Saturday, December 22, 2007

Burial "Untrue" mp3s
Ricardo Villalobos "Fabric 36" mp3
T.O.M. Project "Renaissance" mp3
Theo Angell & the Tabernacle "Auraplinth" CD
Vince Guaraldi Trio "A Charlie Brown Christmas" CD
Killer of Sheep DVD

The Burial album continues to confound. I've heard a few people say that they think it's boring. I did at first too, and as I listen to it for the 8th or 9th time I can still hear it. But it seems to exist on a plane where neither boring nor exciting is an issue. I'm pretty sure my 10th listen will be just as confounding. Stumbled across the whole Fabric 36 mix by Ricardo Villalobos as a bootleg 70-minute mp3. I was gonna buy the album and I'm still gonna buy it, especially if it's broken up into tracks. Been reading some interesting discussion and praise about this mix on this internet, and damn, on first listen I think it's fantastic. A lot of dancing going on around the house tonight, the kids included. Sorry you have to picture such an ecstatic domestic scene, but it's just that kind of mix. And just like some of his contemporaries in Detroit (right after Fabric 36 I had to play "Renaissance" by T.O.M. Project again), Villalobos makes accessible dancefloor music that stays aggressively weird, with textures and developments that bring names like Can and Prince to mind (Prince especially when he does his weird chant vocals from time to time -- sounds like a cousin to "Controversy"). Incredible release, I'm almost nervous to listen to it again. As I've said before, the Theo Angell disc is one of the best of the year. It's rare that I get into anyone new these days primarily as a singer. I can't think of any right off hand...maybe Antony of the Johnsons? Dan Higgs? It seems most contempo artists that are worth a shit do it with some sort of multifaceted overall sonic achievement, within which the voice is a component, usually holding a place that is more strictly textual or textural than it is musical. But Theo Angell I am getting into as a singer, strictly for the music he makes with his voice, just like I would get into Billie Holiday or Neil Young or whomever. He's a really good songwriter too, which helps, and there is just one gem after another on this record -- from the super-hooky opener "In About A Half An Hour" right into more sweet, desolate, moving, expansive ballads like "Crows Landing," "On The Willow," "Have U Seen The Birds Lately?," "Written With The Word," "Gardenfull," "Aurelia," the near-epic "She King" and the voice-only Geeshie Wiley-does-"Starsailor" closer "Forward With The Veil." Right up there with most of the rare-atmosphere private-press folk we've been hearing in this age of rapid media excavation. And as far as Angell's many contemporaries, well, I actually like Devendra and Joanna, and I think they've made a few fine albums between 'em, but Auraplinth is quite simply a galaxy or two beyond... Killer of Sheep was the 1977 debut film by Charles Burnett. I'm pretty sure that a stronger neo-neo-neo-realist film dealing with American ghetto life has not yet been made. A lot of this film took me by surprise -- without dealing explicitly with any of the usual Hollywood tragedy material (murders, crime, abusive families), it was a lot harsher than I expected. Just the bleakness of vacant lots and dilapidated alleys in cities, not to mention all the slaughterhouse scenes (the main character kills sheep for a living at a meat factory), harshly poetic, almost unbearable. You could say that there isn't a story here, just a series of vignettes, but it made me think of a fairly epic story, how "In 1920, 1 in every 7 farmers was black; in 1982, 1 in every 67 farmers was black." (source) To me, this movie is about the way corporations, through the usual expert 'benign' social engineering, moved Americans off the land and into the city, shifting their social role from localized production and distribution into centralized working and 'earning.' This movie is about that displacement and the ennui and frustration that naturally occur as the old self-empowering ways are forgotten. With all the old blues music on the soundtrack and the scenes of families barely getting by, yet still confronted with ample time to sit around bored and displaced, while the man of the house works not on his own land for his own use but in an impersonal city building where livestock is trucked to in bulk for mass slaughter, made me think of this movie as the last great blues song of the Great Migration or something. It's a heavy piece.

No comments:

Blog Archive