“Musicians are taught to accept the dole”

Musicians are not being taught to think like business people, they’re being taught to think like someone who’s been given the dole” remarks Daniel Jacobsen, founder of Diatribe Records and musician, known as ‘Zoid’.  Daniel used to be organising the release of niche records with his label, all in the genre of jazz and electronica. Diatribe’s focus was experimental, non-commercial music – the emphasis was art. Recently, Daniel’s had a change of mindset, leaving his label business to one side and engaging in personal pursuits – teaching and creating music. But why the change? “Artistically I wanted to refocus, and you can’t really focus on a label when your interests musically are somewhere else. You need to be into every release.”

Daniel Jacobsen performing at Red Bull Music Academy, Melbourne, 2006
Daniel Jacobsen performing at Red Bull Music Academy, Melbourne, 2006

Daniel explained that his label, Diatribe Records, relied heavily on Arts Council funding, and this drove him away from the company he created, “Diatribe runs financially – exclusively by Arts Council Ireland funding. It’s just the way the jazz music scene and the contemporary classical music scene works. It’s not commercial music and doesn’t look like it ever will be. It just rubbed the wrong way with me – how we put the money together.

 

The funding behind Diatribe’s existence is described as a “contentious point” to talk about by Daniel, and notably funding for independent arts is considerably different in Northern Ireland. There is significantly less funding available for art projects in Northern Ireland. Arts Council NI state they have £13 million ready to support arts projects within the country – compare this to the Arts Council of Ireland, who have a poultry €56.9 million (£47 million) to spare on similar projects. That’s over three times as much funding available throughout Ireland when compared to Northern Ireland. With regards to individual support, the Northern Irish Arts Council will provide up to £1,500 per project – in Ireland, €10,000 (£8,240) is available per project.

 

Yet, this could be a great safety net for artists to have behind them in Ireland – the ability to develop a project with serious financial pedigree. It’s safe if you get it” explains Daniel. “In the longer run it’s very impermanent. You never know if you’re going to get a grant the next year because there’s a lot of competition for grants. You have to have a good track record – some people say they never get them. I had a good track record though, Diatribe has a good track record, they get a lot.

 

Diatribe Records
Diatribe Records logo

Surely, the sense of freedom the artist feels is enormous by getting financial support? “You think when you get the funding you can do whatever you want, but it just doesn’t work like that. You put an application in writing, I’m going to do X. Y. Z. and then they [Arts Council of Ireland] either say yes or no. If they say yes, then you get the money and you’ve to do what you said you’re going to do – but you already got the money. It’s weird, it takes away all the drive,” explains Daniel. “I’ve heard of people owing the Arts Council three projects while living in Berlin, living off the money”. Daniel reflects with a purist sentiment, “the only way to make music worth listening to, is when it’s driving you really hard – that you have to do it.”

 

Daniel himself has a sharp tongue, candidly putting his point across and elaborating with precision. Years of experience echoed in his words. Despite this, our conversation could pass as a lecture, his elaborations full of wisdom and knowledge rather than open-ended arts talk.  As he spoke about past experiences Daniel sounded very business saavy. The excess financial backing the Arts Council provided in the past has moulded his business ethos into stoicism. In contrast, he claims, being a musician at the beginning of his career made him “anti-business.”

 

Daniel claims his music went down an “extreme” path, and it’s true his sound was zealously complex. Daniel Jacobsen or Zoid would often combine Jazz composition with electronics and glitch noises [click here for a review of Zoid’s recent release]. “Jazz training’s what I blame for that… I think in any arts school, there’s a focus on being the most original and the most inventive and you have to be different from everyone else. You end up going down a really extreme path. That’s what happened to my music before. It was quite extreme, in terms of… everything.” [click here to listen to Daniel Jacobsen’s previous work]

The first 'Zoid' release (2012) - a huge volume of work featuring jazz musicians across Ireland
The first ‘Zoid’ release (2012) – a huge volume of work featuring jazz musicians across Ireland

The word before means much throughout Daniel’s previous words, as Zoid is changing, becoming increasingly minimal and accessible in musical form. You might even be able to dance along while listening his recent release. Daniel reflects, “You can’t have everything complex. I used to do everything complex.” [click here to listen to unreleased work by Daniel Jacobsen]

 

As the interview began Daniel recounted his steps while starting up Diatribe Records, “I used to work in a petrol station and there was another guy who worked there – we’d just sit in another room when there was no cars coming in, listening to techno and talking about setting up a label. We put out two 12” vinyl’s of techno, one was mine, and one was a very good DJ and producer, Alan Doven. That was the start of Diatribe. After that – we didn’t do anything for seven years… It was an exercise in losing two thousand quid!

