Funny story, I was heading to London today but thanks to the snow and ice that’s now not happening. Slight annoyance aside, I really can’t complain too much when the landscape is this beautiful.
Bracing the cold I went for a walk in the freezing fog this morning, there’s a peacefulness that happens in the snow and ice that is profoundly calming. Cold air in my lungs, camera in hand with frost crunching underfoot I strolled around familiar surroundings painted unfamiliar by a coat of ice and hanging fog rendering the space around me ambiguous and mysterious. It never fails to astound me how landscapes and places you know can become new, unknown spaces with the addition of certain kinds of weather.
Since my walk I’ve been sheltering from the cold and since January is nearly over, thought it would be fun to compile a list of things that I’ve been enjoying this month. By no means exhaustive, but it’s a few highlights in music and books I’ve been getting lost in.
On the turntable
We Appreciate Power - Grimes
7 Rings - Arianna Grande
Play Destroy - Poppy ft Grimes
These tracks in particular have been on heavy rotation, don’t quite know how but on We Appreciate Power and Play Destroy Grimes has managed to take a nu-metal sound and make it fresh. It takes on an extra weird factor in Play Destroy with Poppy’s ultra feminine vocals floating over the top of what sounds like an industrial slaughter house (and to be honest they both feel like they’re musical representations of what’s going on inside my head most of the time).
7 Rings has quickly become my latest obsession (had it on repeat for ages when it dropped) and is just another chance for Arianna to hammer home the point she is an unapologetic boss and it’s her world, we’re just living in it.
Ex:Re - Ex:Re
Ex:Re is the solo project of the lead singer of Daughter Elena Tonra. To be honest, I’ve always struggled to really get into Daughter, some of their songs are stunning, raw masterpieces like ‘Landfill’ and other are a bit meh. Wasn’t sure what to expect with this album but it actually blew me away. It had a bite to it and encompasses the raw emotions of love, loss and getting over a relationship and really resonated with me. Elena Tonra is a perceptive songwriter and musician and it took some of what is great about Daughter and elevated it in this haunting album.
Dreamrider - Lazerhawk
Came across Lazerhawk while browsing some synth wave playlists and quite enjoyed his stuff. Dreamrider has been my companion on long drivers from jobs and it’s proved infinitely listenable. It’s just good synth and it strikes the balance of music that you can both work too and get lost in.
Creature EP - YONAKA
This gem of an EP is a great introduction to YONAKA and their sound, which is quite hard to sum up in one word. They’ve got a great mix of rock, pop, hip hop and metal with some catchy riffs and brilliant lyrics. Came across them via Chloe Sheppard’s instagram feed and excited to see how they develop because Creature knocked my socks off.
On the bookshelf
Just Eat It - Laura Thomas PhD
Laura Thomas PhD is someone you should get on your radar if you want to get your shit together around food and say farewell to diet culture bull once and for all. I’ve been a fan of her podcast ‘Don’t Salt My Game’ for a while and was so excited to see she was writing a book (seriously I pre-ordered this last July…) Thomas is a nutritionist with a focus on intuitive eating and has condensed all her knowledge into this brilliant book. It goes into the nitty gritty of why diet culture sucks and how it works alongside guiding you in intuitive eating and gentle nutrition. As most women, my relationship with food and my body hasn’t exactly always been a walk in the park but I would recommend both this book and her podcast to anyone looking to develop a more body neutral or body positive attitude. Plus seriously that cover is cute AF.
The Truth About Fat - Anthony Warner
Really enjoyed Warner’s first book ‘The Angry Chef’ and this one is just a well research, readable and fascinating. In this book he explores the contentious concept of fat. Like Thomas’ book, this is backed up by looking into the research studies around the topic of obesity and how the correlation between weight and health isn’t as simple as it seems and the model of calorie restriction doesn’t actually work as well as you’d think. It dives deep and explores things like the socio-economic issues around weight and all with a few hilarious quips and anecdotes thrown in.
Wabi Sabi - Beth Kempton
Kempton is a Japanologist and explores the roots of the philosophy of wabi—sabi, beyond the western idea that it’s an appreciation of wonky pots. This book was very interesting and I learnt a lot about the concept; it covers how this principle is part philosophy, part aesthetic and intrinsic to Japanese culture, so much so that’s it’s quite hard to truly describe and something that is instinctual. Taking you on a journey from Tea Ceremonies to Forest Bathing framed via Kempton’s experience of learning Japanese by immersing herself in the culture and living. I will admit I found the more self help-ish elements of how to incorporate wabi-sabi into your life less interesting than the historical and conceptual aspects but that’s just personal preference. Plus, it’s a gorgeous book.
Capitalist Realism - Mark Fisher
This probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (unless theory is your thing) but in this short volume is both insightful and a rally cry to look for a future beyond our current Neo-liberal capitalist society. I picked it up after going to the Mark Fisher Memorial lecture by Jodi Dean at Goldsmiths and am looking forward to getting into ‘Ghosts of my Life’ as Fisher is a brilliant writer weaving politics, film, music and television into accessible cultural theory. Drawing on the likes of Zizek *sniff* and Jameson, Fisher interrogates capitalism and the prevailing notion that there is no alternative to what we currently have, exploring why inevitable future has become the accepted truth and the relationship between capitalism and mental health.
[UNIT] Phase II @ Norwich Arts Centre
Thus 24th Jan
Note to self, when a pal asks you to photograph an audio visual performance he’s part of, check that it’s not going to be in a pitch black room #photographerproblems.
Photography difficulties aside, this event was brilliant, an amazing fusion of improvised sound and visuals. Unit is a collective working on immersive audio and visual installations, having seen them at St Mary’s Works in 2016, their Arts Centre residency was something I was looking forward too, plus this time my friend Henry Driver was one of the artists involved. It’s a hard thing to describe, but it certainly was immersive and for a few minutes it felt like the sound was not only pulsing through you but also about to rip you apart (in a good way).
For more info on [UNIT] and to see their upcoming performances check out http://unitunit.org/