Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let us not praise famous men, nor our fathers that begat us...

Let us speak frankly now, because we're all friends here, and because I care... Now, with all due respect to Ian Svenonius, his contribution to popular music, and his lasting legacy as the one-time Sassiest Boy in America (and subsequent ignoble de-throning), I think Mr. Svenonius' creative output has gradually fallen, witness his painfully dated skewering of suburbia and economic progress. Fish in a barrell or the side of a barn - take your pick, Ian.

When did it start? Was it in 2001, when Ian Svenonius adopted the pseudonym David Candy for an extended, abysmal romp through kitsch? Did he give up after the International Noise Conspiracy & The Hives et al. purloined his look and approach whole-sale? The Scene Creamers? Weird War?

But then again, maybe high-concept garage rock that lifts heavily from the darker corners of post-Marxist thought & radical chic was never really meant to rock anyway. Maybe as close as we could get to that was the Yardbirds trashing their guitars in an Antonioni's Blow Up.

And thank God. I'm no purist - garage rock or elsewise, which is why Thee Oh Sees are such a god-damn revelation. Started by John Dwyer of Pink & Brown and The Coachwhips and from their ashes, rises a jangly, lo-fi phoenix. Or maybe a Griffon. If you're in Montreal for Pop, check them out this Saturday.

Thee Oh Sees at Pop Montreal
w/ Pink Noise, Golden Triangle, The Fresh & Onlys
Saturday, October 3rd
Sala Rosa

Check out the Oh Sees myspace page for more information.

Festival du Nouveau Cinema: Behind Jim Jarmusch

The French love Paul Auster and Jim Jarmusch. More than they love Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, who are Italian and therefore beloved but not loved. Not in the gushy, Gallic fan-boy manner that Mr. Auster and Jarmusch are loved, at least. And that's fair - Paul Auster's post-Jungian mysticism is a lot cooler than Robertson Davies', and Jim Jarmusch has the right pedigree of Manhattan art-world cool, plus he's quiet. Still waters run deep. This is a nation that never turned its back on Mickey Rourke, and there's a consistency in that that must be admired. (This is also a nation that gave us Manu Chao, but I digress...)

French film director Léa Rinaldi shot Behind Jim Jarmusch over the course of three days, while Jarmusch was working in Seville on The Limits of Control, his most recent film, the poorly received and slow-moving absurdist crime film.

In this clip, Jim Jarmusch walks and talks about being lost, which when translated into French would be understood as "Lost. Being lost. What is this act of being lost? Are we ever truly lost? To be lost is... To be. To be lost is who we are."

Behind Jim Jarmusch is playing as part of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema on the following dates:
October 8th 1pm Cinema du Parc
October 15th 9:15pm Ex-Centris
October 18th 1pm Ex-Centris
If you miss it, the film will be featured as an extra on the DVD of Limits of Control when it's released in November.

Re-Ups: Crydajam, Plaza Musique, 45:33 Remixes, and Angie Dickinson in Opera Gloves.

It's Burt Bacharach's ex-wife, Angie Dickinson, and she's wearing opera gloves!

As many of you are probably aware, (those of you that aren't visiting to look at photos of Etta James or photos of Angie Dickinson in opera gloves), I've been using Yousendit to host mp3 files - with only 100 downloads available and traffic increasing to this blog (now that I'm actually updating it), it tends to run out before the 7 day period. I'll find a solution to that, but in the meantime, I'll start re-uploading some of the more popular and requested songs from the past couple of months.

Here are a trio to get us started. First, Crydajam's well-crafted bumping brass and organ-riffing house jam Playground was, for obvious reasons, gone in a second. Original Crydajam post here... Montreal's reigning rulers in the realm of sophisticated space-pop Plaza Musique have been getting a bit of attention (well-deserved, I have to say) from Anglo sources and beyond now that they're going to be opening for Os Mutantes this weekend at Pop Montreal. Original Plaza Musique post here... And finally, of course everyone's been looking to download LCD Soundsystem's 45:33 Remixes, with special attention to Theo Parrish's remix. Truthfully, I found the rest of the remixes snooze-worthy: Pilooski's remix of 45:33 was like being stuck in a k-hole of boring house. Zzzzz...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Is What Europeans Do, This Is How They Are.

