Twin Peaks Retrospective

We are mere hours away from the return of Twin Peaks. After nearly 25 years, and that cliffhanger, the show is returning with many of the original cast as well as a veritable smörgåsbord of new characters and actors. 

I've been binge watching the original 29 episode run of series 1 and 2 on DVD over the past few weeks and recently read the Mark Frost book Secret History of Twin Peaks. I have loved immersing myself in the haunting world of Twin Peaks once again. 

Whilst doing the rewatch of the show certain images were as clear and vivid as I remembered them from 20 years ago when I first watched the show. David Lynch's visuals are very haunting without the sound but when you lay in Angelo Badalamenti's unforgettable score and the sound effect mix something magical, almost operatic happens. The sound and images truly complement one another, so much so that several images have been seared into my consciousness; the swinging traffic lights, the dark trees swaying in the breeze, the beautiful waterfall and the hues of brown that permeate the show. There is a poetry and synergy between the images and music that I haven't seen in any other TV series since.

The show itself moved at a leisurely pace, especially when compared to many modern shows, but it was never a slow show, there was always a sense of something lurking just beneath the surface; it could be something terrible, exciting or indeed magical - whatever it was it was never something boring... There was a wonderful dream-logic reality which meant that anything could happen at any point of the show. You want a backwards talking dwarf? Check. You want a unicorn? Check. You want a mysterious giant? Check. How many other shows could do that yet still make a sort of sense?

This unnerving other-worldliness of the series was hinted at in the pilot with the red room shown briefly, but it was really cemented in episode 2 when we meet the sinister backwards talking dwarf in a room of red curtains and chevron flooring.... All this added to the unnerving peculiarity of what could have become just another also-ran police procedural. However after the scene with the empty bottle in the forest and Buddhist philosophising you know you are watching something that is unique and special, how many other shows features FBI Agents trying to work out a murder's identity by trying to break a bottle with a stone?

Throughout the course of the entire show light and dark contrasted heavily, often within one episode, for example the cliffhanger of season 1 when Cooper is shot and the oldest waiter in the world serves him (slowly) whilst he is bleeding to death on the floor, Cooper waits patiently and politely for the waiter's return.

This weirdness continues with the introduction of the giant, a figure famous across nearly all cultures. The duality between the giant and the dwarf makes you consider dualities further and adds to the light / dark dynamic... Are humans just the playthings of creatures and being from another realm? 

When the killer is revealed in episode 14 the question of personal responsibility and whether we are responsible for our own actions Is asked. Is our life predetermined? Are we merely puppets in a greater play or do we have to accept personal responsibility for our actions, even when we may have no control over them?

The series does undoubtedly dip after the reveal of the murderer of Laura Palmer, with the introduction of the pine weasel and Benjamin Horne's spiritual epiphany, but after a few episodes it found its feet again with the introduction of antagonist Windom Earle,  further lore reveals with the Black and White lodge and a look at Agent Dale Cooper's past.

The series reaches a crescendo with episode 29, when David Lynch returned to helm the arthouse horror final episode which ended with the possession of Agent Cooper. Since then fan theories and video essays have abound as to what happened next but with the release of The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost, we have a small insight as to what happened to most of the characters of the show as well as the history of the area.

I cannot wait for the new series and hope that it takes me to a place both magical and strange. After 25 years I hope the wait was worth it, I have a firm belief that it will be. 

The Moomins- Cartoon TV Review

The Moomins are beloved characters created by the Finnish artist and storyteller, Tove Jansson. I am a huge fan of the creatures but I wasn't always this interested. I first came across the series as most children did through the weird felt stop motion show from the 80's. I've spoken before about how the creepy music and unearthly jerky felt character movement weirded me out at the time but with time I've come to appreciate the music, but what of the show?

Well being older and braver I finally decided to eat that frog and re-watch the series and give it a re-evaluation.

The first series of The Moomins is now on Amazon Prime and whilst it is the classic series from the 80's much has changed. From the start things seem off, the creepy introduction music has been replaced by a cheesy pop track and the well recognised title card has disappeared too.

The iconic title card is removed from the Amazon Prime series.

The complete soundtrack has been replaced but also the charming narration and voice-work by Richard Murdoch, replaced by a variety of voice actors who now play the different characters. The new narrator sounds bored, speaking v-e-r-y slowly and without much enthusiasm. All these may not sound like much but collectively it changes the whole feel of the thing and as a such the series loses it's otherworldly charm. In the original first episode, Thingummy and Bob, the scary character of the Groke makes an appearance and the music is suitably dramatic and unsettling. The foley work is impressive with a deep growling sound combining with the dark synthesizer sound. However in this version this is replaced with a more modern dramatic piece of music which although sinister doesn't compare to the original composition.

I persevered for a couple of more episodes but as a whole the feel of the show was 'off.' In the same way that Turner Classic Movies recoloured old films like 'Citizen Kane' and 'The Big Sleep' to appeal to a newer, younger audience, or for more contemporary take, George Lucas' constant meddling with the original Star Wars Trilogy led to worse films, this playing with the Moomin animation of old does no favours to what was a classic if slightly unnerving animation series. If you can watch the originals then please do but this version on Amazon Prime is a poor option.

Inspector Gadget- Retro Soundtrack Review

Inspector Gadget was a staple of 80s cartoons for many children. The crazy adventures of a confused Clouseau-esque cybernetically enhanced policeman, who is rebuilt with many attachments may sound horrific and slightly reminiscent of the Robocop storyline but in the hands of Haim Saban and Shuki Levy it became a crazy farce that filled 86 episodes! I watched the cartoon regularly and even though it was never my favourite I still watched to see where Gadget would end up going each week. The soundtrack realy struck me at the time and the stunning introduction animation and theme song struck a cord with many people, being instantly hum-able even now.

Several soundtracks of the show were released in the 80s but they have been incomplete or suffered from noise distortion after being mastered from vinyl originals, Télé 80 released a CD in 2013 but it only had 22 songs, missing much from the series but the CD is still highly sought after by retro animation collectors.

The 2012 release of the soundtrack is incomplete and not worth getting. Also it is pretty expensive to purchase.

The 2012 release of the soundtrack is incomplete and not worth getting. Also it is pretty expensive to purchase.

