Feeds:
Posts
Comments

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Akuma No Uta (2003).

Boris albums are never an easy thing to find.  This album was originally released in Japan in 2003.  Then it was reissued in America in 2005 with a vastly superior cover.  The cover to the right, a hilarious mock up of Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter album (left).  The original album (cover way below) was only 31 minutes, but the reissue was extended to 39 minutes because that’s how long the Nick Drake album was.

So this new album is quite different from the original: In addition to running an additional 7 minutes, the opening track of the newer version is a totally different take; both use the same riff from “Akuma no Uta,” but the original, shorter track repeats it far less and opens with over a minute of ambient, resonant amp noise absent from the longer version.

I have the newer edition and don’t know the original.  “イントロ” (Intro)” opens with a slow, simple infectious riff and then a sort of soaring siren sound starts.  The four note riff is enveloped in distortion while the backing chords cycle through slowly.  Then comes soaring guitars and washes of noise which stretch this song out to almost 10 minutes.

The opening track lulls you into a false sense of mellowness until “Ibitsu” comes blasting out with heavy rocking guitars, pounding drums and screaming vocals.  Most of the verses are just drums and Atsuo’s singing with an occasional riff from Wata. Then Takeshi joins in on the chorus and turns it into a big old crashing metal song. The middle is a three note riffs before a brief Wata solo and some wild drumming. The end is so loud it seems to blow out the speakers.

There’s a brief pause and then “フリー” (Furi) kicks off even faster and more intense heavy rock.  There’s a fast riff and a chorus that is super fun to sing along to even though I have no idea what they are saying.

“無き曲” (Naki Kyoku)” is a grooving slower song.  The first three minutes are primarily a solo by Wata.  The middle turns into a slow jam with stops and starts.  A slow grooving solo resolves into a another catchy rocking singalong before feedbacking out.  Around five minutes, the vocals come in.  The middle has another solo and some meandering bass from Takeshi–almost like a call and response musical section.

“あの女の音量” (Ano Onna no Onryou) is another big crashing rocker with heavy ponderous chords.  It’s got screaming guitars and shouted vocals but plenty of room for noisy feedback.

The album ends with “”あくまのうた” (Akuma no Uta).  A big gong introduces the three note riff.  Around two minutes the fast guitar riff begins and the song rocks out–a classic short heavy Boris rocker.

[READ: May 1, 2021] “Casting Shadows”

I haven’t read a lot of Jhumpa Lahiri’s stories, but she was very popular a while back.  I’m not sure if she still is.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this story is that it was written in Italian (translated by the author, which is also interesting).

Lahiri used to write in English but she has recently begun writing in Italian.  I find that fascinating, especially since she translated this work herself–how different is it than if she had written it in English first, I wonder.

This is the story of an older woman and how she interacts with the world around her. particularly the men.  She was

Never married, but, like all women, I’ve had my share of married men.

It’s a really interesting character study and shows a powerful woman who some people might (foolishly) try to take advantage of. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS: Boris at last -Feedbacker- (2003).

Boris’ sixth album is pretty iconic, what with the bloodied head of Wata on the cover and all.

The album contains one song–43 minutes of “Feedbacker.”  But it is broken into five surprisingly discernable parts.

Part 1 (9:38) opens with low feedback and slowly played chords that ring out.  Then single notes pick out a melody that recurs throughout.  Low bass notes and low harmonic frequencies play out through the bulk of the track until it segues into Part 2 (14:54).  That’s when the drum is added.  It’s a slow beat at first with the low feedbacking tones.  Then the guitars start playing a slow chord progression.  Eventually there’s some quiet lead guitar noodling added.  After about 8 minutes, Wata start one of her big slow solos.  Then around 12 minutes, Takeshi starts sings softly.  But after a minute and a half of this, the song shifts gears and gets much louder–big chords, crashing drums and louder vocals.

Part 3 (5:52) opens with serious crashing of cymbals which turns into noisy chaos.  There’s some high-pitched feedback and and then a seriously heavy riff starts up.  The rocking part of the song takes over with heavy distorted guitars and rumbling bass and drums.  A really noisy guitar solo is followed by a buzzy riff after which things slow down for quiet vocals once again.  The drums are still heavy but the guitars are quietly echoing.  The end gets louder again with roaring and chanted vocals.  (I have no idea what they are saying but it’s easy to sing along to).

Part 4 (9:52) is basically a wall of noise and feedback with echoing distorted cymbals and crackling sounds.  Near the end, noisy piercing feedback soars through until it segues into Part 5 (3:34).  As the feedback fades, the song resumes part 2, with soft drums and slow guitar chords and a quiet feedback floating over everything.

