Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Primo Levi’ Category

SOUNDTRACK BEN HOWARD-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #245 (August 9, 2021).

I don’t really know who Ben Howard is.  he is not one of “The Bens” (that was Ben Folds, Ben Kweller and Ben Lee).  For this Tiny Desk (Home) Concert it’s just him and his guitars.  But the blurb suggests the album these songs are from is quite different.

Having spent time with Collections from the Whiteout, Ben Howard’s sonically adventurous fourth album, I was curious to see how he would adapt these songs to the Tiny Desk (home) concert format. So when the opening shot shows Ben in a room alone, an acoustic guitar in hand, it was both an “oh yeah!” and an “uh-oh” moment. Gone were all those textures that he, Aaron Dessner, and a load of talented musicians had worked on, but front and center was that delicate, reflective voice that I love. It’s a voice that, in the recent past, was often swarming in effects and buried in reverb.

Ben plays four songs.  The first, “Follies Fixtures” is on acoustic guitar.

So as Ben Howard opens his Tiny Desk with the album’s opening track, I found myself zeroing in on the oblique and painterly images of “Follies Fixtures”: “Walk with me to the burning spire. / We can count the dеad on Ender’s pyre. / The dusty towns whеre the number’s found / Don’t quite match the missing.”

This song reminds me of Jose Gonzales in this format.

Howard then switches to electric guitar for the rest of the songs.  He adds drum machine for “Far Out.”

“Thanks for having me and allowing me to play the slight variations of songs that I’m forced to settle with at the moment,” Ben says, and with that he kicks on the drum machine …. Watch those fingers on the guitar and hear that tone. “Far Out,” indeed.

His guitar playing is really something in this song, with soft chords and lot so harmonics as well as great use of the low note riffage in between.

“I I Forget Where We Were” is a moody song–he creates soft chords that swell as he sings.

He later premieres a new tune, “Oldest Trick In The Book.”

He laughs saying he just spent the last ten minutes tuning his guitar so we’ll be happy to know he’s in tune.

This song is the slowest with some really deep resonating bass notes (and no drum machine).  It’s fun watching hi play a solo and low notes at the same time with his finger picking style.

[READ: July 15, 2021] “Bear Meat”

This very short story was translated from the Italian by Alessandra Bastagli.

It begins with the comment that spending evenings in a mountain hut after a four- five- or six hour climb is pretty wonderful. The people you find there don’t speak much.  But these clumbers should not be confused with the ones who do speak a lot–hot shot clumbers, extreme climbers.  The adventurers may be worthy but this story is not about them.

The narrator arrived and there were several men there–eating and drinking.  Once the wine began flowing (at that altitude and temperature it is a metabolic necessity) they began talking about their initiation into serious climbing. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: JEANU MACROOY-“Birth of a New Age” (Netherlands Eurovision Entry 2021).

Eurovision 2021 is upon us.  It’s hard to really follow Eurovision in the States, but you can see highlights and most official entries online

I tend to think of Eurovision as over the top and campy.  But there are often many entries that are anthemic and inspirational.

This entry from Netherlands is one of these.  It starts quietly with a pulsing synth and Macrooy singing with a clean powerful voice.  After each line, the backing vocalists chany “Your rhythm is rebellion.”

Then like a choir, the voices sing

“Yu no man broko mi” over and over until the song resumes.

The phrase calls to his Surinamese roots and translates as “You can’t break me.”

I found the song and the video quite compelling.

UPDATE: I don’t know exactly what the judges vote on (the live performance only?), but I’m pretty astonished that this song came in 23rd.

[READ: May 10, 2021]  “Possession”

I found a stash of old David Sedaris pieces and since they’re all pretty old, they’re quite funny.

This essay starts in Paris and ends in the Anne Frank house.

Sedaris talks about how he and Hugh were looking for a new apartment in Paris.  They loved their current place, but the landlord promised it to his daughters.  Sure the girls were young and, you know, something could happen to them, but it was unlikely that David and Hugh would ever own their place.

