Archive for the ‘Ping-Pong’ Category

dfwreadSOUNDTRACK: CHRISTIAN SCOTT aTUNDE ADJUAH-Tiny Desk Concert #477 (October 9, 2015).

aacsChristian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his septet play what he calls stretch music: “the particular type of jazz fusion he’s up to: something more seamless than a simple collision of genre signifiers.”

They note that even his appearance stretches traditional jazz: “You may note that he showed up in a Joy Division sleeveless T-shirt and gold chain.” It’s sleek and clearly modern, awash in guitar riffs, but also bold and emotionally naked.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (not sure how to abbreviate that) is a trumpeter and he can hit some loud powerful and long –held notes.   It’s funny that when he bends over the trumpet grows quieter—those ic really are direction-based.

For the first song “TWIN” he does some impressive soloing over a simple and cool beat—piano and delicate guitar riffs (there’s also an upright bass and drummer).   After his lengthy solo there’s a flute solo that also works perfectly (if less dramatically) with the background music.  (Christian plays tambourine during her solo).  He says that this song is about being a twin.  His brother, Kyle Scott is a film director and for whom Christians scores the music.  Christian also explains that he comes from an African-American and Native-American background and that this song has rhythms as a sort of history of his family that touches on Mali, Senegal Gambia and The Ivory Coast and makes its way to the Caribbean, Cuba and into New Orleans.

He’s pleased to play the Tiny Desk Concert for an audience that appreciates “Music that has nutritional value.”

For the second song, “West of the West” he brings on a young alto-saxophonist who plays with his drummer in a different band. The song opens with a rocking electric guitar solo and then the jazzy band kicks in behind it.  The instrumental features a couple of solos by the saxophonist, the pianist and the bassist.

“K.K.P.D.” is a dramatic song for which he gives a lengthy back story.  Many years ago in his home of New Orleans, he was stopped by New Orleans police late at night for no reason other than to harass and intimidate him.  he was coming back from a gig.  He resisted and was in a serious situation and was seriously threatened—the story is long and very affecting, especially given how articulate (I know, terrible word, but true) and calm he is about retelling this horrifying story.  His pride almost made him do something ill-advised, but instead he channeled that pent-up frustration into a piece of music whose long-form title is “Ku Klux Police Department.”

He adds that we see things on TV about inner cities or the ninth ward and we believe them to be true.  Like that the neighborhood is happy that the police are clearing out the youth there.  We begin to think that the narrative is true, although the people who live there can tell you otherwise.  Despite the title and the origin, the is song is designed to reach a consensus to move forward –not to build derision or hate.  He says that we have to start working on that now, because if it doesn’t start now then our children will continue to inherit this situation.

It opens with a noisy guitar wash and fast drums.  It’s quite noisy and chaotic although it resolves very nicely into an almost sweet piano-based song with slow horns.  The middle of the song ramps up with some intense soloing from Christian.  I love how that segues into a very different section with an electronic drum and delicate piano.  Chritsian’s next solo is much more optimistic.  The final section is just wonderfully catchy.

When he introduces the band, he points out just how young some of his newest members are: Drummer Corey Fonville (another new member) used a djembe as a bass drum, and also brought a MIDI pad so he could emulate the sound of a drum machine; Lawrence Fields, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Dominic Minix , guitar (21 years old); Braxton Cook, saxophone (24 years-old) and Elena Pinderhughes, flute: 20 years old!

I don’t listen to a ton of jazz, but I really liked this Tiny Desk Concert a lot.

[READ: July-October 2016] The David Foster Wallace Reader

I’ve had this book since Sarah bought it for me for Christmas in 2014.  I haven’t been in a huge hurry to read it because I have read almost everything in it already.  And some of that I have even read recently.  But this summer I decided to read some of my bigger books, so this was a good time as any.

One of the fascinating things about reading this book is the excerpting in the fiction section.  I have never really read excerpts from DFWs longer books before.  And once you decontextualize the parts, you can really appreciate them for themselves rather than as a means to the end of the story.  This is especially true of the excerpts from Broom of the System and Infinite Jest.  But also just reading some of these sections as a short story makes for an interesting experience.

It was also very interesting to read the non-fiction all together like that.  These pieces come from difference anthologies, but they have thematic similarities  So, placing them together like that allows for really comparing the stories.

And of course, the selling point for most DFW fans is the teaching materials in the center of the book–an opportunity to look into the man’s mind at work shaping younger minds.

I have written about virtually everything in this book already (title links refer back to previous posts), so mostly these are thoughts about the pieces themselves and not a part of a whole. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTINDERSTICKS-Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009: White Material [CST077] (2009).

White Material is the most recent soundtrack that the Tindersticks created for Claire Denis.  It was recorded between their “reunion” album The Hungry Saw and their latest album Falling Down a Mountain.

This is a very moody soundtrack.  The guitars set a brisk but desperate-sounding pace.  There are feedback squalls that echo for even more tension.  The feedback could be any number of things as well: squeaky machines, industrial noise, or simply disconcerting sounds.