It’s a pretty monumental record.  Not as abrasive as the cover would suggest, but with enough heavy parts so that it’s not just a pretty drone record.

[READ: April 30, 2021] “The Rivals”

I feel like I tend to read stories that are written in a convoluted way.  Either with multiple time lines, or multiple threads that eventually come together.  So it was nice to get a story that was pretty straightforward.

Sure, it started in the middle, but it flashed back, got to the opening scene, and continued along in a pretty straight line.  And it was very enjoyable.

The story is set in Madagascar.  Floristella, a plump Italian man, sees his former friend Pianon, a skinny Italian man, and jumps out at him, hitting him with a walking stick.  It takes a bunch of servants to pull these older men apart.

The narrator then fills us in on what’s going on.  Pianon and Floristella were at one time very good friends.  Pianon is from Verona.  He is a widower who always dresses nicely. He is the bookkeeper and rental manager at the Red House.  Floristella is from Sicily. He comes from a small fortune and acts like it, even if his money is mostly gone now. His house is next to the Red House.

Floristella’s wife was bored of Madagascar, so she returned home, allowing Floristella to enjoy the beach and all of its perks. Like Noelline.  She was his secretary and then his mistress.  She was no longer young, but she was voluptuous and stylish.  She also flouted all conventions on the island.

Each morning she came to his place, did work for him, had sex with him and then went home.

Most of the women on the island hated her. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Fishing for Fishies (2019).

The first of two albums released by KGATLW in 2019, Fishing for Fishies is a bluesy, boogie-filled record.

It opens with with two false starts.  There’s the briefest sound of a sound like they’d recorded over another track but left it, then there’s a drum beat that hits a few and stops only to resume a few seconds later and starts the title song.  “Fishing for Fishies” is a soft shuffling song with delicately whispered vocals and a bouncy melody.  It’s super catchy and is followed by “Boogieman Sam” with its bouncy staccato guitar and then Ambrose’s wailing harmonica.

“The Bird Song” is a favorite on the record.  Fun gently whispered lyrics and a remarkably catchy jazzy song.  “Plastic Boogie” is loose blues song with a lot of people talking throughout, giving the whole thing a party atmosphere.

“Cruel Millennial” is sung by Ambrose.  It’s a swinging boogie with a catchy chorus and some wailing harmonica soloing at the end.  “Real’s Not Real” starts as a potentially heavy rocker but as the song proper starts, it shifts abruptly to a kind of mellow Beatles-y piano-pop song.

“This Thing” is a harmonica-fueled blues song with great big bouncy bass line.  “Acarine” is an unusual song on the disc.  It’s slower and moodier slow moody with whispered vocals and piercing harmonica.  Although the last two and a half minutes are an instrumental jam with  looping synths that sound like a sci-fi soundtrack.

“Cyboogie” ends the disc.  It was the first singe off the album and it’s as catchy as anything.  Who knew it was so much fun singing “boogie, boogie, boogie, boogie, boogie, boogie, boogie.”  The buzzy bouncing synth is a great sound for this song and the cyber voice prompts a return of Han-Tyumi who pops in after murdering the universe.

[READ: April 29, 2021] Manopause

I have no idea who Bernard O’Shea is.  Well, he’s an Irish comedian, but I don’t know what kind.  He could be Ireland’s Jeff Foxworthy for all I know.  I doubt that he’s Ireland’s Dave Chapelle, anyway.

I read O’Shea’s first book when it came across my desk at work.  When this one appeared a few days ago I thought it was the same guy.  A little research confirmed it, and since I mostly enjoyed the first book, I thought I would read this one as well.

It’s tough playing the mid-life crisis card, especially for a successful male.  And, honestly, for a bunch of the book I did think “oh, moan moan moan.”  The key though is if you can make the moaning funny.  O’Shea manages to do that for a time but then, unexpectedly, the book gets serious.  O’Shea looks seriously into changing is life and he explores several ways to do so.

Manopause is a funny enough term, but I appreciate that O’Shea had the sensibility to include his mother’s comment about him using the word.

He told his mother he was going through “the manopause…the male menopause.”  To which she replied

If you had any idea what the menopause was like, Bernard, believe me, you wouldn’t go through it.  Sweating, hot flashes, no sleep–at times it feels like you are going mad….  You wouldn’t survive 30 seconds of it.  No man would survive it.  Jesus, if ye did go through it, we’d never hear the end of it.  And if you went through it, you’d hospitalise yourself.

That might be the funniest thing in the book.

