Gulo Gulo Caesitas

Peder Mannerfelt

Lines Describing Circles

Played 90 times

Music for the Weekend: Gulo Gulo Caesitas by Peder Mannerfelt.

It’s one of those rare moments, when you walk out of record store - record stores being a rarity themselves - and you emerge with three albums, and all of them are good enough to be the best record of the year. What a joy, to listen to them one after another, and be consistently moved and shocked. I haven’t had a sonic experience like that in a long time.

At the very top of that list is the album ‘Lines Describing Circles’ by Peder Mannerfelt. Shades of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works’ and some cross between Brian Eno and Amon Tobin, Mannerfelt - who plays live with Fever Ray - has created an album of work that borders on inaccessible and sheer genius. I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and it’s already painting vivid images in my head. Enjoy this track, seek out the album (available for download here) and revel in something truly groundbreaking.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, am on the road and writing has been start-stop. Thanks for your patience, and have a wonderful weekend.

Boundless Love

Savage Sister

Wild Sleep EP

Played 140 times

Music for the Weekend: Boundless Love by Savage Sister.

We’re on the thaw. Officially it’s been the most brutal (brutalest?) winter in Chicago’s history, with the average temperature from November to the end of March hovering around 22 degrees. That’s almost five months straight of below freezing temperatures, and add to that the third most snow in Chicago’s history (about seven odd feet of it) and it’s a winter for the ages, one to hold above any future kid’s whining about how cold it is outside.

We survived, and it’s given me a lot to experience and think about. Your mind can’t help but go to dark places when it feels like nuclear winter for so long. In the thaw I’m seeing dead animals emerging from the glaciers, trapped and preserved like mammoths, who couldn’t survive the freeze. I see the damage on old wood and structures, I see the effects of expansion on the concrete.

And in the middle of all that, a tuft of green. A blade of grass. A bud on a tree branch. Life perseveres, as it must. It’s still cold outside but the chill has gone from the bones, we’re all ready to shed our weathered skins and bloom. Time to commit to paper all that has been experienced, pondered and formulated. Warmth and sun bring new energy, the rite of Spring.

Have a great weekend.

Nureyev

frustrator

Anther

Played 169 times

Music for the Weekend: Nureyev by frustrator.

Another pick for one of the best albums of the year, this record is blowing my mind. You can download it at the band’s Bandcamp page for your own price. Good karma always dictates that you show bands who extend goodwill some love. Pay for great music and films, and they will repay you in spades.

Been a very long and hectic week, many new and exciting events happening in my career. I’ve been offered some exciting directing work which hopefully will find its legs this summer, and I also just secured the film rights to a wonderful comic book by insanely talented writer/artist Sam Alden, which I’m going to produce into a short film, to be directed by a dear friend. More on both as events unfold.

Tireless work pays off. Glad to start seeing some returns. I hope the readers who have been with me from the start will see that film careers indeed do take time to unfold, as two important facets must develop and mature. The first is your experience, which only comes with time and constant creation. The other is your unique voice, which comes through living life. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was toppled overnight. This is a fragile and contradictory balance, one which requires infinite patience, dogged impatience, and the desire to make a practical career out of circumstances that on paper don’t make any practical sense at all. Eyes on the prize, my friends. Eyes on the prize. It is still very, VERY early in our film careers, and we’ve got a long way to go. Stay persistent.

Have a great weekend!

Looking for Someone

East India Youth

Total Strife Forever

Played 223 times

Music for the Weekend: Looking for Someone by East India Youth.

Picked this up in France. I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the best records of the year. Stunning.

Have a great weekend.

_______________________

NOTE: I received an email that the song was removed from this post by Tumblr due to licensing issues. They even said I risk having the blog shut down (!). I guess it’s a domestic / international thing, but either way when the record comes out in the US seek it out, and for readers in the EU/ UK go and get it. It’s a winner.

In the meantime you can listen to the song on the band’s official YouTube page by clicking here:

http://youtu.be/1wL_JE_ksh8

I just want to promote the band and good music. Plus I bought the record, with my own cash, at an independent record store in Paris (Fargo Records, 11e). I’m not the bad guy here, Tumblr. Thanks.

10 Things About Paris.

Got back late last night from Paris. Feeling rejuvenated and inspired, I could not have asked for a better holiday, it went completely without a hitch and was pretty much perfection.

