Well, it depends on the soul, and if they want to be saved… or whether they even believe in angels, and souls, and snow…
Ah, snow is easy because it’s tangible. For a while at least, until it melts in your hands and transforms into water and trickles through your freezing fingers, becoming steam at the touch of your heated skin, and is gone… like a breath of air… then how do you still believe? Some (those that do) might say with faith, others a hope; it isn’t snow anymore and we just can’t see it. Everything changes, and life goes on and on and on
On November 21st Kate Bushreleased her newest album “50 Words for Snow” on Fish People, and the reception has been very enthusiastic and positive. That’s just from the reviewers! The fans, needless to say, are loving it. To be honest, I was expecting that the critics would be yawning due to the laidback and casual pace, so I am absolutely thrilled for Kate that the general public is getting steered toward this wonderful, warm and soothing Wintery album; I’m so happy that she’s getting the recognition she so richly deserves. Perfect timing, in more ways than one…
Prelude: A CHRISTMAS STORY, OF SORTS
I think we can each manage to think of one long-beloved artist whose work resonates so thoroughly with us that we think of their work as “friends” and by extension their creators; I’ve had several including Leonard Cohen and Neil Young, to name but two. Essra Mohawk (aka Sandy Hurvitz & Uncle Meat, ex-Mothers of Invention) has been a favorite since my teen years and is a warm and wonderful friend who has gifted me many times, and to whom I’m most grateful and love to death
For whatever reason (and there are many), Kate’s music, words, wisdom, and humor touch me deeper than anything. It’s inexplicable, so why try to explain it? All I know is what I feel, and that is enough, because she soothes my soul, and calms me. Her album came to me just in the nick of time, just as a friend would. Things are very grim, and I never know what the next month will bring, let alone tomorrow; all is uncertain and overwhelming, and I’m “living” a soul-sucking solitary experience here in the frozen heart of a cold, cruel city, with uncaring people all around me. I’m a frost-bitten Romantic, and out of my element, and becoming land-locked in the ice…
Yes, the world is so loud, it’s crushingly cold, but she brings such warmth to it. I’ve had little money or food this past year and shelter has been uncertain, but I receive sustenance and cover throughher words, and hope. But I’m tired and drained from doing all that I can. So I keep falling… but I have faith that she’ll find me
Of course I wanted the album, but couldn’t afford it, and refused to listen to any tracks before I had it in my hands. It felt like I was starving myself, and since I had barely any food, it was pretty much all-consuming. I kind of became Invisible, and vanished, withdrew. Aside from the single, “Wild Man”, it was a while before I heard anything else (not to mention a crazed determination LOL), until a li’l Fishy named Sharnee took pity and bought the CD for me and sent it, from overseas. It arrived on December 23, and I had it on Christmas Eve to listen to. Thank you, Sharnee (And, to Suli, who bought me the vinyl of Director’s Cut earlier in the year; you guys are the best!)
I put it on at half-past midnight, on Christmas. Alone, quiet, and receptive, as one should be, at one’s altar. There is nothing more personal to me, or as deep reaching, and one must be unafraid to Feel It, in order to fully allow her in. A lot of us have become so fearful of Feeling, because the hurts last longer than the pleasure, they perceive. They build up callous and walls to protect themselves, but have lost touch with what it means to be human: to feel. While listening I try not to think, or analyze, just receive graciously my gift, and simply, intuitively, take her in as deeply as possible, and allow the superconscious to do the heavy lifting, sifting, and sorting. I just Listen, and Feel
SNOWFLAKE: She begins her beautiful message to me, to us, here, accompanied by her son Bertie, who does a remarkably moving vocal for the opener, “Snowflake”. (Thanks to Sky Vibes, aka vibesinthesky, for the wonderful videos; full-screen ‘em for full effect!)
