Archive for the ‘Octavio Paz’ Category

alansSOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Do Make Say Think [CST005] (1999).

cst005web This album was self-released in 1997, but then the guys at Constellation took it and released it in a beautiful package in 1999.  And Constellation did it right: CD gatefold jacket made from 100lb. textured uncoated cardstock with foil-embossed text and window cut.  Three different two-sided duotone insert cards can be interchanged to show through the front cover window cut. Snazzy!

So this album was recorded in two different locations and it feels a bit more like  compilation of their songs than an album proper.  This doesn’t detract from the music at all, it’s just not as cohesive as their later releases.

“1978” has a raw sound.  It builds slowly, with waves of sorta static getting slowly louder for the first minute. And then the drums kick in. They sound very “live” and crisp. There’s a jazzy pattern accompanied by an unusual bass line.  At 3 minutes a big guitar riff breaks up the droning feeling as it rocks out and then disappears just as quickly.  There’s some saxophone and trippy headphone panning going on, too. This sets in motion a more funky bass line that runs like a lead instrument through the proceedings. There’s some noise bashing around at 8 minutes and a even wah wahed guitar solo at 9.  These occasional disruptions give an interesting melodic sense to this otherwise droney (in a good way) 10-minute song.

“Le’espalace”  feels a little warmer.  It opens with some analog synth trippy sounds and a pretty guitar riff. This is a lovely song that meanders around. The song gets more dense with a synth taking over the guitar line and another synth playing a contrasting melody, too.

“If I Only…”  is 7 minutes long.  It also has a rawer feel.  It’s more staccato with keyboard notes propelling the song forward. There’s a trippy middle section with a nice drum breakdown. It stops at about 5 & a half minutes and resumes with a fuller sound as it rides to the end.  “Highway 420” continues with that more raw sound.  It opens with washes of synths like Tangerine Dream or something.  There’s also a slick guitar line that begins about 3 minutes in.  It’s all rather atmospheric.

Do Make Say Think have always had a bit of jazz at their roots.  That’s evident in “Dr. Hooch” which has jazzy cymbals and slow atmospheric guitars.  About half way through, a wild synth riff comes in and takes over the song for a minute or so before returning to the atmospheric sound.

“Disco & Haze” is a warmer song that slowly builds with a spacey keyboard section.  Around 3 minutes in (of 9) a wah-wah’d guitar takes over—seemingly unrelated.   At 5 and a half minutes the song crashes into a big noisy “chorus,” probably the loudest thing on the record. There’s a noisy skronking sax solo to accompany this as well and it ends with washes of keyboards.   It really sounds like nothing else on the record.

“Onions” is only 90 seconds long.   It’s a simple keyboard riff with echo and little variation.  It’s an odd inclusion but maybe serves as a palette cleanser before the nearly 20 minute final song.  “The Fare to Get There” is warm with spacey keyboard washes and occasional woodwinds–there’s even flute at the end.  It’s 20 minutes long so just sit back and let it unfold over you.  Around 5 minutes in, eerie and spooky drums begin.  Then there’s some reverbed guitar chords and echoed notes which keep the song going.  About three-quarters of the way through, they add a simple guitar riff that continues for several minutes. With a couple of minutes left the song introduces some flutes as it mellows it way to close.

This is a pretty impressive debut.  The band knows the sound they are going for and they definitely achieve it.  Later records are more consistent (and consistently better), but this (especially the opening track) is a great place to start with this band.

[READ: February 7, 2016] Alan’s War

One of the things that First Second hoped for in their ten-year anniversary was that people might read books that they wouldn’t normally.  And boy was this ever one.  The title didn’t sound very appealing to me–I don’t really like war stories all that much.  And frankly I didn’t even know what to expect from the story, really.  Certainly not what I got!

