some eerie music

Haven’t posted in a long while — just came back from a whirlwind trip to Ithaca, NY, and now a lot of catching up on paper-grading awaits me — but here’s a bit off a thread on the Zorn list.

Someone had requested some eerie music, that is, music that will freak you out if you were listening alone at night. Some mentioned Diamanda Galas — the Plague Mass is wonderful, but for my money Schrei X is the scarier, if less interesting, one — and Painkiller‘s Execution Ground (it is the Zorn list after all).

There’s a Nijiumu-sounding track on the Purple Trap box set called… Forest of Spirits, if I remember correctly, and one of the sections sounds just like what the title says, as if Keiji Haino placed some microphones in the woods and did a field recording and picked up disembodied sighing. Scary as all hell.

The soundtrack to The Exorcist is also extremely effective (the George Crumb piece in particular). Hear it also on the Kronos Quartet‘s amazing Black Angels album.

There is also a whole genre of so-called dark ambient music, though a good amount of the practitioners rely on the same tonality of drone. Lustmord’s “The Place Where the Black Stars Hang” is a great starting point, as is also “Heresy.”

Nurse With Wound‘s “Homotopy to Marie” is excellent as well — nowhere near as pure dada as some of Stapleton’s other stuff, nor as droney as, say, “Soliloquy for Lilith.”

Comus‘s “First Utterance” has a way of really getting under one’s skin, though since it’s acid-damaged psych folk it’s an acquired taste. But if the image of mad, gibbering violinists, hangings, and things in the woods appeals to you… (Later David Tibet would do a very fine cover of Comus’s “Diana” on Current 93‘s “Horsey” album — now that I think of it, listening to Current 93’s “Dogs Blood Rising” late at night really freaked me out.)

And now to black metal: it’s hard to take a group like Abruptum seriously because their main dudes are named It and Evil. (I keep thinking of Cousin It and Dr. Evil hamming it up together.) However, their album “Obscuritatem Advoco Amplectere Me” is nothing but pure howling and screaming for an hour. Guaranteed to scare your neighbors.

this damned war

What the — ?

Why Bush is appointing Henry Kissinger, of all people, to head the 9/11 probe is totally beyond me. Doesn’t he know that Kissinger is thought of as a war criminal in certain quarters?

Pinoy Uncategorized

"Poor Filipino Trash!"

I had always wanted to use this in my book, but didn’t; perhaps I will in the future, if I ever get my pensionados at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition article published…

From Mary H. Fee’s A Woman’s Impressions of the Philippines (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1912), pp. 93-94:

I had a friend, a young Filipino girl, who has been one of the most diligent among the pupils of the American schools. …My publisher sent me a copy of a primer intended for use in the Philippines…. The publisher had spared no expense in his illustrations, and we were tremendously proud of the artistic side of the book. This Filipino girl had heard me use the expression “poor white trash”… When I took my book to her in the joy of an author in her first complete production, she looked at it a minute and burst into tears. “Poor Filipino trash!” was all she could say for a long time, and I finally pieced it out that she was enraged because the Filipino boys and girls in my book were sometimes barefooted, sometimes clad in chinelas, and wore native camisas instead of American suits and dresses. I pointed out to her that not one Filipino child in a hundred dresses otherwise, but my argument was of no avail. The children in the American readers wore natty jackets and hats and high-heeled shoes, and winter wraps… and she wanted the Filipino children to look the same.



Been swamped with work lately, so I haven’t had much time to post — but here’s a link to Playtarot — not as cool as Joe Rosales’s Hello Tarot, but The Chariot looks great.


Chronicles of Doubts Foretold

This was supposed to appear in a forthcoming issue of a magazine that will remain nameless — I wrote the review in an hour and I still have not seen payment, or the magazine, or the bootleg CD that was promised me.

So here it is.

Chronicles of Doubts Foretold

She’s gone solo, been screwed over by her record company, gotten married (to singer and songwriter Michael Penn, which makes her Sean and Chris’s sister-in-law), and had a film essentially built around her songs (Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia), but in many ways Aimee Mann has not really changed all that much from her spiky-haired days as the lead singer of ‘80s band ‘Til Tuesday. (Remember the video for “Voices Carry,” where, despite the injunctions to “hush” and “keep it down,” she starts yelling in a crowded theater full of tuxedoed operagoers?) The same weary bitterness, a touch of rebelliousness, and her affinity for catchy pop melodies are still very much in evidence on her latest album,Lost in Space (SuperEgo).

In a very general sense, Mann’s songs are about relationships. But popular music has always had a curiously poor vocabulary when it comes to describing them, with the usual songs in giddy celebration of lust or love, or ballads mourning (or cursing) a separation. The songs on this album, in contrast, are chronicles of deaths and doubts foretold, of the moment when the relationship is on the verge of unraveling, or (as she writes in “This Is How It Goes”) “one more failure to connect.” The first track on the album, “Humpty Dumpty,” already strikes a grim tone: “Say you were split, you were split in fragments / And none of the pieces would talk to you.” Her lyrics inhabit the space between people as they sit across from each other silently at dinner, or as they lie awake in bed in the middle of the night, wondering about the person lying next to them. This is Mann’s true gift: her imprecise, sometimes maddeningly oblique lyrics give shape and detail to the unspoken, messy, irrational complexity of human, and yes, adult, relationships. “Oh I could get specific,” she writes in “Invisible Ink,” “but nobody needs a catalog / With details of a love I can’t sell anyone.” And so, because of this vagueness, it’s about everyone and anyone. Now do you know why all the characters in Magnolia get to sing “Wise Up?”

She does not take any stylistic leaps on this album – no useless forays into electronica, thank goodness – for she does not need to; her lyrics already tell the tale. The songs all fall in her usual midtempo range, and are lovingly arranged (even without the presence of her former collaborator, Jon Brion), with a touch of harmonium here and a minimoog there. Michael Lockwood’s guitar is all over the place here, though he has no soaring solos like the one on “Deathly,” from her previous album Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo. (One must also take note of the gorgeous art and design by Seth, writer and artist of the Drawn and Quarterly comic book Palookaville; his tales of hand-wringing desperation and the ache of solitary lives go well with Mann’s songs.)

Aimee Mann is in fine, refreshing form on Lost in Space, though it is clear that her feet are planted firmly on the ground.