Thursday, 30 April 2015

Big mouths and no guts

Dead end. Each time a conversation swerves to the subject of Wings Of Desire and Wim Wenders, there is a dead end. Because in 99% of cases the person you’re talking to will say Wings Of Desire is his/her favourite film of all time. Dead end.

And it’s not even that I don’t get the cult love, the underground affection that this films gets – I do. It is beautifully made. It has excellent music. It’s filled with unforgettable lines. It straddles those two strangely appealing bars of pretentiousness and vulnerability. 

However, I just find it shallow. There is nothing to it. The film is flat, empty, and it's not like Alice In The Cities made me change my mind. Or any of his other films. 

What is left is that Nick Cave’s song from Till The End Of The World which for 3 minutes 58 seconds made it all worth it.  

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Signs and Symbols

I first heard about this short story from my favourite living English writer. This was an article about Nabokov following the damaging publication of The Original Of Laura. In this article the writer quite bluntly stated that “Signs and Symbols” is the most perfect story ever written.

Nabokov liked to repeat about how the effect of best fiction is not just intellectual. It’s physical. Something rippling down your chest, spine, stomach. I felt the full extent of this while reading the story on a balcony one summer afternoon. On closing the book, I resolved not to read anything afterwards. For days, maybe weeks. Just to reread those three pages. 

And then, years later, a mystical thing happened. I was watching an interview with my favourite living Russian writer, and he was talking about Lolita. Then at some point he mentioned a few of Nabokov’s lesser known works and stated (again, rather bluntly) that you won’t find a literary piece … well, I knew what he was going to say … more perfect than ... “Signs and Symbols”.

You'll know when you read it. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Magic Whip

The biggest sin is to be boring.

Having said it a million times already, I will repeat that again: wishy-washy art be damned. Bad art I’m okay with, at least it’s there on the wall, toothless and tragic. It’s bland art I can’t stand.

Blur’s new album isn’t bad. It’s better than Think Tank (of course it is), but overall it just lacks any urgency or spark. They do survive on that charm of old, lazy hooks and laidback vibes, and you won’t hear me knocking such pretty sleepers as “Ice Cream Man” or “Pyongyang”, but would you honestly consider the shameless B***pop send-up “I Broadcast” as worthy of anything on Modern Life Is Rubbish (which is Blur’s fifth best album)? Can’t you tell that “Death Of A Party” was great and “There Are Too Many Of Us” is as boring as Grace Of Monaco?

Sorry, but this is just weak. Weak and pointless. “Fool’s Day” was a great song, but I simply can’t find enough reasons why I should care for The Magic Whip.

I blame Alex James for that. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Duke Of Burgundy

Imagine a cinema you would really want to go to. 

Not iMax, not 3D, but something singular and truly special. What would it look like? Where would you find it? Something old and, quite possibly, crumbling. With forty shabby seats of red velvet that wouldn’t fold. With a small screen that only goes beyond B&W because it would be too fucking nuts not to go beyond B&W in 2015. With no popcorn and no drinks. With an old lady switching off the lights. With seven people in the audience. With no ads dragging for twenty, thirty minutes. With evening film shows that have no clue what ‘commercial success’ even means. Or critical, for that matter. And when you walk out, amazed and just a little confused, you are on the outskirts of your town, and you have no idea if the trams even go at this ungodly hour. And will you be able to get home? And what if it’s all true, everything you have just seen on the screen?

And then the most important question: what would you like to see there? In a cinema like that? 

I think The Duke Of Burgundy, Peter Strickland’s new film, would be a great choice. And that’s the highest praise I can give. I did not even know erotic cinema could be this good. Too bad an old lady did not switch off the lights and then, later, I did not have to catch that last tram passing through the ghost town and taking me home.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Piss Crowns Are Trebled

They can be wanking each other off for a quarter of an hour (which is exactly what they do in the middle of this new album), but as long as they can produce something as monstrously magical as “Piss Crowns Are Trebled” – all is forgiven.

