Monthly Archives: February 2009

Antony & The Johnsons – Live @ Town Hall, February 20, 2009

antony

Many years back I knew a gay Buddhist who lived in the East Village. He was the first person to play Antony & The Johnsons for me, and at the time I had no way to process it. I wasn’t familiar with the whole faux cabaret tradition, the post-Klaus Nomi camp theatrics and all that stuff. But something he said stuck with me, after I had finished listening to “Cripple and the Starfish” in his bedroom.

“Antony”, he said, with this strange gleam in his eyes, “is a true superstar in every sense of the word. He’s a superstar.”

I get what he means by that now. Continue reading

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Dreadfully Obvious Classics #1 – I See A Darkness

i_see_a_darknessI see that look upon your face. The one that says “Why not review a perfect snowflake? Why not review your first love?”

Because, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smarty Pants, snowflakes melt and my first love was a painfully earnest exercise in learning how not to be a complete shit all of the time, and mostly failing at that.

Hence I See A Darkness.

People like to rip on the haystackers* both because they’re the big name in Indietown and because they generally write like smuggy ding-dongs who need a wedgie so badly that the universe cries out for vengeance against their butt cracks, but they’re not wrong about this being one of the best albums of the 1990s. It absolutely is.

Low key, low-fi, and no low end. Quiet, desperate times at 3 a.m.; maudlin with good reason.

* (Ha ha, get it?)

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Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country

heckerWhile this hasn’t actually been released yet, the internet is full of things, such as these words:

I’ve never been up in Tim Hecker‘s urethra before but this particular work is hot to death. Drone upon drone upon drone, but done in short bursts. An epic drone for people who had tried drones before but just couldn’t put in the time required to get their slow lean on. Take a pattern, repeat it, shift it, and build a song from the spaces between. “Paragon Point” and its slow-motion arena rock guitar solo is my personal high point, but things bounce forward quickly enough so that each song is a bit of a larger moment.

The mood is tranquil; the water is warm; the valium was cheap. Go enjoy your bath.

I shall go to the store and buy this on March 10. As a compact disc. Or I might get it on bleep.com. Regardless, money shall be paid.

In the meantime I hope these words of praise suffice.

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Subway DJs Are Messing With My Cocoon

42-16080304A small part of the problem is a design flaw – the stock earbuds that come with any player are going to be shitty. They never fit anyone’s ears properly, so there’s always going to be leakage.

The larger issue is that people desire a cocoon. It’s a bit like the bass car issue, but in the opposite direction. The bass car is meant to attract attention, to say “I live with my mom and am probably a rapist.” A poem written in shitty music by shitty people.

The loud earbud issue is about isolation. If I cannot hear the world, it ceases to exist, at least until it’s time to get off the train. Whether this is a desire for a contemplative space in a hurried, secular world or simply wanting to drown out the hundreds of people who are also pretending that no one else is on the train…well, that is for each seeker to decide on their own. What it does mean is that you end up hearing a lot of cymbals. It’s also a bit of a blow against ethnic stereotyping, as (what sounds to be) cock rock is beloved by people of all races. When did that happen? Why did that happen? Continue reading

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Blut Aus Nord – The Work Which Transforms God

blutThese French folk remind me a bit of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, in that it is a weird thing filled with much bluster and shouting. Theatrics for the sake of something greater, I guess. I like SGM’s male vocals quite a bit, even if I only listen to “A Hymn to the Morning Star” on repeat.

But back to these guys – I feel like don’t get it, personally, but I feel that way about almost all the black metal i’ve heard. It’s very much a thing that is unable to penetrate the veil of my maya, or perhaps I’m just picky. It’s very theatrical, like I would imagine “serious music” is for people who go to off-Broadway plays a lot. It’s a Big Deal, and their themes are Very Important, which they convey by having a lot of tempo changes and dissonance. And by wailing. So much wailing.

Which, is, well…it’s my thing, usually. I like obnoxious shit. The drumming is weak on this record, but the real chapper are the vocals. The singing is just awful. Terrible. Like that hideous Ulver record I was picking on late last year, it’s so overwrought, charmless and devoid of discernable humor (or recognizable thematic scope) that I can’t help but wonder if I am merely growing old or genuinely suffering a dessication of the soul.

Addendum: Wikipedia informs us that

The project’s most critically acclaimed release is The Work Which Transforms God,[1] a concept album which, in spite of being mostly instrumental with none of the lyrics made public, is meant to challenge the listener’s prejudices and preconceptions about reality and various metaphysical subjects.[citation needed]

For real and true?

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Now Up At White Heat

My first two reviews are now up over at White Heat – check out these words about The Threshold Houseboys Choir and a more formal offering on Fennesz‘s Black Sea.

Also worth noting is the chronicle of curious disappointment in the latest offering of the oddly-named Kiss the Anus of Black Cat.

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