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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Petits Machins

A few days ago I discovered an old VHS tape from 1989. I was pleasantly surprised to see myself present a special edition of the weekly popular TVM current affairs programme Malta u Lil Hinn Minnha with Paul Azzopardi. I had forgotten all about this. For many years before Malta's liberalization of the broadcasting airwaves, this news show was the main (if not only) current affairs appointment for Maltese televiewers. This edition was the last one broadcast in 1989 and featured Giogio Moroder's The World We Live In, a half hour documentary with original music and images of events that have shaped our world. Moroder's work was originally created for German Television Channel 2 and for copyright reasons I only included a brief excerpt from it in the clip I uploaded on YouTube.

The same old video tape included almost an entire programme from the first series of Mill-Garaxx. I digitized a couple of clips from that too and immediately uploaded a live Black Train medley by Freeway, with Jesmond Tedesco Triccas on guitar and Toni Vella on bass. I also managed to capture a couple of other things from this same video cassette, including something for this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast.

The 176th Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast features a sexist perspective of Maltese women from 1989 in Freeway's Viva n-Nisa. I don't think you could get away with that on Maltese TV now. I find it quite problematic from a feminist perspective but it's a delicious historical glimpse at the way most Maltese people (not just men) thought about women in their society at that point in time.

The podcast opens with a song called Tomorrow by Relikc. This band has been around for a couple of years but it was only last June that they managed to produce their first recordings for public consumption. They're not the sort of band that can get lots of airplay on radio in Malta, but I'm sure they go down well in their live gigs.

NV has just released a new single, following her debut album Envy, which appeared last February. Reason for Denying is not from the album and presents the singer in a somewhat lighter sound than what we heard on all her previous singles, which made it into that album. It's good to see some variation in NV's style and I'm sure the next thing we hear from her will also be exploring other territories since this singer is still to endear herself as a household name in Malta.

Speaking of household names, you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard Paul Giordimaina in Malta. He's been a professional musician for over thirty years and his career has seen him reach the highest peaks in the local scene in both pop and jazz. It's therefore a great joy to see that he has now released a jazz double CD. This is a side of him that only jazz aficionados or regular patrons at B.J.'s night club (where he's been the resident artist for close to three decades) really know. A Letter to Bernie is an outstanding album for several reasons. Foremost among these is the fact that it is a tribute to the late bass player Bernard Scerri, who died on 3 October 2002. The album features various guest jazz musicians who knew and played with Bernard, as well as Giordimaina originals inspired by Scerri's spirit, along with a handful of live recordings featuring the bass player live at B.J.'s in 2000.

To close up this week's podcast, from A Letter to Bernie I've selected Marcus Miller's Tutu, made famous by Miles Davis in 1986, as performed by Paul Giordimaina (piano), Mark Attard (synth), Walter Vella (flute), Edward Ellul (bass), Tony 'Giegu' Bartolo (percussion), and Reuben Navarro (drums). It's fitting that so many of the musician who knew Bernard so well, and played with him over the years, should pick this cool bass driven tune to remember their friend by. I'll certainly play one or two more tracks from this double CD on my podcast in the coming weeks.

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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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saving My Face

The Mużika Mod Ieħor 2007 Listeners' Picks poll is open for your votes. In the first couple of days since we launched it, it has already attracted a good number of people. Although I'll be very pleased if we get over 200 people voting on this poll, I'm secretly hoping that we can come close to the seemingly impossible 1000 unique user mark.

James Attard has developed an exclusive application for Facebook to ensure that voting is done in a way that's much more fair and visible than what we had last year in the first attempt at holding this annual poll. Any compliments about the technical aspects and how well this Facebook app works should go directly to James. I take full responsibility for anything else...especially the titles included (or not) on the lists in each category. The final results, of course, are up to you and the other MMI podcast listeners. So please make sure to invite all your Facebook friends to vote too.

