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bothfleshSOUNDTRACK: SIGUR RÓS-Von brigði [Recycle Bin] (1998).

recycleAfter releasing their first album, Sigur Rós was approached by Icelandic musicians to remix the album. And thus came Recycle Bin.  I realized too late that I really just don’t like remix albums all that much–they’re mostly just faster drums plopped on top of existing songs.  And such is the case here.  Despite the interesting musical pedigrees of the remixers, there’s nothing anywhere near as interesting as on Von itself.  There are ten tracks, but only 5 songs.

”Syndir Guðs” gets two remixes:

Biogen keeps the bass but adds some more drumlike sounds.

Múm removes the bass, adds some wild drums and trippy textures and reduces the 7 minutes to 5.  It is quite pretty but very far from the original.

“Leit að lífi” gets three remixes

Plasmic takes a spacey 3 minute wordless noodle and turns it into a heavy fast dance song with speedy drums, big bass notes and with spacey sounds.

Thor brings in some fast skittery drums and keeps the spacey sounds (which sound sped up).  And of course bigger bass noises.

Sigur Rós recycle their own song into a dance song by adding funky bass and drums.

“Myrkur” gets two remixes.  the original is a fast-paced groovy track.

Ilo begins it as a spacey non-musical sounding piece.  After two minutes they add a beat of very mechanical-sounding drums.  It’s probably the most interesting remix here.

Dirty-Bix adds big, slow drums.  It keeps the same melody and vocals as the original but totally changes the rhythm and texture of the song, (removing the guitar completely).

The remaining three songs get one remix each.

The original “18 Sekúndur Fyrir Sólarupprás” is 18 seconds of silence.  Curver turns it into “180 Sekúndur Fyrir Sólarupprás” and makes a muffled drum beat and some other samples from the album, I think.  It constantly sounds like it is glitching apart until the end where it practically disintegrates–an interesting remix of silence.

“Hún Jörð” 7 min Hassbræður increases the drums and adds a more buzzsaw guitar sound and makes the vocals stand out a bit more.

“Von” has delicate strings and Jónsi voice.  The remix by Gusgus adds low end bass and drums making it a thumping rather than soaring track.

I prefer the original, but I much prefer their next album to the first one.

[READ: end of October to early November 2013]  original articles that comprise Both Flesh and Not

As I mentioned last week, I decided to compare the articles in Both Flesh and Not with the original publications to see what the differences were.  I had done this before with A Supposedly Fun Thing… and that was interesting and enlightening (about the editing process).

This time around the book has a lot more information than the original articles did.  Although as I come to understand it, the original DFW submitted article is likely what is being printed in the book with all of the editing done by the magazine (presumably with DFW’s approval).  So basically, if you had read the original articles and figured you didn’t need the book, this is what you’re missing.

Quite a lot of the changes are word choice changes (this seems to belie the idea that DFW approved the changes as they are often one word changes).  Most of the changes are dropped footnotes (at least in one article) or whole sections chopped out (in others).

For the most part the changes were that the book version added things that were left out or more likely removed from the article.  If the addition in the book is more than a sentence, I only include the first few words as I assume most readers have the book and can find it for themselves.  The way to read the construct below is that most of the time the first quote is from the original article.  The second quote is how it appears in Both Flesh and Not.  At the end of each bullet, I have put in parentheses the page in BFAN where you’ll find it.  I don’t include the page number of the article.  And when I specifically mention a footnote (FN 1, for example), I am referring to the book as many times the articles drop footnotes and they are not always in sync.

Note: I tried most of the time to put quotes around the text, but man is that labor intensive, so if I forgot, it’s not meant to be anything significant. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: COLIN STETSON-Live at All Tomorrow’s Parties, October 4, 2011 (2011).

In addition to playing SXSW, Colin Stetson also played All Tomorrow’s Parties, and NPR was there.  Unlike with SXSW, this set appears to be full length (about 50 minutes–which is a pretty amazing amount of time for him to blow that horn).  Like SXSW (and the album) Stetston starts with “Awake on Foreign Shores” and “Judges.”  What I love about this recording is that after Stetson finishes “Judges” a guy in the audience shouts (in a voice of total amazement) “That shit was off the hook!”  And he is right.  It’s not even worth me going into how amazing Steston is once again (check previous posts for  that), but man, just look at the size of that horn he’s playing (seriously, click on the link to see it bigger).

Stetson plays a few more songs from New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges like “The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man” (which is outstanding) and “A Dream of Water” (which works without Laurie Anderson, although he does say he’s sorry she’s not there).  He also introduces two news songs “Hunted 1” and “Hunted 2” which show new levels and new styles that Stetson employs.

This is a remarkable set, and Steston is clearly in his element (and the crowd is rapt).  The only problem I have is the recording level.  It must be very difficult to maintain recording levels for Stetson’s brand of noise–his louds are really loud–but you can’t hear him talk at all.  And most of the time, the introductions to his songs are worth hearing.  I’m sure if they tried to get the speaking level a little louder the music would have sacrificed though, so I think they made the right choice–I only wish there was a transcript available.

