Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Enthusiasms (#3 in a continuing series)

those novels are the dreck, but his early nonfiction is jaw-droppingly amazing, never more so than in this linguistic tour-de-fucking-force. have some interest in kesey, the pranksters, and the like, but it's really the prose that gets me going here, the amazing way he limns various minds and flavors the words with their moods and impressions (not just druggy either, no way). and while i thought he woulda been more sneering, it's a pretty fair and sympathetic account of a tribe's brave and foolhardy journey into that place where there are no words - and back again.

The Fire Engines : CODEX TEENAGE PREMONITION : sounds
glasgow punk that barely recorded anything on wax, just friends taping their rehearsals and gigs and mr. peel once coaxing them into his studio. velvet underground fans with itchy fingers and crazy riddims, going spastic in three directions at once but still getting that ole jangle-drone. going. a neat trick. far more loose than their compatriots in orange juice or joseph k. fun stuff, don't even mind the fidelity.

Toshio Matsumoto : FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES : pictures that move
the cream of the very creamy japanese new wave film movement of the 60s-70s. the new wave where there were no truffauts but fifteen godards. yow. this film was one of the main influences on 'a clockwork orange.' an outrageous-but-controlled pastiche of styles - including documentary, experimental, fashion-shoot images, and more. it busted taboos with its look at gay life, telling a fractured oedipus story of fighting geisha 'girls' against a backdrop of youth revolt, rock freak-outs, u.s. treaty protests, and dada pageants.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Songs of the year.

"Living in Sin in the USA" - Oakley Hall. It starts with the melancholy in Rachel Cox's voice, and gets better from there. Oakley Hall was one of my favorite discoveries of 06, from an SFJ tip. His offhand reference, and the ready availability of the album at eMusic, allowed me to get to the songs without any further mediation. It's a rare joy to be able to come to music with no real expectations or sound associations, and rarer still to find the music totally winning. This melody just kills me, and when Cox and Patrick Sullivan harmonize, it's that Gram/Emmylou wet dream all over again. It's Richard and Linda after a few strokes with the whetstone. It's John and Exene after a particularly grim whiskey bender. But with uplift; aren't we all living in sin in the USA? Is there any other way? It can be ugly, I guess. Here it is beautiful, and sad. The band name is borrowed from an author, who is himself one of several Oakley Halls. He doesn't seem to mind the association.... [Buy Gypsum Strings at eMusic, CD Universe.]

"Soul Pride" - The James Brown Orchestra. When my son was an infant, he cried bloody murder for months. In my saner moments I could try to reassign the sound, imagine it some kind of Aylerite wail. But it was mostly an insane time, so the cry sounded like itself, and it hurt all of us. Sleep was a blessed reprieve, for him and us, But sleep did not come easily. One method that seemed to work was to dance him into oblivion, particularly for daytime naps. I tried, with him slung over my shoulder, everything: Fela, Sly, Lee Morgan. Sometimes these worked, sometimes they didn't. But this track never failed us. Thinking back, I'd have to say that there was a little violence in the dancing; I think there's a little violence in the music, too. A sublime rhythmic violence. And even though there may be something a little obtuse about remembering JB with a track on which he does not appear (co-writing credit, though), Brown's innovations are all rhythmic to me. His singing, exhortations, movement, drive, music--all in service to rhythm. And that's what I hear here. Jesu, it's glorious. Oblivion, here I come. [Buy Say It Live and Loud at CD Universe; "Soul Pride" is also on the seemingly deleted Polydor instrumentals collection, naturally called Soul Pride--highly recommended.]

Honorable Mention
"The Blues Are Still Blue" - Belle and Sebastian. Because Marc Bolan's estate could probably use the royalties. And because the fact that this kind of thing has been done well before doesn't mean we don't feel the same excitement and happy little vibrations when it's done well again. There is always room--always--for the good choogle. And keep chooglin. [Buy The Life Pursuit at eMusic, CD Universe.]

Apologies to Perpetua for the format swipe.