Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Colin Winnette’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ANNA MEREDITH-Tiny Desk Concert #713 (March 2, 2018).

I have never heard anything like this.  From sound to melody, to intensity, to instrumentation, this whole thing just rocked my world.

The melody for “Nautilus” is just so unexpected.  It opens with an echoed horn sound repeating.  And then the melody progresses up a scale, but not a scale, a kind of modified scale that seems off kilter just as it seems familiar.  The cello plays it, the guitar plays it, the sousaphone (!) plays it.  And it continues on in like fashion until only the high notes remain and then a menacing low riff on sousaphone cello and guitar breaks through–a great villain soundtrack if ever there was.  While everyone plays this riff, Anna returns to the keys to play the modified scale.

Meanwhile, the drummer has looked like he’s asleep behind his small kit.  And then 3 anda half minutes in he wakes up and starts playing a loud but slow rhythm.  The guitar begins soloing and as it fades out that main riff begins, now with a simple drum beat–not matching what anyone else is playing, mind you.  The sousaphone (which must have an echo on it or something and the cello pick up the low menace and it seems like everybody is doing his and her own thing.  But it all works amazingly.

So just who is Anna Meredith?

Anna Meredith was a former BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Composer in Residence. Two of the three songs performed here come from her 2016 release called Varmints.

Bob Boilen was also impressed when he first saw Anna Meredith live:

I first saw this British composer a year ago, in a stunning performance at the SXSW musical festival. It was one of the best concerts of my life. The music I heard sent me into a state of reverie. If music could levitate my body, this is how it would sound. It carried me away and thrilled my soul. I was giddy for days.

Now, I know this isn’t music for everyone. … But if you know and love the music of Philip Glass, King Crimson or Steve Reich — music that’s electrifying, challenging and sonically soars and ripples through your body — then crank this up.

Lest you worry that she couldn’t translate it to the Tiny Desk (she says they normally have 23 suitcases full of crap so this has been an exciting challenge to squeeze in here)

Out of nearly 700 performances at the Tiny Desk, this is simply the most exhilarating one I’ve experienced. The instrumentation is unusual, with pulsing bass sounds produced by a wonderful combination of cello, tuba and electronics. It’s all rhythmically propelled by an astonishing drummer and Meredith pounding a pair of floor toms. And much of the repetitive melody is keyboard-and-guitar-driven that morphs and erupt with earth-shaking fervor.

The second song, “Ribbons” is quieter.  It’s and new song and it has vocals.  Her vocals aren’t great (“hard when you’ve got the voice of a five-year old boy”) but the melody she builds around it shows that her  voice is just one more instrument (albeit saying interesting words).  Actually, that’s not fair, they are just so different from the noise of the other two songs that it feels very faint in comparison.

It opens with a quiet guitar and electronic drum.  And slowly everyone else joins in.  A nice string accompaniment from the cello (Maddie Cutter), bass notes on the sousaphone (Tom Kelly) and even backing vocals from everyone.  By the third go around the drummer (Sam Wilson) is playing the glockenspiel.  By that time the song has built into a beautiful round and the quietness of her voice makes complete sense.  As the song nears its end, Sam has switches to a very fast but quiet rhythm on the floor tom.

She introduces the band and wishes a happy birthday to guitarist Jack Ross.  She says this is a great present as “so far all we’ve gotten him is an apple corer, the gifts have been a bit low grade.”

They make some gear switches, “we have a bit of a logistics problem with all our gear we can’t quite afford to bring enough glockenspiels, we pass the pure crap glockenspiel  around ans everyone gets to go ‘my turn!'”

“The Vapours” opens with a wonderfully wild guitar riff–fast and high-pitched and repeated over and over.  Anna Meredith adds waves of synths and then in comes the sousaphone and plucked cello.  Then fast thumping on the floor tom propels the song along.  The song slows a bit a Anna plays the clarinet (!).  The song dramatically shifts to some complicated time signature while Anna plays glockenspiel.  After a few rounds, while this complex guitar riff continues the drum and sousaphone start playing a pretty standard beat the contradicts everything else that’s going on and then Anna just starts pounding the crap out of some more toms.

All through this there are electronic sounds adding to the chaos and I have no idea who is triggering them, but it’s really cool.

The end is almost circusy with the big sousaphone notes and yet it’s like no circus anyone has every heard.  When the camera pulls back and you can see everyone working so hard and yet smiling ear to ear (especially Maddie), you know this is some great stuff.

The end of the song winds up with a hugely complicated tapping melody on the guitar and everyone else working up a huge sweat.

I couldn’t get over how much I loved this.  I immediately ordered Varmints and checked her touring schedule.

How disappointed was I to see that Anna Meredith had played Philly just last month and has now gone back to Europe!  I do hope she comes back soon.

[READ: August 30, 2017] McSweeney’s 48

For some reason, I find the prospect of reading McSweeney’s daunting.  I think it’s because I like to post about every story in them, so I know I’m in for a lot of work when I undertake it.

