Friday, January 27, 2006

Musical Excursions

Recently I’ve moved off into the realm of the musicological, thus explaining the lack of updates on here in the past week or so, I’ve had to shirk my writing responsibilities (and plenty others) to experiment with the wonderful world of the riff. And so what has come of it are two musical projects worthy of a few introductory and promotional words (links and so on will follow at the end).

First project is The John Matrix Blues Quintet. This is my solo undertaking, yes despite the numerology in the title it is but one man. It mainly consists of some guitar by myself, along with a few samples of Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to give that slight hint of structure, apparently music fans like that. There’s something for everyone here, for those of the acoustic guitar sensibility there’s ‘Arnica Acoustica’ for your very aurals, or for those who prefer something a bit more heavy, perhaps of a death metal type of bludgeon, then there’s ‘Cookies’ to sample. Other songs include the mystifyingly popular ‘Arnie Syndrome’, and the Total Recall themed ‘Remember Arnie Cash and Carry’.

The other project is a collaboration with The Duke named Impossible Mexico. It too features guitar by me (I see a trend here), alongside vocals and lyrics by master wordplayer and crooner The Duke. Only one song so far, the epic ‘Fahey In Excelsis’. I doubt I need go into detail of the thematic qualities of that particular ode. It’s not foreign territory for either of us I’ll say that much. Expect more songs in the near future, such as the soon to arrive Kickboxer composition.

All of this music is available from myspace, chosen because it’s accessibly easy to use to further those music needs, it’s as simple as uploading the mp3 and there ya go, right there, songs ready to be enjoyed by millions. Go ahead and check them out at the following links:

The John Matrix Blues Quintet

Impossible Mexico

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rambo: First Blood Part 2 - Cinematic Cheese Series: #3

I was scurrying the dark catacombs located deep beneath the local worship monolith, a sculpture erected in such obtuse angles as to be completely invisible to all but the most keen eyed. The catacombs were laced with the shadowy residue of antiquity, the sort of terror-filled, cyclopean nastiness that would have given old man Lovecraft himself a month of sleepless nights. Occasionally I came across a creature whose entire head resembled the mouth of a wolverine; it had as many teeth as most yak have hair. It was never a fun jaunt out to Coney Island when I ran into their putrid, instinctual masses; normally I was able to fend them off with my bayonet, all except for this one time a florescent yellow one took a chunk out my arm. But I soon showed him that we are a multiple limbed genus, and I won’t lie, I ate him...I ate him all.

It was whilst on one of these explorations that I happened upon a room I’d never seen before. It had a floor surface made of velvet, and walls of suede, and had the aroma of a bullet through the skull of a 17th century aristocrat. And in that room was a box. And in that box was a case. And in that case was a hand-wrapped piece of architecture that suffered the power of Zeus, the sexuality of Aphrodite, and the blue of Fahey. I slowly caressed away the fabric and was instantly blinded by a great ethereal light. A pre-Cambrian odyssey incarnate, for it was none other than the DVD of Rambo: First Blood Part 2.

Rambo: First Blood Part 2 follows Mr John Rambo, a Vietnam veteran, now slumming in up in a federal prison after beating Brian Dennehy one too many times at Mouse Trap. He is approached by his old military superior with the news that there are still some Americans in Vietnamese POW camps, and it is proposed that he go and partake in the operation to rescue them. And so off he goes into the mad labyrinth of war, for he is war, oh yes.

Rambo: First Blood Part 2 has many layers and themes, never is anything quite as clear cut as, say, a Lundgren movie would be. We don’t just have Rambo combating a bunch of leftist Northies intent on proving the domino theory to be correct, we also have a nefarious bureaucracy. The chiefs are out to get want they want, regardless of anything else, the Kafkaesque administration, too absorbed in public relations to give a shit about Rambo, those POWs, or anyone else. There’s exposition on morality, altruistic selflessness (Rambo: “I’m expendable.”), utilitarian theory (the scene where Rambo discusses Bentham with his captors in-between torture sessions).

But let’s not lather Rambo: First Blood Part 2 in a lot of film school bollocks, we can talk about the phallic symbolism behind Rambo’s stab stick, but we all know, deep down in the cockles of our livers, that this is a love story through and through. However I’m not talking about a man’s love for his country, for that would just be a lot of patriotic, nonsensical bullshit, and to speak of it would be insulting for all of us. No, this is the deep personal love connection, an esoteric longing fought over the battlefields of mass society, the intense, tender adoration scarcely discovered on the plains of cinema produce. Yes, for this is everything Casablanca wanted to be.

