Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being Human

Being Human is a relatively new offering from BBC Three that I've discovered. The original Being Human pilot first aired on BBC Three in February 2008. It garnered such a positive response that the BBC gave a full series the green light. Series one was shown in 2009 and picks up from where the pilot finished (with some major cast changes). Each episode clocks in at a weighty 57 minutes.

To the outside world three flatmates share a house in Bristol and are regular twenty something year olds. However all is not as it seems.

George (Russell Tovey) is a mild-mannered hospital porter who, for one night a month; is transformed into a flesh-hungry and predatory werewolf. Mitchell (Aidan Turner) is a charismatic vampire who constantly struggles with going cold-turkey from the blood he craves. Annie (Lenora Crichlow) is a ghost desperate for company and is still pining after her boyfriend, whom she was due to marry before her fatal accident.

A werewolf, a ghost and a vampire sharing a house...It sounds like a bad kids TV show but after a few episodes i am absolutely hooked. It's refreshingly well written, tackles a jaded subject from an everyday perspective, isn't afraid to poke fun at itself and features a cracking soundtrack. Plus kudos for the use of prosthetics and animatronics rather than defaulting to CGI.

Watch the prequels below to learn more about the main characters

Annie’s Prequel:

Mitchell's Prequel:

George's Prequel:

Series two is due to air in January 2010. In the meantime you can watch and find out more by clicking:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


"A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up. "
Mae West

Thursday, September 17, 2009


"With love's light wings did I o'er perch these walls; For stony limits cannot hold love out."

Romeo and Juliet Fantasy overture by Tchaikovsky.There is no other piece of music that I’ve listened to as often. The main reason being I studied it as part of my leaving cert (similar to A-Levels or SAT's for all you non Irish readers) music exam. I managed to complete a 2 year music course in 1 year. I’m still not sure how I did it; all I remember about this period was lots of tea and seeing sheet music in my dreams.

I wasn't a big fan of classical music mainly because I was forced into learning the piano at an early age. I know ‘poor me’, right? I now realise how lucky I was to get the chance to learn. So with 13 year’s experience playing piano I started the course. The nun who taught music was an absolute bitch and was completely obsessed with music. Let’s just call her Sister Staccato. I know some really obsessive music geeks but they have nothing on this woman. She thought about very little apart from music. She taught classes from 7am 6 days a week and we would hear her humming as she roamed the school corridors late at night. I don’t think she ever slept but I digress.

A few difficult months followed: studying composing/advance music theory and listening to the pieces whilst following the scores. To familiarise us with the piece Sister Staccato would point out the different parts of the score corresponding to Shakespeare’s masterpiece. After a while I would drift off and let the music conjure images in my mind. She may have been a demon in a habit but she was a brilliant teacher and made me realise how bloody difficult and enormous a task composing a piece of music is. Or the level of responsibility that comes with it.

The work is based on three main strands of the Shakespearean story. It went through 2 radical revisions before the piece we know emerged. Tchaikovsky was blasted by European and Russian audiences when it debuted but there were some fellow Russian composers (known as ‘The Five’) who recognised Tchaikovsky’s talent. Upon hearing the piece Vladimir Stasov declared “There were five of you: now there are six!”

It was years before people realised how special it was. The theme at 8.32 has been mangled by countless adverts and featured in films but when placed in the overall piece it’s truly beautiful. It became one of my favourite pieces and opened my eyes to the power of classical music. Despite thousands of replays it has never lost its power and is one of the few pieces of music that actually makes me dizzy; the parts at 6.08 and 12.25 make my heart race.

I dare you to put 19 minutes aside to plug some headphones into your computer (there is quite a bit of detail you’ll miss without headphones) and listen to this in full.

Painting: Lord Leighton

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Doctor Leaves

I’ll freely admit that I’m cynical when it comes to certain aspects of the Irish music scene but I’ve been singing the praises of a new release from an Irish band. The eponymous debut EP from Doctor Leaves was released on September 9th and has been on constant rotation since i got my hands on it. Doctor Leaves is the musical moniker of 2 musicians better know to their family and friends as Ben Shorten and Dara Munnis.

Both Ben and Dara play piano and guitar; Dara also plays the traditional flute and Ben plays the cello. They formed their first band together when they were in their mid-teens and eventually went their separate ways musically, but remained friends. During this time Dara played with other musicians such as the Coronas, Gavin Glass & the Holy Shakers and Jack L. Ben experimented with new bands. Eventually the pair reunited musically whilst living together and the EP is the result of this.

The 4 tracks on the EP are 'No Step Forward', 'When Darkness Turns to Light', 'Seven Year Itch' and 'Small Fish, Small Pond'. Piano and cello meld perfectly on 'No step forward' and overall the songs have an interesting mix of vocals,strings,guitar and piano. The 4 songs on the EP have whetted my appetite and I want to hear more music from these guys.

The band have stated that they are more concerned with people listening and enjoying the music than they are with making money from it. They have provided an option to download the whole record and the artwork completely free. However if you want to support decent music and independent musicians there are plenty of ways of paying for it too. There is the option to buy a CD which costs a mere €5. The EP is also available for purchase digitally through iTunes, Amazon, limewire and LaLa.

Band Photo: Niamh Farrell

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