The Revelator Orchestra is back with their sophomore album, The Brotherhood of the Flood. When I profiled the band before Peter Murphy explained his intention that the music is integral to the spoken word element and it’s not just an audiobook. That’s certainly clear from the first track released, “The Lost Alice” which features Colm Mac Con Iomaire, violinist and member of The Frames.

 

 

The Brotherhood of the Flood contains fourteen tracks that tell the story of nine people who give themselves to the fictional Rua river in the year 1984 and is inspired by frontman Peter Murphy’s second novel Shall We Gather at the River. On this album Peter is joined by Acko Atkinson, songwriter composer and producer, and Paula Cox on vocals.

The Brotherhood of the Flood is released on Devil-Elvis Records tomorrow, October 23rd.

 

 

A few weeks ago I was asked by my friend Allen Doyle to be a part of a music video he was directing. I love collaborating with Al and was a guest on his radio show The Magic Number back in April. The video is for an Irish band called Acrobat and the single is called ‘Not Back Down’. Never having been in a music video before, I of course said yes. A week later I spent the day in Barberstown Castle with Acrobat, their mates and some great actors, having the absolute craic.

The video shows a gothic dinner party at a castle, where the host pours some suspicious looking liquid into people’s drinks, eventually turning his guests into reptiles. It was a fun shoot; we were dressed in amazing costumes, some people got to play with snakes, we drank wine and danced, and a fountain was set on fire! You can spot me towards the end of the video, dancing my ass off, and drinking some funny-tasting vino.

(Al also directed Acrobat’s first video for a single called ‘Follow You Down’. Check it out here – great performances from Jack Olohan and Sinead Watters.)

Acrobat’s next gig is on Saturday 4th October in Meeting House Square as part of Hard Working Class Heroes 2014, and you can buy ‘Not Back Down’ on iTunes.

Some of the books on my Ten Favourite Books list are difficult to review and Brideshead Revisited is one of these: so much has already been said about it that I feel I have nothing original to add to the conversation. However Brideshead is a book I’ve returned to many times since I first read it in October 2000 – I enjoyed it so much on first reading and I discover something new, some nuance or beautiful passage I’ve overlooked before, on every reading. So I had a very pleasurable morning yesterday (OK technically it was the afternoon, but for DJs 1pm is the morning) snuggled up in bed with a large pot of coffee and once again lost in my well-worn copy.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Brideshead Revisited was first published in 1945 and was largely based on Waugh’s own experiences with the Lygon family, documented in the book Mad World which I reviewed in June 2012. The narrator, Charles Ryder, while studying at Oxford, befriends Lord Sebastian Flyte, an eccentric and charismatic young man who is the youngest child of Lord Marchmain. Charles goes to stay at the family mansion Brideshead Castle where he meets the rest of Sebastian’s family: his devoutly Catholic mother; his beautiful sister Julia; the eldest son and heir “Bridey”; and the youngest sister Cordelia. Lord Marchmain lives in Venice with his Italian mistress Cara, but has not divorced Lady Marchmain due to her religious beliefs.

Sebastian and Charles grow close, their friendship cemented by boozy afternoons that turn into even boozier evenings, staying at the family seat and at the Marchmain’s palatial townhouse in London. Charles falls under the spell of the Flytes and the book chronicles his experiences with them over a twenty year period; through Sebastian’s growing alcoholism, Julia’s ill-advised marriage, and Lady Marchmain’s worsening stranglehold on her family and their happiness.

Although there is a 2008 film version of Brideshead I would beg you not to watch it (honestly, even the music in the trailer is dreadful), and instead invest in the BBC boxset. The eleven-part series was aired in 1981 and it was widely lauded as being a faithful interpretation of the novel and nominated for armloads of awards.

The casting was perfect: Jeremy Irons, Laurence Oliver, John Gielgud, Diana Quick, Claire Bloom, and in particular, Anthony Andrews who simply is Sebastian Flyte, there could be no other. A number of English stately homes were used in the production including Castle Howard as Brideshead Castle and Bridgewater House as the Flyte’s town residence. Every detail of the production is stunningly realised.

 

 

So if you don’t fancy reading the book, dive into the boxset some rainy weekend, and if you do read the book and like it, I’d recommend A Handful of Dust as your next Waugh purchase.

‘Left Hand Free’ is the second single taken from alt-J’s sophomore album This Is All Yours which was released earlier this week. According to a recent Guardian interview, the band knocked the song together in twenty minutes in response to the record company complaining about the lack of singles on the album. Certainly this is more obvious chart fodder than other alt-J favourites like ‘Breezeblocks’ or ‘Tesselate’. Grace under pressure much?

‘Left Hand Free’ is catchy, bluesy, with dirty guitars and a whole lot of heart (even if they didn’t really mean it!) and it’s worked its way into my DJ set already. Enjoy.

