My lovely friend at La Magicbox, a French music website for which I have been writing a lot since 2000, has done a little news flash about the publication of my book. It is in French, though... MAGICBOX NEWS They might even put a review on there next month...
I have actually started writing about music again, although it will not be as full on as it used to be... I have done a profile of the Alt-Fest festival, a fantastic new festival that will take place in Kettering in August 2014, and I have just sent in my first CD review in four years! I am rather rusty, but it's good to be back!
ALT-FEST PROFILE ARTICLE ON LA MAGICBOX (in French and English).
What a wonderful talk! Thank you, Amanda Palmer... The standing ovation is very much deserved!
There is a lovely entry on Neil Gaiman's JOURNAL about it...
Spirit Stories, Joolz Denby's 2008 release, saw the poet, author, artist and tattooist team up with her long-term collaborator, New Model Army's frontman Justin Sullivan. One track on this CD, the gorgeously apocalyptic Saddleworth, which evokes the end of the world beautifully, is one of my all-time favourite texts.
For The Black Dahlia, Joolz has collaborated with the dreamy Mik Davis, ex-frontman of New York Alcoholic Anxiety Attack and now one half of the darkly psychedelic Utopian Love Revival.
I am not one for downloads, as for me, an album is an ensemble in which the music, the sleeve, the artwork all combine to make one unique entity. All together, the different elements tell a story; they chronicle the journey towards the ultimate achievement: the object you hold in your hand and the music you listen to. It records the emotions, the hours of work that have been poured into it.
The packaging of The Black Dahlia collector's CD is fantastic, with 12 lyric cards featuring Joolz's unique artworks on both sides. We are being spoilt!
This is an extremely interesting CD for it feels accomplished and experimental at the same time, with a multitude of sound effects and background noises that add to the atmosphere(s) of the poems. Mik Davis's music follows the themes of the texts and the lyrics, and adds texture, layering and atmosphere to them.
Some of the tracks wouldn't feel out of place on one of the early industrial albums.
The album starts with a trip to the outer Space, with Joolz's voice disembodied and the vibrating guitar in the background tearing through the silence of the "cold and deadly space"; this definitely possesses an otherworldly quality.
But we come back to earth and its earthy pleasures with track 2, Music I Could See, a sensual tribute to music with a Gypsy flavour, a veritable melee of senses
Like fragile tattered scarves the music
As often with Joolz's work - and as in life - there is darkness and there is light; the latter comes from Nature, its breathtaking beauty and its magical quality, as described in Geisha, in which Nature is describes as a beautiful woman - or rather a Goddess, perhaps? - coloured in with the most vivid colours of the changing seasons. And this wise and powerful entity is evoked again in the soothing Mother of Sorrows.
Somewhere else, in Desert Poem, we are seduced by the mysteries of a far away, exotic land. We are hypnonised by the tribal beat in the background and the occult tales of Native American legends.
Tribes are often mentioned in Joolz's work; humans don't seem to have shaken off their instincts after all those years of so-called evolution. Tribes are still present at the very core of our society, from urban gangs and sub-cultures to classes and sub-classes. Barbarians is a stupendous homage to that tribal instinct, mixing contemporary social imagery with magic and ancestral beliefs and a minimalist, distorted, metallic music that slowly creeps over you...
Very much like in Joolz's novel "The Curious Mystery of Miss Lydia Larkin and the Widow Marvel", there is magic in this CD. And like in the book, Magic hides in the dirty folds of our cities and makes our mundane lives bearable. In the bewitching Voodoo Voodoo, the author says:
Magic isn't casting spells,
And Tattoo Magic gives the ritual of tattooing some magical powers.
But the writer - as well as over 80% of this country's population - lives and works in an urban environment and excels at describing its savage, filthy, artificial and lifeblood-sucking quality.
