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Archive for the ‘William Trevor’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-“warpath” (2015).

Back in 2015, Boris released three albums on the same day all under the “new noise literacy” banner: “urban dance” “warpath” and “asia” [according to their label numbers, this is the order they go in].

All three records are experiments in abrasive noise.  Despite the adorable child on the covers, these records will scare children.

This album has four songs, all of which are variations on drone.

“Midgard Schlange” is 11 minutes of heavy distorted chords played slowly, as they ring out and rumble.  Its a a sort of seven-note melody but stretched out impossibly long.  At around 5 and a half minutes the electronics start to fade in from far away.  The first time I listened to the song I thought an airplane was flying overhead as these sounds came in.  These sounds eventually resolve into chords that acts as a kind of counterpoint to the guitar drones. It’s relatively fast tempoed for a drone song, but it still long and stretched out.

“Behind the Owl” continues the drone, but in a different way. There aren’t pummeling guitar chords that ring out.  Rather, they are just quietly building distortion waves, pulsing in and out.  It’s rather understated, a low menace that seems to cycle slowly between two notes.

The wonderfully named “Dreamy Eyed Panjandrum”starts with a kind of staticky electronic pulsing with occasional glitchy percussion sounds.  It sounds like somebody doing light construction for about 8 minutes.

The guitars come back on “Voo-vah,” and ominous ten and a half minutes of dark rumbling.  This time, the guitars are low and ringing, with waves of pulsing bass and stretched out chords. Around 8 minutes some higher-pitched notes come in, almost sounding like ghosts in the night.  Closing credits to a nightmare.

The album is credited to: takeshi: guitar, bass / wata: guitar & echo / atsuo: electronics.

[READ: November 5, 2020] “Sitting with the Dead”

I really enjoyed the way this story revealed its details.

It begins with an old, sickly man asking to go out to his barn. It was winter and he wore only his pajamas and a winter coat.  A week later, the doctor assured his wife Emily that that’s not what killed him–it didn’t even hasten the inevitable.

At half past seven on the day he died, the Geraghty sisters knocked on her door.  They were two middle-aged women who sat with the dying.  They were known in the area although Emily didn’t know them personally.  They had heard that her husband was dying and they came to sit with him, but they were too late.

Emily laughed to herself at how much he would not have wanted these two there to sit wit him.  He was not religious and he would have said that their sitting with him had an ulterior motive. (more…)

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york200SOUNDTRACK: CHASTITY BELT-“Ann’s Jam,” “Elena” and “Drown” (2019)

chazzyWhen Chastity Belt first arrived they posted some gnarly band photos and wre pretty aggressive musically.  Their No Regerts album was brash.  Jagged music, pointed lyrics and rather harsh vocals.

Over the course of five years they have mellowed out quite a bit.  Not necessarily lyrically, although there is some of that, but musically it’s almost a different band. Their guitars are tastefully echoed and the vocals are really pretty and delicate.

The music on these three tracks (the only ones streaming on bandcamp) is practically shoegazey with the hazy vocals and ringing guitars.

There’s some really nice harmonies on “Elena”–and when the two distinct vocals lines intertwine, it sounds great.

“Drown” opens with a really catchy guitar part–it’s a bit faster and sounds a little more like their last two albums, but continuing with the softer vocals.

The only problem with these songs is that they tend to lack a bit of the dynamics that their earlier songs had.  We don’t want them to be too chaste, after all.

[READ: September 20, 2019] “Traditions”

This story is about an English school.  It opens with seven boys: Hambrose, Forrogale, Accrington, Olivier, Macluse, Newcombe and Napier.  Each boy has discovered that his tame jackdaw–birds they had taught to talk (as well as a jackdaw can)–had been killed.

The boys suspect Leggett.  Although Olivier believes it is one of the “girls,” one of the maids who lived in the nearby village and attended to the boys.

Despite the birds, they must go on with their day.  This included Olivier going before the headmaster.  The headmaster was disappointed because Olivier had failed to come up to scratch in any of the sciences he was studying.  When the headmaster asked if Olivier had ambitions in that direction, he had to admit that no, he was just curious about the sciences.

The headmaster replied

You indulged a curiosity.  You indulged yourself.  That can be dangerous.

