Monday, September 26, 2016

The fellowship of the ring

I thought this stylish vintage Chinese book cover for Tolkien's first Lord of the rings novel would be appropriate for today: it is exactly 17 years ago that my beautiful Shanghai girl and I got engaged, starting our own fellowship of the ring.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Sweden's prog metal giants Opeth are releasing their latest album next week - and it comes with a really stunning cover. I could not find information on designer/photographer.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cube to the sky

After a short absence from Flickr, I returned with this shot, a sculpture outside our city hall. Another example of abstract photography, and one that received more faves than most in my stream this year.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.025 sec (1/400)
Aperture: f/3.6
Focal Length: 4.5 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Architectural desserts

The architecture inspired desserts by Ukrainian pastry chef Dinara Kasko are little pieces of art - and more fitting for this blog than for Potpourri. This is my personal favourite of the lot, but do click the link to sample more of them - well, see them at least.

web site

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CD Review: A sleeper, just awake by Sand

It's been a while since I last posted a CD review in the blog. At the request of Sam Healy, from the Scottish avant-rock group North Atlantic Oscillation, I am reviewing his second solo album (released under the name Sand), A sleeper, just awake, scheduled for release by the end of the month (picture created with Photofunia, the cover shown is of the reviewed album).

Since I have not heard either the three North Atlantic Oscillation albums, or the first Sand album, I sat down to listen without any prior references. Well, it was a very pleasant surprise. Electronic pop, bordering on prog rock, with a voice that is good enough to stand out, but can also blend in with the music as if it was another instrument. Looking back on my notes from the first listen, I jotted down some names that came to mind: especially Steven Wilson, but also Peter Gabriel, Mark Hollis (who also happen to be some of my personal favourite artists), and even occasional classical influences from Charles Ives and Philip Glass,

The melodious album opener Mayfly is an instant favourite, with great mood shifts in the instrumentation. LTGB would not be out of place on a Steven Wilson album, which is very high praise indeed - an excellent piece of prog. Commitment to the bit continues in a similar vein, only to end totally different in the last 10 seconds or so - very effective indeed! Seldom used furnitures introduces a dominant piano to change the atmosphere, although in the end persistent electronics take control once more. Berceuse, a practically instrumental track, is a well-chosen title for a spot of relative calmness. Embers is another track where I can hear a Steven Wilson influence, albeit here more from the softer songs of Porcupine Tree - well, after I listened to this album, I found out North Atlantic Oscillation have toured with Porcupine Tree in the past.... Initial is a slowed down song, where parts remind me of Ives in their complexity. Coward has strong melodic lines set off against a nervous instrumentation, with Ivesian passages. The final Earth mound is a 10min+ epic, with an '80s synthesizer riff competing with electronics resembling bagpipes, and vocal lines somewhat reminiscent of Peter Gabriel, Gradually, Glass-like minimalism takes over for a while, as the atmosphere becomes more and more relaxed toward the end.

All in all, this is a strong and in spite of some influences very original album, with no weaker songs. The only thing missing is one or two really outstanding songs (all nine would score a 4/6 on the Art Rock song rating, corresponding to "songs I'd love to put on my MP3 player"), which makes it fall short of the highest album rating. Still, on a scale of 1 to 6, this album scores a solid 5, "an album I love to play frequently". For more information on Sand and this CD, please check out the web site or the FaceBook page.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Town on the bank of a lake

I was surprised to see that French fauvist artist Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) had featured only once in the blog so far - and that was back in 2009. Today he makes a long overdue repeat appearance with this beautiful 1909 landscape. More on de Vlaminck in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016


A shot taken at the same brocante store as the previous one. I could not walk past this weird display without snapping one - and given the reactions at Flickr, I was right to do so.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/3.6
Focal Length: 4.5 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I stumbled across the site Tunefind when I was googling to find which music was used in a particular episode of House M.D. This site lists the music per episode of over 700 shows. A tremendous source of information.

web site

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dames ahoy

As so often, Swedish posters for Hollywood movies of the jazz age are fantastic. Here we have another great example, for the Craft movie Dames ahoy from 1930.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I can't see New York (live)

For the 15th anniversary of one of the most shocking events of this century.  A beautiful live rendition of this outstanding track from her phenomenal 2002 Scarlets walk, a concept album of a fictitious travel through America after the terrorist attack. No other track is clearer with respect to the overlying theme than this one, where Scarlet (Tori) feels what a woman on top of one of the doomed planes went through as she died, in expressive lyrics such as: "You said you could find me here and you said you would find me even in death and you said you'd find me, but I can't see New York as I'm circling down through white cloud, falling out and I know his lips are warm, but I can't seem to find my way out ...". One of those rare songs that always choke me up. Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant song, one of the 200 best of all time).


Friday, September 09, 2016

That's not birdshit!

The linked art-icle gives an interesting summary of a scientific study into the nature of what some think to be bird droppings on one of the most iconic paintings of all time, Munch's Scream. Spoiler alert: it is not what people thought.

web site

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Last week we visited a brocante shop in Nieuwleusen, housed in an old bicycle factory. Great photo opportunities, not least because of the lighting. This is my personal favourite of the afternoon.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/3.6
Focal Length: 4.5 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Most prog giants of the seventies have released singles that their fans frowned upon, because they were considered too poppy. The most well-known examples are Follow you, follow me by Genesis, Wondrous stories by Yes and Another brick in the wall by Pink Floyd. Porcupine Tree, probably the best prog rock band of recent decades, followed suit with this track from their 2005 album Deadwing. Simple in construction, with a great melody, this should have been their hit single, but the public did not buy it. A pity. Art Rock score: 9/10 (awesome song, one of the 1000 best of all time).


Monday, September 05, 2016

The Agatha Christie paperbacks

This is just a selection of a series of Agatha Christie novels reissued with Art Deco like covers (possibly by Andrew Davidson), capturing the time of the books very well. Many more examples in the link.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Jazz for a rainy day

A fairly recent work by my wife, which now hangs in my study. I find it amazing how she can make a scene come to life with strokes of charcoal on canvas. A personal favourite of mine.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Ripped in August

A selected overview of culture stars relevant to my own tastes who passed away this month. Rest in peace. Image by myself.

Padraig Duggan (67), Irish folk musician. He was one of the founding members of Clannad.
Kenny Baker (81), British actor. He played R2D2 in the Star Wars movies, and appeared in several other movies, including Willow.
Daniela Dessi (59), Italian opera singer. One of the leading singers of her generation, with a wide repertoire predominantly in Italian operas, and many recordings.
Anthony Jay (86), British writer, broadcaster and director. Together with Jonathan Lynn he wrote the scripts for one of my all-time favourite sitcoms, Yes (Prime) Minister.
Toots Thielemans (94), Belgian jazz musician. One of the best on the harmonica, he played and recorded with many of the greats from the jazz and pop/rock genres, including Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Billy Joel and Paul Simon. He was also a major contributor to the beautiful soundtrack of the classic Dutch movie Turks Fruit.
Marc Riboud (93), French photographer, best remembered for his work in Vietnam and China. 
Nathan Lyons (86), American photographer and curator.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Blue streaks

The pictures I took in my CoolArt series (capturing reflections of my wife's paintings in the surface of an aluminium cooling bag, see here) get mixed responses on Flickr, but this one is a positive exception. I like the diagonal composition and the depth of field.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.0333 sec (1/30)
Aperture: f/3.6
Focal Length: 4.5 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0