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Archive for the ‘Nicanor Parra’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DAWN-Tiny Desk Concert #774 (August 10, 2018).

I had no idea who DAWN (all caps, please) was.  According to the blurb

Dawn Richard–who went by D∆WN for a while, and now just prefers DAWN–Dawn Richard has a breathless enthusiasm for shape-shifting pop music.  Her discography is a bedazzled collage of heart-bursting rave and extraterrestrial dance-pop — but for her Tiny Desk, the L.A.-based singer and producer strips three songs to just the essentials, illuminating the impeccable songwriting behind the wild combination of sounds.

I love the verses of “Waves,” about female empowerment.  The blurb says she transforms “the trap-laced anthem for “underpaid, underappreciated, undervalued and undermined” women into a classic girl group song, flanked by two harmonizing vocalists” (Kene Alexander and Chaynler Stewart).  The music is just not my thing at all.

I love this:

“If you feelin’ stress up in yo chest / Cause they forgot that you the best / Wave ya money,”

But really “wave ya money, wave, wave ya money?”

“Waves” is followed by two songs. Both “Vines (Interlude)” and a funky revitalization of “Lazarus,” speak to Richard’s mission to expand our preconceptions about who gets to make what kind of music.

I like the way “Vines (Interlude)” starts a capella.  But I don’t like the R&B vocalizing throughout.  The electronic percussion is pretty fun though–William DeLelles is working really hard to get those little dinky sounds–he’s also playing the “synth” with his drumsticks.

DAWN explains that she was on a huge label and is now totally indie–no label, no promoter, no nothing.  She says

“I find it interesting when you’re a brown or black girl and you try to do something beyond R&B and hip-hop, it’s not always cool,” Richard says before performing “Lazarus.” “They don’t get it. They think you’re trying too hard. They don’t know where to place you. I wrote this record because sometimes you’re misunderstood. You know exactly who you are, but everyone else can’t quite figure you out. I wrote this record for that person.”

It’s interesting that she jokes, “You’re a folk singer and they label you as alternative R&B.” This song is not alternative or folkie at all, although it does have some cool sounding electronics to start.  But once that guitar (Ben Epand) comes in, you know its back to pop.  I do enjoy when she gets some attitude: “you all could snap a little bit–you aren’t too cute to snap.”

So I won’t be listening to DAWN, but I hope others do.

[READ: February 9, 2018] “From the Desk of Daniel Varsky”

This story started out as one thing–a break up of a long-term relationship.  And turned into something else–the story of a poet who was captured in Chile.

As the story opens, we see that the narrator is thinking about the winter of 1972 when R had just left her.   He had vague reasons but said something about a secret self, that she didn’t buy.

Things got worse but then were okay.  The hardest part was when they lowered his grand piano out the window–it was his last possession and was so large it was like he hadn’t left:  “I would sometimes pat it as I passed, in just the same way that I hadn’t patted R.  The only difference is that R always did, eventually, speak.”

After a few day, she had a phone call from a friend, Paul.  He told her about a crazy dream involving César Vallejo (she and Paul were both poets and they bonded in class over the poets whom others hated).  In the dream, Vallejo had put a mud mustache on Paul’s upper lip. (more…)

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bolano SOUNDTRACK: SUFJAN STEVENS Christmas Unicorn: Songs for Christmas, Vol. X (2010).

sufjan 10This is the final disc in the second Sufjan Steven Christmas box set.  It is comprised of mostly shorter songs except for the final one which is 13 minutes long.

Interspersed in the disc are three short instrumentals (under a minute each).  “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “We Three Kings” are all pretty with flutes and minimal electronics.

The more traditional songs are “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” which sounds very much like a Sufjan song with some fun electronic sounds and orchestration and some unusual vocals.  “Up on the Housetop” features lots of drums and layered vocals. It is the standard version but tinkered with with in fun ways.  “We Need a Little Christmas” is a fun and traditional version with choral vocals.

The other three tracks are originals from Sufjan.  “Happy Karma Christmas” a slow track of mostly drums and echoed vocals. It reminds me of Beck’s discoey electronic moments.  “Justice Delivers Its Death” is based on the lyrics of “Silver and Gold” (from Rudolph) but it is a much darker song (obviously, given the title) and sounds nothing like it.

The final track is “Christmas Unicorn.”  It’s a sweet song with funny/thoughtful lyrics.  After three minutes it turns into a nice instrumental.  At the four minute mark a new refrain begins. It sounds like the song is going to fade to end, but it doesn’t. At 6:30, drums come back in and the song takes off with more singers and a fugue style of interweaving vocals.  At 7:36 a new melody is introduced which is, Joy Divisions’ “Love will Tear Us Apart.” They incorporate that into the fugue vocals and it works very well.  It’s a strange song and very unChristmassey, but it’s very cool and quite catchy by the end.

I don’t enjoy this second box set as much as the first, since it is so unChristmassey, but it has some really interesting songs on it.

[READ: December 13, 2014] Bolaño: A Biography in Conversations

I don’t often read biographies about authors I like, but once in a while one will catch my eye.  I knew Maristain’s name from Bolaño’s last published interview, so I was curious what she would do with this collection.  It was translated by Kit Maude, and I am also curious about some of the words that Maude chose to use (the word savage/savages comes up an awful lot when not referring to The Savage Detectives).  But overall it was an easy, quick read.

As the subtitle suggests, Maristain has compiled a loose biography of Bolaño based on interviews with others.  Some are interviews that she has conducted and others are previously existing interviews that she has cobbled together.  The people interviewed are primarily his family and his fellow poets/novelists/friends.

Bolaño was born April 28 1953 in Santiago de Chile.  Soon after, they moved to Valparaiso, and then other smaller towns in Chile. In 1968 they moved to the Mexico City because of his mother’s asthma (although he never set foot in Sonora, the scene of the crimes in 2666). They lived close to the Olympic park and were within walking distance of the Olympic torch during the 1968 Olympics.

He had a difficult upbringing, with his parents splitting up and his mother moving out and taking his sister with her.  Roberto, meanwhile, stayed with his father.  They eventually had a falling out and Roberto went twenty years without seeing him.  His father was a boxer and an opinionated man, and there are lots of quotes from him in the book.

In 1977 Bolaño left Mexico for Spain (and never went back) and that’s when we start getting into his publishing history. (more…)

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