The Dividing Bell

Pink Floyd is in the news again, but for all the worst possible reasons. As part of a celebration of the 50th (now 51st!) anniversary of the release of Dark Side of the Moon, a short film animation contest was held by Pink Floyd – go ye forth and make a short film for each song on the album. Out of 900 submissions, 10 finalised were chosen.

The winners for each song would receive £10,000 for each video that won, according to Pink Floyd’s website, with further terms stating that additional prizes would include £100,000, £25,000, and £10,000 – prizes which were eventually won (respectively) by Rati Dabrundashvili (£100,000), David Horne (£50,000), and Monica Fibbi (£25,000), as reported by Mary Varvaris at

However, this is where the story blew up.

As reported by Bleeding Cool: “Ten winners were announced by Nick Mason. However there may be an issue with one of them. The winning video by Damián Gaume for Any Colour You Like was created, according to Gaume, using Stable Diffusion AI software. There was an immediate backlash and reaction against this video online, which overshadowed the other nine winners and the planned overall winners intended to be announced tomorrow. Some condemned one of the judges Gerald Scarfe, especially as the cartoonist and animator most associated with Pink Floyd’s album and movie Another Brick in the Wall, which included intricate hand drawn animation, based on his cartoons, and considered a true classic.”

In the midst of this absolute shit sandwich, one contestant, the German artist The Insaneum, who submitted a short film for the song Eclipse, revealed he’s spent a year working on his contribution with his girlfriend. And what he submitted was nothing short of remarkable – a hand-rendered science-fiction retro artdeco video that beautifully interpreted the thematic and visual themes from Pink Floyd’s Eclipse.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Once again, I think it’s important to remind everyone that AI “art” can be put into the same category as NFTs and cryptocurrencies: short-term grifts designed to bezzle the unsuspecting and display a grotesque act of social [status] flexing.

Sure, you might think you can make something cool and unique – but it’s not you doing it – instead, you’ve simply outsourced the actual creation of art to a program that will trawl the internet and amalgamate assorted images to match specified keyword parameters with no understanding of how any of them relate.

Or said less nicely: it’s theft. It’s stealing images and videos from all over the net and amalgamating them into something that gives the appearance of creativity but which ultimately doesn’t understand what it’s even rendering, because there’s no underlying ontological system in place to understand how any of the objects and people relate to one another. It’s simply mashing things together like an ugly stew, with no regards to or understanding of style, design, or aesthetics.

How many “AI-tweaked” book covers have featured grotesque hands, nightmare roses, illegible and unreadable text, jagged and asymmetrical doors and gates, nonsensical proportions, physical objects layered onto a scene with no understanding of perspective or proportions?

It’s all nothing more than a short-cut to paying actual humans actual wages to put actual skills that they’ve honed and trained for years to culturally meaningful and productive use. So it’s disheartening that an iconic rock group like Pink Floyd, who’ve placed so much emphasis throughout their career on original creative output, would instead nominate a video that didn’t even require any real human skill.

Now: benefit of the doubt. Maybe Nick Mason and co don’t understand how AI platforms sample from other artists without permission. Maybe they don’t even understand that there’s almost a total lack of skill involved and just went on pure, superficial looks. And hey, Nick Mason is 80 years old. It’s entirely possible he had no idea he was looking at anything rendered by AI software and lacks any understanding of the charged discourse around the topic.

If that’s the case, hopefully someone in his social circles will be able to sit him down and walk him through how bad a decision it was and do right by some of the other artists who actually put their own blood, sweat, and tears into making actual human-made art, and nominate a new winner to replace Gaume’s submission.

There’s still time to do the right thing.

Matchbox Twenty: Where the Light Goes

Holy shirtballs, how come no one told me Matchbox Twenty had a new album out? Or – OR – that is also was a start to finish foot stomper? This is a watershed moment for the band, it is for MB20 what American Idiot was for Green Day, a moment that us reminds of what the band can be like when they’re firing on all cylinders and focused on being the best version of themselves.

Where the Light Goes has floored me. It’s just one more unexpected present from 2023 that I did not expect to receive. There’s simply not a single weak track on this album, and for reasons unclear to me, there’s a serious lack of coverage for this album. Rolling Stone, PopMatters, and Pitchfork have nothing to say about the album, for some perplexing reason.

