Archives by month/year

Jane’s Addiction – Alive At Twenty-five: Ritual De Lo Habitual

Rock Fuel Media / Cleopatra / MVD Visual

Jane's Addiction - Alive At Twenty-fiveHard to believe Ritual De Lo Habitual is a quarter of a century old, but a quarter of a century old it is, and has taken its rightful place in the pantheon of classic albums. A high point for alternative rock music in the 1990s, which began so optimistically with Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine and Nirvana and ended with fucking Nickelback.

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Devil’s Domain

Cleopatra Entertainment

Devil's DomainDisney‘s Beauty And The Beast famously likes to call itself “a tale as old as time”, but traditional though a young girl marrying a lion may be in the circles YOU move in, I’d argue an older tale was that eternal staple of the cautionary tale, the tale of the Devil’s bargain.

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Morphine – Journey Of Dreams


Morphine - Journey Of DreamsFor me, Morphine was one of the most important alternative bands to come form the USA in the Nineties. Their sound was unique and it is not often that can be said about a band, particularly a three-piece coming from the thriving post-punk and independent scene of Boston.

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Nick Cave – One More Time With Feeling

Bad Seed

Nick Cave - One More Time With FeelingOne More Time With Feeling was designed to ideally be watched before Skeleton Tree was released; so to watch it for the first time now, after living with that raw, naked and shivering mass of beauty and heartbreak is, clearly, a very different experience than that originally intended. But I don’t think that makes it any less powerful a film in its own right.

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Dangerous Men

Drafthouse / MVD

Dangerous MenJohn Rad‘s Dangerous Men is probably, unfortunately for me, review-proof. Made on a shoestring by Rad, an Iranian who moved to America literally 24 hours before Khomeini got in and — understandably — decided not to go back, it’s a crazy slice of slam-bang crime action, and it may just be the Deadly Premonition of moves when it comes to asking “is it any good?”

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Sun Ra – A Joyful Noise


Sun Ra - A Joyful NoiseRobert Mugge’s film A Joyful Noise is like stepping into a time machine. He has captured a unique insight into a particularly mystical bubble of 1980s African American counter-culture. Although, thinking about it, our main protagonist Mr Mystery, AKA Sun Ra, might not be too interested in limiting himself to any earth-based ethnicity.

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WIDTPresented in a double-disc package containing both CD and DVD versions, the former holding the music in standalone album format, while the latter combines it with the visuals, which are not merely an addendum, but integral to WIDT‘s work.

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Eaten Alive

Arrow Films

Eaten AliveAs I write this, the horror community is mourning the loss of Gunnar Hansen, whose turn (yes, that one, round and round with a buzzing saw in the middle of the road in the blazing sun) as Leatherface helped put Tobe Hooper on the map, Texas Chainsaw Massacre having not only been a huge hit, but unbeknownst to anyone having also changed the face of horror forever.

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Hard To Be A God

Arrow Films

Hard To Be A God DVD coverAleksei German‘s Hard To Be A God is sci-fi in the Tarkovsky tradition, very much a state of mind rather than flashy tech and shiny spaceship CGI. The film is based on Arkady and Boris Strugatsky‘s 1964 novel of the same name, and was completed after the director’s death by his son Aleksei German Jr.

The back story is that a group of earth scientists (although they don’t seem very scientific) have been sent to a alien world, a planet whose evolution is currently entrenched in the unprecedented filth of mediaeval squalor, their mission to help (or is it just to observe?) this fledgling civilization.

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The Decline of Western Civilization Collection

Second Sight Films

The Decline of Western Civilization CollectionPenelope Spheeris‘s epic three-part documentary series about the shifting scene in music in LA in the ’80s and ’90s makes even more interesting viewing now than it did before. Well, I’m mostly talking about the first two movies, as until now I’ve never seen the third.

The documentary form, as well as Spheeris’s hands-off style (of which more later) mean that instead of becoming dated, or simply frozen as historical artefacts, they’ve grown new layers of meaning as context has changed all around them. (Just for some context for those of a less American disposition, filming on Part I concluded in the same month that Ian Curtis of Joy Division died).

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Circle – Silta


Circle - SiltaShot over two nights in February 2011, at the Dynamo in Turku and the next day at YK-Klubi in Helsinki, Silta is one of the few Circle DVDs1 released so far which give the viewer a close approximation of the live experience of this most uncategorisably outré of bands.

The Dynamo footage which forms the first part is filtered in sepia tones and framed within an oval vignette effect which keeps the focus on the band tight and fixed, and captures Circle at their most triumphant, bombastic, even, guitars brandished towards the sky while Jussi Lehtisalo and Julius and Pekka Jääskeläinen toss their shaggy manes with the determined rhythmic intensity of the true metallers that they are.

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In The House Of Flies


In The House Of The FliesGabriel Carrer‘s In The House Of Flies is an ’80s movie, made in the second decade of the twenty-first century designed around a trope from the first which became a cliché and eventually a sub-genre all of its own, though it does a bloody good job of avoiding cliché and in the process returns the trope to its ingenious origins.

Remember Saw? The first one, I mean. The one that had that wicked premise of the two guys, the handcuffs and the hacksaw and which promised to be a twisted psychological thriller? And to an extent actually was one, but which also spiralled out on a more ghoulish trajectory and gave birth the the oh-so-soon-to-be-completely-played-to-death mainstream torture porn craze? Imagine if it had stuck to that premise, or

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Devo – Hardcore DEVO Live!


Devo - Hardcore DEVO Live!This review is based on the CD and DVD releases; the set is also available on vinyl and blu-ray.

Before rising to fame, Devo experimented in basements and garages in Akron, Ohio during the years 1974–1977. This was a time whenthey were just doing whatever they wanted, and as they say themselves, they made “raw, unfiltered songs with no commercial intent”. Many of the songs that were created at that time, according to themselves, they never played again. Not until last year; then they decided to go on tour, to honour to the departed Bob “Bob2” Casale, following his idea to give new life to the creativity that brought them all together as a band. This album documents one night in Oakland at the Fox Theater on 28 June 2014.

In the first early years after they

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The Orb – History Of The Future Part 2

Malicious Damage

The Orb ready History Of The Future Part 2There’s something gratifying about the way that The Orb‘s music has both progressed (in all senses of the word) and stayed within its own vaguely-defined parameters over the last quarter century. Pick any one of the tracks on History of the Future Part 2 or set it to shuffle play, and a certain number of slightly off-kilter vocal samples, blips, bloops and chunky shuffling beats from the second chapter of their trip are likely to emerge from the speakers, the only imponderable being just how much bass pressure they’re going to bring to the party along the way.

From inner/outer space to the corners of a farmer’s field which be be forever raveland, The Orb are still ideally placed at the interface between ambient floating and festival-friendly dub techno as they’ve

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20,000 Days on Earth

Film 4

20,000 Days on EarthHis wife mostly hides. I think she knows what he’s going to say, or rather what he’s not going to say. She’s central and peripheral in this tale and that seems about right since so is Nick. He’s in every scene and every scene is about him (or, more properly, for him) but we don’t get anything as ‘startlingly frank’ as you’d imagine. He’s there but he’s not there. 20,000 Days is a visit to the Court of Cave and, whilst gently mocking in places (the ‘Lionel Ritchie’ moment is a stand-out scene), it doesn’t attempt to get to grips with anything except what Cave thinks of himself. Nothing here is unguarded, especially the unguarded moments. It’s all as real as a fake therapy session.

Now, to be fair, no one’s

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