(Following is an excerpt from a great piece on Hanna by artist Jess Barnett, please click-through to her site to read the rest!)
I woke up the other day thinking about Kathleen Hanna, who, for those not in the know, was/is the main force behind Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, and Le Tigre, in that order (although since 2010 she’s been working on her project The Julie Ruin). Having not yet seen The Punk Singer, I don’t proclaim to know the intimate details of her life — in fact, most of what I know outside of her music comes from Wikipedia and articles I’ve read about her (she grew up with a strict father but loving mother who supported and even joined forces in her interest in feminism at any early age; she has Lyme disease; she’s married to Ad Rock; she had an abortion at age 15 and obtained the money for it through working at McDonald’s; she was a stripper for a while years back; oh, and she might as well be Superwoman, as far as I’m concerned).
But as any rock fan knows in their hearts, all of these facts are moot points when it comes to the passion such a person can generate thanks to their music. Here are a couple of background facts about me: When I entered my sophomore year of high school, I was having an identity crisis. I didn’t want to be the cute, shy, somewhat dorky blond girl I’d been known as up until then; I didn’t want to be just “pretty” (hell, I no longer wanted to be pretty at all); I didn’t even — at least at certain points — want to be female. (To be clear: I did not harbor thoughts that I should never have been female — I just didn’t want all the baggage that came with being as such.) I surrounded myself with friends who shared similar confusions, mostly girls but with the occasional confused dude thrown into the mix. We snuck out of our houses at night (well, I did) to drink alcohol and cough syrup and listen to moody music such as Underworld’s “Dirty Epic,” Depeche Mode, and, of course, Bikini Kill.
I’d like to share with you Brazilian duo Allison Carvalho and Cristina Nascimento playing the song “Mar dos barcos” by Cristina Nascimento:
Allison Carvalho & Cristina Nascimento, “Mar dos barcos”, 2016
I have a hard time counting all the ways this song enchants me. I also have a hard time parsing out its many merits — but only because its virtues all cohere and intermingle so gracefully in this composition and its presentation, become an unparsable unity: the effortless fusion of the vocals, the inter-braiding guitar harmonies, the way in which the supple instrumental passages flow into and out of the sung sections, the breathy close and its trickling, uncertain trail-out guitar figure. Four minutes of such sweet repose. Four minutes that feel like they could go on without rest, without shore, track of time happily lost.
Perhaps I love this song most of all for how it mixes mourning and gentle sorrow with that sway of waves befitting its title (“Mar dos barcos” = “Sea, two boats”). I am so enamored of this mixture of emotions characteristic of certain Brazilian music — especially Bossa Nova. I’ve always found in this a great spiritual-emotional reconciliation.
For more music by Carvalho and Nascimento, please check out Carvalho’s youtube channel here.
Here’s my take on a beautiful, legendary tune, “Lágrimas Negras,” composed in 1929 by Miguel Matamoros of the Cuban group Trío Matamoros. The Trío Matamoros composed and performed Cuban Son and Boleros (two Cuban styles of music & dance) from 1925-1969, achieving international fame, touring not only in their native Cuba, but also Europe, and eventually recording in New York. I love their rhythms and compositions, and hold them in high regard; they remind me of another famous Latin American trio, Los Panchos.
My grandmother loves this song, she turned 92 recently. For her birthday, I presented her with this tune. My interpretation is directly copied from this 1931 recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-HNOcWWzLg. It’s rough & lo-fi, but the spirit and urgency are there. Enjoy!:
Also, check out this alternate version, which I liked some, and is cleaner, but which doesn’t seem to have as much soul as the rougher version presented above:
Also, check out my records “Needle Out” and “Some Songs, Vol.1″ on iTunes
Hello readers. As usual with the Abandoned Storage Unit format, I present to you a fat clutch of subject matter – most of it arts-related, as usual. Don’t know what I’m talking about? For prior examples of this kind of post, see here and here.
So, lots on the docket today. Let’s start with this friend from Etsy vendor BeatUpCreations:
Naturally I am most drawn to this anthropo-molluscan mixed-up critter. If it had crow wings I’d probably custom order two dozen. I like its one bent antenna, it’s widow’s peak of gold candyshell, and its chipped up face. He is not happy, he is not upset. He is not for eating. He does not respond to salt. He is just a scuffed, dirty snailchild, let him wriggle and explore. He has the power to dissolve stone & most metals with his slime. He is telepathic.