However a few years ago they released the updated Inspector Gadget 30th Anniversary Special Edition, which is the most complete collection so far published of Shuki Levy and Haim Saban's score. It contains all the surviving compositions known to exist and Levy provided the master tapes for the new CD himself so the quality of the tracks is pretty clear. So what of the soundtrack? The whole album is composed of 30 tracks, some vocal but many instrumental pieces from the show. The first 3 tracks feature French vocals over well known Inspector Gadget instrumental pieces. They are fine if you are into that kind of thing but they're not really for me. However the album starts properly with track 4, Gadget Sur Mars (Gadget on Mars) which is a moody slice of 80s synth with a deep wubby bassline. In parts there are sounds that are similar to some Mysterious Cities of Gold tracks. 

  • Track 5, Le Fantome (The Ghost) is a warbly piece of music which sounds like a synthesized zither. You can imagine it being played in a ghost house, all jaunty and kiddy scary.  
  • Track 6, Musee De L'art Fou (The MAD Art Museum) is an upbeat piano piece, it moves from dramatic theatricalopening to a quick piano piece which wouldn't be out of place in a stereotypical Western saloon scene. Then the main Inspector Gadget motiff plays over what I can only describe as the sound I hear when people are trying to hide in cartoons. You'll know what I mean when you hear it.  
  • Track 7, Gadget in Japon (Gadget in Japan) is the stereotypical Japanese music, almost comically racist if it wasn't so charming, it opens with a gong and moves along to a rendition of chopsticks and then has a traditional flute sound. It is a rather whimsical and a wonderful piece. 
  • Track 8, L'usine de Chocolats (The Chocolate Factory) is a rather bouncy track that reminds me of ska music with its use of piano and trumpets. The track moves at a cracking pace and the Gadget motiff is there popping up every now and again. 
  • Track 9, Rodeo (Rodeo) is the Gadget motiff played in a American mid-west like dancing tempo, lots of fiddles, trumpets and piano combining energetically. 
  • Track 10, Theme of the Dr's Gang (Theme of Dr Claw's Gang) sounds wildly different, like an 80s cop show, it is all marching beat and jazzy and has a poppy trumpery sound with some cool bass and wailing bass guitar sinuously working its way in under some serious cello.  
  • Track 11, Hero's Dan's La Jingle Africaine (Heroes of the African Jungle) sounds like your stereotypical African sound, all drumming and pulsing jungle beat but then it changing tempo and a trumpet comes in to give it a little verve and variety, before going back to the traditional drum sound. 
  • Track 12, Gadget Chez Les Incas, (Gadget With the Incas) is a piece all panpipes and traditional folk guitar and flute. The piece reminds me of Tao's Theme from another series from the time, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and is well worth a listen 
  • Track 13, Fai's Gaff (I'm not sure what this means) is one of my favourites tracks, it was often used when Brain the dog had to help Gadget from certain death. It changes rhythm quite a bit moving from dramatic driving synth to jaunty ska-esque high-jinks.  
  • Track 14, Gadget en Difficulte (Gadget in Trouble) was often used when Gadget was just about to fall into Dr Claw's trap, it moves around quite a bit from scary synth to ska. 
  • Track 15, Desert Arabia, (Arabian Desert), is your stereotypical Middle-Eastern sound, all flute, jingly percussion and boingy drums. 
  • Track 16, Gadget Le Sophistique (Sophisticated Gadget) sounds like a lounge piano piece, all classy and slow and then it devolves into jazzy brass and almost big showtune-esque. 
  • Track 17, Theme Du Train (Train Theme) is a fast pulsating synth piece, the Gadget motiff plays quickly at a fast pitch with a bass sounds that recalls the sound of a train in the tracks.  
  • Track 18, Le Royaume (The Kingdom) is a majestic soaring piece with a marching sound that goes into dreamy hazy territory before coming back to marching music. 
  • Track 19, Le Course de Voitures (The Race of Cars) starts of judderingly then move at a quick pace, with keys moving up and down and the pitch changing constantly, it sounds frantic and driving. 
  • Track 20, Les Pharaons (The Pharoahs) is another stereotypical sound with flute and tambourine playing over a beautiful drum beat. It certainly creates a vivid image of Egypt in your head.  
  • Track 21, Le Theme de Finot (Finot's/ Brain's Theme) a jaunty piece which is very joyful, usually when Brains is trying to help Gadget.  
  • Track 22, Gadget En Italie (Gadget in Italy) is very quick and stereotypical with the sound of fast folky guitar.  
  • Track 23 is the Gang Theme reprised and has more wailing guitar sound and a heavier burst of trumpets. 
  • Track 24 is the opening theme in instrumental and is just as wonderful as you remember. 
  • Track 25 is one of the highlights of the album for me as it is Sophie's Theme (Penny's Theme), a beautiful brass piece playing over a cheerful and jaunty beat. 
  • Tracks 26 to 30 are different versions of the opening and closing tracks and track 27 gives us the English-language opening theme in true stereo.
This is the soundtrack that any fan of the show should get as it has many of the tracks used in the show, more than any previous soundtrack release.

This is the soundtrack that any fan of the show should get as it has many of the tracks used in the show, more than any previous soundtrack release.

Overall this is an excellent soundtrack with some really strong pieces that sound similar in instrumentation to MCOG. The album itself if wonderfully eclectic but brought together with the constant Gadget motiff. The album is well worth getting and as it has been remastered from the originals, probably the best you'll get of this fondly remembered series. 

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 2

I was a big fan of volume 1 of The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers and praised its remarkable insight into Japanese game development. For any gaming fan volume 1 was an essential look into the often secretive world of 80s and 90s gaming and a lot of what I've said about Volume 1 holds true for this volume too.

The cover art by Satoshi Nakai is pretty cool. ©CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

The cover art by Satoshi Nakai is pretty cool. ©CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Volume 2 kicks off in spectacular style with a frank and deep discussion on the yakuza and their involvement in the entertainment industry. This is the first in-depth and honest discussion in mainstream media by my reckoning, nothing like this has been investigated before and the extent to which the yakuza influenced and helped grease the wheels of the video games industry is astonishing to read. The names of theindividuals and the companies involved have been redacted but this is still remarkable testimony of how the yakuza protected many arcades and ensured that the game boards weren't stolen to be cloned. The interviewee presents it as a necessary evil for many companies but also discusses how his daughter was kidnapped by the yakuza and only freed when he dropped an arcade machine from a well-known company outside their headquarters, it was a threat of sorts but it worked and his daughter was released. Accounts like this are remarkable and I for one am glad that they are being collected as they would be lost forever. 

