Music, Film & Book Reviews - TSP 94

Alex Dick-Read

More for the eye-sore victims of Issue 94 …


Music:
Burgh Island
EP by Ben Howard
Island Records
Following his platinum-selling album, Every Kingdom, Devon surfer and dark-folk guitarist/vocalist Ben Howard has broken right out of the surf world and into the mainstream. And despite playing super mellow, twangy guitar tunes, he’s no Jack Johnson. His voice is haunting and he uses it to create a dark and subtle atmosphere that jars interestingly with the more melodic folk – think Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan – that also infuses his sound. Raised in a musical household, he started writing his own tunes as young child, so now that he’s in his mid-twenties, he’s a comfortable, mature composer. The Burgh Island EP is put out by Island Records, his home since the days when Quiksilver and the surf community helped start him off. Burgh Island is a more ‘produced’ selection (four songs) than his first album, Every Kingdom was. There’s more going on, the guitar is electric, the harmonies are more layered and the sound is deeper, thicker overall. “I don’t need nobody, to be alone,” he sings in To Be Alone, which creates a clever mix between an eerie, Bladerunner-type of vibe and a catchy pop tune. His shows around the world keep selling out and the awards keep piling in, so it looks like the only chance Ben Howard has of being alone at the moment is when he’s out in the lineup enjoying Nature’s antidote to fame and fortune. Good for Ben, and good for the surf community for helping launch him. ADR

Film:
Minds in the Water
Directed by Justin Krumb Written by Steve Barilotti
www.mindsinthewater.com
Aaah … Dave Rastovich. Thank God for Dave Rastovich. Some people come down hard on him for being a ‘pro free surfer’, but just ignore them. He is many thing, including a phenomenally talented surfer, blessed with skills and intuition that put him at the level of his childhood contest peers like Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning. He’s also a man who has faith in his beliefs – enough to let them lead him through life, which makes his a truly honest life, despite the fact he’s being paid by Billabong. Thankfully for us, he’s also intelligent and able to disseminate his accumulated knowledge in articulate, coherent ways. All this makes him an excellent propagandist for whales, dolphins and the oceans.
Minds in the Water is primarily about Rasta, though it also features several of his co-conspirators like Chris del Moro and Howie Cook, all of them dedicating their best years to standing up for cetaceans. It covers Rasta’s journey into activism and several of his journeys in aid of it. So there’s the Taiji incident, in which Rasta and crew paddled out to form a human shield in front of the dolphin slaughterers; there are trips to Chile and International Whaling Commission meetings/protests, and there are the TransparentSea journeys, down Australia’s East Coast whale migration route, and again, down California’s. Written by longtime Surfer magazine editor and TSP contributor Steve Barilotti (look for his upcoming film about counter-culture artist, Rick Griffin), the film sails along at a fair clip, partly because Rasta has packed so much into his decade or so of pro surfer/activism. He’s not slowing down, either. As I type, Rasta is paddling up the west coast of New Zealand in a marathon effort to stop seabed mining in the area and to save the almost-extinct Maui’s dolphin. This film serves as a reminder to his detractors: say what you like about him. He won’t hear you because he’s too busy actually doing something.


Book
Shock Waves
By Hanabeth Luke, Edited by Tim Baker
www.hanabethluke.tumblr.com
Three great things about Hanabeth Luke’s account of the Bali bombing (excerpted on p.78): It’s heavy, but it’s also a sweet and cheerful slice-of-life tale of love and surf in the heartland of the UK surfing scene. Her home village, St. Agnes, has spawned generations of great surfers and institutions (like Surfers Against Sewage) that form much of the backbone of British surfing. Unlike Newquay, its more commercial cousin up the coast, St. Agnes is a typical seaside Cornish village where everything centres around the pub and the beach. If anyone is interested in how the Cornish surf scene rolls along, this book will clue you in beautifully. Second, the structure of the tale is neat, appropriate and often deeply moving. Losing her boyfriend Marc is obviously the deepest wound of many caused by the bomb, and their love story is the key narrative device of this book, but it’s also a strong ‘coming-of-age’ memoir, and it reads smoothly from start to finish. Finally, the recuperation and rehab element is hugely impressive. Hanabeth, matured by the trauma, becomes a woman-warrior of sorts, determined to make the most of the post-bomb publicity that endlessly stalks her, using it as a force for good. Her showdown with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair is an opportunity grasped with both hands and deftly handled. She’s clearly a damn good surfer, too. Some say the Bali bomb was terrorism directly aimed at surfers. Well, here’s a definitive account of it from our side, and a powerful, positive salvo against warmongers everywhere.

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