On my radar: Aidan Moffat's cultural highlights

The Arab Strap vocalist on late-night horror chats with his mum, spending time with Alan Partridge, and bingeing on Succession

Born in Falkirk, Scotland, in 1973, Aidan Moffat is the vocalist of indie rock band Arab Strap, which he founded in 1995 with Malcolm Middleton. Characterised by Moffat’s half-spoken vocals over lo-fi instrumentation, the band gained international acclaim with 1996 single The First Big Weekend; they went on to release six studio albums before splitting in 2006 and reforming in 2016. Since 2002, Moffat has released music under the name L Pierre, and collaborated with artists including Mogwai and Bill Wells. Arab Strap’s first album in 16 years, As Days Get Dark, is was released this month on Rock Action.

waiting- nothing by Tom Kromer ( Published by The Common Breath)

1. Novel

Waiting for Nothing by Tom Kromer

I just finished this book, which was first published in 1935 and was recently reprinted by Common Breath. It’s about a man who is homeless and destitute during the Great Depression – obviously it’s not a happy book, but it’s so brilliantly written and so vivid. There’s a really powerful scene where he finds himself doing gay sex work just to get a bed for the night. The book has a fascinating structure: there’s no plot, there’s no resolution, there’s no character arc. It’s like a virtual reality history lesson: you really get a feeling of what it must have been like.

2. TV

Succession (HBO/Sky Atlantic)

Watch a trailer for Succession.

I always get to these things late, but I binged the lot in the past couple of weeks and it is fantastic. I’ve never known anything with so many reprehensible people, but you also strangely find yourself caring about them. The Sopranos did the same thing: you become very involved in these characters even though they’re morally bankrupt. My favourite episode was probably the one in Scotland: seeing a house in an old scheme in Dundee on an HBO show was quite a novelty. The problem is that now I’ve finished the show I feel like I’ve got a hole in my life.

3. Film

Saint Maud (Rose Glass, 2019)

Morfydd Clark in Saint Maud.
Morfydd Clark in Saint Maud. Photograph: Courtesy of A24 Films/AP

I’ve always been a big fan of horrors, as is my mum: we often talk at two in the morning about stuff on Netflix. I absolutely loved this: it’s very rare you see a horror film that has such a distinctive feeling to it. I find movies with unreliable narrators really involving, but I can’t say too much about it because it would spoil the film. Like all good horror films, it’s not really about horror or the supernatural: it seems to be about the power of faith and women’s role in religion as well.

4. Podcast

From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast

Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge.
Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge. Photograph: Gary Moyes

This is fantastic. When Steve Coogan was a young man playing a middle-aged guy, Alan was more of a figure of fun – you were laughing at him a lot of the time. But now he’s a much more sympathetic character – I actually want to spend time with him now. I think this podcast is one of Coogan’s best performances: it’s just him with a microphone. There’s an episode where he thinks there’s an intruder in the house, and I was absolutely shitting myself – I really care about Alan, I don’t want anything to happen to him.

Venus in the Blind Spot (Junji Ito)

5. Manga

Venus and the Blind Spot by Junji Ito

I’ve been reading Junji Ito’s work for a long time. He does these really powerful horror stories and he’s obsessed with the body and the physical: people will be stitched together quite often, or someone hasn’t been laid to rest properly, and there’s a lot of transformation, with people becoming beasts or monsters. He’s a wonderful artist and the detail in his work is astounding. This is an anthology of his own personal favourite works, so if anybody wants to look into him it’s a very good place to start.

6. Music

Eartheater’s Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin

Eartheater
‘There’s a lot of drama in her music…’ Eartheater, AKA Alexandra Drewchin. Photograph: Eartheater/Bandcamp

I absolutely love this record: it’s intense, intimate and rapturous. The songs she writes are mostly acoustic, and she sings in different ranges – she’ll use several octaves in one song. There’s a lot of drama in her music: I’m a big sucker for strings, and there are points here where all these strings come out of nowhere and they’re just beautiful and beguiling. Sometimes it can be quite scary as well: there’s an anger in it. She seems like a very formidable person – I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of her.

Contributor

Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

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