Currently Spinning

It’s not just books. I’m consuming a lot of music lately. Specifically I’m playing the arse out of the new albums from Built to Spill and Last Days of April (of which more to come).

 

I’m stuck on this song:

 

Still blasting the My Morning Jacket album from the car:

 

And, because my son still rocks out to this album:

He’s Back, and he’s Fuhrious

I’ll admit it – I bought this book after seeing the advert at a tube station and laughing at the pun “He’s back, and he’s Fuhrious”

Modern day Berlin. A man wakes up on a piece of scrub land in Berlin. He’s in full military uniform. He’s unaware how he got there and has trouble remembering anything of the previous day or two. He’s Adolf Hitler.

The Adolf Hitler.

IMG_4755So – Hitler has, somehow, been removed from the pages of history and deposited back among modern Germans. A world he expected to not exist: he had given orders for it to be burnt to the ground. He believes that he’s here due to the intervention of ‘fate’ and has been enlisted to save Germany, again, from the horror it – according to him -finds itself in.

Mistaken as an impersonator, a very intense one who refuses to break character, he finds himself taken in by a newspaper vendor conveniently located close to a television production company who buy into his act and line him up with a slot on a comedy tv show.

The humour here in Timur Vermes’ Look Who’s Back is both laugh out loud and extremely dark.

There’s a fantastic section early in where, having been caught in civvies while his uniform is cleaned, Hitler berates a young tv producer who had made a comment about Poland. Chastising him for his slovenly appearance, Hitler launches into a tirade, doubting that the young man even knows where Poland is, demands to know if he’s ever served in the army while doubting so as he clearly does not know where his uniform is. Hitler knows where his uniform is at all times, produces a ticket from his pocket and announces “it is at the dry-cleaners”.

There’s the suggestion that Hitler write a marriage / relationship advice book: “you could call it ‘Mein Kempf – With My Wife'”.

There’s the point that Hitler’s uniform is a little damp and, for some reason, smells of gasoline…

The combination of Hitler of old mixing with the modern world is funny but can run the risk of being a one-joke pony with diminishing results. So Vermes uses the voice of Hitler to take a satirical swipe at present day politics – Putin is admonished for appearing with his shirt off, Merkel mocked, the ideals of Germany’s Green party likened to some of his own and the Hilter of old rocking up on the doorstep of the current National Democratic Party and tearing them apart as pale imposters.

There are, however, two elements that stop this book from being a great one. Both are down to the fact that the character here isn’t fictional. It’s hard to imagine the real Hitler ever acclimatising and adapting to modernity quite as wilfully and quickly as he does – in order to propel it toward it’s function – here. The fact that he takes so easily to computers and smart phones enables all that follows and is necessary as such but isn’t quite plausible. That being said, suspend your element of disbelief and get past it, it’s a comedy after all.

And… therein lies the rub. It is a comedy, never lays claim to be serious. But while the book is clearly a satire and takes swipes at all things modern and politico, it does so from the eyes of one of History’s monster. As a bit of a history buff I’ve spent several years expanding my knowledge of World War 2 – not the dates and the statistics, the human stories. A large part of my bookshelves are given over to it. I’ve read the accounts of those who both witnessed, suffered and lost at the hands of this nasty entity and his followers.  Even if we are continually reminded that “the Jews are no laughing matter.”

There’s a theory that if you expose an audience to only one point of view, one take, one narrative for a certain amount of time, they’ll begin to find little ways to identify with that voice. To do so with Hitler is a very bold move. It works at times but the over-riding element here, especially given the lack of character change and arc (there’s no reason the real Hitler would consider any opinion other than his own so wouldn’t change), is that this is still told through the eyes of a man responsible for some of worst atrocities known to man.

As such Look Who’s Back fails to be completely laugh out loud throughout – it’s hard to laugh with abandonment at his admonishing of modern day Nazis for failing to to live up to the party when you know just what his version of living up to that party would be. But it is a very funny, satirical swipe at both how he rose to power in the first place and could, conceivably, do so again – anyone who’s been sickened by the rise of the petty, small-minded and similarly prejudiced Farage and his friends can see it’s not too much of a stretch after all.

This wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but there are plenty of laugh out loud moments and a few moments that make you think.

We Shall Inherit The Wind

Having gotten a taste for Nordic Noir I’ve now been given the opportunity to read the man hailed as one of the fathers of the genre – Gunnar Staalesen.

