September 27, 2003

"Desire's a terrible thing, but I rely on mine"

It's Recommendations Night here on the Danblog - I've been listening to the Sundays, who I became a fan of eleven or twelve years ago by way of Andy, and thinking about how so much of the stuff in our lives we get from exposure to by our friends. (Also, tangentially, it made me contemplate the implications of being nostalgic about the music of the early '90s. At some point I must have gotten over learning that Harriett Wheeler was already married, but I don't recall when. I wonder what my 17-year-old self would make of that?) In any case, here are a few recent discoveries of mine:

First off, a heads-up to all my gamer peeps - Eden Studios has made their excellently cool Witchcraft RPG available as a free download, so go get it. It's spooky and Gothy and loads of fun - imagine putting Hellblazer and The Craft and Clive Barker and Lovecraft monsters in a big blender with a dash of Foucault's Pendulum and a Changelings soundtrack. Yeah, that kind of kewl. And there's even a way you can play using Tarot cards, for that extra dose of occult-nifty. And now there's no excuse not to have it. Bright Blessings, indeed.

In musical (but equally spooky) realms, Live at St. Olave's - recorded from the Current 93/Antony and the Johnsons 2002 London concert, which I picked up last weekend at Kim's in NY - is pretty good, if all too short. It's my first real exposure to Antony and the Johnsons, who do some weird and lovely stuff to judge by this; their second of three tracks on this CD is a musical rendition of Poe's "The Lake" that is certainly both of those things. Antony has a really gorgeous voice - angelically so - and the songs on here reward repeat listenings. C93 also do three tracks here, one of which is a truly incredible short version of "Sleep Has His House" that takes my breath away every time I hear it, and a performance of "Walking Like Shadow" that has some exquisite and gorgeous guitar work from the uber-talented Michael Cashmore. It's more of an EP than an album proper, and falls maybe more towards the "get this if you're a completist" end of the C93 canon, but I've no regrets in giving one a home. If you liked the melancholy, contemplative turn Tibet's taken the Current in the last few years (Soft Black Stars, Sleep Has His House) you won't either.

On the comics front, I've become a big fan of Carla Speed McNeil's Finder of late. Genre-wise, it's a kind of folkloric SF - imagine a bastard child of Joan Vinge's The Snow Queen and Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, set in a weird future of domed cities and insular ruling clans. Through this landscape wanders Jaeger, sin-eater and Finder (a kind of tracker-cum-detective), who's a bit like a bishounen Wolverine; he has amazing powers of healing and sensory acuity, and a good dose of angst by way of his conflicting obligations and a troubled past. The first two volumes deal with Jaeger's connections to a divided and disfunctional family who share part of that past in various ways, and the hard decisions he makes about what his duty to them is. Great stuff - intricate and interesting world-building, solid characterizations, and art that just gets better as it goes (and a great example of what can be done using a fairly simple style in black and white, which I imagine might be inspiring to one or two of you out there; yes, Maija, I'm winking at you).

I've managed to consume quite a bit of slack of late on Making Light, the weblog of Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who (along with her husband Patrick) edits at Tor Books and does other fine things besides. There is much good stuff to be found here, both onsite and as a goldmine of fascinating links, and the little community that springs up in the comments is a fascinating bunch of folks. (And speaking of which, I should also wave here to Space Waitress, who was nicer to me than I deserved when I derailed a recent thread with some Shakespeare-pastiche doggerel, and who also has a site well worth visiting.)

And, finally, if you haven't found your way over to gaze in wonder at iLevel, our own Vishal's fascinatingly quirky camblog - you really ought. With the same sense of slightly askew whimsy he brings to his Savant stories, Vishal opens the camera eye on the small, sometimes disorderly details of commonplace things so that they seem like the artifacts of some alien world. It's found-object art of the sort only truly weird minds can produce, and I love it. It's both reassuring and unnerving to know there are folk like this on my friends-and-relations list, which is of course exactly as I would have it.

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