Aurelia - Robert Thomas - after the novel by and in collaboration with Jean Pierre Ferriere - Adapted from the French by Tudor Gates
I was looking forward to this after Who Killed 'Agatha' Christie?, Gates' most famous play. It starts out as a quiet living room drama, old lady waiting for the return of her only living relative from Africa. His wife arrives first and charms the old lady's young companion and suddenly two pages before the interval there's blackmail and murder afoot. Exactly my kind of romp. Ending isn't quite neat enough, but excellent nonetheless.
A Bad Dream - A play by Simon Brett
Commissioned for an AmDram group to mark their centenary, it takes place in 1902 as the Bellingford Amateur Dramaticks are rehearsing for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (hence B.A.D. Dream and also bad Dream). A rich financier has taken over and tempers are fraying as he ruins the play for the sake of his own part. A light comedy romp until someone stabs him just before the interval. Fun and excellent for the right venue, but I'm particularly short on space.
The Bed Before Yesterday - A comedy - Ben Travers
Old lady marries for companionship but can't abide sex. Discovers sex. Can't abide not having sex. Husband has a no good son, with a sexy girlfriend originally played by one Helen Mirren. I didn't care.
The store room of Samuel French's burst its banks and flooded the street last week and I did what any man would and tried to claim as many plays for myself as I could. Since I don't have much room for them, I'm reading them as quickly as I can and only keeping the cream. The rest I'll donate to the library I work in. I'm going to try and do quick summaries here which should help me give away a book I've read.
After You With the Milk - A Comedy - Ben Travers
Much like Thark, has all the makings of a farce without any of the pay-offs. She's young and pretty with an elderly husband, but she's just fallen in love with her stepson and she's been having an affair with the neighbour. Nothing stays secret for more than five minutes and no tension ever gets built.
Albert's Plot - A Play - Bob Hartwell
Granddad wants to keep his allotment but the council want to turn it into a road. A quick one-act slice of life about small people and small government but written with heart. Lovely, but I'm being harsh.
Edit: I'm recalibrating to be harsher. I need to get rid of these plays.
Another Resonance Auction Acquisition. To be honest, this fits a classification I'd like to make of music with a small m but not Music with a capital M. If a stranger on the street recognised it as music, it's Music. If it has a melody, it's probably Music. That's not to say music isn't good, I'd just like a quick way of explaining that.
This has no melodies, very little rhythm. It pootled in the background for a listen and then I started recognising islands of rhythm on the second listen. It's good for what it is, but I don't feel like things have been placed where they are for any great reason.
The little Sparks I know is all quite late and what I love about it is the precision, especially in the lyrics and the vocals. This isn't that. Words are lost, the mix is woolly. That said, it is still a lot of fun. The big string section helps with a sense of grandeur. Also features the oddest Sound of Music cover I've ever heard.
I'd got to the point that I thought I could just cut and paste my review of an Elbow album and this has proved me wrong. And not in a good way.
The standard elbow album sings about soaring. It walks and it runs and it jumps, but it never quite takes off. This is the downside to the way they write and record. The upside is that every second of the record is filled with layers and layers of carefully mixed sound. Months of experimenting, filling the gaps, finding the sound that will be unlike anyone else. And although they don't fly, they make running beautiful.
This, however, keeps its feet on the floor. The sound is sparse. A lot of really generic synths. It takes a long time to get anywhere, and where it gets is where the last album began. Don't get me wrong. Elbow walking are better than most bands at their best, but this isn't Guy Garvey's finest hour.
I saw the film the other week and was taken by the score. In isolation, it does flatten somewhat, but it's still very good. There's a lot of themes reused in different forms which works brilliantly against the film, but less well as an album. I think the squeeky cable cars were missing, which implies they were the job of the sound designer.
Mostly, though, it's what happens when you give an excellent film composer the brief of make it sound vaguely Eastern European. It's zithers and balalaikas and bass voices. It has happy and sad and tense and triumphant.
Also, go and see the film.
Based on the same book as Kind Hearts and Coronets, but obviously built on the film in all that the law will allow. The plot follows Monty Navarro as he bumps off the D'Ysquith family in order to inherit the seat. All the D'Ysquiths are played by the same actor, as Alec Guiness did in the film.
The music is great and conjures up period England beautifully. But there are endless patter songs and the lyrics just aren't funny or good enough. I suppose it doesn't help that I know what's going to happen, and so I also grumble at the change to the ending.
From the people who scored Botanicula. This made me grin like a loon while waiting for Bill Drummond. It's very well constructed and arranged upbeat indiefolkpopdance with (what I thought were) foreign lyrics. Actually, it turns out that the lyrics are entirely made up. Very very happy making.
This went round a few times and I still don't feel like I'll get the most out of it until I've got a lyric sheet in front of me. There's a line that kept jumping out about not knowing where Sheffield is. It's got a lovely variety of pace and style across the album and exactly the ratio of novelty/good that draws me in. Awesome.
Also in the Fire Records bundle. Also Lofi, but for some reason I found this grating. Tape hiss and wobble. Unrehearsed jams and demos. Repeat and then stop. Distortion from over amped live sound. Unpleasant.