Sad to say. This is the first time since January 2017 that I haven’t presented a new recording of a traditional track and a new recording of a modern track.

Last month (June) I got ill, and it was kind of a lost month in terms of productivity. And when you’re self-employed, that’s a real problem. Continue reading

‘Miyazaki in Wonderland’

Spirited Away, the Japanese animated fantasy directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is one of my favourite films, if not my actual favourite. Certainly top 5. So… I assumed it would be fairly easy to sit down at my computer and pinpoint quite what I love about it. It has proved surprisingly hard to unravel.

A few people have recently mentioned to me in passing that they’ve given Miyazaki films a try, and got frustrated and given up. I think can see why. I consider myself Miyazaki fan, but then I have to remember: I love his style, his attention to detail, I love My Neighbour Totoro, I love Kiki’s Delivery Service, and I’m… interested his other work, but I didn’t go crazy for Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind or even Princess Mononoko. There is a huge amount of inventiveness, originality and beauty in all of them, but I don’t necessarily warm to all of them as stories.

But it feels to me like somehow everything came together for Spirited Away. (And this isn’t a particularly controversial view: last year film critics at the New York Times voted it the second best film of the 21st century so far). It is the story of a young girl in a sulk in the back of a car, moving house to a different part of the country and leaving all her friends behind on the way to their new home…

Actually, here’s a trailer, which sums it up much better:

Continue reading

There… aren’t that many amazing YouTube channels out there on music, I feel. #ControversialOpinion. There are a lot… but very few that I personally rate. There’s a lot on technique, construction, kind of ‘hard theory’. But no one has really done an Every Frame A Painting take on music.

What Nahre Sol does, I think, is really interesting. She goes in a completely different and wonderful direction. She doesn’t do video essays, so much as video poetry. Continue reading

As far as I’m aware, Tom Waits gave only one interview for his last album. It was for the Take 5 radio show on ABC (Australia), with Zan Rowe. And it’s a real gem.

The format of the show is a bit like Desert Island Discs, where musicians pick 5 tracks from their heroes and talk about how they were inspired by them.

And yes, Waits has given plenty of interviews before, but it’s so rare to hear him ‘off duty’, where he is not riffing like a comedian doing a surreal stream-of-consciousness routine. Here he talks in a depth I’ve never heard before about how he makes music, and the challenges of it.

And if you’re a Waits fan like me, it’s charming as hell.

Way back in March, when H and I were visiting a Lucien Freud exhibition in Dublin, one of the rooms had televisions showing a discussion between a number of women about what ‘the nude’ represents in the history of Western art. (Spoiler: nothing good, basically.) And one or two of the phrases that one of the women stuck in my mind enough for me to hit Google when I got back to the hotel, and find out what the programme was.

It turned out to be Ways of Seeing, a British documentary from 1972 that is recognised as one of the great documentary series on art. Continue reading