The Prodigy at Brixton Academy were absolutely amazing

I’m very grateful that I got a ticket for this, even though it meant buying from a tout. It was probably the most exciting and intense gig I’ll ever go to. The barrage of sound and light was incredible. Indescribable, really. An hour of blissful sensory overload.

It all started to get a bit much during the encore, though – even standing almost at the back, people nearby were dancing in ways that caused me physical pain. I can’t believe how full the Academy was; it must surely have been oversubscribed.

I’m not really sure exactly what it means to be one of Maxim’s ‘Brixton warriors’, but I’m damned glad that I was one.

Eden Log and other obscure sci-fi films

Every so often I discover a relatively obscure sci-fi film which has been released some time in the fairly recent past. Past gems of this nature include the shocking paranoid nightmare Cube, the industrial espionage mindfuck Cypher, and the utterly brilliant time travel hell that is Primer.

The latest one on the list is the rather bizarrely named French film Eden Log, which mainly seems to be about exploitation of people and the environment. It’s filled with ambiguity and brief suggestions of things, leaving you thinking and wondering what conclusions to draw after it’s finished. It’s filmed in stark black and white with bits of faded colour appearing here and there, and when you’re immersed in many of the scenes it feels a bit like you’re wandering through a particularly dark and disturbing exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Anyway, I love films like this, and I wish more of them were made.

Let the Right One In: go and see it now, don’t wait for Hollywood to mess up the remake

Before seeing Let the Right One In, all I knew about it was that it was a Swedish vampire film. I wasn’t prepared for a dark, haunting, twisted love story set against a backdrop that somehow finds richness and beauty in the mundane.

Even though I found it a bit slow in places whilst watching it, it’s amazing how this film leaves you thinking and feeling for days afterwards. It sort of gets into your head and won’t go away. It’s a unique and wonderful film which just goes to show what the Swedes are capable of when they’re not engaged in corrupt legal nonsense.

Also, as a result of watching this film, I discovered the lovely 80s Italo-style Swedish pop song Flash in the Night by Secret Service, which I have now bought.

I’m not too sure about the new Depeche Mode album, I have to say

Each of the songs on Sounds of the Universe seems to be made up of lots of little bits of songs randomly spliced together. Each time one bit gets going it suddenly stops and an entirely different-sounding thing starts, so one second you’re enjoying a nice funky synth-pop riff and the next you’re enduring some really boring soulful guitary bit with whiny vocals over the top.

Generally I think it’s pretty similar to Exciter, and I didn’t like Exciter much either. For me, Depeche Mode should be dark, heavy, moody and flowing, and Sounds of the Universe doesn’t match these criteria. Playing the Angel was much better.

New synth module: Korg MS2000R

Last Wednesday evening I went to Basildon. This was exciting for three reasons.

Firstly, it meant that I got to travel from Fenchurch Street station. This was exciting because Fenchurch Street was one of the very few terminus-type train stations in London that I hadn’t travelled from before. I liked it because it was a cute little station with a sort of retro 70s vibe. I think the only station left on my list now is Marylebone, although I’ve absolutely no idea where trains from there go to.

Secondly, I got to visit Basildon for the first (and hopefully last) time. This is of course exciting because Basildon is the birthplace of Depeche Mode. Having been there, I can now understand why so much of their music is industrial-sounding and also why it is generally infused with depression and emotional pain. Still, it had quite a nice park with geese in it.

Thirdly, whilst in Basildon I bought a second-hand Korg MS2000R from a friendly couple who lived in a house full of animals. The MS2000R is a mass-produced analogue modelling digital synthesizer module and is thus not a massively thrilling prospect in comparison to some of my previous synth purchases, but it does make some very usable and shiny ‘virtual analogue’ sounds and is thus a handy thing to have around. It has a degree of polyphony, in comparison to my analogue synths, and it has plenty of knobs and is very tweakable. One quite unique and very exciting feature is a proper analogue-style sequencer with knobs.

The only annoying thing about it was that, in order to upgrade its operating system to the latest version, I needed to run the OS installer from Windows because there was no Mac version. Naughty Korg.

Fever Ray and Röyksopp at the Royal Festival Hall: very good

I was sitting in my circle seat in the Festival Hall thinking how enjoyable Röyksopp were being, and how well the music went with the lighting effects, when suddenly everyone around me stood up and blocked my view. So I had to stand up for the rest of the gig in order to see anything, which wasn’t particularly comfortable in the circle, so that marred things for me somewhat. Still, it was a great experience nonetheless: energetic, atmospheric and sumptuous.

However, it was the support act, Fever Ray (one half of The Knife if you are familiar with them), who left me with a more lasting impression. A smoky stage moodily lit with pulsating lamps giving glimpses of hooded figures doing mysterious things brought to mind impressions of strange cave-dwellers from another planet or somesuch, and their powerful, dronily melodic music only served to enhance this powerful imagery. Every so often the strange beings would be obscured by impressive and beautifully coloured banks of laser beams slicing the Festival Hall in two, perfectly synchronised with the hypnotic rhythms of the music. It was a fantastic spectacle that I’m very glad to have witnessed.

Record companies demonstrate more stupidity in their negotiations with Apple

So, the record companies have actually been managing to achieve some sales success via the iTunes Store, even in the face of declining CD sales and radical new business models such as ad-based subscription service Spotify.

And what do they do to capitalise on this? They start to confuse and rip off customers by introducing variable pricing. Idiots.

Register.com brokenness demonstrates further Twitter usefulness

Further to my previous entry about this, Register.com (our DNS provider) are actually responding to their customers via Twitter. Unfortunately the problems continued after their tweet stating that ‘all customer sites/services have been restored’, but anyway; that was still an improvement on the email I got from their customer service mentioning a vague ‘technical problem’ and giving no clue as to what the problem was or how they are going to stop it from happening again.

Anyway, it just goes to show that if you can get past all the tediously detailed insights into what people are eating for their lunch and so forth then it seems that Twitter may have real potential for usefulness.