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Archive for the ‘Pigeons’ Category

516ZKjM2CqL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_ (1) SOUNDTRACK: ELISAPIE-Tiny Desk Concert #948 (February 20, 2020).

downloadElisapie (I have no idea how to pronounce that) is a First Nations singer from Salluit, on the Northern tip of Quebec.

She sings in Inuktitut (as well as in English and French).  And her voice is absolutely intense.

Her songs are very personal–she sings of

her life as an adopted child and of meeting her biological mother. Now, as a mother herself, she sings about what it must have meant to her own mother to give up her child.

Elisapie left her birth-village, Salluit, as a teenager and headed to Montreal, leaving her community and her sick mom. The songs she sings, here all come from her album, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl and deal with the consequences of her leaving.

These songs are definitely rock, but with a different overall sound.  Jason Sharp’s bass saxophone is fantastic–creating deep low rumbles and otherworldly squawks.

“Arnaq” opens with some chugging guitar riffs (I can’t tell if the guitar is acoustic or electric) from Joe Grass and after a verse or so, some great noisy electric guitars from Josh Toal, who punctuates the song with little solos.  There’s no bass guitar because the bass saxophone covers all of the low ends.

The song, even though it is in Inuktitut is rally catchy with a chorus of “ahhhhhh, I, yi, I” (or something).

The middle section is full of great noises as both guitars and the sax all play some wild solos.

All of this is held together by “the tasteful drumming of Evan Tighe.”

She says the second song, “Una” is the most painful yet the most freeing song.  It is  written to her biological mother.  In Inuktitut the word for mother means “our little bag” because they carried us.

It opens with slow staccato guitar chords and a near a capella vocal before the quiet electric guitar from Josh Toal joins in.  The spareness of the beginning of this song is a great counterpoint to the end of the song when everyone joins in–vocals, guitars, sax and some complex drumming.

Before the final song, she looks around and smiles and says Lizzo was here!  My daughter is very excited.

The final song “Darkness Bring The Light” opens with some great weird sounds from everyone.  Tighe makes scraping metallic sounds as he slides his drum sticks around the cymbals.  Toal plays a synth intro as Grass bows his guitar and Sharp makes waves of gentle sounds to underpin the melody

This one is in English.  She sings a melody that rides over the sounds.  After 2 minutes the drums kick in and after a run through of the chorus, the guitarists join in

Bob Boilen concludes

This is an extraordinary Tiny Desk from an artist with something meaningful to say.

He is absolutely correct.  This set is fantastic.

[READ: March 10, 2020] Gunnerkrigg Court 4 [32-41]

I really enjoyed the first three books of this series and then promptly forgot about it.  I happened to see this book at the library and was excited to see that I hadn’t read it.  Can it really have been three years since I last read about these characters?

Being away for so long made some of this a little confusing.  I will have to read the whole story again some time.

Chapter 32 shows Antimony returning from the forest and there is a warm welcome with Renard. But Katarina’s welcome is cool–“you kinda make it hard to be your friend.” Antimony tries very hard to make Kat like her again…too hard.  She creates scary situations in which she can “save” Kat,  It doesn’t exactly work, although Kat isn’t really mad anymore, just annoyed.  But then a gigantic creepy monster thing comes out of the water.  Kat is impressed by Annie’s conjuring until Annie says she didn’t do it.  They run out.

Only to learn that this is Lindsey–the creature who helped design most of everything at the court–a giant crablike creature.

All this time Kat has been working on the idea of growing a robot.  Well, not exactly, but kind of.  She imagines using a muscular frame to build a robot body around.  Or something.  She is able to use the smarts of one of the existing robots to give her a hand.  The code they provide is actually a small white cube with no writing on it.  Amazingly Kat is able to read parts of it. (more…)

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flinchSOUNDTRACK: HAUSCHKA-“Improvisation,” “Random Gifts” and “Mt. Hood” in the NPR studios (2010).

hausckaHauschka is German composer Volker Bertelmann and he plays the prepared piano.  What that means is that he places things on and in the piano to alter the sound of it.  (Nothing he does creates any permanent damage).

Mostly he creates percussive sounds with things like bottle caps,Tic Tac boxes and skewers.  And while it sounds simple, it is really quite ingenious.

This Vimeo link shows him talking to Guy Raz at NPR about the random materials that Raz has given him and then demonstrating how they change the sound of things.  Then he plays the “Random Gifts.”

