Category Archives: Media

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 209

Hi there, first up, you’ll notice a change to the graphic for this volume of Life Elsewhere Music. Instead of a black and white photograph, the image is a color reproduction of artwork in my collection. I’ve changed the typography too – and omitted the isolation mix number.  Quite simply, after 34 isolation mixes, who needs to be reminded how long we have been subjected to a pandemic that has caused far too much suffering. The other change for Vol 209 is this is a non-stop mix. No commentaries, no details about each cut. They are all here: 

To begin, Cabaret VoltaireThe Power (Of Their Knowledge) from the album, Shadow Of Fear. Richard H. Kirk is the sole remaining member, this is Cabaret Voltaire’s first studio album in 26 years. Kirk has released many acclaimed solo albums and is credited with creating bleep techno. He formed this new album from a series of pulverizing live shows. There is something timely about this release even if I do get a little nostalgic about playing Nag Nag Nag in a dance club, all those years ago. The influence of Cabaret Voltaire cannot be underestimated, I‘m sure Loraine James out of London would agree. Last year (2019) I played a cut or two from her notable For You & I album, she is back with the EP, Nothing another first-class recording. The track I’ve selected, Don’t You See It features  Jonnine Standish and in my opinion, this one should be on your playlist – right now! Tunnels by Zha is next on the fab White Peach Records label, who continue to release important music. I played the Snails EP in my car today, my opinionated 18-year-old son, said “That is sick dad! You have good taste!” From the first few bars of Dead As Disco by Hearts and Rockets you know Kalindy Williams on guitar, synth, vocals and Kurt Eckardt on synth, drum programming, back up vocals are not messing around. The Melbourne-based duo says they are a feminist bratwave punk band. No reason to argue with that. Or this, Kalindy and Kurt write the following, “Hearts and Records write, record, perform and live on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. Sovereignty of this land was never ceded, and a treaty has never been signed. We stand in solidarity with the true custodians of this land and pay our respects to their elders both past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.” So impressed am I with Hearts and Rockets, I added the flip-side, Workout. Magnificent, tell your mother you heard ‘em first on Life Elsewhere Music. Call me sentimental, but certain locations come to mind when I recall good times and lovely people, Toronto is a standout for me. I don’t know Ada Rook but it’s truly fitting she should hail from that vibrant Canadian city. The cut, Total Memory Failure from the EP, Separated From Her Twin, A Dying Android Arrives On A Mysterious Island caught my attention on the first listen. And, I love that Ada says, “I’ve always been obsessed with places that feel unfamiliar, or maybe more specifically, places that explicitly lack signifiers of what I’m used to. I love everything that doesn’t remind me of anything. I feel like I’ve spent most of my life chasing that and running from everything else.” We stay in Toronto to hear from Mira Martin-Gray and Robin Jennings who have collaborated as Calicoes. Their 3-track self-titled EP is startlingly good. My tip, play all the cuts in one sitting. I’ve selected, Open Letter To The Coke-head In North Park. I have no idea if Robin and Mira appreciate how much I want to hear this on every alternative playlist. Robin Jennings is on vocals and harmonica, plus she is a fine water-color artist. Mira Martin-Gray provides vocals, guitar, and bass and also goes by the moniker of Tendencyitis. From Toronto, we head on over to Amsterdam to hear from Fridolijn with If Your Heart Were A City from her EP, Chapter Two. She writes, “This is the follow up of Chapter One, which came out in the summer of this year. The airiness heard in the first chapter is being traded for a darker sound. Synths will play the lead part and hope is making way for irony and disillusion.” Lovely voice and superb production and I do like a nice bit of piano work. Then, a seamless segue into Wonk by Teevee Nicks from her debut EP, Light Blue. Yes, she is having fun with her name and yes, it does look like she is floating naked in a pool, but I’m pleased to report that Ms. Nicks is making music that certainly deserving of your attention. Ah, and yes, Wonk does end abruptly. That works though, ‘cause I segue right into Slow by Kiddus. This is a cut from Future Bubblers 4.0, a compilation on Brownswood Music out of London. This is the 4th in the series and highly recommended. A jaunt over to Istanbul, Turkey is next to hear from acclaimed producer, Gantz with the curiously-titled, Hinges Creak on his Krokodil EP. Make sure your sub-woofers are primed for this one. Love that bass. Next up, the surface noise in the intro to Kerala Dust’s Lilac Dune is essential to the ambiance, which is why I left it in. I have little information about this one except to let you know you should investigate the LP, Light, West on Denature Records out of Paris, an independent record label that has been releasing electronic music since 2016. Over in London, the heart of dance music has always been drawn from soul, and producer DJ Q is certainly on form with All That I Could. He’s been releasing music regularly since 2004, cited as being a revered Garage & Bass producer. All That I Could does not disappoint. Because I like this one so much I created my own extended mix. Talking about soul, the marvelously talented and suitably-named Cleo Sol is next. We played the title cut from her, Rose In The Dark LP earlier this year. In case you have not searched out her music, here is another prompt with, Why Don’t You. I’d like to hear anyone argue that Cleo has an amazing voice and this production is top-notch. OK, we have arrived at the last cut for Life Elsewhere music Vol 209, and this where really rave on. October And The Eyes hails from New Zealand, she is currently based in London and she is making music I think is absolutely incredible. Her EP, Dog and Gods is up there with King Hannah’s Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Minemodern rock ’n’ roll-sex-music! I selected her latest single, Dark Dogs, but I advise you to check all of her work out, especially the video for Playing God. Perhaps the best rock video I have ever seen. October struts and pouts and works the camera as only Bowie could. That she has modeled is hardly surprising. Yeah, I know videos are not the music, but in this case, October And The Eyes would have me conjuring up cinematic images anyway. This gets my serious approval. 