Eric Sloane (b.1905 in NYC, d. 1985) Corn Bin, date unknown, Oil on Masonite
This is “Corn Bin” by American artist Eric Sloane. The glimpsed corn aglow & about to be revealed like a treasure chest slightly ajar. Like a beautiful grin just beginning. Beams cross posts cross slats cross floor cross the glorious portals of morning. A bin of pure reaped corn. The glorious morning firing it radiant. The earth’s bounty. The sweet ripe earth’s bounty washed in glorious light from the white portals of morning. Sweet ripe gold sparking out of the dark interior lit only by two white portals. This is a silent place. No human has to be present to witness and thereby validate. The universe alone can revel in the austere majesty of its own construction.
Albert Gabriel Rigolot (1862 – 1932) Les Petites Filles de Bou Saada, date unknown, oil on canvas
This is “Les petites filles de Bou Saada” (“The pretty girls of Bou Saada”) by French artist Albert Gabriel Rigolot. Bou Saada (which means “place of happiness”) is an Algerian oasis town that has historically been an important trading center & marketplace.
I love this painting. The composition is mesmerizing, with its neat tetris interlock of L-shaped whitespace below and roughly tesselated L counterpart of dark above. The grate and glimpse of sky in the top right prevent the diagonal symmetry from being too neat. Rough jumbled stairs slope up to the watching girls. Hay or straw or something like it tufts over some gap in the wood-ceiling. What does the rough lumpy stone wall in the foreground conceal or contain? A fine rusty dust on the rockheap-stairs spills down & transfers the color from the girls’ faces and garments, finding echo in the orange straw/refuse in the top left. This painting transports you: to shuffling dust, cries from the marketplace, bustle of livestock, and the sudden sense of having trespassed in this peculiar slumping interzone. A masterwork of beguiling mystery and compositional harmony.
I saw Charles Bradley headline the House of Vans show in Brooklyn on a delicious cusp-of-summer nite in June. After strong instrumental opening numbers by the airtight Menahan street band, & after some expert crowdwork by the MC (doubling as organist), Mr. Bradley emerged, resplendent in his sequined, monogrammed hot cherry red on red on red ensemble. Colors of blood & passion, befitting his MC’s introduction of him as the Victim of Love. There he stood by turns coy & overcome with emotion, smiling graciously to the waves of applause from his hometown crowd, wide eyed, arms wide, then hamming it up for the crowd with a salacious finger-lick. The band took it from there, snapping into place & Mr. Bradley proceeded to sing the night to flaming shreds. From the first few bars you could tell that the man had the pain of a lifetime stored up in him, and a scorching, raspy scream to match it.
Charles Bradley, Brooklyn, House of Vans show
from unARTigNYC, June 12, 2014
Goddamn. I hadn’t heard a note of the man until that night, & I just stood there in beery disbelief, jammed up about one row from the front. Only a couple of teenagers and the photog’s row were closer. I didn’t have my earplugs in and I both regretted it and thanked myself for my good subconscious planning every time he pulled back to annihilate the microphone. Lord how he worked it; everything was white-hot commitment. He fell to his knees, mic stand over his back like Jesus & his cross. He pulled James Brown moves on his mic stand, flinging it forward and yanking it back, startling one of the photographers. He hip-gyrated and tried splits. He worked odd tai chi maneuvers & fluttery-armed backpedals. He mugged and finger-licked and lewdly grinned. He let it all out for us in a way I haven’t seen a performer do in years. His face streamed sweat as he grimaced in the grip of those impassioned songs as if he had just instants ago discovered their melody and message.
Bradley ended his set by coming down to the front row, with some assistance from security, where he was rapidly mobbed, held, embraced by those of us lucky enough to be close by. I patted him & held his damp head & felt vast thanks. Greil Marcus once said of the music of Chester Burnett, aka Howlin Wolf: “This is where the soul of man never dies.” On June 12 2014, in a packed warehoused crowd full of twenty somethings cheering for music of a bygone generation, I saw another spark from that great universal soul Marcus saw in the Wolf. & my my my how bright it shone.
For more information about Eric Sloane, please check out his site here.
For more about Albert Gabriel Rigolot, please check out this online gallery at Rehs Galleries, Inc..
For more information about Charles Bradely, please check out this indispensable 6-part interview series sensitively conducted by FaceCulture.
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