a mutantspace skills exchange member, Mike McGrath lists his top 5 loves in the whole wide world. If you’re a member of our cooperative and want to post up a list of your top 5 things then please send it in we’d be delighted to hear from you…
Very Loud Music
Blame it on a small-town/country upbringing, but I hated the music on the radio and in my dad’s collection growing up. There’s something about Country Irish so unrelatable, so reminiscent of an old Ireland, one of comely maidens and dancing at the crossroads, and I doubt there’s been an original tune written in that genre for generations. Same thing with school. Your peers don’t know any better than you do, yet kids have this way of following each other around that makes no sense in hindsight, and well, the less said about happy hardcore and trance, the better. Never dug it, it never made sense. I found Nirvana’s Nevermind as a teen at a family barbecue and just got it… and it ripped my life wide open. At first, it was grunge, from there its influences and those who carried the influences on. Just astounding looking at the histories of punk, metal, math, noise, etc. and seeing the subtle changes, branches, crossovers, etc. It’s the most technically demanding (at times) music in the world, yet never gets up its own recesses about the fact. Intelligence without snobbery, aggression without po-facedness (when done correctly). I have great time for a wide spectrum of music, from dub to soundtracks, but my heart is here musically.
I suppose this is down to the fact that videogaming has come into its own as an artform with the advance of technology in the past ten years. It’s become so accepted that many games’ opening weekend sales dwarf those of movie receipts. Looking back on the games, how they’ve evolved from bat and ball to Tetris to Tomb Raider to today’s efforts. But the real joy is stopping at each point along the way and enjoying gameplay for what it is. Expectations of graphics and gameplay change with the seasons, but a truly great videogame combines a balance of elements, be they speed, physics, timing, great characters, style, or what have you and just gets under your skin. There’s a reason Tetris, Street Fighter II, Mario, etc. have been so popular down through the years. And the collection of rare/hard-to-find gems? A pleasure in itself. All around, the perfect recession hobby.
This place is so awesome I can barely stand it at times, and I think a lot of its longtime citizens sometimes forget why. But make no mistake, it’s everything you’d want in a town: big enough to explore and get utterly lost in, but not so much that you never encounter a familiar face. The atmosphere around city centre is so chill in comparison to elsewhere, the cultural life of the city breathes in and out everywhere you look. Just look at the festivals, all of the gigs, the local music scene, the Triskel, PLUGD Records. Look at its history. Everything is relatively central and the pace of life is fast, but never stressful. I love this town.
I write for and edit the music website Drop-d.ie. I’ve been in charge since November of last year and the opportunities it’s afforded me are amazing: working with Mutantspace, RTE, AU Magazine, etc; hearing new music every day and truly being blown away by the sheer scale and density of the talent we have on this island, in every genre and in every nook and cranny. It’s humbling to be privy to it all. Of course, having the opportunity to speak up comes with responsibilities: it’s tempting to lay into a bad album or a bad gig, but I’ll only tear strips out of it if it genuinely has no redeeming features. A problem we have with our medium is that everyone with an opinion and a PC can do it. We have to differentiate ourselves somehow.
This one I’m going to catch flak for. It’s inherently ridiculous, full of pageantry, lacking in any continuity, overtly superficial and of course it’s tied inextricably to the worst elements of American and indeed, global, lowest-common-denominator popular culture. But while we’re taking it for what it is, let’s look at the remnants of old artforms in its range. Comedia dell’arte. Morality plays. Vaudeville. But further than that, it’s an amazing fusion of performance art and athletic exhibition. It’s a many-layered phenomenon that tests people’s patience for sure, and understandably. But when done correctly, as in the recent mystery of wrestler C.M. Punk’s real-life contractual status and his on-screen World Heavyweight Championship, it can be breathtakingly tense, atmospheric, and with a little suspension of disbelief, theatre in its purest sense.
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