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Archive for the ‘Pirates’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Eyes Like the Sky (2013).

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard clearly didn’t set out to top the charts. After the frenetic fun of 12 Bar Bruise, their follow up is this–a spoken word “Western” musical.  Stu Mackenzie says that after recording “Sam Cherry’s Last Shot” with Broderick Smith, he wanted to try a “multi-song, read-along, narrative based western musical” and Brod was keen to write a story and narrate it.

The music is impressively “Western.”   Right out of the gates, you feel the reverbed guitars and sound effects of gun shots.  Repeating motifs abound and there is an amazing amount of restraint.  Plus, the songs (which don’t really follow the story chapters) are quite different from each other (all within the same Western motif). “Year of Our Lord” builds some real suspense.  While “The Raid” adds some surf guitars.

You can also hear his parents’ dogs barking in “The Killing Ground” and his dad banging on a rusted saw blade, which you can hear in “The Raid.”

“Drum Run” is, indeed, very drum heavy with distant echoing harmonica.

And then there is the story.  A story of a man who is feared as a legend.

The bad white men call him the devil the Yavapai call him Eyes Like the Sky.

Miguel O’Brien was kidnapped from his white family when he was five years old.  He became a fearless Yavapai Apache warrior.

The American Civil had not encroached on Apache territory.  But ten years later, the Americans brought their war to Apache land.  They were

Led by a man holding a leather book with a cross stamped in the leather.  An evil man who did terrible  things to people in the name of a god that looked upon the man himself with revulsion

The music for this track is called “Evil Man” and between the Western riff and the backing “ahahas,” it’s got gunslinger all over it.

The Americans killed the Apache, but he was spared because of his blue eyes.  But once more family he loved had been killed–this time by Americans.

The god man thought he might be from the O’Brien family or maybe the Jebsen family.  So they named him Jebsen O’Brien but they called him “blue” because of his eyes and his expression.  A trapper taught him white man’s ways so that he could read and write and also learned to use a gun.

The god man was a truly evil man–“satisfying his goat lust with a Yavapei girl.”  Seeing this defilement, Blue swiftly killed him. Then he took guns, money and the defiled girl and fled from the Fort.  The two of them happened upon a scene of death–white men killing white men but disguised as Apache.

I’ll not spoil the ending but the final two songs are “Dust in the Wind” (not that one) and “Guns & Horses.”   “Dust in the Wind” is a stomping song that presages death–of many.  “Guns & Horses” ends the story–all too early in my opinion.  While Eyes Like the Sky’s story comes to a satisfying conclusion, I want to hear more.

With a cool soundtrack.

Incidentally, the soundtrack is far more grown up than the graphic novel.

[READ: February 5, 2019] Knife’s Edge

I didn’t realize that these two books made up the Four Points series (I didn’t know there was a series title until I looked this book up].  But it is nice to see that this book ends the story.  And it ends it very well.

This book opens with the explanation of what happened to Alex and Cleo’s father when he left them on their own.  He went off to do a (supposedly) simple job down at the docks.  But while he is aboard a ship he is attacked by Lucky Worley.  Turns out Worley knew that Mr Dodge had the pocket watch and pocket knife–the clues that will lead him to the treasure he wants so badly.  It also turns out that he doesn’t know about Alex and Cleo.  So he hijacks Mr Dodge and takes him aboard his ship.   We also learn that Dodge isn’t their father–which we knew from how young the babies were when he received them, but the kids didn’t.  He doesn’t know who their real father was.

Worley had caught word of them through their involvement in the Black Hook gang and he deduced that they had the map pieces.  So their lives were now in danger.  And that’s pretty much where book one began. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-“Cyboogie” (2019).

Few band names are as much fun as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. With a name like that, the fact that they actually make good music is somehow amazing.

2018 was a quiet year for the band after they released five albums in 2017.  But they are now back with a new single and an upcoming tour.

“Cyboogie” is basically exactly what it sounds like it might be–a cyborg boogie.  It also features a classic trope of KGATLW songs–one word repeated over and over again (see: Rattlesnake).

This boogie is nearly 7 minutes long and features electronically processed vocals, prominent synth sounds and the occasional run up the musical scales at the end of each chorus.

