Thursday, 6 January 2011

Michael Stipe's new website

Michael Stipe... but my guess is you already knew that.
No matter how busy the band are with writing songs, playing concerts or doing interviews, J. Michael Stipe always seems to find time to do other things, such as his collaborations with other artists (notably Kurt Cobain of Nirvana* and Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs), his political activism, and his extensive work in the world of film. So far he has run two companies, C-00 and Single Cell Pictures, and has even appeared in an episode of The Simpsons, one I have yet to watch.

So why am I bringing all this up now? Well, it would seem Michael has embarked on another project, this time on the microblogging website and in time for his birthday two days ago. On his new site, "Confessions of a Michael Stipe" (WARNING: Picture of a naked woman down the page!), Michael posts pictures of what he describes on as "work images and studies". I'm not really sure how taking a photo of a plastic chair incorporates into his work as a photographer/film-maker, but there you go.

However, as I click through the three pages of images, I notice some pretty interesting stuff. Quite a few of the pictures were taken during R.E.M.'s recording sessions during their time in Nashville and Berlin, two of the places the band visited to record Collapse Into Now. Sadly, the photos are not of landmarks or the studio (although the official YouTube page has a few clips of the recording sessions in Nashville taken by Stipe himself), but of some green liquid and a wall. Oh well.

In addition to this web page, Michael also runs (ANOTHER WARNING: Lots of flashy images, and more nudity, although it's gone so quickly you'd hardly notice it). When I visited the site today, I was and still am a little confused. Just what on earth is going on there? Take a look for yourself and see what you make of it.

This review may seem a little negative to some. Truth be told, I don't fully understand the film industry at large, and so perhaps a more knowledgeable person will see these websites and find them utterly fascinating. I'm not criticizing what Stipe does - he obviously has a lot of talent for the arts - but I think in the long run it'll be his work in music, and with R.E.M., that defines his legacy.

Yours truly,

*It should be noted that this collaboration never truly happened, as Michael was trying to use it as a diversion to stop Cobain from taking his own life. Sadly, Kurt committed suicide on April 5, 1994, whilst listening to R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People.

EDIT: Oh my giddy aunt! While I was writing this, I was totally oblivious to the fact the R.E.M. have just released a new song and lyric video! It's called "Oh My Heart", and you can find it here. Rest assured a review will be coming up very soon. First impression - sounds quite good, I like the lyrical tie-in with Houston from Accelerate in the third verse. And that's where the brass band comes in!

ANOTHER EDIT: Would also like to wish a belated happy birthday to Mr. Stipe, who is 51 as of two days ago but still looks as youthful as ever. :)

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