Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Alejandro Zambra’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KING CRIMSON-The Elements Of King Crimson – 2017 Tour Box (2017).

The (so far) final Tour Box (although the band is still touring in 2018) is notable for having what might be the definitive collection of live “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic” recordings–Parts I to IV (and more) from different eras.

But that’s disc two.  Disc one continues with the sampling of the band’s career.

Disc 1 opens with “Wind.”  Although each “Wind” extract seems a tad different.  This one is all talking, no wind.”   (extract)  talking no wind.

Next comes an a capella first verse of “21st Century Schizoid Man.”  It’s just Greg Lake singing really loud before seguing into the rest of the song, this time from 2015.  It’s a great version.

Continuing like the other boxes, there’s an instrumental edit of “In The Wake Of Poseidon,” which is quite lovely.

This disc has a number of Mel Collins flute improvs taken from various Lark’s Tongue recordings in 2016.  Each one is wonderful and I could listen to his flute all day.

Another recording of “Peace,” this time with in a rehearsal that ends with Jakko cracking up because of something that Gavin has done (with lots of bad words bleeped out).

It’s followed by a stellar recording of “Cirkus” from 2016.  This is the first time played since 1972 and it sounds much more intense and complex than the version on the previous box.

It’s followed by an abridged instrumental recording of “Islands” and a 2015 live recording of “Easy Money” (complete with sound effects–I loved hearing this live the first time.

“Suitable Grounds For The Blues” is a 2015 rehearsals that ends when someone calmly says “It was Harrison, sir.  He made me laugh, sir.  He did the drum fill out of Hawaii 5-0 twice.

“The Great Deceiver” from 1974 sounds tremendous and I hope this means they might be busting it out for the 2018/19 tour.

“Asbury Park” is a live recording. It’s a fast and rollicking instrumental edited down to fit nicely with a terrific 2016 recording of “One More Red Nightmare.”

There’s a 2015 rehearsal of “Meltdown” and then a jump to an alternate (instrumental) mix of  “Thela Hun Ginjeet.”  I normally love these instrumental mixes, but i find that this song really uses the words wonderfully and I miss them.

The only other track from this era is a 1982 recording of “Heartbeat” which is insanely catchy and I can;t believe wasn’t a hit.  The disc ends with a 2008 performance of 1984’s “Sleepless” which sounds really 80s (the bass in particular) even though it was recorded in 2008.  I’ve often thought that Adrian Belew makes King Crimson sound like The Talking Heads, and that seems to be true with this song.

The disc ends with the intermission and photography announcement from 2016 concerts.

Disc 2 is the Lark’s Tongue disc, but it doesn’t start with it.  It opens with 2004’s “Form No. 1” with strings guitars and a Tony Levin groove.  Then there’s a version of “THRAK ” from the Thrak sessions.

The disc has several tracks called “Keep That One Nick” which are some early recordings and dialogue.  Each one is about 4 minutes long of guitars or drums or the whole band recording primarily parts of LTIA.

When the series starts, we’ve got a

2015 recording of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I” followed by a
1974 recording of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II.”

after a Nick recording of percussion (in which the drums sound like child’s toys and like Bruford is hitting everything in the studio, they continue the series with a

1984 recording of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part III.”  This is my least favorite Part–I can;t get over how much I’m disliking the 1980s recordings, especially since  Discipline is one of my favorite KC albums.

after a recording jam of Part II (keep that one, Nick) there’s a

1999 recording of “Larks’ IV ConstruKction” where you can see the connection to the LTIA series in this song.  Then comes a

2003 recording of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part IV” which sounds great once again.

It’s followed by a 2016 recording of “Level Five” which is sort of an unofficial Part 5 to LTIA.

Presumably these are Fripp’s favorite versions of the series. So there.

The disc and set ends with a radio advert for the Larks’ Tongues In Aspic album because who even knew they made radio adverts for albums.  It’s a great piece of history.

