Sunday, 27 April 2014

Clannad: Siúil A Rún (1976)

From the album Dúlamán. The history of this traditional song is unclear. It has been suggested that the song might refer to the "Wild Geese" of the Glorious Revolution. Robert Louis Stevenson refers to the song twice in his novel The Master of Ballantrae (1889). Referred to as "the pathetic air of 'Shule Aroon'", it is whistled by the Irish Jacobite exile Francis Burke and later sung by the Master of Ballantrae himself to impress his younger brother's wife. The Master describes it as "very moving" and describes it being sung by Jacobite exiles in France: "it is a pathetic sight when a score of rough Irish ... get to this song; and you may see, by their falling tears, how it strikes home to them". In Ulysses, James Joyce had Stephen Dedalus sing the song to Leopold Bloom in Bloom's kitchen. The song can be seen to signal or echo many of the grand themes of the book, referencing loss of language, usurpation, betrayal, loss of leadership and women selling themselves.

I wish I was on yonder hill'
Tis there I'd sit and cry my fill
And every tear would turn a mill
Is go dté tú mo mhuirnín slán

By North Utsire

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ashtanga Yoga Demo

This inspirational video of Steven Green performing Ashtana Yoga in India has the same motivational effect as watching Rocky: Eye of the Tiger, but instead of beating up some beefy Russian in the boxing ring, you just want to stretch yourself inside out until you are doing a headstand using your spleen as a cushion.

By North Utsire

Mountain Dhama is Constant

From The Book of Zen: Freedom of the Mind (Asiapac Comic Series) by Chih Chung Tsai (Illustrator), Koh Kok Kiang (Translator)

By North Utsire

Monday, 21 April 2014

Snatch: One Punch Mickey vs Gorgeous George

I recommended this film to my brother today. I can't believe he hasn't seen it. The Strangler's Golden Brown is a nice touch too. We were talking about the traveller folk who live down the lane, and how although their dialect is Irish- sounding, it is unintelligible even to Irish people. By the way in this clip, Mickey says "You ain't goin' anywhere ya tick worm, you stay till da jobs done."

Travellers seem to ignite a hatred I don't understand. Villified for being "different", I think a lot of it is just plain jealousy that there is a group of people around who have managed to usurp landlordism and the slavery of work and property ownership, and who are uncompromisingly free; that they have a community and a set of values. Not many people can boast that these days.

Our traveller folk have settled in a row of council houses with some land on which they keep horses. No doubt this is spat upon as "grabbing, benefit fraud and dirty scrounging" but it must have taken some balls to accept that contained lifestyle, send kids to the conformity of school, etc. Today, we saw the horses being cleaned and trimmed on the streets of the housing estate. It was good to see young kids taking an interest in animals and their care. Most estate kids won't be seen being soft enough to look after an animal in public, let alone drive around in a trap.

Scene from Appleby Fair where horses are washed and groomed before being ridden at high speed along the 'mad mile'.

By North Utsire

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Twi'lek Dancers

Left: Lyn Me Twi'lek (Dalyn Chew)
Right: Oola (FemiTaylor)

This rather wonderful poster of Star Wars Jabba The Hut Twi'lek dancers came into my possession around 1998. I searched high and low for information on the dancer on the left to no avail. Information on Oola (played by Femi Taylor) is plentiful, however. I only recently realized why this is so, and why I scrutinized the original Twi'lek dance scenes looking for a glimpse of Lyn Me and found nothing- because she isn’t in it! Dalyn Chew only appeared in the 1997 Special Edition version of Return of the Jedi.

