Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Leigh Wright's 2013 Round-up


Illustration by Emma-Jane Rosenburg

Leigh Wright is the editor and creator of Wyrd Daze and also records music as The Ephemeral Man.  Here are his thoughts on 2013.

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My Top 10 Things of 2013 in no particular order by Leigh Wright aka The Ephemeral Man

1 – Music :

How to possibly go about this? If I took the time I could easily compile a Top 100 list of my favourite music from 2013 alone. Instead, I name the genres Komische and The Deep Abstract as being my favourite music of 2013.

Now obviously genre labels are problematic – the banner of present day noise would have to include everything from industrial to ambient and plenty in between to full incorporate the broad spectrum of music that the name conjures, which is perhaps why the host of this blog, Mr Holland, coined the term The Deep Abstract - to signify “artistic creations outside genre, flouting convention and drifting free of expectation…” and that is a more appropriate term to describe the wide range of music I’ve been experiencing this year. Deep Abstract it is.

I love losing and finding myself in the endless awe of The Deep Abstract, but also there’s something about the vibrant synth-resonance of komische music that really does it for me. Komische is outer-space to Deep Abstract’s inner-space. Here’s a list of some of the artists I’ve been particularly enjoying to give you an idea of where I’m at:

The Wyrding Module : http://wyrdingmodule.psybertron.co.uk/ http://icasea.bandcamp.com/album/subtemple-session-ii

Norm Chambers aka Panabrite : http://panabrite.bandcamp.com/




As well as the classics, like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze etc, etc.

2 – Literature : Iain M Banks

In April this year author Iain M Banks announced that he had inoperable cancer. He passed away June 9th.  He left us a legacy of 27 novels. I am particularly fond of his science fiction Culture series, of which there are 9 books. I haven’t read all of his books yet, but all of those I have read, whether science fiction or not, have been superb.

Many of the concepts in his books are mind-blowing - not just the science fictions ones. He had a brilliant mind, and I implore you to grant his immortality further power by reading his books.  The swiftness was a shock, and the loss to the literary world was great.

3 – TV

There have been some great tv shows this year. Game of Thrones continues to be a real joy, and as I have only just now started reading the books, I felt the full impact of Season Three’s ‘Red Wedding’. Wow. The design work is superb, the sets and costumes bringing Westeros to life far more than any amount of CGI could.

Hannibal is a sublime re-working of the Thomas Harris books. Rarely have I been so entranced by a show, such delicate dark beauty and poise. Wondrous. The soundtrack alone is a masterpiece…

Defiance is an ambitious sci-fi show developed by Rockne S. O’Bannon, who also created the magnificent Farscape. Many people seems to scoff at the ambition, with the creation of several alien races and back story that will take time to fully unfold – indeed, some people declared the show rubbish after only watching the first episode. Given half a chance, Defiance reveals itself to be an intriguing and lovable show that tells some good story, and does it’s best to defy cliché and convention. I really like it, and it will only get better as the universe is given an opportunity to develop.

Vikings was developed by Michael Hirst, known for the Elizabeth films as well as shows The Tudors, Camelot, and The Borgias. Based on the life of the Viking Ragnar Lodbrok, one of the best-known Norse heroes, it’s a warm and involving drama that I thoroughly recommend.

My favourite show of the new season is Sleepy Hollow. It’s a premise that probably shouldn’t work: a headless horseman is death, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, come to present day Sleepy Hollow in league with a demon. His nemesis is Ichabod Crane, formerly of George Washington’s Colonial Army in the 18th century, resurrected to fight evil and keep the apocalypse at bay with the help of a local police officer. It does work, and it’s brilliant!

4 – Movies:

Both Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel were amazing. Haters gonna hate, but that’s their problem. I mean, some people said that Man of Steel was just too grim and not human enough – that there should have been more fun in the story. Now, I’m all for fun and there being a bit of humour where appropriate, but forcing quips into every situation is not necessary and can get quite grating at times.

(It’s this in my opinion which has marred Stephen Moffat’s Doctor Who run. He’s still a good writer, but when you’re facing evil monsters and supposedly terrifying situations and all you can do is make jokes, there’s a problem. Where’s the fear? It’s surely fear that made classic Who great for kids– we could forgive the dodgy effects because we were watching sci-fi horror, and our imaginations transported us into the moment. For me, Tom Baker’s look of abject horror that he adopted toward even the silliest of rubber monsters really made it. But the moments where anyone is actually scared in modern Who are far too rare, and the show suffers for it. Don’t get me wrong – I still love Doctor Who, and the 50th episode was a triumph, but I want the fear back.)

