The band plays jazz, but most often that jazz is noisy and abrasive and seems to make no sense at all. Sometimes it seems like it would just hurt to listen to it. But when they gel, the music is trippy and cool.
The first song, “Along Came Ra”/”Zoom” opens with the group singing “When the world was in darkness and darkness was ignorance, along came Ra.” And after a few times through this the chaos begins (that would be “Zoom.” All of the horn players just start wailing on whatever. The violin plays something, the keyboard is all over the place. It is noise and chaos and probably hurt people’s ears there.
And then it stops and a proper jazzy song “Queer Notion” begins. It has a catchy piano melody. When the horns come back in, they feel slightly off somehow, as if deliberately not quite playing what you’d expect–but very close. There’s even an electronic keyboard solo (set to a nice spacey sound). The band leader (Marshall Allen, who is 91 and has been with the Arkestra since the early 1950s) play a “melodica” that has some kind of spacey processor on it. And yet for all the craziness there is some real fundamental jazz beneath it.
“Angels and Demons at Play” has a trippy underlying riff with horns over the top. The biggest surprise comes after a few minutes when the violinist sings the title slowly and dramatically. The song builds and repeats over and over and then ends with chaos and drama.
The set ends and there is much applause and the band wishes everyone a Happy Halloween–the band came dressed complete with costumes inspired by Egyptian symbolism and science fiction. And just when it seems like it’s over (and this surprises Bob) they start another song.
“Interplanetary Music” is a big fun sing along with lots of clapping and it seems like the kind of thing they might end every show with. So even though some of the music is crazy, there’s good fun at the heart of it all.
[READ: June 1, 2016] The Glorkian Warrior and the Mustache of Destiny
This Glorkian Warrior story was probably my least favorite of the three. It felt really long, possibly because many of the jokes were repeated a lot. I did get a kick out of how the mustache appears in the very first pages and then almost never makes a return appearance.
The best part of the story is that the Glorkian Warrior continues to be incredibly stupid. When he says good morning to his coffee, super backpack says “good morning” and warrior thinks it is the coffee that talks back. So he thinks, “I just invented talking coffee.” He and the backpack argue for a few pages (my favorite parts are their fights because the backpack is smart and the Warrior…isn’t).
And then in cones a bunch of little kids (crazy Kochalkan characters, of course). There’s Crazy Face, Doonky and Bronk (who only says Bronk). The kids want to go on a mission with him but he says no.
So off he goes with the talking coffee whom he names Wendy (the back page shows that Wendy is his new cat–I only wish the cat made an appearance the way his previous books did).
Through the moves of the dumb kids, they wind up in a hole (and he references his previous adventure with Adventure Pie when he was also in a hole–nice call back). And when Super Backpack gets all banjaxed up it is very funny too–the kids do prove useful after all.
About midway through the story they meet yet another new character who breathes some life into the story. He is Quackaboodle. He looks like the Glorkian Warrior, but with plumage. When the adventures end, the last few pages show a space ship coming–the supergrandma. Glorkian Warrior thinks he s is big trouble because he forgot to file his reports. But she is there to help the little ones grow up.
I haven’t mentioned Gonk, the cute little guy who has been living with the Warrior (he is friends with the other kids). He doesn’t want to grow up yet, and the warrior says he doesn’t have to. There’s even a funny return of baby alien–all grown up.
The thank yous at the end are meant for the whole series, I believe. And they are pretty enjoyable too. That’s where I learned that there is a Glorkian Warrior video game.
This book includes “Kissy Mode” a one page comic in which a kissy-lips creature is not what it seems. It is also apparently a call back to the very first Glorkian Warrior comic from 2007 in which the kissy-lips creature first appeared. And we learn the limitations of Super Backpack.