By North Utsire

Roy Budd: Get Carter Theme Tune (1971)

Unexpectedly felled by a brain haemorrhage at the age of 46, Budd left behind over 50 soundtracks, plus a large body of solo work. Budd composed 13 distinct pieces for the film Get Carter, including three songs, Looking For Someone, Love Is A Four Letter Word (with lyrics by Jack Fishman) and Hallucinations. The theme, (otherwise known as Carter Takes a Train) which is the best known music from the film, was played by Budd and the other members of his jazz trio, Jeff Clyne (double bass) and Chris Karan (percussion) and was recorded on a budget of £450. The musicians recorded the soundtrack live, direct to picture, playing along with the film. To save time and money Budd did not use overdubs, simultaneously playing a real harpsichord, a Wurlitzer electric piano and a grand piano. Budd described the experience as "uncomfortable, but it sounded pleasant".

By North Utsire

The Truth About Easter Eggs

Two documentaries: The Dark Side of Chocolate, and The Great African Scandal.

Whilst you grab fistfuls of chocolate in whatever form; spherical, flattened, flavoured, blandly conjugated with dried fruit and nuts (gotta get at least one of your five a day), spare a thought for the exploitative practices which lead up to your supposedly ethical purchase. Cocoa and the chocolate trade of course has nothing to do with the early church and Jesus' message; quite the opposite. The established Christian church transposed the story of the transfiguration onto the pagan festival Eostre, a time of renewal of the life force and celebration of the Earth's shifting energies. The symbol of the egg should signify new life emerging after a period of rest, which makes industrial chocolateering and lifeless imitation eggs a hollow experience. I quite like chocolate from time to time, but not stirred up with teaspoons of sugar, aggressive marketing, mixed religious messages, food addiction, slavery, and the destruction of whole communities, economies and ecologies for profit. Anybody with Christian sympathies should avoid chocolate "Easter eggs" and the hypocrisy they stand for altogether.

By North Utsire

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tree Lore #3: Alexander & The Flower Maidens

"There are many instances closely parallel to these classical myths in mediaeval and modern legend. The story of Alexander and the flower-maidens, for instance, which was a favourite with the troubadours, and was subsequently popularised by Lamprecht, and later by Uhland, was presumably founded on a legend current in ancient Greece. The story goes that in a certain wood, when spring came, numbers of enormous flower buds appeared out of the ground, from each of which, as it opened, there leapt forth a beautiful maiden. Their robes were a part of their growth, and in colour they were just like their flowers, red and white. They played and danced in the shade, and their singing rivalled the birds'. All past heartaches were wiped away, and a life of joy and abundance seemed to open to him who saw them. But it was death for a maiden to leave her shady retreat and encounter the scorching sun. When summer was past, and the flowers withered and the birds were silent, the beautiful creatures died. Alexander and his knights, coming upon this magical wood, mated with the flower-maidens, and for more than three months lived in perfect happiness, till one by one the flowers faded, one by one the nymphs died, and the king and his companions had sorrowfully to resume their travels."

Text: The Sacred Tree in Religion & Myth (J. H. Philpot, 1897)
Image: Nymphs and Satyr (William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873)

By North Utsire

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gasholes Killed the Electric Car

Click on the images for hyperlinks. If you watch these two documentaries, you will soon be in no doubt that fuel prices are nothing to do with supply and demand, but rather extracting maximum money from those made hopelessly dependent on it.The oil companies are acting as a ruthless cartel which cynically maintains prices at the most profitable level, simultaneously stifling any progression onto other more sustainable fuel sources, or more efficient technologies. They will aggressively use pricing and bully boy tactics to keep down any alternatives. And now, extracting every last drop of oil from planet Earth using fracking represents a new level of poisoning and habitat destruction. This is of course a direct outcome of ingrained corrupt lobbying and 'revolving door' politicking within the corridors of power, but that's ok as it serves the geopolitical interests of imperialist agencies too.  Everyone's a winner. Except you, your community, and a couple of million Iraqis.

