Friday, January 30, 2009

Antony & the Johnsons: The Crying Light

There's no one quite like Antony Hegarty. He sings in a unique and unorthodox fashion that attracts comparisons to Bjork, although they sound nothing alike. In his best songs, he articulates a similar devotional quality that I hear in Leonard Cohen:

That's Kazuo Ohno on the cover, a Japanese butoh dancer. It has to be one of my all-time favourite covers - Emily Dickinson meets the Peruvian Mummy. Antony writes:
"The Crying Light is dedicated to the great dancer Kazuo Ohno. In performance I watched him cast a circle of light upon the stage, and step into that circle, and reveal the dreams and reveries of his heart. He seemed to dance in the eye of something mysterious and creative; with every gesture he embodied the child and the feminine divine. He's kind of like my art parent."

Their new Wachowski Brothers' directed video for "Epilepsy is Dancing" was removed from YouTube for "indecency" and put back it lives on via Pitchfork:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choi...

China is celebrating the Year of The Ox amid financial & political uncertanties. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, the 60th anniversary of modern China's founding and the 50th anniversary of the great famine.

The authorities are hoping against hope that economic growth doesn't fall below 6%, while recent stats reveal as many as six million people from the countryside have lost their jobs in the cities.

This explains why parts of Obama's inauguration speech were censored.

Here's a brief insight into what people outside of the major centers are enduring courtesy of Yung Chang's documentary film, "Up The Yangtze":

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Obama Inaguration: In Praise Of Simple Gifts

I’m still feeling stoked by Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday. While I didn’t think it was as rousing as it might have been, it still set a new, higher standard of conduct for the US to live up to. It was prose, not poetry, austere, not flamboyant and rooted in a plainspoken vernacular rather than coated in sugary platitudes. The John Williams piece, "Air And Simple Graces," performed by Iztak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, is based on an old Shaker song called "Simple Gifts":
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
This seems to me an appropriate tone for the task of reclamation at hand. Highlights:

Aretha Franklin digging deep on "My Country Tis Of Thee" (and her hat!):

A pre-recorded Perlman & Yo-Yo smokin’ on “Air and Simple Gifts”:

Rahm Emanuel hamming it up:

Chief Justice John Roberts fudging the oath!

My favourite section of Obama’s speech:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy, guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.

For those words to be realized, Obama must pursue the Bush administration's war crimes:

Monday, January 19, 2009

David Byrne in Hong Kong

The gospel according to David Byrne rolled into the HK Convention Center last night. It was his first time to perform here and he put on an awesome show (3 encores!) mixing tunes from his current collaboration with Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today together with Talking Heads classics. He brought along a seven piece band – drums, percussion, keyboard, bass, three backing singers and three....cheerleaders! (dancers).

The new material was gorgeous, warm and expansive, a true realization of the secular gospel he has been pursuing with Eno. There were moments of ecstasy - "One Fine Day", "Life Is Long", "Everything That Happens" - and funky whigouts - "Life During Wartime", "My Big Hands (Fall Through the Cracks)", "Once In A Lifetime". For "Burning Down The House" they slipped on tutus...

Set List:

Strange Overtones (Everything That Happens)
I Zimbra (Fear Of Music)
One Fine Day (Everything)
Help Me Somebody (Bush Of Ghosts)
Houses In Motion (Remain In Light)
My Big Nurse (Everything)
My Big Hands (Catherine Wheel)
Heaven (Fear Of Music)
Crosseyed And Painless (Remain)
Life Is Long (Everything)
Once In A LIfetime (Remain In Light)
Life During Wartime (Fear Of Music)
Air (Fear Of Music)
I Feel My Stuff (Everything)

Take Me to The River (Buildings And Food)
Poor Boy (Everything)

Burning Down The House (Speaking In Tongues)

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Everything that happens will happen today
And nothing has changed, but nothing's the same

And every tomorrow will be yesterday
And everything that happens will happen today

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inauguration Day

An inaugural post for my maiden voyage into the unchartered waters of blogging...anchors aweigh!