“I am ice and dust and light. I am sky and here…” Really, Bertie’s the luminary on this track, warmly watched over by his Mother, whose piano-flake touches tinkle and twinkle like stars. Drfifting, falling ones…
The recording done on this album by Del Palmer (also playing bass, above, and assisted by Stephen W. Tayler) is about as pristine as I’ve had the pleasure to hear; it’s hard to believe it’s digital! He doesn’t get enough credit! <— fix’d
LAKE TAHOE: My favorite camping spot; I recall very well hitchhiking up there as a teen with a buddy and spent many summers camping out, meeting girls, and gambling playing the nickle slots (when we could sneak into the casinos LOL). There was one time though, that we hitched in Winter in the early ’70s, with just sleeping bags and plastic garbage bags stuffed with clothes and such. Old guy’s station wagon broke down at 3 AM on Highway 50 way up in the mountains. Sleeping on snow on the side of the highway on the other side of the guardrail… Well, not sleeping actually, since it was so friggin’ COLD! That was an adventure
Anyway, lest I go on, we usually hung out at North Shore, avoiding the more touristy South Shore. I always wanted to live up there, relatively removed from civilization (in those years). There was a legend of a woman of the lake, but that’s all I remember. Luckily, Kate has a good imagination and has furnished a haunting mood piece about this ghostly entity and her beloved dog, who misses her, who misses him…
Rather than put up full-length fan-made videos up to cover the whole album (which I wouldn’t do anyway LOL), I’ll just use teaser clips for several songs so as to get you to buy the album to hear the whole piece by itself. Heh. Life sucks, huh? Here’s an official short produced by Kate, a clever shadow puppet interpretation of a segment from “Lake Tahoe”, called “Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe”:
MISTY: I was delightfully surprised to see Kate experimenting with several different art forms in these shorts; I loved the shadow puppets. The next song, “Misty” has probably gotten the most attention so far due to its singular story of a young woman’s tryst with a snowman. What? That couldn’t happen? Well, maybe not for long! But spirits are freed once their shells are reduced, and Love is a spiritual Thing (*hears Arthur Brown’s “Love Is a Spirit” in his head*) ;-)
The clip is entitled “Mistraldespair”, which, oddly enougfh, is my favorite word for snow! The penultimate Word! Loved the guitar work by Danny McIntosh, and Kate’s moving vocal was… umm… -Okay, look: I CANNOT POSSIBLY report on every thing I like about this record! It’s UN-POSSIBLE! I like everything about it and there’s too much to say, so I’m gonna diverge a bit from the Plan for this Post, and just save the “interpretations” and lyric discussion for another post to (hopefully) come soon. Time is really scarce and I don’t know when I can come back to this, and it’s not a simple thing to discuss Kate’s work! Really; I have like FOUR PAGES of notes from my first impressions, at Midnight, on Christmas…
So, just listen and enjoy, and I’ll be back some other time with more “particular” feelings. This is more of a celebration
WILD MAN: This is the first track I was lucky enough to hear before the album’s release, and its first single. I’ve already put up another brilliant vibesinthesky video for “Wild Man” in its Premiere post a ways below, so you’ll have to scroll a bit to find it I’ll just post the official short for it here; this one’s an animated clip that looks almost live action (I thought it was!):
I was happy to hear Andy Fairweather-Low’s vocals, as I’ve been a fan for a long time. When Roger Waters first came around on tour, I got to see what a great (and underrated) musician Andy is, and his guitar-playing was better than I’d heard before. (He almost seemed the bandleader that night, and Roger ENJOYED it! -I swear I never saw Roger smile so much as that night with Andy; ’twas great LOL) His vocals on this track really complements Kate’s so very well, and even add to the Himalayan atmosphere (along with Dels’ bells!). The album version is especially nice, if you’ve only heard the single
SNOWED IN AT WHEELER STREET: One of the key songs on this album, for me. In fact, it’s SO key that I’ll use (with his kind permission) another excellent vibesinthesky video, right here:
I’d always imagined what a Kate Bush-Elton John duet might sound like, since she was a huge fan of his from early on. When he was announced I was very pleased, as I’ve been with every guest chosen for this album. They all fit their roles so perfectly, and shine brilliantly, briefly, and gracefully like the stars they are. Elton’s piece though… damn, I believe him! My first listen, that midnight, that Christmas, I didn’t even recognize his voice, and I’ve been a fan since … since… it’s been so long I’ve forgot!!!! (“early seventies” let’s say ) But then I remembered that he was to be a guest on “50″ and right about then I did, and how. I haven’t heard him sing in years, and this was a very welcome return to my ears
