Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Power of Protest... Or the annoyance.

Riot police approaching protesting students in Caracas, Venezuela
[Photograph: Fernando Llano/AP]

Firstly, let me apologise for the infrequency of blog posts, and the long delay since my last post. Usually, plenty of things conspire to piss off and annoy me, but generally over the last few months a lack of nagging annoyances combined with Christmas and far too much work has resulted in a dangerous lack of stupid things to moan about on the internet. But fear not, for I'm sure the next few weeks and months will more than make up for that!

The scene above is from the recent, probably on-going, protests by Venezuelan students against the forced closure of an opposition cable channel by President Hugo Chavez's increasingly despotic regime. One student has already been killed, which is tragedy enough, but Chavez is unlikely to have his grip on the country and its political system loosened any time soon. So, despite the clear risk of physical danger, the youth of the country have rioted. Completely understandable, justifiable, even inspiring I hear you cry. And you'd be utterly right. Now, compare that to youth and student protest here in the UK, and at Kings College London specifically. Shambolic, preaching socialist retards whose only consideration is fitting into the 'radical underground' of student life. Berets, messy hair and, with nothing useful to say or anything serious to protest about [see above], they rely on fistfuls of Socialist Worker flyers yelling pointless slogans and meaningless 'revolutionary' polemical opinons.

Ahem.

Weekly, you will see the unmistakeable rabble positioning themselves outside the strand campus' main entrance. Megaphones, slogan banners that look like they've been daubed at by cerebrally haemorrhaging monkeys - the works. And, yes, I have seen berets being worn. A time-worn cliche, yes, but then I'm not the one without the imagination to think for myself, just blindly following the shoutiest left-wing propaganda I can find. They will point, they will grab, they will yell and they will moan about pretty much anything; student fees, war, the fate of the gopher, nazis - pretty much anything that get's their hammer and sickle-print knickers in a twist.

And don't mistake my praise for students protesting the socialist regime in Venezuela and the obvious rage I feel towards the SSWP politics of the most vocal of the student protest movements as my right-wing credentials. Oh no. Completely the opposite; I am physically incapable of voting Tory, or any other political group more right wing than the Liberal Democrats. My hands, feet and common sense just won't let me do it.

Now, I have no problem with the youth of a nation making a protest against something they see as unjust, as my appraisal of the above events in Venezuela hopefully portrays. I don't even mind students protesting such hair-brained ideas as scrapping student fees completely, or instantly pulling out of Afghanistan, neither of which would do anything more than exacerbate already unpleasant situations. But there is just something about the card-carrying super left-wing politics that seems to always be the chain around the protests neck. Not only do I disagree with their opinions, but I also heartily disgust the way they go about expressing them. Rudely, obnoxiously blockading the entrance to the strand, causing stampedes outside which interfere with people's access to and from the building. Interrupting lunch breaks, seldom an enjoyable experience for someone whose just finished with 2 or 3 hours of uninspiring seminars or lectures, and is facing another load after a brief interlude for some cardboard sandwiches and teeth-rotting caffeinated beverages.

So, I think a call should ring out across Kings College, and all the other UK universities - enough is enough! No more barging into lunch breaks! No more badly organised shoutathons at the doors to campuses! Protest and charity without the political agenda! Are you with me!?

Didn't think so... Oh well. Time I shut up and moved on to something a little less ranty...

Its that time of the blog again! Music shenanigans! This month its the turn of Fever Ray and her d├ębut album of the same name, which was released in early 2009. Widespread press covereage was afforded to the Swedish electronic musical web-weaver Karin Dreijer Andersson, already of indie-electro fame as one half of the brother and sister dance act The Knife. So her first solo project was hotly anticipated, and though I missed all the buzz until stumbling across her album a week ago, it definitely lived up to the hype.

Defiantly, even brashly dark, this album is unlike any other electronic album I have heard since discovering the nuanced ambient works of Aphex Twin. Dwelling on subjects such as severe insomnia ['eyes are open, the mouth cries, I haven't slept since summer'] and with a pervading sense of loneliness, this is not an easy-listening electronic album, and she has certainly cast off the poppy hooks that the Knife are so adept at. And though the album is dark, it is not depressive; shot through with beautiful, evocative imagery of the seasons, nature and relationships which we all experience. It ultimately ends on a positive note with Coconut, which is a strangely warming song, uplifting and hopeful. Perhaps the Swedish seasons influenced her lyricism and musical direction (with its affecting use of subtle guitar alongside the melodic electronic sounds), and I could really conjure up those last few weeks of winter, when we look hopefully towards the new life spring will bring. A superb album that is crying out for people to listen to; so go on.

Listen to: If I Had a Heart, Concrete Walls, Keep the Streets Empty for Me (and her cover of Nick Cave's 'Stranger than Kindness' if you've got the deluxe edition, or Spotify).