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Archive for the ‘Alternate Reality’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DUNGEN-Häxan (2016).

I have been to a lot of shows in the last couple of years.  I have also had tickets to a few that I had to miss for various reasons.  The one I regret missing the most was the Dungen show where they were going to play live for the film The Adventures of Prince Achmed.   I missed it because there was pretty heavy snow–it was the right choice, I am just bummed about it.  It’s not so much that I wanted to see them perform the music that’s in this album (I didn’t even know it at the time), it’s just the experience that sounded awesome (and the fact that they played a second set of their other songs afterward was icing).

So this soundtrack officially came out recently.  It’s about 40 minutes (the film is around an hour) and it is a largely fun Dungen release with a feeling of soundtrack invoked.

The disc opens with “Peri Banu vid sjön,” the perfect soundtrack–slow and loping with washes of sound.  “Jakten genom skogen” follows with slow washes of sound with a pretty acoustic guitar melody and some lively bass.  It slowly builds in a kind of rocking 70s way.  “Wak-Wak’s portar” is a fast loud riotous affair that lasts a minute and a half.   It traipses back and forth on headphones and even has a penny whistle solo. It is sort of forcibly segued into “Den Fattige Aladdin,” a rather muffled distant sounding flute melody (I’m guessing it’s Aladdin’s motif).

“Trollkarlen och fågeldräkten” is a jazzy number with bass and piano and soaring wild guitar over the top of it.  “Grottan” is a minute of spooky synths that segues into the noisy buzzy guitar workout of “Häxan.”  That rocking slows to a slow menacing thump of drum and piano.

“Aladdin’s flykt över havet” is a soaring minute of synths which is followed by the sparing uplifting synths of “Kalifen.”

“Achmed flyger: is a fast piano based piece about Achmed flying, I assume.  Then there’s two Aladdin pieces: “Aladdin och lampan, del 1” is a slow one minute piano piece “del 2” returns to that flute motif with a groovy guitar and bass behind it.  The melody gets shunted to the distance as “Achmed och Peri Banu”  takes over with its drums and somewhat menacing bass.

The final song “Andarnas Krig” is nearly seven minutes long.  It is classic Dungen: wailing guitar solos with feebdack ala Hendrx’ “Star Spangled Banner.”  There’s some great rollicking bass work and rocking drums and everything.

Although this isn’t as substantial as some of their other albums, it’s a great collection of psychedelic instrumentals and you can imagine a movie streaming behind it.

[READ: April 18, 2017] Birthright: Volume Four

So much happens in this book that it’s like having whiplash–in the best way possible.

We open with Wendy and Rya in Mastema’s dining room.  Wendy is pleased to be lavished, but Rya says not to forget that they are in fact her prisoners–no matter how nice the accommodations.  While they are there, the other three mages arrive and discuss what should be done about this whole Mikey thing.

Speaking of the Mikey thing, we cut to the men of Mikey’s family: Mikey, his brother Brennan, his father Aaron and his grandfather–Sameal.  They head towards Sameal’s “lair” which is a  warehouse with extra security “magic doesn’t protect everything.”  This time-out allows everyone to deal with each other.  Aaron get t o confront his father–the father who was never there for him, who left when he was little and was the reason the Aaron acted the way he did with his own kids.

While there, Enoch, one of the other mages, comes to confront Sameal and we learn what their whole deal was. Enoch says that in all of their time together Sameal never told him that he had a family on earth (whereas Enoch told Sameal everything).  Enoch is offended that he didn’t share this intimate detail, but is more upset because he wants to know what Sameal was hiding all this time.  And the crux here is that Enoch says that Sameal’s own family is irrelevant if he can save the world–killing his grandson could save the world! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GIRTH-Sleeper, Awaken! (2007).

This was the other disc in the Web of Mimicry Clearance section.  And it is radically different from Danubius.

Girth is an experimental metal band and these songs are heavy on the epereimental and heavy on the heavy.  Their page on Web of Mimicry notes:

We toured with this line-up for 6 months or so September 2005 through February 2006. The shows were our most brutal and experimental to date, often going off on long improvisational rampages. We recorded a through-composed 19 minute movie-like piece in four movements, entitled “Sleeper Awaken.” With Randall Dunn at the board, our intentions for this piece, were to create a mindfuck journey of psychedelic metal to supply a soundtrack for the listener during his/her most “indulgent” moments. WARNING: Not for the weak at heart… bum trips guaranteed for the unexperienced, depending on his/her state of mind.     — GIRTH [Guitar: Dave Webb; Keyboards: Andrew McInnis; Drums: Peijman Kouretchian; Vocals: B.R.A.D. Mowen]

This labum reminds me a lot of Naked City (but without the Japanese screamed vocals).  There’s very heavy sections and radically shifts in time signature and volume.  There’s wailing solos and quiet sections.  There’s pounding drums and no drums.  And it’s all done in about 16 minutes.

There four songs have elaborate titles:

  1. Confusion – “On the day my illusion shatters, I SEE.”
    The disc opens with a ringing bell and feedback but after 20 seconds the calm is exploded with some noisy guitars and feedback.   But it isn’t until 40 seconds that the left ear guitar takes off with super fast chaotic soloing.  The other ear is overwhelmed by noisy guitar squalls.  Washes of static and noise fill both ears for a time until a sort of noisy hardcore riff comes in around 2 and half minutes in.  Things alternate between intense noise metal and soloing (with echoed effects).
  2. Betrayal – “I will rise as you will die, diminishing within my luminous pride.”
    The songs segue into each other.  This song begins with some thunderous drums (five beats over and over) and staccato noisy guitars.  The middle of the song quietens down to some running water and dialogue (barely audible) until the end.
  3. Alone – “Wallowing in my indulgence, I am blind.”  “Divine perceptions unshackle power to dive within.”
    This opens slowly with quiet whispered noises and rumbling drums.  At 3 minutes comes the intense hardcore attack of punishing drums and squealing guitar solos.  The end of the song is a kind of tornado of guitar noises that seem to swirl around in between heavy two note punctuations
  4. Chaos – “This being is a vessel. You cannot stop me. I am Free, I am Awake And I LOVE.”
    Those two note punctuations continue into this final track but with much more frequency and intensity.  There’s some vocal at the end, but nothing especially audible–we’re there “vocals.” With a few more pummels and a fast guitar solo, the 16 minutes comes to an end.

This is a pretty intense record indeed and definitely not for the uninitiated.  I am very curious how they pulled off this challenging record live.

[READ: April 18, 2017] Birthright: Volume Three

This story continues to grow in excitement and tension.  Brennan is getting a little frustrated that Mikey seems to be hiding something from him (he has been getting hints that Mikey is lying about his mission).

But first there is a flashback to a time when Mikey disobeyed his handler, Rook. In this instance he disobeyed in order to help a helpless victim.  A young girl was about to sacrificed to King Lore and he risked his own life to save her.  Rook is furious that he could have been killed but also because he has now changed the way the world is supposed to work–the girl’s death was supposed to be a regrettable necessity.

Back on Earth, Agent Kylen has paid a visit to Aaron in prison.  He asks for Aaron’s help in tracking down his sons.  Aaron says no way but Kylen indicates that it is not a request after all.  So Aaron tells Kylen about his old house in the burbs of Chicago.

At the same time, Rya and Wendy are searching for them as well.  Rya is getting more exhausted (she is really close to giving birth) so Wendy winds up driving her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANUBIUS-Danubius (2002).

After seeing Secret Chiefs 3 recently, I went to the Web of Mimicry website and saw what other CDs they had to offer.  In their clearance bin, they had a couple of CDs including this one by Danubius.  So who are they?

Danubius is a San Francisco-based Eastern European band, specializing in traditional and Gypsy (Rom) music from Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and other countries in the vicinity of the Danube River.  Led by Music Director Roman Titcu, our music has been called romantic, passionate, energizing, and can be described as a cross between the genres of folk and Classical music. We play both Western and traditional Hungarian, Romanian, and Bulgarian musical instruments, giving us a unique sound.

Yes, so even though Secret Chiefs 3 experiment with various Eastern Europeans styles, Danubius is not about experimentation at all.  They are about authenticity.   This 53 minute disc has twenty songs broken down into sections.  And the booklet is quite detailed in its explanation of the various songs and styles.

