MaltaMedia Click Here!
Toni Sant's Blog
  A blog from the MaltaMedia Online Network | LATEST BLOG | NEWS | WHAT'S ON | FEATURES | WEATHER | CONTACT TONI SANT

Saturday, September 29, 2007

One Week Last Summer

My Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast returns this week after a brief break. It would have been good to mark the end of summer but this year it seems like the season was gone before I could really appreciate it. I blogged about this several weeks ago and nothing much changed since then.

So the day after I wore a red shirt in support of the Burmese monks I sat down at my desk once again to produce another edition of my podcast. The 84th episode is exactly as it would have been had I produced it last week. It opens with a new recording from Sylvan Borg called Leaving Home. I was browsing through his MySpace page a couple of weeks ago and I saw a comment from Xtruppaw drummer Dino Mifsud Lepre, which essentially urges Sylvan to get a live band for his gigs. I like his studio sound but I agree wholeheartedly with Dino that this sort of sound needs a band to come alive in a live setting. Still, this new one from Sylvan gets nominated for the 2007 MMI listeners' top picks, along with a couple of other titles featured in today's podcast.

Eliza Borg's Sobering Up has a cool video, which you can watch on YouTube. Peter Borg plays guitar for her and it's quite good to see him outside his strong suit as the raunchy rock lead guitarist for Drive. The video and Peter's contribution give Eliza a debut to be really proud of. I'd even dare be bold and declare that Eliza and Peter could give Chasing Pandora a run for their money given the same opportunities that the Gozitan duo has enjoyed since they first hit the scene last year.

I like spicing up the podcast with names that have been on the music scene as long as, or longer than, I've been interested in it. Tony Scott is most certainly one such name. He has been involved in the Maltese music scene, especially with his recording studio, since the early 1980s, if not before. He has now released (what I believe is) his debut solo album. Entitled Talking Moods it features a collection of instrumental tracks that verge on the new age sounds that were very popular about twenty years ago. I've chosen the opening track,Signature Tune for my podcast. The whole album is refreshingly retro and Tony has attracted a relatively huge following through his MySpace page. While not everyone's cup of tea, he appears to have found a secret formula to draw an impressive number of fans and followers to comment on his MySpace page. Naturally, Tony Scott's album too makes the list of MMI nominations for 2007 releases.

In closing, this week's podcast delivers a blast from the past in the shape of a song called No More from Purple Haze, one of the most popular Maltese metal bands of the last two decades. Singer Daryl Ebejer is recording again and I'll bring you his new stuff as soon as its available.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Silence is Golden

Just a few minutes ago I was getting ready to post a little reminder for anyone looking for this week's podcast when the BBC broke the news that Marcel Marceau has died. I was fortunate enough to see this world-famous mime live at the Kaye Theatre in New York a few years ago. His theatre show stands out as one of the most remarkable performances I've ever seen. However, the most impressive performance I've ever seen from him is in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, where he is the only person who speaks. Simply hysterical.

To get back to the original reason for blogging this morning: there is no new podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series this weekend. The next edition will be released next weekend. Meanwhile, please have a look at the preliminary list of nominations for the MMI Listeners' Picks from Maltese music released in 2007.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Life's What You Make It

I'm currently in London for a couple of days. Most people who visit London for such a brief period usually take some time to catch a theatre show or take advantage of the many shopping opportunities that exceed what's on offer where they live. I used to be like this but apparently not any more. This particular visit to London is taken up mostly with a whole day event on Second Life organized jointly by Eduserv and JISC's Center for Educational Technology and Interoperability at the London Knowledge Lab, which is part of the University of London's Institute of Education.

To tell the truth, I'm also visiting some friends who live in London while I'm here. I am sure that most of my readers would rather not read about any of that and read more about the Second Life conference. This is quite alright with me, since one of the things any serious Second Lifer needs to do is find a balance between their offline life and their online life. Oddly enough, I've had a strange experience with this. I say oddly enough because it seems that the more time I spend in Second Life the less time I find to write about it. A quick look at my blog entries since I first started exploring Second Life last spring shows that I've been wanting to write a decent entry about it but never really have. So, finally, this must be it.

