(Music Review) IR 29.1: New Generation Dub

IR 29 - New Generation Dub

One of the biggest crimes committed by the music industry has been their ability to co-opt, dilute and turn even the most radical of genres into something safe for mass consumption. Disco, punk and rap have all been taken and watered down so they would sell in Peoria. Even worse is how the industry corrupts these forms, turning them inside out, so instead of preaching against … [Read more...]

Movie Review – Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

As a kid in the 1960s, I remember asking my mom why we didn't ever have Granny Smith apples in the house. She replied that she refused to buy anything from South Africa because of what the government did to its people. As the years passed and I became more aware of the world around me, I began to understand why my parents refused to buy anything which came from South Africa. … [Read more...]

(Music Review) Music of the Sahara: Tinariwen’s new album Emmaar

Tinariwen - Emmaar music review

In the early 1960s the creation of artificial borders in the trackless wastes of the Sahara desert might have been cause for celebration among the inhabitants of the newly created countries. However, the throwing off of colonial masters in Niger, Mali, Algeria, Morocco and others, also resulted in turmoil for the nomadic people who had called the region home for close to a … [Read more...]

Book Review – IR 30: Indigenous Visions In Dub

Book Review: IR 30 Indigenous Visions In Dub

I guess it's appropriate that blockades have gone up again on the Tyndengia Mohawk reservation in South Eastern Ontario Canada as I begin to write this review. Here in Canada the First Nations people are usually out of sight and out of mind unless they manage to capture the media's attention with some event which inconvenience the population at large. While the fact that the … [Read more...]

(Music Review) Soutak by Aziza Brahim

Soutak by Aziza Brahim

At first glance the Sahara Desert of North West Africa seems like one of the most inhospitable places on the face of the earth. Movies, and other Western media, usually show us images of trackless wastes, endless miles of sand dunes dotted with the occasional oasis and scrubby plants. However, this supposed barren land has been home to various nomadic people for centuries. … [Read more...]

(Music Review) Adrian Raso and Fanfare Ciocarlia – Devil’s Tale

Adrian Raso and Fanfare Ciocarlia - Devil's Tale

When the Ottoman Empire invaded Eastern Europe they brought more than just their armies with them. Even today evidence of their occupation can still be found. Muslim communities in Serbia are only the most obvious reminder of their one time rule as traces of their cultural influence can still also be seen in other, more subtle forms, including musical influences. The invading … [Read more...]

Book Review: Hijos de la Selva: Sons of the Forest

Hijos de la Selva: Sons of the Forest

In the early part of the 20th century photographer Edward Curtis was funded by American businessman J. P. Morgan to undertake the extensive task of making a photographic record of Native Americans across the United States. While some of these photos are undeniably powerful and poignant, the motivation behind them of creating a portrait of "a vanishing people" resulted in him … [Read more...]

(Music Review) Acá: Viggo and Friends

Aca - Viggo Mortensen and Friends

Some people say, "Politics make strange bedfellows" (Don't say it to Putin - he might take it the wrong way and have you thrown in jail) but the first time I heard Viggo Mortensen had collaborated on an album with the notorious, infamous, riotous, speed metal, punk, over the top guitar player Buckethead, I thought politics has nothing on music. The idea that the actor, poet and … [Read more...]

Book Review – Dreams before Extinction by Naeemeh Naeemaei

Dreams before Extinction by Naeemeh Naeemaei

It's hard for us in the West not to have misconceptions of what life is like in countries where our perceptions are shaped entirely by what we read in the media. This is especially true of those countries which have attempted to isolate themselves and their populace from what they consider our corrupting influence. I have to admit I have my own prejudices when it comes to Iran. … [Read more...]

Review – How Music Works by David Byrne

David Byrne

We all listen to music. Maybe we only have it playing in the background, use it to help us sleep or meditate, or perhaps you sit and listen to it carefully. However, no matter how or why you listen, it can't help but have an effect on you. The majority of us just take it for granted that we enjoy the music we listen to and never really stop to think why. While we can talk about … [Read more...]