A week in Paris and I learned much about myself, my host city and her people. As it is my nature to observe, here are ten things I came away with:

1) Parisians are incredibly kind. Somewhere along the line, Parisians got a bad rap as being rude and arrogant. Maybe it’s from a bunch of people traveling to France who become exasperated about not being able to communicate, and the French not making an effort to communicate back with them.

It couldn’t be further from the truth. Ever single place we went to, our hosts were welcoming, kind and showed us love and affection. Strangers smiled at us and helped us with directions. Shopkeepers gave us free stuff. Bistro owners gave us free desserts, wine and kisses. At one dinner the owner took 15% off the bill because he liked us.

But here’s the thing, which is that we always made an effort to be kind to our hosts. We always said ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci,’ and we apologized for our rusty language. They seemed to appreciate the effort, which was always heartfelt, and reciprocated tenfold. I’ve yet to have such a lovely experience abroad.

2) Parisians are exceptionally beautiful. It’s not that French women and men are any more attractive than anywhere else, but there’s definitely something in the air. In a reflection of the beaux-arts details of the city itself, the people of Paris make the extra effort and take care of the details. Women artfully wear makeup, just the bare amount to highlight their features. Men are groomed and put together. Style is about wearing basics, but brilliantly and thoughtfully assembled. When people look after the small details and carry themselves with the confidence of that assemblage, then it’s pretty damn near impossible to not be beautiful. The French have that, and then some. They embrace sexiness and charm.

There’s also the beauty of the country’s colonial past, and it’s seen in the faces of the people. Roots of Africa, the Middle East and Asia are found in the melting pot of Parisian faces and bodies. They are striking, and when combined with their style, presence and aforementioned kindness, they became stunning to me.


Photo by Jérémy Barniaud .

3) Parisians are both brutally efficient and selectively inefficient. The Paris Metro is a thing of beauty. We never had to wait more than one minute for a train, and we were able to get around town with supreme ease. Again, small details - thoughtful maps, clean access, rubber tires on the trains for a smooth and quiet ride, it all adds up. And the French pay handsomely for it in higher taxes, but it makes for a very high, if not oppressively expensive, quality of life.

But Parisians know how to slow it down, almost to a grinding halt. Even the simplest of dinners can go for as long as three hours, and shop owners don’t seem to care. Take your time, keep the wine and conversation flowing. The culture is rooted in discourse, and people talk to each other, a lot. They devote time to it, even if it means putting other things aside. Perhaps this is the key to their thoughtfulness, as they talk and listen to one another.

4) Paris has its problems. Of course on holiday it’s hard not to see a place through rose-tinted glasses, and like any other place on Earth, the Parisians are far from perfect. While the city is a gorgeous mix of diversity (see next), like New York City, London and Los Angeles, the real division is economic. The city is cripplingly unaffordable, and has led to massive emigration of the poor to the suburbs, many of which have become ghettos. As wealthy bohemians drive up rent and cost of living, the division of the haves and have-nots is incredibly apparent, and distrust is not a racial divide but rather an economic one. Lifestyle comes at a cost anywhere, but in Paris it is borderline ludicrous. The riots of the past indicate a populace that feels marginalized and forgotten, and despite the aforementioned love of conversation, this seems to be one conversation that the French keep sweeping under the rug.

5) Parisians are diverse. While the economic gap is widening, the racial divide in Paris is small. The city and culture, in contrast to the United States, is incredibly racially homogenous. Television shows feature all races equally (and not like the purely black and white networks in the US) and ad campaigns feature white, black and Asian models and families together. Gay couples walk and display affection without fear, interracial couples are part of the norm. It really highlighted the lack of true diversity in the United States, which may be comprised of many races and orientations, but has not fully coalesced into an accepting whole.

6) Parisians embrace art, and art inspires. Galleries are full of children, windows are always dressed, and people dress and present themselves with artistry. It all serves to inspire one another, and I couldn’t help but have my imagination sparked. As a work environment, Paris provides infinite inspiration, from modern and classic architecture, food, fashion, music, art and design. Art begets art, and creativity thrives in such an environment. Parisians read voraciously, exchange ideas and feed off the city. They ultimately put back in what they take, inspiring the next generation of forward thinking artists. Provocation is encouraged. Technique is admired and honed. Classics are respected and similarly defiled. An early morning trip to the Père-Lachaise cemetery, where the artistic and intellectual giants of Paris are laid to rest, showed me the boundless creativity and innovation that the city fostered. I paid visit to the graves of Marcel Proust, Max Ophuls and the godfather of cinema, Georges Méliès.