I imagine there will be a 2018 box, as the band has taken a few months off and is getting ready to start touring Europe and Japan through the end of the year.  And who knows, one more trip back to the U.S. in 2019?  Yea, I’d be ready to see them once more time by then.

[READ: February 1, 2017] Multiple Choice

I have really enjoyed Zambra’s stories a lot.  As with most of Zambra’s work, this one was translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell and I thought it was terrific.

As it turns out almost half of this book has been previously published: “Reading Comprehension: Text No. 1” (New Yorker, July 6 & 13, 2015) and “Reading Comprehension: Text No. 3” (Harper’s, July 2016).  In total, there are three Reading Comprehension texts in the book, as well as a few other types of “test questions.”

The original of this book was called Facsímil, and it uses “the structure and questions of the Chilean Academic Aptitude Test as its organizing principle. Called both a work of parody and poetry, Multiple Choice examines the role of the education system and standardized testing in promoting compliance to authoritarian rule.”

Since this book is set up like test there are 5 parts to work through.  (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: ROY AYERS-Tiny Desk Concert #712 (March 1, 2018).

I hadn’t heard of Roy Ayers, although I imagine I’ve heard his work somewhere before.  I love the vibes so I was looking forward to his set.

I was a little bummed to hear him singing–I assumed it would be all instrumental. Especially since his songs aren’t exactly lyrically masterful.  But the jazzy funky solos were pretty great.

Roy Ayers [is a] 77-year-old jazz-funk icon.  He sauntered through the office with a Cheshire grin on his face, sharing jokes with anyone within earshot. Accompanying him was a trio of brilliantly seasoned musicians — keyboardist Mark Adams, bassist Trevor Allen and drummer Christopher De Carmine. Later during the performance, pride washed across Ayers’ face as his bandmates took the spotlight. (Be sure to watch as Adams woos not just the room but brightens Ayers’ face during his solo.)

The set began with one of Ayers’ more recognizable hits: an extended version of “Searching,” a song that embodies the eternal quest for peace and love.  The vibes solo at 2 and a half minutes is worth the wait, though.

The lyrics are essentially.  I’m searching, searching, searching searching. It takes over a minute for him to even get to the vibes!  It’s followed by a groovy keyboard solo that starts mellow be really takes off by the end.

During “Black Family” (from his 1983 album Lots Of Love), you’ll hear him call out “Fela” throughout. That’s because Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti was a huge influence on Ayers in the late 1970s; the two eventually collaborated on an album, 1980’s Music Of Many Colors. “Black Family” is, in part, a tribute to Fela, even if the original version didn’t include his name.

Again the lyrics: “lo-lo-lo-lo-long time ago” and not much else repeated over and over and over. But it’s all lead up to a great vibes solo (as the band gets more and more intense).  I love that the keyboardist has a keytar as well and is playing both keys at the same time–soloing on the keytar with an awesome funky sound.  There’s even a cool bass solo.

Concluding this mini-concert, Ayers closed the set out with his signature tune, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”, a feel-good ode if there ever was one. The essence of this song flowed right through him and out to the NPR audience.

Another terrific vibes solo is followed by a keytar solo which is full of samples of people singing notes (they sound like Steely Dan samples)–it’s weird and kind of cool.

[READ: August 2017] McSweeney’s No 46

As the subtitle reflects this issue is all about Latin American crime.  It features thirteen stories selected by Daniel Galera.  And in his introduction he explains what he was looking for:

DANIEL GALERA-Introduction
He says it used to be easy to talk about Latin American fiction–magical realism, slums and urban violence.  But now things have expanded.  So he asked 13 writers to put their own Latin American spin on the crime story.

