The Washington Post

“Producer Giles Martin shares the remarkable stories, early demos, outtakes and stunning new mixes from the just-released deluxe version of the album.” NPR

“Bob Dylan had crucial second thoughts just as he was about to release “Blood on the Tracks,” the indelible 1975 album filled with songs of separation, heartache, sorrow, rage and regret. Now it’s getting a revealing close-up. “More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14,” […] unveils all of the initial sessions: the solo, duo and small-group versions of songs that Dylan replaced, for half of the album, with more extroverted full-band recordings. There are an exhaustive deluxe six-CD version with every surviving take and a one-CD compilation of alternate versions of the album’s 10 songs plus one that was omitted, “Up to Me. […] The [set] includes a hardcover volume featuring a trove of Dylan lore: a page-by-page reproduction of a spiral notebook of lyrics, full of cross-outs and alternatives.”

The New York Times

“David Lynch relives his days in Thought Gang, the band whose music was even wilder than his movies” — The Guardian.


“Again, it’s like going to church whether you want to or not. If you know it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s just beautiful. Beautiful’s the only word I can say.”

— Chan Marshall (Cat Power), The Quietus

“Ambient Music has arrived at middle age. 2018 marks 40 years since the release of Brian Eno’s Music For Airports, which effectively introduced the term. As a musical form it has endured, even though its sense of self as a genre has become arguably obfuscated at best and ineffectual at worst. Genres, like human beings, can undergo periods where direction and clarity are lacking. When such periods take hold in the middle years, a mid-life crisis can often occur. With that in mind, I am reconsidering ambient music and its place looking into the 21st century. What might ambient music’s next decade (let alone 40 years) be concerned with?”

FACT Magazine

Mark E. Smith

“Tributes to artists often end up being more about the person writing them, but MES provided me with an alternative education, looping me into Camus, and Arthur Machen, and William Blake, and Can, and dub and old garage punk and rock’n’roll. I saw the Fall 52 times and without MES my life would have been utterly different and nowhere near as much fun. What on earth are we all going to do with ourselves now?”

— Stewart Lee, The Guardian

David Byrne

American Utopia comes as part of Byrne’s ongoing ‘Reasons to Be Cheerful’ series in which he curates hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures. ‘These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now,’ he said in a statement. ‘Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world—the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.'”

See also: The Quietus.

John Corbett on a new pocket-sized field guide to free and spontaneous music
John Corbett, A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
John Corbett, A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

What led you to write A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation?

I’ve been involved with improvised music from several different standpoints over the last 35 years, as a listener, as a critic, as a teacher, as a presenter, and as a producer.  In the process of moving around in the music’s netherworlds, I noticed that many potential listeners were curious about it but just had no way to enter, no accessible points of reference.  It’s sometimes seen as “difficult” or “complex,” and it can be both, but approaching free music is very different from listening to music composed using mathematical algorithms or with elaborate preconceived harmonic inventions.  To listen to it you basically need to be attentive.  That’s it.  But that’s also not easy.  Having some historical framework can help, and the more experience you have as a listener the better.  But it’s really open to new listeners, and I wanted to find a way, in as down to earth a way as possible, to suggest that openness.  To invite new listeners from other walks of music and to give a few tips on listening, things that might help get over the initial hump.    (more…)


ince I’m unable to visit the True Faith exhibition running at Manchester Art Gallery, I am doing everything I can to experience it vicariously through the accounts of luckier folk. I discovered the music of Joy Division when I was sixteen, and found that it wasn’t just the songs that appealed to me, but the sparse beauty of Peter Saville‘s record sleeves. According to reports, the multimedia exhibition delivers a number of thrills, while offering a testament to the groups’ ongoing cultural legacy. (more…)

In a fascinating interview published in The GuardianMichael Hann talks to the members of REM about the twenty-fifth anniversary of Out of Time, the record that made them global superstars. Through a set of revealing conversations, the former members reflect on life in the band, their cultural legacy, and recent American politics. (more…)

Manchester Art Gallery • 30 June – 3 September 2017

Manchester Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition exploring the “ongoing significance and legacy” of Joy Division and New Order:

“Curated by Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns, New York and author and film-maker Jon Savage with archivist Johan Kugelberg, True Faith is centred on four decades’ worth of extraordinary contemporary works from artists including Julian Schnabel, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Mark Leckey, Glenn Brown and Slater Bradley, all directly inspired by the two groups.”

The exhibition also includes Peter Saville’s distinctive cover designs, and work by figures including Jonathan Demme and Kathryn Bigelow. [Read More]

Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003)
Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003)

Dismal weather this morning. Reading the journals of Thomas Merton. Over the last few days I have found a great deal of satisfaction in the following interviews, articles, and reviews:

How Georgia O’Keeffe turned her life into a work of art • Teju Cole explores how we see the world in Blind Spot • Teju Cole: “My camera is like an invisibility cloak. It makes me more free” • “He’s a model of how to have lived as a writer.” — Geoff Dyer on John Berger • Writers’ and artists’ fascination with the ocean • Colm Tóibín on the artist Alberto Giacometti • A Quest to Rename the Williamsburg Bridge for Sonny Rollins • Doctor Anton Chekhov, writer • Is Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale an allegory of the Trump era? • The Modernist Gas Stations of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe • The 25 Greatest Summer Films • Take a look at Ralph Steadman’s distinctive illustrations for George Orwell’s Animal Farm • Kyle Chayka revisits Anselm Kiefer’s Velimir Chlebnikov • “The whole [moviemaking process] starts with daydreaming about something.” — Sofia Coppola • Art Deco around the world: How modern transport and communication brought the aesthetic to a global audience • Kraftwerk: Past masters of the future • Roy Jacobsen‘s Norwegian Island Trilogy • Lauren Elkin on Brian Dillon‘s Essayism • Shannon Burns on the fiction of Clarice Lispector • Beyond Caravaggio: National Galleries Scotland • Andy Warhol‘s inaugural ‘selfie’ expected to fetch £7m at auction • Inside Bob Dylan‘s Historic New Tulsa Archive • Was the Twentieth Century a Mistake? A Conversation with Werner Herzog

Curating some of the best recent links across literature, philosophy, and the arts
Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures, designed by Peter Saville.

discover-badge-circle-rhystranter-comA selection of the articles, reviews, interviews and miscellany that have caught my eye this week. Highlights include: an interview with President Barack Obama on his life as a reader and writer; the late Mark Fisher’s discussion of post-punk group Joy Division; a free Yale course on the American Novel since 1945; and much more.

Curating some of the best recent links across literature, philosophy, and the arts
Elisabeth Moss in the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale
Elisabeth Moss in the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

discover-badge-circle-rhystranter-comIn the first weekly-round up of the year, a selection of the articles, reviews, interviews and miscellany that have caught my eye. Including: a premiere date for Hulu’s adaptation of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; J.R.R. Tolkien’s grandson on one of the key influences on The Lord of the Rings; tributes pour in for the late art critic John Berger; Karl Marx’s favourite London haunts; and much more.