The Ivy House in Nunhead is Britain's first co-operatively owned pub. Built in the 1930s, it was saved from developers in 2012 and re-opened in 2013 as a pub and music venue.
It truly is a beautiful and roomy venue, with wood panelling and a red and gold colour scheme which gives the gilded stage an otherworldly atmosphere.
The line-up for the evening was terrific and very varied.
No fillers there!
Otherworldly is definitely an appropriate term to describe RobinPlaysChords's set, an enticing mixture of fragility and vigour. Robin Jax is one to watch!
Shadow Biosphere is the exciting and ambitious, mainly electronic new project by Lesley Malone and Caroline Jago (both also of Seventh Harmonics and Sol Invictus) inspired by quantum theory and other scientific disciplines as well as the universe. Their set was really immersive and accompanied by beautiful visuals projected at the back of the stage. And yes, we all should get their debut album, Parallel Evolution. I have tried to capture some of the background visuals... Unfortunately, Caroline was mostly in the shadow...
We first encountered Autorotation last February at their own event Can You See Your Shadow? It was great to be able to see them again last Saturday. They didn't have their psychedelic projections with them this time, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of their set.
They looked perfectly at home among the slightly fantastical decor and embellishments, possibly because their music is so... sparkly!
Music and video art duo DBPIT & XxeNa had flown from Rome exclusively for the event. Their latest project, Lympha Obscura - Ghost from the Voynich Manuscript, is a collaboration between the pair and photographer Daniele Pinti.
The Voynich manuscript is a mysterious handwritten (in an unidentified language) and illustrated manuscript dating back from the Italian Renaissance. Have a look at the wikipedia page I've linked above, it's absolutely fascinating (and for a writer like myself, so inspiring)!
From the monochrome palette of DBPIT & XxeNa's universe to the colourful shores of Raf and O's world. The pair's two albums A Giant in the Snow and Time Machine have been played regularly in my little blue study since I purchased them at the Can You See Your Shadow? event in February 2015. Once again, their (too short) set was magical and they had the room literally transfixed.
Raf stood in the centre of the stage, like a musically-inclined red-haired faery out to bewitch the hell out of us, which of course she did! Unfortunately, O remained hidden in the shadows and I couldn't get a good shot of him...
What makes some human beings seek adventures that involve constant danger and extreme physical discomfort? What pushes mountaineers like Cathy O'Dowd to risk their lives reaching the icy summits of the world? And how do you translate their experiences into a multi-media work of art? Mountain might answer some of those questions. It is a collaboration between three musicians, a film-maker and South African mountaineer and explorer Cathy O'Dowd. We were privileged enough last Saturday to hear Anni Hogan's live piano compositions for Mountain and watch some of the footage taken by Cathy on her Everest expeditions. The film and the music really convey the dangerous beauty of the landscape, the physical fight put on by the human beings rendered so fragile and insignificant in this majestic yet lethal environment. I held my breath and felt the cold descend upon me from the screen... Anni was a bit tucked away in a dark area of the room and therefore my pictures are not very good...
I was really looking forward to Naevus's set, but it was unfortunately cut short due to the soundcheck overrunning quite a bit earlier in the evening. For some reason I had never seen the full band play, although I had seen each band member live before - Lloyd James played a solo set at last year's Kaparte Oxjam (see my blog about it HERE) - I had seen Hunter Barr's excellent KnifeLadder several times and remembered seeing Ben McLees's now defunct Earth Loop Recall on stage once or twice).
The band only played five songs, but it was enough to impress everyone present: Naevus's music is dark, serious and intense, with enough menace to keep us on our toes - an explosion never seems too far away. In a very poignant moment, the band dedicated Dominic's Song to the late John Murphy who left us earlier this month.
The Kaparte Oxjam was once again a fantastic experience with an exceptional line-up and a lovely atmosphere...
One more gig left for me now before I disappear off to deepest Dorset for a month to try and work on my third novel!
26 years ago today, Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails released Pretty Hate Machine, an album which has been very, very important in my life.
I only came across it ten years after it was released; there are many reasons for this. Where I grew up, this kind of music just DIDN'T EXIST.
I wish I had been living in the UK in the 90s!
NIN's Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile (as well as EPs Fixed and Broken) are basically part of my DNA.
Last Saturday was one of our "London days". This time, it was cinema and music.
For a writer interested in the close links between writing, music and the visual arts (and in this, I include cinema), Macbeth was just perfect.
We chose the threatened Curzon Soho to see Macbeth.
We have regularly attended this lovely cinema in the heart of London over the years and thought it would only be right to go there and support the campaign to save it from destruction. The cinema experience is always more civilized in that kind of cinema anyway.
I will not write a review of the movie here, but I will say it loud and clear: this is the best movie I have seen in years. We walked out of the cinema somewhat stunned into silence for a while.
It is captivating from start to finish (we always stay until the very end of the titles...)
It's beautiful, dark, bleak, cold and brutal, so brutal - the brutality of the human condition but also that of nature. The portrayal of the uncompromising life lived by the protagonists of the story, literally dwarfed by the hostile yet majestic landscape that surrounds them and in which they must constantly fight to survive and thus, every single minute of their lives, is full of poetry and lyricism. Even the epic, slow-motion battle scenes, full of unimaginable savagery, are imbued with beauty.
Here, Shakespeare's play is turned into a magnificent Ode to a staunchly pagan environment and landscape that seemingly cannot be tamed by a nascent and still primitive Christian faith. Subtle supernatural powers are at work below the surface, embodied by various ghostly apparitions and by the dignified, quietly menacing three sisters who always appear silhouetted against a foggy, yellowish backdrop (maybe they are walking straight out of the sulfurous mouth of Hell? The mud, the rain, the ashes of burnt bodies and buildings, the raging flames ravaging the forest and the red skys in the last moments of the movie, all point out to Hell actually being on earth).
Michael Fassbender (whom I had never seen in anything before) and Marion Cotillard, as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, are both superb.
And the music...
Swans' track "Lunacy" is used for the trailer (below), which should give an indication of the mood of the movie to people who know about the band and their music.
Jed Kurzel's score, recorded by the London Contemporary Orchestra, is genuinely splendid and is an essential element of the film (although rarely mentioned in reviews), helping to create the atmosphere of foreboding, unease and, ultimately, madness - those with gothic/neo-folk/industrial musical tastes will appreciate the expressive and disquieting cello and violin solos, the drones and tribal drums. Dread, bleakness, death, the workings of fate and the onset of lunacy: they are all here, in the stunning soundtrack.
You can preview the tracks HERE.
I am definitely getting this soundtrack as soon as possible!
And I want to go back to the cinema and see the film again. I want to fill my eyes and ears with that dark spectacle again.
Afterwards, we got a little bit of work done for the event we are organising in London next year! We went to do a quick recce at the venue: I can officially say that it is lovely! More details soon...
Then it was time to make our way to The Pipeline in Shoreditch for an evening of rock'n'roll... (a great venue... On our way out of the basement after the gig, we found ourselves face to face with Uncle Al (Jourgensen) arsing around on stage: the big screen was showing a live Ministry DVD. Top marks!).
Devilish Presley are calling it a day after 13 years of releasing music, touring and putting up events around the country (and abroad!). Now they have embarked on a Farewell Tour to say goodbye to their fans and to promote Johnny Navarro's debut novel, Kill Devil Delta.
It was at the same time an exhilarating experience (the music) and a sad one (this was the last ever DP gig in London...) - this is a cult band who has been able to build a following of faithful supporters through hard work and generosity towards their fans. As a parting present, Johnny and Jacqui have offered them a brand new album, Electric Ballroom, a (now sold out) Memorabilia USB stick packed full of music, pictures and videos, and a glorious set.
