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Archive for the ‘Jelly Roll Morton’ Category

walrus marchSOUNDTRACK: GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR!-Yanqui U.X.O. [CST024] (2002).

GybeyanquiuxoYanqui UXO is a single CD/double vinyl release coming in at about 80 minutes.  The lineup stayed the same, but there were a few changes.  First the band’s exclamation point moved from the end to after the “You.”  And second, this album was produced by Steve Albini.  Albini seems like an odd choice given his stripped down style and often brutal recording sound.  The album still sounds a lot like GYBE, but they have stripped out all of the field recordings and interstitial parts making a much smoother album.

The recording was described by the band as “just raw, angry, dissonant, epic instrumental rock.”  It’s hard to argue with that.

There are four or five songs on the record depending on if you have the LP or CD.  The first two songs “09-15-00, Part 1” and “09-15-00, Part 2” are merged into one on the LP.  “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls.”  And then “Motherfucker=Redeemer, Part 1” and “Motherfucker=Redeemer, Part 2” (the LP removes the “parts” from the title, and just has the song “continued” on side 4—it’s also 5 minutes longer on the LP, primarily from ambient sounds that begin the song.  The LP also contains a hidden track called  “George Bush Cut Up While Talking.”

“09-15-00, Part 1” is 16 minutes long.  It opens slowly with what sounds like a harpsichord playing a rhythm while an echoed guitar plays a slow melody.  More instruments are slowly added as the song grows more intense.  At around 4 and half minutes a new melody enters from the bass.  It is complex but doesn’t alter the general tone of the song.  The song goes almost entirely silent at 6 and a half minutes, but a new melody starts—soft one note strings start as guitars creep into the sound.  Then a violin begins a melody that the guitar soon echoes.  The full band plays along with this melody at around 9 minutes and it gets more intense as the drums pick up speed.  This all drops away once more except for a martial beat and a bass line.  A guitar plays a melody over this simple section and then it builds and builds until the last few violin notes squeak out.

“09-15-00, Part 2” is six minutes long and is probably the simplest and most beautiful piece they have recorded.  There’s no build up, no drama, it’s just a pretty song full of strings and guitars.

“Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls” opens with a simple three note guitar melody and violins playing over the top.  The strings get bigger and more prominent and the rest of the band starts filling in.  Around three and half minutes in, the song gets really raucous…until it settles down again.  The song builds again, with the violins taking prominence.  At about seven-minutes, the song changes drastically with a lengthy descending series of notes (on horns) leading to a spare drum beat which lasts over a minute before the horns come back in.  After a minute or so of solitary horn notes, some guitars start playing in the background.  By around 13 minutes ominous chords have developed, overshadowing nearly everything else—and that steady drumbeat certainly causes some tension.  By 16:30 the tension has been released and the chords are welcoming and bright.  The song seems like it ends around nineteen minutes in, but there’s a gentle string section coda tacked on at the end.

“Motherfucker=Redeemer, Part 1” opens with gentle ringing sounds like a child’s toy.  After about 2 minutes, guitars start coming in—one playing staccato notes another playing chords and a bass playing as simple pattern.  At 3 and a half minutes the main riff comes it.  It is played on the violin and has vaguely Jewish feel to it.  There aren’t a ton of changes in this song, which more or less just builds around the same riff.  By 7 minutes there’s a soaring violin solo which screams over the top of the song.  There are moments when the song gets louder and quieter but it definitely feels like all one song until about 10 minutes when it more or less slows to a halt.  There’s some slow violin sounds an a simple guitar.  This second part of the song is similar to the first in that it is a regular guitar riff playing as the rest of the band fills in around it.  At around 13 minutes, a bigger fuzzier guitar takes over the riff.  The song continues in various forms until the end, when it is just a bass line.

“Part 2” is only ten minutes long (15 on vinyl).  It opens with the strings providing washes of music.  A new, fairly complex bassline opens the song.  The band builds the track with fast drumming and louder and louder strings.  It shifts tone at around 4 minutes.  And for the next 3 minutes it gets more intense until it seems to fade out, introducing a new guitar riff that works almost like a coda to the whole thing.  The drums are insane for this ending part and the band seems like they are just going nuts as the song comes crashing to an end.  The extra five minutes on vinyl come at the beginning of the song.  It starts with voices singing some basic “ahhhs” and then a guitar playing a ringing note.  It does add to the tension that builds up before the music begins properly and really should be checked out if you’ve only heard the CD version.

“George Bush Cut Up While Talking” is 3 minutes of a George Bush address cut up (it sounds like it is a skipping CD) interspersed with clapping that sounds like static and a voice saying “it is the predominant question, why am I here and what can I do to make it better how can I do what is right.”  (There’s a disconcerting video of this here.)

I think this album is really fantastic.  And while I enjoy their found sounds, I prefer that they’re just playing music.

After making this album the band would go on hiatus for…ten years.  Here’s the line up for Yanqui.

  • Thierry Amar – bass guitar
  • David Bryant – electric guitar
  • Bruce Cawdron – drums
  • Aidan Girt – drums
  • Norsola Johnson – cello
  • Efrim Menuck – guitar
  • Mauro Pezzente – bass guitar
  • Roger Tellier-Craig – guitar [replaced Mike Moya]
  • Sophie Trudeau – violin

[READ: April 11, 2016] “”Where the Yazoo Cross the Yellow Dog””

This is an except from a story about Jimbo and Rob.  The opening details Jimbo’s (James) parents, which I rather enjoyed.  Particularly the details about his father–his daily “three and three-quarter minute boiled egg served in a brightly coloured egg cup” and this statement:

‘I view hot toast,’ he said in one of his rare communications, pointing to the solitary Hovie slice lodged cold in the silver toast rack, ‘as offensively American.’

I also loved the dogmatic qualities of his father

‘What?’ said the Major.  ‘What?”
Which was his usual response top any reply short of complete agreement or grovelling.

And

“Don’t say ‘haven’t got,'” said the Major.  “It is both redundant and ill-bred.  ‘Haven’t’ will suffice.”

But the story is really about Jimbo and his friend Rob Forde (that cannot be a coincidence).  Jimbo was a teenager affecting sophistication (he wanted a smoking jacket) and he and Rob looked through junk shops for cigarette cases and art books. (more…)

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[WATCHED: December 29, 2014] The Legend of 1900

1900After really enjoying Novocento, I wanted to see what they would do with a film of the book.  I was especially curious how they took the sixty-some page monologue and turned it into a 2 hour film.

The film was written by Giuseppe Tornatore who directed Cinema Paradiso.  It was filmed entirely in Italy (which explains how they got the New York scenes to look so old world) and yet it was written entirely in English (apparently before Novocento was translated).  It starred Tim Roth as Nineteenhundred (not Novocento, like in the book) and a bunch of other people I didn’t know.

The movie was, as I say, written by Tornatore, based on the book. He kept virtually the entire book the same for the movie.  But he added a bookend section to give the narrator someone to talk to.  And this is how the film was stretched out to two hours.

The new parts are certainly interesting.  Max, Nineteenhundred’s only real friend and fellow shipboard musician, is selling his trumpet at a pawn shop.  This part confused me because the pawn shop owner is British, but I thought the ship was docked in New York.  But whatever.  He plays his trumpet one last time and the melody he plays is the same one that the shop keeper then plays on a phonograph. (more…)

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novocSOUNDTRACK: BUKKENE BRUSE-The Loveliest Rose (2002).

bruseI’m not entirely sure how I came to own this disc.  But I’m so glad I do.  This is a Christmas album from one of Norway’s traditional ensembles (pronounced: BUH-kayna BREW-sah).  They have been around since the 1990s and have toured extensively around the world.  This is their only Christmas album.  It was recorded in an Oslo church.

The album features four players on some great traditional instruments: Arve Moen Bergset – vocals, violin & Hardingfele; Annbjørg Lien – Hardingfele & nyckelharpa; Steinar Ofsdal – flute; Bjørn Ole Rasch – pipe organ.

The album is a wonderful collection of music.  I prefer the instrumentals, although Bergset does have a lovely singing voice.  What I found most interesting is that the sound of the music conveyed many non-Norwegian feelings.  I heard some Irish sounding traditional music and even some Native American (the flute in the final song).

The pipe organ sounds amazing and the fiddle, especially on “Father Fiddled on Christmas Eve” is fantastic.

Nine of the songs are traditional, the rest are written by the band, aside from St. Sunniva, the opening of which comes from ELP’s “Karn Evil 9, 3rd impression (I kid you not–it is quite stripped down here).

I really love this non-traditional traditional Christmas album.  I’m including the track listing mostly because I wanted to have all of this Norwegian in a post.

  1.   A Child Is Born in Bethlehem «Eit barn er født i Betlehem» (3:18) [great flute and a surprisingly catchy hallelujah]
  2.   Lullaby for Julie «Lullámus» (3:15) [great sound of the Hardanger fiddle which has two drone strings]
  3.   Spirit of the Grove «Haugebonden» (5:14) [a gorgeous melody]
  4.   Christmas Eve «Juleftan» (3:38) [unusual fiddle sounds and an unusual and captivating melody]
  5.   My Heart is with Jesus «Mit Hjerte Altid Vanker» (6:32) [the pipe organ really elevates this song]
  6.   St. Sunniva «St. Sunniva» (3:44) [organ and fiddle together in this Irish sounding song]
  7.   A Little Child So Pleasant/In the Sweet Christmas Time «Et lidet barn saa lystelig / I denne søde juletid» (7:20) [beautiful flute and solo violin]
  8.  Father Fiddled on Christmas Eve «Så spela far juleftan» (3:02) [that cool, unusual fiddle is back]
  9.  The Loveliest Rose has Been Found «Den fagraste rosa er funni» (2:35) [the voice is really great on this one]
  10.  Christmas Gangar «Romjulsgangar» (3:22) [beautiful fiddle and flute dance with some unusual sounds from both instruments]
  11. For Such Generous Gifts «For saadan’ mildheds gaver» (2:53) [a New Year’s tune that is rather haunting, I must say]

[READ: December 14, 2014] Novocento

In continuing with my obsessive reading of all things Baricco, I had to interlibrary loan this book from Johns Hopkins.

Novocento is confusingly titled because that is the Italian title as well and although it is a number (which could be translated) in this book it actually refers to a person, which would not get translated–so look carefully for the English edition (done by Oberon) and wonderfully translated by Ann Goldtsein).  It was designed as a play (and this edition is the play).  However, it is a one man monologue (with music ion the performance), so it doesn’t “read” like a play.

The book is 56 pages long.  They have also made a movie out of it (called The Legend of 1900, not just 1900 which is a different movie).  Amazingly the movie is 170 minutes (Italian version) and 120 minutes (international).  That must be a lot of music.

The story is simple, Novocento, as he is called, was born on a ship–an ocean liner that transported people primarily from Europe to America in the early 20th century.  His parents were undoubtedly lower class and left him on the piano aboard the boat (we don’t hear their story at all).  One of the crew finds him and names him Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon Novocento.  Danny Boodman is the man who found him, T.D. Lemon was on the side of the box he was left in and Novocento was the year. (more…)

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