But when Olivier offered to drop out of science, the headmaster said that would be dangerous too.

Olivier quickly forgot about that and resumed thinking about the dead birds.  He was more convinced than every that it was a girl.  Although the other boys had found Leggett and beat him up (and then didn’t think he had done it).

There had been other traditions of strange things happening at the school–bells ringing in the night, things going missing.  But no one was ever caught.

Olivier was certain it was a particular girl, a maid who was no longer a girl, really.  It seemed like she was watching him as well.

No one–no previous headmaster–knows that this maid, who had been with the school for a long time, had been part of a tradition at the school “supplying to boys who now were men, a service that had entered the unofficial annals.”

I have to assume this is an excerpt from a novel, because as a short story it was very unsatisfying.  So many characters introduced, the whole science thing, and so much unspoken about the maids.  But it doesn’t appear to be from the novel he published in 2002.  So I don’t know what to think.

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS WITH MERZBOW-Rock Dream (2007).

Rock Dream was recorded live in November 2006 at Tokyo’s Earthdom festival.  It is a mix of the heaviness of Boris and the noise of Merzbow.  And it is lauded as a spectacular live document.

The Austin Chronicle discussed the album in their overview of Boris’ career, declaring it “definitive live document, an impossibly dense double album that touches down on nearly every point of their career, from Dronevil to Smile’s contorted stairway to heaven (“Flower Sun Rain”), with Merzbow’s electronic manipulations stitching it all together like connective scar tissue.”
In a retrospective review Tiny Mix Tapes, declared Rock Dream to be “not just the best album Boris ever made, but also one of the finest live albums I’ve ever heard.” and that “It’s incredible then that someone recorded Boris and Merzbow that night, because for two hours they got to be the best band on the planet.”

And what live show that opens with a 35 minute song wouldn’t be fantastic?  “Feedbacker” starts quietly with just guitar and Merzbow’s effects.  It has an almost spaghetti western feel to it with all the reverb.  Unsurprisingly, there’s moments throughout the 35 minutes where things dramatically change.  At 6 minutes there’s loud ringing guitars.  At 9 minutes things slow down and then slowly build back up with swells of music from the guitars, keys and effects. At 20 minutes, muted vocals come in and then grow louder.  It feels like it’s building to an end but it turns into faster guitars and a lot of noise.  By 31 minutes things have slowed down heading towards an ending which is primarily Merzbow’s pulsing sounds.  (And there’s so much more going on in that half an hour).

These sounds segue into “Blackout” full of thrashing guitars, crashing cymbals and Merzbow’s noise.  This segues into a song that I gather is only heard here: “Evil Stack” which features a lot of Merzbow’s knob twiddling and noise making and a lot of feedback as well.

This all segues into “Rainbow,”  a far more mellow song that opens with bass harmonics and simple drum beat with Wata’s quiet vocals.  It’s a slinky cool song with a mellow guitar solo.  Merzbow throws in some interesting sounds and and mild noises throughout.

If Disc one showcased their more expansive sound, Disc two opens with a bunch of really short fast loud songs all from Pink.

First off is the raging punk blast of “Pink.”  It is all-out thrash with a lot of yelling from Atsuo and wailing solos from Wata.  It’s followed by the 2 and a half minute rager “Woman on the Screen” with a great punk riff, lots of Atsuo’s screams and of course Merzbow putting a wall of distorrted noise over the top.  The trio concludes with the two minute  “Nothing Special.”  The punky blasts continue with “Ibitsu.”   It’s not from Pink but it’s just as fast.

Things slow down somewhat with “A Bao A Qu.”  It is 4 and a half minute with a lot of squealing feedback and thunderous drumming.  The final four songs return to that epic style–they are alternately 13 minutes or 8 minute long.

“The Evilone Which Sobs” slows things down with more of that reverbed spaghetti-western style guitar.  There’s squeals of feedback, slow plucked guitar and Merzow as this 13 minute song gets under way.  After three minutes the loudest guitar and bass imaginable come crashing through the melody.  The rest of the song is full on loud drone and feedback.  It all slows down for their surprisingly catchy of cover of Pyg’s “Flower Sun Rain,” which sounds just as good live as on record–including Wata’s wailing solo.