The rest of the 29 interviews are interesting and cover many different aspects of the industry but of particular delight were: 

  • the interview with Hudson's #7 employee Takashi Takebe, who discusses the origins of this well respected but poorly documented company, famous for Bomberman and Pang amongst many other properties. It was interesting to hear how it changed from supplying computing hardware into a software house when it saw an emerging market. It was one of the first Japanese companies to see potential in the burgeoning micro computing market in 80s Europe and so many of its titles were converted to these machines. 

  • There are a few interviews with people who worked for Zainsoft, a company that produced interesting if buggy messes of games. Some if the interviewees' were very candid and spoke about these 'black corporations', companies that treated their workers extremely poorly and were often violent towards them. There are recounts of people being locked in their offices and being forced to work for 20 hours a day, being unable to go home for months on end and even having computer monitors thrown at them. This all seems far-fetched but with so many people from the same company saying the same thing consistently it does sound like this occurred and was actually quite common, it must have been to be given a label of 'black companies'. The most violent and shocking account is by Kensuke Takahashi who worked for the company for 4 years, it is a look at the darker side of game development. Another revelation is that Sega was involved in these practices too and this was one of the reasons that it went into deep decline as many people shunned their products in disgust.

  • The origins and the closure of one of my favourite game companies Westone is covered with a couple of interviews including an in-depth interviews with Ryuichi Nishizawa, Kouchi Yotsui and Maki Ohzora. Nishizawa was one of the creators of Wonder Boy and the Monster World series, including one of my favourites, Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon's Trap. The discussion about who benefits most from home conversions is really thought provoking as even though arcade game producer Westone made two long running series it was the conversion licensees who benefited most. Nishizawa comes across as a kind and creative figure and this interview is a real highlight. 

  • Ohzora was the character artist for Westone and hearing her discuss her inspiration for the world's she created is really insightful and well worth the read. 
  • Shinichi Sakamoto was a composer for Westone and worked on Wonder Boy in Monster Land and Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon's Trap. It is an extremely short interview but as the composer of one of my favourite video games, very insightful.  

  • Professor Yoshihiro Kishinito, formerly of Namco, shares a credit list of early Namco games, something that is invaluable for gaming historians as many creators were only able to sign in pen names in games.  

  • The interview with Human alumnus is interest as the company produced some interesting titles in its time but according to the interviewees it was the vision of the individual creators rather than company ethos or vision that developed this mentality. Producer Taichi Ishizuka discusses Mizzurna Falls, a pre-Shenmue open world game with a Twin Peaks style mystery. I came across this game a couple of years ago and much like Deadly Premonition it is a diamond in the rough kind of game. The discussion behind its creation is great and considering the tiny team and budget it had, all the more extraordinary. Szczepaniak recommends viewing a Let's Play by Resident Evie and having seen this play through a few weeks ago I can recommend that this is the best way to experience the game as it seems janky and awkward to play, but has an intriguing enough premise to watch the 9 or so hours of video.

The book ends with Szczepaniak dismissing the Japanese game development Downfall Myth, the idea that Japan is becoming bankrupt of gaming ideas with many of the games companies going onto the more lucrative mobile gaming sector, but he provides a list of over 100 Japanese games from the last generation (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC) that defy the myth that Japanese game development is declining. It's a powerful rebuff to the Microsoft perpetuated Downfall Myth which aimed to promote western games, a sector where the Xbox is doing significantly better than in the east.

As a book archiving years of Japanese game development history this is a marvellous work. As with the first it is a tough read from cover to cover, as naturally there are some interviewees and topics that are more interesting than others for me and whoever reads this but it is great stuff nonetheless.  This book is an unprecedented account of Japanese game development from the people who were there and that is why volume 1 and 2 have been such an important piece of work that will hopefully improve our understanding of this period of time. I find these books are essential and hope that volume 1 and 2 are successful enough to support volume 3. 

Ulysses 31- Retro Soundtrack Review

A warm fuzzy feeling, that feels like unconditional love, emanates from my heart when I watch television shows and cartoons from my childhood. There are a few very special shows that make my heart flutter all-the-quicker and one of these is Ulysses 31 (the others are The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Dogtanian and Around the World With Willy Fogg if you're interested). I first came across the show when it was first shown in the mid 80s on the BBC but I saw it in my formative years again in the early 90s on Channel 4, where it was shown daily at 6:30, just before the Big Breakfast. I remember thinking how cool and ahead of it's time the animation was but the moody, evocative and exciting synthesizer soundtrack complemented the show well... heightening the sometimes very dark cartoon well. Being a huge soundtrack nerd I tried to track it down but to no avail. The soundtracks that were available were the original vinyl printings from 1981 and these were far from the complete soundtrack, often vocal remixes over the scores.

I purchased a Tele 80 Ulysse 31 soundtrack a few weeks ago but unfortunately it contained lots of French vocal tracks and only about 6 instrumental pieces from the show.

This album has mostly french vocal tracks and only 5 instrumental pieces so is best avoided by those looking for the phenomenal score used in the show.

To say I was disappointed would be a huge understatement, however in my search I did see that as 2016 was Ulysses 31's 35th anniversary a collector's edition of the complete soundtrack would be available on double CD for the very first time. The release would include the complete score by Denny Crockett, Ike Egan, Haïm Saban and Shuki Levy and all the opening and closing credits sung in the French and English!

The album was only produced in limited numbers and was fetching a very high price on Amazon and other websites but I managed to get the soundtrack at a reasonable price on ebay, shrink wrapped and brand new. And so, without further ado... here is the review of the Ulysses 31 soundtrack.

This is the album you want if you are looking for the complete musical score... it is truly wonderful and impeccibly presented.

The first thing to notice is that the soundtrack has a bit of weight to it as it is a double CD set (containing 165 tracks!)with a 16 page booklet explaining the creation of the show, with interviews of the the creators, composers as well as a detailed account of the remastering process. Unfortunately for me the whole thing is in French and having not spoken the language since secondary school my translation is patchy at best, however I have a wonderful teaching assistant who speaks French fluently and I will try to get her to translate it for me.

