Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Weaknotes for w/e 25 January 2020

So, a week fairly busy with content management, and a new edition of Enlarged Heart Radio, besides moaning online about missing parcels in the post. And as I sit here and contemplate the previous days, I mostly have thoughts about the arts.

The first episode of Star Trek: Picard popped up on Prime Video before the week was out and and, well, it feels like the makers may have confused one iconic Patrick Stewart role for another…

I’m fine with the general shift in concept (which isn’t that great a shift: it’s a detective story, like Dixon Hill or Holmes in the holodeck) but the, let’s say uneven characterisation of Picard, along with the far more cinematic aesthetic, evokes the miscues of the TNG movies more than anything. Nothing’s put me off like Discovery did, mind you, so it’s one to keep watching for now.

As I wrote on Twitter, on Sunday I enjoyed the Freud/Yeats show at IMMA before it closed, fourth time lucky! It reinforced how much I love Jack B Yeats’ work, and why I don’t particularly care for Lucian Freud.

As I said to Bee as we walked around the gallery rooms, you can’t look at a Yeats painting and not imagine the sounds of the scene. Look at a Freud, and it’s striking in its silence, a staid airlessness that leaves me cold.

We both make an exception for Freud’s cartoons, charcoal sketches and etchings as exhibited in the basement of the Freud Centre: looser, more sensory, revealing Yeats’ influence that he never explicitly proclaimed.

Credit to the team at IMMA for putting together a show that really told a story, not only of two artists’ growth but also seeing Yeats through the eyes of Freud, as the accompanying short film suggests.

Two things stood out to me: seeing Yeats develop from a figurative style to more evocative expressionism, and eventually an almost mythological bent as his technique evolved and his confidence grew. (Literally, he titled one of these later works Confidence.)

The other was seeing a small pen-and-ink watercolour titled Victory, which is said to be of a lightweight boxer but looks more like a pro wrestler to me.

Anyway, I’m no art critic; most of what I know about art history and technique is from my Leaving Cert 20 years ago. But when I look at art it makes me think, and these were my thoughts.

There’s a new Horse Lords album on the way (late March, to be exact) and the first track is streaming on Bandcamp.

I’ve got the promo of the whole thing thanks to their label Northern Spy, and on first impression it feels like a synthesis of the band’s previous LP, 2016’s Interventions, and the mixtape they released the following year in tribute to composer Julius Eastman, or at least the sensibility of that release, in its sort-of disparateness. Expect more of their trademark weaves and braids and knots of microtonal guitar and dry, polyrhythmic drums, but assembled in a looser manner. If that makes sense?

You know, it’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written about music in a ‘review’ context, and maybe this will form the basis of something for publication elsewhere. I do miss it even when it doesn’t pay, but it’s most definitely Work and has to be treated as such, passion or not.

Terry Jones died. I didn’t tweet about it, which might have led you to believe it’s not a thing that passed through my thoughts. I’d never profess to be a Monty Python ‘fan’; I’ve watched the movies and the sketches like you have, or probably not even as much. But I always got the impression, through others’ anecdotes in any case, that Jones was on the warm and human side of the Pythons. He wasn’t a prick like Cleese or Gilliam, basically. Fare thee well, Terry.

A closing thought: Have you ever had a thing you were excited to get, but you waited so long to receive it that your excitement turned to anxiety so when the thing finally arrived, you couldn’t even bring yourself to look at it?

Is that just me?