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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

See Saw

2009 is history. For the last six years I've been blogging about the ups and downs at the end of every year. Although my blog has been taken over almost completely by show notes for my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast, I still manage to sneak in all sort of (seemingly) unrelated comments and entries on a regular basis. In any case, this whole exercise continues to simply be a collection of snapshots gathered at specific moments in time rather than a detailed chronicle.

This year, my partial and most subjective list of blog entries from the year gone by, continues to be inflected almost completely by my podcast show notes. So, in random order, here's the list of highs and lows in my year, as captured on my blog throughout 2009:


  • 5 Years since WPW Syndrome diagnosis and I'm still here!

  • Pierre J. Mejlak's Qed Nistenniek Nieżla max-Xita

  • MySpace lives on

  • The resurgence of Twitter as an alternative social networking utility

  • Catching up with live music in Malta: April + October

  • Discovering No Bling Show

  • Music video from No Bling Show's Lucija u Samwel

  • The MMI Podcast is now brought to you by Vodafone

  • Free Wi-fi on National Express trains

  • Visiting Moscow + Isle of Man + Hungary

  • Hello Wordpress!

  • High hopes with/for Obama

  • The joys of December

  • AHRC Sabbatical Award for 2009/10

  • Waterloo Sunset

  • 20 Years since 1989

  • 40 Years since 1969

  • The eye-watering rise of Facebook

  • Malta Eurosong 2009

  • Malta at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest

  • Failure of the Green uprising in Iran

  • January takes Mike Francis too

  • Rest in Peace, my teachers:
    Augusto Boal - Charles Camilleri - Charles Clews - Brooks McNamara

  • Rest in Peace, my friends:
    Dennis Vella - Remo Mifsud - Niki Falzon

  • ...and the icons too:
    Wendy Richard - Michael Jackson - Les Paul - Farrah Fawcett

  • So much to do, so little time

    Putting these lists together has become a wonderful way for me to reflect on the highlights and the lowpoints of the year gone by. It is one of the few things that remained consistent throughout the life of this blog. I say this mainly because I know that this blog will once again be undergoing some transformation/s in the coming weeks and months.

    Until then, I'd like to thank you for reading my blog and/or listening to my podcasts in 2009 and a special thanks if you contributed to all that in any way...I wish you a very happy new year!

    Labels: , ,

  • Saturday, December 12, 2009

    Everything In Its Right Place

    Last week I wrote about the way things seem to come together at this time of the year. Ritual and routine help give us a sense of who we are and where we are. It's quite wonderful really, even for someone like me who celebrates chaos most of the rest of the year.

    This blog and my weekly podcast are a central part of that routine for me. As one of my teachers once told me, I prefer to promote chaos through order. It's a paradox but I must admit that order is only really surface deep. Creativity and disorder are great (even if odd) bedfellows.

    The 192nd Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is the last one for this year to feature new music from 2009, before next week's Christmas special. The number of missing nominations from the 2009 MMI Lister Picks poll is much smaller than it has been in previous years. This week's podcast includes two of the songs missing from that list.

    The first is a duet featuring Muxu and Talitha called Still Missing You. Thankfully, if you're a Muxu fan, you can still vote for him on the 2009 MMI Listener Picks poll since his video for Gone is nominated in that category. Muxu continues to be an interesting enigma in the Maltese pop scene. My feeling is that he will be a huge role model for the next generation of male pop singers in the Maltese islands.

    The new album by Christian rock band Salt was only released a few days ago, but it did manage to make it to the Top Album category on the 2009 MMI Listener Picks poll. Less Noise More Love will give the band's ever-growing fan base an excellent way to appreciate what is undoubtedly Malta's most prolific act in this faith-based genre. Still, to see Salt only within that sphere is to miss what a tight band they really are. Stronger, the song I've picked to play on today's podcast, is clear evidence that this band has much more to offer than cool prayer beats.

    Being contacted by singers and musicians via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or directly through my website is one of the things I treasure most about the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. Different people have different ways of telling me about their music and I'm fascinated by the different ways people present themselves. Earlier this week I received a Facebook friend request from Dana McKeon. Nothing more. Like many other people on Facebook I get friend requests from people I don't know all the time. Before accepting them I take a look at their profile page to get a sense as to why they'd like me to have access to them via Facebook and vice versa. This was how I discovered Dana's song Voice in My Head, which is available in two versions on her MySpace page.

    Others send me their CDs in the post. I cherish each and every one of those little plastic discs, especially because I realize that in the not too distant future they will no longer be a viable way to distribute music. Manipulated by Twenty-Six Other-Worlds is a little metal gem. I think it's been underrated on the local scene, partly because their long songs are not very local radio friendly. And yet their melodic hard rock is among the best in the Maltese metal scene at the minute. I've played their songs on the MMI series a couple of times before, but I wanted to end this week's podcast with their song Lady Deadly. Manipulated is among the list of nominations in the Top Album category on the 2009 MMI Listener Picks poll. Voting is only open until the end of the year, so if you haven't voted yet please do so now before it's too late.

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, December 05, 2009

    Time To Pretend

    December brings with it a bunch of annual occurrences that mark the end of the year. The first of these is the Maltese song festival organized annually by the YTC known as L-Għanja tal-Poplu. A couple of music awards events follow it within just a few days. Meanwhile two of the three public holidays the Maltese enjoy during this month roll around and clearly it's time to share season's greetings.

    Last week I was interviewed about the Malta Music Awards by Marlene Galea from SBS Radio in Australia. She actually broadcast my comments over two days. Throughout all this, Kenneth J. Vella was rebuilding the Facebook app that enables Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast listeners to vote for their top picks from 2009. Almost 100 people have already voted in the first few days that the app has been active on Facebook. We're expecting several hundred to vote over the coming weeks; voting is open until the end of the year. The top 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks will be announced during the first podcast for 2010.

    So the 191st MMI podcast attempts to capture all this, or at least some of it, since my podcasts tend to become even more eclectic in December. I've wanted to include something by The Areola Treat this year but it's only now that I've managed to come around to it. This is possibly because the band has been too busy touring and gigging to record any new material. So from the debut EP, released last year, I've picked 16, which is more than fit for purpose.

    There are a number of performers whose work has been nominated for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, who have released more material than what has ended up on the list receiving your votes. Two such acts are featured next in this week's podcast.

    The Myth are nominated in the singles category for Dream and in the music videos category with Animal. Their most recent release is called Thank You and I've selected to included it as the second track on this week's podcast. Similarly, Stefanos is nominated for his guitar instrumentals released online via MySpace. A few weeks ago he sent me an acoustic track called Tears in My Heart and I must admit that I prefer this sound over his electric tracks, and it serves as a very appropriate segue for the songs from L-Għanja tal-Poplu I've picked to play during the rest of this week's podcast.

    Antonio Olivari D'Emanuele and Justin Galea have teamed up on a song called Attent, which placed third in this year's YTC song contest. They are both regular listeners of the MMI podcast, so I take great pleasure in not only congratulating them but also in playing their song. I haven't received my copy of the CD album with all this year's songs yet, nor are they freely available online, but I have managed to acquire the winning song in time to include it as the closing track of this week's podcast. The 2009 Għanja tal-Poplu was won by Corazon Mizzi and Walter Micallef, whose duet is called Tal-Aħħar. Maltese songs like this give great hope to the use of our mother tongue in years to come.

    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. This podcast is brought to you by Vodafone.

    Labels: , , , ,

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Out of Time

    Time is my greatest enemy. There's never enough time to do all the things I'd really like to do. I think I live a fairly simple life and yet I'm somehow caught up in doing all sorts of creative things that take more time than anyone can physically handle.

    To make things worse, certain things have deadlines or what you could call a shelf-life. This means that all the time in the world can never be enough because they must be over and done with by a certain time on a certain day.

    Believe it or not this anxiety is linked to the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. Over the years I've managed to get a handle on the podcast production itself, but when it comes to the annual listeners' picks poll it's still a work-in-progress in terms of turning that into part of the yearly routine. This year I have Kenneth Vella to thank for taking over from James Attard's excellent work on Facebook for 2007 and 2008. We've started afresh, mostly because Facebook is a beastly online utility and the way things work makes it next to impossible to leave things alone and expect them to work without fail.

    So, as you get ready to cast your votes for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll I've assembled one final podcast with new tracks that are being added to the list of nominations before the obligatory cut off date. The 190th MMI podcast is packed with brand new tracks, some of which come from acts that are appearing on the nominations list for the very first time.

    I am rarely amazed by Maltese pop singers but it's know to happen every now and then. This week I heard Lyndsay Pace's new single and I must say it is very impressive. It is not only an excellent follow-up to Addicted, her collaboration with Errol Sammut, but also an outstanding pop rock song by any measure.

    Keeping up the pace we then move on to the new single from Relikc. Mindwreck continues where Tomorrow, the band's debut, left off just a few months ago. Keith Zammit and the rest of the band have a bright future ahead of them on the local rock scene if this is what they sound like so early in their lifespan.

    On the way to greatness bands can and do get cocky sometimes. This is what I thought when I first heard Who the Heck is Rek? by Red Electrick. This new single is another fine offering from this popular Maltese band, but they've set their own bar higher than this so hopefully they'll bounce back with more great stuff next year. In spite of my honest thoughts on this new song, I'm sure their many fans will think nothing of my opinion and rock on as if nothing really matters. Perhaps they've got it right too.

    Six.Point.Circle is a band that's been around for several months now but I've only very recently managed to get my hands on a recording of one of their songs. Shades of Red is a good showcase for Bianca Caruana's lovely voice and Demis Fenech's agile guitar-work. It's good to hear both of them working outside the comfort zone MMI listeners will have heard them in before. The band provides interesting elements of progressive rock. In time their live work and more studio recordings will show whether this is an exploratory project or something that matures with time.

    I've seen the name Bark Bark Disco around a few times this year. I never really knew what to make of it, mostly because I haven't managed to catch them play live during one of my visits to Malta this year. Then, out of the blue, comes a 12-track album entitled Your Mum Says Hello. It's a delightful blend of bedroom pop as you can hear on the track A Song for Lovers or by getting the free download for the whole thing. Morris Woodcock (a.k.a. Ian Schranz from the Beangrowers) obviously had a great time putting these songs together. Listen closely and you'll certainly agree.