And yet I pretty much always enjoy every piece in each issue.  Well, that explains why it took me some three years to read this issue (although I did read Boots Riley’s screenplay in under a year).

This issue promised: “dazzling new work; a screenplay from Boots Riley with a septet of stories from Croatia.”

LETTERS

GARY RUDOREN writes about using the Giellete Fusion Platinum Razor every day for 18 days and how things were good but have gotten a little ugly.  On day 24 he had a four-inch gash under his nose.  Later on Day 38 it was even worse–a face full of bloody tissue squares.  By day 67 he is writing to thank McSweeney’s for whatever they did perhaps it was the medical marijuana but now his face is baby butt smooth even without shaving.  He wants to change the slogan to Gilette Fusion the shave that lasts forever. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-A Live One (1995).

Phish has released virtually every show that they have played in some recorded format (not to mention all of the shows that have circulated as tapes).  But before all of that, it took them five studio albums before the released their first official live record.  And while it is not one show, it is a great collection of their more popular live songs.  There’s some really long jams (30 minutes for “Tweezer”) but also some normal length songs (several under 5 minutes).

If you ever want to know anything about Phish, they are probably the most well-documented bands around.  Their fan base is encyclopedic (if they didn’t follow Phish, they would be really into sports stats, clearly).

So a cursory search will tell you

Each track on the album was recorded at a different live show in the United States during Phish’s 1994 summer and fall tours. Several of the songs have never appeared on studio albums and the track “Montana” is not really a song, but actually a two-minute excerpt from the longform improvisation that followed “Tweezer” during the band’s show in Bozeman, Montana.  On A Live One, “Montana” serves as a prelude to the epic “You Enjoy Myself”, one of the most well-known versions of that song.

“Bouncing Around the Room” is light and fun, a great start to a show.  I was really happy when I finally got to see it live.  It segues into a a rather quiet “Stash.”  There’s a lot going on in the solo with the chorus repeating and then a solo resuming.  It’s followed by a slow Gumbo with The Giant Country Horns: Peter Apfelbaum – tenor saxophone; Carl Gerhard – trumpet; Dave Grippo – alto saxophone; James Harvey – trombone; Michael Ray – trumpet.

“Montana Jam” is a short instrumental segue into “You Enjoy Myself.”  As stated above, this is a killer version of “YEM.”  There’s a funky bass solo, there’s many elements to the jam including a section where they chant “ahhh way um way um.”  After 15 minutes, the end is a five-minute “voice jam” with them making crazy sounds.  It devolves into a lot of clicking and other weird noises.  “YEM” would normally end a set but this one it’s followed by a rousing “Chalk Dust Torture” (a song that I really wanted to see).  The disc ends with a really rocking “Slave to the Traffic Light,” that has a mellow solo until everyone builds it up hugely at the end.

Disc two opens with “Wilson” (I was really excited to see that one live).  The “Tweezer” on this one is a much darker version—with lots of weird solos and crazy sounds including keyboard sirens.  The song kind of thuds and lumbers along and then turns into what sounds like a heavy metal riff—distorted guitars and bass–until it eventually returns to a rocking jam.  They start doing the “Tweezer” riff again but it segues into a new jam with noisy guitar and funky keys.  There’s a whole lot more going on in these 30 minutes).

“Simple” is rocking fun and ends with them singing in a whisper.  This version of “Harry Hood” sounds great with all three parts connected by lengthy jams.  The drums are quite prominent in this song with Fish doing all manner of drums fills.  The disc ends with Squirming Coil which is primarily a long and pretty jam, with some really nice solos.

Since it’s a well curated live album, it’s really a great place to start exploring their love shows.  And the sound is fantastic.

Some people care about this sort of thing, so these songs come from:

  • “Stash,” July 8, 1994, Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts, Mansfield, MA
  • “The Squirming Coil,” October 9, 1994, A. J. Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • “Harry Hood” October 23, 1994, Band Shell, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • “Tweezer,” November 2, 1994, Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, ME
  • “Chalk Dust Torture,” November 16, 1994, Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • “Slave to the Traffic Light,” November 26, 1994, Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
  • “Montana,” November 28, 1994, Field House, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
  • “Gumbo,” December 2, 1994, Recreation Hall, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
  • “You Enjoy Myself,” December 7, 1994, Spreckels Theater Building, San Diego, CA
  • “Simple,” December 10, 1994, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
  • “Wilson,” December 30, 1994, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  • “Bouncing Around the Room,” December 31, 1994, Boston Garden, Boston, MA

[READ: March 10, 2017] “Jack and Jim Who Lived by the River”

I tend to not really like the stories in Lucky Peach.  That’s not entirely fair, because some of them are quite good.  But many of them, like this one, are just kind of weird an unsatisfying.

Jim doesn’t like to each much fish in the morning, but Jack sure does. He eats fish because “we are Jack and Jim who live by the river, and we are excellent fisherman.”

Jack smokes his fish while he drinks a beer and then he goes over to see Jim who has just woken up. (more…)

Read Full Post »