Percy Bysshe Shelley – Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

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John Talabot – Fin

“So will be now feat Pional…deep house track of the year”

That was the what the text from my partner in clubbing said.  It’s off the album Fin, by John Talabot.

It kicks off in the middle of the Jungle, nocturnal sounds playing in the drums and male harmonies of Depak Ine.  Once I was in the jungle I couldn’t get out, I saw this 7 minute journey as setting the scene, the opening credits of a film.  A shot across a mass of dark tangled jungle, before the break shines a light and focuses the track on the harmonies, before it fades out again into darkness.  From out of that Darkness Pional opens Destiny with a call on his own, but then his voice rides over the solid beats that slink along underneath.  El Oeste‘s warped beginning pulls you into an uncontrolled dream, it’s sliding rhythm’s building up emotions and swirling them around as you almost float on the sparse drums.
Oro Y Sangre has an almost 80’s electro opening, emerging from behind a creaking door and a horror film scream while the slow pumping rhythm moves the track along like the blood of the title.  The keys shimmer over the top and lift the track, before the scream disorientates you and pulls you back under.  Sounding if travelling up from the depths, Journey‘s opening feels like a sunrise, the synths reminiscent of a flock of gulls, while Ekhi‘s voice floats over the top, before the rapid rhythm pulls you back to a seat and you watch scenery roll before your eyes.  The Chunky beats of Missing You sound like a heart that knows it has lost, the distorted vocals disappear into layers of synths and beats that try, but just fail to drown out the voice. The synths provide some relief, but it comes back clearer towards the end. You are still being missed.
Last Land sees a catchy swirling hook ride over slinky hip hop beats that breaks at just the right time before the hook is blown around and then left to fall.  Estiu‘s sticky beats never quite seem to sink below the rising synths while the broken vocal loop floats around just out of focus.
If Oro Y Sangre nodded to 80’s Electro, then When the Past was Present has New Romantic written all over it’s family history.  80’s synths and beats power along the most out and out House track of the album, with the underplayed vocals lifting the track and defying you not to at least raise a smile, if not your hands.  The smile is soon thrown though as H.O.R.S.E‘s dark opening is run on rapid fire beats which to me seemed arab-esque (although I’m not entirely sure I could tell you why) and a slow hook that rolls around over the top.
Finally, the proposed deep house track of the year closes the journey.  Pional‘s cut up vocals loop open over the slinky beats, clicks and drums before chunky synths  bring in the driving beat.  The break sees the vocals backed up by clicks and the bass swimming around underneath before layers of beats are re-introduced and your dancing without realising quite how

I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is, it’s deep, it at the very least nods to the 80’s, to Hip Hop, but while I’m not sure it’s House, I’m not quite sure it’s techno either.

What I am sure of, is that it’s a brilliant album.

Fin.

Interview with John Talabot on Juno here

Crossing Continents – Child Marriage in Bangladesh

It sounds innocent enough, but the girls explained why they didn’t like being ‘Eve Teased’

“Men say bad things..we are threatened with kidnap, acid violence and even with being killed”
There’s a pause
“They threaten to throw acid in your face?”
“Yes”, the girls explain, “they say you’re so proud of your beauty that if I can’t have you then no one can”

Eve Teasing plays it’s part in the fact that 20% of girls in Bangladesh are forced to marry before the age of 15.
Something that Angus Crawford investigated last month in Crossing Continents on Radio 4.

This particular program had been emotional up to that point, but I felt a wave of despair when I heard that.  I wish I could have said disbelief, but it seemed all too believable to me.

There are other reasons, such as poverty and dowry, that parents feel force them into marrying their daughters off, but there are not just social consequences.

Many girls are pregnant within a year, and a girl under 15 is 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman over 20.  Not only that, but their bodies can be damaged and they can end up with fistula, which makes them incontinent for life.  If this happens the husband normally abandons the girl and she is forced to return to her parents.  A Professor in the program advised that in some cases the girl is forced to live with the cattle due to her condition.

Olly Achmed (my spelling) had a best friend.

“She was taken to her village to get married, but she didn’t come back.  I don’t know what happened to her, I never found anyone like her again”

Olly approached Plan International saying he wanted to set up a group led by children to stop his friends getting married off so young.

He explained why the kids will do better:
“The adults think they are so young and they know so much and we have so much to learn from them”

Olly is just 12 years old.  Just from this program he is a inspiration to me.  And he seems to be having an impact.  Some estimates say that child marriage has dropped 50% in that area.

“I wanted to bring a smile back to the parents faces”

There is a long way to go, but hopefully Olly and his group will be an inspiration to others to let girls in Bangladesh to live out their childhood.

You can listen to the full program and download other episodes here

Plan International’s website, with a feature on child marriage in Bangladesh is here

Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

Had I read it? I have seen the film I know that, and surely I wouldn’t have seen the film without reading the book? Would I? That was the question on my mind as I picked up Memoirs of a Geisha.
Following my aborted attempt co complete Wild Swans I stayed in the far east, and walked along the streets of Gion with one of the most evocative creations in contemporary literature.