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Once More

    From time to time I feel I've reached a state of calm. This is a good thing. It means that the excitement and energy driving me to do something or other has subsided, but it also means that there's something else coming up just around the corner. Unfortunately my periods of calm rarely last more than a couple of weeks. If you don't believe me just browse through my blog.

    One way to gauge these how calm these calm periods really are is through my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. This regular appointment I've made with Maltese music for each weekend really serves for much more than is clearly evident to any listener. Right now the series is settling into the fact that it is sponsored by Vodafone and gearing up for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll on Facebook. I equate a time like this to being between waves, but it doesn't feel like the analogy is quite right.

    Cover versions are rare on the MMI podcast. The occasional exception makes it to the show simply because it's a stand-out case. And so it is for 8 Ugly's version of Lady Let It Lie by Fish. Apparently, clearing the mechanical rights for this song to appear on 8 Ugly's long anticipated Sleeper album has delayed the release of that CD. If every other Maltese act was so scrupulous about these things I honestly believe that even fewer covers would be recorded. 8 Ugly give the song their own twist, which actually makes it sound as if it was one of their songs rather than a minor hit by the ex-Marillion singer who has visited Malta more than once.

    Beige is one of those bands that appeared in the last couple of years that I wish we'd hear more of and more often. A few weeks ago they released a single entitled Feels Good, which makes me want even more from this band. Claire Galea (I think I got her name right this time!) has an unusual voice for a Maltese pop rock singer. It pleasant without being obvious and compliments the slick guitar work by Eric Santucci quite beautifully. It feels good indeed.

    The local metal scene has good reason to rejoice today. Twenty-Six Other-Worlds are officially launching their CD album Manipulated with a live gig. Metal fans are very loyal to the bands they like. Most fans like more than one band, of course, so I believe that this release will attract many new followers for this band. Not only can you purchase the CD through the band's website but you can also buy the album from iTunes if you prefer a download rather than a shiny plastic disc. The track they've released as a radio edit from Manipulated is called When Beauty Danced.

    All three songs I've already mentioned for this week's podcast will join the rest on my list of nominations for the 2009 MMI Listeners' Picks poll. I'm still collecting names for that list, so I was very pleased when Alex Vella Gera contacted me to point out that Hunters Palace released a live album of a show they gave at Chiaroscuro in Valletta on the 30 December 2008. The album was released as a limited online download only under the name 30/12/08. The band have been gigging and recording in London this month, so I'm sure we'll be hearing more from them again soon enough. Until then I've picked After The Dream to bring this week's podcast to a calm close.

    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.

    Labels: , ,

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Wild Young Hearts

    It has now been exactly five years since I started living with the fact that I suffer from WPW Syndrome. Discovering that I'm afflicted by this heart condition has given me an answer to previous unexplained questions about my health, but it has also made me acutely aware that I'm no longer an invincible young man.

    In many ways, living with WPW Syndrome is hardly inconvenient. I take a little pill every day and all seems well, for the most part. However, stress is obviously something that I try to avoid at all costs. This is not always possible, of course. To rephrase a noble truth: life is stressful. And yet, life goes on.

    Five years is a long time, but in the greater scheme of things it's not really that long. Time is such a fascinating phenomenon. Over the last three years or so I've taken to measuring it through my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. On the one hand I can't believe we're already up to podcast number 177 in the series, but on the other hand I'm not surprised that this has happened because it's the natural order for this sort of activity, when it's done consistently. It was August 2005 when I first started experimenting regularly with podcasting.

    If for no other reason, I look forward to each edition of the MMI podcast for the new music it brings with it. I honestly doubt I hear about some of the recordings I play from week to week. One such pieces comes from a singer who represented Malta at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003. Like other worthy Eurovision performers, Julie Ann Zahra has gone on to do more that sing silly pop songs in her musical career. She's just given a couple of concerts at St. James Cavalier with guitarist Jimi Savage. This follows on from the recent release of No One In Heaven, a single written by Owen C.

    Speaking of recent releases, Airport Impressions released an EP containing all the recordings they've released to date. This band has been gathering popularity in Malta through various high-profile gigs and TV appearances. They also won several awards last year and are now clearly more than just a guitar duo. You can hear their song Genuine as the second pick on this week's podcast.

    Soundscape Foundation have the potential to be the next Airport Impressions in as much as they're starting out as a guitar duo singing their own songs. Savannah has an old grunge feel to it but still packs a distinctive punch. Simon Cutajar and Daniel Cassar would do well to keep at it. I'm looking forward to more songs from these guys. Eventually they may even expand the band to make a lasting impact on the local alternative scene.

    I'm always very appreciative when Maltese musicians and performers send me their CDs by post. Digital downloads are cool, but CDs will still be with us in the foreseeable future. This month I've received about half a dozen new CDs. Fire's Thrill Me is among them, of course. This band is among the foremost classic rock outfits in Malta. Their recordings sound so good not only because they are excellent musicians but also because guitarist Robert Longo produces all the band's recordings in his own Padd Cell Studios. Back Home is a brilliant example of the dynamic range this band has managed to achieve in the few years it's been together.