Johnny has a biting, distorted electric guitar that reflects the death-wish and brutal life of an addicted young man; Gang Girl pays tribute to the heady lifestyle of the old biker gangs and The Black Dahlia is a stern, heartbreaking telling of the urban legend of The Black Dahlia. You can feel Joolz's anger and also some tenderness towards the "girls like the Black Dahlia" while the acoustic guitar softly plays in the background, as if to cradle the victims so they can sleep at last.
But then, An Angel appears in the unforgiving city, asking men to mend their ways... Much like in Saddleworth, an almost mythical event disturbs the frenetic pace and grim reality of our technology-obsessed lives to reveal to us our inadequacies.
An angel came to the city - you can see it on the internet,
This album is a real success, full of true beauty and emotions.
Below are a few pictures taken at the Mediaeval Baebes' concert at St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate, the musicians' church in Holborn, London.
I had already taken some pictures of the place when I went to the Baebes' gig last year (HERE).
The camera struggled a little bit with the lights (I didn't want to use flash), but I thought I would share the enchanting setting.
It was, of course, enchanting, and my favourite song of the night was Jennet's Song - about the Pendle witches - which features on the group's sumptuous brand new (double) album, The Huntress.
It took us a while to come back to reality...
Tonight, I will be in London, more precisely at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in Holborn, because it's that time of the year again and the fabulous Mediaeval Baebes will be back in town! This will be the last date of their traditional Christmas cathedral tour.
I am hoping to post a few pictures later on this weekend.
For my blog about last year's concert, go HERE.
The band's line-up is ever changing, and therefore there will be a few new baebes in the house tonight (and a new album to purchase!)
Yesterday, we were off to the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre to see Meow Meow's Little Match Girl, a cabaret show inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's tale.
I personally loathe musicals (apart from the original movie of My Fair Lady) but I love cabaret (Meow Meow's own strand has been dubbed kamikaze and post-modern cabaret) and hope to be seeing more next year.
Meow Meow is incredibly glamorous and charismatic, with a natural grace and edge without equal. The show is clever, poetic, bawdy, seductive, naughty, poignant, hilarious, teasing and ambitious. It is also much richer and complex than first appears: social and gender issues are buried just under the surface, poking their stubborn heads here and there under a shower of glitter.
The show is full of references too:
Flaming in my head I've had Austrian artist Irene Andessner's works on the Edison light-bulb-covered dancer Milli Stubel, Loie Fuller's experiments with light and shadow, John Donne's A Nocturnal upon St Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day, the women of Bratislava that Andersen encountered screaming through the burnt city looking for their lost children, Joan of Arc and the Catherine Wheel, Annie Besant, the Bryant and May match girls who went on strike in 1888, Moira Shearer and The Red Shoes, Jean Renoir's tin soldier, witches at the stake, global warming, "ice" addiction, exploring planets, fragile and naughty pyromaniac children. ...
Meow Meow - real name Melissa Madden Gray, is an incredible individual. Read more about her background and experience in this excellent article HERE.
Southbank is spoiling us in 2013 with an amazing festival, The Rest is Noise, "The Soundtrack of the 20th Century" (SATURDAY 19 JANUARY 2013 - SUNDAY 9 JUNE 2013) The programme is packed-full with events - some of them free and a lot rather affordable. We hope to go to some of them!
After quite a productive week on the book front (I have added around 4,000 words to The Book of Thoth), I will be turning into a stall holder for the entire weekend as I will be helping my boy on his stall at The Big Essex Vintage Weekender.
Music, fashion shows, dancing, pin-up beauty contest (oh, yes!), tea, cakes, classic cars, and a big vintage market!
Back to the book on Monday, I have a ballroom scene to write - but not the Jane Austen type...
I have become addicted to my book, Michel Faber's fabulous The Crimson Petal and The White. It is the best book I've read in years - such an incredible, unflinching prose! I really wish I could write like that...
I watch very little TV, but when I do, I make sure it's quality stuff (and yes, I'm a snob, so what?).
I loved the first series of The Hour last year, and after having watched episode 1 of the second series, I can say it's going to be even better. Terrific cast, wonderful characters, incredibly witty lines, beautifully shot, excellent music.
I think therefore I write.
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