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Sunday, December 31, 2006

See Saw

2006 is history. At the end of every year I've been taking stock of what went on in the previous 12 months. I started this in 2004 with a slight variation last year. This year the title of this entry takes on a particularly pungent dimension since I borrow it from a place closely associated with a man who died decades after he was long gone.

A number of interesting experiences took place last summer, but I could still say that 2006 wasn't a particularly memorable year for me. That is not to say that I stayed home and twiddled my thumbs for four seasons. It was the first full year of my new life in Scarborough. It was also the first full year of podcasting from me, which is something that I had hoped would be anyway. What was most unusual about this past year for me is that I visited Malta four times [1 - 2 + 3 - 4] in the space of six months. I had a very different experience during these visits than what I had last year, and I think it's fair to say that I owe some (if not most) of that to Xtruppaw.

All in all, when I look back at my blog entries for 2006 it seems that it was a relatively positive year. There were still plenty of downers, of course, but I come away with a feeling that there were more positives than negatives since last January. Perhaps this is because I've too often just been "too busy to blog" - a new phrase for famous last words if there ever was one. I'm sure it's also because I chose to ignore some of what I would normally have considered low points of the year. Brand Malta is a good example of this; I believe there's no mention of it other than this on my blog.

In 2006 my blog strangely mutated into a collection of show notes for my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. Although most of the postings relate directly to Mużika Mod Ieħor there are a good number of unrelated entries. Aside from this, there are also several comments about things other than the podcasts on the weekly posting meant to accompany the podcasts.

So now, for the third consecutive year here's a partial, most subjective, list of blog entries from the year gone by, in random order. This list is only meant to mark the highs and lows in my year, as chronicled on my blog throughout 2006:


  • Toni Sant meets Xtruppaw before Is-CD tal-iXtruppaw is released

  • Charles Xuereb invites Toni Sant to his Salon Crit [podcast]

  • "Lordi will win Eurovision 2006" - It feels good to be right!

  • Twanny Cassar declares poddata one of his favourite new words in the Maltese language

  • MaltaGirl's Johnny Cash Blues

  • Lighting up the Maltese blogosphere

  • Toni Sant is now on MySpace

  • SUPA 2006

  • Children of the Mushroom love my podcast

  • Maltese music makes me cry

  • My friend Charles Arrigo is dead [podcast]

  • French students revolt against change!

  • The Da Vinci Code debacle

  • War in Lebanon

  • 60-seconds you'll never get back

  • I couldn't attend the first ever SPMC (1978-1983) reunion

  • 5 years since 9/11

  • Sky madness on earth as it is in the heavens

  • Net Neutrality threatened

  • Malta Song for Europe 2006 - "gone to the dogs"

  • Day Against DRM

  • Goodbye to Charles Arrigo - Frans il-Budaj Baldacchino - Pawlu Carachi - Lewis Portelli

  • Fallen idols: Allan Kaprow and Syd Barrett

  • Entertainment for the Curious Mind [video]

  • The not-so-lazy days of summer and my London daze

  • Who cares about Limbo?

  • Rediscovering the Maltese music scene - Where did all those Maltese music releases come from?

  • Did I mention Diska Cool Għar-Radio?

  • Seeing Lordi in person in Greece

  • David Friggieri poses the quintessential question: "Are we being read?"

    Many thanks for reading my blog and listening to my podcasts in 2006 and a special thanks if you contributed to all that in any way...I wish you a very happy new year!

  • Saturday, December 23, 2006

    Ninu Ninu tal-Milied

    Just finished sending off a bunch of Christmas e-cards but there's still a long list to go. Good thing there's also a set of New Year e-cards coming up from MaltaMedia because otherwise I'd probably end up sending late greetings for the festive season to some of the people I haven't sent a Christmas e-card to yet.

    Meanwhile, although my music podcasting series is on hiatus for the holidays, there's a two-part podcast of traditional għana with a Christmas theme, produced by Ġorġ Mifsud-Kirkop. This podcast is also available as a webcast through MaltaMedia's special page for Christmas.

    In case you're expecting an e-card from me and it doesn't reach you, please take this blog entry as my seasonal greetings to you: Il-Milied it-Tajjeb lil kulħadd!

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    Gone (you can keep this suit of lights)

    At about this time of the year for the past 6 years, Mario Axiaq and I have been putting together a list of obituaries for people known for their public life in Malta. It is an exercise that works hand in glove with Mario's project to chronicle Malta day by day and MaltaMedia's round-up of the year gone by.

