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Archive for the ‘H.G. Wells’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BTS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #82 (September 21, 2020).

BTS is the biggest band in the world right now.  As the news the next morning said

Korean boy band BTS played its first Tiny Desk Concert on Monday — and broke the series record for most YouTube views on its first day, which happened in about 25 minutes.

When I was younger I hated all boy bands on principle–they were fake creations with no soul.  But either I’ve mellowed with age (true) or I’m less exposed to pop music so no longer sick of it (true) or maybe I just get a kick out of band from South Korea making people excited in the U.S.  Whatever the reason, BTS makes me smile.

Partly, it’s the band members themselves:

V; Jin; Jimin; J-Hope; RM; SUGA and Jungkook [I have no idea if that’s a left to right listing or just a random assortment of names] all seem to be really enjoying themselves and each other.  Perhaps all boy bands have this camaraderie (I’ve never watched enough to notice), but these guys are pretty entertaining–right down to their fabulous clothing choices.

The little I’ve seen of BTS makes me think that they are known by their hair color choices: the blue one, the purple one, the blond one, the brown one, but in this set, aside from a blue and a blonde, the rest of the guys have black or brown hair.  So instead, you have to go by their voices I guess.

One of them (on the right) has a really fantastic falsetto, another has a much deeper voice.  One of them seems to be a rapper.  The rest I can’t really tell apart–I’m not entirely sure if it makes sense for there to be seven of them, but it works.

With BTS cooped up in Seoul, the group held true to the series’ spirit by convening a live band for its Tiny Desk debut, and even arranged to perform in a workspace with a music-friendly backdrop: the record store VINYL & PLASTIC by Hyundai Card in BTS’s hometown.

The following introduction makes me laugh because I have literally never heard this song (or really any BTS song, as far as I know)

Opening with this summer’s inescapable “Dynamite” — the group’s first single to hit No. 1 in the U.S., as well as its first song to be fully recorded in English

“Dynamite” has a real disco vibe and is really catchy.  Moreso than the other two songs, I feel.  Perhaps because its in English, but I don’t think so.  The melody and delivery is really spot on.  And I love the whoohoos and heys. 

I really like their live band.  It’s kind of hard to pay attention to them when you have seven guys singing and dancing around in front.  I don’t know if they normally play with a live band, but the guitar from Shyun is really grooving.  He also plays a lot of unobtrusive but wild solos throughout the songs.  The bass from Kim Kiwook is really smooth and funky

They introduce the next song in English. 

From there, the group dipped into its back catalog, seizing on the opportunity to showcase its quieter side while (mostly) staying uncharacteristically seated. The breezily propulsive “Save ME,” from 2016,

starts with a squeaky keyboard sound from DOCSKIM followed by the falsetto guy on the end (who seems to sing more than anyone else–I wonder if he’s the favorite) but they can all do some impressive falsetto notes in the verses as well.  I get a kick out of how they have a really hard time staying seated–with one or more of them seeming to need get up and dance. 

This song has a rap verse (in Korean I guess) which is pretty interesting to hear.

They discuss the song in Korean (with subtitles) and then introduce the final song in English.

It’s the full-on power ballad, 2017’s reflective “Spring Day,”

which seemed especially true to BTS’s hopeful nature: Introduced with a few optimistic words from rapper and singer RM (“It’s been the roughest summer ever, but we know that spring will come”), the song reflects on a need to wait out hard times, even as the weight of present-day pain feels oppressive.

The song builds from a slow intro to a pretty big ending with some notably solid drumming from KHAN.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this tiny concert.

[READ: September 22, 2020] Birthday

Birthday is not a novel, it is an autobiographical essay.  It’s important that this distinction is made because many of Aira’s novels feel autobiographical.  But this one is meditative and a very personal–it was translated by Chris Andrews.

Aira turned 50 in 1999 (he dated this work July 18, 1999).  He imagined it as an opportunity to prepare for the future. But nothing really changed.  He went on as usual.