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, August 08, 2009

    Summer of 69

    A couple of weeks ago much was made of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the first men to walk on the moon. This weekend, hundreds of Beatles fans gathered on the famous pedestrian crossing in Abbey Road to re-enact the iconic cover photo of the album with the same name, which was originally snapped 40 years ago to the day. And next weekend many aged hippies will be marking the 40th year since Woodstock.

    I was an infant in the summer of 1969. I'm not one for nostalgia and yet I am moved to mark each of these events in my own way. The Apollo 11 anniversary took me to Second Life, where a 3D sim of the landing site was created with lunar module and all. Earlier today I watched Beatles fans and tourists annoying the hell out of motorists on Abbey Road through a webcam I discovered via Mashable. And I'm not sure what I'll be up to next weekend in relation to Woodstock. Luckily no one has thought to recreate the 1999 fiasco where all we really remember is the commercial exploitation of fans, which resulted in enough mayhem to make the Hell's Angels proud.

    My old friend Alfie Fabri (and others) equate the summer of '69 (and Woodstock in particular) with the way we saw things in Malta about fifteen years later. Having lived through the 1980s as a teenager in Malta, I couldn't disagree more. I know what they really mean and it's all connected with the complex way popular culture in the Maltese islands has developed during our lifetime. Yet, I seriously doubt anyone will bother to cash out on the 25th Anniversary of MaltaSajf'84.

    The local music scene has come a long way since those days. In many ways things are really better now. The one thing I really miss from back then is my physical youth. My cultural youth is rejuvenated every weekend through my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. The 174th edition in the series brings in yet another opportunity to hear new music made in Malta.

    Manwel T returns with a new album on Dubkey Records called Virtual Dub. He's giving the album away for free through the Dubkey website. You can also find other Dubkey releases there, including In the Temple of Dub, which has Manwel T collaborating with Mind's Eye Dub. This music is way cool. Reggae beats have been in Manwel Tabone's life for decades now, and it shows through his dubs and remixes. I've picked one called Thirsty Dub performed by HotDrop, and it's an excellent way to open the podcast.

    London-based Fraser Gregory has maintained his Maltese connection on his upcoming debut album entitled A Garden At The Top Of The Tree, which was recorded at Temple Studios, produced by David Vella and mixed by Luuk Cox. The album should be released sometime soon but you can hear a track from it called There is a Forest right now. If I manage to get my hands on a copy of this new album I'll gladly play another track or two from it, especially if there of the same caliber as the song I've included as the second pick on this week's MMI podcast.

    A few days ago I heard Lyndsay Pace's new single. It's called Addicted and shows this young singer at her best. It's quite rocky but not too rocky. To put it another way, this is the best thing I've heard from Lyndsay. She's quite good. I'd say that if she keeps on this track, she may truly end up making her mark on the local scene one day sooner or later.

    From time to time I'm thrilled to discover new acts which fall neatly under the ambient and/or minimalist banner. Sonitus is the most recent of these finds. I have no idea who Sonitus really is. The only picture on the MySpace profile page is deliberately very blurry. I almost don't want to know Sonitus' true identity. The music speaks for itself after all. This genre is quite an acquired taste and I know that many regular MMI podcast listeners wouldn't necessarily pick it as one of their personal choices. There's no harm in trying something new every now and then. Sonitus' track is called Asphixetamol.

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    After the Love is Gone

    I can't believe it's already been a week since I left Moscow. It all seems like a blur. I guess this is partly, if not mostly, because I'm so busy with all sorts of things. Unfortunately some of the things that keep me busy are not very productive. It's really about time I learned to take the raw with the cooked, and yet it's getting better all the time.

    Two deaths broke up this week's humdrum cheer. The first was that of Maltese actress Antoinette Soler. She was quite well known and loved both on stage and TV for many years. Oddly, though, I haven't seen a single obituary or appreciation for her online. Next came the shocking personal message from my old friend Robert Longo that Niki Falzon had passed away. He was only 48 but Sam Hayman told me that he'd been hospitalized about a month ago. I'm afraid that the best that I can do is remember them through my blog and celebrate Niki's music during my Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast.

    The 163rd MMI podcast is a mixed bag of goodies that accumulated on my desktop over the last few days. The opening song is the long awaited debut release from Kartridge. This band, fronted by former Purple Haze singer Daryl Ebejer, has been gigging since around 2006, and I've always longed to hear them. Now that they've finally produced a recording I can fulfill that wish and share their sound with my podcast listeners. The song is called Wild Crazy Nights.

    I'm pleased to see that more and more Maltese musicians and performers are taking to Twitter. On this week's podcast I've deliberately included two people who have taken to Twittering quite regularly. It was through Twitter that I discovered Christabelle's song Flame, which has just been released on YouTube accompanied by a static picture of the singer for the duration of the song. Apparently it's been out (and getting regular radio airplay in Malta) for several months but if it wasn't for the fact that I started following Christabelle on Twitter about a week ago I would have probably missed out completely on this one.

    Brian Vassallo is the other inclusion on this week's podcast to come from Twitter. Several days ago, Philip Mizzi posted a short film called In The End made by Ramon Mizzi. Philip acts in this short film, but I only really became aware that the original soundtrack was composed by Brian Vassallo from Brian's Twitter account; I have been following him for a number of weeks. The track I've selected from this short film soundtrack is called My Only Son.