Business was at the forefront of his comments throughout our Skype conversation – mistakes, awareness, failure. Yet for the first time in his career, business has become an extension of his art.

Album Review: Zoid – Lyphyz Drumdrops

When Daniel Jacobson, aka ZoiD, was putting together a previous compilation record using jazz musicians, the musicians must have wondered how on earth it was all going to gel together.

ZoiD’s music is so texturally rich, with many electronic beeps and snarls that fitting in the natural timbre of jazz between the electronic bits seemed over zealous—yet it worked in such an uncomplicated way. It was simply electro and jazz living harmoniously together. It even ‘gets you humming’ said the Irish times. The trade-off, however, was simple. ZoiD restrained himself a lot of the time. He stuck by using minimal electronic noises, often dictating the rhythm and structure of a tune, letting the jazz instruments carry the emotional pulse.

With his latest, Lyphyz Drumdrops, Jacobsen is completely working alone, and one suspects a heck of a lot more free. Not resting on a specific genre throughout, the four tracks that make up this short EP are all different from one another. Individualism is at the forefront of this new work.

 

Artwork for Zoid's fifth release, 'Lyphyz Drumdrops' (2013)
Artwork for Zoid’s fifth release, ‘Lyphyz Drumdrops’ (2013)

First track, “jazzfishegg3,” has an old Autechre vibe about it—something ripped from LP5. Its energy is snappy, and there are noisy padded sounds panned across the stereo field. As the track progresses ZoiD strips the tune down into something minimal, with a dance-techno beat as the focus, put alongside psychedelic synth noises. “East Berlin 1966″ is one jaunty, disjointed number. As a guitar plays throughout, the rhythmic drum machine spits a beat out, the samples sounding entirely made by someone making the noises with their mouth. It all comes together as a perfectly sequenced beat-box alongside out-of-synch guitar chords.

Indeed, this is experimental territory. “Richman’s Folly” is similar to ZoiD’s earlier work with the jazz musicians. Central to the track is jazz musicianship, and ZoiD plays second fiddle, working around the jazz timbre with an arsenal of electronic noises and sequences. The difference here is that he’s much more manipulative in comparison to his previous work; the entire tune speeds up and slows down as he wishes, with glitch drum sequencing overtaking the tunes rhythmic undercurrent. Final tune, “rye,” is an upbeat little number. It has a ukulele frantically strumming chords alongside a synth-padded keyboard, playing a complicated melody. This is not so far from chiptune territory—the sounds of “rye” are mostly lo-fi and played at a high tempo—with a lot of the tune feeling like it’s intended for a videogame chase sequence. It’s delightfully quirky in full flow.

 

Lyphyz Drumpdrops by ZoiD

ARSENAL INTO FINAL AFTER PENALTY SHOOTOUT

   1                   {2 – 4 penalties}               1

Is the drought of trophy success that has plagued Arsene Wenger and his team since 2005 about to be sated?  This likelihood became a distinct possibility after a tense encounter at Wembley yesterday when Arsenal had to raise their recent lack lustre form to overcome their championship opponents.

Resilient Wigan proved why they were creditable contenders in the FA Cup semi final when they forced yet another premiership team to battle for all of 120 minutes before succumbing to a succession of excellent taken penalties by the Gunners assisted by their outstanding second choice keeper.

It was an anxious, and for the most part, uneventful first half for both teams with Arsenal having the best of a limited number of chances.  The best chance of the half fell to Yaya Sanogo after 5 minutes with a header from close range to force a great reflex save from Scott Carson in the Wigan goal.

The face of Latics manager Uwe Rosler was its impassive self as he entered the tunnel at half time but inwardly he must have been very pleased with his team’s first half performance.  The strain on Arsene Wenger’s face on the hand was palpable.

The game took a dramatic turn in the 58th minute when Mertesacker brought down McManaman in the box and Gomez converted from the spot.  Arsenal, as if suddenly woken from a slumber launched waves of attacks and were rewarded in the 82nd minute when Mertesacker deftly headed in from close range.

The game finished level forcing extra time.

The highlight of extra time was a thunderous shot against the angle of the Wigan post by Oxlade Chamberlain.  The game ended all square and Wigan were first to step up to the penalty spot.

Wigan substitute Caldwell’s effort was brilliantly saved by Fabianski.

Arteta shoots and makes no mistake – 1 – 0 Arsenal.

Collison shoots but again Fabianski dives to his left to save.

Arsenal substitute Kallstrom sends Carson the wrong way – 2 – 0 Arsenal.

Beausejour finally scores for Wigan – 2 – 1 Arsenal.

