Archive for the ‘Anne Milano Appel’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SILJA SOL-Verftet Online Music Festival 2020 (April 5, 2020).

In April 2020, Norway’s Verftet Music Festival streamed an online concert:

Get ready for Verftet Online Music Festival, Bergen’s largest virtual concert festival, where we can enjoy great music together. We want to turn despair and frustration into innovation and positivity, and invite everyone to a digital festival experience out of the ordinary – right home in your own living room.

Sadly, most of the performances are unavailable, but this one from Siljia Sol (who is also Aurora’s backing vocalist) is streaming.

She plays ten songs in about 40 minutes, singing entirely in Norwegian.

“Kometen” is a two minute opener.  It has trippy synths and feels like an introductory lullaby.  Silja has an amazing voice, with quite a range.  Here it is soft and childlike.  But “Superkresen” turns into a fully 80s dance song.  It fits perfectly with the totally80s visuals of her set.

“Hatten” continues the bounciness.  This song feels poppier with a quietly soaring chorus.  “Hultertilbult” is more guitar-based and feels more organic.  As does “Ni Liv” which has a more prominent bass line.  This song has nice soaring backing vocals from her guitarist.

I don’t know the originals of these songs at all, but this feels like a restrained rendition.  Not quite unplugged, but perhaps more suitable for watching on your couch.

For “Stemning” she moves to the piano and plays a quiet ballad–her voice is lovely here.

The dancing returns for “Løgneren.”  Throughout these songs, Silja’s voice reminds me of Aurora’s, probably because her voice is essential to all live Aurora songs (and because they are both Norwegian).  With Aurora Silja hits incredibly high soaring notes and she really doesn’t do that in her own songs.  Although she does hit some high notes here.

“Semmenemme” has a more rhythmic approach–with almost a rapping vibe.  “Eventyr” cranks up the guitar more with a nice groove behind it.

“Dyrene” ends the set with the most catchy song of the bunch.  It is more subtle but features some nice soaring high vocals in the chorus.

It’s fascinating listening to ten songs and having no idea (at all) what they are about.  I’m very curious to hear if her recorded output has a more or less 80s vibe going on.

You can stream the set here.

[READ: July 10, 2021] “Curving Time in Krems”

This story was really cerebral and metaphysical. as such it took a really long time to get to the point.  It was also an incredibly long story for what amounts to: boy calls girls he had a crush on and wished he had done so sooner.

The main character is an academic invited to a dinner party in Krems, a city that “resembles Vineta, the city submerged by waters.”  Snow had fallen making the oblivious old town even more deserted.

A woman at the dinner insists that her cousin attended classes with him and spoke about him recently.  He tells her this is impossible as he did not have female classmates.

He figures out that the woman is talking about Nori S.  But Nori was a grade ahead of him and there’s no way she would remember him.

For a seventeen-year-old boy, a beguiling eighteen-year-old girl is more inaccessible than a Hollywood diva is to a professor [that’s a weird simile, there].


Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: TOM WAITS- Foreign Affairs (1977).

This album is kind of a split between Waits’ bluesy songs and his “poetic rants.”  The only problem with the album per se is that he’s been doing this kind of stuff for five albums now and while he’s still good at it (great at it, actually), it’s probably time for a change (which he does on the next album).  This is not to say that the songs themselves are weaker than others, or that they are not at least slightly unexpected (the eight minute “Potter’s Field” is quite unexpected), just that when you know what he’s going to be doing,  this album feels like a pre-transition, one might even say a rut.

The disc opens with a pretty piano waltz (“Cinny’s Waltz”) that segues right into his jazzy nightclub sounding (ie. piano and sax) track “Muriel.”  The third track, “I Never Talk to Strangers” is a duet with Bette Midler (which I think makes sense given her persona, but I have simply never liked her–maybe that’s why I don’t like this album as much as I could).

“The Medley of Jack & Neal (about Kerouac and Cassidy) is a long rambling story about the two beats, it ends with a riff on “California Here I Come.”  In a similar vein–alluding to appropriate music–“A Sight for Sore Eyes” opens with the music from “Auld Lang Syne” before turning into one of Waits’ weepy ballads.

The second half of the disc is more storytelling as song.  “Potter’s Field” tells a lengthy story with occasional blasts of saxophone.  About midway through, it begins to sound like more of a musical–with the music adding dramatic effects to the lyrics–this may be a kind of foretelling of his more operatic music from Swordfishtrombones.  “Burma-Shave” is another long story (over 6 minutes).  This one is much darker (a fairly straightforward story of meeting a bad guy and going for a drive), but it’s a pretty good story for all of its noirishness.  “Barbershop” has a great bassline, but it is indeed about getting a haircut.  The album ends with the title cut, a sung ballad.

His next album, Blue Valentine, features electric guitars and keyboards and will change the sound of his songs quite a bit.

[READ: September 25, 2011] “Beatrixpark: An Illumination”

I don’t think I have read too many contemporary Italian authors (Italo Calvino is the only one who springs to mind).  Realistically, this shouldn’t make any difference to anything but this story seemed so off to me that I have to wonder if it’s something about Italian authors or if it is Voltolini is particular.  This story was translated by Anne Milano Appel.

The story begins by explaining that the main character is a man from the south.  Being very conscious of the fact that the author is Italian, not American, I worked hard to think of the bottom of the boot as opposed to Alabama.  Of course, being from Southern Italy doesn’t mean anything to me really, but I kept it in mind.   Then I find out the story is set in Amsterdam.  And then several paragraphs in, we learn that he is from Southern Europe somewhere.  Sigh.  To quote the story, “Gimme a break, provincial middle-aged man from the south!  Fuck off, why don’t you?” (more…)

Read Full Post »