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Review: Scottish Ballet – The Nutcracker

19 Dec 20144 stars

It’s an odd little story, The Nutcracker ballet. On Christmas Eve, Clara is given the gift of a wooden man who comes to life after midnight to lead her into a strange land. Some choreographers use it as a springboard to explore Freud, some to riff on…

K-X-P – The History of Techno EP

18 Dec 20143 stars

Insouciant, dynamic dirges from Finnish cosmic rock demagogues

Finnish people, as we have learned from studies and Aki Kaurismaki movies, are totally cracked, so it makes sense that that the country’s bands err on the side of bedlam. Here we have cosmic rock demagogues K-X-P obliging by flagrantly breaking the…

The Two Roberts: Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde

18 Dec 20144 stars

Intriguing retrospective of two charismatic artists who died young

Reading the literature which accompanies this intriguing retrospective on the work of Ayrshiremen Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde – who were students together at Glasgow School of Art in the early 1930s, lovers from then on, hugely popular…

Beauty by Design: Fashioning the Renaissance

18 Dec 20143 stars

Serious-minded show investigates how history can illuminate contemporary fashion

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is surely a treasure trove of ideas for cross-disciplinary projects linking art and fashion. This serious-minded show, devised by fashion designer Mal Burkinshaw and art historian Jill Burke, both from Edinburgh…

Victoria Morton

18 Dec 20144 stars

Self-referential explosions of colour with personal vividness

‘OPTIMUM LIVING MADE EASY’ the quasi-ironic legend just about declaims, from the second of five large-scale paintings that make up a new cycle of work by Victoria Morton. Or at least that's what it appears to say, as the poster-size message which…

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Ben Lerner – 10:04

18 Dec 20145 stars

‘Like a poem, is neither fiction nor nonfiction, but a flickering between them’

For an avant-garde poet, Ben Lerner’s first novel Leaving the Atocha Station was a surprise commercial success. Self-referential, mordantly funny, it followed a young American poet on a fellowship in Spain, and was animated less by conventional plot…

Various Artists – The Travelling Archive: Folk Music from Bengal

18 Dec 20144 stars

Captivating glimpse of a diverse musical culture

The latest batch from Sublime Frequencies includes a smokin' live album from Lebanese / Egyptian guitar legend Omar Khorshid and a compilation of mesmeric Sahel folk, but this collection is of particular interest, representing the first fruits of the…

Verckys et L'Orchestre Vévé – Congolese Funk, Afrobeat and Psychedelic Rhumba 69–78

18 Dec 20144 stars

Irrestistible Congolese grooves with a strong Latin flavour

Waiting for the delayed Ali–Foreman 'Rumble In The Jungle' in 1974, James Brown used his time in Kinshasa to check out the local bands. Above all, the artist who blew him away was Verckys, the charismatic leader of L'Orchestre Vévé. Verckys formed the…

Large Unit – Erta Ale

17 Dec 20144 stars

Renowned jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love delivers a sizzling three-disc album

As the rhythmic engine behind The Thing and sideman to Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark, Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the world's most exciting and inventive drummers. Large Unit is his new Scandinavian big band, comprising of two rhythm sections…

Cuong Vu Trio with Richard Karpen – Indigo Mist

17 Dec 20144 stars

In recent years, William Parker and Mats Gustafsson have been among the creative musicians offering a radical engagement with Duke Ellington. Comprising mostly of original pieces inspired by some textual or textural aspect of Ellington's music, Indigo…

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Faust – j US t

16 Dec 20143 stars

Semi-improvised, back to basics, rhythm-driven sound sculptures designed to be rebuilt by anyone

Like a little army of trolls marching out of the shadows, this latest opus from the Jean Herve Peron / Zappi Diermaier version of Germany's veteran, kosmische, hippy Dadaists creeps up on you slowly. Peron's looming bass and Diermaier's martial drums…

John Lees and Iain Laurie – And Then Emily Was Gone

16 Dec 20144 stars

Smart plotting, fresh and genuinely creepy, Lees and Laurie have created a distinctive calling card

‘There’s a world of the screaming impossible all around us, something so far beyond our comprehension that most of us just block it out,’ reveals disfigured village sage Mental Jimmy midway through the tale, adding spine-crawling credence to our…

David Shrigley and Malcolm Middleton – Music and Words

15 Dec 20142 stars

Middleton and Shrigley are capable of creating something much more subtle and powerful