Looking at apartments is like falling in love, but “buying one is like proposing on your first date and agreeing not to see each other until the wedding.”  David did not love their new place but High sure did.”  Maybe you’re confusing love with pity,” he told Hugh.

Three months after they moved in, they took a trip to Amsterdam, a place often recommended with the phrase, “You can get so fucked up there.”  They toured around and eventually came to the Anne Frank house. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACKACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.-Lord of the Underground: Vishnu and the Magic Elixir (2009).

A lot of AMT music sounds vaguely similar with Kawabata’s wild guitar noodling (and because they always play “Pink Lady Lemonade”) but this album really changes things up because Kawabata plays the bouzouki, saz and sitar which adds a Middle Eastern flavor to the proceedings.

There’s three songs on this album, one really short one, one really long one and one really really really long one.  The lineup is the same as other albums from this period, although the instrumentation has changed a bit:

  • Tsuyama Atsushi: monster bass, voice, acoustic guitar, alto recorder, flute, toy trumpet, kazoo, cosmic joker
  • Higashi Hiroshi: synthesizer, dancin’king
  • Shimura Koji: drums, latino cool
  • Kawabata Makoto: electric guitar, bouzouki, saz, sitar, organ, percussion, speed guru

“Eleking the Clay” is fourteen minutes long.  Kawabata plays a simple, fast, rocking riff on the bouzouki while Tsuyama Atsushi sings along.  At around five minutes Kawabata starts a wild solo while the rest of the band continues chugging along.  Near the end the keys take over and the bass starts going predictably wild.  It’s interesting to hear the familiar mixed with the new here.

“Sorcerer’s Stone of the Magi” is a short guitar piece at just under 4 minutes.  Acoustic guitar chords and a lead sitar play a bouncing melody while the singer sings along.  The track is full of bird song and chatter in the background.  A lovely pastoral piece.

“Vishnu and the Magic Elixir” is the monster song on this album at over 25 minutes long.  It starts off slowly with single notes on the sitar but the echoing notes almost give it a Western feel at the same time.  The trippy synth sounds make the song sound like Middle East meets the Old West in outer space.

Tsuyama starts adding in pig snorts and mocking laughter after and around 6 minutes some growling and singing are followed by the kazoo (!).  By around ten minutes the song starts to pick up the tempo with the bass really taking the lead and meandering around.  Kawabata’s solo starts to get intense around this time as well.  Then Tsuyama throws in some toy trumpet.  Things build and build and by 17 minutes it’s a full on wild freak out that lasts almost until the end of the song.  Although by 25 minutes the song stats to fade with echoing notes giving the song a proper ending.

And, yes, I don’t really know the difference between a bouzouki and a saz, so I could be wrong about what he’s playing.

[READ: May 1, 2021] “A Tranquil Star”

This very short story was translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.

The story concerns a star and its observer.  The star was a peaceful star and it was very big and very hot.  But words are meaningless on this scale, right?  Australia is very far, an elephant is very big, I can have a hot bath.

The thing was though, that the star was not so tranquil.  It was just hard to observe from earth.   Arab and Chinese astronomers were aware of the star, but Europeans were too busy with earthly pursuits to notice.  The Arab watched it for 30 years and watched how it performed differently at different times.

But when he died, the star took no notice. (more…)

Read Full Post »

815

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Crossing Waltz (2016).

Boris have put out (by my understanding) eight live albums.  As with most of their releases, they’re not all easy to find.  I happened to get this one because they were selling it at the show I was at (many of their releases seem to be only for sale at the merch table).  This one is from their own Fangs Anal Satan label.  It was released in 2016 but was recorded sometime around 2011.

It happens that this era is one that I know best (they put out three albums on the same day and they are all still available) so this is a fun live album for me since it’s fun to hear the distinctions and their ability to translate them in a live setting.

The disc opens with a two-minute intro–sirens from the opening of “Heavy Rocks 2011” which leads into “Riot Sugar.”  The song is heavy–it rocks out and is full of Atsuo’s whoops and yells–the sign of a real rocking song.  “8” is a song I didn’t know.  It starts with a lot of gong and has some great falsetto vocals.