    Regular listeners of the Mużika Mod Ieħor series may remember that I've included the music of Nick Falzon at least a couple of times in previous editions. Niki, as those of us who knew him more than two decades ago called him, was a very prolific composer of jazzy new age music and broadcast jingles. His passing earlier this week is marked with a fond final farewell at the close of this week's podcast. The music I've chosen to play to see us out until the next episode comes from a 1992 album called Twilight Moods, which Niki Falzon released under the name Masque, in collaboration with several other musicians, including saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock and drummer David Vella. Glow is among the best tracks on what was one of the very first Maltese CD albums ever released.

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    Just Dance

    As there are still a considerable number of early-year events still to come, it would be foolish of me to think that the new year is really already is full swing. It simply is not. Next Tuesday's Obama inauguration brings high hopes with it. I'm not expecting any radical changes but the fact that a new tone will be set for world politics helps me breathe easier. If I manage my time properly I should be blogging about that later this week.

    Some things never change, or rather, as the saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same. Right now, the 147th Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is my way of making sense of this paradox. It opens with a grungy ballad called Till I Die by Totema. This ties in with the last track on the preceeding edition of the MMI podcast. Guitarist Emerson Vella is the link between the two. Totema's MySpace page contains three recordings by this band but little else, so I don't know as much as I'd like to about them. I'm hoping that they're active enough in 2009 to merit another inclusion on my weekly podcast.

    Daniel Cassar is a young guitarist I just met via MySpace. He has uploaded a jazzy tune called Around the Day in 80 Worlds to demonstrate his excellent guitar playing skills. By his own admission this is just a demo but it shows him as a local guitarist worthy of note. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him, either as a soloist or even with a band. He plays with metal newcomers Cyanide, so there's hope.

    By contrast, I know we'll be hearing more from Maltese-Australian singer-songwriter Luke Caruana, better known as Carra. He was recently in Malta and played some gigs in France and Holland too before returning back to Sydney. There's now a Carra Facebook page too and he's working on a new album and, judging by his previous releases, I'm sure that will be one of the better Maltese-Australian releases this year. Down the Line is from last year's Gaia EP.

    Back to Maltese guitarist uploading their recordings to MySpace, a few weeks ago I came across Stefanos who has uploaded a small number of instrumental tracks. The one I've selected for my podcast is entitled Little Thoughts. Stefanos' online presence is one that beautifully demonstrates the sort of worldwide audience hitherto unknown Maltese musicians can attract.

    Back to the opening point I clumsily tried to make in the first paragraph of this blog post, I'm very much looking forward to developing a major research project on the arts in Malta. I've already managed to articulate the main idea for a couple of funding applications I put forward last year, but now I'm quite keen to get the project off the ground by any means necessary. To make sure that the work isn't perceived as an academic project that has limited interest to a broader public I accepted an invitation to write an article about a small aspect of this planned work. Writing this article for one of the local Sunday newspaper magazines I exchanged several emails with Freddie Portelli, among other veteran Maltese pop rock musicians.

    I mention all this here because aside from answering my questions and showing me some wonderful picture from his time with the Malta Bums and Black Train, Freddie also sent me an MP3 of Play It Again, released as a single in 1979. He explained that Black Train were unable to travel abroad to promote this single widely when it came out because the band had far too many commitments to play at people's weddings. Having attended two of those weddings in the late 1970s I can attest to the frenzy that accompanied the presence of The Black Train at wedding halls across Malta. If you've never heard this song before, I suggest you listen to it in the context of the Eurovision Song Contest.

    I bring this up because although Malta was not taking part in that contest at that point in time, Play it Again would have possibly gone down well with Eurovision fans and made Freddie and the Black Train into a Euro-pop sensation. Then again, this also came out at the time that punk had changed the face of rock music, but it would take the next generation of Maltese musicians to bring that around, even if an underground scene was already brewing by then. Sadly, no one has documented any of this properly so far. I'm now hoping to rectify this in a systematic way.

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

    Labels: , , ,

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    See Saw

    2008 is history. For the last five years I've been blogging about the ups and downs at the end of every year. Things have changed somewhat since 2004 around here, mostly because my blog has been taken over almost completely by show notes for my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. I have no real regrets about that. If I had more (free) time I'd probably blog more often between podcasts.

    So, my annual partial, most subjective, list of blog entries from the year gone by, in random order is marinated in podcast show notes. In any case, this list is meant mostly as a simple way to mark the highs and lows in my year, as chronicled on my blog throughout 2008:


  • Speaking about Performance in Second Life at the IOCT

  • Undergoing colonoscopy at Whitby Hospital

  • The 100th episode in my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcasting series

  • Could I possibly ever live in Malta again?

  • The Maltese blogosphere is dead! Long live the Maltese blogosphere

  • Claudio Baglioni's version of L-Aħħar Bidwi f'Wied il-Għasel

  • Diana Gurtskaya singing Peace Will Come (Georgia's 2008 ESC entry)

  • I have one word for you: Facebook

  • Public transport in Malta will never be the same again

  • Best Dr Who episode, ever

  • Xtruppaw return to delight a live audience

  • Philip Auslander is not dead!