The music here is crystal clear as it has been remastered from the original masters by Ian Jones at Abbey Road Studios.  This is the way the soundtrack was intended to be heard as even on the DVDs the music can sounded distorted and warbled.

I've listened to the album a few times now and the majority of the themes I remember are all here. I'm not sure how the album is sequenced but I think it is in chronological order, with many of the familiar themes near the beginning and the more uniquely used tracks or incidental tracks being later on in the collection.

I'm not going to go through every single track here as that would be long and incredibly tedious for your to read so I'll pick out the highlights.

On disc 1:

  • Track 2 is Overture- The Base of Troy, which sounds quite majestic and sweeping, just what you'd expect for a space opera but it morphs into late 70's disco with a funky beat. Definitely a track of it's time but charming for it.
  • Track 3 is energetic and driving as it underscored moments of space battles and actions. Attack of the Tridents is a very short track, being only 20 seconds long, but is very effective.
  • Track 4, Unknown World, is a beautiful piano piece with moody synthesizer bloops and beeps creating an unsettling soundscape. This piece was used in times of tension and mystery and you can see why.
  • Track 5, Noumaïos's Theme is a beautifully melancholic piano and flute theme. There is very little synthesizer sound used for this piece and this adds to its wistfulness- a definite highlight.
  • Track 10, The Curse of the Gods #1, is one of the signature pieces of music from the show. It has a dramatic steady drum beat which is added to by a deep synth sound which adds a spooky element, then the trumpets kick in and add a shrill element. This is another absolute must listen for fans of the show!
  • Track 15, Olympus, is a wonderful piano and deep synth sound which is further enhanced through the shredding guitar. It sounds broody and dark and is another signature theme from the show.
  • Track 16, Space Battle, sounds like an 80s soft rock band just jamming with drums, cymbals and shredding guitar combining to create a fast paced track.
  • Track 21, Calypso, is a soft piano piece that sounds melancholy and thoughtful at first then the flute and drum kick in to add another layer of sadness. Another beautiful must listen.
  • Track 25, The Sirens, sounds unearthly and ethereal. The whoosy airy synth sounds mixed with the strange whale-like squeals give this piece a unique sound. It ends with strange cries and moans of the type you'd find in scary horror films. it is quite unlike anything else on this album but in a good way.
  • Track 31, Ulysses Battles the Cyclops, sounds suitably epic. It builds with a deep bass guitar and thumping drum and then the weird synth kicks it adding to the drama, throw in a few violin and trumpet sounds and this piece kicks it up a notch until it reaches the dramatic end.
  • Track 40, Goodbye, is a poetic flute and piano piece that flutters by sadly. It was often used at the most tear-jerking moments of the series and you can hear why.
  • Track 53, Ulysses meets Ulysses, is a strange Spanish guitar piece interspersed with some dramatic strings.

CD 2 continues the good work of the first but has less of the well known tracks but does still contain much worth listening to.

  • Track 3, Tales of the Legend, is a dramatic track with organs and what sounds like some harmonised vocals, lending this piece an otherworldly air.
  • Track 4, Odysseus, sounds like an 80s guitar solo from a soft rock band, all shredding guitars and a cool base in the background.
  • Track 30, The Heart of Olympus, has a deep baritone noise underscoring a dramatic piano peice... very unnerving!
  • Track 40, Universe in Harmony, is pure funky disco celebrating the success of Ulysses. A fitting groovy ending to the series!

Overall the soundtrack is brilliant and has stood the test of time well. There are tracks that are undeniably relics of the time but the whole score sounds like it belong to a lost sci-fi feature film rather than a 35 year old animated series. This is a must have soundtrack for all fans of the show and for fans of synthesizer music with that late 70s / early 80s feel. Essential!

Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy- Comic Review

Over the past couple of years the comics industry has gone through a huge shift to become more diverse and inclusive in it's mainstream publications and in the process has started to attract a new wave of readers... tweens. There have been many successes (not least of all Raina Telgemeier) but two of the most popular with an ardent and loyal fanbase are Boom! Studios’ award-winning Lumberjanes and DC Comic's Gotham Academy. Both series are about groups of girls investigating supernatural mysteries, with one group of girls being at a camp and the other at a boarding school in Gotham City. It seems logical and likely that their worlds would meet through some incident or nefarious means and so it is that when Isla MacPherson, a teacher at Gotham Academy goes missing along with Lumberjane Camp Director, Rosie, the characters of Olive, Maps, Colton, Pom, and Kyle meet with April, Jo, Mal, Molly, Ripley and Jen to figure out what is happening with only an outdated birthday invitation as the clue. The clues lead them to a house in the middle of the woods and this is when the escapades begin.

I won't spoil the story here but over the course of 100 or so pages the characters from both series are given time to shine, with my particular highlight being the two kawaii (cute) characters, Maps and Ripley) meeting and bonding and committed to writing in snail mail (letters) to each other.

BOOM! Studios and DC Comics have teamed up to bring Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy together and in the process created an exiting and interesting mystery which still contains the heart and messages of friendship that their original series do. This is a wonderful comic and a great addition to any book corner of a classroom.

LINK- Females and Diversity in Mainstream Comics

LINK- A Shout Out to Comics Creator Raina Telgemeier

Reflections of Resident Evil 7

After nearly 14 hours and many Friday nights after school we finally reached the end of the game today. It has been an amazing journey full of jump scares and phenomenal set-pieces that will stick in my gaming mind for a long time to come. The PSVR really did help to add a lot to the game, immersing us in the damp, hot and humid Louisiana bayou. The horrifying Dulvey Mansion and the fearsome creatures within, which provided us with many jump-scares and moments of pure terror, bonded us in our collective fear.

The game is a triumph of action, tension and puzzles that has taken the best elements of the previous Resident Evil games but refreshed it in innovative ways to avoid the creeping sequel fatigue that had begun to plague the series to create something different and new.

After the suitably epic final battle, which had been building up for a couple of hours with some freaky hallucinogenic flashes, we reached the denouement where the twist was worth the wait. After the credits rolled there was a moment of elation of having worked together to complete this wonderful game but also a moment of reflection of what to play next.

So as of now we are looking for a new game to play but it will have to be something special to match or even beat the experiences we have had with Resident Evil VII in PSVR.

