Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sunday 25 October 2009

Today I am up at 6.30AM, the clock change really fucks me up.

With nothing else to do in this early hour I set about watching the Dinosaur JrLive In The Middle East” DVD I currently have on loan from Lovefilm. Here’s hoping I don’t sit on this for two months before I get around to watching and returning it (like my last rental with them).

The DVD is surprisingly good. There is a weird purple and green light show going on which works and it comes from early in their reformation so the majority of the set is culled from “You’re Living All Over Me-”. I begin scratching my head about this music. Its loud but technically flawed. I could easily imagine an outsider looking at the set and commenting at how bad the playing is because at times I even find myself thing this. The word “raw” most definitely springs to mind. That said there are more dynamics to this performance than the majority of bands playing at the moment. With his role in this band there appears to be a new hardness to Lou Barlow and when he plays he does this strange and unique circular arm movement when he strums. It rocks. Later on the extras of the DVD is a song from their Koko Don’t Look Back performance of “You’re Living All Over Me” which was one of the greatest shows I have been to with about four encores meaning that we had to leave before end as the band appeared to be going through their entire Lou-era back catalogue.

Once this is over I get up and endeavour to do some writing but for some sad reason I am unable to bring it as the words fail to come. I just feel too exhausted right now.

Having annoyingly fallen asleep during the new (and long awaited) Thick Of It last night I persist with an eternally blocking and buffering rubbish iPlayer to watch it. I’m not completely sold on internet television. Regardless the first episode of this new series starts off very nastily, much nastier than previous series.

Following I watch the latest episode of Saturday Night Live which features Drew Barrymore as guest host. This show never fails.

Writing today doesn’t really get much further than the completion of my first Circle Jerks album review.

Today is the draw for the first round of the FA Cup and as it beams live on ITV I feel somewhat shocked when Millwall get AFC Wimbledon or Crawley at home. Immediately I text Stevo to see the likelihood of them beating Crawley to get through to the tie. This fixture feels so wrong. I really really wanted AFC Wimbledon to get MK Dons, that really in earnest is the fixture the knowing football world wants to see. For Millwall however it represents a relatively easy draw, after beating Leeds there is no way they will fuck up beating Wimbledon, I predict they will do so in the most boring fashion possible with two late goals to win 2-0. The reality is that non-league clubs just do not have the fitness/stamina to meet professional league teams and in the end this makes the big difference.

As per routine I head over to the olds’ for Sunday lunch at 3PM. Old habits die hard. Driving out of my car park I put Radio Five on to discover that the game between Liverpool and Manchester United is already halfway through. As I watch the second half with the old man Carragher plainly should get sent off when he does something stupid. However he remains on the pitch, Liverpool remain eleven men and boringly Torres scores to give Liverpool the lead before they then snag a second in injury time to win 2-0.

The second game is West Ham v Arsenal but it’s incredibly boring (as would be expected) so instead I take to watching the Krautrock BBC documentary on iPlayer instead. It’s a frustrating documentary that spreads itself too thing and doesn’t seem able to decide whether it is a music documentary or a history documentary. That said the Amon Duul and Baader-Meinhof tales are very titillating and the whole German mystique is an exciting thing. It is just a shame that the documentary wasn’t longer and given the opportunity to cover things in more depth.

With the Norwegian black metal documentary showing at the Colchester Arts Centre tonight, I arrange to meet up with Nina and Sandy at the Hogshead for 6.30PM before heading over. Once inside we snag front table seats for the documentary and get a good view of the whole thing.

The documentary is called Until The Light Takes Us and covers the Norwegian black metal scene of a few years ago that escalated to the point where band members were committing murder and churches were being burned to the ground. The focal points of the scene were bands called Darkthrone and Burzum whose main members are heavily featured and interviewed with impressive access during the film, not least due to the fact that Varg Vikernes of Burzum is in prison.

Tonight the filmmakers Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell are in tow presenting the film and offering up a Q&A after the screening.

In the end the documentary turns out to be better than I had been imagining and hoping for. From the off you can tell the filmmakers are passionate about their subject which is something you suspect comes through by the way the interviewees respond and accommodate.

A few years ago I used to have an online friend in Norway called Line who was just an amazing person and as she told me about Norway it fuelled a fondness for the place in me that I have always held for Scandinavia in general. Of all the countries in mainland Europe those are the ones I have always felt the UK most has an affinity with.

It begins with the Darkthrone mainstay Fenriz being busted on a train for possessing tear gas which gives the whole piece an immediate weight, almost suggesting that the black metal participants are akin to terrorists. And then it is all downhill from here. For this guy however its just water off a duck’s back.

From here some kind of subtle Manson Family spin is put onto proceedings as Varg Vikernes comes over as some kind of enlightened scene leader as soon it becomes apparent how his focus switched towards politics while Fenriz concentrated on the music. At this point to back up Vikernes words the film focuses on the US branding taking over the Norwegian streets (much like the rest of the planet), almost as if to justify his message and actions.

Thankfully the documentary then runs through a user friendly history of the Norwegian black metal movement, of weird bands making shittily recorded albums that still manage to sound amazing which coupled with the whole look of the movement most definitely has something of value within it. Eventually though as with these things, as the scene gained momentum people found themselves taking things too seriously and eventually the unfortunate suicide of a member of Mayhem (“Dead”) and subsequent discovery by the guitarist Euronymous eventually makes for an album cover (“Dawn Of The Black Hearts”).

Then the scene’s Sharon Tate moment occurs with the first church burning (Fantoft Stave Church) that sees the scene reaching the national (and international) stage. From here a number of subsequent churches get burned down at which point Euronymous loses his head as art becomes too much like reality and reports Vikernes to the police.

At this point Vikernes explains that even though they were railing against Christian conventions the scene was never Satanic, as how it was now being portrayed in the media. For Vikernes it was about striking out against accepted social conventions and how Christianity had stomped over Norwegian culture and now weighs heavily on modern society.

Around this point like any youth movement the scene was co-opted and commercialised (as much as possible) which gets best featured in the form of an art exhibition which Fenriz views with horror. Later Harmony Korine then pops up with a similar exhibition I guess to show how appreciation of the scene eventually reached further fields.

Finally the documentary heads towards a climax as the reason for Vikernes being in prison is revealed as he recounts the scene where and why he murdered Euronymous from Mayhem. At the same time while he is locked up and powerless a new character called Frost from a band called Satyricon is held up as an example of a bandwagon jumper, a shilling fraud of the lowest kind. Within his act he displays a most extreme gesture of violence that is so far removed from what the forerunners have experienced. Safe and horrific.

In the end it’s much like any innovative music scene/movement/style, just like hip hop, punk or grunge the originators of the art are the ones to fall foul and fail to make the record sales off the careerists that follow. This will always be an interesting story to tell.

After the documentary the filmmakers step out in front of the stage and take on questions from the heavy metal audience. As a record collector myself I often feel that I am just the modern equivalent of a trainspotter (without the getting out the house element) but metalheads are an altogether different breed of geek, generally lacking an awareness of their existence and being very serious about their interest while wearing a uniform in the same manner in which a Star Trek fan dresses up (only more frequent).

Compared to the Q&As I have been seeing at the London Film Festival this is a very long session as unsurprisingly the metal fans have lots of questions they need answered. Even after the Q&A ends the audience crowds around the filmmakers with a seemingly unending list of questions.

Myself I wind up chatting to the community radio DJ from Ipswich before eventually giving her a lift to the station where I give her a copy of my book which seriously fails to impress her.

It was a great documentary.

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