Blog posts by year and month October 2011

Posts (96)

  1. This November sees the third Soundtrack festival kicking off in Cardiff, with organisers confident they have lined up the best combination of screenings, talks and music events yet. Those disappointed to see the event take a brief hiatus in 2010 will be relieved to know tickets went on sale yesterday, Monday 17 October, as the final programme line-up was announced. The festival is all about celebrating the relationship between music and the moving image through live gigs, film viewings and conversations with industry experts. Highlights include a performance by the Guillemots, nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music prize. The band will be at the Coal Exchange on 18 November to improvise a live score to a film, the title of which the festival is currently keeping tight-lipped about. Guillemots Suzanne Alizart, interim chief executive at the Film Agency for Wales, which fund the festival, said: "This is a flagship event for the Film Agency, which has demonstrated from its first outing its commitment to internationally renowned film and music talent, spotlighting Wales to the world. "This year's programme once again reflects our ability to attract major names in the film and music world, with more film previews than ever before and an expansion into Newport for the first time." Things kick off on 16 November with a screening of Steve McQueen's Shame starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender. Set in New York, the film explores Brandon's (Fassbender) sex addiction as his control over his life slips through his fingers when his sister Sissy (Mulligan) turns up to stay with him out of the blue. Its score is described as "powerful" by Soundtrack organisers and features big New York names like Blondie, Tom Tom Club, John Coltrane and Chic. The stunning music of José González (the man who brought the world the rousing Heartbeats and Crosses on his début Veneer album) marks the subject of the second film, this time being screened free of charge in Newport at the film José González The documentary is an observational portrait of an eccentric genius. Places are limited so viewers will need to email Newport@soundtrackfilmfestival.com to secure a seat. There is also another screening on 18 November at Chapter Arts Centre with a Q&A with director Fredrik Egerstrand. The darker undercurrents of the Black Metal genre and accompanying culture will be explored with a screening of Until The Light Takes Us - a documentary looking at the origins of the music and how its anti-Christian leanings have been sensationalised in the mainstream The free event, also at Newport Film School, will see a simultaneous performance from Norwegian Black Metal heroes Dimmu Borgir in Cardiff University on 17 November. Billed as the pick of the festival is a screening of the independent film Bellflower, directed by Evan Glodell, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival & SXSW Film Festival 2011. It's about two friends obsessed with Mad Max who build flame-throwers and cars preparing for an imagined world apocalypse. Due to its limited budget the film couldn't stretch to the necessary insurance or permits, so is in many places, just as dangerous as it looks. Stanley Kubrick's chilling A Clockwork Orange celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and the festival is marking this with a screening, an exclusive exhibition of documents from the Stanley Kubrick Archive and a discussion panel with guests from the BBFC and the Archive. The demise of the independent record shop and the strength of feeling that keeps the dwindling few from dying out all together, form the subject matter of documentary Sound It Out, which is being presented in association with Cardiff's Spillers Records. The film focuses on the very last surviving vinyl record shop in Teesside and how its customers ensure it continues to thrive. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Jeanie Finlay and Spillers Records' Ashli Todd. Those wearing a Spillers Record T shirt to the event will get a discount on entry. Don Letts' 2005 film Punk Attitude, about the evolution of punk with interviews from key figures, also features in the line-up and will be coupled with an In Conversation event with the Grammy award winning Letts about his career. Letts is famous for chronicling the Punk scene and has produced more than 300 music videos for artists such as Bob Marley, Elvis Costello and The Clash, along with films of artists such as The Jam and Gil Scott-Heron. He will also talk about the influences of punk and that iconic photograph of him standing up to police during the Notting Hill riots, chosen by The Clash as the cover of Black Market Clash. Soundtrack also welcomes comedian Adam Buxton (of Adam and Joe fame), who will bring his extremely popular show Bug: The Evolution of Music Video to Cardiff for the first time. The event enjoyed five sold out nights at the Edinburgh Festival and has attracted something of a cult following. It showcases new music videos by everyone from those working with zero budgets to household names and explores how the digital era has provided a new democracy for the genre. The festival closes with Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes' directorial début of the Shakespearean tragedy. Ralph Fiennes in Coriolanus Fiennes is unashamed in drawing parallels between the ancient themes of power and politics and the modern era and also stars as the protagonist, a legendary battle leader more at home on the fields of war than in the realm of the consul of Rome. It is accompanied by a score from Ivor Novello and BAFTA nominated composer Ilan Eshkeri. The full programme and details on how to obtain tickets may be found on www.soundtrackfilmfestival.com. You can also follow Soundtrack on Twitter: @Soundtrack_Fest.

