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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Call Me

As we approach the end of the fourth year of weekly podcasts in my Mużika Mod Ieħor series, the show is now sponsored by Vodafone. I'm grateful that we now have the required support to not only continue promoting music from Malta but also a new push towards the possibility of develop things even further in the coming months and years.

I've just embarked on a year-long academic sabbatical to focus or research and professional development. The Franklin Furnace book remains the first item on my research agenda, of course, but I'm also looking forward to embarking on my next research projects. These fall into two general topics: artistic practice in virtual worlds and Maltese popular culture. The first ties in directly with my work on Franklin Furnace but it goes beyond it in a number of ways; more about that in the coming weeks/months. The other research area has me working on building critical longevity from my weekly MMI podcast into collaboratively gathering and disseminating documentation of cultural practice from the Maltese islands. I've been alluding to this for some time now, but by the end of my research leave period I'm hoping to have taken this idea into a solidly practical phase, which should become the center of gravity for much of my day-to-day work.

That's the plan. Getting there requires a generous amount of elbow grease, which obviously includes more of the MMI podcasting series. The 182nd edition contains four new tracks that will find themselves among the list of nominations for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, which will be launched on Facebook towards the end of November. The first of these tracks is the new single from Eve Ransom. Technically speaking, Evergreen is being premiered on my podcast ahead of the radio release in a few days time.

Up next is the first single from Chasing Pandora's album, planned for release in 2010. Time shows that this duo will continue to amass an impressive repertoire of original songs. It is through those songs that they continue to delight new fans, not only in the Maltese islands but also in various intimate venues around London. They will be appearing there in the coming days: Monday (5 Oct) at The Bedford on Balham, Tuesday at the 12 Bar in Soho, Thursday at The Water Rats at Kings Cross, and on Friday they will be upstairs at The Garage in Islington.

I'm always on the prowl for new acts to include on my weekly podcast. The music website that appeared from Malta earlier this year at is a welcome addition to the local scene. It's through this site that I discovered Jerico Sincrest's Rain. Apparently it comes from an album called The Dark Flows but the website offers very sketchy details and Jerico's MySpace page isn't bursting with information either.

An album that should be coming out before the end of this year is Scar's second CD, entitled Breaking Radio Silence. Ahead of this release, Scar have issued a single called Mind the Gap. This song has been receiving considerable radio airplay in Malta and it will undoubtedly serve the band well to raise expectations for their second album. I, for one, am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the CD as soon as it becomes available to the public, if not before.

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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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Don't Know Much

This summer is building up into an interesting one. It has its fair share of ups and downs, but the ups seem to be really good. Even some downs have an up side. Now that our dear friend Dennis Vella has passed away, his professional aspiration to create a National Museum of Modern Art for Malta is on practically everyone's lips within the Maltese art scene, or at least on their minds.

On a more personal note, even if still in the general category of modern (or rather contemporary) art, I've been advised to "gloat" (by an American friend/colleague) about the fact that I've been awarded an AHRC research grant to enable me to take a proper sabbatical during the next academic year to work on my book. Only one in five applications to the AHRC research leave fund are successful, but now that I've lived in the UK for the past five year, I can safely say that gloating is frowned upon big time, especially in academia. So I won't gloat. I'll just say that the book is about Franklin Furnace and the spirit of the avant-garde and it's entitled A History of the Future; due to be published by Intellect Books in 2010.

Cultural differences are fascinating. At their most extreme they lead to culture wars and things like the so-called war on terror. Without any extreme elements, I live with cultural differences every day of my life. Once a week I celebrate the differences through my Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. You could say all roads (I take) lead to my weekly podcast, in one way or another. I'm convinced about that, even though I haven't managed to find a way to articulate it properly, just yet.

The 173rd edition of the MMI podcast opens with the new single from the band Explicit. Shame gives us another blast of Stephanie Chetcuti's voice. Listening to this song I thought it would be a good idea to have more female voices on this week's podcast.

The only male voice I've picked belongs to Richard Edward. His songs have appeared at least twice on previous editions of the MMI podcast. He has a very tuneful voice, as you're able to hear in his new song called Busking in Baghdad. If you live in Malta you can also catch him performing live at The Shelter in Rabat ever Wednesday evening.

Bletchley Park have appeared out of nowhere on the local rock scene. They've even managed to win the 2009 Battle of the Bands held at Rookies just a few weeks ago. They seem to have great plans and if the fans that got to where they are now continue to support them I'm sure we'll be hearing from them after the ecstatic energy of these initial months subsides. To my ears, Fake Smiles is the best of the half dozen songs they've released on their MySpace page. If all goes well, it can only get better.

Hadrian Mansueto contacted me a few days ago to tell me about a new video for his tune Catch You, shot by Richard Humphreys. The video is directed and edited by Shahir Daud and features all the guys from Physical Graffiti: Le Parkour Aotearoa.

The musical Porn is currently enjoying a second run in Malta before it heads off for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival up in Scotland. Porn will be at the George 4 from the 7th August until the 31st August (no shows on the 11th, 18th, and 24th). I have a feeling it's going to attract a substantial amount of press attention, particularly if people with loud and far-reaching voices within the UK alternative culture go see it and like it. Suzanne Wadge plays the part of the young porn star Sanddy in the musical. She sings a lovely little song called The Kind of Girl I Am. It's Porn's My Favorite Things, I Don't Know How to Love Him or Under the Sea.

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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