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Archive for the ‘Prostitution’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MATT BERRY-Music for Insomniacs (2014).

Matt Berry is a renaissance man and I love everything he does.  Whether it’s acting in over the top comedies or making over the top prog rock, Berry is my guy.  He has several albums out already.  This one was his fifth. Evidently he created this album in the middle of the night while unable to sleep.

The back cover image is of him sitting amid a Rick Wakeman-like array of keyboards.  And if you’re into gear, he lists everything that he plays on this album:

Arp Odyssey Synthesiser, Korg MS-20 Synthesiser, Korg MS-20008 Synthesiser & Vocoder, Korg Sigma Synthesiser, Korg Polyphonic Ensemble, Korg SV1 Electric Piano, Minimoog Synthesiser, Mellotron-Pro, Solina String Ensemble, Roland Jupiter 4m Synthesiser, Roland Pro Mars Synthesiser, Roland juno 6 Synthesiser, Roland Gaia Synthesiser, Roland Jupiter 80 Synthesiser, Yamaha CS-15 Synthesiser, Yamaha CS-60 Synthesiser, Hammond XKB Organ, Korg & Roland rhythm boxes and found percussion.

Why would anyone need so many synthesisers?  Well, to make an album like this.

It is two 23 minute “songs.”  They are meandering, trippy sounds mashed up with snippets of “songs.”

Part 1 opens with vocals and then an organ playing a familiar-ish classical organ melody but it’s only a nod to classical music because soon enough a bass comes in and turns the music into a very different sounding piece.  I particularly love the way he phases and echoes the drums.  Variations on this song/theme run for about five minutes with more and more interesting sounding effects, until it all fades out into waves of synths.

The swirling synths create an atmosphere for another five minutes when abruptly, you hear something being turned off (or on) and a shushing.  More trippy synth washes follow and then at 13 minutes a new keyboard melody is added to the washes–a gentle tune that give the washes some momentum.  It starts building until 16 minutes when it grows distinctly dark.  Creepy echoing voices come out of the fog.  And you can hear someone shouting okay okay.  Then out of the quiet, a martial drumbeat grows louder and louder as a song starts to form.  At 19 minutes, the melody from “October Sun” from his Kill the Wolf album starts playing.  A processed voice sings the lyrics, but they are very hard to hear.  I assume it is Cecilia Fage, as she is credited with voice/choir.

Part two is not radically different.  It opens with a choir of voices.  It morphs into gentle washes of synths like mid-period Pink Floyd, complete with space sounds–whooshing and zapping.  Then comes what sounds like a horse walking by and some slightly dissonant keys before some hugely vocodered voice start singing a melody.  It’s followed by pianos at seven and a half minutes which merge with the rest of the synth melody.  There is much more going on in the background–voices, sounds, who knows what.

Things abruptly end with a big splash of water at 8:45 and remain underwater for a time before a new synth pattern emerges. Things become celestial with a choir around 13 minutes.  After a big explosion at 14 minutes, spacey chords return followed by another explosion and a return underwater–squishy sounds, then a distant bay crying (my daughter just walked in and said this music is creepy).  Other sounds swim in and out as angelic voices sing.  This goes on until 17 minutes when things settle down into a more stately organ-fueled section.  Things drift away almost to silence and then at 19, a pulsing synth bass starts things up again.  He adds a jaunty synth melody to the bass and it’s suddenly a new wave song.  This dancy part continues until the end of the song when things grind to a halt.

This is a peculiar record for sure.  It’s not soothing for sleep, nor is it particularly upbeat for non-sleep.  But it is an interesting look into Matt Berry’s headspace.

[READ: November 18, 2020] “Fata Morgana”

This is an excerpt from Koeppen’s novel Pigeons on the Grass which was translated by Michael Hofmann.

I’m not sure where in the story this comes from, but I feel like it jumps in right in the middle of a scene.

A black man, Washington Price, is walking through the streets of tenement houses (in Germany) with a bouquet of flowers: “he had marriage on his mind.”

He wasn’t particularly notable in this area, but the fact that he arrived in a blue limousine started a lot of people grumbling behind the tenement windows.

He was there to see Carla.  Carla lived on the third floor with some other girls and their minder, Frau Welz.  The other girls were there for the soldiers.  As (maybe?) was Carla.  They all knew he was there for Carla, but that didn’t stop them from trying to entice him into their room. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHICANO BATMAN-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #46 (July 7, 2020).

