Aguirre and the Rainforest: Madness in a Theater Made For It

Werner Herzog‘s Aguirre: Wrath of God is a supremely effective cinematic meditation on madness. It is able to marshal several progressions: that of the cinematic narrative, the journey into, through, and hopelessly within, an alien jungle-land, the simple passage of time, and run them alongside the descent into insanity of the movie’s eponymous central character.Continue reading “Aguirre and the Rainforest: Madness in a Theater Made For It”

Skream’s Where You Should Be, Eight Hours in Brooklyn, and Summer

I’ve written before, on this blog, about the “fine-grained, specific recall” of memories that listening to a song can bring about. I’m inclined to think that any time I pen a note of appreciation here about a particular piece of music, I will do so by also noting and paying attention to its associations; itContinue reading “Skream’s Where You Should Be, Eight Hours in Brooklyn, and Summer”

Reflections on Translations – II: Music and the Superfluousness of Comprehension

Can one listen to a song, not understand its lyrics, and still appreciate it? The answer to this silly question is a straightforward ‘Yes’, and I don’t think I would be alone in saying so. As the endearing popularity of The Best–or Most–Misunderstood Lyrics meme, and the persistent faux complaints about Incomprehensible Lyrics show, weContinue reading “Reflections on Translations – II: Music and the Superfluousness of Comprehension”

Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings The Blues”

This past weekend’s viewing pleasures included a long-standing, and much-awaited, resident of my movie queue: Nina Paley‘s 2008 graphically and musically eclectic reworking of the Indian epic Ramayana, Sita Sings The Blues. The movie incorporates four elements: a reworking of the traditional narrative of the Ramayana; a Mystery Science Theater-like commentary on the Ramayana carriedContinue reading “Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings The Blues””

“Thrill is Gone” and Vietnamese Jazz Bars

It’s a cliche: listening to a song can conjure up memories associated with past encounters with that song. But my knowledge of that power still does not diminish the little start of surprise I experience when I come into contact with the fine-grained, specific recall that a particular piece of music can bring about. EarlyContinue reading ““Thrill is Gone” and Vietnamese Jazz Bars”

Get-Dressed, Get-Ready, Out-The-Door Music

Making music playlists is ubiquitous: music to work-out by, music for a road-trip, music for the blues, music for lovemaking, music to cook by. 8Tracks serves up a veritable smorgasbord of playlists put together with plenty of ingenuity and imagination; I’ve found gems and more than a few turkeys at 8Tracks, but really, the site’sContinue reading “Get-Dressed, Get-Ready, Out-The-Door Music”

Two Bad Ways of Liking Pop Music

Numero Uno: The easy academic way. The interest in pop music needs to contextualized by making your interest and listening pleasure part of a project of aesthetical investigation: What makes a pop song “listenable”? What is the semantics of “catchy”? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for a track to be “pop”? I realizeContinue reading “Two Bad Ways of Liking Pop Music”

Blast From the Past: Asian Dub Foundation Live

A fine example of a dynamic live performance: the Asian Dub Foundation perform ‘Free Satpal Ram’. Deeder looks very young in this, almost child-like, and almost out of place on stage. But the sound is tight and the energy levels are kept high (as ADB always managed). This video of ADB at London in 2000Continue reading “Blast From the Past: Asian Dub Foundation Live”