By North Utsire

Chinese Instruction Leaflet

By North Utsire

Zwei Menschen

Zwei Menschen (Two People) published by Peter Glaser.
By North Utsire

North Utsirification

Owing to a house move northwards to the Motherland, I shall to heretoforth and without delay change my blog name to North Utsire. So long, flatlands; so long potatoes; so long tacky retail parks, Stepford Wives banality and functional plastic architecture. Hello slating rain, warm- hearted banter, authentic culture, rolling moorland and proper beer. 

By North Utsire, formerly South Utsire.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A Study in Scarlet

It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-coloured veil hung over the house-tops, looking like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets beneath. My companion was in the best of spirits, and prattled away about Cremona fiddles, and the difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati. As for myself, I was silent, for the dull weather and the melancholy business upon which we were engaged, depressed my spirits.

Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory look. It was one of four which stood back some little way from the street, two being occupied and two empty. The latter looked out with three tiers of vacant melancholy windows, which were blank and dreary, save that here and there a "To Let" card had developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes. A small garden sprinkled over with a scattered eruption of sickly plants separated each of these houses from the street, and was traversed by a narrow pathway, yellowish in colour, and consisting apparently of a mixture of clay and of gravel. The whole place was very sloppy from the rain which had fallen through the night. The garden was bounded by a three-foot brick wall with a fringe of wood rails upon the top, and against this wall was leaning a stalwart police constable, surrounded by a small knot of loafers, who craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within.

Text: Arthur Conan Doyle from A Study in Scarlet (1886)
Painting: Claude Monet Le Parlement de Londres (1904)
Illustration by Sidney Paget, commissioned by Ward Lock & Co.

By South Utsire

Arundhati Roy

By South Utsire

Friday, 11 April 2014

Pandit Jasraj: Raga Darbari (2011)

Raga Darbari ( 21.30 )
Pandit Jasraj - Vocals
Zakir Hussain - Tablas
From " The Meditative Music of Pandit Jasraj "

Pandit Jasraj (Hindi: पण्डित जसराज) is an Indian classical vocalist, still going strong at 84. He released Raga Darbari in 2011. As a means of livelihood, his brother Maniram took the young Jasraj as an accompanying tabla player. However, at the time, like sarangi players (a short necked string instrument), tabla players were considered minor artists. At the age of 14, unhappy with his treatment as an accompanying artist, Jasraj left and vowed not to cut his hair until he learned to sing. He finally cut his hair after garnering his first AIR Radio performance, where he sang Raga Kaunsi Kanada.

By South Utsire

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Food Nazification

My sister went to her local health food store the other day to buy some Agnus Castus, and was disappointed to realise she could only buy 100mg capsules, whereas previously she could buy the more efficacious 500mg. Many such herbs and supplements have been downgraded to comply with regulation recently, rendering them impotent and apparently useless snake oil. This of course propels people towards pharmaceuticals and the “safety” of their doctor.

I went to my health food store the other week, and was shocked at just how many of the diverse, unadulterated and shop- manufactured products had been taken from the shelves and replaced with other, commercial brands of inferior quality, full of fillers, gelatine and other unnecessary preservative crap. There is a quiet revolution going on down the health food store. Along with increased regulation comes commercialisation, and degradation in quality. And so we become silent.

I was attending a conference several years ago, and was disturbed to find out that it is now illegal to identify a product as “GMO free” and a test case in Canada resulted in the bankruptcy of a health food store owner for labeling his products as such. Have you noticed, unlike previously, there are no products which say they have GMO content, because the international treaties and regulatory agreements are complicit in a cover- up with the big agricultural corporations to make that goop more cheaply and shove it down your unwitting neck like a farm animal?

 And with the regulation and licensure of the natural health “profession” comes a cessation of power and autonomy. You have to play by the rules of orthodox medicine to get your little badge and make a living. In all the years I have been interested in natural health, the current malaise marks a low water mark in health freedoms of individuals.