“Statement” is great to hear live because it’s cool that they can play the songs just like on record.  Not that it sounds like the record exactly, but that they can recreate the music live–and keep it all catchy too.

Then things slow down for a few songs from Wata.  “Attention Please” is quiet and silky with cool guitar and effects.  I love the way Wata delivers the quiet, whispered lyrics.  It’s followed by “Party Boy.”  “Party Boy” appears on two records.  It’s hard to know which “version” this is but this one is slinky, dancey and heavy at the same time (we’ll say Attention Please, since there’s not much synth)..

“Flare” is from a 7″ and it is very heavy.  Then it’s back to Wata singing the really catchy “Spoon” with heavy drums.  The first disc ends with the 16 minute “Missing Pieces” (longer than the album by a few minutes).  Like a good epic, it starts slowly.  After three minutes Atsuo introduces a lot of drums and then the bass and guitar roar for about a minute.  It fades to near quiet once again.  There’s a minute or so of just vocals before the guitars come back, this time with soloing while Takeshi is singing.  Around six minutes in it turns to noise, noise, noise–both guitars on feedback and scraping and the drummer going bananas.  The band stops on a dime for complete silence and then takes off again–noise and more noise.  There’s feedback and gongs and more feedback.  And then at 11 and a half minutes the drums return–continuing through to the end.

Disc two opens with “Window Shopping” which is all about fuzz and buzz, full of Atsuo’s yeahs and a crazy wild solo at the end from Wata. 

Then they move back to some older albums for 2 songs.  “1970” comes from 2002’s Heavy Rocks album (the orange one).  It is full of bass rumble.  It leads to the classic “Pink” with gongs as the transition.  Even all of these years later, these songs are full of power.

“Alierion” is the longer version.  It starts slow and quiet and builds and builds, getting heavier for 12 or so minutes. The last minute is a solo piano melody, a dramatic departure for them.  Then the sirens come in again for “Looprider.”  “Looprider” is eight catchy minutes of shoegazey fun.

The by now standard closing of “Farewell” ends the show.  Hearing those opening notes live was great and it is great here.  The song sounds terrific.

One of the things about Boris live is that their vocals are never clear.  Perhaps if you understand Japanese the vocals are more obvious, but it feels like they may be something of an afterthought, especially live. The band is all about the sonic experience and the vocals, the voice, is just another piece of that.

1.1 Intro  2:35
1.2 Riot Sugar — Heavy Rocks (2011)  4:53
1.3 8 — Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol 1 (2009) 4:03
1.4 Statement — Smile (2008)  3:49
1.5 Attention Please — Attention Please (2011)  6:34
1.6 Party Boy — New Album (2011)  3:55
1.7 Flare — Asobi Seksu x Boris 7″ (2012)  4:24
1.8 Spoon — Attention Please (2011)  4:57
1.9 Missing Pieces — Heavy Rocks (2011)  16:01
2.1 Window Shopping — Heavy Rocks (2011)  5:58
2.2 1970 — Heavy Rocks (2002)  5:03
2.3 Pink — Pink (2006)  4:52
2.4 Ailerion — Heavy Rocks (2011)  13:52
2.5 Looprider — New Album (2011)  8:18
2.6 Farewell — Pink (2006)  7:37

[READ: February 8, 2016] “Quaestio de Centauris”

I was sure that I had read or posted about stories from Primo Levi before 2016, but I see no evidence of it.

Perhaps I have never read him, just heard of him.  I don’t know if this story is anything like what he typically writes, but it was a pretty unexpected story topic (continuing with the theme of this issue, apparently).

The story was translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee.  And, as one might decipher from the title, the story is about centaurs.

The narrator says that his father kept a centaur in the barn.  Although he admonished the boy not to bother it, the bot and the centaur, Trachi, became friends.  Trachi even allowed him to ride on his back from time to time. (more…)

Read Full Post »