The conference brought together many of the most important points of interest I've found in my own Second Life experiences. To give some context to any of my readers who are not at all familiar with Second Life I'll intertwine some comments about the presentations at the conference with my own interests and activities in SL.

Eduserv's Andy Powell gave a very interesting introduction on SL. Aside from discussing the rational for Eduserv funding, he gave a very comprehensive overview of what people expect and think about SL. He did this through specially designed t-shirts I believe that professional t-shirt enthusiasts Howard Besser would find this approach highly innovative and engaging. Andy Powell sees a relationship between second life t-shirts and the status line in Facebook. I find this connection quite intriguing since I'm familiar with both. Admittedly, the Facebook status is much simpler to update than text on a SL t-shirt, but for anyone who has used both the connection between the two is fairly evident.

The highlight of the day's proceedings for me was Hugh Denard's presentation entitled: Theatre, Performance, History and Creative Pedagogy: Theatron's Second Life. Based at King's College London, the Theatron project has drawn praise from all theatre and performance historians who have come across it. Originally started in 2001, this EU-funded project has created 3D models of 10 historically significant theatre buildings in Europe. These include the amphitheatre of Dionysus in ancient Greece, the Teatro Olymipico of Vicenza, Shakespeare's Globe, and Appia's revolutionary Helleraus Festspielhaus. In conjunction with Palatine, the Higher Education Academy's performing arts network, Theatron has now moved to SL giving five educational institutions the opportunity to explore some of these 3D models and all the auxiliary data gathered around them.

Theatron is a very impressive undertaking, both in and away from Second Life. Even people who are not scholars of theatre and performance can appreciate the pedagogical possibilities, to say nothing of the entertainment value, of this project. I'm sure I'll be writing more about it in the coming months (though not necessarily on my blog) since, to my knowledge, no one else is so heavily invested in SL through theatre and performance as the Theatron group. I am most interested in this aspect of SL as my own research and activity in SL involves an understanding of the history of online performance dating back to the text-based environments Dungeons and Dragons inspired environments that flourished in the early 1990s.

Over lunch I had a conversation with Brett Lucas, from the English Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy. Among other things we spoke about how anyone who wants to do anything significant in SL needs immerse themselves in this online world for more than one or two brief sessions. It is not possible to introduce SL or any other multiuser online world to non-users, say in a classroom, without dedicating several sessions to first have them familiarize themselves with the basic techniques of being in world. This is undoubtedly a hurdle for many who could be interested in exploring SL without wanting to invest the not-so-brief amount of time needed to get used to being in SL.

The other three presentations for the day dealt with other aspects of teaching and learning in Second Life. Diane Carr and Martin Oliver spoke about issue that anyone who attempts to do anything that's engaging, and not just education-related work, comes across. Issues of context, conventional behaviour and methods of conducting various activities are things that will come up time and time again in any attempt to understand the various uses of SL. Many of these issues will crop up again in the coming weeks with students taking my Psychology of Internet Behaviour module in Scarborough.

What attracts me to SL is not the thing itself. I'm interested in SL from a historical perspective. History is a term that usually evokes a not-so-recent past, but the history I speak about here is one of online performance, which only really goes back to the early 1990s activities I mentioned earlier. I see a natural continuum between text-based networked environments like IRC, MUDs an MOOs, and much of the activity that goes on in SL, but there are striking differences too.. In this lineage, SL is merely one of several 3D multiuser online role playing game, even if it only shares some formal qualities with World of Warcraft or The Sims.

Anyway, I don't want this blog entry to be much longer than the ones I usually write. Through it I hope to have opened a window into my fascination with SL for anyone who wonders why I'd want to dedicate any of my precious time to something like this. More to come soon...and next time I'll also produce my weekly podcast to see if I'm able to cope with both at the same time without bringing the podcast into SL.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'll Be Seeing You

I may have finally found a way to blog about my activities in Second Life. It has a two-pronged approach: (a) spend a little less time in Second Life, and (b) skip an edition of the weekly music podcast. The second measure pains me a little bit but considering that there was no break in the weekly podcast production this summer there's no real harm done. I've produced a podcast for this week, so the break takes place next weekend.

