On record - Sounds from around the world

KITSUNE, France’s finest compilers of cut-me-and-I-bleed-cool, celebrate their 10th anniversary with KITSUNE MAISON COMPILATION 14; more saucy indie-dance, electro-pop and nagging remixes. Helping to blow out the candles are old pals Is Tropical and Two Door Cinema Club, joined by new signings Citizens. As you’d expect, it’s a great party record.

Norway’s dance colossus LINDSTRØM returns with a soaring opus of cosmic analogue electro. SMALHANS’ six tracks are named for staples of Norway’s unassuming cuisine but sound like the soundtrack to a monumental helicopter chase through the forests and fjords.

The sparse guitar’n’drums racket of Brighton, UK’s COLD PUMAS owes much to the hypnotic motorik rhythms of 1970s Cologne. Repetition is key here, with the barely-there melodies of PERSISTENT MALAISE building, teasing and sometimes simply collapsing under a relentless momentum. But it’s a trick, see, as these earworms stick in the mind long after Cold Pumas’ robot drummer (and singer) goes kaput.

Faya is the first collaboration from the blues-rapping New Yorker and West 
Africa’s “Hendrix of the kora” - JOE DRISCOLL and SEKOU KOUYATE should bump into each other more often in Marseille. Driscoll’s riffing and rhymes add some urban edge to this bewitching brew.

It’s about time a grungy three-piece girl outfit singing about being sick of love emerged from Thailand’s charts. YELLOW FANG’s sassy lyrics show why they were headhunted by Kings of Convenience’s Erlend Øye and why their new single Unreal has hit #6 on Bangkok’s Fat 40. The trio looks set to win over even more hearts after Japan’s Summer Sonic festival.

KEY TRACKS:
1. Unreal
2. Valentinos
3. I’m A Feeder

Dr. Ben Goldacre - Q&A

Doctor and writer

UK

Goldacre writes to expose medical misinformation to the public. His latest book Bad Pharma looks at the pharmaceutical industry.

How does the pharmaceutical industry differ from simply talking about medicine?

Every now and then you’ll get one doctor who’s dangerous or mad or bad but that’s different to the systemic problems in the pharmaceutical industry. A drug company is allowed to do 10 trials on one drug and delete from history the ones that don’t show its drug in a flattering light.

Money from pharmaceuticals funds some medical research. Will there ever be a truly transparent industry?

I’m a realist about capitalism. Drug companies do make perfectly satisfactory medicines but you can get a new drug on the market without having to show it’s better than the ones we have. It’s a $700bn (€544.4bn) global industry and it’s got its own way, like a giant 500ft tall toddler.

Is it a case of bad doctors or overly successful marketing?

I think it’s both. The vast majority of continuing medical education here in the UK comes from the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a classic badly designed system from the perspective of an economist to have the purchaser – the doctor – not being the person who pays nor the one who suffers if there’s a bad decision.

Books

Fiction

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

“What’s it going to be then, eh?” is a pretty fighty start to any book (considering Alex and his Droogs are ordering drinks), and Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange just gets fightier from then on in. Burgess was a savvy prof who did a Picasso and unlearnt his perfection to do his Cubist Nadsat (Alex’s argot) for this, the book that foresaw the attitude of the future, but with added Beethoven. This 50th anniversary edition, foreworded by Martin Amis, is honest about an uneven masterpiece, described by 
Burgess as “a work too didactic to be artistic”.

Essays

Inventing the Enemy - Umberto Eco

Inventing the Enemy is something unrequired in these former fictions. The title of Umberto Eco’s new book of essays came from a chat with a Pakistani taxi driver in New York City whose second question to the Italian grand inquisitor (after “where do you come from?”) was “who are your enemies?” A nice kick-off for this philosophical football match that encompasses myth, literature and history, with the idea that every country needs an enemy, even if they must invent him. Discursive, grandiose, witty stuff from the quintessential savvy professor.

Fiction

The Yellow Birds - Kevin Powers

Lines on the map are what brings John Bartle, a US soldier, to Iraq. Although Private Bartle says, “It [the war] didn’t care about objectives, or boundaries,” they’re there, whether in orders, fenced across the land or in a soldier’s head. It’s the latter that concerns veteran and poet Kevin Powers’s powerful The Yellow Birds, the story of a man trying to leave a war behind once he’s left the war. This debut seems impossibly “there”; stirring, heartrending and wise in knowing it lacks answers.

