VOYEUR...4 FEATURES...6 FOOD... 10 BOOKS...13 FASHION...16 LGBT+...20 Travel...22 ARTS...26 Photos...31 MUSIC...32 Photography and Music presents
SWN Special...36 Film...46
BEAUTY OF LEARNING This weekend I attended the Battle of Ideas, a festival of free thought, where whilst the media tends to sensationalise, the government moralise and society as a whole concede; here was an event demanding people be critical. Conflicting ideas were heard, discussed, respected and in the spirit of true free speech there was to be no idea too controversial. I sat on the bus back to Cardiff and thought. The three hours passed fast as I silently questioned my views regarding justice, development and in the most, life. Over the weekend of debates, my ideas of society and the world as a whole, which I had worked for years to develop, were jolted. This experience sits in direct comparison to my lectures. I came to university to challenge myself, not merely in relation to time management, grammatical accuracy and essay writing, but in the manner that shapes who you become as a person. I sought a type of experience that provided me with a fire in my belly, the deep burning desire to go out into the world and change it for the better. As with history books littered with radical students, mobilized into action through the passion of their lecturers and peers, I too yearned to find something worth fighting for. Now instead, I face careers meetings, employment statistics and a constant pressure to find a job, so that somehow these three years of expenditure are justified. It is not the ever present possibility of being yet another graduate without a career that upsets me. What strikes me as disappointing is that the latter is viewed to matter. That university is fast being viewed as a means to employment, and that the value of learning for the sake of challenging yourself and furthering your knowledge has been lost as a degree, is viewed merely as a qualification. As students approach university for the end goal of completing it, lecturers are no longer faced with bright young things, full of ideas, hope and aspirations, but rather individuals plodding along through what they perceive as but another stage of education because Mummy, Daddy, the government and everyone in between thought it would be a good idea for them to do so. University still has the opportunity to challenge and amaze - those who dared question the status quo or conceptualize a better way of life still exist, their life’s work sitting in the library. They exist not merely for the sake of seminar readings in the search for that mystical 'first' but rather for something much larger; the opportunity to provide inspiration, the potential for personal and wider development, and a greater change in society. Dom Kehat
Issue 101 November 8
Chris Griffiths and Tom Armstrong, Quench's photo editors, have worked hard this week to design the cover using photos taken during the SWN weekend. The two of them, along with accomplice Lucy Chip can be found at various club nights, events and locations, camera over shoulder taking some incredible images. Head to Visual Antics on facebook for a look. To get involved with Quench photography email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Quench Quickie Place that woolly hat upon ones head, slip on a pair of mittens to prevent chill and prepare youself for the drinking of copious amounts of hot chocolate. It is alas that time of year, when Blue Peter has its fireworks safety special, and warns us to watch out for hedgehogs in bonfires. A little too old for such viewing, you are never too old for the event itself. Explosions in the sky and sparkler in hand, head to Bute Park on Novermber 6 for Sparks in the Park....the best display Cardiff has on offer.
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This Is It.
Maz Poynter sets off for the Thriller musical open call. As easy as A,B,C or should she just Beat it? Let the auditions commence.
Picture this: I’m standing on the dusty stage in the New Theatre, grooving my little heart out to 'Beat It', and the crowd absolutely love me. The star-struck audience throw roses to my feet, I even have to dodge the odd thong now and again (this must be true fame!?) .Barely containing my excitement... I feel the need to jump into the crowd to be at one with my fans and as I do... ...I hit the floor. Alarm buzzing, it’s the morning. Total letdown, I was having a cracking dream! So, come 2pm on Tuesday I Rock- My- World up to the New Theatre, as word on the street had it that there were open auditions for the hit West End musical ‘Thriller- Live’- the X-factor of Michael Jackson if you like. The press release told of possible fortune and fame for those with raw talent. Two years ago a totally unknown 13 year old, Kieran Alleyene from gritty Nottingham auditioned with absolutely no professional acting experience, and shortly after he was crowned as the next Michael Jackson, starring in the West End and on a UK-wide tour. Being the next Michael is all well and good just so long as he doesn’t start having sleepovers with young boys and taking a few too many painkillers (too soon?!). The idea of an open audition is a bit of a double-edged sword if you ask me. On the one hand, you could find extraordinary talent from even the most unlikely of places; Cathays, or Ely for example! However, with this comes the odd-balls, the Wacko-Jacko fans (who believe that he might just still be alive and has come to Cardiff !), and the worst breed of human possible...the fame-whore. Bearing this in mind, I wander around in search of these three types of people, as, if nothing else, it might be a laugh. I get chatting to a few Jacko-hopefuls. I first meet a girl called Cerys, a 19 year old from Pontypridd, and was auditioning to be a singer on the show. Her favourite Michael Jackson song was ‘Beat it’, but was going to sing ‘Man in the Mirror’ instead as she thought it would show off her vocal capabilities better. Fair enough. She was only too pleased to give me a little rendition before we went in and even with my tone-deaf ears, I would say she could easily beat a pre-pubescent choir boy to the high notes of ‘Shamone!’ I also met Sarah, a 24-year old receptionist from
Cardiff. Here, I found my fame-whore. She was auditioning because she wanted "to be as famous as Cheryl Cole (Oh, that ol’ chestnut), have a big house, go on expensive holidays (and weirdly enough)... be able to afford two Great Danes”. It gets worse readers, one of these Great Danes would be called Michael, and the other? Yep, Jackson. Looks like I’ve found my weirdo as well then. I thought that with these grand ambitions, this girl must be good. After much persuasion I managed to get her to give me a little snippet of her audition song- “Billie Jean”. What I heard was absolute cack; she actually sang the wrong lyrics for a start. Apparently “Billie Jean is not my daughter”. I think you’ll find it’s “lover”, love. After hearing that utterly atrocious piece of singing, I thought I could surely demolish the competition. Without totally embarrassing myself, all I’m going to say is...I didn’t. I may have missed the first line. I may have tried to catch up by ‘singing’ 100mph. I definitely failed and looked like a total doorknob. Walking off the stage I felt so incredibly mortified that I would have given anything to be somewhere else, even Michael Jacksons tomb would have been an improvement to where I was. Oh well, all in the name of journalism! Although I was feeling about as successful as Jacko’s plastic surgeon, I decided to pick myself up and go in search of the next boy wonder. I noticed that there were quite a few boys there with their pushy mothers, willing their sons’ balls not to drop during the audition. I met a 12 year old boy called Devon He told me that after watching Michael Jacksons tour film “This Is It” he was blown away and basically that one day he will be as successful and entertaining as the ‘King of Pop’ himself. A bit of a diva (I can imagine this little lad demanding to have only the yellow ‘M&M’s’ in his dressing room) but quite possibly very talented. He showed me his ‘trademark’ dance move- the moonwalk, and pulled it off pretty damn well. I was so jealous! So, when you go and see the new production of ‘Thriller-Live’ take a second and think, "I may be Michael Jackson’s next door neighbour" because you never know, with the Cardiff talent I saw today, you just might be!
Addicted to Beauty?
Quench features writer Amelie Taylor explores the ugly side of beauty that dominates popular culture today.
Beauty- it’s everywhere. Whether it appears in the form of the captivating Cheryl Cole, the eye-lash battering Eva Longoria or the pouting lips of Victoria Beckham, it mingles its way effortlessly into our everyday lives. The beauty industry can happily boast of its whopping value of £6.2 billion in the UK alone, each year luring millions of us into the possibility that flawless beauty can equal un-
paralleled experiences of excitement and “joie de vivre”. Oh yes, as a result of Max Factor Masterpiece Mascara, Pantene Pro-V Clarifying Shampoo and a few tactically placed wind machines, girls will instantly find themselves surrounded by a mass of Johnny Depp, Will Smith and Zac Efron look-a-likes. Why on earth wouldn’t you invest in the cosmetics section of your local Boots store?!
However, the concept of physical 'perfection', whether presented as the face (or indeed the arse) of Beyonce, or the hip -shakingly slender Shakira, is considered of such monumental importance that the effects are undeniably worrying. Statistics speak for themselves: last year according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 11,000 teenagers in the US received Botox. Also, Botox parties enable under 18’s to inject themselves with Botulinim Toxin (a protein produced by bacteria that has the same toxin that can result in lifethreatening food poisoning). It’s madness at its best and so incomprehensively boggling that the mind struggles to understand at what point and why we decided wrinkles were such an embarrassment. Those little lines that form around the eyes and forehead unfortunately have a tendency to betray our age. At a time where we are continuously brainwashed into making countless valiant attempts NOT to look our age, the idea of Botox presents itself as the perfect antidote. Take Hannah Burge for example, who at the wrinkly old age of just 15 (!) is given Botox injections by her own mum, an aesthetic practitioner who herself has had over 100 cosmetic procedures and believes she is doing the ''responsible thing". Admittedly, I have racked my brain to think of one valid justification for this. There isn’t one. Not only have you barely finished growing, but you also have no concept of the disproportionate importance we place on aesthetic beauty. Age forms the essence of your identity, whether you like it or not. Tanning is also another means to transform that pasty, white skin into the tanned and toned bodies that appear on the most luxurious of beaches. Look no further than the infamous Jodie Marsh to see that smearing yourself in that brown, gooey liquid can indeed create that beautiful sun kissed glow. If you’ve ever watched Snog Marry Avoid, you’ll have seen the unworldly Pod try and work its magic on fake-tan addicts who depend on the stuff. Initially, what they have in attitude and breasts, they lack in brains (and clothing!), but after their transformation into natural beauties, the public consider them lovely looking girls who are now truly “snoggable”. What a compliment. Beyond the boobs, bums and tums façade of the show is indispensable proof that appearance is firmly twinned with reputation and perception. How you dress is undeniably important. Magazines inevitably play a huge role in our concept of beauty. Nigella Lawson is infamously depicted as voluptuous, whilst others
are the victims of simple-minded bullying. The portrayal of Lawson’s hourglass figure is Photoshop at its best. She has the curves of a perfect size 8. However, if Britney Spears balloons to the same size as the seductive chef, she is “fat”- it is shameful, undesirable and likely to proceed the most intensive diet and exercise plan ever seen. What I hate the most, however, are those magazines that display unashamed hypocrisy. Problem pages at the back of magazines are admittedly nearly always as much a source of amusement as they are a help, with schoolgirls and boys writing in as the inevitable victims of bullying. What some of these publications fail to realise is that they have dedicated their first one hundred pages to the baby weight of Danni Minogue, the sagging body of Anne Widdecombe and the fashion disasters of Amy Winehouse. To have reached a point in this world where 'professionals' sit behind desks, using optical zoom to reveal hidden cellulite, excess hair and facial imperfections is just frighteningly sad. Those that struggle with eating disorders also fall prey to the suggested norm that skinny equals better. Anorexia and Bulimia are perhaps the most widely known eating disorders, with many people suffering in silence before seeking help. The deprivation of food is considered an achievement, with websites that actively encourage unhealthy levels of weight loss. The statistics again reveal a sharp rise in hospital admissions, with an 80% increase in the past decade for teenage girls admitted with the disease. Surprisingly, a quarter of all anorexia and bulimia sufferers are male, compared to only 10% a decade ago. Not only do these diseases carry serious health risks (osteoporosis, anemia, low blood pressure), but they also demonstrate the worrying attitudes towards weight loss. With all manner of diets available, weight loss is considered an attribute that enhances our physical appearance and therefore our overall wellbeing. So, the concept of physical beauty is ultimately dictated to us by those lovely people who create our mascaras, foundations, perfumes and shampoos. A certain amount of cynicism is needed when tackling the portrayal of beauty. It’s as fickle and changeable as ever, with all of us playing the role of consumers in a market where the next new thing isn’t new for very long! Having addressed some of the more damaging aspects of a society bombarded with beauty, it is a hell of a lot safer to admit that 'perfection' is something that remains as profoundly unobtainable as ever.
BEST OF BRITISH
IRISH When given the task of writing on Irish food, the thought hardly filled me with joy. After all, I’ve never been to Ireland and our fair-isled friends are hardly renowned for their culinary finesse. Optimist that I am though, I was sure a little research would reveal a rich culinary traditional of more than merely stew and soda bread. At first the results were a little disappointing. I was informed of the legendary Irish breakfast comprising of bacon, eggs, black pudding and sausages... Err, sound familiar anyone? Nevertheless I persevered and, digging deep, soon unearthed a plethora of weird and wonderful dishes. Admittedly some of these, for example Crubeens (made from boiled pigs feet and traditionally eaten using one’s fingers), are probably best left buried. Yet I also began to see that we, as poor students, could learn a lot from the Irish. This nation has come up with any number of ingenious creations using the humble potato. Add spring onions and it becomes champ, make it into a pancake and its boxty. You name it and they’ve wacked a spud in it to create
a tasty, filling and nutritious meal. Continuing my foray in Ireland’s past, I found many more examples of the Irish people’s creative, some might say eccentric, approach to food and drink. You’ve all heard of the ubiquitous Guinness but have you ever encountered Brown lemonade? This is said to be similar in taste to its paler sister, the main difference being the addition of brown food colouring to alter its appearance. Legend goes that this was the brain child of the Belfast shipbuilders who, forbidden from partaking in alcohol at work, came up with this ingenious beverage so that they might sip it from a pint glass and avoid ridicule from their peers during lunch hour. Just a thought for those wanting to avoid the stomach wrenching effects of sports team 'welcome drinks' this year. Polly Robinson
WELSH There are many different foods that can be specifically classed as Welsh; lamb, barabryth and of course Brains. But nothing really says Wales quite like the good honest Welsh cake. It’s all in the name. This small, sweet snack defines it’s self exclusively as a Welsh kind of cake. Not English – no way. Not Irish or Scottish. But Welsh. For those of us from across the bridge I suppose we might liken them to the quintessentially English scone, but sweeter. Coated in sugar, these afternoon tea cakes are the perfect partner to a large cup of tea on a wet Welsh afternoon. I suppose when we think about it why wouldn’t a country, yes country, like Wales with its distinctive Welsh culture, Welsh language and Welsh customs have its very own Welsh cake.
From a personal point of view however, I’m afraid that my enjoyment of Welsh cakes is rather damagingly compromised by one of the fundamental ingredients: raisins. I have never been able to eat them and just don’t think I ever will. So that leaves me and the Welsh cake in a rather awkward position. I can appreciate however, that these Welsh cakes are, for many good honest Welsh citizens out there, more than just an afternoon cake. Welsh cakes are a point of pride. Another of Wales’ creations. An emblem of all that is Welsh: individuality, originality and of course sweetness. Anouska Moller
At Quench we're really proud of our national cusine. This week we take a look at various dishes from around the British Isles.
SCOTTISH Scotland is undoubtedly God’s own country, but it isn’t just the breathtaking highlands, the ‘Nessie Monster' or bagpipes that attract people from all around the world. Foodies can hardly be disappointed with the cuisine available in this country. Symbols of Scotland for a lot of us might be red cheque skirts and whiskey, but does haggis trigger a memory? The former two may in fact paint a more pleasant picture of the country but the latter is the national dish of the Scotland! If I ever decide I want to eat a typical Scottish meal I will expect to have whiskey, mashed potatoes and undoubtedly HAGGIS! After hearing the contents of this dish, however, most animal lovers will get a chill up their spine ... and here’s why: the traditional ingredients of the dish include the heart, lungs and kidneys of a sheep simmered in its stomach for a couple hours, and then minced with onion, oatmeal and certain spices. Felt like someone just wrenched your stomach? If splurging into seafood is your thing then Scottish
seafood recipes are surely worth a try. The west coast is famous for its mussels, oysters and crabs. And the countless lochs provide an abundant supply of salmon, which in Scotland is a menuimperative for breakfast, lunch and supper. My personal favourite dish is ‘baked salmon and tarragon’ containing bacon and the herb tarragon. Now it’s time for some desert! On New Year’s Eve, popularly called Hogmanay, you will be served black bun cake. The cake is made of dry fruits, spices and molasses - a by-product of sugar cane that gives the cake its dark appearance. If stored carefully, the cake can last for months. Scottish cuisine has a unique freshness to it largely due to the high quality of meat found in the country and the notable tinge of a French influence. A grumbling stomach and slight motivation is all you need to splurge on Scottish cuisine. Zenia Diwan
ENGLISH English food can be seen as bland, boring and unimaginative to other cultures, so what is it that attracts the English to their favourite dishes? Well let’s start with the 'Full English'- the classic 'fry-up' that is usually served at its best in greasy spoons all over the U.K. The combination of bacon and egg is always satisfying and works tremendously well with a hangover, and of course baked beans are well known as being typically English. So moving on to lunch/dinner, my particular favourites are the legendary 'bangers and mash' and the iconic 'pie and mash'. The mashed potato is the most comforting part in my opinion; it gives you a warm satisfying feeling, especially on a cold, rainy day. Then there is the gravy of course, which is a typically English food favourite that most of us love to drown our food in. The whole concept of the pie is brilliant because it means you can have everything you need covered in flaky pastry. We are committed to certain days that we set aside to indulge in our favourites; this I believe makes us unique. So there’s obviously Sunday which means roast dinner, a well-upheld and popular ritual among many people. Then there are decadent 'fish n’ chip' Fridays where the smell of salty, vinegary
batter in the air just makes your mouth water. The popularity of Indian food is a fairly recent phenomenon to have become have become embedded in our culture. However, unfortunately we don’t get to experience the true the taste of India as most of the curries we are offered such as 'bhuna' and 'korma' are adapted for the English palate. English strawberries are well known to be the best and sweetest and are usually enjoyed in the summer months- especially with a nice dollop of clotted cream! However we are also losing our seasonality as the supermarkets make all sorts of foods readily available throughout the year. Local fruit and veg shops encourage seasonality and the more there are the better. England definitely has its own stamp on food, with so many home-made classics that get passed on through generations. Let’s just hope that we don’t lose this and keep mealtimes a sociable and pleasant experience, rather than a process we do to survive. Millie Davies
High Tea at The Metropole Millie Davies treats herself to an afternoon of decadence at the Hilton Hotel's new Metropole Bar. The newly opened Metropole bar is situated in the Hilton hotel on the ground floor. The bar serves breakfast, lunch and snacks and is also a fully functioning bar in the evening, serving a range of cocktails and mixers. The decor is modern, warm and inviting with a touch of elegance. The loungers make the dining experience cosy and comfortable and creates a relaxing atmosphere. Afternoon tea as is their speciality. The menu includes a selection of Welsh afternoon tea, Champagne afternoon tea and Rose afternoon tea, all ranging from £13.50 to £19.95 per person. You can select your tea from an extensive menu provided by Twinings. The teas are in categories of Oriental, Tisane and British afternoon and are all served fresh; an appealing treat for anyone with a love for new and exciting tea from around the word. The Earl Grey is sensational with hints of lavender and bergamot and is served in a tea-pot with an hourglass so that it brews sufficiently to reveal its taste. The next items are the selection of cakes, pastries and finger sandwiches
which are not only exquisitely presented but are also delicious and incredibly moorish! The finger sandwiches include the classic favourites: smoked salmon, egg and cress, smoked ham and mustard, Welsh cheddar and cheese with tomato. The cake and pastry selection include: éclairs with pink icing, pink macaroons, raspberry tarts, welsh cakes and amongst others, all with a quaint appeal. Finally after indulging in the little mouthfuls of heaven, you then relax even further with a glass of Rose Piper Heidsiek- a sparkling rose wine. The service is a compliment to the food as the staff are particularly friendly and attentive. The afternoon tea selection changes for different occasions, such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Christmas, which creates a personal and novel appeal. Although the whole experience may be seen as pricey to a student, The Metropole bar certainly is worth every penny and provide the perfect afternoon tea experience. It is definitely somewhere to drop into after a day of shopping, for a special occasion or just for a treat with friends.
forgotten gems... This week's pick is that post-WW1 classic, A Month In The Country by J.L. Carr.
There are few people alive today who can remember the summer of 1920. Even though some of us may have housemates who have had gap years and who are therefore pretty bloody ancient, it is doubtful that even they can cast their minds back to a time when Britain was seemingly a ‘land fit for heroes’. By said summer, we’d just won the First World War (four Christmases late, admittedly), given women the vote and, with the emergence of jazz music and cinema, that nasty Victorian stiff upper-lip was finally melting into a mischievous grin. Moreover, all this could be enjoyed against a backdrop of picnics and patchwork fields languishing in the “blissful calm” that is the British landscape. Well, such an idyll is at least ostensibly how J. L. Carr’s A Month in the Country depicts Britain in the summer of 1920. The story is told from the perspective of a young London artist and Great War veteran, Tom Birkin, who has been commissioned to uncover a medieval wall-painting in the church of Oxgodby, a picturesque village in Northern England. Sleeping in the bell-chamber of the church, Birkin quickly becomes absorbed in the gentle plod of the countryside and finds that a simple life of menial work and rustic food offers him a deepseated sense of renewal, especially in the light of his memories of the Trenches. He befriends many locals and even develops a very warm and tender attachment to the vicar’s wife, Alice Keach. Yet, what is so engaging about this novel is that there is always a dark cloud ready to sour any summery sweetness. For instance, we are never allowed to forget that Birkin is a war veteran and his nervous twitch, which is probably the result of ‘shell-shock’, is often referred to. Moreover, there
is a strange, almost bohemian archaeologist called Charles Moon conducting a dig outside the church, who also happens to be an ex-soldier. Naturally, he and Birkin become firm acquaintances and the fact the War has rendered them both social pariahs is undoubtedly the cementing factor in their closeness. They rarely discuss their experiences but occasionally, over a steaming mug of morning tea, an elusive dialogue occurs between them, whereby all manner of unspeakable horrors are packed into ominously brief utterances like ‘Over There’ and ‘Passchendaele’. We gradually find out that the painting Birkin is uncovering is one of the Apocalypse, fully embellished with humans being flung into a fiery pit of doom. My guess is that somehow this image says what Birkin is reluctant to say about the War - the memories he refuses to articulate. The other dark cloud is the idea of time; there’s a very real sense of autumn being around the corner, throughout the story. Indeed, a clever paradox is constructed, in that while the summery idyll of Oxgodby has a timeless quality to it, there’s always the jarring hum of mechanisation and the 20th Century in the background. This is highlighted in such simple things as a noisy church boiler. Overall, this tension between the idyllic and reality is what gives A Month in the Country its ‘classic’ credentials: on one hand, it plays up to our fantasies of oldy-woldy England as a robustly timeless Arcadia, but on the other, it presents a society still reeling from the damage of war and modernisation. And it does all this in fewer than 80 pages. Matt Wright
With Armistice Day just around the coner, it’s time to examine the pick of the War Literature genre.
Whether you want to read about ancient Greek conflicts, the heroics of Nelson and Wellington, or the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, there’s going to be something to take your fancy. War literature is produced in huge volumes, and as time progresses, there are new wars to be written about; Iraq and Afghanistan are already inspiring war fiction, aside from the many real-life memoirs that have been published. Of course, it doesn’t have to be solely about conflict to be considered war literature (well, not in my view anyway!). For instance, writers as diverse as Elizabeth Kostova and Virginia Woolf examine the effects of war on the human psyche, or on future generations, quite aside from the actual blood-and-guts action of the battlefield (Kostova’s The Historian and Woolf ’s Mrs Dalloway actually do have some quite graphic descriptions of war and its effects, as well as everything else).
Ancient History Simon Scarrow���s highly-acclaimed Eagle series follows the lives and experiences of two Roman soldiers in the first century AD, as they do battle all over Europe and beyond. If you’ve seen 300, try reading about Sparta and its wars. A good example is The Isle of Stone by Nicholas Nicastro.
Medieval Tom Harper’s novels about the Crusades are well worth a read. For something a bit different set in the same war-happy period, try Pamela Kaufman (more romance) or Maureen Ash (more mystery).
The Napoleonic Era and beyond… Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe makes war (and love) around Europe, alongside the Duke of Wellington and others, in the early 1800s. George Macdonald Fraser’s darkly humorous Flashman series sees its eponymous anti-hero experience most of the conflicts of the late nineteenth century, from the Crimean War to wars in India, China, and America.
The World Wars
Probably the most obvious and extensively-covered source material of recent years. If you haven’t, try Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet On The Western Front. David L. Robbins’ The War of the Rats, set during the Battle of Stalingrad, is the basis for the film Enemy at the Gates. Joseph Kanon’s The Good German is more thriller than war story, but its web of intrigue is set amongst the post-war ruination of Berlin.
‘Nam, Falklands and the Gulf Many veterans of these wars have written about their experiences, some with straightforward memoirs, others by adapting their personal stories to create stunningly realistic novels. Ex-Marine Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn is a powerful example of the latter, based upon the author’s own experiences in Vietnam. For an autobiographical account, try Walking Tall by Welsh Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who suffered extreme disfiguring burns during the war, and has gone on to become a dedicated charity campaigner.
Children’s Books Don’t underestimate the power of kids’ books! Some of the best war literature may have been published with a younger audience in mind, but it’s often still worth a look even at the great age of twenty or so. You’ve probably encountered the excellent Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden, but maybe not When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, another moving and interesting account of fleeing from the Nazi. A gem of this genre is The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier, a fascinating and rip-roaring tale of a family torn apart by the Nazi occupation of Poland, and the hardships they (especially the children) face. Michelle Magorian’s story of an evacuee, Goodnight Mister Tom, was made into a brilliant TV film starring John Thaw, and it’s an equally brilliant novel. Greg Rees
Reviews Sebastian Faulks, Birdsong
Anthony Swofford, Jarhead
Birdsong, often viewed as a modern classic and one of Faulks’ best works, works hard to realistically depict the horrors of World War One for an audience that has had such little experience of it. The novel follows the life of Stephen Wraysford as he is unwittingly transported from one hopeless situation to the next, before, during and after the War. Full to the brim with juicy detail and gory images, there is little light relief to make Birdsong light and enjoyable, though it is certainly a powerful and worthwhile read. For fans of All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Strange Meeting by Susan Hill Anna Hickman
Compelling from start to finish, Jarhead is an autobiographical tale of life in the military during the Gulf War. Swofford’s unfaltering honesty is at times humorous, but can also be heartbreaking as he comes to terms with war and tries to take his personal life’s imperfections in his stride. In an era where we have become somewhat desensitised to war, stories like this one help us to remember that soldiers are people with friends, family, lives and feelings no different to our own. Opinionated and surprisingly somewhat anti-war, Jarhead is a brilliant book for anybody, whether interested in war or not, with an interest in different ways of life. Jo Cawley
Martin Booth, Hiroshima Joe
J G Ballard, The Empire of the Sun
Hiroshima Joe follows ex-Captain Joe Sandringham, thief, liar, drug addict and anti-hero, as he struggles to cope with his life following his imprisonment at a Japanese prisoner of war camp and witnessing of the bombing of Hiroshima. Although ultimately a character study, the novel is full of action and suspense, switching between the present day, 1952, and Joe’s time serving in the Royal Signals, detailing the events that lead to his depressing situation. Though hard work at times and not the cheeriest of books, the haunting finale of Hiroshima Joe will not fail to leave your spine tingling. For fans of Islands of Silence by Martin Booth. Anna Hickman
This semi-autobiographical work by literature veteran J G Ballard combines a tale of despair, courage and survival with the adventures of a boy in a terrifying, alien world. Set in Shanghai, and seen through the eyes of little Jim after he is separated from his parents in World War Two, The Empire of the Sun is a beautiful account that takes care to show respect for the Japanese and explore complex issues such as Stockholm Syndrome and growing up. In the end though, this book is just a brilliantly written, captivating and moving read. Anna Hickman
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls
David Boling, Guernica
Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls was first published in 1940. Set during the Spanish Civil War, the novel is widely regarded as one of Hemingway's finest works, and has been highly critically acclaimed for both its style and its graphic depiction of war. The story details the struggles of a band of guerrilla soldiers led by Robert Jordan, an American explosions specialist, and their task of destroying a bridge the enemy plans to use. As the novel progresses, Jordan falls in love with a Spanish girl, Maria, leaving him with difficult decisions to make. Although some of the views expressed in the book are now arguably dated, For Whom The Bell Tolls remains a compelling testament to the brutality of war, without being too distressing to read. James Coop
While Guernica is a story about vicious and reckless acts of war, it is foremost a story of love, family and tradition. Centred around three generations of one Basque family, we are shown the depth of the author’s knowledge for Basque culture: eldest son Justo maintains the family farm; middle son Josepe fishes; and youngest son Father Xabier tends to parishioners in nearby Bilbao. This family saga then follows Justo’s beautiful dancing daughter, Miren, as she falls in love with fisherman Miguel and continues to follow the time-honoured culture that scared fascists so deeply. The torture of knowing how this story will end for many of the characters is painful, but the author ensures we never stop hoping for a happier one. The historically based novel is a hard thing to craft, but Guernica is a beautifully crafted love letter to the people of this Spanish region, to their determination and unfaltering spirit. Emily Bater firstname.lastname@example.org
www.newlook.co.uk Lighten up your otherwise dull cardigan with a baby pink mini dress like this one available at £28. With lace, ruffles and corsages this dress will be sure to add a girly touch, and if the pink isn’t for you, this dress comes in black too. Balance out the feminine frills and avoid looking too prim and proper by wearing with this season's must have military boots, perfect for keeping your toes warm during the up and coming winter months. Plus at £26.99 these black leather look boots are an absolute steal when you compare them with similar options available online and on the high street. New Look offers a great range of tights to avoid freezing bare legs, from opaque, knitted and lace it’s pretty hard to go wrong. These sheer heart patterned tights would add a great finishing touch to your revamped black cardie and you are ready to hit the streets in style. Victoria Williams
Ways to wear it www.riverisland.co.uk The look that I have chosen to accompany the black cardigan would be for a special event or a night out on the town. The three items that I have chosen are a one shoulder leopard print dress, black boot heels and patent black earrings. To give the black cardigan a rocky edge, I have chosen a leopard print dress. Leopard print is also a major trend this winter, with celebrities such as Alexa Chung wearing similar dresses. The black boot heels add to this edgy look and add length to your legs. As they cut off at the ankle they're great for shorter people. The colour of the boots match the cardigan so that the focus is on the dress, creating more of an overall impact. Finally, the black earrings, although simple, create more of a sophisticated look, while matching the black accessories. For ultimate impact wear with your hair tied back. Layla Farag
www.hm.com Wrap up girls winter's coming, and an essential to enliven the blacks and greys of this season is a multicoloured vibrant scarf. Let’s prove that the black cardie does have personality as not only will you look great it’s also a brilliant way to keep fashionably warm this winter. Try layering with some snuggly blue knitwear. If you’re feeling creative, you could use the heads of these earrings to create new buttons. The best styles in fashion are unique ones so why not make this original and turn your characterless cardie into something worth wearing. There are really no limitations with this idea. You could pass this off casually and also on a night out in the city as it adds extra detail that will make a very charming impression. Samia John
Dig out that black cardie from the bottom of your drawers and let four new Cardiff stylists update a classic. www.zara.com Wedges were seen in many variations this summer and now it gets to the colder months, something a bit more practical seems necessary. I love these suede wedge boots. Their structured shape and stern-looking laces are a nod to the more grown- up feel of many Autumn/Winter collections, and work for day and evening. To allow the tops of the boots to be shown, trousers with turn-ups could be worn. Although these black pleated trousers are formal, the turn-ups convert them into something more nonchalant. The muted colours of the trousers and cardie may then be lifted by this longsleeved floral t-shirt. I love the mustard-yellow with the faded peonies, and if you tuck it into trousers, you could try wearing it with a brown leather belt to tie the whole outfit together. Alexandra Genova
Gwennan Rees explores why this season is all about real women, real life, and real clothes.
Assortments of coats, trousers and jumpers sauntered their way down (pretty much) every runway this season, be it Paris, Milan, New York or London. Exciting? Doesn’t sound particularly. Yet sheer thrill infiltrated every female onlooker the world over. At last, fashion that we not only want to wear, but can wear. A sigh of relief could be heard when trousers, which have been masquerading as leggings and harems for longer than we care to remember, came in an array of shapes, ensuring a cut to suit any body. Coats were camel, military and aviator, much more reliable than styles of the past. Cashmere jumpers oozed luxury as well as practicality. Above all the catwalk saw the revival of functional footwear in the form of the kitten heel. The altogether presence of these trends signified a dramatic shift towards utility and a new era of restrained fashion. This season, not only is the way we dress changing, but so is the way we think about fashion. Driving the change is Phoebe Philo. With a clear, neutral palette and simple elegant shapes, her line for Céline epitomises the movement towards versatile fashion. As if the female designers had come of age, they all seemed to follow Philo’s lead. Collections by Stella McCartney and Frida Giannini for Gucci most notably were designed with real women in mind. Past trends, such as the body con have seen women dieting, exercising, even lipo-ing to mould their bodies into clothes which seem to have been made for children. But this season, women have taken control. It’s now time to celebrate the female body. Gone were the angular, boyish framed models at Prada and Louis Vuitton. Older models like Elle Macpherson were coaxed out of retirement, and women with boobs and hips (gasp!) were sent
down their runways. Designers are finally making clothes for the female frame, not just for teenage coat hangers. And the message was clear: see how beautiful everyone can look. Fashion and the female are at a turning point in their relationship. What’s responsible for this change of heart? Perhaps the recession’s tight hold over our money has left us with limited funds to spend on fashion which has an expiration date. With this in mind, there is less desire for flashy fashion. No matter how much we want it to be, life isn’t a constant party. Versatility, utility and above all else longevity is key for today’s fashion. As if psychic to female longing, the designers have delivered. The couture, although not cheap, is classic. It will stand the test of time. And luckily for us, the high street has once again adopted this season’s key items so that everyone can embrace ‘functional fashion’ without breaking the bank. Designers are also working on pieces which will function in multiple situations. Take that credit crunch! Roland Mouret, for instance, seems to have taken a leaf out of American Apparel’s book with his new range of tops-comeskirts. GAP have come up with a Premium Pant Collection. The idea being that within the six shapes they have created, everyone will be able to find their perfect pair of ‘pants’. So it seems that fashion has come full circle. We are now back in an age of reality when it comes to clothes. And as tedious as it sounds, utility is the buzz word of the season. But, if that means keeping warm with a camel coat this winter, fashion can sound as tedious as it likes, because it still looks utterly fabulous!
All Shapes and Sizes
Here’s the Quench guide on how to stay warm and look womanly, whatever your body shape this winter! Georgia Hathaway talks us through it.
If you’ve been blessed with a boyish figure, try adding a fitted jacket to your wardrobe. It will create a curve to your body and give the impression of a shapelier waist. Accessorising your coat with a belt will break up the body more to suggest a more feminine figure. Choose tops and dresses which have volume and cinch in at the waist where possible to create the illusion of curves.
Make the most of your small shape with swing, or cropped jackets. Avoid slouchy, shapeless coats which will drown your little figure. Show those legs off in cute sweater dresses or knitted skirts. Opt for shorter styles which will elongate your pins and make you look taller. Team with opaque, knitted tights for added warmth. For extra height, heeled boots are essential. Remember to keep your figure in proportion by wearing small scarves and dainty accessories.
Longer styles, such as this season’s camel coat, will flatter a tall figure by adding length to your top half, making you look well proportioned. Tall figures can pull off oversized cardigans and wear chunky layers without looking weighed down, so make like a model in faux fur luxury coats. Also, make the most of the fact that you can wear flat shoes and still look leggy- so pull on a pair of comfortable military boots and you'll be good to go!
The key is not to hide your body but show it off. Opt for fitted coats which will clasp your curves and stretch your torso. Fitted coats would be the best choice for curvy figures whilst keeping your look sophisticated. Make sure your coat nips you in at the waist to show off your hourglass silhouette beautifully. Longer length coats can work well too, especially with a cunningly placed belt to put focus on your waist. Show off your assets in v-neck jumpers and rock those calf length skirts, which were seen parading down Prada’s runway.
The most flattering length of coat for the pearshaped among us is waist or ¾ length, which will cover your bottom half and minimise any bulky areas. Avoid shorter length jackets if you don’t want to look bottom heavy. The trick is to draw attention from your bottom half, so accessorize your coat with a brightly coloured scarf or corsage which will draw the eye to your upper half. Keep it simple on your bottom half and wear dark trousers for a sleek and slimming effect.
lgbtv+ This week it's all about gaying up your nights in.
ES SHUH-MYON-CHKO INTRODUC A WORD WITH THE BOD It has to be admitted that I’ve got a little bit of a vested interest in the articles this week – while I do watch TV for many other reasons, I’m more inclined to switch on the box if I know that there’s going to be something vaguely gay to watch. This seems to happen everywhere nowadays so I’m not restricted in my viewing choices, especially when programmes from Skins to Torchwood appeal to my lady-loving sensibilities. I’ve been watching Lip Service, as has Yasmin Nagy, and while though Hector Roddan probably hasn’t, he’s still got plenty to say on how gays are (gradually) taking over the televised world. Kate Boddington
WHAT THE HEC? EX
PLORES A BIT
There’s a plethora of gay men cluttering up our tellys these days. Of course, camp comedy is as old as the hills. Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams’ camp alter-egos, Julian and Sandy, were peddling Polari back in the 1950s, but Round the Horne- which ran for five years from 1965- was arguably the first instance of openly gay characters being accepted and enjoyed by wider society. These days, you don’t have to channel hop to find 'out and proud' gay actors, performers and characters. From Scott Pilgrim to The L Word, the resounding message is that we’re here, we’re queer and the fact that the stout yeomanry of Britain haven’t all turned off in disgust is sure to have veteran TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse spinning in her grave. Trailblazing the way for realistic gay characters in British television was Russell T Davies’ seminal 1999 Channel 4 series, Queer as Folk. The protagonists, Vince, Stuart and Nathan, were archetypes that both gay and straight audiences could identify with. After all, who hasn’t carried an unrequited torch for a close friend at some point in their lives? And here we are at the crux of the issue: being gay is still seen as a scandal by some people. Again, we can see this being played out on the world's longest running soap, Coronation Street – albeit in traditional OTT soap fashion – as Ken Barlow struggles to play peacemaker between his recently discovered homophobe son and gay grandson. The last fifty years have seen a sea-change in the representation of LGBT+ people on our television screens. Whether changing representations have led or lagged behind social attitudes is a whole other question. The reality remains that the pervasiveness of television, and the proliferation of well-rounded, interesting, gay characters, performers and entertainers can only be a good thing. Hector Roddan
while Yasmin Nagy takes a closer look at the exciting new British series, Lip Service A les-urrection in British drama has arrived in the form of BBC Three show Lip Service. But the question is: does it provide representation or have we been deserted again? Set in Glasgow and based around the lives of three women -mysterious Frankie, Scottish beauty Cat, and ditsy Tess- Lip Service has set the net ablaze with a dyke-otomy of opinion.But why such a big reaction and what are people's views? One side argues that Lip Service is the first real British drama to be based wholly on gay and bi women. Diva magazine calls it “...quite possibly the most groundbreaking programme to be televised this year”- a view shared by many who say that gay women are marginalised by television. Writer Harriet Braun has said in interviews that she hopes her characters are more “three-dimensional” than past representations of gay ladies, and this is evident in the plot so far; although there have been a few identification battles, it’s more about gay/bi women getting on with their lives. This presents an advance from shows like Skins or Sugar Rush in which gay characters are put in the plot just for a ‘gay storyline’. Inevitably parallels have been drawn with The L Word, yet as The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson points out: “...unlike its Los Angeles cousin, it's not driven by issues: it operates on the basis that love and heartbreak, friendship and betrayal happen to everyone.” In this way there’s little angst and turmoil involved in watching the show as it simply provides entertainment- and why should a gay T.V. show not do just that? On the flip-side however, many critics think the characters are unbelievable. Pink Paper reported that many viewers “felt that the morgue sex scene was 'inappropriate'", while others thought it was "glamourised soft porn". However, I don't reckon that viewers are seeing the show as drama - unrealistic aspects don't mean it deserves condemnation. Either way it’s got people thinking about the future of gay representation, and that’s certainly a step in the right direction. So is this show paving the way for prime-time ‘gay T.V’..? Is Lip Service a hit, or is it just shit? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Lip Service, lez be ‘avin ya... Yasmin Nagy
TRAVELLING When travelling on a tight budget, it’s crucial to know how, and where, to find cheap flights; here are some handy tips that you may not have known and will help you save those precious pounds. Firstly there’s the question of when to book. Airlines regularly change their prices during the week due to popularity, and if you book on a Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, you will find that the prices are significantly lower than at the weekend. Secondly, when should you go? When looking for great deals, you need to be pretty flexible with your travel dates. Again, it’s always cheaper to fly midweek, and if you can handle really early mornings then you will save a lot of money by picking the 3am flight rather than the tempting one at 2pm! Lastly, there’s the problem of knowing which of the thousands of websites to use when searching for deals. Easyjet.com and ryanair.com are good if you have a more fixed travel plan in mind (although they do bump up charges as you start booking so watch out!). Alternatively, skyscanner.net and flightchecker.moneysavingexpert.com will show you all the available flights for your journey, and although they may not be direct routes, they are usually pretty cheap. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s the ‘I’ll go anywhere’ button, which gives you some amazing flight prices to places you may not have thought of going before! Celia Welham
I did want to be really witty and describe how ‘awesome’ couch surfing is using only the finest surf lingo, but decided that with my limited knowledge of the actual meanings of ‘sick’ and ‘gnarly’ and other things associated with boards and swell, it probably wouldn’t be so ‘sweet’. So I’ll keep it simple and tell you about it in a way that anyone- even those without blonde dreds and tight, tanned torsos- will understand. DO IT. Simple enough? As well as not having to pay for accommodation, which saves you a whole heap of 'duckets' (that's money in surf terms), you can truly benefit from the enthusiasm and good company of people all too eager to show off their town or city. Although, remember a little token of gratitude never goes amiss; cooking your hosts a meal may enusre an extra comfy bed and the opportunity to experience the -dare I say it- 'sickest' spots to hang until you ride the wave home! Simone Miche
After some deliberation and careful research, it was two years ago that my parents took the plunge and joined the home-swapping website 'Home-Link', which enables people from all over the globe to temporarily swap homes with each other. Take one quick look at their website and, with such an incredible range of properties on offer, it’s hard not to get lured into signing up. With photos of country houses, beachside villas, alpine shacks and central city dwellings, my parents were quick to discover the magnitude of what’s on offer around the world. The £115 annual sign up fee means you're free to create your own 'property page', which profiles your property and allows you to communicate with potential swapees. Frequent liasons with the people you're intending to swap with builds up a relationship, so much so my parents have even come to make some new friends in the process! The great thing about 'Home-Link' is that you make the rules; if you want to lock your dining room door and have no young people, you're completely at liberty to do so. With the recession, this relatively cheap way of travelling has become increasingly popular. Even so, we had no problem finding a central flat in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival. In fact, we've stayed in so many great places around the globe that I think it's fair to say that my parents and I will remain avid users of 'Home-Link' for a while. Fraser Issac
Not just an example of onomatopoeia, but also an acronym for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Charity, which hosts a huge list of organic farms and gardens all over the world offering accommodation and food in exchange for practical help. With such a variety of jobs to choose from, for example felling trees and fruit picking or working in on-site farm shops and education centres, you’ll struggle not to find something you’d be interested in. And it isn’t taxing either. All hosts ask is that you’re willing to give a hand and are happy to fit in with their lifestyle. It is such an economical and enjoyable way to see the world as the hours you put in are very flexible, leaving you with plenty of time to explore the outside environment. Simone Miche
Debauchery Hannah Jones explored the beautiful city of Amsterdam on a society trip discovering a whole load of hedonistic secrets that makes this the perfect getaway for promiscuity. Experiencing Amsterdam's world-famous coffee shops was first on my list and I found a diverse and abundant array of them. From sleek lounge bars to cosy, basement hideaways, whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced stoner, it’s hard NOT to find a suitable venue to indulge yourself in plumes of marijuana smoke, a chilled atmosphere and my personal favourite, delicious brownies freshly made with a very effective ‘kick’ for a whole day. Once you’ve reached your ‘happy place’ I’d recommend giving Amsterdam’s infamous Sex Museum a visit; with an extensive collection of erotic photographs, models, recordings,and the incredibly entertaining ‘history of sex’ section you will be in stitches most of the way round –there is an especially good photo opportunity with two large plastic phalluses standing erect for you to pose in front of (or even on!). The Red Light District is strangely enough where I spent most of my weekend and it certainly lives up to its reputation! From brothels, sex shops and gay cinemas to the email@example.com famous condom shop, the Red Light District
caters for whatever you’re looking for both within and beyond your wildest dreams- it certainly leaves nothing to the imagination. For those of you who are not easily offended, there are plenty of live sex shows to experience. A life-changing performance you shouldn’t miss involves a female practising her penmanship on the body of a male, only holding her pen in a place more imaginative than her hands! The shows then usually ends with a couple having sex before your eyes. A little shocking for those who are merely curious. If you’d rather try before you buy, there are a number of peep shows which display exactly the same thing but only for 2 minutes at a time. So if you like what you see, you can just keep paying! Therefore when it comes to naughtiness, Amsterdam doesn’t disappoint – but I’ll let you find out the rest for yourself ! So with all the society trips heading to Amsterdam this year, such as ‘Talydam’ and ‘The Diff Hits the Dam’, you now have no excuse to miss such a memorable experience. After all, what’s university life without a bit of debauchery?
Milg i Warehouse, 21st October:
SUPER FURRY PROTEST When you have a queue of creative punters curling around the side of a back alley warehouse desperate for a seat in an auditorium of tree stumps and fairy lights, you know that you have hit on an insider’s gem. When punters linger around the packed venue long after being turned away for a glimpse of the show inside, peering through doors and over considerable numbers of heads, you know you have found something special. Something super furry special, in fact. 'Super Furry Protest' is six short plays inspired by the Super Furry Animals delivered script in hand, punchy and fast paced. This isn’t the kind of theatre that stops for a breath. Performances are like one shot of tequila after another at Milgi’s bar; sharp, eclectic, relevant, atmospheric. No wonder the company’s Welsh roots are starting to twist over the border to London playhouses, although they are certainly not forgotten. Playwrights including Roger Williams, Angharad Blythe and Merydydd Barker were given the chance to pack punches with their new pieces, some of the plays were written entirely in Welsh and the evening was in celebration of the wonderfully Welsh affair Swn. Yes, Dirty Protest stick to their roots and their cult following will remain loyal. But they may have to find a larger venue because Welsh theatre’s dirty secret is getting out.. Kirsty Allen
Chapter Arts, 27th October:
Script Slam is, as its name suggests, a script writing competition that was staged last Wednesday in Chapter Arts Centre. Five plays were performed, script in hand, each lasting about ten minutes and with two missions in mind: to win over the audience and maybe secure the coveted 1st place position. The triumphant writer was then provided with the opportunity to have their script developed by those clever creatives at Chapter and Sherman Cymru. There was no common theme to the evening, each play touched on different issues and explored various pithy and engaging topics. 'I Ain’t Done Nothing' by Steve Manary had a somewhat bizarre opening sequence involving a small man undressing himself from a purple sequin dress – casual transvestisism is all you need to make good theatre, apparently. Manary’s script thrashed out the psychological methods of interrogation and succeeded in creating a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. 'The Elevator' by Robert Clifford was supposedly inspired by the works of Beckett but the fact that it was so dull suggests to me that Beckett wasn’t inspiring enough. It suffered from a lack of any identifiable personality in its two protagonists and asked too much of the audience’s imagination by forcing them to fill in the canyon-esque gaps in the plot. The finale of the night was called 'Peaches' by G.R. Evans and was my favorite piece of Script Slam. Despite the main character looking like a cross between a lumberjack and ‘The Edge’ from U2 (but with a thyroid issue), this play was really entertaining. It analyzed the power struggles that occur within families using very measured dialogue and well-observed characters. There was also a nice little joke about homemade peach wine, which was probably what swung the audiences vote and ensured its victory. All in all my time at Script Slam was highly enjoyable and I would urge you all to keep your ear to the ground for news of the next one. I would also suggest that this platform is an ideal opportunity for any budding scriptwriters out there to showcase their talent. Go on then, get writing. Gavin Jewkes
After reviewing his play, Katie Haylock sets off to meet the man himself, Frank Vickery.
Who is that?!!!
Frank Vickery is a bit of a Welsh legend. Born in the Rhondda in 1961 he is famed for writing deliciously dark and comical prose. Vickery had his first major theatrical success at the meek age of twenty one when his first comedy ‘After I’m Gone’ won the Howard De Waldon Trophy for the best one act play in Great Britain. This was followed by another short play called ’See you Tomorrow’, which won him the best playwright award from the Drama Association of Wales. Since this cracking debut on the writer's stage he has written extensively for the theatre, radio and television, and is the leading name on the Welsh touring circuit. For many years Frank had a successful association with Park and Dare Theatre Company, which fuelled his ambition to create his own production company, Grassroots. Prior to this, he had an eight-year association with the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. He is the author of thirty plays to date (most of which are published by Samuel French Limited) including the hugely successful Welsh musical ‘Amazing Grace’ and the critically acclaimed comedy ‘Tonto Evans’. In recent years Frank has concentrated on performing, as well as writing and he enjoyed a highly successful season at Ludlow in William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ as Sir Andrew and Philario in ‘Cymberline’ both directed by Michael Bogdanov, as well as appearing numerous times in pantomime at the Swansea Grand Theatre. Following on from that, in 2007, his hilarious comedy ‘Granny Annie’ successfully completed a major theatrical tour to many sell out audiences. Last year saw Frank embarking on another tour of south Wales’s venues with 'Erogenous Zones'. Directed by Phil Clarke and staring Ian H Watkins, it was widely considered to be one of Frank Vickery’s most slick and sophisticated writing to date. Frank was a massive success in 'Tonto Evans' in Autumn 2009, and due to public demand he also starred in the spring production of 'Loose Ends'.
The classic Swan Lake has arrived once more, only this time it has arrived on ice. This adaptation of the brilliant Swan Lake ballet can only be described as incredible. With a bright array of costumes, dancers almost flying around the stage and a ring of fire, it is not at all what is expected from the classic Swan Lake. Tchaikovskyâ€™s much loved music remains the same, while features of ballet have also been retained by the figure skaters, as well as elements of dancing and gymnastics that all roll into one masterpiece of a production. The overall feel of creating Swan Lake on ice also gives the production a larger sense of environment, with the setting becoming very realistic and truly resembling a lake. With other effects such as snow falling in certain scenes and a smoke effect on top of the ice to resemble more closely
a lake, the production's overall presentation was dazzling to watch. Olga Sharutenko plays the role of Odette perfectly. Her skating flows beautifully while she embodies the role of a swan without fault. And her dancing with the prince, played by Ruslan Novoseltsev, is also incredible, with both skatersâ€™ ability and talent shining throughout the production. This version is absolutely superb, and a definite must see for all ages. What those dancers can do on the ice is truly amazing, and with shocks and gasps coming from everyone in the audience and a standing ovation, this show does not disappoint. Kimberley Dunn
Thriller Night Kimberley Dunn sets off to watch the play that aims to keep to keep the legacy of Michael Jackson alive. There’s no doubt that Michael Jackson's hit records were made for a stage production. And with his sudden death last year, Thriller is surely the answer for every Michael Jackson fan. Thriller is the concert performance of Jackson’s most influential numbers, sung by a team of lead vocalists. It’s a vibrant package, with many eye-catching costume changes and fantastic dancers. However, the vocalists are somewhat confusing; although offering a refreshing uniqueness to the songs, their costume of everyday clothing is a bold choice. And with a Michael Jackson lookalike only coming into the show at select points, it doesn’t offer the audience a whole show of Jackson himself. Shanay Holmes’s voice, however, deserves a big mention with
her singing truly standing out amongst the strong team of vocalists in the production. The flashing images lit up on the big screen showing various Jackson-related stats and figures (including record sales) equally serve to draw attention to the man himself and his message of hope to the world. This is best demonstrated when there's a plea for peace and not war surrounding the stage during They Don’t Care About Us . Each song also manages to flow into the other, whilst still allowing many unique stage and costume switches, with every number being intensely different to the last. Thriller, although not a musical, is truly a thrilling experience nonetheless.
Maya Acharya is this week's winner with her interesting take on the theme "The Surreal moment in Everyday life". Next issue's theme is Portraits. firstname.lastname@example.org
Previews LCD Soundsystem CIA Fri 12th November
C-Y-N-T Less Than Jake Millennium Music Hall Millennium Music Hall Sat 20th November Tues 9th November
This is, without doubt, one of the most important events to pass through Cardiff this year. Our city often plays host to acts embarking on the twilight of their careers, but this is the oppurtunity to see a candle burning out with white-hot luminescence as opposed to fading into obsolescence. The decision taken by James Murphy, the modern day renaissance man behind the 'Soundsystem, to embark upon a farewell tour whilst still in what some would argue to be his creative peak has been met with both scrutiny and praise. It seems as though the public just aren't ready to resign LCD Soundsystem to the grave just yet. Following the almost universal acclaim of This Is Happening, Mr. Murphy will be bringing his idiosyncratic brand of electro pop to the capitol to bid us a final farewell. Oh, in case you weren't quite swayed by that alone, Hot Chip are supporting. What more of an invitation could you ask for? Jon Berry
Another month, another huge line-up courtesy of the giant of student dance music events, C-YN-T. If you’ve never been to one of these super-parties at Millennium Music Hall, get yourself down just for the experience. The atmosphere is always wild as one loses themself in a huge crowd of UV ravers, jaws quivering in time with the basslines. November’s spectacular sees the return of Cardiff favourite Fake Blood, whose driving electro sounds never fail to please. As an added bonus, he will be abusing multiple senses as the set will be fully audio-visual for an allencompassing trip. Heavy support comes in the shape of Congorock, Redlight, LVis 1990 and Cardiff ’s The King Regards, so be prepared for a long but satisfying night at Cardiff's foremost dance music experience. Jack Doran
Florida's premiere ska-punk pioneers are set to bring their own unique brand of horn-embellished sunshine to Cardiff's dreary skies. Nearly 20 years since their inception, Less Than Jake are showing no signs of letting up and 9th November will provide the perfect opportunity to witness their energetic live show. The eagerly awaited release of 2008's acclaimed GNV FLA marked the founding of the band's own record label, Sleep It Off Records and the reissue of several classic albums, as well as last month's EP release, TV/EP. In a fantastically off-the-wall move, this latest effort is a 13 minute collection of 16 classic TV theme tunes and product jingles so, if that's your bag (and it should be), the Hall is calling. With support from pop-punkers Zebrahead, Less Than Jake are sure to get the crowds dancing, even with Millenium Music Hall's horrifically sticky floors. Michael Brown
A rundown of some recent releases
Kings of Leon
Come Around Sundown RCA
Before I start, I’d like you to put yourself into one of the following groups. Group A - those who have followed Kings of Leon from the start; Group B - those who have followed them since their rise to super-stardom in 2008 after the release of Only By The Night. Sorted? Right, here we go... The Tennessee rockers claim their fifth effort harks back to the dirty, garage rock of their first album Youth and Young Manhood, and in some respects they seem to be spot on. The furious No Money seems to posses the raw and visceral side of their earlier work, and the mellow Birthday provokes nostalgia. However, the band has not forgotten the path they embarked upon with their previous album. The first half seems to be testament to this; the blisteringly anthemic The Immortals is a royal romp into the bands new electric atmosphere and first song The End has a melancholy that only KOL could muster.
The album has its pit falls though; the ragged Mary seems to be an attempt to please both groups. It would seem that in trying to accommodate for both sets of fans, they have forgotten to cater for themselves. The album at times feels strained and purposefully under-worked, as if they have given in to the critical backlash they received from their older fan base last year. So it’s up to you then; the older fans may prefer the second half, the newer ones the first. Either way, KOL have once again demonstrated that they can create, for the most part, a solid album. Yet I get the impression, that for the moment they are merely in third gear. Matt Tilling
Death Seat Young God Records
8/10 Don’t let the title give you the impression that it’s all satanic guitar riffs and screamo vocals. Instead kick back and let James Jackson Toth’s voice inspire you.
He is your noble story teller in lieu of Bob Dylan, his narrative witty and dark in humour. The rich layers of acoustic guitar give an earthy, well-trodden weight that draws you in to James’ lyrics. Listening goes down easy and it’s not long before you’re on a shambolic journey that requires no effort on your behalf. However, it is not lo-fi to the extent of the indie folk you here so much of these days. The Mountain is a psychedelic number that leaves you sympathetic to Toth’s trials and tribulations. Ms Mowse is similarly hallucinatory but more sombre. Then James goes downright gloomy with Servant to Blues. This is Wooden Wands third LP since former records with his collaborators Vanishing Voice. It is more accomplished and mature like an aged single malt, which I’m sure he also enjoys. Reminisces of relationships are humourous in I Made You as if taken from a wisened perspective. I like how free of pretence this particular revival of 70’s folk is, even amoung the genre’s growing popularity. Maybe you’ve found yourself in the midst of some pretty chaotic times, if so Death Seat will empathize and entertain. Peter Large
We//Are//Animal Idolise Art Nation
From the opening song 1268, Idolise has the feel of an album recorded in the basement studios of New York, reminiscent of the early works of Interpol and TV on the Radio. Never could I have guessed it was recorded on an eight track in the North of Wales. But, it is here that WE// ARE//ANIMAL have perfected their sound. All songs are recorded on the day they are written (bar the odd vocals) using whatever space is available, be it abandoned slate quarries, woods or old folk homes. And the result is an album that has such a refreshing, raw indie sound that many bands have failed to capture. No song on this record feels out of place, with each complementing the previous and leaving the listener in anticipation of what’s next Empire and Unfold/Fold are the best examples of the buzzing guitar rifts and pummelled drums which characterise the sound of a well crafted debut album from a band little more
than a year old. However, for an album that begins with so much promise, one cant help but feel that was just something missing by the end of it. Although no song falls too below par, Idolise is lacking that one song that pushes the barriers to cement it as a truly remarkable debut album. Instead, what is left is the debut album of a band filled with the promise and potential of greatness which has not yet been reached. Phillip Kenny
Back From Earth Red Bull Records
Fresh on the scene with a concoction of mixed genres - from rock to soul, hip-hop and dub-step; there’s something for everyone to enjoy from this Californian group. Touring with psychedelic New Yorkers MGMT this summer, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to hear their contrasting mix of energetic, futuristic tunes with a dash of retro punkrock. The music features a blend of Cage the Elephant, NERD
and the 80’s New Romantics, all thrown into one eclectic style; combining piano, synthesizers and singer Aaron Bruno’s grouchy voice that weirdly resembles the White Stripes’ Jack White. Courageously, they experiment; taking risks to go that extra mile in ensuring their audience are enthused. After hearing one track, you’re curious to know what spontaneity the next brings, as each holds its own quality, where effort, care and passion have carefully crafted them into pieces of art. The band’s chaotic personality is reflected in the lack of cohesive tracks, yet they still effortlessly demonstrate that these juxtaposing sounds work beautifully together. Just listen to the collaboration of Burn it Down(Innerpartysystem remix); we weave in and out of hard rock and electro, followed by heavy bass and upbeat hip-hop tunes that really get your feet tapping. The band may not be everyone’s taste, but their original ideas and alternative approach pave the future on the music front; firstly hoping to set the UK ablaze just in time for Guy Fawkes. Let’s just hope they don’t fizzle out too soon. Hannah Davies email@example.com
Swn (s么么n) /sun/ translated from Welsh. 1. Sound esp. of a loud, harsh or confused kind. 2. Loud shouting, outcry, or clamour. 3. A nonharmonious or discordant group of sounds 4. (Festival) An eclectic assemblage of musical mastery in the heart of Cardiff.
MUSIC Consulting my little Welsh to English dictionary gives the most concise and thereby easiest translation of the little Welsh word that has been materialising all over the city in the previous weeks. The direct translation of Swn is, in its simplest sense, sound; however regional dialects and different grammatical interpretations could yield a variety of meanings including discord and noise. A word with such ambiguity surrounding it was, as ever, a completely appropriate title for Cardiff ’s premiere music festival. To try and gain an understanding of Swn in terms of both size and geography, it could be compared to the likes of London’s Camden Crawl or Manchester’s In The City; for three days the city of Cardiff was taken in the capable hands of Huw Stephens and John Rostron and condensed into a white-hot ball of creative electricity. Such has been done for the previous three years when Swn turns Cardiff into a far more palatable weekend proposition than that which one is usually presented with. Despite several venues being somewhat geographically awkward, (Chapter and The Globe being the most notable examples of this), due to the almost saturate concentration of participating venues it was entirely conceivable to spend the entire weekend on Womanby Street, if one were so inclined. Supposedly a ‘Weekend’ event, the goings-on of Swn 2010 took over the best part of a week all told, by the end of which bodies were bruised due to the severity of some bands sets and hearts left broken due to the tenderness of others. The festivities began early this year with the official Swn opening party taking place on the preceding Tuesday at Cardiff Arts Institute. This was the first event into which a coveted Swn weekend wristband granted entry. So as not to alienate any Swn attendees so early on, the inaugural event was given a soundtrack by the South Carolina Chill Wave exponents Toro Y Moi. Whilst their sub-zero grooves and super slick execution did, at times, border on the repetitive, they had an undeniably infectious quality to them. One of Swn's finer attribute, of which there are many, is the juxtaposition of well-established acts along side acts of such talent and reputation that it seems uncocievable that they aren't even signed to a record label. One such example are Dry The River who, despite being unsigned have been making huge waves up and down the country. There was something truly unique about them when they played on Friday night. The London five-piece maintained a quiet confidence that gave the impression that they were genuinely pleased to be there, and as they settled into their first song it was clear that this was quite different than anything else at Swn 2010. Their music has been beautifully crafted to create heartbreakingly poignant songs such as Bible Belt and Family
Tree, however their ability to deliver uplifting songs such as Coast meant their set was by no means a solemn affair. Perhaps what was so special about Dry the River were their Bon Iveresque harmonies, at times utilising the vocals of every band member; they paired these with swelling melodies and clear musical talent for an inspiring 45 minutes. By the end of the set the audience seemed captivated by their music, making them one of the best bands to grace the Dempseys stage over the weekend; that in itself is quite a statement. And Dempseys was very much a place of great things over the course of the weekend. Jay Jay Pistolet's latest band of brothers, The Vaccines, roused a great deal of excitement and attention on Womanby Street. It’s hard to document the insurmountable excitement that presented itself at the prospect of seeing them, the tangibility of which descended in a thick miasma electrifying the top floor. This was very much the word on the tongue of those in the know. Looking around the sardine-can dance floor faces waiting expectantly included those of Steve Lamacq and Swn curator Huw Stephens. The Vaccines storm on stage with almost regimental immediacy and burst henceforth into a set that encompasses facets of surf rock, shoe gaze and new wave among many others. The result is a dense yet accessible, extremely effective vehicle for the undeniable song writing skills of Jay Jay Pistolet. As their set reached its climax Mr. Pistolet chose to surge headlong into the amassed revellers. Being central to those amassed revellers, I had something of an altercation with Mr. Pistolet. Nothing too rowdy, just some good old fashioned rough and tumble as he pinballed his way through the crowd, a quite fitting finale to a show that promised such energy. Across the road, in Y Fuwch Goch specifically, treats from the South were presenting themselves. With a penchant for intricate rhythms and instrument-swapping, Tall Ships proved to be a pleasantly danceable alt. pop/rock/indie act without the annoying bleeps, bloops and umtsch-bum-tschs that usually accompany such a feat. Keen to avoid any explicit classification, the Falmouth-based three-piece featured an even mix of both entirely instrumental and vocal-led performances in amongst their 45 minute set. For such a diminutive line-up, the band’s sound was strikingly massive, thanks to some creative loop pedal usage and impressive guitar/ keyboard multi-tasking. Hotly tipped and due to embark on a European tour with 65daysofstatic, this may well have been the last time Tall Ships would grace the floor of a rammed-to-capacity Y Fuwch Goch. By the end of the weekend it was hard to recall exactly which act was viewed on which day. But a good weekend was had by all. Jon Berry
Sw a n s Photo: Erik Luyten
Ever since the banner 'SWANS ARE NOT DEAD' appeared on the band's MySpace in January this year after almost 13 years of silence, it soon came to people's attention that this wasn't a message; this was a warning. At a bellowing 120dbs (infamous for actually making people throw up during their sets) this truly divides the mice from the men. The first half-an-hour consisted nothing more of a nonstop ordeal of chime ringing and a deep-bass-buzz, extended from just the first 42 seconds of new album opener, No Words/ No Thoughts. This was all before Michael Gira and co even took to the stage, to the sight of Gira smacking his face in the midst of the harrowing 'buzz' and a blinding light shining into the crowd. The band then erupted the venue into a thunderous roll of noise to a share of new songs including Jim, Eden Prison and Little Mouth, and old favourites Sex, God, Sex and Beautiful Child. It's hard to imagine such a balance of chaos and beauty, but Swans closed Swn Festival in an undeniably powerful nature, making most other bands on the lineup look like ducklings. Thanks Swans, my ears will forever ring. Davy Francis
Ta lon s As day one of Swn drew to a close, an unassuming (and, in my unrefined English tongue, unpronounceable) venue by the name of Y Fuwch Goch was hit by an intensely apocalyptic mood at the hands of dual violinwielding post-rockers Talons. The word ‘epic’ is thrown around a lot these days but the combination of violent string stabs and distorted guitar technical wizardry proved just as intense as any film score, with no need for superfluous visual inspiration. A strong command of dynamic contrast, coupled with a mathematically precise yet emotionally intense performance ensured that Talons left a lasting memory on all who witnessed their awe-inspiring set. Michael Brown
Photo: Chris Griffiths
Photo: Nadine Bellantyne
Followed by a great deal of NME-initiated hype, and having waited an hour for them to play (due to sound problems) my anticipation to see this band was tangible. During their sound check the four quirky Manchurian teenagers appeared surly and disinterested, something I assumed was due to the technical issues; however this did not seem to disappear on their return. The music was tight instrumentally and there were many moments of brilliance especially on the song Moon Crooner. They maintained a much darker and less synthesised style than many of the songs I had heard from their EP. Unfortunately, the singing, which was almost mistakable for a wailing banshee, really let them down. Perhaps the hype set me up for disappointment as, all in all, Egyptian Hip Hop’s talent appeared to be hyperbole. Emma Wilford
Having closed last yearâ€™s festival to rapturous applause, universal praise and a fair deal of crowd surfing, Right Hand Left Hand bookended the event by, to all intents and purposes, opening Swn 2010. For those unaware of the musical megalith that is RHLH, the premise is simple; two men, two guitars, two drum kits, a lot of effects creating math rock that is more complicated and intricate that degree level calculus. As ever, RHLH create mini symphonies that evolve from the simplest musical idea into huge, soaring monoliths that encompass an unequivocal ferocity, hitting you square in the gut and leaving you reeling for some time after they finish. Such are their musical gymnastics that such an early set is detrimental to their effect. The crowd are poised, obviously enjoying, but they never quite let go and give themselves fully to the energy onstage. But, as with any festival, damage limitation must be undertaken as to avoid peaking too soon. Jon Berry
Photo: Tom Armstrong
Much to my pleasure, Thursday at Swn saw Dempseys valiantly flying the flag for post-rock as nearly every band sprawled ambiently through each of their sets. One of the evening’s less heavy but equally as poignant components were Among Brothers, a local 6-piece who further lineate Cardiff ’s seemingly natural affinity for prog-based outfits. Probably sitting somewhere in between Mew and Explosions in the Sky, their music balances electronic and string elements with the more heavy guitar-driven sections normally associated with the genre and, coupled with keyboard player Alex Comana’s layered vocals, culminate in some fairly devastating crescendos. The show oscillated between the thunderous and the tranquil in this way over 45 hugely enjoyably minutes and ended with particular ardency as some snares were taken into and played amongst the crowd. Two of the members gloriously thrashed their way to the end of the set and to the start of the band’s bright future. Simon Roach
Photo: Tom Armstrong
Dog Is Dead It’s always interesting to see a band with some apparently out of place instruments, and this was definitely the case when seeing Dog is Dead’s saxophonist stood awkwardly among five otherwise unassuming, if not frustrating, scenesters. The group claims to be “uplifting pop for jazz junkies and choir folk”, which is probably pushing their saxophone-based novelty a bit far as the instrument’s used as little other than a synth-replacement. But the uplifting pop bit is definitely true – while they probably take a slightly too obvious lead from Vampire Weekend, as a live show the performance contains too much fun for even the grumpiest of cynics (myself) to tap their foot along to once in a while. Begrudgingly; these guys will probably do well. Simon Roach
Photo: Nadine Ballantyne
Perfum e G en ius
Photo: Burak Cingi
The subdued lighting and uncomfortable silence in the theatre made it seem more like a piano recital than a rock gig as Perfume Genius (i.e. Mike Hadreas and band mate) tiptoed onstage to their keyboards. In fact, ‘uncomfortable’ is probably the overriding word I’d use to describe the forty minutes that followed, and that’s not just because my arse grew numb sitting on a theatre seat. There was a choking air of discomfort that pinafored the room as soon as Hadreas’ skinny white hands – that looked like anorexic spiders – started to sprawl across his piano and his harrowing lyrics about such things as serial killers and paedophilia (see Lookout, Lookout and Mr. Peterson, respectively) began shuddering out of his mouth. Each song was more painful and fragile than the last and, accordingly, each song Hadreas looked more like he was about to fall to pieces. Mesmerisingly tragic. Matt Wright
Swn Festival never has any out-and-out headliners due to a just fear of the event ever becoming unbalanced by the presence of an inconsistently large act. Regardless, each year sees a sort of unofficial headliner evolve out of the line-up, usually in thanks to their own good reputation coupled with the gift of the very last set of the whole weekend. The Model Inn has grown to become the host of this closet finale, last year showcasing a spectacular and raucous performance from Right Hand Left Hand, and now Islet. In some ways this was a very logical progression, as they are a band who shun the internet (yes, they don’t even have myspace) and have instead largely built a reputation upon their infamous live shows. The fact that they’re also one of Cardiff ’s most successful recent exports meant that there was a pretty intense energy around the small room as a lucky few awaited their set (apparently even Huw Stephens had trouble getting in; it was that rammed). And this intensity did not let up once over the whole hour that they played, a fact portrayed rather horridly by the sweaty mist to be found on every surface thereafter. It was one of few gigs where the crowd were as enegergetic as the band, keenly taking any stretch of consistent rhythm to mosh away the festival's dying moments. All interspersing sections of irregular whoops and drumming were just as compelling, however, as they subtly injected the atmosphere with the tension needed to fuel the next oppurtunity to jump around. The group's technical prowess should not be overlooked either - every member flowed seemlessly between each instrement on stage and did so each time with equal ferocity and skill. The whole experience was as harrowing as it was inspiring, and garnished Swn 2010 with an appropriately memorable farewell. Simon Roach
Photo: Chris Griffiths
Eclectic and eccentric yet accessible; Yeasayer jauntily hop between the margins of pop and experimental without ever becoming too entrenched in either genre. Simon Roach met up with semi-front man Chris Keating to talk about, just, like, stuff what is to do with shit and that. etc. You’re a band that is very much associated with New York – what do you think it is about that city that keeps on producing so many of the world’s most interesting artists? Well, I guess one thing that I really like about New York and find inspiring about it is that there’s a lot of competition; competition for space, competition for time, competition for whatever. There are a lot of really different and creative people, so when you start out doing any kind of project, like art or music, you have to kind of make an identity for yourself and work hard in the beginning to get out there...Trust me, there’re thousands of bands that you’ve never heard of but play a lot, but won’t ever come to Europe or anything. To get out you have to make that identity for yourself. Was the identity you created for yourselves conscious then? As a “New York psychedelic, dubbed out, electro-pop band”, as I read recently...
Well we only set out to be different. I mean, it wasn’t like we were trying to be obtuse or contrary necessarily, but anytime you make music or if you’re a poet or whatever, you’re gonna be like, “Well, if it’s already been said or if that idea’s already out there then I don’t really need to do it.” But if you have something you want to say or elements you want to newly combine then maybe you should if it’s not being done. It’s more about how you see things, and whether things are being done a certain way. And then people respond to that because it does stand out and it’ll stick out in your memory, whether you hate it or love it. Do you feel this was all a reaction against what was 4 years ago a scene saturated with various derivatives of The Strokes? Probably. Not necessarily The Strokes, but all the imitators, which is quite frankly one of the most irritating things; I hate that. And I don’t see it as much anymore but it was def-
MUSIC initely round the UK a lot too. It’s all image over substance with young people just really wanting to be something like The Strokes.
“world music” sounds. And so we drew inspiration from it and people really latched onto that.
Do you feel part of a wider movement then with other Brooklyn based bands like Dirty Projectors, who reacted to all that in a similar way?
Was that a conscious choice then or did it just happen?
Maybe. I do feel like I’m part of a cultural circumstance which results from the collapse of the major label system and music buying, so we’re just trying to exist as bands. And I have this camaraderie with other bands because who think in that way. I don’t think anyone I know is trying to get rich from music or go platinum, just because it’s not very feasible. We’re just trying to carve out a name for ourselves and make something new and interesting. Do you think this lack of an incentive for financial gain has liberated musicians artistically, as they’re longer just looking to sell records to the masses? There’ve always been bands who haven’t given a shit about that system, for sure. The independent movement in recording music, it’s been going on since the 80s and with a real strong lead from the UK through Rough Trade and stuff like that. The rift between what is mainstream and what is underground is extremely huge but at the same time it creates this void which enables independent bands to go out and explore and maybe people from the mainstream will pick up on it... We’re at a weird kind of crossroads, where mainstream Hip-Hop has become kind of stale – the only thing on mainstream radio is like this shitty, watered down Pop/RnB. If you’re lucky you get Lady GaGa, at the worst its American Idol, X-factor etc, and it seems like that’s all it is. But in a way that’s good for someone trying to be creative because you’ll bring in people who maybe even 10 years ago would have just been listening to mainstream radio but are now forced to go out into more independent territory, just because the rest is so fucking bad! Back to your own style then, would you say that world music has been a big influence on you guys? Yeah sure, although I don’t necessarily know that it means anything. It was more the idea that you could be influenced by anything as opposed to a specific genre. I mean, we were drawing influences from electronic music and Trip-Hop kind of stuff, and it just so happened that some of the really exciting sounds that we were into were some of these
There was some music that I found very powerful. Certain guitar tunes from African rock bands from the late 70s that were just really awesome! I remember having a clear emotional response to some of that music, as many musicians will have. You find a record from a different culture and think “this is such a really cool sound!” and then you kind of get obsessed with it, and find inspiration in that, so it makes sense to respond to it musically...I listen to whatever, I think I’m a product of contemporary listening habits; I’ll buy vinyl, buy CDs, but I’ll also download a ton of stuff and listen to blogs that have obscure music. Before there was this whole blog music culture though I’d go to the library a lot. In the US big libraries will have really big music collections, but it’s not like The Beatles or much rock or whatever. It’s more just a lot of different field recordings and Smithsonian Folkways stuff, just different things like that. It’s free and it would basically be random, you could go in, pick 20 records and take them home and listen. And the thing with the library is that it’s already kind of been curated so it’s like, “Oh, someone thinks this is important, so I should probably know what it is.” Your latest album, Odd Blood, was quite different than the last – were there significantly different influences? I feel that in many ways it was just a continuation, but some of the sonic elements we were making conscious departures from. A lot of the stuff from the first album we wanted to sound very lo-fi, to probably mimic some older sounds we liked, but on the new record I kind of wanted to sound much more hi-fi and be more influenced and excited by some of the dance music and electronic music we like. In terms of the production elements anyway, not necessarily stylistically but like, having a really solid sub-bass or really clear drums – we’re moving some of that lo-fi haze because we might as well try something new. I don’t like when a band gets a certain sound and then they just bang that out like some assembly line. I think that’s what gives a band recognition and it helps a band, but I don’t like it so fuck it.
An abundance of superhero related news in recent weeks has just been trumped by a series of announcements regarding Christopher Nolan's next foray into the depths of Gotham City. The Dark Knight's follow up will released under the banner of... drumroll... The Dark Knight Rises. Of course, Hollywood will be seeking to ride the crest of the previous film's phenomenal success, but 'uninspired title' would be an understatement in the caped crusader's case. Another announcement from the director has dispelled any rumours of The Riddler's return to the big screen - names ranging from Jim Carrey to Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Eddie Murphy have been tentatively thrown around for the role, but Nolan has thrown a spanner in the works by denying any chances of the villain's cryptic comeback. Sceptics of 3D will also be happy to hear that
whispering of Batman's venturing into the third dimension will remain false for as long as Nolan heads the franchise's filmic future. With such undeniable successes as Inception and The Dark Knight rejecting the need for funny looking specs, Hollwood's current goldenboy is continuing the traditional practice of restricting big ass explosions to the big ass cinema screen. Outside of the Bat Cave, another eagerly anticiptaed title been set in stone: Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. J.J. Abrams will continue as director after his feature film debut on the third installment, whilst Tom Cruise slips back into the rather worn boots of Ethan Hunt. The actor recently announced that shooting for the latest notso-impossible mission would take place in Dubai, along with an expected release date of December 2011. Matt Ayres
(...in which we
TRON:Legacy In searing neons and with a pounding electro soundtrack provided by Daft Punk, TRON:Legacy, the sequel to the 80â€™s cult classic, is shaping up to be HP7â€™s biggest competition in the battle of the Christmas blockbusters. In what seems so far to be the most appropriate use of 3D in cinema, and reputedly the most sophisticated and advanced, TRON takes the old school video games of the past and turns them into a slick, digitised thrill ride of epic and mind blowingly stunning proportions. With The Dude returning yet again to form, TRON looks like the perfect compliment to its '80s predecessor and its 3D descendents. Emily Kate Bater
praise, muse and lambast the latest previews.)
...scenes of TRUE bromance.
...subtitles and garden gnomes.
...justifying a shopping spree.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Tony Takitani (2001)
Renowned for being a macho, guy-fest classic, but I think this should be a favourite for all. Directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring an all-star cast including Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, Saving Private Ryan follows the truly epic manhunt for a Private who is the last surviving brother of three fallen soldiers. Set in World War II, the film's famous cinematic opening devotes a whole 27 minutes to an intense beach siege. It's not just the incredible battle scenes that make this film a classic, though. The camaraderie and bravery shown by the rescue party are enough to deeply move even the most composed individual. Saving Private Ryan has everything: brilliant acting, realistic scenes, a touching storyline and a heart-melting ending. I promise you won’t be disappointed. James Richardson
This winning French film can only be described as quirky, as it follows an introverted Parisian, played by Audrey Tautou in the role that sparked her fame, who decides to secretly improve the lives of others. Audiences fall in love with Amélie’s character, who has an overactive imagination subsequent to her mother’s death as a suicidal lady lands on her after jumping off Notre Dame Cathedral. The quirkiness continues as she sets up romances, describes Paris’s intricacies when directing a blind man to the train station and plays practical jokes on a bullying boss. In a treasure-hunt style finale she manages to create her own romance, but the finest heartwarming comedic moment can be found when she lends her withdrawn father’s gnome to a travelling friend. Taking Polaroid pictures of it with famous landmarks and returns them with postcards to the bemused and lonely man. A beautiful guardian angel film. Lydia Korol-Bluring
Tony is a successful illustrator and agreeable in nature. Despite this fact, he is unhappily alone. He's a true introvert who gets excited by nothing, that is until a beautiful young woman enters his office, who he later marries. The catch? She's an uncontrollable shop-aholic. Limited dialog and close-ups provide an intimacy that draws you to every nuance in facial expression. The minimalistic style, dull colours and subtle piano relay a mature, elegant take on downbeat relationship cinema. This is simultansously a sexist generalization of female desire, transformed into a tale of loneliness and the search for solace. Could you go back to solitude once you have learnt the meaning of loneliness? Pete Large
Stranger than fiction... In a cinematic landscape increasing being encroached on by the real world, Emily Kate Bater looks at how truth and lies have been used in cinemas artistic pursuits.