First published in 2010 in Norway, We Shall Inherit The Wind is the 18th novel in the Varg Veum series and now published in English by Orenda Books (if ever there’s a publisher to follow devotedly it’s Orenda Books) with translation by Don Bartlett.

We Shall Inherit the Wind BF AW.inddSet in 1998, Staalesen’s private investigator Varg Veum sits at the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin as she battles life-threatening injuries bought about by the events surrounding Varg’s latest investigation.

From here Staalesen takes us back – by “barely a week” – to re-trace those events (when I re-read that line for this review I had to read it twice as so much is packed into just a few days). Given how we know where they lead, the edge of the seat is pretty much all you’ll occupy from here on in.

This ominous start leads us into a missing-persons case, with Veum pretty certain that the missing man – Mons Mæland – is already dead. Veum’s initial digging into Mæland’s affairs opens up a Pandora’s Box of questions with no clear answers. Every clue seems to point toward a more complex mystery which becomes all the more thrilling when Mæland is found dead – in a most dramatic fashion – and the plot thickens.

Location is key. While Veum operates out of Staalesen’s own Bergen, most of the action takes place on the fictitious Brennøy and nearby islands. We’re a little outside of the comfort-zone here, you got the sense that you’re out in the wilds on each occasion that Veum leaves Bergen behind, with civilisation just a little too far over the horizon – indeed, law and order needs to arrive via helicopter.

From experience I know how stunning Norway can be but this isn’t a summer holiday; this is autumn and Staalesen uses the isolation afforded by the setting to up the chill-factor. From the off, almost, the remote locations hang heavy with foreboding:

…the trees stood like dark monuments to a time when not only the mountains had to be clad but every tiny scrap of island skirted by the fjord. Accordingly spruces lined long stretches of the Vestland cost. No one had thinned the striplings, and no one had cut down the trees except the cabin owners who had desperately tried to clear themselves a place in the sun. It looked as if they had given up here ages ago.

So much to love in that paragraph alone… “dark monuments”…. “desperately tried”…  “given up here ages ago”… you almost have the “abandon all hope” sign nailed to the start of the chapter.

Far from being a run-of-the-mill who-dunnit, We Shall Inherit The Wind is an intense read, pulling in eco-terrorism, religious fanaticism, corruption both at corporate and local-government level, plot twist after plot twist and a cast of characters with plenty of secrets and hidden connections. Two, three, four times I thought I’d sussed out who was behind Mæland’s murder only to be left utterly open-mouthed by the final reveal with Veum keeping his cards close to his chest right until the bitter end. I’ll admit I also felt like I’d been emotionally sucker-punched come the end, having been so caught up in the mystery as to be left open for the impact of the human consequences.

Varg means “wolf” in Norwegian and the novel approaches the plot just as a wolf its prey; elements come together piece-by-piece, as the wolf slowly and assuredly stalks it prey Varg is a wise hunter, patiently letting events unfold with delicate pacing. Rather than rushing in and barrelling along at a frantic pace there’s long drives and ferry rides (the novel is set in the fjords of Norway, not down-town LA afterall), a stealthy gathering of every shred of evidence (and a lot of people’s cages rattled) before going in for the violent and bloody climax.

Gunnar Staalesen is clearly a master-at-work by now, having first introduced the world to Varg Veum back in 1977. The prose is richly detailed, the plot enthused with social and environmental commentary while while never diminishing in interest or pace, the dialogue natural and convincing and the supporting characters all bristle with life.

A multi-layered, engrossing and skilfully written novel, there’s not an excess word in We Shall Inherit The Wind. It’s a slow-building exercise in suspense that’s 100% addictive, one that gets you in the wolf’s jaws with the first few lines, sinks its teeth in and won’t let go until long after the finale.

After my first dip into the world of Varg Veum I’m left wanting more. With We Shall Inherit The Wind I’ve been afforded a snap-shot into the life of a very complex but nonetheless endearing and relatable character and anxiously await the next two instalments from my favourite publisher. Though I may search out the earlier two novels to have made it into English.

I’m one of the last stops on the blog tour for this novel so do check out those that have come before me including yesterday’s great interview with Staalesn at Nordic Noir and get your hands / kindle / e-reader / whatever on a copy of this hugely rewarding read via Orenda.