Music Review – David Broza: East Jerusalem West Jerusalem

David Broza - East Jerusalem West Jerusalem

There are some subjects I know not to talk to most people about, because they probably won't like what I have to say on the matter. Always having been slightly left of most anarchists I'm supposed to hold to certain opinions in order to not let the side down. Yet, I've always been of the opinion that being an anarchist means you can have whatever opinion you want and not have … [Read more...]

Film Review – Broken, starring Tim Roth & Cillian Murphy

Broken movie

There are some books you always remember for the way in which they opened your eyes to the world around you. They might have stripped away your innocence in the process, but they also reassured you that no matter how bad things could get, there were always some people doing their best to bring some balance to the world. The first book I remember providing me with that … [Read more...]

Review – The Clash Special Edition Releases

The Clash Reissued CDs

I remember a conversation I had with my brother when I was a teenager. He asked me if I thought I would still be listening to any of the music I liked then when I was 50. At the time it seemed like it was an eternity in the future, our parents weren't even that age. However, it did make me think. What would happen to my tastes in music as I aged? Looking at my parents record … [Read more...]

Film Review – The Last Song Before The War

Poster - The Last Song Before The War

I can't remember when I heard about the Festival au Desert, which has been taking place in Northern Mali since 2001, for the first time. I do remember it was in 2009 I was offered press credentials to cover the Festival, and regretting having to turn the opportunity down. Without a sponsoring media organization to cover my costs of travelling there was no way I could finance … [Read more...]

Music Review – An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman

There have been many great artistic couples down through the ages. Now a days there seems to be more celebrity couplings than any real co-joining of artistic talents. So when I first began to hear rumours writer Neil Gaiman and musician Amanda Palmer (also known as AFP) were romantically involved I was intrigued. It felt a little odd to be interested in the love life of two … [Read more...]

Review – Nashville 2.0: The Rise of Americana

The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Photo credit: Deborah Feingold

Once upon a time there was pop music. You either liked what you heard or you didn't, and you didn't particularly care about anything else. There were other types of music other people listened to, but that wasn't pop music. There was country and western music which was played by people who dressed funny and whose audience seemed to made up of senior citizens and people with … [Read more...]

Music Review – Tartit With Imharhan – Live from the Sahara

Tartit With Imharhan - Live from the Sahara

When the annual Festival Au Desert in Northern Mali was cancelled in 2013 due to the territory's occupation by terrorist organizations intent on imposing a very narrow definition of Islamic rule, organizers of the Festival were determined, if the world couldn't come to them, to bring the music of the Festival to the world. Formed in 2001 the Festival takes place during the … [Read more...]

Review – T.C. Boyle Stories II

TC Boyle - Stories II

Stories II by T.C. Boyle / Viking / Penguin Group / 2013 / 978-0670026258 / 944 pagesIn some form or another the short story has probably been around as long as man has had the desire and the ability to communicate. Oral tales told around the fire at night aren't going to be long drawn out affairs. Neither are they going to deal with more than one subject. While they might … [Read more...]

Review – Let’s Start a Pussy Riot

Let's Start A Pussy Riot

Let's Start a Pussy Riot, edited by Emely Neu and Jade French / Rough Trade / June 2013 / 978-0957626201On February 21, 2012 members of the Russian feminist performance art group/collective Pussy Riot put on an agit-prop performance in a priests only section of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Accused of religious hatred, two of the members of the group, Maria … [Read more...]

Review – I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography by Richard Hell / Ecco / 978-0062190833 / 304 pagesWhere do ideas come from? How does an individual up with an idea that starts a whole movement? Does he or she think it up in a momentary flash of brilliance which causes them to have some sort of magical insight? Or is their insight born of a natural progression of … [Read more...]

Review – Tripping with Allah by Michael Muhammad Knight

Tripping with Allah by Michael Muhammad Knight

Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing by Michael Muhammad Knight Soft Skull Press / 978-1593764432 / 256 pagesThe idea of using drugs in order to achieve some sort of spiritual enlightenment has been around for probably as long as humanity. Whether looking for answers to great mystical questions or just on a personal quest for enlightenment the use of external … [Read more...]