Sunday, July 22, 2007:

the hands of a government man

Talking Heads -- Born Under Punches (live in Rome, 1980)
On the cusp of Remain in Light, before Speaking in Tongues, Talking Heads explored moody funk: dark, brooding, and danceable, as evidenced by this Metafilter post about a concert in Rome in 1980 with Adrian Belew (formerly of Frank Zappa and David Bowie, soon to be of King Crimson).

Belew's work here hints at an influence on Byrne's guitar work which showed up as early as Stop Making Sense but, more importantly, the songs stand on their own merits: featuring a meaty slapping bass, ethereal laments, wailing feedback.

The lyrics are elliptical, as any Talking Heads fan could tell you: perhaps they're about shallow consumption; perhaps they're about drug use; perhaps they're a paranoiac nightmare of an encroaching surveillance state. If they are, does it undercut the exuberance that the performance is at least partly planned, calculated to be worth recording? (And what does it mean that it was recorded and passed around in increasingly inferior versions--from broadcast TV to videotape to glitchy upload on Youtube to glitchy lossy mp3? Byrne could write something clever and pointed about it; for my part I'll just hope the concert gets a professional DVD release.)

Other highlights on that concert: "Drugs," "Crosseyed and Painless," "The Great Curve."


Wednesday, July 11, 2007:

children and cartwheels and chandeliers

Elizabeth Mitchell -- Who's My Pretty Baby
At ten years old, there was nowhere Elizabeth Mitchell would go that couldn't be gone there by cartwheels or somersaults. At ten and a half she learned how to walk on her hands and was sure that her feet would never touch the ground again. She insisted that her parents lower the counters throughout the house. They refused, so she insisted they buy her stilts. Her parents did not want to take down the chandeliers or to clean footprints from the ceiling, and it seemed sure the situation was headed towards a crisis. Luckily, Elizabeth's uncle was clever enough to buy her a guitar for her birthday. It was a challenge for Elizabeth to play A maj with her feet, but G maj was impossible. B7 was whatever was a step beyond impossible. Elizabeth decided she could sit "like normal," provided no one saw her; and that her feet could touch the ground as she sat, provided she washed them afterwards.

Each day her parents would make excuses to pass her door and overhear her practicing, and each day when she was done she'd put the guitar away and walk on her hands to the kitchen to find a snack. And each day her mother would say "don't ruin your appetite for dinner, honey," and each day Elizabeth would say "yes ma'am."

And then one day her parents heard her practice stop and the door open, and Elizabeth came walking down the hall but not to the kitchen, and on her feet, not on her hands. She was carrying her guitar and she walked into the living room where her astonished parents sat, and she stood there in front of them and said "Mom. Dad. Listen to this." And then she played something which sounded like all the joy and energy of an eleven-year-old channelled into music.

You Are My Little Bird is an album for children. Jordan @ Said the Gramophone posted "Three Little Birds" in March, and then Folkways sent me the CD as part of a package of promo materials. I do like it, but am sure that my niece would like it even more.
[Elizabeth Mitchell @ Folkways; various reviews @ Ryko Distribution]

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Friday, July 06, 2007:

9Seven for IV 121 -- Before Finish

9Seven for IV 121 -- Before Finish
Receiving a transmission, captain.
[Onscreen: a trio of Japanese travelers in a steampunk spaceship, stars and planets floating distant in the viewport behind them, contextless and serene. They begin to speak. Their words, constellations of sounds, also float: unmoored, drifting, supremely calming. They are not cosmonauts but monogatarinauts.]
--Ensign, decode.
The computer can not understand it fully, captain. ... CRM 114 ... C57D ... 1701 ... Baratu.
[The transmission ends. Captain raises his eyebrows.]
I will attempt to reestablish contact.... No response, sir. Records indicate the transmission arrived from Audiogalaxy.
--I wish to know more, ensign.
I'm sorry, Captain, there is no further information.
--Then let us hear it again.

[Anyone know anything about this band? Please post it in the comments.]

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