The love arc begins when Rambo, upon jumping from a plane into the jungle, meets his precious lady, local freedom fighter Co Bao (played by Julia Nickson-Soul, yes the very same actress who had a cameo in season three of SeaQuest DSV). They share something special and unique; Rambo’s Clark Gable to Bao’s Vivien Leigh, only better cos’ Gable never blew up buildings and shot people between the gentle moments. Devotion was redefined following their all too short intimacy. The Bronte’s did not truly understand love and affection, how could they? For they died long before civilisation was to witness the epitome of the genuine reflection of that preoccupying emotion. The scene: Rambo had just actualised the bond between his soul-mate and he, and, like many couples (Lizzy and that Darcy chap pop to mind), they went out to a gun-fight to celebrate. Unfortunately a mischievous bullet went and bludgeoned our little Bao in the sternum, and she was dead forever. A distraught Rambo, in a fit of vitriolic fury, was forced to massacre her dirty murderers, during which he cried a flow of crystalline ambrosia straight from his sentimental, recondite personal Eros. It was powerful imagery.

Rambo: First Blood Part 2, like the planet we scamper on, is an object of many layers. The violence is the crust which forms the rim around which all else is contained. The authoritarian corruption is the mantle which acts as a porous intermediary on proceedings. And at the core it’s a story of two people, brought together under the ugly stage of conflict, who knew one another as few people have, who typified what is it to have a divine, diaphanously enriched connection, one that transcends life itself.

Out For Justice - Cinematic Cheese Series: #2

Wittgenstein is often accused of toppling the walls of philosophy, his spattering of the truth function, the writhe and wiggle of propositions, the fundamental essence of elements; with his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus he said a big “Fuck you” to his contemporaries still floating around in the bubble of Hegel, or making chilli sauce over Hume’s circular reasoning in induction. He undermined an entire scholarly area with his pronunciation that that which is not overtly fathomable to the human mind, namely certain mystical and emotion phenomena, is simply beyond utterance. An enfeebling of the very things that philosophy was and is about. His rigid logic, often verging on mathematics, lays claim to arranging a way, the only way, that we can theorise life and existence.

With his final line of wisdom a flaming trident straight to the heart of epistemologists and meta-physicists was felt everywhere: “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” Sounds rather obvious that thought outside of human cognizance, the thoughts never thought, are not going to be able to be mentally postulated. However the heavy fists of Manny Kant and Freddy Nietzsche would certainly rip that flaming trident out of the weeping minnows and hit back with a powerful blade of ontological reasoning and the very foundational principles of intellectual inquiry.

Well the very intransigence that Steven Seagal is able to insinuate from his pouting corneas and greasy ponytail in Out For Justice is similar to the hardened math-logic of Wittgenstein. Seagal carries the conceptual notions of tautology in formulations of p and q with exemplary ease of adaptation, his relentless pursuit underlines the very ideas of an understandable logic, truth functions brought real as his altruism never once weakens. Steven Seagal is best known as a martial artist, movie star, and musician, but people all too often forget to add the label of philosopher into that cacophony of definition.

Out For Justice, Seagal’s third motion picture, has a plot of intense complexity, the sort of winding narration and symbolic imagery to make Tarkovsky’s The Mirror look like The Pacifier. Pay attention to each of the following syllables here because it may be easy to lose the thread of explanation. Seagal’s a cop, his name is Gino Felino, his partner is killed, Seagal goes to get revenge.

OK it may not be that complex, but did I mention that the bad guy is from the old neighbourhood, and that he and Seagal have history? Oh yes, things aren’t quite so black and white here, I see at least three tints of yellow and maroon cascading across my television set right now.

The intertextuality that flows from one scene to another is astounding, for example, in one segment we witness Seagal driving around New York listening to the Beastie Boys, then in another there is the parallel tones of Seagal combating some bar-room heathens using a few pool cues. It’s a composite, for sure, but one which lacks the manufactured qualities of so much so-called cinema, this has the naturalised mental tactility of true reality.

