music alliance pact

The April 2014 edition of the Music Alliance Pact sees my head turned by the ever-wonderful Neil Adams, whose latest endeavour ‘Extra Fox’ sounds like his other band The Cast Of Cheers strolling through a neon cityscape as part of a Sonic the Hedgehog cut scene. In other words, gorgeous. See the below ‘Come Together’ for a taster, or you can grab an entire album for a price of your choosing via his Bandcamp page. If you came for Neil, stay for the latest 27-track compilation which includes Peruvian rock legends ‘Bondage’ and a stunning Italian effort from the equally dubiously titled ‘Flying Vaginas’. All for free, as usual. Why wouldn’t you…

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 27-track compilation through here.

IRELAND: Hendicott Writing
Extra FoxCome Together
Neil Adams’ Extra Fox is one of several current side-projects from Dublin scene heroes The Cast Of Cheers, a smartly bristling bedroom electronica aside. Taking elements of his math-rock mainstay’s choppy style, Adams’ charmingly skittish beats and soulful melodies nod towards the neon lights of urban Japan. The man himself credits Com Truise and “that feeling like you’re inside an 80s video game” with inspiring a new thought process. The album is available on a pay-what-you-want basis on Bandcamp.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
The PlasticosMarfil
This band from La Plata usually cites British rock acts such as The Kinks, Blur and The Stone Roses as their main influences. However, this track from The Plasticos’ new album, Kilómetros, is one of our favorites because of its grungy sound that reminds us of the new Argentine rock movement from the late 90s. You can listen to the album on Bandcamp.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
There are moments when all you want to do is kiss the guy who invented the internet. Such is the case when one Bandcamp tag after the other, we stumbled upon Dianas, a trio from the distant city of Perth. Dix is a dreamy drone-pop tune with all those floral notes typical of Scottish indie; kind of like what Camera Obscura might have sounded like on a hot summer’s night in Western Australia.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
IsaarTudo Em Volta De Mim Vira Um Vão
Sort of a sad waltz, Tudo Em Volta De Mim Vira Um Vão is taken from Isaar’s new album, Todo Calor (roughly translated as “All The Heat”). Originally from Recife, one of Brazil’s most prolific cities, Isaar shows her strong influences of local culture such as frevo, maracatu and manguebeat, but also flirts with pop music and other contemporary artists like Siba and Orquestra Contemporânea De Olinda.

Park Chan Wook Oldboy

How South Korea’s greatest filmmaker has twisted the nation’s black-and-white approach to the law by depicting moral violence with enthralling shades of grey.

When Korean director Park Chan-wook finally made his international feature-release debut last year with the startling, brittle melodrama Stoker, he opened its trailer with the line, “Personally, I can’t wait for life to tear you apart”. It’s a line that sums up a theme that’s not just at Stoker’s heart, but runs through the very best of Park’s past work, an oeuvre that features a collection of hugely acclaimed Korean-language movies, not least the legendary Oldboy. Whether it’s the distinctly un-Twilight-like vampires of Thirst or the infamous Vengeance trilogy, Park’s movies are dark and challengingly abrasive in character. His inspirations seem to lie in his university education in philosophy and in an apparent total lack of fear when it comes to pushing movies across the normal boundaries of what’s acceptable. Equally, though, Park’s breathtaking worldview stems from Korean society itself.

I lived in South Korea for two years, and it took me half of that time to come to grips with just how some of the complexities of Korean society work. In terms of development, Korea isn’t all that far behind Japan; Seoul is a megatropolis of overblown technology and almost embarrassing levels of luxury. As recently as the sixties, however, the country wasn’t only poor, but economically dismal – being closely comparable to Ethiopia – and Samsung weren’t much more than the noodle company they started out as. It’s often forgotten that, in the decade following the Korean War, even the ever-controversial oligarchy just north of the border was actually more successful. The result is an entire nation of nouveau riche.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that those riches come with some social consequences that sit far from the European norm. Heady modern consumerism, which peaks with an almost Milanese love of the overpriced and labelled, makes image everything. A heavy tax on imported cars has made even the modest Mini (which would cost over €100,000 in Seoul) a sure sign of a life of success. While the most modern of comforts take root, though, traditions still stand tall.

A woman should be married by 30 or considered a failure. One of the highest average alcohol consumptions on the planet is offset by a draconian stance on even the lightest of recreational drugs. No business meeting is complete without a tediously extended procession of bowing at kickoff, and pride dictates that the abundance of American military bases that allowed the construction of such a stable and prosperous nation be superfluously guarded by their Korean counterparts. Failure… well 16-18 hours of schooling per weekday for your average early teen will give you an idea of how well it’s tolerated. Korean culture is a cuttingly harsh one to live amongst if you’re unsuccessful. Park’s genius often lies in deconstructing or playing off these taboos.

I’ve been eyeing Music Alliance Pact enviously from afar – and picking up plenty of great tracks from around the world – for some time now, and learnt about some great new artists from the three dozen or so bloggers who represent their countries each month. It brings me a huge amount of pleasure, then, […]

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