Archive for the ‘Do Make Say Think’ Category


silentlandThis is a great compilation of Constellation artists from 2004 and earlier.  What makes it so good is that 13 of the 14 songs are released here for the first time.  So it works not only as a sampler of the labels artists, it also works as a great rarities collection.

ELIZABETH ANKA VAJAGIC-“The Sky Lay Still” [stripped down version of album song].  This song starts with slow echoing guitars and Elizabeth’s voice which sounds a bit like Carla Bozulich (but cleaner).  Two minutes in, it shifts tones to an awesomely catchy section with great vocals.

DO MAKE SAY THINK-“Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn”   This is the entire Winter Hymn … album remixed into a 5 minute track.  I’ve often complained that I dislike remixes but this one is great.  It includes some big guitar chords, some quiet drums, some notes and maybe gives you a feel of the album, but maybe not.  The end of the track plays some very fast heavy chords and then gets sped up out of existence.

EXHAUST-“Wool Fever Dub” [from their self-released cassette]  This song has a big thumping beat and some cool echoed harmonics on the guitar. This basic song structure runs through a 3 minute instrumental with a different “chorus” and some intense drumming at the end.

HANGEDUP-“(Re)View From The Ground (remix)”  This is a very catchy, fun remix.  Noisy clattering drums and all kinds of feedback squalls keep this propulsive track moving—this is my kind of dance remix.

BLACK OX ORKESTAR-“Toyte Goyes In Shineln”  This track comes from their album Ver Tanzt? And is one of my favorite of their songs from this disc.  An Acoustic guitar and bass play a simple melody over what I assume is quiet Hebrew singing.

SACKVILLE-“This Machine”  This is an unreleased track from the band.  It is a simple downbeat folk song with a really catchy chorus.  I like Sackville a lot but haven’t mentioned their full length yet–coming soon.

SILVER MT. ZION-“Iron Bridge To Thunder Bay” This is an unreleased track from the Rusted Satellites session, it begins with squealing feedback that slowly changes pitch until the thudding drums and bass come in.  They play a rumbling rhythm underneath the otherwise noisy sounds.  After 6 minutes, the song ends in squalls of feedback until the last minute just echoes until the end.

SOFA-“String Of Lights” [from the self released cassette].  I really like Sofa and wish they’d released more music.  This song actually sounds a bit like the Black Ox Orkestar song above-a- slow broody acoustic piece, but I love the way the chorus brightens the song.

POLMO POLPO-“Dreaming (…Again)”  This track is described as “constructed of materials from the Like Hearts Swelling sessions”  It’s a pretty, upbeat song with some slide guitars and a groovy rhythm.

RE: “Slippage” [unreleased track from the Mnant sessions]  This song has clanging percussion and oscillating keyboards which make this soundscape interesting and compelling.

FLY PAN AM-“Tres Tres ‘Avant'” is an improvisation with Tim Hecker and Christof Migone.  There’s a funky bass and drums with some groovy keyboards.

1-SPEED BIKE-“Fair Warning” [ remix of “New Blue Monday” from their album].  The track starts with a person saying “Okay we’ll call this one Fair Warning.”  You can hear the music (primarily the guitar echoed) and the riff from New Order’s “Blue Monday” and then he starts reciting passages in a great Canadian accent: “heroin crop in Afghanistan is 3 times higher this year than last year because the Taliban got taken out and replaced with the Americans.”  “We don’t want funerals because people like to party too much, Capice?”  The second half of the song is a lot of swirling statics and noise with repeated notes.

FRANKIE SPARO-“See My Film” [working mix of an unreleased song].  This song has a sprinkling of guitar notes and Sparo’s mellow but rough voice singing a cool melody.  The addition of a violin melody really elevates the song.  The end is even better as he adds another vocal line and some da das making it even catchier.

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR-“Outro” This is a live performance of a concert finale recorded in France on 14 May 2003.  This slow song opens with glockenspiel and strings–a slow, pretty melody that evolves over 7 minutes to add a bigger string section.  The last 2 minutes include a very nice violin solo that plays over the top of the rest of the band.  GYBE has never officially released a live album, so this is a good opportunity to hear what they can do live.

[READ: August 20, 2016] Land

This is a book about Anthony Gormley’s five statues on Landmark Trust Property.

The five statues in this book are life-sized cast iron sculptures installed in five Landmark Trust sites across the British Isles from May 2015 to May 2016.  Saddell Bay, Mull of Kintyre; South West Point, Lundy; Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay; Martello Tower, Aldeburgh, and Lengthsman’s Cottage, Lowsonford.

