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Archive for the ‘Snuggly Books’ Category

clarkSOUNDTRACK: JOHN CONGLETON AND THE NIGHTY NITE-Tiny Desk Concert #551 (July 22, 2016).

congleton 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…)

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blueblue SOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-A Quiet Evening at Home (2013).

quietIt seemed like Martin Tielli was done making music after his (so far) final solo album in 2009.  He has been focusing on (gorgeous) visual arts since then.  But then in 2013, Tielli along with Jonathan Goldsmith, Hugh Marsh and Rob Piltch recorded another Nick Buzz album (cover painting by Tielli)–possibly their last as well, but who knows.

This album is almost entirely mellow, with beautiful slow pieces and delicate singing and instrumentation–with some exceptions.  The biggest exception is the first song and single (with video) “The Hens Lay Everyday.”  It is unlike anything else on the album.  It is a weird, electronic fast song with pulsing beats and funny lyrics (and a crazy video).  It’s kind of a shame that it’s on this album because I want more music like that.  But the rest of the album is also wonderful in a very different way.  This song just doesn’t fit.

Beginning with the second song, the album is a beautiful album of wonderful ballads.

“This is Not My World” is a delicate guitar song with simple keyboard washes.  Martin’s voice even sounds different on the song–I almost didn’t recognize him until the last few verses.  “Milchig” opens with a buzzy violin (that sounds almost like a fly).  Tielli did this song with The Art of Time Ensemble (it was called “Moglich”).  It has a gentle guitar and Tielli’s keening voice and spoken word–“he had given me ‘the relax.'”  There’s several sections in this song, and I especially like the slowly lurching middle section.

“Sea Monkeys” opens with some delicate chimes and underwatery sounds.  And once again, Tielli’s voice sounds different.  I love this peculiar song about ordering and “growing” sea monkeys.  He says he only wanted plankton or krill but during that evening, the sea monkeys started building their city, and after 4 and a half minutes, the song turns somewhat more sinister with a section about the Crustacean Monkey Queen.  The delicate music grows harsher and more mechanical sounding.  It’s pretty intense.  And it coincidentally relates to the book below.

“If You Go Away” has a vaguely Spanish guitar feel to it.  It’s a very delicate, slow ballad (I should have realized it was an old song written by Jacques Brel) with strummed guitar and gentle percussion.  It has a lounge feel as well (the romantic lyrics aid in that style).  It was recorded live with audience clapping at the end.

The mood picks up a little with the next song, “The Happy Matador.”  It’s played on acoustic guitar with flamenco-esque runs.  It’s a delightful song even if lyrically it’s a little dark.  “Eliza” is a darkly comic song with a kind of circusy feel.  It opens with accordion, adds a violin and basically makes fun of a woman named Eliza, with the great last line: “The only incredible thing about Eliza is the terrible terrible music she inspires.”

“A Quiet Evening at Home” opens with some strange noises like Circo did, but this is an older, more mellow album and they quickly give way to some pretty, delicate guitar chords.  About two and a half minutes of gentle chords are disrupted by a noisy saxophone and some manipulated spoken words.  This process repeats itself for about six minutes of mellow, slightly weird, but really enjoyable music.

“Uncle Bumbo’s Christmas” continues in that delicate vein, but this time with actual words.  It has gentle echoed guitar and some occasional strings.  It’s not exactly a Christmas song although the lyric “I love everything about Christmas, except Christmas” is decidedly ambiguous.  There’s beautiful overlays of vocals and guitar for the middle two minutes of the song before it resumes with a slightly more uptempo and much more catchy end section.  This song gets better with each listen.

“The House with the Laughing Windows” opens with a tinkling piano melody.  It hovers between ominous and dreamy.  I like the way the song gently, almost imperceptibly, builds over the course of its 4 and a half minutes.  And I love the way the guitars start playing louder as if the song is going to build to something bigger but it never quite does.  John Tielli plays theremin on this track.

“Aluminum Flies” is a slightly louder song which is much more meandering and ends with what I believe is the sound of windshield wipers.  The final song is the lovely “Birds of Lanark County.”  It opens with chickadees chirping and a beautiful delicate acoustic guitar melody from Martin.  Michele Williams sings lovely backing vocals.

It’s amazing how different this album is from Circo–same band members but an entirely different style, and a simply gorgeous collection of songs.

[READ: November 25, 2015] Blue on Blue

I had never heard of Quentin S. Crisp before (he’s not to be confused with Quentin Crisp, the British raconteur who died in 1999).  Except that I knew he contributed lyrics to the most recent Kodagain album.  But I received an advance copy of this book with Brendan Connell’s latest book (its publication date is December 15 (from Snuggly Books)).

This story was fantastic (in both senses of the word).

The story is told in 5 parts.  And what I loved about it was that the central part of the story is a fairly conventional story about love and loss, and yet the other four parts frame the story with an other-worldliness that is almost familiar, but not quite.

The story begins with the statement “I am a citizen of the ASAF, the Alternative State of the American Fifties.”  There’s a footnote attached which explains that the ASAF “ia an artificial history zone ‘reclaimed’ from sunken parallel time.”  This is a potentially worrisome beginning to a book to be sure, and yet the book does not go through any rabbit- or worm- hole, this is simply the set up for the story. (more…)

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