February, 2013

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February – the month of failed New Years Resolutions, pancakes and sickly sweet romance. Whether you’re in holy matrimony or not, here’s a list of things we’ve fallen head over heels for in the past few weeks, plus a snapshot of upcoming things you should slip in your Filofax.

Rob’s events of the month

Light Show, Hayward Gallery, until 28th April

Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery has a fine track record in hosting interactive contemporary exhibitions full of spectacle and a striking use of scale. Light Show is no different, and features an array of installations, sculptures, projections and other works from the 1960s to the present, in a collection exploring our perception and sensory relationship with light.

Book Slam, Clapham Grand, 7th February 

Book Slam returns on the verges of Valentines day to launch Marry Me, a new collection of short stories by Dan Rhodes. Rhodes’ books are odd, eery and affirming, written with a voice entirely his own. He’ll be joined by thirty-six year old comic and known bath-fiend Tim Key, who can be seen reading of one of Marry Me‘s stories in the video below. Completing the line up are musician Aidan Moffat and writer Francesca Beard. So snap your ticket up now, and be sure to check out the Book Slam podcast, too.

Alex Horne and the Horne Section, various dates

February is a busy month for the versatile and underrated comic Alex Horne. He’ll be delivering comedy-infused jazz whilst fronting five-piece ensemble The Horne Section at The Invisible Dot’s King’s Cross HQ on the 2nd and 11th. The troupe are also recording their second Radio 4 series this month; act fast and you could bag yourselves tickets to a session at BBC’s Radio Theatre. In addition, The Hornster will MC Live at the Chapel on February 16th, on a bill headlined by Adam Buxton and also featuring Issy Sutie and Paul Foot.

Luke’s things of the month

Over the last year, podcasts have overthrown my music listening habits. From bourgeoisie mutterings on American Public Radio’s The Dinner Partyto Slate’s literature chat with the Audio Book Club. But what I have found myself most obsessive with over the past few weeks is The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Daily Buzz podcast. After an eight month absence, the podcast returns with an all guns blazing look at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Through a series of daily episodes, host Eugene Hernandez chats with festival organisers, filmmakers and industry experts about the shape of independent cinema in America, and what we can expect to be filling our Arthouse cinemas in the months to follow.

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I’m not sleeping much these days; probably getting around four hours kip every night. Spending most of my day festering in front of a computer screen certainly doesn’t help, but it’s let me track down some amazing old music, best of all is unearthing the work of American blues artist, Elizabeth Cotten. In a similar vein to Odetta (who also drops the occasional Bob Dylan cover), her rudimentary, upside-down guitar plucking and frangible singing voice has a haunting quality; both emotionally raw and affecting. It may have lead to a few sleepless nights, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

From fifties folk to futurist pop, February in Copenhagen is exciting for many reasons, and none more so than the month-long FROST Festival. With a selection of special live performances from musicians such as wonky electro-loon Dan Deacon, to Denmark’s finest neo-classicist pianist Nils Frahm. If you’re gonna be in Copenhagen this month, this is what you need to keep yourself busy doing. Be on the look out for a dishevelled ginger guy too, ‘cos there’s no way I’m missing out on any of this.

As if that wasn’t enough to put on your plate this month, here’s the only essential guide you’ll need for Shrove Tuesday this year.

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January, 2013

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The start of a New Year and a brand new site. Here’s our first monthly round-up of the things we’ve been keeping ourselves busy with, and what we’re excited about for the future.

Luke’s things of the month
I was lucky to unwrap a shiny new iPad for Christmas. Aside from the digital subscriptions to The Atlantic, Newsweek and Film Comment, I treated myself to an ebook purchase of Will Oldham on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.

Edited by former Run On guitarist Alan Licht, it’s the quasi-biographical account of prolific Kentuckian Americana artist Oldham, a 400 page selection of interviews Licht conducted with his friend, where they chronicle his artistic influences, collaborations with everyone from Bjork to R. Kelly. It’s an acquired taste, but this is a really insightful portrait of America’s most enigmatic alternative country songsmith working today.

After watching 366 films in 2012, I’ve tried to escape sitting down in a comfy chair and getting glued into another movie. Still a little worse for ware from the night before, I spent New Year’s Day watching the crude eighties movie musical, Purple Rain.

An unashamed Prince devotee, it was such a wonderful start to the year seeing one of my old eighties movies. Yes, the acting may be terrible, and the pimp/punk dialogue excrutiating, but the film is so darn right sexy, I couldn’t help but pay it a revisit. If only for the soundtrack alone, you need to see this.

I’m not sure whether my studies are to blame or my general indolence, but I was completely unaware that Alexander Tucker released an album in 2012. Released back in June, Third Ear is experimental folk artist’s sixth album, and the second to be released on fantastic label Thrill Jockey. A few listens in, it’s clear that he is hugely influenced by the sounds of  Robert Wyatt and Eno, whilst still having an inexplicable, refreshing sound of the future.

 

Rob’s events of the month
Inimitable chamber ensemble Penguin Cafe Orchestra are playing an intimate show at Camden’s Cecil Sharp House on Thursday the 17th. Lead by Arthur Jeffes, son of founding member Simon, the group will be workshopping compositions from a new album. They’re also playing on the 3rd of February. Expect to see a feature on the harmonium-brandishing upstarts on this very site, soon.

Flying the comedy flag, saturnite producers The Invisible Dot are doing their bit to help all you shake the January blues by hosting free shows at their King’s Cross HQ.  Beginning on January 25th with Claudia O’Doherty’s last performance of Foster’s award-nominated show The Telescope, the shows will continue into February. This lot’s ability to consistently put on shows by medium-advancing performers is baffling; keep your eye on their site for updates.

And because January is a long, cold month, more laughter can be sought at LOCO London Comedy Film Festival. Running at venues across the city between 24-27 January, the programme boasts discussion panels on how to kickstart your comedic career, a Nora Ephron retrospective, and screenings of contemporary Far Eastern comedies. I’m particularly looking forward to ‘Creating Your Own Funny World’, a workshop held at the BFI on the 27th and focusing on the construction of a rounded, immersive universe unique to your writing.