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Archive for the ‘The Art of Noise’ Category

CV1_TNY_02_25_13Ulriksen.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE KNIFE-Shaking the Habitual (2013).

theknife2Since I reviewed the 19 minute song from this album yesterday I thought I’d check out the rest of the disc (still a handful).  I kept bearing in mind that The Knife are pretty much a dance duo.  So this departure is not only radical, it pretty much undercuts the kind of music they make.  The progress is probably exciting but I imagine fans would turn away in droves.  I wonder how this record will play out for them in the long run.  Incidentally, I wasn’t a fan before, so I don’t really have a horse in this race.

“A Tooth for an Eye” opens the record with an interesting percussion sound an a pulsing keyboard melody.  The keening vocals come in sounding weird and distant and more than a little eerie.  “Full of Fire” is a 9-minute song with a weird skittery “melody” that seems to float above the battered mechanical “drum.”  The whispered vocals are strained and also a little creepy.  The middle section has the skittery music jump around while the vocals get even more processed—making it simultaneously more friendly and less so.  It’s probably the coolest weird song on the disc, with parts that are catchy and interesting and parts that are just peculiar.  This is the single, by the way.

“A Cherry on Top” is 8 minutes of reasonable quietude, with the second half introducing an autoharp.  It’s certainly the most mellow thing on the disc.  Although it’s not exactly relaxing.  “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” seems like it should be the single—it is propulsive and while the vocals are certainly odd, they are the most conventional thing on the album.  “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” has big electronic pulsing drums and whispered vocals.  It’s a fairly normal sounding song (at least for this album), and could easily play in a goth club.

“Crake” is 55 second of squalling feedback.  The album also has “Oryx” which is 37 second of wailing noise.  In between is the 10 minute “Raging Lung” which is not available on Spotify.  “Networking” a skittering beat with a second beat that may just be a sample of a person making noise in his or her throat.  The “voices” get stranger throughout the song, keening, twisting and spinning, reminiscent of The Art of Noise.

“Stay Out Here” is a ten minute song.  It starts with a fairly standard electronic drumbeat.  Whispered vocals come in giving it a kind of Nine Inch Nails vibe, until the female vocals come in (and are quickly manipulated to sound kind of male).  The switch from male and female vocals is interesting, giving it an almost modern sounding Dead Can Dance feel.

“Fracking Fluid Injection” has sounds like scraping, rusted gates as the beat with sampled voices overlaid.  Again, this is nearly 10 minute long.  The problem with things like this, aside from their relative tediousness, is that they aren’t all that original.  Now originality is nothing to hold a band to, we all know, but if you’re going to do non-form sounds that are echoed with little else to it, it would be more interesting if there was something original to pin to it.  “Ready to Lose” ends the album with a steady beat and a pretty standard vocal line (even if the voices are processed).

So this album us a pretty radical departure for the band and it’s a pretty radical departure for dance music as a whole.  I’m curious to see if this will lead to a anything or if this will be their one weird album.

[READ: April 15, 2013] “The Furies”

The story opens with a rather creepy man stating at his wedding reception that he is in an exclusive club: “There are not too many men who can say that they’re older than their father-in-law.” Ew.  He was fifty-eight, his new wife 31.  His father-in-law is 56.  The father-in-law seems okay with this, but really how could he be?

Ray is a dentist and his new wife, Shelly, had been his hygienist for years.  When Shelly told him she was thinking of getting a new job, he professed his love for her, and informed his wife, Angie that he was in love with Shelly.  Angie took it badly, but he was surprised when she seemed mad that he didn’t do this years earlier while she still had a chance to meet someone (rather than being distraught that he was leaving her).  As a parting shot she says that she wishes him ill.  And she hope he suffers with the woman who took him from her.

But they had no children, just assets, and things were divided evenly and cleanly.  And he thanked his lucky starts to be with a new woman, someone who was fun and so different from his first wife. (more…)

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thanksSOUNDTRACK: YES-90125 (1983).

90125We had a snow day Monday, and since we were all home, I thought it would be fun to bust out some old records.  As soon as the opening chords of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” crashed out, Sarah gave me a “What made you think of playing this?” look and then said “What made you think of playing this?”

And there is no answer.  I saw it and figured it would be fun to hear. And it was.

Now, as an olde Yes fan, I should probably not like this album.  My favorite Yes album is Relayer, so really I have no business liking this.  First, it has no really long songs, second, it’s totally poppy, and third, it tries so hard to create hit singles.  And yet, I loved it then, and I still enjoyed now.   What’s interesting about it is that even though it was rather state of the art at the time, it doesn’t sound dated now.  Probably because, for instance, the orchestral hit in “Owner” has been sampled so much, it still sounds contemporary.

And so side one (for so it was at the time) has three songs that were hit singles: “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “It Can Happen,” and “Changes” (which is probably the most “Yes” sounding of the bunch).  Even “Hold On” while not a single, gets recognition for being on the popular side one of the disc.

Side two features another great hit song, “Leave It” (with vocal sampling galore).  Although I think by the end, the disc loses some steam, and “Hearts” is a bit of a drag.

I knew that Trevor Horn was involved with this disc.  But since there have been multiple members in Yes, including two Trevors (!), I’d never really kept it all straight.  So, Trevor Horn was responsible for The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”) as well as The Art of Noise.  Their song “Close (to the Edit)” was a great video staple on MTV back in the 80s.  It features three gentlemen in suits and a very disturbing little girl smashing the hell out of musical instruments.  This song, which came out the same year as 90125 samples “Owner of a Lonely Heart” so the circle is complete.

Trevor Horn clearly had a big impact on the band and on 80s music in general, which is probably why the disc sounds so good all these years later.

[READ: February 27, 2009] Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country

I couldn’t recall the exact title of this book, so when I typed on Amazon.com “letters obama” I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) to see TWO books that fit this description already.  I suppose it makes sense that such compilations are being made (in fact, it seems that Obama could reignite the economy through merchandising of himself alone).  The second book isn’t due out till April, so I guess McSweeney’s have expediency on their side. (more…)

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