This could well be the quintessential Godspeed You! Black Emperor song, and I’ve never been a huge fan of the band in the first place. Like Henryk Gorecki for the indie age, this is sorrowful intensity at its shimmering best. 

I can’t comment on the title, but this was like hearing Swans’ monumental “Apostate” in 2012. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Wild tales of revenge

There is a famous Spanish saying about revenge being ‘a dish better served cold’. While it would be hard to argue with that, the saying doesn’t hold true for Wild Tales, a terrific Argentinian film from 2014. Apart from the opening scenes, so farcical and so fascinating you will question your own sanity, very little here is planned and plotted. This is fiery South America, things get emotional.

You should love the insanity and the intensity of this. Wild Tales consists of six short films united by one common subject. Each piece presents someone (waitress, musician, bride, etc.) holding a serious grudge against someone else (bridegroom, government, world), and… well, revenge comes in many ways. From knives to dynamites to adultery. 

But all revenge is pointless, an idea well proven by that beautifully ridiculous, cathartic ending.  

Friday, 24 April 2015


We don’t share it, because for each one of us the essence of horror is different. I’m not even sure what that horror is for me. However, I do remember this.

Once I was at a concert in a pub (never mind) and saw a 15-year old kid standing to the left of me. I had just finished my pint and was basically ready for the dodgy live experience. But this kid was phenomenal. He was doing 3, 4, 5 pints all in a row. With no pauses and, rather impressively, no effect. He still remembered all the lyrics. I was dizzy. He was sober, pushing stage divers up the ceiling. 

But I did not envy him, not one bit. Because on a slightly larger scale, I felt that was the horror. This numbness, this paralysis that distills you. Imagine waking up in the morning and not feeling hungover or tipsy or drunk. On anything, but most importantly - on a feeling. Oh the horror.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Apartments – No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal

While I don’t do these anymore and the cover should tell you more than any review ever could, I feel this album demands a decent write-up. Because nobody else would give a damn: No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal is the sort of album that hits #128 on French charts, stays there for two weeks, then disappears from the face of Earth forever.

Until some abstract guy from 2043 starts trawling through 2015 albums that fame forgot and discovers this record and scratches his head and looks at the sky and asks how the fuck.

Gentle bass guitar opens the melody of the title track, and we are off. The taste here is impeccable. Peter Milton Walsh is the kind of guy who sings in whimsical, slightly nasal voice (acquired taste, but you’d be a fool not to acquire it) and comes up with bittersweet lines like ‘flowers of regret so suddenly in bloom’. The mood is hopelessly nostalgic, the lyrics are desperately sorrowful and these gorgeous, smooth melodies will take some time dragging out of the snow. 

The only moment that jumps at you comes during “September Skies”: that jangly, melodious chant which offers some hope (until you realise what September sky actually looks like). Otherwise, it’s dark orchestration, moody piano notes, sad guitar lines. You will need to give it some time – in the end, I promise, it will grow deep into you. 

Nostalgia. That’s the sound of this album. That’s the look of it. I mean, the cover is exactly like Munich I saw at the end of January. And end of January seems a million years away. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Draughtsman’s Contract

I love the sheer effrontery of his vision. I love the lush colouring of his work. I love the Renaissance sounds that go with his Baroque shots. But I don’t love Peter Greenaway. He is one of those great artistic people I’m supposed to love, I want to love, but I just don’t.

There are moments in The Draughtsman’s Contract that seduce me aesthetically. But aesthetically is not enough. If it is sexual, it has to look, smell, feel sexual.

Having said that. The soundtrack to that film, composed by Michael Nyman (Greenaway’s frequent collaborator), is just astonishing. I don’t need the film to enjoy the classical intensity of the strings and the brass that sound like Henry Purcell resurrected for the 20th century. “The Disposition Of The Linen” is my personal favourite, but it’s something else I will post here. 

