Friday, 13 January 2012

New Grimes, Gazelle Twin plus videos from Austra and Emika

Grimes - Genesis from much anticipated Visions

The talented Claire Boucher aka Grimes has allowed a new track from forthcoming album Visions to be available online coinciding with her signing to label 4AD. It’s ‘grimesy’ basically; kind of hard to pin point, rather layered with a solid synth bassline, reverb saturated percussion and undulating vocals, at times muffled and indecipherable murmurous undertones that skip effortlessly along Claire’s surprisingly varied range.

Pretty memorable indeed and another taster of what’s to come from Visions which so far has teased three tracks, ‘Oblivian’, ‘Nightmusic’ and Genesis’ and if you missed in my related post predicting sounds for 2012, ‘Nightmusic’ is up there as a favourite clip along with Emika’s ‘Pretend live’ and so soon in this new year, she’s everywhere. I highly recommend Geidi Primes that was re-released in the latter half of 2011 after debuting in 2010. Visions is out just in time for my birthday in March, not that I drop major hints or anything lovely people…

Gazelle Twin – The Entire City

Talking of which, I manifested, with a little suggestion, Gazelle Twin’s album from my music Santa this year, the album was out in the autumn and quite mysteriously brilliant and innovative, ranging from filmic epic proportions, to eerie Fever Ray styling of electronic bonkersness. Simultaneously tribal and pulsating, crushing operatic melodrama, nature-centric clashes with technology and urban scapes, hauntingly trickling over your consciousness without the jarring glitch that some button pushing eccentrics make you jump with.

Brighton’s Elisabeth Walling’s avante garde approach as her pseudonym Gazelle Twin is now popping up all over blogsphere with her unique brand of music and art project transfigured through the inspiring The Entire City. Every song is progressive and modernistic without being too way out and of course it’s hard to pick a track to prick your ears with but I’m going to go with the debut single from last year ‘Changelings’. It is so beautifully transfixing and her genius is a multi sensory experience that you would be silly to pass by, all enmeshed in this enigmatic video. 2012 is looking like a year for innovative female artists whose cutting edge talent won’t need the usual industry tricks to get women to the forefront and create interest, an antidote to the superficial marketing of the more mainstream. Enjoy below.

Austra- new video for Spellwork

And finally…the long awaited video for Austra’s ‘Spellwork’. It is, what I call affectionately ‘ a load of comedy pish posh’ but at the end of the day, the track is fab and still holds sway a year after first mentioning Katie Stelmanis’ newest project here. If you’ve followed Katie’s career as I have, pre Austra, you will recognise straight away the prototype for this video in her solo effort with Believe Me’ from 2009, more humour of the broomstick variety.

Nice horse but shame they didn’t use the same prop cupboard, I would like to see those plastic witch hats on the Tasseomancy twins. If I were you, I’d play the audio for ‘Spellwork’ (which also makes a great ringtone)  and stick on the video for ‘Believe Me’, it’s kind of funnier but still retains that feel of an undergraduate film student’s late homework assignment.

Emika- new video for '3 Hours' 

I said finally...and then a video for Emika's new single from her self titled debut popped up in my radar and had to be added on. The opening track '3 Hours' is rather unsettling with lyrics like 'Hit me when you wanna and I'll take the blame' and the five minutes of depiction of this darker side of a claustrophobic relationship definitely, for me, confirms the suffering of obsession and censure hinted at when listening as audio only.

The video shot in black and white has the same benumbed pain echoed in her repeated line 'hit me, hit me, hit me, anyway' as Emika's seemingly shackled face makes a plea to a man intermittently blindfolded (on a lighter note, didn't he look like Prince at that point?) Great debut album with videos to match. Very much looking forward to more from Emika in the coming year. Out Feb 13th, probably not one for your Valentine though.

Related Posts:

Sounds *during* 2012: an alternative list
Orbital, Grimes, Niki & the Dove
Grimes with Geidi Primes and Housse de Racket
Whimsy pop poppity again
Emika Album Review

Related Links:

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson’s crime novel made over by David Fincher. 

There will be many people coming at this film from different angles, from lovers of the Swedish trilogy in its original novel format, later adapted for Swedish TV and now a new set of David Fincher NIN fanbase who want to see what the fuss is all about. The sad and untimely demise of Stieg Larsson will no doubt be getting a lot of posthumous attention for his portrayal of sickening sexual violence towards women and conspiracy theories are abound already as to whether he actually penned the trilogy himself, and even to the circumstances of his death shortly before the publications of his first attempt at writing fiction. A man heavily involved in exposing far right neo nazism in the so often thought of social utopia of his own country was always going to be followed by an overwhelming shadow of people that may want him ‘shut up’.

So with all this teasing and speculating of the grim kind, the film looked like something worth going to see. And it was. The strength of this story, definitely being the female protagonist Lisbeth Salander, is an intriguing character and really makes the film worthwhile, a young woman, not a ‘girl’ as the film title implies, which is another current bugbear of mine, the constant infantilising of women in popular culture and the name change for this film is very interesting in the context of the themes in Larsson’s writing. 

