May 10, 2010
It took two or three times to get into the Cocteau Twins. It was worth the effort for sure. They made their way as a staple of my daily playlists when I was 19, and it was also a good starting point to get more into the Gothic side of Darkwave music (some of which even my dad would appreciate). By the time 1984 rolled around, they had given Will Heggie the boot after their debut “Garlands”, a record that had more in common with goth and post punk, and “Head Over Heels”, done as a duo with Robin Guthrie pushing the sounds into more ethereal territory where they would soon hone and refine their newly found style on their third record (and widely considered their best across the board), “Treasure”.
This record also included a staple to the ensemble, Simon Raymonde. Heels found Elizabeth Frazer reaching new heights with her vocal delivery, but this record really solidified the whole “voice of an angel” title she has recieved. Along with some other notable 4AD acts, this record is sort of the quintessential go to album when referring to the genre title “Dream Pop”. Head Over Heels still contained a lot of that post punk dissonance, and the overall production sounds more enclosed for lack of a better word. Treasure sounds like it was recorded in a big empty mansion, with the space that the sound reaches. Some of the vocal tracks doubling over in songs like “Beatrix” are just perfect. The abrasive drum loops are still there, especially in “Persephone”.
Like every other record, lyrics are to be ignored. Its sort of how Dead Infection wrote lyrics for all of the songs on “A Chapterbook of Accidents”, but the singer just gurgled every song, no words, just gurgles. The nice thing about this record is it doesn’t blow its load with the first few songs. Some of the best tracks are hidden near the end of side a or beneath on side b. The songs that can define a genre are here, songs like “Pandora” and “Aloysius” and “Otterly” is what I love most about this album. I’ve probably thought about putting Aloysius on a mix-tape for a girl and then decided against it because they probably wouldn’t understand. The opening track “Ivo”, is named after Ivo, head of 4AD. Wouldn’t have guessed huh?
My personal pick for a Cocteau record is probably Heaven or Las Vegas. The sound on it is dreamy, but focused within invisible confines. The sound on it is a little more geared towards mainstream, but like I care. It was the first one I really got into, and it was also the hardest one for me to get my hands on. I have most of every release of theirs on 4AD, minus one 12″ or so. If you want to buy it for me, that would be real swell, but I won’t hold my breath. If you read this, you’ve learned something a little bit. Now when you hear Poor Souls you can say, “Hey. I know that band”.
Cocteau Twins used the most pop-driven chord progressions, using the major first and ivth to get that sound that so many of your favourite indie bands or beardpunk bands live off of. They’re often cited as a proto-shoegaze outfit of some sort but when I think about the gaze, I think about bands using a lot of progressions that were popular in the 60s psychedelic sound, while Cocteau took what was more current but just draped it in so much lush swirling noise and almost industrial sounding percussion, that no one could really tell that beneath all of that lied a simple pop structure.
Similar Haircuts: This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance, Lycia
January 19, 2010
I live with a pal, and he is my best pal. Slowly but surely, I have been turning him on to the wondrous world of Death and Black Metal. Though he doesn’t realize the genius of Arising Realm by Ragnarok, he is getting there. Unfortunately he has been duped into thinking Entombed are really good, specifically Left Hand Path. I don’t know if this is my doing, but I don’t think so. I hardly listen to Entombed, because they aren’t that good. I mean, Left Hand Path is a cool record and a Sunlight staple (but clearly, the best thing recorded there was Soulside Journey by Darkthrone), but Sweden has been home to more than just Bergman, gorgeous women, and ikea: It has had many essential DM bands come out of there, but a lot of bad ones too (I think its referred to as the Gothenburg sound? [See: At the Gates]). Because I love my friend and because I hate you, I’m going to present to you:
5 Swedish DM Releases that are Better than Left Hand Path.
I present this in no real order, so here we go!
1.)Therion – Of Darkness
This was the first full length serving from a band that would go on to make a couple great DM albums, and then move on to the icky world of Operatic and Symphonic Metal. If we ignore than and just focus on “Of Darkness”, we will find ourselves with 40 minutes of violence. Something about this record, probably the production and strong vocals, make it sound overly vicious and chaotic. Released in 1991, around the time that DM was becoming more technical, there is a bit more here than just straightforward riffage, but its not overblown or fretless bass (See: Individual Thought Patterns). A highlight of the album is the intro to “Time Shall Tell”, a slow brooding intro (a little typical of Swedish stuff), but with an excellent interruption by the vocalist. A suburb to Hell has some amazing gurgle vocals, but “Asphyxiate With Fear” is probably the highlight of the record. The intro sounds like an outtake from Human, but is sent over the top with breakneck speed to follow. (Further Listening – “Beyond Sanctorum”)
2.)Megaslaughter – Calls From the Beyond
I always forget this band is from Sweden. That is because every time i put on this record and hear the second track “Raise the Dead”, I swear they’re from Finland. Not to worry, because some of the fast riffage gives this the Swedish seal of approval. Speaking of the second track, it shares the name of a Bathory song, and the vocal pattern where they say the title is on par with the Bathory track. Probably on purpose if I had to guess. This album’s pace is all over. They have some incredible mid paced parts that sound like a heavier Celtic Frost or muddier Obituary. The slow doomy parts are what make it sound Finnish, the guitars sound tuned low, and that can be fun. They never dwell, and keep it going, making returns to previous riffs within a song but that’s typical of metal and sometimes welcomed, but they stay on top of it. The only problem you could find with this record is the Metallica-length, with the half of the songs clocking in at over 5:30. This record is absolutely crushing and (at the risk of sounding cheese), sounds evil. The first 1:30 of Raise the Dead will you have you moshing, as will the intro to “Death Remains”. (Similar Artists – Convulse, Accidental Suicide)
3.)Necrophobic – The Nocturnal Silence
Even though they took their name from a Slayer song, they play top tier blackened death metal. Released in a high time of Death Metal (1993), the production of this album is exceptionally well done without sounding overdone or hammy. Their lyrical content has more in common with black metal or at least other DM bands that sing about occult subjects and hell. Its one of those albums in the genre (along with world without god or the ending quest) that truly creates an atmosphere that is talked a lot about among all BM bands. (Don’t listen to the song which they take their name from, Slayer are not a good band)
The only LP by this band, much like Calls From the Beyond, it sounds heavy. The memorial is a perfect example of fusing technical aspects with amazing melody, but still maintaining a huge sound without wimping out. The lyrical content is also quite melancholic. A lot of the lyrics have to due with despair and isolationism, which is a refreshing change. Apparently the band filed bankruptcy after this record was made, but I don’t know why. I’m not sure if this album is overlooked but an album like this is what Swedish Death Metal should mean to people. A lot of doomy parts in these songs. They took the idea of melody and used it just right, and didn’t just become a metalcore version of Iron Maiden (See: At the Gates). You’ll be hard pressed to find similarities in this to Tampa Death. (For fans of : Middle era Bolt Thrower)
Anti-Mosh 001. Strange that this would be the first release on Deathlike Silence because there’s nothing blackened about it. Just straight up Death Metal with a hint of trash in the mix (a hint is the only amount that should ever be present). Not to mention, you’d think Euronymos would want to put something Norwegian to begin with on his label. Oh well, he made a good call. This record has riffage that reminds me of something out of Brazil or early German thrash (You can’t deny how violent Kreator sounds on record sometimes). Anyway, the drums have too much echo and the guitars sound a little weak (like before slayer met Rick Rubin [when they could have been good]), but somehow when its all put together, it’s just right. The more I listen to it, the more it does remind me of Kreator. I guess that’s ok. That would help make sense as to why Euronymos would want to put it out, since he felt Kreator was one of the best black metal bands ever (Just go with it). This album is fucking fast, and thats why I wanted to include it. 27 minutes of carnage. (Further Listening – Kreator)
January 15, 2010
In light of talking about songs that break your heart, I think I’ll try to do the opposite and talk about the positive side of music, though there shouldn’t be one. I present,
Don’t Kill Yourself – Three Songs to Give Your Bipolar Disorder an Upswing
1.)Sophisticated Sleaze: Any Major Dude by Steely Dan.
