Archive for September, 2008

Plan B is East London’s very own Marshall Mathers, but only less cartoonish. He spins grim, menacing and often semi-fictional stories around acoustic guitar samples and velvet basslines. Sort of like Eminem meets Dizzee Rascal at a Tom Waits concert.

In “Sick 2 Def”, he castrates society for putting pedophiles on TV and for indulges in a bit of braggadocio about his foul-mouthed metaphors. Pretty standard stuff considering how far entertainment has strayed away from its once squeaky clean image. Hell, Larry Clark has created visuals that have been far more disturbing than Plan B’s words.

But the music, well the music is rather nice. In this song, the acoustic parts work wonderfully well with his cockney accent.

In “No More Eatin”, Plan B gets all emotional about youth gone wild and sounds like a teenage Gill Scott Heron on crack. Once again, the music behind these words saves the day, as we get one hell of a track that seems to pay homage to some of the finest works of Rage Against The Machine.

Try not to squirm while he raps about 15-year-old feigns committing murder, rape and general mayhem for money, food and Pokemen cards and I promise, you won’t feel a thing.

Music over matter, literally.


Sick To Def – Plan B

No More Eatin’ – Plan B


Plan B’s Who Needs Actions When You Got Words

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I stumble upon a lot of random stuff on the Internet. And some of them are random enough to make Douglas Adams blush in his grave. A few minutes go, this shit had me laughing so hard.

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Director Todd Solondz gets no points for subtle irony. His 1998 effort Happiness blatantly involves characters that are anything but happy. A pedophile lecturing his son on sex? Check. A desperate woman constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Check. A homophobic father coming to terms with the sexual abuse of his gay son? Check. It’s almost sadistic that such people are even allowed within close quarters of each other, much less have their lives entwined with one another. But that doesn’t make this a bad film. No. No. No. It’s really good, in fact…just not, you know, the happy sort.

Picnic At Hanging Rock

Directed by high priest of the Australian New Wave Peter Weir, this film is based on a “true” story about a couple of Catholic high school girls gone missing during a picnic at Victoria’s Mount Macedon. On a personal note, it was representative of what I have always enjoyed about Australian films. Ethereal, almost hallucinatory landscapes that expand only if our imagination permits. A storyline that grudgingly moves along against its natural instinct to remain calm and perfectly quiet. And stillness that occurs on camera when the director thinks beyond breaking even with the budget. Exhilarating without any sort of visible movement. Nice.

Funny Games

While the brilliant Caché was Haneke’s most inspired moment yet as a director, Funny Games catches him in a ghoulishly creepy mood. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts play a wealthy couple tormented by two sadistic locals portrayed by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet. Sadly, there is little else to say about the film. While certain scenes are satisfyingly disturbing, the film – on the whole – displeases with its dour sense of imagination. At best, you can buy the DVD to make your grandma squeal. If you don’t harbor such intentions towards your loved ones, give it a miss.

Ghost Dog

Jim Jarmusch gives his protagonists neither closure nor comeuppance for their actions, as evidenced in his previous films such as Dead Man, Down By Law and Night on Earth. In Ghost Dog, it is the main character who seeks neither. Forrest Whitaker plays a hitman “who follows ancient code of the samurai as outlined in the book of Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s recorded sayings, Hagakure.” It actually was how I thought it would be…a gangster-samurai Indie film with a delightful sense of irony and an imaginative soundtrack.

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About 15 minutes away from the ECR tollgate, there lies a Dhaba that entices more than it delivers. Similar to those picturesque seaside restaurants in Goa, the ambience at ECR Dhaba is arguably more satisfying than the food served. Spread over more than 10 acres at least, it’s an abode for Malay ducks, geese, waterfowl, Persian cats and Emus. Sadly, some of them are not a part of the menu.

Truth be told, a bunch of us went there for one reason and one only – to taste Emu meat and to revel in the fact that a sort of, maybe mildly endangered bird has been forced to sacrifice its life for a greater purpose – our palettes.

Upon reaching there, we darted back and forth, trying to catch a glimpse of everything that was on display. The Persian cats were glorious and they seemed more indifferent than their domesticated comrades. So lackadaisically callous they were amidst our presence that I almost didn’t even consider eating them.

As I walked through gigantic birdcage, I got the chills! For a second, I hallucinated a Hitchcock-like figure shaking his head in disapproval, wondering why so many people think life is reluctant to imitate art when all signs seem to point towards the contrary. That was weird.

