Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Soap&Skin at Union Chapel, Islington

Back from the Soap&Skin gig at Union Chapel and my mind is suitably blown. It was more a theatrical production than a gig, taking you through the eye of the apocalypse raging inside one woman's mind. Not bad for someone who used to live on a farm.

If you ever get a chance to go to Union Chapel, go. It's a converted church that has a suitably regel atmosphere, except for the top floor which does literally seem to be collapsing. Structural integrity aside it's probably one of the nicest venues I've ever been to, although I can't imagine every gig working here.

Anja Plaschg is an immense presence and there were a couple of moments I did actually fear for the audience's safety as the atmosphere got a little confrontational. No matter, they loved it, bloody loved her and it was all part of the show. There was one trick she pulled in particular that I really thought was clever, but I'll go into all that when the full write-up hits GodisintheTV later this week.

So long, children!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Laki Mera 07.10.10 Full Review Live, tomorrow: Soap&Skin

"In Laura Donnelly they have a frontwoman who commands your attention while retaining a certain distance from the crowd, lost in her performance, creating a curiously private atmosphere to the whole affair."
The full review of Laki Mera's gig at InSpiral is now live here for your perusal.

Check it out for my full thoughts on the band. Tomorrow I'm gonna be at Islington's Union Chapel to see Anja Plaschg's Soap&Skin project. She's dark, she's innovative and just a little bit scary, but is the Austrian w√ľnderkind a contender? I'll be posting some thoughts here after the gig with the full write-up to follow on godisinthetvzine.co.uk later in the week.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Laki Mera at the InSpiral Lounge, Camden

InSpiral Lounge

Just got back from Laki Mera's gig at the lovely InSpiral Lounge in Camden. A full review will be up at www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk soon, but I thought I'd get a few thoughts down while it's fresh in my memory.

I can't say enough about the InSpiral Lounge. It's a great little cafe/restaurant/venue that has an atmosphere all of its own, largely down to the owner who kindly introduced himself to me and everyone in the place seemingly individually. After meeting essentially everyone in the place I soon found myself plied with 'organic wine' and relaxing in the homely vibe they've got going down there. Their website says they hope to combine 'personal and planetary health with creative media to achieve positive conscious change in a fun way for all.' Burger King, this ain't.
Anyway, it's a great place, friendly staff and cool clientle, one of whom advised I 'plant the seeds of consciousness.' I don't know what that means, but dammit, as soon as I find one of those seeds it is so planted.

Mera were excellent and got a great reception. It's interesting how quickly the atmosphere of a place can change...the InSpiral Lounge is a little buzzing hive of activity that was pretty suddenly silenced by the ghostly yearnings of Laura Donnelly. At one point during an extremely delicate acoustic number I swear the whole place was hanging on her every note. I once read that there's only two types of frontman (frontwoman): one who reaches out to the audience, or one who makes the audience want to reach out to her. Donnelly is definitely of the latter kind, her melancholy, dreamy vocals wash over you while she rarely opens her eyes, lost in the hypnotic electronica that had the InSpiral punters transfixed.

I'll stop now or I'll start writing the same review twice, check out www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk over the next few days for the full write-up, and check out www.inspiralled.net for a chilled out good time.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Knowledge: Hatching the Cosmic Egg

There is perhaps nothing so profoundly mysterious as the birth of our universe. In every epoch of humanity's existence people have pondered the complexity and beauty of nature and wondered just how it all came to be. Back when things were simple, when common knowledge dictated the earth was flat and the universe relatively small, it would have been easy to assume it was all created specifically for us, the human species, to control and enjoy, so suited to our needs nature appeared to be. Now of course, the scientific method (with not a little ingenuity) has shown us the universe is infinitely more vast and beautiful than we could imagine, but it's also a place that is completely and utterly indifferent to the needs and wants of a single species living on an impossibly tiny rock in space.

We couldn't imagine such a place simply by looking at the world around us with our naked eyes, and so it's understandable that the people of times long since passed were unaware of the true state of things and how they had come to be. It's interesting to note, then, that the ancient Hindus came close to describing the actual birth of the universe, if only metaphorically. The idea of a 'cosmic egg' or 'Brahmanda', a single point in which all of creation resided, is similar to the commonly accepted view of the entire universe existing at one point as a singularity before expanding and cooling rapidly to form the world (and worlds) around us. Indeed, the Sri Chakra, a Hindu symbol or 'yantra', resembles a series of shapes emerging and expanding from a single point of origin.