I first became aware of Chicano Batman (what a great name) a couple years ago either from WXPN or from a Tiny Desk.  I didn’t know they’ve been around for ten years.

They have an interesting mellow psychedelic sound that seems to center around Bardo Martinez’ soft croon.

they’ve crafted their musical identity with layers of sound, from vintage organs to the most nuanced of funk grooves.

Although I feel like their music is pretty recognizable, the blurb says that their new album Invisible People

is a major shift in their group sound. As you hear in songs like “Polymetronomic Harmony,” their sound is now much denser, with full-on references to a variety of influences, including the 1973, Herbie Hancock funk-jazz classic Head Hunters, which makes a walk-on appearance in the stack of vinyl just behind guitarist Carlos Arévalo.

“I know It” starts the song in perfect style with Bardo playing guitar and singing along to the melody he’s playing.  There’s a funky bass line from Eduardo Arenas and the soft echoing guitar chords from Carlos Arévalo.  The time changes at the end of the verses are a nice touch.

Bardo introduces the band and then for “Moment of Joy” Bardo switches from the guitar to a great retro-sounding keyboard.  Carlos plays a slow echoing guitar as the band lays a groove around them.

“Color my life” opens with great sliding then high note bass from Eduardo with scratchy wah wah from Carlos and clicky drums from Gabriel Villa.  Carlos plays some unexpectedly wild buzzy guitar solos throughout and then ends the song with another sound change for the guitar before the song abruptly ends.

“Polymetronomic Harmony” opens with a pretty guitar intro and thumping bass.  The song just feels like it’s building to something and after a fake out with soft keys after the first verse, the song takes off with roaring guitars and the propulsive rhythm section.

This is a really fun set and I’ll bet they are great live.  They were scheduled to play in Philly during the quarantine.  I’m definitely going to have to check them out next year.

[READ: July 11, 2020] “The Birthday Present”

I wanted to like this story more than I did.  It had an intriguing premise but it seemed to get lost in the musings of the main character.  Some of what she thought about was interesting, but I think it could have been much shorter.

Ariel has been married to Roberto for many years.  She is younger than he is (she is his second wife). Things have gotten steady and calm in their marriage.

She has classic American beauty–she is tall and solid–which is something of a novelty in Italy.  Roberto’s friend Flavio had often pursued Ariel but had recently given up.  He now liked to give her a hard time instead.  She had been talking to Flavio and he suggested that she get Roberto a prostitute for his fifty-fifth birthday.  He wanted to see how she would react (she was believed to be an American prude), so she told him she thought it was a great idea.  And she called the woman he had jokingly suggested.

Ariel believed wholly in fidelity.  But she she was Roberto’s second wife.  He had a few indiscretions during their marriage.  But she felt this would be an interesting gift.

She would make a date with Roberto for dinner.  But she would arrange for two prostitutes to show up and dine with him.  And then they would all go back to Flavio’s apartment to do whatever they wanted.

On his birthday, their children greeted him as is tradition–waking him up early and jumping on him.  Ariel gave him a package that he was not supposed to open until dinner–it contained money and silk underwear.  The underwear was to go to the woman he liked better.

Then she had the whole day to herself.  She never once had misgivings about her plan.

She drives around, checking out the prostitutes who line Italy’s streets–she felt badly about them being there when she first arrived in the country.  But she has gotten used to them.  There were one or two that she slowed down in front of to really look at–they were very pretty.  She wondered about the women who were with her husband.

He called her at 8:15 to say his surprise had arrived, They weren’t dressed for a fancy restaurant and he did not look forward to eating with them.  But he thanked her for the present.

She spent he rest of the evening in her own head and then was pleased at how clean he smelled when he arrived home that night.

I’m not sure what I expected from this story but it was too meandering.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BANANA SPLITS-“The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” (1968).

traOf all the bubblegum pop songs, this is probably the one I know the best.

I was surprised to discover that the song and TV show were from 1968, because I used to watch it all the time.

But I see that the series originally ran from September 7, 1968 to September 5, 1970, but then it was in syndication from 1971 to 1982, which is when I watched it.  Amazingly, it was in syndication for 11 years and there were only 31 episodes made.

Is there anything catchier than a bunch of people singing tra la la, la la la la?