The sculptures are by Antony Gormley, the photos of the sculptures are by Clare Richardson and the text is by Jeanette Winterson.  Winterson is the only person I’d heard of in this book but as soon as I flipped through the pages, I was instantly struck by the sculptures.

Gormley works with the human form in very heavy sculptural designs.  There’s another book about his work called Human that shows even more of his sculptures. (more…)

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cute girlSOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Other Truths [CST062] (2009).

DMST-OtherTruthsCST062Other Truths is (so far) Do Make Say Think’s final album (they have been on hiatus since).  I’ve mentioned this album before, but here it has context with the others.

There are only four songs on this disc and it really feels like a culmination of what they have been exploring with their more recent output.  There is still experimentation (the shortest song is 8 minutes after all), but there aren’t the really strange sections like on the previous album (no weird drop outs or deconstructions).  And, in fact, they have embraced more of the catchiness that the last album hinted at.  The first song, “Do” (each song is named after one of the words in the band’s name) is one of the catchiest things they’ve done.  It’s easily my favorite song from them

I love the guitar lick that runs through “Do” a series of two note patterns that are surprisingly catchy.  The drums are wild throughout as the rest of the song chugs along nicely.  It’s 10 minute long though, and the whole thing is not that pattern.  About 2 minutes in the bass takes over, playing a similarly interesting riff before some dissonant guitars ring out and the band resumes with a new section of the song.  Some voices (from Akron/Family and Lullabye Arkestra) enter the song singing gentle ah’s as the song progresses.  The introductory riff resumes with some great additions.  Then the horns blow over the top–making the song soar higher and higher while the rest of the band plays in the background.  Around 7:30 the music all drops away except for some washes of keyboards.  The song continues like that with some quieter washes until the end.

“Make” is a 12 minute song which has tribal drums and simple guitar lines to start with.  The singing comes in around 2:30.  There’s some great moments in this song where the guitars play simple riffs that grow and build and then the horns come in again.  It’s a wonderful song with moments where the whole sounds of the song sounds so big and jubilant yet slightly menacing at the same time.  By about 9 minutes tape manipulation glitches it to a halt with the drums getting slower and slower and deeper and the guitars expanding out as slow as can be.  The last two minutes resurrect some ringing guitars and horns which grow and grow seem to be playing an elegiac coda for this song, It’s really beautiful, and it’s recorded so well it’s like you can hear the air being blown into them).

“Say” is also 12 minutes long.  It opens with what sounds like foghorns, or tubas getting distorted almost by a Doppler effect.  Then comes the rim shot drums and interesting effects sprinkled over the top.  At about 2 minutes another great, simple guitar riff comes in–DMST  has a way with making the simplest riffs sound great.  The whole band kicks in and plays along with the riff.   The song builds and ebbs, with the horns making the song feel huge.  For a brief middle section the song get quiet with a fast-picked guitar section and strings.  The end of this song (the last 2 minutes) also has a coda with horns but this one is mournful and quiet.  The chorus joins in again.  First with ohs and then with words.

“Think” ends the disc at a scant 8 minutes. It’s the quietest and most mellow song on the disc opening with jazzy drums and simple chords.  The slow guitar riff is lovely and there are dark voices humming along behind them.  Then you hear people talking in the distance, (I can’t make anything out) while a series of bass notes move the song forward.  By 4 and a half minutes a new guitar line comes in and the song gets a little bigger but it’s still slow.  The song never builds like the others; it stays quiet and slow, regretful and thoughtful, until it rings to a close.

This is a wonderful album full of all the great sounds of post-rock.

[READ: January 20, 2016] The Cute Girl Network

Imagine if you were a girl who moved to a new town and learned that there was a network of girls, cute girls, who kept tabs on all of the boys in town.  And the network was in place to keep you informed of what a doofus jackass your new boyfriend was.

It’s not a bad idea.  In fact a lot of good could come from it.  But sometimes informed choices have to have some personal experience as well.

And that’s where Jane and Jack come in.

Jane is new to Brookdale  Jane is pretty bad ass–she rides a skateboard and does amazing tricks.  She also works in a skate shop  She meets Jack when she wipes out in front of his soup kiosk.  He helps her out with a bottle of iced tea for her ailing coccyx and then just hopes that he’ll see her again.