Why? Only because of the picture that goes with the piece. It’s a special kind of picture for me, and at some point I’m going to write a lengthy and very personal post about it, but in the meantime… 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Missing piece

There is a story that you are always going to write.

But you don’t write it, because something is missing – deep within you or in the few people you really love. It’s an odd feeling. You have the idea, you have the shape of it. You can tell everyone you’ve got it, but in fact you are not even close. It’s like you haven’t lived enough to realise it just yet. It’s like some jigsaw puzzle with a few vital pieces missing. Might actually be one piece. But you are blocked.

There is this Russian story I’ve always wanted to write. However, every time I got close, it wriggled in my hands and slipped away. Time after time after time. And then suddenly, just the other day, I heard “The Clarke Sisters” while walking down my street. There’s this wind, nippy and kind of pointless in mid-April, and on the right I see a landscape that is like El Greco’s amazing View of Toledo. And that haunting beauty, at that very moment. And suddenly I remember that great video of Robert Forster playing “The Clarke Sisters” in Regensburg

And suddenly I have the story.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Scene with a prostitute

It’s been a strange kind of day, so I will choose it to describe a strange kind of scene. The scene belongs to House of Leaves.

Certainly not everyone will have the guts to read Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel from 2000, but if you happen to do that, up until the very last page, you will know you’ve done something special. The book will stay with you forever. Stick to your brain like a fascinating nightmare.

But this particular scene. It is one of the most psychologically devastating things I’ve read in a while.

The scene has to do with the main character, Johnny, who meets a prostitute. A whore or a hooker or something in between. Johnny is a curious, neurotic type who is one of those proverbial postmodernist characters crumbling under the weight of a highly dysfunctional world. As for the prostitute, she seems to have a heart of gold. They drive to his place, possibly in a taxi, and suddenly she sees this small dog abandoned on the sidewalk. A puppy. Lonely, hungry, craving for warmth and for love. Johnny wants… well, it’s easy to guess what Johnny wants from a prostitute driving in a taxi to his place. But she starts crying. Because there is this small dog and they absolutely have to take it with them. She nurses this adorable creature in her hands, and tears melt mascara down her cheeks. It’s desperate.

She is deeply unhappy. Quite possibly, depressed, and you feel for her and for the dog craving for warmth and for love. Just like her, just like everybody else. Johnny knows he missed his chance, but equally he knows it’s not about him anymore. It’s about her, the prostitute who is in reality a complex, emotional character who is crying her heart out. Crying and talking. Meanwhile, the taxi is already at his place. Johnny gets out of the car and tells the driver to drive her home. Should he take the puppy? No, the puppy will stay with her. He walks home and sees the car stopping in the distance, the car door opening, and the puppy thrown out on the road. The door slams shut and the car drives off. 

And Johnny just stands there, watching.

Saturday, 18 April 2015


This is a film about life, death and supermarkets, and we start with “Common People”. Of course we do. Then Jarvis tries to repair a car, it doesn’t work, so he gets a bike. After which he arrives at a pond and starts feeding ducks. God I love Jarvis Cocker.

However, my heart is forever won by that small Sheffield girl named Liberty who listens to “Disco 2000” and then has a few brilliant words to say to the camera. She is amazing. She moved me to tears.

It’s a fantastic documentary. Simple, straightforward, soaked through with millions of common people. Common fans, common musicians, common British city. Is Jarvis Cocker a common man? Well, as Pulp’s guitarist so nicely puts it, he has a potential to be one.

The vibe is simple and magical, and that is what they were going for. There’s this reunion concert in Sheffield which runs through the whole film, and we also get glimpses into this fairly unremarkable English city and what it has to say about Pulp (an elderly fan who goes by the name of Josephine: Better than Blur. More melody. Better words.) A musician, a nurse, a man selling newspapers. And all those little oddities that had to happen in a film starring Jarvis. We discuss Pulp-themed underwear. We see a bunch of people singing “Help The Aged” in a local diner. We see Jarvis throwing toilet paper into the audience.  

