Archive for the ‘Ian Duerden’ Category

clockworkSOUNDTRACK: FEU THÉRÈSE-Ça Va Cogner [CST049] (2007).

feu2Bands change sounds from one album to another all the time, but few as radically as this one. From weirdo psychedelic band to French new wave pop band, from 6 minute instrumentals to 2 and 3 minute songs with vocals.

At times the album feels like Kraftwerk meets Serge Gainsbourg (which I know is an unfair reduction, but when your singer mostly talk/sings in a deep French voice, the comparison is apt.  And yet the album is fairly poppy and catchy as well.

“A Nos Amours” opens the disc with three minutes of synth happiness. It even has a section where the music drops out and the bass resumes its place.  Recall in their debut that at 4 minutes of each song something radically different happened.  Now the songs just end. “Visage Sous Nylon” features the more Kraftwerk sound—but it’s an almost organic Kraftwerk (which I know makes no sense but there it is). “Les Deserts des Azurs” has a kind of Tangerine Dream feel with washes of analog synths.

“Le Bruit du Pollen La Nuit” has a weird kind of synthy 70 s rock feel but the music almost drops out entirely (but not quite) while the vocals (in French) are spoken. It feels like it’s mocking and serious at the same time.  It’s also got a discoey chorus singing “You’re just a just a just a pretty boy!”

“Nada” has a synthy almost disco feel.  “Ça Va Cogner” is just over 5 minutes long and consists of various delicate swells of synths.  I kept waiting to hear The Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” burst forth from the waves, until about half way in when it turns into a simple delicate melody and a children’s chorus. “Les Enfants” is a simple ditty with hummed lyrics.  It’s poppy and catchy as anything

“Ferrari en Feu Pt. 2” is a fast synth songs with slap bass. (Part 1 was on the debut and sounded nothing like this).  “La Nuit Est un Femme” is a slow synth track with a female backing vocals over a sung male lead. The end of the song adds some loud textures to this otherwise sweet song bringing in some really interesting tensions.  The disc ends with “Laisse Briller Tes Yeux Dans le Soleil,” a synthy instrumental that ends with cheesy charm.

This album is really wonderful–surprisingly catchy and dancey and yet exotic enough to not sound like anything else that (most) people are familiar with.  All of the Constellation albums are streaming on their site, but this one is especially worth checking out.

[READ: April 15, 2014] Tales from the Clockwork Empire Book 1

I was very intrigued by this book because of the steampunk nature and because I have a strange fascination with clockwork ideas–a technology that is precise and interesting yet which never really took off beyond clocks and small toys because other technologies were more powerful

I thought that the cover was kind of interesting with this gigantic metal head holding ball.  But on closer look the man in the ball was very poorly computer rendered and that should have been a tip off.  For all of the people in the book have this same unfinished-rendered look.  It looks a lot like storyboards of unfinished versions of Pixar films.  I mean, really cheesy and really unfinished and really unsettling. This is especially noticeable on the rendering of Napoleon Bonaparte in the “end credits” of the book.

I hate to harp on the graphics, but this is a graphic novel after all.  All of the non human elements looks fine, many look even better than fine, bordering on photo realistic.  But the humans all seem ugh, creepy and stiff and just dropped on top of these scenes.  It is terribly distracting and may even make the dialogue feel stiffer than it actually is.  Because the dialogue felt very stiff and mechanical as well.

It is the kind of story that seems historically accurate in the details and works very hard to let you know that it is accurate.  Indeed, in the end of the book Duerden goes to great lengths to show the accuracies in the writing.  But there’s so little flow in the dialogue that it seems like a lecture.  Basically the entire book feels like, not a first draft, but like the draft before the final draft.  Like the book is going to go back to have a final polish to make the dialogue breezier and make the pictures look better.

This is all a shame since I haven;t eve talked about the story yet. (more…)

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