Jack lives with Gil and Ruth.  Gil is a lunkhead who has been on a lot of first dates but few second ones.  Ruth hasn’t been on too many dates herself.  They both know that Jack is lazy (his previous wrote a song about him called “Layabout”) and a little dopey but he’s nice and kind-hearted and that’s what matters. (more…)

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vamplove SOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-You, You’re a History in Rust [CST045] (2007).

rustYou, You’re a History in Rust feels very different from DMST’s previous album.  That record felt kind of insular and tight.  This one feels expansive and experimental.  Like the first song which has multiple sections that feel completely unrelated and which are only connected by silence.  Or the fact that there are lyrics in a song, or even a fairly conventional song.

“Bound to Be That Way” This song opens in a peculiar way.  There’s a drum rhythm, that slowly builds and some piano chords are laid over the top. This goes on for about 45 seconds and then fades out.  And then a new melody–completely different–with horns and guitar peeks its way out. And then it too fades.  Then around 2 minutes a pretty guitar melody comes through followed by big crashing distorted drums. Eventually a new riff enters the song and it really starts grooving.  It’s fantastic, but it too is just a portion of a song which ends at around 4:30.  And then another new section comes in. Then acoustic guitar riff is counterpointed by some horns.  The final melody is the catchiest one of the bunch and it ends this strange song on a high.

But if that was strange, “A with Living” offers the biggest shock to fans of the band.  There are words in this song!  And they are sung! Words were co-written and sung by Alex Lukashevsky and the Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker.  Akron/Family also joins in doing “oohs” and “ahs.”  It opens with rumbling drums and then the singing begins.  The song has a conventional verse chorus verse structure with big horns.  It’s catchy (the vocals are great).   But it’s also a 9 minute song and at 4 and a half minutes the song moves way from the melody and enters a lengthy instrumental section with deep rumbling guitars.  The chorus of voices returns briefly before the mellow guitars lead us to the end.

“The Universe!” is one of my favorite DMST songs.  It rocks and rollicks.  It has two notes and then five bashing chords.  Repeated several times.  It’s one of the most straightforward songs they’ve done.  It has screaming guitar solos and a cool sliding bass. It’s also very raw sounding, with all kinds of noise floating around it.  And just like that, it’s gone.  Seguing into the quiet, “A Tender history in rust” which opens with processed guitars or keyboards, layered upon each other.   There are voices fighting through (saying all kinds of sounds—including laughing), before it switches to a pretty acoustic guitar riff.  It’s a delightfully conventional folk melody–another unusual addition for the band.

“Herstory of Glory” has another pretty acoustic guitar melody with some rattling drums (in the right ear).   Then there’s a rumbling bass and distant voices before more and more instruments add to the beautiful song–pianos, trumpets, claps.

“You, You’re Awesome,” is the shortest song on the disc at under 4 minutes.  It opens with slow electric guitars and a e-bowed solo.  After a minute or so, the rest of the band comes in with a slide guitar and banjo making a kind of sloppy folky romp.

“Executioner Blues” is another favorite.  Its 8 minutes long with some lovey guitar riffs and sounds.  It opens with some big guitars and a repeating riff.  A martial drums enters the song and keeps it moving until the next big section.  Horns repeat a similar melody and then a romping bass guitar takes over.  More instruments kick in making the song noisy and slightly distorted.  There’s piano trills, glockenspiel, electric guitar, noises and more.   and the instruments all go up the scale slowly for a few bars and then play a punch of staccato notes.  It’s rather dramatic.  After several permutations of this, they just keep going up and up the scale until the reach the top and then they gradually descend again.  The last minute is a series of quiet bass notes, as if everyone has totally come down from that intensity.

“In Mind” is a quiet disc closer.  A simple guitar melody, it is joined by banjo and trumpet.  Then some bass lines come in followed by a very distorted chorus singing “When you die, you’ll have to leave them behind/You should keep that in mind/When you keep that in mind, you’ll find a love as big as the sky.”  The disc ends with some quite banjo plucking.

This disc goes all over the place and really explores different avenues.

[READ: February 10, 2016] Vampire Loves

Joann Sfar created Little Vampire (and apparently about 100 other comics, some of which have been translated into English by Alexis Siegel and published by First Second).  Of the things I’ve read by him, (and there have been a few) I enjoyed this the most.  It seems like a lot of his books (like Little Vampire) are for kids, bu this one is absolutely for adults (there;’s curses in it and talk of sex and everything).

There are four stories in this book (I just learned that Sfar has written six in total, so maybe there will be more translated). After the third book in this collection, there’s a question as to whether or not Ferdinand, the vampire in this story is Little Vampire.  There’s a little drawing of Little Vampire which says that Ferdinand is him.  “But vampires don’t grow up!  No, but they can grow little.  Ferdinand was me before!  You mean that before being little you were grownup? Yes.”  So there’s that sorted.

“Could Cupid Care Less?” starts us off with Ferdinand the vampire’s woes.  His girlfriend, Lana, (a kind of plant creature) has just come back.  She cheated on him, but turns the conversation around to say that it is his fault–if he weren’t so jealous he never would have found out.  He freaks about this and she storms off again.  Furious, he sets off for his nightly feeding.  Ferdinand is a nice vampire–he takes little sips and only with one fang so it looks like mosquito.  While he is feeding on a woman, a red-haired vampire storms in and shows him how to do it right.  She is a vixen with an ankh necklace and after feeding, she comes on to Ferdinand hard.  She says she likes old, proper-looking vampires–not goth wannabes.  She brings him back to her house but before they can do anything, her sister walks in.  She’s also red-haired and has a shapely figure and actually has more in common with Ferdinand.  And that’s when we learn that the first woman’s name was Aspirine and her sister’s name is Ritaline (ha!).

All of the stories cut back and forth to different sections.  So we cut over the Lani who is staying with the Tree Man.  He is trying to hit on her, but she’s having nothing to do with it.

We return to Ferdinand where he just can’t get rid of Aspirine, even when he wants some alone time.  He can’t get a woman he wants and can’t get rid of the ones he doesn’t.

“Mortal Maidens on My Mind” opens with a Japanese woman meeting Ferdinand in Paris and falling for him.  They do all kinds of things together and she even writes home about him.  But Ferdinand had to return home and that was the end of that.

We cut back to the Tree Man who is still pining for Lani but is having no luck with her.

Back home, Ferdinand runs into the man who slept with Lani, Michael.  He also argues that it was Ferdinand’s fault that things wound up as they did.  He says that he was just looking for fun.  He didn’t want to hurt anyone, so why did Ferdinand have to get involved?  After a fight Ferdinand leaves to go to a bar where he tries to hook up with a woman but it all falls apart.

Then we cut to a man who has created a golem.  He wanted the golem to do bad things, but the golem is so kind that he couldn’t possible have made the him do the evil things he planned.

The postscript of the story contains a few notes on the protagonists of this story which sort of retroactively tries to make sense of the seemingly disparate story lines and lets us know how these characters belong here.

“Lonely Hearts Crossing” shows Ferdinand on a cruise.  But first we meet a woman named Alas, and her spiritual ghost-creature-friend named Sigh.  Alas is looking to score with the captain of the ship (who is the invisible man).

Meanwhile Lani is going shopping with Tree Man.  He has become her buddy and he can’t get out of it.

On the ship, Ferdinand runs into a werewolf who turns into a wolf when he sees a girl.  He only transforms back if he can kiss a girl.  But he is a such charming creature that he has no problems scoring–much to Ferdinand disgust and amazement.

The story turns very exciting as there are armed criminals on board and a shootout.  And by the end of the story Ferdinand is making out with the spirit ghost creature (who teaches him how to go through walls which turns them both kind of ghostly for a time).

“Moonstruck Post Mortem” ends the book with Ferdinand trying to pick someone else up.  His conscience is bothering him lately though so he manages to get rid of it.  The woman is interested in him but already had two boyfriends so she kind of blows him off.

The scenes shifts to Ferdinand at the police station.  He’s not n any trouble.  in fact, the police would like him to help with their investigation of suspicious murders.  Since he’s nocturnal they figure he can look at night.  That’s how police work, right?

Ferdinand decides to go out drinking again. He meets a woman he likes, but she seems disinterested. So he quickly moves on and finds a  creature who is into him.  But he is quickly utterly disgusted by her.  And the first woman just came back. Oh no!

Frustrated, he leaves and goes to see the dentist–because the dentist has some secret information about the investigation. But before he will give the information to Ferdinand, he needs to give him a compete check up.  By the end, he tells Ferdinand not to get involved. And as the story progresses and the criminal is found…  Ferdinand is shot and thrown into a hole!  Can Ferdinand’s conscience come to the rescue?

The whole story concludes with Ferdinand going back to find Ritaline (but of course finding Aspirine instead).  She offers to let him bite her–but when one vampire bites another it’s “catastrophe.”

It’s a totally nuts book but very funny.  Another fun book in my #10yearsof01 February.

I think the reason I don’t enjoy the Sfar books as much as I might is because they are printed so small.  I don’t know what the original size was, but the format makes everything feel really squished.  This makes the dialogue hard to read and means you can’t see all of the details that well.  I think if these books were bigger it would really help their appeal.

