review

Goodreads review: Frankenstein

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s almost a fool’s errand to review Frankenstein. The book’s been so firmly ensconced in the literary canon for so long that it can’t be dislodged, and the story of its inception – spooky story competition with Byron, Percy Shelley, Polidori – is almost so doused in writerly name-dropping as to be something you couldn’t make up.

But hey, I’ve never shied away from a fool’s errand so away we go. (more…)

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Goodreads review: Bad City Blues

Bad City BluesBad City Blues by Tim Willocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another out-the-door read, I began this in order to get it off my shelves. I’m trying to downsize books, and I felt that this would be a good read-and-donate, so away I went.

I may have to reconsider this plan of action.

While this is the second Willocks book I’ve read, it’s the first of his to be published. Green River Rising was my first, and it’s undeniable that while that book is more polished, Bad City Blues is more viscerally interesting. There’s certainly a sense that Willocks is working out ideas here, and the writing sometimes veers close to formula, but in genre fiction, that’s hardly a cardinal sin.

Willocks’ writing here is resolutely Southern-fried gothic violence. There’s touches of Chandler and Cain, with sweaty balls; religion, robbery and the fuckery love leads you to are foremost. (more…)

Synergy Percussion and Noreum Machi: Earth Cry 15/8/2015

Waiting.

Last Saturday evening I spent a little over an hour watching two percussion ensembles perform at Sydney’s City Recital Hall. It was the culmination of a couple of years of joint study and development between Sydney’s Synergy Percussion and Korea’s Noreum Machi. This show was the last of the tour, with the Korean trio set to fly out the next morning, so I was interested to see how the two would come together. (more…)

Branch Nebula: Artwork

Nom nom nom.

Nom nom nom.

Earlier this week I entered a competition to win tickets to Artwork, a Branch Nebula production at Carriageworks. I scored a double pass and attended last night’s performance, the second-last of the run. I’d not read much about the show (partially because Carriageworks’ site is artfully oblique) so I entered Bay 17 with few expectations.

I knew ahead of time that the piece is performed by job-seekers. Branch Nebula (who have been developing this piece in association with Carriageworks, who commissioned the work) placed ads in online classified sites, and gathered the respondents together. They meet just before the production, and are given no instruction, other than to follow instructions according to an assigned number. They perform for that evening, and a new group will take the stage the next night. (more…)

New Zeitkratzer review

My review of a live disc of Zeitkratzer performances of Whitehouse songs has gone live (a little while ago, now) over at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.

Zeitkratzer are a great ensemble. Their acoustic mastery is undeniable, and the sounds they recreate without access to a bunch of broken boxes and fucked electronics are spot-on. But somehow the execution of the task seems almost redundant: there’s as much enjoyment to be had by the idea of a bunch of traditional instruments covering Whitehouse as there is from having the end result in your hand.

You can read the whole review here, if you like.

L.A. Noire (2011)

Otherwise known as James Ellroy: The Game.

Ah, I kid. Sorta. L.A. Noire is pretty indebted to Ellroy’s canon. It’s a mostly historically-accurate presentation of downtown LA in the 1940s, with some not-so-accurate versions of famous faces attached. It’s dark, long, a bit convoluted and full of wonkiness – but it’s as compulsive and endearing as any crime novel, largely because you’re made to feel that you’re in one.

We’re talking Los Angeles at the time of the Elizabeth Short killing. Corrupt cops, the birth of the freeway system, returned soldiers and streets awash with drugs and booze. There’s detailed clothing, excellent cars and bystanders who jump out of the way of your terrible driving with a spirited “Holy Toledo!”, while the movie plays on film noir tropes like there’s no tomorrow. (more…)

Driver: San Francisco (2011)

I’ve just finished the main story mode of Driver: San Francisco on the PS3. I’d originally bought it as part of a Playstation Plus discount deal – I think it cost me about six bucks? – and it had sat on my hard drive for months, unplayed. Which, given how stupidly great it turned out to be, was something of a mistake.

If you imagine any cop buddy movie, then change the setting to San Francisco, while adding in car-swapping superpowers resulting from a coma then you’re getting close. There’s prison breaks, terrorism, tourism and an ungodly amount of film tributes all fleshed out through the undeniably enjoyable experience of pushing a range of expensive cars to their limits with no regard for pedestrian safety. (more…)

New Howard Stelzer review

My review of Howard Stelzer’s Brayton Point album has gone live at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.

The album consists of manipulations of field recordings taken from around the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The station is to be decommissioned in 2017, so Stelzer’s recording acts as a kind of memorial to the site; a document which initially captures working sounds of the area before transforming into a thrumming, windy meditation on the limitless potentials of power. The industrial grime of the power station is strongly present, though it’s not in the jackhammer way which one would associate with an Eraserhead ethic.

You can read the rest here. 

Goodreads review: A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with DragonsA Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Five down, two more to go. Well, assuming they’re ever finished, that is. But it does feel pretty good to have reached this point – that’s a lot of dragons, noseless dwarves and creepy sex scenes to go through. But it must be testament to the strength of the story that I’m still here … and a walk-up start for six and seven when they arrive.

The same criticisms I had for A Feast for Crows apply to this one. It’s still pretty obviously half-and-a-bit-more of one text too long for publication on its own, and the absence (or much-reduced presence) of the characters who drove the previous book sometimes leaves the reader with a feeling of isolation or amnesia. It’s easy to lose track of what’s happening where when certain people don’t turn up for a thousand pages or so. (more…)

Goodreads review: A Feast for Crows

A Feast for CrowsA Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I suppose the people were right when they suggested I’d seen nothin’ yet if I thought GRRM’s penchant for waffling was excessive in the previous book. This was easily the series’ most padded work. Many times I found myself retreading ground, or having stuff explained that’d been explained in either another book in the series or in another chapter of this book.

That’s understandable, I suppose – there’s hundreds of cast and dozens of locations in the world Martin’s created – but it certainly is very obvious when you’re reading the series (as it stands) end to end. As you start to build up your own storehouse of lore and family trees, the constant hand-holding can really weary. (more…)