Monday, 3 August 2015

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a 2014 American horror romance film directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Tagged as "The first Iranian vampire Western", it was chosen to show in the "Next" program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

The film is described as being set in "the Iranian ghost town Bad City" and depicts the doings of "a lonesome vampire" but actually the film was shot in the town of Taft in Kern County, southern California. An early short film with the same title from Amirpour screened at festivals and won Best Short Film at the Noor Iranian Film Festival. The film is based on Ana Lily Amirpour's graphic novel with the same name, which was illustrated by Michael DeWeese and edited by Ben and Jon Conrad.

The film received positive reviews from critics. Variety said in his review that "Ana Lily Amirpour's auspicious debut feature is a sly, slinky vampire romance set in an imaginary Iranian underworld". The Hollywood Reporter, praised the film by saying that "this moody and gorgeous film is finally more about atmosphere and emotions than narrative – and none the worse for it". Indiewire graded the film A− and said that it gives "the impression that you're witnessing something iconic and important unfold before you".

Boss Guardian Review
North Utsire

Hawkwind Space Ritual Poetry (1973)

The Awakening

Welcome to the Future

 Sonic Attack

Recorded live in December 1972 and released the following year, Space Ritual is an excellent document of Hawkwind's classic lineup, underscoring the group's status as space rock pioneers. As the quintessential "people's band," Hawkwind carried '60s countercultural idealism into the '70s, gigging constantly, playing wherever there was an audience, and even playing for free on five consecutive days outside the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. The band's multimedia performances were the perfect accompaniment for exploring inner space and imagining outer space. While not concerned with rock's material trappings, Hawkwind were, ironically, among the hardest-working groups in Britain, averaging one show every three days during the year preceding these recordings.

Given all that practice, it's not surprising that the performances collected here are incredibly tight (although, reportedly, a couple of tracks were edited). Incorporating most of Doremi Fasol Latido, the show for the Space Ritual tour was conceived as a space rock opera, its blend of sci-fi electronics, mesmerizing psy-fi grooves, and heavy, earthbound jamming punctuated with spoken word interludes from astral poet Bob Calvert. Although his intergalactic musings date the album, coming across now as camp futurism, they still provide fitting atmospheric preambles to Hawkwind's astounding, mind-warping sounds. 

Calvert's manic recital of Michael Moorcock's "Sonic Attack," for instance, is an exercise in tension that subsequently explodes on the stomping "Time We Left This World Today"; with Nik Turner's otherworldly sax, Dave Brock's guitar distortion, and the earth-moving rhythm section of Simon King and Lemmy, this track offers a blueprint for the album's most potent material. Another standout is "Orgone Accumulator," ten minutes of hypnotic (Wilhelm) Reich & roll that could be the missing link between Booker T. and Stereolab. A 1973 advertisement described Space Ritual as "88 minutes of brain damage"; that characterization still holds true.

Related article on Hawkwind's Stacia here.
Good review by Culture Fusion Reviews here.
North Utsire

Free Folk: Album Artwork

North Utsire

North Indian Style Chicken Curry

This lovely fragrant spicy curry is in Anjum Anand's recipe book Indian Food Made Easy. I've been making this for years, with several variations, and found it excellent all round. The aromatic herbs (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger) all contribute to great digestion, so I make sure its got a lovely layer of oil on top, similar to Chicken Karhi, and sometimes you can make a hybrid version of this curry by using which spices you have available, or experimenting.

Whole Spices:
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
7 Cloves
7 Cardamom pods
2 sticks Cinnamon

1. Heat the ghee in a large non-stick pan.
Add the whole spices & salt and fry for about 20 seconds until aromatic, and the cumin seeds start to pop.

2. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown, stirring often. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook stirring for 40 seconds before adding the ground spices, and stir for 15 seconds. This forms a thick paste, but do not panic. Allow the oil to leach out of the paste & keep it moving.

3. Pour in the tomatoes and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the liquid in the pan has dried off and the oil leaves the sides of the dry masala around 10 minutes.

4. Add the chicken and brown over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the  Coconut milk to cover the chicken (not strictly North Indian; its `my preference), bring to the boil and then cook over a low heat until the chicken is cooked through. The slower it cooks the better it tastes. This takes about 15 minutes for small joints and up to 25-30 minutes for larger ones. Check with a fork; once it is tender it is done. I usually cook on a low heat for > 1 hour.