The members for this recording are David Skuse – vioolin, viola, gadulka, bass , drum ; David Nebenzahl – violin, viola, bass, tambura ; Clark Welsh – tárogató, fluier, Romanian caval, ocarina, Bulgarian tambura and kaval, prim and brach tambruricas, cobză and sax ; Jutka Mándoki – accordion, kontra, acoustic guitar, cimbalom, brasca (viola), Tekerőlant (hurdy-gurdy), ütőgardon (Beaten cello), bass ; Magdi Ordasi, Szilvi Gilbert, vocals ; former band member: Balázs Králik – bass, violin ; guests: Roman Titcu – tambal mare (cimbalom) ; Odile Lavault – accordion.

I enjoy that the notes state that some of the songs are intended as show off pieces.

The sections include (I tried to get every accent right, but there will be no searching for these titles).

Transylvanian Suite
Doină De Ardeal; Purtată și Invârtita Din Țara Fagarașului; Hațegana
This begins with some slow horn melodies as the rest of the band plays traditional backing instruments.  Accordion is prominent in some songs too.  The third is described as “a standard show-off piece.”

Hungarian Roma (Gypsy) style songs
The mandolin (the only instrument not listed up there so clearly one of the other ones–likely the prim which is a kind of tambura) runs free with this fast melody that grows faster as it goes on.  Made popular in the 1960s.

Caval Suite (Southern Romania)
Cântec Lui Dumitru Dobrican;  Joc Ca La Stâna
The caval is a long, five holed flute with a very soft sound.  There’s some truly lovely flute melodies over slow backing chords for the first one.  The second one is really fast a totally show-offy kind of piece with accompanimnet by the lute, the cobză .

Nóta Suite (Hungarian Gypsy Restaurant Style)
Friss Csárdás; Maros Víze Folyik Csendesen (“the water of the Maros flows quietly”); Minek A söke énnékem? (“What is the blonde to me”);  Hull A Fa Levele, Hull A Hó (“the tree’s leaves are falling, the snow is falling”)
Four very short pieces (none over 2 minutes) with primarily fiddle as the main melody.  The notes say that these kind of songs were usually mean as lead off for instrumental extravagance.  “Hull…” is probably the most popular instrumental tune of all time–each violinist tries to outdo the others.

Geamparalele (Romania Black Sea)
Geamparalele de la Cernavodă – Leliță loană – Geamparalele  Bătute
A fascinating whistle sound very fast ans almost birdlike.  This song is in Balkan 7/16 meter (2+2+3) with four lead instruments.

Bulgarian Suite
Melodija; Blateshnichka kopanitsa (“Hoeing”)
The first is a free rhythm tune.  It’s first lead instrument is the gadulka (Bulgarian folk fiddle) with three melody strings and 10 sympathetic strings.  There is no fingerboard and the notes are stopped with the fingers.  There’s also the Bulgarian kaval a 7 hole flute.  The second piece is in 11/16 (2+2+3+2+2) meter with tambura as lead.  There’s lots of beautiful soaring flute in the first of these two songs.  The second is a fast picking experience.

Dunántúli Suite (southern Hungary)
Urgós (“jumping”); Lassú / friss Csárdás (“Slow and fresh dances of the inn”)
This is the only section with vocals, which I don’t like as much as the instrumental songs.

Kyuchek  (Bulgarian Roma)
Flute is prominent in this song which is in 8/16 (3=3=2).

Muntenian Suite (Southern Romania)
Hora rară; Brâul pe șase (“belt dance in six”); Joc Țigănesc De Doi (“Roma dance for two”); Brâul Pe Opt  (“belt dance in eight”)
These are furiously fast dance songs.  The first was first heard by David during the Ceaseșcu years).   Violins dominate this song but with a delightful fluier (sounds like a penny whistle) added ion.  They’re mostly fast numbers all about 2 minute long.

This whole record is an enjoyable trip into Hungarian culture.  And you can dance to it (well, some people can dance to it).