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  2. Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) is the subject taking up our time on Country Focus this week. What's that you say? Well, quite, and as you may have already guessed - it's an American term for what medical experts are claiming is a recognisable condition, namely that people are increasingly becoming divorced from the natural world. This all started with the publication of a book entitled Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv where the term 'Nature Deficit Disorder' (NDD) was first coined back in 2005. Since then it's become a convenient label for a number of concerns and symptoms, ranging from behavioural problems, depression and other problems associated with low self-esteem. And all because we're 'without meaningful contact with the natural world' apparently. You can't deny that children in particular spend less time outdoors than a generation ago or at least less time unsupervised, mainly owing to concerns about traffic and strangers. At the same time, there's been a huge increase in organised sport for kids as an attempt (presumably) to redress the balance but whatever happened to scampering - the art of aimless, unstructured play in the great outdoors? The type of thing that involves climbing trees (think of the health and safety implications), handling creepy crawlies (think of the germs) and getting generally muddy (think of all the extra laundry). With a little research into the subject, there are stories to be found about doctors writing nature prescriptions, ordering patients to go on long walks, joining green gyms and learning bush craft skills. Outdoor play has also become a huge part of the school curriculum. When I was in primary school, we didn't even have any grass to play on, just a large concrete yard, but today the Foundation Phase is all about 'bringing the outdoors in'. Although having said that, a recent provisional report from the Schools Inspectorate, Estyn claimed that not enough was being done to encourage outdoor learning in Wales. Outdoor play They also stress that children under five learn better and develop quicker in outdoor lessons and that teachers could do more to create opportunities to get some fresh air into the classrooms (and vice versa). BBC News: Estyn call for more outdoor learning in Wales. That certainly isn't the case at Llanrhidian Primary on Gower, which I visited last week as part of my research for the programme. The school has its very own farm, housed in an internal courtyard within the main building, complete with hay bales, chickens and ducks! Two pupils in wellies were busy mucking out while I visited and were clearly enjoying themselves. Head teacher Donna Caswell also showed me the school's orchard, wind turbine and even pathways covered in Penclawdd cockle shells, claiming that the whole project has transformed the life of the school. She also told me that pupils are less anxious when they're outside and therefore learn better and faster than in an indoor environment. I was even able to buy a box of eggs on my way out, freshly laid that morning. You can hear more on the debate surrounding 'Nature Deficit Order' on Country Focus on Sunday, 30 October. Feel free to add your comments about this topic to the blog.

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  3. This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme. Future Of The Left are a big rusty spike in the side of a rather moribund music scene. Pop metal/pop punk is ubiquitous, and although the tropes of rock's anti-es...

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  4. The dark nights are here, which can mean only one thing: it must be time for another series of the BBC Radio Wales book programme, Phil The Shelf. It starts on 13 November, to be exact, in the run-up to Christmas - on the basis that one of the great festive traditions is sitting down with a g...

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  5. One of the best-loved biblical stories of all time is to be staged in five venues across Wales from this week. Benjamin Britten's opera Noye's Fludde takes the popular Noah's Ark tale and turns it on its head using words from the medieval Chester mystery play, this time with an important new ...

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  6. The wind and rain has eased after a turbulent night and colder temperatures thank to Arctic winds. It's still fresh today though and a good time to dig out the coat and jumper with some showers in the north which could be heavy. The winds will be strong with gusts around 45mph. There's also ...

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  7. Stunning photographs of the Llŷn Peninsula form the basis of a new exhibition at the Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw in Llanbedrog, Pwllheli. Adults and children alike were invited to share their thoughts on what the historic and picturesque coastline means to them by capturing those expressions on f...