The final two songs return to Pink.  “Just Abandoned My-self” runs over 13 minutes and opens with a scream from Atsuo, wailing guitars from Wata and vocals from Takeshi.  The song barely lets up for seven minutes, and when it finally changes pace, it’s more for the guitars to do some e-bow working while Atsuo continues to pound away.  The last four minute are those droning chords with Merzbow making some really interesting sounds while the band plays on.  Merzbow ends the song with a kind of looping siren that leads into the show ending with a great version of “Farewell.”

Unlike the one from Crossing Waltz, Merzbow’s presence make a pretty big difference in the dynamic of “Farewell.”  The band sounds terrific and it’s a fantastic take on this by now iconic song.

For sure this live set isn’t for everyone–it’s loud, there’s some uncomfortable moments–but it really captures a band at full power.  And as with most Boris releases, it had a different cover in Japan.

Disc one   Total length:       49:58
“Feedbacker” (Originally from Boris at Last: -Feedbacker-) 35:05
“Blackout” (Originally from Pink) 5:19
“Evil Stack” 5:04
“Rainbow” (Originally from Rainbow) 4:30
Disc two  Total length:       60:32
“Pink” (Originally from Pink) 4:14
“Woman on the Screen” (Originally from Pink) 2:37
“Nothing Special” (Originally from Pink) 2:14
“Ibitsu” (Originally from Akuma no Uta) 3:35
“A Bao A Qu” (Originally from Sound Track from Film “Mabuta no Ura”) 4:35
“The Evilone Which Sobs” (Originally from Dronevil) 13:41
“Flower Sun Rain” (PYG cover, later released on Smile) 8:04
“Just Abandoned My-self” (Originally from Pink) 13:21
“Farewell” (Originally from Pink) 8:11

[READ: February 21, 2017] “Mrs Crasthorpe”

This story revealed itself slowly and in interesting ways.

We meet Mrs Crasthorpe in the first paragraph.  She is humiliated because her husband’s funeral has just been poorly attended.  It was also, by his own design, in a small, unassuming, frankly embarrassing cemetery.  Mrs Crasthorpe is 59.  Her husband was 72.  Yes, she had married him for money and yet it didn’t really make her a more fulfilled person.  She had cheated on her husband, but he didn’t seem to mind or care.

She had felt herself to be always a rosebud, claiming to be 45 when she was late nearly 60.  She also told no one she had a son.

Then we shift to following Etheridge, a man whose wife is near death.  He is tender to her, caring, but she doesn’t have long to live. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DJ PREMIERE & THE BADDER BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #644 (August 21, 2017).

This is a fascinating Tiny Desk Concert. DJ Premiere plays turntables–scratching records and hyping the audience.  But he is accompanied by a live band: a five string bass, a trumpeter, a trombonist and a drummer.

Who is Premiere?  Three-time Grammy winner DJ Premier, one of the definitive architects of New York hip-hop, brought a new type of life to NPR’s Tiny Desk: our first concert helmed by a DJ.

The set list rested on the undeniable footprint of Preemo’s classics, but this was more than just another DJ mix. His touring outfit, The Badder Band, overlaid Premier’s blends with an undulating electric bass courtesy of Brady Watt, a steady accent on the one from drummer Lenny “The Ox” Reece and boisterous horns from Mark Williams and Jonathan Powell.

I don’t know much about DJ Premiere, although I have learned that he was part of Gang Starr (which explains why there is so much Gang Starr represented here).  He medleys these songs together in a 24 minute mixtape

  • KRS-One – “KRS-One Attacks”
  • KRS-One – “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know”
  • Das Efx – “Real Hip-Hop”
  • Nas – “Nas Is Like”
  • Jeru The Damaja – “Da Bichez”
  • Gang Starr – “Step In The Arena”
  • Gang Starr feat. M.O.P. – “1/2 & 1/2”
  • Royce Da 5’9 – “Boom”
  • Gang Starr – “Moment Of Truth”

So he spins the discs and includes some of the raps from the records.  Especially the ones where he himself is mentioned:

Clap your hands everybody, if you got what it takes
‘Cause I’m KRS and I’m on the mic, and Premier’s on The Breaks
(from “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know”)

there’s also this line

If you don’t know me by now I doubt you’ll ever know me
I never won a Grammy, I won’t win a Tony
[Premiere points to himself and holds up three fingers at the Grammy line]

He gets the Tiny Desk crowd hyped with them repeating “Hell yeah, fuck yeah, the real hip hop.”

