Archive for the ‘Banksy’ Category

fakeSOUNDTRACK: MATANA ROBERTS-Coin Coin: Chapter 3 Mississippi Moonchile [CST110] (2015).

cst110cover_258x242I felt like the first Coin Coin disc was way too long, so imagine my surprise to discover that the whole Coin Coin series is planned as a 12 chapter collection!

Unlike the previous 2 chapters, this album was created entirely by Roberts.  She is credited with playing saxophone, Korg Monotron and a 1900s upright piano.  But like the others, the tracks bleed into each other and seem to end indiscriminately.

This disc also quotes from The Star Spangled Banner, Beautiful Dreamer, The Pledge of Allegiance, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, Lift Every Voice and Sing and All the Pretty Horses.  As well as samples from Malcolm X and a field recording of a travel through Mississippi, Louisiana Tennessee and NYC.

The first song, “All is Written” is 10 minutes long.  She sings quietly and starkly (voice breaking) while spoken words overlap behind her voice (and the saxophone and drones).  Her singing is at times pained and strained—aching with the truth of her words.  As “The Good Book” begins, the spoken word continues but the main sound is an industrial throbbing.  Near the end, a new metallic sound comes screeching in and then resolves into a kind of drone while angelic voices takes over for song three, “Clothed to the Land, Worn by the Sea” which is more pleasant.

“Dreamer of Dreams” resumes some spoken word and synth noises while two overlapping tracks of sax solos play.  “Always Say Your Name” has some more drones and a wild sax solo.  “Nema Nema Nema” experiments with analog synth noises while she sings a pretty melody with other voices circulating behind her.  “A Single Man o’War” has a high pitched drone. which is accompanied by several three note chants.

“As Years Roll By” is spoken words, with drone and church bells.   And lots of “Amens.”  “This Land is Yours” has lots of voices speaking and overlapping.  It ends with someone singing “come away with me come away,” which segues into “Come Away” with a noisy background and spoken voices talking about Zanzibar.  Then there is a keening, pained voice singing the middle. “JP” is a speech about he slave trade.

Although this album is difficult, it is more manageable than her other releases in this series.  But manageability clearly isn’t her plan, she is making a statement and it is exciting and frightening to listen to.

[READ: August 10, 2016] Original Fake

You should never judge a book by its cover.  But I really liked the cover of this book a lot.  And the title was intriguing, so I grabbed it off the new book shelf.

And what a great, fun story it was.

The book opens with Frankie sneaking into his school at 6:30 AM.  No one else is there except maybe the janitor.  He is sneaking into the school to do a small amount of vandalism. But the vandalism is not your typical vandalism.  On the school hallway is a mural that is currently being painted.  Frankie is an artist but he was not asked to paint the mural (no one really knows he does art).  The mural is a of a lake and farm fields and all that.  And he has decided to tag the mural.  He has painted a water-skiing abominable snowman giving the hang loose sign in the corner of the lake.  “He’s maybe six inches tall, and I kind of put him close to a rock so he’d blend in, but if you get close, its pretty obvious he doesn’t belong. He’s completely amazing.”

Amid the telling of the scene is a drawing of Frankie painting the snowman–this book is full of illustrations by Johnson.  Most of the illustrations complement the story but a couple actually tell the story, too. (more…)

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I’m white, so that means I own a copy of this CD (according to the book below).  And I do, because it’s mandatory in college that you play “Jammin'” at every party.

Now, I like ska (yup, still).  I know that ska came from reggae, but to me reggae is just boring ska.  I couldn’t agree more with Barney on How I Met Your Mother:

Ted: Oh, get this, she plays bass in a reggae band. They’re having a show this Friday. How cool is that?

Barney: Oh, does she know that one song? Mm-hm chaka, mm-hm chaka. What’s that song called? Oh, right, it’s called every reggae song.

Although in fairness, listening to this again, it is a rather nice album (I guess I know every song).  I have a personal aversion to some of the really overplayed songs, like “One Love” (because if you go to any Caribbean location they all act like it’s the official slogan of hot weather.  We even have a Christmas ornament from St. John that says “One Love”  WTF?  And I don’t think anyone needs a 7 minute version of “No Woman No Cry.”

But some of the lesser played its (“Could You Be Loved” and just about anything with The Wailers backing him are pretty great).  Although I’ve got to admit I can’t take more than a few songs.  I had to skip through some of the last songs (thank goodness I don’t have the 2 disc version).

[READ: July 26, 2012] Whiter Shades of Pale

Christian Lander created the blog Stuff White People Like.  It was very funny (it hasn’t been updated since Feb 2011, so let’s assume it has run its course).

Lander had released a first book of SWPL back in 2008.  I didn’t read it (blog to book deals were overwhelming in 2008), but I had seen enough of the site to assume it was funny.  One of the funnier jokes when the blog first came out was wondering if the creator was white or not.  (Well, the author photo gives that away, but I won’t).