LEM Vol 209 Playlist
  1. Cabaret Voltaire – The Power (Of Their Knowledge)
  2. Loraine James – Don’t You See It (ft. Jonnine Standish)
  3. Zha – Tunnels
  4. Hearts and Rockets – Dead As Disco
  5. Hearts and Rockets – Workout
  6. Ada Rook – Total Memory Failure
  7. Calicoes – Open Letter To The Coke-Head In North Park
  8. Fridolijn – If Your Heart Were A City
  9. Teevee Nicks – Wonk
  10. Kiddus – Slow
  11. Gantz – Hinges Creak
  12. Kerala Dust – Lilac Dune
  13. DJ Q – All That I Could
  14. Cleo Sol – Why Don’t You
  15. October And The Eyes – Dark Dog

Make sure you let me know what you think of the cuts I curated for Life Elsewhere Music Vol 209. Write to normanb at lifeelsewhere dot co

The artwork for this volume is by Claudio Zamara “I speak this from my heart” 2005 3′ x 4’6″ (detail) acrylic, gold-flake paint & mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 209

Sobering Conversations On Fascism & Scientology

                            

At the close of our conversation with philosophy professor, Jason Stanley he quips, “Thank you for a sobering conversation.” It should be pointed out, the professor was being somewhat sardonic. His must-read, How Fascism Works – The Politics Of Us And Them is certainly a serious topic, yet we had managed to bring a moment or two of levity into the conversation. Stanley a child of refugees from WW11 Europe understood fascism means dividing a population to achieve power but was alarmed by fascism’s unnerving prevalence here in America. First, with the rise of the birther movement and later the ascent of Donald Trump, he observed that not only is the rise of fascist politics possible in the United States, but its roots have been here for more than a century. Drawing on history, philosophy, sociology, critical race theory, and examples from around the world from 19th century America to 20th-century Germany (where Hitler was inspired by the Confederacy and Jim Crow South) to 21st-century India. How Fascism Works identifies ten pillars of fascist politics that leaders use to build onto power by dividing populations into an “us” and “them”. Stanley uncovers urgent patterns that are as prevalent today as ever and pins down a creeping sense that fascist tendencies are on the rise. By recognizing them, he argues, readers might begin to resist their most harmful effects. With the 45th president shouting obnoxiously from behind a teeny-tiny desk while refusing to concede he lost the 2020 election, Jason Stanley’s words are indeed sobering.

Equally sobering is Michelle LeClair’s memoir, Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love. The former President of Scientology’s international humanitarian organization tried to reconcile her sexual orientation with the anti-gay ideology of the church. Michelle finally ends her horrific marriage, finds the love of her life, a woman, and ultimately leaves the Church. But the split comes at a terrible price. Her once pristine reputation is publicly dragged through the mud, the police raid her home, her ex-husband tries to gain full custody of their children, and the multi-million dollar business she built from scratch is utterly destroyed. In her tell-all memoir, Michelle offers an insider’s perspective on Scientology’s pervasive influence, secret rituals, and ruthless practices for keeping members in line. 

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Recalling Reality. A Tale Of Revenge. Passionate Music.

             

Two engaging conversations in this edition of Life Elsewhere with two authors who have written two completely different books. One is an intimate, revelatory memoir, exploring the ways we can care for and repair ourselves when life knocks us down. The other takes us into the well-trodden path of noir set in Los Angeles. Only here we find the narrator is a seemingly tough-as-nails woman who may be far more vulnerable than she appears. Plus, new music about the passion and intensity of a doomed yet all-encompassing relationship.

Katherine May Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times 

Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break-up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time but embraced the singular opportunities it offered. A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters, and sailing arctic seas. Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.

