July 2011

This looks like an excellent film, explaining the importance of mountain glaciers in the Andes and the human impact of their demise.  The film features Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson famous for his tireless work collecting ice cores from glaciers in the tropics and subtropics.  Here is the introduction and a little teaser:

Here is the link for more information on the documentary, which is currently seeking financial support.


Here is the short list for the annual Polaris Music Prize, the Canadian equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize in the UK (whose shortlist is out next week).

Artist: Arcade Fire
Album: The Suburbs
Artist: Austra
Album: Feel It Break
Artist: Braids
Album: Native Speaker
Artist: Destroyer
Album: Kaputt
Artist: Galaxie
Album: Tigre et diesel
Artist: Hey Rosetta!
Album: Seeds
Artist: Ron Sexsmith
Album: Long Player Late Bloomer
Artist: Colin Stetson
Album: New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Comment:  A circular breathing sax player who records in single live takes.  The token jazz album! But actually quite an intriguing listen.   
Artist: Timber Timbre
Album: Creep On Creepin’ On
Artist: The Weeknd
Album: House Of Balloons
For me the The Suburbs by Arcade Fire is the outstanding album on this list.  Kaputt by Destroyer is also good.  However, the tendency is for these prizes to go to a lesser known act and thus provide a commercial boast and a wider listening audience to some great bands that otherwise may go under the radar.  With this is mind and having listened to most of the albums on the list I would pick Native Speaker by Braids.
Who is missing from the shortlist?  I would say Miracle Fortress, their new album (Was I The Wave?) although clearly not as good as their brilliant debut four years ago (Five Roses), is still worth a listen.

Here is a Glaciological TED talk I discovered the other day.  Lee Hotz, a science columnist, talks about ice-core drilling in Antarctica.  Ice cores are often referred to as time machines, because as snow falls layer upon layer and gets compressed as ice it preserves a frozen signature of the distance past.  For example, the air pockets in snow contain information on atmospheric composition now locked within the ice column.  In fact one of the sad consequences of the disappearance of many glaciers, especially those in equatorial regions, such as on Mount Kilimanjaro, is that these valuable time capsules are literally being washed away.

For those that are further interested, Richard Alley, a famous Glaciologist, has written a popular level book on ice core drilling called the The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future: