Bomb the Bass

I was astonished to discover recently that Bomb the Bass released an album between Into the Dragon and Clear. I don’t know how I can have gone this long thinking that Clear was their second album. Unknown Territory, as the second album is called, turns out to be rather good and has a couple of songs I recognise on it (including Winter in July).

Even more excitingly, they have just released a brand new album – Future Chaos – which is their first original album in 13 years. It seems quite odd at first but grows on you, and it has some good tracks on it. They’re playing a gig at Koko in Camden soon, but I’m not sure whether to go or not. If someone else hassles me to go then I’ll probably be up for it.

Also, ever wondered what happened to Justin Warfield, the rapper on Bug Powder Dust? It was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that he’s now in a sort of goth/industrial band called She Wants Revenge. They’re a bit variable but some of their songs are enjoyable, and These Things has a great video with the lovely Shirley Manson in it. Also, I noticed that their song Tear You Apart is used to good effect in a particularly memorable scene in the film The Number 23 (starring the excellent Jim Carrey).

New camera, and walk from Beckton to Woolwich

I needed a new camera, and because portability is very important I decided to get the smallest 10 megapixel digital compact I could find which took the best photos. Initially I was attracted to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 because it’s nice and small, it got pretty good reviews, and it has an excellent zoom lens with 25mm wide angle. Eventually, though, I decided to go for the lovely little Canon Digital IXUS 870 IS because the reviews suggested that the image quality was even better than the Panasonic. Its wide angle isn’t quite as impressive as the Panasonic, but it still does a very respectable 28mm.

So far I’m extremely happy with the Canon due to its excellent zoom, its lovely big 3″ screen, its intuitive interface, and its small size and good looks. The only annoyance is its failure to stay in spot metering mode after that’s been selected, which means that if I take several photos in a row which require spot metering I have to keep manually choosing that setting each time. I’m not sure if this is a bug or a feature.

Here are some photos I took on a walk through Docklands from Beckton District Park to Woolwich. This was Walk 15 on the Capital Ring, a green walking route which circles London. I’ve now done 10 of the 15 sections of the Capital Ring and enjoyed them extremely much, and I’m looking forward to completing the remaining five.

Things which are exciting me today

Children of Men – a stunningly brilliant film that crosses several genres and features wonderful writing, acting and direction. I saw this in the cinema when it first came out, and even when re-watching it on the small screen it still manages to completely suck you away from reality and into a terrifying world that shows you how our society might be in a few years if we’re not very careful. It’s surely one of the greatest films ever made, and if you haven’t seen it before then watch it RIGHT NOW.

Transformation by Signal Aout 42 – an album I discovered earlier this year by a band I’d never heard of previously. They’re basically an industrial/EBM band who’ve had a change of direction and equipped themselves with the sort of shiny-sounding studio gear used by futurepop and dance acts, then used that gear to produce something that sounds extremely fresh and exciting. The album is just one dark, epic masterpiece after another, and I absolutely love it.

UK ISPs filtering Web content

So, this is the first time I’ve knowingly had my Web access filtered by ISPs. I can see for myself that this is being done by O2 and BT, and there are apparently many other ISPs involved too. I strongly urge anyone reading this to write to their ISP and complain if they find they are also having their content filtered.

It is not the job of an ISP to perform filtering (with the possible exception of when the content is actually illegal), and I for one want to see this alarming trend reversed.

Edit: The Wikipedia page in question has been unblocked, which is good news. Let’s hope someone learnt a worthwhile lesson from this stupidity.

Gig review: Nash the Slash

About 15 years ago I happened to see a late film on Channel 4 called Roadkill. This was back in the days when Channel 4 was still a bit interesting and subversive, not like the corporate sell-out it has become today. Roadkill is a bizarre independent Canadian road movie, and there was a scene in that film that had a profound influence on me. The protagonist is in a club where live music is being provided by a scary-looking man in bandages who’s performing an amazing piece of industrial music. It’s filmed in stark black and white and I found the mixture of music and visuals incredibly intense.

