January Roundup

I thought I’d put together a quick roundup of some of the best things I’ve been reading/seeing/listening to over the past month…

 

Floating Points: Elaenia

This album is a beautiful hybrid experience that sees Floating Points connect his diverse musical talents with his understanding of modular synthesis and, to some extent, his understanding of what stimulates peoples bodies and imaginations. The album feels like it has been composed as a single piece of music that develops, blossoms and climaxes in under an hour – beautiful. I cannot wait to see him live on the 10th Feb!

The Internet: Ego Death

The Internet put the cool back into the image that you may hold of what a ‘band’ is. Their groove orientated tunes allow syd tha kyd to croon effortlessly and in an understated yet confident manner over live bass, drums and guitar lines. Although the album features cameo appearances from the likes of Tyler the Creator, the album does not have an Odd Future feel to it. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been listening to The Internet’s music over the last few years. They have been maintaining a consistent standard of music and commitment and have cultivated a distinctively laid back aesthetic. Their neo-soul vibes feel both familiar and refreshing.

Gypsy Nights @ Upstairs at The Ritzy

I had a cracking night at ‘Upstairs at The Ritzy’ listening to a brand of Jazz that I have not previously gravitated towards. I found the three piece that was performing to be welcoming as well as stimulating and that the music they performed had a ‘lived in’ quality which gave it a very comforting feel.

Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide awards @ KOKO

What a night! Eight hours of some of the best music available right now – live! With appearances from addison groove, leron thomas, daymé, lil simz and (my personal favourite) Anderson .Paak, the night was an immersive musical experience that was an enormous succes. The event brought music fans together in a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere that would be hard to recreate!

Light in August

I recently finished reading this novel by William Faulkner. The narrative style felt unflamboyant and detached but the individual stories that were told were heavy with historical significance. The author explores the identities and backstories of the major characters in a way that makes the reader respond empathetically to the shameful unavoidabilty of the terrible events that are portrayed. Faulkner explores the real impact that historical events can have on people and considers how race and gender can affect people’s lives.

The Danish Girl

I found the plot of this film to be hugely emotive and thought provoking. It gave me some insight into the history surrounding transgender issues and added depth to my awareness of some of the real problems that transgender individuals can encounter.

I was surprised to find that the film’s protagonist, played by Eddie Redmayne, evoked a great deal of sympathy but still came across as quite a selfish individual. This meant that the film felt balanced in its approach to the subject matter.

Although the plot was immensely engaging, I found the aesthetic of the film as a whole to lack some grit. Yes there was one incident of violent victimisation, but the dramatic surgeries that the protagonist endured were portrayed in a rather clean and pre-watershed fashion. The director gave the film a polished feel and appeared to be attempting to make the movie palatable from start to finish. This may be symptomatic of a desire to cater to the ‘period drama’ audience, but meant that the film did not feel as potent as it could have felt.

Bull @ the young vic

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced and slightly experimental production at the Young Vic. The play explored the theme of victimisation and bullying in the workplace, using the financial crisis as a contextual plot device. The four person cast put on a stellar performance and I was particularly impressed with their ability to physically express some of the painful truths being portrayed. There was a strong political undercurrent to the play, the bullies representing the privileged and falsely entitled privately educated classes who, it is suggested, are the gate keepers to success in the world of business and who can be ruthlessly blinkered in their attitudes towards individuals from outside their ‘group’.

The bullies were duplicitous and troubled by demons from their past, while the victim (the ‘Bull’) constantly attempted to behave as rationally as possible. The bullies seemed incapable of forming trusting relationships whilst the victim’s desire to trust his colleagues was what marked him apart. It was this desire to trust others and his ignorance of how bullies can behave that led to his demise. The climax of the play was aided and intensified by some stunning use of sound and the ingenious use of a water dispenser. I would recommend the play to anyone – it is noisy, energetic, and only an hour long.

The Sense of an Ending

I recently finished reading Julian Barnes’ short novel, The Sense of an Ending. The novel captured my attention from the very start with its frank and bracing accounts of male adolescence. However, what I found most interesting about the novel was the way that Barnes enticed the reader into constantly reassessing the narrator’s character and reliability. Perhaps the most striking example of this is the novel’s conclusion, where facts are revealed that make the reader look back and reflect upon what they have read, piecing the puzzle together and teasing out the story’s significance. In this way Barnes encourages the reader to reflect upon their own subjectivity and consider the potential consequences of their own actions by looking at things through a different lens.

 

As You Like it @ The National Theatre

 

I was recently given the chance to go and see As You Like It at the National Theatre. The production was a whirlwind of romance, music and dramatic scene changes. In fact, the set design was one of the most stunning parts of the production: the corporate dystopian office’s transformation into a barren and transmutable forest made from chairs and desks blew me away. The way that the forest was brought to life by choral arrangements and vocal sound effects was very effective and really made the forest feel populated and atmospheric. The production allowed me to refresh my memory of a play that I studied at school and that I knew better than I thought I did. The final wedding jig was a tad ‘musical theatre’ for my liking but was an effective and climactic way to close the production.
Craig Charles @ Brixton Jamm

I am a huge fan of Craig Charles’ 6music radio show; it invariably lightens up my weekend and rekindles my love of all things musical. However, I have to say I was somewhat underwhelmed when I went down to Brixton Jamm to see him mix live. This was through no fault of the man himself, but rather due to the fact that the venue felt too small and was crammed to the rafters with weekend funk-and-soulers. This left us little space to get down and limby with it. I felt that the night needed a bigger venue and that a greater variety / quantity of djs  was required. Having said that, I had a great dance and thourougly enjoyed seeing the eccentric dj spin some great records.

Fatima @ Union Chapel

Firstly, Fatima has a great set of pipes. She didn’t put a note wrong all night and gave an immaculate and engaging performance that had everyone grooving from start to finish. The Eglo band provided her with a Rootsy foundation that gave the whole evening a wonderfully laid back yet upbeat atmosphere. The venue was superb and the sound quality meant that the crowd could fully appreciate the talent on display. If you ever get the chance to see a show at The Union Chapel, don’t miss out on the opportunity! Yusseef Kamaal Trio opened up the evening with a very laid back acoustic set that included some phenomenal guitar solos, but Fatima undoubtedly stole the show.

 

Spotlight

This movie was both gripping and horrifying. Unlike The Danish Girl, the film did not feel like it lacked grit. The horrifying nature of the abuse uncovered by the Spotlight investigative journalism team in Boston was potent enough to shock the audience and the director therefore rightly felt no need to include potentially harrowing footage of the crimes themselves. In fact, the fact that the abuse being uncovered was not visible to the audience at any point added potency to the film as it highlighted the way that child abuse within the Catholic church had occurred, with a wide range of people choosing to turn a blind eye.
The National Gallery

As I write this, I am sitting in the National Gallery’s espresso bar. I had forgotten how great the gallery was – I would advise anyone reading this to go and check out the phenomenal collection they have here and to spend a few minutes looking at (and seeing) one or two of the fine paintings that hang here.

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