The 83rd podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series officially introduces the list of nominations from Maltese recording artists released so far in 2007. The list will continue to expand in the coming weeks and voting will commence about six weeks from now.

Deckchair Gurus' Summertime opens this week's podcast. It is one of two tracks they have released via their MySpace page. They have also produced a video for Summertime, which I find to be one of the most entertaining I've ever seen from a Maltese band. It's available on YouTube, so make sure to check it out if you haven't seen it yet.

Chasing Pandora released their album Mock the Mocking Bird earlier this year. They were also one of the MMI listeners' top picks from 2006. Naturally, their album is nominated for this year's listeners' picks so I'm playing the title track on this week's podcast just to make sure that people who may have missed Chasing Pandora album or one of their not-too-frequent performances can catch-up with these darlings of the Maltese music scene. Oddly enough, I have a feeling they'll do a Chris & Moira (remember 1993?) on us sooner or later. The Schlager Boys will not be happy.

Having followed the Maltese music scene closely most of my life, I clearly remember Stephanie and Maria Lewis starting out as the Starbrights in the late 1980s. Naturally they were just kids back then and they've grown-up considerably now, making West London their base in recent years. They've recorded a new song called You Ran Away From Me. I'm not surprised that the duo has retained some of the innocence from their early years but I'd love to hear what a mature Starbrights sounds like, if that's at all possible.

My weekly podcasting series is a great way for me to discover musicians and singers outside of Malta who have a Maltese connection of some sort or other. Capitol K appeared at the Poxx Bar on Friday. He is actually Kristian Robinson who was born in Malta to a Maltese mother and English father. He was raised in various disparate locales such as Brunei and Dubai before eventually settling in London. That's his official bio, released by to promoted his Poxx gig supported by Vinnie Vintage, Danjeli (featuring Jon IQ) and Ai. Capitol K's music is an interesting hybrid of basic rock and pop electronica. The Fly is a well-crafted track and you can hear it as the closing song on this week's podcast.

The Mużika Mod Ieħor series returns after next weekend. I'll blog some more about that in due time. Meanwhile, please have a look at the prelimary list of nominations for the 2007 listeners' pick of Maltese music releases and let me know if you think there's a recording that should be considered for nomination before voting begins.

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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

So Far, So Good...So What!

I've compiled a list of alternative music from Maltese recording artists released so far in 2007. In keeping with what I started last year, my plan is to poll my blog readers and Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast listeners towards established the top favourite releases of 2007.

I am incredibly impressed by the even larger number of releases this year. As ever, I have a feeling my list is not complete. Please let me know if you think there are any additional titles I should add to this list before starting the voting in November. The list is not meant to be fully comprehensive - I am selective - but I would like to include as many titles as possible at this stage, so please don't hesitate to contact me if you think I've missed out on your favourite 2007 release.

Here's the list, so far, in alphabetical order:

