Monthly Archives: February 2012

Edition Additions: Zbigniew Herbert + Quim Monzó

more new arrivals

Monday saw the arrival of Zbigniew Herbert (finally making his way onto my shelves!) and Quim Monzó, who graces the wooden boxes with his novel Gasoline.

I detest somewhat that I have a New York Times stamp on my cover for the Herbert book. Maybe I should have gone for the one with the title on the front. Oh well.

Happy Leap Year Day, everyone.



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Girls debut “My Ma” video.

Girls debut the video for “My Ma” on Conan. [via Team Coco] There is something mesmerising and yet simultaneously unnerving about the video. I haven’t thought about it very much but it’s probably the collapsing of the fact-fiction gap together with somewhat disturbingly silent/wordless portrayal of–one presumes–the mother. This tension takes a bit of a different dimension given the beauty of the visuals and of course the song. Kind of what I was expecting and yet not quite. Good stuff.


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Sergio Chejfec, Margaret Carson, and My Two Worlds

A series of videos featuring Sergio Chejfec and translator Margaret Carson at the Reading the World event, speaking on, chatting about, and reading from his book My Two Worlds. [via Three Percent]

Part One:

[via YouTube]

Part Two:

[via YouTube]

Part Three:

[via YouTube]

Part Four:

[via YouTube]

Part Five:

[via YouTube]


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Dyer Day

A couple of Geoff Dyer links to kick off your week.

By the end of their journey, Stalker, Writer, and Professor have learned that the Zone “is not a place of hope so much as a place where hope turns in on itself, resigns itself to the way things are.” Not exactly a heart-warming takeaway, but as soon as I finished Dyer’s book, I watched the movie for the first time. I suppose only two questions remain: 1.) Is Stalker, as Dyer contends, “the reason cinema was invented”? And, 2.) How did Dyer’s book affect my experience of watching Tarkovsky’s movie?

The first has Bill Morris over at the Millions discussing (among other book-film relationships) Dyer’s Zona and Tarkovsky’s Stalker. [via The Millions]

The second is an interview on Dyer’s newest book over at Guernica. [via Guernica]

Of course—and this isn’t me being megalomaniacal—this book will now institute a mini spike in Tarkovsky rentals. It’s not going to do him any harm at all! I suppose there’s another point to be made here. There’s always this thing of collapsing the gap between what you’re writing about and the way you’re writing about it: this whole idea, not of the art over here and the commentary over there, but some sort of meeting and merging together. And in a way what happens is that the merging here has taken place, that the film has sort of dissolved into the book.


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Rojak: Martin Amis and video games.

Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.


Barney Rosset of Grove Press fame has died. [via The New York Times]

Beach House may have a new album incoming. [via Consequence of Sound] (I’m pretty sure they do, so this is really just possible confirmation.)

In a maybe controversial move, Will Self is made Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University. [via The Guardian]

Martin Amis and video games. [via The Millions]

A chunky article over at Pitchfork on rock music and embarrassment. [via Pitchfork]

On Marguerite Duras’s The Lover. [via The Paris Review]

Oh, I remember this scene. [via Conversational Reading]


I didn’t realise (much less plan it intentionally) but it was a week all about music.

There was also a reminder about Noise Singapore 2012.


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Omnivore: Chinese arts.

Omnivore is a regular report on some of the things that I’ve been enjoying during the week (or thereabouts).

This week. Let’s see. This week.

There was Zhang Yimou’s Hero, because I need to do a presentation on it. In a way it is coming full circle for me, because my university-level literary studies more or less began with an assignment on Hero.

Because of Hero, I also realised how much I love contemporary Chinese cinema.

There was actually a lot of paper-reading. I didn’t manage to get to any books. I did however manage to get my manuscript printed, so I’ll be looking at that soon.

I’ve loaded my jukebox up with Chinese music in a week of recovery. The playlist is led by the irresistible 万能青年旅店. I was so glad to have found the album locally about a year ago.


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Friendly Advertising

My friend Benjamin will be playing the drums for three separate groups next, next week (5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 March). All shows will be 45 minutes at the Esplanade Concourse, and will be free, so if you want to support local talent, these shows ought to make good evening entertainment.

For 5, 6 March (two sets, at 7.15p.m. and 8.15p.m.) [via Esplanade]:

Cool Classics with The Rit Xu Quintet

Singaporean jazz flutist, Rit Xu was awarded 1st prize in the Juniors Division at the Thailand International Jazz Conference Solo Competition 2011. He also won the US National Flute Association’s Jazz Masterclass Competition during the 39th annual NFA Convention at Charlotte, North Carolina. Tonight’s programme includes an interesting selection of timeless jazz standards and well-known tunes. Rit is joined by Regi Leo on guitar and Colin Yong on bass, as well as up-and-coming drummer Benjamin Low and pianist August Lum.

