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Archive for the ‘Tapirs’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NATE WOOD – fOUR-Tiny Desk #818 (January 16, 2019).

This Tiny Desk opens with a flurry of keyboard noise followed by a flurry of rums.  When the camera pulls back we see that all of that noise is made by one person–Nate Wood (who also starts playing bass after about a minute),

I have seen a number of one man (and woman) bands over the years and it is always amazing to watch.

Unlike some of them though, Nate Wood doesn’t loop anything   He’s playing live drums and live bass at the same time.  And his drumming is not standard snare-bass, he’s got a lot of (relatively) complex percussion going on.

His bass playing is also really solid–using only one hand while he plays drums.  Again, it’s not simple two chord melodies, he’s doing proper bass lines.  The synth notes do appear to be on a kind of trigger, but he is actually playing most of the notes, in between drum hits.  Watch around the three-minute mark of “Rabbit,” while he plays the bass with his left hand, hits the snare and cymbals with his right hand and taps out melodies on the keys with that same hand.  His feet meanwhile are stomping out the bass drum and hi-hat (and there must be some kind of foot pedal switch involved).  And the amazing thing is how effortless he looks.

“Rabbit” is an instrumental, but he introduces the next song by saying, “This one is called ‘Better if You Try’ and there will now be singing (!)”.

So who is this guy?

Nate Wood says he only wishes he had more limbs, noting only the limitations of his physical body, rather than his ability to multitask. In his latest project, Nate Wood – fOUR, Wood’s brain splits attention between four synthesizers, an electric bass and a drum kit, all while singing about futurism. He’s his own engineer and roadie, too, who drove himself from Brooklyn to our D.C. office and quietly set up his gear, alone.

His setup is made possible through a long road of ergonomic trial-and-error that includes the precise height of the keyboards, the instrument sequencing and a wearable microphone to minimize physical demand and maximize as many possibilities as he can fit within arm’s reach of a drum throne. It’s a feat of ingenuity, especially considering Wood plays all of fOUR’s tunes in one take. No backing tracks. No overdubs.

“Better If You Try” has a cool bass riff and echoing keys.  It must be said that his singing isn’t anything special, and I find myself tuning out while enjoying the music.

I have to disagree with the final paragraph of the blurb:

But while it’s a thrill to see the multi-instrumentalist wizardry here, his music is perhaps best appreciated with eyes closed. Nate Wood pulls us into an industrial, neon dystopia with tunes that stand alone as headphone music without the accompanying visuals, meticulously crafted and with precise execution. This isn’t novelty music. You’re hearing (and seeing) a mastermind songwriter and mad scientist at work. Just look at that lab coat!

I don’t find his music all that compelling by itself.  I do love the excellent echoing electronic sounds from his bass on the final song.  And I do like the more sinister edge “They’re Coming” gets.  Thematically, “They’re Coming” is interesting enough, but the lyrics are sci-fi standard and when I listened without watching I kept thinking–how is he doing that?

[READ: January 18, 2019] New Shoes

It’s funny that I read this book right after Peter & Ernesto because while they are very different, they share an amazing number of similarities.

This book is set in a fictional, animal-dominated version of Guyana.  The epilogue says that Sara and John visited Johns’ family in Guyana where she took hundreds of pictures as inspiration.  You even see the house that inspired her main character Francis’ own house.

Francis is a shoemaker–he always wanted to be one.  And he is hugely successful.  People come from all over for his amazing shoes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AARON LEE TASJAN-Tiny Desk Concert #817 (January 15, 2019).

Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band play wonderful retro-fueled jangle pop.  There’s terrific gentle harmonies, a chiming 12 string and a dual guitar solo.  He even looks the part

Aaron Lee Tasjan arrived at the Tiny Desk in his fashionable ascot and mustard-colored shirt, sporting reflective, red, rounded sunglasses and mutton chops. As he warmed up, the sound of the middle-and-late 1960s came through his seagreen, Gorsuch 12-string guitar while his voice felt both familiar and fresh.

Aaron Lee Tasjan’s love for this older sound infuses Karma For Cheap, his recent album, with an optimistic THC-veiled sentiment — one that can be heard on “Songbird,” his opening number here at the Tiny Desk. “There’s a songbird singing, I’m laying on the floor. Something feels right that has never felt right before.”

“Songbird” sounds familiar yet new, and wonderfully catchy.

He’s also got a good joke: “My name is Aaron Lee Tasjan. I hope I’m saying that right.”

For the next song he says the band will “boogaloo till they puke.”  It opens with a synth sound. more jangly guitars and even bigger harmonies.  It segues perfectly into the stomp of “Set You Free.”

These are songs of encouragement, and the final tune in this Tiny set, “Set You Free,” invokes that sentiment in plain-spoken language: “You gotta change your mind, you gotta plant the seed and let it set you free.”  All the while, drummer Seth Earnest, guitarist Brian Wright and bassist Tommy Scifres seemingly channeled their love of David Bowie’s 1972 song, “The Jean Genie” (a song mixed in Nashville), in its rhythms and vibes.

You can definitely hear “The Jean Genie” in the song, but never does it sound like he’s stealing from Bowie, just alluding to him–and that three-part harmony makes it all his own.  I love that both guitars play the solo at the end–atop even more harmonies.

This was such a delightful Tiny Desk that I need to find out more about this guy.

[READ: January 18, 2018] Peter & Ernesto

This is an adorable book, the first in a series, I believe, about Peter & Ernesto.  As the subtitle indicates, they are sloths.

The book opens with the pair sitting in a tree watching the clouds go by and naming the shapes.  When Ernesto sees a bear, Peter responds “Scary!” and then goes back to eating his hibiscus.

It is generally believed that sloths are lazy, but Ernesto points out that they are not lazy, just content.  Until, that is, Peter sings about how “We always see what we always see!  Nothing ever changes for you and me!”  And then Ernesto feels discontented.

Ernesto says he likes their piece of sky, but he wants to see all of the sky.  So he must take a trip.  Peter freaks out–there could be bears out there!  It’s too dangerous!  When Ernesto asks if Peter has ever been out there and Peter says no.  Ernesto points out, how would he know? (more…)

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