This is the story of a man named Alan Cope.  And the origin of the story is as fascinating as the story itself (almost).  Turns out that Emmanuel Guibert met Alan Cope in the street in France.  Guibert asked the older for directions in June of 1994. Cope was 69, Gilbert was 30. They struck up a conversation.  And soon after, Cope began telling of his experiences in World War II.  What happened to him during and after the war and why this American solider now living in France.

Guibert asked if he could draw the stories that Cope was telling him and Cope said yes.  So this is a story of World War II but it is unlike any story I have ever read.  There is very little in the way of “familiar” WWII stuff in it.  Cope wasn’t in any of the major battles, he never came under heavy fire.  Rather, Cope had a fairly easy war, but he had a ton of stories that were interesting, funny, sometime unbelievable. And the number of famous people he encountered is pretty surprising.

I enjoyed this story so much.  On a side note, My father was in WWII and he also had a fairly easy war, although he was in the Pacific, he was on a small island that saw no action..  I wouldn’t say he enjoyed the war, but he came out with good experience and good friends, which is what Cope did, too.  My fathers stories were far less amazing than Cope’s, but it goes to show that everyone has interesting stories and that no amount of film or history channel commemoration will ever cover everyone’s story. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-“Fool Metal Jack” (2013).

Iosmut have known about Os Mutantes for years.  I never knew anything about them (and never really understood their name–although now that I have been working with Brazilian books at work I realize that their name is Portuguese for The Mutants (it was the Os that always threw me off).  I had no idea that a) they’d been around since the 60s and were part of the psychedelic scene or b) that they were still around (after some breakups and with a largely new lineup) or c) that they sang in English (which they do on several songs on this album) or d) that their new album kicked so much ass.

The album is called Fool Metal Jack and it is a fantastic mixture of fast heavy rock, Brazilian traditional sounds, what I assume are Native Brazilian chants and a heavy dose of weirdness.  All wrapped up in an anti-war stance, like on this track “Fool Metal Jack.”

A creepy, distorted  bassline introduces this song which sounds like the guy from Gogol Bordello singing a Tom Waits march.  It’s about a soldier in the middle of a war.  The bridge means more voices come in, bringing in an even more disorienting sound.  And the chorus chanted “Yes.  No More War” completes the song.  By the time the wailing guitar solo comes in the chants of “This is the war of hell” have even more impact.

This stomping song was a great introduction to this band who I now need to explore further.

[READ: April 18. 2013] The Last Interview

I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Last Interview” and since I had always intended to read Bolaño’s I was delighted to see that our library had it.  Bolaño is a fascinating interview subject because you never really know what he is going to say.  There are even serious questions about the veracity of his life story which many people believe he fabricated for more dramatic effect.

But the one thing that is absolutely consistent about Bolaño is that he always praises writers whom he respects (and will trash those he doesn’t, although that seems to come more from the interviewer’s  instigation (not that he needs a lot).    So the last interview that he did is the one from Mexican Playboy which has been collected in Between Parentheses.  But the other three are earlier and, it seems, a little more “truthful” or at least less naughty-seeming.

What’s fascinating about this book is that the introduction by Marcela Valdes (“Alone Among the Ghosts”) is over 30 pages long!  The article originally appeared in The Nation on Dec 8, 2008 (read it here).  As such it’s not an introduction to this book, it’s introduction for English readers to Bolaño circa 2666.  And it’s a great read.  It is primarily about 2666, which Valdes has read many times.  She goes into interesting depth about the story but mostly she relates it to Bolaño’s own experiences while writing the book.  It focuses especially on his research about the real murders.  His interest was genuine and he sought help from a reporter who was doing genuinely decent work (ie. not accepting the word of the state about what was going on).

Bolaño has said he wished he was a detective rather than a writer, which explains The Savage Detectives and Woes of the True Policeman.  But Valdes also points out how almost all of his shorter novels have some kind of detective work involved–seeking someone who is lost or hiding.  The article was really great and is worth a read for anyone interested in Bolaño, whether you have read him or not. (more…)

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