We met Bernard’s long-suffering wife Lorna in the first book.  She is longer-suffering still.

In chapter one, Lorna gives him an amazing birthday present.  She takes herself and their three kids away to her mother’s for five days.  He has five days to himself, to do whatever he wants. Continue Reading »

[POSTPONED: April 29, 2021] Diavolo [rescheduled from April 28, 2020; moved to March 25, 2022]

indexOne might have thought postponing this show an entire year would have been sufficient.  But now they have postponed again for nearly another entire year.  I think I’ll be very ready to see a Cirque by then.

I love going to see Cirques–all kinds of fun acrobatics and stunts on display.  When my kids were younger, we went to a lot of them.  Then we stopped for a while and I felt it was time to do it again.

Diavolo is in fact a dance company, but they perform amazing acrobatics and physically demanding pieces (as you can see from the reviews like: “Diavolo’s performers are fearless, elegant and strong with a sense of timing by which a Swiss watch could be set, and the way the troupe interacts with the moving sets, makes for a truly spectacular and awe inspiring show.”).

I found out about this show after it was cancelled, but when I saw that it was rescheuled for April of 2021, I was really interested in going to see it with the family.

VOYAGE is Diavolo’s newest adventure, inspired by travels in space and the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing. A young woman dreams of traveling distances only astronauts can, escaping from the ordinary world into a surreal landscape of infinite possibilities. Gravity-defying bodies join her on a large wheel structure that rolls along the stage and on the journey in a universe that is alive with kinetic energy, fantastical whimsy, and surprising transformation.

TRAJECTOIRE is a signature Diavolo work that takes the audience on a visceral and emotional journey through the ebb and flow of the human experience. Watch as performers jump on and off a “Trajectoire” which is a 3,000 pound boat made of wood, aluminum, and steel that continuously rocks back and forth. Watch the performers struggle to find their balance on a voyage of destiny and destination in a daring display that shows the transcendence of the human soul against all odds.

diavolo

 

SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Infest the Rat’s Nest (2019).

One of the (many) fascinating things about King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is that if you don’t like something they’ve done, you need to just wait a little bit and they’ll do something else.  They released five albums of very different styles of music in 2017.

Then in 2019 they released Fishin for Fishies, a kind of blues and roots album.  They followed that four months later with this album, a tribute of sorts to some of the heaviest, thrashiest heavy metal from the 1980s.

It deals with climate change (Australia bore the brunt of a lot of climate abuse that year), destruction of the environment and human resettlement to other planets.

The album is a clear tribute to thrash pioneers, with double bass drums, brutally fast guitars, killer piercing riffs and growling vocals–it’s almost hard to tell it’s singer Stu singing these songs.

Unlike other albums, there’s not a ton of diversity in these songs.  And that’s by design.  The songs are short and heavy.  “Planet B” has wailing guitars, some cool basslines and a ton of double bass drum.  “Mars for the Rich” features a middle bass “solo” (same note but only bass and drums) before raw guitars return.

“Organ Farmer” has a kind of false start with a slow drum intro before the song takes off into pure heaviness with screaming guitar solos and licks.  “Super Bug” is one of the most growly songs with a middle section that’s just voice and drum.  Most of the songs are three minutes, but this one jams out to almost 7 and feels like an old school Black Sabbath song with loping bass and a slow thoughtful guitar solo.

“Venusian 1” is a heavy song with pummeling blasts of guitar and drums and a ripping guitar riff.  “Perihelion” has a catchy chorus and then a middle part that sounds nothing like the rest of the album.  “Venusian 2” is a big chugger of a song with some great riffage.  It’s just under 3 minutes of heavy speed metal.

“Self-Immolate” sounds like a classic Slayer riff and even has some pretty wild drumming a la Dave Lombardo.

The album ends 9at just over 35 minutes) with “Hell,” which chugs along with double bass drums.  After an extended feedback moment the song plays a microtonal version of itself and then pummels to the finale which ends with the album title lyric.

I encourage anyone to checkout any of KGATLW’s albums because there’s bound to be something you like.  but this album is singular of purpose and if you don’t like classic thrash metal, it’s not for you.  Surprisingly, you hate to wait over a year for their next album K.G., which sounds absolutely nothing like this one.

[READ: April 25, 2021] “Good-Looking”

The narrator’s dad was a fit 38 year-old man who worked at the gym.  He didn’t wear a wedding ring because he said it was good for business–he was encouraged to flirt with the customers.

Most of the gym’s members were women and women were more likely to bring friends.

Men were the worst customers.  They did free classes, came alone, and didn’t clean the equipment when they were done.

The narrator’s mom didn’t like that his dad didn’t wear a wedding ring.   And she had reason to be concerned. The two of them met when he was married to someone else.  She was 17 at the time.  He had married his high school sweetheart and gotten her pregnant when she was 17.  He divorced this first woman and was now married a new 17 year old–he got older, they seemed to stay the same age.

It seemed that every ten years he got bored.  That’s why his mother was concerned, they’d had three kids over the last ten years.

The story zooms in on a woman that his dad took a interest in–a professor at the local university.  She came to the gym a lot and he paid attention to her.

Now, I love Dad and I hate to say this, but no way would a man like him ever get to meet a smart woman like her outside o the gym.

One day after class she asked him out.  It was courageous of her and made the other women jealous.

He didn’t drink so she asked him for coffee.  He agreed. When it was time to meet he took the narrator along.

She seemed surprised and confused.  He then proceeded to talk a lot about his wife and how jealous she gets.

But he also flirted the whole time–talking about books to make himself seem smarter.  The narrator even feels a little bad for him.

He talked about how much he liked being in love.  She finally asked him how he knew love would happen again.

This question came from a woman who believed in magic and romance, in second chances.  Dad, the brute that he was, said, “That’s life,” and shrugged, like love was a thing that could happen to you over and over again.

As they left the cafe, the narrator looked back at the woman.  He watched her wipe something from her face before she turned and walked away.  He never saw he again but he fell in love with her that night.

His dad started wearing his wedding ring after that night.

SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Live in San Francisco ’16 (2020).

This is a fun show from The Independent in San Francisco on May 25, 2016.  It’s on the Nonagon Infinity tour, which means a lot of stuff from that album appears here.

The one irritant is the woman who is a little too close to the soundboard.  You can hear her throughout the set, and she’s not exactly an intellectual giant.  She shouts, “Why do you have two drummers?” as the show starts.  This would be no big deal if it was all you could hear from her.

They album is a series of songs that segue into each other.  What I like here is that the first five songs do segue into each other but, while they start with the opening song “Robot Stop,” it segues into 2014’s slower “Hot Water” (from I’m in Your Mind Fuzz).  It’s very cool the way their songs keep a similar beat throughout.

They jump right back to Nonagon’s second song “Big Fig Wasp.”  From there they continue with Nonagon for two more songs, “Gamma Knife” and “People Vultures.”  It’s impressive how tight they are–they can stop and shift gears so seamlessly that they jump between songs as if it were one long song.

After the introductory five songs, they pause a bit.  There’s some banter with the audience, but the microphones are distorted and hard to make out.  They shift gears somewhat to the mellow Paper Mâché Dream Balloon album.  “Trapdoor” is one of he heavier songs on the album, made somewhat heavier here despite the preponderance of flute on it.

Then its back to the I’m in Your Mind Fuzz album.  The first four songs segue into each other on the album and they do so here as well.  “I’m in Your Mind” shifts into “I’m Not In Your Mind” which features a fun bass-only rumble for about a minute near the end. Stu says, “Hey, smile, you’re on camera,” then they jump right into the catchy “Cellophane” and end with “I’m in Your Mind Fuzz.”

The CD is broken into two short discs (KGATLW have a million albums but but their shows are never terribly long).  Disc Two opens with the mellow ten minute “The River” from Quarters.

You can hear the drunk woman shout “yeah, fuck yeah” and then start talking to her friend during the mellow part.  Even a curmudgeon like me admits that you can talk between songs, but not during the quiet parts of songs.  Come on!

After the mellow song it’s a quick jump back to Nonagon with a ripping “Evil death Roll.”  They jam this song out for over five minutes and then begin a mega 22 minute “Head On/Pill” with heavy and quiet parts as well as some classic KGATLW ending moments.

KGATLW put out a lot of records (5 in 2017), so each show tour tends to be very different.  This is a nice snapshot from later 2016.

[READ: April 25, 2021] “The Crooked House”

Mull is in a house that is crooked and keeps changing.

When it starts, he has just met the man who claimed to have exited the house by falling into a desert.

Mull had been to many places in the house.  He was searching for a woman.

The cafeteria seemed to always have coffee.  But passageways were getting blocked and opening in other locations.  He could no longer access the cafeteria, but now he could get to the atrium where people often brought hot foods.

It was in the atrium that he met the man who claimed to have left.  He said he went to Joshua Tree and got back by hitchhiking–it’s not that far. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: PUSSY RIOT-“Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away” (2012).

This song, barely two minutes long, is what caused all of the stir around Pussy Riot.

Pussy Riot are an anarchic artistic collective in Russia.  They aim to provoke and provoke is what they do.

Their history and legacy (even the Wikipedia summary) are pretty fascinating.

So in this song (and video), a “choir” sings a holy-sounding chorus for 22 seconds.  Abruptly, a raw home recorded punk song takes over.

Everything is sung in Russian:

(choir) Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away Рut Putin away, put Putin away (end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes All parishioners crawl to bow
The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend His Holiness Women must give birth and love
Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit! Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

(Chorus)

The Church’s praise of rotten dictators The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
Go to class – bring him money!
Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin Bitch, better believe in God instead
The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

After 50 seconds its back to the choir (and the chorus) and  then the punk verses start again.

It’s fairly catchy given what it’s doing.  There’s one more chorus at the end of the song at 1:30 and just like that, it’s over.

Provocation complete.

[READ: April 26, 2021] We Are Pussy Riot Or Everything is P.R.

As the subtitle of this play suggests, this is a reenactment (of a kind) of the Pussy Riot art installation that got them arrested, and the subsequent trial and imprisonment of two members.

The above video shows the events of that day in February 2012 when five masked (in balaclavas) women climbed onto the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow and…danced.

The women were provocatively dressed (by Moscow church standards–they wore bright colors and tights under dresses) and they went on to the altar–a place where no woman (except the cleaning lady) was to ever set foot.

The dialogue of the play inspired by trial transcripts and statements by public officials (Vladimir Putin, Patriarch Kirill) which are available on the internet.  So while Hammond does use creative license, this is a pretty realistic reenactment of events.

The Dramatis Personae is listed in various formations depending on the size of your cast.  But the important main characters are Nadya, Masha and Katya as well as Sergei, a composite of male political activists, prisoners and artists.

The Russian feminist art collective Pussy Riot was formed in the fall of 2011.  Pussy Riot was inspired by the yurodivy (Holy Fools) of Russian history whose purpose was to wake people up to what was going on around them.

In February 2012 they uploaded the above video, “Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Away.”  The video, as you can see, is set on that altar, where women are forbidden.  The Kremlin and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church took notice.  Three of the four women were hunted down and arrested for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

When this play was written, Vladimir Putin had just changed the constitution so he could be president for life.  In the story Sergei comments, “So he likes his job. Who can blame him?”

The introduction says that in 2014 Pussy Riot became a brand–this branded Pussy Riot was set to tour the U.S. and I had a ticket until the pandemic cancelled everything.

Nadya has always said that “Feminism that doesn’t benefit men is not my feminism.”  The members are female but they are fighting for all.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the play is the way it starts. The doors to the theater are locked and everyone–cast and audience are milling about while a group of guards block the way in.  Eventually Pussy Riot members start to cause a scene in the lobby and then blend in with the audience.  When the audience is allowed in they are given a scarf as a head covering.  But pussy riot members try to give them balaclavas instead–the play is quite interactive. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACKDUCKWRTH-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert Meets SXSW: #189 (April 5, 2021).

Every year, NPR Music participates in the SXSW music festival, whether it’s curating a stage or simply attending hundreds of shows at the annual event in Austin, Texas. Last year, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but it returned this March as an online festival. We programmed a ‘stage’ of Tiny Desk (home) concerts and presented them on the final day of the festival. Now, we present to you Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: four videos filmed in various locations, all of them full of surprises.

DUCKWRTH decided to do something special for Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: brand new music. The dynamic R&B singer proceeded to debut two exclusives: a slow jam titled “make u go,” which he dedicates to the “lovers and freaks,” and the upbeat “Birthday Suit,” which KCRW astutely compared to Estelle’s “American Boy.”

The new material wasn’t the only thing that made this Tiny Desk such a treat. For this funky and flamboyant performance, DUCKWRTH dressed his backing band entirely in white and switched up the lighting for each song so that the hue matched the mood he was laying down.

“Kiss U Right Now” [red lights] opens with a muted guitar line from Justin “Jhawk” Hawkins.  After a  soft “Okay” from DUCKWRTH, a kind of sci-fi warbly keyboard comes in from Devin Smith.  And then with a slide on the bass from Solomon “Solo” Smith the song bounces to a start.  DUCKWRTH has a soft croon that he intermixes with rapping verses.   It’s quite inviting and not given to histrionics.

Before “make u go”  [purple lights] he says “Welcome to my Tiny Desk,” he says. “We are gonna play some new songs for y’all if that’s OK. Y’all ain’t got no choice!”  This is mostly gentle keys and then backing vocalists Olivia Walker and Amber Olivia Kiner start by singing the chorus.