It opens with the robotic voices chanting “boogie boogie boogie.”  Over a pulsing bass and 70s sounding keys, this very retro song starts.  There are lyrics in the verses, but they are so processed as to be almost inaudible (nice melody though).  They lead to the chorus: cyboogie, cyboogie, boogie boogie boogie boogie, cyboogie.  All with that undeniable beat.

The instrumental breaks are classic trippy 70s era instrumental breaks.  Including the one at 3 minutes where the music stops briefly and a new beat and sound style emerges (more boogie).  The third verse is so vocally processed I wasn’t even sure if there were words–but since the music has all boy dropped away it’s all you can hear.  But fear not it is melodically sound and makes the next chorus even more interesting.

The song ends with some more robotic voice reciting something (no guesses as to what).

[READ: January 31, 2019] Compass South

This story was written by Hope Larson but illustrated by Rebecca Mock (which is only odd because Larson herself is an excellent illustrator).

It opens in New York City, 1848.  A man named Dodge is seen going home when he is stopped by a large man in a cloak.  The cloaked man tells him that his beloved Hester is dead in Ireland.  But she wanted him to have…two babies:  Alexander and Cleopatra.

He vows to be there for them, but in Chapter One, it is twelve years later and the children are on their own.  As we zoom in on them, they are in the middle of robbing a house.  They are with the Black Hook gang and Alex is getting tested.  But Alex gets caught.  Cleo goes to save him, but Luther, the local head of the gang stops her and says if they rat on the gang, they are dead.

Next, the twins are talking to the police.  They have nothing to offer, so he gives them a deal–tell them about the Black Hook gang and they can go free.  Of course, they take the deal. But before Luther can go after them, he is contacted by the henchman of Felix Worley, famed pirate and captain of El Caleuche.  Seems he wants the twins, too. (more…)

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sardine6SOUNDTRACK0 Tonne Seize [CST bonus] (2016).

tonne0 Tonne Seize is a bonus compilation of three tracks each from Off World, Automatiste and Jason Sharp.  The collection is 41 minutes of music (not too shabby) and came with a pre-order of the three records (and is available on Soundcloud as well).

The first three songs are by Off World and the first two of those are remixes.  The original “Wonder Farm” is dominated by popping drum sounds.  There are some other sounds that go through the track but the base is mostly a kind of slow Asian melody.  The “Wonder Farm (Summer Crop)” mix removes those snaps and percussion entirely.  It focuses just on the music, which I have to say is far more enjoyable without the bangs.  “Primitive Streak” is a slow droning piece, while this compilation’s “Primitive Streak (Silver Mix)” doesn’t sound all that different.  It also removes the drums, and highlights the squeaky synth sounds and the overall drone tone.  It seems to emphasize and de-emphasize different instruments but otherwise sounds pretty similar. The final track  “Lost Meadow” is a pretty, delicate piano based piece with some twinkling of spacey synth notes.  It’s easily the prettiest piece.

The three Automatiste tracks do not quite follow the same naming convention as the actual disc, although the first track is called “Simultanéité 5.” It has slow beats and is basically two-note washes building on top of each other.  “Fragments continus” is a noisy piece with layered thudding drums (like heartbeats especially around the 1 minute mark) and drone noises that wash in and out.   About half way through what sounds like a melody appears amid the din, but it feels like it formed organically around the synths and drums which is pretty cool.   “Le Silence 3” opens with some jackhammer sounding drums and then almost easy listening synths.  The juxtaposition is interesting and by the end the song feels nicely dancey.

The final three songs are from Jason Sharp.  These three are quite different from his album because they really feature the saxophone to a larger degree.  “Plummeting Veins” opens with a heartbeat and some rumbling sax (that sounds like the opening of the Speed Racer TV show).   This track is under 2 minutes, the shortest he’s done by far, and the way the heartbeat speeds up as the sax plays some low rumbling notes is pretty cool. “Hear a Fading Cry” is a much longer number.  The heartbeat is quieter but the sax is much louder.  It sounds a lot like Colin Stetson in the low rumbling and noisy barking that the bass sax can produce.  It ends with some rather high-pitched squeaky sounds that I assume come from the sax, but which I can’t imagine coming from such a bass instrument.  It’s 7 minutes long although it takes almost 2 minutes to really get going.  And it swerves between loud and rumbling and then sort of menacing by the end,  “Ride On Into the Sweetening Dark” is perhaps the most conventional of Sharp’s songs.  It is a series of sax solo lines over a gentle tinkling backing drone.  Some of the solos lead to noisy wailing, but for the most part the line are pretty and jazzy.

