Friday, March 26, 2010

POMPEII AM GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG

So the mask has slipped. Wayne Coyne's band [The Flaming Lips] spent the best part of 20 years on music's fringes as amiable oddballs, focused all their energies on 1999's The Soft Bulletin - the best album the Moody Blues never made - and continued the drive into the mainstream with 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
But you can't keep a good eclectic down and At War With the Mystics is filled with sounds that no one else would throw together: from Herbie Hancock noodling to early Genesis and more than one section where the Lips play like the house band in the kind of cheesy disco that Columbo or Jim Rockford had to visit, every style of suspect Seventies music is on show here. They even rip off 'One of These Days', a highlight of Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii movie, on the ridiculously titled 'Pompeii am Götterdämmerung'.

Friday, March 19, 2010

MOON SPINS BETWEEN LAND AND SEA

Giuseppe M. Gaudino made his directorial debut with this experimental film portrait contrasting the ancient Roman empire with poverty in present-day Naples. The film's narrator introduces the ancient town of Pozzuoli, home to Nero, his mother Agrippina, the Sibyl of Cumae, and Christian martyr Artema. This historical drama is intertwined with a modern-day story of a poverty-stricken family, forced by earthquakes during the '70s to move to the country, a devastating blow to the close-knit family. After a 1997 Venice Film Festival screening at 125 minutes, the filmmakers announced their plans to re-edit to a shorter running time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

MISENUM FLEET

With the advent of Empire, Rome's fleets were used to maintain internal communications and to help spread Roman civilization throughout the known world and beyond, as her sea-captains ventured as far as Scandinavia, Africa and India. 
(...) The navy was distribuited in three permanent Praetorian (or 'high seas') Fleets, stationed at Forum Iulii (modern Frejus in southern France), at Ravenna on the Adriatic coast of north-east Italy, and at Misenum near Naples in the south-west to defend the Tyrrhenian Sea. (Suet. Div. Aug., XLIX). (...) Until the start of the 5th century the Classis Praetoria Misenatis or Misenum Fleet (bearing the title 'Pia Vindex' under Caracalla) was the main imperial naval force, thereafter losing importance to the Classis Ravennatis (Ravenna Fleet).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

THE GARDEN OF LADY WALTON

The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton is Clogs’ highly anticipated fifth album. It’s a song-cycle composed by Padma Newsome for Clogs with extensive vocal work from Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. Other guests include Sufjan Stevens, Aaron Dessner and Matt Berninger of The National, and the Osso String Quartet. (...) The work was composed by member Padma Newsome during a 2005 residency at Giardini La Mortella sponsored by the Fromm Foundation. The Garden is a rich botanical paradise created by Lady Walton (the widow of the late British composer Sir William Walton) on the island of Ischia in Italy’s Bay of Naples. The album was recorded in stages in Brooklyn and Sydney during 2007-08 with another year and a half for mixing and finishing. It embodies some of the fortunate vagaries of creating music with four people in three cities on two continents, not to mention the cadre of additional musicians who brought their own presence of character to the project. Clogs are four musicians from the United States and Australia whose work traverses time and place and through which seemingly disparate influences are seamlessly drawn in. They compose and improvise using sounds and textures from across the musical spectrum – the immediacy of folk and rock music, twisted Americana, the complexity of modern composition.

Monday, March 1, 2010

DOLCE VITA

In the early 1950s, Ischia was nothing but sun, sea and green-clad slopes. The roads were unpaved and there was practically no tourism.
A peaceful, isolated world - until Angelo Rizzoli, a famous producer and publisher, arrived on the island in the summer of 1952 bringing the world of the movies with him. Along with the film stars, the international jet-set made its appearance, including the industrial and financial elite, beautiful women and great musicians.
The night life was extraordinary. Whereas Capri only had two or three night clubs, in its golden years Ischia boasted a dozen of them. People flocked to hear Renato Carosone, Fausto Cigliano, Mina and Marino Barreto sing at night spots called Rancio Fellone, Monky Bar, Castello Aragonese, Moresco, Scotch Club, Pignatiello. It really was the dolce vita. The atmosphere was unique. In those years, Ischia was the Italian music capital, not only because artists whose records sold by the million sang in its night clubs but also because of its frontier spirit, its open-minded approach to new experiences.