Artwork by Anton Semenov
I mentioned yesterday that I’ve had to fly across the country from Seattle for my fucking day job. It’s a quick trip, because I’ll be getting home again late tonight, but what I’m having to do is leaving me with no time for NCS.
So far, I’ve had no time to listen to music, much less to write about it. And I doubt that’s going to change before I get back on an airplane this afternoon to head home.
(Grant Skelton shifts our focus from music to writing — and draws a connection between the two at the end of this article.)
This piece is perhaps a little to the left of our usual norm here at NCS. What I’ve got here are a few podcasts that I think will interest readers of our site. I’ve also included a few literary resources for any aspiring authors, poets, lyricists, bloggers, or other writers who might visit our site. I see you, I know you’re there, and I feel your pain. You are not alone.
Lore is a podcast I heard about from a writing friend. You can find it on iTunes (here) or download the episodes directly from Lore’s website. Each episode runs between about 15 – 25 minutes. Created by novelist Aaron Mahnke, the subject matter covers true occurrences of horror that are the basis for legend and folklore. They are full of historical accounts of murders, grave robberies, bizarre accidents, the occult, and paranormal encounters.
Consider this synopsis from the episode, “The Others”:
(Austin Weber takes us far off our usual beaten paths with this review of an unusual album by a violin-and-cello duo who call themselves Naked Roots Conducive — with a full-album stream.)
I think one of the most wonderful things about avant-garde and experimental music is how it seems to transport you to a very strange yet intense place where you may have to adapt in order to fully appreciate it. Such is the case with the New York City-based duo called Naked Roots Conducive. The two members are Natalia Steinbach who plays violin and sings, and Valerie Kuehne, who plays cello and and sings as well. The range and scope of the music on their new album Sacred521 is impressive, and I’d say additionally impressive because no other instruments beyond violin, cello, and their two voices appear on the album.
Records such as Sacred521 are difficult to describe, since there aren’t many other people doing anything similar, and the musical lines they straddle coalesce into a sound that doesn’t fit into any established musical style. Naked Roots Conducive craft exquisite and intricate songs that are part classical music, and part nightmarish film score instrumentation, accompanied by heavenly singing courtesy of each member. The end result is not wholly classical music, nor simple singer-songwriter-oriented stuff either. It’s very sweeping and dramatic music, constantly traversing, back and forth, a divide between sour and sublime sounds.
(Andy Synn reviews the crowd-funded solo album of Daniel Cavanagh.)
As the old saying goes, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play”. And with both Islander and Badwolf currently semi-AWOL from the site due to attending MDF, it’s definitely time to play…
In that spirit, and as part of my continued quest to drag down the good name of this site, I hereby present to you the entirely clean-sung, all-acoustic, and almost completely un-metal, covers album by Anathema guitarist/co-vocalist Daniel Cavanagh.
Let the games begin!
(In this post our man in the UK, Andy Synn, reviews a live September 4 performance in Islington by the collaboration between Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval known as Casualties of Cool.)
Last Thursday I was lucky enough to see Casualties of Cool, the world’s finest proponents of Ambient Canadian Space-Country, perform a gorgeous, mesmerising set at The Union Chapel in Islington. And it’s taken me a while (I have been somewhat busy/ill in the intervening time) but I’ve finally got round to penning some thoughts about the experience.
To start with, for those of you who don’t know, the venue itself is pretty magical, a beautifully apportioned and enclosed chapel with rows of pews on ground level before the stage (and pulpit) and several more on balconies up above. The stained glass windows and hanging wrought-iron chandeliers add a touch of weight and worth to the surroundings, while the candles flickering in alcoves in each overhang only enhance the warmth and beauty of the place.
When it came to the show itself… well, there’s a reason this was sold under the title Casualties of Cool, and not under Devin’s own name. Because for once this really wasn’t a Devin Townsend show.