We Shall Inherit the Wind Blog Tour

Time to roll the answer floats on down the farthest shore…. of the mind

There’s a few music ‘magazines’ I’ll read online. Things like Spin (for their lists, their in-depth Dinosaur Jr article etc) predominantly, occasionally Consequence of Sound, even Pitchfork (which I take with more than a grain of salt thanks to their hipster-heart-on-sleeve and love of things not even slightly alternative) from time to time for news. I’ll also get the Rolling Stone email on a close-to-daily basis.

I’m sure this isn’t unique or blog-worthy in itself but bear with me.

Sometimes there’ll be an article on a band I’m loving. So what I like to do – having read said article – is kinda back-explore the coverage of that band on the site(s). See what they were saying about them / reviewing etc before I was reading them.

IMG_4439My Morning Jacket dropped a new album this year, The Waterfall. It’s brilliant. No question from me that it’ll be up in the most played of 2015 come December.

Checking back on some of the earlier reviews for the band it’s interesting to see there’s a lot of comparisons for their seminal Z album to Radiohead’s OK Computer. Rolling Stone lead their review with “America is a lot closer to getting its own Radiohead, and it isn’t Wilco.”

I can understand the comparisons. It was a Big Step album. It was more experimental with the sound and was a deliberate move away from regional sound to something altogether more Universal and moved them into a different orbit in terms of sales, concerts and coverage.

I’ve spoken of it before so won’t do too much here.

In a way the comparisons thereafter also work. In the same way as some people never got over OK Computer and judged each subsequent release accordingly, the same is true of MMJ and Z. As Radiohead went further ‘left’ with their follow-up so did MMJ. The difference is that the quality control switch on the 1-2 punch of Kid A and Amnesiac was significantly higher than MMJ’s Evil Urges which alienated many by straying too far into the falsetto-funk and wandering – while Librarian and Touch Me Pt 2 still hold up not a lot else really does. A quick dart back to the centre followed for both bands too – Hail To The Thief for Radiohead and MMJ’s Circuital (obviously the timelines are a bit off). Circuital almost felt like an apology – straight ahead, less trip and almost subdued.

So if your wanderings into experimentation alienate some and your move back to please alienates others, what do you do next?

For Radiohead it was In Rainbows. Their now high-point. The culmination of their experimentation crafted into finely honed and tight songs without any flabby excess or weak points, taking every element of their sound to date and pushing it forward with the kind of expert confidence that can’t be ignored.

I didn’t get over OK Computer until I heard In Rainbows.

I didn’t get over Z – until I dropped the needle on The Waterfall (even if I did need to change the speed settings – who puts an album at 45rpm?!).

The Waterfall is not only MMJ’s most direct album, it’s also their trippiest. All the elements of their sound are contained in these 10 tracks and yet rather than feel like a retread, there’s an urgency to it, a compelling move forward. Everything is here from the big, live crowd-thrillers, the guitar solos, the orchestral / folk-rock, the psychedelic wanderings and the falsetto-hitting funk all surrounded by Jim James unimpeachable voice.

In the same way that Z sounded ready to blast forth from the stage (for evidence see the live album Okonokos that followed), The Waterfall sounds just as tailor-made to thrill audiences. Believe will undoubtedly be opening every live set for the next 5 years – a slow entry propelled with guitar-chord punching and the title repeated an octave higher each time until Jim James lets rip with a BELIEEEEVVEE that strays oh-so-close to Journey, the song lifts-off in the same way as Worldless Chorus and suddenly we’re airborne with the song. I’ve probably played the tune to death already but the rule at the moment is that if my toddler son rocks out to it, it gets played a lot – slipping this in the CD player (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – putting the CD in with the Vinyl is a win-win in my opinion) in the morning is the best way to start a day. Especially if the journey is long enough to include In Its Infancy (The Waterfall).

It’s something of a different tact for the band lyric-wise. There’s a different voice here, it’s more personal; certainly a break-up album, albeit with an air of “and so it goes”, with lines such as “I’m getting so tired of trying to always be nice,” (Big Decisions), ” it’s a thin line between lovin’ and wastin’ my time” (Thin Line) and “I hope you get the point, I think our love is done” (Get The Point).

That there’s another album due next year from the same sessions is great news – four years separate this from Circuital – even if a predetermined release schedule can sometimes spell an ease in quality.

It feels very much like My Morning Jacket are back in the game.

Nothing Ever Happens Around Here

Careful; the smallest whiff of a spoiler is contained fleetingly herein.

Iceland.