The film isn’t all about crazy art-house crafting, don’t worry, the dialogue is another area that the creators have not shirked their energies away from. Rather reminiscent of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot at times, the organic roll of words is enough to produce goose-bumps on even the most impassive individual, most of this emanating from the pursed blob of lip near Seagal’s chin. It’s almost taking a leap into the aphoristic qualities of proverb, just gaze your retinal optics towards this piece of truth gifted to us by Seagal: “Don’t be a bad guy, be a nice guy.” It warrants no interpretation, such is the emphasis on clarity that Seagal embodies his very soul into in all that he vocalises.

Seagal would later go out again, in both Out For Reach and Out For A Kill, who wants to stay in anyway? His outings give hope to even the most suppressed and repressed and oppressed masses that see his art, an affirming rarely seen these days, and one that, granted the correct respect and dignity, could end up going on to end world suffering and the mass enslavement of people to commodities and abstract symbols of wealth.

Kickboxer - Cinematic Cheese Series: #1

“Everybody follows the leader, everybody follows the man.” That Stan Bush, he was a profound creature, what exactly was his intimation here? Is Jean Claude Van Damme the leader? Is he the man in this equation? Could it be possible that he be not one but both entities? I’m not sure, I doubt even Kant has a secure handle on these kind of hermeneutical quandaries, but I do know one thing, and that is when Van Damme is out to kick your rectum across the cosmic swirl you best run away, then again he’s a quick one, so he’d surely catch you, so unless you have some cyanide on your person, I’d just take the beating and be glad it’s Van Damme and not Pauly Shore.

Kickboxer concerns an ace kickboxing champion who gets a thrashing to rival the string-shred of Testament by a large Thai named Kung Po. It is then up to the champ’s little brother, one Van Damme, to avenge his now paralysed big bro.

And so, on we go. Opening scene conjures pictorial resurrection of some sort of ethnographic documentary, set to the backdrop of 80’s big beats, our faithful American Belgians arrive in Thailand on a hover-boat thing, kinda like all that malarkey at the end of Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, except that that particular comedic affair had fewer naked local youths taking a dip in the murky waters. Probably influence from Mondo Cane there. Will we see Van Damme and his moustached big bro entering into the array of local cultures to make notes and learn some mind-expanding hand gestures? Or maybe dissect a few monkeys? Perhaps.

I returned from a hasty bathroom break to find the projections of Cartesian moustache on my picture screen reeking of Magnum and his 3.14 equations. It was a good one, but was nevertheless overshadowed somewhat by the prospect of some up-and-coming Van Damage.

It is all rather powerful when Van Damme’s brother gets that horrific beating, we are witnessing the very downfall of a once strong and united family there. I think Bergman tried to play with similar familial relationships, like in Autumn Sonata, but it looks weak in comparison to this. Did Bergman ever have a giant Thai elbowing someone in the spine? I don’t think he did. I’d wager Wild Strawberries would have been better if it had more paralysing elbow wallops, or if old Von Sydow had whacked a few teeth out of Ullmann’s jaw in Hour Of The Wolf. The major failing with Bergman’s career is that he didn’t even have action scenes choreographed AND directed by Van Damme, too busy thinking about art and identity, the fool.

Van Damme’s iron tears of sorrow reminds me of one night down old Portstewart way where I happened upon a man whose rectangular countenance masked a deep pearlescent glow, one of Van Dammic proportions. He probed me with the question of where he could find a nice carton of pizza at this late hour, I of course told him that Tornado Pizza was shut and he best get out of my seeing spot before I get out my Ian Curtis Pez. He started to weep the soiled sheets of a young enfant long forgotten by TV reruns and Pog fads. The outpour was one that had Noah browning his very cottons.

Following our moustached mullet-head’s hospitalisation it’s all up to Van Damme, who goes off to train with a Mr Miyaki wannabe. You could tell his aspirations from the outset, probably decided to audition just after a viewing of The Karate Kid. I imagine the very thought running around his cranium was, “Well that guy did it, obviously means there’s a market there.” He was wrong, but lets not let that get in the way of the true hypothethical we all really want to get out there, that of Van Damme in The Karate Kid. Or even just The Next Karate Kid. Would have been much better than that Swanky girl.

