Friday, May 28, 2010

Omar Souleyman for The National

I was lucky enough to meet Syrian pop superstar Omar Souleyman when he toured the UK recently, and interview him on The Scala's tiled mezzanine floor. Here's the piece.

The crowd soon realises that a lack of knowledge of the right steps is not a problem, and begin to make up their own: a mixture of naive attempts at dabke, flamenco, Bollywood hand-flourishes, fist-pumping, foot-stomping, rock moshing, even the festive footwork of an Irish ceilidh. It’s a mess, but a glorious one. Denuded of context or comparative experience, shorn of the arch judgements normally made by music lovers in a city with a lot of music to judge, the only option left is to enjoy.

why capitalism and art is complicated

because despite the admittedly compelling wails of disgust at sex and the city 2’s celebration of rampant consumerism, viz roger ebert here

“Some of these people make my skin crawl. The characters of "Sex and the City 2" are flyweight bubbleheads living in a world which rarely requires three sentences in a row. Their defining quality is consuming things. They gobble food, fashion, houses, husbands, children, vitamins and freebies.”

well, despite those wails, this was the best song of last year:

The-Dream - Fancy
check the incredible final 60 seconds in particular, its intense, ramped up climax of brand fetishisation. 'fancy' perfectly encapsulates the consumerism-run-amok archetype - and it's fucking brilliant. i must have rewound those final 60 seconds about 100 times last year. in other carrie bradshaw-related news, i hear sex and the city 3 is going to be loosely based on brecht's 'rise and fall of the city of mahogonny', so that should redress the balance a bit.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poplar and Limehouse: The Fight For Broken Britain

I spent a lot of time walking around Poplar and Limehouse in the first three months of this year: some of it with the local Conservatives, some of it on my own. It's a very, very strange place. Here's the fruits of my wandering: a chunky piece of reportage for Five Dials, Hamish Hamilton's superb free literary magazine. Issue 12 is the one you want, 'The Utterly Broken Britain Issue' - download it, print it out, read it in a park somewhere. Then subscribe for future issues. 

Halfway down the promontory lies Millwall Outer Dock, a sort of inland lake bordered by houses and warehouses. Chained-up canoes sit stacked by its side, buildings lie dormant, one light in every ten turned on. The spring gloaming casts a beautifully dim light over the water as dusk falls, and to my amazement the only sound is a very distant murmur of traffic, and the somnolent squawking of seagulls – literally hundreds of them – drifting off to sleep on the water. Not one person passes me in half an hour sitting by its shore. For a place teeming with the ghosts of empire, hard labour, hard liquor, sailors and prostitutes, it’s almost unbearably tranquil. This Britain isn’t broken: it’s just quiet to the point of being unsettling.

Ikonika for The National

An ~essay-length~ review of Ikonika's debut album, 'Contact, Love, Want, Have' for U.A.E.'s finest, The National.

The album’s first peak is another single, Fish: a building synth drama that weeps intensity. Clean and pared down, it is also, thanks to its crisp woodblock percussion, comfortingly human. For all the supposed cyborgisation of the computerised composition process, this is assiduously fleshly music – warm muscle tissue in motion, a rush of blood to the legs.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Tories: A Warning From History

O Cromwell! O Ireton! How hath a little time and successe changed the honest shape of so many Officers!
-The Hunting of the Foxes, John Lilburne, 21 March 1649

They undertook merely to quiet and please us (like children with rattles) till they had done their main work… that so they might have no opposition from us, but that we might be lulled asleep in a fool’s paradise with thoughts of their honest intentions till all was over…
-The Legall Fundementall Liberties, Lilburne, 8 June 1649


Take Back Parliament