[READ: October 31, 2011] The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Apparently it’s pronounced, “Wow”, by the way.

Because of my new job, I don’t have a  full hour of lunch-time reading like I used to.  And so this book took considerably longer than I intended.  However, once I set aside some time to read it, I flew through the book.

I’m going to get this part out of the way because I was thinking about it throughout the book and I want to mention it without having it bog down the post.  This story reminded me a lot of Roberto Bolaño.  On the surface, sure this is because they are both writers from “Central America” (Diaz is originally from the Dominican Republic but moved to the US, while Bolaño is originally from Chile but moved to Mexico and then Spain).   But I’m not really talking about their origins so much as the style of storytelling.

Without going into a lot of Bolaño here, I’ll just say that Bolaño tends to write very detailed character studies–stories that follow one person throughout his whole life on something of a fruitless quest.  And the details of that person’s life include information about family members and distant relatives.  Further, Bolaño has written about the brutalities of both Chile and Mexico and how a person can survive in such a place.  Similarly, Díaz follows the life of Oscar and his extended family and he talks about the brutalities of the Dominican Republic.

This is in no way to suggest that there is any connection between the two writers. I mean, The Savage Detectives came out in the States in 2007 (same years as Oscar Wao) and while he certainly could have read it in Spanish, I have no evidence that he did (and as I recently found out, the first draft of the Oscar story was written in 2000).  Again, the parallels are only from my reading and have nothing to do with Díaz himself.

Okay, now that that’s out of my system…

This is the story of Oscar de Leon.  But more than that, this is the story of a fukú–a curse that befalls the de Leon family and follows them through several generations.  Oscar is the youngest member of the family and the person whom the narrator knows best.  So we see this fukú as it impacts Oscar.  And although the book is ostensibly about Oscar, it is about much more.

Oscar was born in Paterson, NJ (the town next to where I grew up!) and went to Don Bosco Tech High School (where many of my friends went).  Oscar is Dominican (his mother is from the DR, but he and his sister were born in NJ), but unlike every other Dominican male, Oscar is totally uncool, into geeky sci-fi and D&D and is clearly destined to be a virgin because he is fat with terrible hair and no social skills.

And, (no spoiler), as the title states, his life will be short. (more…)

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dfwshelfSOUNDTRACK: LAND OF KUSH-Against the Day [CST058] (2008).

kushLand of Kush is a huge orchestra created by Sam Shalibi.  Shalibi is a maniac of independent releases, creating everything from orchestral pieces to solo records all with his unique blend of middle eastern tinged music (featuring his oud playing).

This album is inspired by Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, a book I have not read.  As such, I can’t say if the music works with the book, or indeed if the songs with lyrics have anything to do with the book at all.  The liner notes essay that Shalibi wrote reveal his deep appreciation for the book and how it made him hear this music.  Pretty neat.  Against the Day the book is over 1,000 pages, so I won’t be getting to it anytime soon.

The CD has 5 tracks: three of them about 8 minutes, one at 14 minutes and the centerpiece comes in at 21 minutes.  To read more than I’m going to say about this band and the album, check out the Constellation Records page.

In general, I find Shalibi’s music to be fascinating, but sometimes a bit much.  He is not afraid to pull out all the stops.  And I think that’s to his credit.  He does free jazz, psychedelic and middle eastern phrasing, often within one song.  And while it’s often very enjoyable, it can also be exhausting.

And that is the case with this disc. The 21 minute “Bilocations” is such a brilliant piece of music.  The main musical line is just fantastic: middle eastern instruments playing a sort of James Bond type suspense theme.  And the vocals are simply amazing.  The singer (and I regret to say I’m not sure which one she is) is snarling and sexy and brings the whole piece to life.  I’ve never heard anyone say “economics” with such emotion before.  And I enjoy probably the first 15 or 16 minutes of it.  The last five drifts into a sort of solo for voice which gets a bit tiresome, actually, especially after the intensity of the first part.

And yet it is then followed up by the last two songs, each about 8 minutes long, again with fantastic motifs that propel these weird and wild pieces beyond the middle eastern psychedelic soundscapes into actual songs.

Despite my amorphous criticisms (I think that the disc is just too long to appreciate in one sitting (and I find middle eastern music is hard for me to digest in more than small doses)) this is my favorite of Shalibi’s releases.  And some day I hope to read the book, too.

[READ: September 19th ish 2009] short uncollected pieces

This is my second (and final, I think) review of multiple DFW uncollected pieces.  There are a few uncollected pieces left that I’m going to read, but they’re all longer and will likely deserve their own post.  Most of these pieces are very short, and I don’t have all that much to say about them.  But, heck, I’m a pseudo-complestist, so I want to have them all here.

All the text in bold, including the links comes from (where else?) The Howling Fantods.  Thanks! (more…)

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