The 20 minutes we spent staring at the Emus really cleansed our palettes. I guess most of them assumed that we were about to feed them; that would explain why they gingerly marched towards us, bobbing their heads like ping pong balls.

Needless to say, irony was cruel to the Emus and terribly satisfying for us in a “Me Hunter, You Food” way. At least two of us swore upon our grandmothers’ graves that this was going to be quite unlike anything else.

Five minutes after settling down at our table, we were told that Emus were only served during public holidays. At the point, I almost had the urge to assassinate of someone of importance so that the government might declare the following day as a holiday. The other heartless carnivore amongst us had far more drastic plans. Wearing a sort of expression that beguiled the waiter and our resident communist, he muttered out aloud if we could “have the fucking cats instead.”

Over the next hour, we kept nibbling on crabs, shrimps, chicken, mutton and even the occasional vegetable – which were all decently cooked and reasonably presented. I guess nothing that could distract us from the disappointment of not eating those big, goofy bastards.

I’ll tell this much, Mr and Mrs Emu. We are coming after your family on Gandhi Jayanthi.

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London To Brighton

Director’s Paul Andrew vision of London is more terrifying than Guy Ritchie’s worst nightmare. While the latter litters London suburbia with wisecracking hooligans and tenacious hit men, Andrew has chosen a far more realistic path that leaves his characters at the mercy of their actions, rather than of playful irony. The storyline is tight and through its progression creates a series of vicious blows not too dissimilar to those fashioned by a ten-ton sledgehammer. As the film begins, the audience sees Kelly – a prostitute and 12-year-old Joanne in a public lavatory plotting their escape from London to Brighton. It is evident that they are on the run. For the next hour and a half, we get to find out about the details. And like Gustave Flaubert once said, the devil is in the details. Oh yes, he is… pimps, mobsters and pedophiles too. Now wonder Bradshaw hailed this as the “British film of the year”.

Encounters At The End Of The World

Werner Herzog has this knack of capturing beauty in transition that only exists if we choose to see that way. In Encounters At The End Of The World, he travels to the South Pole and looks to film the gaping mystery that is the Antarctica landscape. Initially, we are treated to the director’s cynicism as he bemoans ATM machines, aerobic centers and such messing up his unstructured view of what he believes to be the end of the universe. But when he does film the unknown or the largely unobserved, it creates imagery that is both immediately devastating and beautiful. It gives us a sense of introspection that only several bottles of cough syrup could induce. The characters we meet along Herzog’s journey have one thing in common. They all let Werner make them look and sound like people you don’t expect to me outside a quirky novel. We meet a lady whose enjoys zipping herself into luggage, a philosophical truck driver, a plumber who believes that his ancestors were Aztec kings, a scientist who draws a connection between seals and Pink Floyd. And a penguin that the audience may never ever forget.


Not as bad as my friends had me believing, but definitely worse than what I expected from the writers of Wilder Napalm and the BMW short film Beat The Devil.

Cidade dos Homens

Critics have not been to kind to Cidade dos Homens (City Of Men). It is often cited as a poor successor to the brilliant Cidade de Deus (City Of God) and unfortunately, I can’t help but agree. While the original spoke in length about the vicious survivalist mentality of the lawless Brazilian underworld, this one looks at the same scenario from a bleeding heart’s perspective. A melodrama that too often is careful about the route it takes with the story and the characters. Throw in dollops of ill-fated machismo, construed father-son emotional shenanigans, Latin rap music and lo behold, welcome to the city of men who know all too well that they are mainstream cinematic characters. Give this one a miss.

The Descent

This is about a group of woman on a caving expedition gone horribly, horribly wrong. When I say “horribly”, I don’t mean they plummet to their deaths on sharp, jagged rocks. No, no, that would have been a relief for these thrill-seeking women. These adventurers find themselves trapped inside an explored cave and consequently on the menu of “cavemen who have stayed underground.” And by cavemen, I don’t mean hunchbacked Neanderthals with unkempt hair…I’m talking about creepy, mutilated creatures with blood on their breath and bloody murder on their mind. It almost seems as though director Neil Marshall has subjected his characters to his theory of evolution and watched them suffer to keep their place on the food chain. And by theory of evolution, I mean Darwinism on crack. Claustrophobic, horrifying and highly enjoyable.

