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DeZ Vylenz Log

A captain's log of activities and projects, affiliations and developments involving the Shadowsnake ship and various guerilla film expeditions. Updated in between storms by DeZ Vylenz, Writer - Director - Martial Arts Choreographer

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No Country for Old Men

I started reading Blood Meridian last summer and savoured it, reading bits on trains, planes and other moving platforms, finishing the last page just into the New year. Incredible energy and the first book I read by Cormack McCarthy, although I'd read about his work in numerous essays, a number of which connected to film and e.g. Sergio Leone. Me and some brothers in noise, even named our new band Blut Meridian.

Anyway, I was rather sceptical than to hear that the Coen bros were adapting one of his books to film. His prose is often what you read him for, not for plot lines necessarily or thriller elements that most of the main stream has become addicted to. So when I got a invitation to a preview on Thursday 17 January I had to push other priorities aside to stumble once more into the darkness in hope of something decent the start the year with after last year's parade of mediocrity.

I liked some of their work, but had not idea what to expect. Won't go into too many details, as those who haven't seen it yet deserve a fresh subjective look, but personally for me it was a real treat. It's the kind of cinema that gets into my bones. Tough men in wild open landscapes, themes of survival, violence and codes of honour, all reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah in some ways, but with an extra Tabasco sauce of subtle sardonic humour here and there.

Seems like the Coen bros are (like Cronenberg with Eastern Promises) back, true to form. Proving that you can make films that are genuinely thrilling but take the time to develop it all. Incredible suspense made the air thicker than jam. Very engaging narrative, well paced, acting, everything. And Roger Deakins' cinematography of course is like always in top shape, beautiful soft interior lighting with harsh landscapes that stretch out as far and uncertain as fate itself. Superb and already classic.

Check it out.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blood Meridian -- part time jamming band

The year started interesting. Music remains the best metaphor for the dynamics of life. It can all fall apart if you give up, or go places you never imagined before.

In Amsterdam an old friend Malcolm--full time civil engineer on some Blade Runneresque Amsterdam construction projects and part time musician, painter-- called me up to have a jam with his nephew Garvan --full time student Aero-Avia engineering, part time snowboard and martial arts rebel-- who recently started on the drums.

Our schedules don't often allow crossing each others roads, let alone 3 hours of jamming and making noise. Malcolm, being on of the original founders of the legendary mid 80s Paramaribo based rock band Allegro Fortissimo and guitarist in various funk and metal bands, is the most experienced of the three, but also hadn't played in years.

I hadn't practised guitar for ages, fingers stiffened by years of training and neglecting the instruments and had only played the drums left handed a few times. Recently I've been playing more percussion instruments.

Garvan had never played with anyone else before so on 3 January we jammed spontaneously and suddenly decided to start a part time band aptly named Blood Meridian, a mix of blues, punk, heavy rock, metal, classic rock, reggae and whatever we felt like. It will mostly be about the raw energy and switching instruments to keep it challenging.

I'm not in the habit of showing others rehearsals or work in progress, but Garv had his little hidden stills-vid cam take some footage, so it's a funny peep into a very spontaneous (and at times messy) musical jam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_rWds-vvkc

Anyway, it was inspiring to make some live noise again as music still remains the most powerful thing to get my creative juices flowing, especially now that I'm writing the screenplay.

Jamming really helps to bring different minds and energy to unexpected places and let it all flow fearlessly, even if you make errors.

Then, I also found this great live track by Dirty Three. To experience them live there was like a wall of sound rushing through you like some melodic Tsunami:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEERfJDBZqA&feature=related

Check it out.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New

Where does the time go? Another year has passed.

The X-mas holiday is behind us and hopefully more interesting films and books will be coming out this year. More turmoil in the world, sometimes blown up to epic proportions of fear in the media, sometimes neglected. But whatever happens, we all have to move on with our lives.

Where does the time go? Time is only a measurement of the movement through space. A mental construct that we need to understand our own progress.

The solar calendar we live in was merely an arbitrary decision and not entirely in synch with the more important rhythms of nature as e.g. the lunar calendar is. The Chinese new year of the rat starts 7 February, while Hebrew or Islamic calendars are also different systems.

Anyway, to everybody all over the world:

All the best of health, wisdom and prosperity in the new year and beyond...

Posted by Anonimous  

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Things to get for Christmas part 3: Music

Good time of year to catch up on music, a quick guide in various genres:

ELECTRONIC/AMBIENT:

1) Metavoid - Lustmord

Several tracks are featured in The Mindscape of Alan Moore. This is so far his most "melodic" album. His sounds are unique and haunting, but they're so well produced that it still seems natural to the ear. www.lustmord.com

2)The Second Coming - Spectre.

Also featured on the Mindscape film. Good trip hop from the Ill Saint's Brooklyn underground laboratory, exploring arcana and cinema in a great variety of tracks. Pillars of Smoke is an undiscovered classic. www.wordsound.com

3) Supermodified - Amon Tobin

Interesting range of sounds and beats, propelling forwards like nano technology precision mixed with tribal.

4) Grinning Cat - Susumu Yokota

Much more sweet and docile than all the other stuff mentioned here, but still haunting at times and tastefully produced.