Hand on heart, I paid my respects. Without him, we cannot be filmmakers. Photo by my wife.

7) Parisians love. Love is everywhere. People holding hands, kissing, embracing one another. The human body is celebrated, playfully teased and adored. Parisians love to love and be loved, they are playful and kinky, they are sexy and charming. Everything in this town is sensual, a culmination of philosophy and aesthetic. It’s pretty intoxicating.


Photo by Alberto Reyes.

8) Parisians do all the wrong things, and yet they make it right. Chain smoking. Eating butter, bacon, beef, chocolate, bread, cheese and booze nonstop. Eating late, waking up late. And yet they remain thin, healthy and vibrant. Back home we’re obsessed with low-cholesterol, zero fat, PX90, militantly healthy lifestyles and yet we still struggle with obesity and stress. The French just seem to say fuck it, and enjoy what they want. All of those vices are expensive so the French are kind of forced to do it in moderation, which is a good thing. They also eat the very highest quality of food without compromise, GMOs, preservatives or additives. They’re doing something right, and we stand to learn from it.

9) The Parisians are clean, BUT THERE IS DOG SHIT EVERYWHERE. Seriously, it’s like a fucking minefield walking down the sidewalks. Nobody in France picks up after their dogs. I don’t know why. The city is otherwise clean and spotless, but my wife had to always tackle me from stepping in dog doo-doo. Come on, mes amis, do the right thing and pick that shit up.

10) It’s impossible to not fall in love in Paris. It’s because in every cell of their being, the French embrace joie de vivre, and because of that they lead long, reduced stress lives. They enjoy the moment, and keep record of the moments of the past. They make it work, and it’s something to really admire and emulate. Returning to America I have not lost any fondness for my home country, but we can stand to learn a few things from the French. Embrace details, wholesomeness, beauty, diversity and art. We are on this planet for a short time, and we must make it beautiful not only for ourselves but for the inheritors. The French understand this. They maintain their culture, their art, their philosophy and spirit despite the cost and effort required. It is worth it to them, and we are the benefactors of their effort. We could stand to do the same.

Paris je t’aime. Merci mon amour.

4th Anniversary of Lilithfilm!

Four years ago, like so many young bloggers on the interwebs, I thought it might be a good idea to share my ideas and experiences as a filmmaker. There were so many young, starting filmmakers like myself out there, so I didn’t figure I’d have much of an audience. Maybe my mom would read the blog every once in awhile, and my wife would favorite my posts anonymously just to make me feel better, because my wife is awesome and she loves me.

I started the blog during pre-production of Lilith and was met with nothing. Fifteen or sixteen posts in and not a single person was reading what I wrote, which was essentially a production diary. There comes that moment in every artist’s life when you realize that you have a lot to say and you don’t have an audience. It’s terrifying, sad, and daunting.

This is where I feel a lot of good and talented people quit the game. I know this because I considered it. The Lilithfilm blog was a huge intellectual demand for me to write, consistently, maybe three to four times a week, and to not have an audience was kind of soul-crushing.

But I enjoyed writing this blog. So I just kept going, and strangely enough people started reading. Rinse and repeat. More interesting things came about. Just kept going. I’ve enjoyed the journey of this blog immensely. I’ve seen zero financial return from the 678 posts I’ve made (with four reblogs, sorry I had to, it was that one girl going “waaay-oh”), but the emotional return has been tremendous. I’ve met some really cool people along the way through this blog, some strange and awkward people, and not a single rude or douchebaggy person (there’s always time).

I’d like to think that it’s because from the very first post of this blog I’ve maintained a policy of brute honesty in documenting the trials and tribulations of being an artist. I try to keep my victories humble and my losses in perspective, and there have been both.

This past year in particular has seen lots of personal hurdles for me, and I felt it appropriate to include them in the blog because they were and remain an important part of my creative life. This blog, and the support of you, my dear audience (now numbering 59,205 and growing every day), helped me tremendously in processing my grief, my emotions, and where I want to go as an artist, as a citizen, as a friend, and as a person. My output last year has been slightly less than years before, but I feel like the quality of my writing has improved greatly.

