By Raph al Guul
Despite my own departure from the group last summer, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for The Blueprint Masquerades; this is why this review, even more so than any other, could never be at all above suspicion of personal bias. But in the past years, no one has taken the time to review the premiere of The Blueprint Masquerades’ productions and so I will take this heavy duty upon myself as I finally have some distance from the very heart of their production cycles.
Raph and Jenny ramble about university-related matters and whatever else matters to them. Please provide us with any sort of constructive feedback (use the comment section or send us an email) so that we can eliminate problems if possible. On this episode:
– Pig picture stuff
– Outlook on the upcoming semester
– Discussion of experiences with instructors
– Unexpected nudity
– Jenny earns cheers
– Raph forces metal music on you again
By Alan Mattli
Out with the old, in with the new! But where would we be in the new year when we couldn’t hold on to a few cherished relics of the past 365 days? So for everyone who is fond of lists, I have compiled my End of Year rankings for 2011 – movies and albums. But we’ll tackle those lists in two separate posts. So let’s start our 2012 by looking back at the musical highlights of the past year. And please: feel free to disagree and discuss!
Any form of culture has the ability to capture social, political and cultural issues and themes of the era it stems from. Usually, the most poignant snapshots can be found in musical expression. This is particularly striking in American folk and blues music from the 1930s and 40s, which was heavily influenced by the financial collapse of 1929, and the subsequent New Deal. With figureheads like Woody Guthrie (“Hard Travelin'”), Blind Willie Johnson (“Let Your Light Shine on Me”) or Alfred Reed (“How Can a Man Stand Such Times and Live?”), this period continues to inspire politically motivated singer-songwriters, even to this day. Last year, Loudon Wainwright III (“School Days”, “Black Uncle Remus”) released the album 10 Songs for the New Depression, his contribution to the ongoing financial crisis, which started in 2007. Another musician to be inspired by these events is Ry Cooder, one of the great names of americana. Cooder already has a history of covering Depression era songs as well as recording his own tracks in the traditional vein. A great example would be 2007’s brilliant concept album My Name Is Buddy, which tells the story of a cat’s travels through a disillusioned America. This August, he released Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down which retains a 1930s feel, but takes it a step further.
By Alan Mattli
These days it’s hard to write appreciatively about Bob Dylan’s live performances without making it sound like an apology. Many people, journalists included, seem to think it’s courteous – and courageous – to criticise just about everything about them, from the lack of video screens and spectacle to the sometimes unusual song renditions and the – always controversial – issue of the artist’s voice. Even in generally favourable concert reviews, these arguments are found. As a Dylanologist you’ve learned to address every one of those points; you talk about minimalism, about Dylan wanting people to focus on the music instead of him as a person, about how constant change has always been a key characteristic of his work, and about how he doesn’t adhere to the vocal tradition of fellow 1960s rock icons’ like Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger but rather to the one of 1930s’ blues legends like Robert Johnson, Charley Patton or Blind Willie Johnson. Nevertheless, the mantra “Bob Dylan is a bad live act” seems to prevail. There’s no accounting for tastes, I guess, but after seeing him four times this year I’m still not an inch closer to understanding that sentiment, especially considering this week’s shows in Geneva and Zurich.
Sigh. As soon as I finally got in the right spirit, the spookiest day of the year was already over again. However, the leaves are still tumbling down, darkness falls earlier, and snow is yet to be sighted here in Zurich – so let’s preserve the spooky autumn spirit for a while longer until Christmas comes around. Therefore, since I missed my Halloween post last week, I’ll suggest a book of short stories, some spooky records, and a movie for you to check out. Continue reading
Posted in Books, Film, Music