30 August, 2012

Shark Egg Blues - "Logic Vs. Magic"

Shark Egg Blues is a solo project for Zara Kand of The Crystelles. Possibly it's unfair to have such high expectations of someone born into a musical and artistic family and expect them to churn out something wholly unique and spellbinding. Zara not only terraforms a completely unfamiliar landscape, she lays bare her emotion and paints each and every word with her ubiquitous presence. "Logic Vs. Magic" is permeated with stripped down acoustic guitar, accented with equal amount experimentation and blues. A listener would struggle to trace her musical influences, but find themselves in that same moment in a familiar embrace. The closest I could come to a memory ushered in while listening to "Logic Vs. Magic" was when I was introduced musically to Omewenne. I fully expected an album heavy on beat-driven elements, Zara being the percussive component of The Crystelles, but drums are used sparingly throughout and instead the songs give way to soundscape and layered structures. Then Cup Of Emptiness hits and knocks you flat, Zara has a soulful and intoxicating voice and it exudes a balmy seduction... clear and powerful. Shark Egg Blues proves without a doubt that Zara Kand's artistry transcends the brush, the pen, and most importantly - she has created a portrait uniquely her own and deserving of solely that. Speak not of the talent that precedes her... sit back, let go of what you think you know and who she knows, start "Logic Vs. Magic", close your eyes and open your ears and be transfixed by this album. It's a journey far from over, but savor it's sweet beginnings.

"Logic Vs. Magic" is available here to download for $2: Logic Vs Magic at 21st Media

29 August, 2012

Guilty Strangers - "Walking The Wire"

As I wait to receive the newest release from Guilty Strangers, I thought I'd take the opportunity to discuss the album that didn't get released yet somehow became an internet sensation and bled across the deathrock, goth, post-punk corners of the web like the seductive undead. "Walking The Wire" offers a Guilty Strangers that colors their no-wave/deathrock roots with unexpected covers and delicate fringes of paisley (yes I said it), experimental and early L.A. post punk. Officially, there's eleven delicious tracks on this release, but my copy came with just eight. Those eight however, are each individually decadent and mesmerizing. Each song leaves you begging for more of the same, but you are denied and instead offered a serving of something even more intoxicating. With the exception of the title track, all of the music is recorded and performed by Shawn and Christine Terry. Christine of course is the love child of Kendra Smith and Lydia Lunch... and it's a heritage that comes to full fruition on these recordings. Decidedly stepping away from the 'Teenage Jesus' comparasions and instead embracing the dark side of paisley/psychedelia of bands like Opal offers a whole new dimension to not only her range as a vocalist, but to the band as well. Shawn continues to be the fabric and talent that weaves such an eclectic tapestry of influences from deathrock to glam rock that he effortlessly breaks the molds of genre and transforms Guilty Strangers into an orchestra of 5 decades worth of rock and rebellion. A Lou Rded cover?! If that isn't enough to make you want to have their babies, Tumbler and Walking The Wire (featuring Heidi and Roland) will be. Do yourself a favor, support this band. Go see them when you can, and buy their extremely limited releases when they are available, they will be treasures in your collection on many levels.

"Walking The Wire" is available as a free download from Zorch Records, here: Walking The Wire from Zorch Records. A very small amount of Guilty Strangers' new album, "Oracle" is available on eBay here: Oracle on eBay.

24 August, 2012

Quiet

My nemesis, Quiet. Odd, that when you are depressed that every song somehow mocks you. So, no music. Television and film have an uncanny way of reminding one of what they are no longer sharing with someone, so no t.v. Unfortunately, no one to really hang out with or talk to because suddenly everyone is gone, busy, or buried. So it's just quiet. Tried retail therapy today and what did I buy?! A cd for H, and the new DCD which reminds me of H. Awesome, gold medal in torturing myself. My diet of the past 3 days has consisted of watermelon jolly ranchers, a bagel and pepsi. My new doctor will certainly share his appreciation. I can't eat when I'm upset, and I am still upset. Not angry anymore, but not ready to color chalk rainbows on a sidewalk either.

So, my goals. Once the pain of this subsides, are to figure out what is normal and what is healthy for me. Need to find happiness without necessarily finding romance. Need to get back on top of my health problems and need to get a hold on my 'heart' problems. Need to figure out how to be my own best company, because pacifying loneliness with others means at some point you will be lonely again.

