Happy birthday to The Hobbit

A wonderful book every child should read. Happy birthday to “The Hobbit.”

Matthew Wright

I discovered the other day that it’s 81 years this month since The Hobbit was published. I’d missed the anniversary.

Check out the battering. Is my copy of ‘The Hobbit’ much-loved, or what?

The Hobbit is just about my favourite book of all time. The other, naturally, is its sequel. I first read it around 1973, inspired by the Pauline Baynes map of Middle Earth – a wondrous place, it seemed, which set my imagination roaming. The Hobbit didn’t disappoint. I still have the copy I was given that year by my aunt – the Allen & Unwin edition with Tolkien’s own sketch of the death of Smaug on the cover. It’s, shall we say, very well worn.

The book has never lost its charm; Tolkien wrote it as a story for his children, but it speaks to adults and children alike. Looking back on it now, I can see…

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[Music] Le Mellotron: Paloma Colombe – Radio Amazigh #11 Hommage à Rachid Taha

The legendary Rock & Raï singer Rachid Taha passed away a few days ago at the age of 59 from a heart attack.  Many writers and commentators have eulogized him in his passing, but the best the most fitting tribute comes from Radio Amazigh DJ Paloma Colombe.

Her program is mandatory listening for anyone into out-there music, but in her latest podcast, she combines not only Taha’s music but testimonies, as he not only influenced so many younger artists in France and the Maghreb, but was brilliant at synthesizing sounds in a catchy and energetic way.

The program is in French, so if you needed an excuse to practice, I can’t think of a better thing to inspire you with.

[Music] Various Artists – Anthology of Electroacoustic Lebanese Music


When he’s not working on his own music as Sonologyst, Raffaele Pezzella of Unexplained Sounds captures a lot of attention by releasing travelogue compilations covering the best of experimental and dark ambient music from various countries and regions. This one may well be his crowning effort.

All of these, with the exception of Sharif Sehnaoui, are unfamiliar names, but the sounds, which range from slow, churning, rhythmic drone to post-Industrial noise, the compilation introduces what I’m hoping is an energetic crop of new music composers whose influence will spread quickly both inside and outside the Levant.

Could a Syrian or Iraqi electroacoustic scene be next?  I surely hope so!

[Music] Hviledag – Minder i Fire Satser


Hviledag is the moniker of Anton Friisgaard, who has an EP due for release on September 22.

Listening to it, it seems Anton has captured the spirit of the best of 1970s Kosmich Musik out of Germany (think Cluster/Kluster and the solo releases by Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius [RIP], Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze during their peak in the mid-1970s, and even pre-robot Kraftwerk).

Don’t think, however, that this is some boring copy of the masters.  Anton brings fresh ideas to the genre.  The recording quality, however, is so familiar and comfortable to me that if this release were to come out on vinyl, I would be thrilled to listen to it and place it along with the greats mentioned earlier.

[Music] Ataşehir – Colorful Places to Live and Play


Ataşehir is the side project of Sumatran Black, an expatriate residing in the Anatolian side of Turkey.  The music roaring out of my speakers sounds, in part, like a black-ambient version of a 1950s B-Movie sci-fi soundtrack (trust me, this is a high compliment, considering my brother and I grew up as fans of the film genre and the music it produced) and a touch like the end of the movie Solaris, where film composer Eduard Artemiev goes into a drone which grows louder and louder until it crescendoes.

There is an amusing irony that the song titles, as Ataşehir mentions on his site, “are taken from aspirational advertising slogans of various residential developments from around the world.”

There is a bleak, black beauty to this album.  It ends with a progressive-rock length final track clocking in at 48 minutes. Colorful Places to Live and Play Bandcamp Exclusive Compilation Version. . As it turns out, it is the least brutally dark track on the album, making for a pleasantly drony listening experience.