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by Kevin Pearson

5 Mar 2009

During “by:Larm”, Scandinavia’s premier music festival, there’s probably more music per capita going on anywhere in the world. Sure, CMJ and SXSW boast myriad venues within blocks of each other, but where else can you watch shows in a tent, on the 11th floor of an office building, in an auditorium (that suggests you should be attending a college lecture), or in a tightly packed and sweaty bar all in the space of one city block? Oslo, the capital city of Norway and the host of by:Larm (pronounced “bee larm” by the locals) boasts all of these venues around Youngstorget, as well as dozens of other venues that are within walking distance. This is all well and good, especially when there’s a few feet of snow on the ground and sporadic blizzards throughout the three-day festival, which ran from February 19th through 21st. Music, it seems, is as popular here as skiing (seriously, the amount of people walking around with skis slung over their shoulders was more than I expected). With so many bands on show, as well as countries providing them (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland all sent groups and solo acts), it’s understandable that the music on display was hit and miss. The one consistent factor, though, was the friendly nature of the locals, who not only hit me up with tips on where to eat and drink, but also which bands to check out. Best of all were Swedish sisters First Aid Kit, whose folksy take on country music produced breathtaking harmonies that belied their young age. Rockettothesky’s amped-up take on the Cocteau Twins and all things shoegazey certainly impressed, as did Fjorden Baby! and their mish mash of styles, which propositioned them as a more rock influenced Happy Mondays. And what would a trip to a Scandinavian music festival be without some metal? Monolithic were technically awesome, but Merlin, despite bringing a Theremin out on stage lacked the wizardry their name implies.

A feature is forthcoming, but here are some photos to tide you over…

Thursday Night's Line Outside the Dagbladet Tent

Thursday Night’s Line Outside the Dagbladet Tent

Norma Sass

Norma Sass

Einar Stray

Einar Stray

Freddy & The Casuals

Freddy & The Casuals

Fjorden Baby!

Fjorden Baby!

Captain Credible

Captain Credible

Tor Konstalij

Tor Konstalij

Rockettothesky

Rockettothesky

The Captain & Me

The Captain & Me

Nils Bech

Nils Bech

Men Among Animals

Men Among Animals

The Shitsez

The Shitsez

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

 

by Jennifer Kelly

5 Mar 2009

In Babylonian mythology, Anahita is the goddess of water, fertility, healing and wisdom…a powerful symbol of the female life force. In musical terms, Anahita is a new collaboration between Espers cellist Helena Espvall and Fursaxa’s Tara Burke, a fragile, unearthly combination of female life forces that takes shape in floating vocals, plinking strings and Middle Eastern tonalities. The duo’s first record together, recorded primarily on four track and at home, roams an alternate universe, full of haunting harmonies and fleeting glimpses of infinity. The disc, called Matricaria,  is out on Important Records now.

Anahita
“Pirin Planina” [MP3]
     

“Chalice of Cypress” [MP3]
     

“Velvet Shoon” [MP3]
     

by John Bohannon

5 Mar 2009

Discovering recent music from other countries can often be a difficult, if not daunting task. There are only a handful of labels in the States that stay true to bringing quality international music to the United States, and Luaka Bop is quite possibly at the top of that list. Exploring the music of Brazil has often been a forte of theirs, and as of recent, they have brought a new face on board by the name of Márcio Local.

Local comes from the region of Realengo, a working class section on the north side of Brazil. By the time he was born in 1976, this part of Brazil was dubbed “Black Rio” which attracted thousands of young minds. Being one of the few to make it out with his immense amounts of talent, Local’s music finds its foundations in that of the Bossa Nova sound of his heritage, and the Afro-centric sound that swept Brazil in the ‘60s with Tim Maia and Jorge Ben.

But the thing that sets Local apart from his peers was his admiration for the modern sound and the implementation of it into his music. Luaka Bop released a series of 3-inch CDs last year, Local’s being the one that stood out the most, full of vigor and ambition. His sound consisted of all the traditional Brazilian instruments, but you could also find the use of studio effects, turntables, and countless experimentation with the sonic landscape. The time is now for the Brazilians to capitalize on the resurgence of their sound in the United States with groups like Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso, and Gilberto Gil—and Local is taking full advantage of this.

by Thomas Britt

5 Mar 2009

David Wain—the rarely disputed king of absurd comedy—is having a busy month. According to his (always-entertaining) blog, he’s currently shooting new episodes of his series Wainy Days and promoting the March 10 DVD release of Role Models. We live in hope that he’s using the remaining time and energy to expedite the DVD release of The State, which has been held hostage by MTV for well over a decade.

by David Pullar

5 Mar 2009

There are movies based on books that encourage people to go back to the source material and others where it’s almost irrelevant.  They might as well have been based on the doodle a studio exec drew on his napkin at lunch.

Even after winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (and everything else), Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t seem to have driven a surge of interest in Vikas Swarup’s “Q&A” (now republished with the film’s title).  In fact, not many people seem to be aware of the film’s literary origins at all.

Unlike Revolutionary Road, which had a long history of readership and acclaim prior to adaptation, Q&A is a recent book without much pedigree.  I read it as part of a book group on its release in 2005 and was fairly unimpressed.  Swarup paces the book well and the situations and plot arcs are colourful and enjoyable enough.  The problem is that it’s all pretty implausible and a bit silly at times.

The reason why Danny Boyle’s film is more effective than Q&A is that it takes the novel’s absurd concept and elevates it to symbolic fantasy.  The original novel’s problem was that the thriller-like tone seemed at odds with the fanciful plot arcs.

Salman Rushdie agrees, calling Q&A “a corny potboiler, with a plot that defies belief”.  He goes further, arguing that Slumdog is just as absurd as its source material.

Well that’s true enough.  After all, what is the likelihood of a chaiwallah from the Mumbai slums winning a quiz show based on the fortuitous coincidence of each question relating directly to a life event?  Effectively zero, you would think. 

Yet all plots are contrived to suit the ends of the writer, and most require some suspension of disbelief.  Rushdie’s own works like Midnight’s Children and The Ground Beneath Her Feet are completely ridiculous from any rationalist standpoint—but we accept the implausibility because it opens us up to some greater truth.

Slumdog’s message isn’t nearly as profound as most Rushdie works (it’s mostly that “life teaches you things”).  Yet it’s also an homage to the classic rags to riches tales of Hollywood and Bollywood, plot contrivances and all.  We want to be swept up in the romance and we’re not going to be too worried about probability.

It’s been said that good novels make bad films and bad novels make good films.  It’s definitely true that what makes a great novel is often the use of language and the insights into people’s interior worlds—things that translate poorly to film.  And many trashy novels, owing too much as they do to Hollywood romance and suspense, sometimes make an easier transition to the screen.

Do you agree?  Do you find your favourite novels are butchered?  Do you enjoy movies where you’d never dream of picking up the original novel?

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