Monday, March 31, 2008


A list of seven favourite things in life beyond that already discussed - a gratuitous example of each one included.

  1. Perfumes. Lolita Lempicka.
    an enhanced sense of smell is naturally a double-edged sword - it really deplores me how this most emotionally powerful of senses is suppressed: why do people accept the refrigerated flowers, fruit and vegetables
    with no fragrance you find in supermarkets? and modern perfumes which, like celebrity for the sake of celebrity, are now far more to do with an image or idea they represent than the scent itself, design once again triumphing over content (these days only about 3% of the cost goes to the production of the liquid); I find a woman (or man) with a nice understated smell very attractive indeed, and of course it's less about the perfume itself than the magical chemistry - that said, a girl to choose the lesser-known fragrance Lolita Lempicka will surely cause a man's downfall

  2. Fruits. Acerola.
    you were probably anticipating the mango as my example, and it's hard for me not to include my beloved mango, yet it's only because I recently discovered in Madrid (thanks to my friend Laura at NASA) something even more devastatingly delicious and transcendent: the acerola! grown in the Caribbean and the Americas, this small red fruit contains an absurdly high amount of vitamin C in addition to offering other powerfully magical effects that I shall leave to your fertile imagination - suffice to say that as you have that first ever molecule of acerola touch the first tastebud on your tongue, you immediately know it's about to have its scandalous way with you

  3. Travels. Barcelona.
    after five productive years in London, even though I didn't know it, I was ready for a move and it was the unlikely combination of a concert in Barcelona and a burglary back home that prompted me to make the move to live there - it was the best thing I ever did; and, with the best transitions, it created the space for me to really develop as a human being on the inside through the wonderfully functional Catalan culture and people, and through the climate and the air; oh, and the red wine

  4. Drink. Tea.
    nowadays, I drink very little alcohol by UK standards and a glass of rioja crianza in good company is a genuine pleasure, yet I don't apologise for saying that nothing can match the life-affirming qualities of a fine brew of a quality infusion (not that PG Tips dust) - two tea moments in particular stand out, one at a gourmet teashop in Switzerland and another
    (of the green variety) in Tokyo both which were, let's just say, fulfilling

  5. Hotel. La Posada De San José.
    unknown to many due its inland location and relative remoteness to the tourist traps, La Ciudad Encantada ('The Enchanted City') in Cuenca, Spain is one of the most beautiful places in Europe and there is an extraodinary 17th century building perched precariously on the sheer rock face - I've had the fortune to stay in many wonderful hotels, and I do love those with a bit of character; it can be exciting, it can be erotic, it can be an adventure, as you form part of all the untold stories that the walls of your room are secret witnesses to - and none more so than La Posada,
    originally an ancient college for the local cathedral's, erm, choirboys...

  6. Animals. Bonobo Chimpanzee.
    dogs and cats have wonderful personalities that I adore; I think maybe because we see in them some of the attributes that we as human animals can ourselves be proud of, our highest values represented in a purity of form - beyond moggies and pooches and other creatures, for me it's the bonobo chimp (even more when compared to our own cursed species)

  7. Restaurant. That Place In Kitakyushu.
    a bit like not knowing the love of your life's name, (shamefully) I still can't recall the name of the best restaurant I've ever enjoyed, the one in Kitakyushu I referred to before - Japanese food is exceptional at the best of times and it's in Kyushu where reputedly you'll enjoy the finest

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


One of most fascinating museums in the world is La Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne. On a warm sunny morning off during a festival I was attending there in that beautiful Swiss city, I came upon the museum by chance after a typically meandering walk - isn't it funny how some of your best discoveries are improvisational?

Anyway, they are having an exhibition this year of Japanese Art Brut and my wonderful friend there, Djamileh, kindly sent me the accompanying book which is packed full of amazing works. If you can read French or Japanese, or indeed have a chance to visit the museum, then it's really worth checking out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A list of inspirational music artists (and a pick from their work).