Giroud shoots right – Carson goes left – 3 – 1 Arsenal.

McArthur keeps Wigan’s hopes alive – 3 – 2 Arsenal.

Cazorla puts Arsenal into the FA Cup final – 4 – 2 Arsenal.

Arsenal are now one game away from finally winning some silverware for their trophy cabinet that has maintained its status quo for nine years and which, consequently, has had no additions since Arsenal moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.  Success on the 17th May next against Hull or Sheffield United could however force the custodian of the Arsenal trophy cabinet to finally open it.

The Ulster Elks secure a place in the final Irish Hockey League spot

 

Louise Wright in action
Louise Wright in action

It was an excellent end to the season for the Ulster Elks, as they have secured a place in the 2015 Irish Hockey League after a nail biting win over the Catholic Institute. The wild card play-off took place at Jordanstown yesterday, when the Elks won over a 4-2 penalty shoot-out.

The game remained goalless until both sides scored a point each to level at 1-1 on extra time. Kirsty Lammey had initially put the Elks ahead with a stunning reverse stick shot in the 63rd minute, but the Limerick team responded with Naomi Carroll scoring a penalty corner 2 minutes later.

The heroine of the game had to be the Jordanstown goalkeeper Rebecca Davidson, as she made 2 phenomenal saves on the penalty shoot-outs. After the game she said “I am so happy that we have made it through to IHL, we’ve trained harder than we have ever done – and to get through just shows our hard work has paid off”.

The Elks held their nerve in the shoot-out by scoring all 4 stokes, with Danielle Wilson scoring the final point after the successful attempts by Louise Wright, Stephanie Jamieson and Dawn Axon.

“We dominated most of the game but it was one of those days when I thought we were never going to score” said Elks coach Ricky Lee.

“But it’s great to be back in the IHL as we want to improve year on year and it’s important to be in it with changes in the format coming into effect the following season”.

The last time that the Elks had qualified for the Irish Hockey League was 4 seasons ago. They have struggled to find the same form as they had in 2010, due to a number of their key players retiring.

 

 

Film Review – Frozen

Disney Frozen

Film

Frozen

Production Year

2013

Country

United States of America

Certificate

PG

Duration

108 minutes

Directors

Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Cast

Alan Tudyk, Ciaran Hinds, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad,   Kristen Bell, Santino Fontana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen is an animated fairy tale story that has been told in a classic Disney manner. The film is filled with lovable characters with an enchanting story and heart popping musical numbers. This has resulted in a wonderful piece of family entertainment.

The film is based very loosely on the story of The Snow Queen, which has been rewritten to focus on two royal sisters called Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell).

Elsa the elder of the 2 sisters is the heir to the throne of Arendelle and has been concealing a dangerous talent throughout her childhood, which has caused her to isolate her once very close sister, Anne. Elsa has been endowed with the ability to create snow and ice at will. Once her powers were accidentally revealed she was forced to flee the castle on suspicion of witch craft, leaving blizzards and ice castles on her path.

Her devoted sister Anna, who got engaged to a handsome prince in the spur of a moment, gallops into the wilderness to find Elsa and retrieve her from the icy landscape.

Anna’s heroic journey to convince her sister to return sees her travel through the treacherous woods and mountains, which sees her team up with a hunky ice salesman Kristof.

Throughout the journey Anna is joined by her funny sidekicks, which includes a reindeer and a talking snowman called Olaf.

The story brings a sense of nostalgia, as it resembles similar films by Pixar such as ‘Tangled’ and ‘The princess and the frog’. It is by far one of the best pieces of family entertainment power, with belting power ballads such as ‘Let it go’ and ‘The cold never bothered me anyway’. These have stuck in my head for days now, good luck in shaking it out of yours.

The heroines wear some of the best princess dresses, prepare for it to be seen on every shelf in Tesco on the run up to Halloween.

 

 

 

Liverpool edge Manchester City in thrilling Anfield showdown

Liverpool’s march towards their first league title in twenty-four years showed no signs of slowing down as they overcame Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield.

Goals from Raheem Sterling, Martin Skrtel and Phillipe Coutinho helped Liverpool to a tenth consecutive league victory and left Manchester City with a mountain to climb if they are to lift the Premier League trophy in May.

The afternoon began with a minute silence for the 96 who died in the Hillsborough disaster, twenty-five years ago this month. 60,000 fans also poured their respect out in song as a full rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ giving the day an emotionally charged backdrop.

However, the home side showed no signs of letting their emotions get the better off them as they got off to a flying start. Luis Suarez muscled Gael Clichy off the ball impressively before slipping in Sterling who outfoxed both Hart and Kompany with a sharp turn and placed the ball safely into an empty net.

