Archive for the ‘Fanfarlo’ Category

CV1_TNY_05_19_14Drooker.inddSOUNDTRACK: FANFARLO-Tiny Desk Concert #39 (December 16, 2009).

fanfarloThis is a Christmas-themed Tiny Desk Concert, with a yule log in the TV and everything.  I’ve liked most of what I’ve heard from Fanfarlo.   I think of the band as synthy, but this version is acoustic guitar and mandolin (and three backing vocalists).  The male singer has a unique voice.  “Drowning Men” sounds great and they make quite a lot of noise for just the two instruments–when the xylophone solo kicks in, it quite a nice touch.

For song two (“Comets”) they bust out a harpist–she is not part of the band, but is a friend from New York.  She plays excellent accompaniment and the melodica is a nice touch as well.   Perhaps most interesting was hearing their biographies.  The band is based in London, and they have members from Sweden, Belgium, someone who lived in Abu Dabi, Scottish/Samoan, half Polish/half English and half English half Icelandic.  Cool.

For the final song it’s a cover of Low’s “Just Like Christmas.” It’s a simple stripped down version with guitar and melodica and it is quite beautiful.  And they don’t stop until everyone sings along.

[READ: May 27, 2014] “The Waitress”

In “The Waitress,” Coover takes a fairy tale premise and brings into the contemporary world.

This is a concept that Coover plays with a lot (with different degrees of success) and I found this one to be very good.  It is only a page long, which may have had something to do with why I liked it–it didn’t overstay its welcome.

It was also not terribly ambitious.  And, as with all stories like this I kind of have to wonder what’s the point.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FANFARLO-Live at SXSW, March 19, 2010 (2010).

I only know of this band at all from Bob Boilen on NPR, who really liked one of their more recent songs.  This set is from Gisbson’s Showroom in Austin during SXSW.  They play six songs from their debut, Reservoir.

Fanfarlo use all kind of instrumentation to create a very full sound–horns, strings, male and female vocals and of course, bass and drums.  This set makes them seem like they were ahead of the game on bands like Mumford and Sons–there’s a kind of orchestral/folkie pop feel (of course the trumpet is very different from the banjo).  Indeed, they remind me a bit of Beirut.

I rather enjoy this set.  I really like “The Walls are Coming Down” and “Harold T. Wilikins.”  It’s a fun dose of folkie indie rock.  Although I don’t see myself getting their album or anything.  This may be just the dose of Fanfarlo that I need.  You can get the set from NPR here.

[READ: October 19, 2012] “Means of Suppressing Demonstrations”

I’ve been putting this story off for a long time (it came out in June).  The image that accompanied the story, three youths approaching a military barricade just didn’t appeal to me. But the story proved to be really interesting.

It is broken into four sections: Shock, Tear Gas, Rubber, Live Fire.  Each of these is a progressively more dangerous means to suppress demonstration.

But here’s the strange thing–the three youths in the drawing are asking to be suppressed.  They want to get in the paper, they want to be heroes.  So these three Palestinians approach a barricade manned by the Israeli army.  The barricade is at Route 799, which, for the soldiers is a low-traffic, fairly cushy assignment.

The main army guard is Lea, a woman who is soon to be done with her time.  She is looking forward to the end of her time, although she has rather enjoyed the company of Tomer who calls her Lea during the day and Officer at night when they are in bed together.  Route 799 is typically a very quite post until these three come up and politely say that they are demonstrators and wish to be suppressed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FANFARLO-“Replicate” (2011).

This is the final Fall Music song I’m going to mention.  “Replicate” was Robin Hilton’s song of choice for the fall, and I can see what he liked about it–there’s a lot of unusual sounds going on (in many ways it reminds me of Sparks or maybe sort of early Depeche Mode, although no one in the discussion mentioned them).  It opens with a series of staccato string notes over a repeated lyrics (“it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna…happen soon”).  The strings build and build, but they stop before any major climax; they are replaced by a fast, kind of spazzing keyboard melody with more repeated vocals, (“it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna…happen soon”).  The staccato notes come back and both sounds build to another near-climax.

Until the chorus comes in with its supremely catchy but very cold “oohs”.   Even the end builds but does not quite achieve the climax one would expect, although it is still satisfying.

It’s a very clinical song, cold and detached (the instrumental break has wood blocks that sound like a woodpecker banging a tree on a winter’s day).  But the vocals are so warm, that they disarm the song of its coldness even if the chorus is “Will it replicate inside our bodies now?”   At first I really didn’t like the song, but after a couple of listens, I really heard what Robin Hilton enjoyed.  And I would like to hear more from them.

The video is pretty neat too:

[READ: September 19, 2011] “Animal Art”

This article was probably the most “academic” and “scientific” of them all five of the JSTOR articles I read.  And by that, I mean, that it was researched and tested and full of abbreviations and as a result it reads very dry.  Which is a shame (well, actually it’s not a shame, the scientific requirements are essential for there to be an academic article published)–what it needs is a cool popular version to lighten it up a bit (and it needs better pictures as well).

The article looks at the bowers of the bowerbird.  The bowerbird is a family of 20 species of bird found in New Guinea and Australia.  Bowerbirds are noted and named for the bowers that the males construct to win a mate (see photo at right).  What’s interesting is that the different species of bowerbird construct similar nests but do things quite differently (some “glue” the sticks of their nest together with either spittle or insect secretions while others weave their sticks together).  But they are all very particular about the nests they build:

When I shifted the position of a decoration, the bower owner either restored it to the original position or else discarded it in the forest.  Decorations changed from day to day as birds replaced wilting flowers and rotting fruit with fresh ones.

The articles sets out to discover whether the traits that the male bowerbird develop in their nests are inherited or are learned.  Diamond believes that they are learned because birds that are not very far apart use different techniques, but immature birds are often seen observing the adult birds to presumably learn from them.  The nests are built by the males, but, similarly, the immature females go with the adult females to inspect the nests, thereby learning what traits to most look for in a nest.

But what seems to have inspired this paper was the bowerbirds’ proclivity for choosing colors to decorate their nests: most use flowers and mosses from the surrounding area, arranging them in beautiful colors.  What Diamond did was to take colored poker chips (a series of uniform shape, size and texture) with varying colors to see if the bowerbird would choose based on color (his scientific conclusion is that it’s really impossible to tell because who knows what other variables are at play, but his more satisfying conclusion.  is that the birds decorate by color.

So, Diamond put the poker chips in front of their bower (on the moss “mat” that looks like a welcome mat).  And with one group of birds:

Within 10-30 minutes [three birds] picked up all chips regardless of color and discarded the in the forest.

While for a different group of birds, they quickly discarded any white chips (and one bird discarded the yellow chips as well).  There was a marked preference for colors in this order: Blue>purple>orange>red>lavender>yellow>white.  While these birds not only embraced the chips and used them for their decorations, other birds stole chips from their rival makes’ nests:

When I placed three chips of each color at bower W6, bird W5 stole within 3hr all blue, orange and purple chips, two red chips and no yellow, lavender or white.

(Poor W6 bird–he really has nothing).  But the study shows that the birds hate the white chips!  He even created a chart that showed that most of the birds kept 100% 0f the blue chips, and most of the purple chips while dismissing almost entirely the yellow chips; none of them kept any white ones.  (One bird in the study seemed to be quite a pig–this is the one who stole from W6–he kept far more than the other birds, including 100 % of orange an 66% of yellow–i wonder if the females thought he was a gaudy show off?)

Incidentally, this study was done in 1986, so it does not account for the more recent discovery that bowerbirds will basically use any old crap to build their nests, provided it is colorful.  Many people find this sad, but the birds don’t seem to mind.   In the article, the author says that one of the birds came up to his colleague, stood on his shoe, and tried to steal the blue docks that he was wearing.  Here’s a picture of a bowerbird with a whole bunch of blue clothespins.

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