Vangelis' Let It Happen is a blissful, dreamy proto-Balearic song from his third album, Earth, (1973) with a bass-line that wouldn't be entirely out of place in an Air France song. Vocals were provided by F.R. David, who would score big with the pleasantly pleading Euro-synthpop song Words, also available above.

Beatfanatic's remix turns it more into a Still Going-style sitch: layering it with four-on-the-floor disco beats and letting the bassline carry you through an 8 minute expansion from the original. Don't hold his poorly chosen moniker against this Swedish boy ("I am your BEAT MASTER!" "I'm gonna cook up some funk in my groove kitchen!" "Take a trip through my rhythm garden!").

For his Late Night Tales mix (released in July 2007), Lindstrom tweaked Let It Happen into a darker and more sinister affair, the expansive original is now a constricted straight-jacket of a song that pops and stutters with a hammering bass-thump instead of our beloved bassline and decaying acid arpeggios... The vocals are provided by long-time collaborator Christabelle Solale If the Vangelis original calls to mind Meditarranean islands, Lindstrom's version is the musical equivalent of driving your 1980 Ferrari 308 GTSI in the abandoned city centre of Tokyo at night, during a rainstorm.

Grab Demis Roussous' version from the always amazing American Athlete blog. The gargantuan Grecian chanteur began his career in the psych-group Aphrodite's Child along with Vangelis and went on to greater, schmaltzier fame as a solo performer and, memorably, a birthday boy terrorist hostage to Lebanese hijackers in 1985. Mr. Roussos has a new album out in February of next year, two songs of which you can preview on his Myspace page.

Ken Jeong as Senor Chang on NBC's Community

"Why you, teach Spanish?"
"Building a wall that you can see from outer space."
"I don't want to have any conversations about what a mysterious, inscrutable man I am."

Joe Russo and brother Anthony Russo (of Arrested Development fame) have a new show out, it's NBC's Community and it's pretty much a dud. Our title character, a charasmatic manipulator of a lawyer who must go to community college to save his career is played by Joel McHale, who is distinctly uncharismatic in his role, and as much as I want to give a man who gave me such joy in Fletch a little bit of love back, Chevy Chase is not-so-hot either. There are a couple of sparks in the darkness, and it's obvious that there are some smart people working on this (hampered as they are by the damp hamminess of Mr. McHale), but for the most part, it doesn't work. The scenario: a rag-tag-group of misfits pulling together, and being led by a flawed figure who needs redemption (whether he's aware of it or not) is ten times more stale now than it was when it was used in the Bad News Bears...

But... The one shining bright light in the whole thing has been this scene in the second episode, where Spanish professor Senor Chang (played my real-life MD turned comedian Ken Jeong) explains his own pedagogical impulse in a physical and dynamic monologue that I'd like to see more of. Seriously, 1:48 seconds in, and just watch. It's amazing...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Crazy People

Zenas Winsor Mackay's The Centaurs (1921)

Winsor Mackay, the possibly Canadian but entirely talented creator of the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, also might have been as crazy as his spiritual successor, Henry Darger, if one imagines what we aren't able to see from this baffling animated short from 1921. A family of centaurs in the forest, huh? Check out the rest of the footage and marvel at what once was and now will never be.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pour mes amis Quebecois

Dude might have been another jerky separatist who could barely contain his racism, but at least he gave us the above genius piece of film. RIP, M. Falardeau

Friday, September 25, 2009

Comparing Losing Political Situations to Hotel California is Superior to Calling Them Quagmires

Chris: We should go out and have mai fucking tai's this weekend
Sent at 1:41 PM on Friday

Well, it looks like my weekends going to be spent with a pack of fashion magazines and, but it's probably going to be good to get some brain-work in before the physical work-out and flurry of activity that is Pop Montreal begins, sparing no liver or ear-drum or bank account. So, some bits and pieces, then...