Edge Only is a new jewellery brand from Jenny Huston launched earlier this month. Jenny is most well known as a radio DJ and author and this is her first foray into designing. She explains her reasons for this new career direction:

‘I created Edge Only out of frustration. While out shopping, I would find a cool piece of jewellery that was gold or silver coloured, and then after wearing it for a while, the plating would wear off and the ugly base metal started to show through. That great ‘bargain find’ now just looked cheap and had to be thrown out or sent to the charity shop. So I decided to stop wasting my money on disposable costume jewellery and started looking for real, solid silver and gold replacements. Disappointingly, I found that most jewellers had luxury pieces that were suitable for black tie events and very large wallets, or the same old conservative, delicate, pieces. Where was the edge?! Where were the affordable cool contemporary pieces for everyday wear?’

As you can see from the pictures below and from the website, Edge Only is a brand that focusses on contemporary design; clean lines, both matt and polished finishes, rock and roll inspired items, and geometric statement pieces. Every aspect of production takes place in Ireland by highly skilled Goldsmiths and members of the jewellery trade and each piece is hallmarked, which is a guarantee of precious metal content; you won’t find gold plate, vermeil or gold fill in Edge Only pieces.

Edge Only collections are made with sterling silver, 14 carat gold and 18 carat gold as standard, but they can custom-make pieces in rose gold, white gold or platinum. Some of my favourites from the collection below. As always, click on the pics to be taken to the items on the original site.

Plectrum Pendant - €125.00

Plectrum Pendant – €125.00

ROCK pendant - €125.00

ROCK pendant – €125.00

Pointed Lightning Bolt Earrings - €80.00

Pointed Lightning Bolt Earrings – €80.00

Parallel Ring - €120.00

Parallel Ring – €120.00

And so onto another one of the Ten Favourite Books list. Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland was published in 1998 and I read it in 1999. I already knew Coupland’s work; I read his debut Generation X in 1993 and since then I’ve bought fourteen of his books. You could say I’m a fan…

Girlfriend in a Coma starts on a cold snowy night in Vancouver in December 1979. Seventeen-year-old Karen McNeil has just lost her virginity to her boyfriend Richard and afterwards they join the rest of their group of friends at a party, where Karen takes two Valiums, has a couple of drinks, and then falls into a coma that lasts seventeen years. Strangely Karen has somehow been expecting this turn of events. She has had premonitions, visions of the future, and she thinks she has ‘seen too much.’

Over the next couple of decades, Karen’s friends move into adulthood with varying degrees of success, most of them drifting through life rather than having an actual plan or set of ideals: Pam becomes a model and then an addict; Hamilton is a slacker; Linus is a technical supergeek who drops out and travels looking for answers; Wendy avoids real human intimacy and instead becomes a workaholic; and Richard goes into real estate and develops a serious drink problem.

When Karen awakes in 1997, the world is unrecognisable: technology, AIDS, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Charles and Diana, cloning, the crack epidemic. Karen has years of history to catch up on but she also has to readjust her still seventeen-year-old brain to this new world. People’s lives are now consumed by work and being constantly busy: ‘It’s just not what I would have imagined the world might be if you’d asked me seventeen years ago. People are frazzled and angry, desperate about money, and, at best, indifferent about the future.’ Karen’s friends are now outwardly adult, but they haven’t matured, they’re stunted spiritually and emotionally, and Karen is disappointed by how unhappy they seem.

This is all familiar ground for Coupland, who has often written about alienation, man versus machine, spiritual bankruptcy and apathy amongst his generation. Another theme now dear to Coupland’s heart is Doomsday and Girlfriend in a Coma marks the first time he explored this. Shortly after Karen wakes up, a plague descends across the world, a sleeping sickness that no-one wakes up from, and the only people left alive are Karen and her friends. Their reactions to their aloneness and their inability to be jolted out of their familiar thought patterns and evolve in new ways to deal with their new environment form the second half of the book.

Sometimes Coupland’s work can be a little too concerned with cultural commentary to the detriment of story. Girlfriend in a Coma is one of my favourite novels because here Coupland gives us a satisfying narrative, with rounded characters that are not just on the page to provide a mouthpiece for Coupland’s philosophies. There are moments of great beauty in the novel and also flashes of humour – Karen’s post-coma interview with a celebrity TV interviewer is pitch perfect and very funny.

If you read and enjoy this, I’d recommend J Pod as your next Coupland novel.

Last week, I gave myself the very enjoyable task of re-reading the books on my Ten Favourite Books list and reviewing them on the Multiverse. The first on the list was Spider by Patrick McGrath, first published in 1990 and first read by me in 1998. It’s a bit of a difficult one to review without giving the plot away but here goes…

Spider is set in London in the late 1950s and its narrator is Dennis Cleg, otherwise known as Spider due to his tall gangly frame. It is apparent from the opening pages that Dennis is not quite right, off somehow: ‘Nothing is automatic with me anymore…The simplest actions – eating, dressing, going to the lavatory – can sometimes pose insurmountable problems…the linkage of brain and limb is a delicate mechanism and often, now, for me, it becomes uncoupled.’