The original title for this crime novel was ‘Men Who Hate Women’, noted for a Swedish audience but possibly too confrontational for English speaking countries to be made so aware of. In order to make it more palatable for a different audience,  I feel the title focuses on downgrading what is a strong and survivalist young woman who enacts revenge on her rapist to a fetishsized ‘girl’ and her tattoo which actually didn’t play much of a part in her role or the plot really but was merely a trivial aspect of her appearance. They may as well have called it ‘The Girl With The Nice Arse’ for the relevance it had to the plot really. I suppose if scrabbling around desperately, she does need a tattooist friend later in the plot and dragons can symbolise ‘strength’ but hmmm?  Maybe this dragon tattoo has more relevance in the books, I will make a note to check this out.

Importantly the character of Lisbeth is not compromised as the title change is; she is outside of the norm, a ward of the state, abused yet surviving albeit with what some might call social limitations being aloof, direct and at times aggressive in manner.

Rooney Mara, I think, pulled off this character spectacularly and was well cast in a role that could have teetered dangerously on perversely titillating with such explicit ‘thriller’ scenes. Lisbeth as a woman with a photographic memory, technical wizardry to hack the computers of politicians and the like to help solve crime and ultimately to tap into her own survival instinct beyond no bounds when she plots her revenge on for want of a better word, her ‘carer’ after he violently rapes her. 

Not only does she treat him to ‘like with like’, while making him watch his abhorrent treatment of her own rape by him on a video she has taken to hold as more evidence, an uncomfortable scene obviously, but tattoos his crime across his body in order to protect other women from becoming involved with him and to continue her own control of him in appalling rapist purgatory. 

These scenes are really there to build up a profile of a woman who has the strength and motive to beat her abuser and to help investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist solve the crime of serial killer for the latter part of the film. If you haven’t read the books, this is the point in the film where you will go’ ahh I see, this is where it’s all heading now’ as I did; to this point, the two characters seem very vaguely trotting alongside each other and it did feel for me that there was more than one novel here getting crammed and rushed into a single film.

Once Mikael, (Daniel Craig, someone I have no particular strong feeling for or against as an actor, I’ve never seen him as Bond and have only seen him recently playing Ted Hughes in Sylvia, my sheltered life basically) has persuaded Lisbeth to help him find this ‘killer of women’ that has managed to dodge being caught for over forty years, the film starts to gel together more satisfyingly. 

The main weaknesses for me were with plot, most notably the unexpected sexual liason between the two protagonists, Lisbeth and Mikael; it lacked intensity but did serve to reveal the softer side and ‘opening up’ of the aloof Lisbeth . It sadly teetered on the verge of a ‘crush’ when she bought him an expensive gift towards the end. I was in two minds about whether I wanted a happy or unhappy ending as the relationship did not seem plausible in the film (another reason to grab the novels and compare) despite a mutual respect that clearly started to develop.

Another dangling sub plot was centred on religious themes, most explicitly with the serial killer who was picking his victims through biblical women and verse. The brutal purging of their so-called sin through the sickening interpretation of the  ‘teachings’ and the hinted disquiet Mikael had of his own daughters religious symbology were interesting and only touched upon; both I would have liked explored more really but of course some things have to be cut for film and this was after all, a ‘thriller’. At around this point the revelation of the missing girl as not being in the bible revealed the twist for me frustratingly before the final curtain.

There were, however, fabulous shots of snowy, dark and severe Stockholm and to be fair to Fincher, the ‘Hollywooding’ up of this film was limited to only a few moments throughout; the very goth industrial music video title sequence at the beginning didn’t seem to fit and a rather silly scene where Lisbeth chases the murderer on her motorbike; it's all shot very pop action and not really needed but aside from this, it did retain a modicum of Scandinavian unrelenting grimness. 

Other than that, slight distractions for me were Stellan Skarsgard who I just kept seeing Lykke li dancing around him in the video Sadness is a Blessing, Jim from 'Neighbours' popped up at a surprisingly crucial point and the most annoying popcorn inhaling, packet rustling, getting up to go to the toilet THREE times during a film couple? The weak bladdered, impolite munching fools basically. Not that I suffer with cinema rage or anything. And none of these things were the fault of Fincher, obviously.

It was good and I would like to see it again as the family tree got a little muddled in places in a kind of ‘Donnie Darko’ hang on a minute, just need to rewind that bit kind of way. On discussion with my cohort for the evening on leaving, should it have been an 18 certificate? Yes. Rape is the most violent act towards woman, man or child so no question of its adult territory. The other pressing question; why was it remade so soon after the Swedish film? Well this will always be contentious with the battle field strewn with accusations of lazy people that can't be bothered to read subtitles and America wanting to make a fast buck out of European brilliance. On a positive note,  hopefully most who enjoy Fincher's will go on to check out Niel Arden Oplev's version from 2009 if they haven't already. I know I will.