The story is beautifully crafted as Sayuri evokes a bygone age in secretive Japan, and the even more secretive inner world of the Geisha.  From the moment she is plucked from her tipsy house and slowly crystallizes as a beautiful Geisha Sayuri paints a sometimes painful, always emotional but never sentimental picture of her life.  With the help of her ‘Older Sister’ Mameha she  her childlike fantasy as she dreams of the Chairman and struggles to emerge from the shadow of the beautiful, spiteful Hatsumomo

Hatsumomo’s lovely smile grew the moment Nobu entered the room, until her lips were as rich and full as drops of blood beading at the edge of a wound

Arthur Golden takes us inside not only an exclusive female tradition with assurance and …. but also inside the head of a young girl who at first struggles with a path forced upon her and how she responds to the loses and trials of her life, and how she finds one thing to cling too, to focus her mind and work towards, making herself a Geisha to get close to the Chairman.

And then I became aware of all the magnificent silk wrapped around my body, and had the feeling I might drown in beauty.  At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy

By the end, Japan has been ravaged by the second world war and all that came with it but still Sayuri clings onto her one dream until the end when…well I’m sure you know what happens, and if you don’t..read the book and find out..

A Different Kind of Fix (Bombay Bicycle Club live at the Ally Pally, 28th April)

So before Feb I’d never been to the Ally Pally.  It has taken me 3 gigs on the bounce to come to the conclusion that it’s a pants venue for a gig.  Luckily for me, I’d saved the best for last.

Bombay Bicycle Club headlined their biggest gig to date, and it will be nothing short of a crime if they don’t sell out more venues like this.
I loved the first album, I loved the second album, I love the third album.  Despite the fact I still think they are all 14, even 3 years after I first saw them at Lovebox, I love the fact that they are a very talented band, and I love Jack Steadman’s voice.

For some reason the 4 of us just stayed at the back, shuffling our feet and watching the kids, couples and assorted crowdsters.  Before it started I was reminiscing about when I went to see Macy Gray, over 10 years ago I was right at the front at the forum, now I was a the back.  My friend commented that all we had to look forward to would be spending our gigs near, or constantly in, the toilets.

Luckily for us at that point the rousing intro of How Can You Swallow so Much Sleep slide the band onto the stage and into the show.  Your eyes and Leave it followed from A Different Kind of Fix, before Dust on the ground and Bad Timing completed a energised introduction.

Rinse me down and Ivy & Gold represented the beautiful acoustic album Flaws, and Cancel on Me and Open House were dusted down and given an airing from their The Boy I Used To Be EP, as well as Evening/Morning.  Lights Out / Words Out and Beggars featured before Jack Steadman sat at the piano and wrenched out Still from the keys.

The band joined him back on stage and kicked into a saxophone fueled Always Like This, with the brass pumping up the joy in the song but not completely obliterating the melancholy that rides underneath before The Giantess and The Emergency Contraception Blues closed the main set.

If I was on a high after the main set, I kicked up a notch when the first bars of shuffle kicked off the encore, this song is one that always makes me smile and dance without fail.  What If was their sending off after a magnificent performance and not my own tiredness, the driving rain or trek back home could wipe the smile off my face.

“If you want the most beautiful girl in the discotheque..”

The Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink, meanwhile, called for his players to change their attitude following the club’s worst-ever performance in the top flight. “If you want the most beautiful girl in the discotheque, you have to say: hey doll, I’m the greatest guy, you’re coming with me,” he said. “You have to really want something in order to achieve it.” A good lesson, for all of us.

Taken from Raphael Honigstein’s article in the Guardian here

Quantic and Alice (and Freddy) (Koko 2nd May)

“Where is he?”
My friend was too short to see the stage at Koko, but although I could see the stage, I couldn’t see Freddy, he’d jumped down into the crowd.
I turned to my left, the crowd parted like the red sea and Freddy was there, glistening in sweat, shouting and throwing his arms up as he led a conga line around the floor.

The last time I came to see Quantic and his Combo Barbaro it was supposed to be at Koko but it was moved to the Scala.  I didn’t get Freddy’s surname then, but he was back with Alfredito Linares on piano and Fernando Silva on Bass.  They were joined by the mighty mighty voice of Alice Russell, who also brought along her long time strings collaborator, Mike Simmonds.
The first song with Alice was  I’ll keep my light in my window with Alfredito’s nimble fingers plinking their way through like a wave on the bow of Alice’s powerhouse voice.  It was followed by Magdalena, a latin tinged sunny, 60’s soul number.  Su Suzy, with it’s guitar and piano licks inducing the hips of the crowd to sway, I’d Cry a good old fashioned strings v keys duel, and Look around the corner, along with a couple of classic Quantic tracks including the funk filled Pushin’ on.

As usual people were too busy thrusting their phones in the air to actually clap.  Maybe I’m just getting old but I miss the sound and feel of a whole crowd clapping along.
I had worried whether my friend would enjoy it, as she hadn’t heard of either Quantic or Alice, but at the end she revealed all.
“I did enjoy it, and you can tell because I didn’t get my phone out all night”.  Next time I just need to get her clapping.

I do personally prefer the Tradition in Transition album.  While I love Alice’s voice, there are too few songs I really love (such as Hurry on Now), but seeing both of them on stage performing was something I was not going to miss, and it was worth it.
I did wonder if Flat Cap and his Mrs from Ireland I met at the Scala had come over again, but I did find Freddy’s surname this time, Colorado.

QuanticandAlice website here