Monday, 26 April 2010

Joy of Vinyl

Lord Bassington-Bassington has expressed an interest in English band Joy of Life before, but it's not until recently that we here at Bassington Manor have gotten hold of some of their post-punky neofolk sounds on record. Luckily, it's good times for people interested in Joy of Life. Portugese label Extremocidente have a really delectable single out, and true to what you'd expect from these connoiseurs it's a piece of vinyl that is a joy to own - and play.

Oh, and if you are quick, you might be able to secure some of Joy of Life's old album Hear the Children, an interesting part of early neofolk history, for a very reasonable price. Contact them directly through their MySpace, and please inform them that we here at Bassington Manor sent you.

(Thanks to Lady Mju for photograhic help).

Friday, 23 April 2010

Old men are cooler than you, part one

Today's young people, with their sneakers, sportswear and half-elitist, half-ironic band T-shirts, think they're cool. And as young people tend to be, they're dead wrong.

Lord Bassington-Bassington often rails against the dressing habits of young people, but now His Lordship feels the need to focus this into a series which aims to prove that young people are not in any way cool, especially not when compared with old men.

So where better to launch this new series than with some pictures from first-ever Norwegian Turban Day, which we here at the Chronicles participated in this past Saturday. We had a chance to try a turban, something we've always wanted.

As anyone half-informed about religion would suspect, this was a Sikh event. Which made it interesting on many levels beyond the purely sartorial.

Sikhs like to talk about how well integrated they are into Norwegian society. Balderdash! Sikhs simply cannot integrate into Norwegian society. For in the same way that when Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down, Sikhs don't integrate into Norwegian society – Norwegian society integrates into them. Many of the things we think of as Norwegian are probably things we picked up from Sikhs. Come to think of it, the Vikings probably wore turbans, that's why we don't find any Hagar the Horrible-type horned helmets in Viking graves.

And as with any look worth having, it's usually an old man who pulls it off the best. Look at this perfect gentleman, combining the best of European and Indian style with ease. In fact, the only way this man could be any cooler would be if he was handing out free, home-made Indian food.

Which, come to think of it, he was.

Face it, you young scallywag: Old Sikhs are cooler than you.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Bangkok: The Death of Pasolini

As earlier posts have probably showed, we like the music of Coil here at Bassington Manor. These pioneers in avant-garde electronics have a wide production, but one of our favorite tracks is “Ostia (the Death of Pasolini)”. This video, made by Coil founder Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson himself, in his new home in Thailand, is a tribute to the subject of the song: The legendary Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The video elegantly re-stages Pasolini’s death in a different country and a different culture, while weaving in themes from Pasolini’s own films – such as man’s inhumanity to man.

One suspects that Pasolini himself would have loved this video.

Oh, and we thought we'd give a small mention to Mr. Christopherson's brilliant idea of webcast live performances in his own home, under the name Evenings with Unkle Sleazy.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The paranoid style in American headwear*

(click for larger image)

Lord Bassington-Bassington has long held the opinion that a worldview or religion shouldn’t just be selected on the basis of how accurately it describes the world. It is, of course, a great bonus if what you believe bears some similarity to the truth, but an equally important test of a worldview or religion is what it does to your own life – and your sense of style.

Following this logic, a good argument for dismissing conspiracy theories is not just that they’re false. Another weighty argument is that conspiracy theories make your life unnecessarily complicated by causing you to worry about things that don’t exist, and can also make your life worse by making you ignore things you should be concerned about – such as the plight of your fellows.

Worst of all, though, is that conspiracy theories surprisingly often make you wear very unstylish headgear.

No, we’re not just talking about tin foil hats. The baseball caps worn by fundamentalist militias aren’t much better, as demonstrated in the excellent comic above (shamelessly stolen from Baseball caps look great on baseball players, but not on people who try to start civil wars because they believe Obama is the Antichrist (after all, every sensible person knows that Obama really is Nyarlathotep...)

Whether a garment or some piece of headwear looks good on someone depends on context. While white pointed hoods look marvellous on ceremonial processions of Spanish priests, they look quite idiotic on members of the Ku Klux Klan who pretend to fight the Zionist Occupational Government. Just like dog collars look superb when you’re a properly schooled and trained clergyman with 2000 years of tradition behind you, but look sort of silly when you’re ordained by your own little cult.

So here we see how to wear white hoods... (picture stolen from this blog, by the way)

...and how not to wear white hoods.

And let’s not even start to think about David Icke’s turqoise tracksuits, the height of conspiratorial style.

