Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ponderous yet affective soundscapes (in the non-pejorative sense) that result in a Mizell-like climax (also in a non-pejorative sense). In other words - A tremendous achievement in song!

Friday, February 11, 2011


"Though my problems are meaningless, that don't make them go away."

Neil Young is not the first, nor will he be the last, to contemplate, in song, the meaning and meaninglessness of life whilst on a beach. We also have, at the very least, Virgina Woolf and Matthew Arnold as examples. And it cannot be ignored that their specific sense of beach stems, in part, from the fact that Great Britain is a great island. What, perhaps, separates Neil from these others, however, is not the fact that he is a Canadian, but rather the very inexpresiveness of his existential expression. The lyrical content to "On the Beach" is not Neil's best - nor, for that matter, is his vocal delivery. Yet, as my good friend, Forest, noted the other day, that the song lacks in lyrical depth makes it all the more poignant - it emphasizes the human struggle to adequately express what one feels, especially when one is at a loss, adrift on a seemingly solid piece of land that still changes from moment to moment, from wave to wave. For a beach is a threshold: at once the portal to the infinite, the transcendent, and the stark, if amorphous, site of an inexorable terrestriality. Indefinite and definite. Unbounded and bounded. Passion and limit. Oasis and desert. Being and death. We can't drink the water, we can't eat the sand. We can only play in these elements, which are, in this way, always already necessary and superfluous.

Neil has his guitar with him on the beach, too, but even this instrument, in his hands, in these moments, seems to be meandering if not muted, promising something greater than what it is actually able to transmit. To bring it back to matters unbound and bound, Percy Blysse Shelley writes of this same frustrated effort in Prometheus Unbound: "Then was kindled within him a thirst which outran / Those perishing waters; a thirst of fierce fever, / Hope, love, doubt, desire, which consume him for ever." Or, to put it another way, Neil's solos function as some sort of affective homage to a shipwrecked humanity - now landlocked, formerly lost at sea.

The inimitable metaphysical poet, John Donne, also a Brit, and, therefore, also an islander, famously wrote:

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee. -Meditation XVII

Yet, maybe Donne had never been on the beach. He could hear the bells toll, yes, but only because the sound of the waves crashing didn't drown out their song.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lorca in the Dead of Winter - All In b/w All Out

(Drawing by FGL, 1929)

For my money, the poem that follows - "La aurora" by the Spanish poet, dramaturge, and artist, Federico García Lorca - is the most harrowing depiction of the dark side of modernity. No one can match the succinct yet complex expressivity of the naturalistic and surrealistic imagery that marks this poem. In the end, which here is also the beginning, the "dawn," it is all constituitive of nothing, of nihilism - the futility, the annihilation of human drive and desire - and it is at least on par, if not above, the work of T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Sartre, Camus, and so on.

"La aurora"
By Federico García Lorca

La aurora de Nueva York tiene
cuatro columnas de cieno
y un huracán de negras palomas
que chapotean en las aguas podridas.

La aurora de Nueva York gime
por las inmensas escaleras
buscando entre las aristas
nardos de angustia dibujada.

La aurora llega y nadie la recibe en su boca
porque allí no hay mañana ni esperanza posible.
A veces las monedas en enjambres furiosos
taladran y devoran abandonados niños.

Los primeros que salen comprenden con sus huesos
que no habrá paraísos ni amores deshojados;
saben que van al cieno de números y leyes,
a los juegos sin arte, a sudores sin fruto.

La luz es sepultada por cadenas y ruidos
en impúdico reto de ciencia sin raíces.
Por los barrios hay gentes que vacilan insomnes
como recién salidas de un naufragio de sangre.

From Poeta en Nueva York (written 1929-30, published posthumously 1940)

(English translation by STEPHEN SPENDER AND J. L. GILI)

The New York dawn has
four columns of mud
and a hurricane of black doves
that paddle in putrescent waters.

The New York dawn grieves
along the immense stairways,
seeking amidst the groins
spikenards of fine-drawn anguish.

The dawn comes and no one receives it in his mouth,
for there no morn or hope is possible.
Occasionally, coins in furious swarms
perforate and devour abandoned children.

The first to come out understand in their bones
that there will be no paradise nor amours stripped of leaves:
they know they are going to the mud of figures and laws,
to artless games, to fruitless sweat.

The light is buried under chains and noises
in impudent challenge of rootless science.
Through the suburbs sleepless people stagger,
as though just delivered from a shipwreck of blood.

In addition... Some say that Leonard Cohen is the "master of erotic despair." But I believe that the title for the tilted crown of the jilted belongs to Lorca.

Exhibit A:

Of course, perhaps as all homages are destined to be, this one is quite bizarre. Still, the song has a peculiar charm and potency, nonetheless.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Couple of Genius Leopards

Behold the face, the sound, the fury of genius in the 21st Century! It is Destroyer. He sings, he screams: "Enjoy the wretched writing on the wall - Enjoy!" The new album drops next week, and it's due to crossover.

A genius of the 20th Century, the Chilean poet, vanguardist, and creationist, Vicente Huidobro. Here, as sketched by Picasso.

"Y la noche encoge sus uñas como un leopardo / And the night retracts its claws like a leopard."
- Vicente Huidobro, Altazor o el viaje en paracaídas / Altazor or a voyage in a parachute.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Russia With Love

Here's a new mix (with some familiar songs) for the good people at Fun City Shingaling in St. Petersburg, USSR.
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