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Archive for the ‘1-Speed Bike’ Category

landSOUNDTRACK: SONG OF THE SILENT LAND [CST2 COMP] (2004).

silentlandThis is a great compilation of Constellation artists from 2004 and earlier.  What makes it so good is that 13 of the 14 songs are released here for the first time.  So it works not only as a sampler of the labels artists, it also works as a great rarities collection.

ELIZABETH ANKA VAJAGIC-“The Sky Lay Still” [stripped down version of album song].  This song starts with slow echoing guitars and Elizabeth’s voice which sounds a bit like Carla Bozulich (but cleaner).  Two minutes in, it shifts tones to an awesomely catchy section with great vocals.

DO MAKE SAY THINK-“Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn”   This is the entire Winter Hymn … album remixed into a 5 minute track.  I’ve often complained that I dislike remixes but this one is great.  It includes some big guitar chords, some quiet drums, some notes and maybe gives you a feel of the album, but maybe not.  The end of the track plays some very fast heavy chords and then gets sped up out of existence.

EXHAUST-“Wool Fever Dub” [from their self-released cassette]  This song has a big thumping beat and some cool echoed harmonics on the guitar. This basic song structure runs through a 3 minute instrumental with a different “chorus” and some intense drumming at the end.

HANGEDUP-“(Re)View From The Ground (remix)”  This is a very catchy, fun remix.  Noisy clattering drums and all kinds of feedback squalls keep this propulsive track moving—this is my kind of dance remix.

BLACK OX ORKESTAR-“Toyte Goyes In Shineln”  This track comes from their album Ver Tanzt? And is one of my favorite of their songs from this disc.  An Acoustic guitar and bass play a simple melody over what I assume is quiet Hebrew singing.

SACKVILLE-“This Machine”  This is an unreleased track from the band.  It is a simple downbeat folk song with a really catchy chorus.  I like Sackville a lot but haven’t mentioned their full length yet–coming soon.

SILVER MT. ZION-“Iron Bridge To Thunder Bay” This is an unreleased track from the Rusted Satellites session, it begins with squealing feedback that slowly changes pitch until the thudding drums and bass come in.  They play a rumbling rhythm underneath the otherwise noisy sounds.  After 6 minutes, the song ends in squalls of feedback until the last minute just echoes until the end.

SOFA-“String Of Lights” [from the self released cassette].  I really like Sofa and wish they’d released more music.  This song actually sounds a bit like the Black Ox Orkestar song above-a- slow broody acoustic piece, but I love the way the chorus brightens the song.

POLMO POLPO-“Dreaming (…Again)”  This track is described as “constructed of materials from the Like Hearts Swelling sessions”  It’s a pretty, upbeat song with some slide guitars and a groovy rhythm.

RE: “Slippage” [unreleased track from the Mnant sessions]  This song has clanging percussion and oscillating keyboards which make this soundscape interesting and compelling.

FLY PAN AM-“Tres Tres ‘Avant'” is an improvisation with Tim Hecker and Christof Migone.  There’s a funky bass and drums with some groovy keyboards.

1-SPEED BIKE-“Fair Warning” [ remix of “New Blue Monday” from their album].  The track starts with a person saying “Okay we’ll call this one Fair Warning.”  You can hear the music (primarily the guitar echoed) and the riff from New Order’s “Blue Monday” and then he starts reciting passages in a great Canadian accent: “heroin crop in Afghanistan is 3 times higher this year than last year because the Taliban got taken out and replaced with the Americans.”  “We don’t want funerals because people like to party too much, Capice?”  The second half of the song is a lot of swirling statics and noise with repeated notes.

FRANKIE SPARO-“See My Film” [working mix of an unreleased song].  This song has a sprinkling of guitar notes and Sparo’s mellow but rough voice singing a cool melody.  The addition of a violin melody really elevates the song.  The end is even better as he adds another vocal line and some da das making it even catchier.

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR-“Outro” This is a live performance of a concert finale recorded in France on 14 May 2003.  This slow song opens with glockenspiel and strings–a slow, pretty melody that evolves over 7 minutes to add a bigger string section.  The last 2 minutes include a very nice violin solo that plays over the top of the rest of the band.  GYBE has never officially released a live album, so this is a good opportunity to hear what they can do live.

