When I looked for a picture of this book cover, I was connected to Connell’s blog which has links to many songs by Kodagain. After some more work, I learned that Kodagain features music by Saša Zorić Čombe and lyrics by Brendan Connell!
It was hard to find any real details about Kodagain (they have a media presence, but it is rather abbreviated), until I saw their soundcloud page which gives these nuggets of information
- Kodagain formed in 1985 in Knjazevac, SE Serbia, where it’s hard to be alternative but easy to be alone.
- Kodagain writes and records songs with English lyrics because English is more musical than Serbian.
- Kodagain has a miniaturist approach to pop music, channelling influences from Henry Purcell, through Dean Martin, to Roxy Music, into short compositions combining a bubblegum-pop concern for melody with lo-fi experimentalism, resulting in songs as soulful as they are playful.
- Many of the lyrics have been provided by the existing poetry of famous poets such as Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Chu-I Po (Bai Juyi), Lord Byron, Ogden Nash, Sara Teasdale, Louisa Stuart Costello and Robert Creely.
- Since 2007, Kodagain has also been using … original lyrics from the writer Quentin S. Crisp; since 2012, Kodagain has similarly collaborated with the writer Brendan Connell. Brendan Connell says: “My ultimate goal is to write a vast number of lyrics about natural wonders, public parks, lost watches, Indian villages, hidden love, birds, trees, mountain passes, fake Taoists, imperceptible colors, rhetorical mysteries, and flowers. Ideally these would be compounded into a ‘Guide for Modern Life’ which could be used to build better relations between workers and their bosses, the various sexes, and those whose religious beliefs differ.”
- Their songs and videos can be found in generous supply on YouTube and SoundCloud. Albums include: Speed Up, The Nowhere Land’s Echoes, A Drink With Something In It, 000, Vranje, Letters From Quentin, Time to Get Ready for Love, My Fear of His Fear of Death, and Supernatural.
Since encountering Kodagain, I have become totally transfixed by them. The melodies are simple and lovely and Zorić Čombe’s voice is gentle but wise. Lyrically the songs are certainly all over the place, and most of the songs are under 2 minutes long. The instrumentation is simple–usually a gentle guitar, steady drums and multi-tracked voices.
It was really hard to pick a song to talk about because there are so many. But I decided to pick “King of Curls,” in part because the video is fantastic, and so are the lyrics
If I ruled the world
I’d call myself
The King of Curls
If I were king
I’d change damn near
If I ruled the world
My army wouldn’t fight wars
But rather eat chocolate bars
And move to the beat
While my advisors wise
Would do jazzercise
(and that’s just the first part!)
Zorić Čombe’s voice sounds a bit to me like a smoother Jens Lekman (although that could just be the enunciation style). I find his songs utterly enchanting.
And if you look on YouTube, you’ll find dozens of videos–most of which are masterpieces of found footage.
[READ: February 20, 2015] The Metanatural Adventures of Dr Black
About 7 years ago, I read a novella called Dr Black and the Guerrillia and I liked it quite a lot. I liked that Connell created this character, with no apparent context (at least none given in the story) and that it was so amazingly detailed and “real” and yet so seemingly unreal–an unsatisfying word which Connell has corrected for me with the title of this collection–Metanatural.
This book is something of a collection of short stories about Dr. Black, but it is far more than that. It collects some of the adventures that Dr. Black has been on as well as some of the patents and other ephemera and fashions a kind of narrative (although a very sketchy narrative) about the life he leads.
Before I even get to the “plot” of the book, I need to say just how much I enjoyed reading this book. I was absolutely captivated by Connell’s voice. Over the years I have known that Connell was an accomplished writer with an unparalleled attention to detail and to choosing the precise word. But somehow in the Dr. Black stories Connell’s details and specifics push the narrative to real heights. Perhaps it is because Dr Black seems so real that when anything “metanatural” happens to him, it is entirely believable–drawing you into his exploits even further. I really wanted to read more and more.
Having said all that, while this book is certainly his most accessible, it is still not light reading. Connell challenges the reader with his extensive vocabulary, his lack of compunction about throwing in some obscure sections of text (that I won’t pretend I understood, but which didn’t bother me at all) and his willingness to defy reality, which may lose some readers. But the rewards of the stories are worth it. (more…)