Wednesday, October 17, 2012

tunes recently enjoyed

"Lazy Afternoon" - Susannah Young

This is a song from a 1954 musical by Jerome Moross and John LaTouche that apparently takes on both the Iliad and the Odyssey and transplants them to the state of Washington at the turn of the 20th century. The Wikipedia synopsis contains the following amazing bit: "... the small town of Angel's Roost is thrown into confusion when old Menelaus' fancy-free wife, Helen, runs off with a traveling salesman named Paris. He's in town to judge an apple pie bake-off." How badly do I want to see this musical? Very badly.

The song is humid and dreamy, all long, drawn-out lines of sound that periodically tumble over the edge into crumbling trills. This version makes me think of that gorgeous, gorgeous bit at the beginning of Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (for which you should watch this video of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony... Bernstein's face just makes me ache it has so much happiness in it) and is so much more satisfying and odd than, say, Barbra Streisand's.

Chopin's Ballade No. 4 in F Minor - Arthur Rubinstein

I love how the first half of this winds you up with a swaying, aching theme that makes measured, gentle transformations that somehow also have yawning gaps hidden between the notes that threaten to either make you fall or cut off the piece and leave you without relief. Tension, just ratcheting up so gorgeously until it feels like your chest will explode from it. And then it lets you fall and you can breathe again for a few minutes before it pushes you into a racing, insane little coda.

Listening to this absolutely flattens me. But, it's so, so good.

"Welcome to Our World" - DRMS

I went to a DRMS show a little while ago. It's one of the few shows I've gone to recently that made me feel like I had to dance. This song in particular has so many weird sounds going on in it--odd plinking, insistent beats, synth-y twanging, hiccuping pauses--all laid out under a rangy voice. It's an addictive and bizarre collage, sort of like staring up at a mobile that has spaceships dangling on one arm and prehistoric tools on the other.

"Bach Suite" - Beginners soundtrack

This just makes me want to cry. It's an arrangement of some Bach melodies for horns. I have no idea who plays it or who arranged it... the track just lists "Johann Sebastian Bach"for the artist... but, it's so earnest and so lonely; the sound seems to come up out of nowhere and bleeds off at the edges, like it's being played in a vast space with no objects or ears to absorb it.

"A House, a Car, and a Wedding Ring" - Mike Preston

This song is weird. And kind of piteous. The lyrics are so heart-on-sleeve desperate that the song is almost embarrassing to listen to. But the guy's voice is smooth, simultaneously really attractive and disconcertingly controlled, with strange endings on certain words that make me imagine them evaporating up and out of his mouth. And the backup vocals are amazingly ridiculous.

"Good Thing" - Naytronix

This one makes me think of a processional, one that goes on and on and becomes progressively stranger as it goes. It's terrifically satisfying to listen to. The beat carries you along under a shifting canopy of bizarre noises that somehow also manage to be exactly the thing you need to hear at that moment. It's like walking through some abstracted animation of a jungle, all flattened out to suggestive shapes and pumped up with neon colors.

"These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" - Thelonious Monk

Wobbly, fuzzed around the edges, pounding and trilling... it's like a drunken high wire act. I like how much space there seems to be between the shambling, repetitive lower notes and the skittering higher ones. It's like having someone mumble and sing at you at the same time, which sounds horrible, but is somehow charming. I keep waiting for it to fall over the edge into pain, but it doesn't. Mostly it doesn't.

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