He says “Birthday Suit” [white lights] is morning music.  With this amusing line “Meet me in my birthday suit / This ain’t Gucci, it’s way more cute.”  Amber Olivia Kiner sings the lead lines.  The song ends with this refrain:

we look better naked / better in the nude / bend it over baby while in public / we may end up on the news.

“Super Good” [blue lights] is a slow jam with an interesting drum pattern from Darryl Staves Jr.  I really enjoy the simple but synchronized dance steps at the end of the song.

[READ: April 19, 2021] Parable of the Talents [2035]

When this book started I thought that it was an interesting idea to have Lauren’s child go wholly against her.  I even wondered if it was Butler’s rethinking about Earthseed.   Larkin’s attitude about her mother doesn’t exactly change over these chapters, but it does morph a bit.  So much so that by the time chapter seventeen rolls around, Larkin comes across as a bit more of a petulant, jealous person than a critical thinker.

I wonder what my life would have been life if my mother had found me.  I don’t doubt that she would have stolen me from the Alexanders–or died trying.  But then what?  How long would it have been before she put me aside for Earthseed, her other kid?  I was her weakness.  Earthseed was her strength.  No wonder it was her favorite. (265)

2033 was a terrible time and, frankly, a painful read.  The chapter of 2035 tells us that all of Olamina’s diaries from 2034 are lost.  Which is just as well for me since 2034 was a year of the same torture and hellishness and I’m just as happy to not have to read it.

Larkin writes that she met some people who were at Camp Christian (we don’t know how yet) and spoke to a woman named Cody Smith who told her about the attempted uprising by Day Turner and his people–an uprising that failed and that caused a massive increase in suffering for everyone there.

Larkin tells us that everything that was done at Camp Christian was illegal–despite what Jarret tried to make legal. The one thing that seems to have been made legal was the removal of children from their families at the Mexican border because of vagrancy laws. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: CLIPPING-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert Meets SXSW: #189 (April 5, 2021).

Every year, NPR Music participates in the SXSW music festival, whether it’s curating a stage or simply attending hundreds of shows at the annual event in Austin, Texas. Last year, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but it returned this March as an online festival. We programmed a ‘stage’ of Tiny Desk (home) concerts and presented them on the final day of the festival. Now, we present to you Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: four videos filmed in various locations, all of them full of surprises.

clipping. is an intense band.  I had the pleasure of seeing them live opening for the Flaming Lips.  I was hoping to see them again before the pandemic hit.  This Tiny Desk doesn’t in any way replicate a live show because they play a little visual trick on the viewer–and they keep it up for the whole set.

Leave it to clipping. to innovate around the central notion of the Tiny Desk; to take the series’ emphasis on close-up intimacy and transport it to new heights of, well, tininess.

clipping is a dark, violent band

Producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes craft a bed of hip-hop, industrial music and noisy experimentalism, then set loose rapper Daveed Diggs, whose violent imagery summons ’90s horrorcore and a thousand bloody movies. The band’s last two album titles — There Existed an Addiction to Blood and Visions of Bodies Being Burned — offer up a sense of the vibe, but Diggs’ gift for rapid-fire wordplay also acts as a leavening agent.

That’s right, Daveed Diggs.

The guy won a Tony Award for playing Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton, and he still knows how to sell every word that leaves his lips.

So it’s especially amusing to see them have a lot of fun with the Tiny Desk (Home) Concert.  The video opens with a few scenes of tables and gear.  But when the show starts, Daveed Diggs picks up a microphone that’s about the size of a toothpick and starts rapping into it.

  And when William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes come in they are playing laptops and other gear that’s barely an inch in length. I have to assume that this stuff doesn’t actually work and yet they are taking their job very seriously–touching and sliding and tapping and looping on these preposterous toys.

“Something Underneath” starts quietly and then Diggs shows off some of is incredibly fast rapping skills.  Then the guy on the right (I’m not sure who is who) comes into the cameras and starts messing with his tiny gear.  After about 2 minutes the guy on the left comes in and starts making all kinds of distorted beats.  It starts getting louder and louder and louder until the noise fades out and its just Diggs’ voice looping “morning” as he moves the camera and he starts the slower track

The only movement in the video is Diggs moving his camera around to different angles for each song.

“Bout That” is fairly quite until a few minutes in when the song launches off.

Diggs shifts his camera and is finally fully on screen before they start the creepy “Check the Lock.”  It’s got clanking and scratching and pulsing noises for the line

something in this room didn’t used to be / he ain’t ever scared tough / but he check the lock every time we walks by the door.