[READ: April 17, 2017] Birthright: Volume Two: Call to Adventure

As this book opens up Aaron and his wife, Wendy, are trying to reconcile.  They both see that their children are in something big here.  Aaron is still super pissed that she even for a second considered that he killed Mikey, and she is still pissed about well, everything else.  But they are willing to talk it out.

That is until Agent Kylen with the National Security Agency busts in and tells him that Agent Brooks is no longer on this case–things have gotten too serious.

Meanwhile back in the woods, Mikey is trying to toughen up Brennan a bit–cold river baths and a bit of swordplay, when they are attacked by a large bear.  But rather than violence, Mikey is able to communicate with the bear and pacify it.  Mikey says that he has a way with animals.  And then proceeds to smash its skull in.  Brennan is outraged, shocked, aghast that his brother could kill so easily.  But Mikey just say to do what you have to to survive.

Wendy discovers the journal that Mikey created when he was first in Terrenos.  And this is great way to learn a little more about his life there.  She reads how Mikey really wants to come home, but that he knows he has a job to do. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE WOODSHED ORCHESTRA-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 5, 2012).

The Rheostatics were originally supposed to play 3 Reunion concerts to help celebrate the 65th Anniversary of The Horseshoe Tavern. Unfortunately the concerts got cancelled but Dave stepped in and offered up a free show on Wednesday December 5 2012, what was to be the first of the reunion shows.  Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra opened the show with a 48 minute set of New Orleans-style jazz (a limiting descriptor since their site says):

Legendary Toronto drummer Dave Clark (Rheostatics, Dinner is Ruined, The WoodChoppers Association, Gord Downie and Charles Spearin) pilots a five-piece horn section, four-piece rhythm section and full-ensemble vocals through New Orleans Funk, 2nd line and Jazz, R&B, Ska, Soul, Reggae, Punk, Rock n Roll, Blues, Country, Surf Rock, Neo-Greek, Ranchero, Polka, Disco, Samba, Afro-Pop, Waltz, New Wave, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Power Pop, Klezmer, Torch Ballads, Tango and Calypso, in an extraordinary celebration. This band is a funky, uplifting and joyful ride every time it plays.

The joy is utterly true. Dave is a warm and friendly guy, introducing all songs with a smile and calling everyone “friends.”

The play nine songs from their three albums.  Each song is a variant on that New Orleans style of tuba and banjo (and more of course).  It’s exemplified by “Love Letter to New Orleans” a song that seems like an instrumental but which is actually just really long before the words come in.

Dave introduces the second song, “There’s certain things I forget…. ”  “Drugs & Alcohol” is, unsurprisingly, a song about drinking.  He introduces our friend Pavel (Paul Kolinski) and then Karen Ng on “I Got No Clue.”

The next song’s entire lyrics are the band members meowing while they play.  I can’t find the name of the song.

Dave introduces the next song as a dancing song dedicated to one of the greatest guitarists to walk the planet.  It could be me or you or anyone on the planet because were all great then we try.  But this is for “Levon Helm” who looks like he was a bout to die on stage but still gave two hours of the slinkiest, grooviest music.

Next, Karen Ng is going to play you a song and then teach it to you: “Seasons of our Lives.”

Dave says, “We’re good for two more numbers or so and then we’ll take it out to the hallway.”

Then: “Let me name some names: Geezer Butler, Erica Badu, the guy from Crazy Horse who doesn’t t move but he’s got a really good voice.  Tim Vesely.”  This is all an introduction to their song “Geddy Lee.”

Want to hear a sing about sex?  “Clothes Off” features the line: “Come on take your clothes off I wanna see you naked.”

The final song is dedicated to each and every one of you and people you don’t get to see.”   “Penny & Mousie’s Antidotal Lullabye” is a sweet slow number, a nice send off of love and tenderness.

Considering that Dave Clark was always the weirdo in the band, and he is still a bit of a goof, this music is really sincere, and really good.

[READ: April 16, 2017] Birthright Volume 1

The name of this book intrigued me when I saw it in the library.  And I really liked the cover image.  So I grabbed it and volume two.

And man, did  I love how quick and abrupt the beginning of the story came.

On page one a dad is throwing a ball to his young son.  On page two the dad talks to his wife while the boy, Mikey, runs into the woods for the ball.  On page four Mikey is officially missing and the police have been called in.  On page five the dad is being accused of killing his son and by page ten the parents have filed for divorce.  Yowza.

