Archive for February, 2011
Life Is Gerhard
February 28th, 2011

Gerhard Richter, Bildnis Heiner Friedrich, 1964

I was leafing through a book of Richter’s portraits just now and was so impressed by the delicacy of this watercolour that I had to come upstairs to the computer and post it up here. The simple ring-binder in the foreground is beautiful and gives depth to the picture, showing us that there’s a table in front of the sitter. I also love the dark tone of the man’s skin that gives strength to the light from the window.

Men’s Needs
February 23rd, 2011

Bill Callahan (from a Domino promo postcard I blue-tacked to my old bedroom door.)

In the song A Man Needs A Woman Or A Man To Be A Man, Bill Callahan expresses the need for companionship; an elusive theme to describe accurately. He resorts to obscure, poetic images that allow us to view the domestic situation in a fresh light. In fact, he takes a literal approach by contrasting the illumination of morning and the artificial explosions of gunpowder:

The light is explicit
Between nine and noon
The light shows a life to things thought dead
Like oaken legs and fireworks beneath the bed
Fireworks are wasted in the day
I set ’em off anyway
To pass the time ’til you return

The whole lyric extends to more overt metaphorical ground later in the song when the object of Callahan’s affection is deemed to be unique in relation to the fireworks: “Only in you/Deep in you/Is the fire that lights them” . Perhaps the most startling set of lines comes in the middle of the song when his partner returns to their home:

And when it’s good and dark
The sky a wet black
Like earth has turned
You say OK
Now is time, OK
Like earth has turned

Not only are we given a beautifully descriptive couplet to begin with, but the play on the word ‘earth’ to mean both soil and the planet (both able to be ‘turned’ in their own way) seals it for me as a highly original piece of writing. As well as a strong image, I am left with a sense of relief.  Thankfully this sort of sly revelation is commonplace in the lyrics of Bill Callahan.

The Simple Life
February 22nd, 2011

Alexander Deineka, Young Woman, 1934

I happened upon this picture and its simplicity struck me.

Painter Picture
February 16th, 2011

The Painter Heinrich Hörle by August Sander, 1928

This picture is severe and sharp and the sitter has a face full of great shapes made extra-angular by his haircut.

We Could Send Letters
February 14th, 2011

A beautiful Len Lye film for all you star-crossed lovers out there. A paean to letter-writing and adventurous film-making, originally made for the Post Office.

I Know You Got Soul
February 13th, 2011

I find this song unfeasibly moving (if you’ll pardon another pun). It’s laid-back but very uplifting and it closes the latest BBC4 music documentary, Reggae Brittania, which is a rather natty programme.

Pond Life
February 13th, 2011

Jem Southam, The Pond at Upton Pyne, 2001

The colours here leap out at me. There’s such a rich spectrum of blues and greens in this photograph. It took me a couple of minutes to process the distance of the different objects in the picture, but it was well worth it.

This song reminds me of a line in the perfect Pavement song, Range Life, where Malkmus sings, “Out on my skateboard, the night is just humming.”
I can’t actually ride a skateboard, but this song ticks along very nicely at a warm temperature.

Lancastrian
February 7th, 2011

Laura Lancaster is a talented friend of mine whose work is currently appearing in an exhibition called ‘Graphite’ at Gallery North in Newcastle. Her work is derived from found photographs, which she then transforms into eerie, mysterious images that range from delicate drawings to smeared oil paintings. Some other talented friends of mine are in the exhibition so if you’re in the area…

Rare Welsh Bit
February 4th, 2011


taken from James Morris: A Landscape of Wales

These images are bleak and beautiful. On the ffotogallery website you can see more examples of contemporary Welsh photography.

Keyboardom
February 3rd, 2011

This is a great cover image from Roedelius’ 1979 solo album. Below is the last song on the record, Minne, which sounds like a trembly, electric piano doodle played by an adult on a Fisher Price toy.

Sister Act 2
February 1st, 2011

Last night I listened to Laetitia Sadier’s solo LP, ‘The Trip’ where she does a cover of ‘By The Sea’. It’s so melancholy, but then I listened to the original and it’s even more sad and wistful. Wendy and Bonnie were two young sisters who made a record in 1969 aged 17 and 13 (!), according to one review I read. Their voices are wise beyond their years.