Ten years ago I still made mixtapes for people. On actual C90 tapes (thats about 128mb of average compression MP3s if you’re younger than me). I guess people of my generation talk about analogue music in the way our parents generation talk about pre-metric monentary terms. My parents occasionally still regale me (read bore me) with tales of ha’pennys and grotes and half crowns and shillings and how somehow they formed a complete ontology of finance with such things. No doubt if I ever have children, I too will bore them with my stories of the golden age of music (1997-2003 if you possess the same pop-cultural touchstones as myself), of rectangular bags in music shops and trying to read the liner notes on rickety bus rides home. I still buy music on vinyl though. There is a particular type of tall thin man, not quite coordinated enough to be actual musicians who will always haunt record shops. Even after the rest of the world has switched to MP3 players or iPhones, they’ll still be there digging through crates in search of white label rarities. When the world ends, they’ll still be there amongst the wreckage, fighting mutants and cockroaches for the last Radiohead B-sides compilation in the world.
Ten years ago today I was in Edinburgh for the Millenium. In spite of the Y2K bug, everyone seemed pretty optimistic about the future. There was a tech boom starting and the internet was extruding its data-tentacles into our minds. I was certain that by now we’d be living in the Matrix (remember that film? I wonder why they never made any sequels? http://xkcd.com/566/ ). In fact maybe we are. Perhaps at some point in the last ten years the internet achieved sentience but no one noticed and now we are living in an artificial reality. I think the Boxing day tsunami actually knocked my optimism about the future more than 9/11 did. Not in the least because more people died but because the planet itself was responsible for that one. You can stop terrorists (sometimes), you can’t stop plate techtonics. And now the sea levels are rising faster than ever (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise). The next decade is going to look like Water World and that was an awful film.
Ten years ago I played basketball. Now I just rant at the internet whilst acumulating body mass…
Ten years ago I used to actually pick up musical instruments with the intention of learning them. Now my guitar sits in the corner unused and unloved, quietly weeping whilst it’s strings slowly unwind…
Happy new year readers.
Sufjan Stevens – The Friendly Beasts. Old french christmas carol
Happy Christmas everyone
Jonathan Sledgefield wasn’t like any of the other private investigators you might have heard of. He didn’t have Philip Marlowe’s bravery, or Sherlock Holmes’ deductive powers or Big John Shaft’s attitude. Jonathan Sledgefield was a snowman and he existed for only a few days of every year when the snow fell thick and heavy upon the small village he called home. On that day the bakers son Sebastian would scrape the snow in the field behind the house when the dawn had just broke and the Sun was low in the sky. Sebastian would take a shovel and use it to form a small mound in the snow and then he would roll the mound until he had made a large ball in the snow. This would become Jonathan’s body. Then Sebastian would make smaller ball of snow and use it to make Jonathan’s head. He would put large lumps of coal into it so that Jonathan could see and a scarf so that Jonathan would be warm and a deer stalker hat because all great detectives have hats.
On account of his transient nature, Jonathan only ever had a day or two each year to solve all the village crimes before he melted away again. One year he caught Mrs Macginty stealing mince pies from the bakery and another year he caught a vagrant who was wanted for lewd behaviour in a town five miles away. Sebastian would always aid him in his adventures. Jonathan was largely immobile unless he was carried from place to place so usually he would stand firm and unyielding in the field he called home. A pillar of the community. A pillar also of frozen watery justice. Mentally he always thought of himself as a detective in a film noir (or a “Film Blanche” if you will, ho ho, he would chortle to himself). He would cogitate in wintery silence in the midst of the empty field, listening to the night-time hoots of barn owls as he meditated upon the criminal mindset. “So” He would think “Everyone in the village knows of Mrs Macginty’s terrible obsession with pies, so she certainly has a motive. Everyone else has an alibi. It must be her. It MUST”. No criminal was safer from his unerring logic.
Like most fictional detectives, Jonathan Sledgefield had a terrible secret. Over time he began to detest being scraped and rolled together every year. He began to become tired of the same field and the same barn owl. He began to realise that he would never bask in the summer sun or play volleyball on waikiki beach so he hatched a plan. He turned on his creator and abused his position as the village detective to frame Sebastian on drugs charges thus ensuring that Sebastian could not create him next year. Then one day when winter was drawing to a close, he discharged the last of his duties vis a vis law enforcement and evaporated forever, becoming one with the blue white sky. The last I heard, he was floating as a cloud in the direction of Hawaii…
(The author would like to point out that Sebastian’s conviction was eventually overturned but his brush with the law convinced him to move to the big city where not so many people knew his name and he could lay low).
Super Furry Animals – The gift that keeps giving. Okay so I guess the little kid killed Santa and stole all his gifts. That’s quite a dark ending to the video actually (and this is the nicer version of the video). Still kudos for lateral thinking.
The Welcome Wagon – Hail to the Lord’s anointed. This is a indie rendition of a christmas carol/hymn. I like it because of the banjo and the fact that The Welcome Wagon are signed to a record label called Asthmatic Kitty Records.
If Franz Kafka were alive today and working in the videogame industry he might produce something like Every day the same dream
It’s a haunting and ever so slightly disturbing look at a life caught in endless repetition. If you ever need to win an argument about whether videogames constitute art then look no further.
Weezer – The Christmas song. I’m not the worlds biggest Weezer fan but I’m running out of alternatives
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. Main theme. This always makes me think of snow falling from the sky very slowly. Again not very Christmassy per se, but a chilly piece of music nonetheless.
The Delgados – Coming in from the cold. Because frankly it’s bloody freezing today.
The Apples – Killing in the name (cover). I guess this counts as a Christmas song in the UK now. I’m refusing to plug the Rage Against The Machine version on account of it being released by Song BMG (y’know the people who also own the rights to the X-Factor finalists, either way Simon Cowell wins). Aside from my massive indie elitism I actually love this version.