Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bad Company

 I think I've probably played games less than 20 times in my life.  (Unless we're counting Pong, which my granny had for some reason). Despite unfamiliarity with the whole area, its idiolect and lingo, I  could understand this fascinating Vulture piece by Kieran Press-Reynolds on the outwardly mystifying appeal of the game Lethal Company. A grim, grinding parody of precarious work conditions under late capitalism, it's set in outer space, where players are peons tasked with resource extraction for a mysterious corporation. 

"Every round, the quota is raised until it’s literally impossible to succeed. There’s no Employee of the Month awards, no daily check-ins with the boss, no OSHA regulations — simply ever-escalating toil, followed by death."  

The pay-off is a cathartic displacement of the stresses and anxieties of your non-game working life:

"The faceless megacorp ejected us from the ship. We couldn’t stop giggling as we watched our bodies disappear in the ether."

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Love this video, love this song - the video made by my son Eli with his creative partner Max Schneiderman, the single is by their super-talented friend Julia Robyn.

Friday, February 16, 2024

"Divine Decadence Darling!"

I had a lovely time talking with Jeremy Gilbert and Tim Lawrence for their triffic music + politics podcast Love Is the Message. Our chat covered glam and punk and postpunk, themes of suburbia and boredom and the political economy of 1970s Britain. You can listen to the deftly-condensed and music-illustrated conversation at Apple or Spotify or Patreon

Saturday, February 10, 2024

RIP Damo Suzuki

Not Damo-specific although he appears here and there, check out mash-up-ologist Tom Caruana's Can-tribute-via-loop-distillation release Inner Space - there's an instrumental version and then one (the primary one in fact) which uses these de facto Can breakbeats as a base for rappers to do their thing.

Jump to 40.09 for the Vit C meets MC merger (in this case Denmark Vessey)

"Vitamin C" is used in the first episode of Baz Luhrmann's early days of hip hop drama The Get Down - you see a graffiti-daubed subway train rattling along an overground / overhead track and the hypertense rhythm engine rattles and clicks along with it.  

Check out also Woebot aka Matthew Ingram's Damo-endorsed video "Vitamin C" which uses the tune as its intro and outro, but is also a lovely bit of edutainment on the subject of asorbic acid - its discovery and its properties.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

RIP Christopher Priest


I think have only read the one book by Christopher Priest - A Dream of Wessex. Read it when it first came out, borrowed from Berkhamsted library (almost certainly the edition pictured above). And then I  read it again in the 2010s, having picked up a hardback of the original US edition (mystifyingly retitled The Perfect Lover) at Glendale's s.f. + fantasy specialist shop Mystery and Imagination (now sadly closed but continuing as a mail order / internet operation). 

I have had copies of Fugue for a Darkening Island and Inverted World awaiting my attention for some time now. 

Two different copies of Fugue. He revised it for a later edition, muting some of its potentially offensive aspects (the scenario is social collapse / fascism in the U.K., caused by an overwhelming influx of refugees owing to war and famine). So when I realised I had bought the 'corrected' version, I had to get the original, didn't I?  (The title itself - "darkening island" -  is questionable... but Priest was no Powellite, indeed he revised the novel because he hated the idea of being misunderstood). 

Been meaning to check out The Glamour (title allures for obvious reasons) and The Prestige  (saw the film) and others in that single-noun-title series-not-series of his 

Reading John Clute's obituary at the Guardian, I see that he also wrote an intriguing WW2 alternative history, The Separation

But yes, Christopher Priest - one of those New Wave of British s.f. writers who lit up my mind prior to the plunge into music and music journalism. I'm grateful to all these writers, and their American counterparts. They stirred my imagination (for a while, stirred ambitions too - to become a s.f. and alternative history writer). And they provided escape during a turbulent upbringing. 

Apparently, at his death, Priest was working on a nearly but not quite completed study of J.G. Ballard, his biggest influence and a mentor. Hope that gets put out.