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago what I associate with that country I’d have suggested a few bands like Sigur Rós, múm, Of Monsters and Men, Olafur Arnalds and that woman called Björk , Reykjavik 101, unpronounceable (by me) volcanoes and geysers. Oh, and the chap who sang “Ég á líf” at Eurovision a couple of years ago.

If you ask me the same question today I’ll add fjords, the herring boom, and great Nordic crime fiction to that list.

For in the last week I had the utmost pleasure of reading Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson.

The fist novel in Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series – almost up to its sixth installment in Iceland – has now been translated into and published in English by Orenda Books.IMG_4357

Snowblind introduces us to Ari Thor Arason – finishing his police training (after starting and dropping other pursuits including Theology) on-the-job having spontaneously accepted a posting in the northern town of Siglufjörður. It’s a posting that takes him hundreds of kilometres away from his home, his partner and his comfort zone. Plunging him into a small town where things aren’t quite as tranquil as they seem and a killer is on the loose.

Quiet and remote, Siglufjörður is a small fishing town only accessible via perilous mountain roads and a small tunnel seemingly carved out of the rock without a millimetre of excess width for as Ari Thor takes his first journey through the sense of a trap being sealed begins to sneak in – “it was a narrow single track…. carved through the mountainside more than forty years ago” with water dripping in the darkness from a ceiling unseen. Even on the other side the weather is starting to turn grim and oppressive (“every winter is a heavy winter in Siglufjörður”).

Still, what could go wrong?  Siglufjörður is an idyllic little community set amongst the mountains and fjord where – according to Police Inspector Tomas “nothing ever happens”.

Nothing that is except murders, manslaughter, literary theft, adultery, fugitives in hiding, drunk locals stumbling into the wrong house at night and seemingly not a character in the story without a history of loss and tragedy and, of course, the politics of local am-dram.

Having visited such small towns at the foot of a fjord (albeit in Norway not Iceland) in summer when the majesty of the scenery will steal your breath, I often wondered how different those imposing mountains would be when winter sets in and the calm of such detached living is replaced by a sense of being cut-off and encircled by thousands of metres of impenetrable nature. I need wonder no more; Ragnar Jónasson perfectly creates an atmosphere of dense, stifling claustrophobia, an impenetrable trap tightening with every falling flake, using geology to form a locked-room style setting with the imposing mountains and heavy snow falling in like a heavy, stifling blanket:

Claustrophobia had sneaked up on him, a feeling that had deepened as the snowfall around the station had become increasingly heavy. It was as if the weather gods were trying to construct a wall around the building that he would never be able to break through. He saw things around him grow dim and suddenly he found himself fighting for his breath.

 

Siglufjörður beset by snow

Siglufjörður beset by snow

The fact that Ari Thor – like the reader – is the only one not used to such environs deftly adds to the fish-out-of-water feeling, almost a “am I the only sane person here?” element adding to the tension.

Just as the winter snow falls gently at first but builds, the plot unfolds slowly; each of the character arcs expanding at their own pace, gently but intractably linking to each other and interspersed with snippets of a knife-point burglary so obviously doomed to a bad end that no matter how tranquil that which follows may be, a sense of foreboding and danger pervades.

For a debut novel, Snowblind is startlingly confident and sure-footed. The characters and dialogue all ring true, the plot is original and packed with plenty a surprise. Perhaps most pleasingly of all, Jónasson steers clear of hackneyed plot devices and reveals; while Ari Thor possess a talent for his work he’s no ‘instant wonder / super cop’ – in fact his inexperience lands him in a very dangerous position as he enthusiastically blunders into a confrontation with a killer, preventing any real chance of justice being served and only solves the novels main “who dunnit” by chance.

It’s clear that Ari Thor is a character that has plenty of space and potential to grow and that the sequel is currently in-translation by Quentin Bates (who deserves very positive praise for his translation of Snowblind) can only be considered great news. The first sliver of NightBlind is enough to have me hooked while confirming that Ragnar Jónasson is a writer with plenty more up his sleeve.

From it’s opening prelude, Snowblind steps back a couple of months to put the pieces in place, then assuredly and calmly expands into a compelling thriller that keeps you gripped throughout and delivers a final 1-2-3 punch of revelations that will leave your gob on the floor.