The ancient Hindus may have guessed correctly that the universe was once a single point that expanded outward to form everything we can (and everything we can't) see, but it was only after Edwin Hubble realised that the redshifting of faraway galaxies meant that everything was moving away from everything else that this idea took hold in the scientific community. If the galaxies were rapidly moving away from each other, they reasoned, at one point long ago they would have been much closer together, leading to the obvious conclusion that at one point in the distant past everything once resided in the same space, a singularity. Whatever caused this singularity to rapidly expand and cool is still unknown today, but with the recent completion of CERN's Large Hadron Collider we may soon have some more clues to work with, even if the answer still eludes us.

When scientists detected what is known as Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (essentially the leftovers of the singularity exploding) other theories that purported to explain the origins of the universe, such as Fred Hoyle's 'steady state universe' were left by the wayside. Ironically it was Hoyle who coined the commonly-used name of the current theory, when he explained why he disagreed with 'this Big Bang idea.' Although probably misguided Hoyle's ideas are interesting as of themselves, but that's for another blog post.

We can deduce from the existence of CMBR that the universe was at one point much, much hotter than it is today. This heat allowed electrons and nuclei to exist seperately, but as the universe cooled they combined to form atoms. This brings, to my mind anyway, the image of penguins huddling together for warmth during the Antarctic Winter, and it's just another example of all things following the same patterns, from the subatomic level, to the world we can see around us, to the extra-galactic level.

So we know that the young universe was much smaller than today's, much hotter, and that it must have expanded outward while cooling down. As it grew and cooled, the universe consisted of hydrogen, helium and the still-mysterious dark matter, and as the atoms mentioned earlier combined, so the hydrogen and helium condensed to form stars. Not a few hundred or a few thousand, but billions and billions of them. Our own galaxy consists of somewhere between 200 and 400 billion stars. This was not a speedy process.

The creation of the stars left a lot of other matter bound to them by gravity. It was these leftovers that formed the spherical bodies we know as planets and asteroids. Giant clouds of gas began to draw matter into the centre of the cloud, forming a star and the planets around them. And on one of these planets at least, the miracle that is biological evolution and natural selection began to take shape, leading to the birth of our species and the creation of wonders of architecture, literature, culture, music and compassion, as well as fear, bigotry and the worst of all, ignorance. I truly find it incredible to ponder on natures complex, detailed and varied forms and systems that have allowed us to create all we have, and to realise that it all originates from what is no more than a chemical reaction, a phase transition many eons ago.

We are all now, right at this moment, existing in a huge explosion that is ongoing to this day, as the galaxies are still moving ever further apart, and within that explosion lies all the wonder and mystery of life. The scientific process has shown us something far more interesting and profound than anything ancient and modern religions have guessed and I am ever thankful that we live in an age where, unlike the ancient Hindus, we can do more than hope to guess roughly what is true and find the answers for ourselves.


Ministry of Truth

Hello there, people of the internet, and welcome to my first blog, the Ministry of Truth. I set up this blog for a couple of reasons, firstly, I used to write a lot a few years ago but haven't since and I've recently felt the urge to get back into it. Secondly, I'll be writing about a few different topics I'm interested in and I'll need to refresh my memory and clarify a few points as I don't want to write anything incorrect here. It's basically an excuse for me to educate myself properly on whatever it is I want to write about.

I intend to cover a varied range of topics here, hopefully ranging from astronomy to history and art. You'll have to forgive the perhaps unfocused style of this blog as I'm really aiming to simply write about whatever it is that I'm interested in at that moment, and I'm easily distracted. That said in the event that anyone does stumble across this dark corner of the internetz I hope you can get something useful and informative from my rantings. Thanks for reading.


PS. I went with the title of Ministry of Truth for no particular reason (except perhaps my misguided belief that all my opinions should be held as gospel) other than the fact it sounds cool. It's an organization from George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty Four, a book I didn't particuarly connect with at first, but on re-reading I grew to respect highly. So thanks to Orwell for saving me the brainpower of coming up with something more original.