No one can touch this guy. No one. His charm is his vulnerability. With this concert in Sheffield, in the city where it all began, he wanted to tidy things up. Bring it all to a beautiful end. Which is not what rock stars do. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Mad Men: Severance

Season 7. Episode 8. 

Something sad and sweet for people who don’t have the guts to live their dream.

After such a long wait, this was over too quickly. From a girl in a fur coat to the final shot in a café, this was Mad Men balancing between surreal and compelling.

Surreal – because I’ve been here for so long, I also wanted to ask the Dos Passos-reading waitress why on Earth do I remember her.

Surreal – because Rachel gets back, and you had long thought she was but a ghost from the past. Which is what she ends up being. You are sentimental, but you understand.

Surreal – because Roger has a moustache now. And what a moustache that is.

Compelling – because… of everything else really. As ever, the amount of thought involved is incredible. Each scene a work of art that is not mere execution. It is also poetry. This is an episode that despite all the corporate cynicism (just business) has time to remember that Ken used to write, and what if he gets back to that one unrealized ambition. This is poetry, even if the poem turns out to be so bitter and so ugly.

And Don’s face, of course, getting from smug to hurt and devastated in a matter of one scene. From ‘show me how smooth your skin is’ to dour, desperate loneliness.

All set for a bittersweet final season that might, just might, avoid some horrible train crash. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Your blood, your psyche

What is left of some of the books you’ve read? One scene? Two scenes? Vague outlines of the plot? Name of the main character? Or maybe the circumstances under which you read this story or that novel? Like you were happy. Like you were depressed. Like you were late to catch the train.

Of some books nothing is left. Not even the title. Not even the name of the goddamned writer. 

Not a pleasant thought, but one you get increasingly to grips with. Your one hope is that it has all somehow dissolved within you. Your blood, your psyche. That art heals, forgives, makes you better. Your one hope is that you won’t die, just like all those books you don’t remember. It’s a false hope, but you can't afford to abandon it. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens is special. He is not unique, he is special. He is all the more special because there are so many artists doing more or less exactly what he is doing. But they are not special. They are faceless and ordinary. Sufjan is different.

Carrie & Lowell is his best album since Illinois.

I guess it’s all about the charm, which might sound like vague praise, but then what else can I say? His melodies are lovely but not especially striking (“John My Beloved” is in fact a bit of a drag) and his arrangements are simple and stripped-down (“Come On! Feel The Illinois!” is a thing of the past). His voice is so brittle it threatens to fall apart any second. His lyrics are haunting yet painfully sentimental. 

But there is this natural charm. Not even charisma – charm. Low-key charm. Carrie & Lowell is a record to live with.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Scientology and bad teeth

Oh those horrible teeth of L. Ron Hubbard. That huge fucking mouth that looks like it's about to swallow his flock. And not just his flock, now that you know that Leonard Cohen visited this goblin back in early 60s. Scary, fascinating stuff.  

I can't even tell what is more fascinating about Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, the film or the cult itself. The former has to count as one of the greatest documentaries I've ever seen, and the latter is, well, in case you thought Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal was too exaggerated… Fictionalising Hubbard seems fittingly ironic, considering that he built his whole church (Dianetics included) on his trashy penny-a-word sci-fi novels of late 20’s.

And all those people who got themselves into this mess; not your ordinary sheep, as this documentary so brilliantly reveals. Come to think of it, you have to be too weak to join the church. Or too strong. 

In order to start one, though, you would probably have to have bad teeth.

P.S. Percy Sledge died today. Years ago, in England, I made a mixtape using a friend's vinyl collection of singles. "When A Man Loves A Woman" may be ridiculously overplayed, but I've loved it ever since.  

