Sunday, May 22, 2011
This week, I wrote a feature for the Wall Street Journal about The Story Collider, a variant on The Moth storytelling model that involves peoples' interactions with science. Lots of talk about critters, dinosaurs, and being locked up in a Hong Kong Zoo with monkeys, some of which can be heard via their podcast.
Friday, May 20, 2011
My ATP wrap-up ran at Spin earlier this week. And it's taken almost another week to unravel from what was simply an exhaustive ecstatic music marathon. Here are some extra notes and observations that got left out:
Black Dice: what my original text said before the edit was that the Dice sounded like "a rave on a landfill." Can't clean up the cultural trash element in Dice's aesthetic.
Eric Copeland: Papua New Guinean dancehall? Yeah, but that's denying the familiar-yet-alien rhythmic structures that the man concocts. It's beyond belief that for all the mind-boggling amounts of ideas that go into Black Dice sets, Eric still has plenty left at his disposal for his own purposes. And he makes it sound like pop, too.
Mick Barr/ Orthrelm: Too easy to call what Barr does with a guitar "shredding." In fact, I feel now that it's the exact opposite: he is intricately weaving tapestries instead with it. One of the festival's highlights was to watch neophytes approach the stage and stare agog at his playing before walking away with this heartbroken look on their faces. His solo set made me think of what an opera comprised only of a guitar solo might sound like, deeply moving and melodically unfurling for what seemed like hours. He later said that his solo set stemmed from his aborted attempt to score for a string quartet, so he did it all with his guitar instead.
Big Boi: At the end of "I Like the Way You Move," the man also dipped into 2 Live Crew joints like "Move Something" and "Throw the D." As if playing a dozen platinum hip-hop classics weren't enough, he also nodded to Queen's "We Will Rock You."
Spectrum: My dark horse favorite of the festival. It was uncanny to walk into their show and realize that I knew all these songs. It was like I had unearthed a lost crypt from my musical past, realizing that I had spent hours with the Spaceman 3 catalog, yet had forgotten all of that music over the years. Or that I had perhaps heard it all while submerged in a dream and now I was awake with such knowledge recovered. I'm hoping to approach a piano soon and re-remember that I know how to play "The Blue Danube Waltz."
Grouper: How does Liz create a synesthetic sound that is the eerie vision of moonlight obscured by clouds?
Group Doueh: The greatest Sunday morning ever consists of downing a cup of black coffee and then watching Doueh elevate the room. "The golden shred" someone quipped afterwards and it's true that Doueh nonchalantly pulled off the most relaxed guitar pyrotechnics I've ever witnessed. Avey Tare later told me that Doueh has a specially built Strat with a built-in flanger on it, which must be why every note sounds like the opening snake lick of "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)."
Halima from Group Doueh, Micachu, Khaira Arby, Lizzi from Gang Gang Dance: I still can't put my finger on the electrical current from Sunday that was these powerful female vocalists, but it coursed through all these sets, and they all seemed to build towards Gang Gang Dance's penultimate set of the festival. In years past, I might have copped to admitting that maybe her voice was the weak link in the band, but that's absolutely not true. She made British and Malian voices all make sense flowing out of her throat. Transcendent.