When I first listened to this brief concert for some reason I didn’t realize that the quartet were playing Philip Glass. Of course, once he stated that that’s who they were playing, it became quite obvious–but having Glass played on acoustic guitars instead of synths or violins, is quite an unusual experience.
The music is still rigidly repetitive, but there is a great deal of warmth added with the guitars (and the human element as well).
The Dublin Guitar Quarter has been around since 2002 and they play pretty much only contemporary and new pieces (despite being dressed in suits and playing on “classical” guitars).
They play two pieces, with two and three movements of each piece respectively. They were originally recorded for strings, so these guitar transcriptions change things quite a lot (especially in Mishima).
The first piece is called “Company.” They play Movements 2 and 3. What’s most impressive about the first piece is that you can hear all of the musical lines. Glass often interweaves line up line of music ad you can see each guitarist playing these lines on high guitar notes and low notes while the other play accompaniment–transcribing these must have been a real challenge.
The loud chords are practically heavy metal chords on the guitar as opposed to what the strings might sound like. And for all of the repetition, these two movements of clock in at less than four-minutes total.
It’s interesting to listen to the original after this and hear how it’s clearly the same piece but it sounds so very different. From tone to drama, everything is changed.
The final pieces are three movements from Mishima. In Mvt 3 there is some fast picking while the other three play chords. It’s also fun to watch them all doing similar but distinct things through the middle of the movement. This doesn’t have the fast lines that Glass is known for but it has a lot of loud repetitive notes.
What’s so interesting is that original is full of drums–and parts of only drums. Obviously these aren’t present here, but the music resonates in a similar (but again, distinct) way.
Mt 2 is a slow meditative piece, and is far shorter than the original (which is also full of drums).
The final piece opens with some chords and then grows very beautiful as the Glass riff takes on an almost prog rock feel because of the guitar and the way the bass notes contrast so wonderfully with it. It is short in this and the original and is great excerpt to listen to.
- Glass: String Quartet No. 2, “Company,” Mvts. II & III
- Glass: String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima,” Mvt. III, “1934: Grandmother & Kimitake”
- Glass: String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima,” Mvt. II, “November 25: Ichigaya”
- Glass: String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima,” Mvt. XI, “1962: Body Building”
[READ: March 24, 2015] Town Boy
This book was written (and drawn) in 1980. First Second books had it translated and published in 2007.
I found Lat’s first book, Kampung Boy to be quite charming. It was about a boy growing up in a small village in Malaysia in the 1950s. This is the sequel and it is about moving from the village into the town and being a teenager.
This book is a little less episodic than the first. Most of the story is laid out as text on one page and a drawing on the next. But the drawings also have speech bubbles, so there’s a lot of different things going on.
The first thing I noticed is that I think Lat is having even more fun with his drawings. His characters are even more exaggerated which leads to a lot more comic effect. His father is hilariously shaped with great big hands and of course the boy himself (who goes by Mat in the story) is very funny since he is just a big shock of black hair. You don’t see his eyes until nearly the end of the book.
His life is fairly uneventful, which is fine, The story that he tells is a good one, but the interest comes from what he sees around him and how everyone reacts.
He was a quiet kid without too many friends until one day a “typical Chinese boy” came up to him and asked if they could share records. This boy heard Lat sing and assumed that he would have a lot of records. Well Lat’s family was poor so they didn’t even have a record player–but they listened to the radio. The boy (Frankie, who also lacked friends) didn’t mind. Frankie is drawn with huge teeth, it’s rather funny (if not maybe a little racist?). He invited Mat over and they danced and danced (a very funny scene, indeed).
They became best friends and did everything together.
From this point on the drawing are outstanding–full-page spreads with tons of detail. Lat really lets you experience the houses, the coffee shops, everything. I especially like the two page spread when they do a race–his drawings of all of the people running is great–so many different faces, so many different expressions and body shapes. All comical but representative.
And then there’s a big jump in time when the two become teenagers. It’s now 1968 and the world is changing. Ii Love that now that they’re older they have this amusing swagger in their walk. I also loved the drawings of his classmates.
Frankie was in Form IV, Arts I (the kids are all smart-looking) Mat was in Form IV, Arts III and the kids are slack-jawed and cross-eyed and asleep–some could be the inspiration for Beavis and Butthead. It’s hilarious.
I especially love when he shows Mat’s friends in the back of class. We meet each one and then he shows them all hanging out together. They all stand in a line in the exact same pose. It’s very funny. As is the scene of the marching band–11 flutists, 6 drummers, 1 bass drum, a cymbal and one tambourine. They played 3 songs, one was “Ob La Di, Ob La Da.”
All the boys in class have a thing for Normah, the hottest girl in school. None of them can talk to her–there’s a funny scene where one of them tries to get the nerve to speak but fails miserably.
Mat knew he wanted to be an artist and that’s how he gets to have a conversation with Normah ( I won’t spoil the details). And she turned out to be normal after all.
The story ends with big changes as college looms.
I know that First Second hasn’t printed a third volume. I don’t know if there is a third volume, but I’d sure like to read it.