The Bulletin: Arts & Culture News | 10 June

In today's Bulletin: Tributes roll in for late author Iain Banks; plus new music from Clark, Sigur Rós, James Holden, Run The Jewels, Kurt Vile, Bibio and more

Feature by The News Badger | 10 Jun 2013
  • Iain M Banks

Iain Banks, one of Scotland's best loved authors, passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer. The author of 29 novels, including the as-yet unpublished The Quarry, due out on 20 June. Banks first confirmed that he was ill in April this year, stating on his website: "I am officially Very Poorly." It was believed at the time that he might have as long as a year to live. 

In our June issue, Banks' friend and fellow author Andrew J. Wilson wrote: "Iain Menzies Banks is a remarkable man. Over the past three decades, he has published nearly thirty books – The Quarry will be his twenty-ninth – and in doing so, redefined what Scottish writing is and can be."

Tributes to Banks have begun to pour in from across the literary world. The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman describes him as "a brilliant and an honest writer." A spokesman for his publisher, Little, Brown, called Banks: "an irreplaceable part of the literary world."

Fellow SF writer Ken MacLeod told the BBC News last night that Banks' death "left a large gap in the Scottish literary scene as well as the wider speaking English world," while another friend and contemporary, Ian Rankin, commented: "What made him a great writer was that he was childlike; he had a curiosity about the world. He was restless, he wanted to transmit that in his work, and he treated the cancer with a certain amount of levity, the same that made him a great writer. You never knew what you were going to get, every book was different."

Twitter was swamped last night with tributes to the much-loved author – Irvine Welsh tweeted that Banks was "one of the finest writers and greatest imaginations ever," while First Minister Alex Salmond praised Banks as "one of Scotland's literary greats who always approached life with extraordinary vitality." In an obituary for The Guardian, John Mullan writes: "He was an author whose readers felt in close touch with him. He clearly relished this closeness, regarding the round of literary festivals and speaking engagements, often a chore for contemporary authors, with undisguised pleasure." SF and geek culture website io9 commented: "It's tragic that illness took Banks from us so soon, but we can comfort ourselves with the smart, funny, and strange body of work he's left us with."

The BBC's last interview with Banks is available to view or read in full here. Back in October last year, we published a piece called A Beginner's Guide To The Culture, examining the importance, the complexity and the literary significance of his SF novels about The Culture, written as Iain M. Banks. In his final 'mainstream' novel, The Quarry, one of the main characters is dealing with terminal cancer. In her review for The Scotsman, Hannah McGill praises his treatment of this very personal issue, which Banks approaches with "neither sentimentality nor self-importance." Banks was unaware he was suffering from the disease until he had almost finished the novel.

In words taken from his final interview with the BBC, Banks seemed at peace with his life, his accomplishments, and his illness. "I've had a brilliant life and I think I've been more lucky than unlucky, even including the news of the cancer," he told Kirsty Wark. "I'm leaving a substantial body of work behind me. Whether that'll survive, who knows, but I can be quite proud of that and I am."

Veteran producer Clark's new album for Warp will bring together the most sought-after remixes and re-interpretations of his own material by artists such as Bibio and Nathan Fake, and Clark's remixes of other artists including Battles, Depeche Mode and Massive Attack. Clark has shared one track from the forthcoming LP, Feast/Beast, currently slated for release on 16 September. 

Another track has surfaced from El-P and Killer Mike's hotly-anticipated collab as Run The Jewels – 36" Chain was recorded for Adult Swim's Singles Series. Their album, which will be available as a free download, is out later this month.

Quasimoto, the cartoon alter-ego of producer/rapper Madlib, will be unveiling a new album this month as well –Yessir, Whatever collects rarities and unreleased material from the Lord Quas sessions, and is out 18 June. 

Matthew Herbert, who we interviewed back in March, has revealed a clip from The End of Silence, his new album due out on 24 June, constructed entirely from one sample of a bomb going off in Libya. We'll have a review of the new album later this month. 

Finally, Matthew Barnes, the experimental electronic producer from the Wirral, near Liverpool, known as Forest Swords, has revealed a new track, taken from a forthcoming release on Tri-Angle Records, his first for the label, also his first new material since 2010's Dagger Paths.

Following the sad news that this year's Bangface Weekender has been cancelled, another planned music festival bit the dust this weekend, with the London-based Playground Festival being cancelled due to low ticket sales, forcing the organisers into administration. Reports of record last-minute sales for RockNess however, inspired no doubt by the weekend's high temperatures, show that the festival season is still offering a wealth of treats for music-loving punters.

Pukkelpop (15-17 Aug), the long-running, large-scale Belgian festival, have added a few more names to their bill, which is headed up by the likes of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, Eminem and The xx. Joining them will be the Odd Future-approved  BADBADNOTGOOD, hip-hop production star Just Blaze, and Skinny favourites Frightened Rabbit. Details and tickets here.

The annual Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) took place last night at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, with recognition for some of Scotland's leading theatre practitioners. Actor Alan Cumming took home the Best Male Performance award for his widely-admired one-man performance of Macbeth, while the Best New Play award went to Rob Drummond, for his play Quiz Show. Drummond's play will now move to The Traverse for an extended run during the Fringe. Stellar Quines won Best Production for The List, while Taggart star Blythe Duff took home the award for Best Female Performance for her role in Iron, a Firebrand Theatre production. The CATS site has the full list of this year's winners.

It's been seven years since the last full-length album from techno pioneer and Border Community founder James Holden – his new album The Inheritors (reviewed here) is out on 17 June. The second single from the album, Renata, is out today on marbled grey 10" vinyl, with remixes from Daphni and Steve Moore of Zombi. The video was created by Will Samuel and Jack Featherstone, who are also responsible for the album's artwork.

Billy Bragg has turned up mob-handed for his new video – Johnny Vegas directs, while a whole host of UK comedy stars - including Phill Jupitus, Kevin Eldon, Stewart Lee, Neil Morrissey, Ross Noble and Vegas himself all have cameos. The Handyman Blues single is out 15 July. It's taken from Tooth & Nail, which was released back in March.

Kurt Vile is back with another video from Wakin' On A Pretty Daze (reviewed here). We interviewed Vile back in June. Meanwhile, Vile has been officially recognised by his hometown of Philadelphia, with the city's Mayor naming 28 August 'Kurt Vile Day,' and handing him the prestigious Liberty Bell Award for 'outstanding professional achievements and civic generosity.' Later this year, Vile plays the Academy 2 in Manchester on 14 December, and Glasgow's The Arches on 15 December. 

Sigur Rós have unveiled a video for a track from new album Kveikur (reviewed here). The title track from the band's epically heavy new LP is presented with a reel of footage used in their live show. The album is out on 17 June.

And finally, Bibio this week unveiled three intimate live recordings from his latest album Silver Wilkinson. They were recorded at the home of his friend Ben Modley (seen here playing guitar), in the South West of England: "Whenever I visit, we spend most of the time listening to music, drinking cider and staying up till the early hours of the morning, occasionally jamming and recording things," Bibio tells Clash Magazine. Watch the performances below. 

Just time for a quick trailer – Not Another Happy Ending is a new film by John McKay (previously a TV director, for shows such as Lip Service and Life On Mars), starring Karen Gillen (Doctor Who), and Stanley Weber (Borgia). The film receives its world premiere at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it will be shown as the closing gala.

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