Sunday, 20 September 2009

ShadowPlay site moves on

Long time readers will be familiar with the old, ramshackle ShadowPlay website. After six years and thousands of hits it
's time to say a tearful farewell to my little blue creation and move, full time, to this blog. I would still hesitate to call myself a 'blogger', the connotations are of someone with too much time (never the case here!) on their hands, issuing rash, thoughtless opinions.That said the ease, speed and sleekness of this blog has been refreshing, proving you needn't have all the web skills in the world to make it readable. I'll be working on adding extra detail to this site so all the ShadowPlay contact details, links and stuff about the paper fanzine (which remains the priority) is included. For now, I bid farewell to the old site, it's all over now baby blue.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sounds Like Teen Spirit (2009)

Kids can’t sing. People who enter Eurovision generally can’t sing (Gina G, I apologise…). So here’s a perfect match. This “popumentary” follows a number of kids vying for the title of winner of Junior Eurovision 2007. Pitched at an interesting level, this neither takes the piss out of Eurovision in a Wogan-esque way, nor takes it as seriously as it clearly is by many of the “smaller” countries around the continent.

First off, this seemed the wrong approach to take, afterall what dramatic interest are a bunch of kids singing going to provide if it’s not comedy. But actually this film connects on a real emotional level as the viewer feels complete empathy with the junior contestants, some of which seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Perhaps the best example of this is Mariam, a 13-year-old Georgian who goes to the competition without her mother, who lives in a ramshackle tower block and vows to take tranquilisers before her daughter’s performance. Given free fruit and blessings on the street, Mariam carries the hopes of her country on her shoulders and stars in the live final, which receives no less than 23 million viewers before being caught up in the Russian offensive which took place in summer 2008.

There’s also plenty to laugh at though, perhaps the deadpan Belgian commentator who says “they are not singing very good” of three Dalton Sisters aged no more than nine or Belgian finalists Trust who have had a street in their native town of Ypres named after them, such is the measure of their success.

This documentary gave a real insight, perhaps for the first time for, as to just why people from so many, realistically, fairly unremarkable countries get so worked up by Eurovision. With over 14,000 entrants vying for the Rotterdam final it’s clear the stakes are high for a competition which says as much about fragmented European politics as it does about mini-camp entertainment. An interesting documentary, a DVD in front of the fire watch for sure. 

Tru Thoughts Round-Up

Those glorious people over at Tru Thoughts have cooked up a storm for the autumn period, celebrating 10 years of the label that has boasted the kind of cutting edge music, in Quantic, TM Juke and the Bamboos in particular, that has marked it out as a forerunner in the UK funk and soul scene.

Earlier this month it hosted an excellent, hot and sticky night at Vibe Bar on Brick Lane, London where Alice Russell and Belleruche in particular gave the night the kind of swagger only 10 years of hard work and good times can bring. The label’s three disc anniversary release is a triumph in displaying the diversity and quality of the label. Thus the usual faces are joined by the likes of Kinny, Kylie Audist and Nirobi & Barakas. The main theme is of a label firmly focussed on taking life at its own pace, grab hold of it and saying “look, I’m gunna relax for a minute, ok?”

Elsewhere on the label, Natural Self releases his second album My Heart Beats Like a Drum next month, full of the kind of minimal chirpiness that will see him open up top-end nights aplenty I suspect. Meanwhile, Domu, aka Dominic Stanton, has released a collection of One Offs, Remixes and B Sides but it does feel a little like that, not exactly rjects but not top-cuts, also his choice of vocalists seems a little dubious, some dodgy vocals/lyrics here. Overall, Tru Thoughts spoil their listeners beyond belief, a label of true class and style will leave you far from hiding under the Munka Moon. (AL)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Kid606: Shout at the Döner (Tigerbeat6)

Kid606, aka Venezulan electronica supremo Miguel Trost Depedro, is one of those artists who, when on top form, is really on top form. The riviera kid has bust through the speed of sound on many previous occasions, with rip-roaring efforts like Don't Sweat the Technics and Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You marking him out as a real talent, if a little prone to the odd random mix too many.
Back with the bizarrely-titled Shout at the Döner (advice on Glaswegian kebab shops is offered in the notes), released through glorious off-kilter visionaries Tigerbeat6, this is a surprising release just in how fresh it seems despite some tunes, such as the menacing Samhain California, sounding like they coulda come out of the Steel city in any time in the last two decades. There are heavy strokes of futuristic LFO here while other reference points like Mouse on Mars and more minimal acts (that don’t have agoraphobia and play out) are bang on the money. The record is split into four ‘movements’ with Kid606’s Mozart moments coming in the form of nice glitches, tapered high-hats and strange clips which, to be honest, can only have been recorded and subsequently re-used under the influence of something a bit stronger than a bottle of Calpol left out overnight. There’s plenty of moments here when ‘606 hits real top form and create music to go to a fucking good party to and that is so invigorating you probably won’t even cringe when your mate flashes at the complaining neighbours. Get it.