And of course, each McSweeney’s starts with

Letters

DANIEL ALARCÓN writes passionately about Diego Maradona’s famous “Goal of the Century” and how as a child he watched it dozens of times and then saw it thousands of times in his head.  When he learned of Maradona’s questionable “Hand of God” goal, his father said that his previous goal was so good it counted twice.  But Daniel grows sad realizing that the goal of the century also marked the beginning of Maradona’s decline.

LAIA JUFRESA this was a fascinating tale about a game called Let’s Kill Carlo that her family played.   It involves a convoluted history including her mother “inventing” a child in order for her husband to come to Mexico from Italy and avoid conscription there.  But when this child “Carlo” “came of age” they had to think of reason why he wasn’t there anymore–so they invented the Let’s Kill Carlo game.

YURI HERRERA waiting for a bus in New Orleans as a man lay in the gutter also waiting.

VALERIA LUISELLI her friend recently moved to Minneapolis with her nervous wreck Chihuahua named President.   He was diagnoses with terminal cancer and the vet encouraged all manner of alternative therapies.  This friend was a very sweet person and had many virtues. And yet perhaps through her virtue the alternative therapy seems to have worked.

FRANCISCO GOLDMAN wants to know why immigration officers at Newark Airport are such dicks (and this was before Trump–#ITMFA).  He speaks of personal examples of Mexican citizens being treated badly.  He had asked a friend to brings books for him and she was harassed terribly asked why did she need so many bags for such a short stay.  Another time he was flying back to NYC with a Mexican girlfriend.   She went through customs and he didn’t hear anything for hours.  He didn’t know if she would even make it though customs at all–even though she’d done nothing wrong.   He imagines wondering how these officers live and what their lives must be like that they seem to take pleasure in messing with other people’s lives. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: CELTIC FROST-Vanity/Nemesis (1990).

I used to like Celtic Frost’s early brand of noise and mayhem.  I had given up by the release of this disc, but I feel like either my friend Al or my old radio station gifted me this CD which I didn’t listen to much.

The recent passing of Martin Ain made me pull this out to see if it was any good.  And it’s an interesting mix of early Frost noise and some progressive tendencies that ultimately lost them earlier fans.

But the music on the disc is as confusing and unruly as the title.  Was this originally a single with those two songs?  They’re not connected in any way on the record.  It’s very strange.

And what’s especially odd is the way the album is sequenced–along with the lead guitarists that accompany the songs.

I see that Ain himself was relegated to backing vocals on all tracks and bass on only track one.  Curt Victor Bryant has taken over bass duties as well as lead guitar duties (on some tracks).

The album opens with a classic Tom Gabriel Warrior “ugh!” and heavy guitars. The first two tracks are like Celtic Frost of old. Low rumbly, minor key, heavy menacing dirges with Warrior’s growling vocals.  And that lead guitar sounds like it comes literally out of nowhere on both tracks–it just feels tacked on, a little too loud, just swirls of guitar–there’s no real playing, it’s just a lead guitar “sound.”

The first surprise comes on track 3 when Michelle Amar sings (quiet) lead vocals and some backing vocals on “Wings of Solitude.”  Amar went on to form the cool short-lived band Sulfur.  After the previous two songs, this feels far more complex although it doesn’t quite work with Gabriel’s grunting vocals.  But there’s some real songwriting going on here.  There’s also a proper guitar solo.  Turns out that on some tracks, lead guitars were supplied by additional musician Ron Marks and he’s a real shredder.

More surprises are in store as “The Name of My Bride” (written by Ain) has these lyrics.

Now, like the tempting snake of old
She has seduced my very soul
She took my rib she stole my heart
And hid it in her bosom’s warmth
Oh mother hallowed be thy name

The mother line aside, these is a broken-hearted love song!  No wonder Warrior kicked him out.

It’s followed by an aching ballad “This Island Earth” which is actually a Bryan Ferry song.  Tom sings a serous achiness and there’s some massive guitar shredding going on.

