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Archive for the ‘Paul Murray’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GIRL TALK-All Day (2010).

Girl Talk is the product of Gregg Gillis.  Gillis doesn’t play any instruments.  All he does is mash-up different songs into a killer DJ mix.  There is absolutely nothing legal about what he does (in terms of copyright), and for that reason alone, I love it.  But beyond that,  he does a great job of mashing two (and more) songs together.

Mostly this is a fun way to play “spot the song” [Hey: “In Your Arms,” Hey “War Pigs”].  And when you give up you can check out the samples list (which has 37 entries under the name D alone). [Hey, Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”]

I knew a lot of the songs that he sampled, but he also put in a lot of rap which I didn’t know.  The rap works well over the original music (what sampling would be like for real if it was legal).  [Hey, Portishead!]

Mostly you get a minute or maybe a little more of each song, [Radiohead’s “Creep”] sometimes the clips are sped up or slowed down to merge perfectly with the other.  And it’s a whole lot of fun.  [The Toadies!] As someone described it, it’s like listening to a whole bunch of radio stations at once [“Cecelia”].  And, if you don’t like the song that’s on [two seconds of the Grateful Dead?], just wait a couple seconds. [INXS].

Gillis doesn’t (really) sell his music.  Indeed, you can download all of All Day for free fromIllegal Art.  [Hey, the middle of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein”].

I’m not sure if it’s art, per se, but it’s clearly a lot of work, and it takes a lot of skill to make it so seamless [White Zombie!].  It probably works very well at a party too.

[READ: June 20, 2011] Five Dials Number 13

Five Dials 13 is more or less the music issue.  It is specifically dedicated to festivals and their overindulgence of everything.  And so it is long (63 pages), it is full of rather diverse points of view, it even has clouds!  Thankfully it’s not full of overflowing portapotties.  It also has lots of artwork from Raymond Pettibon, which is pretty fantastic in and of itself.

CRAIG TAYLOR-Letter from the Editor: On Festivals and George Thoroughgood
The letter opens with some comments on Festivals–two paragraphs of complainants about festivals with a final admission that the interlocuter is going to Glastonbury.  The end of the letter is devoted to a story from George Thoroughgood.  Usually I agree with the Five Dials‘ tastes without question, but I have a serious complaint about their love of Thoroughgood, about whom it would be charitable to say that he has written one song seventy-five times.  And I have absolute incredulity at this quote from George:

The promoters had gone to another festival where we played on Thursday before Roskilde, and they were so knocked out by the power of the performance they called me the next day and asked if we would mind if they changed our show time to close the festival.

Are you seriously telling me that they would change the headlining act a weekend before the festival?  How pissed would you be if your headliner was bumped for 90 minutes of ‘Bad to the Bone’?  Good grief. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE RESIDENTS-Meet the Residents plus Santa Dog EP (1973/1972).

Like a proto- Negativland meets Primus, The Residents took the world by storm in 1973.  Their debut album (pictured here) bore the unmistakable tagline: The First Album by North Louisiana’s Phenomenal Pop Combo.  And so it is.

Read more about the album in the Jon Savage essay below.

“Boots” is a sampled and remashed version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”  “Gylum Bardot” sounds like a Primus demo.  “Breath and Length” is noise and noise and effects and a soothing female vocal singing the title.   “Consuelo’s Departure” is a noisy soundtrack to nothing and “Smelly Tongues” sounds like a hammered dulcimer with a menacing bassline behind it until the vocals come in: “Smelly tongues looked just as they felt”.   And all 6 of these songs last less than ten minutes total.

“Rest Aria” changes tempo of things.  It’s five minutes long.  It starts as a simple piano track (slightly out of tune) but it slowly adds crazy horns and what sounds like children’s instruments.  The other longish song, “Spotted Pinto Beans” comes with a kind of faux chorus (female and then male) singing a kind of call and response which is overtaken by noise.

The one-minute “Skratz” comes between these two longer songs and is mostly  mumbling spoken vocal.  “Infant Tango” sounds like a normal song.  It opens with a funky wah wahed guitar.  Of course, the skronking horns and mumbled bass vocals tell you this is not going to be a hit.  It runs 6 minutes long with a strange little “guitar solo” in the middle.

“Seasoned Greetings” (with it’s weird holiday wishes at the end) segues into the 9 minute “N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues”).  “N-Er-Gee” is a piano “melody” which is really someone banging the same notes very hard on the piano.  The voice on both tracks sounds like the aural equivalent of blackface until the sample (a very long sample that apparently voided placement on some releases) of “Nobody But You” morphs into a manipulated sampling of the word “boogaloo” and eventually becomes a dissonant chant of the title.

The appended Santa Dog is a bit more song-like.  Totally weird songs yes, but there’s actual melodies and lyrics.  Like on “Fire”: “Santa dog’s a Jesus fetus.”  “Aircraft Damage” is mostly a bunch of people reciting bizarre lyrics over each other.  The whole EP was about 12 minutes.  It’s weird but more palatable than the LP.

Despite how much this album foreshadowed loony alternative bands in the future, there is a clear predecessor in Trout Mask Replica.  Although Captain Beefheart followed a (relatively) more conventional song structure, you can hear elements of the Beefheart within.  This album is also notable for being made in the early 70s when the technology to do this easily was very far away.  You could whip this album up in a few minutes now, but back then with splice and paste, it would take ages.

It did not sell as well as the similarly titled Meet the Beatles.

