12 August 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Wolf

Probably the most underrated musical ever. Ten reasons why?

1) It has been dubbed in 4 languages
The actors did several takes while miming for different languages -  English, Russian, Romanian and French. It's the sort of thing that must have been an absolute pain in the backside to do but was 100% worth all the effort. 

2) The soundtrack is as captivating as it is diverse
Don't believe the name - this isn't your typical 'sex drugs and rock and roll' -style musical. From full-on rock anthems to laid-back orchestrated instrumental pieces to reggae-style motifs, this film seems to scoot through musical genres and influences. Occasionally you almost get the feeling that Brian Wilson co-wrote some of the songs. It's unpredictable and totally mesmerizing.

3) The costumes will inspire your fashion decisions like nothing ever has

Everything from the zipped velours jackets worn by the foxes:

...to the crocheted cardigans with pom-pom collars donned by the sheep:

...  right through to the psychedelic outfit of the Parrot:

... will give you style inspiration for years and years.

4) The set will make you want to be a child actor

They built a seesaw on the top of a roof, which made all watching kids (and adults) green with envy. It was probably responsible for a few near-death experiences both during and post-production, since numerous watching enthusiasts must surely have made unsuccessful attempts at re-creating this contraption  (I know I did).

5) The wolf dance scene will give you shivers

Wolf, donkey and lynx do a mad and slightly satanic dance about 20 minutes into the film against what look like northern lights which look crazily genuine. (This is 1976 remember).

6) The ice skating scene...

....Does any more need to be said? It exudes this unbelievable kaleidoscopic winterly magic which is absolutely perfect if you watch at Christmas or New Year. Here are some screenshots which don't do it justice --

And while we're on the subject of seasons...

7) It's good for any time of year
Although a large part of the film takes place during winter, it begins with what appears to be summertime. The film takes you through the seasons in a way which captures the specific mood of each.

8) It comes close to Rocky Horror in its deconstruction of gender categories
Maybe that's just me being optimistic. But the dichotomy of female weakness/male strength doesn't really seem to exist, it's very much a mixture of both. That's the beauty of it - I personally detest anything that makes a bland point of  'girl power' and leaves out vulnerability, but it's also disgusting to see a female character being degraded to a submissive and moping mess. Male characters can be equally difficult to conceive. This film strikes the perfect balance which makes everything much more realistic and humane. The Wolf -- epitome of rock and roll maleness a la Mick Jagger  -- is revealed to be sniveling and fundamentally insecure, but strangely cool at the same time, while Mama is both a stay-at-home mum and an adventurer.There's also a fair amount of cross-dressing going on, men donning women's costumes and vice-versa. What's not to love?!

9) It's always relatable
Love at first sight and unrequited love, the trials of good parenthood, the comfort of friendship and unconditional loyalty -- all are thematised in an emotional and psychologically sharp film that will have you casting your mind back to your own life experiences.

10) You're never too old to watch it
It's such a masterpiece that I really think this will be true even when I'm not on the cusp of the second decade of my life.

12 June 2016


Picking up an RM1X in Cash Converters for £140 was admittedly a bit of a gamble, and of course half the pads (including the play button) aren't working, but it's still amazing what this thing can do.
A YouTube search of 'RM1X' yields nothing but endless techno and house remixes which completely lack development and seem entirely to ignore all the onboard programming possibilities, as well as all the effects units. There's an uncharted territory with this sequencer that somehow no one seems to have thought of accessing yet, the territory of simple melody-driven pop songs.

Anyway,  for an advocate of underrated things and an opponent of excessive spending on music gear, the RM1X is ideal. I just wish I can get those pads and buttons fixed quickly.

All this also got me thinking about equipment videos - why are they often so remarkably unappealing? Why aren't there more like this one with Adrian Utley? That Minibrute sounds completely out of this world.

5 June 2016

When Will You Come Home

'Making noises like a dog,/
making noises you can't hear'
....has got to be one of the saddest lyrics ever.

Also, this song should end at 2:15 - it'd be better that way.

4 March 2016


... Nope, that's not supposed to be 'MARK', and that letter is definitely the right way round. Маяк means lighthouse in Russian. "Маяк" was (they are no longer active) a Ukrainian band from Kharkov.


16 February 2016

(Im)practical tips and (un)sound advice

We're over half way through February! This means it's time for the Mid-Month Motivational Message:
You're an amazing person. You do amazing things. And if you don't, then you will do amazing things in the future. Just keep at it.

Now, if the following picture applies to you, please read on...

So you really want to make some cool sounds but for one reason or another you don't know where to begin. You have a really bad digital keyboard that you got at a carboot sale (or maybe your grandma, thinking you'd be in raptures over it, gave you it for Christmas).

Now you happen to have an alright DAW (that means anything that isn't Audacity). And in that DAW you notice an intriguing little option:

If you enable this option, you can hear yourself while recording. So far, not so good. What difference does it make if you hear your trashy keyboard going through your DAW or not?

Well, your DAW happens to have another inconspicuous button mysteriously lit up with the green light of success:

 Clicking on it, you find filters, a dozen choruses, several reverbs, and a range of delays. Add as few or as many as you like to the 'FX chain'. Make sure 'Monitor Input' is on. And this is when you will bless the fateful carboot sale (or your grandma) a million times, because the keyboard will sound nothing like its trashy pre-FX self.

The basic equation is
trashy keyboard + FX + monitor input = sounds unheard by human ears

All of the above might be complete codswallop. But you're not doing it wrong if no one knows what you're doing.

30 December 2015

The Swedish film you never saw: Mio Min Mio

This was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid. It's a Swedish 'Neverending Story' of sorts. My sister got a set of pan pipes just so we could play the theme tune. It's so funny how in the last variation on the theme in the video it just goes through loads of funky key changes. What's not to love?

23 December 2015