May 20th 2016
There are renovations being done at the ferry crossing from Lévis to Québec.
The ferry is boarded from the building at the top left of the picture below. The ferry on the right is there for maintenance. The rest of the space is being transformed into a pleasant spot to enjoy the St Lawrence River, and a car park. Old Quebec City is in the background.
Some new simple but neat graffiti on the stairway that goes up and up the cliff to Lévis town.
4 stars (out of 5) for The Liars Key by Mark Lawrence ~ a spoiler-free review.
This is second book of The Red Queen’s War trilogy, and the pieces that were shuffled into position on the chess board of this story in the first book are moved… toward what ultimate purpose is still unclear, but it’s one hell of a ride!
Lawrence’s prose is as elegant and concise as ever, the pacing here is pretty much perfection, and we get to experience more fascinating places in The Broken Empire – what’s not to love! My niggle from the first book – that I sometimes found the first person unreliable narration of the main character restrictive – in a way gets reinforced by the fact that the brief parts of the story which aren’t told from that perspective are my favourite. This is such a fascinating world that I’d love explore it through a multitude of eyes… but that does not mean that I don’t enjoy our Prince Jalan or appreciate the way Mr Lawrence is telling the story. This is a fantastic book and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.
3 and a half stars for Prince of Fools. A pretty much spoiler-free review, this, though I suppose you could argue that mild spoilers are inferred , so bear that in mind.
This second trilogy by Mark Lawrence lies parallel to his first, set in the same world at the same time. There are some really great crossover moments, and although you do not have to have read the original Broken Empire trilogy to follow this story, appreciation is greatly enhanced if you have.
Once more, as with The Broken Empire trilogy, there is much more going on in Prince of Fools than meets the eye… but in a way it is that fact that slightly marred my enjoyment. The main protagonist is one Prince Jalan, and the story is written in the first person from his perspective. However, he is an unreliable narrator, so we must remember that he tells the story from a perspective that he chooses to convey, which is largely that of a selfish, self-professed coward with a foolish temperament. And therein lies the niggle for me. The Broken Empire is a fascinating place with depths that we only get to glimpse at throughout all of Lawrence’s books, and of course that is deliberate and part of their allure, but it doesn’t stop this reader wishing he could discover the world from the point of view of protagonists who aren’t quite so blinkered by their own perspectives, therefore denying us this wider and deeper view.
Of course, the joke is on me because one could quite easily argue that the story just wouldn’t work if it were told in a different way, and that is probably so. Without Jalan’s humour and temperament the tone would be completely different, and the fact that he is unreliable as a narrator becomes an integral part of the story.
Mark’s prose is as great as ever, with those little moments of profundity and elegance raising the quality of the writing far beyond the mundane. The story generally moves forward at a good pace, with plenty of action, humour, humanity, and lashings of the “weird shit” (spoiler free, remember!) which makes The Broken Empire such a great world. As mentioned earlier, the crossover moments with the original trilogy are brilliantly done – no tacked on references these, but well integrated and entertaining parts of a whole – a delight for continuity fans.
It’s been a while since I blogged about some of the things I’ve been listening to, but I kept a few choice pieces tucked away in a bookmark folder for just the right moment. Seems this is it!
Beneath The Crystal Canyon A Spark Remains by Adderall Canyonly
Some of you may remember that I particularly enjoy “kosmiche musik” a moniker that was lumped with the term “krautrock” to attempt to describe the extraordinary music coming out from Germany in the late 60’s and 70’s. For me (to put it simply), kosmiche musik (cosmic music) is based more on drifting synthscapes and hypnotic loops than the shamanic, beat-heavy progressions of krautrock. Kosmiche still thrives today in a variety of forms, and Adderall Canyonly is once of the more accomplished artists exploring this territory. Each of his albums takes the listener on a mesmeric journey, and Beneath The Crystal Canyon A Spark Remains is no exception. Beautiful.
Pavilion by Panabrite
The counterpoint to the par excellence of Adderall Canyonly within modern kosmiche would be Panabrite. Pavilion is transcendental.
Infinity Machines by Gnod
The mighty Gnod! Oh boy, what to say about this glorious triple album of sonic experimentation? It’s somehow been almost a couple of years already since its release, but now’s a perfect time as any to discover its vibrant, visceral depths. Out of 8 tracks, 5 are over 15 minutes long. This is an album to get lost and found within – a liminal masterpiece.
I have three new releases to tell you about next, starting with one by ethereal noise explorers Isobel Ccircle.
Lullaby of the Drowned by Isobel Ccircle
“According to a dusty old ledger we had found in one of the lighthouse’s three libraries, ships had been appearing off the coast here for centuries. These great vessels would appear seemingly out of nowhere, wrecks in varying states of decrepitude, jutting from the tempestuous sea, their broken masts and aerials vainly grasping for help from an unobliging and hateful sky.
“The ships were given frightful animation by their location and their appearance brought with them the unwelcome visions of horror we were unlikely to ever become accustomed to. Then, of course, there were those noises, quiet at first, scratching and buzzing that filled our ears. Songs of the dead perhaps, the lullabies of the drowned.”
The music really is evocative of the concept. Caressing waves of sound lap and lull the mind into serenity while beguiling secrets lie hidden in the depths awaiting discovery. Wonderful.
The Quietened Village by A Year in the Country
“The Quietened Village is a study of and reflection on the lost, disappeared and once were homes and hamlets that have wandered off the maps or that have become shells of their former lives and times.”
The Quietened Village holds a delightful collection of textures within its conceptual whole. Electronica, tape manipulations, folk, psyche, field-recordings, nu-classical – all these elements and more are present in this compilation of great artists. At the time of writing there are just a few copies of the beautifully crafted physical version left.
The Burnt Tower / Babylon the Great by John 3:16
This double-A digital single release by John 3:16 is a great introduction to the well crafted and vibrant guitar/drone excursions of multi-instrumentalist Philippe Gerber. Start here and work your way back…
Spirits Are Using Me Higher Voices Calling by The Implicit Order
Not new, but one of my favourite releases by The Implicit Order. “Spirits are using me…” is an astonishing ambient “love letter to the New Age and murder cults of the 1980’s and 1990’s“. Less a listening experience, and more a(n) (oc)cult awakening.
Now a quick dip of the toe into the world of more mainstream releases…
Claire Boucher aka Grimes is one of the coolest people on the planet. Although her latest album Art Angels is – shock, horror – populated with more “poppy” tunes than ever before, it is a glorious and vibrant thing that I can’t stop listening to, and what better qualification for a great album is there than that?
Claire produced and performed every aspect of the album: the music, the artworks, the videos. Fashion designers worldwide delight at collaborating with her, and she always looks amazing doing so. She is fiercely talented, independent, and a bit of a weirdo. Yes!
Take a looksie-listen at the video for Flesh without Blood, and if that doesn’t move you then maybe Grimes isn’t for you. But I love it!
I had a listen to the new Tim Hecker album Love Streams and wasn’t all that impressed. I may have missed something – sometimes it takes a few listens, so I will go back and try again. The new Moderat album, however, I clicked with immediately. My favourite electronic album of the year so far. (I’m looking forward to and have high hopes for the imminent Under the Sun by Mark Pritchard)
Check out my favourite track from Moderat III – Finder – below.