Comics

Another Season Darkens the Soul's Hue: the Peter Milligan Exclusive

The recent storyarc of Hellblazer, "Another Season in Hell", returns Vertigo alumni Peter Milligan to one of his most enduring formative works in founding Vertigo title, Shade: the Changing Man. Some 20 years after, this is why Milligan's comics is still art.

When you read a storyarc like "Another Season in Hell", a storyarc written by a writer the caliber of Peter Milligan, you're not just reading a collection of plotlines. You hold in your hands a promise; the promise of a writer, later in his career returning to a work that helped him build that career. The promise of writing and have written his way free from himself these long years gone. And the promise of a writer, his skill perfected returning to a beginning, trying to fathom the magic he intuited back then, but perhaps articulate as elegantly as now.

The interview with Peter Milligan was exceptional in every way. I spoke with him for as long as anything, across continents… while my day was fading, his was already done. Listening to it now, the conversation captures me still, even across the weeks since we originally conducted the interview. There's something older about Peter, wizened, weathered. And yet something essential, something resolute, unshakeable. Something of an artist, a writer who has never needed to compromise, something of the keen intellect still free to shape its unique art in the world.

"Another Season in Hell" is Peter's second meditation on the Arthur Rimbaud poem, A Season in Hell. It comes to us now, some 18 years after Peter's first diving in this fray, found in issues 45 through 50 of the landmark Vertigo series, Shade: the Changing Man. "A Season in Hell", the storyarc, concludes my favorite period of that pioneer-generation Vertigo book; the period of "Hotel Shade" where the heady Kerouac of an endless roadtrip, the Shade we encountered up until issue #32, had been traded for a Sam Beckett-esque, locked-in-placed-ness.

That storyarc, it's every bit a comicbook response to James Joyce's Ulysses. Read every panel carefully enough and you'll find Rimbaud in the mythographic, underpinning the entire structure and sequence of the six individual issues. But it was the tight two-parter directly preceding "A Season in Hell", a thin storyarc guest-starring a John Constantine from 1979, that would see Peter write himself in Vertigo history.

That would be their first meeting, those Vertigo titans, Hellblazer John Constantine and Shade the Changing Man, the Steve Ditko-created character rebooted for a mature, late-80s audience by Peter himself. Some decade and a half later, with Peter taking up scripting duties on the phenomenally successful John Constantine: Hellblazer, Peter would throw the two lead characters into the same mix again, in a storyarc called "Sectioned".

It's with DC's reboot of its entire continuity this last September, with DC's New 52, that Peter is positioned to do what no other founding Vertigo alumni has had the chance to do--to write the über-popular John Constantine both in DC's mainstream superhero continuity, in Justice League Dark, and as a grimmer, grittier, more flawed Vertigo character in Hellblazer. In true Milligan-style, Peter confounds my expectations, by suggesting a method of writing these two Constantines that shows true artistic integrity.

Peter's response to this quandary comes much later in the interview, after even his exuberant detailing of Hellblazer: Suicide Bridge. We begin our interview by recapping some biographical detail. Peter, who he is, how he came to comics, to Vertigo. And for my sins, I confess the strange imbrications I've enjoyed as a fan of his work. Chasing down his early-90s Animal Man storyarc across four continents, weaving together his Changing Man storyarc that guest-starred Hemingway and Joyce with Sly & the Family Stone to demolish Descartes' cogito.

When I return to the conversation, return to the recording, I catch Peter responding to a question that can only be described as commenting on his own prescience as a writer. And yet, I can clearly remember already at this point in the conversation identifying this characteristic trait, Peter himself simply shrugs off his own role in things. We're talking about the phone hacking scandal, about the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World having admitted to corrupt practices of tapping the phones of celebrities and politicians.

Peter's debut as series regular writer came in the pages of Hellblazer #250, in the short story "The Curse of Christmas". We pick up with Constantine, in media res, with Constantine already sipping at a beer, and a shot of whiskey just coming up. Constantine's been enlisted by a person of deceased persuasion (bribed, bullied blackmailed?, all of these seem possible for Constantine's cooperation being forced by the ghost of a politician) to uncover the truth behind the elaborate suicides of a number of politicians each Christmas.

