To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due. — Hob Gadling, toasting upon Dream’s journey as told in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Season of Mists
It’s very truly Autumn now, my favourite time of the year, and Steeleye Span to me is an Autumnal band, so we’ll finish off with something from them. If you’re at all interested in the history of the band which I think is quite fascinating, I recommend you go read our review of Ashley Hutchings: The Guv’nor & the Rise of Folk Rock which covers how he helped create that group along with the Albion Band and Fairport Convention as well!
Autumn means lots of all things fruits and Mrs. Ware in the Kinrowan Hall kitchen has been definitely noting that the ending of Summer and and the arrival of Autumn is upon us. That means changing leaf colours, cooler temps and comfort food. So do sample the plum apple tarts she’s fond of baking if you’re visiting us anytime soon.
Cat has a look at a short book that comes to us via digital technology, Charles de Lint’s Somewhere in My Mind There Is A Painting Box: ‘One of the great joys of the digital publishing age is that it allows authors like Charles de Lint to offer up their back list of short stories and novels to us on their own terms.’
Denise revisits a cult classic television show with Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters And The Power of Three. This collection of essays…charmed her. ‘Overall, this group of essays doesn’t give one solid viewpoint, and it’s all the better for it.’ Read her full review for more insight.
Kelly says that ‘Poul Anderson, who died in 2001, was one of the grand old voices of science fiction right up until his death, winning the Hugo Award seven times, the Nebula Award three times, and being named in 1997 as a Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. His was a long and prolific career. In the middle of that career, he created a character named Dominic Flandry, whose adventures had eluded me as a reader until my review copy of Ensign Flandry arrived on my desk. Now I’m wondering why.’
Mia says ‘In 1946 Ray Bradbury gave us “Homecoming,” and From The Dust Returned was born. More than 50 years later, the finished product consists of six previously published short stories, including “Homecoming,” which have become chapters of a larger work. These stories, plus new material, are woven together with Bradbury’s characteristically engaging style into a novel that should delight any fan of Bradbury’s dark fantasy.’
Robert got first dibs on Glen Cook’s newest book, Port of Shadows: ‘Glen Cook’s Port of Shadows is another installment in the saga of the Black Company, once again narrated by Croaker. Cook has given us two story lines in this one: The first takes place in the distant past, in the waning days of the Domination. The second takes place in the “present day”, sometime between the battle at Charm and the confrontation with the Dominator at Juniper; the Company is on garrison duty in the town of Aloe, which seems almost like a vacation. Of course, you know things are going to go to hell.’
Will gives us a look at a classic of tv horror in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Season One: ‘To anyone who has never seen an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I won’t give away any major plot points in the first season. But I warn you, in my reviews of the next seasons, all’s fair. Read this, decide if you want to try the show, and if you like it as much as I do, watch the first five seasons. They form a coherent unit, building in quality through the first three seasons, then sliding slightly in seasons four and five, though those seasons include many of BtVS‘s finest moments.’
One of our Kellys has a hard to find beer suitable for Autumn drinking for us as you’ll see when you read his delightful review of it: ‘Considering I generally dislike the hoppy bitterness of IPA’s, I’m astonished I enjoyed Pliny the Elder. I shouldn’t be, as the only other hoppy beer I’ve actually liked was another Russian River Brewery IPA, Blind Pig, which displays the same grapefruity character. I’ll certainly order this again, probably on a crisp autumn afternoon.‘
Robert has a rather strange graphic novel for us in The Green Woman, courtesy of Peter Straub and Michael Easton: ‘The Green Woman, written by Peter Straub and Michael Easton, is a hallucination in full color — the latter thanks to John Bolton’s art. Reality gets severely warped here — if we can figure out whose reality we’re seeing.’
Gary has a look at some Danish jazz, a new album called Bay of Rainbows by a trio headed by guitarist Jakob Bro. ‘It’s a quiet but deeply felt recording, its long passages of subtle and introspective playing revolving around an equally subtle melodicism.’
Another Gary says of Quake, a sort of trad Nordic recording from Den Fule that: ‘When I was trying to find something that my good friend, a Breton girl of 22 who loves nu-metal music, would like, I pulled out Den Fule. Her assessment: “That’s really fun, kinda’ like Irish music, but it rocks.” This accomplishes in ten words what will take me at least 300 to re-iterate.’
Jayme looks at what I’d say is essential listening for Celtic music fans: ‘There’s no gloss and polish here like you’d find on, say, an Altan disc, no studio jiggery and double-tracked harmonies that are so commonplace on a Clannad release. Not that those are necessarily bad things, mind you, but every one of the 11 tracks on The Best of Silly Wizard sound like they were recorded in one take in the studio, with the entire band playing at once, rather than the more common practice of laying down each instrument separately and mixing later. Now, I don’t know if that’s actually the way Silly Wizard recorded the music here, but the end result.’
Robert went back to the Berlin club scene for Qntal’s Qntal III: Tristan und Isolde: ‘Qntal is one of the pleasant surprises. I knew nothing about the group when I saw the subtitle “Tristan und Isolde” on the list, but I figured, being a confirmed Wagner freak, that it should be interesting. It’s much better than that. . . . They’ve been called an “electro-medieval” band and compared to Estampie, Dead Can Dance, and Loreena McKennit.’
Our What Not this time is that quite some time back we asked Kage Baker, author of many delightful novels such as Or Else My Lady Keeps The Key and companion to Harry the Space Pirate, Errr, Space raptor in the years before her Passing just what was her favourite folk song and why so. She had a Grateful Dead-ish answer:
Probably ‘The Rambling Sailor’. The lyrics are sort of heartless, but it makes a helluva dance tune, especially a morris dance. I was once at a morris-ale held in an oak forest one summer night in northern California. Kate and I were providing the ale. The conditions were perfect — a full moon, thunder rumbling around the sky, there was a big turnout of dancers, we had a fairly full band– two fiddlers, a concertina, a standing bass, a couple of pennywhistles and a shawm.
There was a lantern strung up in the branches of this one big oak tree that must have been about 400 years old, and the dancing was done in the open space underneath. The different sides did the usual tunes, with the sword dances and the sticks, but then everyone got out the white handkerchiefs and the band struck up ‘Rambling Sailor’. There must have been fifty or sixty dancers moving in perfect time, and my memory insists the boys were all as beautiful as young satyrs and the girls all looked like wood nymphs. The white cloths flashed like seagull wings. The little gold bells rang. The ground shook. It was one of the most perfect moments of my life.
So ‘Tam Lin’ as performed by Steeleye Span at Fairport Convention’s ‘06 Cropredy Convention is our music coda this time. It was first released in a studio form on their Time CD though it appears on Tonight’s the Night…Live as taken from a concert recording.