Monday, October 27, 2008

Michael Zapruder: brother of poet Matthew Zapruder. Makes sense. The lyrics on Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope are ambitious, formless, penetrating, focused. They are personal without being overly sentimental. His characters fight, seek, and reconcile. From "Ads for Feelings": "When the wholesome has married the loathsome / Can you tell me what gift I should bring?" From "White Raven": "More footsteps on the walk, then the doorbell / More coats on the rack / Good people making heaven out of hell." From "Harbor Saints": "May the tangle of your footsteps / Leave you where you feel at home." Zapruder's words are tinged with an introspective quality that only proper solitude and contemplation can bring. Two years ago, the San Francisco native recorded an album as Rain of Frogs, a collective featuring a cast of 20 musicians, including members of Camper Van Beethoven and the Decemberists. Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope is less collective and more a collection of uncompromising thoughts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

If there's one good thing to come out of all the hubbub surrounding the production on Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic, it's this: We've officially been introduced to Pixelated Rick Rubin. Be honest (you're among friends here): You've also been anxiously awaiting the day when the Wall Street Journal would run a piece featuring a quote from Rick Rubin, just so you could meet his dot-matrixed alter-ego. My only disappointment with the headshot is that it ratchets up the already present Grizzly Adams vibe by like 75 percent. Oh shit -- where's Nakoma?

There's an interesting little tidbit I wasn't able to work into a piece I recently wrote on German DJ Frank Gossner, who spent three years in West Africa trawling for rare 45s and LPs of African funk, Afrobeat, Nigerian disco, and Ghana highlife from the 1970s. Gossner talked about African pop's role as gatherer and narrator when it came to information (in a way, I suppose, that's akin to hip-hop or even English punk). "Music means much more in African than to the average Western consumer," he told me. "Music is the main ingredient of native, African religion. Music also doubled as books and as newspapers to transport news and history."

One of the examples he pointed to was a track named "Nama" that was included on his blog's Deeper and Deeper mix. It's a classic Mandingue standard about a ferryboat sinking on the way to an independence celebration. The accident occurred in 1971 and killed 14 passengers: 13 young girls and the driver, who was named Nama. Roughly 90 seconds before the song concludes, an eerie, distorted electronic sound cuts in; the noise was recorded to mimic the metal gurgle of the boat's dying engine as it slowly sank.

It's evidence of Frank's earlier point (pop music as storyteller), with the end result being a pointed sentimentality that crosses both language and cultural divides.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Remember the color Prussian blue?"
"Remember? What happened to it?"
"They retired it."
"Nah, they renamed it for being too insensitive. The Prussians were rather upset at having a certain quality of melancholy attached to their culture and country. The color is now called midnight blue."
"Ah, what a neat picture."
"It is."
"But you can't blog about crayons."
"I could write about The Colourfield . . . or A Blaze Colour or The New Colours or maybe even Ocean Colour Scene."
"Nobody writes about Ocean Colour Scene."
"What about their mum?"
"Their mum had her Internet and cable turned off. Overdue bills."
"One word, pal: MIX TAPE."

"The Color of Love is Blue" - Apollo Heights [Ed. note: Not Prussian blue or midnight blue. Just blue.]
"The Color of the Fire" - Boards of Canada
"Self-Portrait in Three Colors" - Charles Mingus
"All My Colours" - Echo & the Bunnymen
"Trails of Colour Dissolve" - Felt
"Love is a Wonderful Colour" - Icicle Works
"Turning Colours into Greys" - Paper Moon
"Thomson Color" - The Pastels
"Colors" - Pharoah Sanders
"Darkness & Colour" - The Railway Children
"Colours" - Teenage & The Wildlife
"Tri Coloured Ribbon" - The Wolfe Tones