It’s interesting how different these bonus tracks tend to be from the actual releases.  I enjoyed listening to these variants to see what else these artists are capable of.

[READ: April 9, 2016] Sardine in Outer Space 6

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

The inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers).”  This is the final Sardine book.  And while I didn’t enjoy the first book much, by now I’m sorry to see the series end.

This book also has the fewest stories in it (only 9). (more…)

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sardine5SOUNDTRACK: JASON SHARP-A Boat Upon Its Blood [CST119] (2016).

Layout 1Constellation records had been rather quiet this year in terms of new releases.  And then back in August they announced three new discs with this intriguing blurb:

Constellation’s three new fall releases by Off World, Automatisme and Jason Sharp are dropping on September 30th…  These new releases are wildly different yet satisfyingly leftfield albums that share an electric thread of sorts.  Electronic music strategies, technologies, histories and sensibilities come into play, in very diverse ways, with each of these debut records – making them stand out a little differently in the context of the Constellation catalogue perhaps, but also informing one another and making a lot of sense to our ears as an album trio (somewhat in the spirit of our Musique Fragile series).

This is the third of those three.

Jason Sharp has written this disc as “music written for amplified heart & breath,” and Sharp is credited with “playing” amplified heart, feedback, synthesizers and bass saxophone.  Other instruments listed are Pedal Steel Guitar, Violin and various percussive instruments.

From the Constellation site: “Using custom-built equipment to translate breath and heart rate into variegated sonic triggers, along with other modes of signal processing and in tandem with traditional instrumentation…[the album] deploys the human metronome of amplified pulse as a recurring undercurrent, with compositions that incorporate electro-acoustic and musique concrète strategies, drone, noise, electronics, methodical dissonance, tone poem, layered rhythmic and melodic figures, and improvisation.”

The disc opens with a trio of songs: “A Boat Upon Its Blood Pt.s 1, 2 & 3”  Part 1 begins with some quiet drones and pulses and what sounds (if you think about it) like water running through pipes or blood through veins.  It also like plectrum hitting strings or a musical rain stick.  The songs build in intensity until a pulse that sounds a lot like a heart beat (which it should) ends the track. This heart beat segues into Part 2 which is dominated by violins.  The violins seem to alternate between drones and dissonance with the pulses seeming to beat a bit faster in parts.  As this track ends, a martial beat takes over the drums, and that segues into Part 3 which has more drone sounds.   About midway through, new percussive sounds come in, changing the tone of the piece entirely.

Track 4 is “In the construction of the chest, there is a heart” is the most interesting of the bunch.  It has what I assume are several different heart beat sounds modified to create different percussion under various droning sounds. It really exemplifies the “heartbeat” aspect of the piece, which I thought would be more prominent in the disc overall.  The second half of the song is full of swishes and scratchy sounds which I certainly hope are the sounds of his blood pulsing through his veins.

“A blast at best” is a noise piece which sounds almost like the heart beats have been put through an autotune.  Midway through the song comes the bass sax playing some farting and pulsing sounds that add an interesting  melody to the sloshy noises.

Tracks 6 and 7 are another multi-part song “Still I sit
with you inside me Parts 1 and 2.”  Part 1 opens with a much more pleasant, albeit somber violin.  Slowly the heartbeats grow louder and more prominent.  The pulses increase and decrease although not necessarily with the intensity of the music.  The violins swirl and ebb, growing louder and more intense and then fading and seguing into the last track which opens with pretty guitars and accompanying violin.  About halfway through the song, the heartbeat resumes.  It come pulsing into the song louder and louder, dominating the whole thing.  And then with a few seconds left it builds a wall of feedback and noise that gives way to a cathartic echo.

This would be another string candidate for NPR’s Echoes.  Have you heard this, John Diliberto?

The disc notes that the piece was inspired by the Robert Creeley poem, “The Heart,” which I have included at the end of the post.

[READ: April 9, 2016] Sardine in Outer Space 5

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

The inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers).”  For the first time, Sardine was created without the help of Joann Sfar.  And I found this one to be my favorite one yet!

