Posts Tagged ‘Other Music’

Dismemberment Plan @ The Bowery Ballroom

Monday, November 19th, 2001

So last Wednesday night I went once more to the Bowery Ballroom, this time to see The Dismemberment Plan. This was one of those shows that I’d been anticipating so greatly that I almost managed to be disappointed just because my expectations were so high. Nevertheless, they put on a fantastic show and I left quite satisfied. They played a ton of stuff from Change - all of the last four songs, which all kick ass, as well as “Superpowers” and “Come Home”; and a lot from Emergency & I - all of the last six songs except “8 1/2 Minutes”, plus “What Do You Want Me To Say”. They also played a bit of earlier stuff - “The Ice of Boston”, “Bra”, “OK, Joke’s Over”, “Onward, Fat Girl”, as well as “The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich”. Good stuff.

The crowd seemed to be much more satisfied with the earlier, more punk-ish pieces - the reaction to “Bra” was astonishing - but I was particularly taken with the new stuff from Change. “Following Through” and especially “The Other Side” were really high-powered and well-played. The band was clearly having a great time, with bassist Eric grinning foolishly for half the show and frontman Travis joking with the crowd between songs. A fabulous show, marred only by the terrible opening band (Need New Body, who seemed to be more about gimmicks than music) and a second act that I was rather disappointed by (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists).

I’ve seized with the ice cold rage of a lover betrayed, half a million miles away
I’ve cried so hard for hours and not known why, I never do
I’ve been knocked down flat by joy that makes my face pulse like a sugar high
I’ve been cornered by the screams of a body as it freed itself of its mind
Dismemberment Plan, “Superpowers”

Of course I made my standard stop by Other Music, intending only to pick up the Múm album, Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today is OK; I did, but I also ran across the new Present (which is on a Belgian label! - bless Other Music) and convinced myself to also drop eight bucks on eight minutes of Magma - the single, Floe Essi / Ektah.

The Múm I got because it’s been getting insanely high praise and has been recommended widely to fans of Sigur Rós. I think the latter is just because they’re also from Iceland, because aside from the pretty melodies I can’t see any relation at all, musically. Múm plays a very sparse form of electronica, and have a pretty neat knack for making very brittle rhythms sound soothing and attractive. It’s not at all what I was expecting, but I quite like it. But of the three purchases, the new Present, High Infidelity, is definitely my favorite. I’ve only heard the Cuneiform twofer that has Triskaidekaphobie and Le Poison, so I was quite surprised by the very different feeling of this new one. It’s moved away from the “Univers Zero with guitar” style of those early albums, and has a much more aggressive sound to it now, helped on by some loud bass and Dave Kerman’s drumming, which is less atmospheric and more tear-your-head-off than Daniel Denis’ ever was. I dig it.

New acquisitions from Other Music

Monday, October 29th, 2001

I was in New York on Saturday, so I stopped by Other Music and picked up Change as well as Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward, the new Silver Mt. Zion. I can’t stop fucking listening to Change. To me, it’s far more immediately likable than Emergency & I was, perhaps because it’s a bit less hyperactive. Whether I like it more in the long run is up in the air, but man… I’m really digging it right now. Little bits of “Time Bomb” and “Ellen and Ben” keep getting stuck in my head. And I can’t help but smile to the lyrics of “The Face of the Earth”, which are just absurdly bizarre - telling the story of a girl who literally gets sucked off the face of the earth.

It does strike me that parts of the album, like some of the vocal melodies in “Following Through”, seem almost mainstream, and the album has definitely (as endless reviewers have already noted) moved away from the band’s pseudo-emo sound on Emergency & I. To a more “mature” sound, lots of people have said, but I don’t know what the hell that means. In any case, I think I like this move, and I have little fear of the band going too mainstream, because the vast majority of the album is just amazingly creative.

