Archive for the ‘Le Mysterè des Voix Bulgares’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 21, 2013] Śląsk

slask1Pronounced “shlahnsk” according the announcer, Śląsk is the national Polish folk song and dance troupe.  They are named after the Silesia (“Śląsk”) region. Śląsk originally focused on the folk traditions of Upper Silesia and has since expanded to include all Polish regions.

When I saw the listing at McCarter I was really curious.  I had literally no idea what to expect from the show.  In theory I was celebrating my heritage, but it was completely alien to me and could have easily just been a bunch of guys on stage with accordions.  Thankfully that proved to not be the case.

The ensemble consists of 80 members, including a choir and dancers dressed in stunning and intricately decorated traditional costumes.  And boy, were the costumes spectacular.  Pictures could never do justice to the beauty of these clothes.  slask2I can honestly say I have never seen blues as rich as these or violets as powerful as these.  And the intricacy of the design work (all hand-made) was stunning.  Most of the dancing consisted of the women spinning (a lot).  And their dresses were designed in such a way that the final six inches or so would face down while the rest billowed out.  Even Sarah, no slouch in the seamstress department, couldn’t understand how it worked.

We had cheap seats (really cheap–$20–and these two were the only $20 seats to be had I don’t quite understand why).  We were on the left side of the stage, practically below the stage and right in front of the minimal orchestra (about six people on stage, although I couldn’t see them all).  The crazy thing is that people just one row ahead or even two seats over paid a much higher price, so I guess our seats couldn’t have been that bad.  The major downside to sitting where we did is that you couldn’t see the overall patterns of ten or twelve women spinning around as well as you could from the balcony.  Indeed, center balcony seats would be amazing.  The advantage to our seats was that we were very close to the stage (six rows away) and could see the clothes very closely, and I believe the colors may have even been more vibrant. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The Believer July/August 2008 Music Issue Compilation CD: The Volatile But Symbiotic Relationship of Mabel and Anabel (2008).

The previous Believer CD expanded the palette of music by introducing a lot of hard-edged bands.  But this CD smashes any complaints about one-dimensionality.  It is designed around a concept of “world” music which they have designated as MABEL (Musicians of American, British, or [Western] European Lineage) and ANABEL (Artists Not of American, British, or [Western] European Lineage).

The internet has introduced a huge amount of ANABEL music to MABEL musicians.  And this has led to Western musicians experimenting with very different musical styles.

The problem, such as it is, with this disc is that it is comprised almost entirely of ANABEL songs.  So, although the disc is designed to show the influences of these artists there’s not a whole lot of tracks that show the western bands using them.  (In fairness, you can only do so much with 72 minutes).  And yes, there are a number of clearly MABEL artists here: Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors.

However, as an introduction to a few cultures’ worth of music, it’s pretty great.  I admit that I don’t love every song on this disc.  But after a few listens I’ve really grown to appreciate these tracks from Iran, Jamaica (dancehall), India and Bulgaria.

Some artists that really impressed me were: Googoosh, and her traditional Iranian track from the 70s.  Enemble Pirin, a subset of the Le Mysterè des Voix Bulgares (whom I’ve liked for years).  And Beat Konducta.  It also introduced me to Aceyalone, who I’ve heard of but never listened to.  And I really enjoyed the superfast rapping in the start of Busy Signal’s track.

I wouldn’t listen to this disc a lot, but it would be fun to throw a track or two from this on a mix CD and see how well it fit.

The track listing is here.

[READ: December 15, 2009] Shenanigans

I usually really enjoy the slice of life/romancey comics from Oni Press.  But I have some major gripes with this one.

The art is pretty cool.  I’m intrigued by the fact that the pupils of the characters are white (like L i’l Orphan Annie).  I found it very disconcerting at first, but once I got used to it, I rather liked it.  And the characters were always very expressive.

It’s the story that I have a problem with. (more…)

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