Get a hold of a copy today and check out the other stops on the blog tour.

snowbling-blog-tour-2

Ploughing Through and You Don’t Know Jack

Oops; another month slips by without a post. Life is a busy thing with a toddler. The library has continued to grow and while my to-read list grows I’m getting through some great books. This last month (and a few days) I’ve ploughed through four books of an evening / weekend crashtime – and, in the case of one; lunchtimes. Let’s discuss…. IMG_4323 A Christmas gift from my wife (presumably as I’ve often mentioned that nobody says ‘bastard’ or does repressed anger as brilliantly as JC), John Cleese’s autobiography So Anyway was an odd read.

Odd as Cleese is an undoubtedly funny man with a rich and varied career in television and film comedy from Pythons and hoteliers to barristers hankering after Jamie Lee Curtis and even a few straight roles to mix it up a bit. He’s also known for a rather torrid personal life – currently married to his fourth wife – and the odd disagreement / heated debate with other Pythons named Terry Jones. YET wordage is not handed over to any of these but for the passing reference and occasional “so this is where that sketch / idea / character” originated. More ink is spent retrospectively linking events in his life to theories he’d later discover in psychology books than it is on those years so many were sure to have expected coverage of.

But… it’s still a good read. It’s a slow starter – Cleese gives a (sometimes too) thoroughly detailed account of his childhood, school years and early education. We learn how he inexplicably started supported the Australian cricket team as a young child and wonder why we need to know this nugget of information. So Anyway… is as insightful as an auto-bio could be and provides a great arc of a young man finding his calling in comedy – albeit unintentionally at first – and the road that took him to Python. It’s clear that even pre-Python Cleese packed more into these 30 years than many a full-career bio that lines the bookshop shelves. The overwhelming sense though is one of “but what about…”.

One of the things I like about short story collections is the ease of which you can dip in and out, one story at a time as it were, without losing any narrative thread. The problem with short story collections though is that there is no narrative thread, they can jump from tone to tone, first-person to third person narrative and the quality can vary dramatically. You often feel that you’re reading a series of sketches – ideas that will later be fleshed out, trimmed down and slipped in in a minor role or re-worked into a different context in the writer’s novels.

This is certainly the case, in part, with Tales From The Underworld, a collection of short stories by Hans Fallada. While his novels are rich, tightly bound mines of quality, the short stories here are perhaps too obviously touch-points for his later works to be taken at face-value. References to Altholm (setting for A Small Circus) rub shoulders with portrayals of farmworkers suffering at the hands of the government, characters across different stories share names and petty criminals and criminal acts populate a number of these stories. The struggles to get by, scrape an existence and find succour in the arms of loved ones at the most austere of times form the binding theme between those stories gathered here.

That being said, Fallada is a vastly underrated writer and even the lesser of those stories within Tales From The Underworld is only judged so in comparison to his own more-fulfilled writing. A darkly humorous and at times devastatingly moving collection, the short stories here are sequenced chronologically and show Fallada refining his style and themes. The quality tails off toward the end, sadly, but when viewed in line with his own life add up to show an insight into his thinking and writing process.

Reading thrillers has become something of a pleasure again. I’d started to lean into the genre a while ago – then stopped. The same authors I’d started to enjoy started leaving me a bit tired – namely Jeff Abbott and Robert Ludlum. First two Bourne books; brilliant. Third book; awful. Any other Ludlum book I tried was achingly formulaic. First Jeff Abbott books I read – Panic, Fear, Run – cracking stuff. Then he started in with the Sam Capra series and my attention waned as it all became too obvious.

But then lately…. lately I’ve been getting more into it all again. So, first stop: The Ghost by Robert Harris. Many’s the time I’ve been wandering around the supermarket at lunch and have seen a number of cheap books and thought of buying to read during the lunch breaks. This was one of those. I paid just £1 for it having immensely enjoyed Fatherland and found the story behind its publishing intriguing – upon hearing that Tony Blair was to resign, Harris stopped what he was working on in order to write this and get it out ahead of Blair’s own memoirs.

The Ghost is equal parts thriller and political swiping at Blair; a ghost-writer is bought in to help former Prime Minister Adam Lang complete his memoirs following the death of his former assistant. Very much a dig at Labour, its cozying up to the US and involvement in the War on Terror, The Ghost is still a gripping and well written thriller with enough grip and cliff-hanger-shockers to be a bloody good read even without the political overtones – especially as the final reveal is so shocking it surely cannot be true or intended to suggest so. While I’m not about to rush out and start filling the H section of the book shelves with the spines of Mr Harris’ novels, it’s certainly well worth a read – especially at just £1. They ought to include it in the Meal Deal for that value. 

