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Archive for the ‘LeUyen Pham’ Category

81HkprYowjLSOUNDTRACK: SNOH AALEGRA-Tiny Desk Concert #947 (February 18, 2020).

maxresdefault (2)In what seems to be a new trend at the Tiny Desk, here’s another artist whom I’ve never heard of somehow and who manages to cram five songs into 16 minutes.  (I won’t complain about the length of this show because it’s not that long, but everyone knows you get three songs).

The most fascinating things about Snoh is that she is Iranian-Swedish.  And that her band is enormous.  And that they all have great names like: O’Neil “Doctor O” Palmer on keys, George “Spanky” McCurdy on drums and Thaddaeus Tribbett on bass.  There’s also Jef Villaluna on guitar whose name isn’t that crazy,

Unfortunately her songs and albums have terrible names.

Her new album is called Ugh, those feels again and her previous album is called Feels. (and she’s not even millennial).  And then the third song is called “Whoa.”  Good grief,

“Whoa” is a sweet love song that is detailed but not explicit.  Except the chorus which is “you make me feel like, whoa.”

The rest of her songs have a very delicate soft-rock vibe.  Especially with the string section of Ashley Parham on violin, Johnny Walker, Jr. on cello, Asali McIntyre on violin and Brandon Lewis on viola.

But apparently that’s not what her music typically sounds like.

On this day in particular, Aalegra’s tracks were stripped of their punchier, album-version kick drums and trap echoes. In their absence, it’s Aalegra’s delicate vocal runs and chemistry with her supporting singers that resonated most. “I Want You Around” and “Whoa,” which usually rest on a bed of glitchy, spiraling production, felt lighter thanks to the dreamy string section.

All of the songs featured her backing vocalists Ron Poindexter and Porsha Clay,  but they were especially prominent on “Fool For You” which ran all of two minutes.

Snoh seemed a little too cool up there, which did not endear me to her.  Her voice is certainly pretty though, even if I didn’t like her songs.

[READ: March 15, 2020] Best Friends

This book is a sequel of sorts to Real Friends.

It continues the story of young Shannon in sixth grade and how she deals with the minefields that middle school can present.

The same cast is back–the good and bad friends, the girls and boys and all of the insecurities that are practically a character in themselves.

As the book opens, Shannon realizes that she and her friends are not really in sync. She can’t keep up with the pop songs that they like–how do they always know the newest cool song (her family doesn’t listen to pop music so she is way out of the loop).

But aside form that, things seem good.  Shannon is best friends with Jen, the most popular girl in their class.  And since they are the oldest grade in school, Jen is therefore the most popular girl in school.

But the girls are always sniping at each other or trying to get Shannon so say nasty things about one of the other girls behind her back (while the girl was listening).  Shannon never did, though, because she is really a good person.  Something the other girls could use some help with, (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 8 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 18, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 18, 2004. This was the 8th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  Featuring a crazy 17 minute medley followed by Neil Young’s Powderfinger.

Kevin Hearn played keyboards for much of the show and they played a number of songs from the Group of 7 disc and Harmelodia.  The show ran for 2 and a half hours.  There’s only one recording of this show, and it sounds great.

The show opens some what mellow-ish with “Digital Beach.”  It’s a pretty version of this unexpected song and it’s followed by an awesome “Boxcar Song” with Kevin Hearn on keys.

“P.I.N.” sounds lovely.  Midway through, you can hear bongos playing and Martin sings “I’m in the snow / playing bongos.”  He’s quite growly through the song.  After the song, you hear people shouting: “Come on let Martin sing!” Dave: “I think he is for hire, sir.”  Mike: “But only as a mohel.”

Kevin Hearn is on the organ for “It’s Easy To Be With You” and he sings on “Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun.”  Actually everyone seems to take a verse on this song (but I think they’re making them up as they go along).  At the end, Tim says, “We started off with no keyboard players and now we have two.”

Mike asks if he can get more of Kevin’s sampler?  Dave: “Careful what you wish for–he’s got some Buddy Hackett in there.”