It gives me great satisfaction to say that the MMI 2007 poll does not involve some convoluted jury nor is there any money making scheme from SMS voting. Taking full advantage of the power of the Internet we've placed the emphasis on the people who really matter to any musician: the listeners, or, to call them by their proper name, the fans. If you're a Facebook user you can vote. That's it. No gimmicks, no scams.

There are five categories this year. 'Online Music Videos' joins 'Albums', 'Singles + EPS', 'Internet Releases', and the 'Maltese Based Overseas' categories. James has also provided links for each of the video as they currently appear on YouTube.

The total number of titles nominated this year is 112, with 26 albums, 22 online releases, 19 overseas-based, 13 videos, and 32 singles/EPs. Nominations were gathered between September 14 and November 26, based mostly on tracks played on my weekly podcasts. However, I have also included several recommendations by my podcast listeners.

Have you voted yet?

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

From the Morning

My weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is a personal time piece and calendar. It marks the weekend for me. It also marks the time of the year, especially towards the last few months of the year when I start preparing a list of nominations for the Listeners' Picks. The list is almost finalized and it will be released within the next week or two.

This week's podcast in the 91st in the series. It opens with Song for You from new band Uncharted. The recording captures some of the raw qualities this band undoubtedly exhibits during their gigs. Apparently it was recorded by former band member Cyprian Cassar, who was recently featured on MMI within his DJ duo Tanishia and their Everything But the Girl remix. Incidentally, there's also a YouTube video to go with this debut release from Uncharted.

The rest of the acts that I've picked for this week's podcast have already appeared on previous editions in this series. The first is Brian James who recently released an EP on the Belgian label Aesthetik Records entitled Micromekanik. From it I've picked a track called Flambe in Paradise and the EP goes onto the list of nominations for the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks.

The next track is from The Vagabond Project, Gavin Borg's current incarnation, which first appeared on the MMI series just a few months ago. What merits a reappearance so soon is the fact that Shine is now available as a download for pay on Facebook. To my knowledge, this is the first Maltese download you can buy through Facebook. If there are others, especially predating this one, please let me know. Otherwise, take this as one for the Maltese record books thanks to Gavin.

MySpace continues to be the main source for new music on the MMI podcast series. A few days ago I was very pleased to receive a friend request for a new page from Hagen Ebejer, whose work I had previously included on MMI. He appears to be in the process of releasing a new collection of ambient tracks under the title Endless Stories. There's nothing official from Pinkpube about this yet, so I'm not sure whether it'll be a Pinkpube release. In any case, as MySpace tracks they're still eligible for a Listeners' Picks nomination. As so it shall be.

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.

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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.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hold On

I've finally managed to find the time to blog a couple of times during the past week about things that are not directly related to my weekly podcast. Oddly enough this summer I don't think I'll be giving my weekly podcast a break, like I did last year, but things could change over the coming week. So this blog entry will simply cherish the fact that we can enjoy the 76th edition of the Mużika Mod Ieħor series.

One band I've been looking forward to include on my podcast for quite a while is The Areola Treat. I missed a gig they gave at Naasha's during my last visit to Malta but at least they're finally offering us some of their recordings on their MySpace page. The one I've selected to open the podcast with is a called Disco Party. From these recordings I get the feeling that The Areola Treat is a joyful live band, so I look forward to the next opportunity for catching one of their shows.

Facebook is one Web 2.0 community I never thought I'd warm up to as much as I have. It's very different from MySpace but I'm glad to see some music related activity on this social network. jon lukas and I exchanged messages this week and he is offering a song called Mysty as a free download through his Facebook page. Collaborating with his son Ashley as WOODENMAN, Jon was among the very first Maltese people to explore the power of the internet as new way to handle music distribution.

Operating on a different circle, David Magro is another early Maltese adopter of the internet as a music distribution network. You probably know him as Mind's Eye Dub. Reggae DJ turned remixer Manwel Tabone alerted me to MED's new release in an Instant Message this week. The track is called Trod On Dub and it's always a pleasure to include new material from MED on the podcast.

