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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Still Loving You

Following a 4-week break, my podcasting series Mużika Mod Ieħor returns this week with more music from Malta and other sounds from my life. This week's podcast is number 31. This is the last podcast in what has been a very eventful year for me on the podcasting front. I'll write a separate blog post in the coming days to mark the first anniversary since I started podcasting regularly on 26 August 2005, after a brief test period. So watch out for that before next weekend.

The return of the podcast is inflected by three events. The first two provide the first three tracks, while the third made me play the final song on this week's programme. The events are my recent visit to Malta, of course, the second anniversary from the death of my friend Mario Ellul, and the wonderful 4-day seaside festival in Scarborough called Beached.

I've been meaning to play something from the Maltese internet record label Pinkpube ever since I discovered them on MySpace a few months ago. I met a couple of the people from Pinkpube at one of my gigs in Malta about two weeks ago and I promised I'd play something on my very first podcast following the short break since episode 30. And so, this week's podcast opens with the lounge sounds of Grandiloquent by Hagen from the EP Pleves, which was released by Pinkpube last January.

Pinkpube is now at release 19 and they have quite an impressive catalogue already. I will most certainly be playing more of their releases in the coming weeks. Meanwhile you can check them out at their website, where you can download all their releases, or on MySpace, where you can also find personal pages by some of the artists on their roster.

During one of my recent Malta gigs I was very pleased to see my old friend Jody Fiteni again. The last time I saw him he came along with our mutual friends Kevin O'Neill and Mike Bugeja at The Strand in Sliema on my birthday, earlier this year. On that day he promised me some recordings of his recent work and other odd rarities. True to his word, Jody showed up at Naasha's one night at the beginning of this month with a bunch of CDs. One is actually a DVD containing the two tracks he played with The Ophidian Twin, his band from 1989, on my TV show Mill-Garaxx.

On this week's podcast you can hear Call of the Wild by The Ophidian Twin. If you think Malta didn't have an alternative music scene before the 1990s just listen to this track and you'll be amazed. The Ophidian Twin was a short-lived underground band that rose from the ashes of two other bands: Prinz Eugene and Dance the Ghost. It was one of a good half dozen bands that played non-mainstream music in Malta at a time when recording studios were hard to come by and live gigs and venues were certainly not as abundant as they are now. Jody had been active on the local music scene even earlier in the decade, particularly with an electronic combo called The Joy Circuit.

Mario Ellul was an integral part of the driving force behind a television series that captured some of that raw youth culture at the end of the 1980s. Sadly there is no official archival record of the series, but luckily, several enthusiasts have preserved VHS recordings of several moments from Mill-Garaxx. That series is the one I'm most proud of in my career as a professional broadcaster in Malta between 1984 and 1994. If it's the only thing I'm ever remembered for I'll be a very happy man.

Mill-Garaxx was as good as I believe it was because Mario insisted on doing it against all the odds. I think we actually kept each other going through the lack of technical resources, the raised eyebrows from the management at TVM, the cynical grips from some of the television crew, and the suspension of fellow producers Alfie Fabri and Ray Bajada from the airwaves, just weeks into our planning of the project. They were suspended for producing a radio programme that encouraged a free and open discussion on recreational drug-use on a Sunday afternoon Radio Malta 2 slot of which I was the executive producer.

Anyway, I think it's appropriate to mark two years since Mario passed away by playing this rare recording from Mill-Garaxx. If any one else has VHS recordings of that amazing series please let me know because I'm thinking of collecting whatever I can into a compilation for public consumption over the Internet.

To give my listeners a better sense of Jody's work, I'm also including a track from his more recent recordings. After years of tinkering around with UK-based bands like The Switch and The Mustard Seeds, he emerged a few years ago with a project called The Sky Giants, along with a couple of his long-time collaborators from the time he lived in London. From The Sky Giant's second CD album Amulet, recorded in 2002, you can hear the patriotic track 1565.

Turning to the present sounds around me here in Scarborough, I cannot but mention Beached, the wonderful sea-front festival that has become an annual appointment for many local music lovers. Beached is the largest music event on the UK's north east coast. It has the potential to become another massive alternative event for the not-so-long British summer. Meanwhile, part of its charm and greatness comes from the relatively small scale profile it has kept. While it would be good to see all the hard work put into it appreciated by an even larger crowd than that which comes to Scarborough South Bay during this 4-day event, I somehow feel that the beauty of an alternative music event will be ruined if corporate sponsors make it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harriet to come litter the beaches of this little seaside town.

To some degree it's all about the music, but there really is much more to this event than the music. Still, since my podcast is mostly about music, I bring you some music from Beached in the shape of The Paperpushers, a band very close to home since most (if not all) of its members are recent graduates from our very own University of Hull's Scarborough Campus. Their song Ice Cream Sky is an excellent specimen of their fresh soulful sound. They hit the Beached 2006 stage on Sunday afternoon, and they're one of the acts I'm really looking forward to seeing live again. Perhaps next year we can even have a Maltese band or two perform at Beached in Scarborough.

Until then, there's another year of podcasts in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. As ever, I'm always happy to receive your comments, not only directly on the blog, but also by email though my online contact form. So keep them coming. I promise to do the same with the podcasts.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

Blogger Erezija said...

Grazzi tat-track ta' l-Ophidian Twin. Mill-bidu tad-90ijiet kont ili nisma' bihom u kemm kienu tajbin. Ikolli nghid li s-silta li daqqejtilna tikkonferma dak li smajt. 

11:12 AM, August 21, 2006

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