This is an astounding production – brilliantly cast and just the right level of mystic symbolism.
My mum had this on cassette. I stole it and played it endlessly on long car rides from my home town west to Bath or east to Canterbury. I love Bruce Springsteen’s world-weary voice toward the end of this. I’d love to hear Bruce narrating Raymond Carver stories.
The film itself comes from Yours Truly, a creative collective from San Francisco.
This is at once the most offbeat but also most deeply affecting videos I’ve seen in ages, soundtracked by an epically sad but strangely uplifting track.
An ageing surfer emerges from some kind of spiritual slumber and gets back into shape. Towards the end we see his dark, craggy features lightening and he seems to have found his joy again.
Some of the scenes here are just too beautiful… the few seconds with the curtains of his Camper van blowing in the wind while he drives… wow.
I’m obviously getting better at Danish as I understood and greatly enjoyed a lot of Friday’s excellent Unga Bunga electronic music radio show on P3.
The show touched on Delia Derbyshire, a mathematician and composer best known for her work on the original Dr Who themetune (she took Ron Grainer’s original theme and recreated it using purely electronic sources) during her time at the BBC’s effects unit, the Radiophonic Workshop.
According to Wikipedia, Mr Grainer was so taken with her version that he asked she be given a co-composer’s credit, ‘but this was prevented by BBC bureaucracy, who preferred to keep the members of the Workshop anonymous.’
There is more detail on DeliaDerbyshire.org, an excellent site set up to provide information about her life and work: ‘On first hearing it Grainer was tickled pink: “Did I really write this?” he asked. “Most of it,” replied Derbyshire.’
Ms Derbyshire, who died in 2001, is a deeply fascinating figure. Regarded as a pioneer of electronic music and deeply revered by aficionados around the world, she seems to have fallen out of love with the genre she helped to establish, only to become re-invigorated toward the end of her life when she sensed a return to her more free-form ideals.
From the Guardian’s obituary: ‘By 1973 Delia had become progressively more unhappy with her life at the workshop and she left to join me at Electrophon, an electronic music studio I had set up in Covent Garden. There, unfortunately, she found little relief from her unhappiness and decided to leave London. She became involved, bizarrely, in the laying of the national gas main as a radio operator, she worked in a Cumbrian art gallery, and she worked in a bookshop.’
And from DeliaDerbyshire.org: ‘Shortly before Delia died, she wrote the following: “Working with people like Sonic Boom on pure electronic music has re-invigorated me. He is from a later generation but has always had an affinity with the music of the 60s. One of our first points of contact – the visionary work of Peter Zinovieff, has touched us both, and has been an inspiration. Now without the constraints of doing ‘applied music’, my mind can fly free and pick-up where I left off.”
These are two of the best examples of Ms Derbyshire’s work I could find on the net.
The first is her iconic rendering of the Dr Who theme, and the second a sequence from a 1964 project called The Dreams, a collaboration with the poet Barry Bermange, in which she splices recordings of people recounting their dreams with her own electronic compositions:
OMD released this piece of genius in 1979. It barely broke into the top 100:
Our one source of energy
All we need to live today
A gift for man to throw away
The chance to change has nearly gone
The alternative is only one
The final source of energy
I’m pretty sure they were onto something.
Last week I witnessed a stellar example of what, for lack of a better phrase, I am calling ‘purposeful rambling’. Matt Webb’s Reboot 11 keynote – Scope – was the highlight of the two days. In it, he touched on the nature and purpose of design, Indian martial arts, superpowers, million-mile-long tomatoes, the space race and the power of grandiose, visionary thinking to change human history.
The goal of his talk was, I think, simple: to challenge the audience to better themselves – and by extension the world around them – by devoting 100 hours of their summer to learning a new skill. While this was inspiring in itself, it was the esotericism of his references and his skill at weaving them into a coherent narrative that truly excited. It could have been a ramble, in fact he may have wanted it to appear that way, but it was most definitely a ramble with a purpose.
Maybe we can describe it as the deliberate use of a miscellany of references – often unrelated at first sight – deftly unified. That’s one kind of rambling.
Another is the literary kind employed by W.G Sebald.
From Wikipedia: “(Sebald’s novels) are notable for their curious and wide-ranging mixture of fact (or apparent fact), recollection and fiction, often punctuated by indistinct black-and-white photographs, which are set in evocative counterpoint to the narrative rather than illustrating it directly.”
And from The Guardian: “It was necessary, he found, to approach this subject obliquely, and to invent a new literary form, part hybrid novel, part memoir and part travelogue, often involving the experiences of one “WG Sebald”, a German writer long settled in East Anglia.”
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a bit of a thing for Sebald and I consider his untimely death one of the single greatest losses to literature.
Anyway. For me, Sebald’s rambling is purposeless. But it is a beautiful kind of purposelessness that allows for individual serendipity. What I mean with that is Sebald’s prose is often so opaque, so misty and unstuctured, that readers are left with no choice but to react instintively, as opposed to intellectually. It is this which imbues every page with something beyond purpose: meaning.
To try and shoehorn some saliency in here, I have been thinking of the Internet as the ultimate ramble. If you use it right, the Internet is simply one big Sebald novel. Unsure of itself, but magnificent and grand in scope and endlessly meaningful.
Any post referencing Sebald would not be worth its salt without a tinge of melancholy, so here is the title sequence to BBC2′s documentary series, Arena. I can’t watch this without being filled with a welter of incoherent memories of my childhood:
Been way too long since I dragged myself off my arse and caught a gig. That will change on April 30 when Love Is All play Rust. Their second album came out a little while back and it seems pretty sweet. Here’s a video to Last Choice, one of the poppier tracks:
Here’s a reminder of their finest hour, ‘Make Up, Fall Out, Make Up’, from their first album ’9 Times That Same Song’: