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PTU – film review

PTU (2003)
Director: Johnnie To
Cast: Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Maggie Siu and Ruby Wong
Runtime: 88 minutes
Language: Cantonese (with optional English subtitles and English dub)
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: 21st June 2021

Jamie Havlin watches an atmospheric Hong Kong noir thriller from director Johnnie To.

In explanation, PTU is short for Hong Kong’s Police Tactical Unit. The film opens in the back of one of their vans, where a group of patrol team officers listen to a radio report as news breaks of the murder of one of their colleagues. The story of PTU takes place over the course of their shift in a strangely deserted Hong Kong mostly inhabited by cops and crooks.

Overweight and overworked Lo (Lam Suet), a sergeant of the District Anti-Triad Squad, actively enjoys winding up and intimidating the criminals on his beat. One young mob get some revenge by scraping paint off his car, splashing litres of green paint over it, before luring him into an alleyway. Here he skips on a banana skin (honestly!) and gets beaten up badly. Worse still, when he regains consciousness, he realizes that he has lost his service issue revolver.

When he learns that Ponytail, a young thug who is the son of a Triad boss, has been brutally killed in a café, he fears that the murder weapon might be his gun as he dined in the same café earlier and made a point of hassling the boy. Rather than report what has happened, he enlists the aid of PTU unit leader Sergeant Mike Ho (Simon Yam). Ho sets a deadline of dawn for them to find it otherwise it will have to be formally reported, and any chance of promotion for Lo will disappear forever.

It’s going to be a long and eventful night. Two rival gangs are edging towards an all-out war following Ponytail’s death, while Lo and the PTU come under suspicion from different departments of Hong Kong’s Police Force, investigating the killing.

To get the information they need, the PTU officers quickly veer from what might be seen as unorthodox methods to outright illegality. And let’s just say, some have a complex relationship with the criminals they pursue. This is a far from black and white world, but it is a consistently intriguing one.

As always with To, you’re never far from some great display of visual inventiveness. Two of the leading actors Simon Yam and Lam Suet both give standout performances, and I liked the occasional flourishes of playful but dark humour, such as the game of musical chairs in the café and Lo being reduced to buying a pellet gun and modifying it resemble his service-issue firearm by sawing off part of the barrel and spray painting the grip panel black.

You really wouldn’t want to enter these Hong Kong mean streets carrying only that, believe me.

Using regular collaborators, PTU was shot entirely on location over the course of three years, while To made a string of more commercial films while under contract to the China Star Entertainment Group. From its conception, this low-budget movie was dear to his heart and he has since insisted that he made it only purely to please himself with no regard to its critical or commercial success.

I’d bet, though, he was delighted that the movie did win a string of awards, with To himself picking up a gong for Best Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2003. As for its box-office, it performed reasonably well in the circumstances. Around the time of its release, the World Health Organization had declared SARS to be contained, but many Hong Kong cinema-goers remained reluctant to visit cinemas. Sound familiar? Despite this, PTU was deemed commercial enough to spawn a number of sequels, though none with Johnnie To at the helm.

This Eureka Masters of Cinema release is PTU’s UK debut on Blu-ray. Special features include a limited edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork [2000 units]; a feature length audio commentary by Frank Djeng; archival interviews with Johnnie To, Simon Yam and Maggie Siu and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by David West (NEO Magazine).

For more on the release click here.


All words by Jamie Havlin. More writing by Jamie can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive.

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DEE SNIDER Joined By MARK MENDOZA For Performance Of TWISTED SISTER’s ‘Under The Blade’ At Long Island Concert (Video)

Dee Snider was joined by his TWISTED SISTER bandmate Mark “The Animal” Mendoza on stage during Dee‘s concert last night (Friday, June 11) at Stereo Garden in Patchogue, New York for a performance of the band’s classic song “Under The Blade”. Video footage of Mark‘s appearance can be seen below.

According to Dee, the capacity for the concert, which was filmed for future release, was limited to 200 vaccinated or tested people due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A portion of the proceeds from the show are being donated to Melissa’s Wish, a not-for-profit organization founded with the purpose of providing short term, non-medical financial aid, in the form of a grant, to the caregivers assisting those afflicted with a serious illness, injury or end of life event.

Dee will release his fifth full-length solo album, “Leave A Scar”, on July 30 via Napalm Records. Once again produced by Jasta with co-production, mixing and mastering by drummer Nick Bellmore, the LP sees Snider & Co. continuing in the invigorated direction of 2018’s “For The Love Of Metal”.

Snider said about “Leave A Scar”: “By the end of 2020, I knew I not only had to get back into the studio, but for the first time since the ’90s, I wanted — no, needed — to be a part of the writing process. I reached out to my producer Jamey Jasta and told him I was ready to make another record. ‘Leave A Scar’ is filled with messages to and for the silent voices in the world who need someone to speak out on their behalf. This is my purpose.”

In 2016, TWISTED SISTER embarked on one final trek, titled “Forty And Fuck It”, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. These shows featured the band’s “core lineup” of Snider, guitarists Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda and bassist Mendoza, along with drummer Mike Portnoy. The band’s last-ever concert took place in November of that year — 20 months after the passing of TWISTED‘s longtime drummer A.J. Pero.

TWISTED SISTER‘s original run ended in the late ’80s. After more than a decade, the band publicly reunited in November 2001 to top the bill of New York Steel, a hard-rock benefit concert to raise money for the New York Police And Fire Widows’ And Children’s Benefit Fund.

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HALESTORM Is ‘At The Tail End’ Of Making New Album: ‘We Already Have A First Single Picked,’ Says LZZY HALE

During an appearance on yesterday’s (Friday, June 11) edition of SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation Virtual Invasion”, HALESTORM frontwoman Lzzy Hale spoke about the progress of the recording sessions for the band’s follow-up to 2018’s “Vicious” album. She said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It’s going great. We’re actually kind of in the eleventh hour. Everything is starting to really congeal and just reveal itself. So we’re at the tail end of it. We already have a first single picked; that just happened. So you’re definitely going to be hearing music sooner than later. As far as the release date of the record, I don’t have that yet.”

Hale went on to reflect on the songwriting process for the new HALESTORM LP, some of which took part after touring was shut down due to coronavirus precautions. She said: “I think a lot of us [artists] were questioning, over the past year and change, about why am I still doing this? Who am I without touring? Who am I without all of the normal things that make my life normal? And we took, or at least I — I can’t speak for the guys — but I took writing when there was no real schedules, ’cause we didn’t know what was gonna open up, I took to writing to kind of have that be my escape, have that be my stage. So what you’re going to hear on this record is a lot of that, a lot of me placing myself in this spot, in this communion of people that I feel most comfortable, and just surrounded by everyone that loves the same music that I do.”

Lzzy also talked about once again working with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who first helmed HALESTORM‘s 2017 effort “ReAniMate 3.0: The CoVeRs eP” and was previously described by Hale as the group’s “fifth member.”

“He’s so passionate and he’s just a fan of music,” she said. “And I know that sounds surprising — oh, yeah, a music producer that isn’t a fan of music. There are a lot of those; there are a lot of those types of producers that are not fans of your music, let alone really listening to your genre. So it’s just great to be working with a producer that just loves the same kind of music and knows what we can do.

“We’ve written so much material for this record, and a lot of it we end up throwing out and then rewriting and whatever,” she explained. “What people don’t understand is you have to be willing to work so hard just to throw it all away and do it again and make sure it’s right, ’cause it has to be right. ‘Cause you don’t wanna look back and be, like, ‘Oh, I should have said something about that.'”

HALESTORM‘s latest release was last year’s “Halestorm Reimagined”, a collection of the band’s reworked original songs as well as a cover of “I Will Always Love You”, the love ballad made famous by Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton.

Lzzy and her brother Arejay formed the band in 1998 while in middle school. Guitarist Joe Hottinger joined the group in 2003, followed by bassist Josh Smith in 2004.

In December 2018, HALESTORM was nominated for a “Best Rock Performance” Grammy Award for its song “Uncomfortable”. Six years earlier, the band won its first Grammy in the category of “Best Hard Rock/ Metal Performance” for “Love Bites (So Do I)”. According to the Grammy web site, Lzzy became the first woman to earn a Grammy in the category.

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The Tyme of Day “Listen to What Is Never Said”

The Tyme of Day, from left: Robert Anderson, Chris Rogers and Shelby Rogers

The Tyme of Day came from Irving, Texas, northwest of Dallas.

Members were:

Shelby Rogers – lead vocals and guitar
Bob Anderson – bass
Chris Rogers – drums

I found this photo of the group in the April 7, 1968 Irving Daily News, announcing their appearance at the Irving Teen-a-Go-Go with the Phase V, the Glenda Harris Dancers and emcee Ralph Baker.

The group traveled to Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico several times, cutting Shelby’s original songs “I Wanna Know” and “Persuade Me” in March of 1968, In June they cut another original, “Listen to What Is Never Said”.

Norman Petty added keyboards, and “Listen to What Is Never Said” / “I Wanna Know” saw release on Mercury 72861 in November, 1968. Besides the Rogers brothers, session notes from list Larry Shaw on bass, though it appears Robert Anderson played bass at some sessions.

The group made two further sessions at the Petty studio, cutting “Am I Really Me” / “The Word ‘Because’” in August, 1968, / “You Don’t Want Me” and “The Game” in March of 1969. All of these have remained unreleased.

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Album review: BILLY SQUIER – Emotions In Motion/Signs Of Life

BILLY SQUIER – Emotions In Motion/Signs Of LifeBGO Records Two albums from Billy Squier’s classic 80’s period get a neat double CD re-issue. Not only of interest to fans of his work and 80’s US melodic rock, but also Queen fans as these two albums both feature … Continue reading

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Maschine in the Darkness—XTR Human’s Synth-laden “G.O.L.D” LP

Birthed in the “hushed plaguelands” that once housed Berlin’s nightlife, XTR Human’s new LP, G.O.L.D, evokes the frozen melancholy of a post-pandemic city. The night’s primary currencies, sweat, release, and change, linger as phantoms in this melancholy limbo.

German producer Johannes Stabel, the mastermind behind XTR Human, powerfully performs a narrative of soci0political consciousness auf Deutsch, reflecting his own state of mind and that of Germany itself, evolving through introspection and primal beats alike. Across G.O.L.D’s ten tracks, Stable brings our zeitgeist into a new realm, where the anger and frustration at our current existence is refined into kinetic energy and the desire to move your body. Influenced by the pop hooks of Austrian New Wave legend Falco, the tracks are swaddled in dark beats and political ideals, the album is bursting with catchy hooks and groove-laden rhythms: the perfect philosopher’s metal to transmogrify your existence through driving EBM bass, soaring synth lines and coldwave atmospheres.

This is evident in the above video directed by Clay Adamczyk for the pulsating Maschine, a melodic synth-laden song about mankind’s destructive relationship with the earth. Leben Ohne Licht, directed by Dominik Jureschko / lmtlase studio which translates to “life without light,” is both dark and haunting, and features a mesmerizing collaboration with Luca Gillian (Die Selektion) on backing vocals.

Many of the songs delve into Stabel’s own experiences as a German, from explorations of the Deutsch mentality of persistent fear to tackling the fake news, jingoism, racists, and coronavirus deniers on hypnotic bangers Dark Germany and Dieser KlangStarker Junge, a dissection of toxic masculinity, drops down onto the listener with sparkling synths and razor-sharp guitar, while capitalist critique Fleisch is a pogo synthpop anthem that could send any floor into a twirling frenzy. The real showstopper on the album is Angst, a Depeche Mode-tinged anthem of anxiety.

This culminates in another video collaboration with director Clay Adamczyk, Wie Ein Gott, a brutal critique of the glorification of violent gun culture, particularly in the United States, and references Richard Connell’s classic short story The Most Dangerous Game.

XTR Human, which began in 2012, is the solo project of Johannes Stabel, who hovers in the sonic realm somewhere between coldwave, EBM, and post-punk…riddled with dystopic ethereal sounds, lofty synth harmonies, powerful bass lines, and piercing vocals.

Play it loudly.

Follow XTR Human:

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Asian Dub Foundation – Interview – Access Denied

Access Denied

X-Ray Production


Out now

Asian Dub Foundation present a special deluxe reissue of their cognizant Access Denied on Record Store Day.

Celebrating cultural diversity, Asian Dub Foundation adventurously mix various genres and create heterogenous music that can be compared to the melting pot of London. With the new tracks added, their updated ninth album sums up issues that have been affecting the world on the global and personal level – from addressing the climate change message to an ironic stance in response to Brexit. Although being provocative, Access Denied is much more than a rebellious rant. Embroidered with various elements, its inclusive texture is a patchwork of sounds alluding to different episodes in the history of music.

Originally released in September last year, the album brought a comical note to the baffling and uncomfortable Brexit reality. Featuring a sketch by the British comedian Stewart Lee, Coming Over Here took over the UK sales chart in the first weeks after the transition period. “Working on this track felt therapeutic”, admits Asian Dub Foundation’s Steve Chandra Savale. The remixed version of the song is one of the five new compositions on the deluxe reissue. It delves slightly deeper into the chronology of global migration presented in the sketch, poking fun at one of the speeches of Paul Nuttall, a former leader of the UK independence party.

LTW: The new version of Coming Over Here has a slightly darker, sinister sound. Was there any imagery behind it?

Steve Chandra Savale: I had this idea of neolithic people stomping around. Stewart Lee said to me when he heard the track: “This is like a stoner rock track with a Spinal Tap Stonehenge thing”. Nathan (Nathan Flutebox Lee – ed.) came and did a bespoke flute solo for that. It sounds really primitive.

LTW: Had you been following Stewart Lee before he and the band started collaborating on this track?

SCV: Not particularly, that’s another funny thing. I mean comedy, the British comedy has a huge audience in this country. But it is not something I had been that interested in over the last decade or so. And I don’t know people who followed that either. There were some second-hand, third-hand contacts – people who would say “My brother is a big fan of his” but not necessarily well familiar with his comedy. As a band, we didn’t have much contact with the comedy world anyway. But a lot of us knew that sketch. It’s a sketch that came into our world. I think Stewart even didn’t realize how powerful it was for people like us to hear that. Coming Over Here is something we grew up with. It is something that we remember. It’s more powerful than he thought it would be. It was a slight extension of the logic of Paul Nuttall, leader of the UK Independence Party. Just extend the logic of anti-immigration politicians and you get a brilliant comedy sketch. Now apart from this one, I know a lot more of Stewart Lee.

Where did the idea to work on this particular sketch come from?

There was a trigger. Because it went down to a festival for which Stewart Lee was doing a lot of stuff. He was making a documentary of one of John Peel’s most favourite groups called The Nightingales, funnily enough, I knew some members of when living in Birmingham, so he was presenting something on that. I saw him there and that reminded me of the sketch he had done. I listened to it while I was working on the music. I was literally just playing the sketch while working on the track. It was a moment of inspiration with no real aim other than to see what it would be like.

Both new versions of Coming Over Here and Kursk Down have this distinct sound as if the music was heard from the ocean bed.

Well, you are on the right track. When I did the drum loop for Kursk Down, it had this submarine sort of vibe. The melody was inspired by a choir singing that one might hear in a Russian Orthodox church. Eventually, we debuted this track during a gig at an old Soviet shipyard in Estonia two years ago. Kursk Down is very site-specific, I think, it’s something we’d never done before.

The new versions of Kursk Down and Hovering Shadows were produced by Adrian Sherwood, who, needless to say, has been a legend in the dub music scene. ADF has had a story of collaborating with Adrian. Was the working process organized in any specific way?

We did it in the style he used to do records and still does. He gets a set of live musicians and then dubs them live. And that would be an album. Basically, we did a special gig, just for that, at the Ramsgate Music Hall which has become quite a prestigious venue in Britain. It’s quite small but it’s an amazing little place. Adrian set out a sound system because he lives there. We went and did the whole instrumental set there. So Hovering Shadows and Kursk Down are live tracks that were mixed by Adrian, with a few little tweaks from me. There is not much drums and beats on them, almost classic live dub going on. We were pretty happy with the way that turned out.

It could have been expected that, among other serious issues, one of the bonus tracks would comment on the current pandemic situation, yet, this topic is not mentioned. Was it omitted deliberately?

There is a line on the track Stealing the Future which mentions spreading infection but it is unintentional. I just wonder how effective the comment on that would be. I’d probably write from personal experience – I haven’t really thought about it. We are actually writing a lot of new material at the moment but funnily enough, the pandemic theme hasn’t come into it at all. There is a new track called Polarizing, it might eventually end up with a different title, but it refers to the point of polarization of ideas. Society is not as homogenous as it was before. It’s defined by ideas. There is a complicated controversy around the pandemic issue too.

What do you think about the anti-lockdown protests that were taking place in Britain recently?

For many people, lockdown feels like something that the government uses in order to control them. Especially for those with the propensity to have a conspiracy mindset. I had a debate with a friend of mine and we both came to the conclusion that the lockdown protests are results of incompetence, inconsistency and disunity about the response to the pandemic. If the government were organized and actually cared about the population, then there would be nothing or fewer things like mixed messages and hypocrisy that caused people to march on the streets. Yet, although I’m sympathetic with the spirit, I think it’s also misguided. It’s better safe than sorry. I don’t think it’s a big deal to wear a mask.


Access Denied is available for purchase in record stores and online on the Rough Trade webpage.

Asian Dub Foundation are on Twitter, facebook

Asian Dub Foundation Website

All words by Irina Shtreis. More writing by Irina can be found in her author’s archive.

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Girls In Synthesis ‘Shift In State’ : mini LP Review ‘post punk reinvigorated and brought up to 2021 with this powerful and thrilling release’

Girls In Synthesis
‘Shift In State’
(Harbinger Sound)
Record Store Day release 
available from here
Girls In Synthesis play a special gig with the Membranes in Manchester on Sat Nov 20th. TICKETS FROM HERE.
Both bands also play London on Fri Nov 19th TICKETS FROM HERE
Making their name on the punk underground circuit in the past couple of years with their concise and inventive bass-driven dislocated post-punk shrapnel Girl In Synthesis have spent Covid time honing this to perfection.
As a sharp and angular reminder of their inventive style so well documented on their 202o debut album, the band have emerged on record store day with a gnarly and thrilling release. Built around a striking sound that features one of the best take on the classic JJ Burnel Black and White bass sound that we have heard for decades and a collection of song that deconstructs post-punk into new terrain and textures it also sounds as urgent and of the moment as well.
All lovers of the classic grinding Fall Hex period or the aforementioned Stranglers will dig this as well as anyone who likes their punk rock served up with an urgency and an intelligence and an ability to commentate on the tensions of the now. The mini album takes new sonic risks and plays with their form. It kicks off with Containment that is a bleak snapshot of the current dystopia that gives way to an explosive and skewed dub remix featuring languorous horns and industrial-sounding percussion.
Following on, ‘… But Still you Wanted More’ retains the dub minimalism and adds trudging, nihilistic lyrical content alongside churning, saw-sharp organ. ‘Calm Waters’, the groups’ first foray into a harsher, electronic landscape, brings to the forefront a crushing, relentless drum machine backbeat and woozy, warped bass hooks. Finishing on ‘Don’t Try’, this song sees the band return to their more familiar white-heat blast of post-punk. Shards of harsh, splintered guitar and pounding drums help push the theme of gross governmental incompetence well and truly into the listener’s brain.

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Dennis Bovell and Skin awarded OBE’s

The annual parade of gongs is not something we peruse often but this year through up some great curveballs. We still feel conflicted about anything with the word ’empire’ in it, not least because there is actually no such thing and we have long supported the idea of a generic citizen’s medal as it’s great that people get awarded for their good work.

This year, though, we are cheering the gongs awarded to the charismatic Skunk Anansie singer skin and the producer of The Slits, writer of the brilliant Janey Kay’s 1976 hit Silly Games and all-round dub producer genius Dennis Bovell…

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Bastille Songs Ranked

With our top ten Bastille songs we are looking at one of the biggest indie pop bands to come out of Britain over the last ten years. They were formed in 2010 and signed to Virgin Records after releasing their self-titled ep. In 2013 they released their debut album Bad Blood which instantly got to number one in the UK and included the single “Pompeii” which got to number two on the UK singles chart. They have gone on to record two more albums and are one of the best selling British artists of the 2010’s. Although Bastille are very

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