Archive for the ‘Emmanuel Guibert’ Category


Cover-CSSMT-HarmelodiaAs mentioned in yesterday’s post.  The Centennial Secondary School and Choir released their version of The Story of Harmelodia. This CD (which to the best of my knowledge is no longer available for purchase anywhere) is newly available from the Rheostaticslive website.  While the (very cool) cover is there, there’s no information about the musicians.

The disc is about 35 minutes long and it recreates most of the music from the original CD.  For reasons which I’m sure have to do with rights, they do not include “Monkeybird” (everyone’s favorite song) and the songs about the Wingophone.  Those songs were all written by Kevin Hearn. I’d be very surprised if Hearn didn’t give them the rights to the songs, so there must be something else at play.

They also do not include the narration.  This of course makes the story a lot less clear–although at this point I feel like the songs are just fun and sweet, even if they story is lost.

The school’s version is quite good.  The band sounds great (with a whole host of instruments).  While the opening music on the first track sounds a bit high school bandish (perhaps because it so spare) as soon as the choir kicks in it really ratchets up the quality of the music.  And it stays high throughout.

The choir is outstanding, and the variety of instruments (I can hear all the brass, an autoharp, synths (there’s some fun spacey keyboard sounds on “I am Drummstein”) and some electric guitars) makes for a really compelling collection of songs.

One of the biggest difference is that many of the songs have horns playing the main melodies. “Invisible Stairs” has a flute as the lead instrument.  It’s very pretty and I like that it plays the “twinkle twinkle” melody as a counterpoint to the proper melody. It’s a very pretty version.  I also love the way “The Music Room” came out.  And the mostly instrumental “The Sky Dreamed” sounds really lovely.

I don’t know how many lead singers there are (or what their names are, although judging by the concert, I assume it is the same kids).  The female lead as featured on “Home Again” is great.  I like the male lead a little less.  He sounds a but too stiff to me.  Although I do like that on many songs he gives his own reading of the material.

The final song, “Song of the Garden,” sounds terrific.  I love the way the two singers harmonize and the way they place a cool horns section (which reminds me of The Beatles) as the song trails out.

I am of course curious why the couldn’t release those missing songs.  But I’m more impressed that the school (presumably with different people) performed a stage version of the show in 2004 which was played live in several places.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Sardine in Outer Space 2

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

This time the inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers),” and I found that I enjoyed book 2 quite a bit more than book 1. Perhaps the jokes just appealed to me a bit more–there were a number that I thought were very funny.

I enjoyed the double cross (well they pretty much all have a double cross) in The Brainwashing Machine.  But I really got a kick out of The Cha-Cha Fly.  When the fly bites you, you get stupid dance songs stuck in your head.  Nice premise–even funnier that the flies are named Britney, Christina, Justin and Clay. (more…)

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profSOUNDTRACK: THE BLUE HAWAIIANS-Christmas on Big Island (1995).

blue ha I was to get this disc used because I already knew one of their songs and I thought that a surfing Christmas album would be fun.

So I was pleased to add this to our collection.  But upon listening to it, I learned that while I enjoy surf guitar instrumentals, I do not enjoy the Hawaiian style of music popularized by Elvis.  This album features both of these types of songs.

The songs that I like include these instrumental surf guitar renditions: “Christmas Time is Here” (the Peanuts song); “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bells” (the guitar is a little too untamed for my liking in this version).  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a good instrumental, but there’s a very lengthy middle section that makes the song too long.  “We Four Kings (Little Drummer Boy)” is my favorite track on the album and the one that made me look into more from them.  It’s a great surf guitar rendition of “We Three Kings” with some excellent tribal drumming as a segue into a surf version of “Little Drummer Boy.”

The vocal songs are fine, they’re just not my style.  “Jingle Jangle” and “Blue Christmas” are just way too Elvis-y for my liking (we actually just watched some of Blue Hawaii so it’s in my head).  “Big Island” stars with Hawaiian style drums which I like, then it turns into a kind of blues song.  “Mele Kalikamak” is my favorite song with vocals, probably because of its nontraditional nature (to me).  It ends with about 20 seconds of waves breaking.

“Enchanted Xmas” ends the disc with some Western sounding guitars and some cool wordless backing vocals.  It gives the whole thing an eerier (or enchanted) feel.  Pretty cool.

So something of a mixed bag, but a great album to select tracks for a fun Christmas mix.

[READ: December 15, 2014] The Professor’s Daughter

From the team who brought us Sardine comes this very different kind of story.  Interestingly, in this book, it is Sfar who wrote it and Guibert who drew it.  And I have to say I like it a lot more than the Sardine books (both in content and drawing style).

