Archives for March 2017

Salt”, the latest album from Katie Kim.

Katie Kin's Salt.

Katie Kin’s Salt.

In a par­al­lel uni­verse some­where it was Cristi­na who was cat­a­pult­ed to star­dom in the 1980s, while Madon­na con­tin­ues to wait tables some­where in Williams­burg. There, Katie Kim’s records sell by the truckload.

Few things delin­eate us more dis­tinc­tive­ly than those secret dis­cov­er­ies we make in the worlds of music, books, film and tele­vi­sion. But if any of those dis­cov­er­ies sud­den­ly enjoy unex­pect­ed com­mer­cial suc­cess, we become deeply sus­pi­cious of them. Noth­ing con­t­a­m­i­nates art quite as irre­deemably as pop­u­lar acclaim.

All of which makes Katie Kim the most allur­ing artist work­ing any­where on these isles. Her lat­est album Salt came out last autumn, and so unher­ald­ed was its release that it com­plete­ly passed me by.

Doll in a box, Cristina.

Doll in a box, Cristina.

I had first come across her in 2011 when I saw her per­form at the event curat­ed by Don­al Dineen at Dublin Con­tem­po­rary. And when her sec­ond album, Cov­er and Flood, came out lat­er that year, I had no hes­i­ta­tion in declar­ing it the album of the year, not with­stand­ing what a stel­lar year 2011 was music-wise, which I reviewed ear­li­er here,

So I had been eager­ly await­ing her new album ever since, but some­how I still man­aged to miss it when it came out last autumn. I only heard of its arrival when it was nom­i­nat­ed for the Choice Music Album of the year award. And although of course I’m delight­ed that the prize even­tu­al­ly went to Rusangano Fam­i­ly, few artists would have mer­it­ed that boost to their career that win­ning an award like that would have giv­en her than Kim.


Limerick's Rusangano Family.

Lim­er­ick­’s Rusangano Family.

Salt is a more com­pact and cohe­sive affair than her pre­vi­ous cou­ple of records, but the atmos­phere it evokes and the feel of the album are famil­iar. We’re in 4AD ter­ri­to­ry here. And if it nev­er gets quite as pri­mal, gui­tar wise, as it does on a Cocteau Twins record, there’s no mis­tak­ing the terrain.

Think Sti­na Nor­den­stam record­ing an album for 4AD with some of the Dead Can Dance crew pro­vid­ing pro­duc­tion duties. There’s an ethe­re­al vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to the vocals that’s bol­stered by the heft and propul­sion pro­duced by the lay­ers of sound that sur­round and give weight to the melodies.

Katie Kim's Cover and Flood.

Katie Kim’s Cov­er and Flood.

The result is a won­der­ful­ly dark album that you want to hear at four o’clock in the morn­ing, but with the vol­ume turned up loud.

Secrets are won­der­ful, but it’s point­less if you’ve lit­er­al­ly no one to share them with. So for good­ness sake go and buy this album. I need some­body else to talk to about it.

You can see the video for the track Ghosts here.

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Moonlight Triumphs



One of the great mys­ter­ies of the show biz world is how it is that the most gift­ed, tal­ent­ed and ambi­tious stars in Hol­ly­wood con­trive to pro­duce the most tedious tele­vi­sion pro­gramme of the entire year. The Oscars are so drea­ri­ly pre­dictable and every ges­ture has plain­ly been chore­o­graphed with­in an inch of its life.

Iron­i­cal­ly, quite how redun­dant the Oscars are as a tv show was fur­ther high­light­ed by this year’s extra­or­di­nary GUBU – that’s Grotesque Unbe­liev­able Bizarre and Unprece­dent­ed for the unini­ti­at­ed. Because the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple who sub­se­quent­ly watched that, there’s no oth­er word for it, unbe­liev­able cock-up will have seen it as a clip on Youtube, there­by avoid­ing hav­ing to sit through the hours and hours of tedi­um that it was pre­ced­ed and fol­lowed by. On the off chance that you missed it, here it is.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which lost to ?

Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Drag­on, which lost to Glad­i­a­tor.

Unusu­al­ly, they actu­al­ly got is right this year. Moon­light real­ly is the best film of the year. But under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, few mem­bers of the Acad­e­my would have both­ered tak­ing their dvd copy out of its box – they gave the Best Pic­ture award to Bird­man over Boy­hood (reviewed ear­li­er here) in 2014, to The King’s Speech over Toy Sto­ry 3 and The Social Net­work in 2010, and to Glad­i­a­tor over Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Drag­on and Traf­fic in 2000.

Based on the unpub­lished play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moon­light is divid­ed into three acts as we fol­low the grow­ing pains of a young black kid as a child, a teenag­er and as a young man. The dam­aged only child of a drug-addled moth­er who pays for her habit the only way she can, he is ren­dered all the more shy and awk­ward by virtue of being secret­ly gay. All of which screams hope­less­ly dull but drea­ri­ly worthy.

12 Years A Slave, another surprise winner in 2012, and also supported by Brad Pitt.

12 Years A Slave, anoth­er sur­prise win­ner in 2013, and, like Moon­light, also sup­port­ed by Brad Pitt.

Hap­pi­ly, indeed impres­sive­ly, the film soars above and beyond its the­atri­cal ori­gins and rather than being sub­ject­ed to the sort of preachy lec­ture that the mate­r­i­al sug­gests, what we get instead is a vision that some­how man­ages to be both impres­sion­is­tic and cool­ly detached at the same time. Direc­tor Bar­ry Jenk­ins, whose sec­ond film this is, worked on the script with McCraney, and both do a remark­able job of free­ing the mate­r­i­al from its source and inject­ing gen­uine cin­e­mat­ic life into it. But they man­age to do so with­out ever los­ing sight of quite how hor­ren­dous­ly dif­fi­cult grow­ing up is for a gay black kid in the sub­urbs, when the only hope any of them ever have of escape is of tai­lor­ing to, and feed­ing off, peo­ple like his mother.

Boyhood, which lost to Birdman.

Boy­hood, which lost to Bird­man.

Mag­nif­i­cent yes, but not quite the mas­ter­piece some would have you believe. In parts one and two, every time he tries to just get on with his life the out­side world comes crash­ing down on him and it’s heart wrench­ing to wit­ness. But by the time we get to the third and final part, the world leaves him momen­tar­i­ly in peace, and he is final­ly giv­en space to breathe. So you leave the cin­e­ma on a much lighter note than you might have expect­ed, but you are left feel­ing ever so slight­ly short changed.

The brilliant if dark Toy Story 3.

That’s how you make sequels.

But that is a minor quib­ble. This is a major film and Jenk­ins is a seri­ous tal­ent. Let’s just hope he man­ages to walk away from the obscene amounts of mon­ey that as we speak will be appear­ing on tables in front of him across the whole of Hol­ly­wood. Just say no.

You can see the trail­er for Moon­light here.

Sign up for a sub­scrip­tion right or below and I shall keep you post­ed every month on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Tele­vi­sion and Music!