So Van Damme trains it up with his mentor around some nice Buddhist backgrounds. Lovely. Reminds one of that other great training scene, where a man comes back from the brink of eternal darkness to regain strength in order to enact revenge. I’m talking about Hard To Kill of course. Except Kickboxer has less punching of wooden stands, and beards.

As a test Van Damme is liquored up and set to duel against a bunch of rogues. Post-liquor and pre-duel we get what will probably be remembered as one of the defining moments of late twentieth century cinema, the unleashing of the Van Dance! He boogies like a pro to the mighty sounds of Stan Bush. “Feelin’ so good today, ain’t no body standing in my way.” Watch him wiggle those hips and release the rhythm. The presence of those frolicking movements makes one want to arise out of their chair to join in a gesturing symbiosis with the mystical qualities of the Van Dance. Unfortunately it lasts all too short a time, for he must kick and punch those who dare interrupt the majesty, the very ethereal shake and romp of his extremities.

Some training involves Van Damme hanging about under water, pretending not to breath, but I’m pretty a sure he has gills about there somewhere. Maybe beneath that smock.

The final fight has Van Damme rising to the challenge of Kung Po, the man who handicapped his brethren. Not just a regular kickboxing showdown I might add, and I will; no, this is old rules right here. Something along the line of fists covered in shards of broken glass. Makes for a good drinking game also so I hear. I won’t spoil the outcome, but Van Damme wins.

So, what did I learn from this talky picture? One, don’t call your dog KiKi, because it’s liable to metamorphose into a mugwump and eat all your Toblerones. Two, a double punch to the gut is acceptable in extreme cases of shot repetition avoidance. Three, if you want to improve the suppleness of your groin muscles, use a couple of trees. And finally, four, if someone is doing the Van Dance, but either they are doing it with too much cajoling, or not the right 80s beats, or not in a dirty vest, or not alongside some Asian ladies, then the best course of action is a swift palm to the nose and knee to the jowls.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cinematic Mullets - Full Annotated Version

So mullets then. [A worthy opening that contextualises things in the vicinity of mullet discussions aptly. It also brings with it a relaxed tone, one which sets the writer-reader relationship as a casual one, as if it were a monologue between an individual and his confidant] Much is made about these great hairstyles [Banality creeps upon us here] and one place where their exhibition has been widespread is that of the cinematic arts. [A fair linking of the two central themes, but nevertheless done in a trite way, although bonus points for the use of the term “cinematic arts”]

[It would be best at this point to conceal the writer’s own self-acknowledgement that he has, in fact, very few examples of mulletonous cinema in mind, but we must push forward despite this] The first example I will expel onto you [A risky, and not altogether recommended, move straight into examples, and also the chancy step of addressing the reader directly] is that of Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon series. [Unfortunately ideal opportunity to relate anecdotes whose conclusions would lead to nothing but contempt for this filmic series is squandered quite pathetically] Now it wasn’t the best mullet, but it wasn’t too bad. [This blatant lack of conviction only expresses the weakness of the sentiments being expulsed here. Also note the hilarious double usage of the word ‘”wasn’t”] Truth be told [a good literation device to catch attention and evidence sincerity, reader normally never comes to the conclusion that the explicit statement here may result in everything a priori being deemed false] I was too taken with Danny Glover to worry a great deal about the mullosity of some non-Aussie, just look at how he’s getting too old for this shit. [We see here references which assume the reader’s knowledge in two distinct areas, first Mel Gibson ain’t no damn Australian, being born in USA, and secondly Danny Glover is indeed getting too old for this shit.]

Next we have [Now witness the degeneration of what promised to be some interesting prose into a hackneyed, unoriginal list] Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys, a major mullet there, and, might I add, a great one. That reminds me of a story I heard earlier today [Personal anecdote is always effective] that if you stare into the eyes of Kiefer Sutherland for long enough, you become him for five minutes. Now I’m unsure as to the validity of that urban legend, but I could imagine nothing more qualified for an attempt. [Last sentence used to preclude complaints from angry parents due to their kids sitting staring at Renegades, or Young Guns 2, in vain hope that some random thing they read on the internet may come true]. He may be all about running around in that number show nowadays, but for me it’s mullet or nothing. [A snide criticism of a popular American drama TV series]

