10 things we learned this weekend
Tales from the weekend including Record Store Day, Glassland, Flying Lotus, HamsandwicH, Music Futures, Godspeed You! Black Emperor etc
(1) The new HamsandwicH album “Stories from the Surface” is damn good. There’s a run of about four or five songs towards the end of the third album which take the songwriting smarts they demonstrated on the last album “White Fox” with “Ants” and elevates them to a whole new level. Interview with Niamh and Podge from the band here.
(2) A fascinating afternoon of discussions at Music Futures on Friday. Put together by Kenneth Killeen from the Improvised Music Company as part of their 12 Points to-do and with help from Dublin City Council’s Music Town festival, the discussions covered ideas, themes, topics and tangents around the idea of collaboratons, audiences and spaces. While there was plenty of sparks during the afternoon and especially during the feedback loop at the end, the most striking sense was that there’s a lot of people in the arts who have adopted the Just Fecking Do It mantra rather than sit around waiting for and moaning about funding. Very telling that there was no-one in attendance from the Arts Council or any of the other permanent establishment organisations charged with – we think – encouraging, developing and managing the arts sector. They don’t care, do they? Or else they were all on half days on Friday and were at home pruning their roses
(3) If you’re going to New York in the next few weeks, save yourself twenty five bucks and don’t go to see Bjork’s exhibition at MoMA. I was on RTE Radio One’s Arena on Friday night to talk about the problems with artists curating their own work, the issues around music exhibitions in general (and why they always have a bang of the Hard Rock Café off them) and the all-round listlessness of the Bjork to-do.
(4) To Whelan’s for the launch of Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s second album “And Now the Weather”. We’ve already spoken to Mac Con Iomaire about the new record, but it was something else to hear what the musician and his ten piece band made of those pieces. Sunny spells ahead for sure
(5) I’ve interviewed Steven Ellison before and he’s a man who always gives you plenty to think about. Ahead of his visit to Dublin’s Vicar Street on April 29, here’s Flying Lotus on life, death and jazz
(6) There are times when you need a sonic reset and Godspeed You! Black Emperor provided this in spades at Vicar Street on Saturday night. It was a reminder that some bands return from time away with a new energy and momentum. A hypnotic, mesmerising night when you were very much in the moment as those glorious, gorgeous orchestral freak scenes took hold. Just a shame that so many people in the audience were happy to pay good money to talk loudly to oneanother during the show – I suppose those thirty and fortysomethings don’t get out that much anymore.
(7) Glassland is further proof that Gerard Barrett is the king of the wild frontier. We were huge fans of his debut feature Pilgim Hill and noted at the time that it was “a poignant portrait of rural life and isolation, a real world far removed from the urban patina which is supposed to represent Ireland in 2013″. This time, Barrett heads to the city with Jack Reynor as a young taxi driver dealing with his alcoholic mother (Toni Collette is excellent in the role), other family strife and criminal entanglements as he seeks to keep everything together in the dark, bland, down-at-heel suburbs on the edge of town. It’s a mighty work, full of thought-provoking moods and stunning examples of how minor key drama can often be as effective as any large-scale canvas. There are also plenty of examples of just how Reynor is turning into a fantastic actor (one scene in particular comes to mind). Here’s Barrett and Reynor talking by the Foxy John’s fire at Banter at Other Voices in December 2013 as they got ready to make this film.
(8) Thanks to being an idiot, I only got to see one of the dozen European acts in town for 12 Points. Unlike me, they are lots of Dublin punters who are not idiots and the fest’s four night stand at the Project Arts Centre was full to the walls. Sweden’s Black Dough were the act I managed to see, a superb example of the “this is not fucking jazz” mantra which the event is pushing with great vim and vigour. Their spooky, dark, bittersweet sounds were jazz in that there was a sax player onstage and all the band have obviously studied the form but, as with so much adventurous sounds in 2015, they also encapsulated so much more. Powerful.
(10) It’s Record Store Day today! Actually, it’s Record Store Day everyday, which makes the quiet scenes in record stores worldwide this morning and afternoon after Saturday’s brohaha all the more jarring and telling, especially when eBay listings are full of people flogging the goods they bought in stores 48 hours ago. I often look at RSD in the same way as hardened drinkers regard those who head to the pubs in December as it really does seem as if record stores have become an once-a-year thing for many. While we understand that the fuss around the event means the tills are ringing in shops like it’s the run-up to C****mas all over again (something which probably helps to keep some shops open rather than closed), there’s something about the way the event has been hijacked and turned into an one-off celebration which really irks. Anyway, this is for all you real record shop fans in the audience, rather than those who go mad once a year to buy “the vinyls”.