My one complaint: all those nifty keyboard oonts and groonts on Emergency & I are gone, for the most part. Oh, not entirely; for example, “Ellen and Ben” has some cool bleeping, but there’s nothing that compares to the bass-range belching from “A Life of Possibilities” or the depressing haze from “The City”. Oh well.

On a whim I picked up the soundtrack to Angels of the Universe, apparently one of the highest-praised Icelandic films from the past few years. It’s done by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, but Sigur Rós contributes two tracks at the end. My initial reaction is one of frustration; there are some really beautiful moments, and I really like the acoustic guitar tone that’s used on a few of the tracks, but all of the tracks are so damn short that it doesn’t allow for any melodic or compositional development. Grr. The Sigur Rós tracks, though, are fucking great, and are by far the best pieces on the album. Go figure.

On another soundtrack note, I got that Magna Carta Soundtrack for the Wheel of Time, which in all but name appears to be a Robert Berry solo album. I expected it to pretty much suck enormous balls… I basically got it because I used to be a huge Wheel of Time fan (until the last few books started, well, sucking enormous balls). The prospect of pseudo-Celtic-prog-metal-lite doesn’t sound all that appealing to me, especially with the huge potential for pretentiousness given the nature of the books. I was mildly surprised - there are parts that are, not surprisingly, really cheesy, but there are also some pleasant parts. There are also a lot of parts that are really “soundtrackey” - you know, they’re really dramatic and big (complete with tympani banging like distant thunder, blah blah blah), but at the same time sort of unobtrusive and clearly meant to be an accompaniment instead of the main attraction. Which is sort of weird, since this album isn’t really a soundtrack, unless you consider the idea of a soundtrack to a book to be equivalent to a soundtrack to a movie. I don’t.

Um, so, do I like it? Not really - the music avoids cheesiness for the most part, but it tends to be very bland - but nevertheless, I definitely like it more than I expected to.

I love the Alamaailman Vasarat T-shirt design. I’ve e-mailed the band for ordering info but they haven’t gotten back to me. Arg… I want one.

Latest trip to NYC

Thursday, December 7th, 2000

Well, my trip to New York City was a nice success. Since I got into the city at about 4:45 or so, I had plenty of time to burn before the Godspeed You Black Emperor! show at the Bowery Ballroom. I stopped by Other Music, right across from the Tower Records, and plonked down a goodly amount of money for:

I’m always impressed by the stock at that store. They have an unbelievable amount of Area, some Arti & Mestieri, lots of Tatsuya Yoshida stuff, lots of Lars Hollmer and Samla Mammas Manna stuff, Magma, Univers Zero, all that good stuff. It’s an avant-progger’s dream, though the prices are pretty high.

The show itself was pretty good, as I detailed (well, to some extent, anyway) in my review. Since I got back into New Haven at about, oh, 3:45 in the morning, I’m just staying up all night… hence my writing this.

Other Music and “Fuck Like a Donkey”

Sunday, February 13th, 2000

My girlfriend is visiting me up here at Yale, so updates have been a little sparse the past few days. A few things of note, though; we went to New York City for a day and I had the good fortune (bad for my wallet) of randomly running across Other Music, a fantastic weird-music store in the Village. Magma, Area, Arti & Mestieri, PFM, all kinds of psych and Krautrock and RIO, most Cuneiform releases - heaven. I managed some kind of restraint and “only” picked up three:

Aside from that, we were walking around a small open market in the Village and what did I hear but the music of Orff’s Carmina Burana set to a throbbing hip-hop beat. After hearing, on the same tape, a song called “Fuck Like a Donkey”, featuring authentic donkey noises, I figured that whoever compiled said tape must be an interesting character, and picked up the tape (Sound Factory 99 Part 2). Talk about amusing stuff - check out www.mikemike.net.

Two guests at the dinner I went to were violinists in a string quartet; one was speaking of the comparative advantages and disadvantages of being a left-handed player. It was an interesting conversation, and he brought up things that I, not being a player of any instrument, would never have otherwise thought of.