Suddenly the pre-match tensions and fears dissipated for Liverpool as they hunted down a second, passing the ball neatly and crisply up front to trouble an already rattled City defence. Kompany, who was already struggling for match fitness, and Demichelis struggled to cope with the pace and dynamism of Liverpool’s attacking quartet of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho.

Indeed, Liverpool’s attacking endeavour was further rewarded when Skrtel scored a superb glancing header from a Steven Gerrard corner.

Manchester City showed character and resilience after half-time as they tried to get themselves back into the game. Those attributes were epitomised by the industrious substitute, James Milner, who came on and within minutes set up David Silva to pull it back to 2-1.

For the first time, Liverpool looked genuinely troubled and they failed to withstand the pressure as Silva engineered another more attacking wizardry as he pulled the ball back for it to hit Glen Johnson and slide past Mignolet at his near post.

Anfield was deflated and it looked as though this enthralling match may have been swinging in Manchester City’s favour until Coutinho pounced marvellously on a sliced Kompany clearance to curl the ball into the bottom corner and deliver all three points for Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers knows now that the title is in Liverpool’s hands. His team passed another huge test as they took a massive leap towards their first league title since 1990.

Film Review- American Beauty (1999)

It’s been fifteen years since the cinematic release of American Beauty, Sam Mendes‘ masterful portrait of suburban life, but it would be an uphill battle to find a current film which exhibits the same level of directorial quality or depth of character.

The film manages to address several key aspects of contemporary American life with great style and focus. Life, death, homophobia, materialism and teenage angst are all strung together to produce a coherent and evocative piece of cinema.

Lester Burnham, played with consummate finesse by an Oscar-winning Kevin Spacey, is a 42-year-old magazine writer who simply hates his life. He hates that his cosy suburban neighbourhood and materially-obsessive wife, Carolyn (Annette Benning), have sucked all the joy out of his life, which makes him feel “already dead.”

However, Lester finds himself escaping this life “which so closely resembles hell” when he develops a deep physical attraction to his daughter’s friend, Angela, a process he describes as “like being in a coma for twenty years and now just beginning to wake up.”

Lester’s attraction with Angela, who is a High School cheerleader, is the most startling and provocative aspect of the film. Lester has essentially never grown up after college as he met Carolyn and started living the typical life of the ‘American Dream’ but it is his obsession with Angela which makes him feel young again. Mendes uses dream sequences, all shot with visual panache, to portray Lester’s fantasies of Angela and are weaved into the story to track Lester’s path to escaping from his mid-life crisis.

The main reason American Beauty’s plot progresses so seamlessly is the expertly written characters, all very different people on the surface, but all suffering from the same misery and feeling of repression. Lester is miserable because of his wife and job, just like his daughter is miserable because she is not popular and beautiful like Angela. In addition, Ricky Fitts, Lester’s next-door neighbour, is miserable because of his troubled past and his homophobic, abusive father who literally tries to beat “structure and discipline” into him. 

The collective loneliness and depression of the characters represent the dark, cynical vision of suburban culture and their path to achieving true American happiness. Mendes’ film shows a type of suburban prison which suffocates the characters and it’s not until they free themselves from the shackles of their imprisonment that they discover the true beauty of American life.

Chelsea reach semi-final

Chelsea 2-0 PSG

The special one has masterminded another special European night. Starting on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, Mourinho’s men secured a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba.

Unfortunately, in terms of entertainment, this match, bar the goals and the odd chance, offered little for the neutral. Chelsea were set up just as Mourinho would have wanted, in an imposing 4-2-3-1 formation that was cautious yet calculating.

For their part Paris Saint Germain, missing star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic,  played right into the Special One’s hands, keeping their shape with their focus placed on not conceding rather than scoring that vital away goal.

‘Les Parisians’ only real chance in the first half saw Ezequiel Lavezzi put the ball in the back of the net only to see this ‘goal’ ruled out as he had moved a fraction offside.

Chelsea lacklustre first half was embodied in the performance of Eden Hazard, undoubtedly Chelsea’s player of the season so far, he was slow to every ball and was subbed inside the first thirty minutes with a calf strain.

Whilst many inside Stamford Bridge might have been cursing their luck as they saw the Belgian maestro leave the field, it was his replacement Andre Schurrle who gave them reason to hope.

His 31st minute goal came from a throw in as David Luiz flicked the ball on and it was met by Schurrle who rifled into the net. Chelsea could have grabbed their second by half time but Gary Cahill scuffed his shot.