IMG_4327

So with an appetite for a good thriller and having found the film adaptation of the character to be fine enough for brain-off entertainment I decided it was time to indulge a long-harboured curiosity and meet Jack Reacher.

Being the stickler for order that I can be I wanted to start at the beginning so got hold of The Killing Floor and devoured it in just a couple of days (not bad considering I really only read before falling asleep or at lunch). There’s been so much praise lauded upon Lee Child and his one-man-army Reacher that I won’t attempt to do so. But: bugger me it’s a good book. I will say that I was hooked from the start and will happily and readily get hold of more instalments.

I won’t go the full-hog though, given that the 20th such book is about to be published. I can’t justify the expense or book shelf space. Sorry, Jack.

Currently Spinning

Uh-oh; a break in posting has occurred.

To be honest it goes back to being very busy with that thing called life.

The busy in question has, however, been soundtracked by some great music, new and not-so-new.

First the new…. I’ve been playing two new releases at a steady pace for the last two weeks, both of which arrived on the same morning. Strangely enough this was the day after the arrival of the not-so-new – a bumper weekend for the collection.

IMG_4076Not so long ago I’d dismissed Death Cab For Cutie. I first heard them – like so many – at the time that Transatlanticism was propelling them into a lot of speakers. Title and Registration and The New Year (Christ, how many myspace and xanga pages featured that on January 1st for years to come?) were my way in and still remain a regular listen.

However, having heard a few earlier albums I was then put off by Plans. It sounded too ‘OC’ and watered-down to my ears. I Will Follow You Into The Dark was far too obvious and over-played for my taste. I still don’t listen to anything from it. So I stopped paying attention to Gibbard and Co. This was a bit of a mistake, really.

In 2011 my wife surprised me with tickets to a DCFC show. I hadn’t listened to anything new of theirs for some time let alone have any idea what they would be like live. I was expecting a lot of quiet acoustic numbers. Another mistake. It was a great show – new material (the Codes and Keys album which I grabbed on vinyl from the merch stand) vastly more upbeat and superior to anything on Plans and songs that I didn’t know that meant I quickly went and picked up Narrow Stairs. The quality of those two albums (and the connection to a great night out) meant that Death Cab went up the play count list.

While not as sonically interesting as Codes and Keys, Kintsugi continues along the same path musically – more blips and electronic phases than acoustic strums. Lyrically the theme of separation seems to abound. It makes sense given the events between this album and the last – though I’ve now read that Gibbard is trying to be less self-referencing than ever- with high profile relationships ending and founding guitarist / producer Chris Walla saying farewell to the band.

To my ears Kintsugi isn’t as strong as Codes and Keys but contains many a cracker. The vinyl (very pretty) also included the CD which meant it went straight in the car and has been on steady repeat over the last couple of weeks on the commute and family drives. It holds up very well and reveals more with each listen.

Not really one for listening to on family drives – it’s a bit too intense for toddler ears – I’ve been hungrily devouring another new one on repeated listens on my commutes.

IMG_4073In my overview of last year’s listens I mentioned how I’d rather Godspeed You! Black Emperor was the going concern over Silver Mt Zion. When they came back in 2012 their Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! was the best thing released that year. It’s still huge.

Accordingly I was pretty excited when news arrived – out of nowhere as is customary – of a new Godspeed album to drop in March.

Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is perhaps their shortest. Certainly for a while. It’s their first not to feature any samples or field recordings, just the most direct, intense and powerful sound they’ve made. It’s amazing. Having created a genre and dominated they’ve now found a way to make a variation on their sound which still manages to completely hypnotise and compel.

I won’t be able to see them when they make their way over here on tour this year but I’m just so very glad that they’re a) making music again and b) that music is of such pulverisingly high a quality as Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress.

And the not-so-new… I was happy to find Ennio Morricone’s Film Music Volume 2 on vinyl on ebay. I was even happier to find it was exactly as described and played faultlessly.

IMG_4072When it comes to film soundtracks I have my favourites. While John Williams’ Jurassic Park score is high up on that list, I’ve long looked forward to being able to drop the needle on both the themes from Once Upon A Time In America and The Mission. Both of these are by Ennio Morricone, both of which are my favourite of his (yeah, yeah; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly etc etc… don’t move me in the same way) and both of which feature on here. Perfect – if it took me three listings to get hold of thanks to the ending times.