The second “Side” of the record turns away from this more progressive style with a pretty standard heavy metal music with a wailing solo at the end.  It’s followed by the hilariously named “Phallic Tantrum” complete with guitar noises by Bryant.  “A Kiss or A Whisper” is really heavy with big crushing drums and lots of ughs from Warrior.

“Vanity,” the first title track chugs along pretty nicely with more female backing vocals (I assume from Amar), but its “Nemesis” the is the biggest surprise.  A seven minute song that starts out with a pretty (simple) acoustic guitar melody (and spoken echoed words by Amar and Warrior) for  about a minute and 45 seconds.  Then there’s the ugh! and some chugging riffs.  The verses are kind of plodding but the final line around 4 minutes “Will death cleanse me of this nemesis” is pretty catchy even with Warrior’s lack of singing ability.  There’s a wild solo and then last two minutes are pretty cool.

The bonus track is a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”  This may be the most peculiar cover of this song out there.  If not for the lyrics you would have no idea that this is the song.  Musically, it sounds like any other Celtic Frost song.  I can’t even tell is the main riff is meant to mimic the Bowie melody or if it’s just some random Celtic Frost chords.  The end of the song features Amar whispering something in French (why is she recorded so quietly?).  I assume it’s the French lyrics to Heroes.  No one will say it is better than the original,but it certainly interesting.

Celtic Frost broke up after this album (and then reunited etc), but this is a pretty wild collection of songs–all genres represented.  Many ideas all thrown together all within a pretty simple setting of grunting vocals and heavy guitars.

[READ: February 1, 2016] “Reading Comprehension: Text No. 1”

I have really enjoyed Zambra’s stories a lot.  As with most of Zambra’s work, this one was translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell and I thought it was terrific.

It opens with the amusing sentiment:

After so many study guides, so many practice tests and proficiency and achievement tests, it would have been impossible for us not to learn something, but we forgot everything almost right away and, I’m afraid, for good. The thing that we did learn, and to perfection—the thing that we would remember for the rest of our lives—was how to copy on tests.

At his school especially, the teacher gave mostly multiple choice tests ostensibly in preparation for future standardized tests. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: LILA DOWNS-Tiny Desk Concert #591 (January 13, 2017).

This is yet another example of musicians, artists who are bridging the divide that certain politicians have been trying to wedge int our country.  Between the translated works of Zambra and the multilingual works of Lila Downs, it’s pretty obvious that cultural racism is just stupid.  #ITMFA

The blurb tells us

Downs has spent her career exploring the furthest reaches of Mexican folk music. With a voice that borrows heavily from opera, Downs performs the kind of full-throated mariachi singing that would fit right in at Mexico City’s Garibaldi Square — ground zero for mariachi.

She can also coax the most tender moments from romantic boleros. But Downs is at her best when she and her band gather all of those influences to create cross-cultural expression that breaks down musical barriers. Entertaining and inspiring, she’s as much a storyteller as a singer, and her between-song banter lays bare the Mexican soul, only to have it punctuated in song.

She plays four songs and dedicates the first “Humito De Copal” to “all the journalists in the line of fire.”

Even though this song has many components of traditional Mexican folk, the size of the bad (nine pieces) and the big sound she creates transcends folk and makes it sound really catchy for all.  I love it when midway through, the song takes off in a fun fast dancing section

She is really striking and her voice is amazing.  She’s also playing a cool scratchy/grater item.

“La Promesa” comes from a series of song about he ritual and the offering of the Day of the Dead.  She asks, “what does the homeland mean to us as Latin Americans as Mexicans and as Mexican Americans. It begins with a great electric guitar sound and cool organ accompaniment.  And then she sings in quite a low voice holding notes for amazingly long (about 18 seconds).  It turns into a bluesy song with a lengthy bluesy guitar solo.