It's 2010, and austerity measures in the wake of economic collapse make it feel as if this might at last be a final, endless winter. In a throwaway line, Peter vectors off into what will be a breaking story nearly a year from now. "The News of the World", Peter writes, "suggested it was a 'kinky sex game' gone wrong". Peter captures perfect that tone of derision, that dry arrogance of writers who know that they will not so much be reporting the news, as making it happen, illegally so.

When Peter responds to my question, the response is a measured one. There are pauses, there are starts. It's the sign of a mind reaching into a thousand places at once, attempting to fix things in place, to make them accessible. It's a sign of humility. "Ah…", he says congenially, like I've wandered into a classic Swiss Christmas of thick snows, warm hot chocolate, frosted windowpanes, elderly men in white beards and beautiful women singing by the low light from fireplaces. "Ah… you're talking about the critical assessment of the newspaper and the media in general over here. Because of the phone hacking not only of celebrities but also of, in inverted commas, normal people. But even though it's now breaking as hot news, anyone that kind of kept their eyes open and their ears to the grapevine, knew that that stuff was going on before then. So when I was writing it then, I didn't know it was going to break like this. But I was completely aware that this stuff was going on".

Then there's a chuckle. It's a strange moment, that seems to perfect fit the tone of a book like Hellblazer--the idea that nearly a year prior, something from news headlines can find its way into the fictive life of Constantine. That chuckle, "It's almost as if Constantine is working his magic", Peter says.

I scan through the conversation file again. This time we move to earlier in the interview, where we begin discussing Peter's first few issues, and his transition into what seems, to me (at least, at the time of asking the question) a steadier grip on the character. Again, Peter's response simply outmaneuvers the limits of my question. It isn't about Peter being steady at the helm. It's about the fans.

"Hellblazer's been in bed with a lot of writers", Peter begins, "I think it does take a little while, for this character to feel really your own. I think it wasn't only that I became more familiar with with Constantine, but that Constantine, my Constantine became more familiar with the reader once Phoebe…she was a woman who would not normally be associated with Constantine…was out of the way. So I think it was more the readers becoming used to this. This was more like the Constantine they knew.

"When I took over the book, I felt it was about pushing him into areas that were unusual, areas that would upset one or two people. Phoebe was the kind of girl…well let me put it like this…I always think, what makes characters real? What makes John Constantine real, in fiction? Whether it's film or novels…it's when he's given that smack of verisimilitude. It's when we, when Constantine, would do things that are not obviously in character. I think real people do things that are out of character. And that goes into making them real, breathing people.

"So I wanted him to go out with a girl or a young woman, who's not the kind of girl he'd normally go out with. In my experience that is how things tend to work out."

It's another jump. This time we're much later in the conversation and we're talking about Shade and Constantine. In the mid-90s, just before Peter's first joust at Rimbaud with the Shade: the Changing Man arc, "A Season in Hell". Shade's Madness Powers, the source of his ability to change himself and change the world around him and change the laws of that world, had somehow intersected with John Constantine's magic. A Constantine, circa 1979, circa the time Maggie Thatcher had just been elected to the position of prime minister, was summoned to 90s Middle America to resolve some strange Madness Powers-inspired craziness involving puritanism and witch trails.

It was the first joust between these two great characters. And in it, Shade came off a little worse for the wear. Shade's paramour, Kathy, had fallen for Constantine and fallen hard. Back then, in the pages of the Changing Man, that roadtrip trio of Shade (the hero), Kathy (the girlfriend) and Lenny (the girlfriend's girlfriend) had been a stable, safe, well-lighted place that readers could retreat into away from the craziness Shade himself seemed to simply pull out from the world. Constantine showing up simply threw that very stable, very nurturing (albeit in a 90s way) triangle out of balance.