  1. Leonard Cohen. The Gypsy's Wife.
    in reality Cohen is a brilliant poet and an inspiring figure whose music is, frankly speaking, of secondary relevance - however, I'm still not sure what he did to deserve such a disreputable shower of fake admirers, stage whores, and karaoke merchants that have all tried to imitate his style

  2. Patrick Cowley. Megatron Man.
    unknown to most clubbers and bedroom techno DJs, Cowley is the most important person in the history of electronic dance music; he tragically died in 1982

  3. Karen Carpenter. We've Only Just Begun.
    the voice that can reduce you to tears and break your heart, really no-one else that I know of comes close to her vocal talent - and a truly remarkable human being and lifestory beyond that

  4. John Coltrane. To Be.
    one of the problems with performing musicians is that they almost inevitably turn into fucking minstrels - not Coltrane however, he continued to challenge himself and others with the most amazing energy and talent right to the very end

  5. Karlheinz Stockhausen. Licht.
    even by simply experiencing Stockhausen through the prism of the responses to his work and texts, you know this man is a genius of the highest order

  6. Yoko Ono. Fly.
    the increasing influence of all the Beatles' muso buddies was a disaster for Yoko's music art career, yet there was still time for some amazing recordings to come out

  7. JS Bach. Goldberg Variations.
    more than a god, a composer still possessed by a divine spirit that doesn't even exist

  8. Christian Vander. Köhntarkösz (Part 1).
    in the depressingly vast sea of epigones, plagiarists and copycats, we can still have such a rare creature as the brilliant unclassifiable Vander

  9. Fela Kuti. Water No Get Enemy.
    Fela's incredible expression and charisma and passion flows through his music in perfect congruency

  10. Toshiji Mikawa. Repo.
    the only pure noise artist that matters - all the others are fakes

Saturday, March 15, 2008


#14: energy

If ever I tell you what beautiful energy you have, I hope you'll know I don't mean it in a New Age rainbow-coloured invisibly smiling aura around you kind of way.

For me, when applied to a person, energy has a special meaning: what do you believe about why you're doing what you're doing? That belief may be a conscious one, but more commonly not. Anyway, it's that simple, but simple things aren't necessarily easy to understand.

Think of some of the set-piece contexts: auditions, performances, interviews, persuading, dancing, speeches, designing, lovemaking, meeting new people, work, debates, leading, cooking, teaching. Ask yourself. When articulated, the answers often vary widely from person to person.

The word, to me, is useful because there's no other word I can think of that is so apposite (certainly not to be confused with motivation) as it's such a powerful filter upon our behaviour in any given context, on a biological level even, but certainly in terms of our verbal and nonverbal responses. Yet people's untrained energy is fragile and vulnerable to all sorts of external and internal influences (as discussed in BEHAVIOURAL 2) but - when trained to be harnessed, protected and exploited - and speaking here as an artist, it is also one of the most powerful ways we can achieve meaningful responses.

#15: even

"You look even more lovely in that dress, darling..."
"Our new album is even
more groundbreaking..."
"Even you should know how to spell 'weird'..."
"Even a woman should know to read a map..."

What a sneakily sly word even is. Never has such a small word been so loaded with so many assumptions. Although the emphasis in the utterance is elsewhere, the real meaning is compacted into a small word that in real time speech is almost imperceptible. In the first example above it cunningly presupposes that you always look lovely, yet at least that's more obvious than the last example which assumes women as somehow inferior to men. The powerful subtext carried by even is markedly different to the lengthier and more noticeable verbal content. That's why it's one of the weapons of choice in the arsenal of the sophist.

A defence to this chicanery? Well, whenever you hear the word being used, stop and perhaps even ask yourself what presupposition is being smuggled through with the other (less important) words? You might even find that enhanced awareness becoming even more useful than learning ways of using it yourself.


An excellent article in today's Guardian by the philosopher John Gray addressing some of these themes of atheism and belief.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


You may have more already for your remaining available minutes in the day but this is a good one. Addiction. Get the kettle on and go for the 3-D mode.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Some more, perhaps less topical, movie mini-reviews from Facebook, again mostly recent but a few slightly older ones too.

Starting Out In The Evening (***)
a quiet thoughtful drama; it's more than competently acted and directed yet you can't help wondering how much better it'd be in the hands of Eric Rohmer

Cassandra's Dream (*)
dear oh dear, it's depressing to think the great Woody Allen was responsible for this wretched movie; excruciating acting (Farrell and McGregor are both laughable) matched with a creaking wooden script and totally absurd storyline

The Departed (**)
inferior remake to Infernal Affairs, one of the Hong Kong classics of recent years - I've never rated Scorsese (the contemptible Goodfellas included)

Infernal Affairs (*****)
better than The Departed in every single department

Infernal Affairs II (*****)
the plot's complexity is extremely demanding yet the movie, every bit as expertly crafted as the first, generously rewards your patience

Noise (****)
Tim Robbins, as a personal crusader against the noise levels in Manhattan, and cast are excellent in this stimulating and enjoyable black comedy, full of deft light touches