The lyrics might not win any awards, but from start to finish, the album seems hell-bent on putting a smile on the face of listeners, and infusing them with a feeling of hope and the strength to push through to tomorrow. The album is almost ruthlessly optimistic and cheerful with the exception of perhaps two tracks (I Know Better, Selling Faith), but goddamn if this album isn’t like a thunderous charge of a thousand torch-lit horses racing against the dark.

I did not see this coming, nor did I remotely expect this foot stomper to jump off a goddamn lightning bolt-riding unicorn and slap me in the face. This is one of the best pop-rock albums of 2023.

The Sounds of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Lorne Balfe’s score for Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves dropped this morning, and I bought it immediately (on iTunes) and am already on my second play-through.

On its own merits, outside the movie, it sounds good. It’s not a Remote Control Production-sounding post-Crimson Tide style wall of noise as has been the outcome of many of Zimmer’s students. It’s very much a score that fits the visuals on screen, and, if I am correct, is the entire score, what with it being:

1. 49 tracks in length. Yes. 49. This is a big album.

2. The first of two albums

The run-time of the album is 1 hour, 30 minutes, 45 seconds, which for a movie that’s reportedly 2 hours and 14 minutes long, suggests to me that it’s likely all the music shown on-screen.

But what about the second album, you ask? Well, as Balfe said:

“[We’re] writing the score but then also writing more which doesn’t feature in the film, so we’re going to do an extra album, which is going to be music to play with.” He explained. “It’s for gaming sessions, and it’s for those when they’re gaming to be able to have their own soundtrack when playing.”

Radiotimes interview with composer Lorne Balfe

You can expect to hear lutes, guitars, harps, strings, woodwinds, drums, and bagpipes in Balfe’s score. It’s been a delightful surprise for me, as he’s an insanely prolific composer, but nothing he’s ever composed has spoken to me. He’s managed to definitely accomplish that with this score.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is now in general release in cinemas across Australia – and presumably the rest of the planet.

Sea Dragons, Some Wild Things, and Louisa Johnson’s Latest

A friend from the US who works in recruitment contacted me in 2017, asking how I’d feel about writing some copy for a fashion company. I’d never written about fashion before. Which, of course, meant that I said yes. I spent several weeks immersed exclusively in the world of fashion writing. This is the end result.

You may have heard of Louisa Johnson. If you haven’t, it’s probably only a matter of time until you do. Appearing on the UK edition of The X-Factor during the first week of auditions, Louisa’s cover of The Jackson 5’s ‘Who’s Loving You?’, her astonishing range, dedication to the craft, and theatricality astonished the judges, thus propelling her towards her singular goal of becoming a professional singer.

In just two years’ time, she’s managed to wow audiences with subsequent performances, the release of numerous singles, and a planned debut album due out in 2017. But until that time, she’s found herself content to release a slew of diverse single and music videos, including the recently released ‘Best Behaviour’.

Shot in the desert outside Los Angeles, the video featured a wide and colourful array of dancers, ravers, and festival goers decked out in haute couture clothing could best be described as futuristic party aesthetic, meshing the best of famed French artist Jean Giraud, aka Moebius (of Fifth Element fame) with fashion that would fit right into background shots in Blade Runner. And planes. Lots of planes.

The fashion on display in the video itself comes to us by way of Sea Dragon and Wild Things. The latter is a decidedly unique and independent distributor and retailer of boutique designers and labels. For fashionistas looking to get a good taste of just how inventive the fashion world can be, Wild Things offers an excellent glimpse of just what’s possible with clothing. If you’re after Rock Chic, Neon Raver Gear, dance or festival clothing, or something else entirely, Wild Thing aims to provide the look people are after.

Working in unison with Wild Thing is famed fashion house Sea Dragon Studios, who, in their own words, are an “independent maker of fun, comfortable, and fabulous festival wear, designed to make you look as good as you feel”.

To thus accentuate Johnson’s burner-flavoured video, Sea Dragon Studios, in collaboration with Wild Things, provided Johnson and her team of producers with the right material for such a shoot – the Sea Dragon Holographic Playsuit!

Featuring the playa white edition, the costume features hidden pockets, a built-in bust lining, and a wide-band halter neck among several other specific design features aimed at ensuring that wears can feel comfortable in clothing that stretches, is breathable, and adaptable to both the time of day and with accessories.

Intrigued? Want to have a better, closer look at Sea Dragon’s line of products? Well, click on the following link! And if you’re interested to learn more about Wild Thing and their services, you can visit them at their website.

