Sunday, September 23, 2012

Song of the day

"Pajarillo", by Aldemaro Romero Y Su Onda Nueva.

If this were a Hollywood pitch, it would go as follows:

"Philip Glass meets The Swingle Singers."

Which is slightly unfair to all three parties, but I promise you that if you have "Einstein On The Beach" in mind when listening to this, you can certainly imagine it as something that may have sneakily insinuated itself into Glass's masterwork.

The Venezuelan New Wave may not have been our New Wave, but it was, in its own way, pretty damn cool.

PS if I can survive the next two weeks I hope to resume slightly more regular transmission shortly thereafter. But at this stage that is a pretty big "if".

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A few words about "Moonrise Kingdom", a film directed by Wes Anderson

Perhaps the best way to describe Wes Anderson's new film, "Moonrise Kingdom", is by saying that it is just like any other Wes Anderson picture you have seen, only more so. Accordingly, you will either love it or hate it depending on your predisposition towards the Wes Anderson way of doing things. (I have unequivocally loved and admired everything he is ever done, including his advertising work, but I concede that it is a fine line he is treading, and I predict that, if his style ever manages to attract imitators, their films are likely to be uniformly awful.)

So anyway, all I really wanted to say here is that when Adrienne and I were leaving the cinema, she mentioned to me that the film put her in mind of "Time of Wonder", a children's book by Robert McCloskey (author of one of the all-time classic children's picture books, "Make Way For Ducklings"). As is her way, having sowed the Wes Anderson seed, she then silently deposited the book on my side of the bed. Of course, I then just had to read it immediately, even though it has been in the house for years. (She is very good at this sort of thing. The phrase "Bart would wear that shirt" also has a proven track record.)

It turned out, unsurprisingly, to be a wonderful book, even if it does shine an uncomfortable light on how much better, at least in some respects, the lives if children were fifty years ago. And of course Adrienne is right: the similarities between the book and the film are many. The setting, around the islands of New England, is perhaps the most obvious one. But there is also the theme of children having adventures out of the sight of adults, sailing boats, watching the weather. There is the great storm that is the centrepiece of both the film and the book. Even the houses look curiously similar. The film being by Wes Anderson, there are, of course, inner demons of one sort or another in all of the characters; a dog gets harmed; and everyone is impeccably dressed and/or has a very precise taste in, say, music. None of those things is reflected in Robert McCloskey's book (which was written eight years before the year that Anderson's film is set in). There are no boy scouts in the book, either (unless they are hiding in the shadows).

It would be interesting to know, wouldn't it, and I suppose it would not be surprising in the slightest, if Anderson had read this book as a child and if, consciously or otherwise, it sparked an idea that evolved into "Moonrise Kingdom". Or maybe it is total coincidence. I was expecting to find that Anderson himself grew up in New England, but this appears not to be the case (Texas, it would seem, which is about as far from New England as you can get while still being a part of the United States), which makes the similarity of the worlds depicted in the film and the book even more intriguing.

Anyway. Read the book. See the film. That's all.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Hypothetical mixtape: February 2012

The time is upon us once more to flatten one month's worth of internet trolling into one seamless (not!) sub-80-minute smackdown. Or something.

How far behind the times are we? Way far. Let's party like it's February 2012.

1. "DoYaThing", by Gorillaz. Or, the reappearance of James Murphy. This also exists as a radio-length song, but once you have heard the full thirteen minutes you will wonder why. There's a nice bit of Iggy Pop channelling that goes down from the five-minute mark.

2. "Wolf Girl", by Simian Ghost. Once in a while a song comes along that breaks your heart so completely that all you can do it sit quietly and observe, helpless, as it ever so subtly and unexpectedly draws the tears into your eyes. For now, for me, this is that song. I have no explanation for this.

3. "Faithless", by Scritti Politti. Whereas thirty years ago that song would have been a song not unlike this. I can't profess to ever having heard the 12" version before. At over nine minutes, it demonstrates conclusively that, no, you can't have too much of a good thing.

4. "Saturday Night", by Central Unit. There is a time in your life, if you are "into" music, when you are suddenly old and/or independent enough to start to get out into the world, and perhaps adventurous and/or curious enough to discover some musicians, or some sounds, that are so new that you might be able, for a time, to call them your own. 1982 was my time. These particular floppy-haired wonders would appear to have been Italian, but essentially the same music was being made in Melbourne then, too. Who needed the internet?

5. "Visions (Nite Jewel Seance)", by Stevie Wonder. Speaking of the internet, it has been easy, and particularly rewarding, to have been able to watch the evolution of Nite Jewel. Our little girl is now (musically speaking, anyways) all grown up. It's a brave step to take a song by someone as untouchable as Stevie Wonder and strip it back to practically nothing: two chords teased out, slowly, on an electric piano: music suspended in mid-air with no support. It might be John Martyn's "Small Hours" in miniature.

6. "I Don't Know What I Can Save You From (Royksopp Remix)", by Kings of Convenience. The Kings have a way with melody. Royksopp have a way with sound. That works.

7. "It's A Lovely Day Today", by The Walter Wanderley Trio. Back in the mid-1990s, when we frequented Grumpy Warren's Record Paradise, down the road from the Galleon Cafe in St Kilda, we bought lots of records like this. Just how good is the echo on that Hammond? (Rhetorical. It's good.) Smile for the camera, fellas.

8. "Fallin' In Love", by American Spring. Written by Dennis Wilson. Produced by Brian Wilson. Made in 1973. What more do you need to know?

9. "People Make The World Go Round", by The Stylistics. Evidently there was more to The Stylistics than "You Are Everything" and ritzy suits. Thanks (as always) to Marcello Carlin for writing sufficiently eloquently about this song for me to want to track it down.

10. "All Across The Nation", by All Saved Freak Band. Heavy metal church music. Yes, you read that right.

11. "Heya", by Bosques. Garage rock from Argentina. Garage rock really was the universal language for a while there. Someone is playing the guitar (or is it a mandolin?) in the background in a way that invents Ed Kuepper.

12. "Mary Lou", by Black Mountain. Canada's finest hairy guitar-wranglers come down from the (black) mountain after too long an absence, and we're glad they did. This is them at their most krautrockinest. Is it also perhaps a nod towards early Stereolab? Or maybe they were both merely drinking from the same well.

13. "Chinese Rocks", by Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. This month's Oldies Radio contribution.

14. "You Know You Like It (Raffertie Remix)", by AlunaGeorge. On the other hand, sometimes we feel compelled to give a passing nod to music that could only have been made in the here and now.

15. "The Sometime Girl", by Gerry Pond. This was the b-side to a Reprise single from 1966. Gerry Pond seems to have made no other records. He had clearly been listening to Donovan before he made this one (not a criticism). Fascinating and, in its own way, slightly terrifying.

16. "The Way You Look Tonight", by Dexys Midnight Runners. Let us celebrate the return of Dexys, after a thirty-year absence, with this lesser known off-cut from their previous album, "Don't Stand Me Down", the one the critics loved but nobody bought. (Although it may be that that description, sadly, will also fit the new one.) The last 20 seconds of this version of this well-known song kill me. Kevin Rowland is The Man.