  • Aaron Benjamin In My Head
  • Ailas Town
  • Ambulanza The Bubble
  • Andre' Camilleri & the Broken Hearts One Fine Day
  • Arachnid Compelled to Distort
  • Beige Anything
  • Bitterside Start Again
  • Bomba Hold Your Ground [track]
  • Cable35 It's Over
  • Caligula Surreal [tracks]
  • Carra Be Yourself [album]
  • Carrie Flooded Roads
  • Charlie Calleja Dancing with Dolphins [tracks]
  • Chasing Pandora Mock the Mocking Bird [album]
  • Chemical Orphan What If It Was You
  • Christabelle Borg Tonight
  • Club Murder Preserved in Pain
  • Corazon Hawn Jien
  • Cordin Sky Man With The Microphone
  • Cynic Pictures Aim High
  • Dean Saviour Marshmallow Girl
  • Deckchair Gurus Summertime
  • Demis Ethereal Travel
  • Different Strings …It's Only The Beginning
  • Drive In Your Eyes
  • Explicit Objection/Games
  • Fakawi Eileen (Live)
  • Franco Tartaglia In Memoria
  • Fraser Gregory No Ordinary Eyes
  • Freddie Portelli Hangin' On
  • Grimaud (w/Marc Galea) Purple Haze
  • ipconfig lagggggg
  • Jean Claude Vancell Of Hopes & Dreams
  • Jean Pierre Zammit Wipe Every Tear
  • Jewls Verse Taking It Easy
  • John Galea Faded Popstar
  • jon lukas/WOODENMAN Fade Away
  • JPG Return
  • Karm Debattista mssp Agħmilni Bħalek
  • Karm Debattista mssp Ħejju Triq għall-Mulej
  • Kristina Casolani & Toby Search
  • L-Amerikan Għana tal-Fatt
  • Manuel Casha Tifkira
  • Marc Galea My Journey
  • Marilyn Mifsud Evicted
  • Marty Rivers I'm Available
  • Mathematikal Electrophant/This is Plonk
  • Melchior Sultana No More
  • Mind's Eye Dub Trod On Dub
  • Mindstate My Adrenaline
  • Prayer of the Dying Structures of a Dying Matter
  • ReAct Dismissed
  • Recoil The Great Divide
  • Renee Cassar Waiting
  • Scream Daisy Bees
  • Shilloo's Tree Expression/Waiting for Your Smile
  • Shockleader Say NOW!
  • Sin Selection Casanova
  • Sixth Simfoni feat. Rachel Fabri Breakthru
  • Skimmed Where is Your God?
  • Skorba Temples of Devotion
  • Sky of Yuggoth Transmissions from the Chthonic Depths
  • Slur (Ann de Gaetano) Back to You
  • South Central Crystalling
  • Starbrights You Ran Away From Me
  • Stillborn Thy Feeble Soul
  • Stoned Joker Alone
  • Subculture Resist the Abuse
  • The Areola Treat Disco Party
  • The Characters So Alive
  • The Monitors Fade Away
  • The New Harmonics Red
  • The Rifffs Jack The Ripper
  • The Vagabond Project Deepheat
  • Thomas Hedley Just Your Picture On My Mind
  • Thy Legion Proclaimer of Chaos
  • Toby Everytime it Rains
  • Various Malta Song for Europe 2007
  • Vinnie Vintage Sea to the Salt
  • White Crimson Julia (live)
  • Winona Riders Love Can Do You No Harm
  • Xtruppaw Forza Malta

  • Labels: , , ,

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    What Goes Around

    Remembering 9-11 podcasts

    Every six years a calendar date occurs on the same day again.
    It's Tuesday September 11 again today.

    Not much new to say. Still bad. Still sad.

    Remember all the fallen.

    Labels: ,

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Fluorescent Adolescent

    This is one of those rare times when I wish I was in Malta right now for something that's quite unique. This time it's Marc Almond's concert. I've been a fan of Marc Almond since his days with Soft Cell in the early 1980s. I like his recent stuff but my personal preference remains for the two years he recorded as Marc and the Mambas just after Soft Cell split. I've never managed to catch any of his live shows and the fact that he came to Malta to sing is almost surreal to me.

    I was hoping to blog about my activities in Second Life but I've been busy writing an academic paper about all that for a couple of conferences I'm involved in right now. I just returned from Birmingham yesterday where I attending this year Theatre and Performance Research Association conference. Next up is the International Digital Live Art Conference in Leeds on Monday. Perhaps I'll blog about my Second Life goings-on after Monday.

    One things I make sure not to miss is my weekly podcast. Having said that, I have a feeling that I'll need to give it a rest for a week later this month. This week's podcast is the 82nd in the series and there was not interruption this summer, so I guess I can get away with a autumnal break. I'm sure no one will complain.

