Three Things: Gloomy Winter Vibes

good things for cold, dark days

Three Things: Gloomy Winter Vibes

It’s November, and while Christmas doing it’s inevitable creep into my home and mind, I’m trying not to get too into it just yet. I’m struggling a bit with the darker days; I spend my time staring at a screen and then by the time I go to pick the kids up, it’s already getting dark.

At some point, I’m going to need a lift. I’ll start craving Stardew Valley and wanting to spend all my time in bed. But not yet: the leaves can’t completely fallen, and it’s sometimes warm enough to go out without a coat on. Winter still feels new. And I’m embracing it with some interesting, slightly less fluffy things before I turn into a human marshmallow.

Anyway, here are three things I love right now, that you might love too.

🎮 Game: Paratopic (Nintendo Switch)

Paratopic is currently on sale for Black Friday. At £0.90 on the Switch, it’s almost stupid not to buy it. Right?

It’s one of the best examples I’ve seen of the new wave of retro-PS1-style indie games. It’s a time-jumping, surreal game, snapping between three different perspective with little explanation. The story is ominous, and it’s not generous with explanations.

Really, this game is all about the mood. And the mood is trepidation, danger, and grimy horrors lurking in the distance. Any warm nostalgia you may feel from the graphics quickly evaporates in the face of fear. You have to play it in one sitting, and I’d recommend putting your headphones in for it. Let the feeling wash over you, and don’t overthink it.

📖 Book: Foe by Iain Reid

I recommend Foe all the time, and I feel like it’s a good time of year for it. It’s one of those genre-blurry kind of books. I don’t know whereto place it. I’d say light sci-fi, at a push. But I don’t like to categorise it because that feels reductive. Foe follows Junior, living his quiet, peaceful life on a farm with his wife Henrietta, raising chickens and minding their own business. Until a man named Terrence knocks on the door.

Junior has been chosen to take a journey. He will be a little like a conscript, only rather than going to war, he must go into space and help construct humanity’s future home. But soon, Terrence starts to settle into their home, and Junior starts to suspect that he is being lied to.

It’s a twisty-turny kind of novel, and being inside Junior’s mind as he questions whether he can even trust himself is quite the trip. It’s unsettling and strange and unputdownable.

🎶 Album: Memory Man by Aqualung

Bit biased, here. I have a personal connection to Aqualung that I’ve talked about a few times (and I will talk about again in a future post). I love his music; it’s quietly beautiful, moving, and kind of down to earth. I’ve got some very vivid memories attached to the album Still Life, but it’s Memory Man that I love for gloomy days where the sun doesn’t seem to get around to rising properly.

I’m not very good at reviewing music. He’s a low-key kind of artist. But his songs build subtly to a kind of emotional intensity that I love. I love the lyrics to Vapour Trail (all l I needs a moments grace/so I just get to see your face, that’s all/pull my head between my knees/the earth might crack, the sky might freeze/that’s all I’m asking for) and the soaring beauty of Cinderella. This album makes me think of driving to Bristol on a drizzly day.

Speaking of, I went to see Aqualung this week in Bristol. It’s the first time we’ve seen him live, despite the fact that his music has romantic significance to us. Matt and his brother Ben played our wedding song, and just when I got overwhelmed with all my feelings, they interrupted it with an unexpected but excellent rendition of Abba’s SOS. Then, at the end of the night, we asked him to sign an album and told him what his song meant to us. He responded really kindly, if slightly awkwardly, and spilled his beer all over the merch table. 10/10 gig, would do it again in a heartbeat.

The only photo I felt comfortable taking as I was so close to them that I felt a bit weird shoving a camera in their faces. Also that’s not a giant drink can. We had actual tables at this gig. Tables! And chairs! Imagine.

As a bonus thing, the support act Conchúr White is a really talented guy and I’m looking forward to his first album.

Those are my three things. What are you listening to/reading/playing right now?

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