Evangelista is probably my least favorite band on the Constellation label. I’m especially surprised/disappointed in this because I loved Carla Bozulich’s earlier bands. I’ve said before that I find her vocals to be weirdly and wonderfully disconcerting. And when it’s played over aggressive confident music it works wonders. But when it’s paired with music that is also kind of abstract and untethered, it just sounds like a mess.
After that introduction, I’ll say that this album is their best release yet. Her voice (the Constellation site suggests her melodies are “largely improvised” (!)) sounds like it always does–unsettling, haunting, compelling, drawing you into whatever world she is invoking. The title track is the most intriguing–the music is subdued, drawing you in even more. “Black Jesus” is also compelling in that it is one of her more subtle releases.
“Bells Ring Fire” has the catchiest section, practically a singalong. “Die Alone” reverts back to that old nebulous style where there’s just nothing to grab on to. Indeed, “Enter the Prince” and “Hatching” both have interesting sound effects (especially “Hatching”) but they’re not really compelling as songs.
I think the real problem with these songs is that they’re all too long. Since they don’t have any hooks in them, since there’s nothing to really grab you and make you want to like them, having them come in around 5 minutes is just too much to ask of the listener. Some of these songs would be inetresting for two or three minutes, but by 5 I’ve given up.
Check it our for yourself here
[READ: May 15, 2012] “Reading Graffiti in the Early Modern Book”
This may be the most current scholarly article I have read from JSTOR. Part of the fun of reading the JSTOR scholarly articles is that they are usually old enough that you can have either a) contemporary knowledge about what the author got right or wrong or b) a fun nostalgia based upon the word choices or references that are in the text. So with this one, which is not even two years old, there’s neither of those possibilities. What’s also interesting is how the article is clearly current–the references that Scott-Warren uses are contemporaneous (“the Banksy of his day?”)
So what is this article about anyhow? Well, Scott-Warren looks at the notes and scribbles that people have written in their books. But not just your average textbook or library book, he goes back very far to the “early modern” period and sees that people have been graffiting their books since there were books. He mentions how anyone studying books from that era will see all kinds of things on the pages of the book, from scribbles to pressed flowers to even the rust outline of scissors. But he wants to focus on what people have written. And he wants to see of any of these notations are comparable to graffiti in the current sense of the word.
He discusses current definitions (including tagging) to explain that graffiti is all about saying “I am here.” (He even interviews a graffiti artist named Claw). Then he goes back to 1434 and sees a Latin inscription from Jan van Eyck on his painting Arnolfini Double Portrait that more or less says “Jan van Eyck has been here.” Although it is his own painting it has a feel of graffiti, of making a public note that you exist. Similar inscriptions can be found in many books of the period as well. There is a 1565 edition of a book with a heavily flourished signature, there’s a 1548 edition book with a doodle that may include a self-portrait. There’s even a bible that has been inscribed by every member of the family (daughter Mildred’s is stunningly ornate). Another book has the owner’s signature about fifty times throughout the book. Are these words to the world? Public notations? or something else?
Scott-Warren wonders if these markings can be considered “pen-trials”–pens were hard to use back then, the ink was homemade and paper was scarce. Another possibility is that they were an attempt to prove and expand on literacy. A third possibility was ownership. Like the graffiti in a 1685 Indian Bible, written in Massachusett: “I Nannahdinnoo, this is my book…I, I Nannahdinnoo, own this forever. Because I bought it with my money”
I especially enjoyed the book that had written, under the name Walter Vaughn, “This book belongs not to Walter Vaughn but to James Vaughn because his later father John Vaughn gave this book in his last will and testament to the same James Vaughn and therefore the said James is the true owner of the book” (1582).
In addition to the I of graffiti Scott-Warren looks at the “was here” aspect. In a 1549 History of Italy, there is an inscription noting that the owner had been to Venice.
The key to all of this seems to be its public-ness. Some inscriptions were prayers that were clearly meant for others to read. In another case, the person wrote his opinion about the booksmith where the book was purchased. There’s even some graffiti that is like trash talking of others.
I enjoyed this article because there were lots of pictures of the inscriptions, although i could have used a few more, frankly. It was also curious to think about why people wrote things in books long ago–who exactly did they think would be reading their copy of a book? Was it just a public act of disobedience at a time when a public act had to be very self-contained?