Music: Bing & Ruth – No Home Of The Mind (4AD Records, 2017)

At the end of 2014 David Moore alias Bing & Ruth releases his last effort “Tomorrow Was The Golden Age”. One of my best friends name it album of the year in our usual Best-Of lists by the end of the year. Unfortunately I don’t listen to it, but I can’t say why? In 2016 my friend said that they will release a new record in the early days of 2017.

So I have checked out the first teaser track of “No Home Of The Mind”. It was the neo classical influenced “Starwood Choker”. It was also the opener from “No Home Of The Mind”, the first record on 4AD records. With the change from RVNG Int. to 4AD Bing & Ruth should receive also much more attention. One of the key instrument on the new one is the piano. “No Home For The Mind” was recorded around the States and Europe on seventeen different pianos. So there is no wonder that the refences for the new one are in the neo classical field of music. It reminds me on Nils Frahm, A Winged Victory For The Sullen and the last one from Ben Lukas Boysen. “No Home Of The Mind” is a warm, beautiful and timeless effort in piano driven music. One of my highlights is “The How Of It Sped”. For me it is the best combination between neo-classical and drone elements in one track. The rhythm of the piano stays almost constant while the backgrounds noises creates downs and peaks in atmosphere. It is also one of the best moments on “No Home Of The Mind”. The following track “Is Drop” matches perfect because the feeling is very similar. It is not very easy to describe these kind of music only by words. It transports feelings and emotions, so it is no wonder that many people decribe it as “Head Cinema Music”. The listener creates his own pictures while he listen to the music. Even if 2017 is in the early stages I would be suprised if “No One Of The Mind” isn’t in my year end list. I’m speechless!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

First Spin: Joy Orbison

It’s been a while since the last official release from Joy Orbison. Since 2012 he only releases a bunch of singles and split tracks with his colleague Boddika. One of the best tracks comes from the Rush Hour Music compilation back in 2015. “A213” is IDM club music at it’s best.

It reminds me a little bit to the club oriented releases from Four Tet’s “Percussions” side project. By now Joy Orbision aka Peter O’Grady set to release two new efforts via his Bandcamp page. The two track single “Off Season / Fuerza” and the EP “Toss Portal”. “Toss Portal” is a sticky four track UK techno experiment. Here are some words from boomkat: “The reticulated funk of Rid cuts loose with a proper feminine pressure that recalls his earliest work, while the grumbling, cranky Walworth Window morphs with a more messed-up, kinkier appeal of his own, and Rite Ov even introduces a lilting reggae vocal, Main Street or Rhythm & Sound style, on a sloshing steppers groove.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Music: Demdike Stare – Wonderland (ModernLove, 2017)

Actually the new Demdike Stare record release at the end of 2016. But that’s only include the CD and Digital release. Nowadays manchester based label Modern Love (Andy Stott, Millie & Andrea, Rainer Veil) release the Vinyl version of “Wonderland”. It’s the first album in five years. They doesn’t make a hard cut in style compared to thier EPs but they uses new elements.

“Wonderland” is more aggressive and less spooky as the predecessor. It’s an open secret that I really like the output from Modern Love, because most of them are quality efforts in Techno and UK Garage. The new Demdike Stare is no exception. That’s straight obvious after the first track “Curzon”. For me it’s one of the best Techno/Garage tracks from last year. It reminds my of a helicopter sound. It goes definitely more in the direction of the last Millie & Andrea as the new one from Andy Stott. Also number two “Animal Style” transport a great rhythm feel. At that point it’s clear that it’s not a normal techno record. With “Hardnoise” and “Sourcer”they reach new hights when it comes to aggressive style. One of the highlight from the second half of “Wonderland” is “Airborne Latency”. It starts with a typically distortion beat at the first half until it falls to an ambient-like sound at the end. This track excactly points out the variation of Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker. With “Wonderland” they create a powerhouse of wild, off-the-cuff energy and it sounds like Demdike Stare!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

TV Show: The Grand Tour (Amazon Video, Season I)

Top Gear is dead, long live The Grand Tour! After a conflict with one of the producers in 2015, the BBC decides to terminate his Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson. In the last decade Top Gear reached a cult status in the UK with a large audience. Right after the announcement the audience protest against the termination in form of a petition. But the BBC don’t change the decision. So it was clear that season 22 was the last one with Jeremy Clarkson. Because of Clarksons termination Richard Hammand and James May also quit thier contracts with the BBC.