There is a repeated motif throughout the score that morphs and blends with the tone.  The overall feel of the soundtrack is unified but it never sounds like you’re listening to the same few notes repeated (which is actually what it is, the songs use a very limited palette).

For such a limited palette of music, they really manage to give a diverse picture of the movie.  The way “Andre’s Death” builds, using those same few notes and feedback is truly amazing.  The tension that has been building throughout the score really comes to a head in those 2 minutes.  Contrarily, the flute that plays over those same notes in “Children’s Theme 2” is a haunting exploration of the theme.

This soundtrack isn’t as industrial/weird as L’intrus, but it is probably more intense and spooky.  It’s amazing how evocative these guys are.

[READ: June 22, 2011] Merit Badges

Sarah brought this book home, but she didn’t read it.  It sounded pretty good (I mean it won the 2009 AWP Award for the Novel), so I decided to give it a go.

The book seemed strange to me in the way it was set up: it seemed to have a very specific structure but it didn’t always follow it exactly. So, there are four main protagonists who write chapters of the book.  But they don’t each get a turn, in fact one, Barbara doesn’t really have much to say until much later when her story becomes very compelling.  It also advanced over the years with no real explanation of pacing or even of when a new narrator has jumped ahead several years.

I assumed this was going to be a story of four people looking back on their high school years.  But indeed, it’s about four people looking back on their whole lives, as they grow together, drift apart, come back into each others lives and then disappear again.  In that way, it was also a bit hard to get my bearings.  It was also hard for me to keep all of the characters straight.  Because even though there are four narrators there are many many more kids introduced in the beginning of the story.

Each chapter opens by stating who the narrator is.  The first few narrators are Chimes Sanborn (Prologue), Quint (Woodwork), Slow Slocum (Cooking), Chimes (Drafting), Barb Carimona (Music), Quint (Mammals), Quint (Crime Prevention) etc.  So it’s not consistent.

But also, as you can see, all of the chapter titles are named after Merit badges (which I liked quite a bit).  The subtitle describes what you have to do to achieve the badge (and the chapter does indeed kind of work within that stricture).

So far so good, but we’re also introduced to ancillary characters who appear quite often: Dickie Burpee, Pooch Labrador, Smash Sarnia, and a psychopath named Tulep.  With all of the nicknames and rotating narrators, I admit to losing track of who was who, which I fear lessened the impact of some of the events.

Of course, that’s all structural.  And while I felt like I probably missed out on moments of impact, the overall storyline was not hard to follow.  And, indeed, complaints aside, the story was pretty intriguing.  It is set in the (fictional) small suburb of Minnisapa, Minnesota.  It feels very true to me (having lived in a small town, myself) as do the choices (bad and good) that the kids make. (more…)

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For Rid of Me, PJ Harvey jumped to the big leagues (relatively) by enlisting maniac Steve Albini as a producer.  And he takes the rawness of Dry one step further into a sound that is both raw and sharp.  He really highlights the differences between the highs and lows, the louds and quiets.  And man, when this came out I loved it.

Like NIN’s “March of the Pigs,” the opening of “Rid Of Me” is so quiet that you have to crank up the song really loud.  And then it simply blasts out of the speakers after two quiet verses.

“Legs” turns Harvey’s moan into a voice of distress, really accentuating the hurt in her voice.  And Harvey hasn’t lightened up her attitudes since Dry, especially in the song “Dry” which has the wonderfully disparaging chorus: “You leave me dry.”

“Rub Til It Bleeds” is a simple song that opens with a few guitars and drums but in true Albini fashion it turns into a noisy rocker.  “Man Size Quartet” is a creepy string version of the later song “Man Size” (I’ll bet the two together would sound great).  And the wonderful “Me Jane” is a great mix of rocking guitars and crazy guitar skronk.   Albini really highlights the high-pitched (male) backing vocals, which add an element of creepiness that is very cool.

For me the highlight is “50 Foot Queenie”.  It just absolutely rocks the house from start to finish.  The song is amazing, from the powerful…well…everything including the amazing guitar solo.  “Snake” is a fast rocker (all of 90 seconds long) and “Ecstasy” is a song that feels wrung out, stretched to capacity, like they’ve got nothing left.

It’s not an easy record by any means, but it is very rewarding.  This is a CD that really calls for reamastering.  Because it is too quiet by half, and could really use–not a change in production–just an aural boost.

[READ: end of February and beginning of March] A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

This is a collection of 7 essays that DFW wrote from 1990-1996.  Three were published in Harper’s, two in academic journals, one in Esquire and the last in Premiere.  I devoured this book when it came out (I had adored “Shipping Out” when it was published in Harper’s) and even saw DFW read in Boston (where he signed my copy!).

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[Does anyone who was at the reading in Harvard Square…in the Brattle Theater I THINK…remember what excerpts he read?]

The epigram about these articles states: “The following essays have appeared previously (in somewhat different [and sometimes way shorter] forms:)”  It was the “way shorter” that intrigued me enough to check out the originals and compare them to the book versions.  Next week, I’ll be writing a post that compares the two versions, especially focusing on things that are in the articles but NOT in the book (WHA??).

But today I’m just taking about the book itself. (more…)

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