The story is quite unexpected.  As it opens, a young lady (in Victorian times) is seen stepping out with, well, with a mummy.  It turns out that he is Imhotep IV and she has taken him from his holding spot and is going about town with him.  (And no, it isn’t all a dream.  At least I don’t think it is).

They go out for tea (which makes him tipsy).  He causes all manner of mayhem, including offending someone who slaps his face and challenges him to a duel.  Later when the police come, the professor’s daughter takes matters into her own hands (which only makes the situation worse!).  A man is killed and the mummy is the suspect (which leads to a few very funny scenes). (more…)

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sardineSOUNDTRACK: SUFJAN STEVENS and HIS UNWITTING COHORTS present I am Santa’s Helper even more songs for Christmas Vol. 7 (2007).

sufjan 7This is the first of Sufjan’s Christmas albums to really deviate from the style of the first six.  First off, there are 24 songs on the disc and second, it is 42 minutes long.  Most of the songs are between 1 and 2 minutes, although there are a couple of longer ones too.  There are a large number of songs that are traditional sounding and which have a beautiful chorale of voices supporting it.  But interspersed with these are some nonsensical tracks that sound mostly like goofy kids songs–out of tune, hastily created, sloppy and a lot of fun (I imagine he recorded these songs with the adults’ children while they were in between takes).  It’s surprising that the songs are interspersed like they are since the serious one are so pretty and the weird ones are so weird.

 It’s a ramshackle collection with some real highlights.

“Christ The Lord Is Born” pretty piano instrumental under a minute long.
“Christmas Woman” a big song with lots of orchestration (and clocking in at over 5 minuets).  With lots of backing vocals and a crazy sloppy guitar solo. I love it.
“Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light” 1 minute of piano and chorus: traditional and pretty (this is a Bach song).
“Happy Family Christmas” piano and slightly wonky guitar and after the first verse a bunch distorted chaotic nonsense (with someone “singing” a guitar solo).  The first really weirdo song on a Christmas release of his.
“Jingle Bells” Continuing with the weird style, the “dashing through the snow” part is done with a very off guitar melody and kids laughing during the “laughing all the way” part. It’s silly and funny.
“Mysteries Of The Christmas Mist” 2 minutes of piano and other noises (this is one of many short Sufjan originals).
“Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates” another pretty choral piece with many voices.
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” crazy nonsense of sloppy silly singing and crazy out of tune guitars.
“Ah Holy Jesus” a slow pretty piano song with chorus
“Behold! The Birth Of Man, The Face Of Glory” a slow piano number, also pretty.
“Ding-a-ling-a-ring-a-ling” raucous and wild, with crazy guitars.  It’s 2 minutes of silly nonsense. It ends with someone saying “let’s do a real song”
“How Shall I Fitly Meet Thee?” pretty piano instrumental with voices.
“Mr. Frosty Man” sloppy guitars and nonsense.
“Make Haste To See The Baby” accordion and piano in a slow sombre song.
“Ah Holy Jesus” (reed organ version) this is the second version of this song.
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” straightforward and pretty with some over-orchestration later in the song
“Morning” pipe organ and flute in a nice instrumental.
“Idumea” the vocal chorale comes back on this sad song.  It is over 3 minutes long and is rather disturbing.
“Eternal Happiness Or Woe” a creepy kind of song with ringing bells and sounds of, well, woe.
“Ah Holy Jesus” [a cappella] the prettiest version on the disc.
“I Am Santa’s Helper” this is a funny song in which the only words are “I am Santa’s helper, you are Santa’s slave.”
“‘Maoz Tzur’ (Rock Of Ages)” a 42 second traditional Jewish hymn done on piano.
“Even The Earth Will Perish And The Universe Give Way” a low bass organ opens this final track on this long and often times weird Christmas disc.

But this is not the weirdest of Sufjan’s Christmas EPs.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Sardine in Outer Space

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.  And I fear that this is one series that I’m really not very interested in finishing.

The inner flap says No Grownups Allowed, so I imagined that the story would be funny and a little naughty.

But really it’s just kind of uninspired.  Sardine is a young girl who works with (or lives with anyhow) the pirate Yellow Shoulder (who is apparently her uncle?) on his outer space pirate ship.  They spend nearly every story (each story is about ten pages) battling the evil (and suitably stupid) Supermuscleman and his evil henchman Doc Krok (a weird orange creature who looks like a walking sweet potato).  There’s also Little Louise, a boy who is Yellow’s..henchman? and may not be all that bright and a cat creature who doesn’t really do much. (more…)

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