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Dec 17 2014

Site down for a bit

The site will be down at some point on Monday while we change servers and tinker ‘under the hood’ so to speak. A nicely updated and streamlined site will replace this one, not a big departure but easier to use and responsive to phones, tablets and desktops too.

Dec 15 2014

Ody-C, Prophet and Madman in 3D

ODY-C is a new sci-fi take on The Odyssey, turning the myth on its head by reversing the roles so that almost all the characters are female. For me it was hard going, obviously taking cues from Prophet‘s galaxy-wide palette but not exactly easy to get into with the prose style being what it is.

Great artwork but ridiculous 8 panel foldout opening pages with baffling preamble that almost put me off. The main thing that will be interesting is that, aside from two male characters, it’s totally female-centric and that’s refreshing. It’s beautiful to look at but will that be enough to sustain it? Writer Matt Fraction is unknown to me but he seems to have written a ton of the main characters for a lot of the major publishers as well as winning a fair few awards.

Speaking of Prophet, there have been two interim ‘Strike Files’ that fill in characters and back story for those just getting into it. The next arc – Earth War – begins Dec 24th and this is still one of the most intelligent, forward thinking sci-fi comics out there. Here’s a self-contained page from ‘Strike File 2′.



Another amazing-looking comic that reads badly is the MadMan ‘In Your Face 3D special’ which, despite having some of the best 3D I’ve ever seen in a comic, is dull as dishwater. The first half of the comic mainly consists of Madman and Mister Excitement running through all manner of alternate realities featuring versions of themselves as just about every comic character you can think of. Many are rendered in the style of the originals with some excellent stylistic observations but it’s just page after page of tedious dialogue.

Later on he spends 14 double page spreads battling flying snake-like beings whilst engaging in the kind of conversation you’d normally associate with a few jars down the pub. The depth of the imagery is great and the wormy beings are perfect to convey this but it’s repetitive and dull to read. Better are the 20 odd pin-up pages that form a large chunk of the end of the book, drawn by guest artists that play with the medium to varying degrees of success.

But what do I know? I’ve never read Madman in my life and am probably missing all sorts of clever plot points and character development, looks great but wasn’t for me. It strikes me that something like the current run of Sandman would be perfect fodder to convert into 3D which could also play on the inter-dimensional themes of the character.

Dec 15 2014

Black Christmas this Friday in Manchester

Love this design and look at that line up.

Dec 15 2014

New Trevor Jackson LP – 12 tracks, 12 formats in 2015

Distilled from over 100 tracks made over the last 14 years, Trevor Jackson has teamed up with The Vinyl Factory to release a version of his next album as 12 different formats.

A version including 12″, 10” and 7” vinyl, CD, Mini CD, Cassette, USB, VHS, Mini Disc, DAT, 8-track and Reel-to-Reel will be available in February with standard vinyl and digital editions to follow. No idea on price yet but more info is here.

Dec 15 2014

The Advisory Circle’s ‘From Out Here’ album

The latest album from Jon Brooks under his The Advisory Circle guise is his best yet. I feel confident in saying this, not only because it’s already received universal praise from others but because there’s something in ‘From Out Here’ that goes further than before. There’s a deeper sense of menace than previous, lighter, works, as well as that ‘remembered nostalgia’ feeling that you really have heard some of these songs before. As with Boards of Canada‘s best, relying more on the familiarity of sound textures than samples, Brooks transports us back to an unspecific time somewhere between the mid 60′s and the late 70′s.

Take a track like ‘Escape Lane’ for example; the opening motif recalling classic Carpenter / Howarth before the main chiming keyboard riff instantly evokes a forgotten library cue from a BBC schools play or educational programme. The kind of track that would be labelled “light, breezy, synthetic, optimistic… ‘ on the back of any library LP description. So far, so good, this is then followed by a much subtler, darker piece that recalls some of David Sylvian‘s soundscapes before swinging back into another light synth line, this time accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano. Then things get weird as we eavesdrop of a recording of someone sending a message back to a loved one, repeatedly referred to in a slightly stilted way as, “…darling”. It’s here that the phrase ‘from out here’ is uttered and presumably what inspired the album title. Further spoken word pieces appear; a disembodied voice intoning ‘pushing, pushing, pushing and purring’ and ’2, 5, 9′ in a mix of Twin Peaks meets number station menace.

There are shades of old world nostalgia similar to Kraftwerk‘s ‘Radio Activity’ on tracks like ‘Experiment!’ with synthesized machines blowing steam and pumping pistons in the background. It continues on side 2 as Brooks conjurers themes from the kind of TV programmes that would start just as it was time for bed, the opening strains of which would be all you’d hear as you were ushered out of the living room and up the stairs, wondering what they could contain that wasn’t fit for children’s eyes. It’s also a distinctly British sound and approach, from the sonic tones to the accents of the spoken passages and nowhere near as dark as Jeremy Schmidt‘s similarly-themed ‘Beyond The Black Rainbow’ which piled on the horror.

Julian House‘s artwork has now moved to a point where he has defined a good portion of the visual stimulus associated with the Hauntological genre and his cover doesn’t shy away from including as many as possible. On receiving the LP my wife remarked, “oh is there a record of that book?” (referring to ‘Discovering Scarfolk’ by Richard Littler), so strong are the associated connections now. And make no mistake, that’s no bad thing, this is a perfect example of Hauntology right down to the sci-fi concept of patient experimentation and computer-generated society. All this is helped by track titles like ‘Discipline Before Data’, ‘Jessica Finds The Beach’ and references to ‘Triadex’ (a Triadex Muse was an old 70′s sequencer-based synthesizer) set in the old Monotype ‘Computer’ font.

It’s hard to pick a favourite track as they all work to form a larger picture, a complete work that’s all any composer could wish for in an age where albums are cherry-picked into a distilled form of ‘highlights’. Brooks has been on a roll this year with the highly personal ’52′ album on Clay Pipe Music, mastering work, mixes and a collaboration with Sean O’Hagan on the Other Voices series for Ghost Box. ‘From Out Here’ is my favourite though as it embodies everything I love about the label and it’ll be interesting to see where he takes things next. You can buy it direct from the label here and, although vinyl is my preferred format for all GB releases, the CD and DL have 3 extra tracks so I might have to get a second copy.

The Advisory Circle present ‘Winter From Out Here’ by Cafekaput on Mixcloud

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