By South Utsire

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Claude Debussy: La Mer (1905)

“The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.”
Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was a radical from the outset. As a student, he continually failed his harmony exams because, like Beethoven over a century before him, he refused to accept the totalitarianism of the text book. A brilliant pianist, he would irritate and shock his contemporaries by inventing harmonies and chords that effectively were re-interpreting tonality; already he was moving towards Impressionism.

By reason of his influence, Debussy could be classified as perhaps the most important composer of the twentieth century; figures as diverse as Stravinsky, Bartok, Ravel, Webern, Messiaen, and Boulez all admitted a debt to him. He is also one of the most approachable. However abstract and ambiguous his works may seem, Debussy believed fervently that music should be communicative. As he once wrote: “Love of art does no depend on explanations, or on those who say “I need to hear that several times.” Utter rubbish! When we really listen to music, we hear immediately what we need to hear.”

In the summer of 1904 Debussy left his wife for another woman, provoking his wife into a suicide attempt by gunshot to the chest. This caused outrage in France. Debussy fled, mistress in hand, to Eastbourne in Sussex, and there, in his emotional maelstrom he composed his finest orchestral work, La Mer. His first performance in 1905 excited hostility in some quarters that seems scarcely credible today, with the critic from The Times remarking: “As long as actual sleep can be avoided, the hearer can derive great pleasure from the strange sounds that enter his ears if he will only put away all ideas of definite construction or logical development.”

Hokusai's Wave was used as the cover of the 1905 edition of La Mer

Debussy’s use of block chords, of harmony with a modal flavour, and based on the whole- tone scale, the delicate colours of his orchestration, his technique of ‘layering’ sounds, the declamatory yet wholly lyrical style of his writing, all proclaim him as an innovator of the first degree who revolutionised composition for the piano and orchestra. In general, Debussy’s effects are understated, his aim being for a ‘sonorous halo’ of sound. But the label of ‘impressionist’, while accurate, has tended to obscure the strong sense of form which underlies all his works.

Credits to:
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
Classical Music: The Rough Guide

By South Utsire

Katsushika Hokusai

By South Utsire

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife (Tako to ama, literally Octopus(es) and shell diver), also known as Girl Diver and Octopi, Diver and Two Octopi, etc., is a zoophilia-associated woodcut design of the ukiyo-e genre by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It is from the book Kinoe no Komatsu (English: Young Pines), a three-volume book of shunga erotica first published in 1814, and is the most famous shunga Hokusai ever produced. Playing with themes popular in Japanese art, it depicts a young ama diver entwined sexually with a pair of octopuses. The notion of invasion or abduction from sea creatures seems to be a recurrent theme in Japanese folklore.

The work has influenced a number of later artists including Pablo Picasso. Picasso painted his own version in 1903 that has been shown next to Hokusai's original in exhibits on the influence of 19th-century Japanese art on Picasso's work. In 2003 a derivative work by Australian painter David Laity, also titled The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, sparked a minor obscenity controversy when it was shown at a gallery in Melbourne; after receiving multiple complaints Melbourne police investigated, but determined it did not break the city's pornography laws. Hokusai's print has had a wide influence on the modern Japanese-American artist Masami Teraoka, who has created a number of images of women, including a recurring "pearl diver" character, being pleasured by cephalopods.

By South Utsire

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Thatcher in Cartoon Form

I remember 1 year ago to this day. I was painting an alcove vivid red (quite appropriate in the circumstances which were about to unfold) and heard the news. Margaret Hilda Thatcher was dead. As a youth of the Thatcher years, I remember going to college in the centre of Manchester and witnessing the utter devastation of the inner city. Parts of Manchester looked like something from the Blitz, the heart completely torn out of it. I was forever poisoned by the chronic long term unemployment and dejection of the youth, and the failure of even basic social structures; the selling off of the people's capital institutions & utilities and the materialistic chimera of the housing stock; the ruination of manufacturing industry in the UK, and humiliating Americanisation of working culture. I was elated to hear she had died. And sad it had not come sooner. Thatcher isn't talked about enough in the media. Reagan and Thatcher softened up the markets by permitting gross speculation and corruption, deregulating the stock exchange and loosening ties with reality. The origins of the 2008 economic crisis belong to her and her monetarism. Of course, successive "labour" governments failed to undo or reign in the feeding frenzy. I just hope that for a mere moment, Thatcher became lucid enough after 2008 to realise the devastation she had caused.

