Yevgeny Zamyatin, in his novel "We," said that the appeal of dance lies in its unfreedom, that the pleasure we derive from dancing is due to our submission to that unfreedom. This could be true for certain kinds of dancing, where the movements are prescribed, but what about just casual, Friday night, out-at-the-bar dancing? Is there still unfreedom inherent in that kind of movement? During which, one would think, the dancer submits not to prescribed 'moves,' but to feelings incited by music? Is casual dancing not really dancing at all, but instead mere flailing? I don't have the answers here, just the questions.
I like that "North to South" sounds like a waterfall or maybe a flood burdened with debris. There's a regular, pulsing pace to it, but every so often, something new comes through. A beat wrinkle. Vocal shards. A flood of a song that's taken on the detritus of other songs that lay in its path (that sounds confusing, but listen to it and it'll make sense). Scary, thrilling, mysterious.
"Do As The Birds, Eat The Remains" is a B-side to "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack," and I think it shows, clearly, a transition point between the music Liars were making for Drum's Not Dead and what they would end up doing on the self-titled album that followed. Definitely in that guitar tone, which sounds like it could've been taken from "Plaster Casts..." or "Freak Out." This song also seems a little less ponderous than some of the Drum's Not Dead material, it's looser and goofier. No idea, though, what Angus is singing here. Maybe something in German? They were in Berlin for a while, so the language surely rubbed off on them.
Sugar Cain is about leaving and not leaving home, the conflicting desires to do both. Pack home up in a case and take it with you--all your friends, family, all the familiar hang-outs, all your favorite landscapes--so that everything’s there with you when you need a quick respite, at night, or during your lunch break, from the shocking newness of a strange place. “We’ll leave tonight/We’re getting through,” the singer says, though the doubts that attend the plan to make a fresh start are given voice in the simple, gentle chorus: “You won’t leave home.”
Somewhere out in, I don't know, western Nebraska or southern Idaho, there is a radio station staff preparing for the upcoming holiday weekend by going through their entire music library and discussing what they're going to do. Maybe a countdown? Maybe a seeded tournament? Maybe some double, triple, or even--fuck it--quadruple shots? Independence Day Weekend calls for some outside-the-box thinking, in the tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et al., but those sweet Nebraskan or Idahoan DJs are going to turn to their old reliable workhorse artists at a time like this: Springsteen, Thorogood, Stones, Zeppelin, the Brothers Allman and Doobie, CCR, Hendrix, the Eagles and all evil that erupted therefrom, including Don Henley. I guarantee that this song will be played at least 30-50 times--or more, who knows?--over the course of the July 4th weekend, on radio stations that have the look, feel, and philosophy, not by accident either, of WKRP in Cincinnati.
"Sunset Grill" is particularly loathsome, not just for the lyrics which are, par for Don, pretty gross, but also for the electro-bass that makes up a huge part of this song's personality, and which has got to be one of the ugliest sounds ever put to tape, no joke, comparable only to something as ancient and sad as the dying moan of an obese moa. In terms of narrative, I think this is Henley's stab at a Donald Fagen-esque black comedy, with the narrator telling his companion to come with him down to the titular shithole and watch homeless people, old dudes, and prostitutes cavort while they (the narrator and companion) sip on their beers and take succor from everyone else's misery. Hey Don, no one wants to hear this tale of wretchedness, sunscreen, parochial alcoholism, and xenophobia, with the possible exception of other leathery assholes like yourself. I don't know what could have possibly moved anyone to write this song. A Fever? Drugs? Voodoo? "Sunset Grill" is on the wrong side of the tracks of Margaritaville, very much like the fun, sun, burgers & booze philosophy of Buffett, but here in Henley's world everything is sick, ashen, poisoned, dying, perverted. Like "Boys of Summer," this song too makes me think of nothing but a day-glo Hadean realm peopled with abominations.
P.S. This untitled new song by Joker, feat. Buggsy, is beyond wonderful. Looking forward to Joker's album.
