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Archive for the ‘László Krasznahorkai’ Category

SOUNDTRACKNAP EYES-Whine of the Mystic (2015).

Nap Eyes opened for Alvvays and although we only caught half of their set, I really enjoyed it.  Lead singer Nigel Chapman, had a kind of deadpan Lou Reed spoken delivery (with an extra affectation–perhaps something to do with being from Halifax?).  The drums were thumping and spare and the guitar played a mixture of pretty melodies and squalling feedback.

The songs are pretty minimal musically.   Bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton keep the rhythm steady with occasional grace notes from Salter.  It’s really the work of guitarist Brad Loughead that stands out–in addition to Chapman’s lyrics of course.

A comment on the lyrics from the bandcamp site:

Throughout the record, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as Nigel wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order (or wilderness and paradise, as in “Tribal Thoughts”); solipsism and fellowship (“Dreaming Solo” vs. “Oh My Friends”); the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small (“The Night of the First Show”; “No Man Needs to Care”); and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science (“Dark Creedence” and “Make Something.”) 

This first album (after several EPs with great song titles) pretty much plays that template right out of the gate–the guitars do squall with feedback,but it is kind of low on the mix–disturbing the silence but not overwhelming it.

“Dark Credence” is pretty much the same thing repeated for four minutes but the way it builds with more intense drumming and ever noisier guitar feedback is great.  “Make Something” is a slower song that adds some interesting lead guitar notes as the song nears its end.

“Tribal Thoughts” is the first song that really stands out.  It’s faster paced, with a spirited, plucked melody.  Chapman is a bit more emotive and by the end the lead guitar has really taken off.  There’s some interesting lyrics in this song too, imagine singing slowly in deadpan: “I hear the beat against the slow lines / The lines i wrote / I never write them down anymore / fuck iiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt

“Delirium and Persecution Paranoia” is a 7 minute drone of a song that really doesn’t change much.  It makes you focus on the impenetrable words:

Round the inner core rocks / the outer core flows / but while the outer core cools / the inner core grows / the loaded sun sends out heat and light and deadly magnetic radiation  /  What you gonna do / the human race / when the solar wind through the magnetosphere is breaking  / Most of us down here lying down for years / sleeping the night away / some of us try but never survive /  stay up whole night and day  //  My friend once told me about a rare insomniac’s condition / sleeps not one minute a day but feels 20 minutes of pain and blurry vision.

And I just love the amusingly desperate end:

Oh baby, all I need is another second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another twenty-five second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty-second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty thousand second chance

“No Man Needs to Care” is a faster song with a nice circular guitar riff.  What does no man need to care about? “No man needs to care about another man’s hair.”

“Dreaming Solo” slows things down again, and then there’s two shorter somewhat poppier (but still angsty) songs.  “The Night of the First Show” is a delightful dark (lyrically) but perky (musically) take about what I gather was the first Nap Eyes show.  “Oh My Friends” is another slow, short song.  The short ones are so different from the droning quality of the longer ones.  Like the album closer “No Fear of Hellfire,” another 7-minute song.  It opens with ringing guitars and propulsive bass.  “Sunday morning only comes around once, these days.”  And the chorus: No feel of hellfire makes me feel good.”

[READ: November 15, 2017] “Chasing Waterfalls”

This is the second story I’ve read by Krasznahorkai (this Hungarian story was translated by John Batki).

Of his previous story I wrote:

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder why someone would write about the things they do.  Not because it’s bad or not worth writing about, I just can’t imagine where the idea came from.

This was a challenging story for me to read because there are no paragraph breaks (and I love my paragraph breaks).  It is just an endless stream of prose.

This one isn’t quite as out-of-thin-air, but it’s a pretty peculiar story nonetheless. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: KISS-MTV Unplugged (1996).

unpluggedEver ones to jump on a bandwagon, Kiss did an Unplugged special in 1996.  They had been laying low for a while.  Conventional wisdom says they were working on the follow-up to Revenge (and the successful Alive III tour) when they got called in to do this Unplugged.  (The follow-up Carnival of Souls would eventually be released to little fanfare).

And so here we have Kiss in an unplugged setting.  The big surprise for this show was that Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were invited back on stage to play some songs.  And things went so well (and there was clearly money to be made in a reunion) that the original guys got together, made an album and even toured it (which I saw).

