Lida Husik – Faith In Space

Lida Husik - Faith In Space
Label: Alias

Ever since 1990, Lida Husik has been consistently cranking out inventive and enjoyable music. In fact it’s hard to think of even a handful of musicians who have been as steadily original over seven albums as she has been. With a voice a lot like a more self-assured Liz Phair, Husik’s work has been a combination of straight-ahead melodic guitar driven indie-rock and mellifluous ambient music.


On records like “Fly Stereophonic,” “Bozo,” and “The Return of Red Emma” Husik’s cuts her sexy strong vocals with odd lyrics telling bizarre stories. She alternates these records with the sparser, more ethereal with which she collaborates with Beaumont Hannant. On albums like “Green Blue Fire” and “Evening at the Grange” and “Faith In Space” Husik plays guitar, bass and keyboard, while Hannant mixes in drums and various samples to create a seamless spread of ethereal bliss.


“Faith In Space” is a richly textural album mixing a breathy often baby-doll vocal style with the clean thick waves of near perfect instrumentation. This is as subtle a record as the ambient trip-hip leaders such as Hooverphonic, Portishead, and Esthero. The beats may be a little quieter and the vocal riffs are understated, but as a complete composition, Husik fills the sky with a strangely upbeat ten-song collection including a beautiful cover of Paul Weller’s “Monday.”


After a decades worth of records and a tour among some of the best indie labels in the business (Shimmy Disc, Astralwerks, Caroline, Alias) Husik will likely remain an artist’s artist, making music out of a profound love of doing so. “Faith In Space” is a brilliant mood record for those quiet evenings watching snow falling or leaves changing.

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Nil By Mouth

Nil By Mouth

Director : Gary Oldman
With : Ray Winstone, Kathy Burke

“Nil By Mouth” is one of the most emotionally brutal movies I have seen in many years. In fact, not since the bleak Scottish film “Breaking the Waves” and the gripping New Zealand film “Once Were Warriors” has anyone had the courage to make a film quite so devastating. Gary Oldman’s directorial debut spares no truth from the telling. Not unlike the gritty lower/middle class English films by Ken Loach (Riff Raff, Raining Stones) and Mike Leigh (Naked, Secrets & Lies), Oldman’s England is a landscape that is literally and figuratively hard to understand. The language is intensely thick and hard to decipher, but meets perfectly the often violent and angry working class English-ness of the film. There is a roughness to both the cinematography, a slightly choppy and in-your-face British “Mean Streets” Scorsese style, and the language that neatly compliments the gruff personalities on the screen.

“Nil By Mouth” is a roughly autobiographical piece (dedicated to director Gary Oldman’s father- but more like “Mommy Dearest” than some sappy made for TV movie) that explores the abusive dynamics of a family walking on shards of love. The film focuses on a hapless woman named Valerie and her extremely dysfunctional family, which includes her husband, the abusive, alcoholic and drug using Raymond, her junkie brother Billy, and her mother Laila. Oldman spares nothing is his portrayal of the bitter realities of life on London’s social and economic fringe. In one scene, Laila takes her son Billy, who is going through severe heroin withdrawal, to buy a fix. She is forced to watch as her son shoots up in the back of her car, trying to force herself to swallow her tears.

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The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor

The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor

1997 Pen/Faulkner Prize Recipient

The characters in most of the novels I read focus on real people living in our own real world doing mostly real things. Occasionally a writer is able to come up with that rarely truly unique addition to the world in which we live. Tolkien had Hobbits, Katherine Dunn had the freaks in “Geek Love,” C.S. Lewis had the characters from Narnia, and now Rafi Zabor brings us a talking bear who plays alto sax almost as well as his idols Sonny Rollins, Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

“The Bear Comes Home” is a first novel by a journalist and part time jazz drummer. With all the enthusiasm and urgency that make most first novels an author’s best, Zabor has succeeded in creating a truly epic tale. Not only does he confidently navigate the bear through the emotionally turbulent struggle to fit in as a talking bear in a human’s world, he also manages to so accurately describe the pain associated with being an artist. The bear’s struggle becomes the metaphorical voyage of a person’s race to discover what it’s going to take to make life worth living.

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Return To Paradise

Return To Paradise

Director : Scott Rubin
With : Vince Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, Anne Heche

Three new friends spend the summer bopping around Malaysia meeting exotic women, living on the beach in primitive huts and smoking hash. The dream trip. At the end of the summer two of the friends return to the New York, Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) to ultimately drive a limo and Tony (David Conrad) to put his Harvard architecture degree to use, while the third- Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix) stays to help free orangutans. After the trip the three fall immediately out of touch until two years later when an attractive lawyer (Anne Heche) shows up to give Tony and Sheriff an offer that’s difficult to refuse.

It turns out that the day the three had split Lewis had been thrown in prison for possession of the large quantity of hash (a trafficking quantity) that the three had purchased for no other reason than because you couldn’t even buy a smaller quantity. Now Lewis is set to hang for the crime in 8 days unless his cohorts return to Penang to share the guilt.

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