Archive: September 2006

Listen: Nina Hynes – William Tell

Nina Hynes is one of those SXSW accidents — you show up not knowing anything about who’s performing and you leave a fan.

Hynes evokes comparrisons to Björk and Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays, and the mix of rock and electronics in her music certainly calls to mind Post-era Guðmundsdóttir.

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Kniefall vor Terroristen

ArtsJournal.com has been posting links about the Deutsche Oper canceling a production of Idomeneo by Mozart.

The reason? The director of the production stages a scene in which the decapitated heads of all the major religious figures are placed on chairs, including but not limited to Mohammed. Deutsche Oper director Kirsten Harms didn’t want a repeat of the protests that occurred after a Danish newspaper published editorial cartoons depicting Mohammed. So the production was canceled.

Cries of "censorship" followed, with some critics accusing Harms of Kniefall vor Terroristen — "kneeling to terrorists". Even the German chancellor has weighed in.

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Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 14, 23 & 8 (Vladimir Ashkenazy)

I call any disc that contains Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 14, 23 and 8 as a "piano student album".

Those three sonatas — the "Moonlight" (No. 14), the "Appassionata" (No. 23) and the "Pathetique" (No. 8) — are standard repertoire for any degree-seeking music major concentrating on piano performance. And more than likely, you’ll find all three pieces offered for budget prices by every major classical label.

I bought the Vladimir Ashkenazy disc because it was on sale.

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One-sentence reviews: Gnarls Barkley/Supercar/Dmitri Shostakovich

With that flurry of writing from the last two weeks, I think I’m caught up with everything about which I wanted to write.

So that means I have to go out and find new stuff, or go ahead and write about stuff I’ve been putting off. Till I decide either way, I’ve got a few things occupying my playlist, and I’ll write about them in better detail later.

  • Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere. As much hype as there is surrounding this album, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse make a great pairing.
  • Zoobombs, Vamos a Baillar. This band is still a lot of fun.
  • Supercar, 16/50. I stopped myself from exploring the band’s earlier years because it was too expensive to be so invested, but it looks like I’ll probably end up spending that cash anyway.
  • Dmitri Shostakovich, The String Quartets (Fitzwilliam Quartet) The Fitzwilliam cycle was recommended to me as the best interpretations of Shostakovich’s quartets, and while the Kronos recording of the Quartet for Strings, No. 8 made me fall in love with the piece, the Fitzwilliam performance has plenty more fire.

Golden Pink Arrows, or ACO goes Tokyo Jihen, Singer Songer

ACO has formed a band, so says Bounce.com.

Named Golden Pink Arrow, the new unit consists of ACO, producer Taeji Sawai and lostage drummer Tanaka-kun. The trio is set to perform at the "sonor sound tokyo 2006" festival on Oct. 7 and 8. "sonor sound tokyo 2006" is the Japanese offshoot of the electronica music festival "sonor2006" in Barcelona, Spain.

Taeji worked with ACO on her albums irony and mask. According to the band’s MySpace page, ACO and Taeji formed Golden Pink Arrow after recording irony, heading to Berlin to work on new material. Golden Pink Arrow’s MySpace page currently includes a Madonna cover, relabeled "Material Gxxl".

Bounce.com characterizes the band’s sound having "freaky, dirty beats". (The words "grime" and "bile" also work their way into the description.) No releases are yet scheduled.

Listen: Hamada Mari – Easy-Going

My first bout of fascination with Japanese rock music happened in the early ’90s as a result of watching a lot of anime. I still have all eight volumes of Bubblegum Crisis soundtracks.

Around that time, I was just buying random discs, hoping to scratch the itch caused by putting Iijima Mari’s "Ai, Oboete Imasu ka?", Miyasato Kumi’s "Himitsu Ku-da-sa-i" and Oomori Kuniko’s "Konya wa Hurricane" on repeat.

One such disc was Tomorrow by Hamada Mari.

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The Slush Pile, or a continuing series of albums I won’t review

I’ve done it before.

In order to determine whether I want to expend the calories to review an album, I have to listen to it in part or on whole. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to spend time subjecting myself to an album where I end up having no opinion about it. Having no opinion about something is worse than having a negative opinion about it. At least with the latter, there’s fodder from which to write.

At times, I end up spinning an album from an artist I like, thinking I’ll feature it but ending up with the dreaded lack of opinion. And I could have spent that time listening to something I do like.

So I’m going to make the Slush Pile an occassional review round-up. I may not have an opinion about something I encounter, but it still leaves some sort of impression.

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An open letter to all musicians with MySpace pages

To all musicians with a MySpace page:

Please learn how to disable auto-play when you embed video and audio on the same page.

OutKast, I’m looking at you. I attempted to stream your latest album but that damn embedded video clip started up at the same time as the MySpace player, and I was assaulted by a cacophony.

You lost an album sale that day. (Permanently after a trusted source told me Idlewild wasn’t all that great.)

Mindy Smith, I’m looking at you as well. You did not offend me as harshly as OutKast, but you must disable that embedded video on your page lest people be confused when they hear two songs at one time.

Everyone else, take heed — you too will lose the credibility of listeners if your web handler isn’t smart enough to take appropriate measures to avoid such a cacophony. Do you not want to suck? I thought not.

Looking after your best interests,

G.

Hem: Funnel Cloud

"The Pills Stopped Working" is the pinnacle track on Hem’s third studio album, Funnel Cloud. It also effectively kills the album.

Having mastered a lyrical, pastoral style of songwriting, Hem had only one way to challenge itself — write something in a quick tempo.

The two songs sporting this newer, extroverted style — "Too Late to Turn Back Now" and "The Pills Stopped Working" — mark the midpoint of the album. It’s a welcome change the band handles incredibly well.

Too well, in fact.

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