I always kind of dismissed ‘Pretzel Logic’. I know that its good, and its considered one of the top classics amongst Dan fans, but a lot of the songs just bore me. I took a second look at it, and the album as a whole isn’t great. but side one is somethin’ else. With a heavy 70s style song like ‘Night by Night’, Steely Dan show on their third record they still know how to rock the Al Bundy style (though this obviously pre-dates him, shut up). There’s an almost sweet called ‘Rikki Don’t Lose that Number’. Like all Dan songs, its all how you look at it. It can either be about a gay man leaving his lover, and the song is his lovers letter to him. OR you can look at it as drug addiction and the habit a man is trying to kick, and its the drug speaking to him. Either way, its as close as Steely Dan can come to being sentimental or writing a love song. “Barrytown”, a song about prejudice. Looking up Barrytown, I found out its a small town that was purchased by the unification church. So easily, we can draw the conclusion that this song is about the religious folks in this town, but on a grander scale, the Dan is reminding us about how racist everybody is. But moving on to what I wanted to talk about:
The Song “Any Major Dude Will Tell You”, is quite a shining moment within Steely Dan’s book, for me at least. The delivery is simple, the hooks are there and not overdone (for a song by them), and while the message is blurred, its a positive one in my eyes. Basically its about seeing someone dishelved, who might be feeling that weight of the world we all feel sometimes. The main lines from the song go as follows:
“Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend; Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again. When the demon is at your door, in the mornin’ it won’t be there no more. Any major dude will tell you.”
I think what Steely Dan are really talking about in this song is about drugs. Maybe I say that because most of their songs are about drugs, because they did drugs, a lot of drugs. But I’ve always enjoyed ignoring things involving drugs for similar meanings. I know that when I listened to this song the first time, it lifted my spirits a bit, and my spirits have permanantely sunk into the depths of the river of shit that is my existence.
2.) Only Human : An 80’s Pop Excercise against Suicide
When I was a kid, like 9 or 10 or 11, my stepdad gave me a 2-CD greatest hits of Billy Joel. I listened to it until the songs were etched in my head like scars. This copy included an 80’s single called “Only Human (Second Wind)”. I remember my stepdad telling me about the song, because he loved it, because he gets really excited on positive messages. He told me about the music video about a kid on a bridge, thinking about falling, and the ghost of Billy Joel shows up and shows him what would happen if he did it. The video is a laugh riot in the best way. Someone once told me they thought it was dumb and cheesy and it really pissed me off. The song reeks of the 80’s, and good. The 80’s is better than 2010, and everything you listen to. The idea of the song is “Hey, you’re fucking up now, but hang in there, because its always darkest before the dawn”. I wouldn’t see the video until I was a teenager and it was great. I still love it, I have the 45 w/picture sleeve on top of a window sill with some other of his 45’s because Billy Joel knows more about being on the brink of death than any of us, mainly because he tried to commit suicide by drinking some sort of drain cleaner. Something poisonous. The B-Side doesn’t live up to this side, so we don’t have to talk about it. Sometimes I wonder if Billy Joel has ever been happy. A lot of his songs are depressing or at least bittersweet, and just last year or sometime, he went back into rehab for drinking. I have a Rolling Stone interview with him from 1980 where he talks about top 40 hits from the 50s and 60s and 70s are great, and he just seems to jaded on rock and everything Rolling Stone wanted to talk to him about. I did learn though that he got the idea from “Vienna”, when he visited his Father there and realized there are places that are there for you when you’re old and you’re done everything and ready to settle down and die. I remember listening to that song when I was 18 and it reminded me of my first girlfriend which was sorta icky, and I’m not sure if I’d still apply the song to her. If her life is too busy, shes making up for all the things that I’m not doing. I mean, someone has to.
I don’t have much to say about this because it should just be heard for itself. I don’t like Hot Water Music like I used to. I only really care about 2 LP’s and an EP. I don’t like Chuck Ragan’s solo material. Its boring. Sorry. But, he wrote “Driving Home”, so it doesn’t really matter what he does, because he wrote “Driving Home”. Its one of those songs that gives many men with beards chills all over their overweight flesh. My friend Joe sent me No Division, and though I don’t listen to it hardly ever because I hate punk, and my roommates band is just a third rate HWM, its still amazing. There are people who read this blog who are too hip for beard rock, but it should be heard. But you won’t so just read this, dickhead:
“razor blades are hard to hold when we’re hit in the heart with problems that won’t shift it’s hard to admit that we’re afraid when we’re hit in the head with unanswered questions that repeat “how could i ever live after this day” we can take the hits and grow tougher collect ourselves to live longer and find there is no need to be afraid because we all have more to offer when we struggle to cope with whatever it takes to make the says we all have what it takes to make it home”
January 6, 2010
Since I suffered my first real broken heart at seventeen, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect heartache. Whether it be in story, song, or film. I have found a lot of things on my travels. I can show you movies that will bum you out hard, I can lend you books that will make your stomach sink, and I can show you songs that will you send you batting the bulb in your basement. I found the perfect heartache, and I decided to share it with you faithful readers of 3 or 4: Side A of “Late for the Sky” by Jackson Browne.
I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Jackson Browne, but he easily one of the greatest songwriters of his time, based on his early material from the 1970’s. His lyrics put Bob Dylan’s attempts at introspection to shame. Talk about putting yourself out there, Jackson Browne’s songs are personal on such a level that we hardly hear, at least without coming off cheesy. My first exposure to the name came from reading a Stephen King book which had his name and shortly after, “sloppy lipstick blowjob” within the same somewhat context. Luckily while most people’s first exposure is probably the version of “These Days” by Nico, mine was “Nobody’s Baby”. Of course, “These Days” is a better starting point because it was written during his personal period. While she recorded in 67? somewhere around there, it wouldn’t be heard by him on record until 1972 on “For Everyman”, a brilliant record with beautiful songs and some genius lines. I mean we all know the words to These Days but c’mon: “Don’t confront me with my failures. I have not forgotten them”. Perfect. Just Perfect. Perfect on a Red House Painters level. I have a live album where he talks about recording that song with Nico, and using an electric guitar because Andy Warhol wanted a more modern sound (even though he put strings in it), and forgot that he let someone use it in a movie and being in a theater and hearing the song and thinking, “Hey I used to play like that”, then realizing it was his song. I don’t talk much about Jackson Browne because I don’t want Colin to listen because he’ll ruin it for me, but I’m over it. Anyway, I’m gonna talk about Late for the Sky.
