Sunday, 27 November 2016

Weird, Whacky, and Why You Don't Get It

It's been a long time since I last wrote about any TED talks that I've watched...mostly because I haven't watched any in ages. I thought I'd reach my goal of watching 100 TED or TEDx talks fairly easily, but it kind of fell by the wayside along with a whole bunch of other stuff.

Anyway, I've been working through my 'watch later' playlist and found these ten great TED talks on the arts.

The Silent Drama of Photography | SebastiĆ£o Salgado
A talk by world-reknowned photographer SebastiĆ£o Salgado, of how his passion for photography nearly killed him, and how he came to photograph the world's forgotten people and places.
I'd heard of this photographer when I was studying for A-levels, so it was interesting to watch this talk, and truly staggering to see the difference he has made through his work.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fading Gold

Fading Gold

Once again I joined in with the Delightful Aberrations photography & art theme challenge this week, and used the prompts quarter and gold.

This time, I wanted to do something a bit different to what I do normally, and create a final image made from several photos.
The 'gold' prompt made me think of the 'golden hour'--the hour before sunset or after sunrise when the sun is (supposedly) softer and redder than during the day.
So I combined it with the 'quarter' prompt and set off on a walk a quarter hour before sunset, taking a snapshot of where I was at every 1/4km I walked, and finishing a quarter hour after sunset.

The resulting photos were sliced up in Photoshop Elements; I went the whole hog with the quarter prompt and used just a quarter-width of each photo. To emphasise the difference in lighting (because in England in November the sky tends to be varying shades of grey) I added a golden-yellow to purple gradient layer on top, setting it to overlay and 46% opacity.
Finally, because I wanted to make this image more than just a bunch of photos slotted together, I added the glittering, slowly-fading golden smear across the bottom, using a photo of gold eyeshadow smeared across white paper. (Well why not make your makeup multifunctional?!)

I played around with lots of ideas for this one, even within the idea that I used. These were some really great prompts!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Loyal Men, Cheating Men

Last week, I listened to some Egyptian acts for this challenge. This week, I'm sticking with the African continent, and listening to some new-to-me acts from Nigeria!

A reggae/dancehall artist active since 2009, this singer-songwriter began his musical career with underground collaborations with a number of other artists, going on to sign his first record contract in 2010 and subsequently changing record labels twice since then.
Though his music is listed as reggae, though to me seems like an updated, evolved form of the genre, with vocal effects and visuals that are more reminiscent of hip-hop videos (which I'm guessing is the dancehall aspect? Not that I'm exactly an expert in these genres!)
The music videos I watched are definitely more like the hip-hop ones that hit the European shores, in terms of filming style, dancing, styling and imagery.
Patoranking's music isn't a genre that I'd normally listen to, but I think it's the sort of thing that would grow on me if I listened to it often enough! Even if you usually dislike reggae, give this guy's music a listen!
(Can't seem to find a website, boo!)

Yemi Alade
After making her musical debut in all-girl group Noty Spices in 2005, afropop singer Yemi Alade shot into the spotlight in 2009 when she won the Peak Talent Show. Her song 'Johnny' (embedded above) smashed its way into the charts of several countries in late 2013 after being leaked onto the internet--this even before there was a music video to go with it!
Yemi's music is fun and feisty with a lot of catchy beats and phrases. Her videos are as fun as and interesting as the music itself, filled with modern and traditional-styled clothes made from traditional prints, lots of people and dancing, and both urban and rural scenery.
I listened to Yemi Alade not really knowing what to expect, as I'd not knowingly heard any afropop before, but I found her music really enjoyable. Again, it isn't something I'd normally listen to, but that's part of the point of this challenge--to actually listen to those acts, and find new and awesome things!
Definitely give Yemi's music a try!
Yemi Alade Official Website

That's this week's listening done. I hope the people reading this check both acts out! Read past musical posts on my Goal #29 tag, and check out my challenge playlist on YouTube.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Me Gusta Las Iguanas... this instance, I'm not talking about the reptile, but the restaurant chain.
Las Iguanas specialises in Latin food, and has a nice-sized restaurant on Jubilee Street in Brighton.