There have been so many wonderful, and tantalizing, and very curious “connections” between Kate’s work and my own interests, ever since hearing her first record (purchased), Never For Ever, in May 1984. I didn’t even have a visual reference for her, as (a) she wasn’t very well exposed in America, and (b) I thought the girl on the cover was a beautiful vision by its illustrator; the girl on the back in bat-wings resembled a former girlfriend, and ultimately that’s what made me decide to check it out LOL Wasn’t epecting much, but wow… just… WOW
As for the above “connections” really, it might get too metaphysical for this Post, so I’ll resist the temptation to reveal. REALLY HARD So, I’ll just say that in nearly the same way as “The Sensual World” and “Lily” are, “Snowed In At Wheeler Street” is connected in the same roundabout way to UNBOUND. In a way. ‘cos they’re different. Connections are small, but significant; I may have alluded to them on the “My Kate Bush Page” almost-cleverly hidden off the top menu. Or, I might not have! Hopefully, eventually, you will see, if you’re a Reader; it’s as if similar energies are at work here and there. As they are, every where ;-)
And it’s wonderful, ’nuff said! I don’t obsess, I just accept
50 WORDS FOR SNOW: We’ve had it easy until now, so Kate heats up the hearth with the title track, which is narrated by Mr. Stephen Fry, much unlike the Vivien Stanshall narration for “Tubular Bells”, but yeah, just as fun! Only an official advertisement for this one, but I just bet that if you bought the album, the whole song would be on it! This is a nice li’l teaser:
AMONG ANGELS: This gorgeous song is so personal that I find it hard to say anything about it; it’s so … well, there you go. I’ve finally run out of superlatives or metaphors that suffice! It arrived just in time, especially thanks to one who intervened and saw to it that I heard it after all, at midnight, on Christmas
I’ll preface this last exquisite song and video with at least something about “The Deal”, but just a little bit…
Interlude: AN ANGEL STORY:
Visitors are probably aware of my interests in angels; I’ve mentioned before that I saw my own guardian angel when I was 6 or 7, and often felt its presence. Much later, in a time of crisis much like this one I’m in now, either it or my Muse made a Deal with me…
I’d been struggling with the foundation of the story for years but going nowhere due to hellish work conditions, and painful back problems. One miserable night in ’92 I was curled up on the floor in a fetal position, the one that brought the least pain. In the midst of this deepest despair, I felt a definite soothing presence at my back, and I knew that it was her.
The message wasn’t heard but was felt, in no uncertain terms, in no imagination. She (for we choose how we perceive) was a similar presence to the guardian’s, except that this was almost palpable. And once I managed my part of the deal and freed myself from the poisonous workplace, she came to me again as she promised and impressed her story into me while I translated the words in the images and scenes she showed me, so that I might tell the story she wanted to tell to a World that is starving for them. I later named her “Lily” for her steadfast devotion (for “lily” means devotion), and consider her my Muse, angel or no. It’s no Matter, after all ;-)
The novel, Lily Godwin’s story (and yours as well, actually), is the result of that Deal with the angel or the Muse. Assuming its publication, the rest will be up to you
Only you can do something about it…
Man, after that I almost hate to dirty this following Space with type, or words, or even thought… “Among Angels” is a perfect closer which leaves the Listener in such a calm and loved state; with such caring sentiment and fortifying lyrics, Kate is a healer of the ravaged heart, blowing snowflakes on the fevered mind, and serves as Speaker to the wayward soul, a lightpost, a beacon, a flashlight, a star
And yes, an angel can save a soul…
Postlude: ALOFT ON THE WINGS OF DESIRE: One last note on the wonderful video: Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” is my favorite film. When I saw that shot of Daniel standing atop his perch my heart literally jumped. Sky Vibes, you put together a masterpiece with this video, and I salute you, sir! (*sharply salutes*) It wasn’t until 2005, after my first draft was completed, when Elisabeth Alexandre (an editor from the French Marie Claire magazine), who had read portions of UNBOUND prior to the interview, asked if I’d seen it, as she was reminded of it. Thank goodness they’re different stories, but they do share a very strong and similar feeling. Sure, that’s what she meant!