[READ: August 20, 2016] Land

This is a book about Anthony Gormley’s five statues on Landmark Trust Property.

The five statues in this book are life-sized cast iron sculptures installed in five Landmark Trust sites across the British Isles from May 2015 to May 2016.  Saddell Bay, Mull of Kintyre; South West Point, Lundy; Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay; Martello Tower, Aldeburgh, and Lengthsman’s Cottage, Lowsonford.

The sculptures are by Antony Gormley, the photos of the sculptures are by Clare Richardson and the text is by Jeanette Winterson.  Winterson is the only person I’d heard of in this book but as soon as I flipped through the pages, I was instantly struck by the sculptures.

Gormley works with the human form in very heavy sculptural designs.  There’s another book about his work called Human that shows even more of his sculptures. (more…)

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may20014SOUNDTRACK: EXHAUST-Exhaust [CST004] (1998).

exhaustExhaust’s self titled album was another early release from Constellation (disc number 4).  At this point Godspeed You Black Emperor had not defined the label’s sound yet (correctly or incorrectly), so we get Exhaust.  Aidan, who is 1-Speed Bike, which did not have very good drums, is the drummer for Exhaust.  And man, the drums are awesome here.  The drums are again, loud, and they have a great live feel to them–the beats are funky and different and while they anchor what’s going on they in no way keep things settled.

The rest of the band includes a bass, a guitar, a bass clarinet and samples.  The samples just aren’t loud enough anywhere on the album.  It’s a shame–you simply can’t really hear them, which I guess is the point, but then what’s the point of having them?  So the first song, “A History of Guerrilla Warfare” is interesting (again, those drums!), but it’s in song two “Metro Mile End” when that bass clarinet comes out that it totally rules. The third song “Homemade Maggot Beer” is a 20 second hardcore song with just drums and feedback.  Song 4 “We Support Iran in Their Bid to Win the 1998 World Cup” is a remix by 1-Speed Bike, and after listening to the full length 1-Speed Bike, it sounds like it– a little dull, a little slow and nowhere near as dynamic as the album.  And it has such a good title too.

“Two Years On Welfare” has louder samples–you can hear a kind of political rant going on, but it seems like it could have been used better.  But around 1;30 the sounds get really interesting.  Track six, “This Is Our (Borrowed) Equipment” is another 1-Speed Bike remix, and it is mostly drums again.  “Wool Fever” makes good use of harmonics and drums although it goes on a bit too long.  The 8th song, “A Medley Of Late Night Buffet Commercials” is the final 1-Speed Bike remix.  Unlike the others I really like this one.  True, I wish the song was more akin to what the title says, but the drums are funky and hammering and sound great.  “Winterlude” is 40 seconds of squealing radio sounds before the final track reintroduces us to that great clarinet.  “The Black Horns Of H2T” reminds us how good this album can sound.

So it’s a mixed bag, but the highs are definitely high.

[READ: April 14, 2014] “Humor”

This article appeared in the December 1958 issue of Harper’s magazine.  Mark Twain made over 100 contributions to the magazine (geez).  I have often thought that Twain is an author I need to read more of.  But when I hear he has contributed over 100 articles to Harper’s alone, my mind reels at the output.

Anyhow, this is an article about repetition in the art of humor.  Interestingly, he relates a story that happened forty years before writing this.  So the occasions of the joke he tells was in 1918!  Woah.

The article talks about the first and second lectures that he ever gave.  The first was a success but he was concerned about the second as he had very little in the way of humor to warm up the audience.  He decided to make use of an anecdote that everyone in San Francisco had heard many times and were undoubtedly sick of.  It had been overdone as long as five years ago.  But he decided that he would simply tells the very overdone story over and over until people started to laugh (the precursor of Saturday Night Live, obviously). (more…)

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gorey SOUNDTRACK: 1-SPEED BIKE-Droopy Butt Begone [CST014] (2000).

1speed1-Speed Bike is a remix project by Adian Girt who has played in Godspeed You Black Emperor and Exhaust for Constellation Records.  This is his first release as 1-Speed Bike.  He has released several more on other labels but I haven’t heard any of them.

The most interesting thing about this disc are the titles of the songs.  And those titles are so clever that it gives one high hopes for the album.  I don’t know who Mauro and Elwy are (track 1) but the rest are certainly interesting if not confrontational.

1. The Day That Mauro Ran Over Elwy Yost
2. Seattle/Washington/Prague 00/68 Chicago/Nixon/Reagan Circle-Fighting Machine
3. Yuppie Restaurant-Goers Beware Because This Song Is For The Dishwasher
4. Just Another Jive-Assed White Colonial Theft
5. Why Are All The Dogs Dying Of Cancer?
6. My Kitchen Is Tiananmen Square
7. Any Movement That Forgets About Class Is A Bowel Movement

But what’s disappointing is that the album is comprised almost entirely of a drum machine and some other sounds.  The drums are very very loud in the mix, and there’s very little variation in each song (which befits a remix, I suppose).  And yet, the “musical” section is largely nonexistent.  There’s a lot of spoken word stuff, which is fun, but it also seems randomly thrown on there. The disc opens with him asking someone to be quiet because he has to flush the toilet.  There’s a lengthy declaration of love for his family and war against capitalism.  And that everyone else can fuck off if they don’t want to hear him talk politics.

There are samples sprinkled around the disc, but most of them are inaudible or played with so much that it renders them hard to figure out.  There are some interesting sounds in “My Kitchen is Tienanmen Square,” but the rest is kind of dull.  The end of the last song offers a voice mail message that gives you the title of the album.

Overall, not an exciting debut for 1-Speed Bike.

[READ: April 12, 2014] The Strange Case of Edward Gorey

I bought this book many years ago when I was on an Alexander Theroux kick (which actually means I wanted to read some of his books but did not, although I do hope to).  Anyhow, this book has been staring at me for some time so I decided to just dive in.  I actually know precious little about Theroux except that his novel are supposed to be weird or difficult or something.  I know slightly more about Edward Gorey, although little more than his drawing style (which I love) and his sense of humor (which I share).

So this book is a sort of a biography of Gorey by Theroux.  Theroux was one of Gorey’s close friends.  This is saying something because as a rule Gorey was rather a recluse and didn’t much like people (he did like cats, though).  The book is not a proper biography–a biography of his works or even of his life.  It is more of a biography of the man and his quirks.  There’s very little about his childhood, and not a lot about his books (except for Theroux’s admiration).  But mostly its about what it was like to hang out with Gorey–and to delight in the baroque and fun turns of phrase that Gorey used.

We learn a lot about what he liked (soap operas, classic movies [Metropolis, M, Sunrise, Gold Digger series], obscure horror films [The Town That Dreaded Sunrise, Women of Straw, Suspiria (at least I’ve heard of that one)], TV shows [The X-Files, The Golden Girls, Matlock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer] and of course, classic literature [he was well versed in many original languages].  We also learn what he most assuredly did not like.  He did not like Star Wars, he did not like Mel Brooks, he did not like Robert Altman or Woody Allen [Gorey was a film critic for a time].  And as for our foremost actress, Meryl Streep, he has this to say:

“Oh please!” said he, every time she opens her mouth, the critics insist Dostoevsky’s speaking!” He paused. “And who’s even dippier is Glenn Close. Sexless as a teabag. Neither man, not woman, nor in-between! Julia Roberts’s face looks like it’s made of rubber — remember those Snap, Crackle and Pop cartoon faces? And of course Streisand. God help us, I won’t even go to see.”  Gorey loathed her with a passion, even more than John Waters does.  I once heard him fulminate for a good half-hour on the impossible stupidity of her 1962 hit, “People,” a song that, with its mawkish, politically correct soul-sharing, shrinkingly embodies to a T everything that Edward Gorey utterly loathed:  “Pee-pull, pee-pull who need pee-pull are the luuu-kiest pee-pull in the wooooooorld!.”  I cannot honestly think of a single sentiment that would have driven Edward Gorey battier faster than the flaccid lyrics of that song with its, to him, canasta-closeness, hideous interconnectedness, and ultimate meaninglessness.

He also hated Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Marquis de Sade’s writing, right-wing talk show hosts, every movie Al Pacino ever made [Of Bobby Deerfield he cried out during the movie, “oh for Christ’s sake…what is this in aid of?”] and Martha Stewart.  And while he had great disdain for Barbra Walters and Maya Angelou, he was especially appalled by “the invincible vulgarity of the preposterous Kathie Lee Gifford and the host of miniature faces she was constantly pulling” (20) saying: “her facial contortions would be excessive on Daffy Duck” (44).