And then the lyrics couldn’t be simpler:

One banana, two banana, three banana, four
Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Coming on to bring you the Banana Splits show
Making up a mess of fun
Making up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone
Four banana, three banana, two banana, one
All bananas playing in the bright warm sun
Flipping like a pancake, popping like a cork
Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork

This was the theme song for the TV show.  It was a minute and a half and is insanely catchy.

The Dickies did a punk cover in the 1970s, which doesn’t sound very different from the original, expect that instead of bright keyboards, the music is all guitars and drums.  It is faster-paced and yet longer because of a guitar solo and some extra sing along parts.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the Banana Splits were:

  • Fleegle — A greenish-brown dog wearing a large red bow tie, black buttons, brownish-orange chucks, with his tongue is always sticking out. He plays a guitar and sings.
  • Bingo — A nasal-voiced orange gorilla wearing white glasses and a yellow vest, featuring a toothy grin. He plays drums and sings.
  • Drooper — A lion with a very long tail wearing yellowish-orange glasses, spats on his feet, and speaks with a Southern drawl. He plays a bass guitar and sings.
  • Snorky — A mute furry elephant wearing pink glasses. He becomes a regular elephant in season 2, wearing a green vest with yellow stripes. He communicates through honking sounds akin to a clown horn, and one of the other Splits would translate what he is saying. He plays a keyboard.

What a great time to be a kid.

[READ: June 8, 2020] Bubblegum Week 5

Over at the Infinite Zombies site, there was talk of doing a Quarantine book read.  After debating a few books, we decided to write about a new book, not a book that everyone (or some people) had read already.  This new book would be Bubblegum by Adam Levin.  Many of us had read Levin’s massive The Instructions which was not especially challenging, although it was a complex meta-fictional story of books within books.  It was kind of disturbing, but also rather funny and very entertaining.

So I’ll be posting weekly ideas on this schedule

Date Through Page
May 11 81
May 18 176
May 25 282
June 1 377
June 8 476
June 15 583
June 22 660
June 29 767

A Fistful of Fists is a Handful

After the academia and “high brow” thoughts of Triple J’s essays, this week’s transcription of Triple J’s film A Fistful of Fists: A Documentary Collage is rather tough reading.  It reminded me of reading something like David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men or Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (The Part About the Crimes) in that there’s some really horrible things to witness but their inclusion serves to prove a point and even to further the plot and fill in some gaps.

A Fistful of Fists is a collage of twenty-seven short films all about the joy of killing cures.  The transcription is a print version of what is seen on the videos, sometimes in graphic detail.  Scenes of it reminded me of some of the “torture porn” stories that were trendy a while back. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FUN AND GAMES-“Elephant Candy” (1968).

indexI’d never heard of The Fun and Games before looking up this bubblegum pop song.

Amazingly there were six members of the band (and none of them were cartoons).

The band members and name were constantly in flux and they released only one album, Elephant Candy in 1968.

“Elephant Candy” is a two and a half minute pop delight.

The main music of this song sounds almost like the music of a merry-go-round–a kind of sugar-coated pipe organ.

The song opens with the preposterously catchy “elephant elephant candy did you know that elephants can be fun eating candy on the run.”  The second go-round features backing vocals of a steady “Ahhahahh” that sounds simultaneously unsettling and catchy: kind of like a fun house mirror.

The verse seems like its just an opportunity to pause in between the next appearance of the chorus.

If that weren’t catchy enough, the song moves up a step so it’s even more treacly. Somehow, the song even has time for two keyboard solos.

[READ: June 1, 2020] Bubblegum Week 4

Over at the Infinite Zombies site, there was talk of doing a Quarantine book read.  After debating a few books, we decided to write about a new book, not a book that everyone (or some people) had read already.  This new book would be Bubblegum by Adam Levin.  Many of us had read Levin’s massive The Instructions which was not especially challenging, although it was a complex meta-fictional story of books within books.  It was kind of disturbing, but also rather funny and very entertaining.

So I’ll be posting weekly ideas on this schedule

Date Through Page
May 11 81
May 18 176
May 25 282
June 1 377
June 8 476
June 15 583
June 22 660
June 29 767

Sometimes One Looks Like The Other, Bad Taste and Stupidity

This weeks reading was really intense.  It also showed things that I never imagined would come up.

  • A lengthy and carefully edited suicide note.
  • A lengthy treatise on transgendered persons/prostitution/homosexuality
  • Academic papers that are simultaneously well-written and yet obviously the work of a child.

Part Two, Section 5 of the book is called “Letters and Facts.”