The movie was incredible and so very touching and poetic; I was completely in awe. So much of it resonated with me; it truly was like a Kate vision, on film. I felt as if my Story was a part of it; there were so many similarities, except the most obvious ones. Heh, I’M not telling! Not yet, anyway ;-) I can say that UNBOUND would fit in very well with Mr Wenders’ vision in his “Wings” movies, and maybe a capper at that! It’s got the perfect ending, like this one:
I don’t know when… but just saying it could even make it happen
I wanted to type a quick (EDIT: “quick” LOLyeahright) note to apologize for the lapse in Posts lately; a lot of critical stuff IRL has needed to be dealt with and I haven’t had time to compose anything to my satisfaction or completion. And my posts need a LOT of time to put together (not that you can tell)! So, a brief update instead
(EDIT @ 2:30am: “brief” -Idon’tthinkso.jpg)
(Rewrite EDIT @ 3:36am: I started this at like 10pm o.O “Update”? HAHAHAHAHAAAA! *sigh*)
UPDATES & OVERVIEWS:
I’m gratified to see from the stats that Visitors keep coming by and haven’t dropped off due to my absence, and I’m very grateful for that. Thank you, and I hope to keep being able to give you something worthwhile to read rather than a three-sentence “post” which amounts to nothing much more than a sneeze! Please remember that all Comments are appreciated, so feel free to leave one if so moved. I value my Visitors highly, and You are Important. Thus, the capital letters, see ;-)
Also, I happily noted an uptick in Japanese Readers who are braving the language-barrier to spend a little time here, for which I am most grateful, and say “welcome!” and “thank you!” to them for going through the trouble to read my lengthy Posts. (I would’ve put those two words in Japanese but that might seem a bit patronizing. Besides, I’m not sure how to properly spell konichiwa and arigatou )
I hope that my genuine affection for anime and Japanese culture shines through to them and invite western audiences to share in its delight; I try to write my anime entries from a nonbiased perspective and a simple desire to share what I like with others who might appreciate it as well. K.I.S.S.: Good art = good entertainment = good art xD
I don’t spend time watching mainstream or poorly-executed shows, but also don’t like criticizing anime companies for trying. Rather, I salute them for helping populate the industry with their efforts. However, I’d rather watch accomplished productions from studios who know how to deliver stories suited for my particular tastes and genres, and enjoy recommending them. I love characters that I can CARE about, and in this anime excels.