Monday, 13 April 2015


I know Nick Cave won’t play this song in a month or so when I see him live in Moscow, but if (for whatever reason) he does – there will be at least one person in the audience on the verge of a music-related heart attack. Because that is what “Hiding All Away” does to me, after all these years of listening to Abattoir Blues/Lyre Of Orpheus (if ever you needed proof of what a great songwriter this man is).

Obviously I’m talking about that heart-stopping moment following the five-minute mark (5:10, to be exact), when the already brilliant song turns into… ah but you have to hear it for yourself. The anthemic power of “There She Goes My Beautiful World” or the heartbreaking beauty of “O Children” – nothing could come close to the glorious insanity of that chant. 

Live, this could single-handedly turn Russia into God-fearing democracy. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

How difficult was it, to care for an album released by a 60s man in his late 50s? Well, frankly, my dear... Donovan’s Beat Café is a special album. Sweaty, sexual, stylish. It’s the sound of gritty, greedy warmth of a late summer evening, when you’ve smoked too much and your brain is whizzing with tiredness and inspiration. 

Dylan Thomas’ classic poem is perfect in this setting. Bass lines that merge with words and then leave you speechless. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A certain kind

There are moments you cannot describe, things you cannot put into words. Things that haunt you down to your bones. You don’t just decide to write them down, and then write them down. It’s never like that. Truth is, I don’t know how it happens. It’s like they turn into a million tiny worms and then creep to the surface. You don’t mean it, they are just so deep within your subconscious mind and your screwed-up nervous system. They have to get out. Diaries are not autobiographical. Fiction is.

There is a certain kind of smile. There is a certain kind of day. 

And there is a situation. You are in a city, and it’s pouring with rain. Suddenly, it’s that kind of day again, and it’s that kind of smile. And you are both soaked through, but there is no bad blood between you. No bad memories, no mistakes from the past. Not anymore. You are both clean. It’s all that sky water, it has washed it all away. And you feel new, and your hair smells like rain, and your T-shirt weighs a ton and your heart weighs nothing, and maybe there’s a tinge of that old-fashioned happiness creeping through your veins. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Modern art...

It’s been something of a rule for me. Whenever I’m in a city I’ve never been to before, I always visit a modern art gallery. There are millions of stories in that. Some are fascinating (I once spent forty minutes in a Dublin lecture hall, alone, watching a bizarre but strangely magnetic video of somebody’s hand covering a bowl of fruit with white paint), most are pathetic (Duke of Wellington place in Glasgow).

But somehow – it is always worth it. Modern art galleries are like a secret key to a fascinating world that does not exist.

I think it all started years ago, in Gateshead. Not a city you would normally put on your itinerary. I just happen to know it better than almost any other place in the UK, and am probably going there again this summer. If you ever visit Gateshead or Newcastle, don’t go past Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. For that is one hell of a place. Last time I was there – they had three installations: an old Russian hut (that’s right: an old Russian hut), a room full of speakers creating a sound effect (somewhat intriguing) and a large hall covered with small stones (fuck you). And that’s a huge expensive building overlooking Tyne.

But the very first time I was there, in 2006 or thereabouts, Baltic spoke to me. Hundreds of installations with varying degrees of pretentious insanity. A tunnel built with TV sets you should crawl through, a plate full of fruits and vegetables that go rotten in front of your very eyes. God knows what else. 

And most importantly: the best thing I have ever seen in a modern art gallery. A man tap-dancing next to a dead body. On a small screen. On and on and on. I must have stood there for twenty minutes, unable to look away. That loop was more engrossing than a film by David Lynch. The image is forever stuck in my brain, and in whatever it is that I have ever done – I’ve always remained true to what I saw that day. Someone captured the essence of modern art there, in a way that I could almost understand. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Chants For Socialists

I like irrelevant people. In my experience, they are the sincere ones. And it’s especially wonderful when irrelevance comes with talent – in that case, it can produce such albums as Darren Hayman’s Chants For Socialists.