The Holidays: Not Forgetting that Rock and Roll is about Having Fun

Gosh. 2007. How time flies (usually like a banana).

I’d only recently moved to Australia, and was in the process of coming into contact with a whole new world of music that hadn’t yet made its way over to Canada or the US yet. At the time, the now (sadly) defunct Vibewire Magazine was willing to accept freelance pieces. And somehow, through some chance opportunity, I’d managed to get my hands on an excellent EP by a recently-formed Sydney based rock outfit. 

And what music fan doesn’t secretly dream of one day being a music journalist? How could I pass by the opportunity to experience that? 

Meet The Holidays.

The Holidays want you to know: if you come to their show, don’t mind the cask wine lying about within vicinity of the stage. It’s a motif. Roger Waters had a tortured psyche and inflatable pigs, Green Day had Super Soakers™.

The Holidays?

They have cask wine. Lead singer Simon Jones and bassist Alex Kortt are – surprise! – wine aficionados and have a rather peculiar way of showing off their love for white wines, especially Verdelhos. But don’t be afraid – the members of The Holidays are not wine snobs. In fact, Simon Jones is not afraid to mix his wines with other beverages, much to the horror of wine snobs the world around.

Easier access to booze isn’t the only thing that’s left The Holidays with reasons to cheer. It’s been a good year for them. Airplay in both Australia and the U.S., attention from A&R Worldwide, and a steady set of gigs has left the band feeling fairly satisfied. And then there was that small matter of the launch of their debut self-titled EP. “It’s nice to have something out, of course,” said Simon. Even over the phone, he sounds positively ecstatic. And with reason.

Their first EP is a non-stop assault of music that makes the feet tap. “It’s our thing,” said Simon, talking about The Holidays’ poppy arrangements and accessible – but not frivolous – lyrics.

There’s nothing dour about the songs on their EP at all. From the upbeat melody of the title track, Holiday, which just begs to be listened to while strutting about a city, to the suddenness of The Werewolf You Become, a more serious yet surprisingly spontaneous in-studio track that wasrecorded within one hour (“there’s nothing immediate about it,” Simon suggested, sounding almost bemused), the EP is a rich panoply of tunes that suggest exactly what the band set out to do: create a united form, but still maintain a distinct enough amount of musical diversity among all the songs.

The highlight of the album might in fact be Planes, a song about a difficult relationship between two people. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the song itself is has a fast temp, is eminently danceable, and rocks along at a steady pace towards a thundering resolution.

The goal, Simon suggests, was to have the kind of music people can listen to one-hundred times. The Holidays have no desire to be thought of as disposable pop. And certainly, Simon grants, “We ended up writing music that we want to listen to.”

Taking notes from Elvis Costello (whom Simon considers to be “a lyrically interesting songwriter”) and Brian Wilson, to name a few relevant influences, the musical philosophy of The Holidays is really quite simple: write enjoyable, upbeat music that utilises rhythm guitars whenever possible.

“We’re a guitar band, really,” says Simon, matter-of-factly. And they’ve put their skills to good use. Around the time of formation, the members of the band took note of the “kind of angsty, new wave sound, 70’s style” that was undergoing a musical renaissance, and made a decision as to what they were going to do.

“We were kind of conscious in going away from that,” said Simon. Instead, The Holidays chose to focus on creating songs that utilised rhythm guitars, inventing melodies that would stick to the walls of a skull like gum to the sole of a shoe, and singing music that made the listener’s day a little better.

As many fans are wondering: does this mean their next album will feature similar types of songs? Simon revealed somewhat cryptically that the band is “still deciding, trying to write as much as possible.”

At this stage, he suggests that at the end of the year there’s the possibility of another EP, to form a bridge “between the albums”, and that sometime in early ’09 fans of the band will be graced with a third release. Until then, look for the band surrounded by casks of wine.

Don’t ask. It’s just their thing. That’s how The Holidays roll.

Daft Punk announces “this is the end”.

Variety published a headline-grabbing article this morning, announcing that Daft Punk were reportedly hanging up their electronic helmets and calling it a day after 30 years together.

Whether or not this retirement is actually the next phase in a new set of musical projects for either members of the duo is entirely unclear.

The duo themselves released a 7 minute long video entitled Epilogue, (see below) which features, well, why spoil it for you?