...And I thought I had a fucked up childhood dealing with Pentecostal Christians and post-60s California paranoid communal living (it creeped up the West Coast... Joan Didion's selection of essays, The White Album, is one of my favourite books and also chronicles the intense disconnect and anxiety that not just followed the Haight & Ashbury period, but was at the core of it). Girls' Christopher Owens had it way worse than I, growing up in some backwards universe in a Children of God family and emerging from it with a demo and a supremely solid album of music that, on first listen, sounds like Elvis Costello fronting Spiritualized, with lo-fi digressions.

Swedish super-secret-studio creations JJ you probably already know about, but if not, the back-story is the absence of a back-story. From their album on Sweden's Sincerely Yours label, also home to The Tough Alliance, Air France and other similar-minded Nordiques.

Tanlines also on the bill with Plaza Musique and Os Mutantes for Pop Montreal. Saturday, October 3rd at Le National. Don't sleep on that.

A new album by Chromeo is due next summer (too long!), but in the mean-time, check out their crate-digging skills on their recently released DJ Kicks compilation, which includes songs from long-time Goldkicks favourites Kano and Carmen (Time to Move, rather than Throw Down - difficult choice). If you register on the K7 site, they'll send you an mp3 of Chromeo's cover of the Eagles' I Can't Tell You Why. And yes, a vocoder harmonizing on the chorus is way better than Glenn Frey and Don Henley.

A couple of years back, Chromeo put together Le Mix for Turbo Recordings, which included amongst a number of high-lights (I can name at least four DJs who play Chemise's She Can't Love You, sing along to it and do weird hand-gestures regularly, to say little of my general peer group's love for Gino Soccio) The Deele's Body Talk, which I've posted above. Babyface was in The Deele. BABYFACE!

Is The Chronicle of Higher Education predicting that roving gangs of high school drop-out meth-heads may soon take a page from Mao's Little Red Book and attack the cities from the countryside, taking specific aim at the previously departed "achievers" and "high fliers?" Let's say yes. The next Khmer Rouge may be North America's poor white underclass.

Bixi Pop

(but not exactly)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Chromeo song "Night by Night"

The last we caught up with Montreal's premier R&B electro-funk duo, they were jamming with Darryl Hall of Hall & Oates in his restored colonial-era farmhouse. Now they've got a new song which skews more Moroderian Hi-NRG with its galloping bass-lines and guitar and keyboard solos that wouldn't be outta place on the Miami Vice score. Sweet. To cool down a bit and get into a moody Michael Mann mood, I suggest you follow it up with Crockett's Theme from the Miami Vice soundtrack, and maybe take a long walk on a white beach with appropriate pastels and linen pants.

Quick Fix

Natassja Kinski, One From The Heart

The Shirelles Baby, It's You (1961)
The Beatles Baby, It's You (1963)
Smith Baby, It's You (1969)

From the pen of Burt Bacharach, Baby, It's You was always a bit melancholic, but Smith turns it into a minor-key bluesy stomper that actually kinda works with a killer bass tone...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Joseph Smith Hustled, Brigham Young Was a Baller

Sports jackets, dookie chains, ball caps, and acid-washed jeans
2 Live Crew in the basics.

Wrongly maligned by history for their poor name choice and remembered (if at all) for Tap The Bottle, the Young Black Teenagers deserve another look, especially considering production duties were handled by Hank Shocklee of the Bomb Squad. Good enough for Public Enemy, good enough for me. Time To Make The Dough Nutz, which samples Rush's Tom Sawyer is not the place to start, but listen to First True Love Affair above, which samples, you guessed, Jimmy Ross' First True Love Affair, which was produced by the friendliest face of Italo-Disco, Kano. Kano's back-catalogue has been cherry-picked for samples, (and recently nickied by Spank Rock for their Fabriclive mix), from way back in my grade 8 days by Tag Team (Miami Bass from Atlanta?) for Whoomp! (There It Is). I always found it a bit strange that, because of the Jock Jams compilation or whatever else, there was a substantial and ready-made fan-base for Miami Bass amongst the Mormon basketball players in my high school.

