Tag Archives: Review

Dialect – Advanced Myth – Review

Tasty Morsels are both internet label and collection of friends with a refreshingly playful approach to making music; with artist names like ‘Cute Boobs’ and mixtapes called Life on Wheels: Music To Play Tony Hawk To. Their releases are wonderfully done, Lo-Fi pop master-strokes. Life on Wheels is particularly great; call it Psychedelic Hip-Jazz interspersed with hilarious audio clips. Something along the lines of Onra’s Chinoiseries or The Avalanches’ Since I left you.  

Next up from them is Advanced Myth by Dialect. It’s a continuous roll of beautifully crafted, wide-open soundscapes and maritime flavoured Jazz meanderings. The scope of the background sounds and outdoor ambience is pretty staggering. It means the record creaks and heaves, scattered with the ghostly whispers of life on these isles: birdsong, a football match, Jungle breaks speeding by.

The whole thing seems like it’s underwater, like a dream sequence in a film viewed through some aquamarine lens. Opener ‘Developers’ begins with an uneasy kaleidoscopic refrain that flits in and out of a deep rumble, warning of some empty depths before a burst of sunlight pierces the mire, filling the space with a shimmering glow. ‘You better wake up’ we hear, all the while coaxed into staying firmly in the dream.

It’s a continuous piece of music but there are high-points. Hung Rose dances like an oriental firefly skipping around the mysterious half-light between night and dawn. Jabba‘s pulsating synths and low bottom carry a menace absent from the rest of the album whereas album centrepiece Chroma is undeniable. It’s serene claps and languorous and good humoured horns build slowly before being drenched in the album’s only vocals before washing away like a spent wave.

Advanced Myth by Dialect is released free via the Tasty Morsels website tomorrow (14th Feb). You can check out the beautiful video for Chroma below as premièred by Dummy Mag.

Stream it now via Soundcloud

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Review: The Poetry of Sex, ed. Sophie Hannah

Alex Webb takes a look at Sophie Hannah’s assembly of poetry in the language of love…

Sex poetry is something that I had never really thought about before.

I’ve read sex poems but as a sub-genre I was ignorant of the style. Sierra DeMulder had formed my prior knowledge with her When The Apocalypse Comes blending blunt, emotionless “shagging” with desperation to make love and having meaning thrust into her. When I saw Sophie Hannah’s collection in the local bookshop I decided that it was time to try it out properly; losing my sex-poetry virginity I guess you might say. Expecting something similar to DeMulder’s take on this style, I thought I had prepared myself for what this book had in store, but I was surprised to say the least.

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The first chapter of the anthology, So Ask The Body, seemed to bear no reference to actual sex and I thought I was going to be let down by Hannah’s latest offering. However, after a slow and, frankly, dull first section the collection quickly picked up. I understood Cavafy’s He Asked About The Quality as a narrative about the gay handkerchief code, itself something interesting at a time where being gay was still taboo. This poem highlights the intricacies of courting a gay man and the intimacy that comes along with it. It was one of the collection’s highlights as it offered an interesting, and successful, take on ‘sex poetry’. Whitworth’s Love & Sex & Boys In Showers was a captivating piece whose meaning is still lost on me, even after numerous re-readings. However, it is this that made me engage with the piece and want to understand it.

Holland’s Anal Obsessive paints a jealous woman who was warned by a past lover that he would hurt her and leave her for another woman. The bitter words spoken by the narrator translate well and highlights the belief that ‘old people have boring sex’ held by a lot of our youth.  The standout poem of the whole anthology was Leo Cookman’s Haikus To Fuck To which presented a blunt and brutal take on sex that was very persuasive: I believed everything Cookman had to say. It showcased the crude nature of sex and, in my opinion, this is the true embodiment of sex poetry. If you had asked me for one reason to buy Hannah’s collection, it would have been this.

Overall, whilst Hannah’s book did not really help me understand sex poetry I do not think this was its aim. As she says in her comical introduction she presents her audience with a wide range of material that can be considered ‘sex poetry’; and this mimics the variety that we, as humans, have in our own sex lives. However, as I found it hard to relate to a lot of the content I would say don’t pick this one up if, like me, you want to understand more about this art.

-Alex Webb

(reference: Hannah, Sophie; The Poetry of Sex; (England, Penguin Books, 2014).

Review: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh

Alex Webb reads and reflects on ‘The Pillowman’, a Pinter-esque play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh…

Sit down and I will tell you a story. This one is about Katurian, Tupolski and Ariel, one, a writer, and the others, policemen, who interrogate the former about a recent bout of murders. McDonagh’s The Pillowman is a children’s story not to be missed. However, do not expect a story about little pigs and friendly giants, although these all feature, because this script is about children, and the death of them.

Written in 2003, this Irish play has you enter an interrogation room, just as ignorant as Katurian, who could be considered the main character. The basis of the narrative is that you find out what is happening as Katurian, a writer, does, with intriguing results. It would be an understatement to say that The Pillowman is simply “chilling” as you’re taken on a journey where you meet characters such as “The Little Jesus” and the title character who all have darker twists than you’d imagine at first glance. If there is one moral to take from this drama it is this: just because someone tells you something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Creating a tense atmosphere from the start you learn about Katurian’s sickening stories that have the characters, and the audience, asking “what sort of criminal is worse than a rapist or murderer?”. It is through these questions, the tales related to them and the character’s responses that McDonagh’s characterisation shines. Showing phenomenal skill in such a short story, spanning just over one-hundred pages, you will be ready to re-read it as soon as you put the book down. If I had to criticise this text it would be the shallow plot that could be so much more, but needn’t be. Based in one setting: an interrogation room, McDonagh’s engaging narrative is more than enough to have almost anyone read it cover-to-cover wanting more.

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Overall, I cannot praise this play enough, from the moment I put it down it had shot up to become one of my favourite books and within half an hour I had already recommended it to most of my flatmates. Even if you are not one for reading, I beg you to go to your nearest bookstore and pick up this drama. Whilst you may be disgusted, you will not be disappointed.

-Alex Webb

(reference: McDonagh, Martin; The Pillowman; (Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 2003).

Review: Getting Stitches by Rudy Francisco

Alex Webb guides us through Getting Stitches, the first published collection from super talented San Diego-born slam poet/spoken word artist, Rudy Francisco…

In a world where physical books are becoming less and less popular we have turned towards technology to read and explore the limits of our language. Poetry is no different in this sense with the rise in popularity of the spoken word. Rudy Francisco is someone that can bring the art of poetry slam into the public eye and gain the recognition it deserves through sites like Youtube. Having spent over a year mesmerised by this poet’s command of the English language I decided to try and find out if he had any published works.

I was surprised that he only has one, Getting Stitches, published in January of last year. Featuring sixteen poems, some of which I’d heard read aloud, I was excited to get into this very short but intriguing collection. One of the first entries, ‘A Few Things I Believe’, was an interesting insight into Francisco’s mind. Through this piece you are introduced to a commentary on “macho” men: ‘I believe masculinity is a wet fish that most men are just/trying to hold onto’. The fourth poem, ‘The Body’, sees Francisco write individual, personalised letters to different parts of himself. Each of these is either an apology or a warning written to make himself a better man. This is best done when he tells his brain: ‘You’re such a good listener/but you give terrible relationship advice’ – a concept I’m sure many readers can relate to.

Something that let down the publication as a whole was the lack of professionalism. There were numerous spelling mistakes in the pieces that took away from the magic Francisco weaves and, in some cases, entire words were missing. Whilst the latter may have been a use of “artistic license”, it was done to no benefit. However, looking past these, this collection is a solid entry into the world of poetry. One of the strongest poems in the book was ‘How to Look Like a Stalker’, which presents a parody of how one might go about stalking someone. Controversial in nature but overall harmless. ‘Monster’ is one of the most emotionally engaging pieces which sees Francisco confront rapists and their mindsets. ‘I carved galaxies in the back of my throat/just to make your world easier for me to swallow/but I can’t stand the taste of your behaviour’ shows desperate efforts to sympathise with an unwanted, horrific for part of our society. It is in this poem that Francisco’s ability really shines through. Making powerful statements meld with his beautiful verse is something Francisco does better than most. In realising this I found what I was looking for in this collection. Beauty and power in literature is something rare and Getting Stitches brings this to the table.

Overall, Francisco presents a brilliant collection that I think anyone could engage with. If you are interested in sampling Rudy Francisco’s talent for yourself you can find his poetry slams on his YouTube channel. One word of warning: once you’ve entered the world of spoken word, you might find yourself stuck there for hours.

-Alex Webb

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Reference: Francisco, Rudy; Getting Stitches; (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).