Midway through the guy on the left starts cranking a tiny music box and he plays it through the next two songs.

It segues into “Shooter” [is there a name for this style of rapping–each line has a pause and a punchline–I really like it].

The music box continues into “The Show” which starts to build louder and louder, getting more an more chaotic.  It fades and builds noisier and chaotic once more until it reduces to a simple beat.  And the guy on the right drinks from his can of BEER.

Noisy squealing introduces “Nothing Is Safe.”  Daveed is pretty intense as he raps “death comes for everyone” pause and then full on sound as he resumes.

clipping is not for everyone–certainly not for people who want to see the guy from Hamilton (he was doing clipping before Hamilton, by the way).  But it creates an intense mood.

The blurb says that Chukwudi Hodge plays drums, but I didn’t see or hear any so i assume that’s a mistake.

[READ: April 21, 2021] Better Than Life

I don’t recall when I started watching Red Dwarf–some time in the 90s, I suspect.  I don’t even know of the show was ever very poplar here in the States, so it’s kind of a surprise that these two Red Dwarf novels even had a U.S. release.  But they did. And I bought them sometime when they came out.

So Grant Naylor is the cleverly combined names of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor–back when they were working together (I’m not sure why one of them left).   They penned two Red Dwarf books together, then they each wrote a Red Dwarf book separately.

This second book picks up from where the events of the previous book cliffhangered us.  There is a TV episode called “Better Than Life” and this book is kind of an super- mega-hyper-expanded version of that episode.  Except that the things that happened in the episode don’t even really happen in the book, either.

The basics of the episode are that Better Than Life is a video game that allows your deepest subconscious fantasies to come true.  And since everything is your fantasy, this game is indeed Better Than Life.  It’s easy to leave the game.  All you have to do is want to.  But who would want to leave a game when everything in it is better than what you’d be leaving it for?

As such, your body stars to wither and decay because you don’t eat, you don’t move, you just exist.  It’s a deadly game.

Rimmer’s fantasy at the end of the first book was that he had married a supermodel–a gorgeous babe whom every man wanted.  Except that she wouldn’t let him touch her for insurance reasons.  Rimmer has a problem or thirty with his self image.  But he was still super wealthy and women everywhere adored him. However as this book opens, he has divorced his babe and married a boring woman who also doesn’t want to have sex with him.  As thing move along, he loses his fortune and, ultimately his hologrammatic body.  He becomes just a voice.  Through a serious of hilarious mistakes, he winds up in the body of a woman.

One of the nice aspects of this book is that Grant Naylor have Rimmer see what a douchey sexist man he’s been all this time–believing all women were either his mother or a sex bomb.

The Cat’s scenario is pretty much all libido–Valkyrie warriors serving him and he gets to do pretty much whatever he wants–his clock doesn’t have times, it has activities: nap, sex, eat, nap, sleep, etc.

The one difference is that Kryten is there with him.  Kryten’s deepest fantasy is leaning, and so he keeps finding new things to clean in Cat’s world.

There’s another wonderful bit of anti-religion in this book (there’s always some anti-religion aspect in these stories).  In this one they talk about Silicon Heaven.

The best way to keep the robots subdued was to give them religion. … almost everything with a hint of artificial intelligence was programmed to believe that Silicon Heaven was he electronic afterlife….

If machines served their human masters with diligence and dedication, they would attain everlasting life in mechanical paradise when their components finally ran down.

At last they had solace. They were every bit as exploited as they’d always been, but now they believed there was some kind of justice at the end of it.

Lister’s fantasy is the same as it was before.  He’s living in the city from It’s a Wonderful Life and he’s married to Kristine Kochanski and he has two boys.  As the book opens there’s  a wonderfully touching moment with his family and his kids.

But it is abruptly demolished when a woman driving a tractor trailer crashes the truck in to Bedford Falls.  Literally all of Bedford Falls–every building is demolished or caught on fire.  There’s virtually nothing left.  And when the woman gets out of the truck dressed as  a prostitute and claims to know Lister, well, Kristine takes their boys and leaves him.  He has nothing.

It should come as no surprise that the woman is actually Rimmer.

What about Holly, the ship’s computer with an IQ of 6,000?  Can’t he save them?  Well, no.  He can’t get into the game, plus, he’s going a little crazy from being alone for so long.  So crazy in fact that he decides to start talking to Talkie Toaster, a gag gift that Lister bought for $19.99.

The sequence with the toaster is hilarious on the show (it only wants to talk about bready products!) and it translates perfectly to the book as well.  Essentially, Talkie Toaster encourages Holy to increase his IQ (which has been slowly leaking away) at the risk of shortening his life span.  Unfortunately, things go a little awry and Holly’s IQ eclipses 12,000. But his run time is cut to a number if minutes.