But to me the real surprise is what a great set list this is.  I would love to go to a Kiss show and hear these selections because the diversity is fantastic and there’s very few of the obnoxious hits that I’m tired of.  It’s true that the bulk of these songs are their more mellow offerings (which is smart since the heavier ones wouldn’t work so well with the big acoustic guitar sound), but the choices are so unexpected.  I mean look what they start with.

“Comin’ Home” a deep cut off of Hotter Than Hell that, well I won’t say Kiss fans wouldn’t know, but that contemporary Kiss fans may not know.  And it sounds fantastic in this recording.  The heavier songs don’t sound quite as good with the big acoustic guitar treatment—so “Plaster Caster” seems a little odd.  However, “Goin Blind” (however absurd the lyrics) works great in this setting (you can really hear the complex bass that Gene plays).  Surprisingly, “Do You Love Me” falls a little flat here because in the studio version the choruses are so big, but here they are gentle and it kind of undermines the intensity.  I keep reiterating how much I really dislike “Domino” lyrically.  But musically it’s pretty interesting and it works fine in this setting.

The biggest musical surprise comes with “Sure Know Something” from Dynasty.  Even though the original is very discoey, the acoustic treatment sounds great.  “World Without Heroes” is another huge surprise and it also works very well in this setting (I’m trying to imagine how all of them needed to relearn all of these songs).  With the intro to “Rock Bottom” being a sweet melody the acoustic version works well.  Surprisingly the louder part works pretty well here too.  And then woah, “See You Tonite” from the Gene solo album!  They pulled some crazy things out for this show. I suppose this set wouldn’t be very exciting in the full makeup stage show, but it would be very cool to hear these tracks live.

“I Still Love You” is an aching ballad that works well in this context because really the main feature of the song is Paul’s voice which sounds great here.  “Every Time I Look at You “ is a cheesy ballad which of course is tailor-made for Unplugged.

And then comes the surprise—Peter and Ace.  It’s the first time they’ve all played without makeup and the first reunion in years.  And as a nice treat they play “2,000 Man” the track that Ace sang on Unmasked (surprising that they didn’t do “Shock Me,” but that is not really right for an Unplugged).  “Beth” is not really a surprise as it is Peter’s song, although it is surprising to hear it on guitar which changes the song quite a bit and makes it sound quite good.  The real treat is “Nothin’ to Lose” in which everyone comes out on stage and takes a verse.  It’s always fun to hear how into it Peter is.  The set ends with “Rock n Roll All Nite” and even in this more stripped down setting the song sounds good (although they must be so tired of singing this song).

Unplugged albums tend to get forgotten in artist’s catalogs, but this is a really enjoyable set and a must for any Kiss fan.  Incidentally there are some “uncut” versions of the show online that are worth checking out for the extra tracks.

[READ: September 17, 2013] “The Exiled Queen”

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder why someone would write about the things they do.  Not because it’s bad or not worth writing about, I just can’t imagine where the idea came from.  This is a story about a boy named Filippino who is an art prodigy.  He could draw a Madonna before he knew what a Madonna was.  He learned to paint and gild frames before he could talk and his work was impeccable.

This was a challenging story for me to read because there are no paragraph breaks (and I love my paragraph breaks).  It is just an endless stream of prose about this painting prodigy.  But some details do come through the verbiage.

It is 1469 (!), the boy’s father has died, and he was soon taken under the wing of the great painter Battigello.  And Battigello began to teach him more and more, but young Filippino would learn so quickly.  he could just watch the master’s arms and imitate his brush strokes.  We later learn that Battigello would come to be called Botticelli. (more…)

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42SOUNDTRACK: IRON MAIDEN-Iron Maiden (1980).

Steve Harris was on That Metal Show recently.  Harris is the baimssist and primary songwriter for Iron Maiden and has been since their first album in 1980.  When I was in high school Iron Maiden was my favorite band hands down.  I had all their albums, I had all their singles, all their hard to find British vinyl 12 inch singles, even a few pictures discs.  Wonder if they’re valuable?

Every album was an epic event for me–I even played “Rime of the Ancient Mariner “off of Powerslave to my English class (not telling anyone it was 13 minutes long).