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  8. This week in the thick of the Swn festival the organisers, Huw Stephens and John Rostron, will be announcing the latest arm of Swn, The Welsh Music Prize. The 12 albums nominated for the Welsh Music Prize This prize for the album of the year is an exciting addition to the festival, and we'll hear the results after they are announced at a ceremony this Friday at the Kuku Club in Cardiff. Today, I'm heading off to meet with the rest of the panel of judges involved in choosing the winning album. The judges are a mixed but experienced bunch, from Ashli Todd, co-owner of Spillers Records; Dai Davies, governor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; David Exley, booking agent at Coda Music Agency; Jude Rogers, a journalist writing for The Guardian and many other publications; Mike Williams, deputy editor of NME; Neil Pengelly, head booker for Reading and Leeds festivals; Stephen Bass, co-founder of Moshi Moshi Records; Tom Baker, founder of Eat Your Own Ears and Yvonne Matsell, co-founder of NXNE Music Festival in Canada. The best thing about the list of judges above is that they'll be listening to the albums with fresh ears and very little personal bias, and a world of experience in the music industry. I'm expecting quite a lively discussion later. From my perspective, although very familiar with the artists, and sometimes over-familiar with some of the songs, I found myself over the weekend listening afresh to the whole line up: a selection which was collated from suggestions from music industry insiders, label owners, and the general public here in Wales: Al Lewis - In The Wake (ALM) Colorama - Box (See Monkey Do Monkey Records) Funeral For A Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon (Distiller Records) Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo (Ovni/Turnstile Music) Lleuwen - Tan (Gwymon) Manic Street Preachers - Postcards from a Young Man (Sony) Stagga - The Warm Air Room (Rag and Bone Records) Sweet Baboo - I'm a Dancer/Songs About Sleepin' (Shape Records) The Blackout - Hope (Cooking Vinyl) The Gentle Good - Tethered for the Storm (Gwymon) The Joy Formidable - Big Roar (Atlantic Records) Y Niwl - Y Niwl (Aderyn Papur) I was driving from Cardiff up to visit family in mid Wales, and the long journey through an autumnal Welsh mountainous landscape was the perfect backdrop to immerse myself in the albums as a complete set. I remember reading about John Peel's annual drive down to the Sonar festival, where he'd work through a bin bag of demos. Too often I'm listening to music in a rushed manner for work, or it is on in the background as I potter around the house - in the car, there's no escape! Without revealing the result (as I don't know it yet) I can just tell you that it was an absolute thrill to listen to each album. Each one was totally different in style, content, approach, and musical genre. From the intense dubstep sounds of Stagga to the fullness and composure of The Joy Formidable's Big Roar, Gruff Rhys's hooky melodies, to Lleuwen's incredible harmonies. The list was a real cross range of the sounds of Wales and I'm sure there will be those 'Marmite' moments for the judges, but at least the clichés of the 'Welsh sound' - whatever that may be - cannot be true of this list. There's folk, rock, indie, surf, and dubstep, so quite a range in only 12 albums. As I head to the discussions, I've been asked to take with me my top three albums, and pick one in particular to champion. I've been asking myself in what way can I judge, choose and pick from such a range of musical styles, experience and talent. It's a responsibility to choose an album which will be hailed as the best album in Wales this year, but I guess the only thing I can do is choose based on personal taste, levelled with years of listening to music, but generally as a music fan, asking myself which album was the most pleasure to listen to. A simple basis for choice then in the end, but I'm sure it'll be just a springboard for the discussions ahead. Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login. Need some assistance? Read about BBC iD, or get some help with registering.

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  9. Say the name Beau Nash and people automatically think of Bath and of his role as Master of Ceremonies in the spa city. But Richard 'Beau' Nash was a Welshman through and through. He was born and educated in the principality and, although he turned his back on his native country after his teen...

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  10. Among all the events for Sŵn 2011, one of the most interesting is Beyond Borders, in Swansea on Friday 28 October. White Noise Sound Beyond Borders is a grant scheme run by the Performing Right Society and is designed to assist musical cooperation between areas of the UK, in this case...

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