REGGAE, 3 artists with their own individual style:

1) Fantan Mojah – Hail the King (and the new album)

Great Reggae Roots album. I have a demo of the new album which is much better, don’t know when it comes out yet, but with opening track Stronger and many powerful songs, absolutely recommended

2) Richie Spice - In the Streets of Africa

The soulful "Brown Skin" was a big hit, but overall a very good and social conscious album with one solid track after another. Rare to see that kind of consistency on modern albums.

3) Gangsta Blues - Tanya Stephens

"It's a Pity" was a great hit, but this strong lady proves with much more why she burst out of Jamaica and is there to stay on the international music scene. Great soulful and individual style in a scene normally dominated by male stars.

HEAVY ROCK:

1) Grinderman

Debut album of a new revitalized Nick Cave set up. Energetic mix of punk and blues, full of attitude and awesome live. For me this is album of the year, maybe because I saw them live and they blew me away.

2) Iron Maiden and Killers by Iron Maiden

Two great heavy rock albums, a brilliant amalgam between punk and progressive rock metal with Paul Di'Anno's voice here in perfect tune with the raw sound that was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to later influence Metallica and other bands. You very seldom get this combination of the raw and the refined together.

3) Master of Puppets - Metallica

One of the best produced metal albums ever. The sound of the guitars, bass and drums together were like a pure force of nature, lightning strikes hitting you in cinematic style. They never managed the same sound again as their next ...And Justice had a very dry bass drum sound and steelier guitar.

4) Vol 4 a(nd Sabotage) - Black Sabbath

Paranoid is of course the most know album with numerous hits on it, but Vol 4 has a great number of tempo changes and different sounds. Sabotage got even more experimental.

FUSION / JAZZ-ROCK, most of these sound best on vinyl, but good remasters should be available on CD:

1) Spectrum by Billy Cobham

Most people are not aware that a lot of samples are ripped from this album. One of my favourite drummers of all time. He's got that organic snare attack and heavy bass drum and big tom sound I prefer, swings, poly rhythms, he's got it all.

This record is the only time I heard keyboards (Jan Hammer from Miami Vice fame) sound like guitars and guitars (Tommy Bolin from Deep Purple fame) sound like keys.

2) Birds of Fire - Mahavishnu Orchestra

McLaughlin's initiative, but a well fused band to rip planets and nebulae apart.

3) Mind Transplant - Alphonse Mouzon

Funky and powerful, with great guest musicians as Tommy Bolin, Lee Rittenour and other greats, this is an overseen classic.

4) Bitches Brew - Miles Davis

The one that started it all. Haunting trumpets and hypnotic rhythms.

Posted by Anonimous  

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Things to get for Christmas part 2: Books

A last few days to left to get some presents for the X-mas holidays, either for your self or friends and family. Being rather bored with the cinema offerings at the moment, I've been reading more than watching films (unless I'm catching up on classics).

Books:

1) Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian

Incredibly apocalyptic biblical language sweeping you to the darkness of the human heart of existence. Extremely violent. Was recommended to me a year ago or so by John Coulthart and now I've heard the Coen brothers have adapted one of his novels to film. I'm still reading it on trains, planes as it just brings me into a trance.

2) World War Z – Max Brooks

Well written horror disguised as an oral account about the great global zombie plague and all the social consequences.

3) The SAS Survival Handbook – John Wiseman

With 2) and other post-apocalyptic and doom scenarios in mind, a great manual and reminder of how bare and basic our existence can become once all the luxury is stripped away

4) Pimp / Mama Black Widow - Iceberg Slim

Great hardboiled styled fiction, both tragic books are not exactly an uplifting experience, but a rather sordid and realistic account of life in the 30s/40s ghettos in America. The prose is full of energy. Mama Black Widow is almost the other side of Pimp in terms of the protagonist, as an old drag queen tells the story rather than a testosterone driven macho pimp.

5) The Tao of Physics - Fritjof Capra

A great study of the overlapping crossroads of ancient Eastern philosophy and the modern branches of science such as Quantum Physics and Relativity Theory. Back in 1975 when this was written it was quite radical, now everybody merely shrugs and takes if for granted that mysticism and science are converging in the 21st century. (this book was a great influence while making The Mindscape of Alan Moore of course)

6) Haunter of the Dark by John Coulthart and Alan Moore.

For H.P.Lovecraft and horror fans in general, an absolute must. Great artwork of course and an interesting exploration of the genre.

7) The Poems (Collected Works of W.B. Yeats).

Haven't gotten it myself yet, but hardcover with notes by the author. His poem The Second Coming is now recognized as the herald of our time. The chaos and descent into spiritual bankrupcy he describes couldn't be more accurate.

8) Aphrodite - Isabel Allende

Haven't read this myself, but back in 1999 (or 2000) I was invited by two lovely ladies who cooked food and read bits from the book. I remember it was after a stressful film shoot, so it was very relaxing and the poetic-erotic view on the culinary art in the book had a nice touch.

9) Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century by Howard Bloom.

Recommended to me yesterday by a friend. Sounds fascinating, but haven't had the time to get it yet. Same author who did The Lucifer Principle and it sounds like another interesting mind writing about the changes of consciousness an increasingly large segment of our population is becoming aware of.

10) Reggae Explosion, The Story of Jamaican Music by Chris Salewicz and Adrian Boot

A big book full of brilliant photography presenting an overview of how a small island produced so much influential music. Fascinating characters and independent entrepeneurs such as Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd alone are worth the read.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  


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