Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Bark Cat Bark Cittadinanza. Music is a struggle to establish air superiority. It is a mere struggle against the tides of physics, your forceful strum or fearsome plonking of keys or tense thwapping of the drums is an eternal bond of resistance to the atmosphere that stands fiercely guarding the little bones that evolved to protect the former reptile jaws on sides of heads. First song here, introduction, instrumental, has the air claimed its first victim? No. It's stupendous even though it is gypsy music, like the way they used to make it back when Beirut used to make music, oh wait...A Beirut/Devotchka hybrid? Possibly. We love the Roma! And French, yes another French band! Drole. But I was thinning the waves of humanity and thinking of ghosts and their relation to the air and their comparison to songs and the likes of say Auburn Lull who coax the waves into long sinuous threads that become visible because they are crystallized by a suspended current of emaciated ambition with the notes dressed in pressurized diving suits working diligently with tiny hammers and shovels and analog steam driven turing machines. And then in contrast there is the Pantera struggle, loincloths are key, as is the will to overpower the age of the air. It rarely succeeds, normally the air haughtily places an insurmountable obstacle in place of tunefulness and heads are smashed and bottles emptied and souls desiccated. There are the ginger folk pluckers who try to dance in an out of the waves, trying to kep their toes free, sucking the juice from juniper berries as the gentle eddies circulatd by their effeminate wails threatens to consume them at any moment, dressed in fabulous little shorts and striped socks. But gypsy music? it's indifferent seeming. It has discovered a hole in the sky, a place to hide, an anachronistic cuby hole in a modern world. This should be soundtracking a Jeunet movie that no one will ever admit to loving but will secretly harbour an undying devotion to. Third song. The second was called Benque Viefjo. Beirut played on it, I am imagining that it was his trumpet I heard. Some more exotic flavouring on this song. Some sort of antiqued manipulator of the wind played delicately and rather marvelously. This is a beautiful record. You might wonder what a Beirut album without the singer would sound like and whether it would be worth the investment. It is and it sounds spectacular. Ghosts are dancing acros the neurons. The juniper juice disassociates the linings of the nerve casings and so thoughts dance free and jump to ceilings of the skull muckraking before their fall back from grace spiraling into a pleasant journey towards the abyss. Music, air. the new Epic45 is beautiful. When will Antony Harding's new project come to fruition? But this is Bark Cat Bark, tattoo it on your heart. Viravira Fever, some sort of thumping organic percussion, the tenderizing of yak meat in Ulan Bator? Possibly. A racing fiddle, humbleness abounds. It's meant for a dance about a roaring fire with desperate types reveling in a coming betrayal of modern sensibilities and a retreat in pre-modern bacchanalia! Oh dear. It's not nearly as exciting as I make it seem, but it's still plainly lovely. Next song. Now we've moved into Coen territory. Berovo Berovo Brava. What do the titles mean? They're instrumentals, what does it matter? The music seems a flurry. It is difficult to anticipate a climax in purely instrumental music. Is this a set-up for the melancholia to level the audience up next? Unknown. I listen to electronic music but aside from perhaps 2 or 3 tracks I can name only a few. Lyrics dominate. It's sad because there is as much spirit and slice of life ruled by temperament, as Zola might say, as anything with banal scribblings over top. Listen to God Help the Girl, wonder how it may have been improved by having been wordless instead. We can dream. This isn't the devastating avalanche of macabre ambience we expected but a shuffling jazzy roll, smart, effortless, delightful, physical. When I listen to Beirut it's a cerebral sensation, who convulses involuntarily to Sunday Smile? You dance tenderly with flugelhorns but always your ears are perched high atop your head searching out the nuance and tender phrase. This is messier, warmer, well made but human. It's closer to the spirit of the heartland. It is a simple matter of geography. In America you may find a roving band of gypsies in the airport welcoming lounge in teal coloured robes and bad braids and sensible footwear with tambourines, finger clackers and a bouzouki. But in Europe those same sorts are about always, looking to lift your wallet, sell you their daughter, etc...wow I've just made a turn towards the racist. Sorry. But the Roma culture is vibrant as it exists not as some sort of pastiche. Next track, The Panther in Zavanthem. Just beautiful, that's all. I watched a hasidic Jew that does not live in this complex walk past the trash bin and surreptitiously deposit a large bag of trash. His beard shavings? Unknown. But when St Peter turns him away at the pearly gates he'll be searching his heart for the reason and come to discover it was his trash trespassing that kept him from paradise. St Peter's got a new boss--Gaia. That song was marvelous. Now the piano. Apparently Beirut is his hero. This is one French person. He's done a fine job living up to his ideals. And the songs are mainly so very short, this a sort of intermission after the whirling goodness of the last track. So quiet, impressive in its quiet. Next track, nature song. He's not as fond of the ukulele as Beirut is. There will soon be another entry here, soon could mean anything, on Sophie Madeleine and I mention it only because she's also fond of the ukulele. It's an expressive choice. Another quiet number now, a bit July Skies really, I must have subconsciously recalled the similarity when I was mentioning Antony hArding earlier. In this record is a similar aesthetic, a dreamed over nostalgia for the past, the misery of boredom bleached out in favor of studied indifference to modernity and the triumph of the betterment of the individual. It seems a marvelous picture to paint of the sole musician along in is bedroom crafting these wonderful wonderful melodies and being almost surprised at his own character coming through in such a shining example. Long song now, the centerpiece? 9 minutes. will I have the stamina to make it all the way through? Unlikely. I could discuss whether I will make it through nine minutes for nearly nine minutes and then for the last precious seconds lament over how I merely discussed my stamina for nearly nine minutes. the record has turned sedate. From galloping cradles of violins and their kin to pensive piano pieces and dissonance pressed flat into the foreground. This is tender and haunting, a slow build towards a precipice overlooking the utopia of full hearted romance. It really is very reminiscent of those things that normally appear on Make Mine Music, it could have been. but then there is a sense of ambition in the nots, the little men dressed in surgeon scrubs burrowing beneath the skin, tracing the circulatory system, raising the internal temperature to a tepid boil, tingling all about. Nothing is happening. This is not the centerpiece, it is the contemplative core of the record, he's worn out, the lullaby for exercised minds. Lovely. I've said lovely too many times but I honestly love this record. The title is Draugur, norwegian for "ghost". It is an appropriate title. I cheated, I used wiktionary so really it could be Danish for danish for all I know. But it's fissiparous and fragile and filled with transparent sentiments layered one over the other like a flower pressed between velum pages of a scrap book. Beautiful. Last track now. Shorter. Perhaps the longer track should have ended things on the reflective somber plank. But now with backwards horns and Wee Willy Hymn-ness we sense a collective habitation with people like Alastair Galbraith. Beaks and claws, barks and dogs. Last one, piano is prominent again, very The Young and the Restless, very memorex commercial from the 70s, classically inspired, a draught from his composition class from back in Lille? It's responsive to the listener, now a waltz-like jaunt has enlivened the heart a dance about the room filled with chandeliers made in Macau and candelabras from Papua New Guinea and cleavers pointed at stone hearts. Everyone I know is getting married. A wedding needs a waltz, this could do. The sad waltz to lament the end of being alone, it is something to be feared, more than you know.