The Album, his third release came out in 1974. It peaked at #14 on Billboard, and Martin Scorsese used songs from it for his film, “Taxi Driver”, which is kind of a bummer. I’m not putting down the movie because its one of his 3.5 Shining moments in the world of film (Raging Bull being the other, Mean Streets and Goodfellas gets a .5 [because its only good from an entertainment aspect, so yeah fight me]) but when I think of the lyrics I don’t want to think of Robert DeNiro being all introverted and creepy taking girls to sex films and shaving his head and his physical regiment and the “You talking to me” scene that was perfectly parodied by Moe Syzlak. The album is 8 songs, and the first 4 are the best but the whole album is actually great. If I crushed on a girl and she said “make me a mixtape” I’d probably put “For a Dancer” on it, buried somewhere on side 2. A tender song about death and optimism. Anyways, I’ll give a rundown on the 4 songs and then I’ll tell you about how I’m a wuss:
1.) Late for the sky starts off this side of a record about past love, failed love, and heartache. If you’ve ever been in a strained relationship, you’ll hear this and know whats up. Wondering how it started and how it got to where it is and why its there. Simply put, “You never knew what I loved in you, I don’t know what you loved in me. Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be”. This song brings up essentially all the possible things you think when you are in something on the fritz? Do the words you say have meaning? Coming out of the fake dream that you could make things better or good again or to begin with. “Awake again, I can’t pretend,That I know I’m alone, And close to the end of the feeling we’ve known. How long have I been sleeping? How long have I been drifting along through the night? How long have I been dreaming I could make it right, If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might, To be the one you need?”
2.) Fountain of Sorrow is one big river of sadness. A song written about his wife who would commit suicide by overdose on sleeping pills a couple years after this album. Simply put, the song is about coming across a photograph of a lover. To me, it feels like two people together, but on seperate plane’s. One more in than the other, the idea of thinking things are good but really they couldn’t be further from that. “When you see through love’s illusions, there lies the danger, and your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool. So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger
All the loneliness seems to spring from your life, Like a fountain from a pool.” Another line I quite like is “I’m just one or two years, and a couple of changes behind you in my lessons at love’s pain and heartache school”. Its one of those lines that makes me think about how hard we try to reinvent ourselves after a breakup or a loss. I wrote about it in a song, and made boys and girls weak in the knees once.
3.) Farther On. A song about the day to day struggle of being who you are. Putting yourself out there to get no results, or just to get it pushed back in your face, emotionally speaking. The first verse is perfect: “In my early years I hid my tears and passed my days alone. Adrift on an ocean of loneliness, my dreams like nets were thrown to catch the love that I’d heard of In books and films and songs. Now there’s a world of illusion and fantasy in the place where the real world belongs”. He touches on memories of past love, and the idea of sharing yourself with someone, and realizing there are ones just like you but sometimes they might stop to listen to you too. While these things come and go, and you’re often left with the mess that is yourself, you don’t give up. You keep going. It gets awfully boring being alone, hanging out with yourself, writing blog entries about people who write about being alone. Whoops.
4.) The Late Show is my favourite of the four. Everytime I hear it, I feel my spine crawl and I get chills. I’ve never heard a song that rang more true than this. A lot of ideas are presented in this song, that I almost just feel like its best to just put the whole song right here:
The last chunk of the song, is epic in a way that its almost hard to process. I’ve had so many instances standing somewhere wondering what to say to someone. I’ve often blown it, and learned from it, but a lot of my experiences have left me jaded. That’s why the first part of that song is so perfect. How many times do you pass someone and they ask how you are, strictly due to the formalities. We don’t inconvenience them with any real troubles because they don’t care. No one wants to know your true feelings. Think about all the times you say to someone “I’m good thanks”. Most of my days are spent holding back bile because sometimes you just wanna go off about some little frustration, but we hold it back. Everyday I try to keep quiet, I hear myself speak and wonder why I am using precious breath. This one day, I was walking home from some errands back in Oshawa, and I was listening to this song. It might have been in October. Yeah, October because I remember my hands were cold and I hadn’t bought gloves yet. By the time I reached the end of The Late Show, I had reached my house, and I had to hold back tears over what I had listened to. It was so weird, because I had become the casual listener in the summertime but I guess I never really paid attention except for Fountain of Sorrow. Its an album where, if you let it, it can slay you.
January 1, 2010
When I was a kid, I loved Kiss. Whoops. If I said I wasn’t drawn in by the gimmick, I’d be a liar. I liked the rock music, I had every album they released from the 70’s, I’d buy Kiss Magazines that were released during times of their reunion tours, I’d get bummed that I didn’t get to see them live. I had pay per view VHS tapes of reunion tours. I had a bootleg copy of Kiss Meets Phantom of the Park and I watched it at least 5 times, which is 5 times more than anyone should watch it. I had taped specials of them off much-music and whatnot. I had the Kiss action figures that each came with a letter of the band. I had them set up as a mantle piece shrine style thing. I liked every cd I had. I used to draw the letters and faces everywhere on my schoolwork. I had a Kiss trivia game, and I used to have all of the original Kiss trading cards that were released in the 70’s, but they might have been lost forever. I could tell you all sorts of useless facts and tidbits about Kiss, and you didn’t care because you didn’t even like Kiss to begin with, but you had to listen. As I aged a bit more, I slowly fell out of my love for them, and it shifted towards Billy Joel. Thats probably when I started to feel emotion and less of that boyish goodness.
Every once in a while I go back to some of their records that I have on vinyl. They still tour but you’re a terrible person if you go or support anything they’re doing now. They’re not a band anymore, they are just an entity that sucks up money. When they had the original four, it sort of made sense. It was cool when they did their first reunion tour and wore the Alive outfits, and then the Alive II outfits on the next tour. Now its Gene and Paul and two hacks who got lucky, one of the hacks being the former filler of shoes after Eric Carr’s death. They played Oshawa, and people were crawling out of holes in the wall to either hop on the bandwagon or go because they are too die hard for their own good.
When I was a kid, my least favourite album was probably Hotter Than Hell. Now its my favourite of theirs. Its the one I can throw on the most. To be honest, the only ones I can really tolerate front to back are the first two. Everything I disliked about it when I was a kid is what I love about it now. The opening song, “Got to Choose” sounds like it was recorded too slow for its own good and it drags, and it sounds perfect. To me, the album sounds like an amazing mess, as it should. They recorded this shortly after moving to the west coast, and like every sane person on the west coast, they hated being there. I guess it doesn’t help being NY Natives, which is equally awful, but on their first day there, Paul Stanley’s equipment was stolen. Yuck. The production of this record is muddy as fuck to put it plainly. For someone on a somewhat big label like Casablanca, do you think they aimed for this kind of production or was it the best they could get. Their first record, which probably did better in numbers at the time, sounded cleaner, more slick, which is saying a lot because even that record sounds thin and watered down. This one isn’t thin. Its crunchy, or whatever. A song like parasite, played with just the right amount of slop, is a song almost too dark for its own good. “Parasite Lady, Parasite Eyes”. Doesn’t get much better than that. “Goin’ Blind” always seemed kind of stupid to me, because of the whole “I’m 93, you’re 16” line, but I understand the point thats being driven. The song is just good. A sad bastard ballad that has great lead parts due to the guitar tone Ace had on these songs. I can’t really describe whats on it, mainly because there are parts that sound doubled and it works perfectly. If you ever have a chance, The Melvins did a great cover of this on their album, “Houdini”. Hotter than Hell is easily one of the best rock songs ever. The first instance of filler comes on the 5th track, “Let Me Go Rock n Roll”, which isn’t terrible, I just don’t care about it. Its a staple among Kiss greatest hits CD’s though. Trust me on that one, I had like 5 probably. “All the Way” is one catchy riff machine. Kiss had a lot of songs that sounded like this. “She” is a great example, and most of the songs that sound like this are amazing. “Watchin You” is a banger, “Mainline” kinda sucks but the solo is kinda ok, “Comin Home” sounded way better on Unplugged but its still tolerable, but don’t despair, because we end with “Strange Ways”, a song heavier than anything Black Sabbath did. Wah. A great solo by Frehley, that beats out anything by Iommi. I’m not trying to pick on Sabbath, even though their records are over rated, I still like em. I pick them because we think of Sabbath as heavy, but not Kiss, but they had moments like this.