This is off-topic. No metal here. I’m just killing time until I can come up with something else to post today, if my fuckin’ day job will leave me alone long enough to do that. In the meantime, here’s something that happened in my home town of Seattle last Friday, June 7:
Seattle’s own Sir Mix-A-Lot performed “Baby Got Back” with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and about two-dozen butts (attached to about two dozen ladies from the audience).
This was done as part of the symphony’s “Sonic Evolution” project, in which composers are commissioned to write orchestral world premieres inspired by bands and other artists from (or in some way related to) Seattle. In this instance, composer Gabriel Prokofiev wrote and conducted an original piece inspired by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Did not see that coming.
Also, as you’re about to witness, he also arranged an orchestral accompaniment to “Baby Got Back”, the second best-selling song in the U.S. in 1992 and controversial enough to be banned from MTV back then (briefly). I guess you could say times have changed.
(We welcome the return of Professor D. Grover the XIIIth with the results of his latest musical investigations.)
Greetings and salutations, friends. It has been less than a month since my last missive, which makes the timing on this a bit of a surprise. However, the timing is just right, and so you are joining me for a look at 5 new albums from various artists with whom you may or may not be acquainted. In a bit of a deviation from form, I’m including three artists who have been covered here at NCS, but they have relevant new albums that need to be addressed. Without further preamble, we commence.
Our first artist, possibly one of the best-known of the previously-mentioned artists, is… wait, what? Electrocution has never been mentioned on No Clean Singing before?
I don’t have any rhyme or reason why I combined the items in this post. The mind works in mysterious ways, especially after it has been pickled in alcohol.
“WHISKY AND DOOM”
A friend of mine who reads the New York Times every day sent me a link to an article by Charly Wilder in yesterday’s Travel section, because he knows I love metal, even though he doesn’t. I’d like to just copy and paste the whole damn thing, but I’d probably get a take-down notice from some lawyers for copyright violation. So I’ll just paraphrase.
The article is about an event (“Taste the Doom”) that has been happening off and on since 2011 in the back rooms of various Berlin bars (Germany, not North Dakota) in which the organizers pair single-malt whisky and doom metal. Until experiencing them together the writer was not a fan of single malt (“a decent drink but hardly worthy of all the macho lore and rhapsodizing on peat content and cask type”) or doom (“with its sludgy guitars and demon voices, it was hard to imagine it being enjoyed unironically by actual adults — or really anyone not planning a murder-suicide”). But when she tried them together beginning two years ago, “it all made perfect sense”.
(NCS contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers for non-metal listening, and he wrote day-by-day reports of what he explored instead of metal. In this post he reflects on the experience.)
Well, I’ve finally returned to my beloved metal. Though it was very interesting and informative to explore other genres, the experiment also proved to affirm metal as my outright favorite genre, at its best combining all the disparate positive elements of nearly every other genre into one. Part of that may stem from the extremely vague definition metal has come to assume: Perhaps the only uniting factor is a strong, loud percussive unit (and even that could be called into question). Many of the other genres I explored seem to have somewhat stricter definitions, which necessarily seems to place an eventual constraint on the directions in which a genre can evolve.
That’s not to discount the ability of these other genres to go places where metal has never gone, nor could ever go. Most forays of metal into rap’s “territory”, for example, have been rather ill-fated (I think of Limp Bizkit here, as opposed to the success story of Rage Against The Machine).
(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers, and this is his report on the last two days of the experiment.)
Today’s listening, on my last day of exile (I must have missed a day in writing somewhere, ‘cause it’s definitely been seven days, but I only have six posts to show for it), was a rather faint attempt to delve into some classical, bolstered by catching up on SNL and Vikings (hence the reduced listening). Let’s get right on to it.
I pretty much went for the two classical pieces suggested by reader TGLumberjack: Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. The former was, as were the other classical tidbits I sampled yesterday, quite a journey throughout its roughly 40-minute runtime, introducing many interweaving melodies and tense climaxes. As for the latter, TGLumberjack probably described it best: