Everything has been grim- the world, politics, more personal matters. Here is a short playlist of a certain mood of corruscating bleakness.
To travel in between Vienna and Graz, until the never-ending tunnel under the mountains is finished later this decade, you have to take the train over the top of the Semmering Pass, going up and down over the Alps. You get some spectacular views, and the trainline itself is a UNESCO site. It’s hard to take good photos out of the train window, so here’s my playlist for over the mountain.
Here’s a Spotify playlist I made while I was in Japan, of Japanese artists and music that matched my mood at the time. (All the Japanese bands are marked with a J).
A little while ago, there was a thing on Twitter where people used the #indieamnesty tag to tell funny or embarrassing stories about their involvement with the whole Landfill Indie and Nu Rave thing in the mid 2000s (there’s also a surprisingly intelligent and self-perceptive interview with Johnny Borrell (!!) here). As the Guardian article I’ve linked to said, “Indie amnesty brings together thousands of relatively banal anecdotes about unglamorous people doing slightly idiotic things into something quite majestic” and most of the people were writing about being foolish and easily impressed in their teenage years.
My three top new albums this year have all been by female solo artists, two of whom are Welsh, Cate le Bon’s Crab Day, Gwenno’s Y Dydd Olaf (the Last Day) and Artangels by Grimes. Crab Day is well worth checking out, combining influences from spooky 70s folk, Fleetwood Mac and Devo.
I’ve been really busy the last month. I moved from one end of London to the other, finished one job and did another short-term one, all in the space of a few weeks. When I’ve been at a computer in my spare time I’ve mostly been doing admin for DIY Space for London.
A few weeks ago I went to see Sleater-Kinney, one of my favourite bands, at the Roundhouse. They had been on hiatus since 2006, with the members working on other projects like Portlandia in the meantime, so I was pleased and surprised when they announced a new album and tour. The last time they had played in the UK was when I was doing my finals, so I’d had to give it a miss. I’d seen them before at Reading Festival, but I never really count short afternoon festival sets at massive outdoor festivals like Reading as really seeing a band properly, because you’re basically watching them on a tv screen standing at the other end of a field (one of the many reasons I don’t go to them any more). I don’t think I have ever been to such a big gig as the Roundhouse one where I just constantly ran into so many people I know and like, it was almost too much, there was someone new to say hello to every time I turned around . The band themselves were superb, and played for an hour and half. I don’t think you could ask for more, really.
1) Continental Shelf- Viet Cong
One off the radio at work. I’m not that fussed about the whole album, but I really like this single.
2) Kingdom of Heaven (Is Within You) – The 13th Floor Elevators
From the True Detective soundtrack. The seedy side of the late 60s. It really fitted the show well.
More like wake and talk and work and talk and work lately. I’ve been working teaching on a residential course in an ex nunnery near St Albans this week. I’ve worked for the company for a few years on and off, teaching the odd course here and there. Most of their work is residential, so I just do it occasionally. They hire out beautiful historical buildings and teenagers from abroad come for 2 week holidays. You take them out on field trips, give them lessons about cultural topics, and to improve their practical use of English, and do a creative project with them. This time we have been doing film-making. Last week they did a detective story, this week horror stories. No, you can’t see them, because of child protection rules at the job.
I’ve been enjoying hermitting recently. I’ve gone out and done the odd thing and for work, but I’ve been happy to stay in the last few weeks and work on various projects, and apply for more work, and declutter junk. Sometimes these phases are nice.
Februrary has been a deeply weird and confusing month, for various reasons. I had to go to hospital with gastritis and a kidney infection. I didn’t have to stay in or anything, but I had to take loads of different medications and was pretty ill for about a week and a half. I had to also follow the most boring diet possible until my stomach healed up (like, literally nothing was allowed). I was basically eating the diet of a fussy toddler. I never want to see another quorn nugget as long as I live. My stomach is fine now, and I’m reintroducing various foods and drinks, but it’s weird to have to try to remind myself to eat proper meals again. I also lost weight. Society wants to tell you that you should always be happy about that for whatever reason, because women aren’t supposed to take up space in the world or something, but actually my weight was fine before (they definitely don’t want you thinking that). Now my clothes are a bit sad and loose looking. Hopefully now I’m back on proper food that will be sorted out quickly.
My friend Mel put on a space-themed night at Power Lunches with some other students from her MA course. I helped out by designing the flyer, helping with decorating, and djing in the bar. I had a really good time, but I really don’t have anything nice to say about the behaviour of the three other St Martin’s students.
The night was really popular though, the place was packed, and everyone seemed to have a good time, which was the important thing.
I also went to Field Day this year. It was the first Saturday I had off work in about 3 months, so it was good to make the most of it (I also had to go to work the next day- somehow I looked and felt fine, I must be a wonder of biology). I managed to see most of the bands I wanted to, bar Toy and Mount Kimbie. I was there with my housemate, but we managed to keep missing each other. When I left I suddenly had a flood of texts onto my phone saying things like “I’m at the bar by X, we’re going to watch Y in a min, where are you?” which might explain it. Stupid technology. He saw Mount Kimbie and found it disappointing anyway. I managed to find my Medway friends anyway, and spent some time with people from Reading too, which was nice.