Film and the cinema itself is a place of unadulterated escapism. When you enter a cinema you leave behind the sham and drudgery of everyday life, cast off the shackles of your mundane student existence and dwell in a dream world for an average of 90 minutes. But what if the film you're watching claims to be founded in fact? Does the cinema have a fundamental right to stretch the truth in the pursuit of art or does it have a duty to stick to fact? Truth and realism were stretched beyond recognition in the recent I'm Still Here, where Joaquin Phoenix flushed his acting career down the toilet in the pursuit of the ultimate artistic prank. Perhaps looking for a moral in this episode that isn't necessarily there, it is possible that Phoenix was trying to point out the arrogance of the film industry and the fickelry of celebrity; does it even matter if something is reality? If you live a lie, doesnâ€™t that make it true? With the constant narrative arc of celebrity at times diluting the accomplishment of film makers, it's important to consider if movies can be totally factual without repeating something that has already been said. Originality may only be found in a lie. This pseudo-documentary isn't a new beast - way back when The Blair Witch Project did the exact same thing, as does the recent polarising phenomenon that is Paranormal Activity. These aren't exactly the finest examples of celluloid, but they certainly intrigued the common psyche. Blair Witch remains one of the highest grossing independent films of all time. It is these that make so many break into a tentative sweat with the sight of the opening lines, "based on real-life events". Audiences are programmed to be sceptical after years of filmmakers taking our trust and
smashing it into tiny pieces with their questionable interpretations of the real world. This tag has made us wearisome of cinematic claims to authenticity, meaning that worthy documentaries like this week's Restrepo are questioned. The lines between truth and fiction have been blurred with consequences. Really though, does it matter if these films are fake or real? If Inception taught us anything, surely the concept of reality is a subjective one. Another interpretation of real life is seen through the well worm formulation of the bio-pic - Phoenix himself was in one of the more successful with Walk the Line - regardless of the lives of the subjects cinema manages to make every bio-pic a challenge against adversity, whether itâ€™s addiction, prejudice or any other celluloid friendly demon. After being filtered through newspapers, television, and literature, film is the final hurdle and is usually obscenely simplified because of it. Released this week is a look at the short, accomplished life of Andrea Dunbar, writer of Rita, Sue and Bob Too. The Arbor uses testimonials from Dunbar's children and allows actors to lip sync over them. While lip syncing may be thought to be the reserve of X Factor guests and pop non-stars, The Arbor takes this method and uses it to create a film rooted in fact, yet beautifully interpreted. While this technique is relatively unused in film, it seems to provide a happy medium between assurances of fact without losing any artistic license. It may seem easy to lampoon the genre that makes real life seem stranger than the usual stock of film makers, but if it continues to be subverted and used through original story telling techniques there may yet be a home for these strange hybrids.
I'm Still Here Dir: Casey Affleck Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Sean Diddy Combs, Antony Langdon
7/10 I'm Still Here chronicles a year in the life of actor Joaquin Phoenix as he announces his retirement from acting, attempts to launch a hip-hop career and grows a beard. Of course we now know it was all a hoax, and that Phoenix’s movie career is back on the mend, so what was it all for? I originally approached this film with great anticipation, expecting an almost Borat-esque display of how Phoenix and brother-in-law Casey Affleck duped most of Hollywood into believing this persona, the two of them laughing along with the rest of us. I could not have been more wrong. Although hilarious in parts (Phoenix's rapping and interview with David Letterman in particular), the heart of the film is the career change and eventual emotional breakdown of the character Phoenix plays, and the way that the world responds to it in a very real way. Although it is the hoax that provides the reality aspect of the film, it often takes the focus away from the acting, instead leaving the viewer to guess what was real, what was staged and who was in on it. I can tell you now that the on-stage brawl was completely staged, although the rest is a mystery. Despite some dry spells, I'm Still Here is a decent film which, if nothing else, stands as a testament to Joaquin Phoenix's immeasurable acting ability. Philip Kenny
The Social Network Dir: David Fincher Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
David Fincher is the man behind some of modern cinemas most magnificently murky life portrayals; the man who directed Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac… and now the film about Facebook. Mercifully, you can rest assured that a dose of his trademark cinematic sludge has been injected into The Social Network, a movie that we originally expected to be blue, white and full of things not to ‘Like.’ Our first impression of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg isn’t a suited up CEO with radioactive-white teeth, nor is he a turtleneck wearing revolutionary with a remarkably ‘different’ take on being a businessman. He’s a kid: a motor-mouthed, obnoxious student at Harvard who never grew out of his know-it-all phase, one whose blogging tendencies = social awkwardness IRL, and one whose obsession with all-things-Internet provides him with the means to make bil-
lions. He’s portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, whose razor-sharp delivery should be credited for a slice of the films realist edging: Zuckerberg is unthinkably intellectual and witty, but he’s also noticeably flawed. Although every triumphant comeback (literal and verbal) provokes a genuine ‘fuck yeah’ moment, every wrong move feels like the betrayal of a best friend – exactly the notion personified by Andrew Garfield in his character of Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg’s best friend and business partner turned lawsuit. There is an abundance of talent wired into The Social Network, from Aaron Sorkin’s beautifully raw script to the performances of Eisenberg, Garfield and even Justin Timberlake, whose acting as maverick entrepreneur Sean Parker is surprisingly ballsy, unabashed and totally appropriate. The unseen star, though, is Fincher. As ever, there is a visible uniqueness to his craft in both structural and aesthetic elements, but there’s also a level of subtly and refrain that was missing in previous outings. The film breathes effortlessly because of it, simultaneously surfacing both as a compelling story and
an amazingly relevant, intelligent social commentary. Take that, Bebo. Matt Ayres
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga-Hoole Dir: Zack Snyder Cast: Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren, Hugo Weaving
One thing you can definitely say about this movie is that it is astoundingly, mind-blowingly pretty: every feather and drop of water is rendered in perfect detail. The story revolves around two young barn owl brothers, Soren and Kludd, who are kidnapped by owls working for the evil Nyra and Metalbeak: Soren escapes with his friend Gylfie and goes to find the legendary Guardians of Ga’hoole to save his brother and the other enslaved owls, while Kludd becomes more and more drawn to the side of Nyra and the evil Pure Ones. As this summary suggests, the plot is simplistic, eye-rollingly
so: the good guys are pure of heart and the bad guys are basically Nazis, so it’s not hard to guess how it ends. On the other hand, I found it enjoyable, even if some of the lines are cheesier than a gorgonzola factory and the female roles are all oddly minimalised: it’s exciting enough, the voice-actors (amongst whom are Helen Mirren, Hugo Weaving, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, and Miriam Margolyes) are all fantastic, there are some funny moments (I liked the banter between the tiny Digger and Twilight, a massive owl who considers himself a bard) and frankly the CGI is worth the ticket price alone. Overall: worth seeing, especially if you have a much younger sibling, but be sure to leave your brain at the cinema door. Bethan Davies
Restrepo Dir: Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington
Painfully raw and visceral. Restrepo was filmed over a year with a platoon of soldiers stationed in the Korangal valley
of Afghanistan and used small, low-cost digital cameras. Hetherington and Junger are able to capture a personal, intimate look at the daily lives of these men, lives which experience long periods of fear and chaos, and flashes of humour and affection. Restrepo is named for the outpost the men built from the ground up, which was in turn named for Private Juan 'Doc' Restrepo who is killed early on in their stationing. It's easy to see the love Restrepo inspired in his friends, and in many ways he is the dominant presence throughout the film. The men use his memory as a way to personalize this inhospitable terrain, which itself seems to want them to lose.We watch the men as they are subjected to constant fire, while trying to build relationships with locals whose sons are their shooters. Interspersed between gutwrenching footage are interviews with the soldiers; these break up the action and make sure nothing is played for shocks or cheap thrills. When we see one of the men discover that one of his best friends has been killed and his subsequent guttural, animalistic reaction
we are privy to a moment so personal its difficult to watch. Restrepo emphasises the effects this campaign has had on boys who were forced to become men. Accounts of horrific dreams and post tramuatic-stress disorder are some of the most affecting. There are, however, some genuinely hilarious moments, like when the men bust a groove to Sam Fox's Touch Me (Feel Your Body), and its these little rays of hope that make the film bearable, and a near perfect depiction of war. Resrtrepo strikes the perfect tone between reverence and detatchement. the film makers never becoming involved. You get the feeling any mention of the context of this war would cheapen the obvious brotherhood and camaraderie, as do comparisons to The Hurt Locker. There is no glory in Korangal, and when you reflect over the short time you spend in the company of these men you can only be filled with admiration and respect. Emily Kate Bater
Profile Fincher. David Fincher’s protagonists are characters driven foremost by external forces, from masculinity and Capitalism in Fight Club to the poetic curse of ‘reversed’ aging in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. In The Social Network this force is the incredibly familiar nature of socialising and relationships. Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is portrayed in an almost inevitable strength, acting as a catalyst triggered by the bittersweet dynamics of contemporary human interaction. Jesse Eisenberg, whose voice accentuates the pressure of this force with its rapid, determined delivery, composes the role of Zuckerberg wonderfully. The film gives its protagonist a drive parallel to that of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood, and the gravity around such a character is clear in both. Zuckerberg is the anti-hero that translates a personal and intense logic of interaction into the largest social utility ever created, he drifts between brilliant angst and longing alienation that demonstrates Fincher’s interest in dualities as well as Eisenberg’s acting strengths. From psychological duality in Fight Club to order and chaos in Seven and Zodiac Fincher’s concern with conflict is explored throughout his work and is entirely apparent in The Social Network. Aspects of Jesse Eisenberg’s character are compared and contrasted with counterparts such as the suave and dynamic Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, as well as the further (physical) contrast
of the, literally dual, Winklevoss twins both played by Armie Hammer seamlessly. Continuing from Fincher’s recognisability is the transformation of Harvard into a world of sexualised gloom whereby daylight itself is scarce and savoured. Many scenes from the film could be placed effortlessly within Fight Club. Characters are often diluted with shadows, which combined with continuous focus shifting, constantly mixes the image between fortification and ghostly. The twilight of the buildings comes from Fincher’s early work with music videos presenting urbanisation and technology as a foreboding, as well his previous collaborations with Jeff Cronenweth on Seven and Fight Club. This design works in The Social Network to present the often youthful and contemporary subject a maturity and seriousness that really aids the film’s balance. Easily the strongest formal aspect of the film, however, is the sound and music; this is a film that deserves the cinema screen. Working with the visual darkness, the sound work gives the film an undercurrent of intensity that seems to release its build-up in the musical montages, which comes straight from Fincher’s other work. Avoiding the overt montages of ‘80s films (I will never forget the Ferris Bueller ‘art gallery’ scene), The Social Network eases into dramatic presentation, necessarily working around natural climaxes, often subtle yet poignant.
With The Social Network being described as the film that defines our generation, Leon Frey explores the gloomy aesthetic of David Fincher shot through chaotic masculinity.
As previously described, David Fincher works with forces and their affect, for instance Benjamin Button is more concerned about the people around Ben than his displacement. As also seen in Zodiac, the film evolves around a killer but it is the relationships and determination of the detectives that fuels the narrative. That’s what this film is about - relationships and personality, far more so than concerns of Facebook’s influence or dynamics within society. This, for me, was the film’s appeal. It doesn’t concern itself with commentary on Facebook (except, possibly, the ultimate scene); it focuses on what affects people and on what makes them. Many audiences are far from the hallways of Harvard but it’s easy to recognise the assembling personality of those around us. So for these
reasons, it’s clear why Fincher, a character driven director would adopt the project. On reflection, the film feels small and modest; it certainly isn’t as outspoken as its cousin Fight Club or other blockbusters of the year, yet it is still strong and affecting. This is a rarity in this years mainstream cinema being an honestly intense film told with restraint, one that thinks about itself as cinema instead of simply using the medium to present a story. And the story is genuinely human and relevant, far removed from topic of oil but no less related; The Social Network is very much a David Fincher film about how the contemporary Daniel Plainview drinks his milkshake. Leon Frey firstname.lastname@example.org
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