I went there last week with a friend, after we'd been trudging around on a gruelling Christmas shopping trip. After being shown to a table, I sank down into my seat very gratefully, ready to stuff myself silly!

Las Iguanas has a special offer before 7pm, where diners can order three or five dishes from a list to share for a set price, which is what we opted for (more food? Why not!) They also have a 'happy hour' offer on some drinks, which meant we both got two for the price of one!

We ate nachos with extra chilli con carne, spicy chicken quesadillas, dadinhos (fried cubes of cheese--much nicer than it sounds!) and sweet potato fries. Virtually every dish came with salsa; the nachos also coming with sour cream ad guacamole, and the fries being served with aioli. Drinks-wise, I went for the 'tropical cooler' (mango, pineapple and lime juice with lemonade), whilst my friend had the 'citrus cooler' (a slightly more self-explanatory lemon and lime with lemonade).

The bill worked out at just under £28, which sounds like a lot but £14 a head is probably about average for similar restaurants in the area.
Rather than somewhere to drop into for a casual lunch or dinner, Las Iguanas is the kind of place I'd go to on a special occasion, such as a birthday or a rare night out (as it happens there were two birthday meals taking place when we were there!) It's casual and comfortable, and the food is really good. Now, hand me those dadinhos...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Peer to Pier

When down on Brighton seafront at the end of October, I happened upon Tides, one of the exhibitions in Brighton Photo Fringe 2016, which took place 1-30th October.
Photo Fringe is a free, open-access festival of new photography that includes things like talks and workshops alongside its exhibitions.
I actually didn't realise that Photo Fringe was on, else I might have made the effort to go around more of the exhibitions. As it stood, I found this one by chance, but had limited time in the city before having to catch a bus elsewhere!

Tides was an exhibition of photography by The Peer to Pier Photography Group, a group of six photographers who collaborated to capture the story of the stretch of beach where the exhibition was held.

The photographs were displayed on chunky columns, the bases of which were those cages of rocks used as sea defences and retaining walls (I don't know the real name for them!) and the top part being of equal dimension but with wood inside the cage to act as a background for the photos. It was great that the method of display matched both the topic and the location!

I liked the fact that the six photographers produced such different work. Each had their own distinctive style, but by working with the same subject matter and theme, the group created a really cohesive exhibition that fulfilled their aim of telling the story of this part of the beach.

I particularly liked Audrey Marshall's moody, off-season black and white shots (as seen above, on the left) and by contrast, Colin Miller's brightly-coloured street photography images (above centre). Colleen Slater's macro images, arranged in sets of eight, were also interesting! Together with David Wilsdon (portraits of the seafront's workers), Leon Bellis (documentary images of work on the seafront development project) and Steve Boyle (silhouette-like portraits), these photographers made a really great exhibition--I wish I'd had more time to look at it!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Portrait of Mascara

Here we are once again at Music Time of The Week! This time around, I decided to check out two new-to-me acts from Egypt!

Portrait Avenue
Formed in 2008, Portrait Avenue began life as an instrumental act, but recruited a vocalist by the end of 2009. Their music has an experimental/indie sound, and their 8-member lineup includes a violinist and a keyboardist (and Sparta the dog). They have previously won Egyptian's Got Talent Battle of the Bands, and the Red Bull Bedroom Jam competition in the Middle East.
Something that really struck me with Portrait Avenue's music was the vocals, which were high and soft for what I'd usually expect from a male vocalist. Still, the vocalist are very easy to listen to!
The band's music strikes me as something that would be popular as 'chillout' music, or - given a more thumping beat and a faster tempo - clubbing music. It's interesting to hear such a similar sound played at a slower tempo, and I quite like it--really peaceful and relaxing!
Portrait Avenue on Facebook

Massive Scar Era
Nicknamed Mascara, this heavy metal band formed in Alexandria in 2005, though are now based in Cairo, Egypt, and also Vancouver in Canada.
As with Portrait Avenue, the vocals really stood out to me, this time in that the vocalist (and founder) is female, which seems rare for heavy metal bands, though this is only based on my minimal knowledge! Massive Scar Era began as an all-female band, only gaining more members in 2011.
The core of their music has the kind of heavy metal sound I'd expect, but including violin and classical and Middle Eastern influences (particularly noticable in some of the vocals) gives them a more unique twist.
Massive Scar Era's music isn't really my thing because I'm really picky when it comes to growling/shouting in music. However, it's really great to see a female presence in such a male-dominated genre!
Massive Scar Era Official Website

Well, these two acts couldn't have been much more different in genre--yet despite that still had similarities in other ways, such as surprising vocals and the presence of violin. Goes to show that genres certainly don't restrict content!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Colour Bleed

Colour Bleed

After a couple of weeks' break, I'm back to participating in the theme challenge at Delightful Aberrations.
This week had some seriously awesome themes! I opted to use the theme colour, and try something that would be abstract and quick to photograph.