New Zelda Game is a Breath of Fresh Air

We live in a time of constant news coverage with access to information 24 hours a day and when it comes to gaming we have tonnes of information available at the tap of a few buttons. 

When Zelda: Breath of the Wild was announced a while back I thought I knew what to expect, 8 dungeons getting progressively more difficult, each containing an item which would open up another area of the map. There is nothing wrong with this format however I feel that it was perfected in 1998 with Ocarina of Time and since then all the mainline Zelda games had been iterations of this format, with the possible exception of Wind Waker and Majora's Mask. The offshoots and quirkier games of the franchise emerged and some of these felt fresh and inventive but the mainline series had reached a creative plateau for me. 

Prince Sidon is a very... charismatic character. I dread looking at Deviant Art :S

However after watching a couple of trailers and reading a little in gaming magazines I grew more intrigued and excited but a bit wary, the amount of times I'd heard, "You see that mountain over there, you can go there," made me pessimistic... After years of game creators over-promising (I'm looking at you Peter Molyneux) I had grown a little jaded. However when I heard the heard the term 'open world' I was ecstatic and decided to open my heart to the possibility that an open world Zelda would be everything I had dreamed off with Nintendo game designing philosophy, which I'm sure would respect my time and avoid the usual open world problems of 'Go there and touch some random doodad' or overwhelming me with pointless fetch quests.  

Upon starting Zelda you awake in a cave and as you exit the panorama that greets you is truly awe inspiring. The cursed Hyrule Castle is there in the horizon and you can go to face Calamity Ganon straight away but it's not recommended as you are under-powered. You are left to your own devices to explore but only after you visit the 4 initial temples to hone your skills and gain the glider which opens up the huge game world. Having the whole of Hyrule available within the first few minutes of play and not being told to 'listen' by a NPC or given guidance of where to go gave the world a sense of authenticity and scale that I hadn't known before. The fact that the world is full of treasures, side quests and secrets not marked on the map makes the whole game a wonderful experience as it allows each person to experience the game in their own individual way. This game has given me a sense of childlike wonder and curiosity that I haven't felt for a long time. There are moments that will stick with me for a long time; discovering Kakariko Village after a long time in the wilderness, finally making it into Zora's Domain after being confused for a couple of hours, witnessing immeasurable moments of beauty as the sun sets and rises over the land of Hyrule.  The scale of the game is mind blowing and rather than following the critical path through the game I'm loving just pootling around and exploring this wonderful world.

So after 12 or so hours of gameplay I'm still just a short way in but declare that this is a masterpiece, a true gem. I love this game and when I'm not playing it I'm thinking about it. So here's to about another 100 hours or so of gaming!

The Moomins- Retro Soundtrack Review

To kick off the first of hopefully many retro soundtrack reviews I've got a spectacular starter, the vinyl of the 1980s Moomins series. I've spoken previously about how as a child the jerky, awkward animation style and the creepy title music spooked me but with time I've come to respect the art choices and direction taken with this work and have come to appreciate similar works by the Bolex Brothers and Jan Svankmajer 

Getting the vinyl itself was an interesting story worthy of Tove Jansson herself; Drift Records had procured a sizable chunk of the initial 600 vinyl shipment but on the day of their arrival into the UK the box was mislabeled and the vinyls were taken elsewhere to another warehouse with over 1000 other containers. It took over a month for the box to be found and the Moomins to be rediscovered... truly a wonderful tale for such whimsical characters, but what of the record itself? 

The record is beautifully presented within a large image from the 80s show and on the back is the track list with the blurb which reads: 

Imagine, if you will, a foreboding homemade electro-acoustic, new age, synth driven, proto-techno, imaginary world music Portastudio soundtrack for a Polish-made animated fantasy based on a modern Finnish folk tale, created for German and Austrian TV, composed in 1982 by two politically driven post-punk theatre perfomers from a shared house in Leeds!

Yeesh! Maybe I should have chosen a simpler, more straightforward album to review but this album was too good to pass up on so on we go!

This blurb is a good indicator of the musical journey you take over the course of the 30 minute or so it takes to finish the record. 

It kicks off with the Moomin Theme and it is wonderful to hear the completed piece with an elongates ending. The whole piece sounds a bit like a broken Victorian carousel mixed with a calliope falling down the stairs.

The Travelling Theme suits the title well and is a measured gentle plodding piece, almost metronome-like in its style. It has a simple beat which plays under a wonderful ethereal flute sound. This is an early highlight of the album.

Hobgoblins Hat is suitably mysterious and atmospheric with an arabesque woodwind sound and a throbbing synthesizer pulse underneath it.

Leaving Moomin Valley is grand and sweeping with gentle strings adding a sense of longing.  

Moomins Partytime sounds almost calypso in its rhythm and beat but is punctuated with whoops of joy and guttural throaty sounds which almost give it a tribal feel.  

Hattyfatteners Row is a frenetically paced track with deep throaty shouts of 'row' whilst a drum beat persistently beats. It is a driving track and almost sounds like an early garage or jungle track.

Woodland Band is a whimsical piece which brings together the sounds of various woodwind instruments and forest sounds together. The piece is quite sweet and has a 'regular' musical sound. This is another beautiful highlight of the album.

Most Unusual is exactly that; unusual. It sounds almost like a theremin mixed with a metallophone and is quite muted and moody but pleasing to the ear.

Midwinter Rites is a spooky piece which starts off with a deep percussive drum beat and strange guttural voices which growl and moan to the driving beat whilst in the background other higher screams are heard. An Indian sounding pungi piped instrument slits in and adds to the peculiarity. A strange piece indeed but an unusual highlight.

Piano Waltz is an elegant waltz piece and one of the more conventional pieces on the album but no less wonderful for that fact. 

Creepers sounds like a gamalan piece with lots of gentle rhythmic thumping and beeps flitting in and out. A melodic relaxing piece.

Woodland Band (Far Away) is a reprise of sorts of Piano Waltz but done in woodwind, it sounds so gentle and calming.

Comet Shadow is a haunting piece with howling wind and echoing whistles and a reverberating low synthesizer sound, this piece sounds moody and sinister. 

Comet Theme is a piano based theme with the same few notes played in different keys, getting faster and faster as the comet approaches I guess! 

The Moomins Theme (Ending Titles) are the same as the beginning it shorter and by my reckoning faster but I could be wrong. 

