Monday, October 08, 2007

beta week ever

Sunday - Animal Collective
Discussion at the bar about a friend's music project (which apparently sounds like Junior Boys) reveals that Phil Collins has become the most crucial artist of the 80s. It dovetails nicely with my pet theory that the most influential Beach Boys album for the 80s generation is not Pet Sounds but rather whatever one had "Kokomo" on it. That's the one that everyone grew up on, believing the band to be The Suck, until Napster (or maybe watching Forrest Gump) proved otherwise.

Still not proceeding just yet to Webster Hall (so as to avoid $8 beers) we muse that surely there's another artist from the 80s who is secretly crucial. Paul Simon's Graceland? Maybe, but you can't just go on the fact that there are more NYC media-centric thinkpieces on Vampire Weekend than actual VW songs, so Simon is out.

Then it happens. "Bowm-bowm-bowm-doo-doo-doo-doo" comes on over the bar speakers, the opening moments of TVOTR's "Ambulance." And then it all makes perfect sense, as we stagger towards the Animal Collective: Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is the skeleton key for all of Brooklyn rock.

Monday - Control press screening

Most of my thoughts are covered here. Forget to mention that the gent who plays Hooky here is also Maxwell in Across the Universe (he's a dead-ringer for the next Kurt Cobain bio pic, too). As the VHS or Beta piece states, I find Closer to be physically affecting and I wonder what other music out there causes a similar reaction in folks. One friend says "The Marble Index." Anyone else?

Tuesday - War/ Dance press screening

Out in December, I believe, so as to angle for Oscar consideration in Best Documentary. A story about three teens in a northern Uganda refugee camp who travel to that country's National Music Competition. Thankfully, the film isn't pedantic in unpacking the struggle. In fact, the depiction of these rebels as inscrutable bogeymen who kill in the night actually works in this context.

Back to Graceland, and a quote from the New Yorker profile on artist Kara Walker, about the inclination towards "the vision of 'tribal art' as a tool to be used by more sophisticated Western artists...the message...was that people of color don't exist unless whites say they do." Seeing the film's subjects (one an orphaned child, one bade to commit atrocities already, another who wails at the overgrown marker of her father's otherwise unmarked grave) as they perform and dance, it's self-deceiving to continually paint African music as this naif ebullience, as if it conjures some longed-for, uncomplicated humanity. To reduce the irreducible innovations of musicians like King Sunny Ade or Fela and make it heel to Ivy League quandaries is infuriating. But then again, so is the film's use of eerie ambient washes and b-rolls of thunder to storytell some of these children's waking-nightmare stories. Just hearing a 14-year-old talk about having to bludgeon some peasants to death with a hoe and then bury the hacked chunks in a shallow grave doesn't need any editing room pizazz.

Wednesday - Damon & Naomi/ Boris
Damon and Naomi's strongest suit is curation, from the Exact Change imprint to International Sad Hits Vol. 1 to slowing down both George Harrison and Caetano Veloso on their last album of sloooooow ballads. Within These Walls is no different, although its curatorial aspect lies in how they match Damon's twelve-string and Naomi's keyboard to their collaborators: Espers' cellist to Bhob Rainey's microtonal horn (he looks as if he just left a Supertramp recording session with Ornette's toy horn) to Michio Kurihara's understated plasma leads. With his big hair and furious strumming, Damon at one point actually achieves the sound of Tim Buckley's Starsailor.

Thursday - Mix Tape reading

See three short stories read aloud centering on pop song appearance in the story: Spinanes, the Human League, and the Ramones. Bummed not so much for not knowing how to participate in future readings (I am) but in missing the reading that involves the main character getting a BJ whilst dressed as Harry from Harry and the Hendersons.

Friday - Wordless Music series
Wordless, my ass. Beirut bleated a week or so back, as does Sandro Perri tonight. Is this what Arthur Russell wrought, a non-singing made into singing via loops and sparse effects?

The church is packed and hell-hot. Are there really that many Columbia students into neo-classical music by one-time Bjork collaborators? Muhly is sneaky, performing a piece entitled "Mother Tongue." His soprano recites strings of numbers and every phone number and address she can think of. Swear that amid "962560773" and 43102458465" I can hear subliminal messages like "104.5 KZEP" and that most baleful string of numbers, "90210," throughout.

WIll Oldham comes out to sing a few songs with Valgeir's arrangements. Is that what all the kids are here for, "Bonnie" Prince Billie? As the overlong schvitz/recital finally wraps, the secret is revealed: Sigur Ros is gonna come out and do an acoustic set. So that's why the church is packed with believers? Okay, so I don't speak Hopelandic, but seriously, does anyone in the crowd realize that they've just been listening to twelve minutes of Adult Contemporary?

Saturday- Arcade Fire/ LCD Soundsystem
Most! Important! Concert! Ever!
It is here that I coin a new word: "Whipster." It's sorta like a "Blipster," except you're white. The island acrawl with them, it proves that this is definitely the Whipster Generation.