So, there won’t be any cynical criticizing of dropped shows or echoing bleatings that I’ve heard elsewhere (“HOW COULD I FORGIVE THEM FOR DOING ‘ENDLESS EIGHT’ TO US!!! WHYYYY???” and so on LOL). There are plenty of other sites for that sort of thing, and better-written and more expert in knowledge than mine. I’ve been studying anime only since May 2007, but in that short time have found an embarrassment of riches in so many fine shows that I’d be remiss in not sharing them with others. That’s what I like to do, whether with anime, music, stories, or anything awesome created by a fellow being :-)
And lest I forget anyone else, I’m gratified to see Visitors from so many different countries across the globe popping in; the Internet can be a wonderful thing, when it isn’t being a pain in the ass. Thank you for surfing in from your corner of the world xD
Please stay tuned, as I have several posts in several states of readiness coming soon:
First, I’ve just about finished a Post celebrating the release (and ownership of!) the new Kate Bush album, 50 Words for Snow, which should be done by the weekend. [EDIT: Actually this Post was scrapped because it was too wordy and rambling. STOP LAUGHING!] It’s more sublime than words can describe (the album, not the Post), but I’m gonna try anyway ;-) Not being able to buy this upon release probably kicked off my depression (or increased it rather); it was released November 21st and my last Post here the 20th, hmm… possibly. Kate has long been my favorite artist and every release is so highly anticipated, and I’ve not missed one since 1985′s Hounds of Love. (Okay, being that she hasn’t released much since that album that’s not saying a lot LOL. Still.) Needless to say, I was bummed. Knowing it was out, reading so many ecstatic reviews, and reading reports from thrilled people (not only fans!) who were discussing it, without having heard it, was awful. Truly.
But, for the second time this year a fellow Kate-fan helped me out (so thank you to Sharnee for 50 <3, and Suli for Director’s Cut). The CD came in the mail the day before Christmas Eve, and I had it in my hands to listen to for the first time through on Christmas night, just after midnight. I was enchanted from the first song, “Snowflake” and its perfect line “It’s midnight at Christmas”… The house was (thankfully) as quiet as a mouse but for the beautiful music and voices… you could almost feel the snow falling outside. As ever, Kate and I are in vibrational sync, in sentiment and sympathy and sound; it’s so beautifully strange and delightful; how we resonate :-) Her music is magic, as always, and I consider her as the most significant discovery of my life, and the Igniter of my Muse
And, Kate’s fans are the best <3
Second, a Review of the recently-concluded Fall Anime Season, from which I was able to find fifteen series worthy of watching, a huge amount for me. It… -it was a little much, actually. Miss one week and you have fifteen half-hour shows to catch up on with the next ones around the corner :-O But the entertainment yield was great!
There was quite a diverse offering this past season; 2011 produced several undeniable classics including the emotionally-charged yet sedate Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (aka “AnoHana”, thank god); the surrealistic and very dark re-take by Studio SHAFT on the Magical Girl genre (not my favorite genre LOL) Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, the well-scripted, very funny and ultimately deeply moving time-travel epic Steins;Gate, and the recently-concluded Mawaru Penguindrum, which is probably my favorite of the year. Here’s an AMV of various scenes; some are spoilerish, not that you’ll be spoiled with this unpredictable and surreal series! The music is provided by Florence and the Machine:
Pengi’s journey was incredible, if incomprehensible at times due to a deliciously vague separation between reality, fantasy, and symbology. And it had… penguins! Kinda. In short, it is the closest anime to reach the level of ef ~ a tale of memories, and its sequel, ef ~ a tale of melodies. That’s saying a lot, for me
-Actually it’s not, so I’d better not get started LOL But for those who haven’t yet experieced ef, a little surprise awaits you at the end
Lastly, I felt that a Post on the State of the Novel would be appropriate, since that is the reason I’m here, as well as the UNBOUND website and this humble Blog’s presence. Since it is my raison d’etre and ongoing Mission to have the story reach its Readers’ hands, I’d like to keep it in the Visitor’s awareness until that happy day when they might hold Lily in their laps and turn her pages. She wants and waits to inspire you
So, those Posts will be forthcoming soon, assuming I can weather these damned storms. I always do (*knocks wood*) but it takes a little time to ensure smooth sailing before going forward alone in these especially deep and dark waters. Thank you for your stopping by during the time off; we appreciate it :-)
AN EF-FIN’ BONUS!:
(The clip is from the official Preview edited down to its essence, featuring a beautiful instrumental version of “Euphoric Field”, taken from the OST.)
