The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'mysterious skin'
And here are my records of 2005, in no particular order:
- Machine Translations, Wolf on a String*. Six tracks, subtle and impeccably produced, layering guitars, electronics and understated vocals, and with a great deal of thought in the arrangements and compositions. The title track is hauntingly lovely, and Miss China and Paris Road are low-key pop gems. The other three tracks are good too.
- Broadcast, Tender Buttons. Their last album was a bit bland compared to The Noise Made By People; this one is a return to form. It's like early Stereolab playing on a Game Boy, all sparse, motorik grooves, gloriously dirty aliased waveforms and Trish's dreamy vocals.
- Sambassadeur, Between The Lines EP. A four track EP, released in Sweden last year but the UK only this year, from another good Swedish indie band. They also released a quite decent album later this year, but for some reason, this grabbed me more. The title track of the EP is a joyous piece of upbeat indie-pop; the other tracks are fitting B-sides, pop songs with guitar, trumpet, melodica, and a bit of shoegazing feedback and Mary Chain-style fuzz.
- Holidays On Ice, Playing Boyfriends and Girlfriends* Classy, polished indie-pop from various established Australian musicians, including Angie Hart of Frenté/Splendid; has echoes of Yo La Tengo. Even though the idea of a group of thirtysomething Australian band veterans releasing a record with an unbelievably fey title and a naïve picture of kids playing in the snow (presumably somewhere in Northern Europe or North America) on the cover does seem a tad contrived, the product is eminently listenable. Highlights include the upbeat pop of Sailor Girl, Speak-n-Spell-driven semi-instrumental Spell Happiness, the board-game-referencing (though not AIH-referencing) glock-pop of Fingers crossed and some of the instrumentals.
- Minimum Chips, Kitchen Tea Thankyou* This one took me by surprise. After getting used to the Chips putting out one EP every few years, I did not expect them to drop an entire album one year after their last EP. But they did, and we get almost 50 minutes of Minimum Chips goodness: modular organ grooves, jagged guitar jangle, sophisticated Continental pop sounds filtered through Melbourne/Brisbane indie-rock, and Nicole's floating vocals, more "aaah" than "ba ba ba". ("Lady Grey", in particular, could be descibed as "Golden Brown", had it been written by Stereolab about tea rather than The Stranglers about heroin.) A few of the tracks were familiar from Minimum Chips gigs two years ago, and had only made it onto record now.
- Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd, the Mysterious Skin film score Possibly the best thing Guthrie has put out since Victorialand. Ethereal and moody, like golden sunlight in a dream. The film was quite good too (though somewhat more disturbing).
- The Winter Ship, Teardrops EP*. Four tracks of shoegazing post-rock goodness, with rather nice string arrangements, from the Melbourne instrumental outfit. Swimming Through A Narrow Space sounds not unlike Mogwai's Helicon 1 only with words. The other tracks are no less lovely.
Honourable mentions go to Architecture In Helsinki, In Case We Die, Broken Social Scene's self-titled album (which I received only in the last days of the year, too late to fully get into, though I get the feeling it may be a grower), LCD Soundsystem's self-titled album, The Magic Numbers' self-titled debut (which has some strong guitar-pop tracks, though is a bit bland in places, and may not be a proper CD in all territories), Momus, Otto Spooky, Francis Plagne, Idle Bones (which has a few good songs and a lot of meandering ambient field recordings; were the ratio reversed, it'd be quite impressive), and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, #3.
It was also a good year for rereleases, with the entire Field Mice back-catalogue seeing the light of day again, in the form of new releases of Snowball, Skywriting and For Keeps, all extended with non-album tracks, and all three Slowdive albums (Just For A Day, Souvlaki and the exquisite Pygmalion) being rereleased—the first two with bonus discs full of EP and live tracks—through Sanctuary; meanwhile, neo-shoegazer Ulrich Schnauss's first album, Far Away Trains Passing By, is seeing the light of day again (good to see that Domino are using their NMECarlingnuwaveartrock windfall for good).
My gigs of 2005:
- Belle & Sebastian playing If You're Feeling Sinister at the Barbican. They brought their second album to life really well, and played a few other favourites before and after it.
- My Favorite, playing at Underbelly, 17 June. The last ever gig they did in the UK before breaking up. Their brand of immaculate, upbeat, New Order/OMD-influenced pop with lyrics of suburban alienation and existential angst really appealed to me.
- One of the three Architecture In Helsinki gigs I caught on their two UK tours; let's say, for the sake of argument, the one at the Dublin Castle in Camden. Their live performances seemed a lot tighter and more energetic than they were when I saw them back in Melbourne.
- Broadcast at Koko. They brought their new album to life quite well, and played some of their old tracks too.
The Australian federal government has failed in its attempt to have the film Mysterious Skin banned, with the Office of Film and Literature Classification deciding that it should keep its R rating. The government, along with various conservative Christian groups, requested a review of the film's rating.
I wonder whether the government will now move to tighten up censorship laws and/or
stack change the composition of the OFLC's board on the grounds that it is "too liberal" and does not represent "community values" (you know, of communities such as the Festival of Light and the Assembly of God).
The Howard government's fondness for censorship and kneejerk moralism strikes again: now they're pushing to have the film Mysterious Skin banned. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock ordered a review of the film's classification because the puritanical wowsers from the Australian Family Association and evangelical Christian groups read a summary of the film and decided that it could titiliate paedophiles or help them seduce children. Which, as anyone who has seen the film will tell you, is absurd. But it plays well with the Hillsong/Family First constituency who have the government's ear, so the rest of Australia have to make do with the cultural products our appointed spiritual leaders decide are appropriate.
(The film showed here in the UK some months ago, and there was no outcry whatsoever; to people here, it was just another small indie film. But for some reason, Australians cannot be trusted with the same amount of leeway they have elsewhere.)
Anyway, if you live in Australia and are displeased with small-minded petty theocrats from one-book households deciding what you can and cannot legally see, write a letter to a newspaper. It's important that someone lets the censors of Canberra know that they are answerable to people other than religious prudes. (Perhaps it's time someone printed stickers that said "I Watch Controversial Arthouse Films And I Vote"?)
I went to see Mysterious Skin tonight. It's a recent American art-house film about two boys who had been sexually molested by a baseball coach in a small town; ten years on, one boy is a somewhat callous, promiscuous gay hustler (who looks a bit like a hipster Mr. Spock), while the other blocked out details of the experience, believing instead that he had been abducted by aliens, and is trying to figure out what really happened during those lost hours.
The posters on the Tube advertised it as "slinky-hipped and sleazy-poetic", which makes it sound like the next album from The Killers or something, though the impression is misleading; this is a thoughtful and often beautifully shot film, at times explicit and harrowing, though not gratuitously so. The soundtrack really added to it; it was by Robin Guthrie (from the Cocteau Twins) and Harold Budd, and also featured songs by Slowdive, Curve and Sigur Rós, and not an overhyped NME New Wave Revival band in earshot.
I wonder whether there was any connection between the Slowdive songs in the soundtrack and the other UFO contactee being named Avalyn.