When the first track of this collaboration between former Arab Strapper Malcolm Middleton and Glasgow School of Art alumnus David Shrigley was released, there was plenty to get excited about. ‘Story Time’ told the tale of a delightful wildlife scene…

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

15 Dec 20142 stars

Ben Stiller and co return for the third film in Shawn Levy's family friendly franchise

Even in a dual role, Ben Stiller can’t keep the bored look off his face as he fronts the third instalment of the Night at the Museum franchise. What started eight years ago as a charming kids’ romp has evolved into a series of overlong ‘comic’ sequences…

Guys and Dolls

15 Dec 20145 stars

Joseph L Mankiewicz’s musical starring Brando and Sinatra returns to the big screen

The gritty, gutsy, funny short stories of Damon Runyon form the basis for this most rousing and delightful of big studio musicals, which boasts Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, a smart script and some of the best screen songs ever. The setting is a…

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15 Dec 20143 stars

A ripping, Oscar-nominated yarn from Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Seventy years ago Thor Heyerdahl's epic voyage from Peru to Polynesia was the real-life, high seas equivalent of Interstellar, as daring young men risked their lives on an adventure into the great unknown. Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen…

Dumb and Dumber To

15 Dec 20143 stars

Hit-and-miss sequel from the Farrelly brothers featuring returning star Jim Carrey

Twenty years have passed since Dumb and Dumber provided Bobby and Peter Farrelly with a box-office smash. Since then, their brand of comedy has become something of an endangered species, with both the writer-directors and star Jim Carrey no longer…

Live Review: Xylouris White, King Tut's, Glasgow, on Wed 26 Nov

12 Dec 20145 stars

Giorgos Xylouris and Jim White perform pure instrumental joy on Cretan lute and drums

Fresh outta style school, veteran virtuosos Giorgos Xylouris ('George' to his mates) and Jim White (of the Dirty Three) are a commanding and welcome presence, all big hair and smart casual. Sitting comfortably on a stage capable of holding at least five…

Jean-Luc Guionnet/Éric La Casa — Home: Handover

12 Dec 20144 stars

Ambitious collaborative project of spoken word, field recordings, improvisation and sound art

To describe this ambitious, four-disc, multi-stage collaborative project in any detail would require a far larger space than the one this review inhabits. In brief, Home: Handover is an exploration of sanctuaries and private lives and acoustics, with…

Alasdair Gray: Spheres of Influence I and II

12 Dec 20145 stars

Lovingly curated explorations of the influences on, and the influence of, Glasgow's renaissance man

It's only too fitting that the programme image for the first of these two shows that form part of the Glasgow-wide Alasdair Gray season, lovingly and meticulously put together by Sorcha Dallas to mark Glasgow's original renaissance man's 80th year, is a…

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Manuel Chavajay and Rebecca Wilcox: This Might Be A Place For Hummingbirds

12 Dec 20143 stars

Good work suffers from an overcrowded and badly considered exhibition

Following on from the CCA’s double solo show last year with Mounira al Solh and Sarah Forrest, This Might Be a Place for Hummingbirds presents work by Guatemalan artist Manuel Chavajay and Glasgow-based artist Rebecca Wilcox. The exhibition is…

Live Review: Mastodon, O2 Academy, Glasgow, Wed 26 Nov

12 Dec 20144 stars

As good as billed, metal's biggest act drop the motherload on Glasgow

2014 may well be the year that finally validated those ‘biggest metal band in the world, ever!’ comments that have followed Mastodon for the past few albums, though tonight showed that, even at their most stadium-rocktastic, there’s still plenty of what…

Live Review: Silver Apples, Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 28 Nov

12 Dec 20143 stars

One for the audiophiles, Simeon breathes synth charm into future sounds of yesteryear

These days, Simeon, the enigmatic founding / sole surviving member of Silver Apples, looks like a craggy character from a Coen Brothers or David Lynch film who has just emerged from decades in his desert bunker lab with the sound of the future – or what…

Philip Teir – The Winter War

12 Dec 20143 stars

Despondent portrait of a divorce, with excellent comic moments

Translated from the original Swedish by Tiina Nunnally, this family drama opens with an acknowledgement of divorce before jumping back to explore the causes. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of four Helsinki family members: fiftysomething…

Christmas TV roundup

11 Dec 2014

Comedians, catastrophes and quiches dominate the festive small screen line-up

This time last year, Rik Mayall was appearing as Greg Davies’ mischievous dad in a Man Down Christmas special. Twelve months on and tragically, inexplicably, the BBC are laying on a tribute to the late, very great comedic whirlwind who died in June at…