Saturday, 5 January 2008

Winter Warmers

Things to spend your vouchers on:
I’m assuming people still get vouchers for Xmas, if not good old book tokens or even the one’s for WH Smith’s which seemed like all the treasure a young lad could even need “what I can buy records or a book or even some pens” maybe some Amazon Zoons (or whatever they are called).
Here’s a list of some things I heard or read etc over Christmas I kept from mentioning them earlier to avoid giving away any surprises!

Epic 45 : May your heart be the map:
is great it’s sort of electronic ambient pholk made by some old beyond their years 25 years old from rural Staffordshire. They are predictably a cottage industry, I bought it via a cheque but they do do Paypal, oh and I got some badges as well.

Barnsley’s finest 6th Album(?) is excellent, a good mix of folk with country tinges, stand out tracks are Awkward Annie, High on the hill and Streams of Nancy and I have fondness for the her cover of Village Green Preservation Society (theme tune to the inexplicably popular BBC1 “comedy” Jam and Jerusalem).

At times she is on the edge of sounding “double Yorkshire” with her flat vowels (it’s a hard concept to explain but listen to anyone from Keighley or anyone who says. “champion” or “gradely” or being called Geoffrey Arblaster, the most double Yorkshire name ever). A really good English folk record devoid of the nasally earnestness that mars a lot of the genre.

Johann Johannsson-Ibm 1401 A User’s Manual:
I was put onto this by BLBW it must be good, as he listened whilst stuck on a container ship for 6 weeks, while escaping earnest German sailors. It’s modern orchestral music I was put in mind of the work of Gavin Bryars or Eno’s early work.
It mixes acoustic and electronic music and on some tracks “found” tapes of an IBM engineer (who is definitely called Colin or Reg) explaining how to maintain some old leviathan of a computer. The music is at times ambient and minimal but has string flourishes, definitely worth checking out oh and because it’s on 4ad the cd package is very pretty too.

When it comes to comics I’ve always favoured the non super powers side of things. (It’s probably why I haven’t got into Heroes; it seems to be cheating some how).

So here’s some ideas for comic lovers. I don’t call them graphic novels for the same reason I don’t call films “recorded plays”, comics is fine and yes most of them aren’t funny but then most books aren’t particularly full of “novel” ideas either!.

Jason-I Killed Adolf Hitler
Is a strange book drawn in a distinct flat cute style it tells the tale of an assassin who is paid to use a time machine to go back in time to shoot Hitler.
It all goes wrong and messes up and he then tries to sort things out but falls in love and ends up sidetracked sitting in cafe drinking coffee oh and there’s time paradox!
It sounds painfully cute but it’s very well done and the subtle distinctive drawing and storytelling moves you along.
Go here for a preview.

Byun Byung Jun -RUN, BONG-GU, RUN!
Is another subtle tale set in modern day Korea, it uses stunning visuals; a mix of photographic sharp urban scenes and more lyrical water coloury panels with the odd “manga” style expressions thrown in for good measure .
The plot is (shown in a series of jump cuts) about a young rural women tracking down her errant husband in the big city. The whole story is told over a long chilly winter’s afternoon.
Although a universal tale there are elements which are specific to Korea this funnily enhances the book as these jarring moments add interest.
Told in the form of a short story the emotional impact of the parent split is shown in the disturbed behaviour of the a little boy and girl.
It’s left hanging but there’s a feeling that the 3 generations portrayed in the story are the same people whose past, present and future are playing out in a single place and time.
Oh you know what, just read the book you’ll see.

Plug for good shop if you are Leeds why not by your comics from OK comics in the Arcades it’s great, the chap who runs it always points me in the direction of good stuff and here’s a first for such shops he can string at least 3 civil words together oh and it doesn’t have that strange smell that Forbidden planet has!

Books without pictures! (boo!)

Mark Barrowcliffe-The Elfish Gene
Is an example of recent the trend for 80’s memoirs based around hobbies. There’s loads of music memoirs I’ve talked about Achtung schweinhund! before, its one as you may have guessed about a Dungeons and Dragons obsessive.
I’ve not finished it yet but it’s not bad, he does milk the whole I was such a geek shtick a bit much and it’s a little “wonder years” in that every chapter contains a moment where he “learns” something about himself or life.
One for anyone who’s sat in dimly lit farty room with a load of odd shaped dice.

Did I ever tell you about playing D&D for 26 hours to raise money for some disco equipment……..

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