A Moxy Rogue
I was beginning to think I might never get to say this and really, truly mean it but Mr. Miller is mixing the record. As we speak. There was a moment when it appeared as though some files - some key files - may have been…missing. I did my best to distract an ailing mind but there were certainly one or two sleepless nights, not entirely to be blamed on the weather. I woke fast and often, in cold sweats, panicked at the notion of musical oblivion, before calming myself, before the dawning realisation that shit could well have been truly, actually lost. Thankfully, Mr. Hamper is a notorious and meticulous hoarder and all is well. This minor bump led to Initial work beginning on ‘Pyre Peyote’ (track named after the band named after the track named after the band ad infinitum), before T realised that this foe might be beyond our current level. Consequently, we returned to the start, as originally intended and are hunting for the ‘Chupacabra’. Baby Drummer Boy was quizzing me the other night at rehearsal re the nature and presence of the mythical and singular in a whole bunch of the catalogue, i.e. ‘Albino’, ‘Witches’ and the aforementioned Mexican goat sucker. I promised to explain myself as and when we have our shit down cold.
I’m doing it. I’ll go way out on that spindly limb and say, right now, that this is one of the rarest and most sought after artefacts yet to grace the record player here. What’s more, it is the same age as the Rosita. ‘Catch a Fire’ by The Wailers is an easy top three album from Bob & the boys, if not a serious and qualified contender for number 1. Of all Reggae albums. Ever. It represented ten years of refinement, building cultural acclaim and standing up like a motherfucker. This is an original Island Records pressing from 1973, complete with that most sought after of covers, lighter hinge intact. Sure, the sleeve has a bit of wear, a 2 cm sticker near the top right corner and it used to belong to Catherine Wilson (thanks Catherine) but the vinyl? Apart from some light surface noise near the beginning of side one, I would go so far as to describe it as being near mint. Yeah. Recorded at Dynamic Sounds Studios in Kingston, Jamaica - also graced by the likes of Bunny Lee, Max Romeo and Leslie Kong - and produced by Marley himself alongside Chris Blackwell, ’Catch a Fire’ was the Wailer’s fifth studio album, their first released by Island and it was the one that really, finally made them. Charlie & Aston Barrett play that rhythm section so tight, so steady and yet the arrangements always have space to breathe, allowing Peter Mackintosh to shine on guitar. And Bob is Bob. Spin it for the sound of ‘Concrete Jungle’, love it for the roll on ‘Baby We’ve Got A Date’ and stay for the heat of ‘Midnight Ravers’. It needs to be lit.
I remember promising that we’d take a look at Bill Henson’s ‘Lux et Nox’ (Thames & Hudson, 2008) a while back and intended to make good on that promise. What I did not realise was that I had already done this in January. That being said, there’s nothing quite like a second pass and if any book is deserving of a closer look, it’s ‘Lux et Nox’. As one has seen, it’s a large “coffee table” book that is concerned with Henson’s obsession with light and dark. There have been a couple of controversies over the years concerning Henson’s specific subject matter but we seem to always come back to those spaces between the night, the day and those fragile, fleeting creatures that inhibit these places. I’m certain this came up briefly during a recent exhibit at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney. I’m also certain that his work speaks. He is one for sunrise and sunset, for lost highways and byways that would make David Lynch weep, and Lord knows he can work magic with a thunderstorm. All of these photos were taken somewhere between 1997 and 2002 and originally published by Scalo in 2002. T&H pulled off a masterstroke with this second edition and I think it might be one of the seminal monographs on Henson in recent memory. There is an early photo in here that catches my eye every time I look through this collection because it reminds me of that painting by Johannes Vermeer, ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. There is something incredibly painterly about it; the rich, vaguely discernible tones of velvet black, the look in her eyes, and the granular quality of soft, fading light that falls on her skin. You’ll know it when you see it.
My PS4 was in need of some love, having been neglected since the move. It’s hot indoors and the console struggles to work in either a field or fountain. I picked up ‘Streets Of Rogue’, partially because He recommended it and also because the name was bad enough to make me reverse snort my OJ. It is funny and quite terrible. Some might even say that it’s a mess of a game and I would agree with them, arguing even that it is these qualities that make it a good time. As you might imagine, it is a thing like a rogue, with perms-death mechanics and there are streets, although these streets are more in the stylistic vein of ‘Enter The Gungeon’ / ‘Retro City Rampage / ‘Hotline Miami’ / ‘Prison Architect’ than any 2D side scrolling fighter you could be thinking of. Gameplay wise, I’m getting strong ‘Binding of Isaac’ and ‘Nuclear Throne’ (man, that was a great game) vibes, with the welcome addition of free-form, emergent gameplay, a la ‘Deus Ex’. The whole thing is procedurally generated and you can choose to play as a genial bartender, clown or gorilla, amongst other batshit characters. Y’all can be murderous, sneaky or hacker man, if you like. Thus far, it seems pretty up to you and gives very few fucks. If that tickles you pink then you can play it anywhere. They even put it on Switch because. If I could say anything to Matt Dabrowski, it would probably be that the jokes are awful, there are many of them and the gameplay makes almost no sense. I haven’t even chanced the multiplayer yet but I hear that it’s a veritable nightmare.
JD - TACOCAT
[Props to Matt Dabrowski for the thumbnail image.]