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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Here It Comes Again

This time of the year is the part I prefer above all others. I like it far better than Christmas, Easter or even the start of summer. From American marketers (of all people!) I've learned to call it 'back to school' time. Since I moved to the UK it has also been time when I mark the turning years I've spent working and living here.

Since 2005, immediately after what in the States we'd call Labor Day weekend, I've also always looked forward to the Theatre & Performance Research Association conference. It's one that I've come to appreciate above all other academic gatherings, mostly because of when it happens, rather than where it takes place or what goes on during the conference itself.

Like many others, I'm a creature of habit. I'm not too keen on routine but I love my rituals. The end of summer ritual is quite special for me. Preparing for the new academic year feels like an intellectual springtime. This year I'm particularly blessed with time off teaching to focus on finishing my Franklin Furnace book. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about that in the coming weeks, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Soon enough, I'll also be gathering the nominations for this year's Mużika Mod Ieħor Listeners' Picks poll. Meanwhile, new releases keep coming thick and fast. Last month I received no fewer than seven CD albums, which is quite a large number when you consider that this distribution format is supposedly dancing to the sound of its death knell.

It give me great pleasure to introduce the 178th Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast with music from Joe Mizzi's new album. It's entitled Age of Decay and features 12 excellent tracks. Regular listeners of my podcast will have already heard two pre-release tracks from this album, but not that the album is out you can hear Like the Wind as the opening song.

On the 2nd of July, Eve Ransom released their single Soundtrack to a Smile. It has been receiving considerable radio airplay in Malta, even topping the current local chart on Bay Radio for two consecutive week. It great to seem Maltese bands being given due attention by mainstream media. At the same time I'm always saddened at how selective most radio stations tend to be when it comes to the range of musical genres they're willing to include on their play-lists. As I see it, this only makes for a homogenized sound where originality is rare. Having said this, I hasten to add that it's really good for bands like Eve Ransom, who deserve all the attention they can get.

Last year's top MMI listeners' pick in the overseas-based category came down to Airstrip One, a British band fronted by Andy Hill, who is half Maltese. Andy is visiting Malta right now so it's most appropriate to play the new track from Airstrip One. It's called The Ghost and I'm sure it'll be nominated in the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll.

I'm always thrilled to hear from Maltese musicians via MySpace, Facebook or any other way people can make contact with me. I am particularly pleased when I receive messages from people I've never met or ones I haven't heard from in yonks. Franky Camillieri falls in the latter category. Back in the early 80s, Franky was a prominent presence on the Tigne rock circuit. He is mostly remember for played keyboard with Fluid, a jazz-rock fusion band the likes of Malta had never seen before or since. Franky left Malta for the UK many years ago and has now returned with recordings featuring Tarcsio Barbara and Rebecca. He never really stopped gigging and TokinToker is his current project, which will continue with other collaborators once he returns back to England. Elevator to the Sun is an excellent rough demo of the sort of music we'll be getting from TokinToker in the coming months. I'm sure I'll play another track from Franky on another edition of the MMI podcast in the coming months.

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 follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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