Archive for the ‘Richard Ayoade’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: 47SOUL-Tiny Desk Concert #883 (August 26, 2019).

I had never heard of 47Soul and, surprisingly, the blurb doesn’t give any real background about the band.  So I had to turn to Wikipedia.

47Soul is a Jordanian Palestinian electronic music group.  The band’s first album, Shamstep, was released in 2015 and they are one of the main forces behind the Shamstep electronic dance music movement in the Middle East.

So what the heck is Shamstep?

Shamstep is based on mijwiz (a levantine folk musical style) and electronic dance.  ‘Sham’ refers to the local region of “Bilad al-Sham”, and ‘step’ refers to dubstep. The band’s music is also associated with the traditional dance called Dabke.

So, that’s a lot to take in, especially if you don’t know what half of those words mean.

The blurb does help a little bit more:

Shamstep is the creation of 47SOUL. At its heart is Arab roots music laced with dub, reggae and electronic dance music, including dubstep. It’s positive-force music with freedom, celebration and hope for the people of the Sham region (Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria).

47SOUL play three songs and their instrumentation is pretty fascinating.  Three of the guys sing.  They also play bass drum (Walaa Sbeit); darbuka– a small hand drum (Tareq Abu Kwaik); guitar (Hamza Arnaout) and synthesizers (Ramzy Suleiman).

So what do they sound like?

Well, the first song “Mo Light” opens with some very synthesized “traditional” Middle Eastern music.  It sounds like an electronic version of traditional instrumentation.  The guitar comes in with a sound that alternates between heavy metal riffage and reggae stabs.  The three singers take turns singing.  Walaa Sbeit is up first singing in Arabic.  Then there’s a middle section sung by Tareq Abu Kwaik who is playing the darbuka and an electronic drum pad.  His voice is a bit rougher (the Arabic is quite guttural).  Meanwhile Ramzy Suleiman adds backing vocals and seems to sing loudest in English.

For the next song, Tareq Abu Kwaik does the narration while introducing Walaa Sbeit:

“Is it ok if I do a little dance on your desk?” asked 47SOUL singer and percussionist Walaa Sbeit on first seeing the Tiny Desk. I thought a minute, went under the desk, tightened the bolts, stuck some splints of wood under a few of the uneven legs and (feeling reassured) gave him the nod. It would be our first traditional Middle Eastern Dabke dancing atop the Tiny Desk and the first sounds of Shamstep (a kind of electronic dance music) behind it.

The dancing involves a shocking amount of deep knee bends!

“Don’t Care Where You From” opens with a cool synth rhythm and then sung in English.  It’s fun watching Walaa Sbeit walk around with the bass drum slung over his shoulder as he does some dancing while playing.  The song is one of inclusion

Well you might be from Philly (?) or Tripoli / from the mountains or from the sea
maybe got the key to the city / don’t mean anything to me.

They don’t care where you’re from, it’s where you are that counts.

47SOUL’s message of equality, heard here at the Tiny Desk (and on the group’s current album, Balfron Promise) is meant for all the world. This is music without borders, mixing old and new, acoustic and electronic from a band formed in Amman Jordan, singing in Arabic and English. It’s one big, positive and poignant party.

It segues into “Jerusalem” with the controversial-sounding lyric: “Jerusalem is a prison of philosophy and religion.”  The middle of the song had an Arabic rap which sounds more gangster than any gangster rap.  The end of the song is an electronic dance as everybody gets into it–clapping along and banging on drums.

It’s pretty great. I hope they tour around here, I’d love to see them live.

[READ: August 27, 2019] Submarine

I saw this book on the shelf and was attracted by its busy cover.  I also thought the authors name sounded familiar.   And so it was.  I have read some of Dunthorne’s poems in Five Dials magazines.

This was his first novel.  And it sounded unusual.  The back cover had this excerpt:

I used to write questionnaires for my parents. I wanted to get to know them better.  I asked things like:

What hereditary illnesses am I likely to inherit?
What money and land am I likely to inherit?

Multiple choice:
If you child was adopted at what aged would you choose to tell him about his real mother?
a) 4-8
B) 9-14
C) 15-18

Dunthorne is from Wales, which made this story a little exotic as well.  It is set in Swansea, by the sea (where people surf!) (more…)

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ayoade SOUNDTRACK: MAVIS STAPLES-Tiny Desk Concert #72 (August 9, 2010).

mavisMavis Staples is a legend.  She has been singing for decades.  And her voice still sounds amazing.

For this Tiny Desk Concert, it’s just her singing and Rick Holmstrom playing guitar.  Staples sings two songs from her then new album (recorded at Wilco’s studio).  In fact, the first song she sings “Only the Lord Knows” was written by Jeff Tweedy.  It’s a great bluesy number.  And Staples hits notes all over the place–it’s great.

Before the second song, she calls Rick Holmstrom “Pops Jr.” and he says “I wish.”

Next she plays “You’re Not Alone.”  There’s a funny moment after the first verse where she forgets the words–she shouts “don’t tell nobody.”  She says she was busy looking at all the friendly faces and got lost.  But she comes back and knocks the song out.

For a brief encore she does a few verses and a chorus of “I’ll Take You There.”  And you can hear the disappointment in the audience when she sings, “And that’s all for today” after a chorus.  She is happy and claps and does apologize saying “you all will make me hurt myself.”

It’s amazing how good Mavis sounds after all these years, and how she wins over the crowd in an instant.

[READ: July 15, 2015] Ayoade on Ayoade

Richard Ayoade is best known by me as Moss on The It Crowd.  Probably the most frequently asked question by me about him is how the Rhell you say his last name.  The book does not help with that, although online searches reveal eye-oo-WAH-dee to be pretty accurate.

Ayoade cracks me up whenever I see him.  And he even starts the funny before you open the cover of the book.  The cover sticker notes: “Once in every generation, a man writes a book.  This is that book. I am a man.”

I knew that Ayoade had recently released The Double (I read the screenplay), but I wasn’t aware of his previous film, Submarine.  (I have subsequently watched it and enjoyed it very much–it’s an unusually dark comedy about young love).  And these facts, along with maybe one or two others are what I gleaned from this book.  The rest is pure nonsense–a right silly lark, full of Ayoade’s outrageously self-deprecating wit and scathing comments about his own writing, acting and directing skills. (more…)

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