[READ: June 16, 2011] Five Dials Number 11

Five Dials Number 10 was a special issue, but Number 11 goes back to the format we know.  It sort of has a theme about lists.   It contains half a dozen short essays and one long short story by Paul Murray (author of Skippy Dies).  This issue is also something of a surprise as it weighs in at a fairly small 16 pages (sometimes smaller is perfectly fine).  The issue also raised a couple of totally weird coincidences which I will point out as they come up.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Wilton’s and Lists
Number 10 was designed to be ready for an evening at Wilton’s Music Hall on February 26th.  But the real theme of the issue is lists.  In part this is inspired by the Raymond Chandler entry, it’s also inspired because Taylor keeps lists around the office.  At the end of the letter he provides a list of all of the notes he’d left to himself in the office.  Some are about the issue (Paul Murray manuscript), other are seemingly more random (USA 5 Canada 3, men’s Olympic ice hockey result;  Canada 7-Russia 3, men’s Olympic ice hockey result; ‘Range Life’–Pavement).  And the one that is most coincidental to me–(The Umbrellas of Cherbourg–Jacques Demy).  This is coincidental because on the day that I read this, my friend Lar wrote a post about this very movie, which was completely unknown to me. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DUCKWORTH-LEWIS METHOD-The Duckworth Lewis Method (2009).

This is a CD released by the combined forces of Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash.  And if that weren’t enough of a sales pitch, the title of the band is a method of calculating cricket scores!  And even more…in concordance with that, this CD is largely about cricket.  Huzzah!  Buncha sellouts.

I don’t know a thing about cricket, but I know about great orchestral pop, and this disc has it in spades.  Some of the more obvious cricket songs are even understandable to non cricketers (the themes of “Jiggery Pokery” are familiar to anyone who has failed in a sport–and musically it sounds like a silent film soundtrack).

“The Age of Revolution” begins with an olde-fashioned soundtrack as well (jazz swing, including tap dancing) but quickly jumps into a dancey discoey verse (the two soundtracks blend surprisingly well in the chorus).  And the revolution?  Well, it has something to do with cricket.  Next, “Gentlemen and Players” is a wonderfully Divine Comedy-esque track complete with harpsichords.

“The Sweet Spot” is another discoey dancey track with some funky bass work (and innuendo whispered vocals).  And “Rain Stops Play” is a fun musical interlude.

“Mason on the Boundary” is the first track that seems distinctly Pugwash-y.  Hannon and Walsh have similar singing styles, and I find it hard to know who is who sometimes.  But this track is clearly Walsh’s and it’s very nice indeed.  Similarly, “Flatten the Hay” has that distinct Pugwash XTC/Beach Boys vibe and it’s quite good.

“The Nighwatchman” is also a very DC type song (it even sounds a bit like “The Frog Princess” but pulls away before being a repeat of that great single by introducing some very 70s sounding strings).  The rest of the disc follows in this same wonderfully orchestrated pop feel.  This a great record that, as far as obscure bands that get no statewide attention go, is top notch.

Oh, an it’s even more fun with headphones!

[READ: October 9, 2010] Skippy Dies

Wow, there’s a lot going on in this book.  It’s exhausting just trying to think of all the topics covered: boarding school life, failed romance (two big ones), life as a teacher, the appeal of pop singer Bethani, the Catholic priest sex scandal, drugs of all kinds, sneaking into a girls’ school, World War I, institutional cover ups, M-theory–which is pretty much the entire universe, and donuts.

But let’s start at the beginning.  Yes.  Skippy dies.  In the first couple of pages.  And what’s fascinating about this is that we don’t care.  I mean, in the scene where he dies, he’s not even the major character.  But then Skippy turns out to be more or less the glue of the book once the story proper begins.

Skippy resides at Seabrook school in Dublin (the best, most prestigious Christian academy in the country–sorry Gonzaga).   His roommate is Ruprecht (perhaps the strangest major character name I’ve read in a long time).  Ruprecht is a large boy who is incredibly smart (he will single-handedly raise the school’s average on the year’s final exams).  He is a computer geek who is obsessed with aliens and SETI.  And he hopes to be able to communicate with the other world by using techniques suggested in M-Theory.  The book does an admirable job explaining M-theory and string theory.  I’m not going to take up space here, but there’s a fine description at Wikipedia (or, if you don’t like Wikipedia, here’s an academic explanation that is written for the lay person).

Anyhow, Skippy and Ruprecht are two of a few dozen boys who reside full time at the school.  (Most of the other kids are day students).  And they have a cadre of half a dozen friends that they hang out with who make jokes at each other’s expense.  It’s a very realistically written entourage.  Mario is Italian and claims to have had sex with many many women (thanks to his lucky condom which he has had for three years).  Dennis is the ballbreaker.  He’s the abusive one (but by most standards, he’s not a bad guy).  And a few other hangers on.

This story of dorm life is a good one.  The boys are funny, their stories believable, even if they are all eccentric in their own way.  And then, one day, Skippy sees a girl playing frisbee at the girls’ school across the way (Ruprecht has a telescope which he uses for the stars, while eveyrone else uses it for the girls’ school).  And Skippy winds up becoming rather obsessed with the unknown “frisbee girl.”

This girls’ school plays a part in the story in another way too.  Carl and Barry are the Seabrook’s thugs.  When Barry hits upon the idea of selling ADD meds to the locals (as diet pills), it’s the girls’ school that he mostly preys on.  For yes, this story is also about drugs. (more…)

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