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For someone for whom decadence has often paid dividends, Sandeep has introduced me to a lot of music that twisted lust around its pretty little head. Around two years ago, he urged me to listen to John Cale’s solo version of “Venus In Furs” inspired by Sacher-Masoch’s novel of the same name. This song does things to a woman’s mind, he said. Messes it up in a beautiful way, apparently. Well, I am yet to confirm the authenticity of this effect…what I do know is that “Venus In Furs” is the probably one of the finest erotic moments in rock and roll. The guitar wails as Cale’s vocals cuts through sound like a rusty blade. “Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather, shiny leather in the dark, tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you…strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart”. Save this song for the last dance of decadence.


Venus In Furs – John Cale

Pink Floyd’s pianist / keyboardist Richard William Wright “died of an undisclosed form of cancer” a few days ago. Although several shades below the radar than Roger Waters or David Gilmour, Wright played a pivotal role in Pink Floyd’s ascent to their god-like status. He wrote songs, sang background and lead vocals, and of course, forced each piano note to outdo itself – an act of perseverance that, for many, defined Floyd’s sound. I have a soft corner for “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”. As far as I am concerned, this song’s (live version) inclusion in the Ummagumma album should have single-handedly convinced the good people at Oxford to include the word “trippy” in their dictionary. It’s over six minutes of Wright, Waters, Gilmour and Mason creating a wall of sound that crumbles under the beauty of the song’s progression. Shine on, Sir Wright…shine on.


Careful With That Axe, Eugene – Pink Floyd

Latin rap ensemble Funkdoobiest have a sound that embodies the evolution of funk and the several awkward paths the genre has crossed with hip-hop and soul. Their producer and mentor – premier beatsmith DJ Muggs – calls them “a bunch of fired up, funky ass motherf***ers”. Notwithstanding Mr Muggs’ eloquence, Funkdoobiest are definitely funky as hell and look no further than “Wopbabalubop” to dispel any doubts you might have. Cypress Hill’s resident vatho B-Real joins in the festivities and tears the roof up, backed by Little Richard crazed vocals feverishly floating around.


Whopbabulubop – Funkdoobiest and B Real


John Cale’s Hobo Sapiens

Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii (Director’s Cut)

Funkdoobiest’s Which Doobie U B

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When cleverly done, pop music can sound extremely sensual. Phoenix-based trio Mr Meeble has seemingly made a career out of creating such precious electro-pop ditties. It’s almost as though they have taken Portishead’s blueprint for trip-hop and given it a soulful and glitchy twist.

Their new album Never Trust A Chinese is a collection of meticulously crafted grooves backed by cushy vocal styling of Michael Plaster. “I Fell Through” is all kinds of awesome. Slow-paced, with wayward harmonies, pop sensibilities and minimal beats copulating together to give birth to fragile moments. Like I said, all kinds of awesome.


If I Fell Through – Mr Meeble

And there are those just make you want to dance. A rare moment when energy and music conspire together to stir things up on the dance floor. Born in 1926 somewere near Mississippi, RL Burnside picked up the guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker beat the crap out of the blues with his “Boogie Chillin”. The rest is largely unrecorded history. Tom Shimeru is a half-Japanese American, half-Italian American rapper who goes by the alias – Lyrics Born. He really smokes Burnside’s ripper of a track “Someday Baby” on the turntable. Very, very funky.


RL Burnside – Someday Baby (Lyrics Born remix)

Velvet Underground brought sexy to the Seventies. Not the sort that inspires you to hold hands and prance around the park, but rather one that deconstructs lust and pushes the envelope concerning all things heart-shaped and guitar-strummed.

The effect was devastating, both to listeners trained to appreciate recognizable patterns in the rock and roll genre and to other musicians who were under the misconception that they already had explored the darkest nuances of sound. In “Heroin”, they talk about junk, as the conversation sways violently between the callousness of the habit and purity of the urge. Stuff that my nightmares were once made up of.


Acoustic version of Velvet Underground’s Heroin


Mr Meeble’s Never Trust The Chinese

RL Burnside’s Come On In

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88 minutes

Well there’s over an hour of my life that I’m never getting back. I could have spent this time trampling sick kittens and had a more rewarding experience. A crappy, self-indulgent psycho-thriller with Al Pacino at his worst since Simone.

The Objective

There is a reason why it’s considered bad luck to peak during the genesis of one’s career. Daniel Myrick is yet another example. The Blair Witch Project was a tremendously creepy, non-kitschy horror film. Unfortunately his subsequent efforts (Solstice, Believers, The Strand) seemed to lack the willingness to deviate from cinematic norms that once made his debut an original study on terror. His Daniel’s latest – The Objective – is about an elite troop of US commandoes let loose to uncover the deadly truth behind Afghanistan’s “Bermuda Triangle” of ancient evil. The execution is sort of lame as the film falls flat on its ass. The original score daftly crafted Kays Al-Atrakchi is one of the few saving graces, along with Stephanie Martin’s cinematography, which exudes dry fear and ghostly paranoia. I sincerely do hope Shyamalan effect eludes Mr Myrick, even though all the signs seem to say otherwise.

