Archive for November 2011
Castin’ Their Spell
More garage goodness from the Norton Records 25th Anniversary shows (Nov. 10-13 @ Brooklyn’s Bell House). Watch The Sonics rock Northwest fave “The Witch” on the final show day with some Go-Go’ing assistance from The 5678′s.
Everywhere At Once
Though it seems cliched to use the word prolific to describe musician Steven Wilson, there is hardly a better way to note his seemingly inexhaustible cache of projects. Best known as founder member of the heavy progressive outfit Porcupine Tree, he also teams with Aviv Geffen for the equally excellent Blackfield. As a producer he has been affiliated with Opeth, and his recent remixes of early King Crimson albums, and more recently Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung”, have brought kudos from fans and the artists themselves. This is not to mention his other creative outlets Bass Communion and No-Man.
On November 11, 2011 Wilson treated faithful New York fans to an in store appearance at Park Row’s J&R Electronics, one of the few bastions of “deep catalog” music shopping left in the city. The nearly 300 attendees got a live appetizer of the guitarist/singer’s newest solo album “Grace for Drowning” and the Best Buy Theater show scheduled that night. Flanked by flute player Theo Travis and keyboardist Adam Holzman, Steven offered “Postcard” and “Deform To Form A Star”, both from the new record. During the following meet and greet he gave a generous amount of chat time to each fan (considering the impressive lunch time turn-out) and signed copies of the new record. The album is available in several formats including standard CD, double vinyl, and a Blu-Ray DVD package with 5.1 mix, video extras and demos.
PiercingMetal’s Ken Pierce was on board for the appearance as well as the evening’s solo show while I headed back to Brooklyn for the first of four nights of garage band blow-out at Norton Record’s 25th Anniversary. I’ll post a link to Ken’s review and photos of the Best Buy show as soon as it goes live.
Christa Titus covered the after-party for Billboard Magazine.
A wonderfully thorough, completely obsessive, discography of Wilson’s work can be found here.
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Norton 25th Anniversary Shows
November 10 – 13, 2011 • The Bell House, Brooklyn
A Night One Highlight
A super excellent surprise in an evening filled with excellent surprises was The Dex Romweber Duo launching into my all time favorite Who song, “So Sad About Us” from the “Quick One/Happy Jack” album. Pure pop rock perfection already, Dex and sister Sara distill it down to guitar, drums, heart and soul.
Much love to Norton label leaders Billy and Miriam for asking Dex to keep this in the set.
What It Is…
That today’s science and medical technologies were once only figments in the realm of the fantastic is something we all know but often take for granted. For instance, everyone knows the name “Frankenstein”, the doctor and the cadaverous namesake it represents, but details of the idea’s inception are lost in time to the public at large. Science Channel remedies that with a new series focusing specifically on the writers who imagined a future that in many instances has come to pass. “Prophets of Science Fiction” is presented by producer/director Ridley Scott who, as the creator of such modern Sci-Fi classics as “Alien” and “Blade Runner”, is totally at home in the genre. He uses his on-screen time to tie the strands of biographical and technological information – presented by numerous interviewees and graphic sources – into a cohesive package. The format has the feel of two of my favorite BBC series James Burke’s “Connections” and “The Day The Universe Changed”. Those shows presented the lineage of invention through seemingly disparate thought threads and varied serendipities which rendered unexpected and ingenious outcomes.
Episode 1 Preview – Mary Shelly
As the de facto mother of science fiction literature Mary Shelly is the natural subject of the premiere episode. Only a teenager in 1816 when she began her novel as a challenge to out scare her husband Percy and their summer companions Dr. John Polidori and Lord Byron, Mary imagined the story which became “Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus” when completed two years later.
At first published anonymously, Shelly went on to embrace her authorship and bid her “hideous progeny go forth and prosper”. Prosper it did with multiple editions in her lifetime and innumerable adaptations and co-optings in the nearly two centuries since. Even the story’s genesis during that “haunted summer” at Lake Geneva has been explored on film as the stylish Victorian prologue to James Whale’s 1935 “Bride of Frankenstein and the psychosis of Ken Russell’s “Gothic”.
As prescient as she was it’s unlikely Mrs. Shelly could have foreseen Frankenberry breakfast cereal or Herman Munster as she formulated her tale of science gone wrong cloaked in the stench of the charnel house.
The episode explores the science fact of “Frankenstein” from the early electrical experiments of Luigi Galvani to Dr. Reggie Edgerton’s spinal cord research and looks at the work of the Human Genome Project and genetic cartographers, as well as those on a quest to create artificial intelligence. L.A. Chief Coroner Harvey describes the “gray area” between somatic death and molecular death and the harvesting of tissue and organs for transplant.
On the creative side Shelly biographers relate how the teenager’s personal experiences; her mother’s death after her birth; familial alienation; and the loss of her own first born, filter their way into the story, often in the personality of “the monster”. The subtext being a tale of parental abandonment.
The series premieres tonight (Nov 9, 2011) on Science Channel @ 10PM EST.
Ahh, a series after my own heart. Something to truly relish. I am and have always been fascinated with process vs. product, often more interested in reading the biography of an author than their actual works. “Prophets of Science Fiction” brings to light the personal and contemporaneous catalysts of these visionary creators and nicely interpolates the historical and fictional with the latter day science they prognosticated. I’m very much looking forward to upcoming episodes highlighting H.G. Wells, Isac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, Jules Verne, and even “newbie” George Lucas.
How about a similar spin on horror writers like Lovecraft, Poe, Bierce, Blackwood and King hosted by the likes of John Carpenter, Wes Craven or George Romero.
(Guest Editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez returns with her look at the premiere issue of a new graphic novel series.)
House of Night
On Wednesday, November 9th, Dark Horse Comics brings you the first installment in their adaptation of “House of Night,” based on the series of books penned by mother/daughter writing duo P.C. and Kristin Cast.
What It Is…
Ever since Joss Whedon gave us “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” teen angst and the supernatural have become inextricably entwined in the land of young adult fiction.
Enter Zoey Redbird, a 16-year-old, like Buffy, reluctant to answer her own calling. In a world where Vampyres (yes, spelled with a Y), Witches and Goddesses all exist, she must learn to embrace and develop her powers, all the while navigating the usual drama of school, bullies, friends, and a budding romance. However, Zoey’s school is a bit different from most; she attends a “Potter-esque” Vampyre Academy, where she must learn to hone her craft, as she begins her transformation into a “creature of the night” herself. As Joss would say, it’s another allegory for adolescence and the horrors of High School.
Been there, done that. But what sets “House of Night” apart from the others, and that which piqued my curiosity, is the way authors P.C. and Kristin Cast (joined by Kent Dalian for the graphic novel) manage to weave in elements of mysticism, mythology and lessons on spiritual growth throughout the plot. It will be interesting to see how these elements develop in further issues.
The allure of the supernatural, the idea of a realm “beyond the veil,” fascinates most of us. Of course, like the world of comic book heroes, we find that hidden world (a world beautifully illustrated by artists Joëlle Jones, Karl Kerschl and Jenny Frison) and the promise of power difficult to resist. Sadly, what I notice in popular teen fiction, is how it often discards the concept of consequences and finding balance when it comes to power. In my humble opinion, there should be more lessons on growth and spirituality and “be careful what you wish for.” I’d be curious to see if “House of Night” continues down this path.
I get what “House of Night” is going for, but never having read the books, I found the first issue, although interesting and definitely able to hook a teen audience, a bit disjointed. However, if you’re a fan of L.J. Smith’s “Vampire Diaries” or the “Secret Circle” series, as well as “Twilight,” there may be something for you here.
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