Overall the album is unlike anything I've heard before, apart from this show which I occasionally caught in my youth. It is unique, both beautiful and strange and so it is a difficult one to recommend to everyone. For people with niche tastes and quirky sensibilities this might be your bag but for most this is an uncomfortable and strange listen. I love this album and even though I know I won't listen to it very much, it's just not that sort of album, I'm glad I've got it to listen to on occasion when the need to be terrified/ whimsified takes me. If you'd like to listen to a sample of the album follow the link here.

Retro Soundtrack Reviews

There has been a recent trend in releasing soundtracks of classic and well-regarded children's television shows from the 80s and 90s.

Recently Inspector Gadget, DuckTales: Legend of the Lost Lamp, Ulysses 31, The Mysterious Cities of Gold and many others have been released but there are many others have had recent re-releases. 

Maybe as the children of the 80's are now at the age where they have expendable cash and are in the awkward position of never being likely to get on the property ladder they've embraced nostalgia of things past and that's what seen this revival and remembrance of things past. Whatever it is I love it and embrace it fully. 

For me the prize release is the MCOG soundtrack. In my childhood it beguiled me and in my formative adolescent years when I revisited the series in the early 90s on The Children's Channel I fell in love with the Shuki Levi and Haim Saban music all over again. Since then I've been collecting the old soundtracks and can boast to owning lots of them.

Some of the soundtracks I've bought have been great and some others less so. I'll be sharing some of my thoughts of them here in a new section called Retro Soundtrack Reviews.  

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers - Book Review

Japan has a rich history when it comes to video games but this has been rarely discussed or documented, at least in the West in english. There are a myriad of excellent books that discuss the history and legacy of video games but often they are from a western viewpoint and discuss the impact of gaming in the west like Game Over by David Sheff, Console Wars by Blake Harris or Power Up by Chris Kohler.  With so many Japanese developers there must be some amazing tales to tell but with the passing of some gaming legends like Fukio Mitsuji, creator of Bubble Bobble and Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco, it is a case of now or never to get these stories told and written down for posterity.

Step in retro video game journalist S.M.G Szczepaniak, who has written for many gaming publications including Retro Gamer and Gamasutra, which is where I knew of his previous work. He started a Kickstarter in 2015 to create a book with the aim to get some of the stories and history behind the often secretive Japanese game development scene and shed light on this era of gaming. What follows is a 500 page plus book of interviews with honest and candid answers from the people who were there at the time video game history was being made. Without the PR people acting as gatekeepers of information what comes through is intriguing reading, and whilst there are some NDA (Non-Discolosure Agrements) in place for some of the interviewees, there is a rich vein of information here which is expertly mined by Szczepaniak.

The interviews are informal and you can see that for many of the interviewees Szczepaniak is well-versed in their history and impact on the gaming culture and so what emerges is a sense of kinship and understanding as some of the game developers have their moment in the sun and thus share information freely. Reading the book you start to get a real understanding of the Japanese culture at the time and of the huge economic bubble. Whilst I did not recognise all those that were interviewed the sheer number of interviews and the breadth of topics covered ensured that I was engaged throughout. Whilst not all interviews or topics interested me I did read it all from cover to cover over the course of a couple of weeks. I am not sure I would read the whole book again but I know I will dip in from time-to-time to re-read certain interviews I like or to research certain creators like Yuzo Koshiro.

Overall the book is an essential for gamers, covering a part of video game history that many of us do not know enough about. Anyone with an interest in retro games and Japanese culture should pick this book up and there is plenty contained within to engage.

Drone Racing: A Sport of the Future?

Drones are everywhere. In the past couple of years the commercial availability of drones has risen whilst their prices have dropped, this has led to this past year being the Year of the Drone, with the gadget high on many people's Christmas list. As a teacher and the Future Technology lead at my school, charged with preparing our pupils for the future and potentially disruptive technology which could change the way we use and think about technology, I have been following the emergence and rise of drones closely and thinking about how they could be used in an educational environment.

As an avid gamer I think it was the game Wipeout which first attracted me to the idea of racing through tech-filled landscapes in futuristic hovering machines in fluorescent colours, it may have been F-Zero on the SNES but Wipeout on the original PlayStation was the game where I was first woken to the possibility of such a sport.

I am obviously not alone as the past year has seen a huge interest in drone racing as a sport, with the Drone Racing League, the National Drone Racing Championships and the Dubai World Drone Prix forming. In fact the Dubai World Drone Prix had a prize winning pot of $1 million, a record for the fledgling sport, which was won by a British 'pilot'. Many entrepreneurs are seeing the potential of the sport and are staking their claim to be the next Bernie Ecclestone whilst others see their chance to make money from their hobby, much like e-sports.

As teachers we should encourage our pupils to take part in whatever interests them and so in this spirit my school purchased 3 Hubsan X4 H107C to develop their basic piloting skills, 2 Hubsan X4 Mini FPV to develop their first person flying skills, 2 Boblov Eachine FPV flight goggles and a few air-gates to practice our skills. The whole package came in at under £500 and was researched to be the most cost effective and accessible way into the sport. 

I have been testing some of the equipment myself over the past few days but tomorrow will be working alongside my colleague to get our Digital Leaders, pupils with an interest in Computing and all things tech, to look through our resources and plan a course of action of starting our own Drone Racing League, with the intention of starting an inter-school competition sometime in the near future.

Flying drones whilst wearing FPV (First Person View) googles is an unsettling, dreamlike experience but once you get used to it truly immersive and engaging. I hope that this sport does take off and by providing our pupils with the resources and skills needed to compete in the sport maybe we will inspire our pupils to engage with the sport and maybe create future pilots.