This is new act The Court of Sybaris, who mixes genres in a very interesting way...
The Underrunners are Dave Roca, Eva Menon and (new guitarist) Andi Emm, all three charismatic in their own unique way.
After their set, which opened with single "Joyrider" (see below), I purchased their excellent first album "No God, No King" which has already had several listens in our house!
We left the realm of post-punk melodies to enter the thunderous industrial/metal world of the outrageous Global Noise Attack who gave a raucous performance. Big sound, great fun!
The camera cannot cope with movement in low light, so my pictures are somewhat blurred; trying to catch singer Brian proved to be a hopeless task!
Headliners Devilish Presley really gave it their all to the delight of their fans. Jacqui is all powerful presence and big voice - she really is a captivating performer - whilst Johnny is the guitarist extraordinaire with the rock'n'roll attitude and the in-between songs banter. That's the thing, with Devilish Presley: they are deadly serious about the music, but the music is immensely fun as well as being superbly performed.
I had seen DP live before, but Saturday's performance really was special. They will be sorely missed.
Their resilience in the face of adversity and staunch DIY ethic has to be admired; their talent is undeniable.
And that's the thing, you see: I really can't believe that they are going to just stop. Creating, expressing themselves is in their blood and DNA.
They really do need to start creating some more monsters... whatever they are!
If you need an extra injection of rock'n'roll, I urge you to read Johnny Navarro's debut novel-cum-memoir Kill Devil Delta, about the trials and tribulations of musician Henry Douanier.
This book really is a superb read. It reveals a true talent for storytelling and a fierce imagination.
Kill Devil Delta was designed and typeset by my partner Matt ArtPix who was really chuffed to see copies of the book on the merch table on Saturday!
If you want to know more about the book and Johnny's inspiration, go HERE to read my in-depth interview with Mr Navarro himself!
You can still catch Devilish Presley on their TOUR:
YORK Fri 16th Oct
GLASGOW Sat 17th Oct
KETTERING Sun 18th Oct
BIRMINGHAM Sat 14th Nov
NEWCASTLE Sat 21st Nov
A visit to William Morris's Red House
Ooops! I was going to post my Red House post on here as usual, but only realised that I was actually typing it on the Arcane Publishing website after having put the final full stop in. Redoing it on here would have taken far too much time, so go to the blog HERE to have a look at this gorgeous building!
Pictures by Matt ArtPix.
Inspiration: Hell Lane
Holloway - the hollow way. A Sunken path, a deep and shady lane. A route that centuries of foot-fall, hoof-hit, wheel-roll and rain-run have harrowed into the land. A track worn down by the traffic of old ages and the fretting of water, and in places reduced sixteen or eighteen feet beneath the level of the fields.
Two weeks ago, we made yet another flash visit to West Dorset over a too short weekend.
We found the time to go and explore an intriguing holloway that stretches between Symondsbury and North Chideock: it is called Hell Lane. And that's going to be the title of a forthcoming novel, because it's just too great a name! I have to use it!
It really is an amazing and mysterious place that sends shivers down your spine. You stop in the middle of the "gorge", look up to the trees that hide the path entirely, you look around you at the words and shapes carved into the rock... And stories start forming into your head...
I am really interested in discovering more about Hell Lane, especially how it got its name (for example, Dead Man Lane near Mapperton was called thus because it was used in the 16th century by frightened villagers to carry plague victims and bury them away from dwellings in order to prevent the spread of infection). I cannot find any information online...
I cannot wait to spend more time exploring the sunken holloways and paths of Dorset - starting with my first month-long residency in Burton Bradstock in November! I might need to invest in a pair of wellies...
A great blog about holloways in West Dorset HERE by The Dorset Rambler.
Both Robert McFarlane and The Dorset Rambler mention a novel called Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household - it is mainly set among the holloways of West Dorset.
I need to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible!
All pictures on this blog by Matt ArtPix.
I think therefore I write.
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