Through my expeditions on YouTube I discovered that Malta's XFM is collaborating on a new talent contest with The Alley called Virtual Rock Star. I'm not sure why they've selected this name for this contest because I haven't been able to find much information on the Web about it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that every band or singer has sent in a video for the contest, which XFM has uploaded to YouTube. In any case, I've chosen to feature two of these acts on this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor.

The first is called ReActor and their song is called Dismissed. Apparently this band has been around for a couple of years but I've only ever heard of them this month. Aside from their video on YouTube they have a MySpace page, which includes a brief history of the band and some details about the current line-up. The other band is called Cynic Pictures. They contacted me via my MySpace page and that prompted me to include their song Aim High as the closing selection for this week's podcast. More than anything else I find the song title most titillating as this was the motto of St Elizabeth Primary School in Sliema, which I attended in the early 1970s.

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.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now

Now that the academic year is over and we're getting ready for graduation on Friday, I am slowly beginning to find enough time to start thinking about blogging on my adventures in YouTube and Second Life. Since today is a podcast day, I'll just stick to YouTube, especially because it is directly linked to one of the tracks on this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor.

Following last week's blast of new releases, the 74th edition of my weekly podcast opens with Red, the new single from The New Harmonics. There's a connection between this track and the final selection for this week, but I'll tell you more about that in a minute or two.

I'm always excited about playing new acts on my podcast. They're not all really new, in the sense that some of them are ones that have been around for a while but I just never got around to playing anything from their repertoire. One such performer is Fraser Gregory who avid fans of the alternative Maltese music scene probably remember in the original line-up of The Beangrowers. He now lives in the UK and released an EP called No Ordinary Eyes just a few months ago. I've selected the track Changes from that EP. He will be appearing at Gianpula next weekend, on Saturday the 21st of July, to be precise.

Unlike Fraser Gregory, Ann de Gaetano and her band Slur are complete debutantes on the local scene. What's most unusual about them for me is that I first encountered them on YouTube. Mercifully, the video for their song Back To You is not just another DIY job like the ones that start blending into each other after the second play. This video is produced by James Vernon and Neill Camilleri of Whiterock Studios who have great aspirations when it comes to camera-work and video editing. Ann is a welcome change from all the Eurovision wannabes on the one hand and the trashy I-don't-care teenagers on the other. Strangely though, it feels like she's just one tantrum away from going either way. So, watch this space just in case she does.

In an attempt to better understand the phenomenon that is YouTube, I established my own account a couple of months ago. I've uploaded a number of clips that were just sitting on my hard disk to see what sort of response I'd get for them. I am pleasantly surprised by the feedback I have received so far. By being on YouTube I have also discovered several other video clips by YouTubers from Malta, which range from various local TV clips to Xtruppaw fan fun and from relatively vintage TVM clips to a lonely divorced Maltese man stranded in Scandinavia. I'm sure that all this is just an ice cube off the tip of the iceberg that's about to emerge from YouTube in the coming months. So, more on this in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, if you're on YouTube and you have a clip or two you think I should watch please let me know.

Back to this week's podcast: the closing track is the new Kristina Casolani single Search, which sees her collaborating once again with her partner Toby. The new New Harmonics track at the top of this week's podcast too has a production credit for Toby. He is as busy as ever with various projects this summer, including a top 10 remix on the UK club charts. This week, Toby's remix for the Everytime it Rains by Sean Ensign shot up to number 9. Toby has also just signed the production of J Anvil' s track Another Day to Peeled Records, for an August release.

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.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Boy In The Bubble

I've been catching up with life on Web 2.0. Twitter is on the blink but my YouTube account is alive and well. I'm now also on Facebook. MySpace remains a constant presence, of course, while Second Life creeps up to the top of my daily agenda. Since it's not on the web but on the broader internet, SL is not part of Web 2.0 but it still involves collaboration and social networking - two of the most essential elements in any Web 2.0 experience.

