Undying - This Day All Gods Die
Untouchable-ly perfect metalcore/melodic death metal hybrid from a time when that sort of label wasn't embarrassing to type. Female fronted, vegan, jncos.. badass.
Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
I'm not going to use Icelandic characters in this post, mainly because I don't have them on my keyboard, and it's too much of a hassle to copy and paste. So deal with it.
Sigur Ros is traditionally known for "sleep music." Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic, but the ambient, string-heavy compositions with those angelic nonsensical lyrics are almost hypnotically mesmerizing. Their masterpiece ( ) excels at this style, with the first four tracks a beautiful, light optimism and the latter four a dark, bleak depression.
That said, you could see the surprise that most fans experienced upon the release of Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum. The first track, "Gobbledigook," opens with two acoustic guitars keeping rhythm in alternating speakers, followed quickly by rapid hand-claps and a driving bass. It's almost as if Sigur Ros crashed into the Animal Collective bus on their last tour and came out of it with crazy percussion and upbeat folky guitar lines.
From "Gobbledigook," the rest of the album upholds this new Sigur Ros style. "Inni mer syngur Vitleysingur" crashes to life with bells and xylophones, as trumpets eventually bellow the song to a majestic finale. "Vid spilum Endalaust" uses this same formula of trumpets and crescendos to create the new Sigur Ros build.
For fans of their old work, they have not let you down either! "Ara Batur" is a piano and vocal ballad infused with minimalistic strings. There are even *gasp!* acoustic guitar songs! "Illgresi" is a beautiful guitar and vocal track. If only I could understand the language.
Another change is the average length of each track. ( ) has eight tracks, each well over six minutes (with one even reaching thirteen!). Med Sud has eleven tracks, with only three above the six minute mark. One of those, "Festival," the longest on the album (9:24), may be one of the best Sigur Ros songs to date. Reverb-y vocals and strings make up half the song. After you've drifted off for four minutes, a driving bass drum and lively bassline wake you for one of the most beautiful endings in Icelandic ambient music. When the three minute build finally breaks into the drums, the strings kick back in with some horns to bring this to a crashing finale. Fantastic.
If you didn't like Sigur Ros before, I strongly recommend this album. It's a departure from the norm, and it's easily accessible.
Two "World Music" greats 7/15/2008
A Brazilian in Tokyo:
Joao Gilberto - In Tokyo
Here is Joao Gilberto in Tokyo in 2004 playing much of his hits. The amazing thing is this man in his 70s playing these songs like he was in his 20s. His voice is still crisp and his guitar playing is still fresh.
Gilberto is probably most famous for being half of the Getz/Gilberto title and some of those songs are played here. The guy spent time learning how to sing without making breathing sounds and try as you might you can't even hear them in 2004. Very good stuff.
Fela Kuti - The Underground Spiritual Game
Edited and mixed by a member of the group Blackalicious, this serves me mostly as a greatest hits. Plenty of great/famous songs on here with Fela's famous grooves. Most are cut down from the usual 15 minutes to fit more than 4 songs on the album. If you haven't heard of Fela Kuti, he created "Afro Beat" a mix of jazz, funk, and traditional African music to make really danceable music. Love the call and responses that can be found in most of his stuff. Many people have spoken about Fela better than I can, so just DL and check it out.
Six instrumental tracks from the guitarist/composer. The first and last, "Gate of Ivory" and "Gate of Horn," are repetitive, droning piano tracks (the same melody, I think) with washes of strings/noise under them, and the middle four are guitar-based, also adding piano and strings. His playing is mesmerizing, and the whole album is hypnotic.
Litany of Echoes
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - Rock 'N' Roll with the Moderns Lovers (1977), Jonathan Richman - I, Jonathan (1992) 7/10/2008
For you see, it's afternoon
There's the moon, it's so pale
All the plants whisper, the lake and the lilies, they whisper a song to me
It sounds like this
I am, I am
That's what it sounds like
I am, I am
Rock 'N' Roll with the Modern Lovers
"I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar"
Well I was dancing in the lesbian bar
In the industrial zone.
I was dancing with my friends
And dancing alone.
Well the first bar things were alright
But in this bar, things were Friday night.
In the first bar things were just alright.
This bar things were Friday night.
I was dancing in a lesbian bar, oh-oh, oh-oh.
I was dancing in a lesbian bar, oh-oh-oh.
This album is made up of three excerpts from a 12-hour live performance by 400 electric guitarists in Paris, composed by Rhys Chatham.
A Crimson Grail
So this blog is dead, huh? 7/03/2008