The third song, “Viene La Muerte Echando Rasero” was written by a campesino, a farm worker, about rich and poor and young and old being taken by death.  He says “even hit men are going to die.”  She switches to a jarana, a small eight-stringed guitar-like instrument.  After a slow intro the song picks up a bit with a kind of reggae feel.  There’s already a big echo on the mic already but in the middle she cups her hands and gives the whole sound a much bigger echo.  It has a catchy ending with everyone singing along.

She introduces the final song, “La Patria Madrina” by saying “In Mexico, you wake up and put on the news and see a lot of depressing things and you wake up and hope today will be better…and it isn’t.  But despite all of this everything will be better tomorrow.”  It’s a slower song with more reggae sounds and dramatic flourishes.  This time there’s a kind of slide guitar running through the song.

The band consists of : Lila Downs (vocals, jarana); Paul Cohen (sax); George Saenz, Jr. (trombone); Hugo Moreno (trumpet); Marcos Lopez (seated percussion); Yayo Serka (seated drums); Rafael Gomez (electric guitar); Leo Soqui (jarana); Luis Guzman (bass).

[READ: August 28, 2016] “Reading Comprehension: Text No. 3” 

I’ve enjoyed a lot of Zambra’s works and this one is no exception.  I’m particularly intrigued by the “quiz” portion at the end of the piece which really takes the story in a different direction.

The structure of the story is similar to other stories I’ve read by him–I have to assume that he is being reasonably autobiographical about his youth and his life with the woman who would be his son’s mother.  If not then he has really appropriated this character.

A man is writing a letter to his son.  I loved the way the beginning started with the narrator telling his son to forget all of the thing that he has said or done: “mitigate my shouting, my inappropriate remarks, and my stupid jokes.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

zambraSOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-Arnold Schoenberg and the Berlin Cabaret (2003).

schoenIn 1901, Arnold Schoenberg wrote eight Brettl-Lieder (Cabaret Songs).  The songs were short and fun with naughty (cabaret influenced) lyrics.  Some 100 years later, inspired by the Art of Time Ensemble who commissioned Nick Buzz to play pieces for their Schoenberg show.

So the guys from Nick Buzz got together and recorded four of the eight pieces.  Then Martin Tielli released this disc as number 2 of his Subscription Series.  Some of us were a little disappointed when this came out since it was only 15 minutes of music, but the art is wonderful and I have recently rediscovered this disc and have enjoyed it immensely.

Basically the Buzz guys have interpreted the songs in their own style, but they have remained faithful to the original melodies and lyrics (which were in German but are now in English).

“Gigerlette” explores electronic manipulations (presumably by Hugh Marsh) and offers lots of fun samples (what I assume is some earlier recordings of the song in German).  It opens with sampled female singing and staccato piano as well as other unusual effects. Then Martin’s vocals come in and the effects clear out and the song becomes simple piano ballad for a brief moment.  Then the noises come back in again, playing around with this amusing song.  It’s a song of romance and love with the sweet punchline being that cupid is driving their coach and four.  At over 5 minutes this is the longest song by far, even if the basic song is just over two minutes.

“Der genugsame Liebhaber” (The Modest Lover) opens with what sounds like a distorted harp (presumably the piano) and scratchy records (from Marsh).  This song is about a man going to see his lover, but his over’s pussy loves his bald head so much that she continually climbs atop it.  It is charmingly naughty. There’s some wonderful violin from Hugh Marsh on this song

“Galathea” is the most conventional of the three songs.  A lovely piano ballad to Galatea.

“Arie aus dem Spiegel von Arcadien” (Aria from the Arcadian Mirror) is super fun. The music is weird and goofy with a very drunken feel.  And the chorus is just wonderful “my heart begins to thump and dance just like a hammer’s blow it goes boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom (getting faster and faster).  I’ve listened to the original and it is very much the same, although Nick Buzz’s version is much better.

You can find some of these songs on line from a recording at Lula’s Lounge (Dec 9, 2010)

It’s cool to see how they recreate the album so faithfully in a live setting. It’s only a shame that the video isn’t a little closer so you could see just what they are doing.

