Wednesday, 5 November 2008

November 2008

Zines. Scratch That Itch # 2. The long awaited second issue of Scratch That Itch is a substantial and varied read. There are tips on using up food found in skips which were almost tempting enough to sway somebody as squeamish as me. Other standouts are an account of a trip to the Middle East, which uses the music Kathleen was listening to while there as a structuring device. Badly handled, that device might have trivialised the events described, but it works really well. I also really liked the overview of books she’s been reading on the Holocaust. Sometimes when you get a similar round-up in zines they’re not much more than a list and the stuff listed is a bit obvious. Here there’s real thought in her responses and she’s turned up books that it's likely you won’t have come across. Kathleen’s got a great, clear writing style which is also adaptable. It’s straightforward when it needs to be but, as in the Middle East piece, can be really lyrical and vivid. Available from Marching Stars distro.

Music. Downloads, MP3s. Five Senses, by Wankatorium. This crew specialize in apparently improvised guitar music but don’t let that put you off. I’d run a mile at the mere threat of jazz, but I could listen to this until the cows come home. What you get is a track for each of the senses, ranging from the Rip Rig and Panic style skronk of Smell, to the blissed-out psychedelic guitar noodling of Sight. Even great songs get boring eventually but because I can never remember how these tracks go, I never tire of them. Not for everyone for sure, but I likes it.

Art. Xavier Boutin I was just on the point of thinking, fuck it I’ll skip the art bit this month, because I hadn’t seen anything I liked the look of. Then I happened on Xavier’s site. His sketches all feature ordinary people in streets and caf├ęs going about their daily business, but his technique really makes you see them afresh. I don’t know much about art but I’m starting to get an idea of what I like in terms of artistic style. This stuff is right up my alley; clear, bold black lines, outlines suggesting loads more than is actually there, lived-in faces and bodies moving through a detailed but untidy world .

Podcasts. Marvin Suicide . This podcast’s the perfect length and content for my half hour bus ride to work. Everything on the show is freely and legally downloaded from the internet. Within those parameters there’s a clear and consistent pattern to the content. There’s usually plenty of home-recorded ambient stuff and at least one bit of smirk-inducing juvenile vulgarity from the likes of Kunt and the Gang. More often than not there’s also a track from Catgut, which is always welcome, especially if, like me, (and Catgut) you think Sparklehorse’s first LP was their best.

Websites and blogs. Blog Love Omega Glee. After experimenting with multiple narrators in his novel The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus, Wred Fright continues to develop his fiction in inventive ways. Here he’s posting a new novel in blog form. Set in the near future the regularly updated narrative charts the lives of wrestling-fixated loser Jake and militant waitress Francine. I’ve got some catching up to do but this is addictive stuff. Here and elsewhere Wred’s big strength is in characterization – he’s got a real gift for getting you rooting for characters whose lives have got a bit bent out of shape. This tale’s going to be taking up my lunch breaks for the foreseeable future. Highly recommended.