Thursday, 29 January 2015

Helmand's Golden Age

Afghanistan once faced the future with confidence.
Caught here on film, it's an era the world has forgotten.

When a young American engineer Glenn Foster arrived in Afghanistan, he found a country rushing towards the future. The people are “exploding out into the open,” he said later.

It was 1952. Afghanistan was still a kingdom, and King Zahir had hired foreign technicians - including American engineers and construction specialists - to help build the new post-war Afghanistan. Post-World War Two, that is.

Afghanistan faced the world with confidence. Revenue from its main export, the karakul lambskin, had grown steadily as the furriers, milliners and clothiers of a stricken Europe decamped to the United States. Although poor and undeveloped, Afghanistan in the late 1940s held $100m dollars in reserves.

Glenn Foster carried with him a 16mm camera, and in the seven years that he was to live and work in Afghanistan he shot hour upon hour of film - of Afghan life and landscapes, of engineering projects, of Christmas parties in the American community. And in those hours of film he captured the country in a hopeful moment of its history that is all but forgotten.


June 1948. The Empire Windrush docks at Tilbury carrying 492 West Indian "citizens of the British Empire". Newsreel footage captures forever the suited new arrivals waiting to alight. As the reporter introduces one young man as "their spokesman", a gently smiling Aldwyn Roberts sings a Calypso he wrote on the the voyage, 'London is the place for me, London, this lovely city...'
Aldwyn Roberts was 26 years old and already well known in Trinidad as Calypso star Lord Kitchener. He lived in England for almost 15 years, married a girl in Manchester, was celebrated by glamorous upper class English society and became the voice of a generation of Caribbean immigrants far from home.
Poet and musician Anthony Joseph also left Trinidad for London in his twenties and has always felt a powerful connection to Kitch. He spoke to him just once, when he saw Kitch standing alone for a moment at Carnival in Trinidad. Now, fifteen years after Kitchener's death Anthony Joseph tries to get to the heart of the man behind the famous footage.

Harry Smith issues his famous Anthology

1952: Number 13 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of world and folk music

There is a famous photograph taken by Allen Ginsberg of "painter, archivist, anthropologist, film-maker and hermetic alchemist" Harry Smith "transforming milk into milk" in a New York hotel room in 1985. The cranky-looking figure with large spectacles and wispy hair and beard was never a household name; nor were the bulk of the figures whose work he rescued from the dusty half-light with his Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952. This compilation featured recordings from a motley assortment of pre-war characters, such as Dock Boggs or Floyd Ming and his Pep-Steppers. The selection seemed to be made on the songs' strangeness – in the later words of the critic Greil Marcus, it revealed "the old, weird America". Smith wrote synopses of the songs and created his own artwork, including an etching of a monochord taken from a mystical treatise by 17th-century English astrologer Robert Fludd. The release became the bible of the Greenwich Village folk revival of the late 1950s and early 60s – feted by the likes of Dave Van Ronk and Dylan.

Zudrangma Records - Thailand

Check out Zudrangma Radio Station by clicking on the image above!

We are specialised in rare and collectible vinyl records in the vintage sounds of Luk Thung and Molam, alongside music from Jamaica, West Africa and the world.
The catalogue of records we offer include rare pieces but also some more classic titles with a general emphasis on offering records that we like and that we think you will like too.

Low Tech Sensors & Actuators

This report describes the results of a collaborative research project to develop a suite of low-tech sensors and actuators that might be useful for artists and architects working with interactive environments. With this project we hoped to consolidate a number of different approaches we had found ourselves taking in our own work and develop both a "kit-of-parts" and a more conceptual framework for producing such works.

We had often found during design development in the past that ideas had to be prototyped both quickly and cheaply; it was more important that such prototypes were functionally efficient rather than aesthetically perfect. Like many other artists and architects working in the field of interactive environments, in cutting costs and development time we often had to resort to a "low-tech" approach, rewiring keyboards to get pressure-pad input into computers, or using the monitor with light sensors and relays to get physical output from computers. We also found ourselves taking apart and reassembling (i.e. "hacking") bits of technology that were not connected to computers (for example the flashing stickers attached to mobile phones could be used to trigger light sensors when a phone call arrived).

Link to pdf...

Mirror Lands

Mirror Lands is a film and installation by multimedia artist Mark Lyken and Filmmaker Emma Dove in collaboration with Aberdeen University Ecologists at the Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty.
The film is narrated by first-person accounts, memories, feelings and perceptions of the Black Isle from a diverse range of local voices - from retired Lighthouse Keeper to Dolphin ID officer - contrasting perspectives on a common place.
Interview material, environmental sound and original music rise and fall across six speakers forming a circular sonic space from the screen. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the sound from different angles, experiencing how the change in sonic focus affects their experience of the projected image.