I took the picture above by wiggling some embroidery threads in front of a piece of white paper. I shot several images using the 'burst' feature on my iPhone; unfortunately being an iPhone it means the resulting image was a bit pixelly, but I used Photoshop Elements to reduce noise and adjust the levels so that the colours would stand out a bit more! 

For an experiment, I don't think it turned out too badly!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

What's Energetic and Catchy?

It seems that music is all I've blogged about for the past few weeks, but - asides watching movies for goal #061 - I've not honestly done much worth sharing here. Time and energy have run away from me quite often lately, so I've not even had a chance to participate in the photo/art theme challenge that I like joining in with!

Anyway, music blogging isn't about to stop, because there are still a few weeks left of 2016!

So, in answer to the title of this post, what's energetic and catchy? Malaysian rock music!

Formed in 2005, this band apparently got their name from Sum 41's song, Crazy Amanda Bunkface.
There is definitely an American pop-punk influence to their sound, as well as their name, with a bouncy combination of rock and slightly-obnoxious (in a good way!) vocals.
The band have released songs both in English and in Malay (and with a mixtue of the two); most of what I listened to was sung in Malay with the occasional English phrase. I actually preferred the ones sung in Malay, though the English ones were also really catchy!
This band was fun to listen to, and worth a try if you like the genre.
Bunkface on Facebook

Kyoto Protocol
Based in Kuala Lumpur, this band has been active since 2009. Kyoto Protocol's have a really easy to listen to rock style, with catchy choruses and entertaining music videos!
This band performs mostly in English (I listened to one song that wasn't), and looking at their YouTube account, they've done a lot of covers, too (such as Summer Nights which is worth a look if you want a chuckle!)
I found this band really engaging to listen to, and will probably return to their music at some point so I can listen to more.
Kyoto Protocol Official Website

Really enjoyed listening to this week's new-to-me acts! Looking forward to hearing more new-to-me musical acts next week.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Tracks from the Other Side of the World (Ooooooooooh!)

My week has been tiring, and the week before this one was also tiring, so I'll cut the introductory babble and write instead about this weeks new-to-me artists, who come from New Zealand!

Darcy Clay
Active briefly in the late 1990s, singer/songwriter Darcy Clay came from Auckland, and recorded the instruments from his song Jesus I Was Evil (embedded above) on a 4-track recorder in his bedroom!
His music strikes me as a mix of sixties pop/rock with a hefty dose of punk rock mixed in for good measure, and seasoned with country. has his music tagged as 'stoner rock' which is also a pretty good way of categorising his sound!
I kind of liked his music, though some of it was a bit repetitive and it sounded a little unpolished. Still, if not for his death in 1998, perhaps Darcy Clay would have really honed his sound to the next level.
Give it a listen, anyway. There's something charming about this kind of countrified stoner punk rock.
(No official website. Boo.)

Concord Dawn
This drum and bass act have been active since the late 90s, and was originally a double act, though now the project of sole remaining member Matt Harvey.
Drum and bass isn't the kind of music I ordinarily listen to, though I have to admit this music woke me up from my tired state, which is definitely a good thing!
It has a lot of repetition which isn't my cup of tea, but the upbeat tempo makes it easier to listen to.
Concord Dawn's tracks are all quite long and have an electronic sound to them. Despite drum and bass as a genre not being my cup of tea, this is the sort of music I like playing as 'background noise' when I want to concentrate on something!
Concord Dawn on Facebook

Though I didn't dislike either act I heard this week, I probably won't be rushing to go back and listen some more. Still, both are on my YouTube playlist for this challenge, which you can find here!