Dennis lives in a boarding-house in East London near where he grew up, having returned from a long period away. Being in such close proximity to his childhood home is arousing memories, dark hints of trauma and tragedy, and so he has decided to keep a diary to make sense of his thoughts. However Dennis’s mind is obsessive, chaotic and constantly anxious; he loathes his landlady and refers to the other lodgers as ‘dead souls’, he hears voices in the attic at night, and he is plagued by illness, feeling that his intestines are twisting around his spine. There is a gathering sense of foreboding as the book progresses and Dennis comes apart as he confronts the horrors of his childhood.

Spider is an atmospheric and beautifully written book. McGrath describes the pea-souper fogs rolling in over the Thames, the narrow dark alleyways of the East End, the unending rain and grey gloom, in vivid intricate detail. In fact his writing – the way in which he constructs sentences, his use of language, the way in which he simultaneously hints and conceals –  is what made this one of my favourite books. Even re-reading it, I went over certain paragraphs or phrases a number of times, lost in admiration of his talent.

Early on in his career, McGrath was labelled a “gothic” writer and certainly Spider has gothic overtones, but it’s also a brilliant study of a man’s mind unravelling. McGrath’s father was the Medical Superintendent of Broadmoor Hospital and the family lived on the grounds. This odd childhood obviously affected McGrath as many of his books deal with mental illness, deformity (whether mental or physical), and isolation. Or as he puts it, ‘what I like to do is to observe the breakdown of people whose emotions cannot be assimilated into the realities they occupy.’ 

This was my first introduction to Patrick McGrath’s work and on scanning my bookshelves I see I now have nine of his books. Start with Spider and if you like it, I’d also recommend Martha Peake and Asylum.

Recently on Facebook, people have been listing their ten favourite books and tagging others to do the same. I have no idea who started the whole project, but I’m assuming it was a writer who was procrastinating.

I was tagged a couple of days ago and listed mine. I didn’t want to spend too long thinking about it because that’s the sort of thing that could end up in insomnia and paralysing indecision, so I listed the first five books that came immediately to mind and then quickly scanned my bookshelves to fill in the rest. I also listed them in no particular order because if I tried to rank them against each other my brain would explode.  

  • Spider – Patrick McGrath
  • Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
  • Girlfriend in a Coma – Douglas Coupland
  • Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
  • The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
  • The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  • If This Is A Man – Primo Levi
  • Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  • Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates

As a result of this exercise, I’ve decided to re-read these ten books and review them on the Multiverse in the next ten weeks. I’ve started with Spider by Patrick McGrath, a book that I first read in 1998. (How can I be so specific? I sign and date all of my books when I buy them because I am a huge nerd).

Anyway, now you guys know what’s in store for Mondays over the next while. I hope you end up reading one or some or all of the ten; I think they’re all exceptional in their own way.

FKA twigs (FKA standing for ‘Formerly Known As’) released her debut studio album, LP1, this month. The album’s lead single ‘Two Weeks’ has been getting steady play in my gaff and I’m in love with it. The electro-r&b vibe combined with her ethereal voice lends a kind of Massive Attack feel to the track, and the lyrics (which you can read here) are sexy as hell and lot more interesting than your standard pop fare.

Tahliah Debrett Barnett is from the UK and she’s twenty-six years old. Known as Twigs because of the way her joints snap and crack, she had to add the ‘FKA’ when another artist called Twigs requested she change her name. She’s been lauded by the UK music industry since her debut EP in 2012 and she embarks on her first international tour in October. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like her tour hits Ireland at any point, but whenever she does eventually play here I’ll be in the audience!

 

 

In case you didn’t hear about it, Multiverse favourite David Mitchell showed writers on Twitter a great way to use the platform. Last month he tweeted his latest short story, The Right Sort, in 280 tweets over the course of a week. The Guardian has helpfully put them in chronological order and you can read the full story here. The story is about a young boy, Nathan, and his mother and a Valium fuelled afternoon. Mitchell uses the 140 character limit to great effect, as seen here: ‘The pill’s just kicking in now. Valium breaks down the world into bite-sized sentences. Like this one.’

Many writers think that being on Twitter doesn’t sell books and therefore it’s not worth engaging with, but I disagree. Too often writers use Twitter solely as a means to self-promote, perhaps not realising that what social media users want is content, not forty-five posts about their latest book. Mitchell’s new book The Bone Clocks is published on 2nd September and of course, this Twitter story is a great way of drawing attention to his work in time for the publication, but it’s also a valid exercise in itself and a brilliant idea.

The Multiverse

is a blog from an Irish writer and DJ which takes in a wide range of subject matter as follows: Monday’s blogs are related to literature and writing; Tuesday is fashion, style and beauty; Wednesday is music; Thursday is TV and cinema; and Friday is a miscellany.

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Richie rocking two pairs of headphones at the Silent Disco. #badassmuthafucka Last of the holiday pics. At Tavern on the Green with Dad this afternoon. Bye bye, New York! Till next time. #NYC #TavernontheGreen So many beautiful houses in the West Village. #NYC #10thStreet How much is that doggy in the window?! #NYC #puppies #forsale @sarwoodsfox Remember this?! So I know the sign refers to people soliciting, but I prefer the legal interpretation! #NYC #signage #hatethelaw

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