After that, the BBC announced to continue Top Gear with a completely new team. The new season starts in 2016 and received much criticism. I can’t say what’s so special about Clarkson (The Gorilla), Richard Hammond (The Dwarf) and James Mey (Captian Slow), but the interaction and jokes are gorgeous. It’s that kind of British humor that wasn’t political correct in every way. All three are completely different characters. Over the years they build thier own characteristics. Carkson has the opinion, that he can do all with speed. That’s totally in contrast to James, with his special name Captian Slow. However Hammand thinks he will not be old. For the spectator these elements are very fimilar. For me Top Gear was at its best with the special episodes. These long road trips have really made fun! But thats not all, there was still our tame racing driver with more than 100 descriptions – The Stig and the Star guest with one lap at the Top Gear track in a cheap car. All these elements makes Top Gear outstanding as a car show. But how it goes on with The Grand Tour…?

After his termination Clarkson decides to create his own new car show together with his mates Hammand and May. Finally they find a new home on Amazon Video. The streaming service engage them and made a contract about three seasons. The new show called: The Grand Tour. The show started in November last year. Something has changed and something not. Let us start with the changes: Now, the team has a mobile studio in form of a tent. Every week they stream from a new country. The star in a cheap car doesn’t longer exist, because The Grand Tour was not allowed to copy elements from BBC’s Top Gear. That’s also the case with “The News” now “Conversation Street” and “The Stig” now “The American”. And here starts the small critic about The Grand Tour. In some ways they want to copy Top Gear without actually creating something new. And yes, normally the copy isn’t as good as the original. That’s the case with “The American”. The cool thing with “The Stig” was his emotion, or the non-emition because you can’t see through his helmet. This leads to some fun scenes! What doesn’t changes was the interaction between Clarkson, Hammand and May and that’s a good thing, even if they sometimes forget to make a car show.

The Grand Tour isn’t the good old Top Gear, but I believe they will be better with every episode. The start was a little bit rough because the audience have to accept all the changes. But after the first episodes the great moments are back. The idea to change the country every week was great because every country has it’s own mentality and also about cars. I’m looking forward to season two and the new special episodes. The success gives Amazon right, so the BBC will be annoyed…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Music: Emptyset – Borders (Thrill Jockey, 2017)

If I listened to the new Emptyset for the first time I have one initial feeling: “Disturbing”! My first reference for “Borders” is the last effort from Roly Porter. It’s that type of dark, frightened and disturbing noise / drone music. If you never listened to that kind of music before you might have a difficult time with “Borders” at the beginning.

Emtyset was formed in 2005 by James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas. Until now the duo produces six records, most of them for Subtext Records. Both started in the Bristol club scene to creates bass-driven electronic music first. Within the years they modify thier music in the direction of noise / drone. One of the typical elemet for Emtyset is distortion. They do not adhere to any rules, so the spectrum of variation is very high. Also becuase the single track time isn’t very long. The record itself has a runtime around 30 minutes. You can’t say what comes next in these 11 tracks. This leads to some shocking and intense moments. My favourite tracks from Borders are “Body”, “Speak”, “Axis” and “Dissolve”. But in case of an album that runs only 30 minutes it makes sense to listen to it in its entirely. By the way “Borders” isn’t an easy record, it demands attention in almost every moment. Another importend thing is, you should be in the right mood for it because, “Borders” isn’t for people with weak nerves. If this should not frighten you, then “Borders” is the right record for you! What a shocking and disturbing record, great!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Music: Brian Eno – Reflection (Warp Records, 2017)

If I have to describe the new record from Brian Eno in just one word, than I would like to say “Surreal”. I have never listening to him before. Maybe some excluded tracks. But that was a mistake. If you look at the tracklist you will recognize very fast what kind of music you can expect. Just one track and a playtime around one hour. For ambient artists this scenario isn’t untypical. Most of the tracks goes around 10-20 minutes.

In this case Eno plays with monotony without repeating. The melodies and tones only changes in details. There are people that claim that nothing ever happend in ambient music, but they are wrong. The problem is, that ambient differs completely from other typical music genres. You have to take your time to dive in. Another attribute from “Reflaction” is, that it’s totally timeless. You can listen to it just like a normal ambient record in full or you enjoy only a period of time from it. The atmosphere is just the same. Enos strength is to build his own world. And that’s also a key element of ambient music. The audience can be completely isolated of their environment. From the beginning to the end the record runs nearly one hour. My recommendation for “Reflaction” is the following: Headphones on, lights out! The year starts great for experimental music. Hopefully we will see some more in 2017, but we will keep our eyes open. Thanks Mr. Eno for this new masterpice.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: La La Land (StudioCanal, 2017)

First of all, yes the movie title “La La Land” sounds a little bit crazy. If you look only at the title it is impossible to say what kind of movie you can expact. When I saw the first teaser trailer about the new movie by Damien Chazelle I was very excited what kind of movie he will create next, because his last one Whiplash was absolutely amazing. Chazelle is a master to note all the details in every scene setting. In Whiplash the story between Andrew (Miles Teller) and his teacher Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simons) was intense in almost every scene. Whiplash leaves the viewer behind with an emotional chaos. For me, La La Land is the opposite of Whiplash because it is more shiny and has this positive basic tone.

If you look at the trailers of La La Land you will observe that this is not a typical hollywood block buster movie. La La Land is primarily a musical / romantic movie. And this impression will set right within the first scene. Dancing and singing are key elements of La La Land. This leads to an unusual feeling in the first half an hour of the movie. For me, it takes time to dive in La La Land.

The story is about Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling and Mia, played by Emma Stone. Sebastian, an Jazz musican without an permanent employment and Mia, who dreams about a carrer as actor in hollywood. Both following thier dreams. He works occasionally in bars and clubs but he don’t like to play things he doesn’t like. That’s the reason why he wants to manage his own jazz club in the future. Mia works during the days in a coffee store at a movie studio. In her free time she jumps from one casting to another. Both pushes each other to realize thier dreams. On this way they have to accept some setbacks. This leads to complications in the relationship between Sebastian and Mia. I will not tell the hole story and how it ends, because La La Land is worth to watch. In my opinion this movie can also split the audience, because it is easy to love and hate it at the same time. Let me explain why: I can understand people how quit this movie after the first minutes, but these people are a little bit premature.

So, what is so special about La La Land? For me, the presentation is extraordinary. As I mentioned in the intro, producer Damien Chazelle looks on every detail. Wherever you look, acting, costumes, pictures and scene presentations are almost perfect. As an example I will pick the scene with Sebastian in the bar at the piano. As he played his free jazz installment Chazelle set the focus only at him and dims the light for his environment. This leads to an intense feeling. It goes on with the acting between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Both interact brilliant in fromt of the camera. You can dive in the mind of each character easily.

Conclusion: Nowadays, these kind of movies are untypical because musicals are not contemporary these days. Damien Chazelle succeeds to combine a great story with a modern musical touch. It’s good to know that people like Chazelle are courageous enough to do movies like this one. I think we will see some more from this young producer in the future. I’m excited what’s next, but by now I’m overwhelmed with La La Land, surely one of the movie highlights in 2017!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

TV Show: Red Oaks (Amazon Video, Season I-II)

In the past view years TV Shows becomes more and more popular. Nowadays self produced TV Shows by Netflix or Amazon are the new streaming stars. I will not say that the typical block buster movie is dead, but good produced TV Shows reached a new quality. One of these self produced shows is Amazon’s Red Oaks a coming of age comedy which takes place in the 80s. The decision to like or dislike a new show will normally set in the first two episodes.

The pilot episode of Red Oaks introduce the main characters and the story perfectly. If you like the setting you will know how it goes on. The main story is about David Meyers (Craig Roberts) who takes a side job as a tennis teacher in the Red Oaks Country Club during his summer holidays. The members of the country club are often rich and elitist. David’s father Sam (Richard Kind) would like that his son becomes a Financial Accountant to enter his office, but David is completely undecided about his future plans. As he started as a tennis teacher at Red Oaks he works together with leader Nash (Ennis Esmer). Nash introduce David in the world of the rich and beauties from Red Oaks. This constellation takes place in great moments! Also the battle between Nash and Skip (Golf Professional) is totally awesome.

For David, season one leads to some changes. His relationship to Karen (Gage Golightly) does not work as good as in the past and his parants take a break. As he started at Red Oaks as a tennis teacher he early met the club president Doug Getty. Getty was played by Paul Reiser. David notes, that he is not the man that you would like as a enemy. Unfortunately David looks up to Getty’s daughter Skye (Alexandra Socha). So, anger is pre-programmed! Red Oaks provides besides the main story also side stories between Weeler (Chef of parking service) and Misty (Lifeguard) and also David’s parents.

Yes, Red Oaks has this special 80s look and feel and yes, it is a little bit trashy but these elements makes the show great. The setting and the characters are great, the comedy elemets are charming and the short 20-30 minutes episodes fly by. I would like to see more about Red Oaks, hopefully in Season 3.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Star Wars – Rogue One (A Star Wars Story, Lucas Film 2016)

Hope, Rebellions are built on hope! This is one of the main statements from Rogue One, the first anthology movie from Disney. Back in 2015, Disney started a new triology with “The Force Awakens”. It tells us how the story goes on after Episode VI. The new movie is not part of the new triology, it’s a standalone movie with it’s own completed story.

“Rogue One” tells us the story how the rebellions capture the plans of the first death star. If we look back to the opening crawl from “A New Hope” we know the sucess by the rebellion but what we don’t know is how? “Rogue One” was produced by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters). Edwards tells us in an interview that he was a fan since his childhood and after the first screenplays back in 2014 he feels like a kid again. You can feel these kind of enthusiasm in almost every scene in the movie.

If someone has read my review for “The Force Awakens” last year you already know that I’m not a big fan of the first new Star Wars movie by Disney. One of my main issue with the new movie was the story. It feels like a copy of Episode IV “A new hope”, but everything has to be bigger. I’m still critical with the new triology because I don’t belive that Disney can tells us a good continuation after “The return of the Jedi” (Episode VI). For me, the strategy with the new anthology movies makes much more sense. “Rogue One” starts the series now…

With an completly new cast on the rebellion side and some fimilar characters. The new main character was played by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). A rebellion soldier and criminal. She is the daughter from Lyra (Valene Kane) and Gelan Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Her father was mainly involved to create a new super weapon for the empire. In the opening scene we see how Gelan was captured by imperial officer Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Krennic is responsible to complete the new space station, called Death Star. After the opening scene the movie jumps many years forward and shows us an adult Jyn Erso, first captured by the empire and later by the rebellion. The rebellion, led by Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) intercepted a message from Gelan Erso, that the new super-weapon is almost finished. Jyn should find out what the empire plans next and how his father was involved. She was accompanied by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and an re-programmed imperial droid K-2SO played by Alan Tudyk (Firefly – TV Show). That’s how the mission starts. I won’t tell all the details and the full story in this review because you should watch it by your own. What I can say is, that the movie has some very special moments! One of my favourites, is the first scene with Grand Moff Tarkin. Yes, we know that original actor Peter Cushing died in 1994 but to see him (CGI) again creates a very special atmosphere. No one, exceptional of Vader, creates this kind of darkness.

Next, I want to tell you something about the look and feel of “Rogue One”. As I mentioned at the beginning, “Rogue One” tells us the story before “A New Hope” (Episode VI). We all know that “A New Hope” was created in the 70s with a simple look and feel if you watch the movie nowadays. In my opinion “Rogue One” looks brilliant! All the locations feels real, the costumes looks like the same time frame as “A New Hope”. Of course “Rogue One” has special effects, but these ones are excellent. As an example you can pick up the first test shoot by the death star to destroy Jedha. The screening and the music effects are absolutely amazing. Producer Gereth Edwards succeeds to create a standalone movie that fits perfectly between Episode III and Episode IV.

Conclusion: After “The Force Awakens” my expectations were not so high, but this changes after the first teaser trailer of “Rogue One”. One of “Rogue One” strengthen is his independence. You don’t have the feeling to look at a copy of a movie like “The Force Awakens”. Of course the story is not very special and the events are known because we all know how “A New Hope” ends but the presentation is very great. “Rogue One” is a war movie and maybe one of the darkest Star Wars movies since “The Empire strikes back” and that’s the reason why I like it as much. By now I’m more hyped by the anthology series and I also look forward to the Han Solo movie in 2018. If the movie provides one feeling, than it’s – Hope! A new hope also for new Star Wars movies!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Music: Ben Lukas Boysen – Spells (Erased Tapes Records, 2016)

I never heard before about Ben Lukas Boysen. The berlin based composer has released a bunch of records before “Spells” and “Gravity” landed as acclaimed electronic producer HECQ. He released nine albums since 2003, exploring everything from ambient to breakcore. Friend and fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm mixed and mastered both new albums. You can hear that collaboration in every moment of “Spells”.

Frahm is a mastermind on the piano and Ben shines with his live improvisation. “Spells” sounds fresh from the first tone, because its combined the programmed piano on the one hand and the live instruments on the other. It started with “The Vail”, an slow piano driven opening track that you might believe that the time stands still. The following “Nocturne 3” catches these feelings and let you dives deep in this atmosphere. “Spells” starts slow until “Golden Times I” pushes carefully in speed and loudness. It’s definitely one of the highlights on “Spells”. In some cases “Spells” remind me about the classical elements of A Winged Victory For The Sullen and the electronic parts of the outstandig last record from Jon Hopkins. The secound half of “Spells” follow the roots of the first, classic combined with modern electronic elements. While “Nocturne 4” builds slowly at the beginning, it punches in the middle with a similar climax then “Golden Times I”. “Keep Watch” slows down the speed again and works with typically mordern classical elements. The string camber sound feels fantastic on this one. “Spells” feels great as debut record and pushes my expactations ahead for a follow up in the future. If you love the sound of piano driven music, you have to explore this record!

Rating: 4 out of 5.