It all started in the dark caverns of the Mullet King for Patrick Swayze whose very existence was conjured in a large cauldron by the king himself. Following years being brought up under the constrictive rules of mullet etiquette, Patrick forced his protuberant mullet out through those granite walls, and he ran off to Hollywood to pursue what can only be interpreted as an acting career. [Various mythological ideas are imprinted into being here, first the Mullet King who it is believed was an editorial omission from the bible, secondly a possible kingdom where mullets roam the fields and indulge in promiscuity, although the author was picturing some sort of volcano thing, and finally that of Swayze being an actor] That mullet in Point Break easily out-acted a Mr Keanu Reeves, no surprises there, but it also put on a magnificent show in Roadhouse. [Things degrade here into illustrated instances of mullet appearance, a clear sign of unsubstantial content]

Finally, [To connote an approaching end] Belgium’s favourite son Jean Claude Van Damme [The accuracy of this statement is under investigation by Media Matters]. Hard Target, I believe it was, the utmost pinnacle of the action mullet was revealed onto an unsuspecting public. There was shock, outrage, people made pilgrimages across windy deserts in order to come to terms with what had occurred, fighting iron monks along the way who had the stubborn small-minded belief that it was connected to some abstract mysticism. [Accusations of hyperbolism here are as yet unproven] Van Damme moved the goal posts with that one, after him it wasn’t enough just to kick some ass, you had to do it with some style, you had to show you were down with the youth of the day, you had to have a vast clump of hair excess hanging out the back of your cranium, the longer the better. [A trinity of elucidations delivered with somewhat a potent force. However a better synonym for “clump” could have been found]

Where will the movie mullet go from here? [A rhetorical question, oft used in English to highlight the author’s superior knowledge and ability to answer probing queries] Well, [Unoriginal and unnecessary conjunctive] the constantly progressing arcs of fashion are ones that rarely cease to take on boarders, with today’s sneering side-glances in the direction of mullets, a cinematic revival is probably against the odds [failure to define precise odds] and therefore the future is bleak. But there’s always someone to come along to dislocate our current follicle recession, lets hope he be one of a majestic mullet. [Concluding remarks of hope shield a transparent dejection at the true state of the movie mullet. Overall, too few examples of mullets coupled with little or no theoretical interpretation (mullet semiotics anyone?) only leads to an unsatisfactory and purposeless piece of writing]

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Portions Of Thoughts

Due to a lack of recent updates I’ve been trying to think of some interesting topics to scribble about, culture to proscribe, psychological anomalies to elucidate, surrealist backdrops set to the most banal of activities. But nothing has become physical from it, and when I say physical I mean of course digital, for all our physicality is now mediated via technology. And so I’ve decided to do a short, non-committing, pseudo-list of recent remarks and reflections.


Firstly, last night (that being the Monday late darkness) the first part of Richard Dawkins’ two-part special on religion The Root Of All Evil was broadcast on Channel 4. Unfortunately I was off on some wild gallivant at the time, and my ineptitude was highlighted when the VCR (which I had painstakingly set earlier) failed to record the dictated program. Luckily I was able to acquire the show via a mysterious phenomenon that will not be drawn upon at this junction.

The show is based around Dawkins’ proposition that religion is a virus on our social being (see his essay Viruses of the Mind) and is the cause of much of the unrest between different human factions. It was a great show and presented numerous instances of religious hypocrisy from both Christianity and Islam. It also showed Dawkins getting some right shit from an evangelical pastor early on (the pastor then kicked our presenter and his crew off the premises), and then some right castigation from a Islam-convert (who hilariously blames Dawkins for women in the west not dressing in complete cloak attire).

One fantastic aspect of this is that the show was broadcast at prime-time (8pm), so hopefully it got sufficient viewing figures (and hopefully at least a few of those were of the open-minded variety). Look forward to part two.


I recently picked up the latter two Rilo Kiley albums, The Execution of All Things and More Adventurous. Rilo Kiley are an excellent alternative rock/folk/indie band from the urban sprawls of Los Angeles. Their major attraction is probably the sublime vocals by the lovely Jenny Lewis, enchantingly sweet singing but she can also swear like the best of them (and I include Paddy Considine in that).

The Execution of All Things is their second album and is my preference between the two. Whether it’s the wonderfully catchy Paint’s Peeling, the energetic My Slumbering Heart, or the musing The Good That Won’t Come Out. The album also features subtle experimentation in the field of electronic meandering that only serves to enhance the sweeping soundscapes.