My vacation is over. Second one this year and both have been... I don't really know what word I would put at the end of that sentence. I guess in hindsight, those days off gave me time to cope and go back to work and focus. I suppose that's exactly what I need to do. Work, oddly enough is the only consistent and stable thing in my life for the past 11 years, as pathetic as that sounds. Maybe it's time to embrace a challenge and apply for the next supervisor position, wherever that may take me. I like it here in Orlando, but I am slowly constructing a graveyard of memories around me. No one is putting their life on hold for me, why should I be an exception?

20 August, 2012

Not Always What You Expect

If this weekend would have been themed, it's exactly that. I made the mistake of assuming things, something I rarely am ever spot-on about, and I should just stop the practice. When it comes to people, to events, to things around me, I rarely ever make assumptions, but when it comes to my personal life I am guilty of making far too many.

I am a little embarassed to admit that I wanted to offer H a weekend, her last free one before school started, whatever enjoyment and indulgence she saw fit to squeeze into her already narrow schedule and yet somehow balance that with private and intimate quiet solutide at home enjoying movies, music, etc. Again, a little absurb to think somehow both would happen. Don't get me wrong, it was still an exciting weekend and I met new people and made new connections with people in the art community.

I don't much want to go into detail about what we did, suffice to say, it was unique. On some level I feel I wasn't uninhibited enough, and maybe was a source of some dour on what should have been fun. Admittedly, I made some bad choices in mixing liquor, red wine, and beer in a hodge podge fashion on top of being sick, and medicated. Stupid, actually. Maybe H could have enjoyed herself more if I had stayed home? Not sure... but I feel like something is lingering from Saturday night. Don't ask me to define or explain it... it's a feeling. A questioning or doubt possibly. I am dwelling on it inexcusably and it's causing me anxiety, but I need to busy myself with things I should be doing for myself right now.

I have been utterly lethargic since Saturday night. I did next to nothing Sunday and today, my body simply isn't having any of it. Managed to see Tonya's amazing collection of art at Pom Poms, I am completely mesmerized by boxed art, and she hits all the right melancholy, Victorian corners of my heart. Very impressive. There is so much incredible talent in this town, I wonder if it's true for every city across this country, and I wonder if those cities are blessed to have such a wealth of venues like Orlando has to embrace and support local art? Beneath the Disney, the sports, the theme parks, there is an amazing undercurrent of artistry in all mediums... I feel blessed to be here and to be involved in that scene. Even more blessed when I think of the people that are in my life because of it... namely this wonderful person I find myself in love with. Where would I be without my love for art?

14 August, 2012

Dead Can Dance - "Anastasis"

I was 24, I think, the last time I bought something new from Dead Can Dance, I was probably barely 20 when I bought something from Dead Can Dance that I loved from Track One to Track End. I am guilty of being utterly in love with Lisa Gerrard's voice, and cynical of nearly everything Brendan Perry does. I admit, that disdain has diminished over the years and I have found myself beckoned helplessly by his inviting, warm tone. I guess I could expect one of two things, more Dead Can Dance; or try passionately to meld the directions Lisa and Brendan have gone individually in the last two decades into what I'd imagine the new album to be. I'm pleased to say -it's both and it's neither.

"Anastasis" is comprised of eight epic-length tracks comprising a nearly hour-long journey through history; through diverged paths; and familiarity. Not that any of that is a complaint, because in all honesty, my fear was to purchase an album so foreign to the concept of DCD that it would ruin a dream. However, there is a part of me that hoped in some small way, that influeces of the past two decades might somehow breathe a vague and ghostly kiss upon these recordings. Sadly though... no. Is that a bad thing, not if you really just wanted a new Dead Can Dance record and that 14-year gap is utterly invisible to you.

Children Of The Sun is easily recognizable as a danceable, neo-classical, Dead Can Dance song that fits on "Aion", "Spiritchaser" - seriously, take your pick. You know that track from each album that dj's lust over to remix, and if it really were the 90's, there would be techno, rave, and house mixes well in the works.

Haunting and speall-weaving is Anabasis, our first treatment on the disc to the powerful vocals of Lisa Gerrard. She truly is the voice of the earth and all it's elements. Simple metallic percussion rhythmically drives the track. This is another example of DCD and what you've come to expect, but the musical tone is more reminiscent of the wordly influence the band tackled on "Spiritchaser". If the entire album had been 60 minutes of this song, I'd have nothing but total love and admiration for it.