Because let us be honest: this album is like a classic Dutch still life in a modern art gallery. So genuinely irrelevant you could think it was all just a vague joke. An album about socialism (and I mean real, working-class socialism) in 2015, with song titles like “May Day 1894”, “All For The Cause”, “The Voice Of Toil” and “March Of The Workers”. I mean, who in their right mind?.. 

But sincerity always wins – when it’s at the heart of somebody’s art. You do not need to be relevant, you just need to release something as good as this.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Last season of Mad Men

Pretty much every single TV show in existence has been plagued by one common thing: diminishing returns. Inevitable, really. Natural. Some of the most dedicated and short-sighted of us might not even notice that nobody gives a damn anymore. Face it. The screenwriter has developed a drinking problem, the director said ‘fuck it’ and actors fail to turn up.

Curtains. Curtains! Will anyone draw the fucking curtains? 

Mad Men, however, is something else. Come to think of it, this might be the only TV drama of note that is not reliant on murders and drugs. Don Draper’s infidelity aside, there’s no shock factor to overshadow the writing and the characters. It is just this beautifully crafted world that is by turns cynical, nostalgic, stylish, moving. And still going strong, even if it’s just for seven final episodes. 

I will watch them with breathless dread. And then, when all is said and done, I won’t stop thinking about Pete (who could well be the most fascinating character created for modern television), about Betty smoking on the school bus (Eat your candy!) and that unforgettable episode where Don spends a day with his daughter and she says she loves him and the car door slams shut and you hear “This Will Be Our Year” from that most unforgettable of 60’s albums.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Masked & Anonymous

A really bloody awful film starring such great actors as Val Kilmer and Bob Dylan. What a mess.

Disclaimer: Blogger crashed (first it killed my picture, and now this) – and unfortunately, all the comments have been lost. I apologise to everyone who contributed, anonymously, semi-anonymously or otherwise, but I have no idea how to retrieve those comments. What is more, presently all comments are disabled – which might be a temporary feature, we shall see. 

In any case, there’s my email address on the left, and you can always use that. Thank you. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau

Of all places – it happened two months ago in Dachau. A trip which everyone had advised me against. Nazi concentration camp. Torturous roll calls and gas chambers and medical experiments that should never keep the human race beyond the realms of Hell. One of the grimmest places on the planet.

And yet I had to see it, after a sleepless night and a non-existent breakfast and some energy drink bought at the station.

Of course it was all that and more. Outside, a black sign plate advising children under 16 not to enter. Inside, a thin layer of snow and scattered groups of German students wandering about. You only have to close your eyes to see it all in your imagination and in your mind’s eye. 1942. It’s devastating.

Devastated, six hours later, you make your last round inside the museum. And then you see it. A black cat. It’s only now that you notice it, noiselessly creeping through the stands and the doors and the legs of those who had dared to come. Through your legs. This black cat is like a form of some tragic art that will always prevail, despite the hardships and the misery. A reminder. Everyone’s broken conscience. And a symbol. 

There is no shame in seeing it. Even if it doesn’t exist and you are blind and it is only a symbol. And then you stand at the bus stop, listening to the final part of Gorecki’s Third Symphony, and there is this cat again, black and lean and aggressive, trying to steal a sandwich from the cold hands of a hungry student.

Sunday, 5 April 2015


These people say no when they mean yes and then these people say yes when in fact they mean no fucking way and that seems like the main attraction of Bloodline which is exactly the type of show you should binge watch on a weekend to the sound of beer cans fizzing out in the stuffy air of your room behind the drawn curtains and some kind of weather outside and I don’t know just how stupid and contrived it is going to get come second season (and second season SHOULD come, by all means) but what I know is that if there’s anyone I envy it’s the kind of people who can come up with all these plotlines and characters more complex than the structure of your nerve cell and since writing courses work where raw talent fails I think you have to LEARN how to do that stuff otherwise you are going to be witty or pretentious or some other nonsense that a binge-watching lunatic on a weekend just doesn’t need because that sort of guy no what he needs is a fuck-up and a 30-year old family secret and a drug dealer and a wicked crime and a smutty sex scene and a bunch of neurotic well-meaning folks that are going to prove to you that every time you are saying no you are actually saying yes… 

…a hundred times over.