Line-up includes:
Flutes: Rit Xu
Guitar: Regi Leo
Piano:  August Lum
Bass:   Colin Yong
Drums: Benjamin Low

Song List*:

2. Cheek to Cheek
3. Let’s Cool One
4. Silence is Golden
5. Sonnymoon for Two
6. Scrapple from the Apple
7. Blusette
8. The Nearness of You
9. When I Fall in Love
10. 我不管你是谁
11. 爱神的箭
12. 爱神的箭
*accurate at time of print

For 7, 8 March (two sets, at 7.15p.m. and 8.15p.m.) [via Esplanade]:

Off The Cuff

Off the Cuff is a four-piece group of music lovers formed in 2009. The quartet first met in the NUS Jazz Band and this spurred on jam sessions filled with much fun and laughter. Off the Cuff is back with arrangements of familiar jazz standards guaranteed to tantalise, delight, and provoke.

Song List*:
1.Blue Monk
2.Bye Bye Blackbird
3.Alice In Wonderland
4.Yardbird Suite
7.Round Midnight
8.Pure Imagination
9.The Way You Look Tonight
10.So What
*accurate at time of print

For 10 March (9.15p.m.) [via Esplanade]:

Joel Chua Trio

The Joel Chua Trio was first conceived in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2008 when Luke Belcher, Michael Thompson and Joel played together. At the end of 2009, Joel left returned to Singapore, grinding the Trio to a halt. In 2010, Joel Chua joined the Bright Young Things programme where he met drummer Benjamin Low who introduced him to bassist, Jonathan Ho. The music and infectious energy and synergy between the three was unmistakable and unknowingly, a new Joel Chua Trio was formed.

The Joel Chua Trio will be playing a set of completely original material which hopes to be as engaging as it is musical. Joining the Trio will be guests Rit Xu on flute and Vincent Tan on tenor saxophone.

At the risk of sounding like someone from the Esplanade marketing department, or someone from the Social Development Unit, these should all be great with dinner and good company, so do check them out if you have the time.



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Red, White, & Blues.

Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, and Gary Clark Jr. perform “Five Long Years” at the White House, to the entertainment of Barack and Michelle Obama. [via YouTube]


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Let England Shake DVD reviewed.

All of this beautiful, conscientiously-assembled imagery is very sparingly spiced with footage of Harvey performing the songs solo with a guitar or autoharp in a modest, pretty studio with maps on the walls, lit by an evening sun coming through the window, providing another visual dimension that complements rather than disrupts the flow (even when, as in “The Words That Maketh Murder,” the sound purposely drops for one “live” verse, with Harvey singing and playing straight to us in direct sound, before coming back up and rejoining the studio-recorded song playing over the non-Harvey video material). Harvey’s voice and musical sounds are, of course, the driving force for the whole thing, and the album easily stands on its own as a complete and essential work of art. But Murphy’s photographic voice harmonizes beautifully with Harvey’s musical one, and although the music doesn’t need the visuals for its richness, neither do these images leech off of the music for their power; they can be considered apart from, but are perfectly in keeping with, the music and its meaning(s). (Unusually for Harvey, she has the voices of her entire band singing along with her in many of the songs, so the addition of another voice, and another kind of voice, to create a supplemental visual layer for the album feels even more apt). What Let England Shake: 12 Short Films by Seamus Murphy represents in the end is the literally awesome collaboration of two amazingly insightful, incredibly inspired, disciplined, magnificently expressive artists on a hybrid work that combines into a whole new kind of beauty the already amazing, whole-by-themselves, stand-alone parts it’s comprised of. It’s an overwhelming experience that reaches the heights of the best, most admired non-narrative short works of its kind, by the likes of Kenneth Anger (Scorpio Rising) and Chris Marker (La Jetée); it is simply not to be missed by anybody interested in either the cream of that cinematic crop or the very best that contemporary popular music has to offer.

Review of the Seamus Murphy-directed DVD featuring PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake. [via DVDtalk]


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Don’t forget these songs.

Over at Consequence of Sound, Gilles LeBlanc wonders if Radiohead will bring to the stage some music from outside of the In RainbowsThe King of Limbs repertoire promised for their upcoming tour dates. [via Consequence of Sound]

Personally, I just want to see them live for once. If I had to add to this list, though, I’d go for “Where I End and You Begin”, “No Surprises”, and “Dollars & Cents”. Honorary mention to “Knives Out”.


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