  • Being a student at Beached Academy

  • Appearing on Bondi+ via web-based video chat

  • Interview on SBS radio in Australia

  • CDs: Brikkuni's Kuntrabanda! and Magic of the Sun by The Rifffs

  • Marking 10 years since the first MaltaMedia production


  • Malta Song for Europe 2008 - semifinal

  • Malta Song for Europe 2008 - final

  • Hard disk meltdown!

  • 2008 Malta General Elections

  • Malta's entry at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest

  • Remodeling our kitchen

  • Christmas comes a little too early

    RIP: Roland Friggieri, Ebba von Fersen Balzan, Albert Hofmann, Sir Anthony Mamo, George Carlin, Bo Diddley, Kilin, and Manwel Borg.

    Not counting the departed friends and icons, this year seem to be considerably abundant in the ups and somewhat scarce on the downers.

    I'd like to thank you for reading my blog and/or listening to my podcasts in 2008 and a special thanks if you contributed to all that in any way...I wish you a very happy new year!

    Labels: , ,

  • Saturday, September 13, 2008

    Trying To Pull Myself Away

    Things should be better by this time next week. Right now I'm just fighting against the clock to make a Monday deadline on submitting a chapter I'm writing about performance in Second Life for a book on learning and teaching in this virtual world. The book will be published by an academic press in Norway within the next few months. On top of this, life goes on and my "to do" list keeps getting longer and longer. Ironically, as the impeding start of the new academic year looms over the temporal horizon I long for it to all come into place because it helps me structure things better.

    The other thing that helps me structure things better is of course my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. In the midst of the final sprint to get my Second Life writing done on time, I can't but pause for a few hours to produce this week's MMI podcast. By taking time to do this I find that my brain works better when I get back to writing about avatars and the conceptual possibilities of virtual worlds.

    I'm very pleased with the new recordings from Dean Saviour. His Marshmallow Girl was picked to top the 2007 MMI podcast listeners' picks in the online releases category. He now returns with two new online releases. Hallway of Kites is the one I've picked to open the 131st edition of the MMI podcast. I'm sure Dean's music will receive a good number of votes again on this year's listerers' picks. More about that in a couple of weeks or so.

    I'm also thrilled to discover that Brikkuni are in the process of putting together an album and it looks like it'll be entitled Kuntrabanda. They've just released to unmastered tracks from it on their MySpace page. Brussel is one of them and it captures the unique sound of this band fronted by former Lumiere singer Mario Vella. The band now includes a prodigious line-up, which includes Danjeli on keyboards, his mate Michael Galea on drums, Daniel "il-Flambu" Cassar plays bass, and the other former Lumiere Matthew Cuschieri on guitar. Additional musicians include Ruth Abela on clarinet.

    Their earlier recording was too raw for comfort - I featured it on the 47th edition of the MMI podcast anyway - but it also encouraged me to include a track from a recent batch of recordings I discovered on Facebook by a defunct band called A Fuscia Sun Vessel. This trio was only together for about six months in 2006 and since then Robert Farrugia Flores has emerged as one of the foremost performers on the underground scene along with his new band Dominoes. They will be appearing at the Poxx Bar with Explicit next Friday the 19th of September.

    Since I've gone back in time a little bit for A Fuchsia Sun Vessel, I thought that this would be a most appropriate time to play a track from a CD I've been wanting to feature on my podcast for a long time. I finally acquired my own copy of Sigo's Perfect Existence from 2002. Sergio Gatt, the singer-songwriter who also goes by the name of his band, has withdrawn from performing original material since then but thankfully he still gigs regularly playing covers. This is a shame because as you can hear from Bliss, a duet with Marvic Lewis, there's much more than meets the eye to this performer who has been active for about 20 years now. I must dig out some of my old tapes one of these days and play you something from his days with a band called Big Foot, a time when survival on the local music scene was a much harder slog that it is now.

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

    Labels: , , ,

    Monday, December 31, 2007

    See Saw

    2007 is history. If you've followed this blog for more than a year you probably already know that I at the end of every eyar I take stock of the previous 12 months. This all started in 2004 and went on with slight variations the following year and last year. I've come to see it as a way to have a quck look at all (or most of) my blog entries in one go.

    So now, for the fourt 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 2007:


  • Interview on BBC Radio York

  • World's first enhanced Maltese podcasts

  • Results of the 1st annual MMI Listeners' Picks + MMI podcast: 50th & 75th

  • Oliva Lewis wins the 2007 Malta Song for Europe

  • Easter in Malta

  • Visiting the National Media Museum with my students.

  • Lunar Eclipse + Eklissi Perpetwi

  • Pierre J. Mejlak's Riħ Isfel

  • Second Life - YouTube - Twitter - Facebook

  • Visiting Helsinki and the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest debacle

  • Post-Eurovision comments for Malta Today

  • The Simpsons Movie

  • Conferences: SL in London + SL-related in Salford

  • Discovering Drive + Dean Saviour

  • Patti Smith, Radiohead's In Rainbows + Danjeli's Kakofonija on my iPod

  • Taking the 2nd annual MMI Listeners' Picks poll to Facebook

  • Morrissey is not the UK Eurovision entry

  • RIP: Apakuki Coka - Jean Baudrillard - David Hatch - Bergman+Antonioni - Tony Wilson - Marcel Marceau - Karlheinz Stockhousen

  • My friend Ġorġ Mifsud-Chircop is dead

  • Olivia Lewis' drean turns into a nightmare

  • Big Brother (not the celebrity version)

  • 10th anniversary from Diana's death

  • Summer bummer

  • Radio Malta sinks to further low

  • Xtruppaw return on the scene with a football anthem

    In putting these two lists together I realized that there were a number of things in 2007 I'd have liked to blog about properly but didn't find the time or the muse to do so. At least most of them get a mention here and there, in unrelated posts. Here are the main ones (in random order): Frank Camilleri and Mario Frendo visit Scarborough, Pan's Labyrinth, Amy Winehouse, moving house, transliteracy, 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Steve Dixon's Digital Performance book, support for the Burmese monks, attending academic conferences in Birmingham + Leeds, the joys of organic gardening, Yoko Ono's Yes I'm a Witch, and Joni Mitchell's Shine.

    One thing I (very oddly!) didn't blog about was my interview with Clare Agius for her Mhux għall-Kulħadd on TV series. It's available on YouTube, of course. Perhaps that's why I forgot to blog about it.

    Anyway, many thanks for reading my blog and listening to my podcasts in 2007 and a special thanks if you contributed to all that in any way...I wish you a very happy new year!

    Labels: , ,

  • Saturday, December 29, 2007

    Total Eclipse of the Heart

    If for nothing else, I like the Christmas holidays because I get to find the time to do some of the things I can't do when I'm simply too busy. One of those things is non-academic reading.

    One of the things I've been reading recently is Achille Mizzi's new book of poetry entitled Eklissi Perpetwi. He is one of the modern Maltese poets I've admired for many years. I first discovered his work along with others in the anthology Linji Ġodda as a teenager in the early 1980s. I remember the poem Enigma Variations very well, mostly because of its wonderful musical allusions. His collection Il-Kantiku tad-Demm had just been published so it was quite easy to find more of his poems to read. Eventually other books of his poems were published and I was hooked. I was particularly mesmerized by Tango, which became one of my favourite poems of all time, especially after setting it to music for a literary evening in his honour at the University of Malta about 20 years ago.
    Achille Mizzi - Eklissi Perpetwi
    Whenever I come across any new poems by Achille Mizzi, I immediately look for the musical qualities in them, and I'm never disappointed. Some allusions are subtle, but, as if to reward me and those like me, there's also direct references. In the new collection we get Kitarra and Toccata e Fuga in Re. For the more astute observer there's also Qanpiena, Ritmi, and even Asperges.

    I've always believed that Achille Mizzi is like an unassuming bespectacled superhero who transforms himself into his alter ego through his poetry. Eklissi Perpetwi is clearly written by a mature poet. In reading poems like Amnesija, Rebbieħa 2003, Turment, and Lil Binti fil-Milja Tagħha, among others, I see more than a glimpse of the man behind the poet. He's been at it for so long it now seems that the poems are more inseparable from his everyday thoughts than ever. To me, this is what he means by the title of this new book: it's as if his poetic mode is so innate that it now casts an eternal shade on his thoughts.

    If you've never read any of Achille Mizzi's poetry, just consider this from his new book:


    teleskopju ta' mirja
    ġo mirja,

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    The Clock

    Anyone who follows this blog on a fairly regular basis knows that I'm simply too busy to put as much time as I'd like to into writing here. If I didn't have a weekly music podcast to blog about, I have a feeling that I wouldn't post at least one blog post a week. So, if for no other reason, I podcast to keep my blog active.

    Whenever I sit down to produce my weekly podcast, one of the first things I do is write down the number for that particular episode. I frequently surprise myself by the ever-growing count. This week it's number 88.

    As it happens, this week's podcast contains a relatively laid back selection. It's as if there was a chill-out theme guiding me as I was putting it together. To dispel any such thoughts I'll just say that I actually replaced one of the songs with a more upbeat track at the last minute.

    Sasha Vella's Melody sets the tone perfectly. I only discovered Sasha's songs very recently. They're quite beautiful. It's also quite refreshing to hear a Maltese singer deliver vocal interpretations that are not feeding from an obvious palette. She has released 4 songs on MySpace and on Sellaband, which she sees as her possible ticket to a future recording in a professional recording studio. Her demo recordings are remarkable and I hope she keeps producing more of them until she gets to record in a sophisticated studio.

    About a year ago
    I played a track from David Agius, a Maltese-Australian musician based in Sydney. He has recorded and released more tracks since then. At first I was tempted to include his haunting ballad When I Get Old but eventually I picked Can't Help It, which demonstrates the best qualities of this singing guitarist, who plays all the instruments heard on his songs.

    From time to time I discover a Maltese CD release I missed simply because it was not publicized on the Internet well enough when it first came out. One such CD is Clifford Borg's Drifted, which ironically has a very strong online presence. It's quite a good recording of piano music made on the Manoel Theatre's Steinway grand, with the occasional sparse string arrangement. The title track appears on this week's podcast as one of two instrumental selections.