It’s followed by three more from Harmelodia: a sweet “Loving Arms,” a fun “Home Again” and a romping “I Am Drumstein.”  Tim says he is disappointed because he missed a perfect bongo opportunity in that last song.

After an introduction of Chris Stringer on “the organ and effects and other stuff,” they move toward 2067 with “Marginalized.”  There’s a sweeping, trippy keyboard solo in the middle.  And then some guys start shouting “Whale Music” and other things.  Dave says “Loud guy crowd.  Every Fall Nationals there’s a loud guy crowd.”

Introducing “The Tarleks” Dave says, “Dr. Johnny fever was here last night in the flesh, it was rather exciting.”  (Did they really not mention Howard Hessman the night before?).

Over the entire run there’s been constant requests for monitor sound level changes, especially by Mike.  Mike says he could use less of Martin’s vocal (groans from the audience) and says he can’t hear Martin’s guitar.  Martin asks if his guitar sounds okay out front.  There is much applause.  Mike: “you’re just fishing for a compliment.”

Before “Pornography,” someone asks where the bongos are.  They are put to good use in the song.  After saying how proud they are of the new album the  opening of  “Shack In The Cornfields” sounds a little off.  But it is quickly righted and off they go.  The song ends with what sounds like a skipping record and very quiet percussion playing as the s song slowly segues into “Try To Praise This Mutilated World.”  Martin says, “I like that song.  Dave wrote it.  We’re the Rheosatics.  Are you having a good night?”  Someone shouts something and Martin snarks: “You wanna hear our older, funnier stuff?”

They go old, but stay mellow.  Tim is “gonna serenade you with a song.”  “All the Same Eyes” is one “we don’t do anymore.  And now one we just started doing, ‘Here Comes the Image.'”  Tim introduces it by saying “This is a lesson for all you drummers out there.  Never be late for a rehearsal or you will be banish-ed to the keyboard.  Because everyone else wants to play those drums, including me and Dave.  This next song takes place in 2067, so best of luck to you all.”  It’s followed by another mellow song “Who Is Than Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” with Jen Foster on accordion.  After the song, Dave says, “I don’t know if I was dying back there or if someone is cooking but I smelled pancakes.  Kevin, you got a griddle back there?”  Mike also says, “Shameless plug.  Jennifer has her CD for sale at the merch booth.”  Tim: “It’s called Shameless Plug.”

Dave notes that they are “just entering the ‘shang’ part of the evening, folks.”  Whatever that means, the first song is a rollicking “Stolen Car.”  It feels a bit shambolic, but never out of control.  There’s some cool keyboard sound effects during the middle jam.  There’s a pretty “Little Bird, Little Bird”and then a powerful “California Dreamline.”  It segues somewhat oddly into a grooving “Horses” (the only time they’ll play the song during the nine nights).   Kevin gets a wild keyboard solo in the middle of the song.

Dave says there are here the next two nights and the Loud Guy says “we’re coming tomorrow.”  Dave: “Thanks for the warning.”  Dave seems a bit tired of the bozos.  But he does seem to like the fans up front: “You guys have great looking twin shirts there.  I can’t read what’s on the second bus though.  Nowhere and Boredom.”   Mike says he’d choose Nowhere over Boredom, but Dave’s not so sure.  “Boredom gives you something to work with.”

Tim says, “Bear with us while we do this song for our friend Ron Koop.  He is having a hard time right now and hopefully he draws something from this.”  It’s a lovely version of “Making Progress” which is followed by an upbeat and rather silly “Monkeybird.”

And then comes the above mentioned 17 minute medley.  I’m glad Darrin wrote all the songs down, because it’s hard to keep track:

The Horseshoe Medley (The Pooby Song / The Hockey Song / Devil Town / The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part II / Bees / Folsom Prison Blues / Ring Of Fire / Old Vancouver Town / War Pigs / Human Highway / Rockaway Beach / Walk On The Wild Side / So Long Farewell / Who Stole The Kishka / Let’s Go Skiing In The Morning).

