John Congleton is a music producer (and a really good one at that–he’s had his hands on great albums both obscure and really poplar). But he is also a musician. And a pretty weird one at that. Here, as the blurb says, “he creates haunting tension with just acoustic guitar, brilliant electronics from Jordan Geiger, and words passionately sung.”
These songs are interesting because Congleton plays a very traditional sounding acoustic guitar. His songs are typical folk chords. But the lyrics are pretty dark and confrontational and those keyboards are often really creepy or disturbing (appropriate for the lyrics)
The first song, “Just Lay Still” is a rollicking track with the guitar playing quickly and the keyboards playing off-kilter and deliberately creepy chords. Lyrically, the song is about the subject that Congleton seems to be exploring on all of these songs–what it is like to be human. “I love you like a lion loves its kill / I will touch you like a doctor, just lay still. Let the implements molest you in your sleep / You belong to me… We’ve got you surrounded (creepy chord). We’ve got you surrounded.”
Congleton says “Your Temporary Custodian” is a devotional song about indifference.” It opens with crazy siren-like sounds over Congleton’s acoustic guitar. The blurb notes that the song addresses “what it means to face the fact that we are flesh-and-blood ‘temporary custodians’ in vessels that will inevitably return to the earth and decay.” It’s got lyrics like: “You phenomenal nominal nominal nominal nothing” and “we will not be saved / we went looking for the sublime / we found only the inane” and “what an extraordinary thing it is to be this ordinary thing.”
Before the final song he thanks everyone (he’s very polite given his lyrics) and then jokes, as taxpayers we expect a full tour [of the NPR building]. “Animal Rites” is also a fast song with more great lyrics: “I’d love to hold you but I need to hold my own.” Or “Biology kicks virtues’ ass every time” or my favorite: “When you’re crazy at 20 you’re sex to be had / when you’re crazy at 50 you’re not sexy, you’re sad.” And then the crux of the matter: “You’re with an animal / you’re with a warm body, carbon contents, atoms and proteins.” This song is much longer than the other two. It has two parts separated by a solo is a bunch of noise and mayhem from the keyboards. The second half slows down but eventually comes back to the main thrust of the song.
These songs were definitely unusual, and strangely catchy. I’m curious to hear what this album sounds like (assuming he produced it himself–I expect impeccable work.
[READ: November 30, 2016] Clark
One of the things that I admire about Brendan Connell as an author is the astonishing depth and detail work he puts into his books. Connell is an amazing polymath, with books that fully bring to life such diverse topics as food, religion, philosophy, violence, sex and now, Italian cinema.
Clark is the story of Eric Clark a devoted actor who rarely refused a role. We watch his introduction to the world of film, his embrace of said world (and its embrace of him) and his subsequent decline. This book also shows an amazing amount of detail about the Italian film industry–a topic I know nothing about. Now I realize that Clark and his films are made up, but I have to assume that everything else that Connell says about the industry, its ability to make movies quickly and for 10% of the price of American films is all correct. And if it isn’t, then he’s done an even more remarkable job of making it all up. (more…)