SOUNDTRACK: GOJIRA-L’Enfant Sauvage (2012).
Gojira is a French heavy heavy metal band, and this album was highly recommended back in 2012 (I didn’t realize it wasn’t their debut–they have quite a few records out already). This album is quite heavy, but it has a lot of diverse elements to keep it interesting.
At the same time, they do rely on a couple of guitar effects which make the album weirdly samey (no idea if they do it on other albums too). The two biggest offenders in this “repeated” scenario are the seeming over-reliance on the open high e string to add contrast to the heavy chugging chords. It’s a cool effect once or twice but they do it a lot (especially in the song “The Axe” where it happens way too much and which is then followed by “Liquid Fire” where they do it again). The other thing they do is this weird scraping sound. It happens in the first few notes as the disc opens (in “Explosia”). It’s a really cool sound and quite distinctive. When you do a weird sound like that a lot in one song, it feels like maybe too much, but then to do it in several other songs, it feels like a crutch.
Which is a shame because the rest of the album is really interesting–the vocals are growly but audible and there’s occasionally really cool backing harmony vocals (“Liquid Fire”) and some really unusual different parts to songs.
So “Explosia” opens really heavy with a crazy riff and pounding drums (and that weird scraping sound). I love that at 2:30 it switches from bludgeoning to slower (but still heavy) and that as the song fades out with another heavy section there are slow guitar notes that remind me of a Western. It’s really cool. “L’Enfant Sauvage” uses that open high E string in an interesting riff (by doing more than just letting the string ring out). (The scraping sound appears here too, but in limited quantity). I like the way the song’s volume just drops for the last thirty seconds or so.
“The Axe” opens with a pummeling drum and guitar sound. “Liquid Fire” alternates between heavy guitars and that open high E sound. “The Wild Healer” is a simple, pretty instrumental. It is 2 minutes long and the main riff is simple one (again all on one string). There’s an interesting solo that plays along behind the main riff which is quite pretty–but it all ends very abruptly.
“Planned Obsolescence” jumps right in with some pummeling guitars (an a scrape sound). It slows down a bit, but towards the end the pummeling double bass drums resume until the really slow sweet guitar section that comes in around 3:45. “Mouth of Kala” has a heavy riff which is a cool change (even if the riff is fairly simple). But there’s some nice melodies that alternate with the heavy stuff. I also really like the way the song ends with a very different riff and sound than the beginning. (And the backing vocals are really cool too).
“The Gift of Guilt” has an interesting open E string riff (which is similar to Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper,” although they do something very different with it. This song is just littered with odd effects, like a big heavy “bowh” sound and some high-pitched guitar pyrotechnics. But I love the way it alternates parts (the growly vocals work really well here, too) and then ends so melodically.
“Pain is a Master” opens with a slow guitar riff and whispered voices, it’s a great change of pace for the disc. Once the slow part ends, the guitars and drums pound furiously and we get some more odd effects–a siren sound (from the guitar) alternating with the ubiquitous scrape. But the middle parts are really quite different, slower, slightly more menacing. “Born in Winter” opens and closes with a slow and atmospheric section (delicate vocals even). In the middle it gets heavier (and has some really fast drumming).
“The Fall” has an Alice in Chains vibe in one section and then a more cookie monster type vocal on another. The scraping sound returns for a final showing. I really like the way the album just sort of disintegrated into random sounds as it ends.
So overall I really enjoyed this album. It’s probably nitpicky to complain about the overuse of certain sounds, especially since they are cool. But they have so much creativity on the disc, that to hear the same things a few times just seems redundant. Nevertheless the album rocks and is a really enjoyable metal album. I was supposed to see them open for Mastadon earlier in the month but something came up and I had to eat the tickets (who knew you couldn’t even give away Mastadon/Gojira tickets, come on!).
[READ: November 21, 2014] Without Blood
I’ve been enjoying Baricco so much that I decided to grab this book while I was in the library too. I had already read this book a couple of years ago, or actually, I had read the version that appeared in the New Yorker. The Wikipedia entry says that the New Yorker version is a”revised form” of the novel. I didn’t know what that meant exactly. But basically I gather it means that Ann Goldstein (who translated the New Yorker version) has re-translated the story (or that they edited it for the magazine the first time).
The New Yorker version is really long for a New Yorker story (it is practically the whole novel), so it’s understandable why things were a little shorter for the magazine. But she hasn’t changed very much for the book. There’s a lot of little modifications–tenses of verbs (in flashback situations), word phrases are altered, additional details seems to have been added and there is at least one small section in this novel that was not in the New Yorker version.
This “new” section is about a woman who is sitting in the cafe with them. She asks the waiter about the two main characters and we learn a little about her past as well (it’s not relevant to the story and I can see why it was omitted, but it does flesh out the scene). I am not willing to do a page by page comparison of the two (even though that is something I tend to do). But suffice it to say that the stories are virtually identical, although I found it more satisfying reading the novel version.
Since my original recap is basically how I would summarize it this time as well, I am including it here almost verbatim. But in the spirit of the updated version of the novel, I am modifying this post from the original in small details–see if you can spot the differences. Continue Reading »