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Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in NATURE, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh.

Warren Ellis is represented by agent Angela Cheng Caplan at Writers & Artists and manager Aaron Michiel. He's a consultant to artbomb.net and opi8.com He's on the web at warrenellis.com, strangemachine.com and diepunyhumans.com. He's thirty four and lives in England and he never ever sleeps. Never.

Recent Columns:

Missed a column? Here are links to recent Brainpowered's:

36: Things Online That I Am Sick Of

35: A Foul Collection

34: Monetising The Fringe

33: Walking Camera

32: Microcast

31: All You Need Is Hate

30: Nothing Happened

29: New Spectator Sport

28: While I've Been Gone

27: Webcomics' Second Coming

26: Grey Fog

25: Notes From the Futureground

24: Saving Fantagraphics

23: Manhwa

22: Turning Point - The Anatomy Lesson

21: Planet Artbomb

20: The Ducks

19: Moving Books

18: Searchlight

17: Online

16: Singles

15: "03"

14: Nowhere Girl

13: The Full Head Tingle

12: Alternity

11: NoCal

10: Land of the Lotus Eaters

09: Five Thousand Miles

08: Norway

07: Nearly a Revolution

06: Mists of Time

05: Closing the WEF

04: Speed

03: Haircut Boy

02: The History Man

01: Firing Up

 

16: Singles


I'm listening to nothing but singles right now. Little artbombs. Taking an idea and executing it in three minutes or so. There was one most people missed, just before Christmas, hidden on an album. Low, Utah postrock slowcore minimalist types, did a CD of Xmas songs. And on there is the best Xmas song since "Fairytale Of New York." It doesn't touch that song's complex grandeur, but it's now the only other Xmas song I'll have in the house. "Just Like Christmas" rides acoustic guitars and a sampled line of sleigh bells, with a background music that sounds like it's coming out of a tinny AM radio in the 1960s, punctuated with driving bursts of drumming that sound like they're being committed on oil barrels in the next room. It's the only Xmas song I've ever heard that namechecks Stockholm and Oslo, and it is glorious. Hidden away on a CD you probably wouldn't even know about if you didn't already know Low.

It's been a year like that, in music, from my chair. Some staggeringly disappointing albums from artists I previously enjoyed, and brilliance from the most unexpected places. The Flaming Lips were always hit and miss for me, a little more prog than I like, not enough of the quirky perceptiveness of things like "The Spiderbite Song," but the new CD, which I first heard in a car in Berkeley in the middle of the night, has one indelible moment of perfect pop madness in "Yoshimi Vs The Pink Robots Part 1"; that weird signature blend of electronics and acoustic guitars under a somewhat mental lyric about a woman fighting evil robots that want to eat the narrator... okay, when I was first told about it, I made that face, too. But it has what the best music this year had, which is joy. Somehow, it makes you look up and smile. The effect doesn't work quite so well in "Do You Realize," probably because it's a little more direct and preachily well-meaning, but that and "Fight Test" are still marvellous and unexpected.

Things like that kept music alive for me this year. And The Polyphonic Spree's "Soldier Girl," which I've written about here before -- from the ashes of Texan band Tripping Daisy. The defiant "Pretty Like Drugs" by Queen Adreena, the shattered remains of 90s guitar hopefuls Daisy Chainsaw. There may be a pattern here. Damon Albarn once spoke of a conversation with... oh, one of those old experimental outfits, Can or Faust, and was told that you spend your twenties learning, and your thirties putting it all together. On the evidence of Blur's horrible "Don't Bomb When You're The Bomb," it hasn't quite worked out that way for them, but maybe the theory's sound anyway.

The last minute or so of Kait0's "Go", with the guitarist's plectrum screaming up the string like a rocket banging off from Canaveral -- that was a moment worth taking from 2002. With Sigur Ros descending into quicksand and Godspeed You Black Emperor spending way too much time indoors and everyone else I was interested in either going quiet or publicly demonstrating that they've run out of things to say, moments like that were important. Especially with mainstream music being in the worst condition it's had in a while. It'll be interesting to see if the better exponents of 2002's classic-style fakescene "electroclash", like Ladytron, actually get the time to develop beyond pastiche, or whether they just get swept away with Wit and the rest of them.

I'd like to see more graphic novels built like albums, if I'm honest. Collections of singles; short stories. A CONTRACT WITH GOD is often touted as the first graphic novel, but it is in fact an original short story collection. My girlfriend tends to buy only short story collections because she simply doesn't have the time, most months, to sustain the reading of a novel. She wants something she can get into and out of in a short space of time with a complete experience. Like a single.

This is what's powering my brain today. Hello, good evening, welcome, and goodbye.

-- Warren

 
Warren Ellis can be reached at brainpowermail@aol.com. BRAINPOWERED is copyright (c) 2002-2004 Warren Ellis. All rights reserved.
 


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