It wasn’t until many years later that I found out this was a real musical artist called Nash the Slash who is now about 60 years old and still active on the music scene; so, when I saw that he was coming over from Canada to play in the UK, I took the opportunity to see him at the Purple Turtle in Camden. He came onstage in bandages, shades, a white tuxedo and white top hat, then proceeded to thrill the audience by performing a mix of bizarre but brilliant musical material. As well as singing live, he also played the electric mandolin and the electric violin. His electric violin was distorted and effected to the max and sounded absolutely amazing.

All the music was synchronised to visual projections which complemented and enhanced the music perfectly. Pleasingly, he played We Will Be The Leaders, which is the song he played in Roadkill. I hadn’t known exactly what to expect from a Nash the Slash gig, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The Purple Turtle is a decent live venue (although I didn’t think their PA was the best I’d ever heard) and the night was only slightly marred by a member of the bar staff trying to irritate people instead of doing his job. Nash the Slash has written a description of the event himself, much of which is a review of the audience, and you’ve got to approve of an artist who does something like that.

Some of the support was interesting. I wasn’t too bothered about the Gary Numan covers stuff that was happening, although it was very well done, but I did enjoy Global Citizen and his two stunning female synth-playing assistants. Their music was extremely dark and quite sinister, and this was enhanced by their impressive appearance and stage presence. Global Citizen gave the impression that the performance could almost have been part of a Satanic ritual or something equally evil. One of my favourite bits of the evening was when GC announced that the next song was called Caged, then went on to explain, in a manner that managed to be both businesslike and sinister, ‘yes… it gets darker.’

The Amazon MP3 store

It’s good to see that some decent competition for the iTunes Music Store has finally appeared in the UK in the form of the Amazon MP3 store. Unlike the iTunes Music Store, all MP3s from Amazon are completely DRM-free (although it’s not Apple’s fault that the iTunes Music Store still has DRM on some of its tracks).

Unfortunately, though, this is less use to me now that I’ve decided to try and get as much of my music library as possible into a format that has been compressed losslessly, as previously planned – I no longer want to have anything that’s lower than CD quality if it can be avoided.

The problem with buying CDs again, though, is that you end up paying for poor album tracks you might not particularly want. I fell foul of this quite badly recently with the Jedi Selector album, which is a compilation of tracks by Mark Pritchard and Thomas Middleton. For some reason I was under the impression that this album was full of pumping electro, but in actual fact it’s only got one particularly interesting track on it. I hope that iTunes and Amazon will start offering individual tracks for download in lossless formats soon.

Film Review: Quantum of Solace

On the way to the cinema I briefly saw someone that looked very much like Rick, but it couldn’t have been Rick because why would Rick have been struggling down a busy Finchley Road carrying what looked like several large planks of wood?

Anyway, onto the film itself. Daniel Craig brings out the brutal side of Bond brilliantly. You see a Bond who likes to take risks, and he delights in being rebellious, hurting people and breaking things. The cold edge of Bond’s personality is explored in a very believable way. He’s not quite so good when it comes to the romantic side of Bond’s adventures, unfortunately, but that’s probably forgivable; only Timothy Dalton managed to combine both aspects perfectly, although he lacked Craig’s raw, powerful presence.

The pacing is solid and much improved over Casino Royale, which lurched awkwardly in a new direction every time it seemed to be about to end. There is great acting, rich characterisation, and an effective plot. The action and special effects are stunning, letting you really believe you are right in the middle of the violence. The occasional stylised sequences work well to add atmosphere and don’t detract from the film at all.

I enjoyed this worthy Bond film from its wonderfully trippy title sequence right through to the moody final scene in the snow. That’s quite impressive, really, given that there must be very little, if any, of Fleming’s original material left to work with. (Despite the title, this bears no apparent resemblance to the short story of the same name – which isn’t really even about Bond anyway.)

Good work, and I look forward to the next one.