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Archive for the ‘Christos Ikonomou’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KASVOT VÄXT-“The Final Hurrah” (1981/2018).

Back in 1994, Phish started covering a classic album for its Halloween costume. In 2015 they covered the Disney album: Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, which pretty much meant all bets were off.  So in 2018, they decided to cover an obscure Scandinavian prog rock band called Kasvot Växt and their sole album, í rokk.  This proved to be a big joke–they were a nonexistent band.  They had so much fun creating this band, that they even enlisted others to expand the joke.  This included impressively thorough reviews from WFMU and from AllMusic.

The joke is even in the name: when translated together Kasvot Växt and í rokk means “Faceplant into rock.”.

Here’s some more details they came up with:

The Scandinavian prog rock band purportedly consists of Jules Haugen of Norway, Cleif Jårvinen of Finland, and Horst and Georg Guomundurson of Iceland.  The album’s label, Elektrisk Tung, supposedly went out of business shortly after the LP’s release and little information about the record appears on the internet. Bassist Mike Gordon made a tape copy of í rokk in the mid-’80s and Phish would play it “over and over in the tour van in the early ’90s.” In the Playbill, guitarist Trey Anastasio insisted, “Every time the Halloween discussion comes up, we talk about Kasvot Växt. We honestly were worried we wouldn’t have the chops to pull it off or do justice to the sound, but when it came down to it, we just couldn’t resist any longer.”

The decision to go with an obscure album few have heard or even heard of appealed to the members of Phish. “We’ve paid tribute to so many legendary bands over the years, it felt right this time to do something that’s iconic to us but that most people won’t have heard of,” Gordon said as per the Phishbill. “And with these translations we’re really performing songs that have never been sung in English before.” Keyboardist Page McConnell added, “I love the mystery surrounding this whole thing. If those guys ever hear we did this I hope they’re excited because we absolutely intend it as a loving tribute.” As for what Phish fans can expect? “A weird, funky Norweigan dance album! Get out there and put your down on it!” exclaimed drummer Jon Fishman.

While the listings for the 10 tracks on the original í rokk were in a Scandinavian language, the titles appear in English in the Playbill. Phish called upon a Nordic linguist to translate the lyrics to English for tonight’s performance.

These songs do not really sound like a Norwegian prog rock band.  They do sound an awful lot like Phish (although with a more synthy vibe overall. The band has this part of their live show streaming on Spotify under the Kasvot Växt name.  And I’m ending the year by talking about each song.

While the verse of this song isn’t especially memorable, a funky bass line runs through a chanted verse and the “ooh ooh oohs” at the end of the lines are  fun.

The chorus is the poppiest moment and is lots of fun. But the highlight of the song comes at the end of the first chorus when Trey sing “The faceplant into rock” and Page plays the twisted sample of an accented woman saying “foosiplant in torock” over and over during the funky bass and keys solo.

By the end, the vocals get rough and almost mean as they encourage you to faceplant into rock.

What starts as one of the gentlest songs on the record ends as the heaviest.  And at just over 8 minutes long, it begins a section of longer jams.

[READ: December 8, 2018] “Smithereens”

This is an excerpt from a short story that was translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich.

The story is pretty nihilistic.  The narrator is concerned about his friend Tasos who is shooting guns and talking to himself.  Not that there’s anything wrong with talking to yourself–everyone does it.   We can’t stand the silence.  It’s too much to bear.

He says people on the island people swear a lot too.  Even the women and children.  Sometimes we joke that we’ve invented a new language: Shitlish.  We curse and swear from morning to night.  “we’ve slowly stopped talking the way we think, and now we think the way we talk.”

That part of the story was fun. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BIRD AND THE BEE-12 Days of Christmas (2008).

The+Bird+and+the+Bee++la+classeI first heard a bit of this song in a Sephora a few years ago.  Then they played it on New Girl (in two separate Christmas episodes).  But I never knew who the artist was. Then some kind soul pointed me to the band and lo, I found the track.

I don’t know much else about the Bird and the Bee, but this is hands down my favorite rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas.  In addition to the great, groovy sound (which reminds me of the Cocteau Twins), I just loved how…different the song sounded.  Turns out, according to their soundcloud page, “we changed the song so that every repeat is a completely different progression.”  I love it.

The song never gets boring and her voice is simply gorgeous.  I only wish it was available for sale or download or something.

[READ: December 16, 2013] Five Dials #27

I was a little harsh on Five Dials Number 26, but overall, it still kept up the greatness that has been Five Dials.  And #27 keeps up the excellence.  Since Five Dials likes globetrotting, this issue is based in and around Greece, the county that is in tumult.

This one also has letters from Our Glorious Readers.  One of the readers sensibly comments that the Berlin issue would keep her busy throughout the winter.  Wish I had doled mine out better.  I feel that Toronto gets a little knock from the editors who seem to think it is not as cool as Berlin.  I also enjoyed the reader’s description of Peter Stamm’s writing as being like skiing.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Timelines and Greek Photographs
Taylor talks about the timelines that tend to appear in newspapers, most of which seem to talk about the collapse of something or other (like the Greek economy).  After visiting Athens, Five Dials felt it was time to bring some Greek writing to English readers. The letter talks about the contents within and gives good context to Dimitris Tsoumblekas’ photos which are quite good but are even better when you know what they are doing–especially the one about his father. (more…)

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