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Archive for the ‘Torture Porn’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MOGWAI-Ten Rapid (1997).

The release of this disc hot on the heels of Young Team rather confused me, especially when trying to keep track of which discs were “real” and which ones were compilations.  This one is a compilation.  It’s subtitled: (Collected Recordings 1996–1997).  And the fact that it has ten songs on it tells you just how much they released in those two years.  (It appears that they released 4 or 5 singles, although all the songs don’t seem to appear on Ten Rapid, and there seems to be a song or two unaccounted for.  Wikipedia also suggests that some of the songs were re-recorded for Ten Rapid.  Gosh, what’s a completist to do?).  And given all that they released back then, it’s also a surprise at how short this collection is  (just over 30 minutes).

The amazing thing is how much the disc sounds like a complete recording and not a collection of singles.  It is mostly Mogwai’s slower, quieter pieces, and the overall tone is one of “mood” rather than “songs.”  And, for those of us who thin of Mogwai as a really loud band, the prominent use of glockenspiel comes as something of a surprise (as does the quiet singing on two of the tracks).

The opener “Summer” is not the same as “Summer [Priority Version]” on Young Team.  This one is a beautiful track with glockenspiel while the YT version is much heavier and darker. “Helicon 2” (also known as “New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 2”), is a wonderful track with an interesting riff and texture.  On a recent live disc, it was expanded greatly. “Angels vs Aliens” and “Tuner” are the two tracks with vocals.  They’re both rather quiet and kind of soothing.

“I am Not Batman” is mostly washes rather than a riff based song.  “Ithica 27ϕ9” is one of their best early songs. It’s also the one track here that really experiments with sound dynamics.   It opens with a beautiful melody that swirls around for a bit.  Then the loud guitars come screaming out until it returns to that melody (and all in under 3 minutes).

The final track “End” is an entirely backwards recordings.  Wikipedia says that it is “Helicon 2” backwards, and I’ll take their word for it.

Ten Rapid is a really solid collection of songs showing just how good Mogwai was from the start.

[READ: March 8, 2011] Donald

This book is a speculative piece of fiction that answers the question: what would happen if Donald Rumsfeld was sent to Guantanamo Prison.  Note also that the cover is a parody of the cover of Rumsfeld’s own memoir (released around the same time).

The main character is clearly Rumsfeld, although he is never mentioned by his full name, always “Donald.”  But his description and his biography make it obvious that it is him.  There is a Note at the end of the book which states that the information about Donald is as accurate as possible.

First we see Donald in a library, presumably working on his memoirs.  He is accosted by a young kid who asks him questions.  Donald is annoyed by the kid and more or less blows him off.  Donald then has a fancy dinner with his wife and “Ed and Peggy” (two people who I can’t place historically).

That evening, masked people break into Donald’s home and haul him off to a prison (he is bound and his head is covered so he doesn’t know where).  The rest of the book sees him taken from one prison to the next, tortured in various ways (nothing too graphic, most of the torture consists of thinks like disrupting sleep, keeping the temperature really hot or really cold, and asking him lots and lots of questions, sometimes for 20 hours at a time.  There is no physical torture (again, it’s not graphic). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT-I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too (2008).

I’ve been a fan of Loudon for years.  I also rather enjoy Rufus.  So why not check out Rufus’ sister Martha and see how she stacks up in the family canon.  Actually, it’s not fair to compare because she is an entity all to herself.  And indeed, I feel that she sounds nothing like her family (maybe a weeeeee bit like Rufus, but not really).

In fact, I find that Martha’s voice rests comfortably between Mary Margaret O’Hara, Jane Siberry and, somewhat surprisingly, Patti Smith.

Lyrically, the title of the album pretty well tells you where she’s coming from: smart-assed and a little pissed off.  But the real question is what kind of songs does she actually write?  Well, the second song on this disc “You Cheated Me” is so strong and so catchy I was convinced it was a cover.

The rest of the disc is an exciting collection of styles: baroque arrangements, pop folk, and even straight ahead rock.  There are times when the songs are not so much difficult as cantankerous: with her vocals reaching extraordinary heights.  But it’s not just Martha showing off her range, the vocals work very well with the lyrics.