So he need to turn everything off if he wants to stay alive. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Lost Society (2020).

Voivod have been around for over 30 years.  In that time, they’ve releases only four lives albums.  The first one was from the period when their original and current singer had departed, so that doesn’t really count.  In 2011 they released Warriors of Ice, a live album that featured the reunited original lineup minus deceased guitarist Piggy.  The third was a limited release from the 2011 Roadburn Festival.

Thus, we have this new release to acknowledge the excellence of their 2018 album The Wake.  This show was recorded at Quebec City Summer Fest on July 13, 2019.  I saw them on this tour on April 5, 2019.  The setlist was largely the same, although they played more in their hometown (and I would have loved to see “Astronomy Domine”).

Being in front of a hometown crowd has the band fully energized.  It also allows Snake to speak French to the audience, which is fun.

Most of Voivod’s music is really complicated and difficult (the chords that Piggy and now Chewy came up with are pretty hard to imagine).  And yet they play everything perfectly.  There’s not a lot of room for jamming when the songs are this tight and complex, but it’s clear the band are enjoying themselves anyway.

Since this is touring their new album, the majority of songs (4) are from it with two more songs from their 2016 EP Post Society.  The rest of the set is pretty much a song from each of the albums prior to 1993 (excluding the album with the best name: Rrröööaaarrr).

They interfile the new songs with the older ones, and it feels really seamless.  This shows how much of a student of Piggy new guitarist Chewy turned out to be.

The few times that Snake speaks in English, he says that Angel Rat’s “The Prow” is “time to dance time to party have fun” something one wouldn’t expect to do at a Voivod show, but compared to their other songs, it is pretty dancey.

My favorite Voivod album (aside from The Wake, which is really outstanding) is Nothingface, so I was really excited to hear “Into My Hypercube” and to hear that Rocky’s bass sounded just right.

Their older stuff is a little less complex and proggy so a song like 1987’s “Overreaction” is a bit heavier and straight ahead.

One of the more entertaining moments is during the opening of “The Lost Machine” where Snake stands between Chewy and Rocky and waves his arms to strum the chords first guitar, then bass, then guitar then bass, etc.

It is strange to think that this is only one-half of the classic line up.  In fact, drummer Away is the only person to have never left the band.  I assumed that when Piggy died, there was no point in continuing, but these replacements were really great.

And, Snake makes sure we never forget Piggy.  They end every show with the song that has the same name as the band.  And before they play it, he starts a chant “Piggy! Piggy!”  In this live recording, you can hear the audience screaming along to “voivod,” a nonsensical word that remains strong thirty-five years on.

The setlist for the album is at the bottom of the post.  I sure hope they tour around here again someday.

[READ: April 20, 2021] Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

I don’t recall when I started watching Red Dwarf–some time in the 90s, I suspect.  I don’t even know if the show was ever very poplar here in the States, so it’s kind of a surprise that these two Red Dwarf novels even had a U.S. release.  But they did. And I bought them (and read them, I think, although it’s all new to me 30 years later) sometime when they came out.

So Grant Naylor is the cleverly combined names of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor–back when they were working together (I’m not sure why one of them left).   They penned two Red Dwarf books together, then they each wrote a Red Dwarf book separately.

This first one is basically an expanded version of some of the episodes from the first and second season.

Most of the jokes from the episodes are present here–so it’s easy to picture the characters saying the lines.  But there’s also a ton of new stuff.  Much of it fleshes out things that happened in the show, but still other things are brand new.

The book starts with the death of a Red Dwarf crew member.  He is now a hologram and rather than being excited about being alive, he is horrified to think of all the things his wife will get up to now that he is dead but aware of what is happening.  We also meet another man who is about to die–this time by suicide.  He is in debt for a lot of money and decided it was better than being beaten to death by the men he owed money to.

Turns out, this man outranked the first man and since the Red Dwarf mining ship could only support one hologram, this man was brought back at the expense of the first one.  A lot of ground is covered in these first two chapters and we haven’t even met any of the main characters of the show yet.

Dave Lister comes along in Chapter 3.  For those unfamiliar with the show, Dave Lister is the main character and also the last human being alive.  In the show he is three million years into deep space.  But he had been in stasis so he is only 27 when he is brought out and told the news that everyone is dead.

But as the book starts, Lister is miserable on a planet Mimas.  He got really drunk at his birthday party in Liverpool and, by the end of the night, he was on a planet very far from home with no money to get back. Continue Reading »