Saturday, 4 April 2015


A Chinese girl was holding a musical instrument in her hands. It was a clarinet. She was wearing a checkered skirt, black tights and a white blouse. The late summer day was beautiful, almost as beautiful as the darkness and the intensity of her hair. The girl was standing on the pavement, waiting for a car to pick her up and take her home.

“It’s awful”, he said.

She felt sick in her mouth, and she didn’t know what to say. Back in the day, he told her that it was always worth it, dating a girl who can play a musical instrument.

“Why?” she asked, her English frail and funny-sounding in those days.

“Because if you break up with her, it is always your fault”.

Today, he accused her and said she was the one to blame. And she barely said a word, which made him so angry and so red in the face.

“Goodbye”, she said.

There was a band playing behind her back. She listened up. The singer was mumbling too much, and it was difficult to make out the words. The band was doing some folk-rock covers, and as far as she could tell, they had no imagination and not much skill. Well, perhaps she could help them. Unpack her clarinet and join in.

She turned around, and it was him. His face, again, telling her how beautiful she was and how they should all play together. She thought she did not want that, and turned back facing the road. 

The car was late. And in the meantime, she remained standing still, this beautiful Chinese girl with a musical instrument. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

From Michigan to Illinois

In this age of small things, it’s refreshing to hear of an artist doing something big. When I found out in 2006 that Sufjan Stevens was planning a 50-album project dedicated to every American state – I thought my God, this is amazing. Of course, he also had to say the project was doomed to failure and there was no chance in hell he would complete it. Even if he drank all the right juices and lived to be a hundred. Fair do’s.

But when Michigan was followed by Illinois, practical issues seemed irrelevant. After all, here was a man with a big idea. 50 albums. It’s not that he was ever going to do that. It’s about defying reality and defying expectations. It's about breaking the fucking fish bowl.

Now, in 2015, it’s depressing to think that Carrie and Lowell might just be enough.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Froth On The Daydream

I wonder what Jean-Sol Partre thought of this novel. 

The title is perfect. The book is so weightless it barely exists. You sometimes get this odd feeling that any second your eyes will turn into a couple of tiny fluffy birds and fly away into eternity.

Reading Boris Vian’s novel from 1947 is like eating froth and drinking foam. However, it does create its own world. A world so irrelevant it could only be done in France after the Second World War. The kind of world that includes cute little mice living in bathrooms, clouds coming down at your request, shattered glass growing back. And, of course, crowds of people going crazy about Jean-Sol Partre (silly, but it works). 

Surreal, pointlessly irresistible, something a humourless and over-idealistic Luis Buñuel could turn into a film. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Will Butler

Listen to “What I Want” and you will see if it’s The Reflektor you wanted or maybe this is what you really wanted. It’s like a lost track from Neon Bible. All is in place: steady, driving groove and strong vocal hooks you can relate to. Well, as long as you can disregard the hilariously bad lyrics (‘pony macaroni’? – what the fuck, Billy).

8 songs, 27 minutes. Policy is criminally short. Still, what a talent this guy is. Win Butler is the one you see, but it’s Will, his younger brother, who could be Arcade Fire’s main creative force. The music is consistently good. A few funky Reflektor-isms aside (“Anna”, “Something’s Coming”), this should sound very appealing to every Canadian purist (Fools! The Reflektor was brilliant.). No artistic excesses, no need for you to resort to huge headphones. 

The minimalist, piano-based “Sing To Me” (cause I’m tired, and I don’t want to talk no more) is a quiet revelation.