Tchaikovsky thought theatrical “Arabs.” People who saw the Disney version think fish. People who like Spike Jones think of various kinds of sinister mayhem and low nightlife in a thick cinematic fog. Here’s why.
Classical music is in a weird place. Over the past century, it’s grown so crystallized and rarefied that people mostly think of it as either relaxing or good for you. This is bullshit; it’s neither. The way A Far Cry plays it, a Beethoven fugue can make you want to thrash. A Schumann concerto can make you feel like you’ve watched something burn to the ground.
In the five years of the orchestra’s existence, the Criers have gone from a handful of broke, determined kids to a nonprofit organization with a budget of just over $360,000, a residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and an upcoming European tour. On this day in January, they’re rehearsing for a concert with Yo-Yo Ma, perhaps the only real household name in classical music — a man who has used his technical brilliance to write himself a ticket to play anything he wants, from Philip Glass to bluegrass.
That’s what A Far Cry wants to do, too: to wrestle the music they love back from the cultural baggage it’s accumulated.
“When we walk into Symphony Hall and we see everyone all dressed up, we have to learn how not to pay attention to that,” says violist Sarah Darling. “We have to learn how to shut out all the ridiculous trappings that classical music has somehow acquired — and only pay attention to the sound itself.”
Read this article. All of it.
It took me thirty years of escaping my upbringing to realize that the culture surrounding “classical” music was not preserving it, it was destroying it. The faster we can get other people to throw away their baggage, the better.
Oh lord, Future Clouds and Radar is brilliant too. Ladies and gentlemen, if you need more proof of just how screwed-up the old-school recording industry was and why you should shed no tears at their passing, I give you: the career of Robert Harrison.
Above: “Dr. No.”
Found it!!! This is my favorite track from “Kontiki,” I think, although ask me again after I’ve listened to it all five thousand times …. “Hometown Cameo.”
Here’s Cotton Mather (see previous two items) performing a track NOT on “Kontiki” so you can see what they look like. This is the only actual video I could find for them. Despite singer/songwriter Robert Harrison being “somewhere between John Lennon and John Linnell” (to quote the excellent phrasing of the Boston Phoenix), the band was actually from Austin, Texas.
I hear that Harrison’s current project is called Future Clouds and Radar. I’m going to have to check them out.
Another track from “Kontiki” (see previous item). This one is “Camp Hill Rail Operator.” Try the YouTube full page if you’re having trouble deciphering the lyrics ….
Today I purchased a re-release of a 1997 CD, “Kontiki” by Cotton Mather. I don’t know where I was when this came out, but I’m damned glad to have a second chance at it. I unfortunately can’t find a clip of “Homefront Cameo” or “My Before and After,” but these two are good … the whole album is good.
This one is “Password.”
It took me a while before I realized OK Go actually had features of interest. The problem is, the songs they choose for all those sensational trick videos tend to be the blandest songs on the albums. They have hidden depths of weirdness and originality, but you’d never know it from what they choose to promote.
The video above is from a catchy track on their first album, “Don’t Ask Me,” that is theoretically one of its singles, although I never saw it promoted at the time. The track that was promoted was “Get Over It,” which has one of their Strange Videos and is a completely uninteresting song. The one above is, by OK Go standards, shockingly normal. The BEST tracks on the album - “C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips,” “Hello My Treacherous Friends,” and especially “The Fix Is In” - you have probably never heard unless you actually bought the album and bothered to listen to all of it. Where, I ask you, is the weird video to go with the deliciously unusual structure of “The Fix Is In”? Am I asking too much?
They have a new video featuring a car. I can’t watch it with the sound on right now. I’ll find out later if it continues their tendency of picking the worst songs for the best videos. I’m betting it does.
TUMBLR I AM EXTREMELY DISAPPOINT HOW COULD YOU FAIL TO BRING TO MY ATTENTION THIS MUSIC VIDEO FOR THE SHERLOCK HOLMES HANS ZIMMER SOUNDTRACK FEATURING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, ROBERT DOWNEY JR BEING THE WORLD’S WEIRDEST PIANO PLAYER.
DISAPPOINT, TUMBLR. DISAPPOINT.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON
BUT IT’S AMAZING
AND THERE’S RDJ AND A UKULELE AND THAT EXCELLENT LADY WHO PLAYS LOTS OF THINGS, OCCASIONALLY IN A BOX
No, musicians who worked on this score, thank you.
Just when I thought nothing could get more wacky or manic than the score itself.
Attn: violetimpudence — this is relevant to your interests.
Hey, that Tim Curry song I just posted? Well, it’s a cover. And one of the people seen above in the slide is … Jeff Lynne. Yeah, that Jeff Lynne.
Also, astonishingly, this is a GOOD song.
To my mind, no one has ever skewered dumb metal better than Tim Curry.
Except Spinal Tap, and frankly, this could be a Spinal Tap song, so same difference.
I am not the kind of person who makes year-end best-of lists. For one thing, I’m not good with keeping track of the timelapse of a year - I often don’t remember whether an album or a film or a book was released this year, or last year, or even the year before. (I also don’t comment on other people’s year-end lists; this hilarious NPR article will give you an idea of why.)
But I do value the occasional recommendation, and perhaps you do too, so here’s a small handful of media picks all of which I know for a fact happened within the last year. All of these have been consumed by me and enjoyed greatly.
Nonfiction division: The Table Comes First, Adam Gopnik. For anyone who is interested in food, recipes, restaurants, history of same, etc etc … basically, for all my foodie friends, but I have a whole lot of foodie friends. The writing in this book is so excellent and clever that I want to read large chunks of it aloud to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.
Fiction division: Carte Blanche, Jeffery Deaver. The James Bond novel franchise has had its ups and downs since Ian Fleming. (Some would say it had its ups and downs even when Fleming was writing them.) Carte Blanche is essentially a reboot of the written franchise in the same ways that the recent Daniel Craig films have been a reboot of the visual one. It’s a surprisingly well-researched novel, more grounded in plausibility than you might expect. This is not High Literature, you understand, but it’s very enjoyable reading.
Sky Full of Holes, Fountains of Wayne. Although not as many of these tracks will immediately reach out and grab you by the ears as did on Welcome Interstate Managers, keep listening. You will start by being caught by easy-to-love tracks like “Acela” or “The Summer Place,” but it’s the more thoughtful ones like “I Hate To See You Like This” or “Cold Comfort Flowers” that will keep dragging you back.
Only In Dreams, Dum Dum Girls. This could easily have been the same sort of listenable but one-gimmick album as Best Coast’s Crazy For You, but Kristen Gundred is better than that. The first thing you’ll notice is how much she sounds like early Chrissie Hynde. The second thing you’ll notice is that the album is full of interesting surprises that you don’t usually see in what is basically garage-girl-band material.
Hugo. Just go see it. In fact, make sure that you see it in 3D, and that’s not something I ever thought I would say about any film, ever. This is only a story about a boy who lives in the unseen channels of a train station and keeps the clocks wound at its uppermost levels. Below that, this is a story about Scorsese’s love of movies and his sense of wonder, neither of which seems to have diminished with age. In particular, if you are any kind of film buff and you haven’t already seen this film, you need to fix this immediately. And yes, you can take the kids. In fact, they may give this film their highest tribute: In the theatre where we saw it, the kids were so enthralled that they forgot for a while to be noisy and disruptive.
Multiplayer Division: Star Wars: The Old Republic. I was briefly in the beta for this. It opens officially on 20 December. I don’t know how well it is going to play for people who don’t love the Star Wars universe. But if you do, and you like multiplayer online games, this is one you don’t want to miss.
Solo Division: Portal 2. Best game script in the last five years, perhaps in the last decade. This is the kind of game you want to play just to hear what the characters in it are going to say and do next. It is also a challenging puzzle game which is - despite the many environmental hazards which can kill you - almost completely nonviolent, so if you resist games where you spend your time shooting at everything that moves, this is the game for you. (The one caveat I will add is that you need to at least know a summary of what happened in the first Portal; ideally you will have played it. But it’s good too!)
Handheld Division: If you bought a 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land is the game that finally justifies your purchase price. Really. It’s that good. It’s the game they should have delayed the 3DS release for; it’s the first “killer app” for the system.