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little vamopSOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn [CST025] (2003).

hymnThis album, at least according to the liner notes, seems to be broken into three sections, as the title suggests.  Although there is no explicit attachment of a particular hymn to the songs, there is a gap between the listings, giving each section three songs.

“Federica” is 9 minutes long and opens with a very lovely slow guitar melody.  Then the drums crash in and the song doesn’t change so much as intensify.  At around 3 minutes the song pauses before a loping bass adds to the mixture and the songs gets bigger and bigger, and even a little funkier. When the distorted guitar comes in at 5 minutes, it’s hard to believe it’s basically the same song all along.  It builds to a cacophonous explosion and then settles down again. A new style emerges—slow and plaintive with mildly distorted guitars. But they can’t stay muted for long. The distorted guitar comes back and forces the song forward with some distorted bass and other noises until it resumes a reprise of the original guitar melody.

“War on Want” is only 2 minutes long.  It is mostly strings that seemed to be looped in some way.  There haven’t been a lot of strings in DMST records so far, so this is new.  They drift slightly out of tune as they introduce the 3rd song “Auberge le Mouton Noir.”  The song opens with some crackling noises and some pretty, slow chords. which resolve into a simple riff.  The song builds, growing faster with a great propulsive beat. I like that it switches back and forth between the chords and the guitar riff.  Is that a slightly out of tune bass guitar before the ringing guitar solo takes over?

The second section begins with “Outer Inner & Secret.”  It’s ten minutes long and opens with an interesting bass line and guitar motif. It’s quiet and insistent, kind of dreamy. After exploring some quieter avenues some feedback squalls float in and out.  About 4 minutes in the song builds, but it quickly recedes only to build again and recede once more.  For the third build the drums kick in and the song launches in a louder direction for a few measures.  But just as you think it’s going to take off for a while, it settles down and then comes back to a quitter style with martial beat and keyboards.   The remainder of the song switches between loud building guitarists and quitter moments with just bass and drums.  For the last-minute or so horns burst forth and then the music drops away except for the horns, which end the song with a plaintive melody.

The 4 minute “107 Reasons Why” is a slow horn & guitar melody song.  There’s some interesting sounds that play over the top of the delicate melody, including a nice horn line.

“Ontario Plates” is 7 minutes long and opens with very jazzy drums and bass–it’s rather noir with a quiet saxophone.   Once the sax plays over the top it just increases the jazziness. DMST has always had a jazz feel but this one really pushes it about as far as the band has gone. The drums start to come to the fore and I love the way about 3 minutes in the drums morph into something else and the song almost imperceptibly switches into a new song entirely. The bass takes over and a new riff enters the piece. About 5 minutes in, the song switches to a very bright and uplifting motif–big horns, bright guitars and a catchy riff.  It’s quite lovely.

The third section opens with “Horns of a Rabbit.”  This song introduces big drums and kind of electronic bass sound.  About two minutes in the noise beaks through—bashing guitars and intense drums.  It even includes a pretty wild guitar solo. I like how the song (which is only 4 minutes (kind of disintegrates on itself before merging into the two-minute “It’s Gonna Rain,” which may indeed be simply the sound of rain on a tin roof.

The final track, the 7 minute “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!” opens with some synths sounds—unlike anything else on the record.  And then a pretty guitar intro mixes with some lovely horns.  It’s probably the most delicate thing they have created.  After 3 minutes the occasional guitar swirls grow louder and it grinds it way to a happy and uplifting keyboard riff.   Then a bunch of surprises for DMST: A slide guitar plays a little solo and then, most surprisingly, a chorus of voices sings the melody.  The ending slide guitar sounds like it could come from Mercury Rev or The Flaming Lips.  If you listen closely, you can hear people shouting Hooray! in the background.

This album feels a bit more claustrophobic than their others, and while I like pretty much all of the songs, I really like their other albums more.

[READ: December 20, 2015] Little Vampire

Joann Sfar is responsible for the Sardine comics which I kind of liked but mostly didn’t (I think that may have been because of the uglyish drawing style).  But here Sfar has another series called Little Vampire.  (I also just learned that Joann Sfar is a man, so apologies earlier, but I think that’s an understandable mistake).

This book collects three stories into one volume, all translated by Alexis Siegel.  Each story is about 30 pages.  And they follow the “life” of little vampire.  He is a sweet boy with a bald head, big eyes and pointy ears.  He lives in a castle with call all kinds of undead people including his dog Phantomato (he is bright red and rather devious) and several other monsters.

