Tuesday, 23 March 2010

bliss pop

four faves right now, all of which can roughly be categorised as 'bliss pop' - meaning they all share that amniotic, drained, somnambulistic vibe that a) at it's best provides a warm musical blanket to wrap oneself in or b) at it's worst ends up being effortlessly co-opted by mobile phone advertising execs into a continual sonic death rattle..

Here's hoping none of these turn up on a vodafone/talktalk/apple ad anytime soon..

Rundgren-sampling psyche pop, and one of my faves from last year - the glorious Neon Indian

Close your eyes, could be 1989. In a good way. Besnard Lakes come over all shoegazey

Kate Bush's 'Cloudbusting' bliss-popped out courtesy of Wild Nothing. I'm sure there is a more reverb-y mix than this but it's still pretty cool..

Psyche pop bliss pop from Washed Out. *Most likely to be used to encourage you to 'bright dance' by some mobile pimping goons sometime soon, sadly, but you have to love that sample.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Premise fail

an occasional series

In Peter Jackson’s hideous 'Lovely Bones', why don’t the cops interrogate Stanley Tucci's character much further when he’s clearly dressed as a child killer?

Daft Punk’s parents

Let's be honest, the likelihood of the upcoming 'Tron Legacy' – extraordinary visuals aside – actually being any good, is minimal.

BUT the music? Daft Punk? I’m there, in a heartbeat. In fact, my ideal scenario would be for Disney to dispense with the film's dialogue entirely – it will almost certainly be forgettable, superfluous and boring – and simply run the the DP score over the visuals for the duration, 'Metropolis' style.

Especially if it’s going to be like this. Relentless.

Anyway, a couple of days back, I’m in the middle of having a clearout and get sidetracked looking through a box of records I haven’t bothered with in a decade. In there was an album by the French disco band Space (not to be confused with the scouse britpop chancers), that I bought second hand, sometime in the late 90s, at a time when I was utterly obsessed with tracking down electronica/synth-y stuff/anything with vocoders.

Listening again reminded me what a great Moroder-esque tune their 'Running in the City' was/is. The whole album is really ambitious, odd, SF influenced. The missing link between Moroder and Kraftwerk, with a bit of Tangerine Dream thrown in.

No one really namechecks them much (at all) these days – which is odd. The e. london ironic moustache set love a bit of Cerrone (Supernature) or Moroder don't they?.

So I YouTube them and get this.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

things that go bump

If I’m being totally honest, most theatre – and I’m not what you would call a regular visitor – leaves me pretty cold. I’m usually sitting there, feeling a bit like the guys in Peep Show: I can't believe coming here costs more than a film...

Not this week though.

This week I saw Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s horror portmanteau ‘Ghost Stories’ at the Lyric in Hammersmith and well, it was just great. It’s the absolute definition of what live theatre should be - totally involving and absorbing, with top notch set design, performances, sound and visuals.

It’s also genuinely spooky - more fun scares than psychological terror, which is as it should be given the tradition Nyman and Dyson are working from. I’ll say nothing more of the content. It’s creepier than the ‘Woman in Black’ stage show though. And ‘Paranormal Activity’.

A couple of years back another of those clever League of Gentlemen Mark Gatiss tried his hand at the portmanteau format for television – with the beautifully made MR James tribute ‘Crooked House’. It was wittily written, nicely played and handsomely staged but unfortunately, for whatever reason, it just wasn’t scary. Maybe Gatiss could get Dyson involved for another set. Nyman appeared in Crooked House if I remember rightly?

Anyway, go see Stories before it closes on April 3. It should get a West End transfer, but because it is in no way facile, has no one dressed as a tiger and Ben Elton has no involvement I wouldn’t count on it.

orson fucking welles

I’ve always been with Charlie Brooker when it comes to Banksy.

I much prefer the little booklet of Nathan Barley's ‘Banksy style’ work that comes with the Barley DVD.

Plus the appreciation of ‘street art’ is something I associate largely with privileged fauxhemians with an aching desperation to appear edgy at all costs.

So I wasn’t exactly waiting with baited breath to see this.

It’s nice to be proved wrong. ‘Exit..’ is clearly the best thing he's done, totally orson welles, a micro-doc 'F for fake’. It's a humourous, self-reflexive documentary that addresses everyone’s culpability in the insane world of contemporary art.