Resident Evil 7 in VR is a Marvel

As a teacher I've been intrigued by virtual reality for a while and the wonderful possibilities that it holds as a means to engage and excite pupils, however as a gamer there hasn't really been anything released that has appealed to me. All this changed when it was announced that Resident Evil 7 would have VR features, this had me intrigued as I have felt that the series had lost its way by becoming more action orientated, and so I bought it on the day of its release.
I played the first couple of minutes at home in my man-cave at home but it felt wrong, I had the feeling that games like this should be experienced with friends using the old unwritten rules; life, level or up to a save point. Back in the day that's the way I used to play that with my friends and that the way I wanted to play this, so one Friday after school I put up a poster welcoming my colleagues to play the game, only 3 people responded and so in we went, us steadfast four, headfirst into the old Dulvey Mansion, in Louisiana; the setting for this game.
The few gaming teachers and I shared the VR headset and swapped around, as per the rules, but still experienced mostly the same thing as the system was connected to the interactive white board with the super loud speakers. The PSVR really does add a lot to the game and it is a lot more immersive than seeing it played out on the interactive white board but playing the game for long periods in VR is quite disorientating and so swapping regularly helps. 
Being winter it gets dark early and so the stage has been perfectly set for immersing ourselves in this game. The mood whilst playing the game has been one of camaraderie punctuated with moments of on-screen horror and jump-scares that have bonded us in our collective fear.

The game itself is wonderfully claustrophobic and as we are 8 or so hours in I look forward to the rest of the game and whatever surprises it may bring.

I have heard people decrying the game saying that it doesn't feel like a traditional RE game but as a long-time fan of the series with plenty of experience I can tell you that when you have to collect 3 dog head sigils to open a door then you're definitely in old skool RE territory. Friday after school has become RE 7 night and I love it!

The Secret Garden BBC - Cult TV Review

There have been many adaptations of The Secret Garden, but the Agnieszka Holland directed film from 1993 starring Kate Maberly and Dame Maggie Smith with music by one of my favourite composers, Zbigniew Preisner, is the high watermark for adaptations. I have, however, heard much praise heaped on the BBC children's TV series and so I thought I'd better check it out.

The story is a classic and tells the tale of young Mary Lennox, the spoilt girl from India, who comes to live in a big, remote house in Yorkshire when her parents pass away from cholera. She is taken under the guardianship of a distant uncle who doesn't seem to have time for her. For Mary the house contains many mysteries including the sounds of someone crying at night and tales of a secret garden contained on the grounds. Over the course of several months Mary solves these mysterious and brings warmth and light into the dark, dank manor house.

The series first aired from January to March 1975 and was very popular in its day. As expected from the BBC the period detail is spot on and the charm is there with an impressive performance from the cast all round, especially the lead Sarah Hollis Andrews. She adds a layer of characterisation and sympathy to her initially spoilt Mary Lennox, so you can see her character grow and mature over the course of the episodes.

During the 7 episodes, weighing in at 200 minutes,  Frances Hodgson Burnett's story is allowed to breath and come to life in a most pleasing way. The story is told at a slow deliberate pace and this allows you to appreciate the acting performances, cinematography and delightful musical score, which complements the whole work and brings it all together. As someone who has never seen the series and thus holds no nostalgia I can say that The Secret Garden is well worth a watch; it's a calm relaxing programme that is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It is a great story to read and a wonderful story to watch on this DVD.

For the love of Oxygene 20

I did a review of the third Oxygene album a while back and said that overall it was a return to form and worthy of the Oxygene name. I selected a few tracks that I liked but onto that would like to add an extraordinary track that has grown on me and is one of my favourites and that is Oxygene 20 

It starts off with a driving synth and short arpeggios that recall the work of John Carpenter or Goblin, the Oxygene wind motiff plays underneath, then a short almost muted version of Oxygene 6 plays. Then the whole piece changes, a moody string piece slowly builds towards something, you sit and wait for the moment but then the organ kicks in and drives loud bursts of melancholy across the whole piece. You sit and wait for something to kick in, something triumphant but instead the piece fades out and ends with what sounds like a log fire burning. I'm probably not selling it but it is a profoundly moving piece reminiscent of the Waiting for Cousteau side b 45 minute epic track in that it creates a soundscape in which you have visions of fantastical and wonderful landscapes.

This whole piece seems like a remembrance of things past, driven initially with the 70's Carpenter sound and Oxygene 6, but ending on the sound of not synths but a log fire burning and cracking. 

I'm not sure what Jarre is trying to say with this piece but it seems like a denouement of the human condition; the fact that we will destroy each other but life will begin again. Or that maybe we will leave this Earth and travel amongst the stars and settle there. The funereal dirge sound combined with the dramatic explosions indicate the death of hatred and new beginnings. 

I could be, of course, talking outta my hat but this piece is really resonating with me and I wanted to share my feelings and opinions.  

Have a listen and tell me what you think when you hear it?

The Unofficial NES/ Famicom Visual Compendium - Book Review

Over the past few years Bitmap Books have been releasing visual compendiums of retro game consoles. They have done some sterling work for the ZX Spectrum, Commadore 64 and Amiga but when they started a Kickstarter last year to raise funds for a NES Visual Compendium I quickly backed that and so did many others, it sailed past its goal raising 8 times the required amount!. I've spoken at length about my love for the NES before and the chance to grab a book full of stunning pixel perfect artwork from some of the most formative games in the medium was too good a chance to pass up. I backed the 40 pound tier which meant I would get the book in a lenticular case, a chiptune CD, 50 glitches NES postcards and a Famicom Disc System laptop sticker and a digital copy of the book.  

So after what seems like a millennia I finally received my copy of the book this weekend, but was it worth the wait?  

Well to start off with the lenticular case enveloping the book snugly is a thing of beauty; sturdy and impressively weighted this feels like a premium item, not one built to cash in merely on nostalgia but to be a reference or coffee table book of substance. The book itself has a slipcase and the paper stock of the pages is of good quality, with the book containing over 500 pages it is a hefty tome but expertly crafted with sewn binding. The printed images are immaculate and crystal clear and the occasional interviews and smattering of quotes are nice touches. The reflections of gamers on individual NES titles is a thoughtful and personal touch and shows that this was a true labour of love.  

There are a few titles given the privilege of gatefold pages which lay out the artistry behind these titles and a few of my favourites include Mario Bros 1, Punchout and Kirby's Adventure 

So the book is a very worthwhile purchase and a must for any NES/Famicom fan. The glitch postcards are a nice addition and as I've done some glitch art in class myself I really can see the beauty behind the broken. The sticker is fine and whilst not the finest of print quality it looks alright. The CD is a nice bonus and whilst I can't imagine listening to it that often it was a good incentive for the tier I bought in on.  

Overall this is an essential purchase for NES fans and gamers as a whole as some of the art and games contained within have left a long lasting legacy in gaming. Beyond that, it's just a darned pretty book! 