This was an interesting place to stop/resume reading because, although they reference the same incident, the beginning of this section differs from the end of the previous section.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JADE JACKSON-NonCOMM (May 17, 2019).

I thought this was Jade Bird when I saw her name listed.  I have come to like Jade Bird quite a bit.  I had also forgotten about Jade Jackson.

Jackson is getting ready to release her second record, Wilderness, next month, and she and her band came prepared with a seven-song set of catchy country rock tunes.

I guess it’s the “country” part that meant I’d like her less.  I don’t like country music (duh) but I do really like the feminist lyrics that so many country singers have been writing lately.  All of these new country singers who are getting crossover airplay write about strong women.  I just wish I liked their music and their voices (too twangy) better.  Having said that Jackson’s voice is far less twangy than most.

And her lyrics are pretty good. Like in “Bottle It Up”

I cross my heart
I don’t need a man’s hands to open the jar

Although it seems like a lot of modern country songs are about drinking (old ones too, of course).

But her songs are certainly more rocking than country, I’d say.  “City Lights” rocks a lot harder and was more enjoyable to me.

 Jackson pushes the boundaries of that genre label in any way she can, citing influences from Lucinda Williams to Mazzy Star and The Smiths, and enlisting seasoned punk rocker Mike Ness of Social Distortion to produce her records.

Jade Jackson flew in from California just in time to play the last set of NonCOMM this afternoon. But you’d never guess the singer-songwriter was a bit jet-lagged — and struggling with a guitar that had just endured a cross-country flight in the cargo hold — if she hadn’t told us.

“Finish Line” is slower but still pretty catchy.  “Tonight” is even slower.  She says it’s a personal song about something that happened to her.  The lyrics are not explicit although it is clear what happens and “Jackson emphasized that its very personal content made it the most difficult one on Wilderness to write.”  It’s surprising to make it have such a catchy chorus.

She thanks the audience for being so nice and promises that they will carry on their guitars next time.

Her older songs have a lasting familiarity, like the foot-stomping “Good Time Gone.”

This does sound familiar, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard it before.  It is catchy and foot stomping.

“Secret” opens with an guitar intro that sounds a bit like U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” but which goes in a different direction.  There’s a pretty ripping guitar solo which I adds an edge to the song.  She says she wrote it in her car on the way to the gym.

She ends the set with “Troubled End.”  This one is the real foot-stomper, the one kind of country song I like.

So yes, I guess she’s a country crossover sing that I do like.

[READ: June 3, 2019] “Prosperity”

After reading the essay from Salman Rushdie about India, I was interested to read a story about India–using what I learned from that essay to help flesh out this story.

And this story had everything: torturing dogs, torturing cats, child prostitutes, religious violence, infidelity and incest!

This was, without question, the most horrible story I have ever read.

All of the above things were done by the narrator (well, he didn’t torture the animals, but he did calmly report about it and described it in detail).  All of it is told in first person, which makes it so much worse. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JON BATISTE AND STAY HUMAN-“Believe in Love” (Field Recordings, November 6, 2014).

I had never heard of Jon Batiste and Stay Human until he became the bandleader and sidekick on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

It’s always fun to read about a famous person from before they were famous.  But this blurb doesn’t say much about him (that’s him in the yellow suit and melodica).  But the story about this Field Recording [Jon Batiste Leads A Private Street Parade Atop A Fort] was too good not lead the whole thing in.

Jon Batiste is from New Orleans, where a street parade might assemble around the corner on any given day. Evidently, he likes a good walkabout: He’s liable to lead his band at a guerrilla concert in the New York City subway, or out of a venue, or — as he did at the Newport Jazz Festival — off stage and into the audience.

After playing a set at Newport, he and the Stay Human band kept walking. They walked past the backstage trailers, through the quad stage and up onto an overgrown rampart of Fort Adams — the 190-year-old edifice that houses the festival. After a long day of travel, interviews and a headlining performance, they were there to give us a special and private encore.

The song they played, “Believe in Love” which is upbeat and pleasant.   It is a pretty New Orleans-inflected  (must be the sousaphone bass) poppy/jazzy song.  It’s a lovely understated song, with simple instrumentation: Jon Batiste, voice/melodica; Eddie Barbash, alto saxophone; Barry Stephenson, bass; Ibanda Ruhumbika, tuba; Joe Saylor, tambourine; Jamison Ross, cowbell/backing vocals.