Peter Cusack ‎– Favourite Beijing Sounds

"What is your favorite Beijing sound and why? During September 2005 hundreds of Beijingers were asked this question and their replies make up the tracks of this compact disc [...] Set up by British Council as part of their Sounds in the city initiative that took place in Shanghai, Chongqing & Guangzhou [...] The Favorite sound project aims to discover what people find positive about their city's soundscape. It started in London in 1998 and still continues there." Peter Cusack - April 2007.

Peter Cusack is a field recordist, sound artist and musician and with a long interest in environmental sound and acoustic ecology. Projects include community arts, researches into sound and our sense of place and documentary recordings in areas of special sonic interest such as Lake Baikal, Siberia, and Xinjang, China’s most western province. He was involved in 'Sound & the City' the British Council sound art project in Beijing 2005. His project ‘Sounds From Dangerous Places’ examines the soundscapes of sites of major environmental damage, such as the Chernobyl exclusion zone, the Azerbaijan oil fields, controversial dams on the Tigris and Euphrates river systems in southeast Turkey. Using sound as a way of investigating documentary issues he now calls ‘sonic journalism’. This project continues and is currently researching the regeneration of the North Aral Sea, Kazakhstan.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Daniel R. Wilson is a sound designer, writer, instrument builder, and is currently Resonance 104.4fm/Sound and Music Embedded Composer in Residence for 2014. Wilson was also winner of the Arts Foundation Award for electro-acoustic composition. He works under many aliases including Meadow House and Ashfordaisyak, and his debut album was released in 2006, showcasing his self-built instruments. He is also a founding member of the electroacoustic improv group Oscillatorial Binnage.

Brandon LaBelle - Diary of an Imaginary Egyptian

“Writing comes up from under my skin,” writes Brandon LaBelle. “It creeps into my sleep, to tense my fingers; I am plunged into it, as a space for capturing a new voice, for figuring a new body, between here and there.”

Diary of an Imaginary Egyptian is marked by an urgency to unsettle divides between west and east, Anglo and Arab, and to put into question structures and modes of being-political. Written between February and June of 2011, the Diary functioned as a daily consideration of the intensity of events erupting around the world at that time. LaBelle sought to engage these events by way of a diary of affiliation and reciprocation in which personal memories and cultural reflections search for remote connection, in particular, with the Arab Spring. The Diary acts as a platform from which questions around US imperialism, art and revolution, the task of writing, and the possibility of new political subjectivity are raised. LaBelle asks for an "agency of the intimate", outlining a tender map of the transnational.

Diary of an Imaginary Egyptian is the second issue of the new book series Doormats published by Errant Bodies Press, edited by Riccardo Benassi and Brandon LaBelle. The series aims at contributing to the now, addressing issues that are present and that demand presence.

Global Groovers - Preserving Grooves from Around the World

Learn How to Make Gluten-Free Beer at Home

The Pros and Cons of Brewing Gluten-Free Beer at Home

Is it really possible to brew good, even great gluten-free ales and lagers at home? Yes! But before you run out to buy everything you need to become a gluten-free home brewer there are some things you need to know. And in case you decide that home brewing gluten-free beer isn't for you -- see the list of breweries that produce some wonderful gluten-free beers at the end of this article.

Read on...

Some of my favourite tunes this month

Rare & Classic Soul Funk by Adam Kvasnica on Mixcloud

Friday, 16 January 2015

Massoud l'Afghan (1998)

Last winter, when Christophe de Ponfilly's documentary ''Massoud, the Afghan'' was shown at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, it was hard to imagine a more urgently topical film. Its subject, Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Tajik commander who had, over more than 20 years, fought the Red Army and then the Taliban, was assassinated by Al Qaeda suicide bombers on Sept. 9, 2001, in a grisly prelude to the attacks on the United States two days later. In the war that followed, the United States and its allies routed Massoud's enemies, the Taliban, and put together a government led by his allies in the Northern Alliance -- a posthumous and as yet perilously incomplete victory for the soldier known as the Lion of Panjshir.

Mr. Ponfilly's film, which opens today at Film Forum, is of course no less relevant than it was a year ago. Indeed, its release should serve as a timely reminder that, even as our government trains its sights on Iraq, the hardships of Afghanistan, a country nearly obliterated by decades of war, persist. Few Westerners can claim as intimate a knowledge of that war or as deep a connection with the people of Afghanistan, as Mr. Ponfilly. He first went to the country in 1981, to record the Mujahadeen's war against the Soviet invaders, and he returned many times over the next 16 years.

Read more about Ahmad Shah Massoud and his assanination two days before the attacks on 9/11 here...

Close-up - Abbas Kiarostami

Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work. This fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a stunning, multilayered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up has resonated with viewers around the world.

5 Great Iranian Films

When A Separation became the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award, more people gained awareness of the country’s rich film legacy. Hamid Naficy, a leading authority on Middle Eastern cinema, lists a selection of his favourite Iranian films.

The House is Black (1961), directed by Forugh Farrokhzad
The Cow (1969), directed by Dariush Mehrjui
Close-up (1989), directed by Abbas Kiarostami
The May Lady (1997), directed by Rakhshan Banietemad
Kandahar (2001), directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Read more details about the films...