2019 saw me take a slight mental and emotional backseat following an extraordinarily challenging 2018. Living and working in Hong Kong, you’re constantly starved for introspection. Without it, there is limited time to properly confront your emotions to heed whether you’re still in the direction you want to go: that the values you hold continue to ring true and how many more compromises can you continue to make before it renders your value system almost worthless to uphold.
Do I need to stop making decisions based on what I feel is better for the greater good and start looking out for myself more? Can I continue doing what I’m doing, knowing that I am taking steps back away from making the world a better place? Why can’t I find a decent chicken schnitzel around here?
This is what is reflected in 2019’s mixtape – an exploration of individual value systems and how willing are we to bend or to defend. This year’s releases have been fantastic and an absolute joy for those in this corner of the music world, and served as the soundtrack as I shut down for the year to figure things out.
We capped off 2019 with heading over to Wonderfruit in Thailand (absolutely amazing!), so it was fitting to end the mixtape with a track from Rival Consoles (Ryan Lee West) who was my favourite that weekend (maybe second to the legendary Molam Bus stage). The experience was cathartic.
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A couple of favourite 2017 releases picked up along the way during the course of the year – nerding out in Tower Records Tokyo (Indian Wells), checking out Sonar (Clark), trying to “figure out my feelings” in HK (Telefon Tel Aviv), reacquainting with old friends (Slowdive, Four Tet) or simply wanting to dance away the negative vibes (LCD Soundsystem).
Werner Herzog’s take on the impact the internet has had on the world via ten short stories. Great subjects which were mostly explored on the surface. Light entertainment for potentially heavy subject matter – ***/5
Unexpectedly tense and riveting exploration into an unusual company behind an online tickling fetish empire. Unbelievably insane and brave – ****/5
3. Under the Sun
A rare inside look into the everyday lives of North Koreans through the guise of a propaganda film shoot. Great for those fascinated by the whole “North Korea” thing. HAIL GREAT LEADER KIM JONG-UN – ***/5
4. Everybody Wants Some!!
Richard Linklater’s 80s “Dazed and Confused” follows a college freshman getting up to what college kids get up to as he moves into his baseball fraternity house the weekend before college starts. Fun and surprisingly profound – ****/5
5. The Man From Mo’Wax
Follows Mo’Wax record label boss James Lavelle signing DJ Shadow and the ups and downs of his ambitious UNKLE project. A little self-indulgent but great for those keen for an insight into a chapter of the trip-hop/ progressive hip hop scene. ***/5
6. Winter At Westbeth
Follows three aging residents of Westbeth Artist Housing in NYC still pursuing their artistic ambitions and dreams. Inspiring and heart-breaking – ***/5
Must-Haves Finitribe – 101 Remixes
Jesus & Mary Chain Psychocandy live @ Barrowlands
Jon Hopkins – I Remember (Nils Frahm remix)
Machinedrum – Vapor City Remixes
Oneohtrix Point Never – Commissions II
Slowdive – Blue Day
Spaceape/Kode9 – Ghost Town/ At War with Time
Various – Continuum
Air – Playground Love
Brian Eno – My Squelchy Life
Daughter – Winter (War Paint Remix)
Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain
KC & The Sunshine Band – Get Lifted (Todd Terje remix)
Of Montreal – Snare Lustrous Doomings
Swans – Swans (EP)
Had to be a bit strategic this year with how I fit everything into the schedule; frontloaded the interactive program considering there was some work-related stuff and had to consider a few colleagues who joined me, then catching up on all the films in the second half of the festival once I had some time to myself. By then, it was already challenging trying to start and fit a lot of the films in and had to really let go of a few I really wanted to check out – hopefully they’ll get showings or distribution locally or online.
Sad tale of the arrest of the guy behind the Silk Road – similar in vein to the Internet’s Own Boy, but probably not as noble…
Cute recount of a American-Korean girl finding and connecting with her separated-at-birth twin sister. Nice fluff piece, and great for the younger generation.
Following the nuances and tales of a barge crew – beautifully shot and extremely intimate.
All Things Must Pass (AKA the Tower Records Documentary)
Trailer isn’t available – solid recount of the rise and fall of Tower Records. Can see where Australia’s JB Hi-Fi came from…
For the Record
Stenotyping. That is all.
Following the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado, The Denver Post launches the first editor dedicated to the subject matter.