These days I am rediscovering songs I passed over in my earlier years. These days, I enjoy songs that are sad sack, sappy, well constructed pop songs. Kiss had those in spades, and no i’m not talking about Beth, dickweed. I’m talking about songs like Shand. A great track off a terrible record, that had some life surged back into it on their Symphony record. One of the saving graces of 80’s Kiss is the song “Forever”. Echoey drums in true arena rock style, acoustic guitars, and catchy hooks. Another great song from the 80’s that sounds like Kenny Loggins could have just used it is “Reason to Live”. One of the greatest things we can take from the 80s are achey breaky songs by Hair Metal bands. “Crazy Nights” of the album sharing the same name is another catchy 80s pop song, and it has a spoken part over a lone guitar and tom/snare and it might as well be a fucking Youth of Today song. You could make a tape of these songs and call it “Songs that could have been in Paramount movies from the late 80s/90s AKA Waynes World 1 and 2”. “Turn on the Night” could have been on Born in the USA if you took out pinch harmonics and it’d be more fuel for Brucefans to cry over. Songs like these carry more weight than “Still Ill”. Another good hair hit is “Tears are Falling” from Asylum. Lick it Up, however is still a bad song.
You can find some interview footage of Kiss during the Dynasty period with Ace drunk off his ass, walking off the set and coming back with a Teddy Bear. Manny Ramirez is the Ace Frehley of the MLB. Out in left field, but damn can he play.
I’m still waiting for the day Low covers “I Still Love You”. Maybe I’ll do the solo on it. Its probably uncool to like Kiss, but no one seems to care about Brand Nubian or Bauhaus either.
December 15, 2009
I don’t talk much about my deep rooted admiration for football on this blog because most people who read don’t like to watch sports because their peers will look down on them for it. Its the price you pay to like music that is terrible.
Anyway, I watch football, and I read football blogs, and I listen to Football Podcasts. I watch sportscasters when I can talk about football. I have a broncos t shirt, and a colts t shirt that is a bit too large that I tuck in a la Mike the Mosher, but I make a point of not leaving my house when I do so. The fact of the matter is, I love Peyton Manning. I’ve made a point of following his career closely since I got myself back into the game a few years back after being jaded over the departure of John Elway from the game for way too long. While some people don’t believe, Peyton Manning is the best Quarterback in the game right now, and has been for a while. Not to mention, I am positive he is the nicest guy you could ever meet.
You’d think being a game and a bit away from having an NFL career stat of 50,000 Yards in passing, having a 90+ rating ever year for the past 10, topping Unitas in a franchise record, being the only QB with at least 12 wins as a starter in 7 consecutive seasons, having the most 300+ passing yard games in career and seasonal (speaking within the confines of the franchise) and so on and so on would leave a man like him with a bit of an ego. You’re wrong. I’ve never met him but based on interviews and press conferences he seems too humble for his own good. But we all know, those kind of things are watered down by team pressure and press agents. But if we look at Manning’s commercial career, we can use simple Syllogism to draw a rough conclusion:
If Peyton Manning plays a nice guy on T.V, and commercials are Gospel, we can assume Peyton Manning is the nicest guy alive.
You need proof.
If more people were like him, and gave words of encouragement after mistakes, there would be less suicides. Maybe not, because people would still hang themselves after listening to Xasthur records.
Going on the same theory, can we conclude that Tom Brady is the worst person alive because he does snickers commercials, and ad’s for cologne? Answer: Yes. Not to mention, if you take away Randy Moss, hes a run of the mill QB, and his QB rating is lower than Peyton Manning’s. If you need further convincing, Peyton Manning writes to retired football athlete’s congratulating them on great careers and all of their achievements. Talk about being a fan boy. He is just like me writing an email to Mike Kinsella when I was 16 and getting a short dickhead response back.
I want to give an honorable runner up mention to Brett Favre. Brett Favre is Football. Talk about someone who just wants to play. After his long successful tenure with the Packers, he had his brief stint on the Jets, and people thought he would finally give up. When it came out that he would be suiting up in Minnesota this year, people had their doubts. The train to hop on this year was the hating on Brett Favre, because he doesn’t have that skill anymore. For someone who doesn’t have that skill, hes scraping along I suppose with a “measly” 11 Wins – 2 Losses year, with 3000+ yards under his belt, and his chances of having a successful post-football career in the world of commercials is hopeful:
Not being afraid to put your flaws on display. A+
Maybe theres a rigorous screening process to find the suitable candidates for something like this. I mean, we never saw Plaxico in commercials. Now he is in jail. Just food for thought. I want to take you back twenty years ago, to a great commercial, thought lost forever. I was too young for it back then:
And then his wife filed for divorce and he made this commercial not too long after. Maybe days or so after:
Knowing that, the commercial hits you a bit harder. You feel it, that’s pain.
Anyway, we roll on near the end of the season. With only a few games before playoff’s, we can keep our fingers crossed that the Superbowl will be The Saints and The Colts. As long as the chargers choke as usual, and Denver can at least squeeze in on the Wild Card tip, I will have had a good year. A good year in the realm of football at least.
Lastly, my favourite:
December 14, 2009
After not having the internet for too long, I’m back, and I thought it is only fair to upload something to make up for the lack of awesome. Here is an unfinished piece I have been working on for nothing.
Robert Altman is an american director, making his major impact in the early 70’s, having a bit of a tough time in the 80’s and then made a great comeback in the 90’s. People refer to his films as “Naturalistic”. Altman examines people, and their interactions, using the plot as a shotty framework, just to bring these characters out into the open. This is definitely seen in movies like “The Player”, “Nashville”, and my favourite movie of the 90’s “Short Cuts”. His execution is very stylish, using what seems like a lot of tracking shots revolving around these characters. Altman was very good as playing up the idea that “Everyone has a dark secret” in movies like The Wedding, and used it to observe the culture of our times, especially on the west coast of America, and to observe the politics of things such as hollywood and country music. He made his splash into mainstream success with “MASH”, and had critical success with “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”, “Thieves Like Us”, “Nashville” and has made other great movies such as “3 Women”, “Secret Honor”, The television mockumentary “Tanner ’88” and so on.
With this obsession with examining everyone under a microscope, it makes for great dialogue along with some exceptional personal commentary. With the range of topics his film career has examined, we see a little bit of Altman in every scene.