It begins with Dave playing the acoustic guitar and singing “The Pooby Song.”  “Take one, Kevin” and Kevin gets a simplistic guitar solo.  Dave shouts “take it to C” and they start Stompin’ Tom’s “Hockey Song.”  After the “second period” Dave notes: “last game of the lock out season that didn’t exist.  Doesn’t matter, we got enough hockey stored up in our heads that we’re skating all the time anyway.”  The songs ends, but that isn’t the key from the first tune, we gotta go back to the first tune.  Tim: “Take it to B flat.  I love B flat.  Now, back to D.  You got any chords you like?”  Kevin starts singing Daniel Johnston’s “Devil Town.”  Up to E sharp (or F, whatever you want to call it).  Back down to D take it to C.  They start “Wendel.”  Kevin’s got one.  “‘There are bees, there are bees, everywhere’  you know this one, right?”  Tim: “Does this take place in the devilish town?”  Take it to C, for Dave to sing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” then Kevin switches it to “Ring of Fire.”  Tim picks up with Stompin’ Tom’s “Bridge Came Tumbling Down.”  Kevin resumes with a hilariously upbeat and folksy “War Pigs” with Martin doing some suitably metal guitars sounds.  They even try to do the heavy staccato part before resuming the bluesy part.  “Go to G.”  Dave sings Neil Young’s “Human Highway” but messes it all up, “Okay, never mind go back to E again.”  Tim: “Take it up to A” for “Rockaway Beach.”  Then it’s Kevin with an amusingly upbeat take on “Walk on the Wild Side.”  Mike jumps in with a goofy stab at “So Long, Farewell” and then Dave takes over with “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Tim is yelling “someone call the motherfucking cops.”  The medley should end there but someone keeps it going “a two-step nightmare.”  Dave sings Frankie Yankovic’s “Let’s Go Skiing” while about three other songs go simultaneous.  Someone chants “four more years” and then Dave starts “Powderfinger” in the medley.  He kind of screws it up and as it fades, Martin asks, “What’s the next verse?”  “Something about hunting” and then Martin takes it over for real. He knows some of the words, and they kind of salvage it.”

At the end Dave even says “Thanks, I think.”

But after 8 days in a row, you’re allowed a bit of a fun meltdown.

As they walk off, Martin asks, “Hey Dave what’s a kishka? A sausage type thing?”  A fans shouts, “a small donut.”  Dave: “It’s not a small donut.  But that’s funnier.”  It’s a great and funny end to a wild show.

[READ: July 11, 2017] Real Friends

I’ve enjoyed Shannon Hale a lot recently, so I was pretty happy to read a new book by her.  Sarah had told me that it was a really excellent portrayal of girl friendship in grammar school.  It is also biographical and makes me think that it’s pretty amazing that Hale made it through to high school at all.

The book is divided into sections with friends’ names, and each of these sections is basically how she met these friends.

Shannon was the middle child between a pair of older girls and a pair of younger siblings.  She was kind of alone and was very clingy to her mom.  But on her first day of kindergarten, despite being nervous and sad, she made friends with Adrienne.

They were soon inseparable.  Shannon made up games for them in which they fought off bad guys (boys who just seemed to want them in whatever capacity a five year-old girls thinks boys might want them).  I love that their game was utterly feminist and yet they were portraying Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders because that’s who was popular and everyone wanted to be one.  And yet these cheerleaders had pet saber toothed tigers and sharks and they beat up ghastly boys. (more…)

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solomonSOUNDTRACK: RYAN KEBERLE & CATHARSIS-Tiny Desk Concert #393 (October 4, 2014).

keberleWhen Trombone Shorty played the Tiny Desk I said that I was surprised to see that the leader of the band was a trombone player.  Well, perhaps it’s not that unusual as Ryan Keberle is a trombonist as well.  But unlike many recent jazz performers, Keberle & Catharsis aren’t showing off. As the blurb puts it, “he’s not after any high-concept framing. He’s just targeting the sweet spot where a nifty arrangement meets a solid groove.”