It was a short time later, when walking with his wife, Liliana, when he stated that the phases of the moon could not be produced by the earth’s shadow as he had learned.  But his wife said there was no way anyone thought that’s how the moon’s phases were created.  He felt so dumb for thinking this, that he spent the next several days going over in his head what else he didn’t know.  He spends most of the book mocking himself for his ignorance. (more…)

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815SOUNDTRACK: BORIS -Smile (2008).

Boris followed Pink with a couple of limited edition albums of drone music, collaborations, seven inch singles, live albums and other things.  And then they released Smile.

As Wikipedia explians:

Shortly after [the Japanese] release, the album was released by American label Southern Lord with a slightly different track listing, different artwork (by Stephen O’Malley), and an almost entirely different sound.   The different versions of Smile contain different mixes: the English version was mixed by Souichiro Nakamura, while the Japanese version was handled by You Ishihara.

I have the Southern Lord CD, but I’ve put the listing for the Japanese release (and cover) below

“Flower Sun Rain” (with Michio Kurihara).  This is a cover of the song by Pyg.  There’s quiet guitar and singing with wailing solos.  The song is quite faithful to the catchy original, except that around 6 and a half minutes in Wata puts in a wailing guitar solo as the band gets even heavier.  The American version ends abruptly mid-solo, but is two minutes longer than the Japanese release.

“Buzz-In” opens with static an a baby crying/talking before the song turns into a big pile of catchy heavy metal–pounding drums, chanted lyrics and lots of heavy guitars.  “Laser Beam” (“Hanate!” on Japanese version) opens with wailing guitars and bass solos before the heavy thrash follows.  There’s even a catchy chorus.  There’s a noisy section of feedback in the end.  As the song fades out there a series of cymbal smashes which slowly fade out while a quiet acoustic guitar plays for about a minute.  Just as he starts to sing, the song is cut off by the raw power of  “Statement” (“Messeeji” on Japanese version).

“Statement” is the first song (and video) I’d heard by Boris.  I heard it and was hooked.  It opens with a simple riff, two cowbells and a scorching guitar solo.  The verses and chorus are really catchy (whoo-hoos).  The Japanese version sounds completely different and is about twice as long.  It eschews the guitars almost entirely, leaving just a distorted bass drum as the main musical component. The guitar solos are relegated to the background.  But the vocals are pretty much the same.

“My Neighbor Satan” (with Michio Kurihara) (“Tonari no Sataan” on Japanese version) changes the tempo completely.  The song is quiet and kind of pretty.  There’s some really distant looped clacking drums, but the song is a quiet guitar melody and gentle vocals.  There’s a quiet (but very distorted) guitar solo in one ear.  And then after 2 and half minutes really heavy guitars and drums come in and overpower the melody for about a minute before dropping out again.  The quiet part resumes until the big snare drum fill which leads to a moment of silence before the really heavy rocking one-minute ending.

“Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki—No Ones Grieve” (“Kare Hateta Saki” on Japanese version) opens with loud droning chords.  After about a minute, it takes off with a wailing solo and power from the whole band.  When the vocals come in, the heayy rocking band kind of fades but is still audible over the slow and fairly quiet vocals–it’s a dramatic juxtaposition until the whole song is taken over by the guitar solo.  There’s some whispering in each ear as well (no idea what they’re saying).

“You Were Holding an Umbrella” (with Michio Kurihara) (“Kimi wa Kasa o Sashiteita” on Japanese version).  This is a pretty song, quiet and understated.  It sounds like a fairly traditional melody. There’s a quiet click track and a pretty guitar with whispered vocals.  It lasts for about four minutes before the squealing guitar solo introduces the rest of the band as they crash into the song.  This makes the song heavier but no less pretty.