    Here's the list for this year, so far:

    RICHARD AQUILINA, Footballer
    (Died: 9 January 2006)

    MARIO AZZOPARDI, Journalist
    (Died: 7 February 2006)

    CHARLES ARRIGO, Broadcaster
    (Died: 13 February 2006)

    ANTHONY M. ABELA, Professor of Sociology
    (Died: 4 April 2006)

    JOE MAGRIN, Technician
    (Died: 10 April 2006)

    KALĊIDON AGIUS, Politician
    (Died: 24 May 2006)

    (Died: 21 June 2006)

    (Died: 21 June 2006)

    (Died: 18 July 2006)

    Fr ALEXANDER BONNICI, Religious historian
    (Died: 26 July 2006)

    Fr DWARDU FENECH, Professor of Semitic Languages
    (Died: 5 August 2006)

    Fr PAUL GALEA, Sociologist
    (Died: 14 August 2006)

    (Died: 19 August 2006)

    ĠUŻEPPI DELCEPPO, Footballer
    (Died: 20 August 2006)

    PAUL CARACHI, Journalist & politician
    (Died: 31 August 2006)

    LEWIS PORTELLI, Sports writer & broadcaster
    (Died: 7 September 2006)

    HERMAN FARRUGIA, Politician
    (Died: 11 October 2006)

    EMANUEL BONNICI, Politician
    (Died: 12 September 2006)

    Fr MARK SAID, Dun Ġorġ Preca's postulator
    (Died 2 October 2006)

    JIMMY FARRUGIA, Politician
    (Died: 25 November 2006)

    If you think there's anyone else we should include in this list, please contact me. We'd also appreciate any corrections to dates of death as listed here, because we don't always get things 100% right.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    Christmas Without You

    For the last podcast for 2006 in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series, I've selected to play the music of four young men who have different tastes in music. This is reflected in the music they make, of course, making what they do sound familiar. I don't mean that there's no originality in their work. What I mean is that you can place any of these 4 acts on playlists within their genre and they would blend in perfectly.

    The opening track is a new song from Ozzylino. He has released two new songs via MySpace from what appears to be an upcoming album or EP called Gone Solo. These tracks are dated 2007, so clearly there's a sense of forward thinking here. The one I've picked is called Leave Me Be.

    That forward thinking I just mentioned propels me to look for new Maltese talent wherever I can find it. The newness of my finds varies from acts that have only just appeared on the scene to others than may have been around for a while but had not come to my attention until now. From what I can gather Sylvan Borg is a new name on the scene. He has released a song called Cold through his MySpace page, and you can hear it on my podcast this week.

    Jay Omaro is someone who has already acquired some popularity and relatively extensive airplay is Malta. Since I don't live in Malta and I radio in Malta is something I've left behind completely, I had no idea he even existed until we found each other on MySpace. Jay seems to be one of the stronger voices within the growing R&B scene in Malta. I'm very pleased to see that there's now a happy medium (if that's the right thing to call it) between heavy rock and pop drivel, which sounds like neither one or the other. Listen to What's It Gonna Be and see if you agree.

    To close the final podcast for 2006 I've chosen a tune from the heavy rock scene. Demis Fenech is the guitarist in a band called Sidereal, which has been active for a few years now. He has also recorded a number of instrumental numbers as a soloist. Beware is one of them and it's a great way to bring the series to a pause for the Christmas holidays.

    The next podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series will be released during the first weekend in 2007. That podcast will include the titles at the top of the lists on the 2006 Listener's Picks. Voting for the music from 2006 is open until the end of the year, so if you still haven't voted you can go vote now...if it's not 2007 yet as you read this.

    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.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006


    Yesterday was 26 years since John Lennon's murder. I'm about to finish reading Cynthia's new book about her relationship with the famous John. Tomorrow I'll be reviewing it for The Times (of Malta), for publication in an upcoming issue later this month. I like that this year's anniversary is not a round number, so the hype factor around such a significant cultural icon is possibly at its lowest at times like this.

    December is always a time of remembrance for me; even more so than November. I'll be blogging about that in the coming days as I take stock of the year that's about to end and prepare for the annual review of the year along with my MaltaMedia colleagues.

    Today I recorded and uploaded the 47th podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. This week's show continues exploring new music, some of which could/should have been included on the poll for your picks among the 2006 releases. The first song comes from Indigo, who I've known for a number of years as Marvic Lewis. I didn't know she had started recording under this name a couple of years ago until I received a very welcome MySpace 'add friend' request. I'm so glad I've heard Marvic's recent recordings. She has blossomed into a very interesting recording artist. She calls her style gothpsych, whatever that means. It's edgy but clean, rocky but not rough. Any way you measure it, it's pleasant to hear. The song I chose to play on the podcast is called I Don't Care.