Peter, begins. "Oh right, Constantine made an appearance…I like that storyline. There's a kind of a frisson, almost a semi-romantic frisson between Constantine and Kathy, which upset Shade. Constantine is the kind of person who's attractive to women. And I think he's attractive to men as well. Even though he's probably slightly unwashed, and he smokes and he's uncouth. There's something about him, I imagine, would be slightly magnetic. And the fact that Kathy, who was our main character's romantic…she was the romantic lead…she kind of was drawn to Constantine's power, his magnetism".

Shade was broken by this, and it's not until much much later, in a recent Hellblazer arc by Peter, 'Sectioned', that he gets his own back on Constantine. "'Sectioned'", Peter intones, musing on the uniquely British mood of the word. "I don't know if that word completely translates well into other forms of English. Or into American English, even. To be sectioned is when you're legally bound to go into some form of mental institution. It's something that can be invoked by members of the medical profession in the UK…say you're a paranoid schizophrenic and you're a danger to yourself and others, but even just a danger to yourself, doctors would section you which means you're forced to have medical treatment".

It's at the end of this arc that Shade would get his own back. Shade escapes with Epiphany, the girl Constantine will eventually marry. Peter continues, "When I brought back Shade I wanted to have the idea that this kind of lunatic had been obsessing…obviously not only because of the death of Kathy…obsessing about the fact that this guy, Constantine had had this frisson with the woman he loved more than any. And he still harbors a grudge".

We go ahead to talk about the back-and-forth between using two artists to depict the two different timelines in Constantine. It recalls an earlier part of the conversation when we discuss the bridging of Constantine into the mainstream DC Universe. Following on from the New 52 reboot, Constantine becomes to be one of the core characters in the new Justice League Dark title. It is a book that sees the banding together of occult-powered heroes, loners really who stand against mystical abuses of power, heroes who really don't want anything to do with each other. My question began with an observation that John Constantine himself seems slightly more British, slightly wittier (with slightly more snark even) than the John Constantine appearing in the pages of Hellblazer.

"You say he's wittier…well that's interesting because different people say they've seen different things. I've had some people say that he seems more British…and maybe his Britishness does come to the fore…in the form of his British witticisms… do come slightly to the fore in the way that if you're around people not of country or not of your culture, you somehow increase, or up, aspects of your personality".

I offer a sports metaphor--is it a question of home- and away-games? Is Justice League Dark the away game, is the Vertigo book Hellblazer the home?

"No 100 percent not", comes the affirmative tone, "I see it as the same character. Y'know, people have asked me do I get some kind of schizophrenic attitude towards writing Constantine for DCU and writing Constantine for Vertigo. I mean… The guys at DCU want it to be Constantine, and I'm happy about that. As far as I'm concerned, he's the same person. He's got the same kind of moral apparatus. Or immoral…no, better to say amoral apparatus, or reaction to the world. So I think he's the same guy. And I think that…well ok, he swears more in Vertigo. And perhaps more extreme things will happen to him. But in terms of his reaction, in terms of who he is, I think he's the same person. And I've said before, the modern comicbook reader is sophisticated enough to understand that this is the same person, just appearing in a slightly different comicbook".

It's a wonderful quote. Directly in that idea, Peter speaks to the power of popular culture, and the unique way comics harnessing the resurgent nature of popculture (unique only in these days, in Elizabethan times, popculture remastery was everywhere from Marlowe's Faust to every line of Shakespeare). Peter's comment, given in a throwaway style, connects deeply with a recursiveness at the heart of popular culture, and a past that was already able to conceive of the disownership of ideas.

At its heart, this was what Rimbaud was struggling with in A Season in Hell--the idea of ownership of the self, by culture, and an ongoing struggle to breakthrough that formulation into an age of disownership. And that struggle was resurrected, nearly a generation ago, to this very day, by Peter in Shade: the Changing Man in that pages of "A Season in Hell". That storyarc is Peter's James-Joycing of Rimbaud, the filtering of Rimbaud through 90s sentiment. Every line of the original poem in six parts is there; every line reworked to great effect to express the sentiment of 90s fatherhood and 90s womanhood, and 90s ownership of ideas. There were immortal scenes, written to just be discarded by virtue of them being popculture, only to return later, speaking to their power and your inability to simply cast them aside. Kathy's unwitting act of prostitution. Shade's deal with the metaphorical Devil. Lenny's abandoned lovechild, come back to find her mother. Shade, Kathy and Lenny, shopping in a supermarket while the climax of six months of fine comics, five years of fine comics, plays out to an unexpected and irrevocable conclusion.

