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Archive for the ‘Six Organs of Admittance’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: …AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD-Live on KEXP, March 12, 2009 (2009).

Back in 2009, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead had been hit by a truck.  Really.  Evidently no one was hurt too bad, but they did have to cancel a show in Salt Lake City. 

Nevertheless, they managed to get to KEXP to play a four song set from their latest album The Century of Self.  The opener “The Giant’s Causeway” is full of bombast and noise  and has a surprisingly catchy melody in the middle.  It merges into “The Far Pavillion” (just like on the album) which sounds like pretty typical Trail of Dead–rocking and yet melodic, with some good screaming parts.

“Luna Park” is something of a surprise to me as it’s a piano-based ballad (which I suppose Trail of Dead plays, but which I don’t associate with them).   “Bells of Creation” also opens with a piano, but it quickly grows very loud.  It’s a cool song with lots of depth.

I had actually stopped listening to Trail of Dead after Worlds Apart (and album I liked, but I guess the band fell off my radar) so it’s nice to hear they’ve still got it.  At least as of three years ago.

[READ: September 17, 2012] Galápagos

Each of these 1980’s era Vonnegut books gets darker than the last.  In this one the entire human race is wiped out (except for a few people who spawn what eventually becomes of the human race in a million years).  For indeed, this book is set one million years in the future and it is written by a person who was there, one million years in the past when the human race destroyed itself.  It’s not till very late in the book that we learn who the narrator is and, hilariously, what his relationship is to the Vonnegut canon.

In typically Vonnegut fashion, the story is told in that spiral style in which he tells you a bit of something and then circles back to it again later and comes back again later until finally 200 or so pages into the book you get all the details of what is happening.  Interspersed with the respawning f the human race (and flippers) is the story of the Adam and Eve and Eve and Eve and Eve and Eve who created the human race–how they got to be together, what their lives were like before and what contribution they made to humanity, such as it is now.

In another bizarre and fascinating twist, every character who is going to die in the near future gets a star next to his name so that the reader knows that that person is going to die.  We get a lot of things like ★Andrew MacIntosh for many pages until the character finally dies.  And pretty much everybody does die.  Well, obviously if it is set a million years in the future, but aside from that part, only a few of the characters survive.

So here’s how these few people managed to create a new human race in the Galápagos Islands.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE-“Even If You Knew” (2012).

Lars from NPR’s All Things Considered picked this as his summer music preview song.  I don’t know a thing about Six Organs of Admittance, but their discussion of this song makes it seem like this is atypical for the band (which has a massive output).  Evidently they’re usually more droney sounding. But man, this song is pummeling and wonderful.

It’s seven minutes long and opens with a simple, plodding heavy bass riff.  The vocals are kind of whispered and strained.  But then comes the guitar solo–a raging piece of distortion that complements the bass.  And that’s just the first three minutes.

The second half of the song features a quieter section–the bass is quieter, while the guitar noodles around and the vocals play over the rhythm.  The song slowly builds again, and by the last minute or so there’s another fierce guitar solo. Until the song is exhausted by the final distorted notes.

This is some beautiful noise.  And, no I have no idea what the band’s name means.

[READ: June 27, 2012] Deadeye Dick

Deadeye Dick is the last Vonnegut book that I was completely unfamiliar with.  I had no idea what it would be about.  So I didn’t realize until very late in the book, and then I looked online and confirmed that this book is set in the same location as Breakfast of Champions, Midland City, Ohio.  Indeed, some of the same characters appear in this book as appeared in that book.  But more about that later.

Vonnegut is not known for his happy books.  Misanthropy is pretty rampant in his pages.  But this book is one of his bleakest books yet.  The story concerns the Waltz family–Rudy (the protagonist) and his brother Felix are the only children of Otto and Emma Waltz.  Pretty early in the story we learn that Rudy is a double murderer.  Yipes!

As with most Vonnegut stories, this one is told in a convoluted and non-linear fashion.  He foreshadows (and really just casually mentions) a lot of crazy things that are going to happen in the book.  Like the fact that Midland City is going to be devastated by a neutron bomb.  In fact, his preface (like with many of his prefaces) tells us a lot about what’s in the book and who the characters are based on and the fact that there is a neutron bomb (but the reality of a neutron bomb is different from what he says).  There is something about knowing this information ahead of time that impacts the way you read the story.  Whether you think maybe he’s not telling the truth about what will happen (can the narrator really be a double murderer?) or maybe somehow the foreshadowing makes it even worse when it actually happens–the revelations are perhaps more deliberate.  But the style–a recursive style in which he says what happens and then he goes back and fills in the details, makes the events that much more powerful.

The funny thing about this story is that a lot happens to the characters in the beginning of the story and then not too much happens to them after that.  But that early stuff is pretty exciting and it has an impact all the way through. (more…)

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