    The second instrumental track comes from Mario Sammut who first appeared on my radar in connection with the amazing Mantra Fest held at the Garden of Rest in Belt is-Sebħ a couple of months ago. He has recently released a live recording of his performance from that event. You can hear Urn as the closing sound on this week's podcast. This is the sort of chill-out music that everyone should hear from time to time to realign their chakras.

    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 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, 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.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    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.

    Labels: , , ,

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    May It Be

    It would really be marvelous if I could find more time to blog. I'm not entirely pleased that this channel has been all but taken over by my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. Not that I mind, either. It's just that I wish I had more time to blog about other things. If you look back at my blog before my podcasting series became a regular thing, you'll see that I'm not just longing for a better time that's no longer with us, but a renewed way to blog about things other than the Maltese music scene. Meanwhile it feels like there's no stopping this trajectory and so this blog entry deals entirely with episode 65 in the MMI series.

    If you follow the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast with any regularity you know that I like to string my selections together thematically, in some way or other. Finding a connection between the first two songs for this week is fairly because they've done it for me themselves. Surreal, the opening tune, comes from a UK-based band called Caligula, which is fronted by Maltese-born singer Glenda Azzopardi, better known as Gia. Her life partner, and father to their infant child, is Muttley. Misery is another song off his 2006 album Paid to Fail.

    MySpace never fails me. It's my constant life-line to the Maltese music scene. To be honest I'm not sure whether my weekly podcasting series would have survived in its current form if it wasn't for the seemingly endless stream of new and old acts establishing their presence on this most popular Web 2.0 network.

    Just a few days ago I was terribly pleased to discover that 80s electro-combo Joy Circuit are in discussions to reunite. Founding members Kevin O'Neill and Larski (a.k.a Mark Ellul, of Dejjem Tiegħek, Becky fame) have established their presence on MySpace and appear to be pushing towards bringing singer Jody Fiteni to the fray sooner or later. In case you're wondering where you've heard that name before, Jody's voice has already graced this series twice; with the Sky Giants and from a rare Mill-Garaxx recording with the Ophidian Twin.

    In a previous blog entry I mentioned that during my recent visit to Malta I bumped into Melchior Sultana. We kept in touch after that and earlier this week he sent me a couple of recordings he made earlier this year. No More is one of them and it clearly shows him for the major force he is in electronic dance music on the local scene.

    Keeping the music as varied as possible, I close with Tribali's Never Give Up to mark their appearance at the Earth Garden Festival in Ta' Qali this weekend. I also like the title of this track as a precursor to events in the upcoming week. Yes, it's Eurovision week again now and I'm off to Helsinki on Monday.

    If you're (still) wondering why I bother with such pop drivel, please find comfort in the fact that this question is still on my mind. Still, I find more reasons to fly towards the flame as I get deeper and deeper into this multinational television phenomenon. Next week's podcast will be an attempt to peel off another couple of layers from this glass onion.

    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.

    Labels: , ,

    Saturday, April 28, 2007

    When I'm 64

    There are three major forces pushing and pulling on the shape of most of my days right now. Thankfully, most of this will all pass relatively soon. We're still settling into our new home here in Scarborough; we went to an auction looking for good deals on furniture this morning. I'm still toiling away at my book on Franklin Furnace and I'm hoping to have a revised version to hand on to my prospective publisher. Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to go spend a few days in Helsinki at the end of next week. These three aspects modulate everything and anything I can think about right now.

    Thankfully, my weekly podcast can be a haven away from from such life forces, and in some way that holds true for episode 64. This week's podcast opens with the title track from Limestone Kick's 1996 album Y. I like to include the occasional blast from the past on Mużika Mod Ieħor. One of the reason's I pick to play Limestone Kick is to remember previous work by two band members who have now moved on to a very different style of music. Guitarist Jo "Sapi" Sapiano and percussionist Peter Paul Galea are now in Tribali. They will be appearing with a number of other World-Music-type acts at the upcoming Earth Garden Festival next week. More about that in a minute.

    I really miss some of the Maltese bands that are no longer together. Particle Blue would definitely top that list. All things must pass, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who mourns Claire Tonna's departure from Particle Blue. Listen to the track Modele that I've selected to play and you'll hopefully see why I'm so enamored with this dissolved act.

    As I'm not one to wallow in nostalgia, the next track is from 2007. It comes from Mathematikal, who have appeared on a previous edition of this podcast. I'm sure that people who follow the local alternative music scene in Malta remember Jon and Jay from Hidden Sun. They're been very active recording new material in recent months. This is Plonk is one of the tracks they've recorded and it's probably as far away from the sound of Hidden Sun as you can get.

    During my recent visit to Malta, Etnika's percussionist Jason Fabri gave me an unreleased recording of the band playing in Köln, Germany, last year. From that show I've selected the song Rummiena, featuring among other elements the celestial voice of Julie Pomorski, a delightful mandolin intervention by Andrew Alamango, and the masterly tuba of my old friend Paul Borg. This is contemporary Maltese folk music at its best. Etnika will be appearing along with Tribali, Nafra, Renzo Spiteri and others at the Earth Garden on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May from 7pm at the National Park in Ta' Qali. It should be a very enjoyable evening. Pity I can't be there but I will be producing another Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast next weekend before I scoot off to Helsinki.

    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.

    Labels: , ,