I hadn’t heard of the Hyman Archive until yesterday, which is probably more indicative of how much attention I’ve paid to the media in the past couple of years as opposed to any lack of promotional activity on their part; in fact, the Hyman Archive – the world’s largest collection of magazines, as verified by the Guinness Book of Records – has links to lots of features and videos and other bits and pieces on their website, and is clearly well known.
Yesterday, the Hyman Archive featured in this fascinating article in the New York Times, for which founder James Hyman was interviewed. He seems like a fascinating guy, and I felt quite glad that someone was making an effort to preserve the excellent culture-related magazines that have appeared during the past thirty or forty years; magazines are genuinely undervalued and still seen as throwaway by the majority of the population (I still chuck the ones I love and read from cover to cover each month, like Sight & Sound, simply because I don’t have the space to keep them… at least not while I horde lots of other stuff). Anyway, I spent a while on the Hyman Archive’s website as a result and found several features fascinating. This BBC video is a good overview, though I believe as a result of various donations the collection has grown considerably in the two years since this was made. I would love to visit one day!
I couldn’t really let the death of Mark E Smith – which came both as a surprise and not very much of a surprise at the same time, oddly enough – pass without comment, although as I’m not a huge Fall fan I’m wary of jumping on the bandwagon while friends and family (certainly) and fans (in that strange way) are genuinely grieving. Anyway, I’ve listened to The Fall here and there over the years, and for one reason or another these are the (fairly obvious tracks) that struck a chord. I also used to love it when he appeared in the music press when I read it religiously (late 80s to late 90s, when it was just about worth reading religiously), because he was so cantankerous and unpredictable and as a result the features and interviews were incredibly entertaining. Clearly a one-off.
Here’s the best obituary I read this week, by Andrew Harrison for New Statesman.
I’ve struggled to get this blog going for various reasons*, so here’s a post highlighting a few things that I’ve been listening to this week, just to keep things rolling along. I bought Chuck Johnson’s ambient LP Balsams from a record store in Los Angeles (the shipping cost more than the record, but I couldn’t find it for sale in the UK), and he’s a superb pedal steel player, while Hauschka’s album What If was on in the car last weekend. Lastly, having read (belatedly!) a review of the new Bjork album, I was moved to check out this old LFO-produced b-side, which apparently has informed her latest work. I haven’t got the new one yet, but will pick it up at some point soon.
*OK, I know you don’t care, but seeing as you asked… I had written a long piece about dropping my daughter off with the childminder, and how hard that has been of late (we’re at a very early stage, so I dare say it’ll get better); anyway, I seem to have deleted over half of the post by accident at the point of publishing it, and I was subsequently unable to find a draft in the history with the missing text. Very annoying as I’d spent a while on the post during the previous week, but maybe I’ll go back and re-write it at some point. The moment seems to have gone, though, as moments tend to. On top of that I’ve had a bug for 48-hrs which has meant some…um… unpleasantness. But, as I said, you don’t really care.
We spent roughly an hour walking around Birchden Wood, a Forestry Commission site in East Sussex, earlier today. The weather was cold, sunny and crisp, with just a few wisps of cloud to be seen in the sky, and it was good to get out. There’s a nice, short trail (around 1.5 miles) that’s suitable for buggies, so we walked around that; unfortunately we didn’t make it over to Harrison’s Rocks – a sandstone outcrop that’s used by climbers – so we’ll have to pop back another time once my daughter R is properly walking.
This lovely track by Irish woodwind / electronics musician Seán Mac Erlaine seems as good a way to kick this blog off as any other. I’ve been listening to his album A Slender Song this evening, letting the sounds fill the lounge and relaxing after a day pottering about in town. Beautiful record… and on orange vinyl, no less.
It feels like I’ve been busy today, mostly spent looking after my daughter (who is nearly 14 months old) to give my wife a bit of free time, but I’ve still found time to watch half a film (Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son, an episode of the new series of Black Mirror (Arkangel, directed by Jodie Foster, which isn’t bad) and to catch up on a couple of podcasts. I’ve walked quite a few miles, too, but I’m not really into measuring and recording such things. A guess is just fine; let’s say it was six, in total. It has been a good day.