Nick Buzz-December 9 2010 Lula’s Lounge

[READ: September 1, 2015] My Documents

I have enjoyed some of Zambra’s stories in other locations, so I was pretty excited that McSweeney’s released this collection (translated by Megan McDowell).  The book is pretty much all short stories, although the first items feels a bit less fictional and more memoirish.

“My Documents”
This is a brief historical account of Alejandro as a child and as a writer.  He talks about when he started working on computers and what happens when the computer dies with the information inside.  He explains that this file is in his My Documents folder and he’s going to publish it “even though it’s not finished.  Even though it’s impossible to finish it.”

“Camilo”
I read this story in the New Yorker.  It concerns the relation of a man and his godfather, whom he has not seen since his father and godfather had a falling out years ago.  See my link for a more complete synopsis.  I enjoyed it just as much the second time.

“Long Distance”
The narrator worked as a phone operator in 1998.  He liked the job–his boss was cool and would let him do anything he wanted so long as he answered the phones quickly. The job was in a travel insurance office and one day he received a call from a man named Juan Emilio. After speaking for a time about various things, the narrator realized it had been 40 minutes since they first started talking.  They were expected to call clients back 14 days later as a follow-up and this time Juan Emilio talked with him foe a while and, upon learning that the narrator studied literature, asked if they could meet and discuss books.   The narrator was already teaching classes at night, and these two situations overlapped somewhat.  I loved the way all of this information is used as backdrop to a romance he has with a student known as Pamela.  And the final line is great.

“True or False”
The titular phrase is uttered by a boy, Lucas,  who declared, based on an inscrutable internal feeling, that things were True or False.  An armchair might be true, while a lamp might be false.  Hid father Daniel had a cat, Pedra, even though pets were forbidden in his building.  Lucas loved the cat.  Then the cat had kittens.  There is a metaphor at work about the fatherless kittens and Daniel’s own behavior toward his son. I really enjoyed this story and the strangeness of the true or false brought a fascinating childlike quality to the story

“Memories of a Personal Computer”
The conceit of this story is great.  A PC remembers what it was like to observe a relationship as it begins and then ebbs–and how the PC was moved around into different rooms as things changed in the relationship.

“National Institute”
At the school where the narrator went, they were called by number.  He was 45.  The main subject of his story was 34, although he doesn’t know the boy’s real name.  34 had failed the grade and was made to repeat it, but rather than being sullen about it, he was popular and fun.  All of the students were worried about failing–the final test was very hard.  But one day 34 approached 45 and told him he had nothing to worry about.  The other students didn’t know what to make of it, but he slowly assessed everyone and told them whether they had anything to worry about.  By the end of the story, when 45 is brought to the inspector of schools, he is told a lesson he will should never forget.

“I Smoked Very Well”
A look back on smoking and how quitting smoking made him a different (though not necessarily better) person.

“Thank You”
She is Argentine, he is Chilean and they are not together (even though they sleep together).  They were in Mexico City when they were kidnapped together.  The incident has unexpected moments. It’s a weird story (with some really unexpected moments) but a really good one.

“The Most Chilean Man in the World”
A Chilean couple has decided to separate once she was accepted to school in Belgium.  After several months he is convinced that she wants him to visit, so he spends a ton of money and heads out to Belgium.  Without telling her.  And it goes very badly.  But he can’t just leave Belgium, now can he?  So he goes to a pub where he meets some new friends who call him the chilliest man in the world.  The story hinges on a joke, but the story itself is not a punchline.

“Family Life”
I read this story in Harper’s.  I thought it was fantastic–it was one of the stories that made me want to read more of his works.  This is story of a man house sitting and the false life that he constructs around him.  It was surprisingly moving.

“Artist’s Rendition”
I loved the way this story began.  It tells us that Yasna has killed her father.  But we slowly learn that Yasna is character in a detective story that an author is trying to write.  We learn how the author constructs details about this character and the things that she has experienced which make her who she is.  As this story unfolds we see how those first lines proved to be true after all.