The second half began in much the same fashion with PSG happy to attempt to hold what they had, even when Chelsea hit the crossbar twice in the space of two minutes through, Oscar and Schurrle.

However in the 71st minute PSG looked like they would finally score as Edison Cavani delightfully chested down Yohan Cabaye’s lofted ball, only to fail to keep his shot on target.

The visitors would rue this miss in the 86th minute as Chelsea found their vital second goal. It came, rather fortuitously, via the forgotten man Demba Ba, who poked the deflected ball into the net.

The goal forced PSG to attack but unlike last week a late goal was not forthcoming, with Petr Cech saving well from Marquinhos’ effort as the Blues ensured they advanced to Friday’s draw for the semi-finals.

 

This Changes Everything

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dir: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Staring: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansen, Samuel, L. Jackson, Robert Redford. Cert: 12A. Run Time: 136 minutes.

“The price of freedom is high… and it’s a price I’m willing to pay. You told me not to trust anyone and this is how it ends: Everything goes!” Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers tells Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and he wasn’t wrong.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier invites audiences back into the billion dollar franchise that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however unlike it’s other ‘Phase 2’ cohorts, Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, this movie has a very substantial link to 2012’s ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble‘.

With the constant bombardment of superhero movies following largely the same format, complicated sci-fi mumbo jumbo plot that the lead character must save us from, it was refreshing to see Cap 2 change things slightly as the movie took the tone of a political thriller.

The high tech first world security council, SHIELD, developed throughout Cap’s numerous predecessors, yet strangely absent from Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, is central to the plot.

The enemy here is from within, which means no-one is to be trusted, and who better for a lead role in this type of plot than a whiter than white patriot Steve Rogers, however Cap isn’t the most complex of characters, so it was good to see Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow with her murky past take on a fuller role in this movie.

The villain of the piece, The Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan is surprisingly disappointing, his identity reveal came as no surprise and  the character feels as if he has been merely introduced, rather than actually dealt with, in this instalment.

Of course, the key strength of these Marvel movies is the way they tie into each other, they all feel part of the wider universe, and with this in mind, this movies climax, will have major repercussions for future instalments and for green lighting these risky decisions Marvel President, Kevin Feige deserves credit.

 

ANGEL OLSEN – BURN YOUR FIRE FOR NO WITNESS

“Burn Your Fire for No Witness” is the second full-length LP by Missouri-born singer-songwriter Angel Olsen.

This LP, for this reviewer’s money, is of exceptional quality: lyrically and musically.

“Burn Your Fire for No Witness” marks something of a departure from her 2012 full-length debut, Half Way Home, and an even greater deviation from the marker she threw down in her 2011 break-out EP Strange Cacti.

Both of those releases were distinguished by Olsen’s most enduring qualities: stark honest writing coupled with rich siren-like vocals. The addition of a backing band and the prominence of grunge-era electric guitars buzzing in slacker elegance throughout much of this album, does little to change that.

What we have here is a collection of eleven beautifully crafted songs in equally simple but refreshingly effective arrangements: some of them are quiet, others are audibly much louder than what we’re used to when it comes to Angel Olsen.

What both these kinds of song manage to do is provoke and excite as well as humble in equal measure (“Hi-Five” and “Iota” spring to mind immediately), as Olsen has always done.

“Burn Your Fire for No Witness”, from a lyrical standpoint, is somewhat less opaque than any of Olsen’s previous work.

No one could accuse Olsen of being prescriptive in her approach to song-writing: her’s is wildly cosmic but ultimately very visceral – real.

Many of the songs on this LP deal with loneliness and estrangement within relationships and love more generally. Compared with her previous work, Olsen is evidently more confessional and frank in her writing.

“Unfucktheworld” is one such example of this and shows Angel Olsen at her very (usual) best. The album opener is a track that would not sound out of place on any of her previous work, but with the addition of John Congelton to this project is quite telling here: Olsen’s voice is almost a dull hum throughout, as if played through a tube amplifier. The effect is hauntingly beautiful.

All things considered, the opener here is Olsen’s default setting: voice and acoustic guitar draped in wet reverb driven by frank riveting lyrics. The real treats on this album come later in the shape of ‘new’ tracks – the raucous, sultry and louder numbers – “Forgiven/Forgotten”, “Hi-Five” and “Lights Out”.

As far as sophomore albums go, this is impressive. If this marks a change – a new direction – it is a positive one. As Angel Olsen’s overall sound evolves so too will her appeal widen, and that for me is no bad thing. On the strength of this album’s lyrics alone Olsen’s career should reach the cosmically spectral heights that bely her general ethereal aesthetic. Her voice may not be for everybody, but as a work of art this album has to be admired for its frankness and bravery.