‘Earthly Tapes 01’ – review

Smooth chant, Southern Cone mysticism, relaxing Brazilian groove – what more could you need to guide you through lockdown.

Earthly Measures are easing the claustrophobia of the time with their debut release Earthly Tapes 01.

It is the first in a compilation series, and, as all corners of the globe have been affected by the pandemic, fittingly the sounds on the record come from Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina, with two songs from the Anglo-Saxon world of Dreems and Ben Michael.

Ecuador’s Joaquín Cornejo, a producer and DJ based in Berlin, kicks off with his Latin American folklore inspirations, chants and soft vocals from Wabi Sabi in “Komorebi”. A nature-based start, as the song title is a Japanese word meaning the interplay between light and leaves when the sun shines through trees.

Janax Pacha, the stage name of actor Gabriel Epstein, offers us pipes, percussion, and drums in “Ama- Zona” which is another play on words and another song title calling to mind the natural world.

The next artist goes by a nom de plume as well – Ibu Selva. His latest EP Ecocide only came out on 25 March this year, and it takes aim at  commerce and exploitation. “Taperendy”, the song he’s contributed to Earthly Tapes 01, alludes to Ava Tape Rendy’i, the spiritual leader from the Teykue indigenous lands in Mato Grosso do Sul.

We stay in Brazil for “Outra Metropole”, from Carrot Green. Known for his versatility as an artist, switching between acid house, techno and disco. He is equally at home here, with a hypnotic blend of swirling rhythms and chill beats.

The last two tracks give an insight from the Australian Dreems and the Briton Ben Michael. Dreems’ “Flat Earth” has more attitude about it, with spoken word punching through and more edge to his composition than some of the other tracks, which have a stronger focus on green space and environmental energy.

Finally, “Until Now”, from Ben Michael, breaks through the six-minute mark, rounding off the compilation in a relaxed way, with simple beats and bright echoes, ringing from end to end.

This review first appeared on Sounds and Colours

COVID-19: Reporting from Rome

In March 2020, I reported from Rome as part of CGTN’s coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Website articles for CGTN Europe

https://news.cgtn.com/news/7855544d77514464776c6d636a4e6e62684a4856/index.html

https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-03-10/Italy-braces-for-economic-impact-of-COVID-19-lockdown-OJo1mOjSus/index.html

Reporting: Russia banned from global sport for four years

I reported on the news that shook the Russian sporting world, following the ruling from the World Anti-Doping Agency to impose wide-ranging sanctions for doping data manipulation

RADIO

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018726154/russia-banned-from-major-sporting-events-by-world-anti-doping-agency

ONLINE

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-12-10/Russia-will-appeal-WADA-ban-officials–MjdvV4HcJy/index.html

One step forward for Russian rugby

The Rugby World Cup has come to an end. How did Russia get on?

The Bears exited at the pool stage after playing in only their second world cup finals (their debut in this tournament was in 2011).

However, they could not improve on their showing eight years ago – then they scored 57 points, ran in eight tries and landed a losing bonus point against the United States.

This time around things were much tougher.

They played in the tournament curtain-raiser against Japan and did cross the line after only five minutes, setting a new record for the fastest try scored in an opening match of a Rugby World Cup.

But they would go on to score only another 14 points in total (and no more tries) after this.

19 points from four games is very poor return.

I went to all three of then team’s warm-up matches in Moscow and got to know some of the squad during their summer preparations ahead of the tournament.

They won the first match, against a combined XV from the best of the Russia domestic league (minus those called up to the national squad).

But they went down easily in the other two games, against English Championship side Jersey Reds at the small Slava ground and versus Pro12’s Connacht at the much bigger Dinamo Moscow stadium.

And then when it came to the tournament proper, four defeats.

They came up against Ireland again (and captain Vasily Artemyev, in the selfie above, knows a lot of the Irish after going to secondary school in Dublin), as well as Scotland and the hosts Japan, and Russia lost those games, as was unfortunately expected.

They would have had the Samoa game labelled as the one opportunity for some possible points but lost that as well.

Despite the disappointing showing in Japan, there are already plans from Russia to explore a bid for the 2027 men’s world cup.

In 2014, Russia staged the 2014 Winter Olympics and last year, the country showed that it could handle another of the planet’s biggest showpieces: the men’s football world cup.

Could it do the same with rugby?

The game is returning to France, one of the sport’s key markets, for the 2023 event.

After that, would the game’s global leaders take a punt on another nascent market?

Japan is far more established in comparison with Russia, and 2019 was seen as a tentative (and overdue) move into a new market.

Argentina has not staged a World Cup and there is an unwritten rule that world cups swing between the two hemispheres.

After Japan 2019 and France 2023, the calls for another southern tournament from players in Argentina, South Africa and the trans-Tasman giants of Australia and New Zealand will be hard to resist.

Reporting: How does Russia decipher US policy on Syria?

After abruptly pulling U.S. troops who protected Kurdish fighters, President Donald Trump has identified oil protection as the new goal in Syria.  Moscow-based correspondent, Ross Cullen, says Russia’s frustration is growing over Trump’s policy reversal in Syria.

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-10-26/Russia-s-Syria-frustration-growing-with-Trump-s-policy-reversal-L6RSzgD972/index.html

Reporting: Moscow’s pro-opposition protests

In August 2019, I reported live from an unsanctioned pro-opposition protest in Moscow.

The demonstrations took place throughout the summer on consecutive weekends in support of anti-government candidates in Moscow’s local city elections. The candidates had been barred from running for allegedly supplying false signatures on their application forms. The opposition say the move was an underhand method by the Kremlin of removing potentially disruptive anti-government candidates from the ballot paper.

TRT World news article: https://www.trtworld.com/europe/russian-police-detain-hundreds-during-fresh-protest-in-moscow-28739