The keyboardist and bandleader calls his portable performances “love riots”: attempts to generate instant community through music.

I love at the end, before they finish, they simply turn around and walk off (even the upright bass), still paying as the music fades from the microphone.

[READ: October 9, 2017] “The Proposition”

This story is about a successful immigrant to Toronto.  His success is more or less everything he hoped for himself, but he wishes he had just a bit more.

Roman Berman had, like many Jews, migrated to this area of Toronto and because he was successful, he was always asked for various avenues of help.  He wanted to sell his old car, but before he could, a friend called and asked if he would sell this car to Svirsky.  So he waited in his office, but of course Svirksy (who bought a lemon of a car previously) did not show at the appointed time.

Berman was sympathetic to his plight but still angered about the delay.  But he knew that when he first arrived he was also looking for help from anywhere.  He worked very hard to get hat he had–and still worked very hard–to the point of irritating the people he relied on for referrals.  But it was necessary if he wanted to provide a good life. (more…)

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 may162SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 9, 2016).

First of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on Drums. Featuring Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

I’m not sure how many shows the band played since the previous show in April.  This show was eight months later and the improvement in Martin’ on stage behavior is remarkable.  He seems calm and comfortable.  He hits his notes and (almost) doesn’t forget any lyrics.  Hugh Marsh is on violin.

This is a really remarkable show.

It’s also the introduction of five new songs!

The recording sound is quiet and a little flat, so you really don’t get a good exposure to the new songs which don;t sound that great in this setting.

They start the show confidently with “Stolen Car” and Martin sounds great.  Tim says, we don’t have any setlists (no sure if that’s bragging or complaining).  It is followed by “King of the Past” with some soaring violins from Hugh.

“Claire” feels quiet, but the whole show does, like it’s missing a low end or something.  After the song, Tim says, “That’s it for the hits, sorry.”

But Dave counters, “Here come the near misses” and they launch into “P.I.N.”  Followed by a song from The Story of Harmelodia (Don;t worry it ends well) “It’s Easy To Be With You.”  They both sound poppy and great.

Dave mentions the “wintertime seasonal shenanigans” as Kevin starts playing samples of Mister Rogers: “Sandwiches.  I like to talk to you.  You’re very special to me.  Even if it were raining I’d like it with you.”  This is the lead in to “Michael Jackson” which has a lot of fun keyboard sounds on the verses.  The song instrumentation sounds very different, even if music hasn’t changed.

Then come the five new songs:

Music Is The Message (Tim Vesely) 4:45  This is a slow Tim song.  It is heavy on piano and,in fact, feels like the other guys aren’t really part of it (I assume the recorded version will sound bigger).

Before Dave’s song, Martin says:

“Remember… eye contact with the first three rows. Make love to their faces.”
Dave: “I don’t know if i can do that with all of those people.”
Martin: “You can a little bit.”
Dave: “I have my eye on someone special, Martin.”
Kevin: “You’re a man of great stamina.”

Mountains And The Sea (Dave Bidini) 5:05  This song has a sing-song quality with a kind of farty keyboards (a recording issue no doubt).  But once again, heavy on the piano and rather mellow.  There’s a kind of orchestral middle section that’s quite unlike a Dave song (there’s even soaring vocals).

Dave Clark: “Martin,  I’m not going to cheer because of those miserable people on deck.”
Martin: “The boys of the crew.”
Kevin: “Why don’t you like the boys of the crew?”
Dave: “They’re so cruel.”
Martin: “They kill stuff for fun.”
This is a lead in to The Albatross (Martin Tielli) 5:35 which Martin explains is pretty directly from a [Charles] Baudelaire poem called “The Unlucky Albatross.”   It’s a very Martin piece, quite theatrical.  It’s about the boys beating to death the unlucky albatross.  The middle section is a very theatrical waltz with muzzy keyboards and a plucked violin.

At the end, Martin says: “That was in 16/11.”  I’m not sure if he means the tempo or the year.

Someone shouts, “When are you releasing a new album?”
Bidnini: “It’s complicated.”
Martin: “We gotta get out of our contract with Sire Records, first.”  [much laughter]
Tim: “Forty more years don’t worry about it.”

Kevin’s gonna lead us in this next song, Chemical Valley (Kevin Hearn) 5:27.  It’s a very Kevin slow song (and quite long ).  Again lots of keys and limited guitar (sounds like maybe Martin is soloing trough).

