Archive for the ‘John Lanchester’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TROKER-Tiny Desk Concert #621 May 19, 2017).

Troker has instantly jumped to being my favorite jazz band.  And why is that?  because they have a turntablist and he is outstanding.  He adds sound effects, solos and all kinds of great additions to their jazzy fare and elevates it to someplace exciting.

Which is not to stay that their jazz is poor, because it’s not at  all.  There’s a groovy keyboard sound, a sax, a trumpet and a fantastic bassist

“Principe Charro” begins with some fun keys (from Christian Jimenez) and a high bass line (from Samo Gonzalez) before the band enter the main horn riffs (all with a groovy bass line underneath).  But it’s those turntables (from DJ Sonicko) that really stand out.  I feel like in many songs you can’t always tell when a turntable is active, but it’s really apparent in this set.  Check out around the 1:15 mark while there’s a solo and the turntable is doing a solo of its own–or adding effects to the end of the solos.   And there’s a great moment around 2:30 where the turntable and trumpeter (Chay Flores) have a duel–all with a very cool, deep bassline underneath.  There’s a sensational break with a great cheer before the song starts again–with the crowd fully behind them now.

“One Thousand Million Eyes” is normally an instrumental song (as most of their songs are), but they have a vocalist Solange Prat to sing lyrics.  It’s interesting that the lyrics are in English since the band is from Guadalajara, Mexico and they speak only in Spanish (with subtitles!).   There’s some outstanding turntable  effects on this song–cool spacey sounds and what not.  I like Prat’s voice, but I’m digging the instrumental side more.

I love the way the music starts out with some cool sounds from the turntable.  And that thumping bass.

“Chapala Blues” is about a lake that’s near where they live.  It’s got a great bass riff to open–slow and loping-with some great atmospheric sounds from the turntable.  There’s even whale songs.  The middle of the song has a great drum “solo” (from Frankie Mares) which isn’t really a solo, just the drummer having a ball while the horns are playing quieter music.   Midway through, it gets very atmospheric with some cool synth sounds and a lone sax (from Chay Flores).

“Tequila Death” begins with some ticking clock sounds and a somewhat menacing, but then funky, bass line with a cool fuzzy effect on it).  Like the other songs it is fun and dancabale.  During the breaks they sample (on the turntable) the “one, two, tres, quatro” from “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs.  It’s a great set and I really hope I can see them live sometime.


[READ: April 3, 2017] “Signal

I enjoyed Lanchester’s previous story which was also about a very rich person in London.  In this story it’s not the protagonist who is rich, rather it is his old, dear friend. Although, “Michael wasn’t my oldest friend and he wasn’t my closest friend, but he was older than any of the ones who were closer and closer than any of the ones who were older, so he had a special status, as part of the furniture of my life, the kind of friend who when you’re asked how you met you have to think for a while to remember.”  I love that.

But the crux was that Michael was his richest friend–by a long shot.  The story begins with the narrator telling his children “You aren’t allowed to ask for the Wi-Fi password before you say hello,”  The kids point out that Uncle Mike is nice and won’t care.  And the dad says, “that that is true, it’s just not what you do.”  “You chat for a bit, and then you ask for the Wi-Fi password.  It’s just one of the rules.”

I love also that the narrator doesn’t exactly seem to know why Michael is so rich.  “He’d drifted through Cambridge doing something scientific–engineering or maths, I think it was.”  And then after “going off to try something a bit different…he had ascended to some new stratosphere of international wealth.”

And, since he and his family were genuine friends of Michael, they reaped the rewards of that lifestyle whenever they hung out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JEFF The Brotherhood-“Bone Jam” (2009).

My friend Andrew pointed me to this song after reading my write up about JEFF’s other song a few days ago.  I’m still not sure just who JEFF the Brotherhood is, but this is easily the most catchy song I’ve heard in ages.  I mean, the whole song is practically one long “oooh”.  And the parts that aren’t “oohs” are simply: “I’m gonna grind your bones to make my bread” and “How much money can we spend?”  This latter lyric is hilariously appropriate when paired with the cheap cheap cheap video that they’ve made. 

The song is simple, fuzzy guitars, three chords and a steady beat.  It’s free of pretension and complexity.  And it will stay with you all day and you’ll wonder why you’re just walking around going “oooooh.   oooohh.  ooooh”

Speaking of the video, I don’t think there’s anyone who looks less like a rock front man than the lead singer and guitarist of JEFF.  I don’t even know what his name is, but look at him.  His mustache makes Prince look hirsute.  Somehow it’s even more charming.  As is the fact that there’s only two of them (not including the guy playing the leaf blower). 

The JEFF package just gets better and better with each exposure.

[READ: January 6, 2012] “Expectations

Following hot on the heels of a broke family in the Ozarks who I didn’t think I’d care about, I get this story about a rich son a bitch London banker who I didn’t think I’d care about.

The story starts with Roger Yount trying to figure out if he’ll be getting £1,000,000 for his bonus this year.  “Oh, fuck you,” was my first thought.  The story seems to try to give us perspective on this guy and how he needs the million pound bonus because their huge house with £600,000 of additions and their £1,000,000 summer house simply cost a lot of money to keep up.  Especially since the million pound summer house is a bit too dowdy to go for the summer, so they still need a vacation spot. 

Why did I still keep reading this?

There was something about the prose.  It didn’t give sympathy for the man, but it also didn’t vilify him.  It just made him seem human.  Not a bad thing at all.  Plus at this point I figured the story had to end with a massive comeuppance.  I figured the comeuppance would be obvious and predictable and I was bound to be disappointed when it happened.  But I was still curious to see what the comeuppance would be–a poor person who makes him see the goodness of people at Christmas (bleah)?  OWS protestors (too topical)?  A bomb in the building (unexpected by possible)? What? (more…)

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