More Adventurous I hold at an angle of slightly less inclination due to a couple of songs being a little too ‘country’ for my aurals, plus the song Ripchord that only features the guitar/backing vocals guy. Despite that, it does include what is probably my favourite Rilo track, Love and War, which is a mix of rousing chorus, experimental arrangements, and sweeping background keyboards. These two albums have been constituting themselves as the soundtrack to my current state of being, oh how associations are being constructed around me right now.


I’ve also been listening to, as a complete antithesis to the low-fi of Rilo Kiley, Norwegian metallers Spiral Architect and their only album A Sceptic’s Universe. Uber-technical metal is the only description worth being dished out on this one, it sometimes hurts my head just thinking of the musical skill required to play the multiple time changes, intricate guitar histrionics, and jazz bass present on here. Not much catchiness here, just an expertly assembled piece of complex and elaborate music pumped out by a group of awe-inspiring musicians.


Oscar contender! Hollywood at its best! Rollercoaster of emotions! Some of the responses to the film Crash (the one from last year, not the Cronenberg flick; unfortunately the worst Cronenberg flick, who would have predicted a Cronenberg/Ballard collaboration would fail?). I know no one who has seen this film who hasn’t smothered it in compliment and helplessly fallen at its feet in fits of clear salty liquid, so I may be the first to say it, and I don’t want to get all polemical here, but it must be said, this film was full of shit. What a bunch of pretentious nonsense. Put simply, it tries way too hard to be an epic social statement, with its interweaving narrative and varied collection of characters.

Get this, let me tell you something you never realised before, not once has this come into the public’s way of thinking, social discourse is without this profound concept, but racism, yes the discrimination of people based on the colour of their epidermis, is wrong. For fucks sake, c’mon, are we not all enlightened, free-thinking individuals here? Well no actually we’re not, but those who are encased within their racist shell of absurdity are unlikely to be decamped by this. Sorry Paul Haggis, I’m not actually five, I’m well aware of social stereotyping and how it does not reflect the person underneath the socially constructed exterior (skin colour is only given pertinence inside our society, nothing to do with natural processes).


Clearly a lot of this demonstrates the fact that I couldn’t be bothered writing full, proper reviews, so a strategy of thought recording was conjured in response to this lazy practice.

Further reading
Richard Dawkins Viruses of the Mind
Rilo Kiley
Spiral Architect

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Keaton Blues

My mother used to say to me, “That Michael Keaton, he is a wonderful fellow.” Often it would interrupt the flow of a conversation, like I’d be telling her about my day down the mines and she’d suddenly stop me and speed off herself on a tangent about One Good Cop. But what could you do, those were hard days. Kids down round the block used to rent their livers to homeless drunks just to scrape together enough cash to pay for a quick turpentine rubdown (as was all the rage in my neighbourhood at the time).

As with all good conditioning I never thought to question the concept of Michael Keaton as a deity (much like the Christian god, only with better dirty looks). One day I was walking down old main street and a weary octogenarian hobbled over to me with a large smirk on his face, he says, “Hey sonny, did ya know the local picture house has just got the latest Keaton talky in, it’s called Night Shift.” Wow, I fell over twice at the shock, but luckily one cancelled the other out so I was left upright. I then wandered on down there, only taking a moment to glance at some theatre students doing a street performance of a ballet adaptation of Joy Division’s Closer. Christ it was bleak.

I spent the rest of that day watching not only the Keaton but also old Henry Winkler, playing the straight man to Keaton’s Bill Blazejowski (I still think Blazejowlski would have been a superior character name).

The day ended in a self-nihilist frenzy worthy of some Nine Inch Nails discord as I attempted to access Keaton’s very navel via EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse). Didn’t work, the EMP went astray and I spent the rest of the summer being prodded by goat farmers in Cincinnati eager to dispel me from the cow of which I had taken residence (they were mainly goat farmers but had cows too).

A night like the night before last Tuesday was not unlike the morning I watched Pacific Heights for the first time. Was a wondrous occasion to witness Keaton being a relentless cunt. I would have liked to have seen more of that from the man, just imagine how much better Jack Frost would have been, “Oh Dad, please stop lying and stuff.” “You lied to me, cunt face, my lawyers are already on the case, I’ll see you in court on stalker charges you little shit.”