“[untitled]” (with Stephen O’Malley).   This is a full on epic.  And like a good epic it begins with backwards guitar swirling around and forward guitars playing a simple melody.  At 4 minutes a noisy guitar solo fades in and fades out for about thirty seconds before the quiet vocals begin.  Around 7 minutes in the loud guitars come in with a vengeance.  They play with the melody which makes the whole thing feel much bigger.   The last four minutes or so just play with the droning guitars as they work on harmonies with what sounds like an e-bow, harmonies coming in an out.  The Japanese version is 4 minutes longer.

I’ve been listening to the Japanese mix online and I can’t get over how different it sounds.  Sometimes whole chunks of sound are removed while other sounds come to the forefront.

Diwphalanx CD

  1. “Messeeji” (“メッセージ”, “Message”) 7:06
  2. “Buzz-In” 2:34
  3. “Hanate!” (“放て!”, “Shoot!” (“Laser Beam” on English version)) 5:02
  4. “Hana, Taiyou, Ame” (“花・太陽・雨”, “Flower, Sun, Rain”; cover of the song by Pyg) 5:35
  5. “Tonari No Sataan” (“となりのサターン”, “Next Saturn” (“My Neighbor Satan” on English version)) 5:20
  6. “Kare Hateta Saki” (“枯れ果てた先”, “Dead Destination” (“Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki -No Ones Grieve-” on English version)) 7:26
  7. “Kimi wa Kasa o Sashiteita” (“君は傘をさしていた”, “You Were Holding an Umbrella”) 9:19
  8. “untitled” 19 20

[READ: July 21, 2015] “Morlocks and Eloi”

This was the 2015 New Yorker fiction issue.  It featured several stories and several one-page essays from writers I like.  The subject this time was “Time Travel.”

I enjoyed the way Curtis started this essay with the amusing (but maybe not) “some months ago I briefly became pregnant with the child of a PhD in quantum physics and for a  few seconds I understood the nature of time.”

She says that time is a like a tennis ball full of rubber bands.  Each strand is a line of time–linear while you are on it but so easy to cross from one to the next with so many places touching. (more…)

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augSOUNDTRACK: HOLLY MACVE-“Sycamore Tree” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 16, 2016).

macveHolly Macve (pronounced Mac-vee) is a 20-year-old songwriter from County Galway. At the time of SXSW she only had some demos available.

For this Lullaby, it’s just her and her acoustic guitar.  Her low notes seem surprisingly low somehow (I ‘m guessing she plays very cleanly so her notes stand out).

But the thing that stands out most is her voice.  The song’s melody is pretty standard, but she often jumps octaves and nearly creaks her voice while getting there–it’s unsettling and charming at the same time.  She sounds very old school country to me.

Also notable is the length of this song.  It seems like a simple folk song with a pretty standard verse structure.  In good Irish tradition, it also tells a story.  But the slow pace seems to really stretch out the music.  The chorus seems a few lines longer than one might expect (I do love the past and future mixed together in the lyrics).  When she gets to a third part, which takes the song in a rather unexpected direction with very high notes, it’s unclear how long this song might just wind up being.

Macve has a lovely sound, and I enjoyed this song as a lullaby, but I think she’s too far into the country realm for my liking.

[READ: February 10, 2016] “Notes on Some Twentieth-Century Writers”

The August 2015 Harper’s had a “forum” called How to Be a Parent.  Sometimes these forums are dialogues between unlikely participants and sometimes, like in this case, each author contributes an essay on the topic.  There are ten contributors to this Forum: A. Balkan, Emma Donoghue, Pamela Druckerman, Rivka Galchen, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Ben Lerner, Sarah Manguso, Claire Messud, Ellen Rosenbush and Michelle Tea.  Since I have read pieces from most of these authors I’ll write about each person’s contribution.

I have enjoyed Rivka Galchen’s works.  Indeed, I have tried to write about everything she’s written.  One of the things I especially like about her is that she always defies expectations.  So, in this Forum, while everyone else is writing about being a parent, Galchen writes about writers who were or were not parents.

She lists dozens of writers and states their parental status.  I will not go through them all because it would be exhausting (and would basically just duplicate what she wrote). (more…)

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