That’s because through all the death, the loss, the triumphs and the failures, life happened to me a lot last year, and life is what informs the truth and spirit of our work. When I write of death and struggle I can do so with utmost authenticity. When I write of feeling helpless and numb, my words ring hauntingly true. When I find small specks of light in the vast darkness it is a historical account. When I experience love when there seemingly is none, that is a confessional from the bottom of my heart.

I don’t really have a plan as to how long this blog will continue, but as with most things I think it will find its natural end, and I’m fairly sure my ego won’t keep it going longer than its expiry date. As long as I know that people are benefiting from my words, are being entertained by them, enjoy my weekly music selections, and are challenged by my observations, then I see no reason to stop writing. Keep asking me questions, ask me things to think about. I might not get to it right away but I always eventually do. This blog is equally as much for your benefit as it is mine.

1,460 days of writing and it’s been an honor and privilege to be able to share my thoughts and feelings with you. You’ve made it all worth the effort.

Thank you so much.

Your humble director,
Sridhar

The Big Gloom

Have A Nice Life

Voids

Played 149 times

Music for the Weekend: The Big Gloom by Have a Nice Life.

Indeed the big gloom has set in, I can say with absolute honesty that I’ve had it with winter. I find myself sitting at the edge of my bed in the mornings staring into cold air, faced with the inevitability of shoveling dingy, wet snow. It’s depressing.

The power of the sun is undeniable, it recharges our batteries and our spirits. I’m running on reserves without it, and my batteries are near empty. This has not affected my writing, as I feel that January has been one of the best months of my career in terms of quality of writing, and it’s only getting better as my ideas start to coalesce into words and structure. It’s like watching a cathedral being built.

There is beauty in darkness, comfort in the cold. This song reminds me that. Eminently sad but so achingly gorgeous, one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a long time. Echoes of MBV and Jesu. Stunning, it provides me illumination, it makes the frigid snow glow and dance just a little.


Image by livalskare.

Have a great weekend.

Eyes Without a Face

pacificUV

After the Dream You Are Awake

Played 136 times

Music for the Weekend: Eyes Without a Face by pacificUV.

It’s funny how our minds work. When I first heard the original Billy Idol version of this song when I was a kid, I always thought the woman’s voice in the chorus was saying “Patience is divine.” I kind of took that to heart. Patience, as they say, is always a virtue.

But after hearing this brilliant cover by pacificUV, turns out what she’s actually saying is "Les yeux sans visage", which is literally a French translation of “eyes without a face.” I dunno. Felt kind of crushed when I learned that. I don’t know what Billy Idol was trying to achieve by having the verse in French. Doesn’t make sense.

I like my version better.

Have a great weekend!

Why People Disappear

His Name Is Alive

Home Is In Your Head

Played 252 times

Music for the Weekend: Why People Disappear by His Name is Alive.

Sometimes when you go through old stuff you stumble upon a very important relic of your past. Mine was finding my old His Name is Alive CDs, buried away in my old record crates. This was one of those albums that is so incredibly important to me, but lost in the sea of an information overload. I bought it in 1992 after seeing their brilliant music video Are We Still Married?, directed by none other than The Brothers Quay. I loved the lo-fi density of the recording, which was scratchy and a hundred layers deep. I spent the next year digging into all things 4AD and Warren Defever (the mastermind of His Name is Alive), and long with my explorations of Eisturzende Neaubauten, Coil and Throbbing Gristle, I dove headfirst into atmospheric DIY home recording. Using two cassette tape recorders, I’d loop tracks over and over and over, layering in sounds of guitars, homemade percussion and field recordings made in my backyard. I can’t say it was any good, but it was like painting with sound, creating heartfelt abstractions that meant something to me.

And this song means the absolute world to me. I learned how to play the guitar parts and recorded my own version of it using a plastic recorder flute that I had from grade school. I had a friend sing the lyrics, and she had a beautiful voice. We enjoyed making it so much, and it’s one of the very fondest memories of my life. It’s the energy of the DIY studio, of crafting, of making things with the people you care about. Nothing can diminish or match up to that moment, which for all intents and purposes, was my first artistic collaboration. Enjoy it as I did, it is still a work of magic.

Have a great weekend.