The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'damon albarn'
Tonight, some 10 years after the Blur vs. Oasis battle, BBC Four held a Britpop night, running several programmes on the whole thing.
First up was a half-hour documentary by John Harris about the history of the phenomenon. It reprised much of the territory in his excellent book The Last Party, only squeezed into half an hour and with fragments of music and video, and interviews with various people from the time reminiscing over what it was like. It started with the wilderness of Nirvana and shoegazer (which Harris described as being similar to grunge), and ended with the comment that Britpop was responsible for ushering in the age of bland balladeers like Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol, and of course those quintessential rockist classicists, Oasis.
This was followed by a programme with Damon Albarn presenting a selection of live videos; it's reassuring that he has ditched the mockney accent and look-at-me-I'm-working-class affectation, though perhaps a tad disappointing that the title designers did the lazy thing and equated britpop with Mod. Then they played Live Forever, the Britpop doco from some years back, and then a 1995 BBC fly-on-the-wall piece with Pulp, which was rather interesting. It involved backstage footage from a gig in Sheffield, Jarvis talking about appreciating kitsch knowingly yet unironically, and some footage of Pulp's support band, an outfit named Minty who seemed to have been England's answer to Machine Gun Fellatio or something.
Not content to sell trucker caps and retro-hipster flight bags to the world's indie kids, Belle & Sebastian have entered the ringtone business. Currently, they only have a few tones (mostly from their last album), and the Flash interface doesn't seem to play the polyphonic ones.
(Speaking of Belle & Sebastian's merchandise business, I wonder how long until they start selling their own line of NHS-style black-frame emo glasses; that would be a natural progression. Either that or doing a deal with a multinational electronics company to make Belle & Sebastian-branded MP3 players and digital cameras, à la GwenStefaniCorp.)
Meanwhile, it's a sign of how much Dionysiac Genius of Rock Pete Doherty's stock has dipped that Damon Albarn is now picking on him, and talking about starting a "Make Doherty History" campaign (a line he seems to have lifted from the cover of Private Eye). I guess that there's no danger of Babyshambles getting up and giving Albarn a sound thrashing, as Oasis did shortly before disappearing in a cloud of cocaine-induced self-importance.
Film Festival: Tonight I went to see a film named 101 Reykjavik; it was from Iceland (naturally), and about a shiftless, socially inept twentysomething slacker in Reykjavik who ends up getting his mother's lesbian lover (played by sultry Spanish actress Victoria Abril, who will be well known to Almodovar fans) pregnant. It was quite an enjoyable film; not quite as arty as Angels of the Universe, but quite amusing, and with some poetic moments and some breathtaking outdoor visuals (as may be expected in an Icelandic film). The dialogue was mostly in Icelandic (with subtitles) though partly in English, as Abril's character (being from Spain) didn't speak Icelandic (and, this film would suggest, many people in Iceland can understand and speak English). The music was by Damon Albarn and one of the former members of the Sugarcubes (that's the Ickle One's old band, of course), and featured some amusingly cheesy electronic takes on the Kinks' Lola.
After this, I saw Bells From The Deep, a Werner Herzog documentary about mysticism and the occult in a remote corner of Russia (near the Mongolian border). It included a lot of outré bits, including elderly people crawling around a sacred tree stump, tales of visions of hidden cathedrals and apparitions, and pilgrims crawling along thin ice to pay tribute to the fabled city of Kitezh, said to be hidden at the bottom of the lake (where the Mongol hordes couldn't sack it, of course), as well as footage of locals lining up to buy "consecrated water", a Jesus-lookalike in elaborately embroidered velvet robes spouting mystical mumbo-jumbo and blessing people, and Mongolian throat singing (including, very possibly, the same sample the KLF used on Chill Out, or maybe not).