Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: 17 Pygmies – 13 Blackbirds

17 Pygmies is the name of the band. Former Savage Republic-an Jackson Del Rey and Louise Bialik’s long-running West Coast outfit started out as a skewed new wave/pop band but has gravitated toward art-rock since. This new cd has been a long time coming, and it’s been worth the wait. It’s a beautifully rustic, mostly acoustic record with vocals by Bialik, austere fingerpicked guitar, autumnal melodies and light percussion in places. Think of it as the thinking person’s alternative to Hem. It picks up steam as it goes along.

The understatedly memorable opening theme, Heavenly Intro is reprised at the end of the initial tracks as Heavenly Creatures. In between, we get the pretty title cut and the absolutely gorgeous Tree of Life (if this is about pot, it must be seriously hydroponic). After that, the stately waltz Get Out!, the haunting 6/8 ballad Water Carry Me with its pastoral blend of guitar, piano and violin and then truth in advertising with A Brief Interlude – more 6/8 time with beautiful fingerpicked classical guitar, sounding like a good baroque classical piece. The next song, 125 History has ghostly vocals set to stark strings; Lila Paosa, which follows, is another quiet pretty song with ringing overtones from the guitars and organ adding just a tinge of disquieting dissonance. Strings come in toward the end and build to a crescendo. Ubi Sunt (Latin for “where are then”) and Heavenly Creatures feature both piano, voice and strings. There are three bonus tracks on the first cd – quite possibly left over from a previous project – which make a good triptych in 6/8: an instrumental with piano and strings, an original song, and a cover of the McCartney chestnut from the White Album followed by a piano instrumental to close it.

This is a double cd: the second one is called 13 Lotus which (seems to be) 13 remixes of the song from 13 Blackbirds. It’s pretty much all hypnotic, sleepy, downtempo, mostly instrumental trip-hop variations except for a rather disturbing version with sirens phasing from speaker to speaker which will quickly have listeners rushing to the window and then wondering where all the emergency vehicles are. It’s all well worth owning and comes in a charmingly illustrated, Edward Gorey-esque double cardboard sleeve.

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November 12, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Handicapping the 2008 Election

About time we did this:

 

A

Odds: 1.5 to 1

There is no election. On orders from Cheney, rogue FBI officers encourage a band of Muslim extremists to plant a bomb in a crowd of tourists outside one of the network tv morning show studios in Manhattan. The bomb goes off, dozens die. In retaliation, Cheney bombs Iran. Ahmedinejad retaliates by firing the entire Iranian missile supply at Israel. What’s left of the Mossad retaliates by assassinating Bush (Cheney, holed up in an undisclosed location, is spared). Cheney declares martial law, declares himself dictator for life, blames Iran again and drops a nuclear weapon on them. The Russians, downwind of the bomb, retaliate with their own nuclear strike. Mutually assured destruction ensues.

 

B

Odds: 2 to 1

Hillary Clinton narrowly edges out Fred Thompson. Having inherited war with Iran, she reinstitutes the draft. Manipulated into a precipitous crash by the President’s Working Group (led by former Goldman Sachs head Henry Paulson), the stock market hits rock bottom and a fullblown depression ensues. Driven by speculators spooked off by the market crash, the price of gold, oil and wheat triple. Walmart hires Halliburton security (mostly indentured Indonesians) to fend off starving mobs. Unable to fund the national budget, the second Clinton administration hires Halliburton to run the Justice Department, Homeland Security and the prison system, whose population has tripled since the stock market crash. The death penalty is reinstated for the damage or destruction of corporate property. The Department of Education is taken over by Whittle Industries, Health by AIG, Agriculture by ADM, Fish and Wildlife by Conagra, the EPA by Waste Management. Chinese immigration multiplies a thousandfold. Indonesian slave labor is imported by Wackenhut to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Secretary of State Bill Clinton is caught in flagrante with a girl scout. Outraged, the Republicans sweep the 2010 midterm elections, impeach the Clintons for good this time and with borrowed Chinese money hire Halliburton to invade Iran.

 

C.

Odds: 3 to 1

Fred Thompson narrowly edges out Hillary Clinton, but, not wanting to take the blame for the ensuing depression, the Republicans rig the election so that Clinton is declared winner. Continue with (B) above.

 

D.

Odds: 4 to 1

Cheney engineers the bombing of the Manhattan tourists, using this as an excuse to bomb Iran. Last-minute antiwar candidate Cindy Sheehan runs away with the election. Not wanting to leave Iran yet also not wanting to get blamed for the ensuing depression, the Republicans rig the election so that Clinton is declared winner. Continue with (B) above.

 

E.

Odds: 10 to 1

Fred Thompson is declared the winner of the election, regardless of whether he actually wins it fair and square, or with a few timely deletions from the computer. Goldman Sachs operatives, working on behalf of the Dept. of the Treasury, engineer a stock market crash. Goldman Sachs, Halliburton and the Carlyle Group – who have profited mightily by short selling – buy up GM, Ford, AT&T and scores of blue chip corporations for pennies on the dollar. Commodity prices soar as non Goldman Sachs traders fear the stock market. Breadlines, unemployment, crime, new prisons, the privatization of government services, importation of foreign slave labor to carry out huge infrastructure projects ensue as in (B) above. In lieu of a draft, thousands of indentured Chinese, Indonesian and untouchable Indian troops are sent into Iran by Halliburton. Thompson declares the war in Iran a success even as one of our carriers is suspiciously sunk by a submarine. Sensing the US dollar is no longer viable, OPEC switches to the Chinese yuan instead.

 

F.

Odds: 100 to 1

After a heated primary battle, Bill Richardson wins the election over Rudy Giuliani and third-party spoiler candidate Mitt Romney, after Giuliani is outed as gay when a picture of him having sex with Matt Drudge circulates over the internet and he loses the support of key rightwing Christian extremists. The Iraq war is over by spring, but the Goldman Sachs operatives engineer a stock market crash, commodity prices soar and Cheney – still alive – engineers another deadly bomb blast somewhere in Manhattan. Driven by media hysteria, the 2012 election goes to Jeb Bush and the Republicans in a landslide. Continue with (E) above.

 

 

G.

Odds: 1,000,000 to 1

A hitherto unknown antiwar candidate with no political experience sweeps to the presidency over Clinton and Thompson. Cheney engineers another deadly 11th hour bomb blast somewhere in Manhattan. Citizens lead a manhunt for the perpetrators, some of whom are captured and confess. Cheney, Bush and their conspirators are tried, convicted and executed. Across Europe and South America, progressive parties follow suit and sweep to power. An alliance of the US, France and Venezuela invades Monaco and Switzerland, seizing the assets of the robber barons who have fled there after the elections. Armed with this substantial influx of cash, the US commits to building a new wind, water and solar-powered electric grid, phasing out dependence on foreign oil and introducing electric-powered light rail across the country. Odds of this: a million to one? Make that a billion.

November 12, 2007 Posted by | Rant | Leave a comment