    Xtruppaw return on the scene with a football anthem, of all things! They've been working on new material for their second album since last winter. While Forza Malta (B'Għajta Waħda) is not really the sort of thing I expect from Xtruppaw, it's still better than nothing. In their defense, this song was commissioned by the South End Core for today's Euro 2008 qualifying match between Malta and Turkey at Ta' Qali. The date chosen for this game couldn't have been worse than the 8th of September. The last thing any self-respecting Maltese person wants is to bring up ghosts of conflicts past into the so-called beautiful game. I'm holding my breath until this one is completely over cause it's things like this that really make me cringe about being Maltese. God willing, I'm just over-reacting in a preemptive bout of premature paranoia brought about from all the years I spent living in New York City.

    Back to having fun on the podcast with Fakawi. I've been wanting to play something by this band on my weekly podcast for quite some time but I never managed to get my hands on any of their recordings. Finally my former class/band mate Mark Attard, who plays keyboards for Fakawi posted a number of video clips of this popular band on YouTube. So now, from this year's Farsons' Beer Festival I can play you Eileen, which is more of an irreverent leg-pull than a tribute to the great Eileen Montesin.

    While looking for more pleasant oddities on YouTube earlier this week I came across a couple of clips posted by Ian Schranz from The Beangrowers. These clips show a pubescent band called Winona Riders playing two songs live. One is the fabulous Seven Nation Army from The White Stripes and the other appears to be a new song from the upcoming Beangrowers album Not In A Million Lovers. The song is called Love Can Do You No Harm and these kids do it as much justice as any other band you can imagine doing a cover of a Beanies song.

    This week I also want to start putting together the list of nominations for this years Mużika Mod Ieħor Listeners' Picks. I've just received a copy of the new CD album by rock band Stillborn called Thy Feeble Soul. I'll be publishing a list of preliminary nominations in the coming watch this space. This release from Stillborn will most certainly be among the nominees for this year's best CD album. The tracks Rites of Passage and Cross of Fire are the two I like most from the six on this collection, so the first one closes this week's podcast until the next edition.

    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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, September 01, 2007

    Standing in the Way of Control

    I still can't get over the relatively large number of new acts releasing recordings from Malta these days. Not all the recordings are created equal but even some of the less sophisticated ones show the amazing talent some of the recording artists really have.

    Now that September is here it's also time to start thinking about nominations for the 2007 picks from my Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. There will be a couple of minor changes from last year's poll but I'll tell you all about that next week.

    For this week's podcast I wanted to do two things relating to these two points and they both amount to one thing: play as many tracks as possible from the backlog I've accumulated over the past few weeks. The first of these is a song from a new band called Beige. They made their debut in the recent XFM contest which saw Ann de Gaetano's Slur voted a virtual rockstar, landing her in a UK recording studio with Richard Rodgers...obviously not the one from The Sound of Music cause he died in 1979. Beige appear to have great plans for the near future but for now all we have is a YouTube video for their song Anything.

    Listening to Beige I was oddly reminded of the Flying Alligators. I've been wanting to play a track from their 2000 album Been there...Done that... for a long time. I bumped into Ronnie Busuttil on Facebook a few days ago, so this week I give you Liberty by the Flying Alligators.

    Moving on to more new acts, the rest of this week's podcast features two new singers who are connected in one way or another with acts that have already appeared on previous editions of MMI. Marilyn Mifsud is a law student at the University of Malta who has recently released a song called Evicted. She has been gigging with her own band, which features Jean Claude Vancell who regular podcast listeners may remember from a song of his I played a few weeks ago.

    Dean Saviour has released a small number of original songs he recorded at home on his MySpace page. Dean is a member of Christian band Salt who continue to delight their ever-growing fan base with songs from the 2006 album Hello Truth. These new solo recordings show a different side of this young musician. I particularly like the delicate and quasi-whimsical Marshmallow Girl, which is unlike any recent song I've heard from Malta.

    And with that it feels like the summer has come to an unofficial end. From next week I'll be buckling up for a mini-tour of my own related to my research in Second Life. I hope to blog a little bit about that before the next podcast. In any case, you can most certainly count on the next MMI podcast to introduce the first nominations for the 2007 listeners' picks.

    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. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

    Labels: ,