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Archive for the ‘Dante Alighieri’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THOR HARRIS, DUMB NUMBERS-“Carol of the Tubular Bells” (2019).

I really like Joyful Noise Records.  They release some really beautiful music as well as some really out there stuff.  They are the home of Kishi Bashi and Ohmme as well as a number of other terrific bands. But they also release lots of noisy chaotic bands (call it joyful noise perhaps).

For 2018 they released JNR Holiday Party, Vol. 2 and eclectic bunch of holiday songs.

This song was recorded by Thor Harris & Dumb Numbers with David Yow, Ohmme, and CJ Boyd.

Thor Harris is, well, his Wikpedia page says he is “an artist, sculptor, musician, painter, carpenter and handyman.”  Musically he is a composer and percussionist who plays every instrument in the universe (on his last album he was credited with marimba, flute, vibraphone, voice, organ, duduk, tubular bells, gongs ,etc.”

Dumb Numbers is the project Adam Harding whose musical style has been described as doom, sludge, and “swooning feedback pop.”  He has worked with all kinds of people including David Yow, singer of The Jesus Lizard.

That’s the background for this nearly three minutes of bizarreness.

The song starts with a toy piano playing Carol of the Bells.  Soon enough, OHMME sing beautifully the actual song, including the ding dong ding dong.  Meanwhile the counterpoint vocals (normally “Hark how the bells, Sweet silver bells…”) features David You singing “Don’t go insane, don’t go insane” to that melody.

That’s all that Yow sings, over and over for nearly 3 minutes.  And he clearly starts to go a little insane.  His vice fades to a whisper, turns into a rant, and sometimes even gets back on track to the timing.  Meanwhile OHMME sounds really beautiful.

Around 2 minutes in, Yow seems to have lost it entirely, mumbling incoherently until he screams “look out mama, there’s a….”

OHMME stop singing and then the melody of “Carol of the Bells” suddenly morphs into Mike Oldfields’ “Tubular Bells” and the song takes on a whole new tone.

As the song fades Yow screams “Faaaaaaaaalllllllll on your knees.”

This is the song you play when you want everyone to leave your Christmas party.

You can watch Yow sing over the backing track here.

[READ: December 16, 2019] “Show Me Your Dantes”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story was delightfully surreal.  I am very intrigued that it is an excerpt from an upcoming novel which is the second of a trilogy about  character named Prin.  Initially I thought Prin was a woman, because, why not.  But that was quickly settled, when it was obvious Prin was a forty-year old man.

The excerpt starts with Prin being interviewed by a Charlie Tracker.  Charlie asks him what he knows about this job and Prin says that if he got the job he would be working with Charlie but would be working for Hugh, Charlie’s son.

The story seemed to be pretty normal–a man getting interviewed–until Charlie says he is impressed that the Prin wore new shoes to the job interview, “most of the professors I’ve met over the years show up in shoes they stole from hobo camps.”  Since I didn’t know when this story was set I didn’t know how literal that was meant to be. (Apparently not at all).

As the interview gets going Charlie offers to let Prin see “the finest private collection of Dante manuscripts and Dante memorabilia in the United States.”   Charlie is a little disappointed that Prin wasn’t more excited about that but Prin says he’d be more excited if he knew what this position was all about.

Charlie gives a lengthy and affecting explanation of how he got into Dante (it had to do with the Vietnam war and a very disturbing scene).  We also learn about Charlie’s business background and how he succeeded after the war. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GRIEVOUS ANGELS-“Saturday Night in a Laundromat” (Moose: The Compilation, 1991).

Back in the 1990s, it was common to buy a compilation or soundtrack or even a band’s album based on one song.  Only to then find that you didn’t really like anything else on it.

Maybe that single sounded like nothing else on the album.  Maybe the movie was almost entirely one genre, but they had that one song that you liked over the credits.  Or maybe the compilation was for something you didn’t know, but a song you really wanted was on it, too.

With streaming music that need not happen anymore.  Except in this case.

