Friday, 15 December 2017

Stubborn, Tense, Boring - English football on a Wednesday night

Having had the pleasure to go to Wembley Stadium, it might be a ball-ache to get to, but it is still Wem-ber-lee; to watch Tottenham Hotspur defeat Brighton 2-0 in the Premier League. It became quite apparent that there is a shifting between the top teams when they play at home versus the supposedly weaker teams of the division.

Serge Aurier (in the background, on the floor) scores for Tottenham

Tottenham especially have found it hard to break down disciplined defences at home on a wider pitch, coupled by a change in personnel and teams taking the calculated risk of defending for long stretches and hopefully be clinical in the final third should they ever reach it.

Dropped points at home to Burnley, West Brom and Swansea meant that Brighton followed the same song sheet; defend in two lines of four in defence and five in midfield with one lone striker running around forlornly.

Tottenham however seemed to play into their hands, perhaps a level of complacency, but also the re-introduction of Erik Lamela into the side following a long injury lay-off. What is most perplexing is that the Argentinian is a dominant left-footed player yet he drifts to the right hand side of the field, forcing him to stop and then cross allowing defenders to be ready to intercept passes by feet or head.

Son Heung-min

Son played with his usual zest running into channels but too often the team wanted and got the ball played to feet, not allowing pace in behind forcing defenders to turn and lumber into bad decision making.

Another surprise was the immobility of Harry Kane, who made little runs off the ball forcing midfielders - Harry Winks especially - to pass the ball continually sideways. The pace of Trippier might have unlocked the wing, and the team were slow to respond to the weakness of Brighton right-back Schelotto who showed little in the way of deftness and plenty of lead foot when up against Son and Rose down the left wing.

The lack of originality and imagination in breaking down a stubborn defence was indicative of the aural response to another backwards pass by Winks when there was space for him to move forward into and threaten the final third.

Image result for harry winks

Is this a fear of making a mistake or a fear of taking responsibility? Once Winks was substituted for Dembele, there was an impetus within the side, seconded when Dele Alli arrived for a short 15 minute cameo which provided some drive.

Spurs appear to be a better side on the counter attack and soak up pressure themselves which is something they may well do versus Manchester City on Saturday night; however, there is a worry of this defence being able to sustain the constant barrage of City offence. The match should allow the opportunity to play in gaps between the defence and midfield with the ball at the feet of gifted players.

Tottenham will continue to have this problem, the first Premier League game at Wembley in the New Year will be West Ham; a team that soaked up Arsenal on Wednesday night followed by Everton and Sam Allardyce who did a number on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool last weekend.

Image result for chris hughton

Yet Tottenham must come up with an answer to breaking down these stern defences if they want to maintain a Top four challenge whilst City runaway with the title. My worry is that Tottenham were boring on Wednesday night, although Brighton were frustrating in that they were two goals down in injury time away from home and they allowed Tottenham to pass to their hearts content and settle to concede no further. This is indicative of football in this day and age; West Brom away at Liverpool, Bournemouth at Manchester United all settling before the game plays out for a best case scenario of no goals and one point.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

M Craft, 'Blood Moon Deconstructed'

After you have a well-received album, you think you may well rest on your laurels, yet Martin Craft wanted to self-analyse and re-assess his album into something a bit different and more imaginative.  Whilst the first album had sumptuous harmonies in unison with heavenly melodies; the deconstructed version is a plethora of atmospheric soundscapes from a cinematic vision of psychedelic science fiction.

Dreamscapes and soundscapes are in abundance because he the album has been stripped back to the new compositions of piano improvisations and electronic combinations.

M. Craft says himself, 'I hope this is filmic, somewhat ambient, daydream' and that it surely is when you witness the video for 'Adorn Me'. For people who are fans of those classic soundtracks such as Lost in Translation or the collected works of Philip Glass; this will be an album that will fill you with great pleasure and joy.

Blood Moon Deconstructed is released from Heavenly Recordings on Friday 15th December

Friday, 8 December 2017

Memory and Time in Novels

Image result for the sense of an ending julian barnes

When you get into reading books it is surprising how one book can lead into another so seamlessly or without a deliberate mindset on the reader; this also happens when you encounter other forms of popular culture.

I remember going to see 'Gone Girl' the David Fincher directed film at the cinema based on the bestseller by Gillian Flynn; a story written by the view of a female protagonist about the break-up of a marriage stemming from the sociopathic behaviour of a women; I am focusing on the dissolution of marriage in early 21st century culture and how the sanctity of marriage itself is being forgotten about. Shortly afterwards, I started reading 'The Children Act' by Ian McEwan; a male writer with a female protagonist again experiencing the break-up of her marriage, and following much upheaval and emotional processing of the matter, the couple stay together.

The same instance of familiar themes and narrative outlines has hit me again from two very different writers.  On this occasion it is Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending, the tale of Tony who is the other side of 60 has one bad marriage behind him and yet has a chance encounter with a girl he nearly married and the fall out of that side-step in life.  Tony spends much of the time reflecting upon why he broke up with the girl and how he mis-remembered or did not recall at all a vitriolic letter he sent to the girl and her new partner, his friend.  The sense of memory is lost on him because he has lost all memory of his act.

Image result for my name is lucy barton

The second book is My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout; a story of the eponymous heroine who is in a hospital bed following an emergency procedure when she is visited by her absent mother at her bedside.  They have not spoken for several years following Lucy's decision to marry into a different faith causing a family rapture.  The time convalescing in hospital leads to Lucy recalling her upbringing in poverty and how her attainment to live better led her to New York and happiness with her husband - who is strangely absent whilst she is in hospital.

The book cover print is telling. A solo chair by the window which can be a holder for either Lucy or her mother; but perhaps inevitably, all you have at the end is yourself thinking about your memories. Memories are lonely when they are your own, with no-one else to share them with.

Image result for the noise of time julian barnes

Throw into the mix my second Barnes' book in the last two months The Noise of Time which is set in the middle third of the Twentieth Century following a Russian musical composer looking back at this life and the fascination of how things play out for a reason in hindsight, with the novelty of events occurring within leap years.; you have authors who want to concentrate on memory as the sole reason for living, yet it might be too late to remember.