For me, Man of Steel beats The Avengers and maybe even the Batman trilogy for greatest superhero film of all time. There, I said it. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but Man of Steel really excited me, and I LOVED all the alien wonder of Krypton. Besides, as much as I enjoy most superhero films, in essence they mostly boil down to a big fight between two or more characters with powers, which is a formula that is surely getting a bit tired, no? I wish dearly that the film industry would invest far more in deep and meaningful science fiction concepts, and keep the space wrestling to a minimum.

(I’ve yet to watch Gravity or Europa Report, but I’m looking forward to!)

Other movies: Upstream Colour was superb and you should totally watch it, but I’m not going to tell you anything about it, because that would spoil it. Go in fresh and unsuspecting, and stick with it

Horror movies: Evil Dead was fun, and The Conjuring was really great.

I could talk more, but I’m already taking up way too much space. This is supposed to be a top 10 list, and I’ve turned it into an essay – sorry…

5 – Rats

Yes, I did say rats. They’re cute and cuddly and neat and funny and exciting. My wife and I bought two ratties towards the end of January, Archimedes and Athena, and they have since had babies. We kept eight of them: Isis, Orpheus, Hecate, Loki, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, Thalia, and Cornelius Maus.

No, we iz not much mad…. Rats are amazing! They are like little bears, and are very intelligent and kind. Quite possible the best pet eva! So there.

6 – No News

I made a conscious decision this year to stay away from “the news”. I’ve been too involved with “the news” in the past, keeping an eye on at least two or three 24hr news stations to get often conflicting accounts of “what’s going on in the world”. There really should be a good news channel to counter all the shit. Anyway, I haven’t had a telly since I moved to Quebec not far from two years ago. Good riddance. Not that it stops me watching what I want to watch, though. But I decided to pretty much ignore world events for a while and focus on my own creativity. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but I have no regrets. Just don’t ask me what’s going on outside my own bubble. I’ll re-join the world in due course…

7 – NFL

I have been making a little time for sport this season, though! I’m a total geek, so sport is not something that I am overly attracted to. I must say I find Soccer incredibly boring, sorry.  Conversely, I used to enjoy a bit of snooker every now and then – go figure! But American Football… I love it and believe it to be the greatest sport on the planet! I fell in love with it in the 80’s, like many of my English (UK) generation, when the Chicago Bears were the thing, with William “The Fridge” Perry being the man. Remember that? Well – I stuck with the football on and off through the years, and although I haven’t watched it for 3 years or so, I decided to delve back in this season. No other sport has such a diverse array of athleticism, tactic, and excitement. Go Patriots!

8 – Games

I’ve not really been keeping up with games that much this year, but Tomb Raider was an amazing experience, and no matter what anybody says about Grand Theft Auto – number 5 is a wonderfully crafted game. I’ve recently started playing Skyrim – waaay behind on that one – and I have Bioshock: Infinite for Christmas, so I’m looking forward to that.

I’m an xbox man, by the way, but play a few things on PC also – RTS games mostly. I’d like the new xbox at some point. I do love me Halo and Forza

9 – Comics

Hellblazer controversially came to an end this year, as DC comics has a shuffle. Lock and Key is almost done. Prophet continues to be magnificent, and Saga is fun. I still read a bit of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, but I’m quite a bit behind. There’s quite a few other comics I should probably be reading too, but hey – The Sandman is back for a short run, and the first issue is wonderful!

10 – Wyrd Daze

I started this thing called Wyrd Daze: the zine of extraordinary creativity! I’ve wanted to something like this for years – a collaborative publication containing stories, articles, art, and all kinds of wonders. It began as a one-off print zine, and the response I had from the people I asked to contribute was amazing. Now Wyrd Daze is a monthly digital download which includes music compilations, video, and a podcast, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going. The quality of contributions continues to be outstanding, and it really is the kind of publication I love to experience. It serves as a focus for my creativity as well as a showcase of some of the wonderful talent (and wonderful people) to be found out there in the independent creative community.  (www.wyrddaze.wordpress.com)

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