My review of Jordan Reyne's fantastic new album is now online in both FRENCH and ENGLISH, on LA MAGICBOX.
The English version appears below:
Jordan Reyne is a multitalented musician whose universe is compelling, complex and original. A true DIY artist, she uses technology to produce her music, on her own in her home studio, and generously shares experiences and technical tips via regular newsletters and blogs. First and foremost experimental, Jordan manages to escape categories: her work encompasses dark folk, Celtic, industrial, electronic and steampunk, but her influences go way beyond those genres.
I can detect a writer’s approach beyond the music: there is a solid narrative core here, fuelled by imagination, research and observation; Ms Reyne’s albums are full of places, characters and ‘found sounds’ that intertwine to tell stories that focus on the human experience and condition, an approach both anthropological and philosophical. Her two most recent albums were set in the past – How The Dead Live was about the pioneer women who arrived in New Zealand in the mid-19th century and Children of a Factory Nation was set at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
For The Annihilation Sequence, the musician has come back to the present time and set her eyes and ears on London, a monster of a city that attracts and repels all at the same time. This is not some kind of psychogeographical album; it captures personal experiences and deals with the way the metropolis can play havoc with human interaction and exacerbate one’s flaws and desire for recognition. Dark, brooding electronics have replaced the industrial, more mechanical flavours of previous releases. As ever, Jordan’s vocals are an important feature of the album: expressive and versatile, they carry the mood of each track: sinister and dangerous, soothing and seductive, hurt and defensive…
First track The Annihilation Sequence features martial drum beats and a sample of a speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron. It sets the tone for the album: everything in life is political, and we are either exploiter or exploited. Then a series of nameless urban characters enter the frame; each could represent a concept or a facet of the human character: The Player, The Gentleman, The Narcissus, The Cab Driver. The first three are themselves the twisted actors on the London stage of life. The Cab Driver takes us on an evocative drive around the West End. The cabbie represents the everyday man witnessing the unravelling of the action and detects the shallowness behind the glamour of his clients; despite his lucidity, he cannot help looking into his rear mirror and turns into a voyeur. The twisted electronics and sharp spoken word in The Player convey a build-up of tension and pent-up aggression; The Narcissus is splendid and disturbing, swathed in sexual malaise. Jordan’s acoustic guitar is back for The Gentleman – a beautiful song introducing us to an aristocratic Marquis de Sade character – as well as for the hypnotic Pieces of Me.
Bite (The Hand that feeds) is written like a folk story in which lost humans appeal to their absent god for guidance in a traditional-sounding prayer and The Wall evokes a bigger sense of fate, with fluid synthetic sounds and ethereal vocals that reminded me of some of Björk’s songs. Here again, we can sense the pervasive sense of history that has shaped Jordan Reyne’s previous releases.
The Annihilation Sequence is a bewitching, powerful and chilling album by one of the most interesting artists around; it’s one of those releases that you listen to again and again, just marvelling at how it came to be.
Agatha Christie's Greenshaw's Folly
I really enjoyed watching "Greenshaw's Folly", the second episode in the new series of Miss Marple.
There were quite a few things I also have in The Book of Thoth: kid exploring the darkened corridors of a big rural house - Whitemoor Hall in the book looks quite similar to the house in the programme - a quiet, secretive gardener, a gardener's cottage in the grounds, a secret laboratory... :-)
The episode is still showing for 26 days from today, so watch it, it will give you a good idea of what the setting of my second book will be like!
This is good timing as I have just started getting back into The Book of Thoth; only two whole months before my first draft deadline!!
This Saturday 29th June, Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing will be on the road again, this time to Ipswich.
We will have a stall at The Secret Vintage Fair. It will be in a Masonic Hall, so loads of inspiration to be had from it for The Book of Thoth!
I've had a few weird ideas for The Book of Thoth. There's an alchemist, ghosts, "melting portraits", time travelling, Ancient Egyptian gods, that sort of things...
But I didn't even think about having a ROTATING EGYPTIAN STATUE.
Proof that reality can be weirder than fiction!
A French friend has an online bookshop and has kindly accepted to trial I Am a Muse there. Therefore, I am a Muse is available to purchase on Amazon via his shop and on Ebay. Amazon lists the book as being in French language - a bug in the system - but it is in English!
We've had to increase the price as it is sold across the world with free postage - so we had to take postage to the US etc. into account! Also, this bookshop is a proper business and the complex software used to put it all together is quite expensive...
We thought it would be good exposure though, and you never know...
The Book of Thoth cover ideas
I am not working on my books at the moment, and it looks like it won't be before late next week that I will open The Book of Thoth again. No time to blog a lot either, so in the meantime, here are a few very first ideas for The Book of Thoth cover by designer Matt ArtPix. The elements of the book we have here are: 1920s Art Deco, time travel, Ancient Egypt. We've got a few more ideas in store for the whole cover and we hope to have the almost finished artwork ready for the literary festival Shorelines in November.
I've recently started writing music reviews after a four-year hiatus. I am not going to writing as much as I did between 2000 and 2009, as I need to concentrate on my books, but it is a nice writing challenge - although I am definitively rusty. I used to write everything from CD and gig reviews to label profiles and artist features and I even edited a music news page for about a year.
One day I might create a "music journalism" page on this website and put some of the articles I have written.
In the meantime, if you wanted to have a look at a few things, go to LA MAGICBOX ARCHIVES. Under the "Reportages" and "CD etranger" headings, you will find loads of my articles!
I have just done a live review of KLOQ at Chinnery's in Southend. There is an English and a French version. The picutres are not very good as my trusted "gig camera" is seriously playing up and I cannot use it anymore. I also think the resolution they've been saved at is a bit low.
I (email) interviewed Kloq for Alternative Magazine back in 2008 when their first album came out... I've done a scan of the page and magazine cover (below)!
I have been daring today and have splashed out (well, £6.99!) on a "studio display easel" to make my book display a tad more interesting at events!
Next week is the first of a series of events we will be going to - a joint stall Matt ArtPix/Arcane Publishing!
The first event, A Vintage Affair, will be next Sunday 23rd June at Hedingham Castle, a historic venue set in beautiful countryside.
There will be loads of things to see and do!
We are keeping our fingers crossed for dry weather...
For more forthcoming events, please go to the Arcane Publishing events page!
I was supposed to post a nice, colourful blog on here about my wonderful day browsing the super-busy markets in East London last Sunday - I cannot believe that I haven't been to Brick Lane and the Old Truman Brewery for so long! The place has grown so much, it feels as vibrant and exciting as ever. I am so pleased I have set parts of my first novel in the area. I will have to walk around those streets a lot when I research my fourth book, Anti, set both around there and The City.
I might still manage to post something about it in the next few days if I have time, as I really want to link some of the artists and makers we have found there... It's never too late, I guess.
I haven't been doing any writing over the past week even though my 31st August deadline for the first draft of The Book of Thoth is now looking far too close for comfort! I have some work to do - one has to pay the bills - and I have three music reviews to write!
I am hoping to get started again on the book by the end of next week.
A review of I Am a Muse will appear in a special pocket edition of Level 4 Magazine. This is a mini-magazine that will be distributed at the music and arts festival Village Green that takes place in Southend on 13th July...
I think therefore I write.
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