And now we're returned to those themes, to those familiar alleyways, those main streets of the infernal. John Constantine's back in Hell, and after Rimbaud, after 90s Peter Milligan, it's our third outing there. This feels very much like the worst kind of homecoming ever. And the highest kind of art, strewn in the places where no other high art would dare to be found.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

The Hall of Fame has been harshly criticized for some of its more inexplicable exclusions and for neglecting certain subgenres of music. Cynicism and negativity over the Hall's selection process and membership is fairly widespread. That said, despite the controversies and legitimate gripes, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still widely viewed as a career milestone. The Hall's stature feeds its surrounding controversies: after all, nobody would care to argue so vehemently about the merits of one artist over another if it wasn't important. Very rarely will a newly inducted artist miss the opportunity to appear at the star-studded ceremony to accept their honor.

The criteria for nomination is as follows: "Artists -- a group encompassing performers, composers and/or musicians -- become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording. Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock and roll." Specifically for performers, "This category honors bands or solo artists which demonstrate musical excellence. Such a descriptor includes (but isn't limited to) influence on other performers or genres; length and depth of career and catalog; stylistic innovations; or superior technique and skills."

These standards allow the selection committee wide latitude with their choices, and generating a list that would create zero controversy is an obvious impossibility. As for those deserving artists yet to be included, their time will surely come. There has purportedly been an emphasis on increasing diversity among the nominating committee and voters in recent years, and the list of contenders for the class of 2018 reflects this.

Radiohead, as expected and deserved, are nominated in their first year of eligibility, and there is little doubt they will be inducted. Other nominees include Bon Jovi, Kate Bush, the Cars, Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, Eurythmics, J. Geils Band, Judas Priest, LL Cool J, MC5, the Meters, the Moody Blues, Rage Against the Machine, Nina Simone, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Link Wray and the Zombies. It's a strong and varied group.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the list, however, is the British duo Eurythmics. Even though they've been eligible since 2006, this is their first nomination. Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox certainly deserve recognition for their important contributions to the musical fabric of the last 40 years. While Eurythmics have always been generally respected, they've never been darlings with the critics like some of their contemporaries. It's puzzling as to why. Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting and creative audacity. Lennox is second to noone as a vocalist, not just in her lead parts but also in the creative, often rhythmic way she uses her voice as an instrument. This nomination could boost the stature and perception of Eurythmics' body of work immeasurably.

Although Eurythmics are often consigned strictly to the synthpop genre, that designation fits only a portion of their repertoire. Each of their nine studio albums has its own unique vibe while retaining the duo's core identity. Eurythmics never repeat themselves, often taking bold risks and swerving in unexpected directions. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Eurythmics didn't "sell out" or compromise by chasing after obvious Top 40 hits. Even their most popular singles aren't commercial in the traditional sense, and they've always sounded like nobody else on the radio.

Despite the sudden emergence of their 1983 single "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" as an MTV staple and international smash, Eurythmics are far from an overnight success story. Their story begins in London, 1975, when Stewart fortuitously encountered Lennox at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress. The Scottish singer had recently dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music, which she felt didn't suit her musical interests. Stewart and Lennox strongly connected over their love of music, and they quickly became a couple who were inseparable. Along with singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Peet Coombes, Stewart and Lennox formed a short-lived group the Catch. After one failed single, they added two members and renamed themselves the Tourists.

Coombes was the dominant creative force and primary songwriter behind the Tourists. Lennox and Coombes shared vocals on the band's dour and melancholy power-pop. The Tourists released three albums and managed a handful of chart appearances in the UK. Two of their singles, a peppy cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You" and the hard-rocking "So Good T\to Be Back Home Again", made the UK Top 10. The band toured extensively, but their success was fleeting. The Tourists' third album, Luminous Basement (1980), tanked badly despite containing their strongest material yet, and the group dissolved shortly thereafter.