This band plays pretty traditional jazz (complete with upright bass solos and everything). Although, interestingly, their first song is a cover of  Sufjan Stevens song (turns out that Keberle toured with Stevens).  “Sister” is my favorite of their three songs.  I really enjoyed when the full band kicked in after the intro riff from Keberle.  The band has a vocalist, Camila Meza, who mainly does wordless vocal sounds.  As the song nears its end she does sing lead vocals, and it’s quite pleasant.

Her vocals work pretty well for this song, but I didn’t like it is much later.  That could be because “Sister” is a catchy pop song, where the other songs are jazzy.  And I find her singing style to be a little lite-Fm for my tastes.

“Gallop” is a bit faster than the first song.  It moves along at a nice clip and then stops for a bass and drum solo–very very jazzy.  There’s a trumpet solo in the middle of song too (no trombone solos which is interesting, I guess).  The other guys in the band are Michael Rodriguez on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass and Eric Doob on drums.

“Zone” opens with two contradicting three note riffs on both trombone and trumpet which is pretty cool.  Then the song settles down to just bass drums and voice and Keberle playing the melodica (beloved instrument of Tiny Desk Concerts) which works but sounds odd in the mix.  It seems like the song is going to end as the music fades to just bass, but it soon picks up again with anew trumpet solo.

I don’t love mellow jazz like this, but these players are excellent.

[READ: April 13, 2016] Solomon’s Thieves

I had this book on hold for quite some time.  When it finally came in, I thought, hey this art looks familiar.  And then hey, this book is about the Templar knights, what a strange thing that First Second would have two book about the Templar Knights.   And then as I flipped through it I realized the author and artists were the same.  And for a split second I though, they wrote two books about the Templar Knights?

And then it came to me that the first part of Templar was called “Solomon’s Thieves.”  And that this is indeed the First Part published long before Templar actually came out in full.

So even thought I had read the whole of Templar not too long ago, I decided to read this as well   As far as I can tell it is exactly the same as the first part of Templar.  Although it’s possible that there are some minor changes, I wasn’t sure if things that I didn’t remember were just because I can’t remember everything, you know?

Perhaps because I had read the full book not too long ago, I really enjoyed this run though again.  Since everything looked familiar, it was fun to pick up on things I missed the first time, and to see how things made a little more sense once I could tell who everyone was and what their roles were (there is something to be said for re-reading).

I’m including what I wrote about the first part of Templar here because it’s the same, but if you want more about the whole book or background about the Templar Knights check out the full post.

As the story opens we see Martin, a Knight, looking longingly at a woman, Isabelle.  We learn that he had been “dating” her (or whatever they called it back then) and then one day he found out that she left to be married to the brother of King Philip.  So he joined the Knights.  As they march through the city, we see that they are drunkards and carousers.  They get in all manner of trouble.  And one evening they were heading back to Paris when suddenly the above dictum was established–all Knights were to be arrested.  And Martin is one of them.

But through some excellent machinations (and good fighting) he escapes.  And he soon joins together with a very unlikely band of merry men, including Brother Dominic (a real priest with the tonsure and everything) and Brother Bernard, a loutish drunken man who is not above thieving from people.  Martin is offended at the thought of working with him, and they wind up at odds with each other from the start.  Before the end of the first book, we see that they have a letter revealing where all of the Templar gold and jewels are hidden.

There’s a great bit of accounting work done in which the bookkeeper shows on his ledger that rooms were empty when in fact it appears that the gold was taken out on hay carts.  The bookkeeper, even under torture, swears he knows nothing of the fortune’s whereabouts.

Mechner tells a really exciting story with humor and sadness.  The fact that it’s linked to history is just a bonus.  Another winner for First Second and their #1oyearsof01 anniversary.

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flypanam templarSOUNDTRACK: FLY PAN AM-Fly Pan Am [CST008] (1999).

In the Constellation canon, there were four originators: Godspeed You Black Emperor were orchestral, Do Make Say Think were jazzy, and A Silver Mt Zion had vocals.  But Fly Pan Am was the weirdest one—the played with noise, they broke up their songs, they deconstructed their own work and, especially novel to me, everything was in French on the discs.

Roger Tellier-Craig, the main force behind FPA was in GYBE as well.  So he knows post-rock.

Their debut album is a long affair–an hour’s worth of music (in all of 5 songs) taken from two different recording sessions.  (All translated titles are taken from Wikipedia).

“L’espace au sol est redessiné par d’immenses panneaux bleus…” (“The Floorspace Is Redesigned by Huge Blue Signs…”) is a 13 minute song.   There’s ringing noises as a simple melody is plucked out.  The full instrumentation kicks in adding a repetitive guitar line that seems to fall into the background behind the opening notes that are still playing out.  The guitar lines slowly gets longer and longer, almost like a game of Simon.  By around 6 minutes the song has built up a serious head of steam with the bass and drums moving quickly and the guitar getting really complex. By 7 minutes that pretty guitar has turned into a ringing feedback skronking solo which carries on for a minute or so before fading back. At around 9 minutes the song seems to retreat on itself again. The guitars fade away and the bass seems to get a bit louder with the guitars ringing out. The last minute or so resumes a kind of noisy static sound that tells you the song is over.  That’s a heck of an introduction.

“…Et aussi l’éclairage de plastique au centre de tout ces compartiments latéraux” (“…And Also the Lighting of Plastic in the Center of All Its Lateral Compartments”) is a 9 minute song that opens with more scorching guitars and rumbling bass.  The guitar switches back and forth between a two note melody and a chord (dissonant, of course). The other guitar then plays a different three note melody.  About 2:30 in some noisy feedback and samples start taking over the song.  All the music drops away except for the bass.  By 3:15, all the music had dropped out and its just noisy effects and feedback and then outer space sounds.  After about 4 minutes of that (yes, indeed) the bass comes back in playing a kind of discoey rhythm with the guitar supplying a dancey counterpoint which runs to the end of the song.  It’s their first song where something really catchy is utterly dismantled by noise.

“Dans ses cheveux soixante circuits” (“In Her Hair Are Sixty Circuits”) is 17 minutes long (!) and is one of the most abrasive songs I can recall. The song opens with both guitars each playing a two-note melody which rotates through a round. They sound lovely together as the bass and drums play a slow rhythm. The melody changes a few times and then by around 3 and a half minutes the main guitar line grows faster (6 notes instead of 2) and the background feels a bit more tense.   And then at 5:46, the whole song seems to get stuck on repeat. The bass plays a 2 note rhythm, the drums play the same pattern and the two guitars each play one note over and over.  And over.  Evidently it’s “a half-tone interval.”  And this goes on for 12 minutes.  TWELVE!  The only differences through this whole section come from the digitalia of guest electronic musician Alexandre St-Onge, but they are the most unobtrusive electronics I’ve ever heard and just seem to bubble and prickle gently onto the repetition.  It’s maddening and then trance-like and then maddening all over again.  How can they play the same thing for twelve minutes—and their rhythm remains perfect?

“Bibi à nice, 1921” (“Bibi Nice, 1921”) opens with noises and feedback (which is a nice break from the 12 minutes of repetitiveness. But you soon realize that that’s all you’re getting (aside from some distant rumbling noise in the background). It’s a very silent song. For four minutes (out of ten) and then the full band kicks in for a really rocking section—great guitar lines and propulsive bass and drums. But after two minutes, the sound drops out entirely—pure silence (enough to make you assume the disc froze). It slowly returns after 20 seconds–they are messing with us again.  At 7 minutes a new guitar line comes in—slow and pretty with a slow drum beat.  A solo plays over the top—it is primarily electronic, and sounds pretty cool.   The guitars start playing louder and the song feels like it’s going to build up into something huge, but it soon ends and turns into….

“Nice est en feu!” (“Nice Is on Fire!”) seems like it should be connected to the previous song, but it starts off very different with big bass notes playing a very slow riff.  The guitar starts playing a nice accompanying riff. At 3 minutes in, voices come in singing Ahhs in a nice melody. The liner notes say that Kara Lacy and Norsola Johnson do vocals on “Bibi à nice, 1921” and “Nice est en feu!” but I didn’t hear any vocals on “Bibi.”  At 4:30 the guitar line turns to something else and there’s suddenly a whole bunch of noise flooding the track—sounds of water rushing, maybe—but that goes away and a new melody (slightly dissonant) resumes.  With about a minute left the voices resume—angelic and soaring over the rumbling song.  It ends this weird disc on a very pretty note.

I love the crazy stuff that Fly Pan Am creates, even if some of it is hard to listen to.

[READ: February 23, 2016] Templar

I had actually started to read this graphic novel before Prince of Persia.  But when I saw in the introduction that Mechner talks about Prince of Persia, I decided to grab that one and read it first.  The two have nothing to do with each other, but sometimes it’s nice to get things on order.

Who doesn’t love stories about the Templar knights?  The whole premise of the National Treasure is predicated on them after all.  Not to mention, The Da Vinci Code and the book that he says far surpasses all Templar stories: Foucault’s Pendulum [RIP Umberto Eco].

So Jordan Mechner has done a lot of research (there’s a sizable bibliography at the end of the book) to create the story about a couple of Knights Templar.  He says that “much nonsense has been written about the Knights Templar over the years. I’m proud to say that this book has added to that sum.”  He explains that thousands of knights were indeed killed.  Some knights did escape, but the main plot he constructed probably never happened.   One of the histories he read said that “figures of no importance” did escape, and so that was the basis for Martin, Bernard, Isabelle and their gang–inconsequential Templars and their own story.

He also says (in the preface) that all of the movies about the Knights focus on the treasure, but the Knights’ actual story–their rise and shocking downfall– is even more interesting.  He gives a brief backstory.  Formed during the crusades, the Templars gained fame as the noblest and bravest knights in Christendom.  Their legend grew which increased their numbers.   “They were the Jedi of their time.”  They peaked in the 13th century under the protection of the Catholic Church and The Pope.  Then in October 1307 the king of France ordered the mass arrest of All Templars in his kingdom (15,000 of them).  They were brought before the Inquisition and accused of witchcraft, heresy and sodomy.  Guillaume de Nogaret the king’s chef minister staged a huge show trail.  Prisoners who denied the charges were tortured until they confessed, which made everyone who refused to confess seem like a liar. Despite knowing the truth, the Pope bowed to pressure and Templars were destroyed.  Wow. (more…)

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persiaSOUNDTRACK: SALTLAND-I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us [CST094] (2013).

Piles of salt mined by local residents sit on the surface of the world's largest salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, near the village of Colchani November 20, 2007. Bolivian airlines Aerosur and the Canedos family inaugurated this week the first regular flights of its renovated Douglas DC-3S, or Super DC-3, to bring tourists to the Salar, one of the world's natural wonders, in a project that the airline considers a "trip back in time." Picture taken November 20, 2007. REUTERS/David Mercado (BOLIVIA)Becky Foon, who is one of the main creators of Esmerine has another band on Constellation called Saltland.  The big difference with this band is that she sings as well.  And that this album is much more mellow–full of droning sections and a slow, deep bass that keeps the songs moving along.

This disc is very mellow, with lots of slow beats and electronica sprinkled around it.  When Foon sings, she sings in a deliciously slow voice.  So this album is a good one for chilling out.

The disc opens with “Golden Alley” which has some big slow bass notes and strings urging the song along.   When she begins singing, he voice is deep and hushed–an almost whispered sound that feels practically percussive.  There are words, but her voice also works as part of the music.  A bit of a shift in the music occurs near the end that makes it seem like it’s going to be a long song–especially when Colin Stetson starts blowing some saxophone notes–but it actually just signals the end.

“I Thought It Was Us” is an instrumental which features harmonium and cello.  It also has some interesting noises from Stetson.  About a minute and a half in, it shifts to a really catchy melody that runs through much of the rest of the song while the saxophone solo takes off.  It’s a highlight.

“Treehouse Schemes” really stands out as something familiar.  I don’t know if it sounds like something else or if Foon’s voice is so much more distinctive.  But I really like this track a lot.  It has a slow bass line and some stretched out guitars and then Foon sings a simple and lovely melody line.

“Unholy” is a bit more droney with some well used kalimba and Foon’s voice providing mostly wordless notes.  I really like the way at about a minute and a half, fast drums come in and seem to push the song faster, although the tempo never actually changes.  Theres some great tension and then a nice denouement.

“But It Was All of Us” is another slow droning instrumental, with some wordless vocals and some occasional bass notes. It feels almost like Western movie but with a Middle Eastern feel, a Middle Eastern Western?

“Colour the Night Sky” has some quiet, heavily distorted vocals that swirl with the pulsing beat of the drums and bass.   And then about midway through there’s a clean section where the vocals shine through the din, with the words “I have a fairy tale that I read when I’m feeling down.”

“ICA” has some quiet cello swirls and low voices.  And the album ends on a highlight with “Hearts Mind.”  It’s another one with a prominent bass while swirls of sounds float around Foon’s vocals.   It’s the last-minute or so Foon’s multitracked voices create some lovely ascending ooohss.

This album feel s a lot longer than its 38 minutes, possibly because most of the songs are quite long.  It’s definitely a mood creating album, although not as despairing as the album cover hints at.

[READ:February 21, 2016] Prince of Persia

The evolution of this graphic novel is pretty fascinating.  And it is one I was completely unfamiliar with since I’m not a gamer.

Back in the 1980s Jordan Mechner created a video game called Prince of Persia.  It was popular and there was a sequel.  And then it kind of went away for a while, but people always loved it so then it came back again as a new series of games.  And a film (released in 2010).  Finally in, 2004 First Second (shoutout to #10yearsof01) contacted Mechner about making a story (not the same story as his games) into a graphic novel.  Mechner has always wanted to make a comic book (he had all the gear before he switches over to video games.  And here it is.

From what I gather, Mechner didn’t really write this story so much as inspire it (and I’m sure he had editorial control or whatever).  The book was written by A.B. Sina.  And it is a new story based on the nebulous ideas of the universe that Mechner had created.

I had actually not even heard of the video game (or the movie) so this was all lost on me. But that’s fine and is not necessary for enjoyment of the book.  Although I admit I found the story a little confusing (not because of not knowing the games), although by the end the way the stories linked up was pretty cool.

This story is set in two different eras (the 9th century and another prince in the 13th century) and has two stories paralleling each other.  The two men of the story are linked by a prophecy.  The story opens with Guiv, a (9th century) prince who had attempted to kill his brother Layth, fleeing the city of Marv after escaping death from Layth’s guards. The story then jumps to a young (13th century) woman, Shirin, who flees the city of Marv in an attempt to escape her father. She soon meets up with Ferdos,

Since Guiv was nearly killed by his brother he leaves the city.  He walks into the mountain where he is accompanied by a spirit animal (a peacock) and is able to fend off lions and boars until he encounters a door.  But inside is a pit made of human skeletons.

I was more interested in the story of Shirin.  She is a rebellious woman who would rather do gymnastic dances than hip shaking ones.  So she cuts her hair and leaves her palace behind.  Frankly her story of learning how rough things are outside of the palace was more interesting than the story of the men.   I guess it is also kind of that we follow her for many pages before she meets Ferdos and then his story takes over.  Not to mention, he seems like he’s just crazy for a while.

Ferdos is full of stories about Layth and Guiv and he imagines that he and Shirin will reprise the roles of these past rulers (Shirin will be Guian, the sister/lover–I’m a little unclear about that).

Eventually we learn that Ferdos has ties to the city of Marv, and that his story is linked to the past in unexpected ways.

The end o the story goes very fast with intense pacing and crossing of stories.  It definitely demands careful reading and maybe even a second reading, to see how the stories line up.

Th one great thing about the book is the way the two story lines are never visually confused–the color palates change depending on the century and the main characters all look different enough (especially Shrin, who looks incredibly sexy with her short hair and different colored eyes).

It’s a really clever and intricate story.   I wonder what fans of the game thought of it.

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