It seems like Sardine has really hits its stride with Book 5.  The author is having a ton of fun playing around with pop culture and with the idea that the characters know that there are books about them. It’s still a little weird that Supermuscleman is really the only bad guy and that he is always coincidentally where they show up, but that’s clearly not the point of the comic, right? (more…)

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sardine4 SOUNDTRACK: AUTOMATISME-Momentform Accumulations [CST118] (2016).

Layout 1Constellation records had been rather quiet this year in terms of new releases.  And then back in August they announced three new discs with this intriguing blurb:

Constellation’s three new fall releases by Off World, Automatisme and Jason Sharp are dropping on September 30th…  These new releases are wildly different yet satisfyingly leftfield albums that share an electric thread of sorts.  Electronic music strategies, technologies, histories and sensibilities come into play, in very diverse ways, with each of these debut records – making them stand out a little differently in the context of the Constellation catalogue perhaps, but also informing one another and making a lot of sense to our ears as an album trio (somewhat in the spirit of our Musique Fragile series).

This is the second of those three.

From the Constellation site: “Automatisme is the electronic music project of Quebec-based producer William Jourdain, who has been self-releasing a brilliant series of albums and tracks under this moniker since 2013, exploring various intersections of drone, dub techno, electronica, ambient, electro-acoustic, and noise.”

This album is, indeed, very drone, dub techno, electronica, ambient, electro-acoustic, and noise.  There are six tracks: Transport 1, 2, and 3 and Simultanéité 3, 1, and 4.  The Transport tracks are all about 5 minutes and the Simultanéité tracks are all about 9 and they are interfiled on the record.

“Transport 1” seems to be all about the thumping drums. The synth lines are fairly simple and serve to propel the song along as almost an ambient dance track.  “Simultanéité 3” opens with some mechanical drone sounds and a beeping almost like a heart monitor.  The beeps change and then a new drum beat is added while fiddling synths tickle along the top of the song.  Things slow down and speed up and the track reminds me a lot of something you’d heard on NPRs awesome Echoes program.

“Transport 2” is more about drums. There are several different percussion themes going on–fat repeated drums, the main steady beat and then some low synth that runs through pretty much the whole thing.  “Simultanéité 1” is a drone song with a drum sound that is like a heart beat.  About a minute in the note changes and 30 second later the song takes on a different texture and pulse.  It remains largely ambient for most of the song.

“Transport 3” has more percussive sounds that make this track much faster than the others. The final track “Simultanéité 4” has what sounds like voices (although I assume they are not) echoing underneath the slow pulsing rhythms.

While the track listing alternates between drum heavy tracks and more mellow tracks, the whole disc has a very chill vibe.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Sardine in Outer Space 4

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

This time the inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers),” and this book had some of my favorite cartoons yet.

“Under the Bed” has the kids getting lost under Little Louie’s bed and finding all the monsters that hide there.  But Sardine’s adventures are so scary that the monsters don’t stand a chance trying to frighten him–they’re even a little afraid of Sardine, too.  Of course the kids have someone who they can go frighten. (more…)

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sardine3SOUNDTRACK: OFF WORLD-1 [CST117] (2016).

Layout 1Constellation records had been rather quiet this year in terms of new releases.  And then back in August they announced three new discs with this intriguing blurb:

Constellation’s three new fall releases by Off World, Automatisme and Jason Sharp are dropping on September 30th…  These new releases are wildly different yet satisfyingly leftfield albums that share an electric thread of sorts.  Electronic music strategies, technologies, histories and sensibilities come into play, in very diverse ways, with each of these debut records – making them stand out a little differently in the context of the Constellation catalogue perhaps, but also informing one another and making a lot of sense to our ears as an album trio (somewhat in the spirit of our Musique Fragile series).

This is the first of those three.