From just a mere observation of Tanner ’88, a mockumentary about a political figure running for president in the primaries, it seems Altman wants to drive home some sort of point of an aloofness politicians have, a contrived sense of pride that they feel they’re selling short to get ahead. We look at Tanner’s speeches and his campaign ads, focusing on his handsome face and the quotes of well established historical figures, and we learn that we have no idea where Tanner stands on anything. Perhaps even Tanner himself doesn’t know where he stands on anything. It makes you think about the idea that the candidates are getting further away from the party, and the voters are simply voting for a person, not a platform. Tanner 88 doesn’t just examine the political aspects, it covers a lot of human interactions and exchanges of emotions. Strained conversations between past lovers, current family members. At times we almost see a disconnect from Tanner and his daughter. His ignorance of her ability to drive, leaving the room and closing the door behind him while she asks to watch the news coverage after their release from prison, which we can see she considers one of her finest moments. Of course the best part of Tanner 88 is FUCKING HARLOW PLAYING.
A movie like Nashville, a great movie. From the first dimension, it serves as a tour of the country scene. We then see a candidate running for president, that is, we see his signs and a member of his campaign, and we see the arranging of a concert for said candidate. He is supposed to serve as someone Perrot-like. There’s definitely some commentary over the country scene. It can easily be figured out by knowing that the country scene had quite the frowny face over it. While it does show the tension between race, between fellow musicians, their obvious slant towards the right wing of the spectrum that more than likely passes the centrist radius, I get more interested in the raw interactions between people. One of the best examples of this is a male musician from a folk trio, who is yearning to go solo. His exterior shows a great amount of indifference and a tendency to use women for sexual and carnal release, who he is usually quick to dismiss. One exception is the wife of a local southern man, who he almost begs to stay in bed with him, and to show his cool exterior, he grabs the phone to call another woman, as if he isn’t phased one bit. I’d say he is.
Short Cuts is 3 hours of exactly what i want. Interaction and conversation. I love Short Cuts to the point where I call it my favourite movie of the 1990’s. Its based on the writings of Raymond Carver. Raymond Carver is one of the greatest American short story writers. His stories take a look at blue collar emotion. A lot of the stories are heartbreaking.
I have a friend, and he loves two things. One is long lasting, and one is a current addiction that he can’t quite kick. These two things, are Film Noir and Robert Altman. From these two things we can draw one conclusion: “The Long Goodbye”, is incredible.
Its true, but before we dive in, I’ll give a little bit of background on Noir. Film Noir was born during the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema. It was more than simple crime dramas. It built on expressionist elements and crime-mystery/detective pulp novels to deliver some of the most intricate and complex movies of its time. These differed from the current wave of crime gangster movies, because films like “The Public Enemy” or any Cagney film for that matter, or something involving Edward G. Robinson seemed a little fluffy compared to movies like Laura, or The Big Sleep. While most films had some sort of detective at the forefront of the movie, usually our protagonist, it wasn’t always needed. One of the greatest noir’s and for that matter, one of the greatest movies of all time, “Double Indemnity”, found us following a man working for an insurance firm, ready to pull off the perfect crime (murdering her husband to look like an accident for one heck of an insurance settlement) in order to be with a woman who shares a wolflike love for him. For a second, I’ll just say, Billy Wilder made some of the coolest noir films without having to use a detective as his central character or premise.
Sunset Boulevard will always be a noir to me, which follows an obsessive and delusional silent film starlet who is trying to make her comeback using a bit of a hack writer who she has grown an unrequited love for. We’ve already touched on double indemnity. Ace in the Hole follows a newspaper writer spinning an accident to make it into a spectacle, to get him back on top of the best new york newspapers. But we can agree, our anti-hero’s are hard boiled, one way or another. These films delivered a slice of lost morality, and tended to be on the very bleak side of life. We call them anti-hero’s because they are not without many flaws that manifest themselves throughout the picture. Some of the most notable noir’s of the golden time were films like Out of the Past, The Maltese Falcon, Murder, My Sweet, The Asphalt Jungle, The Lady From Shanghai, The Third Man, Key Largo, etc etc. Also, see Stray Dog if you can from Japan. My favourite Noir is Vertigo. Whether you consider it Noir or not, its one of my favourite movies, so yeah, go me.
Now that I haven’t really established anything in the world of Film Noir, let me blow it again
Now I’ll talk about The Long Goodbye. This movie is great. Its probably one of the best neo-noir films, and just as a landmark, I’ll use 1959 as the final year of Golden Age Noir, or maybe just the release of “Touch of Evil”. This film is up there and possibly tops Chinatown, or Blade Runner, or Blue Velvet, or Breathless (even though its too stupid to be a noir). It also might be one of the coolest reworkings of a Chandler novel, and for that matter the character of Phillip Marlowe.
Elliott Gould plays Phillip “Marlboro Man” Marlowe, a detective who drives his friend to Mexico due to a fear of being accused for murder. Marlowe, knowing his friend is good people, obliges and enters into a world of hurt. Upon returning home, he’s scooped up, booked, and waits in limbo after finding out Terry Lenox’s wife is dead. At times, it doesn’t even matter what the plot is sometimes, you can just watch Elliot Gould and be amazed. As the Marlowe character, he puts a whole new face to the name. We think of the Marlowe played by Humphrey Bogart or Dick Powell, and we think of that mold that’s been cut: A man who is stone, hard boiled. Then we see Gould’s portrayal. A detective, who is almost bumbling, but sharp as nails, with clever wit, and he just doesn’t fit in. His wit often getting him jerked around. It never stops right from the start when the cops show up at his apartment, to in the interrogation room where he tells the Lt. that “its a pleasure” to meet him, rubbing the fingerprint ink all over his face, never taking anyone seriously. Almost childlike, Roger Ebert said he is sometimes more of a hardy boy than a private eye. Placing his nose against the glass, standing near the water on the beach and running away from the water as to not get wet (which can be seen against a glass window if you open your eyes for a second). Its so neat how Altman smacks him against the California backdrop. He is always in dark colours, mostly black, and usually the only one. He is the only one ever smoking, and he is surrounded by free thinking, “Me” Generation people. A great example is his neighbors who are drug using, yoga doing, exhibitionists. He plays off everyone, the woman Eileen who hires him to find her husband, a Hemingway-esque man’s man who makes Marlowe look like such a boy. Their dog barks at him, and only him amongst a sea of people. Why Altman chose to present Marlowe like this is almost clear, but I don’t know for sure. I can think about Altman’s contempt for Hollywood, and possibly just the people on the west coast. Sort of like Steely Dan. Perhaps we are just supposed to feel like Marlowe doesn’t belong, and that would explain alot. It would contribute to the string of betrayals he faces. It makes more sense when he is referred to as a born loser in the film. Maybe we’re supposed to feel a sense of decay of the lifestyle that Raymond Chandler wrote about. If we think like that, there is a bleak element to this movie that is hidden well, but easy to see if you look for it.
Just on a quick side note, there is one thing that makes this movie extra incredible. The constant playing of the song, “The Long Goodbye” and its variations. There’s almost a different version for everyone. The opening scene, we hear the instrumental playing over Gould’s introduction and his hilarious interactions with his cat, to when he gets in his car, which is in contrast to a different version when they cut to Terry Lennox, to when Marlowe walks into the supermarket, to hear an elevator-style version. A version played flamenco style when they drive to Tijuana. The doorbell on the Wade residence that has the tiny melody. Its perfect. Its the only song heard except for “Hooray for Hollywood”, which is played at the beginning and the end, which just gives another hint to Altman’s theme of disrespect towards Hollywood.
Fun Fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this, doesn’t say anything, and has a mustache.
