whos late drummer Keith Moon, compiled by Ian Snowball with the authorisation the Keith Moon Estate and Keiths daughter Amanda de Wolf. The book includes a collection of seen and unseen photographs and contributions from friends and fans of Keith – a diverse cross section of drummers, musicians, fans, writers and people that knew him. The book concentrates on Keiths influence as a drummer and musician and the impact he has had on rocknroll, and all reflect the deep affection that his madcap genius inspired in everyone with whom he came into contact.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Agnetha Fältskog : the girl with the golden hair / Daniel Ward.
“Her iconic blonde looks, stunning voice and songs of loneliness and melancholy have endeared her to millions, yet Agnetha Fältskog remains an enigmatic and distant figure. From her success as a teenage singer and songwriter in Sweden in the late 1960′s to her years of global superstardom with pop giants ABBA and beyond, Agnetha has fascinated generations of fans. Agnetha Fältskog–The Girl With The Golden Hair is the first full-length biography dedicated to the life and career of the one of the most beloved and successful performers in music history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Good vibrations : my life as a Beach Boy / Mike Love with James S. Hirsch.
“As a founding member of The Beach Boys, Mike Love has spent an extraordinary fifty-five years, and counting, as the group’s lead singer and one of its principal lyricists. The Beach Boys, from their California roots to their international fame, are a unique American story — one of overnight success and age-defying longevity; of musical genius and reckless self-destruction; of spirituality, betrayal, and forgiveness — and Love is the only band member to be part of it each and every step. A husband, a father, and an avid environmentalist, Love has written a book that is as rich and layered as the Beach Boy harmonies themselves.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Blue Man world / creative director and head writer, Laura Camien ; editor, Becky Koh, Black Dog & Leventhal ; contributing writers, Chris Wink [and fifteen others].
“The first-ever Blue Man Group book, published on the occasion of their 25th anniversary. As entertaining and hilarious as the show itself, Blue Man World reveals everything you ever wanted to know about the Blue Men, but couldn’t get them to tell you. Blue Man Group is a global entertainment company best known for the award-winning Blue Man Group show. A dynamic combination of music, comedy, and technology, the show appeals to a broad ranges of age groups and cultural backgrounds. It is continually refreshed with new music, stories, custom instruments and state-of-the-art technology.” (Syndetics summary)