Off World is a collaborative project featuring Sandro Perri. As the Constellation site reminds us:

Over the past couple of years, Perri has been letting us in on a fascinating treasure chest of strange and enchanting collaborative sound recordings – rich in deconstructed melody, interplay between acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and pointillist and aleatory composition techniques. … Off World 1 is alien electronics played humanly, with real-world accents throughout. 1 was conceived almost entirely during a 2-day session in London: a meeting orchestrated by producer Drew Brown between himself, Perri, Susumu Mukai and M J Silver after learning that Perri was a huge fan of both Mukai and Silver’s work. A bounty of raw material featuring mostly vintage synthesizers – EMS Synthi, Syntorchestra, Prophet 5 – was later abetted by violin, banjo, harpsichord, guitar and piano. The result is genuinely exploratory and peculiar sui generis instrumental electronic music that sounds like it could have issued from any time in the past 40-50 years. Off World resists easy categorization: not ambient “easy listening”, not strictly “improvised”, not “retro” – but eccentrically absorbing and soothingly mischievous as it charts its own sonic trails.

There are 7 songs on the disc and they are all variants on a kind of electronic/alien sound.  “Primitive Streak” has trippy synth lines and a slightly quavery “solo” over a simple drum beat.  “Old Brain” has a kind of staccato guitar part that plays through quickly.  It is later matched by “New Brain” which explores the same rhythms in a different way.

“No Host” is 80 seconds long  full of simple almost otherworldly synths (it reminds me of Close Encounters). “Extraction” has some loud ominous chords that surge and the recede.  “Choral Hatch” sounds both underwater and other worldly.

The final song, “Wonder Farm” sounds unlike the other songs because it is full of these snapping drum sounds–seemingly at odd intervals and not playing any rhythm (it sounds like fireworks going off).  The music also has hints of Japanese music but it seems overshadowed by the crashes.

Of the three I like this one best because of its varied sounds.

[READ: March 31, 2016] Sardine in Outer Space 3

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

This time the inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers),” and I found that I enjoyed book 3 quite a bit more than the first two books. Perhaps it is because I have read a few more First Second books by Sfar and have grown used to his style and humor.  Or perhaps the stories have just gotten better. (more…)

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bourbonSOUNDTRACK: RAQUEL SOFIA-Tiny Desk Concert #395 (October 11, 2014).

raquelRaquel Sofia has been a backup singer for Juanes and Shakira and has no come out front to make really catchy songs about breaking up with people.

She sings in Spanish (although her English is excellent) about love and loss and the blurb correctly notes “it’s hard to believe that feeling bad can sound this good. ”  Her songs are all acoustic, but with a fiery punk flair (to match her partially shaved head).

Of the first song, “No Me Importas,” she says she wrote this song about a guy who didn’t call me.   It is a rollicking fun song which starts out with a big HEY! before rocking out.  Her voice is awesome–loud and powerful and for this blow off song, she’s got a great sense of bite in her voice.  And again, for a break up song it’s really fun and even has a with a clap along section

“Agridulce” (which means Bittersweet) is a more mellow ballad.  She says she was in a relationship and was about to get dumped.  Too much damage had been done to say she was sorry so she had to write a song.  She says it’s her next single.  It’s a pretty song and at he end, she says that the look on his face when she told him she wrote the song made the trouble worth it.

She says she wrote “Te Amo Idiota” which means “I love you, Idiot” in the darkest, darkest hour of her life.  It’s an impassioned song.  Not quite as fun as the others, but really good.  The end is really great.

She wasn’t expecting to do a fourth song, but they ask her to and she plays “Hombre Como Tú.”  She says she was mad at a guy and was sure she was never going to see him again.  So she wanted to make sure he knew exactly what she thought about him.  We never find out what he thought of that one.  She says it’s her next single (even though the other song was also her next single).  It’s incredibly catchy and even if you don’t know what she’s saying.

Hearing how great her songs are, it make me want to have a bad break up with her so she can write some more great songs (especially since I wouldn’t know what she’s saying).

[READ: June 11, 2016] Bourbon Island 1730

I joked with Sarah about the disclaimer at the beginning oft his book which says that “Bourbon Island 1730 is not intended to be a historical account.  It is a fictional narrative, freely inspired by historical events.”  And I joked because one of the main characters is a bird and the other looks like a dog or something.  So clearly not historically accurate.

But I soon learned that this is a more or less accurate account of piracy  and slave trading around Bourbon Island in the 1730s.

Although as with a lot of Trondheim’s books I found this one to be lacking focus somewhat.

I wasn’t always sure exactly what was happening.  And one of the problems to me especially was that the book deals with racism and slavery, but it wasn’t always clear who was who because the characters were animals–how do you depict racism with animals if the animals don’t seem to conform to a race? (more…)

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