5. Add the garam masala and coriander leaves and serve with rice or Indian flatbreads and raita or any vegetable dish.

Serves 3-4

Powdered Spices:
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Chilli powder
1 Tbsp Coriander
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 ½  tsp Salt

Fresh Herbs:
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 small onion or 2-3 shallots, chopped
Handful Coriander, chopped
1 Thumb Fresh Ginger, chopped

1 whole chicken, butchered into parts
3 Tbsp Olive Oil, or Ghee
1 400ml tin Coconut Milk
4 Large Vine Tomatoes

North Utsire

Sunday, 2 August 2015

My Top 10 Beers of All Time

Having recently found out I am intolerant to gluten, it is with a certain sense of trauma I must announce my retirement from the swirling, bubbling world of beer. I can forego crumpets thick with sizzling cheese, stoneground pizza burnt slightly at the edges, and artisan breads slowly steaming after being brought out of the oven. But the real challenge has been to amputate that part of my soul which is beer. Starting with my first childhood experience of 70’s Burton Ale, now extinct, at Pontins Prestatyn, to those many beers that didn’t make it into the list below, regional, craft, microbrewed, and beckoning with headspun bravado. Ho hum, I shall have to re- educate this working class palate to the finer things in life; the grape beckons, but it is not quite the same. Below is my all time top 10, but they are not in any ranked order. After sifting through so many beer memories, and after many hours of reflection, it is quite enough to have arrived at this list. Farewell, beer. I will miss you.


Bluebird Bitter
Coniston Brewery, 3.6%

“Mine’s a pint of Bluebird”.
Saying this, you know you are in for a quality beer which is unflinchingly reliable. To the pure waters of the Coniston hills - add the finest Challenger hops and wonderfully roasted Maris Otter pale and crystal malts to create this finest of fully matured cask conditioned ales. “It is exceedingly pale (21-22 units colour), with just a hint of colour in its cheeks from the dash of crystal malt. It has a massive orange fruit aroma from the challengers, balanced by biscuity malt.”

Snowdonia Ale, 3.6%
Purple Moose Brewery

My Llangefni days working in the wretched chicken factory would have been utterly unbearable without this gently peach infused pale session beauty. It probably was the best of the lot.
Hawkshead Brewery
Bitter, 3.7%

Delicious, refreshing, and moreish, leaving no trace of a hangover; this Lakeland Ale benefits from the fresh Lakes water. I actually prefer this to the premium version, Lakeland Gold. Hawkshead say “A pale, hoppy and bitter ale: a slight elderflower aroma from Slovenian "Celeia" hops, followed by long bitterness. The hikers' favourite - the perfect thirst quencher after a day on the Fells.”

Old Golden Hen
Morland Brewery, 4.1%

Golden Hen was better in its earlier days, in bottles before it went over on to tinnies. I think they changed the formula to scale up production, and lost something in doing that. They also increased the price. Having said that, it remained drinkable, nay, swiggable, even in its neutered form & deserves its place in my top 10.

Landlord Pale Ale, 
Timothy Taylor & Co,

This was my ‘go to’ beer for bloody ages. In the pub, in the supermarket; wherever TT was, there was I, tongue hanging out. Its younger brother, Boltmaker seemed to show promise, but for gravitas Landlord was always in a different league.

Master Brewer’s Choice Shepherd Neame, 3.8%

Already reviewed here
Woodfordes Wherry
Broadland Brewery, 3.8%

Already reviewed here
Lass Ale, 3.9%
Lass O’Gowrie Microbrewery, M/ch

Lass O’Gowrie’s epic microbrewery fizzbomb, now sadly defunct. I was privileged enough to be a regular of the Lass in its BBC heyday. There was a character (and he was a character; Guss: a bald, tattooed, bearded Viking of a man), who used to sit at the bar, chugging away on Lass Ale. Whenever he used to finish a barrel, he’d bawl loudly (nerrr ner ne nerr neh), and put his pint pot upside down on his head. If the night was getting on a bit, and you were unfortunate enough to be ordering a late Lass Ale when the barrel was coming to its end, Guss would jealously challenge you to a duel.   

Engine Vein, 4.2%
The Cheshire Brewhouse

Already reviewed here
Brenin Enlli, 4%
Cwrw Llyn Brewery

In the Llyn Peninsula, going along the B4417 roughly as you get near Nefyn, there is a diamond pub which sells this beauty of an ale on draught (Tafarn Y Fic, I looked it up for you). On a sunny day, sitting outside, breathing the pure mountain air, any Englishman feels ashamed of himself and full of yearning for living his life differently.

North Utsire