Monday, March 26, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
So this gorgeous record came out in nearly two years ago now, but it is worth mentioning again. Icelandic composer Valgir Sigurðsson collaborates with Nico Muhly and others on the sountrack to Dreamland. Liner notes come with some words from the movie's director, Andri Snær Magnason, about the film and Sigurðsson's creative process:
Soundtrack is embedded below.
From the start I was determined to write poetry, plays, and fiction, but the material began to accumulate in my mind as each day something seemed to be going wrong in Iceland and maybe the planet in general. We should know by now that war is never worth it, but instead our government made the choice to support the war in Iraq. In a way the quality of life in Iceland had never been better but after privatisation of the fisheries and national banksan elite began to take shape -- a small group of people that would own billions and billions.
We wanted to grasp huge issues in this documentary, we travelled around the country in a helicopter, searched in new archives, observed the bird fight for their offspring. We captured footage of politicians and representatives of larger corporations during "mating season". But how would it all sound? What leitmotifs would bring the chapters of the film together, what feeling would the music evoke? What resonates with a Caterpillar digger, a private jet and flying over a beautiful, doomed landscape? It was clear that music needed to span a vast territory-- melancholic strings and deep, sonorous electro-vibes could act as a foreshadowing of impending disaster. Without making the audience feel manipulated, tension needed to be created to underline, to accent, to enhance or temper the film's effect in the appropriate places.
After receiving a copy of the film without sound, Valgeir Sigurðsson watched it in his Greenhouse studio; seeing what would start to take shape in his head. He proceeded to write the basic theme and then summoned to his side musicians like Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon, Ben Frost and other friends of this odd Greenhouse. One could say that the essence of their approach to the score can be found in the Icelandic folksong Grýlukvæði: something is off and it's hard to pinpoint exactly what. There is a distortion, a din and a defamiliarizing quality that is difficult to put into words. Flying over the Fljótsdalur waterfalls that are no longer there, a solitary viola is our guide, and we can sense the threat. The music creates an intense atmosphere when we fly over the sand pyramids on Vatnajökull, in the direction of an areas that is to be destroyed because of a short-term gold rush. The shrill brass tones resonate and contrast the heavy, impenetrable silence.
Soundtrack is embedded below.
at 1:39 PM
Friday, March 9, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Putin wins again. Rivals cry foul. Vladislav Inozemtsev at Eurozine writes about the future and modernization of the Russian state:
I prefer to talk about modernisation as, essentially, an economic process that leads to a modern, self-regulating economy capable of stable self-development. At the same time, the building up of an economy requires a serious, consolidated effort from both society and the state, directed at dismantling previous economic structures, opening up the country to the outside world and re-orientating social consciousness from traditional values and ideals drawn from the past, towards the future. In this particular context, I would say that the criterion for the success of modernisation is the absence of any need for new modernisations....
On the one hand, it is said that Russia is already a country with a relatively high standard of living and high incomes, which is why it would be inappropriate to apply the classical method of industrialisation based, in most cases, on the use of cheap labour. Supporters of this view generally support those who advocate a "great leap forward" from a raw material economy into a post-industrial economy.
Others, on the other hand, draw attention to the fact that, in the 1930s, the Soviet Union had already built up a powerful industrial base and that, in the 1950s and 1960s, it became a leading force in world technology. The period of industrial development has therefore passed, they say: the right thing now would be to focus on resolving more long-term issues. This position strengthens and consolidates support for the development of a "knowledge economy".
I would consider the basic counter-argument to be that industrialisation and the development of scientific and technical progress in the Soviet Union took place without any adjustments in market legislation and without taking account of notions of competitiveness. The USSR remained a very closed economy (even in the years directly preceding its collapse, export represented no more than 4 per cent of GDP, 58 per cent of which was directed at socialist countries where there was no visible competition to Soviet goods). Its industrial production was characterised first by extremely poor quality and high energy intensity, and second by almost total lack of development (except in cases when this development was absolutely necessary, as in the military sphere). Yes, the Soviet Union was an industrial power, and its economy was the second in the world; but if one compares the presence of Chinese goods on the global market in the early 2000s with the presence there of Soviet goods at the beginning of the 1980s, the "price" of Soviet industrialisation becomes instantly clear. The specific feature of the time was that the Soviet Union existed as an industrial power, but was not globally recognised as such.
at 7:04 PM