We also heartily recommend Cracked Magazine's summary of conspiracy theories.

(*: Apologies to Richard Hofstadter for the title…)

Friday, 16 April 2010

Polish music: Chopin, by Pollini

We here at the Chronicles conclude our week of national mourning with music by Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen, Poland’s greatest musical gift to the world. Chopin's (as his surname is more usually spelled) nocturnes rank among his most treasured works, and Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini is among the greatest living interpreters of his music. So there should be little wonder that Pollini's collection of Chopin nocturnes rank among the most frequently played records of all time here at Bassington Manor.

As Poland's national mourning comes to an end and the country returns to normality, we here at Bassington Manor look forward to returning to normal (i.e. silly) as well.

And on the subject of Poland, it's the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grünwald, subject of Jan Matejko's monumental painting and one of Lord Bassington-Bassington's favourite artworks.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Polish music: Horologium

More Polish music. This time Industrialists Horologium.

Polish music: Artefactum

In light of the national tragedy we will focus on Polish music during this week of mourning.

This is a rare track by Artefactum, one of our favourite dark ambient acts.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

We stand with Poland

We here at the Chronicles stand with Poland on this day of her grief.

It is a bitter irony that so many of those chosen by Poles to represent their interests died underway to commemorate the attempt by Communism to eradicate their very soul.

We would like to express our sympathy and solidarity towards Poles everywhere and choose this opportunity to cast our eyes back on one of Poland's first elected Prime Ministers, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, whose Polonia Symphony so eloquently captures the character of Poland and its people.

History shows us that while the Polish eagle might be wounded, it will always continue to soar.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

How to make your own record sleeve

Lord Bassington-Bassington has a certain hankering for people who put some extra affection into their releases. So when a friend of us here at Bassington Manor asked for some tips about how to package an upcoming release by his new project, His Lordship couldn't help but think of a release by Norwegian neofolk band Gyron V as an example of how to accomplish a lot with simple means.

And as we had to take pictures (thanks to Lady Mju for the help) of the release to send to him anyway, we might as well publish them in the Chronicles. And also use the opportunity to wish him a splendid birthday!

Gyron V's Traditionalist E.P. - produced in 25 hand-made copies, of which Lord Bassington-Bassington is the proud owner of one – is surely a prime example of how stylish releases one can produce with some cardboard, scissors, a pen and an artistic flair.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The lost art of megaphone crooning

As Lord Bassington-Bassingtons immediate forebear (or should that be forehound?), Phineas Bassington-Bassington, Duke of Snodbury, was wont to say when he was still with us back in the 1980s:

"With your Charleston and your zoot suits and your Chaplin pictures, you kids today don't know what you're missing out on! Now, back in my day..."

Yes, like the rest of the Bassington-Bassingtons he wasn't very good at keeping up with the times. But he was, of course, right, as grumpy old males usually are, and in his spirit, here's a look back at the times when real entertainment could still be had.

We here at the Chronicles are of the opinion that it's high time for a revival of this lost art form, and wonder if that most excellent of current musical entertainers, Mr. B, Gentleman Rhymer, could be the man for the job.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Halo Manash and the essence of ritual

Of particular interest for Lord Bassington-Bassington through the years have been the observation of ritual. Be it a Latin mass or Hindu puja, Muslim salaat (prayer) or military tattoo, His Lordship is an endlessly fascinated onlooker. He knows not why. Is it some longing for the transcendent? Or just because he’s a creature of habit and thus feels a sense of security in ritual behaviour?

No matter the cause for this interest, one of the most stimulating rituals His Lordship has been lucky enough to see so far is housed in a release by Finnish outfit Halo Manash.

The release, entitled rASHankaRA, is a stunning gatefold sleeve holding an LP with ambient ritual music and a poster. The real gem, though, is the DVD, which captures a half-hour long ritual held by the two members of Halo Manash and beautifully captured on camera.

Presented as a “ritual in four elements”, rASHankaRA not only explore water, air, fire and earth. Bone, wood, cloth and metal also seem to become elemental forces themselves.

The music, while based on electronics, is supported by acoustic instruments such as ritual bells, Tibetan bone trumpets and singing bowls and that all-time favourite: The human voice.

In rASHankaRA, Halo Manash have created something that not only transcends the borders between performance art, concert, and religious performance, but also breaks down barriers between religious traditions – indeed any barrier between religion and nature, the sacred and profane, the primal and the modern.

In fact, His Lordship strongly suspect that Halo Manash have managed to capture the very essence of ritual. Anyone interested in the spiritual side of the human animal would do well to investigate this work.