“She has her own glamour, Willy lad. All poets do, all the bards and artists, all the musicians who truly take the music into their own hearts. They all straddle the border of Faerie, and they see into both worlds. Not dependably into either, perhaps, but that uncertainty keeps them honest and at a distance.” ―
The weather at this remote Scottish Estate turned nasty even for us last week with a steady freezing sleet and temperatures well below freezing bringing a need for the grounds crew to make sure that roofs particularly don’t getting overloaded with icy slush.
For those of us who don’t need to be outside, that means we get to help with the chores inside Kinrowan Hall. I’ve kept my hand in when I’m not working in the Pub, which I obviously do most days as Manager, by helping out in the Kitchen by playing music for them, something they very much appreciate. I’m a button box player, an instrument that as a busker I found appealing and easy to carry from place to place.
Oh those are jelly babies. A traveller with a multicoloured stripe across her T-shirt and the most interesting earrings left them behind when she left so help yourself to them. She said something rather odd I thought about previous incarnations of herself being fond of them. They’ve quite good. Now let’s see what we’ve got for you…
Chuck states that ‘When it comes to Shakespeare, everyone is entitled to an opinion. When it comes to Yale professor, MacArthur fellow, and self- confessed “Bardolater,” Harold Bloom, you’re entitled to his opinion, as well. And in the 700-plus pages of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, you definitely get the author’s opinion.’ Read his his detailed review to see if you should investigate Bloom’s tome.
Kathleen looks at an academic endeavour worth reading: ‘Charles Butler is the author of several fantasies for children (The Fetch of Mardy Watt, The Darkling, Death of A Ghost). Having recently switched genders, she also teaches English literature at the University of the West of England. In Four British Fantasists, he surveys juvenile fantasy through the lens of his professional scholarship, in a detailed analysis of the work of four acclaimed modern writers. He has chosen Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper and Penelope Lively as his subjects, identifying them — with good reason — as shining examples of the modern Golden Age of children’s fantasy: inheritors of the traditions of both E. Nesbitt and J.R.R. Tolkien.’
A fantastic look at London is reviewed by Kestrell: ‘Don’t let the tentacles fool you — yes, China Miéville’s Kraken takes as its starting point a tentacular god of the deep reminiscent of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, but then Miéville adds to it the baroque psychogeographies of Moore and Moorcock, the whimsy of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and American Gods, the surreal imagery of a Tim Powers novel, and a dizzying barrage of geeky pop culture references, not to mention what is probably the best use of a James T. Kirk action figure ever.’
Robert brings us a look at one of those works that is at the root of modern fantasy: Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer: ‘Volsungasaga is the Norse version of the pan-Germanic epic that shows its southern persona in Das Nieblungenlied. Like so many national epics, it is a series of stories linked by a folk hero, in this case Sigurd (Siegfried in the German version) and his ancestors. Sigurd comes complete with divine ancestry (the grandson of Odin himself), childhood as an orphan, and a doom-filled destiny. (Oops — almost forgot the magic ring, the reforged sword, and the dragon.) Astute observers will recognize not only the elements of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen but also J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.’
Stephen says of an Alan Garner work , which is definitely aimed at adults, that ‘These are only the questions which I find myself considering today. When I read Thursbitch again (and I will), they may be different, as they may be for you, when you read this book. The reasons for this are that Thursbitch is a book that casts the reader as an enthralled participant, rather than a passive recipient. It is, to repeat, a mystery. It may unsettle you (if not actually give you nightmares), but you’ll love it unequivocally nonetheless.’
Johnny Clegg and & Savuka‘s Live and More DVD gets these sage words from Scott: ‘As good as the concert performance on this DVD is, and as good as the live concert I saw from Clegg’s recent American tour was, those shows are forced to compete with the memory of a night whose legend grows with each retelling. Somehow, I get the feeling that anybody who caught Johnny Clegg & Savuka during 1990, when they were quite likely the best live act on the planet, will respond to this DVD similarly.’
For this edition, Denise takes a tipple. She tries Oskar Blues Brewery’s’ Death By Coconut Irish Style Porter, and is quite literally blown away by the brew. ‘Get ready y’all, because it’s coming in hot.’ What’s this? Hot beer? Not a bit – but you’ll have to read her review to see what she’s talking about. You might get thirsty after though, fair warning.
April says ‘Melinda is Neil Gaiman and Polish artist Dagmara Matuzak’s first collaboration, and the resulting illustrated poem is a unique literary work. According to the press notes accompanying this release, Gaiman wrote the text specifically for Matuzak to illustrate, hoping for a few drawings and perhaps a painting or two, and she responded with forty-eight stunning black and white drawings and eight colour plates that delineate the harsh world Gaiman’s seven year old Melinda inhabits.’
After the critical and popular success of their 2017 self-titled double release Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, the Rhode Island rockers are back with a beguiling compilation, Gary notes. Mayonnaise is a companion piece to those previous two records, with 13 songs altogether: alternate versions of four songs from Vol. 1, six originals and three choice covers.
Gary also liked Abigail Lapell’s latest, Getaway. ‘It is a remarkably mature record — both musically and emotionally — for a young musician cutting her third album.’
While listening to And Then Comes the Night by the Mats Eilertsen Trio, Gary found himself fondly recalling a high point on his recent travels: ‘… a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin, New Zealand.’
Lars looks at a recording from the Kathryn Tickell Band: ‘Air Dancing is an album full of great playing, both from the individuals and from the group as a whole. Its well produced, while at the same time the music on it has kept it freshness and shows a little roughness in its attitude. There is a nice balance between the traditional way of playing and a more modern approach to the music. It is firmly rooted in tradition, the way that tradition was portrayed on the very early Tickell albums from the 1980s, but it does not stay entirely within that tradition, but takes it further and widens the possibilities.’
Richard has high praise indeed for a Maddy Prior album; ‘Flesh & Blood is one of the finest CDs I’ve heard in years. Prior’s voice, always angelic, has never sounded better; and, with the able help of Nick Holland and Troy Donockley, she has picked material that does her vocal talents justice. Indeed, the collection is so captivating that I’ve had to take it out of my work rotation; after all, I don’t get paid to stand around and gawk dreamily to music.’
Robert seems to spend a lot of time at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History — “But there’s a lot to see,” he says. His latest visit was to the exhibition Restoring Earth: ‘We tend to think of museums as places that display artifacts, sometimes on the walls, sometimes in cases, with descriptions of varying degrees of completeness on labels next to the objects. . . . The Field Museum has well gone beyond being a repository of objects, however, as evidenced by the exhibition “Restoring Earth”.’
Our Coda this Edition is ’Reynardine’ as performed on an August night night in 2008 by Fairport Convention at their Cropredy Festival. Consider it a reminder that Summer will return for those of us in the in Northern Hemisphere!