30 October 2009

Losing feeling

No Age were one of the good things about living in Los Angeles (along with HEALTH and this kick ass vegan restaurant in Little Tokyo). So enjoy the new No Age video, shot entirely in adorable mouse-cam.

28 October 2009

Lipstick traces

From David Hlynsky's series of photographs of shop windows in Eastern Europe from 1986-1990, the waning days of the Communist era. Go and take a look.

The Exorcist

Scariest movie ever? I think so. Check out this crazy trailer. Happy Halloween!

26 October 2009

Music to burn down Prada by

Because I'd rather be at HEALTH tonight. And I can't. Bollocks.

Edit: This video is so awesome it's burning down Pop Molecule's layout too. Sorry.

25 October 2009

The Road

Last week I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road. This is the sort of story I really enjoy. I liked the fact that the author didn't focus so much on what led to this post-apocalyptic world. In fact, he doesn't detail what happened or how it came to this, even the two main characters are unnamed. Almost everything is about the here and now. Anyway, without going into too much detail as I don't want to spoil it more than I already have, I was excited to learn that a movie adaptation has already been made and is going to drop next month. It's directed by John Hillcoat, who directed 2005's The Proposition, which is one of my favorite movies. The music is being done by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who have scored The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. So far, this has all the makings of something pretty cool. Well, let's say I am cautiously optimistic. The site for the movie is here, and you can check out the trailer below.

THE ROAD (2009) Official Trailer from THE ROAD on Vimeo.

Let's play a game

I'll post a famous photograph, then add an mp3 caption that sort of fits. We'll start with William Eggleston's 1976 untitled image, above, which for some reason was the first thing that entered my brain when (thanks to Gorilla Vs. Bear) I heard "Ghost Train," this very lovely indie pop song by Summer Camp. They are from Sweden but apparently have just moved to London, so I look forward to getting to hear them in person at some point soon.

23 October 2009

I am a stranger

A new Fever Ray video, a cover of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Stranger Than Kindness. Karin Andersson takes Nick Cave's song about sleazy, empty hotel sex and turns it into something eerie, otherworldly and, frankly, kinda frightening. I love it.

Stranger Than Kindness from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

The medieval style

The other night I had the opportunity to attend a London screening of Bruno Dumont's wild new film Hadewijch. It is a movie, broadly speaking, about religion and alienation, about a young woman with a hard-on for Jesus. And since Jesus doesn't exist, this becomes kind of a problem.

Céline, a theology student and convent novice, has a single-minded ascetic intensity that frightens even the nuns. "Abstention, not martyrdom!" the mère supérieure scolds her as, desperately seeking Jesus, she refuses food and warm clothing. In time, the exasperated sisters in Christ drum the stubborn girl out, back to Paris and the outside world. Home with her prominent political family in a fabulously cavernous luxury apartment, she finds solace not with the extraordinary wealth around her, but with constant prayer and a faithful pet dog. Of this fallen world, young and beautiful Céline is clearly not. But a very modern story unfolds as she further alienates herself from her parents, falls in with a shiftless Arab Muslim boy, screams through the streets of Paris on a nicked scooter, and finds a practical, earthly vessel for her God lust--namely, terrorism. Good times.

The French director Dumont, on hand for a Q&A, claimed he wanted to make a film about religious extremism to "lower the temperature of the discussion" of the subject. If those being the loudest in that discussion were to see this film, I doubt it would have the desired effect. I can't imagine the world's devout Muslims would be thrilled; meanwhile some epithet about freedom fries would inevitably be hurled from the other side of the Channel or Atlantic. But what I took away most from Dumont's remarkable film is the distinctly medieval flavor of this terribly up-to-date story.

That is no accident, as the film takes its name--as does Céline, in the film's soaring final movement--from a 13th century mystic who wrote ecstatic poetry evoking a sublime romantic love for the Almighty, an all-consuming lover who leaves little room for more worldly biology. Céline/Hadewijch is not so much a character as a medieval abstraction. Music seems to be all that reaches past her aura of inscrutability, as she loses herself in church to a chamber ensemble playing Bach, or at a colorful accordion-punk show down by the Seine, where shirtless young rock musicians shred their own spin on Bach too.

Bach would seem an odd choice, given how he more than anyone brought music out of the ancient world with a systematic implementation of equal (or at least well) temperament. The revolutionary sounds that came with the birth of the baroque, some might argue, are the seedlings of modernity itself, the beginning of the end of a world that could make sense to Hadewijch. Through these lengthy and arresting musical interludes, Dumont emotionally locates his heroine right at the threshold between her world and ours; how the two interact--by turns comic, tender, and horrific--is what makes the film so riveting.

Hadewijch the film is naturalistic in style, proceeding from a realistic origin even as Hadewijch the girl undergoes her improbable transformation. But, like a lot of films I like, it is not realistic as such. If it were, Céline/Hadewijch would not be so lonely. In our world, the medieval view in fact has considerable currency. To return to the musical heart of Dumont's presentation, it's worth noting that classical music nowadays has a pretty ambivalent relationship with the equally tempered tuning system that ushered in the past 200 years of all kinds of western music and rationality. Last year Ross W. Duffin published How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony to acclaim and, for a book on music theory, eyebrow-raising commercial reception. San Francisco's Kronos Quartet, probably the most commercially popular classical string quartet ever, are known to mix and match their repertoire with medieval early music and contemporary composers like Arvo Pärt, noting their formal affinities. The medieval style in cultural life may be a minority pursuit, but it is a potent one. I wouldn't say that listening to too much experimental contemporary music would make you want to start blowing shit up. (Although the snarky may be inclined to recall it was Stockhausen who called 9/11 "the biggest work of art there has ever been.") I just think Dumont would agree that Hadewijch--beautiful, unknowable and a little bit dangerous--is not alone.

22 October 2009


Osaka musician and DJ Taichi Moriguchi, aka Oorutaichi, is playing a gig next month in London as part of the International Festival of Exploratory Music. I'm going to be there with bells on.

Through a small but significant trickle of underground singles and CD-R releases over the past decade, Oorutaichi has been quietly reimagining and reconfiguring the base folkloric elements of pop music in a funky, humanised electronic soup. His sound is a strangely alluring, shiny goop. It is odd, fun and playful. As Oorutaichi sings in his own invented language, drawing on a synthetic mythos of some fantastic planet, you sense this is where pop can go next, or ought to. As Momus put it last year, "his music sounds new to me, now, the way Neu! and La Dusseldorf and Can and Faust probably sounded to David Bowie in 1977".

The dizzyingly groovy 2007 album Drifting My Folklore, a refinement and summation of his work up to that point, is essential. It includes the 2006 disco "Misen Gymnastics", which was my first introduction to Oorutaichi pop.

18 October 2009

We'll always be together

I just read that Lali Puna are working on a new album, coming sometime in spring of 2010. This excites me to no end, so I feel compelled to post this vid, which I really, really adore. It's Lali Puna's cover of Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey's Together in Electric Dreams, set to video clips from Wong Kar Wai's 2046.


Good morning, world. Let's get off to a flying start. I give you Toast Girl, a crispened bread enthusiast from Tokyo, relating the miraculous story of 'Baguette Bardot' in a cover of French pop icon Claude François' 'Chanson Populaire'.