This morning I also realized that I didn't mention anything on my blog about the Web 2.0 article I wrote for May's issue of PINK, the monthly magazine from The Times of Malta, edited by Ariande Massa. This is possibly because I've been absorbed in all sorts of other things but most probably because PINK is not available online. Maybe I should just upload it myself. [check back later if you're interested in this...]

The 68th edition of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast
may not seem like an obvious part of my Web 2.0 activities but it more ways than one. MySpace plays a crucial part in the selection of the tracks I include from week to week. Thomas Hedley's new song Just Your Picture On My Mind would not have come to my attention if it wasn't for MySpace. I said something similar the first time I included a song by Hedley on my podcast.

Just when I thought that the Eurovision Song Contest was over and done with for this year, two things crossed by desktop reminding me that I can't really get away from it just yet. The first of these is the Eurovirtual Song Contest currently accepting votes on Paris Link. This is not the first European virtual song contest, even if it is the first edition of this particular one. The Heavy Metal Eurovision is most amusing and I've featured it on my podcast back when Maltese bands still took part in it.

Malta's entry on the Eurovirtual Song Contest is Carrie with Flooded Roads. You can vote here. She is currently leading the pack with more than 590 votes. I really wonder how Carrie would have fared at this year's Eurovision with this song. I'm sure that someone somewhere would have written that it's not a typical Eurovision song, and indeed this is probably why it's doing so well on the Eurovirtual song contest.

Back to MySpace before I move on to the second Eurovision incident I mentioned earlier. Vince Bongailas is someone I remember clearly from a chance encounter at Bighi about 10 years ago when he was recording some songs with Kenneth Mizzi. Vince is also known to many as one of the best Maltese boxers of all time. He has now resurfaced on my radar as Ailas via MySpace. I've included a song called My 36 out of the tracks you can currently hear on his MySpace page. Vince is a very interesting character and I'm glad I'm able to bring the sound of Ailas to my podcast listeners.

Commenting on a recent blog entry, Antonio Olivari (formerly known as the blogger Arcibald) pointed out that in my Eurovision haze I failed to give any attention to the 32nd edition of the YTC festival L-Għanja tal-Poplu. I actually have a lot to say about this song contest but I'll save it for another day (or year) and simply do what Antonio suggested and play the 2007 winning song. Hawn Jien by Corazon Mizzi is quite an unusual song. Corazon has a lovely voice and the song she has written is unlike any I would ever expect at the Eurovision.

I hope that this is indeed the last I hear or write about the Eurovision for a while. Even my good friend Immanuel Mifsud is still mentioning it on his blog, which has now relocated to WordPress, so perhaps this is just another wish that will come to naught. We Maltese really do give more attention to this contest than we should. This is why I'm so interested in it. This is why I cannot ignore it. Why are so many Maltese people obsessed with this event? And what does it really say about Malta as a nation?

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.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Changing Of The Guards

No more about the recent Eurovision debacle. I've really had enough of it...for now. Perhaps I should be blogging about the Blair-Brown changeover (or even the upcoming switch from the Maltese Lira to the euro) but my blog is not what it used to be, so I'll move on.

This entry is actually meant to serve as a public announcement of my presence on YouTube. I've just been spending too much time in Second Life to create my YouTube account earlier. It also just occurred to me that I haven't even mentioned anything about my adventures as a 3D avatar. I wonder why.

I really need to sort out my priorities in terms of my interests and what not. I guess the first thing on my agenda must be to get the Franklin Furnace book published. To get to that I have to clear all the other odd jobs that have piled up over the months. The first of these is a MaltaMedia feature about the sainthood of Dun Ġorġ Preca. An equally pressing task is a huge pile of essays by my students, which I need to mark in within a period of about two weeks.

And now you may have an idea why I don't always blog as often as I should between my weekly podcasts.

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