Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yesterday we went to BAM to see the Sufjan Stevens show. The first part was the multimedia BQE orchestral work composed by SS, presented with video footage and five hula hoopers. The hoopers had a costume change. The hoops were on sale for $40. SS didn't want to leave the hoops/BQE connection up to the minds of the audience...he published an essay about the connection in the program and online.

I saw this article a few days ago:
The Lamest Pop-Classical Crossovers in Music History
although I wonder: what are the "great" pop-classical crossovers?

Anyway, the SS composition was amusing in parts in conjunction with the overall presentation, but not really memorable. Parts of it were just too loud.

We saw the Elvis Costello orchestral thing at BAM a few years ago, so it's an obvious point for comparison. I think the Elvis Costello piece was probably a bit more boring overall, but probably a bit more tasteful. I don't need to hear either of those orchestral pieces again, but they were good excuses to see each artist in the BAM space.

After an intermission, SS played the hits. His "band" proper was pared down a bit from the last times I'd seen him, but of course it was augmented by the orchestra. I didn't think the set choices and arrangements were particularly great, although I like the songs. Again, bits were just too loud, in an out of place way. While a couple horns complemented the songs before, a bigger brass section was pretty much unnecessary and counterproductive. There were also irritating "banging on the piano" moments during intros and outros that didn't add much. When SS does noise, it doesn't really work. I also think his arrangements of late (e.g. the ring them bells cover on the I'm Not There soundtrack) are a bit too much and need paring back. I think Ring The Bells may be my least favorite song on that soundtrack.

It's nice that BAM kept the cheap (balcony) tickets decently priced on these shows...$20 was about right for this show. They probably could have charged more but didn't...I feel better about the price for this show than $50 for football fields away from the White Stripes at MSG.

The NY Times saw the BQE

"CDs — who knows if you're going to be able to play a CD in 20 or 30 years? Come the apocalypse, they'll certainly be useless. Maybe people in millennia to come will find all these CDs embedded in clay and they'll think they're part of some big spinal column. They'll think they're vertebrae. 'We've found a lot of these things and we're constructing our idea of what kind of beast it was that had these in their back, rows of Doobie Brothers and Michael Jackson and Celine Dion CDs, making up some kind of spine.'

"Whereas vinyl, I'm figuring that any smart mind from the future or from another galaxy — or both — will be able to figure out, 'OK, this is some sort of rotating tablet. Let's put it on a wheel.' Somebody smart would drop a pin in there and could listen to it. Of course, they might accidentally play it backwards."

Amusing quotes from Robyn Hitchcock

Here's a Fiery Furnaces interview

If anything, you’re one of the few groups trying to escape the confines of a traditional rock band.
MF: We don’t try hard enough. We don’t have the solution to the rock problem of four people in a van coming to play in a club. We rearrange our songs in concert, but we still just go up and play. That’s not very interesting.

Stream S Malkmus's take on Ballad of a Thin Man
I don't think I necessarily agree with the entire commentary (I'm fine with the Cat Power song) but overall it's a good writeup.

The video for Marissa Nadler's Bird on Your Grave

Chris Ware designed Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, a Gasoline Alley collection

For lack of a better analogy, some writers tell stories and other writers write -- that is, they try to capture the texture and feeling of life within the limited means of their literary tools, and the story lives somewhere within. To my mind, King was really the first real "writer" in the comics, and its in these vista-filling sunday pages that he allows himself to write most eloquently. How many other cartoonists would dare make the colors of autumn the subject of their work? How lucky were the readers who received these temporary observations of life on their doorsteps every week; it seems almost inconceivable now that strips trading on such tenderness appeared in common newspapers.Which is not to say that Gasoline Alley is not funny.

A common complaint about we cartoonists writing about and citing our forebears' influence is that we highlight "sensitive" qualities in strips that others see as negligible (i.e. the deep empathy of Peanuts, for example.) In our defense, we're only picking out elements and tones that might not be otherwise immediately obvious. That's only because we really love what we're reading and writing about, and worry that these feelings might be lost in the visual translation. Here, however, there is no translation; this is how King's pages -- and Walt and Skeezix -- were always meant to be seen, read ... and felt.

Chris Ware also designed a poster
for the The Savages movie (Laura Linney/Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Here's a NY Times article on the Sweeney Todd adaptation

This week's George Saunders from the Guardian

1 comment:

James said...

"what are the "great" pop-classical crossovers?"

I'd guess "Beck's Bolero" and endless versions of "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" by 60's UK groups (the Who, Electric Light Orchestra, Sounds Incorporated, Deep Purple, etc.) Other than that, I have nothing.