American Splendor

In American Splendor, Paul Giamatti plays the graphic comic legend Harvey Pekar with the sort of twitchy paranoia that Woody Allen would have been proud of. In life, Mr Pekar has always been the misfit son that Cleveland played a surrogate mother to. Apart from writing and publishing the cult favourite American Splendor, he was also a jazz enthusiast, essayist and an avid book reviewer. Directors Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini cover most of these aspects of Pekar’s life and keep things interesting throughout the film. And as for Giamatti, Sideways might have been his finest work yet and Cinderella Man his most rewarding, but none more viscerally authentic than his efforts playing Mr. Pekar.

Summer Of Sam

The king of modern blaxploitation Spike Lee has a habit of making films about the wretched descent of men into poorer caricatures of themselves, especially during the sweltering heat of summer. While most of his films revolving around racial unrest, this one drifts away into the crime thriller category and stays there. What interesting is that despite switching genres, his modus operandi of filmmaking remains unchanged. The film often deviates from its central theme with purpose and gives the audience a broader and sometimes unnecessary perspective into the characters. It drags a bit towards the middle, but ends up being heaps of fun nevertheless. Oh and Michael Badalucco rules.

The Ogre

In this very troubled film about the loss of innocence and its terrifying aftermath, John Malkovich plays Abel – a man trying to outgrow his inner child during the emergence of the Third Reich. Director Volker Schlondorff throws in his two cents and gives the audience a demented and allegoric twist that involves a little girl and things better left spoken by visuals. No surprise to know that Mr. Schlondorff also directed The Tin Drum and The Handmaid’s Tale. But what I found sort of irritating in The Ogre was the seeming desperation of the director to keep things vaguely surreal. And his last name isn’t even Jarmusch.

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It’s not often that Heavy Metal drawls seductively with me. But I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t pleasurable. And the stoner rock genre thankfully is one, which gratuitously makes room for such complexities.

Jersey Shore-based metallers Solace comprise of deserters from unknown, no-nonsense bands such as Glueneck, Prunella Scales, Lethal Aggression and the supremely cool Godspeed. They are primarily a stoner metal band with thrash influences and psychedelic overtones.

The single “Mother Godzilla” starts off with piercing riffs and thundering percussion blasts and the assault continues until the 1.00-minute mark. And then the listener is treated to whirling, almost drunken guitar solos backed by an unsettling groove that drives the song ahead into strange, beautiful patterns. At around the 6.00-minute mark, “Mother Godzilla” gives itself an adrenaline shot and all hell breaks lose.

The effect is both soothing and startling without missing a beat on either.

Suspicious Tower” sounds like a psychedelic meltdown with its stance on all things asinine further clarified by the vocalist kickstarting the song with a science fictional rant. “Your father and mother are electronic computers and neither are ideal components,” he says, before the track grabs hold of sanity and gets into a solid groove.

You probably won’t find Solace’s discography in your local music stores or in the archives of your friendly online neighborhood mp3 website. But you will find their music on the official Stoner Rock website. The audio quality might not be great, but the sonic audacity of bands featured on this website is blistering, to say the least.

Click on the MP3 Jukebox and feel free to roam the alien landscapes of stoner rock, groove metal, sludge and doom metal, and post-NWOBHM madness.


Mother Godzilla – Solace

Suspicious Tower – Solace


Solace’s Further album

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Theme music is a perfect marriage between sound and sight when films tip their hats to musicians and composers and let them take control. Composer Thomas Newman is mad; not quite the lunatic, but rather a maniacal artist obsessed with finding that perfect theme. He searches and he searches some more. Past gems like American Beauty, Meet Joe Black, Green Mile, Road To Perdition and he still can’t stop. Good for us.

I really would want Jon Brion to write the soundtrack to my life. Something pleasantly disquieting about the way he picks apart harmonies from a moment of melancholy. It’s a dyslexic gift, I think. The sounds he created for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Punch Drunk Love and I Heart Huckabees are his finest ever. Hell, probably anyone’s finest ever.


To the future!

Cathedral (Road To Perdition) – Thomas Newman

American Beauty – Thomas Newman


Thomas Newman’s albums

Jon Brion’s Meaningless

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