We grabbed this book at a Borders going out of business sale (sorry Borders, you are missed).  This book continues where the first book left off (I gather).  I don’t know if every entry from the blog made it into the book (the thanks at the end of the book lead me to think not), but I have to assume most of them made it (and maybe there is new stuff in the book too?) (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: EVANGELISTA-In Animal Tongue [CST082] (2011).

Evangelista is probably my least favorite band on the Constellation label.  I’m especially surprised/disappointed in this because I loved Carla Bozulich’s earlier bands.  I’ve said before that I find her vocals to be weirdly and wonderfully disconcerting.  And when it’s played over aggressive confident music it works wonders.  But when it’s paired with music that is also kind of abstract and untethered, it just sounds like a mess.

After that introduction, I’ll say that this album is their best release yet.  Her voice (the Constellation site suggests her melodies are “largely improvised” (!)) sounds like it always does–unsettling, haunting, compelling, drawing you into whatever world she is invoking.   The title track is the most intriguing–the music is subdued, drawing you in even more.   “Black Jesus” is also compelling in that it is one of her more subtle releases.

“Bells Ring Fire” has the catchiest section, practically a singalong.  “Die Alone” reverts back to that old nebulous style where there’s just nothing to grab on to.  Indeed, “Enter the Prince” and “Hatching” both have interesting sound effects (especially “Hatching”) but they’re not really compelling as songs.

I think the real problem with these songs is that they’re all too long.  Since they don’t have any hooks in them, since there’s nothing to really grab you and make you want to like them, having them come in around 5 minutes is just too much to ask of the listener.  Some of these songs would be inetresting for two or three minutes, but by 5 I’ve given up.

Check it our for yourself here

[READ: May 15, 2012] “Reading Graffiti in the Early Modern Book”

This may be the most current scholarly article I have read from JSTOR.  Part of the fun of reading the JSTOR scholarly articles is that they are usually old enough that you can have either a) contemporary knowledge about what the author got right or wrong or b) a fun nostalgia based upon the word choices or references that are in the text.  So with this one, which is not even two years old, there’s neither of those possibilities.  What’s also interesting is how the article is clearly current–the references that Scott-Warren uses are contemporaneous (“the Banksy of his day?”)

So what is this article about anyhow?  Well, Scott-Warren looks at the notes and scribbles that people have written in their books.  But not just your average textbook or library book, he goes back very far to the “early modern” period and sees that people have been graffiting their books since there were books.  He mentions how anyone studying books from that era will see all kinds of things on the pages of the book, from scribbles to pressed flowers to even the rust outline of scissors.  But he wants to focus on what people have written.  And he wants to see of any of these notations are comparable to graffiti in the current sense of the word.

He discusses current definitions (including tagging) to explain that graffiti is all about saying “I am here.”  (He even interviews a graffiti artist named Claw).  Then he goes back to 1434 and sees a Latin inscription from Jan van Eyck on his painting Arnolfini Double Portrait that more or less says “Jan van Eyck has been here.”  Although it is his own painting it has a feel of graffiti, of making a public note that you exist.  Similar inscriptions can be found in many books of the period as well.  There is a 1565 edition of a book with a heavily flourished signature, there’s a 1548 edition book with a doodle that may include a self-portrait.  There’s even a bible that has been inscribed by every member of the family (daughter Mildred’s is stunningly ornate).  Another book has the owner’s signature about fifty times throughout the book.  Are these words to the world?  Public notations?  or something else?

Scott-Warren wonders if these markings can be considered “pen-trials”–pens were hard to use back then, the ink was homemade and paper was scarce.  Another possibility is that they were an attempt to prove and expand on literacy.  A third possibility was ownership. Like the graffiti in a 1685 Indian Bible, written in Massachusett: “I Nannahdinnoo, this is my book…I, I Nannahdinnoo, own this forever.  Because I bought it with my money”

I especially enjoyed the book that had written, under the name Walter Vaughn, “This book belongs not to Walter Vaughn but to James Vaughn because his later father John Vaughn gave this book in his last will and testament to the same James Vaughn and therefore the said James is the true owner of the book” (1582).

In addition to the I of graffiti Scott-Warren looks at the “was here” aspect.  In a 1549 History of Italy, there is an inscription noting that the owner had been to Venice.

The key to all of this seems to be its public-ness.  Some inscriptions were prayers that were clearly meant for others to read.  In another case, the person wrote his opinion about the booksmith where the book was purchased.  There’s even some graffiti that is like trash talking of others.

I enjoyed this article because there were lots of pictures of the inscriptions, although i could have used a few more, frankly.  It was also curious to think about why people wrote things in books long ago–who exactly did they think would be reading their copy of a book?  Was it just a public act of disobedience at a time when a public act had to be very self-contained?

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