Long before Batman became an American psycho, he was a Keaton, born and raised. Remember that great punch in Batman Returns? How could anyone forget, right straight to the heart. Even Dio wrote a song about it. The furniture moves every time my mind visualises it.

Watching Multiplicity just earlier today I was reminded of the glory, the prestige of the man. Not only does it feature a tetralogy of Keatons, but also a reference to The Fly, best reference to the film ever I might add, even beats Arnie getting all Brundlefly in The 6th Day and melting Henry’s portrait.

When you’ve had a hard day at the office, or a hard day wondering the two-facedness complex of Maggie Gyllenhaal, the best remedy can only be a viewing of Beetlejuice. Bit like how Orson Welles steals The Third Man, Keaton owns this flick despite really only being in it about twenty or so minutes. I always thought of Keaton as a successor to Welles; even though he doesn’t direct and (probably) has a fierce hatred of Shakespeare, they might as well have the same name, or a unification, Michael Keaton Welles has a nice ring to it.

Finally a hasty mention of the Frasier guest appearance. Beats even Cracker and Withnail’s. Oh how a dear physically impaired Keaton messes with Frasier, only Sir Keaton could do that.

Concluding remarks, I have taken it upon my being to proclaim Michael Keaton a knight of the realm. The realm of streaming dish-cleaners awash with tectonic regalia that pounce repeatedily between here and Zurich.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year’s Eve, featuring Nes Advantage, Aaron McMullan, Tsug, and others – Live Review

“This is the way, step inside,” so hollered Ian Curtis back in the yesteryears. Yes I will step inside, thank you Ian. And I did step inside, right into the venue for tonight’s musicology, a large middle-class house, reeking of the bourgeois, deep within the abstract walls of Portrush. High ceilings and pianos abound as we sit in anticipation of what is to come, a collection of some local musical talent, played out to a small, but select, crowd of individuals. Truth be told, most of the assemblage here is partaking in some sort of sonorous activity, I think there’s about three or four superfluous persons contributing little or nothing to the proceedings, but being an ostentatious kind of guy, I have gifted myself the label of ‘the press’ for the night, so there is my role, one being realised right now as I type this.

First is the eagerly awaited “half hour of ambient noise”, which got us all tingling in tight geometrical trapezoids within our spinal fluids as soon as we were informed of it. This is performed by the duo of Ryan H. Fleming (no relation) and Andrew Gardiner (also our host for the evening), under the assumed collective title of Nes Advantage. Improvised ambience can easily dissolve into a nauseating mass of repellence, but not this. It was quite impressive watching the synergy between the two here, as Gardiner’s electronic meanderings were followed suitably by R.H. Fleming’s melodic guitar playing. Although the thing becomes more of a spectacle than they wished for, I guess environmental background is harder to attain when you have an audience of less than ten.

I find myself staring intently at a drawing of Berlin in the hall. Its walls infused directly into the panoply of souls contained in its internal miasma. All very disconcerting and suffocating, it’s liable to strike a man boldly in the eye lens with cataclysmic entropy. Or maybe that’s just cos’ I gotta go piss. For I suddenly realise that the bathroom has been vacated, paving the way for my magnificent entry to that bowl of wonders. A quick nod to The Duke as I pass by, he knows the score, been in that situation many times himself no doubt, it’s a nod of mutual understanding.

Back downstairs, relieved beyond all reckoning, it’s time for more music. Next up is Luke something, a man, all suited up, and dripping with the oomph of Wall Street. His eyes elicit no emotion for the proletariat masses he just cast into the River Styx, oh there’s his yes-man Ted Nugent, presiding over an extra-harsh whipping of a few members of the GMB Union. But that was then, this is now, and later will be. Business pushed aside into the peripherals of leisure, Luke is ready to go on. Big things are expected here, after all he’s “been playing guitar for five years”.

However it doesn’t go quite as well as predicted. A few mess ups early on, and some screams of the following sort: “Ahhh, Jandek has forsaken my musical lobes! Why oh why did I not write down those infernal lyrics!” He then dropped to his knees and offered sacrifice to the gods of Fahey. A few slaps round the jowls by a passing motorist and he’s back on the stool actually playing a song or two. And it’s not bad, I’ve heard worse indeed. Unfortunately he only lasts that two or so songs before he must rush off to Dubai for some last minute business dealings with the sheik’s oil honchos.

