About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Monday, October 09, 2017

20 people I admire (XIII): Max Richter

Who? British composer who was born in Germany.

Why? Richter is a ‘modern classical’ composer, which sort of sounds like an oxymoron. He combines very traditional Renaissance and early 20th century musical motifs with subtle electronic components. He remixed Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ to great acclaim and also staked out a place for himself in the film music landscape. I got to know him through his collaboration with pioneering electronic music duo Future Sound of London.

What resonates with me? Even the shortest of Richter’s compositions are full of emotion, like some fan that opens and reveals its brilliant drawings, or primeval visions like sunrises, rainfall or the simple melancholy of contemplating that everything is transient – what Japanese calls ‘mono no aware’. Richter’s brilliance never turns to bombast, however, and his penchant for minimalism never becomes cold or calculating. He is a master at balancing emotion and technology and uniting the cutting edge of music technology with a deep reverence for tradition.

Best bit? ‘Shadow Journal’ sounds like a big piece of pretentiousness on paper: lonely strings and a subdued, throbbing base, introduced by actress Tilda Swinton reciting Kafka. Yet, it works. This track manages to pull strings of pure emotion by its high-pitched, ambiguous strings and still gives a feeling of depth by its warm bassline. If anything was ever a pure love letter to art, this is it.

Next up: The Onion, an American satire medium

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

20 people I admire (XII): Naomi Watts

Who? Australian actress.

Why? Watts improves every movie she’s in. She has a range that is quietly underestimated, from playing fierce and brave (‘Eastern Promises’) to diva-like (‘King Kong’) to emotionally troubled and out of her depth (‘Mulholland Dr’).

What resonates with me? Watts has a way of adding humanity to her characters in ways that make them, if not sympathetic, at least plausible. Many terrific actors unfortunately have a quality that always makes you aware they are actors, even if they’re very good at what they do (e.g. Tom Cruise or Kevin Spacey), but Watts can disappear into a role and carry an entire character. A class act that many people respect, but not enough, I think.

Best bit? So many to choose from, but if I had to choose, it would be her audition scene in ‘Mulholland Dr’ where she completely turns a scene on its head by playing into the slightly creepy vibe the older actor gives off, and transforms from an easily impressed, somewhat dull debutante into an actress with screen presence and prowess that blows everyone else away. The meta aspect of this performance beggars belief.

Next up: Max Richter, German-born, British composer