The second half is the strongest. Just at the point where it seems to be turning into an amusing but mildly fawning hagiography of the Bristolian ‘genius’ it performs a splendid about turn, morphing into a lacerating morality fable involving Banksy's fan turned protégé Mr Brainwash. As various art scene bellends fall over themselves to buy Brainwash’s shitty sub-warholian Athena prints, the joke is revealed to be on everyone, Bansky included. And he comes out of it all quite well actually. Maybe I’ve underestimated him.

That said, I’m almost certain that he actually says the line ‘It’s tenners with Princess Di’s face on, yeah?’, while holding up his infamous counterfeited notes with the peoples princess on them.

If so, Ned Smanks would be proud. It truly was well bum.

galaxie and kramer

Great to see the majestic Galaxie 500 getting a lovely, deserved five star review for their recent re-issues from the guardian’s ever insightful Alexis Petredis.

What is surprising is that Petredris makes no mention of Mark Kramer, the producer whose sound work shaped the band’s sound so dramatically. It does get picked up in the thread, and Petedris admits he probably should’ve name checked him, but many of the responses seem to indicate a feeling his influence was pretty marginal.

Anyway, Kramer, in his long, varied and continuing career also worked on one of the stillest, slowest, most magnificently hushed records of all time - Low’s wonderful, never bettered debut ‘I could live in hope’. So he clearly did something right.

Also, as one half of Bongwater, he cut what must be one of the funniest records to come out of a disticntly unfunny, over-serious decade (90s) the psyche-rock comedy masterwork ‘The Power of Pussy’.

So props to Kramer.

at my side is god

Only this morning, with the sad news of Alex Chilton's passing, two people I know have mentioned Big Star as a band they had never heard of/never knew about.

Beautiful band. RIP Alex.

Dead tired

Halfway through 'Survival of the Dead' I started to imagine the great Romero himself as a kind of zombie; shuffling around since 1985 with a half memory of what he was once good at, repeating all the motions of a legendary horror director but unable to somehow connect it with humanity, the spark of life.

And yet.

Despite myself, despite the utter feebleness of the entire enterprise, I found myself enjoying elements of it. It’s desperately poor, and this review seems to sum up what most people are feeling but I had such low expectations that I found parts of it interesting, good natured, and even amusing. It looks nicer than 'Diary' that’s for sure.

Anyway I would still rather watch a knackered, half-cocked, half-baked Romero desperately trying to work his flaccid mojo into a zomboid semi-on than sit through ANY of the re-boots, even the supposed ‘good ones’ of what is surely now the most utterly moribund, exhausted sub-genre of horror.

At least the great old man’s having some fun. We might not be, but he is.

Devil in the detail

The best horror film I’ve seen in ages is Ti West’s fantastic 'House of the Devil', which is, despite being set in 1983, an almost forensically precise recreation of 1970s made for television horror.

The brilliantly basic set-up – broke student foolishly accepts babysitting job from creepy couple, in creepy old house, following through with the deal even when the couple admit lying to her about the assignment; it’s to look after an old lady who 'never leaves the house' – is pure ABC TV movie hokum. There’s even more than a touch of Bob Clark's 'Black Christmas' in there, minus the seasonal trimmings naturally. But it’s the sheer confidence, attention to the minutiae of the period and deadly earnestness of West’s approach that pays off big time. The first hour is a master class in slow-build suspense, and straddles the dread/tedium divide perfectly. From the opening title/company logo on freeze-frame credits through to the robes n’ candles aesthetic of the splattery dénouement, West keeps things deadly serious and seriously period throughout to great effect. This brings me to the three other reasons I love this film.

Jocelin Donahue, channelling pure Jessica Harper/Suzy Banyon vibes as lead girl Samantha is amazing, and beautiful, and just looks/acts so right in the role.

West’s music - and music cues throughout - is impeccable, spot on and none more so than in this scene, when he has heroine Samantha bop around to the Fixx’s ‘One thing leads to another' on a massive walkman, the accidental shattering of the vase heralding doom. It’s a great horror moment.

The other is this. Best promotional tool ever?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

In the beginning

Welcome to the davoverse.

My name is david w hall and this is my blog.

And 2010 is the year I make contact, with you dear reader.

I'll be sharing my thoughts on whatever I'm currently watching, reading, hearing, feeling and not feeling, in an attempt to engage, hopefully amuse and who knows, maybe ocassionally provoke.

And I'll be shamelessly promoting SoDa productions, the company I co-founded in 2008. SoDa has two short horror films under it's belt - 'The Initiation' and 'Smile' - and following a period of creative silence, is about to explode into life again.

Let blogging commence.