(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:
(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 Day 5 of the experiment.)
I’m afraid I didn’t get much listening time yesterday, probably because I didn’t have any prolonged, sedentary activities to perform (i.e., studying). In fact, I really only got to one album, an electronic album recommended by a couple people from a feller named Mosh. The album was Monarchy (not his most recent release, as I eventually found out).
While it was a very enjoyable background album, and thankfully did not sound like Transformers fornicating, it confirmed many of the other suspicions I have about electronic music. Quite a lot of the electronic music I’ve heard tends not to go for a sonic journey, as much as to paint a picture of a given atmosphere (or just go for a perpetual dance beat). That’s one of the things I enjoy most about most metal, and about the new discoveries I’ve made on many fronts this week. If anyone has some suggestions as to electronic artists who can actually achieve that type of aural excursion, please leave them below, as I would be very intrigued to hear about them.
(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 Day 4 of the experiment.)
Very early on in my music listening career, I was very much into rap. Part of it might have been the combination of the ease of access to it (all I had to do was go to the Top 100 iTunes songs chart to find plenty of stuff for my young ears) with the misguided idea that girls had “cooties” or something, and that listening to other types of pop would make me “girly”. In hindsight, I want to slap my former self for ever thinking like that, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was the way I thought once.
Nevertheless, I used to be mostly a rap fan (specifically the popular stuff). That all changed when I first picked up, played, and became obsessed with Guitar Hero III (maybe as a third or fourth grader; I’m not in the mood to calculate when exactly it would have been). That elucidated to me the wonders of classic rock, and sent me on a decade-long tailspin that has landed me here, deeply entrenched in the metal underground.
When I began to get more immersed into rock, and especially once I found heavier metal, I began to swear off all types of rap, perhaps in realization of how awful my music taste once was. Honestly, I hadn’t even tried to look into rap for years, until this project hit.
(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 Day 3 of his experiment.)
This third post is going to be a bit light on music, as was my day, for the first time in a very long time.
Like most NCS readers, I tend to fill my earholes with music on a semi-constant basis, in both appropriate and inappropriate social contexts. For the first time in a long time, I really didn’t listen to much music. In fact, I didn’t listen to anything besides a bit of random radio garble while driving various places, at least not until a little before 7 o’clock at night.
Part of this might have been that, unlike yesterday, I had no plan at all as to what I was going to theme my day with. My brain racked for a bit in search of an idea, but for most of the day nothing came to mind that seemed fitting. Part of it was also definitely a lack of opportunities to listen, since I had a calc test and part one of my two-part final essay in a Literature class. This, combined with a lack of sleep from studying the previous night, left me in a rather crabby mood, and not particularly receptive to music.
However, I eventually came around. I started by checking out a band recommended in the Day 2 post, The Goat Rodeo Sessions.
(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 Day 2 of his experiment.)
As I forecast in my Day 1 post, Day 2 was an excursion into the vast world of jazz. Copious amounts of studying in the wake of finals simultaneously pushed me to wit’s end and gave me a lot of time to listen to a lot of jazz.
I started the day with a band that is perhaps not entirely jazz, but is awesome nonetheless: Steely Dan. They and Aja were perhaps the most recommended band and album throughout the various mediums on which I solicited non-metal suggestions. The album seemed to be right in the middle of classic rock and jazz, reminding me of The Eagles or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young in places while staying jazzier (with a faint Kenny G vibe hanging in the air) elsewhere.
It was a great start to the day for my ears, and is a band and album I foresee myself revisiting quite a bit (especially considering that I just saw a show listing for them at Humphrey’s By the Bay, which might be one of the coolest places to see live music).