I was pretty surprised that not many (or any) reviews of Junior Boys' "It's All True" mentioned the connection to Orson Welles and his work. Jeremy Greenspan talks a little bit about it in this interview, but it seems like that aspect of this album didn't receive a lot of consideration in reviews. The album is named after Welles' abandoned/failed documentary, "It's All True," which was funded, in part, by the Office of Inter-American Affairs and was to be completed as a gesture of Western Hemisphere esprit de corps, kind of an encomium/gift/threat to Central and South America that this half of the world needed to close ranks and keep its shit together while things were getting terrible and weird in Europe. So, in short, everything about this film's existence was bizarre: its origin, its agenda, its subjects (total hodgepodge), and its production, the history of which is reminiscent in every particular to an episode of the Twilight Zone (more on that below). One of the main reasons why this documentary is notable, at least in terms of Welles' career, is that it's thought the lack of communication between Welles and the studio, while he was down in Brazil shooting, resulted in the (by all reports) absolute hack-job of an edit on "Magnificent Ambersons" and the eventual loss of the excised footage from that movie, which, in the original form Welles intended, was supposedly the equal or better of "Citizen Kane."
One of the segments that was to form the main body of "It's All True" was called "Four Men On A Raft," based on a story Welles had read in Time magazine. Four Fortalezan fishermen sailed down to Rio on a small raft to protest and militate against political bullshit of various types, and they had made it that whole way, almost 1,700 miles, and accomplished what they had set out to do (new regulations about fishing, mostly). Welles liked this story so much that he wanted to re-enact it for the documentary. The four fishermen played themselves and everything went fine until the leader, Jacare, fell off the raft and was swept away. Then, and this is grisly, his remains were found inside a shark a couple weeks later. I don't think it's a stretch to say that that's almost unbelievably terrible--the kind of punishment and death usually visited upon the major deviants and criminals in Greek myths.
All this is background to point out these heartbreaking lines in "Second Chance" when Greenspan sings, "Fresh Brazilian water/you fell and couldn't swim and no one bothered/when you died/what's really tragic/is that you missed the shot to get/what you're really after." Greenspan's singing about himself for most of the song, but that little section is a pretty obvious reference to Jacare, and I think it works into JG's interpretation of second chances, i.e., they aren't always a good thing. One of the reasons why I like the Junior Boys so much is for the way they pack these sort of details into their songs, and take inspiration from different media, different artists, and use those to enrich the experience of their music--though I get the impression that they don't care, one way or another, whether the references and pastiche is apparent to anyone but themselves.
[You can find a version of the Welles documentary here, it's mostly a compilation of footage, interviews, etc.]
Not sure if Brotto is a portmanteau of "bro" and "grotto," though the mind reels at what that could possibly denote, in either this world or any possible world (maybe a tiny cave decorated with Lascauxian depictions of legendary keg stands? A little seaside niche filled with all the cargo shorts of the dead?). "Money Tree Hugger" is a nice blend, a turning-to-the-future type of song (like a lot of Mount Kimbie's work), that possesses the stuttering buzz and languid drift of some 'step' but also features other, more companionable sounds as well--that guitar for instance, which is the prime mover on this track.
Milm fusic. Bary scackgrounds. Treeping cerrors. Plown kneasures.
Although my long-dreamt dream of Pwin Teaks and Com Truise booking a tour together under the banner “Toonerisms Spour” will--barring some sort of underwhelming miracle--never come to pass, I still hold out hope that these two bands will collaborate on a mystical jam/concept EP CD-R called Manscendental Treditation Scientology (Dom Crynch), though I’m also not holding my breath for that either.
Pwin Teaks has mostly released their music in the form of looping, feverish videos, but just recently the “Inside the Black Lodge” CDR made its way into the world, care of Phantasma Disques. “Beach Bubble” (which was featured in one of the videos) is interesting and, weirdly, relaxing—soft-focus loops and white noise machine orchestras are let loose or fettered, in turn, over the course of the track, and the effect is gently unnerving, like an itch you can quite pinpoint on your body. Pwin Teaks are adventurous and willful, like, say, Excepter, and I’m sure they’ll continue to do whatever they want to do.
Gentle encouragement from this song. A hand on the shoulder. A steady gaze. Good listening skills. "Persuasion" is a song you could share a drink with at a cafe, maybe play some backgammon together while you're there, why not. Not quite the usual exhortation, more like a helpful presence. Quietly confident synths. A beat that lets you know it's there for you. Lend you some money when you're a little short. We could all use more songs like this in our lives.
