I loved DakhaBrakha’s Tiny Desk Concert. It was mesmerizing and beautiful. And so the performers came to SXSW and did a lullaby. And as the blurb says, they brought their “cello, keyboard, accordion – and tall, wool hats! — to the balcony of the Hilton Austin hotel.”
This lullaby of “Kolyskova” quiets things down a bit. The song opens with simple keyboard notes. One of the women sings, and when they reach the end of the verse, the male accordionist sings a falsetto that matches the women’s tone. The woman on drums makes a strange sound–like a baby crying or animal yelping.
Then he winds up singing lead on the second verse in that falsetto with the women singing backing vocals. Then the cello and drums kick in to build the sound. The third verse is sung by the cellist as the keys play a pretty melody.
The song is upbeat with lots of bouncy vocals, even though the lyrics seem rather dark. ‘The band only ever calls it “Lullaby.” It’s a quiet, contemplative song that the band says is a “connecting of several lullabies” with “philosophical lyrics that [say] we have time for everything — time to laugh and cry, time to live and die.’
I love at the very end as the song slows down to just the keyboardist singing because the drummer adds a very cool breathing as a kind of percussion accompaniment. And then as the camera pulls back the two attack the keyboard making a cacophony of fun notes. I bet they’re a lot of fun live.
[READ: June 2 2016] Explorer: The Hidden Doors
This is the third (and I assume final) in a series of graphic novel short stories edited by Kazu Kibuishi, the creator of Amulet.
I really enjoyed the first one a lot and was pretty excited to read the rest. As with the other two I was delighted by the authors involved and the quality of these stories.
The three books are not related to each other (aside from thematic) so it doesn’t matter what order you read them in.
This book revolves around the theme of “hidden doors.” I like the way each author takes a concept that seems like it would be pretty standard and turns their stories into things that are very different indeed.
KAZU KIBUISHI-Asteria Crane
It was interesting to me to see that in Books 1 and 2, Kibuishi’s story was last, but in this one it is first. I felt like his story added gravitas to the collection by being last. But perhaps coming first it sets the tone for the book. I also had to wonder if this character appeared elsewhere. The story felt like it was a continuation of something else, although I believe it was simply written to have the action start right in the middle.
In this story, Asteria Crane is chasing after someone, a boy, and she (although we don’t know she is a she at the beginning) is trying to comfort him–to prevent him from harming himself. They are in a frozen wasteland and the boy is very afraid. Finally he runs through a door. Asteria pauses–she hears a voice in her head telling her not to go through. But she does. She must. And that’s when she enters an even deeper dream world. The end of the story reveals the “reality” and it’s just as exciting as the fantasy.
JASON CAFFOE-The Giant’s Kitchen
I really enjoyed Caffoe’s stories in the first two books. And he has a lot of fun with this one too. In this story, Briar is carrying a spellbook that she fears to lose. She and her partner Liam encounter some spirits and decide to catch them. The spirits remind me a bit of characters from Spirited Away. They go through a door and into a temple of sorts. But the spirit spooks them and Briar drops her book. Liam tells her its not worth looking for it but she proceeds to head down the corridor where she finds a second door. The room inside (the giant’s kitchen) is wonderful and fantastical. And I love the way the story shifts perspective so perfectly. While this story has a few mildly scary moments, the message of believing in yourself is wonderfully done.
JEN WANG-Luis 2.0
I love Jen Wang and was thrilled to see her in here. This story begins in perhaps the funniest way I’ve ever seen a comic begin: “It probably started the time my dad farted in front of everybody on our field trip to the Science Academy.” Luis is embarrassed and he wishes his life could be better. He imagines other ways his life could be improved, too. He’d be taller, thinner, better hair, and while he is imagining this, he sees a doorway. He goes through the door and becomes his newly imagined self. He makes some more modification and then goes to a party. He sees a girl there who seems very nice but also very insecure. She seems like she might have a secret too. Another great message packed in a cool story.
FAITH ERIN HICKS-Two-Person Door
I also love Faith Erin Hicks, so it was great to have these two artists back to back. In this story, a boy is mocked because of his poverty. He has great skills at carving things out of wood, but as his tormentors point out, they’re not feeding his family. He is mad and humiliated so he goes off into the woods to calm down. And that’s when he sees the door. He tries to open it but the guardian of the door tells him to hold on. The guardian says that behind the door is a world where anyone can become a hero. The catch is that it’s a two-person door–and the two persons must be of opposite genders. How is this nerdy boy supposed to find a girl to accompany him? He thinks of a the tomboy from the village. She is loud and vulgar and will do perfectly. But what if she doesn’t want to go on adventures? I love how Hicks inverted the way most of these stories go.
STEVE HAMAKER-Fish n Chips in Spring Cleaning
I’m not sure if Fish n Chips are regular characters that Hamaker writes about or if this was just a fun one-off (okay, I see that he has done many stories with them). Fish n Chips are futuristic creatures. They open the story flying on personal jets. Fish is a fish in a bowl on a robot body and Chips is a cat humanoid. I enjoyed that the opening throwaway joke about the weather is really funny. The magic door in this story has a kind of red herring as it is a door on their spaceship which appears to be opening by itself. The truth is revealed and the door is to a simple closet. But contained within is something that Fish hoped Chips would never see. The problem I had with this story was that it was unclear if the bad guy was actually defeated. Which is kind of a big deal but was somewhat minor in the overall point of the story so that okay.
I enjoyed Matte’s story in book one quite a lot. This story was quite different. It opens on an ancient “Egyptian” ruin. There is a jerboa sleeping soundly (the creature is adorable!). It is awoken by an owl type creature (who is actually a spirit, we will discover later). She sees the jerboa and says “hiding from the heat again.” The jerboas watches the spirit as she rages about how her descendants never come to see her. She is bored and lonely. Until finally someone comes in the door. But it is not her descendants. In fact it is two men bent on robbing any treasures that might be here. The spirit can’t do anything about it, but she also knows that her treasures are theft-proof. However, because of an accident, her sanctuary is endangered. Is she is incorporeal, can she do anything? But really what can a tiny desert mouse do to help? Quiet a lot really–the ending is very funny.
JEN BREACH & DOUGLAS HOLGATE-When is a Door Not a Door?
I enjoyed this story a lot except that the title gave it all away. Lato is running through the forest–ignoring the warning of the troll under the bridge –she has no time for answering questions. But she is in such a hurry that she crashes to the forest floor and that’s where she discovers a door. There was a confusing moment where a creature comes through a door and tells her that he is not a dragon, he is a door. What? The creature reveals that he can pick any form but he is, in fact, a portal. And he is being chased by giants. I like the way the story was practically full circle. But it ended a little too quickly with a few things left unresolved.
I hope that Kibusihi is working on another anthology, because these have been great.