Bidini: “Dave Clark on the drumset tonight.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “I love you, Dave.”
Bidini: “I love you too, ma’am.”
Tim: “Other Dave.”
Clark: “Wow, Tim is a tough crowd.”
Super Controller (Dave Clark) 4:55 has a big “ba da da” verse.

Then back to the older stuff with a great “California Dreamline.”  Martin sounds terrific.  And they joke about “spooning in the dry sand.”  Bidini: “We were into spooning like way before it was popular.”  Martin: “Before there was a word for it.”  Clark: “They tried knifing, they tried forking.”  Bidini: “You guys ever whisk?  That was dangerous.  We learned how to whisk in Vancouver.”

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” has a wild wah wah solo from Hugh Marsh, it also has part of “Uncle Henry” and a song with lyrics “We’re digging a hole on a military trail” which I can’t place.

“Queer” sounds great (with excellent backing vocals) and has a reading by Kevin dad of “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski.  Kevin takes a little vamp through “I’m Waiting For My Man” before the song ends properly.

“Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” is wild with some cool keys floating over the top and then an effects-filled drum (and keyboard?) solo and then an “Alomar” type solo before the howls and sirens bring the song to an end.”

The pages says “Shaved Head” but there is no “Shaved Head,” just a long encore break.

They return with a walloping “Peoples Republic Of Dave” (“You ready for G sharp?”).  That was Martin’s request.
Kevin: “Was it from before you joined the band?”
Martin: “It was as I joined the band.”
Dave B:  “It was before I joined the band …weird.”

Martin sounds great on “Saskatchewan” and “Northern Wish.”

And they do come out for a second encore.  Clark says, “I’m gonna play brushed on this one.”
Martin: “We are Ratt.  This is called “Round and Round”

They start “Self Serve Gas Station,” with Martin messing up and joking (!) “Sometimes its gotta start right.”  He even throws in a jokey line: “What went wrong with Bilbo, is he dumb?”

In addition to Martin sounding fantastic, Clark is remarkably restrained.  back in the day he was t he wild and checked id of the band, making jokes, reciting poetry.   In this show he made one or two comments but was otherwise just an amazing drummer.

Knowing that they sound this good now means that I absolutely must see them again when they play next time.

[READ: June 16, 2016] “A Life of Adventure and Delight”

I found this story to be a little confusing.  The action all made enough sense, but there was something that felt…off about it.

As the story opens, Gautama is shoved into a police van with a bunch of other men.  It’s the first time he was arrested for calling a prostitute.  He was 24 and a student at NYU.

He was from Gwalior and knew he would have to get married one day, so he wanted to have as much sex as possible.  Perversely, he though that any woman who would have sex before marriage was depraved and foul.

Gautama had hired many prostitutes although his favorite thing was the negotiation (the actual sex was so immoral it was hard for him to enjoy it).

He was released the next day and made to do community service. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OVERCOATS-Young (2017).

Overcoats is the project of two women: Hana Elion (left on the album cover) and JJ Mitchell.  The focus of their music is, without question, their dynamic voices.  They harmonize beautifully with each other.  Often times you can’t tell who is singing what.  And yet, they also have lovely voices individually.

The music on this record is very minimal.  Some songs are based solely around a low keyboard note and simple percussion.

What’s most interesting about the duo is that their music veers between quiet, introspective songs and some serious dance music.  Their sound is at times uncomfortably poppy for me.  And yet after seeing them on a Tiny Desk Concert I have embraced them and let my pop hair down.

The disc opens with the short (less than 2 minute) “Father” which features one vocal and a low drone underneath.  For the second verse, their voices are multiplied and echoed.  It’s beautiful and a little unsettling.

But it’s “Smaller Than My Mother” in which the more dancey aspects first show up.  Over a thumping bass, their voices are manipulated in a strange way to create a staccato melody.  Musically the song is again, a little unsettling, but after a verse or two, some full-on synths come in to take over the manipulated voices as the prime melody and the two main vocals power through in close, delightful harmony.  The song isn’t exactly catchy, but it is quite entrancing.

“23” begins quietly, with just one vocal line.  For the second verse, the harmonies kick in and the song soars. But again, the music behind them is pretty minimal–droney synths a simple beat and sprinkling of keyboard notes.

“Leave the Light On” takes what they’ve done to a new level of complexity.  It showcases not only their voices (close and distant harmonies) but also their danciest sensibilities.  Their voices are looped and modulated, but they also sing quite rhythmically.  The song also has more music than the others, with some loud synthy patterns and a real dance feel.