Children and Video Game Certification

(Film clips not suitable for under 18's and this is an opinion discussion piece)

As a teacher and a renown gamer (at least in my school) I occasionally get parents coming up to me asking for my advice about video games and whether specific titles are appropriate are suitable for their children.
I normally tell the parents that they should look at the game cover as there is an age certification there. This way I cover myself by making sure I follow the school policy but also ensure that the parents are following the video game certification system, of which they may be unaware.

This got me thinking about when I was a kid and the media I consumed which was often way too mature for me. My father would get VHS's of Jaws, Rambo, Robocop, Predator and many other 80's action films which featured high body counts and blood but it doesn't seem to have desensitised me or warped me in any way, well not that I can tell anyways!

However I do remember once going to a friends house when I was 8 years old and him excitedly telling me that he had a copy of the latest Freddie Krueger film. I proceeded to watch Nightmare on Elm Street 3 as Freddie invaded a young girls dream, turned into a giant worm in her dolls house and proceeded to swallowed her. I had nightmares for months afterwards and this scene was seared into my mind.

I'm guessing that my father was aware of the film age ratings and content but he allowed me to consume the media from an educated position, he never brought home psychological horror films or anything salacious but blood and guts were fine.
Every year without fail I see queues on parents with their young children buying the latest Call of Duty or Halo game and usually I find myself tutting to myself, thinking that the parents are ill-informed or not taking the responsibility of parenthood seriously, and this may be true for some but recently I've been thinking in this day and age of easy information and research maybe the parents have looked into the video game that their child wants and made an informed decision. Speaking to a few of the children at school on the matter some interesting points were made on the issue of age rating, a few children said that their parents allowed them to play Halo as they were killing aliens and there was no red blood, only goo coming out. Others said that they played the more violent games with their parents only and were not allowed to play it alone. Yet others said that their parents didn't mind the violence but it was the swearing and more adult material that they were protected from.

I have a daughter who is 23 months old at the time of writing and I am very conscious of what media I consume around her. I never play any video games around her but I hope that when I do I'll make sure her screen time is minimal as I know from friends that once you introduce electronics to kids that's it, they'll be very hard to focus on physical real-world activities. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right but I hope by making informed decisions I can help my daughter develop and consume media healthily and raise her to make her own decisions on what she knows works for her and what doesn't. There are no easy answers and in this day and ages when everything is available online I'd like to hope that she make informed decisions based on her knowledge of herself and her character, like my parents did for me.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - Comic Review

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer is an interesting mix of comic and meticulously researched notes.

The comic starts off as a pretty straightforward account of the working relationship between Victorian geniuses Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The book looks at the creation of the never-to-be-completed Analytical Engine, the first programmable mechanical computer. However the story ends sadly with Lovelace dying at the age of 36 with cancer and Babbage never completing his masterwork and becoming a bitter and twisted older gentleman. So rather than stopping the book 28 pages in Padua creates a fictional story which takes place in an alternate 'Pocket Universe,' where the Analytical Engine is complete and Babbage and Lovelace are agents for Queen and country. The pair fight crime, battle economic chaos which threatens to destabilise the worldand also meet many Victorian peers like Wellington, Brunel, Dickens and 'George Eliot,' actually a lady called Marian Evans as Eliot was a pen-name.  The aesthetic is suitably steampunk and the whole work is marvelously illustrated and footnoted heavily for your clarification needs,  if that is your wont.

The footnotes deserve special mention as they are detailed and meticulous, fleshing out what is happening in the story and what happened in real life. Sometimes the research explains the jokes and at other times it provides insights into Victorian life and provides context such as when famous poet Coleridge is writing Kubla Khan but is disturbed by Lovelace! The evidence is convincingly presented but there is one detail which argues against the fact, Lovelace was born 18 years after the fact. This is just one example of the humour (love) laced throughout the comic.... sorry, I'll get me coat!

Apart from the initial 28 page biography there are a few other stories which take part in the Pokcet Universe. My favourite story is when Marian 'George Eliot' Evans has her book destroyed by the Analytical Engine but the visit by George Boole, innovator of mathematical logic, comes in a close second.

Overall the comic is a work of wonder and if you are interested in the Analytical Engine, Babbage or Lovelace then this is a must-read. I'm now planning my next visit to the Science Museum, London, to see the completed Analytical Engine which was finished from Babbage's diagrams in 2000. Reading this comic I feel more prepared to take in it's majesty and over 100 year journey to a fitiing conclusion.

Whimsical Moomin Exhibition at the Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre is currently hosting a Moomins exhibition as a part of its wider Nordic Matters season. The exhibition brings the well-loved characters to life by focusing on the characters and the life of their creator Tove Jansson

For those not in the know the Moomins are hippo-like creatures who exist in a weird and wonderful world and have many adventures and philosophise about the human condition, the world around them and the meaning of life but through beguilingly innocent stories. The characters include Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Moomintroll, Snork Maiden, Little My but many others exist in Moominvalley, a fantastical wondrous place.

The characters found popularity outside Finland in the Fifties when the stories were printed as comic strips in newspapers. In the late 70s/ early 80s there was a stop-motion animation series which scared the heck out of me, and a popular 90s animated TV show that brought the characters worldwide acclaim, and even led to the creation of a theme park in Finland, which my wife, daughter and I will be visiting in the summer.

Over the course of the hour long guided tour I was transported to snowy woods in the night with a full moon and the stars providing the only light whilst we looked for the Groke. I sat in a dark gloomy cave to escape the devastation of the comet. We sat in a tent around a campfire and listened to the crackling of the logs. The guide had said we needed to bring out the inner child and I readily complied. Being a guided tour there were only 12 people including 3 children and this intimacy made the whole experience rather special.
Walking through the various locales you could understand the influence that living in such wondrous landscapes would have had upon the author. The books frequently talk about how the best things in life are free and how a beautiful world benefits everyone.

The exhibition had more than 40 original drawings by Jansson, her paintbrushes and the first Moomin dolls, which were all wonderful to see up so close but the absolute highlight for me was the recreation of the studio in Finland where Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated her comics.

I've been to many exhibitions and shows and this was one of the best in that it was interactive, immersive and presented the subject matter in a fun and relaxed way.

So overall, was the exhibition worth it? For the hour long tour and guided talk into this singular creator- yes it was. The exhibition runs until 23rd April so please do give it a look if its your kind of thing.