Agape is another danceable, neo-classical beauty with Western Asian elements. Another track accenting the vocal range of Lisa Gerrard, and is more familiar as her solo efforts, and recalls Yulunga. Again, relying on simple percussion, and a eerie collage of strings and dulcimer.

Midway thru "Anastasis" it begins to shake it's warm coat of familiarity. Brendan Perry makes a sleepy and melodic vocal effort on Amnesia and it's utterly inviting. Heavy on orchestra, the only criticism I can offer is that the hign-end percussion is off-putting. It's forgivable because the wash of Perry's voice and the strings is so evocative and comforting that it's hard to be dismissive of anything musically or otherwise.

Kiko offers more Western Asian influence. Though a lush track, this is the least inviting. Each aspect; Gerrard's vocals, guitar, percussion, piano are beautiful, however they only have the depth and feel of a new age track. It's rather unflattering and flat. I don't feel transported, invoked, or even enpassioned. Not forgivable this time.

Sadly, Opium barely offers a respite from the heavy bass and drums. Brendan's undulating vocal assault is intoxicating, and the string arrangements are breathtaking. This is a Brendan Perry track beginning to end, and it could literally have been lifted straight from his recent solo works. In that context it's lost, but on this release it's another exhibition of his amazing talents and it's enough candy to make a return for more.

Return Of The She-King is a song much too long overdue in embracing Celtic, Irish, Scottish roots. Lisa's vocals are part of the mystery, soul-stealing really. Her voice is layered; part of the instrumentation, as well as above the journey. It evokes images of lush, green hillsides and faerie circles. The percussive bells has me excited to put this song on at Christmas. It's beautiful and utterly calming. Two-thirds into the song, a military snare invites the vocals of Brendan Perry and finally you have an element of Dead Can Dance that has gone missing for too long. Lisa and Brendan sharing vocals. They accompany each other so well, and perhaps because both have such powerful voices, it's a measure of avoidance, but this is so captivating to hear, but all too brief. It's almost as if it's presented to you the listener as a gift, a thank you for years of supporting them and embracing them again.

All In Good Time highlights Brendan Perry's vocal talents, and this is a nice blending of where he is now musically, with what he offered to Dead Can Dance. This is a stunning track, music is the soundscape beneath the liquor of his voice. Cresting strings, synthesizers and subdued percussion. You expect it, but this is his strength, and he carries it here as well as he ever has.

Yes, absolutely go buy, "Anastasis". There is nothing here that will disappoint you, and if you can afford to go do so, go see them. Sadly, I will not be able to go, though I fully intended to. I will have to settle on Austin City Limits, and just be happy with that. This album is rich and lush, and renews my passion for DCD that had been shattered by their final releases. There's rebirth throughout and it doesn't at all sound forced or compromised, it's truly terrifc muscianship to it's core and it feels utterly natural. I was full of apprehension, but I am happy to say I was taken on a journey and it was amazing.

03 August, 2012

Cyclical

So much happened, so much changed... today - it's almost as if nothing happened. No resolutions were made; no expectations set; no real understanding established on how to resolve; but somehow, inexplicably - things are okay? Not really buying into that, I am too much a realist to expect nothing will produce abundance. Again, I can assume, but the last two times I was foolish enough to gamble with that flimsy hand - my bluff was called. Rebuild a little until an all-in ante comes up... I don't know if I can do that again. I am already operating off of the most fragile of framework; a skeletal collection of frayed nerves from which is tethered cast iron emotions. I've had the luxury of being in charge this week, so my focus is definitely grounded in the mundane and tedious, where the relationships are chaotic and much like a children being left at home on their own for the first time. You may come home to ping pong balls evaportated on the stove burners, or you may come home and worry that everything seems eerily in place. Point is, it's essentially taken my mind out of this insipid battle of wills and emotional manipulation and simply reply with frustration at the entire debacle. I know in the pit of my stomach however that not a damn thing is fixed and everything is still quite broken. It's a framed family portrait with shattered glass where all of the pieces, though still broken, have been put in place to give the facade of normalcy. Do I wait until the pieces fall out, or do I reframe it? I don't have the energy to do this anymore. Dead Can Dance has been fucked; I've been fucked; and I just kind of want to be selfish now. I must be entitled to a turn at this game, right? Haven't been selfish in a long, long time... unless you consider how I covet and carve the pale fabric of my skin. I really feel like I am fading; disappearing; an almost non-sentient caricature of other people's place for me in their lives.