Halley Sutton The Lady Upstairs

A modern-day noir featuring a twisty cat-and-mouse chase, this dark debut thriller tells the story of a woman who makes a living taking down terrible men…then finds herself in over her head and with blood on her hands. The only way out? Pull off one final con. Jo’s job is blackmailing the most lecherous men in Los Angeles–handsy Hollywood producers, adulterous actors, corrupt cops. Sure, she likes the money she’s making, which comes in handy for the debt she is paying off, but it’s also a chance to take back power for the women of the city. Eager to prove herself to her coworker Lou and their enigmatic boss, known only as the Lady Upstairs, Jo takes on bigger and riskier jobs. When one of her targets is murdered, both the Lady Upstairs and the LAPD have Jo in their sights. Desperate to escape the consequences of her failed job, she decides to take on just one more sting–bringing down a rising political star. It’s her biggest con yet–and she will do it behind the Lady’s back, freeing both herself and Lou. But Jo soon learns that Lou and the Lady have secrets of their own and that no woman is safe when there is a life-changing payout on the line. A delicious debut thriller crackling with wit and an unforgettable feminist voice, The Lady Upstairs is a chilling and endlessly surprising take on female revenge.

Miranda McCarthy From Loving You

Inspired by the wildness of West Cork and life in profound transformation, Miranda McCarthy has in her new single, From Loving You created a moving, beautiful song. Her words and the exceptional arrangement work as a perfect segway between our conversations with Katherine May and Halley Sutton where both authors explore deep and perhaps hidden emotions.

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A Conversation With Philip Parfitt Part 1

“Do you think you have a distinctive voice?” Norman B asks British musician, Philip Parfitt. “I don’t really think about it” Parfitt replies, adding “I guess I can’t hear myself.” From the moment the conversation with Phil Parfitt begins his distinctive timbre catches your attention. Is it world-weary, years of smoking and drinking, a theatrical veneer? Or is it the voice of a man who is way beyond fronting a pose? Is this the comfortable voice of a fellow who enjoys a good conversation? A man who has a lot of stories he is eager to share? As you listen, you’ll come to your own conclusion, yet the striking black and white portrait by Jean-Charles Feunteun is as intense as it is mysterious. Phil Parfitt is an open book with many chapters to discover. This will explain why our conversation will air in two parts, but there is far more to learn from a musician, an artist whose ideas cannot all be gathered in one sitting. More conversations with Phil Parfitt are planned for the near future. 

In part one, Phil traces back to being around six-years-old listening to his older brother’s selection of Pretty Things, Rolling Stones, and Kinks records. The lure of rock ’n’ roll was infectious. He knew he wanted to part of it. He jumped in, naively, with Punk and formed Varicose Veins and released the Incredible EP. A limited-edition venture, not by choice but because of limited funds. A record that Phil is loathed to hear these days, despite that collectors are willing to fork out up to 500 pounds for the rare 7” single. His non-de-plume at that time was Henry Crank, but that got old very fast and he morphed into his real name and a new band, a three-piece, sans a live drummer, Orange Disaster. They made the sublime, Something’s Got To Give. Five minutes of heartbroken bliss. An extraordinary record that sounds just as relevant today as it did back in 1980. A name change was next, with Architects Of Disaster seeing their line-up come and go till 1984 when The Perfect Disaster was formed. From there, a number of albums were released, while Phil Parfitt admits to being disillusioned with touring and personnel changes. By 2014, the solo album, I’m Not The Man I Used To Be was released under the moniker of Philip Parfitt. This brings us up to Mental Home Recordings by Philip Parfitt, released on October 30, 2020. Music archivists and simply lovers of good music will enjoy our conversation with Phil and the eclectic record choices he makes for the program.

Portrait of Philip Parfitt by Jean-Charles Feunteun

LEM Vol 206

Reactions To Election 2020

For the last four years on his nightly MSNBC show, Brian Williams has counted down the days of the Trump presidency. As November 3, 2020, drew closer, the polls and the pundits were giddy with excitement as they predicted a blue wave. Of course, true to form as in any soap opera or reality TV show, things never go as you expected. The producers make sure there is a dastardly twist at the last minute to keep you attached to the screen for yet another episode. In this scenario, the wicked villain had already telegraphed that he would make sure that there wasn’t going to be a ball unless he could be crowned princess and accompanied by his ugly sisters. (Ok, that’s a reference to traditional British pantomimes, but the concept is the same – the bad guy messes things up and has a tantrum). By around 2.20 am Eastern Time on November 4, when Trump slouched forward to the podium in the White House he assured the world he follow through on crying foul when not a single chicken had crossed the road. So it was with many votes still to be counted across numerous counties in a number of states, we asked a panel of guests to share their immediate reactions to Election 2020.

Our panel of guests, each with an abundance of acclaim in their chosen fields are:

Jared Yates Sexton Author and political commentator. He is an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University. Latest book: American Rule – How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People

Dr. Jennifer Mercieca Historian of American political rhetoric. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M. Latest book: Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.

Dave Hill Comedian, actor, musician, radio host, and author. Latest book: Parking the Moose: One American’s Epic Quest to Uncover His Incredible Canadian Roots

Steve Brodner Caricaturist, illustrator, educator & political commentator

Dr. Binoy Kampmark Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne. Author & commentator

Mark Haskell Smith Author, fiction & non-fiction, including, Blown, Naked At Lunch, Raw, Moist, Delicious, Salty & Heart Of Dankness. Educator and cultural observer

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