Seeing us through to the end of the year we’ve reached out to a number of our favourite artists and cultural creatives to join us in celebrating good things. A bunch of five things that make their world go around, inspire them or just need celebrating for what they are. There’s no theme here. It’s no kind of “best of year” round-up. These are just five things of the many things identified as making the world a better place to be. We’re all about positivity. Almost all of the time. We promise…
David Benjamin Blower first came to our attention through a friend of a really great friend, the textile artist, Zoe (Ceramic Patchwork). Anyhow, alerted, the musician, Woodenhands and Ancient Champion set out from Outsideleft, though rush hour traffic on a pilgrimage (could've resisted that, didn't) to Warwick University's ecumenical devotional center I think it was, for a rare and unique set of music from David. He sat in the middle of the audience, playing his set without breaks. It was revelatory. And revelations is entertaining. The video for his song Soil is an all-time favorite and this year, David's EP, Hymns of Disobedience was by far one of the most considered recordings and one of my favorite records. It's no surprise that David's FIVE is full of surprises. Dave...
First is Hong Kong Cinema from about 1981, when people first started playing about with wires to make people fly, and up to, say, 1996, just before CGI started to take the physical theatre and rubber suits and charm out of everything. I'll mention three. Duel to the Death, a slow paced swordplay drama about a once-in-a-generation duel between the finest martial artists in China and Japan. The early wire-fu is marvelous and the ending is drenched in an astonishing pathos. I was quite unmade by it. Second is A Chinese Ghost Story, in which Satan is lord of a cruel brothel in the afterworld from which the captives must be set free. Third is Wong Kar-Wai's martial arts masterpiece Ashes of Time. Every frame is a work of art. Everybody is drinking away sad memories and none of it is working.
MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS
I bought Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians out of sheer 'why-not-then?' curiosity in my teens. One hour of looping pulses and rhythms played on pianos, marimbas, oboes and voices and other such things. It sounded to me like electronic music. It sounded like the grieving soul of the post 1945 consumer capitalist iteration of the anthropocene in pulses and chimes. I was hypnotised. To this day, if I could save only one piece of music, it would be this one.
THE HAWTHORN TREE
A friend once told me never to take from a hawthorn tree without asking, and never to turn my back when I left. You can eat the leaves (they call it the bread and cheese plant, I believe, but it doesn't taste of bread or cheese). The blossom that comes out in summer makes excellent tea which is good for the heart, they say. And the winter berries can be mushed with other fruits and dried out to make delicious fruit leather. My friend's word of caution stuck with me, and whenever I see a hawthorn the world feels a little safer, and a little more willing to throw us off its back if it should ever need to.
I grew up reading the book of Genesis, and all the books thereafter. I could wax on many of them, but this one is in my mind. As a child, I found it mythical, slow, full of astonishing things and then awful and terrible things, which are told with, actually, an alarming lack of moralising or judgment. Here were old tales of the new agricultural humans trying to keep their soul, having been domesticated by civilisation and order and hierarchies and patriarchy. How to remain a little wild and alive and creaturely amidst the weathers of power and regret?
A RECIPE FOR THE BEST BREAD IN THE WORLD
I used to bake bread every week. If you're baking a loaf of bread, you may as well bake two: one loaf to eat and another to give away to someone or other, to eat with butter and a coffee together. A small world-making activity. Alas, I have no oven these days, but I have a good friend who makes the best bread in the world. The best bread in the world is the bread your friend makes, to be broken together in the gaps between one thing and the next thing. This, of course, is where we get the word "companion": com, meaning together, and pan, meaning bread.
David Benjamin Blower on Bandcamp