One song not so easily adopted by the Mormon ball-palmers in Miami's greatest contribution to music would have to be Pop That Pussy, by genre-definers 2 Live Crew, which features a spectacular re-working of the Billy Stewart's Summertime. DJs, follow that up with Eazy E's Gimme That Nut for maximal libidinal labial dance-floor expression. By the way, does anyone know where the hell that songs from? I found it on a CD five years ago and have no idea where it came from.

HBO's Bored to Death

I watched the first two episodes of HBO's Bored to Death last night. It's the Jonathan Ames scripted half-hour comedy-drama starring Jason Schwartzman as Mr. Ames' alter-ego: a failed writer, recently dumped, scribbling here-and-there for Ted Danson's character, addicted to white wine and pot, who decides to advertise as a PI on Craigslist, against the warnings of his pal Zach Galifianakis. Ensuing complications and plot-twists, you get it. Well, it couldn't be any worse than Californication, right? Few shows could be. There were a couple of out-loud laugh moments, but it's what you'd expect from the principles - the flip-side of the loud-and-quiet Will Ferrel/Vince Vaughn dynamic - mannered performances, chuckles, and the low-level thrill of recognition. It was great to hear the Young Marble Giants in the first episode, but Christ, whoever was responsible for music supervision was playing it a little bit heavy-handed, y'know?

Download the first two episodes via torrent here
(Caveat emptor: screener files have an obnoxious HBO logo over-lay)
Bored To Death Side-Line

Young Marble Giants Brand New Life

Nancy Franklin of the New Yorker on HBO's Bored to Death.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Neglected Greek Children Favour Bixis

Children of Greeks ghost-riding Bixis on a Saturday evening on St. Viateur in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec.
photo: Chris Clark

Playground's A Battleground

I'm sorry to ruin the whole week for you just as it starts, but I guarantee this is the best thing you'll hear all week. Discovered by one of the Bell Biv Devoe guys, Atlanta's Another Bad Creation had a glorious outta-the-gates start with a couple of singles, an appearance on the Meteor Man soundtrack, and a New Edition cover. Not much after that, though. An sophomore slump, and an indie flop. Still, if all they gave to the world was Playground, well, they've done their part.

And check out that video! Pie in the face, and some old white fogey trying to keep the most junior members of the Rhythm Nation down. Quick question: does it really get cold enough in Atlanta to warrant those gigantic down-filled jackets these kids are sporting?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Every Pop Song is a Celebration or a Complaint


Herb Alpert This Guy's In Love With You
Dusty Springfield This Girl's In Love With You
Fleetwood Mac You Make Loving Fun


Otis Redding Security
Etta James Security
Steely Dan Dirty Work


....or else it's a story about a mysterious hotel that you can check into, but never check out of.

A Drum Beat 21 Hours a Day

Photo by Jacob Ring, Bianca Chang or Nikolaus Kaiser. You guess which one.

I don't like Boards of Canada, and I don't think I ever will. Klaus Schulze, Sinoia Caves, other spacey synth-based music I love, in fact, but there's something distinctly un-musical (to my ear) about Boards of Canada. In their weirder moments, it makes me think they were exposed to Jeff Mills at too young an age and for too long a period of time. In Boards of Canada's more accessible moments, (Dayvan Cowboy, let's say) they sound like trip-hop elevator music for a Zen shopping mall populated by soul-less yuppies with a sci-fi twist in a CBS mini-series from the mid-90s. Or more appropriately, it sounds like coming down off some seriously bad drugs, feeling depressed and praying for sleep. I didn't grow up on electronica, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin or anything like that, so it's all beyond me, and seems to exist in a realm where I can't comprehend the musical touchstones or signifiers, with inside jokes that don't make sense to me and genre conventions that are equally as baffling.

But, were you, Hypothetical Fan, to describe in a short couple of sentences the sound of Boards of Canada to me, I would be very interested to hear it, but actually, in my mind, that band would sound like Black Moth Super Rainbow, who belong just as much to the mythical Jungian life-force as they do to wherever the hell it is in Pennsylvania they were born.

