Idle thoughts

I catch my Flying Nun t-shirt in the mirror, and I briefly see the reflected ‘NUN’ as ‘NIN’ and I suddenly daydream the perfect scenario: FLYING NIN: A Nine Inch Nails Tribute to New Zealand Music.

Imagine Trent Reznor and his band attacking a Gordons song? And with Reznor’s range, he could tackle a whole raft of NZ music from delicate ambient stuff, to classic songwriting from the Knox or Kilgour catalogues, right on up to full on hardcore and metal.

Of course this idea would come to me, and of course it would appeal to precisely a dozen other people around the world.

Running past the ‘Premier Inn Hastings’ this week (which has the dubious honour of being precisely two and a half miles from what I would consider the centre of Hastings), I noticed that from this lofty height just off The Ridge, the high road that forms the town’s northern edge, I could just briefly glimpse the sea. As I ran alongside the multi-storey hotel, I imagined some of the rooms must in fact have a sea view. I wondered if they are sold with this designation? Probably not. I don’t think Premier Inn goes for that kind of marketing.

But it got me to wondering: this combination of a tallish building on a high rise of land near the coast… I wonder what is the furthest inland hotel room in the world that can legitimately claim to have a sea view? Annoyingly, I just know that there are about three databases one could throw some AI at to answer this question. Possibly there’s a hotel that even specifically claims this already, whether rightly or not. But it’s a fun thought.

I watched Talk Radio this week; it was on my list of ‘radio films’ to watch. It very definitely is a radio film, and a very claustrophobic one at that, with the bulk of it taking place within a dimly lit radio studio.

The set design is actually really convincing and apt. I naively wondered for a moment if it might in fact be a real radio studio, before realising the acres of space and the weirdly dim lighting and all sorts of other extremely cinematic design decisions at work.

It was interesting (or perhaps distracting?) to see in the opening credits that it was adapted from a play – I noticed throughout its runtime many scenes which had a very theatrical feel. Not in a bad way; I could just see how it would work very well as a play.

In fact, it was an Oliver Stone film, and looking at his list of credits, I think it was my first. Whether because of Stone’s direction or just the source material, it’s a really dark film, with some surprisingly edgy themes and dialogue. I was left with quite a sour taste of a particular slice of ambiguously bleak Americana in my mouth. But it was a great, enthralling film – and what a performance from Eric Bogosian.

That unsavoury, ambiguous slice of Americana was complemented this week by my continued reading of The Road to Somewhere, a book by James A. Reeves (he of Atlas Minor dot com; his blog should be in your RSS reader).

It’s an enjoyable read, mainly in the sense that it gives me more of what I wanted from it: Reeves’ stream of consciousness, descriptive passages about what it is to be an American, a man, a human being, and an occupant of this strange planet, as well as passages describing the feeling of blasting down dark desert highways with the AM radio relaying voices of demented and devious folks, catching the occasional glimpse  through the windshield of a ghostly figure in the night.

His writing is accompanied by photographs – really decent images, too; infuriatingly well-observed writing alongside neat illustrations of the moods and scenes he’s describing. It’s a page-turner in the most literal sense of the words: each snapshot is one spread, with an image on one page, and a perfectly formed vignette in words on the other. These vignettes are assembled into roughly themed chapters, but I find myself sipping at this book, telling myself ‘just one more’, until the book’s heft becomes too much and I place it down next to my bed until another night.

I listened to the Oceansize album Frames yesterday evening, along with Southkill’s self-titled 2002/3 EP, which features the sublime Horizon at Aramoana. I never did visit Aramoana when I was in Dunedin. Sad times. I may yet visit again the most southerly point on earth I’ve yet been to – but it does seem a remote dream, literally and figuratively.

Frames sounded incredible. I’ve always considered Oceansize’s debut Effloresce their best, but I heard Frames in a new light yesterday – partly as I was listening via headphones plugged into a hefty lump of vintage Sony amplifier. I hadn’t realised the full potential of that device, and it’s slightly terrifying to see how loud it got with the volume – sorry, attenuator – knob turned only a quarter of the way round. Ooft.

Frames just has a cohesion to it that, yes, Effloresce does too, but… Yeah. It clicked for me yesterday. I reminded myself of the dozen or so albums Chris Sheldon has produced or mixed that are all-time favourites of mine.

I also listened to Björk’s Verspertine yesterday* – earlier on and just via headphones on my phone – and that album clicked for me as well. I particularly enjoyed the birdsong she’d sampled in underneath one track, and found it curious that she’d bled the sample into the next track too – but, ah, no: I slipped off my headphones and the deafening sound of seagulls was very much local to my own listening environment. Nice accompaniment though.

* ahem, for the first time…