He does a lot of scratching and repeating with Das EFX

And he features some of these great lines:

Yo, you niggedy know that I’m back man
You’re wack man, I eat a rapper like I’m Pacman
I briggedy bring it, straight from the cella
Fo’ realla, packin more hits than Lou Pinella

It’s me the Nigga wit G’z
The B double O K-S
So say yes I’ll bust your caliber
When I pop shit and rock shit like Metallica

The original song is a simple slap bass line, but here the live band adds a cool funky bass line and live drums.  It’s really cool watching how he does all his turntable work

As it switches to Nas, the horns come in, playing a jazzy riff with some nifty bass underneath.  Premiere hypes everybody up Tiny Desk WHAT! Don’t be no motherfucking bitchez (from the Jeru the Damaja song).  There’s a ripping trumpet solo followed by an interesting trombone solo

Gang Starr gets a pretty lengthy rap from “Step in the Arena.”  There’s a pause and then the violins from “1/2 & 1/2” kick in.  Premiere air violins (poorly) before a shout out to M.O.P.  He raps the end line with the record.

He does a very long scratching intro to Royce Da 5’9’s “Boom” and the drummer spins his cymbal.  Premier adds some clicking sounds from another record.  He gets another name check in this song:

Me and Premier, we kind of the same in ways
We both speak with our hands in dangerous ways

He seems to be adding samples to Gang Starr’s final song.  He’s pressing buttons and making sounds but I don’t know if they are part of the original or not.

When the rapping is done, they jam for two minutes.  Premier plays some samples, the bass rumbles away, the drums keep a fast beat and the horns kick in to rock out to the end.

This is a really fun show and I could totally see how much fun a live DJ show like this would be if you knew the songs he was mixing.

[READ: June 25, 2017] “The Piano Teacher”

This is a short piece about a piano teacher, Miss Nightingale.

She was in her early fifties and was a quiet beauty.  Although single, she felt she was fortunate.  She might have married but is involved with a married man instead.

But mostly she is happy that she can make a living teaching students to play piano.

The boy with her now was a delightful student, eager and talented with a bit of cockiness.  Although he was always silent.  He seemed shy somehow–never prattling on and she couldn’t understand why he had been moved through several teachers already. (more…)

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dec15SOUNDTRACK: CAVEMAN-Tiny Desk Concert #207 (April 10, 2012).

caveman Bob Boilen really likes Caveman.  He picked their 2011 album as one of his favorites of the year.

I find their music to be absolutely fine.  But I feel like I’m missing the pop hooks–perhaps it’s different in this stripped down session.  Two guitars bass keys and drums.  The band plays four songs.  “My Time” is a poppy bouncy song.  “Easy Water” is moody with lots of shimmering guitars.

It turns out that the guitarist Jimmy Carbonetti has a shop in the East Village called Cobra Guitars. He made all of the band’s guitars.  Each one is built one at a time.  So there’s a nice plug for the shop.

“Old Vampire” has ringing guitars.  It’s a fun instrumental jam with the singer playing drums along with the drummer.  This song segues into “Old Friend,” another shimmering echoing song.

I really like the sounds the band has–their gentle echoing guitars sound great.  And the singer’s voice fits quite well.  The song even have some catchy spots, but there’s nothing dynamic about them for me to really latch onto.

[READ: March 16, 2016] “The Woman of the House”

The thing that I didn’t like about this story at first proved to be one of its strongest assets by the time I reached the end.

I found the writing to be stiff and rather unwelcoming. It was almost as if the author was trying to keep you out.  I didn’t care for that, but I see how well it worked for the underlying theme of the story.

The plot is pretty straightforward.  It opens on an old man in a wheelchair.  To younger men have come to his house and have offered to paint it.  He haggles with them–gives them a hard time–but they remain stone-faced and silent until he finally agrees.  He asks if they are Polish (the story is set in Ireland) and they nod.