In that time the mom has started dating one of the detectives (I think).  The dad, Aaron, has become a useless drunk.  But there is some news on the case.  The detective calls both of the parents and their older son Brennan into the precinct because they have brought someone in.

The man is in his mid 30s, totally muscular and wearing intense armor.  They immediately think that this man abducted Mikey. But the dad says no, that IS Mikey.  WHAT?  The detective says that the DNA matches. It makes no sense, but there are real indications that it is indeed Mikey.  It’s just that time moves faster where he went, obviously.

Mikey tells them it was destiny and then we see how he was grabbed by some flying creatures and some large orc-like creatures.  There is a brief story of Mikey’s introduction to Terranos–where it is his destiny to be the world’s hero.  And he has come back to earth to protect it from the bad guys of Terranos who plan to invade.

Twists upon twists and great storytelling.  But a pretty standard premise, right?

No, because Williamson has one more twist up his sleeve. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FIRE IS MOTION-Days 1-7 (2014), Demos (2014), Flowers in Kawameeh Park (2017).

Fire in Motion is more or less the project of Adrian Amador.  But he had a full band when they opened for Public Service Broadcasting.  I got a copy of their CD at the show (which you can stream or download here).

The first 7 songs were done with this template:

I decided to write and record a song every day for an entire month using no pre-written material. Around the third day, I realized just how overly ambitious this idea was

“Day 1” has nice ringing guitars and some great backing vocals.  There’s drums on this song too. (Ambitious first day).
“Day 2” is one of the most exciting songs here.  The riff is fantastic in this slow version (Live they played it faster), but the way the guitar echoes is really lovely. When more guitars get layered on top, it’s really quite something.
“Day 3” is an acoustic ballad.  Simple guitars with a falsetto note in the vocals that keeps it interesting.  It’s just over a minute, but when the clapping comes in around 45 seconds it feels like it could be developed into a really full song.
“Day 4” is a delicate acoustic ballad with some pretty overdubbed guitars and vocals.  This could also be expanded into something lovely.
“Day 5” Again, the overdubbed guitars are lovely and the vocal melody on top shows another interesting start to a song.
“Day 6” In the spirit of “Day 2,” this has a slow guitar melody that unwinds as the vocals sing a slightly different melody.  This song could use an interesting guitar line on top, like in “Day 2” but otherwise its very promising.
“Day 7” has an organ sound for some diversity and the female and male vocals offer nice harmonizing again.

The demos are a bit more complete sounding but still sound like demos, of course.

“How Long to Get Home” is the cleanest sounding song so far.  It has that wonderful echoed main guitar and several different pretty guitar lines.  I love the way this built from a quiet song with some big drums and backing vocals.  This song sounded great live.

“Ringside” sounds more like a demo.  It has plucked guitar sound and deep vocals.  The song is spare at the start but when it gets to a bout a minute in, more instrumentation and percussion is added and the song feels really full.  The harmonics near the end are rally a nice touch and the kind of distantly screamed vocals add a sense of urgency.

“Smile It Makes This Easier” has an upbeat melody on acoustic guitar (with a nice little riff) and the  harmonies (both high and low ) are nice addition.

I’d love to hear any of these songs fleshed out and I wonder what is on their forthcoming CD.

“Flowers in Kawameeh Park” is a single that is not going to on the record and is only available here.  It is the most full-sounding of the bunch with vocals from Avery Salermo and Adrian Amador (who plays everything else but the horns).  The quiet middle section with the great backing vocals leads to a large crashing section.  The horns make the song get bigger and bigger until the dramatic buzzy ending.

It’s really cool to listen to these songs in order and hear the band develop.  They are going to be opening for Pinegrove in late December.  I’m looking forward to that show and the CD.

[READ: August 2, 2016] Amulet: Firelight

Kibuishi has stated that there will be nine books in this series.  This is number seven and it was just released this year, so it will be a pretty long time (I suspect) before books 8 and 9 come out. Which is a real shame because, although the story has been good so far, this book was hugely exciting.