An important thing to remember is that even though Gould’s character is often bumbling and seems like he is too small for the shoes he must fill, these feelings can all be washed away by one of the greatest endings in the history of cinema. As he stares at Lennox as he dribbles his excuses, Marlowe just stares at him coldly. You can feel the fridgidness, like battles in the north or something by Graveland. The coolest thing about Marlowe, is that its never implied he carries a gun. I mean, we assume he does due to his profession, but we never see him fight back, we never see him exert any real force, or any sort of inclination that he is some sort of tough guy. Is he? I don’t know, but when the firing shot rings out at the end, you know the score.
I’m sorry if you read this. There will be a part two probably, once I have more to say.
September 2, 2009
I don’t visit my friends often. Once a week or twice if they’re lucky. I have a lot of free time on my hands when I’m not at work, so a nice way to watch time pass in between games of Donkey Kong is research! Whether it music, movies, literature, arcade history, its all quite fun. Lately, I’ve been trying to dig into the vast genre of Black Metal in hopes of finding bands that sound like a mess on tape. I can name you only 50 or 60 bands, and of those, maybe I like 15? If all black metal bands sounded like the second Darkthrone record or select songs by Mutiilation, then I’d be an obsessive, but they don’t. They toy with folk music, viking and norse mythology, and the quality of albums released by groups like every other genre gets worse and worse. Interestingly enough, sometimes we get lucky, and with the quality of music failing it corresponds with the degrading effort of album covers, that turn out to be hilarious.
Now I know most laugh at corpse paint. I think its fun, I mean Misfits and Samhain did it along with devilocks and leather clothes, and I don’t hear many people talk negatively about it. King Diamond looks bad-ass in his glory days, but I can’t really say he does now. Maybe its the same for whole genre. In the early stages of the second wave, it acted well as a gimmick. Here we had these bands writing some raw, cold, primitive metal often shouting pro-satanic lyrics, so an image that helped them look hellish would only seem proper. I mean, Kiss didn’t look hellish, but it had many middle aged women scared shitless. Imagery is key in all forms. I mean, do you think if Mayhem played early live shows, without impaled animal heads, throwing guts into the audience, without any makeup, and if they never had Dead smelling dead crows and wearing rotting clothes, do you think people would give them the cult status they have now? I don’t know, but I’d guess not to the degree. Alice Cooper was HUGE on theatrics. Beheading on stage! And the python and stuff. Theatrics is key. And I mean, same thing happened with him I suppose. In the 70’s, he released a few wicked albums such as Killer, Love it to Death, Welcome to My Nightmare, Billion Dollar Babies, and School’s Out, but not in that order. I remember being a kid and having a CD or 2 or 3. No Shame in my game. But look at him in Wayne’s World. Not Scary. An old man in leather with black around the eyes with a whip. I’m sure if your grandpa showed up in leather and had a whip, you’d rip your dick off, but only from guaranteed hilarity. I guess the only problem is that sometimes artists don’t know when the art they produce becomes stale. They most likely believe it to be good. Bolt Thrower released maybe 7 or 8 albums in their time, the last one being 4 years ago. I haven’t heard it, and I probably won’t listen to it. I like a bit of B.T every now and again but I’ll stick to the gems I’m familiar with, but there are people who like their stuff, and maybe they did an ok job at keeping things somewhat status-quo, but they planned to record one more record last year and decided not to. They realized they have nowhere to go but down so they called it quits. Why doesn’t this happen more often. I could live a happy person if Ragnarok only released their second LP, “Arising Realm” instead of trudging through a couple more and releasing an album that contains one of the dumbest album covers ever: Blackdoor Miracle
Guns and Black Metal don’t mix. If he had a sword, I’d get it but still think it stupid. I mean, their first 2 records, full of Pagan pride and setting Satan high on a pedestal and they refer to ancient beings or entities such as dragons. I don’t know why the gun bugs me so much but it does. Maybe they felt they had to step up their game with something new, because its not like Immortal released an LP holding Uzi’s. Can I talk about Immortal for a second?
Immortal were and are seen as a big player of the second wave. Rightfully so, I love their first two LP’s. The first one had a cool album cover. Someone breathing fire, while the other 2 members are visible but only in outline. Nice. The second, “Pure Holocaust” featured a black and white portrait shot, very clean, very crisp. Its neat in that if featured a band in full getup quite tastefully. And then they went downhill in quality, not only in music but in cover art. Their next album had two members in front of a white backdrop.
The end result is a very confusing cover. Here are these 2 guys, in leather and studs and white and black face paint, surrounded by white. I mean, I get the idea. Battles from the north, its snowy in the north, you can see their feet printing in the snow, but I mean, you can’t have some sort of blue sky. You took a cold, dark persona created by the first two records and ruined it. I’m sure if people were passing by this photo shoot, they’d laugh.
Blizzard Beasts is worst. They sort of watermarked a shot of them over a snowy passage, and they are making the most ridiculous power-metal/Butt-Rock style expressions, which furthers the cheeses into 5 year old cheddar territory. Skipping over one more release that didn’t feature them on the cover, we are treated with another for Damned in Black.
If someone see’s this and takes their tough or scary or wicked expressions (describing some left to right) for serious, and doesn’t see the joke, I’m sad. A similar cover would be featured on Sons of Northern Darkness with the exact same tough, scary, wicked expressions left to right. The poses and expressions differ a bit, and we see the middleman has a wicket goatee and someone did a bad job of putting blood on his arms but oh well. They have an album coming out later this month, but the cover doesn’t feature them. As you can guess, I’m bummed. Maybe I hate these covers, along with ones like it (like the Ragnarok one) but I don’t have anything else going on, so I need these things to have fun with.
Going back to an idea I presented before, stepping up a gimmick, if bands do this, it usually means they know their albums suck. I mean an average live show by KISS in the later part of the 70’s was extravagant. When they saw their art dwindling with giving the boot to Criss and Frehley, what did they do? Scrubbed off the makeup and embraced the sounds of 80’s hair rock. Kiss’s catalogue for the 1980’s/1990’s is pretty much a failure, and you can take it from me, a man who’s inner child is a die-hard Kiss fan. Maybe the 2 went hand in hand. People were drawn to the gimmick, but not to mention they had some pretty fun rock and roll songs. I had a sociology professor who said “Kiss is just a garage band but with costumes” and he isn’t far from the truth, their sound was very basic rock with guitar solo’s. I guess though, through the history of music to the bands we listen to today, some have relied on more than just their songs to get them to the level of success they have gained or are trying to attain.
Some bands have gimmicks that serve for certain people to never check them out. Shining from Sweden promotes suicide and self harm, with self mutilation being a key part in their on stage performance. The singer has gone on record claiming that their music has assisted in the aiding of people killing themselves, and that’s a triumph for him. I watched this stale documentary that featured them and he mentioned he hates life and hates living, so I can’t see why he continues to live. If you look down on everyone around you, and refer to women as whores minus 4 or 5 exceptions, why plague yourself with pain? He presents an idea, and old idea, which is what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you try to kill yourself and survive perhaps you will experience higher stages of enlightenment. The french movie Martyrs toyed with these ideas, the ideas of torturing someone to the point where they can transcend our time; Leave their body and experience something that is unworldly, maybe in a vision but with a total detachment from everything around you, and then being able to relay the experience afterward. Martyrs, while a tough movie to stomach from a visual perspective, is even tougher to bear from a psychological one with the ideas they provide. It had Joe and I thinking for days.