I bought this compilation, used, recently exclusively for one song, Rheostatics’ “Woodstuck.”  It’s a goofy song and this is the only place you can get the studio version.  The actual compilation was not well documented, so I didn’t know what the other bands on it might sound like.  It turns out to be a compilation for Ontario based Moose Records which specialized in Rock, Folk, World & Country.  They put out another compilation in 1992 and that’s all I can find out about them.

Grevious Angles sound an awful lot like Cowboy Junkies–slow, downbeat folk/country that tells a story.  The story of being in a laundromat on a Saturday night is kind of interesting.

The band is still playing (after taking a brief hiatus in 2004 for singer songwriter Charlie Angus to enter politics for four years.

In this song, Michelle Rumball has a deep, sultry voice.  She left the band after this album, so I’m not sure what they sound like now.

[READ: July 1, 2019] “Super Dads”

The July/August issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue.  This year’s issue had two short stories, a memoir, three poems and a fifteen year reflection about a novel as special features.

Another except from this novel was published in The 2019 Short Story Advent Calendar.

In this excerpt, three men, Frank, Nick and Prin are heading to Dizzy’s World, a theme park that has seen much, much better days.

Nick and Frank are from Terre Haute and used to go to Dizzy’s World all the time as kids.  They both have fond memories.  Prin is not from the area and has never heard of the place.

All three had been hired by an evangelical millionaire to help build a theme park inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Prin was a University professor. He understood footnotes and he knew that most people hated even the idea of them.  He was hired to talk footnotes to footnote haters. (more…)

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harper juneSOUNDTRACK: JOHN ZORN-“The Dream Machine” (2013).

dreamThis is the title track to the third installment of instrumental albums by composer Zorn (as opposed to wild sax-player Zorn).  The new album is called Dreammachines.  Evidently this trilogy is somehow related to William S. Burroughs (sure, why not).  The first was called Interzone (and was three 15 minute-plus suites), the second was Nova Express (which was shorter pieces) and now Dreammachines (which is also shorter pieces).

It’s impossible to know what Zorn will throw at us next, but this song proves to be a beautiful jazz piece with the quartet of pianist John Medeski, bassist Trevor Dunn, vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen, and drummer Joey Baron.  It opens with a quick but pretty vibraphone melody.  The melody shifts keys but stays in the same pattern until the main melody kicks in.

Variations on the theme continue until about 2 minutes in when Medeski gets a big piano solo and this sounds more like traditional jazz than most Zorn pieces.  Then there’s a very cool vibes solo.  It’s pretty standard jazz and it’s really quite beautiful.

[READ: September 20, 2013] 2 book reviews

Bissell reviews two books this month.

danteThe first is Dante’s Divine Comedy as translated by Clive James.  James has decided that since Italian is so easy to rhyme “For an Italian poet it’s not rhyming that’s hard,” rather than following Dante’s linked terza rima rhyme scheme, he chose the rhyming quatrain.  Bissell expects that academics and traditionalists will be very suspicious of the book because of that, but he says that for the average person (the average person who wants to read Dante, of course), it will be more fun and enjoyable.  Especially, James popularizes the book.  I have always resisted The Divine Comedy but this one sounds like it might be a bit more fun, and isn’t that what reading is all about?

magicalThe second book is The Magical Stranger by Stephen Rodrick.  When Rodrick was 13 his father died in a military plane crash.  His carrier was en route home when it was told to reroute to help with the hostage crisis in Tehran.  But his plane was destroyed.  The hardest part for Stephen was when he read that the accident was deemed “pilot error.”

This book is Stephen’s attempt to learn more about his father.  Through the course of the book, he discovers more and more unpleasant facts about his father—from the lies his father told his mother to a pilot who knew his father who calls his an asshole.  Bissell finds this part of the book very moving but not quite warranting a novel length treatment.

But there is a secondary story about the man who now commands his father’s squadron James Hunter “Tupper” Ware.  Bissell says that this part of the story is far more engaging (Stephen is a journalist and this section is more investigative).  Stephen more or less tries to live his father’s life through Ware, a man who finds the same level of difficulties in his job and his life as Rodrick’s father did.

This is definitely not the kind of book I would read, but for those with an interest in the military and pilots its sound like a good warts-and-all investigation.

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