Archive for the ‘U.N.K.L.E.’ Category

92000SOUNDTRACK: U.N.K.L.E.-“Ar.Mour” (2019).

armourHaving learned that U.N.K.L.E. had not only been making music all of these years but even put out a new album this year, I thought I’d listen to something new and see what it was like.

I chose “Ar.Mour” because James Lavelle described it as a sci-fi beat jam.  It features vocals from Elliott Power and Miink.

A pulsing beat opens this five minute song.  Some deep echoing drums come in and slowly add tension and then after about a minute the slow trip-hop drum beat begins. Then a simple guitar line comes in and around two minutes voices swirl up from underneath.  There is definite sci-fi feel to the song.

The song seems to fade out around 2 and half minutes before picking up again and just when you think the whole song is an instrumental the vocals come in.  There’s a deep voice followed by a repeating higher voice.  Then there’s a rap.  All of the voices are enveloped in a soft echo, making the words hard to hear.

The end of the song has a catchy vocal melody as the whole song builds with all of the parts melding together.

[READ: September 1, 2019] “Nelson and Annabelle” (Part 2)

I’m still not sure if this is a two-part, long short story or if it is an excerpt from a novel.

What was kind of strange was that this whole story was utterly chock full of details as if it were a novel, and yet the ending just sped through and finished up with a kind of epilogue tacked on.

This part starts at Thanksgiving dinner.  Nelson has invited Annabelle to his mother’s house for dinner with the family.  The family includes his mother’s new(ish) husband Ronnie and a bunch of Ronnie’s closest relations.

The conversation is cordial until they start talking politics.  Everybody hates Clinton and they are angry that Hillary might run for office in New York.  It was not enjoyable rehashing the political arguments from twenty years ago, but I was fascinated at how much the things they said about him could easily be applied to trump and I wondered if these fictional people were now pro- or anti- trump.

…he lied to us, the American people.  He said it right out on television….

…he’s a draft dodger.  If I were a soldier I’d tell him to stuff his orders….

He makes me ashamed of being an American he makes America look ridiculous.  Drowning us in sleaze and then flying around all over the world as if nothing whatsoever has happened. Its so brazen.

He makes Nixon look like a saint.  At least Nixon had the decency to get out of our faces.  He could feel shame.

Its the sleaze. What are children supposed to think.  What do you tell the Boy Scouts?

As people get drunker, Ronnie, who has been against Annabelle since she showed up tells her to her face that “You’re your mother’s daughter alright… She’d fuck anybody…  It must feel funny being the illegitimate daughter of hooer and a bum.”

Nelson takes Annabelle and leaves the house and swears he will never set foot in it again.

Next we met one of Nelson’s oldest friends, Billy.  Billy is now an oral surgeon and very rich.  He calls up Nelson and invites him out for dinner to catch up. They have a nice time so when New Year’s Eve comes around–the Y2K New Years–Nelson invites Billy out with him and Annabelle.

Also in town are Nelson’s ex-wife, Pru, and their son.  Their daughter, who is 20, decided to go somewhere else with her boyfriend.  Nelson is bummed about the visit.  He wanted to see his daughter and he imagined that they would all stay with him.

Pru is pleased that he finally moved out of his parents house (the two of them lived in his parents’ house when they were married), but she doesn’t want to stay in his new cramped place.

For New Years Eve, Nelson Pru and Billy plan to go out.  Nelson invites Annabelle to come with them–what else is she doing?

They go for dinner (Billy uses his pull as a n oral surgeon to get them a seat at a crowded restaurant) and a movie.  They see American Beauty and have lots to say about it–it’s fascinating how racist and homophobic these men are.

Annabelle and Billy hit it off.  Nelson didn’t intend for that to happen, but it did.  In fact, in the car, it sounds like maybe he can hear the zipper of her dress being undone a little.

They decide to spend the last minutes of 1999 at a club.  But as they head downtown, the streetlights go out.  Is it a terrorist attack (in central Pennsylvania?)

With the traffic lights out, Nelson thinks people will take turns through the intersection.  But when a jerk in an SUV tries to cut him off, Nelson guns it, making the SUV screech to a halt.

For the first time all night Pru is really nice to him, “Oh honey, that was great, the way you made that asshole chicken out.  I think I wet my pants.”  As they drive further Pru whispers that she might stay at his place tonight after all.

The epilogue is satisfying, if you care about these characters.  Which I kind of do.  I definitely wonder if there’s more to their story or if this was just Updike’s way of capping off the full Rabbit saga


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10222000SOUNDTRACK: U.N.K.L.E.–“Rabbit in Your Headlights” (1998).

unkleI was looking for a “rabbit” song to include with this story and I remembered this one from U.N.K.L.E., an album I had completely forgotten about.

In fact, I had forgotten all about U.N.K.L.E. and was surprised to read that not only was the album Psyence Fiction not a one off, but that he (James Lavelle) has been releasing music up until now.

A slow, mournful piano plays a two chord melody as Thom Yorke sings his best Thom Yorke.  Thumping electronic drums slowly build from nothing and then a spare bass line which seems to circle the piano is added.

After two minutes, the music drops out leaving just a piano and a spoken middle section.  The drums slowly build back and then Yorke begins singing again. As Yorke’s voice soars and soars the song feels like it’s going to end (at five minutes)  but it hits a crescendo moment and then drifts back in to a chill trip-hop beat as the noirish piano fades out.

This song came out after O.K. Computer but before Kid A, and the trip-hop beats sure nod to where Radiohead would be going.

I’m glad to know that trip- hop is still hanging in there and I’ll have to check out some of the other U.N.K.L.E. albums.

[READ: September 1, 2019] “Nelson and Annabelle” (Part 1)

I have never read any of John Updike’s “Rabbit” novels.  I always meant to.  In fact, I owned a copy of the Updike Rabbit book that was always remaindered.  But I wanted to start with the first one and just never got around to it.

I feel like now it’s too late to read them.  I imagine that the stories are retrograde and old -fashioned and that I won’t appreciate the protagonists or the attitudes.  In fact, this story, which I enjoyed parts of, has some pretty unpleasant attitudes about women.

I initially felt I would have enjoyed this story more had I read the Rabbit books since the subtitle here is “the two children of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom meet at last.”  There’s a lot of character introduction in the beginning–ex-husbands, ex-wives, lovers, children.  But once it settled in, I found it interesting and then re-read the first two pages to get everything straightened out.

So, in brief, Harry (Rabbit) was married to Janice.  They had a son, Nelson.  Harry died and Janice married Ronnie. Ronnie knew Harry for most of his life, but they seem to be somewhat antagonistic.

This story opens with the new that Harry slept with a woman, Ruth, and maybe have been the father of Ruth’s daughter, Annabelle.  Turns out Ronnie also slept with Ruth (before Harry did) and Ronnie describes her as the Brewer town whore.  Harry had also slept with Ronnie’s first wife (there’s a lot of convoluted infidelity going on). (more…)

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