One thing to note about the book.  As you can see form the page numbers above, similar sentiments about Gifford are on page 20 and 44.  Theroux tends to circle back onto the same topics a number of times.  So the same names tend to pop up three or four times (Buffy comes up at least 3).  It feels like Theroux (who published this soon after Gorey died) wrote it in fits and just needed to get down as much as possible.  And while the book feels repetitive, it never feels flaccid or like it’s full of padding.  It just feels like a huge outpouring of information.  Or like an essay collections by a person who tends to revisit similar material.

Interestingly, the book isn’t necessarily for fans of Gorey.  I honestly haven’t read any of his works in years, but I found this book funny and strangely cathartic (if you like bitchy, opinionated scholar-types).  If any of the above appeals, you’ll get a kick of out Gorey, whether you like his drawings or not.  The book is also full of Gorey’s drawings (although nothing new), from his books and from some of his posters.

I was also intrigued by the fact that Gorey, clearly no friend of people, did not shy away from the outside world.  He lived on Cape Cod and New York City where his number was in the phone book the whole time.  He walked around Manhattan in a big beard and fur coat (until he gave up the coat for animal rights reasons).  When he moved full time to Cape Cod, he lived in a residential area and did not turn away any fans (he always had manners even if he knew the whole thing was kind of silly).  And apparently his house was simply chock full of fascinating geegaws and gimcracks.

For all of his proclamations about others, he did not have a large ego about his own work.  And the book gives the impression that he was just an opinionated guy who knew what he liked and was happy to share his thoughts with others (or his cats).

I just found out that Theroux reissued this book in 2011 and updated it from 68 pages (my version) to 168 pages.  I don’t know how much has changed.  In looking online it seems like maybe all he has done is make the original pictures larger, but there may be other textual changes as well.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: SONG OF THE SILENT LAND (2004).

This is a compilation from Constellation Records.  It features mostly unreleased tracks and turns out to be a great sampler for both the fan of the label and the novice.

Since the label never had any “hits” per se, they couldn’t really release a “greatest hits” collection.  But they went the extra mile by selecting rare tracks rather than just a songs from their albums,.

It also belies the idea (put forth by me as well as many others) that Constellation had “a sound.”  While they have branched further afield since this collection was released, even prior to this you can see a lot of diversity.  From the epic instrumentals of Godspeed You Black Emperor, to the noise structures of Exhaust, to the sort of spoken word of 1-Speed Bike to the viola/bass duet of HangedUp.  This compilation contains one track from pretty much every artist on their roster from the (then) new artist Elizabeth Anka Vajagic to early bands Sofa.

The Do Make Say Think track, “Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn” is described as a condensation of the album of that name into 5 minutes, and I believe it is).  Many of the other artists’ tracks are remixed.  But the remixes aren’t dance remixes or dub versions, they are just remixed, usually by Efrim or one of the other Hotel2Tango individuals.

If you’re a fan of the label, hunt down this disc.  If you’re not familiar with the artists, this is a great place to start.  The bands’ tracks, even the remixes are representative of the bands.  So, you get a good sense of Exhaust, 1-Speed Bike, Fly Pan Am and HangedUp.  Although the real selling point is the live track by Godspeed You Black Emperor.  It’s not one of their “real” songs per se (as it is just an outro) but it’s a nice indicator of their live show (which was one of the best live shows I’ve seen).

[READ: December 18, 2009] Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro

I’m not sure how this book ended up in my house.  I was looking at a pile of graphic novels and there was this one.  I hadn’t really noticed it before and Sarah didn’t know anything about it, so…who knows.  Anyhow, I decided to just go ahead and read it.  It turned out to be my very first manga (awwww).  And it took me a few pages to understand the style at all.

Manga primer: First off it’s written right to left (so at first I wasn’t even sure where to start the book, as this one starts without a real “start”).  Then I realized that the 4-panel style means you read all four columns down on the right and then all four columns down on the left.  And, just to complete the culture shock, you read the speech balloons on the right of the panel before the ones on the left.  After about twenty or so pages it grew easier, and by the end it wasn’t an issue anymore.  But wow!

Oh, and for a little more confusion, there are occasional full color pages thrown in, but they aren’t chapter breaks or any special pages, they just seem to be in color.

So, anyhow, on to the story. (more…)

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