Lennox and Stewart also endured a painful ending to their sometimes tumultuous romance, but they recognized the power of their musical chemistry and decided to continue working together as a duo. They were a pair "who couldn't be together, and who could not be apart", as Lennox reflects many years later in the song "17 Again". History has shown that they made the right decision: Stewart and Lennox compliment each other intuitively through a shared passion for music, the thrill of experimentation, and the need for emotional release that songwriting and performing allows.

The name Eurythmics was derived from a technique used to teach music to children based on sensory and physical methods of learning rhythm. The newly-christened duo signed with RCA Records and in early 1981 headed to Germany to record their debut album with highly-respected krautrock producer Conny Plank.

Plank already had a long string of acclaimed albums to his credit, including collaborations with Neu!, Can, Ultravox, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno among others. The sessions for what would become Eurythmics' debut album, In the Garden, were held at Plank's studio in Cologne. He brought several of his regular collaborators into the proceedings, including bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit of avant-garde rockers Can, Blondie drummer Clem Burke and D.A.F. electronics whiz Robert Görl. Stewart has described the sessions as a learning experience that helped expand his perception of what pop music could be and how it could be created without following any rules, a perspective that served Eurythmics well.

Eurythmics' austere and hypnotic debut single "Never Gonna Cry Again" was released in May 1981. They filmed a low-budget video and landed a couple TV slots to promote the track, but the song's haunted nature did not translate to mainstream success: it barely scraped the lower reaches of the UK singles chart. A second single, the dreamy guitar-rocker "Belinda", followed in August but failed to chart.

In the Garden was finally released in October 1981, but without a hit to generate momentum it was barely noticed. Despite scant sales figures, the album's gloomy psychedelic guitar-pop makes for a rather strong debut. In the Garden exists in late summer shadows, densely atmospheric and shrouded in a veil of dread. Lennox's vocals are understated, subtle and lower in the mix than on subsequent albums. Sound effects, odd vocalizations and bits of sonic experimentation fade in and out like flashes of hazily repressed memory.

RCA wasn't eager to invest in a follow-up to In the Garden after its disappointing reception, so Stewart financed Eurythmics' second album largely through a personal bank loan. Faced with a minuscule budget, they worked in a London warehouse to avoid spending money on studio time. They were able to purchase cheap second-hand equipment for the sessions, including the basic TEAC 8-track on which most of the album was recorded. Adam Williams, former bassist for the ska band the Selectors, helped the duo learn the equipment while co-producing some of their earliest tracks.

The primitive set-up was the ultimate blessing in disguise. Since they were financing the sessions and self-producing, Eurythmics had the freedom to experiment with no oversight. As both Lennox and Stewart were enduring periods of deep personal strife at the time, the sessions evolved into an emotional and creative catharsis that helped shape the mercurial nature of the music. It was out of this environment that a classic was born.

Despite appearing only a few months after their debut album, the first single to emerge from the new sessions proved radically different than any of Eurythmics' prior work. Released in April 1982, "This Is the House" is a flamboyant, horn-driven spectacle on which Lennox belts out a vocal more confident and brash than any of her prior work. The song's odd mix of synthpop, R&B; and latin influences renders it completely unique, but despite its infectious ingenuity and beguiling loopiness (or perhaps because of it), "This Is the House" failed to chart.

The follow-up single that landed two months later is even better. Entrancing and soulful, "The Walk" exudes the anxiety, drama and innovation that became Eurythmics' hallmark. The vocal arrangement is ingenious, and Dick Cuthell (known for his work with Madness, the Specials, Fun Boy Three and others) lets rip a blistering trumpet solo. As in many of their songs, "The Walk" slowly ratchets up the tension through hypnotic repetition and the gradual addition of more layers of sound until it reaches a haywire frenzy. Although a brilliant recording, "The Walk" fared no better than its predecessor.