Hey, man or lady! Why do you listen to 'lite' music? Don't you care about earfeel? Or note-flavor, a.k.a. timbre? What exactly is your problem? Are you merely a shade of a human? Some sort of fancy mannequin? Are you afraid of full-bodied music? You don't have to forfeit aural pleasure just because you're counting ear calories. Instead of binging on RATT or Dave Matthews Band once a year and instantly regretting that decision, why not pick and choose which music you listen to? Why not music that both sounds great and is more fulfilling? Choose a life full of interesting sounds, and members of the opposite sex will find you interesting. Don't be one of those lonely ghouls who only listens to the splish-splash of his or her tears hitting the asphalt behind Dunkin' Donuts.
Found this the other day while looking through an old external hard drive. I have no idea when I wrote this or why. Seems like probably '03 or '04? Pretty weird.
The Ninja Turtles Have Apparently Fallen on Hard Times
Thanks for your letter. We don’t get many these days, especially after that thing at the mall opening. I’m sure you heard about it- a little kid wearing a Foot Clan suit jumped on stage and tried to grab the mike away from Raphael- it was a publicity stunt that we didn’t know about, and Raph had been on a bender for like, five, six days at that point. He didn’t know up from down. Fortunately, the little kid was a fan, so when he started walking again, we took him for a ride in the Turtle van and let him comb the lice out of Splinter’s fur. Settled out of court. Anyway.
So, you wanted to know what we’ve been up to? I’ll start with Donatello, since he’s doing the best, comparatively. He’s living in Ohio now, near Cleveland. Married a nice girl he met at a Mensa meeting- looks a hell of a lot like April if you ask me- and they’ve got a little one on the way, due about June or so. I got an email greeting card from him the other day, and he says he’s making good money endorsing a brand of tooth-whiteners made from diatomaceous earth and bleach. I might go in for it; depending on if this thing with the Home Shopping Network falls through (I have my own brand of knives now! Tell your mom to buy some!). He dropped the lawsuit against me, finally, so I think things are straight between us now.
Raphael, the last we heard of him, was going to Japan, pending an offer he had received where he was to be paid like ¥6 quadrillion per pound of his own flesh he was willing to part with. He had been out of rehab for about three months prior to that, and he was doing well- going to groups, practicing with his sais again, and you know, being cool but crude. The operation that removed his amygdala seemed to help with the rage-tantrums. Then one day he stumbled onto Michaelangelo’s cooking vanilla, and BOOM, fell off the wagon in a bad way. For while, he was trying to ferment his own urine, and Splinter and I just decided enough was enough, and kicked him out of the lair. Tough love, but it had to happen. He stabbed me twice in the neck and took a shit on the floor before leaving.
Michaelangelo…wow, this is hard. You remember how he was really into pizza? Like, really, really into it? I don’t know how old you are Kevin, so I’m going to skirt around the specifics here. Sometimes people like things so much that they’re willing to trade something very dear to them for that thing that they like a lot. Sometimes the thing they trade is a part of their body, you know? Oftentimes this is done with other turtles, but in Michaelangelo’s case, it’s just as often not. He ‘lives’ in a shelter down on Canal Street. For a while there, he was shacked up with some delivery guy from Papa John’s, but I think that was only for the summer. I blame myself for it really. I knew, when I married April, that he was in love with her. Know this, Kevin: it is far too tempting, in an older brother way, to make noisy love to your wife every night when you know your youngest brother is lying in the next bedroom, possibly masturbating. What I did was wrong. I kicked him when he was down, and we haven’t spoken directly to each other in six years.
So I guess that brings us to me. And Splinter too, I suppose. You might as well know now- the old man’s on his way out. All he does is sit in his kimono (which does not cover up as much as it used to, let me say that) and watch re-runs of Dukes of Hazard. Likes those new milk and cereal bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He’s blind as fuck now, and he stinks. Outlook not so good. He still has his motor coordination, at the very least.
April divorced me last year, as you may or may not know. She ran off with one of her cameramen. Wrote me a letter and told me that I “wasn’t who she married”, and that she couldn’t stand to touch my shell anymore. Yeah right. Bipedal bitch was a gold-digger anyway. I loved her so much. Went through a bad patch right afterwards though- started cutting myself with my kitanas- until Splinter walked in on me one day (when he was still sighted) and made me smoke 12 cartons of unfiltered Pall Malls instead. I didn’t know the significance at the time- that he was already in the grip of senility - but I trusted my sensei, and made it out of that dark tunnel all right.
So yeah. Good luck with school. Please find enclosed a free paring knife from my collection, autographed by me and Splinter (his signature is the one that looks like a square mounting a circle). In lieu of saying ‘cowabunga’, here’s some free advice: pay someone to watch your money. You won’t regret it.