She also adds two covers on the disc: Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play” which she takes some of the weirdness out of but which adds a bit of her own eccentricities to it.  (It’s a great cover).  The other cover is the Euryhthmics’ “Love is a Stranger” which doesn’t sound like a cover until the chorus kicks in.

I feel like the disc is a little long (somehow it feels like it should end after “See Emily Play”) but that’s not really that big of a complaint.  Even though Martha sounds like others, she is still quite a unique presence, and this is a worthy CD for anyone who likes quirky singer songwriters.

[READ: Week of March 1, 2010] 2666 [pg 353-404]

I was bracing myself for a horrific section here.  The Part About the Crimes is 280 pages of women being killed in graphic detail. Well, that turned out to be not exactly true.  At least so far.

Nevertheless, the Part is largely filled with crime scene details about the many many women who died in the Santa Teresa region between 1993 and the beginning of 1994.

For my sanity I’m not going to detail all of the young women who were killed in this Part.  I know someone on bolanobolano is detailing all of the deaths in the book, so I’ll assume that that is dealt with there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT-4 songs from My Space (2008).

Since the author of one of the stories below is the singer in this band, I thought I’d listen to them and see what they were all about. With a name like that I was expecting some kind of hardcore band. And that is NOT this band! They don’t have a record out yet, but they have some songs on MySpace here. The first song “Sometime Around Midnight” made me think of a couple of bands from the 90s: The Church and Midnight Oil, and possibly The Alarm. The vocals are mixed loudly in the mix, and there is an earnestness about the vocals which made me think of those bands. The second one, “Papillion” has a keyboard solo (!) over some fairly raucous simple melodies. The third song “This is Nowhere” is a fun indie rocker with a good staccato riff and a cool/spooky chorus harmony. And the fourth song “Innocence” was rocking and bouncy. I can’t get over the use of keyboards on songs where you wouldn’t expect them. I enjoyed these songs quite a bit, and will certainly check out the CD when it’s released.

[READ: May 30, 2008]: McSweeneys #27

This volume contains three books in a slipcase. Even though each is a small paperback, the overall package is quite nice. The slipcase has many tiny holes in it to look like skyscraper windows (or Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti). (more…)

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Yesterday, I engaged in a discussion about the term Torture Porn. In a recent review (see The Translation of Father Torturo below) I used the phrase and then retracted it. Torture Porn is a phrase that I’ve been reading about a lot lately with regard to a new spate of horror films. So, why do I retract the observation about the book, which was quite violent and included scenes of torture? The torture porn genre of film seems to be about pushing the envelope for what you can do in a film. This has always been true of movies, in which filmmakers must make everything bigger and better. Whether the jokes are funnier or grosser, whether the explosions are bigger and louder or whether the horror move is scarier or grosser (the other kind of gross). Torture Porn is a lazy phrase. It’s a quick way to apply a label to something complex. I admit it was lazy of me to throw out the term for the book, and there’s really no excuse for laziness, except for being lazy. When the Friday the 13th movies started multiplying, each sequel needed to outdo its predecessor with something even more disgusting (remember the 3D one that had the popping eyeball?). (more…)

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torturo.jpgSOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-Saturday Night Wrist (2006).

wrist.jpgThis is the latest Deftones release. It is a bit more atmospheric overall than the other ones. The dynamics of the record are still there, but aside from one of the more thrashier songs, they don’t seem to be as heavy, overall. Nothing wrong with that, in fact, it really showcases a catchier side to the band. It’s fun to see how well the heavier aspects can become accessible. Overall, I think the album is great, with each song having a great hook. It took a few listens for me to really get into it, but I’m now hooked.

(more…)

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sacred.jpgSOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-They Can’t All Be Zingers (2006).

primus.jpgSuch a great name for a greatest hits album. I’m delighted to know that Primus is still fun after all these years. How on earth they were every popular is simply beyond my comprehension.

[READ: May 2007] Sacred Games.

Here’s a link to Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games blog.

Whew, I thought this day would never come, but I finished Sacred Games, and what a trip it was! (more…)

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