With the duo's second album Sweet Dreams (are made of this) completed, RCA began a strong promotional push, issuing the opening track "Love Is a Stranger" as a single in November 1982. Lennox's dazzling vocal ranges from icy cool to fiery passion over a relentless electric groove bracketed by sinuous lines of synth. "Love Is a Stranger" rose to #54 in the UK, their highest placement yet, and momentum was finally building for the duo thanks in part to the single's provocative video.

The first significant chapter in a series of visually arresting promotional clips that Eurythmics generated over the span of their career, "Love Is a Stranger" showcases Lennox's dramatic presence and her innate ability to command the viewer's attention. She plays multiple roles, ending the clip with her red hair slicked back and dressed androgynously in a man's suit. Image was quickly becoming an important part of the Eurythmics' equation, with Lennox always compelling no matter which character she inhabits, and Stewart often appearing as her sort of mad-scientist counterpart.

Sweet Dreams (are made of this) hit the shelves on 4 January 1983, along with its title-track, a single that continues to reverberate through pop music nearly 35 years after its release. Suddenly everything changed for Eurythmics. An obscure British duo, barely managing to survive in the music business, soared to the top with one of the more unconventional songs ever to scale those lofty heights.

"Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" has an unusual structure, with no real verses or chorus. Lennox has described it as a mantra, and indeed it is. The lyrics, which Lennox rattled off spontaneously in a matter of minutes, are a simple but profound statement about the human condition: "Everybody's looking for something," the search for meaning and fulfillment, the ephemeral "this" of which sweet dreams are made.

Lennox begins the song with a single line of vocal, then starting with "some of them want to use you" at the 0:24 point it doubles. From there the song gradually builds intensity, with the vocals increasingly layered. A masterful finalé combines all the sonic elements before fading to black, the mantra repeating endlessly, the "this" still stubbornly undefined. The booming minor-key bass riff and the epic string-motif solo starting at 1:31 are played by Lennox on a Roland Juno-6 synthesizer. The main riff (improvised by Lennox while listening to Stewart working on a drum-machine pattern), is a simple two-bar arpeggio that loops throughout most of the song. Two parts were recorded separately and panned on opposite sides of the sound spectrum, creating a richly resonant effect. "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" is no dated relic from the early days of MTV burdened by the limitations the time. Its massive waves of synth flood out of the speakers with enormous power, as inexorably as the tide.

The music video, which became wildly popular on MTV during its heyday, is forever entwined with the song in listeners' collective consciousness. The iconic image of Lennox in her masculine suit and flaming orange flat-top helps to define the new wave era. Her forceful demeanor, nervy confidence and the subtle nuances of her facial expressions amplify the song's inherent tension. She confronts the viewer directly by pointing right in our faces at the 0:24 mark. At 1:56, she offers a sly half-smile with, "some of them want to abuse you", and at 2:15 she pounds her fist just as the song reaches its dramatic apex. Stewart appears throughout the video stoically pecking away on the drum machine he used in the recording of the song, the Movement MCS Drum Computer MK1 (except for that part where he and the cow have, well, a moment… It's all in the eye contact).

After a slow climb up the US pop chart, "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" was finally able to derail the Police's "Every Breath You Take" from its seven-week reign at the top during the week of 3 September 1983. It would be Eurythmics' only chart-topping pop hit in America, and it reached #2 in the UK. In the wake of Eurythmics' new-found fame, "Love Is a Stranger" was re-released, this time becoming a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album's deep cuts are every bit as strange and fascinating as its better-known singles. The ghostly "Jennifer" is a narcotic reverie of keyboard swells and spectral atmospherics. "I've Got an Angel" and "Somebody Told Me" are serrated neurotic fits, swerving dangerously off-the-rails from anything that would normally be considered pop music. A long and mesmerizing exploration of urban isolation, "This City Never Sleeps" is a powerful finalé. Sweet Dreams (are made of this) is an examination of the human psyche fraught with turmoil, a series of jagged recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks set to music that is soulful and experimental, melodic but eccentric, a stark electronic soundscape that bristles with horns and unexpected sonic jolts.

Next Page: Potent and Ferocious

This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

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10

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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