The impressive thing about Abaji is his skill and love of musical instruments. The notes say “when recording his latest album, Origine Orients, he played 10 different instruments, many of them simultaneously, with no second takes or overdubs. It took him just two days.”
“Min Jouwwa” (which means “From Inside”) is played on what looks like a normal guitar but which sounds so very different. The notes say it’s “a tricked-out Western-style guitar with extra strings, giving it the sound of an Egyptian oud.”
“Steppes” is a brief haunting instrumental. It’s played by bowing a soft-toned kamancheh (a three-stringed instrument that you hold upright on your lap for a scratch, middle eastern sound). He often times rocks the instrument instead of the bow back and forth.
The final song is played on the Greek bouzouki (with whistling as accompaniment). “Summertime” is the Gershwin song (which is only recognizable from the words–the first verse anyhow, which he sings in English–the second verse he sings in Arabic). It sounds nothing like the original with the serpentine riffs and that unique bouzouki sound.
I only wish the cameras were still rolling after the set because “he demonstrated a large duduk (an Armenian cousin of the oboe), an Indonesian suling (flute) and a Colombian saxophone (of sorts) made from bamboo that looked more like a snake.”
This is what I love about the Tiny Desk–seeing very different instruments and unconventional performers up close. Abaji is fun to watch.
[READ: May 7, 2015] The Secret of Evil
This has got to be the final posthumous collection of writings from Bolaño. The Preliminary note from Ignacio Echevarria explains that this book is a collection of the final fragments that were found on Bolaño’s computer. As such, the book consists primarily of works that are unfinished (some barely even started).
This isn’t as disappointing as it sounds because Bolaño seemed to write very thoroughly right form the beginning with his stories. So even though they are incomplete, the section that is written feels fully fleshed out–and you can imagine that more will be coming. Echevarria says that “Bolaño rarely began to write a story without giving it a title and immediately establishing a definitive tone and atmosphere.” This of course made it difficult for Echevarria to know what to compile here.
Not everything in this collection if unfinished. And indeed, with Bolaño sometimes it’s unclear if the unfinished things were actually unfinished. Continue Reading »