“Little Vampire Goes to School” introduces us to the home where the monsters live.  As the undead are partying, Little Vampire comes down and says he wants to go to school.  The others are horrified, but he won’t give up the idea. He says he’s bored and wants to meet other children (most of the undead are adults).

Little Vampire’s mother (who is strangely pretty in her weird design) and the other elders allow him to go to school, but he can only go at night when it is closed.  So the undead come and all attend school with him.  The class is taught by The Captain of the Dead who is an old dead pirate. (more…)

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aboveSOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-& Yet & Yet [CST020] (2002).

DmstandyetandyetAfter the previous album, keyboardist Jason McKenzie departed the band.  I’m not entirely sure how this impacted the band, but this album is warmer and a little more delicate feeling.  It’s also their first album that was recorded all in the same place (in band member Justin Small’s house).

The disc opens with static and effects before a jazzy drumbeat comes in.   “Clasic Noodlanding” is mellow with a complex (for them) riff on the guitar and nice washes of keyboards.  It is primarily atmospheric until about two minutes in when it suddenly changes with the introduction of a great bass line.  And then this atmospheric song turns really catchy. The five and a half-minutes feel too short in this song.

“End of Music” opens with jazzy drums and keyboards.  It’s a slow piece that stretches to nearly 7 minutes.  About half way through the song, the drums come crashing in and a brighter, noisier melody takes over.  This end section is really catchy with some great chords and excellent drumming.

“White Light Of” opens with a cool slow bass line and drum pattern.  As the song grows in complexity I like the new bass rumble that is added and the way the guitar lines seem to intertwine. About half way through horns get added to the mix, quietly at first and then they slowly take over the song. About five minutes in the song comes to abrupt halt with some interesting echoed effects on the drums. It resumes again with a stranger version of the song—it feels unsettled and really interesting, with a nice riff interspersed with one that feels off somewhat.

“Chinatown” opens unlike any DMST song.  The bass sounds electronic and skittery with some interesting keyboard sounds over the top (it actually sounds a bit like later period Radiohead).  The song is slow and moody for all of its 5 and half minutes with keyboard washes and skittery guitars.  There are quotes thrown in throughout the song but I can’t tell what they are saying.  This song was features in the film Syriana.

“Reitschule” is one of two songs that are 9 minutes long. It opens with a slow meandering guitar line interspersed with another guitar playing an interesting counterpoint.  A cool bassline comes in around 2:30 which takes the song in a new direction.  Horns propel the song along until about 4 minutes when a jangly guitar takes over the song. It builds with some abrasive guitar chords until everything washes away except the bass.  And then it rebuilds as something else.  Distant horns play in the back as the guitars play overlapping lines.  It’s an epic song that demonstrates how much this band can do.

“Soul and Onward” has a pretty conventional melody line. It’s warm and friendly It also features wordless vocals by Tamara Williamson. I love the little tiny guitar lick that works as a bridge between the two sections.  This is my favorite song on this record.

“Anything for Now” is the other 9 minute song. It is slow and pastoral to start with a beautiful multi-guitar piece with gentle drums. At around 4:30 all the instrument vanish except for a single organ note. It plays for a bout a minute and it seems like the disc will end that way but then the chords build up again from the drone.  An acoustic guitar lick begins around 7 minutes in and runs through the end of the song.

Overall this album is more mellow than their previous discs, and there are some amazingly beautiful sections of music on this album.

[READ: February 8, 2016] Above the Dreamless Dead

I’m continuing with books that I wouldn’t normally read, to celebrate First Second’s #10yearsof01 challenge and to read something out of my comfort range.

This is a collection of poetry about World War I, written before during and just after the war.  Each of the poems is illustrated by a different contemporary artist.

As you can imagine, the book is pretty gloomy.  But the poetry is pretty spectacular and the illustrations were really interesting.  Obviously this book is not going to be a happy one.  But some of the artists do add a more positive spin on the poems (while some are just brutally violent as well). (more…)

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6SOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord Is Dead [CST010] (2000).

330px-DmstgoodbyeenemyAfter their debut album, Do Make Say Think made this second album which sonically fits together perfectly and really explores instrumental post-rock.  Most of the songs were recorded in a barn giving it a very big sound (complete with insects chirping).  While there were horns in the debut, they seem to be punched up a bit more on this record, and they really seem to help the record rock more.

“When Day Chokes the Night” song is 6 minutes long and I love the way the opening is a simple guitar melody slowly picked and strummed for 3 or so minutes. Then at 3:30 there’s a noisy “drum solo” that sets you up for the second half of the song which introduces wailing saxophone and it all really rocks out.