“Hold Me Close” is a powerful pretty ballad.  The melody is followed on a piano with these buzzy electronic sounds that propel the song forward.  But the music mostly drifts away because it’s all about their voices.

The back half of the album is a lot more mellow.  “The Fog” manipulates their voices more as a woozy, foggy synth plays throughout the song while “Walk On” is just a pretty, understated song.  “Little Memory” is all about their harmonies as is “Siren” although with a bit more oomph.

“Nighttime Memory” seems like it will continue in that quieter vein, but the chorus comes in with a kind of sinister droning keyboard and the two singers singing a tight harmony of “When the darkness comes, wheh wheh when…”

“Mother” bookends the disc.  The way the two hum in harmony is really warm and inviting, a comforting end to this sometimes unsettling but always beautiful disc.

[READ: March, 21, 2016] “The Elephant”

At the time, I had been reading a number of stories set in the Middle East and India that seemed to be full of futility.  It is quite dispiriting,

This story begins at Mr Ganesh Pai’s store.  Mrs. Engineer had come in person to shop there.  She bought an expensive TV table and said she would pay the balance of the item once it was delivered safely.  Mr Pai notes, “she’s a stingy old cunt.”  This makes his assistant laugh, but there is no laughing in this store.  Rather, he must tell Chenayya that it is his delivery to make.

Chenayya is a coolie–a delivery boy–for this mega store.  The store is doing well, there are many deliveries a day.  But the deliverers get paid poorly and have to give a portion of their to Pai.  Chenayya begins his delivery on the bicycle. Up the big hill.   He works hard, even making sure the table doesn’t wobble (he carried a big saw with him) but she gives him only 3 rupees as a tip.  He begs for six but she tells him to get away.

Many of the other delivery men spend their money on alcohol, but not Chenayya.  He knows the cost isn’t worth t.  He does buy a lottery ticket, though.   He often thinks about stealing the money on a delivery and taking off–maybe someday. (more…)

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last3 SOUNDTRACK: NIGHT BEDS-Tiny Desk Concert #266 (February 18, 2013).

nightTypically we don’t see what happens before the Tiny Desk Concert begins, but for this show, there’s a very funny introduction.  Robin clacks the clacker and as the Winston Yellen starts singing you hear Robin interrupt him and say something.  He sings “When the sorrow goooozz….” and laughs as Robin says “much more important than your singing is my introduction.”  Someone in the band jokes, “gather round, take a knee.”

Night Beds are certainly anchored around Yellen’s voice.  The first song is a brief a capella track called “Faithful Heights.”  It segues perfectly into “Ramona,” where you get a better sense for what the band sounds like.  The band kicks in with some lovely guitar work on the electric guitar while Yellen plays acoustic.  Near the end of the song he launches unexpectedly into some really powerful falsetto.  It’s a very pretty song.

“22” features a more pronounced slide guitar which offers some cool spare, echoing sounds.  The final song is “Hide from It,” and older song tha they haven’t played much. It’s a bit faster with nice backing vocals.  There’s a very pretty guitar riff (I love the gentle echo) and keyboards instead of slide guitar.

I found Might Beds to be quite winning.

[READ: January 17, 2017] LastMan 3

This book was originally written in French (and called Lastman there as well).  These editions were translated by Alexis Siegel.

The art is black and white (and grayscale) and the characters are what I can only describe as very French looking. The faces are very minimal, with some of them looking almost bleached out but for eyes and a mouth.  Some of the men are rather grotesque-looking while the one woman is a knockout.  For the first book I said that it might be okay for a slightly younger audience, but this book changes things–prostitutes, porn mags, threats of violence–nothing explicit but still, way too much for young kids.

This book is also very different from the first two in that it is set in an entirely in a new location.

Adrian and his mom, Marianne, have ridden out to the Rift on her motorcycle.  His mom says that she is going to walk into the mist for a few minutes and she wants him to stay where he is.  And I love this bit:

-Listen Adrian, they say a lot of things in school and at church but in the end what should you always listen to?
-Uh, yes,  I know. Your heart?
-No Silly, what your mother says.

She comes back with a map and realizes that the rift is passable.  They arrive on the outskirts of a town and are caught by some thugs.  It’s very Mad Max looking with the men being really grotesque and planning to proceed with the rape of the delinquent.  Yikes.