They are not Polish, but it doesn’t matter, they can be if it will serve them.  The man knows that Polacks are good Catholics, which is why he agrees to their work. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_01_14_13Mattotti.inddSOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-Deftones (2003)

defTypically when a band has a self titled album in  the middle of their career a change is taking place–a re-imagining, perhaps or a return to roots.  Deftones is something of a return to roots.  Since I loved White Pony’s diversity so much that’s a little disappointing for me, and yet while there aren’t as many interesting sonic ideas, the songwriting is still top notch and there are some really catchy and clever ideas too.  The first song, “Hexagram” is a very heavy (and very screamy) song.  And although the guitars during the verse are bright and ringing (nods to alt rock) this song is all about being heavy (the vocals seems like Chino Moreno’s throat is literally shredding as he songs).  “Needles and Pins” has a cool complex drum patter (Abe Cunningham, fabulous) and the guitars (Stephen Carpenter, also fabulous) are staggered and interesting.  And when the bass really comes in on counterpoint (Chi Cheng, doing some amazing stuff on the bass), the song is far more complex than the screamed heavy chorus might indicate.

“Minerva” has all of the trappings of a hit–a big chorus in a major key, and great verses.  And yet, the song’s production is very claustrophobic (it kind of has a Tool feel).  That doesn’t detract from the song at all, but it’s interesting that they would take something that could have easily been huge and yet made it a little less user friendly.  “Good Morning Beautiful” has some really heavy guitars (especially in the chorus) but the vocals are kind of soaring here–more of that contrast adding up to something wonderful.

After the heavy onslaught of these songs, “Deathblow” slows things down.  The guitar and bass are slow and kind of stretched out(and sound great together).  They really let Chino’s voice show off.  “When Girls Telephone Boys” is a heavy blast from the start.  And like a lot of these songs the distortion might actually be a little too much–it kind of makes the song less pleasant than it might be–which is obviously intentional.  “Battle-axe” opens with a mellow guitar intro (not unlike Metallica’s “One”) but the verses immediately introduce the heavy guitars again.

And yet, just as this albums seems like it will be all heavy and relentless, the band throws in “Lucky You” a song with electronic trip hop drums and effects.  It is a creative song and quite interesting, it just seems so odd to throw this in almost all the way at the end of the disc.  It stays moody throughout with layers of vocals and guitars.  But “Bloody Cape” snaps you out of that with a pummeling guitar intro, although as with White Pony, the verses open up with some interesting guitar sounds making this song more than it seems at first.  But make no mistake, this is a punishing, pummeling song by the end.  “Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event” throws another curveball, though. It opens with a slow piano riff and stays as a slow ballad (complete with gentle percussion and washes of sound).

The disc ends with “Moana” probably the most conventional (which is not a bad thing) song on the record.  It doesn’t have the heavy downtuned riffs, just big guitars and Chino’s whispering voice.  So in some ways this album is a disappointment–especially coming after the experiments of White Pony.  And yet the album is not un-experimental it is simply experimenting within a much smaller genre pallete.  I’d read that it seemed like this album came before White Pony, and it does, as if they were stepping back from their crazier impulses.  But the quality of the songwriting is till strong.

[READ: February 28, 2013] “The Women”

I had started this story last month and then lost the magazine.  I thought that maybe I could pick up where I left off, but it turned out I only remembered the part about the two women, not the main character, so I had to start over again.

The story is about Cecilia Normanton who grew up in the 1908s with her father but didn’t know her mother.  Mr Normanton and his wife had a happy, laughter-filled marriage for two years and then she was gone (which in this case means she left–not that she died).  The first section of the story talks a lot about Cecilia in her daily life–she was very pretty for her age but also very naive and she was permitted a rather carefree life.

Until she was sent to boarding school.  Which she hated at first.  Then she grew to like it and her father was relieved about that.  The school is nice, she is well treated and she makes good friends   Although she hates being forced to go to the field hockey games–especially since her least favorite person is on the team (and the team never loses).

At one game, two older women are watching–Cecilia noticed them at one previous game as well.  She can’t figure out who they are–they’re not former students, they’re not for the other team, their presence is weird.  And at that game they almost interact when Cecilia drops her watch and the women narrowly avoid stepping on it, but really there is no connection.

Nevertheless, the narrative follows the women as they return from the game by train.  We learn about their lives and their history together–they used to work together and call each other by their last names.  (more…)

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