Fiction

Risk - CK Stead

The protagonist of Risk, by New Zealand’s pre-eminent novelist and poet CK Stead, doesn’t know he’s heading to a place of conflict until he’s in it and unarmed.Sam Nola, recently divorced and content to enjoy boom-London’s money and women, soon finds the post 9/11 world a strangely sobering place.

Non fiction

On the Map - Simon Garfield

From the Greeks to the Mappa Mundi of 1290 to Mercator in 1569 to the Ordnance Survey to the Googleplex, On the Map makes light work of charting the history, politics, philosophy and learning of maps, not to mention the maths and splashing about in boats done by the explorers, merchants and warmongers that deck the halls of Simon Garfield’s stunning celebration of the cartographic. As one of the UK’s leading contemporary polymaths, Garfield’s always a joy to read for his gossamer-light show of rigorous learning, his shed-dweller precision in research and his infectious glee in passing on the golden nugget of fact.

Culture cuts - Spin the globe and stick a cultural pin in it

Australia

Film: THE SAPPHIRES
Australians are generally not too keen on local films, but one exception is recent hit The Sapphires. About a 1960s Supremes-style girl group of Aboriginal singers, it’s one of the highest grossing Australian films of the past decade. More importantly, the notoriously discerning audience at Cannes gave it a 10-minute standing ovation earlier in the year. The film has wangled distribution deals for a number of countries, including one with the 
Weinstein Company for the US market.

Band: ALPINE
‘A’ Is for Alpine. The house at the end of the road is haunted. In its dark rooms lurk two sirens whose searing vocals about love gone lost cut men in two and suspend them, disembodied, from the Victorian ceilings. The power of this six-piece Melbourne band, whose two harmonising singers make the single “Villages” one of the most beautiful tracks of the year, should not be underestimated. Their music videos are also incredible.

KEY TRACKS: 1. Villages 2. Gasoline 3. Hands

Singapore

Media: THE ASIAN OBSERVER

For a country ruled by the same political party since 1959, change might seem to come slowly in this city-state of five million. But change is definitely afoot, thanks in part to Singapore’s ever-growing number of bloggers, photographers and local outfits such as “The Asian Observer”, set up as an outward-thinking citizen’s media brigade to provide its own alternative news and “tell stories the traditional media was not telling”. Founder Shawn Danker is a Singapore-born photojournalist who says he wanted to cut through the “white noise” of Singapore’s media and tell it like it is, often from the horse’s mouth itself. Recent articles include a parliamentarian’s op-ed on why Singapore should never have pulled out of the 2013 Venice Biennale, a social worker’s take on the nation’s abysmal birth rate and a long report on radiation and its effects on society. This is a media outlet firmly looking toward Singapore’s future.
theasianobserver.com

India

Bollywood box office takings are higher than ever: now, a film must make at least $19m (€14.7m) to be considered a hit. The top 10 list of all time highest grossing movies is dominated with ones released in 2011 and 2012.

BOLLYWOOD BOX OFFICE RANKINGS 2012 (so far):
1. Ek Tha Tiger $US35m A Bond-esque thriller. 2. Rowdy Rathore $25m A small-time thief who resolves to give up crime after falling in love. 3. Agreepath $23m A young man’s quest to avenge his father’s assassination. 4. Housefull 2 $22m Four sisters vie to marry the richest man. 5. Bol Bachchan $20m A man is forced to lead a double life to protect his Muslim identity(comedy).

Brazil

Film: I’ll Raffle Off My Heart (Vou Rifar Meu coração)
Dir: Ana RieperRieper’s documentary on the world of “brega” music in Brazil is a delight. Intertwined with interviews with singers, people living in the farthest parts of the country reveal how brega speaks to their hearts (and their feet).
Raul
Dir: Walter Carvalho“Raul” is a documentary on the life of Brazilian rock legend Raul Seixas. His lovers and drugs are mentioned, as is his relationship with Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. The groundbreaking artist mixed rock with Baião, a typical Brazilian northeastern rhythm.

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