This was a great collection fo short works and I really hope to see more from him translated into English.

Read Full Post »

harp febSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Scherzo Pub, Kingston, ON (October 15, 2000).

rheoscerzoThis show has some fun art work to go with it.  The notes say:

“Rare original drawing by local artist “tully” drawn during the october 15 2000 rheos gig at the now defunct scherzo pub, kingston, ontario. the story goes that “tully” goes to shows, does a drawing of the band, and just leaves it on a random table for someone (like me!) to find it. i actually found it on the floor!”

The other joke on the set list over here is the Smoke that carp joke which is from Martin talking about something before the set even starts.

They play a lot of songs from the then unreleased NotSS.  The version of “Four Little Songs” is crazy fun–lots of wildness, and a superfast ending.

In addition to playing “Majorca” they play two songs from Introducing Happiness and then talk about Martin’s guitar with the maple leaf on it.  They challenged Gordie Johnson from the band Big Sugar to put a leaf on his guitar. Dave says that not only did he put the leaf on his guitar (on the back) but he plays O Canada at every show now.

In the middle of “Junction Foil Ball” Dave talks about how much he struggled to get the riff (earlier Martin said Dave was very proud of the riff).  It’s a very lengthy talk with demonstration about the riff–quite amusing.

The end of the show has what sounds like an acoustic unplugged set.  Not quite acapella, but Don is only playing the tambourine.  It sounds like perhaps they are in the crowd or near the crowd or something.

Srheoscerzo2o for “Record Body Count,” the crowd sings along beautifully and “Bead, Meat, Peas and Rice” is also done in this format.  For “Northern Wish” Martin say he’s going to start it acoustic while the rest of the band goes back to their instruments.  It’s a great version of the song. In fact all three are wonderful, and it’s cool to hear them sounding so different.

There’s another long chat from Martin about Burton Cummings and how they saw him playing a casino.  It’s very funny.  Then he insists on a “golden drag” on his cigarette before starting the next song.

The disc ends oddly with “Take Me in Your Hand” also done in that acoustic format as the earlier songs–which makes me think it should have been earlier and was placed at the end by mistake.  It sounds great either way.

This is definitely a great show and one for any Rheos fan to enjoy.

[READ: March 5, 2015] “Family Life”

I had recently read something about Zambra that made me want to read him, and then, here he was in Harper’s.  I like serendipity.

This story was translated by Megan McDowell, and I gather is part of a collection of stories called My Documents which will be out soon from McSweeney’s.

This story is a simple one, although it has an unusual beginning.

Martín is headed to a house for a job.  He is to house-sit for a family while they are away for four months.  I enjoyed the way the family members were laid out for us to meet: in alphabetical order: Bruno, the husband, Consuelo the wife (well, actually not the wife, because they never married although they act like a married couple) and Sofía their daughter.

We learn that Bruno sand Martín ‘s fathers were cousins.  Martin’s father has just died.  They barely know each other, although they did know each other when they were kids.  But Bruno tries to strengthen this familial connection, because it builds trust.  Otherwise they have a stranger in their house for four months.

When Martín arrives Sofi runs past him (“These days kids don’t say hi”) chasing the cat Mississippi.  Consuelo is friendly and gives him instructions, which largely entail looking after the cat (who has a swinging door which is open all the time).  When Martín looks at a large hour glass, Sofi runs up and says it last 12 minutes.

To pass the time Martín plays Sofi in chess.  And when they get bored, he changes the rules so that the object is to get beaten, which Sofi enjoys more.

While Sofi is going to bed, Martín and Bruno talk.  Bruno suggest that he “use the time to have ago with one of the neighbors.”  Martín thinks (but thankfully doesn’t say out loud) that he’s like to have a go with Bruno’s wife.

