Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Black Sun

... le soleil noir de la mélancolie (Nerval)

What is melancholy?
- enjoying being sad?
- acknowledging one's own loneliness?
- seeing the world as it really is?

Monday, 28 April 2008

4AD 4Ever!

During my musical awakening during the 8os my single most influential source of inspiration was the little independent label 4AD. I particularly got into them after the compilation album Lonely Is An Eyesore (1987), on which most of the label's flagships at that stage were represented. 4AD's tasteful sleeve design, often with an ethereal and somewhat mysterious air, was also part of the reason why I got so fascinated by their records. In hindsight I guess just a handful of the bands have kept their appeal, in particular Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil, to some extent also Dead Can Dance og His Name Is Alive (at any rate, they all were very imaginative when it came to naming their bands!). Although my interest dropped proportionally with the growth of the shoegaze scene, 4AD and their bands were among my foremost musical references at least until the start of the 90s.

The reason why I'm mentioning this now - about 15 years after having bought my last regular 4AD release - is the fact that during a heavy rain period some weeks ago, the old Frazier Chorus tune Storm suddenly started spinning in my head. It was released on 4AD in the late 80s, and since I've only got the vinyl version, I googled a bit around hoping to find a downloadable digital version. This resulted in a greater catch that I'd bargained for, as I finally came across a link to an obscure sampler consisting not only of the song I was looking for, but also the rest of the ep, along with four other ep's from several other classical 4AD artists from the late 80s. It was like discovering an previously unknown van Gogh in the attic!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Bitter-sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Today was my mum's birthday, and on this occasion I've flicked through some faded photo albums and watched some old 8 mm family films. A bitter-sweet experience, with several lovely memories of carefree summer holidays in the skerries, expectant Christmas Eves with my family, and much more I won't bore you with right now, just concluding we're all the results of our experiences, and they're something we should cherish.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Party Like It's 1995

Contrary to common belief, the centre of the coolest pop music in the mid-90s was neither London nor Seattle, but rather a silly old backwater called Bristol. I still think the music of artists like Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead is trop hip (pardon my French). Consequently, it's happy news that at least the Ports will soon be out with another album - just ten years after their previous one! I also hear rumours that Belgian Hooverphonics (also known as "a lesser Portishead") have a new record on their way. What's going on? Have we all entered a time warp? Is it 2008? Is it 1995? I don't know anymore. The only thing I know is that I'm looking forward to hearing what the godfathers of trip hop (P-Head, not Hoover!) will come up with. Hopefully, they'll refute the claim of those smart arses who already for a long time have declared the death of the genre. Their first, new single may not exactly be a merry sing-along tune, but it sounds quite interesting.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Happy When It Rains

The last couple of days heavy rain clouds have been hanging over the Norwegian capital. Call me crazy, but this might actually be the kind of weather that appeals to me the most. With a soft drizzle in the air it's sort of like something's going on. Quoting Rimbaud:

Il pleure dans mon cœur
Comme il pleut sur la ville

There are various kinds of rain. Heavy drops against the windowpane on a dark autumn night. A relieving cloudburst after a sultry summer's day. And then what we're experiencing at the moment: Little April showers. Sure, enjoying the weather on a lovely sunny day can be great. But personally I think a rainy afternoon can be just as tempting.

I remember a late night in my and my brother's later teens. We and our parents had all gone to bed, and outside there was a vehement thunderstorm and pouring rain. Somehow the brothers agreed that this was something we couldn't miss, so we put on rainwear outside our pyjamas and went out into the city's lonely streets, dancing our self-composed rain dance in the puddles. One of my sweeter memories.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

T.G.I. Friday!

Ahhh! Finally Friday! Working as a teacher is quite stimulating. The students are lovely, and you get lots of opportunities to use your professional and educational skills. But at the same time it's great when the weekend comes and you can relax in the hearth and home. It's the best cure against a massive heart attack! Especially now that I've also passed the deadline for a freelance dictionary project, and the publisher has started running down my doors.

Fridays have gradually become a regular ritual, to a great extent centred around the national public television service's "Golden Row", based on entertainment, comedy and talk shows. But if you get bored watching the telly, you can always turn it off and dim the lights until your flat's only illuminated by some tea candles and a psychedelic lava lamp, while listening to relaxing music and enjoying a cuppa java and a glass of golden drops. That's Friday for me!