The Youtube Video below shows another improv piece from the same day using different items.

This Vimeo link to him playing “Mt. Hood” shows off his use of ping pong balls.

All of his songs are fairly simple and fairly slow, primarily because the preparations add resonances and percussion that would overwhelm if he played faster.  Thus his pieces are often moody and reflective

Hauschka has a new album out as of this month called Abandoned City.  Every track on the new CD is named after a city that has been abandoned, that is vacant.  And his spare oftentimes eerie music goes very well with that theme.

There’s lots more videos of him on YouTube which are worth checking out.

[READ: June 23, 2014] Flinch

I was grabbed by the cover of this graphic novel.  The book is so short that I was really surprised to see that it was actually a collection of short stories.  As you can tell from the subtitle, this work is going to be dark and more than a little creepy.  And it is.  And while there are some similar visual styles, it’s interesting to see just how different these 13 stories can be.  Most of the stories use very few words, relying instead on the power of the visuals.  And it works pretty well.

I didn’t think any of them were especially creepy or dark, although the first one is kinda gross.  I enjoyed them for what they were, short stories that revel in the darker side of life.  I hadn’t heard of most of the artists.  The only one I knew was Shaun Tan. (more…)

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mermaSOUNDTRACK: HEY MARSEILLES-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (2013). 

heymar For reasons I’m unclear about, the first two songs (at least the first two listed on the NPR web page, (“To Travels & Trunks” and”Gasworks”) ) are not included in the download.  But we do get the band’s introduction of themselves.  So maybe the NPR list is wrong?  Weirder things have happened.

The band drove all the way from Seattle and are pleased to announce that they are the first band to play the Festival (a nice, if insignificant piece of trivia).

Regardless, we get a solid 35 minute set.  The band opens with “Heart Beats,” a folky song.  Indeed, Hey Marseilles continues the tradition of large bands (6 members at last counting) who play folk music with lots of unexpected(ish) instruments.  But the singer sounds quite a bit like Ben Gibbard.  Indeed that first song sounds like a less commercial Death Cab for Cutie—you keep expecting a big commercial chorus to come but it doesn’t, and there’s something very satisfying about them not giving it to us.

Although the band does sounds quite a bit like DCFC (both in the voice and the arrangements), their instrumentation brings an unfamiliarity to the songs that makes them so intriguing—like when the accordion pops up put of nowhere in “From a terrace.”  Or other songs where strings fill out a song–not in a “look we’re unplugged” sort of way but as  natural part of the song.  I really enjoyed their songs and may track down their CDs (and their cool scarf).

[READ: July 3, 2013] Mermaid in Chelsea Creek

This was the second YA book that McSweeney’s has released.  It is (say it with me) the first book in a trilogy.   And I have to say that I really didn’t like the first 100 pages.

There were a number of small things that kept me interested, but for the most part I found the story pretty dreadful.  On a personal note I really didn’t like that the Chelsea Creek was not revealed to be in the Boston area until very far into the story.  I hated that it was so specific (Chelsea) and yet so generic (which of the dozens of Chelseas was it?).  But more importantly I hated that Sophie (the protagonist) and her friend Ella, play the ‘pass-out” game.  In the game, one of the girls chokes herself until she passes out.  The other girl watches and wakes the first up after about 30 seconds.  This is what they do for fun  This is their cheap high.  And it constitutes a large part of the beginning of the story.  So much so that when her mother finds out about it, she tells her doctor.  And what made it all the crazier was that her doctor reveals that not only did she play the pass out game as  a girl but she is sure her mother did too.  And her mother says yes.  What the fuck?  Oh and her mother is mean and overworked and exhausted and generally always ready to fight with Sophie.

I imagine that if I had another book with me on vacation I would have put this down and read that one instead.  But I pressed on, mostly because when Sophie passed out she saw a mermaid in Chelsea Creek, a filthy sewage filled river.  (The fact that Ella is a germophobe is quite funny, especially when Sophie falls into the creek when she passes out).  That kept me interested as did Dr Chen (the above doctor).  Because the Doctor keeps pigeons on her roof and she has tied flutes to some of their tails so that they make beautiful music when they fly.  This scene was so good–so briefly magical–that I forgave the rest of the book and gave it a blank slate.  I was bummed when the pigeons went away, but was delighted when they came back a little later, once the magic began for real.

And there is magic aplenty.  Especially as Sophie learns more and more about her family and neighborhood. (more…)

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