It opens with Emily and her father (!) hiking.  He gives her some advice which I have to wonder if it is true–gently push yourself away from the rock…we’re at enough of an angle that it will give you leverage.  Holding the surface tight is only going to make you slide.  Sounds like it should work.  And it also might be a good theme of the book–push away rather than grabbing tighter for your safety

But Emily realizes it is only a dream (not even a memory and soon it is gone).

She is actually still on the ship with Enzo and they are pulling into a station to hope for refuelling. The station seems empty, although it is full of memories.  As they explore, they discover that they are already on Algos Island –their intended destination (which was not an actual island after all).

But before they can secure the ship, they are boarded and a fight ensues–little Dagno even manages to help out.  It turns out the invader is Galiban–the elf from earlier in the story who stole everyone’s memories.  They secure him and he reveals that he has been saving all of the memories he stole in an underground ship.

And that’s when Galiban lays a tough truth on everyone–the stonekeepers were chosen for their weakness not their strength.  He is quite certain that Emily is being used against her will.  And while he hated the stonekeepers for the horrible things they did to his home, he realizes it was not their fault-they couldn’t control it.

And then we flash to Navin and his friends.  They are trying to get to Valcor but they are still in those giant rumbling robot suits.  They can’t earn enough money to book a ride to Frontera, so they get jobs working on the ship–they are the waitstaff (and they are terrible).  And worse yet they are spotted by Elven solders.

But it turns out that soldiers are in disguise, they were sent by Riva and she tells them that there are bounty hunters here looking for them.  The “soldiers” are Loni and Roni and they are going to fly Navin and friends to safety.

Back on the underwater memory ship, Galivan shows Emily and Trellis where the memories are stored.  This leads them to a memory that Trellis needs to see–the one where he learns that his father has been taken over by the voice.  And that the shadows have really overtaken their people.  That memory was clouded so he would forget it.

Then two exciting thing happen at once. They are detected in their underwater location and the bad guys come to attack them.  And Emily chooses a path (against Trellis’ wishes) which might be an escape but turns out to be actually another memory.

And this memory is of someone who Emily doesn’t recognize.  But he turns out to be someone who is instrumental in the accident that killed her father (it’s an intense sequence to be sure).  But in this memory she uses her power to rescue her family (including her self).  And as the memory concludes, her father is getting Riled up about the guy who caused the accident and the says he’ll make him pay.  Which means that Emily has given up control over the stone.  And that can’t be good for anyone.

While things are going very badly for Emily, things are going pretty well for Navin.  The crew lands on Frontera.  And while the landing area looks pretty run down we soon learn that Frontera has served as an underground base for the resistance–they have another base in the planet’s atmosphere (and they have a very cool-looking ship to take them there).  So while one sibling is taking control, the other one is losing control.

How can  wait a year for book 8?  [Word has it Book 8 will come out in 2018].

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SOUNDTRACK: DAWG YAWP-Tiny Desk Concert #654 (September 29, 2017).

I first heard a Dawg Yawp song on All Songs Considered.  Since then I’ve heard the band’s name mentioned around but I’d kind of forgotten what they sounded like.  I certainly forgot that they played with a sitar.  In fact, it is just a duo: Tyler Randall (sitar, vocals, guitar, synthesizers, drums) and Robert Keenan (guitar, vocals, synthesizers).

I love watching unconventional (Western) instruments.  And I love watching them played unconventionally–in this case

A man in a black cape holds a sitar like a guitar all while singing a dreamy tale about wanting to be a dog. Well actually a “dawg.”  [The band is] a vessel for humor, experimentation and foot-stomping fun, whether that stomping is to an original techno beat or a classic bluegrass tune.  Listening to their debut, self-titled album is like listening to kids music made for grownups. It’s both clever and wonderfully weird.

“I Wanna Be A Dawg” is a gentle ballad–a pretty, rather complex melody on the acoustic guitar with the lead and vocal melody played on the sitar.  I love the middle section where the guitar is playing a finger-picked section and the sitar is soloing.  It sounds terrific.  I love that he is employing the sitar with some traditional sounds but also with an electric guitar sensibility.