I don’t buy into it. But, from an outsider looking in, this is a sub-genre worth looking into just from an interest point of view. There’s a whole genre that goes under “Depressive Black Metal” and I don’t know where it started but the earliest artist I’m familiar with that played this style is Strid. Strid were from Norway, and they’re considered to be the first DSBM. They’re good. The idea behind this genre I suppose is slow-doomy black metal, but it seems it has to be accompanied with depressing or nihilistic lyrics. Their well known song, “End of Life” would probably help with that idea. I’d relay the lyrics, but I can’t find them anywhere on the net.
But look at a band with a silly name. “Make a Change…Kill Yourself”. They play DSBM, and the common theme throughout their songs is “Life on Earth is painful. Everyone around us is worthless. Lets kill them, and then kill ourselves”. The lyrical content shows them ultimately choosing death as a solution. Seems like we should be looking more at this stuff than Judas Priest 20 years ago.
(I still think this is awesome.)
But I will say, there’s a Canadian act from Quebec called “Sombres Forets” who play that style of slow black metal, and I likes it! It reminds me of the slower parts of Burzum building on atmosphere and shrieking vocals. Quebec has been good for Metal acts. Like Gorguts or Kataklysm or Cryptopsy and such. Also, Canada is home to one of the finest first wave Black Metal acts, BLASPHEMY.
I don’t know what I”m really trying to drive home with this. Something for Colin to read and giggle at excitedly. Its important to branch out and check out lots of stuff. Whether it be alt-rock or alt-country from the 90s, Drone or Sludge, or Goregrind (Impetigo and General Surgery are best, next to Carcass, Necrony is also good, Regurgitate is cute, Rottest Slag are fun) or just Grind (You only need Agathocles and Napalm Death along with a couple others [Terrorizer and others duh]), or Mambo like Tito Puente (I have an album I quite like, will be checking out this genre more in depth soon, so expect a full report), Finnish Death Metal (Better than most Swedish, Convulse is great), or Shoegaze, or Goth-rock, or Power Metal, or French Black Metal, or New Wave/Dark Wave, or whatever. Its fun to check stuff out. Last time I saw Colin he told me of an all girl hip hop record and I thought that was cool to hear. There’s definitely a couple great girl-hoppers out there.
Let me also take a minute, to thank Jason for my copy of Songs For a Blue Guitar. Plain records released this, for its first time on vinyl. The layout is great, gatefold and all. The notes are quick and to the point on the specifics of the record. The album is dedicated to Katy. Its nice to have this on vinyl. I’ll cook up a Red House post soon. Also, leave comments with suggestions for future posts.
August 28, 2009
A super-group formed. Born from an idea originally intended for Modern English. This idea manifested itself into an underground force comprised of the best 4AD records had to offer that churned out 3 spectacular Dream Pop records. Or Goth records. Or Darkwave records, call it what you will, there is no denying its impact.
This Mortal Coil was the brainchild of the head of 4AD records, Ivo Watts-Russel. 4AD was quite the label in its heyday 1980-1994. Though the early 90’s were sort of weak on releases, Red House Painters alone makes up for any crap act they might have pressed. 4AD was responsible for releases from Goth-Rock heavyweights such as Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and would be home for The Cocteau Twins, Pixies, A.R Kane, Dead Can Dance, Pale Saints, Lush and many others. Originally, Ivo wanted Modern English to re-record “Sixteen Days” and “Gathering Dust” as a medley since they were ending their live shows with those two songs, but the declined. Ivo then recruited members of Cocteau Twins, Colorbox and Cindytalk to record it. The B-side was a Tim Buckley cover, “Song to the Siren”, performed by Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins. The strength of this cover made its way on to the A-Side of the 7″ release, with a reprise of Sixteen Days being the B-Side. From the success and reception of this, Ivo made the right call to further pursue this idea and make an LP. The first LP, the subject of this entry, is “It’ll End in Tears”.
This album would set the trend for the other two LP’s that would follow. It consists of covers of a wide range of artists, from Singer-Songwriters to Post-Punk acts that only occurred a few years before this. This record preceded “Treasure” by Cocteau Twins by a month, a record that would become a staple in any fans collection, often in top 3’s of fans, yet dismissed quickly by the band. The Twins had released their Spangle Maker EP, a significant release because it would foreshadow the direction Cocteau Twins would take, hinting at their abandoning of goth/post punk roots and more processing pop sensibilities through ethereal means.
From start to finish this record is a few things, but all things solid. Its a sad tale, starting and ending with a whimper. Using the power of other people’s words, this album holds true to its title. This is not a record to be taken lightly. The first three tracks are enough to make you crawl into a ball and hide beneath the covers. Side One opens with a very much organized take on Kangaroo by Big Star. Its a perfect beginning to this 44 minute dream-like opus. The original version of this song is to say the least, a mess. It was from Third/Sister Lovers, which in itself is a mess on the whole. A good mess mind you, but this song was one of the weaker parts of the album, and This Mortal Coil breathed life into that was never there. Following this we have “Song to the Siren” which wouldn’t be anything new to already acquainted fans of this group, seeing as it was on the first release by this group. But touching on this song, hearing the original from “Starsailor” they play it very similarly but with much more space and atmosphere and Fraser’s angelic voice definitely suits it more than Buckley’s baritone bore. The second of the two Big Star covers follows, “Holocaust”, sung by Buzzcocks/Magazine front-man Howard Devoto. So far we’re 3 for 3. This piano-driven song is very pretty. The focus becomes on the voice while the piano sounds oh so distant, slowly making its way back to the forefront. The Piano line flows much nicer and doesn’t sound like a turtle struggling to keep moving forward. Another thing that makes some of these songs successful in execution is the orchestral aspect to them, using strings to thicken up the sound beautifully. The next song, the first original/instrumental on the record “FYT” is conceived by Ivo himself along with John Fryer, but performed by Mark Cox and Martyn Young and this resembles the 4AD sound fans would have come to know at this point in time. Drum Machine with samples creating a dark landscape drenched in synthesizer and other effects. One could argue these kind of songs to be some of the basic groundwork for what industrial would become. Maybe. I’d have to look more into it but I don’t want to. Flowing from one to another, Fond Affections is up next. This was originally by Rema Rema, which was only a few years before this. A group that released an EP on 4AD, the members would later go on to form The Wolfgang Press. Its sung by Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk, but it sounds like a woman. I don’t know what to tell you. We’re at the end of Side One, we close with Instrument and Incidental entitled “The Last Ray” performed by Robin Guthrie, and new member of Cocteau Twins, Simon Raymonde.