And then, after Somewhere in Time, I just stopped listening to them. Almost full stop.  I did manage to get the first four albums on CD, but the break was pretty striking.  I actually didn’t know that they’d had personnel changes in the ensuing years.  I’d vaguely heard that Bruce Dickinson  left, and that others followed, but I don’t think I quite realized that they were back to their big lineup these days.

Anyhow, Harris was so earnest and cool that I had to go check out some of their new stuff. Which was okay.  I’d need more time to digest, but then I had to listen to the first albums again.

And wow I had forgotten how much the first Iron Maiden album melds punk and prog rock into a wild metal hybrid.  There’s so much rawness in the sound and Paul Di’Anno’s vocals, not to mention the speed of some of the tracks.  And yet there’s also some epic time changes and starts and stops and the elaborate multipart Phantom of the Opera….  Wow.

The opening chords of “Prowler” are brutal.  But what’s surprising is how the second song “Remember Tomorrow” is a lengthy song that has many ballad-like qualities, some very slow moody sections–although of course each chorus rages with a great heavy riff and a blistering solo.  On the first two albums Paul Di’Anno was the singer.  He had a fine voice (it was no Bruce Dickinson, but it was fine).  What’s funny is that Bruce does the screams in “Remember Tomorrow” so much better in the live version that I forgot Paul’s vocals were a little anemic here.

However, Paul sounds perfect for the rawness of “Running Free” a wonderfully propulsive song with classic Harris bass and very simple metal chugga chugga riffs.  And this has one of the first real dual guitar solos–with both players doing almost the same riff (and later Harris joining in on bass).

“Phantom of the Opera” is the band’s first attempt at an epic multi-secton kinda-prog song.  It opens with a memorable, if slightly idiosyncratic riff and some wonderfully fast guitars/bass.  There’s a great slow bit that morphs into an awesome instrumental soloing section with bass and twin guitars playing a wonderful melody.

“Transylvania” is an instrumental that is challenging but probably not one of the best metal instrumentals out there, although again when Dennis Stratton and Dave Murray play in synch solos it’s awesome.  This track segues into “Strange World” a surprisingly trippy song (with effects that seem like keyboards but which aren’t).  It’s slow in a “War Pigs” kind of way, but it doesn’t entirely break up the album, because there are other slow bits on the disc.  It is a little out of place though.

Especially when “Sanctuary” blasts forth.  True, it wasn’t originally on the album (in the UK), but man, blistering punk or what!  “Charlotte the Harlot” was always one of my favorite songs (it taught me what a harlot was after all), it’s quite proggy, with a lot of stuttered guitar work and a middle section that features some loud and complex bass.  The disc ends with the by now almost immortal “Iron Maiden.”   A great raw riff opens the song, a harmony guitar partners it and the band blasts forth.  Who even knows what the lyrics area about, the song just moves and moves–There’s even a great chaotic bass/drum break in the middle.  And listening to the guitar noises in the solos at the end.  Amazing.  It’s quite the debut.

[READ: June 7, 2013] McSweeney’s #42

I have made it a point of (possibly misguided) pride that I have read every word in every McSweeney’s issue.  But this issue has brought that to an end.  As the title states, there are twelve stories in the book.  But there are also sixty-one authors writing in eighteen languages.  And there’s the rub.  One of my greatest (possibly misguided) shames is that I don’t speak any other languages.  Well, I studied Spanish and German, I know a few dozen words in French and I can read the Greek alphabet, but none of these would help me read any of these stories.  So, at least half of this book I didn’t read.

But that’s kind of the point.  The purpose of this book is to make a “telephone” type game out of these stories.  Stories are translated from one language to another and then re-translated back into English.  The translators were mostly writers rather than translators and while some of them knew the second language, many of them resorted to Google Translate or other resources to “read” the story.  Some people read the story once and then rewrote it entirely, other people tried to be as faithful as possible to the original.  And so what you get are twelve stories, some told three times in English.  Some versions are very similar and others are wildly divergent.

I normally write about the stories in the issues, but that seems sort of beside the point as the original stories were already published and were selected for various reasons (and we don’t even see any of the original stories).  The point here is the translation(s).  So, in a far less thorough than usual way, I’ll list the contents below. (more…)

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