As they get close, Adrian’s mother does a summoning and knocks everyone around her down–many of them flee.  Adrian is in awe of his mom.

They ride into Nillipolis and she is convinced that Richard is there.  But Nillipolis proves to be a scummy town.  We meet a guy who works at a brothel, Francis.  He’s the only nice person in the whole town (as are the prostitutes, particularly Flora, the prettiest woman in the book).  They suggest looking in the pawn shop for evidence of Richard.  And indeed in the shop they see the cup that he and Adrian won–it’s even got their names on it.

There’s a lot of excitement in this book with Adrian and his mom fleeing from the thugs who are with the police and the fireman and then  dealing with two attorneys: Raven and Delacruz.  She is being placed under arrest for charges of false prostitution.  But it’s really because they have tied her to Richard–who is in fact in the same prison.

The last quarter of the book is taken up with the trail.  And this trial is unlike any you’ve seen.  There are cheerleaders.  And, it quickly becomes obvious that you win your case through violence and strength and little else.  If your attorney is killed, then you get the death sentence.

We also learn that there’s a grizzled old creepy dude in a wheelchair who wants the map that she has–he believes that the Valley of Kings–where Adrian and his mom are from–has the secret to eternal life.

The book ends on board a ship to Paxtown–a questionable city.  Richard is heading there as well, and it looks like Cristo, the person in the mask who Richard defeated in the battle is there too.

But we’ll have to wait until book 4 to find out just what’s going on.

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2008_04_07-400SOUNDTRACK: HOLLY WILLIAMS-Tiny Desk Concert #373 (July 14, 2014).

holyHolly Williams is a country singer.  Her lineage is hard to deny: the daughter of Hank Williams Jr., half-sister of Hank Williams III, and the granddaughter of country legend, Hank Williams Sr. (she never met him, as he died long before she was born).

She sings three songs.  “Drinkin'” which is very country.  “Railroads” rocks a bit more and has an interesting sounding chorus.  But it’s “Waitin’ on June,” a story song about her grandparents (not on the Williams side) that is beautiful and touching (although I really don’t like the way she sings the word “June,” but that’s just me).

[READ: February 18, 2016] “The House Behind a Weeping Cherry”

This story is about a young Chinese man, Wanren, who has set out for New York to try to benefit his family.  He is shocked to find that he is working in a sweatshop (he left China for this?) pressing clothes.

He has been living in the upstairs apartment of a house owned by Mrs Chen.  But his roommate has just left because he couldn’t handle the fact that the women who lived down the hall were prostitutes (who paid Mrs Chen).

When the roommate moves out Wanren is afraid Mrs Chen will raise the rent. But instead, she asks if he will drive the girls to their appointments at local hotels.  Mrs Chen assures him that he wont get in trouble with the police and he reluctantly agrees.

The rest of the story unfolds with the narrator becoming more friendly with the three girls.

Lili is the meanest of the three. She speaks the best English and answers the phone.  Nana is friendly, but it’s Huong who is the best cook and the prettiest of the three.  Wanren likes her the best.  Lili suggests that he should buy one of them for the night since he has no girlfriend, but he knows not get involved.  He doesn’t want to play favorites even though he has one.

The two of them wind up eating dinner together and sharing their living space a lot more.

He desperately wishes the girls could stop their life and do something legal, but all three of them have serious debts to pay.  Huong owes a Coyote $2000 a month for the expense of getting her to the US.

He learns about the johns and what type of people they are.  Some are married looking for something different.  Some are widows just looking for advice.  For the most part the girls aren’t ever treated that badly. Sometimes the johns go too far–one bit Huong very hard once, and another client turned out to be two men who were both so rough with her so that she couldn’t walk the next day.

One night when a client wouldn’t leave (some made house calls) Wanren stepped in to help.  And now the women like him even more.

This story is something a of a “hooker with a heart of gold” story, but the added details of their illegal status, their trying to raise money to go home and their having to pay off other men puts an interesting twist on it

Finally, the narrator finds them some honest work, but it will never pay enough.  They go to the coyote to see about changing the terms of her payment but he more or less says that if they try plaything he knows where they live.

The story is hopeless.  But somehow the ending adds a slight ray of hope, as unbelievable as it may be.

In writing about the story it seems less good than when I was reading it, but I really enjoyed the characters, especially Wanren, and seeing how his mind worked.  Even if some parts were rather cliched.

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