Made Me Cry – Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips is one of those bands the members of which (Wayne in particular) seem, in addition to being great songwriters, are great, kind, wonderful people (the other notable band of that kind is Yo La Tengo). And yesterday their song “Race for the Prize” made me cry.

How can it be, that i so rarely care about lyrics at all and of all artists Flaming Lips moved me so much? They have a bunch of them — those beautiful and happy songs about injury, weakness, disappointment and death of course. That endless humanity. And “Race for the Prize” is one of the best: Two scientists are racing for the cure that is the prize … so determined … Theirs is to win if it kills them, they’re just humans with wives and children. It’s a cliché, it’s manipulative — and it works.

Listen to the song on the website (click on Music -> Soft Bulletin -> Race for the Prize). No, really, do it.


Not So Fast

I fast on Tish’a B’av, but not on Yom Kippur. For several reasons:

  1. This is the real reason — the rest is just a rant: Because i’m home with my 100% secular parents and with motivation to surf the web, listen to some music and study some DBA’ing and without Hadar, her parents or any religious or non-religious friends to motivate me to fast. With my parents i am kinda less Jewish. It is a horrible description, but i can’t think of anything better.
  2. Because Tish’a B’av has more historical significance, while Yom Kippur is “just” a commandment. So the secularist-nationalist satan inside me says that Tish’a B’av is important, and commandments are really just traditional superstitions. But, as stated above, this terrible blasphemy is nothing but a rant.

Hadar is home with her parents, fasting and not using electricity, fire or musical instruments. Pretty strict. It is quite likely that if i spent Yom Kippur with her (with or without her parents!) i would fast, even though she would probably not want to. Strange world …

Commit, Rollback, Jackass

Yesterday i’ve seen “The Commitments” and “Jackass: The Movie” on TV.

I won’t review either, ‘cuz i don’t have anything new to say that hasn’t already been said. “The Commitments” has these beautiful lines, when Rabbitte goes into a tower block where a kid is waiting at the lift with a horse:

Rabbitte: “You’re not bringing that horse in the lift”
Kid: “He won’t fit up the stairs”

I didn’t remember the exact phrasing, so i googled for “commitments movie script”, but didn’t find it. So i tried “Commitments horse lift stairs” and bingo.

Jackass is American in a very scary way. Considering that the USA strive to conquer the world overtly and covertly, i’m asking myself — is that the world i want my children to live in, a world of machos that are so bored they are destroying and humiliating themselves? I grok freedom of speech and i admit to laughing out loud for the duration of the whole movie, but enough is enough. If you shoot yourself with so-called “less lethal” riot ammo out of boredom today, someday you’ll shoot yourself with live bullets.

Women like us strengthen most


Björk‘s new album is her best since Post. Sorry, on Medúlla there are no shining standouts like “Isobel”, “Bachelorette” or “Pagan Poetry”, but as a multi-layered concept album, which it was supposed to be, it is a hands-down winner. First of all — it’s her most consistent, without the pretentious half-baked throwaways of Homogenic and unfulfilled avantgarde takes of Vespertine. And also the most original — and not only because of the a-cappella/human-beat-box stuff. That’s not much more than a well-performed gimmick. In fact, i’ve gotta admit that i’ve been doing it for years — entertaining myself with my mouth … ’nuff said. The important factor, however, is the songwriting. It always is. Paired with excellent sequencing it singles out Medúlla as a statement of successful sternness.

The chord progressions in the opener, “Pleasure is All Mine”, are perfectly placed to set the mood for the rest of the record and its beautiful melody is an astonishing proof of Björk’s avant-classical composition skills. “Show Me Forgiveness”, which follows, is one of Medúlla’s few really a-cappella tracks; after the overtly emotional opener its characteristic, unmistakably 100% Björkish melody and tone are truly soothing. Then comes “Where is the Line”, in which the artist displays her influence, direct or indirect, by Pink Floyd’s “Atom Heart Mother” — both feature a menacing neurotic choir. And then “Vökuró” lulls the listener again. Björk’s sincere singing in her inherently beautiful and noble mother-tongue is so revelatory, that one must marvel why did it take her sixteen years to put a complete Icelandic song on an international LP, and even now it wasn’t written by her (the last time it was the Sugarcubes’ “Taktu bensín elskan” on their brilliant 1988 release “Life’s Too Good”). No, i don’t have any smart ideas about her reasons, especially given her well-known boundless self-expression.

And then there are the very experimental “instrumentals”. There are no instruments there — only vocals, and although two of them have “icelandic” names, it’s all gibberish. Once again that unstoppable girl redefines the meaning of music, but she’s used to it. “Ancestors” is her boldest experiment ever — deep into a successful solo career she releases a track with no melody and no beat; it’s hard to call it even “ambient”, considering the extremes of Björk’s wimpers and Tagaq‘s snarls. It works, because self-expression kicks in again. Another instrumental, “Öll Birtan”, is my personal favourite on the album; the repeated “Hal. Hal. Hal.”, although not metronomic, sets the beat, and must be a good accompaniment to medidation (or sex, for that matter.)

“Submarine” is another look to the seventies, a perfectly produced duo with Robert Wyatt. They were bound to work together. That makes me wonder whether she will finally record something with Bowie or Fripp. And “Desired Constellation” and “Mouth’s Cradle” and “Sonnets / Unrealities XI” are perfected realizations of ideas from Vespertine, respectively — “Harm of Will”, “Heirloom” and “Sun in My Mouth”. Here they sound completely in place, not disturbing the flow and not self-indulgent for even a moment.

So, how do i master the perfect day? Six glasses of Neviot(h), two listens to “Medúlla”. And some self-expression. That’s the way.

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