Sunday, 9 November 2014

XTC - 'In Loving Memory of a Name' (1983) (Lest We Forget)

   I freely admit to being the type that ranks Mummer rather highly in the XTC canon. And since I'm no longer an adolescent, I won't mind much that this is purportedly among the more combustible opinions one can share over the combined works of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, Swindon's very own Lennon and McCartney (if such a thing is indeed comprehendible. It's Swindon

   Should one wish to stereotype the band's leaders in the ultra bland sense, Moulding was always the more contemplative one - I'd try "sensitive," but Moulding wasn't the one singing screeds about his ex-wife and the denouncing of God. His best moments make gliding melodies of mournful wistfulness and this, rather than composition or clever lines, is exactly what 'In Loving Memory of a Name' exemplifies. Partridge provides my favourite emotive moments on Mummer - no surprise, given his larger rate of songwriting output - but '... Name' is the tune that brings me closest to its narrator's state of mind, where impressionistic imagery, getting lost in the moment, an ambiguous aside at Christianity  and a respect for England's fallen fighters give direction to the motoring rhythm and perhaps what feels like every rockist musical flourish Britain has produced between the 15th century and 1983. The sweet sort of sincerity, in essence

   And aptly, one for Remembrance Day. "England can never repay you," indeed


Thursday, 30 October 2014

La Cabina (The Phone Box), 1972, Spain {English Subtitles}

   I certainly don't think anyone who views this will feel the same way about phone booths ever again. Whilst I couldn't help but become attuned to an apparent evocation of our great modern malaise (trapped and helpless on the Planet of the Pudding Brains, where compassion comes in last place to hedonism and self-interest), other commentators readily held up La Cabina's narrative as emblematic of the days of General Franco and all the eliding of human rights that went with it

   I suppose that one just had to be there

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cathal Smyth - A Comfortable Man, Live, October 2014



   To Wilton's Music Hall in East London last night, on the invitation of my old friend, artist Andrew Hancock, where I produced a set of photographs of the man we still call Chas Smash of Madness, resplendent amongst a sonorous orchestra, a songbird in black and the work of 50 contemporary artists directly inspired by Smyth himself. Nice work, if you can get it

   What bodes well for this album launch, which has two further nights at Wilton's to go, and indeed, the album itself is that the roguishly avuncular Smyth (who made your author, at least, feel as if in the company of the favourite uncle who casually turns the air blue and quickly moves along before the matriarch tweaks his ear) somehow managed to start out strongly and end on an even better finish. I suspect the builder's tea that he periodically topped up from with the appetite of Popeye


   Madness is one of this country's most resonant (and entertaining, lest we forget) bands. So, for anyone who may be in attendance tonight or tomorrow, or plans to be, I can assure you that rarely do you get a safer pair of hands to guide you through his new and warmly folkish material. Anticipate big choruses, assiduous charm, precision timing, band crushes and one big, open heart

   For you'll need every ounce of that goodwill whenever you try to get served at the Mahogany Bar




Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Dutchman by LeRoi Jones; The Crate Gallery, 2014


Kedar Williams-Stirling as "Clay," September 2014

   Jotham Annan is a RADA-honed actor and director of stage and screen, whose credits include the BBC's Holby City and Casualty, and versions of As You Like It and The Browning Version (everyone's favourite Rattigan?). To disclaim, he is also my cousin. I'm proud

   Over the past month, I have provided photography and costume consultancy for a new production by Jotham of 1964's The Dutchman, an interracial two hander written by Jones, later Amiri Baraka, whom I have discovered late in life. An African-American playwright, activist, writer and critic with a penchant for trenchant monologues and non-sequiturs of the disquieting kind, judging from this particular work, he was a natural attractor of the controversy that dogs the outspoken; doubtless, I will find pronouncements and quotes of his to embrace and discard with time

   Tonight ushers in the opening night at Notting Hill's The Crate Gallery, helmed by my old friend Matthew Gerrish. The Crate is not known for its voluminousness and thus each performance of this short run (tonight to Friday, this Sunday and next Wednesday and Thursday) are suitable for less than 30 people only. Nevertheless, compromised though I may be, it is worth purchasing tickets for next week's performances, which were added after the promising selling out of this week's

   In these days of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, to name but two, a text like The Dutchman is not only entertainment, but something of a yardstick of America's entangled multiracial structure, exactly 50 years prior, with which to compare to today. And it is exactly this challenge to muse on where America was going in light of these atrocities that makes it worth producing today

BON




Monday, 22 September 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

#Menswear



Butler of Style Forum and Winston Chesterfield at an I am Dandy drinks reception hosted by tailor Steven Hitchcock, September 2013

Monday, 15 September 2014

Pinterest on (Mode) Parade



   I am now assembling a small collection of boards on design, architecture, photography and style right here:


   The collection of images on my Pinterest boards is presently rather modest, but I anticipate that it will grow in tandem with my developing understanding of it. I've already begun utilising it for my photography efforts, at the very least, and it is a curious way of determining what one finds attractive, even in the face of what seem to be the labile tastes of the rest of the planet. Which reminds me that of the smorgasbord on offer, the pins of most utility appear to be cookery recipes

   Happy image hunting

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My Sony NEX-5N and Me (An Introduction)



   I don't often lack for adventures. And since I have been documenting some of them with my beloved Sony NEX-5N for some time, the memories, no matter how twee, shameful or comedic, don't easily leave me either. So given that I've a high threshold for public personal embarrassment, I've no qualms about occasionally sharing some of them here

   Given my antique status, the majority of my lenses for this respected, latter-day interchangeable lens system are vintage; a decision that has resulted in some proudly protean and beguiling results. The glass that took the image above was a Canon FD 50mm, on the occasion of a Chinese installation at my recent alma mater, Chelsea College of Arts

   I'll conclude on this note for now - photography is gaining me access to an increasing number of lively weddings. But that's a topic I'll cover in detail another time

BON

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Review of Czech & Speake's Vetiver Vert



   In a niche cornered by the likes of the renowned Vetiver by Guerlain and Tom Ford's more recent Grey Vetiver, Czech & Speake's own offering, Vetiver Vert, provides an alternative to the former's classical, earthy character and the latter's colder, sensual sportiness. Pleasingly traditional in its "greenness" and ingredients, Vetiver Vert emphasises a more citrus-heavy take on this herbal scent, making for a striking initial impression that exchanges sharpness for smokiness as the topnotes fade

   This produces something of a nontraditional take, at least where vetiver scents are concerned; although some may find it alternately redolent of burning incense or a scented ashtray, it still produces an intriguing effect. At this stage, the vetiver note also begins to assert itself, lending the expected woody character. Once the drydown takes hold, the spice ingredients and the woody notes guide the fragrance in the natural fashion - reassuringly so, given the tendency amongst some contemporary interpretations of vetiver to produce more synthetic results

   Although intended for unisex consumption, Vetiver Vert succeeds as an occasional companion for modern gentlemen and more of a curio for today's ladies past the initial stage of zesty top notes. Nevertheless, I would recommend at least a sample to those in search of a green fragrance for their collection

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