Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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Books and movies used to have dark references to a confinement ‘treatment’ where the victim would get hammered but not a trace would be seen outside on the body. It wasn’t morbid fascination but more the scientific curiosity of my early years. But never mind my strange childhood – that’s not the point. Now imagine being subjected to this treatment AND coming out of it feeling good. No? Well, it’s real. Torche manages to pull that stunt off with aplomb on ‘Restarter’. (more…)

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No, this is not a best of 2012 list. Such a claim would be quite a tall order 🙂 These are just a few of my favourite sings (sick, sick, sick) from the year gone by. Again, just a few. I had a fabulous start to the year spending time at an NGO up in the mountains. This post acts partly as musical closure to the year gone by. This list is hugely influenced by the fact that many of its entries are not seen together in a single place. And I think these albums should be heard. (more…)

And a song for every season.

They could well paraphrase this song to ‘Churn, Churn, Churn’ and make it the HR department’s anthem 

This one for the marketer peddling his wares

And for that mythical honest business

For the paranoid and the merely curious alike

If only Pontius Pilate had sung

And in this season of giving and forgiving

For the one on a diet (there’s a twisted mind at work here)

And one for that cow on the street

For those historically inclined (Rick, are you listening?), overheard during the French Revolution

With a liberal dose of liberty, the background score to Julius Caesar – Act 3: Scene 1, perhaps?

For my passengers when I drive  

When out runs the line
And the end is nigh

And this one that prompted this post

Wrote a song for everyone
And I could’t even talk to you

He opened doors. Dave Brubeck opened the doors to a hitherto mystical world of Jazz for people like me. He uncovered for me the riches of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Chick Corea, Weather Report, Robert Glasper, Vijay Iyer, Brad Mehldau…a whole area of beauty.

A tune that I heard countless times before I knew its name, ‘Take Five’ was, no it still is, the most recognisable jazz composition for me. It’s what got me started listening to jazz, a form of music that I had till then thought inaccessible. And through jazz I learnt to appreciate music that went beyond pop. My mind opened to possibilities beyond popular song structure. The man, his bands and his music helped lay the foundation for my musical education. And nothing and no one touches me the way music does.

He opened doors. He opened doors and now he has left the building. Today I wept.

One thing leads to another. Earlier this week I was listening to Handel’s “Messiah” when I remembered an email newsletter that I had received some weeks back featuring a collaborative cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (now how does “Messiah” lead to “Hallelujah”? Don’t ask, please). More of that joint effort later, but it got me thinking about the number of covers of this song that I have heard. Apparently, over 300 artists have covered this song of which I have heard a meagre 11 apart from the original. Not bad for a song that the record company did not want to release initially (how often have we heard of the idiocy of record labels). Interestingly, Cohen himself has often altered the lyrics and renditions of “Hallelujah” over the years and other artistes who’ve covered this song have also ‘tweaked’ it a bit, e.g. Rufus Wainwright changed “Holy Dove” to “Holy Dark” (see below). Probably the standard version, lyrically, of “Hallelujah” is the one made famous by John Cale. Subsequent attempts by other musicians are founded on this version. (more…)

I’d never heard anything quite like this. For a  change, I was happily felled by the ‘blown-away’ cliche. By the time I got around to listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble’s for the first time on their sophomore effort “Couldn’t Stand The Weather”, the likes of Clapton, Beck, McLaughlin and Hendrix were already staple for me. But this was quite another and distinct style of playing, even while drawing inspiration from blues masters. Phenomenal fretwork, lightning fast picking, immaculate phrasing…all that doesn’t even come close to describing SRV’s playing. You need to hear all of that on pieces like the opener “Scuttle Buttin’” above from “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” or “Testify” and “Rude Mood” from that scorching debut “Texas Flood” and more to develop some notion of what I mean. (more…)

I had intended this post to be about the music of another artiste but seemingly endless listenings of Agam’s debut album made me strike a different note. “Fusion” was a much used – abused is more like it – word in the world of music in the years of my childhood and adolescence.  Such has been my general experience with music that carries “fusion” as its predominant adjective that a wall built entirely of cynicism rises up automatically around me when I hear that term. The problem, of course, is never with music. It’s always the musicians. To be able to meld two or more dramatically different forms of music requires not just technical proficiency but also cartloads of imagination. And usually, such experiments fail due to a deficiency of the latter. Fortunately, Agam has managed to get that balancing act mostly right on their debut even if the incredibly tacky album title “The Inner Self Awakens”  indicates otherwise. I have mentioned elsewhere that my maternal grandfather was a practitioner of Indian classical music of the Carnatic variety and I’m quite used to the community that dotes on it. It says a lot for Agam’s blend of progressive rock (with just that bit of metallic heft to it) and Carnatic classical music that one elder who had previously been unwavering in her loyalty to the “pure” form wanted the CD after I played it to her. I gave her my copy and bought myself another. (more…)