Culture

Algiers

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Somehow it was apt that Algiers took the stage as Storm Ciara took its toll on the country. Inside, the brave, the curious and the devoted were treated to a devastating live set, which drew heavily from their new album There Is No Year.

The opening punk blast of “Void” set the tone; resplendent under the neon red strip lights, the band tore through a diverse set list with absolute command. The band acted as one supremely powerful entity, locking in and out of searing dance grooves and discordant noise sequences with consummate ease.

Power from Below

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If anyone needs extra motivation for another five years of the Tories, Motihari Brigade will put your marching boots on in Power from Below.

Named after the Indian birthplace of George Orwell, their call to action is standing up to power through their own Orwellian “thoughtcrime” music.

The album begins with the cry that everything will stay the same “until people take the power” and ends with a poignant message in “Waiting for the Revolution” that “We are on our own but we are not alone”.

Land of No Junction

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Melancholic ethereal vocals reminiscent of Sharon Van Etten, with wandering guitar picks and Courtney Barnett-esque bass provide an arresting balance as the Irish songwriter’s debut album opens.

The unexpected introduction of a late 60s psychedelic sound, the chord progressions with the bend of 7ths, floating flute and jagged touch of the strings over the top lifts the mood.

Themes of a woman finding herself at a crossroads in life, there is a longing for more agency, but with resigned understanding that we don’t have it.

Greed

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Greed stars the actor Steve Coogan in a comic take-down of the world of the top one percent. It’s based around a retail boss’s 60th birthday party at his private villa on the Greek island of Mykonos,

The film nominally features the fictional Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie. But it’s all about Sir Philip Green. He’s the Topshop supremo who accrued fabulous wealth as he waded through a series of profitable financial manoeuvres and then devastated thousands of lives as the reality led to collapse.

Pacita Abad: Life in the Margins

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This is the first UK showing of ‘Life in the Margins’ by Pacita Abad, a worldwide recognised multimedia artist of the past 30 years; and how lucky we are in Bristol to host this fantastic debut to the country.

Spike Island’s bare, open studio creates the perfect space for Abad’s large tapestries. They burst with complex and loud colour, varying from story-telling portraits to abstract prints, heavy in cultural references through colour, shape and technique.

Born to Manifest

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Born to Manifest

Born to Manifest is the latest dance work by the acclaimed choreographer and performer Joseph Toonga and his company Just Us Dance Theatre. A hip-hop piece for two dancers (Toonga and Dani Harris-Walters), it is a powerful, invigorating, enraging and almost unbearably moving evocation of the experience of young black men in Britain.

As a performing arts critic, I see a lot of stage works. Consequently, I hope, I have developed a strong sense of the difference between cheap sentiment and the real deal.

Five Things to do or see this month

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Studio Ghibli films on Netflix
Released on Netflix through February, March and April
A host of animated films from Studio Ghibli are now on Netflix, with more coming over the next couple of months. The first seven to stream include the classics My Neighbour Totoro, Castle in the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service, but also some less known films such as Ocean Waves and Only Yesterday. Hours of beautiful, funny and moving animation.

Fates Worse than Death

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Here is an album about change – a perceived uncontrollable change and the despair at seeing the world around you crumbling. Singer Sam Treber’s anger at gentrification of his hometown Pittsburgh is put in longing terms; he misses hearing a neighbour sing through the wall who has since been priced out of the area. While others complain he should write songs about lost love and friends, he can’t see past the cracks in the ceiling growing larger, nor how capitalism swallows up communities into desirable postcodes.

Bubba

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Despite the digital art form, Bubba is brimming with old-fashioned musical ability. The second full-length release from Haitian-Canadian producer Louis Kevin Celestin has an ever-evolving sound of swung, syncopated rhythms, hip hop beats and woozy house grooves.

Kaytranada’s music is constructed drums-first with complex patterns in percussion that twist and turn, layering synths and vocals with intricate brushstrokes. Each track takes the listener in a totally new direction, from the beat-switching “10%” to 80s-inspired “Midsection” to sultry house number “What You Need”.

Limbo

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London-based Irish poet Sinéad O’Brien ended 2019 giving us a gift of pure punk poetry darkness with her single “Limbo”, the follow-up to her release A Thing You Call Joy.

On my commute watching London go by, O’Brien’s transfixing sound lulls me with her musings on death, drugs and life. It is utterly soothing, and a great addition to her work including debut EP, A List of Normal Sins. Airy guitar riffs and solemn beats are offset by a catchy chorus and I can’t help but find myself pressing repeat again and again.

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