By South Utsire

Monday, 7 April 2014

Wedding Scene from Black Cat, White Cat (1998)

Strangely elevating, curiously exotic, Black Cat White Cat (Dir. Emir Kusturica, 1998) is a Venice Film Festival Silver Lion award winning bawdy romp of a film which has no parallel in setting mood of wild & lawless imaginative gypsy abandon.   In a pigs eating an old run-down Trabant kind of a way.

I will buy you a convertible and half the ocean!
And three houses bigger than America
Little girl, you have stolen my heart
And if you were mine, you would live like a queen
At daytime a queen
At night time an empress

By South Utsire

Gong: Live on French TV (1971- 1973)

These live performances were made for French TV in the early 1970’s. They appear to be taken from two TV programmes: POP2, and Rockenstock. They remind me a bit of So It Goes and The Old Grey Whistle Test in flavour. POP2 hosted names like Frank Zappa, Rolling Stones, Caravan, Pacific Drift, Lindisfarne, Donovan, and Iggy Pop. Two of these Gong tracks are on a bootleg DVD called Last French Chronicles (1971-1973) which has the following tracklist:

Jazzland, 1971
01. Improvisation
Docteur Pierre & Mister Perret, 1972
02. Improvisation
Rockenstock, 1973
03. Interview
04. I Never Glid Before
05. Interview
06. Witch Song: I Am Your Pussy
07. Interview

It isn’t easy to find. Its not an Amazon kind of thing.
By South Utsire

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Book of Kells


By South Utsire

Lindisfarne & Iona

The Holy Isles



Those whose faces are turned always to the sun’s rising
See the living light on its path approaching
As over the glittering sea where in tide’s rising and falling
The sea- beasts bask, on the Isles of Farne
Aidan and Cuthbert saw God’s feet walking
Each day towards all who on world’s shores await his coming
That we too, hand in hand, have received the unending morning.


Where, west of the sun, our loved remembered home?
Columba’s Eire from Iona’s strand
Land- under- wave beyond last dwelling speck
That drops from sight the parting ship
As mourners watch wave after wave break.
Sight follows on its golden wake
A dream returning to its timeless source, the heart
Where all remains that we have loved and known.

Kathleen Raine

By South Utsire

Magic Carpet: The Phoenix (1972)

Magic Carpet biography (from ProgArchives)
Psych- folk project of the Scottish's sitarist Clem Alford

When the North London-based group Magic Carpet's LP was released on Mushroom Records in 1972, it failed to leave an impression on the consciousness of the general record buying public. It is difficult to say why the music of Jim Alford, Clem Alford, Keshav Sathe and singer/guitar player Alisha Sufit disappeared through the metaphorical 'cracks in the sidewalk', but it is likely that a combination of the label's economical restraints, which subsequently led to only a small pressing of the album ever being made and the era's perpetually shifting musical-climate played more than a small a part in the fate of what has become a jewelled crown in the treasure trove of psyche-tinged folk music. It is in turns haunting and beautiful; happy and sad; poignant and light-hearted. An unique journey of sounds! 

When I ordered my copy of the CD album, I got a nice email from Alisha Sufit. That is my only claim to fame, and the only one I will ever need.

By South Utsire

Friday, 4 April 2014

Roger Dean: Album Artwork

In June 2013, Roger Dean filed a legal action at a court in New York against Canadian film director James Cameron. Dean accused Cameron of "wilful and deliberate copying, dissemination and exploitation" of his original images, relating to Cameron's 2009 film Avatar. Dean sought damages of $50m.

by South Utsire