I first came across Black Moth Super Rainbow when they put a Sonicbids submission in to Pop Montreal for the 2005 edition and, while the showcase I ended putting on drew, oh, about 15 people, you can chalk that up to my own incompetence, and the fact that no one knew just how good this group was. And damn, they were good, even to a crowd of 15 people in Petit Campus.

Black Moth Super Rainbow's music is tuneful, layered, interesting, bringing up sunny summer days in the woods just as much as space travel and star dust and intergalactic flights, forward-looking and slightly whimsical, but not kitschy, although they did release an EP with a scratch-and-sniff cover...

The Just For The Night remix posted above is from last year and slipped under my radar. Ms. Burhenn is a singer-songwriter with a who appears to have some tangential connection to the Dischord post-hardcore & indie scene in Washington, DC, but a voice that's more closely related to Sarah McLachlan or, in the case of this song, Alison Goldfrapp.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

VGA or Super-VGA

By popular demand and for a limited time only, more from Chaz Bundick, known to most now as Toro y Moi, including his cover of Human Nature from Michael Jackson's Thriller album.

FM Attack is the nom-de-chanson of one Shawn Ward, from Vancouver, BC, supposedly newly signed by Tiga (although I can find scant mention of that). This is from his debut album Dreamatic, half of which sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to the Canmore, Alberta-filmed 80's BMX film Rad (like Real Life's Send Me An Angel), the other half of which brings to my mind a toned-down Designer Drugs (octave-jumping bass-lines, synth stabs, and those tight mid-80s LA tom fills). Slow-dancing BMXes were the height of mid-decade romanticism, I think.

I'd like to make an early Christmas request: a Cat Power & Sade duet, please, and preferably nothing too blues-y.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sondre Lerche in Montreal

Jenn Wong's favourite Norwegian songster (and now Brooklyn transplant) Sondre Lerche (even more than Kurt Foss!) is in Montreal tonight along with his rollicking songs for a solo electric performance at Cafe Campus. I assume he'll be mostly playing songs from his new album Heartbeat Radio, but I'd like to hear personal favourites Sleep on Needles & On The Tower. Requests, respectfully. The song above is from the first on his new album, and doesn't the trailing guitar line and accompanying crescendos remind you of Destroyer? No? The near-overwhelming string arrangements were provided by Sean O'Hagan of The High Llamas.

Leaked LCD Soundsystem 45:33 Remixes, early Lifelike .WAV files, Misheard Can Lyrics, et plus

Neighbourhood Romeo No, You Call Him
Fatback Band Yum Yum (Gimme Some)

Despite its giant floating plastic vortex twice the size of Texas, is my preferred fish provider and general all-around ocean. So, here's a little something from the close-to-the-coast duo Neighbourhood Romeo, comprised of Calgary, Alberta's Wax Romeo & Neighbour. Fun and crisp funk with a up-pitched Loleatta Holloway vocal sample that helps buoy oil city's reputation as a fine producer of super-slick sleeper funk hits. Grab whatever you can from these guys. Neighbour will be in Montreal performing at Studio Just For Laughs on Thursday, October 1st as part of Pop Montreal's Red Bull Mega Hurtz alongside Grahmzilla (of Thunderheist), Hovatron (aka Phil Aubin), Lunice, Megasoid, and uh, some sort of weird Burning Man hippie-techno-alien-rave DJ named JELO. Don't know who programmed that...

Okay, so the Fatback Band (later Fatback) were never from the West Coast, but they sound like it. Good enough.

LCD Soundsystem
's 45:33 remixes got leaked. Eight in total, from Padded Cell, Pilooski, Riley Reinhold, Prins Thomas, Trus’me Prince Language and Theo Parrish. Stream them in 320 kbps on Feel My Bicep.

Vancouver's always generous promoter & DJ U-Tern puts up some .WAV files of early Lifelike vinyl-only releases. Thanks! His new weekly The Terrace is every Thursday at Republic Nightclub (958 Granville Street), which is great news - something to do during my next visit to Vancouver.

"Animal Collective in the house!" Dam Funk to sparse and skeptical East Coast funk fans, as reported by the New York Times.

Misheard Can Lyrics/Misheard Damo Suzuki lyrics must be collected into one archive for the betterment of mankind and an increase in human understanding.

Os Mutantes, Plaza Musique, Echo Kitty, Automelodi

There are always about six or seven shows during Pop Montreal that I've marked down as must-sees (and generally end up missing, or just having enough time to catch two or three songs - sigh), and that's certainly the case this year. Matt & Kim? Okay, no. I've never even heard a Matt & Kim song but something about their promo pictures has always prevented me from investigating any further. I find it hard to believe they're not secretly from a Vancouver suburb and that half of their stage banter involves thanking their show promoters for baking them vegan brownies.

Os Mutantes in younger, witchier times

But yes, Os Mutantes. Os Mutantes are, of course, the Brazilian founders of the Tropicalia movement whose influence has been felt far & wide since forming in 1968. There have been numerous line-up changes since that time, of course, but with a new album Haih or Amortecedor on Anti (that seems to be mostly about geopolitics - uh, okay), it should be more than a greatest hits performance. The production is remarkably faithful to the jazz-inflected sounds of years past, although I think sometimes the songs veer into (gasp) Jethro Tull territory. The excesses of youth magnified by the indulgence of age.

Plaza Musique at Francofolies 2009

But actually, what I'm most looking forward to on that bill is seeing Montreal's Plaza Musique. I missed them during their performance at Francofolies earlier in the summer (pictured above), and their tasteful & smooth baroque space pop, with its requisite homages to the better retro-futuristic work of Air or Stereolab. ( It wouldn't be out of place on soundtrack to Roman Coppola's CQ.)

M. Paradis

Plaza Musique recorded their new EP with Xavier Paradis (formerly of Echo Kitty, currently of Automelodi, and ocasionally known as Arnaud Lazlaud). If there's anyone in Montreal with a better ear for the textures and sounds of the early days of synthesizers & new-wave pop who is also blessed with the ability to write a great hook, I've yet to find her or him. The most obvious touch-point for a poor observer of Francophone music such as myself with Echo Kitty is Indochine, but it's deeper than that. (I'm unschooled in chanson française, alas.) Visit Automelodi's Myspace page, buy the EP, see them live.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crydajam "Playground"

Eric Chedeville, Guillaume Emmanuel de Homem-Christo and Mederic Nebinger under the Crydajam moniker, the b-side of 2002's If You Give Me The Love I Want, the 18th release on their Crydamoure label. Needless to say, it's wonderful.

To Be Making the Party [sic], To Be Playing the Vinyls [sic]

Angels, harpsichords, house music: the usual.

I don't know anything about 1977, and the 61 website where it was posted isn't very helpful, but it's a great sample-based house track - I love the percussive element (smaller bells, the guitar) in certain songs that immediately conjures up the sounds of an over-packed party somewhere. (Hey, I know how lame that is - about as lame as my obsession with music that makes me think about the ocean or even (God) sounds like the ocean. Real 6 year old territory here...) Roxy Music's Love is the Drug, for example, or Clyde Alexander's Got to Get Your Love, re-posted above, which must be the prototype for the years of soulful house (some good, a lot not) that followed.

Axel Le Baron and Julien Kourbatoff's Darling Records' second release is Rico The Wizard, part of the label's grand scheme to bring us back to the glory days of French Touch. Nice.

Summer's over, so the only physical fitness solution for the easily-chilled nightclub-frequenting denizens of Montreal is a dancefloor workout. Thankfully it's not going to be difficult to dust off the dancing shoes & find a place to dip & sweat in the next couple of weeks, with visits by The Juan Maclean this Thursday and Italian DJ Bottin on September 26th. Bottin is going to be joined by a stellar line-up of Montreal's finest, including Andrew Ward & Matt Bain from Love! Disco Style and the Loose Joints guys. Exceptional, and a great opportunity to, in the patois of my French-Canadian countrymen, make the party (FB event ici).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Washed Out & Carly Simon

On this track, South Carolina's Ernest Greene (Washed Out) takes as his blue-print Carly Simon's Why (which was produced by Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers of Chic, and I posted Jesus, just under two years ago, and also sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for a Bonita Applebaum remix) and crafts a loving ship that's a bit rough around the edges, but ultimately sea-worthy, and capable of weathering whatever late-summer squall flashes on the horizon. Flashes of Air France and other hazy post-balearic navigators, too.

Go buy his Life of Leisure EP now. Life of Leisure is actually way more fucking spectacular than you might imagine from Belong (which I really like).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Professione: Reporter

Richard Brody of the New Yorker on Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (1975)
Miuccia Prada interviews Enrica Antonioni for Interview Magazine in 1995

Depending on your mood, watching The Passenger might be a languid and even ponderous exercise. Although a new print was playing here in Montreal at Cinema du Parc a couple of years ago, I opted to wait until the mood struck me to watch the film, and I suspect if you sit down to the movie in the wrong sort of mood, you'll be switching it off quite quickly. Not in the same way you'd switch off Salo, and with less head-shaking than at the moment you decide Last Year At Marienbad is not for you.

Antonioni's The Passenger is, if given a chance and if you're in the right mood, an interesting and meditative film - one that I'm glad I had the chance to see, and that I've recommended to others, albeit with the caveat that let your mood should suit the film, as the punishment fits the crime. Released in 1975, and starring Jack Nicholson & Maria Schneider (3 years after Last Tango in Paris), the film is about alienation, escape, and all the grand sort of themes that, depending on your point of view, either plague capital-F Foreign Films, or distinguish it from the dreck produced on the shores of the New World. It's also Hitchcock with the plot machine torn from its chest - handsomely shot, forged identities, a pot-boiler espionage - more critique than homage. The film also features one of the finest tracking shots in film history, up there with the opening of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.

Peer Raben Dark Chariot
(appears in Fassbinder's Querelle and The Third Generation; and Wong Kar-Wai's 2046)
Zbigniew Preisner Do Not Take Another Man's Wife I
(appears in Kieślowski's Trois Couleurs: Rouge)

Philip Glass Kyoko's House (Osamu's Theme)
(appears in Schrader's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters)
Arvo Part Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten
(appears, curiously, in Twyker's Winterschläfer)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

California Come-Down

Sparrow House When I Am Gone
Beach House Holy Dances
Gandalf Me About You
Cass McCombs That's That

The changing light
at San Francisco
is none of your East Coast light
none of your
pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
after the fog burns off
and the sun paints white houses
with the sea light of Greece
with sharp clean shadows
making the town look like
it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock
sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
when the new night fog
floats in
And in that vale of light
the city drifts
anchorless upon the ocean
- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Boat Work

Chromeo performed with Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates, of course!) from the man's Live From Daryl's House video podcast. While there's a heavy old-dude blues element through some of the songs, it's almost more interesting to watch Mr. Hall as he guides P-Thugg & Dave 1 through his house and they talk about the old days, wine, renovating 17th century houses, and ambivalence towards horse people.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

If you like Montreal, Indians & Disco... me some disco moccasins.

Virtue Proof Against All Solicitations

Where's your chariot, Helios?

If you're stuck for a theme for your next party, might I suggest The Seven Wonders of the World For Rent or Sale?

Among the mountains themselves the Calder afterwards leaves on the left Halifax, a very famous town on the slope of a hill extending from West to East. It has not had this name many ages, being before called Horton, as some of the inhabitants relate, adding this tale concerning the change of the name. A certain priest, as they call him, had long been in love with a young woman, without success; and finding her virtue proof against all his solicitations, his love suddenly changing to madness, the villain cut off her head, which being afterwards hung upon a yew tree, was reverenced and visited by the common people, till it began to corrupt, every person pulling off some twigs of the tree. The tree, stripped of its branches, maintained its reputation for sanctity among the credulous, and the vulgar fancied the little veins spread like hair or threads between the bark and body of the yew, were the identical hairs of the maiden. A pilgrimage was established from the neighbourhood hither, and such a concourse came that the little village of Horton grew to a large town, and took the name of Haligfax, or Halifax; q.d. Holyhair, fax signifying hair among the English on the other side of Trent, whence also, a noble family in these pairs, called Fairfax, from their fair hair."

