HangedUp & Tony Conrad have the third of three discs released as part of Constellation’s Musique Fragile 02 set. From the Constellation site: Transit Of Venus documents this fertile collaboration and includes some enormous slabs of drone rock alongside more decomposed pieces and gorgeously gritty string duos. [[The performers] recently plunged back into the archives and started shaping an album from the various 2-track and live-mixed [improvisations and] multi-track source material.
“Flying Fast n Furious” has clattering percussion and squeaky violins. There’s some fast drumming and violin playing in the middle with a great wobbly low bass around. About 4 minutes in the sounds are almost otherworldly/underwatery. “Transit Of Venus” has the return of that low wobbly bass—big round fat bass notes that just seem to linger as the drums clatter away. The sawing violin is a little less interesting than I’d like, however. “Principles” features a buzzy violin that scratches over the interesting drum pattern. After a minute or so some strange sounds percolate under the drone. The sounds are mechanical, organic, (balloons?) digital—unclear. It’s 8 minutes long and there’s a few moments when the big bass notes come in that are very cool. In the last minute or so a new violin solo comes out of the din but it doesn’t alter the tone of the song all that much
“Bright Arc Of Light” is 4 minutes of slow bowed and plucked violins. It’s quite minimal. “Gentil The Unlucky Astronomer ” is 11 minutes long and it starts with multi layered violins. It sounds a bit like The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” and after 2 minute the slow drums come in. Once the drums enter, the song stays mostly the same—sawing violins and a steady drums with some other occasional percussion. It’s very droney. Around 6 minutes things change slightly and the song becomes more insistent. It continues like this for most of the rest of the song and then ends with some solo violins. The final track is “Panorama From Maxwell Montes” which opens with some dissonant scratchy violins. The drums come in and start playing an intersection complex rhythm making this a good album closer.
Musique Fragile Volume 02 is the second in our series of limited-edition, artwork-intensive box sets featuring three full-length albums by three different artists, available on heavyweight vinyl and as a digital bundle. The vinyl set will be limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, lovingly designed and hand-assembled.
[READ: November 1, 2016] Varmints
I really enjoyed the drawing style in this book. The main characters were cute and cartoony and yet the backgrounds were reasonably realistic looking. It really conveyed the setting (the old west, I guess) effectively.
However, I had a huge problem with the story. The book felt like it was part 2, but to the best of my knowledge it isn’t. There just seemed to be huge gaps in the story that were never filled in. Not to mention, this is supposed to be a children’s story, but we find out (very late in the story) that the childrens’ mother was killed in cold blood–more or less on a whim. It’s a shocking piece of violence which I suppose little kids can handle but, woah, what the hell, dude?
The story begins with Opie and Ned in a saloon. They are young kids, Opie is Ned’s older sister–a joke is made about Opie being a weird name for a girl, but sadly, nothing more comes of that. Opie is holding her own in a game of cards but Ned is bored and keeps interrupting the game as annoying little brother will do.
Ned says he wants a hat, and since no one will give him one, he climbs a mountain of a man (he’s so tall we can’t see his face and he is wearing a full-sized bear as a cloak of some sort) and takes the hat off of him. Chaos ensues, the hat flies off (and gets two holes in it) and the kids wind up stealing the giant man’s horse and taking off.
I enjoyed scenes like this a lot–comedy Western-style with ricochets and women in towels and hats falling over horses ears. Classic Western slapstick. But the truth is that neither Opie nor Ned are all that likable as protagonists. Opie won’t tell anyone (even Ned) why she’s doing what she’s doing and Ned doesn’t ever seem to realize that he’s doing really stupid things.
In the next chapter Ned makes friends with the giant man–it’s a delightful scene in which the man laughs that the boy called his horse Buddy when the horse’s real name is Ulysses Thunderhoof! Of course Opie assumes the giant man is mean and won’t listen to Ned’s explanation. But things are more serious than that because the horse–Buddy or Ulysses–was stolen from the kids by a bunch of horse thieves. There’s another chase scene with hijinks, including a crashing water tower
In Chapter 3 the kids meet a woman who works in a hotel. Because this is kids book, its unclear what she does, although I assumed the worst. But she is nice to the kids and helps them out. The chapter ends with more dramatic chaos and then they flee on a train.
Chapter four shows a train station with police and tons of bad guys (most of them in drag as a disguise) and, of course, a bomb on board.
All of this comes to a head when a mysterious suitcase is opened and a there is a note from Pa. Pa is the area’s really bad guy–the ultimate bad guy–who has hired many of these men as henchmen and, as the letter points out, is disappointed in all of them. And that’s why they are on this death trap of a train.
The kids escape, of course, and wind up needing some new mode of transportation. So they try to buy a horse. But Ned is swindled into buying a donkey instead. And the donkey is really cute. Opie is furious about the donkey, but the donkey is pretty awesome (and wound up being my favorite character). This leads them to entering the most preposterous race in the history of the wild west. The race is designed to give the winner a one on one chat with Pa. And, apparently this whole time the kids have been searching for Pa. So Opie is determined to win.
Chapter Six is the race, (which is my favorite part of the book). It includes color commentary from two bozos in a balloon. The entrants in the race use all manner of contraptions. There’s a horse powered car, a bull, a motor scooter and a train engine inside a loop of track, which sounds genius, but which we never get to see work, sadly. The race has 8 entrants and they are all wonderfully over the top characters and it’s like a classic Herbie type of race with cheating and chaos and all kinds of fun.
The final chapter lets us meet this mysterious Pa. The children have to go through whole series of booby traps to get there-basically any booby trap you can think of and it’s all great fun. They finally come face to face with Pa. But it’s unclear to me what they thought would happen when they met (I know that Opie had some idea about some things, but I’m really not sure what her plan was). And then, it turns out that things aren’t what they seem anyhow.
The ending seems to be left open for a follow up, but without any kind of real resolution to the premise of the book.
I’m still not even clear as to why it’s called Varmints. But I did love the drawings and the set pieces, I just feel like the actual story needs something more. #10yearsof01