I’ve gone on at length before about the ef series; it might be my favorite anime, if I had to rank them, and I don’t LOL. I tend to favor the dramatic romantic comedies featuring deep characters with tangible emotions, that blend slice-of-life with a taste of the supernatural, an interconnected reality and fantasy, of sympathetic and parallel worlds coexisting side-by-side but not the focus of the story, which ultimately depends upon its complex characters to drive its varied plots. Usually to Hell and back! It’s a rare balancing act, and very hard to pull off well. I should know; that’s pretty much how my own novel presents itself. In my “inner circle” of beloved anime, among those that fit that description are AIR, Kanon (2006 version), and the Clannad series, and ef. (Now I can add Mawaru Penguindrum, if a rewatch certifies it, which I’m sure it will. But there’s very little “slice of life” in it at all… LOL)
I don’t like to compare series; it’s essentially unfair. But ef has it all: Stellar direction by Shin Oonuma under the supervision of Akiyuki Shinbo, presented through the admirable talents of Studio SHAFT; an emotional and gorgeous soundtrack by Tenmon; beautiful sets, animation and characters (assuming one doesn’t mind the chin-o-doom faces in Naru Nanao’s designs, which I don’t mind at all); and the story… wow. Let’s just say involved, well thought-out, complex (yet by the end of the sequel all is revealed), powerfully emotional and sympathetic, and at times utterly devastating. It is rife with symbolism and layered several times over with interlocking and shifting relationships that flare, coalesce, shatter, burn, fall apart, destroy, and come together. It hits you just like that. It’s a Masterpiece.
(The clip is a fan-made trailer made for the 2009 Tsunacon AMV contest held in Sliedrecht, The Netherlands, and took 6th place. Epic music (one of my favorite pieces) provided by Immediate Music, “Serenata”.)
And now, you can watch it, free and legally! In advance of its release (#*$%^!*$ YAY!!!), The Anime Network is serving up the first season of ef ~ a tale of memories, and you can watch the first two episodes without paying for Premium, which will allow viewing the remaining ten eps. I haven’t heard the English dub yet so don’t know how it fares; I prefer subtitles so I can hear the original voice actors perform and emote, as they play their roles seriously, not trying to sound funny or screechy like we sometimes get with western cartoons. But this way you can sample it at least, and then buy it if you like; the release will surely include both English and Japanese casts. Or, just sign up ;-)
Today Kate Bush released her first brand-new single of original material since 2005′s Aerial, and it is such a much-needed breath of clean, fresh icy air, as if blown down from the snowy peaks of the North over the arid landscape of Modern Music. In the wee hours of the tenth, I was privileged to sit in on a pre-release live stream of the new single over the BBC, with a bunch -er, make that several bunches- of Kate-fanatics in a couple of chaotic chat rooms. Probably the most frenetic, crazy, giddy, and anticipatory group of friendlies ever since… well that memorable Aerial announcement party at the HomeGround Forum’s chat room! Such a blast, and I thank those in attendance for *cough* “organizing” and contributing to the festivities. My head is still spinning :-D
Courtesy of creative video-maker and fellow FishPeople (-or, is that Person?) Sky Vibes, here’s a video that he put together in support of the wonderfully atmospheric extended edit; you’ll have to click the title link to see it (DO IT! But be aware that it won’t open in a new window, and will take you away from here; maybe save it for after the end?):
*sigh* -I tried like hell to get the Vimeo video to embed, but don’t think it works with WordPress. So, here’s the “radio edit” video courtesy of YouTube. No moving pictures to distract you, so just close your eyes, turn it up, and let Kate’s homage to the Wild Man fill you up. Listen…
“They call you an animal
The Kangchenjunga demon
Lying in my tent
I can hear your cry
Echoing round the mountainside
You sound lonely
While crossing the Lhakpa La
Something jumped down from the rocks
In the remote Garo hills by Dipu Marak
We found footprints in the snow
The schoolmaster of Darjeeling said
He saw you by the Tengboche Monastery
You were playing in the snow
You were banging on the doors
You got up on the roof
Roof of the world
You were pulling up the rhododendrons