After they leave, Martín discovers a photo of Consuelo and puts it up on the wall.

Martin plans to try a different route every day (different stores, different roads) so as not to make an impression on anyone in the town. But one day Mississippi doesn’t return from his nightly stalking.  Two days go by and Martín grows concerned. So he puts posters up around town.  But when he emails Bruno he doesn’t say anything.

A few days later he sees that someone has posted lost dog posters up over each one of his lost cat posters.  He calls the number (while drunk) and talks to Paz, the woman who put up the posters. He complains about what she has done. The next day she does around moving her posters off of his.  He gets some courage and goes to talk to her about their lost animals.

A week later he sees a dog that looks like hers and he calls her.  They go looking for the dog but don’t find it.  Then, after a month, Mississippi returns. He is beaten up , bloody and gross.  Martín takes him to the vet and gets medicine that he must apply to Mississippi every night.  When Paz calls him, he tells her about the cat and she comes over.

Paz scrutinizes his house–the photo of Consuelo–and he creates and elaborate fiction about his former life with Consuela and their daughter.  How they are broken up and he is reluctant to date.  Later, they have sex and start seeing each other every day.

Things are going quite well, although of course, it is all based on a lie. And the time of Martín’s departure (and Bruno’s family’s return) is coming up.  But the sex is great and he really like her.  She even invites him to go to a wedding with her.

What will happen when it’s time for Bruno and Consuela to return?

This is an unusual story (I guess) to start with because I’m not sure if Zambra’s other fiction is anything like this.  This story was erotic and a bit salacious and was predicated on a lie.  I enjoyed the idea of the main character being someone else and then realizing that he could be that person forever.  (Even if that’s not an original concept).  But Zambra’s handling of the story was really good and I’m interested to read more from him.

Read Full Post »

CV1_TNY_05_26_14Steinberg.inddSOUNDTRACK: LIGHTNING DUST-Tiny Desk Concert #38 (December 7, 2009).

lightingLightning Dust is a side project of heavy psychedelic band Black Mountain.  Lightning Dust is a kind of folk version of the band (with Amber Webber on vocals instead of Joshua Wells).  Her voice is full of vibrato (she almost sounds nervous at times).  The songs are simple, as folk songs tend to be, performed mainly on the acoustic guitar with organ backing tones.

“Antonia Jane” is very pretty, especially the tone of the organ that accompanies the acoustic guitar.  “History” has a nice unexpected chord change when the chorus rolls around.  For the final song, “I Knew”, Wells switches to 12 string guitar instead of keyboard–something he says he never does.  The song is faster and more upbeat, not necessarily because of the extra guitar, but it really broadens the sound a lot and makes it even catchier (even if it does give it a more countryish feeling).  And the backing vocals are quite wonderful.

I prefer Black Mountain to Lightning Dust but the songwriting is quite good.

[READ: May 27, 2014] “Camilo”

I don’t know Zambra’s work. This one was translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell and I thought it was terrific.

The story is fairly simple, although it is revealed via a lot of layers which is very interesting.  It opens with a young man yelling “I’m Camilo…your daddy’s godson” and the narrator being suspicious of this statement.  But it turns out to be true.   This boy is his father’s godson.

The narrator’s father had been good friends with Camilo’s father Big Camilo.  They were best friends until they had a huge fight and never spoke again.  That was (obviously) after Camilo was born.  But in addition to this fight and lack of talking, Big Camilo later left the country all together and moved to Paris where he started a new family, leaving Camilo and Camilo’s mother back in Chile.

Soon the narrator and Camilo became almost inseparable.  Camilo was a few years older and was something of a protective presence for him.  Even the narrator’s older sister was infatuated with him.  In fact, even the narrator’s father liked him, although he did remind him a bit too much of Big Camilo.  The one difference was that Big Camilo (and the narrator’s family) loved soccer, but Camilo didn’t know a thing about it. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »