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Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF-“Funeral for My Children” (Field Recordings, November 4, 2013).

I remember exploring this Field Recording back in 2013 when it came out.  There is something otherworldly and magical about the pipe organ, even if it is played in a rather fast and clearly secular way like in this song.

One of my [Bob Boilen’s] most surprising discoveries of 2013 is an artfully poppy pipe-organ record called Ceremony, by Swedish singer Anna von Hausswolff. Though she doesn’t consider herself an accomplished pipe organist, von Hausswolff quickly learned the instrument’s power, as well as some of its subtleties.

I talked about this song back in 2013 and felt that the percussion was more interesting than the music.  I don’t feel that way now, although perhaps this live version is different.

When we learned that von Hausswolff was coming to New York City this summer, we started scouting for a church with a pipe organ that could accommodate a small video crew and some secular music. We found Christ Church, a United Methodist church on Park Avenue with a gracious staff who helped us make this work. [Anna Von Hausswolff Finds A Pipe Organ In New York City].

The recording opens with church bells and chimes, which Anna is playing gently on the organ (you can see the switches she presses to get sounds–how high tech!).  Then the drum comes in.  It is a simple beat on a floor tom–click click boom–a martial rhythm to offset the lofty pipe organ.

Once we were set for a location, we lit some candles and moved the pipe organ (not the pipes) into a position that allowed us get the best view of von Hausswolff while keeping percussionist Michael Stasiak distant enough so as not to bury the sound of her voice. In the process, we captured a beautiful rendition of “Funeral For My Future Children,” a song on Ceremony originally recorded at another church — this one in Gothenburg.

It almost comes as a surprise when Anna starts singing as you don;t often hear vocals with a pipe organ.  But her voice has the power and inflection to match this illustrious organ and that thumping drum.  I love when the sound of the organ changes about 4 and a half minutes in–the solo just adds a whole new depth to the piece.  And when she hits a high not just before that, it’s amazing.

[READ: January 18, 2018] “Jack”

This is an excerpt from Robinson’s novel Home.  It’s set in Gilead which is the title of a previous book of hers, so I assume it is some kind of continuation of the town, if not the family.  I’ve never read anything else by her.

Since this is an excerpt rather than a short story it takes a long time for much to happen.  But her writing is pretty great and everything that she writes is rather compelling.

The story opens with Glory, the youngest of six children arriving at her childhood home.  She is greeted by her father who is shockingly frail and thin and… old.  She is moving back home to take care of him now that he is by himself.

The story quickly flashes back to her childhood growing up in the house.  A house that seemed somehow too large, too ungainly for the neighborhood it was in.  How had it changed so much since she left? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DESTROYER-Live at Massey Hall (July 10, 2014).

Destroyer is Daniel Behar (who is also part of New Pornographers and other bands).  Usually, Behar is surrounded by a lot of other people when he plays.  His music tends toward the symphonic.

But for this show (his first time at Massey Hall), it is just him with his acoustic guitar.

In the introduction he says that he gave up playing the guitar a long time ago, but he couldn’t just do a set with him signing a capella so….  He observes that he’s been playing with an 8 piece band–they solo forever and I’m barely singing anymore.  So this is quite something.

He seriously downplays the show saying he doesn’t even really like “guy with guitar” music, he’s more into Sinatra or the Stones.  “This is an anti-advertisement for the show I’m about to play.”

He plays songs from throughout his catalog.

“Foam Hands” is not that different, although I do prefer the recorded version.  In this version, though, I like the way he plays the end chords loudly and dramatically and the way the song abruptly.

“Chinatown” is a much bigger song on record with backing vocals and a rather cheesy sax throughout.  So I like this version better.

He introduces “Streets on Fire” this way: “Here’s a song I wrote 20 years ago.  Showing off because lots of you couldn’t write songs twenty years ago because you didn’t know how to say anything.  Couldn’t play guitar.  Didn’t know the chords didn’t know words.  Pathetic.

The song is from his debut when it was just him and a guitar.  This version sounds 100 times better.

“European Oils”  I love this song from Rubies and I especially love the orchestration of it.  So while I enjoy this stripped down version I’ll take the record.

The original of “Your Blood” is a romping fun song (also from Rubies).  This is slowed down but still nice.  And of course I enjoy that my daughter is mentioned; “Tabitha takes another step.”

“Savage Night at the Opera” has a great bass sound in the original, although this stripped down is very nice.

“Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears)” is a quiet song (the original has drums and piano but’s not that different from what’s here).  It’s quite pretty as is the whole set.  A real treat for fans of Destroyer.

[READ: May 3, 2018] “The Boarder”

This story was translated from the Yiddish by the author.  Singer died in 1991, so I’m not sure if this is a recently found story or an old one that has just been published..

This is a simple story about a pious man and a non-believer.

Reb Berish is the pious man.  He eats only twice a day; he prays for many hours a day.  He had recently retired from his business in fabric remains and had little to do.  Over the last forty years, his wife had died, his son had died and his daughter had married a gentile in California.

He didn’t want to live alone so he took in a border, Morris Melnik. Melnik paid $15 a month, but that wasn’t the point.  Berish was taking pity on the man who had literally nothing left in his life–no family, no job, no God.  Melnik was a heretic; a nonbeliever.

He mocked Berish for praying “to the God who made Hitler and gave him the strength to kill six million Jews.  Or perhaps to the God who created Stalin and let him liquidate another ten million victims.”

It sounds like the premise for a sitcom, but this story does not do that. (more…)

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