“Minmin” is 8 minutes long.  It opens slower but adds a steadily propulsive bass and drum pattern. Around 5 minutes the drums become martial and a new rhythm and bass pattern enters as the song gets bigger.  The riff is a solid rock riff and there’s some interesting feedback behind it.  It’s some of a classic construct of a slow building song that shifts gears midway through.

“The Landlord is Dead” (at a brief 5 and a half minutes). opens with a similar echoing riff, this one is more catchy than the others. Some horns fill out the background.  The song builds properly to a screaming guitar soloing wild ending.  It’s easily my favorite song on the record.

“The Apartment Song” is slower, with echoing guitars and a more trippy feel.  I love the way the really noisy guitars blast out for 8 notes and then recede again.  It’s the first of two songs under four minutes

“All of This is True” starts out with a noisy drum beat, open chords and a distant horn.   This song slowly builds for about two minutes before pausing entirely and then resuming as something else—more slow horns layering on each other the horns drift away and guitars take over again.  There’s something of a dancey beat on the drums all along.  The song ends with crowd noises and someone shouting “Merry Christmas Everybody” before seguing into “Bruce E Kinesis.”  “Kinesis” opens with a heavy bass line and insistent drum beat before the interesting guitar counterpoint plays over the riff.  For the first time, really, a keyboard riff takes over  It feels slightly sinister.  This song has a kind of claustrophobic feel, but with a kind of funky drum all the way through.  At only 3:40 this song feels compact and efficient, and as something of a lead in to the 12 minute album closer “Goodbye Enemy Airship”

The final takes a while to get where it’s going.  After some introductory drumming there’s plenty of one-note guitar and horns which keep growing louder and more insistent for the first 4 minutes.  It turns into a very bright guitar melody–bouncy and fun.  (This is one of the two songs not recorded in the barn).  It develops a distinctly jazzy feel.   The song gets bigger with some great bass chords alongside the repeating riff on the guitar.  At around 9 minutes the song morphs into the third part of this exploration of similar riffs and textures. This one is a bit trippier. The disc ends with some mildly dissonant keyboard notes as the guitar echoes to halt.

While I do enjoy their debut, this album feel like a giant stride forward in terms of composition and cohesion.

[READ: February 3, 2015] Moomin Volume 6

Moomin Book 6 is composed entirely of strips written and drawn by Lars Jansson.  Lars was 12 years younger than Tove.  He was a writer, translator and gold-miner (!).  He wrote his first novel at fifteen and then proceeded to write 8 more.  Lars translated the earlier strips into English as Tove wrote them in Swedish.  Tove’s contract was to expire in 1959, so he began teaching himself how to draw Moomins (Tove didn’t know).  Tove’s creative fatigue set in and so Lars wrote his first comic in 1956 and by 1960, he was ready to take over.  The newspaper syndicate approved the switch and so these final strips all belong to him.  He created Moomin for fifteen years–twice as long as Tove worked on it.  These stories originally ran in the Evening News, London 1960-1975.

I love that they must have agreed that each strip would open with a big Moomin behind as well.

The chapters are “Moomin’s Lamp” “Moomin and the Railway and “Moominpappa and the Spies” “Moomin and the Circus”


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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: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Other Truths [CST062] (2009).

I’ve always enjoyed Do Make Say Think’s CDs.  They play instrumentals that are always intriguing and which never get dull.

But this CD far exceeds anything they have done so far (and  they’ve done some great work).   There are only four tracks, and they range from 8 to 12 minutes long.  Each track is named for a word in the band’s name: Do, Make, Say, Think.  And each one is a fully realized mini epic.

“Do” sounds like a gorgeous Mogwai track.  While “Make” has wonderfully diverse elements: a cool percussion midsection and a horn-fueled end section that works perfectly with the maniacal drumming.  “Say” is another Mogwai-like exploration, although it is nicely complemented by horns.  It also ends with a slow jazzy section that works in context but is somewhat unexpected. Finally, “Think” closes the disc with a delightful denouement.  It’s the slowest (and shortest) track, and it shows that even slowing down their instrumentals doesn’t make them dull.

It’s a fantastic record from start to finish.  This is hands down my favorite Constellation release in quite some time.

[READ: December 2009 – January 13, 2010] McSweeney’s #33.

The ever-evolving McSweeney’s has set out to do the unlikely: they printed Issue #33 as a Sunday Newspaper.  It is called The San Francisco Panorama and, indeed, it is just like a huge Sunday newspaper. It has real news in (it is meant to be current as of December 7, 2009).  As well as a Sports section, a magazine section and even comics!

[DIGRESSION] I stopped reading newspapers quite some time ago.  I worked for one in college and have long been aware that the news is just something to fill the space between ads.  I do like newspapers in theory, and certainly hope they don’t all go away but print issues are a dying breed.  When I think about the waste that accompanies a newspaper, I’m horrified.  Sarah and I even did a Sunday New York Times subscription for a while, but there were half a dozen sections that we would simply discard unopened.  And, realistically that’s understandable.  Given how long it took me  to read all of the Panorama, if you actually tried to read the whole Sunday paper, you’d be finished the following Sunday (or even two Sundays later).

Their lofty goal here was to show what print journalism can still do. And with that I concur heartily.  Even if I don’t read the newspaper, the newspapers as entities are worth saving.  Because it is pretty much only print journalism that finds real, honest to God, worthy news stories.  TV news is a joke.  There is virtually nothing of value on network TV.  Fox News is beyond a joke.  CNBC is sad (although Rachel Maddow is awesome!) and even CNN, the originator of all of this 24 hour news nonsense still can’t fill their airtime with non-sensationalized news.

Obviously, there are some decent internet sites, but for the most part they don’t have the budget to support real news investigation.  You either get sensationalized crap like Drudge or rebroadcasts of real news.

So, print is the last bastion of news.  And you can see that in journalistic pieces in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Walrus, Prospect and, yes, in newspapers.

But enough.  What about THIS newspaper?  Oh and unlike other McSweeney’s reviews I’ve done, there is NO WAY that I am writing a thorough comment on everything in here.  There’s just way too much.  Plus, there are many sections that are just news blurbs.  Larger articles and familiar authors will be addressed, however.  [UPDATE: January 18]: If, however, like Alia Malek below, you bring it to my attention that I’ve left you out (or gotten something wrong!) drop me a line, and I’ll correct things.

There is in fact a Panorama Information Pamphlet which answers a lot of basic questions, like why, how and how often (just this once, they promise!). There’s also a Numbers section which details the size, scope and cost of making this (it shows that with an initial start up, anyone could make a newspaper if they talked enough about what the readers were interested in). (more…)

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This is a compilation from Constellation Records.  It features mostly unreleased tracks and turns out to be a great sampler for both the fan of the label and the novice.

Since the label never had any “hits” per se, they couldn’t really release a “greatest hits” collection.  But they went the extra mile by selecting rare tracks rather than just a songs from their albums,.

It also belies the idea (put forth by me as well as many others) that Constellation had “a sound.”  While they have branched further afield since this collection was released, even prior to this you can see a lot of diversity.  From the epic instrumentals of Godspeed You Black Emperor, to the noise structures of Exhaust, to the sort of spoken word of 1-Speed Bike to the viola/bass duet of HangedUp.  This compilation contains one track from pretty much every artist on their roster from the (then) new artist Elizabeth Anka Vajagic to early bands Sofa.

The Do Make Say Think track, “Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn” is described as a condensation of the album of that name into 5 minutes, and I believe it is).  Many of the other artists’ tracks are remixed.  But the remixes aren’t dance remixes or dub versions, they are just remixed, usually by Efrim or one of the other Hotel2Tango individuals.

If you’re a fan of the label, hunt down this disc.  If you’re not familiar with the artists, this is a great place to start.  The bands’ tracks, even the remixes are representative of the bands.  So, you get a good sense of Exhaust, 1-Speed Bike, Fly Pan Am and HangedUp.  Although the real selling point is the live track by Godspeed You Black Emperor.  It’s not one of their “real” songs per se (as it is just an outro) but it’s a nice indicator of their live show (which was one of the best live shows I’ve seen).

[READ: December 18, 2009] Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro

I’m not sure how this book ended up in my house.  I was looking at a pile of graphic novels and there was this one.  I hadn’t really noticed it before and Sarah didn’t know anything about it, so…who knows.  Anyhow, I decided to just go ahead and read it.  It turned out to be my very first manga (awwww).  And it took me a few pages to understand the style at all.

Manga primer: First off it’s written right to left (so at first I wasn’t even sure where to start the book, as this one starts without a real “start”).  Then I realized that the 4-panel style means you read all four columns down on the right and then all four columns down on the left.  And, just to complete the culture shock, you read the speech balloons on the right of the panel before the ones on the left.  After about twenty or so pages it grew easier, and by the end it wasn’t an issue anymore.  But wow!

Oh, and for a little more confusion, there are occasional full color pages thrown in, but they aren’t chapter breaks or any special pages, they just seem to be in color.

So, anyhow, on to the story. (more…)

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