Vengeance Is Mine (*****)
timeless masterpiece of Japanese cinema

My Blueberry Nights (*)
dreary, languid, and not very clever; Portman is a minor saving grace

Bang Bang Orangutang (**)
begins very promisingly as a pitch black comedy then disappointingly turns into a dreary procession of implausible relationships, forced conversation, and soppy philosophising; I look forward to seeing Staho's most recent work, Daisy Diamond

Ne Le Dis À Personne (***)
overall an enjoyable suspense thriller which is spoilt by all the stupid and unnecessary gangsta shit in the middle

Boarding Gate (**)
the tasty extended man-woman dialogues between Argento and Madsen (reminiscent of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?) are worth checking in for but precious little else

Run, Fat Boy, Run (*)
Hot Fuzz was moderately funny but run, run away quickly from this utterly chuckle-free excuse of a British comedy

Dan In Real Life (*)
more utter rubbish from Carell, unbelievable chump-gets-lucky nonsense; opening credits last over 10 minutes

Delirious (*)
a decent cast doesn't save this dull uninspired New York comedy

Enchanted (***)
well-made and fun throughout, and Amy Adams is a true delight - direction is ultimately too timid though

There Will Be Blood (*****)
emotionally dark and captivating, Day-Lewis excels once again in this complex character study aided by a superb supporting cast - I also loved the soundtrack

Saturday, March 08, 2008


A list of favourite thinkers and a pick from their work.
  1. Constantin Stanislavski. Building A Character.
  2. Desmond Morris. Intimate Behaviour.
  3. Jacques Derrida. Speech And Phenomena.
  4. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Women Who Run With The Wolves.
  5. Keith Johnstone. Impro.
  6. Richard Bandler. The Structure Of Magic.
  7. Werner Erhard. The Heart Of The Matter.
  8. DAF de Sade. Juliette.
  9. Camille Paglia. The Birds.
  10. John Gray. Straw Dogs.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Where are you located right now? Here's my desktop.

A curious aspect of the tide of environment is how powerfully the physiology of our environment affects. The range of responses when (for instance) requesting something from a stranger will vary enormously depending on the physical nature of the environment: indoors/outdoors, open space/proximity to objects, safeness/danger, temperature/humidity/air, and so forth. Only after you've factored in the cultural factors and the presence or absence of other people, can we even begin to consider this rather inflated sense of selfness and perceived free will that we consciously carry around.

Yet before that, the often arbitrary nature of our own physiology also affects our behaviour profoundly: try having a conversation with a friend while you, hunched over, sit on your hands and stare at your feet - you will notice an odd change in the discourse. And it's nothing to do with who or what or how you think you are.

Even more than that, the language patterns and habits (internal and external dialogues) that you've acquired not only have powerful subtexts that are being transmitted to others whose behaviour is being fed back to you creating behavioural loops, but they (the patterns) themselves are affecting you too! (This is one of the reasons that those who have learnt a foreign language often find it allows them a different side to come out to play - that can be a liberating experience as I well know myself.) One small example could be a typically well-intentioned person used to using the conversational pattern 'yes, but....' a lot (see SIGNIFICANCES 5/#10) who will not only be eliciting unfavourable types of responses (without necessarily knowing why) but will also find it profoundly influencing their very own behaviour. Gratuitous swearing is another simple example to consider. All language all the time is having this potential and in my own belief the current underappreciation of its effects will eventually be seen as quaintly primitive.

There remains very little to our identity by the third level of my model of consciousness - hence the illusion of identity: the difference between who/what you think you are.

So where indeed is identity hiding?

More to follow.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


A list of favourite directors and a pick from their work.
  1. Lars Von Trier. The Five Obstructions.
  2. Ingmar Bergman. Scenes From A Marriage.
  3. Eric Rohmer. Chloe In The Afternoon.
  4. Frederick Wiseman. Titicut Follies.
  5. Alfred Hitchcock. The Birds.
  6. John Cassavetes. A Woman Under The Influence.
  7. Andrei Tarkovski. Zerkalo.
  8. Peter Greenaway. Drowning By Numbers.
  9. Luis Buñuel. Los Olvidados.
  10. Francois Truffaut. La Peau Douce.


For anyone interested who might have missed my update at the Afro Noise blog:

Even though this blog has been quiet for a while now, it's certainly not for lack of activity. The music I've been working on has evolved quite a bit, and gone slightly further off course...

...continue reading