Side Two starts with a song that is drastically different from the original. Another Day, a somber folk song by Roy Harper turns into a Violin/Viola/Cello driven song topped with Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals. This is one of my favourite parts of the album. Its the strings that really gives this collective life of its own, and not making it a run of the mill goth rock project on a goth label. It gives it life and room to move around and not get buried beneath better things. Following this, we’re treated to the first of two songs by Lisa Gerrard. Its my understanding that this song was composed by her. Beneath the title “Waves Become Wings” in the LP, it only mentions her name and credits her as the only artist on the song. Lisa Gerrard was 1/2 of the band Dead Can Dance, a band that defines acquired taste if you ask me. They took elements of post punk and goth rock along with dream pop and channeled it through songs that would better be suited under the genre of World Music. A talented woman, with a powerful voice, that’s for sure but I’ve never been able to stomach her group. This song teeters more along the lines of ambiance with a minimal arrangement that sounds large. If i’m right, there are no proper lyrics to this song, in fact no words at all. Lisa Gerrard doesn’t go away, and stays on the next song by taking the role of just looped accordion on “Barramundi” with Simon Raymonde handling the duties on guitar and dx7. Another song that sort of foreshadows later Cocteau Twins circa Victorialand and their instrumental LP “The Moon and the Melodies”. This side deals less with constructing dream pop songs persay, and tends to blend together into movements. Up next, “Dreams Made Flesh” another song that credits Lisa Gerrard with yang t’chin (I believe to be some sort of cymbal, possibly Tibetan or perhaps Middle Eastern) and vocals. If this is a movement this is the 3rd part, the last part. After this we’re back to the dark wave sound most will be craving at this point with “Not Me” by Colin Newman, formerly of Wire but this song was taken from his solo career. This song sounds like something you would definitely hear on a new wave radio station at 1 in the morning. It features vocals by Robbie Grey of Modern English. This track is good, I might like it more than some of the Side One songs, but for me its the weakest part of Side Two. But with saying that, I prefer side two of this album. It feels much more original in its approach, branching out from the 4AD sound to more of a Brian Eno influenced ambient style, without being too bare or boring, and with a healthy dose of creativity. We end on “A Single Wish”, with a quick appearance by Gordon Sharp on vocals, this song seems like a nice way to end an overall sad album. This feels like that single ray of hope we’d expect to get after this assault of darkness created by this album. But listen closely to the small amount of lyrics sung: “You and I, alone here. You and I, It’ll end in tears.” No way are we going to get off easy. Perfect end to this album. There is nothing else I can really say about it, except its brilliant. Simply brilliant.
I recommend this album to anyone and everyone. If not for me, check this out because of the fantastic Patton Oswalt joke! Even after writing this Ebert-esque post about this album, I still prefer the second release, “Filigree and Shadow”. It was the first one I owned on vinyl, and I spent many nights listening to it with my Dad’s headphones, and each side plays like its own EP. Its like an album of four movements. Maybe I’ll write about it someday.
August 23, 2009
Lets clear the air…
I love Japanese movies! I love them. I also love Swedish films, but once you sift through the films of Ingmar “Boogerman” Bergman, there isn’t much movement left. Japan gave birth to more than a few brilliant directors that tend to have more than a few classic films under their belt. I started safe, with Kurosawa, and I made my way to the new wave from there. Its interesting that Japanese new wave is hardly discussed. I find it superior to the french new wave. There are probably some arty kids out there who would like to disagree, but I’m not too concerned. They still think their life can be breathless. I like french films, don’t get me wrong. I like Jean-Pierre Melville and I like Jean Cocteau. Uhh, a couple Godard films are OK? Tirez Sur La Pianiste is the best Truffaut/only good Truffaut movie? Anyways, I love Japanese movies! I watch whatever I can find available on DVD or on internet. Today I will talk about one I saw recently, that is the subject of some controversy, or at least was. I don’t think people care anymore, with the advancement of times and the loosening of censorship.
On Sunday night, I was with my girlfriend Kait, and my friend Joe. Sometimes in life we make decisions. I gave Joe a choice: We watch The Burmese Harp by Kon Ichikawa or we watch In the Realm of the Senses by Nagisa Oshima. He chose the latter. These things happen…
So we watch. It just received the criterion treatment, which is always a treat. This movie was a feast for the eyes I tell you. I usually dislike 1970’s film due to the way it translates on screen, but there are exceptions (Such as Days of Heaven, a perfect example of beauty in all its 70mm glory). The colour was striking, the sets almost looked expressive, as if constructed on a studio stage instead of using something outside which would probably be easier. The attention to detail definitely had me hooked, not to mention the movie itself.
The plot is based on the true events of Sada Abe and Kichizo Ishida. I will not recount the actual tale, but the one drawn from the film. I’m almost positive that not many liberties were taken from the source material. Sada Abe works in a restaurant as a maid, formerly a prostitute. The owner, Kichizo Ishida takes a liking to her and they enter into a sexual relationship, without his wife’s knowing. The sexual energy they draw from each other is strong. The feelings Sada Abe feels turns into an obsession and jealousy, while Kichizo concerns lie more in the realm of devotion to her. They take a trip to a restaurant hotel, where they arrange a marriage ceremony. The sex scenes we see up to this point are all real. Definitely unsimulated. While the scenes almost seem harmless, the consummation in front of the geisha’s is what takes this new wave film into some avant-garde territory. We see two of the geisha’s strip the other and start performing sexual acts to her, which ends in an orgy-like display involving all 5 of them (including our two lovers*).
I felt like there were many layers to this love story. Or at least, it was more than just what we saw. There is such a buildup through the second half of the movie leading to the end, which is the death of Kichizo Ishida. Sada Abe doesn’t allow for sleep or rest. She is constantly hungry for love from her partner. She can’t get enough of it. She refuses to have the room cleaned that they inhabit, because she loves the smell, even if others are offended by it. Its the smell they make, so its value goes beyond simply sentimental. The exhaustion Kichizo Ishida feels comes right off the screen and affects you. It was almost torture watching this man. Constantly yearning for rest but refusing to in order to please his partner. The practice of auto erotic asphyxiation doesn’t help. Leaving him in pain, he tells her if she does it again, to just keep going. He is willing to sacrifice his life for his lover’s pleasure, her need to climax. It was the ultimate conclusion to a man who just wants a peaceful sleep. With his death, Sada Abe commits what she made as earlier threats if he were to ever make love to his wife again. She castrates him, and places his penis and testicles inside her, suggesting that they be together forever. This lasted for about four days. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. One of the most moving scenes is Sada Abe having Kichizo Ishida make love to a geisha in her late 60’s. To me, it was a little hazy as if we were supposed to take her reactions as jealousy or simple pleasure. The camera focuses on her mouth, biting her lips.
Nagisa Oshima does owe a lot to the french for this film, since it was a co-production, so I guess French cinema isn’t completely useless. They had lifted any restrictions on pornography, which helped in making this film possible. You should not be quick to dismiss the idea of Pornographic Film. In no way am I an authority on the subject, seeing that my experience with films containing legitimate sexual acts is limited. But movies like this, Thriller: A Cruel Picture, and Pink Flamingo take the taboo subject of explicit sexuality and incorporate them into film well. I can’t really understand why it would be frowned upon. Assuming the proper age bracket is viewing this, how is it different than what you do with someone of the opposite or same sex behind closed doors. This method is easily effective in the retelling of real events, and displaying the relationship that leads to the self destructive nature of Kichizo Ishida and Sada Abe’s love turned obsession that drives her to mad acts.
The political side of this story sort of went by me unquestioned or thought much about. Its sort of when I read Milan Kundera. I read to learn about these characters, more real than most people we know, and the political side is needed but not pursued by myself to the same degree. I guess this does go against what Japan government would approve of. A woman, formerly a hooker, becomes a waitress, soon to become a mistress who makes money for her and her lover by turning tricks once again. The army marches by Kichizo Ishida, as he walks by with almost a scowl. Their life together is in contradiction to everything around them. Insects eat, sleep, defecate, procreate. These two sort of just procreate and eat rarely. Now, I’m not saying the people around them are bugs. That would be mean, and mildly racist. The idea of working, living in a stable outfit, and properly socializing and integrating themselves into everyday society just doesn’t jive with these two. This movie is still banned in Japan.
I’m going to start adding movie entries to this blog. Also on a side note, I watched The Burmese Harp last night. Moving, sad ending.