Saturday, March 31, 2007

UrMetal Tours : Noxagt / Earth / Jesu / Isis : March - April


April already looks to be the month of METAL. After many delays from the Federal Government - Jesu finally have their visa permits to gain access to our lovely country of Amerika and barrage us with their particular variety of spacemetal jams. Noxagt from Norway, in the event that you haven't heard some of the heaviest sounds ever played by three people, are another not to miss. Especially considering that the lineup is electric viola, bass and drums, led by the bass doomaster Kjetil D Brandsdal. Keep an eye out in your town, both shows should prove to be HEAVY.

Jesu / Isis Tour:

Link to the Official JESU Blog Site

Noxagt / Earth Tour:

Link to the Southern Lord - Earth / Noxagt Site

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tenori-On / ElectroPlankton - Is the Future of Musical Composition Handheld VidToys? ...Or What?


Looks like these devices are gaining ground as potentially legit tech
format/more-than-toys/music making machines...
and yaknow what?, seriously, I'm all for new audio-interfaces that
bring more spontaneity and improvisational play to composition.
Handheld vidgames or not. They're pretty cool. And fun. Not to mention
the territory a skilled musicmaker/ improviser might come to explore
with these things in combination with some of the current
compositional software. Something like Ableton Live/ Tenori-On? Now,
if only ElectroPlankton on the Nintendoo DS would allow you to load your
own soundesign into em' we'd really have somethin! ...And yes, admittedly
the Tenori-On, as cool as it is, does rather look like "Attack of the LightBright".


Link to Tenori-On - live vid-presentation


Link to ElectroPlankton - various examples in action

And simultaneously, significantly more 'legitimate' new hardware
interfaces like Jazzmutant's 'LEMUR' and the 'Reactable' interface
developed by Pompeu Fabra University's Music Technology Group are
being championed by the likes of Bjork and Mark Bell in their live
shows. Now these, I'm genuinely, unreservedly, crazy-enthused about!
If only there wasn't the prohibitive cost of both to contend with. But
it is usually the way of technology and its development to see these
refined, well engineered (and darn expensive) devices to eventually
have a release of a less costly 'consumer model'. Hopefully that will
be the case here. Because these, to use a grand word, could be
genuinely 'Revolutionary'. And here they are for your own
wonderment/art-making lust/perusal:



Link to Reactable - demo vid-presentation

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Jia Zhang-Ke's new film "Still Life" / Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Climates" at NWFF : Mar 16 - 22

Link to the Official "Still Life" Site

Link to Official "Climates" Site

Two examples of new cinema that differ much from each other in stylistic approach and how each translate their fundamental concerns to visual narrative, but deal in similar existential questions, interpersonal relationships and cultural/political environment motivating/effecting change in individual lives.

Ceylan's film belonging more to the shool of Antonioni and Bergman in its exploration of the inner life of the characters, their thoroughly disintegrated romantic relationship (yes, its uberuplifting) and the changing landscape that surrounds them through shifting location and seasons. This was a fave of mine from last year (made the nerdish 'films of the year' list) and its a treat (and a bit of a reaffirmation) to see it on the current schedule for the Northwest Film Forum this month.

Director Jia Zhang-Ke has had a number of critically lauded films in the past half-decade, and is often spoken of as the highest-profile of the 6th generation of Chinese filmmakers. His previous feature "The World" made many critical polls in 2005 (including my own) and his newest "Still Life" has already managed to eclipse it by winning the highest award offered, the Golden Lion, at this years Venice Film Fest on its European premier. This is an example of cinema that both defies comparison and a easy history of association that proceeds it. Set in the 'Three Gorges' dam project in central China the film frames lives, landscape and rural history slowly sinking into the massive waters of the Yangzhe reservoir project, an event economically and politically motivated/executed with (seemingly) little or no regard for the losses involved. History, lives, families, friendships, tradition are all swallowed up by the rising waters. That its a film dealing in fundamental intimate concerns - two romantic relationships (one having parted for over a decade and the other convening to address the 'whys' of it all after a year of silence) set literally 'within' the massive, monolithic scale of the of the river valleys and demolition projects tearing down cities of brick and cement (by hand!) in advance of the rising waters - lends the whole experience the most otherworldly effect I've seen in cinema where no notions of the 'metaphysical' or 'dreamlike' are directly addressed by the film itself. Zhang-ke benefits from what is probably one of the most profound settings ever seen in cinema (the grandeur of the destruction/change pictured is beyond comparison) but its his depiction of the intimacy (and physicality) of his characters within this landscape, paced to the strength of his quiet storytelling that make the film more than just a document of monumental geographical and societal change. Events larger than life, viewed from the perspective of those who's daily lives are being displaced by the course of large-scale economic and historic 'progress' (aka: modernization) - its in this intersection of perspectives that the film generates its particular beauty and incomparable(?) character. (I can think of no other film/director in my experience to reference in speaking of "Still Life" - possibly a strange mix of the scale of Herzog's "Aguirre" and Tsai-Ming Liang's bodily intimacy? Set in modern communist China? ... I dunno. ) The result is easily the best piece of 'new' cinema I've seen in a good year or more. Looking forward to an eventual theatrical run stateside. Believe I've read that the NY Lincoln Film Center will feature the US premiere in the coming month(s):

Link to the Lincoln Film Center Site

Monday, March 5, 2007

50 Years of Janus Films at SIFF Cinema : Mar 1 - Apr 22

CRITERION - Janus Films

Link to SIFF "Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films" Site

Hard to imagine spending much time in the theatre the way the weathers been these past days, but no doubt it'll be craptastic and raining like a mofo all over again by next week. Seattle Intl. Film Fest with Janus Films has curated this 32 Film series of classic and fantastic cinema from the past century. Janus has done a exceptional job of making their catalog much of the canon of the 20th century and this series is a rare opportunity to see many of these in the cinema. This series coincides with the new Janus/Criterion Box set of the same name - which is a work of art itself. They got it at Scarecrow, go check it out, at least just to heft the thing. All films at SIFF's new McCaw Hall theatre facility there at the Seattle Centre, 321 Mercer Street.

Link to Janus Films Site - Infos on Janus/Criterion Box Set