    Another act I discovered recently is a new hip hop trio called Sixth Simfoni. I usually prefer it when Maltese musicians make this type of music with Maltese lyrics. Still, as English language hip hop from Malta goes, this is possibly the best I've ever heard. The trio comprises Jon Mallia (a.k.a. Pandemonium), David Leguesse (a.k.a. D Legacy) and violinist Simon Vella. I believe I knew David's father about 20 years ago, when I Samson was a delightful man who settled in Malta more than two decades ago. Anyway, Sixth Simfoni have a song called Bullies and I thought it an appropriate track to play, especially in light of the recent case of "happy slapping" (what a horrible term!) at MCAST.

    Not all the tracks on this week's podcast came my way via MySpace, but the next one most certainly did. Flamenco guitarist Roger Scannura was born in Malta and now lives in Canada. His Flamenco troupe is accompanied by his wife Valeria who dances to the irresistible rhythm of this traditional Andalusian music. Burning Bridges is one of the tracks on Roger's album Noche Flamenca, which was released last year.

    Although most of the stuff you hear on Mużika Mod Ieħor can easily be classified as suitable for radio airplay (even though most radio stations rarely play it), I like to include extreme recordings on my podcast from time to time. The most recent specimen in this category to reach me here in Scarborough is a recording by a new eclectic band from Malta called Brikkuni. This combo consists of various musicians from diverse backgrounds, including a couple of members for Lumiere, Particle Blue, Żiżża Ensemble, and the National Orchestra. I must say that if I was in a position to record live sessions for my podcast in my own studio, Brikkuni would be one of the first bands I would invite. Listen to the raw recording of their song Fil-Bar ta' Taħt il-Knisja, which I'm very sure sounds brilliant during live gigs, such as the ones they gave recently to introduce themselves to the local music scene in Malta. I hope they'll take the time to do a proper recording of their original songs soon. This is the sort of stuff that can alter the shape and sound of future bands from Malta.

    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.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    More Than This

    Now that Malta has a new Archbishop I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the new. If the Archbishop announcement hadn't come this weekend I would have probably used Espresso as my starter dough.

    The votes for Listeners' Picks for 2006 on the Mużika Mod Ieħor poll are coming in fast and furious. At the same time a new album from BNI has just been released by Reciprocal Records and it suddenly occurred to me that the MMI 2006 poll does not capture all the titles it would if more artists and record producers kept me informed about their plans. I am always happy to receive information from musicians and their representatives, be they fans or record labels. MySpace is an excellent arena for this, but not everybody uses MySpace, of course.

    To mark some of the acts that could have made it into this year's poll but didn't I thought I'd dedicate this week's podcast to such acts. The first is called Ether, which is Gavin Borg's latest project. He appeared on an earlier edition of this series as Gavinizer. This new material is more melodic and it seems like it may lead to a substantial release next year. The track I've selected is called Hope and it comes from Ether's MySpace page.

    Aldo Lombardi is another electronic Maltese musician whose work has already been featured on my podcasting series. His CD album The Dark Journal, released by Butterfly Records earlier this year, is actually one of the highest vote earners on the MMI 2006 poll. That project is recorded under the name Kemic-Al. The one you can hear on this week's podcast goes by the name of Dimension-al. The track I've chosen to play is called Funky Jazzydelic, which seems like a very appropriate title.

    Chris Farrugia and Adrian de Battista provide the next two tracks on this week's podcast. Chris is better known as Chris Radium, the name he uses to record his electro beats. The track Criminally Challenged seems inspired by one of those meaningless statistics that pepper the mediascape from time to time. Adrian's approach is rather different because he comes from an alternative rap perspective calling himself Nitrox. His song Let Loose is the only song on this edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor. I must admit that I'm not too crazy about Eminem clones, but Nitrox couples up with an excellent (unidentified) female vocal on this track. Is this the voice of Raquela? Will they be performing this song at next week's Poxx Bar gig? I wish someone would tell me.

    I know that some of the regular MMI listeners prefer more hardcore music than the first four tracks I played this week. So, just for the hardcore fans, this week's podcast closes up with the sounds of Madame Mandy's Love & Loathe. I don't think it gets more hardcore than that in electronica.

    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.