“Can’t Think” opens with some rowdy sampled guitars and a neat drony singing style while Tyler plays the sitar.  There’s even a sample of someone scratching the strings of an electric guitar.  It is repetitive but with enough variation to make it incredibly infectious.  And it rocks, too.

Before the third song, Tyler mentions talks “the first sitar capo.”  He says they weren’t supposed to talk but the silence is intense.  “East Virginia Blues,” is a song made famous by the Stanley Brothers “that first won my heart when I heard them replace the more traditional banjo with a sitar”.  You can tell that this song was probably played on a banjo but he sitar give its such an interesting twang (as their vocals twang a bit, too).  I’m not sure if the drums are done by foot pedal or sequencer.

Before the final song, “Lost At Sea” Robert says, “we’ve played a lot of outdoor summer festivals and I don’t think I’ve sweat as much.”  This song is incredibly catchy.  The melody is familiar but with a new spin.  There’s interesting plucked guitar and a nice sitar solo.  There some other kinds of sounds in the sequencer, too.  It’s fun to watch them push the squares to get a whole new set of drums and such.

This band seems like a must-see attraction.

[READ: July 26, 2016] Amulet: Escape from Lucien

As the book opens, Max addresses the Elf king and asks for one more chance to destroy the stonekeepers.  The king is not in the habit of clemency, but Max’s thirst for vengeance impresses the king, so Max is given another chance.

Meanwhile back at “school” (I seem to have missed this transition), Emily and Navin are flying some aircraft and wind up being late for class.  Navin takes the blame to spare them Emily getting in trouble.  But his teacher put a governor bracelet on him which prevents him from flying anything on site. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHRONIXX-Tiny Desk Concert #653 (September 27, 2017).

Chronixx and his band Zincfence Redemption paid a long-awaited visit to the Tiny Desk to perform three songs from his sophomore album, Chronology.

At a time when dancehall has been dominating the Jamaican soundscape, its refreshing to hear the man born Jamar McNaughton carrying the roots-revival torch for a younger generation and expanding upon the footprint left by his world-renowned predecessors.

This is especially true for roots reggae, whose staccato guitar licks, billowing bass, and sonic splashes on a canvas of negative space, are like salve for the soul. The mid-tempo pulse conjures up relaxed days on the beach, living amid nature’s unrestricted beauty.

I allowed the blurb to speak for me because I really don’t care for reggae.  Or I should say I like one or two songs but beyond that it’s all too samey to me.

But Chronixx adds some changes to the classic sound.

In “Skankin’ Sweet,” the tempo is faster than a lot of reggae so I like this a bit more.  Chronixx’s delivery is light and fluid.  I enjoy in the middle section that the percussionist Hector Lewis has time to dance before he gets back to the bongoes.

“Majesty” is a smoothy dancy song with a solid bass line from Adrian Henry and drums from Oliver Thompson.

On “Spanish Town Rockin'” percussionist  Lewis sings some delightful falsetto backing vocals. There’s a cool moment when one of the guitarists Stephen Coore or N’Namdi Robinson slides his finger up the next with a neat echo effect on it. This song is pretty extended and dancey and Chronixx does a little freestyle.  I can’t quite make out everything he says, but there’s a bit about “NPR session / Chronixx rasta mon / roll up the mad ribbon / and then he cracks up.  J. Evan Mason on the keys has done most of the melodies while the guitars played chords, but he gets a special little section during the outro of this song.

he hasn’t converted me to reggae, but it’s much more fun live than on record.

[READ: July 24, 2016] Amulet: Prince of the Elves

The book begins with Max as a young boy.  He is learning from his friend, an elf named Layra.  Then we meet Max’s dad.  Max’s dad is pretty intense and he wants Max to serve on the Guardian council “he will follow my path, not my father’s.”  Then we see that Max’s father does not like elves

When Max goes to Layra’s house, her parents have been put in jail and a headline reads “Elves declare war.”

Max runs to the prison, frees her parents and has the three of them get on a ship to freedom.  But as soon as they try to escape, the ship is blown up and all the passengers killed (this story is really dark).  Max is sentenced to prison for helping prisoners escape.  Soon enough Max escapes prison and the stone is trying to tell him what to do–“just give me complete control and I can keep you alive long enough to have your revenge.” (more…)

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