Now it’s time for Aaron McMullan, the local singer-songwriter from Ballymoney. Flashback to earlier, sitting in KFC, chomping on a strip of processed chicken guts, I peruse tonight’s forthcoming set list. Ooh I say, ooh and aah, happy to see many favourites and what I consider the elite of the man’s song-writing prowess so far. It’s all good. Flash forward to the dark hours, and I can see he’s on edge, sitting on the wall above the fireplace, he is preparing his mind for the oncoming. Well that oncoming is here. Notes, and sheets, and lyrics, and graphs, and pie charts in hand, he roams to the front of the living room and takes a seat adjacent to the Xmas tree.

Flashback to a few days ago, seated in the cockles of Starbucks PLC, I interrogate McMullan as to what’s gonna be played Saturday Night, I press him: “What’s gonna be played Saturday night?” He replies: “Some songs of my concoction, brimming with decadence and overflowing with pristine wit.” Me again: “How about I Do Believe You Are The Devil?” A sneering side glance and comeback: “No good, I can’t backing-vocal whilst fronting-vocal.” I’ll admit I was sadden by this revelation, this particular song being a favourite of mine, but what can you do. Flash forward again, reeling from motion sickness what with all this flash movement, a change of mindset means that not only is the aforementioned song now existent on the song list, but it is the opening number.

And it is a rousing rendition, backing chorus vocals or not. Even gets chuckles from the audience, especially the lyric: ‘I said “You motherfucker Satan, take your tail from out my ass.”’ This is followed by Go Fuck Yourself, in my opinion the best song that has sprung itself out from the frontal blobs of his head. Good stuff, except that the outro is cut short by a few bars. I can tell that the masses surrounding my cognizance are appreciating the lyrical wordplay here, nods and smiles at Misfits references, and an embracing yelp at a mention of The Fall. The set ends with Sinead In Savage Purple, one of the strongest songs on 75mg.

An enjoyable performance, but flawed. Vocals and playing, and the symbiosis of the two, were great, but obviously at four or five songs, this was way too short, and not only that but some songs were themselves cut down slightly. The original set list had almost double the actual song amount. So some confidence issues here yet to overcome, it’s a hill that needs to be conquered. Of course it’s not easy getting up in front of hoards to unveil your own material, I couldn’t, but I’d love to see this obstacle traversed as soon as possible. All that’s needed is some more experience, which means more live playing, a building-up in a way. Hopefully this performance will advance and propel things in that direction.

Next up it’s Andrew Gardiner and Andy something (ignore these little journalistic incompetences as far as surnamery, if ya want I’ll tell all about how one of the females in the crowd is from Dublin and is doing a masters degree in publishing, it’s all about priorities ya see). They play a few pleasant songs, including a Dylan cover.

On midnight we are all served some presumably expensive champagne or chardonnay or something, I’m not much of a wine connoisseur. Although it did taste nice, for I normally have a resistance to wine, perhaps it’s cos my tastes had by that time been dulled by four or eight cans of Magners. Who knows, but thanks anyway.

Finally for the night we have Tsug. Well, we have Ryan H. Fleming, because his partner in crime, Wullie Asken, has failed to show his beardy face. So what we have, to illuminate the scenario, is Ryan H. Fleming, his Rickenbacker wannabe, and an audience of the slightly drunkened, devouringly keen for musical bewilderment. And despite no songs he pulls it off. Lashed with the natural wit stick from an early age, RH goes on to improv an hour’s worth of musical comedy that has us all laughing it up in a Jean-Claude Van-Damme style. Lyrics observantly torn from the ether around the glockenspiel sitting to his right, and melodies lovingly produced by the combo of string flaying and chordal moments of succinctness, it works, it shouldn’t, fuck knows it shouldn’t, but somehow it does. And fun it was too.

The night ends wandering about in the observatory patio, gawking distastefully at some Harland and Wolff artwork, quoting from the bible of Joy Division, and pondering where the taxi is.

Overall a decent night indeed. The musical highlight, as allocuted in the taxi on the way home by RH, would have to be Aaron McMullan’s set, if for no other reason than it was the most coherent and song orientated. The fact that it actually had songs helps, but beyond that it was truly great. Stepping stones, oh the metaphorical stones, ready to be utilised for greater things, as McMullan says himself: “Those are nice stones!”