-- Camden quoted in a letter from W.R. Whatton to The Gentleman's Magazine
(volume 73, Part 2, 1819) on the etymology of Halifax.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Great Dilemmas in Love & Popular Music

Popular music has the power to bring people together to fight famine and the economic decline of the American farmer, to tear down racial barriers, and in the case of Redhead Kingpin & The FBI's Do The Right Thing encourage us to act as moral agents in the exercise of our free-will and wear turquoise pants. All fine things, and while popular music can control the raging torrents of political sentiment and our sartorial choices, just what is the extent of popular music's power? Does popular music have the power to heal still-fresh wounds? Can, for example, a song bring back a baby? I put the question to two thoughtful Montreal friends of mine, both possessing great wisdom in the matters of the heart and popular music: Marion Elissalde, photographer, ukulele player, graphic designer & wit; and Michelle Fritzi Adelman, art-history graduate, freelance writer/photographer/stylist and member of now disbanded art-pop group Bold Saber.

"Baby, come back!" "Baby, come back!"

Hypothetically, you are dating either Eddy Grant, lead singer of the Equals, or Peter Beckett, lead singer of 70s soft rock sensations Player. Something happened, and the relationship soured. In a desperate attempt to win back your love and to express deep regrets at the way things were, as well as the longing & unhappiness in their souls, they have turned to the power of song.

Relationship Status: Over

Peter Beckett has been hitting the town, trying to forget you, but it's not working. Let's say that you've been separated for a period of at least three weeks, if not longer. Given Beckett's admission of wrong-doing, his declaration of love, and his "false bravado," are you prepared to take Peter Beckett back? Why?

Michelle: In the span of three weeks, I would have by now realized that he did me the biggest favour of my life by breaking up with me. Besides, i know what happens when heartbroken men roam the streets. Do I really want a guy back who never really loved me and took me for granted, who now reeks of booze, is coming down off nightly black diamond runs of ant hills of cocaine, and prolly picked up an STI or two on some of those particularly lonely nights. Baby's never comin' back. Sorry.

Marion: Nope. Don't think I would take him back. The guy does me wrong, then goes out and sluts it around town "trying to forget" me? And it take weeks for him to "put it all together" and realize that he "just can't live without me?" I mean it may take a lot for a man to say "you can blame it all on me" but it sounds like he's just feeling lonely and wants someone warm in his bed. Ambivalent love's not my kind of love...

The Equals Baby Come Back
Relationship Status: It's a fresh wound

Eddy Grant admits that he was flirting, that he was mistaken, but after proclaiming his love, he wants a second chance. Are you ready to return to the arms of Eddy Grant of the Equals? Why?

Michelle: How could I not return his arms? He's not begging, or whining about his "false bravado" he's admitting he was wrong, and now demanding I come back. Besides, he was only flirting, right? Second chance Granted. I don't like reggae, I love it.

Marion: Much more forgivable. Everyone flirts from time to time, even if they're in a relationship with someone else... it's harmless fun most of the time. The important thing is that he knows whom he truly loves and immediately recognizes his mistake and apologizes. He begs for forgiveness stating that "his love is true" and I'd want to believe him. If it turned into a regular thing I might have to reconsider, but for now he get his "second chance".

Which way to the Barbarella casting call?

So, there you have it, Player's Peter Beckett has to return to the miserable, solitary life, getting under some women to get over a woman, by luring them with the costume he was photographed in above from his days in Skyband, while straight-forward Eddy Grant of The Equals scores big and goes on to a successful solo career without his trademark blonde wig.

As the "inspiration" (putting it politely) to Player's Baby Come Back, the Hall & Oates song She's Gone is by far the more mature and soulful of the two, as well as lyrically and sonically sophisticated. In it, our heartbroken lover(s) adopts a stoic attitude towards that recognizes the reality of the situation, the pain of separation, and is far more inward looking than pleading.