Loping down the mountain
They want to know you
They will hunt you down
Then they will kill you
Run away, run away
While crossing the Lhakpa La
Something jumped down from the rocks
In the remote Garo hills by Dipu Marak
We found footprints in the snow
We found your footprints in the snow
We brushed them all away
From the Sherpas of Annapurna
To the Rinpoche of Qinghai
Shepherds from Mount Kailash to Himachal Pradesh
Found footprints in the snow
You’re not a Langur monkey
Nor a big brown bear
You’re the wild man
They say they saw you drowned
Near the Rongbuk glacier
They wanna hunt you down
You’re not an animal
The lamas say
You’re not an animal…”
(Lyrics to the extended version of WILD MAN by Kate Bush; these above are best-guestimated by a small cadre of dedicated Kate-Fans; you know who you are, and thanks xD
I’ll leave the reviewing, speculating, and commentary to the more analytical among us; that’s not really my forte. Kate’s lyrics always affect me on both a meta-level and micro-level; descriptive words never satisfy me in explaining “what they mean”. There isn’t really a need for me to interpret her lyrics; or rather, Idon’t feel the need to. I just Feel them, I guess. The experience of absorption alone is enough
I discover several layers of meanings to her lyrics with every song it seems, so I do go over the lyrics upon the second listening. And then many times after that But to breathe in her atmospheric compositions and hold them inside… and then out into de-composition and de-construction? I can’t do that. I do enjoy reading other fans interpretations though; they never cease to amaze me. Such intelligent and knowledgable people, these Kate-Fans, Kate-Fancies, HomeGrounders, LoveHounds, and Fish People! I am humbled to be counted among you :-D
So I’ll just say that she is indescribably delicious :-)
It has always annoyed me to read articles and reviews opining that Kate is weird, loopy, mad, and reclusive. They examine her beneath their shoddy microscopes as if she were a thing of curiosity; a microorganism; an animal. She’s not an animal…
It’s too bad that whenever something doesn’t fit comfortably into a preconceived genre or box that it’s simple mindedly labelled as “weird”. It is NOT weird. It is thinking outside the box, which should be considered a positive trait. The delightful abandon with which she pursues her Muse does not signify distracted ramblings, these are carefully-orchestrated compositions that speak of true genius, and the depths of her poetry reaches souls both shallow and deep, and satisfy both. We read of her being “mad”, when this is simply the easiest word used to dismiss her unusual brilliance; it dims the writers’ comprehension, especially in light of their inability to Compare With Something Similar. As for the “R” word, a true artist works at their best in Solitude, and guards it with every precious breath of their body. I have long admired her for all these qualities, and am happy that she knows what she wants, how to get it, and how best to create it. And, I am happy in Receiving it
Kate, by Yirry Yanya
It takes courage to live like this. It takes patience. It takes fortitude to remain true to one’s vision against pressures from all sides, and a determination to seek companionship with one’s creative Muse, with no compromise. It takes a huge love of people to exist apart from them solely in One’s Own Time, to simply give us something to enjoy, to wonder at, and to cherish. Much like her fans cherish her :-D
You’re not “weird”.
You’re not “mad”.
You’re not a “recluse”.
You’re not an animal.
Thank you :-D
The new single is now available for download, and the forthcoming album “50 Words For Snow” comes out in November, so get to the usual suspects and place those (pre-)orders now! And as always, please feel welcome to leave any comments
Thought I’d do an update on Vienna Teng since I’ve been trolling YouTube for goodies, and it’s been two years since the last post. Vienna is one of my favorite “discoveries” and she is so multitalented, good-humored, and entertaining that I feel it important to share her with you. She is criminally unknown. Let’s just fix that shall we? Here are some performances that I hope you’ll enjoy
Check out this great take on Radiohead’s “idioteque”, with her ace percussionist and partner-in-time Alex Wong and guest Kevin Rice on drums:
Naturally I can’t resist sharing the beautiful “Gravity” once more, this time from the official music video:
How about a study in extremes? These two clips showcase Vienna’s lyrics and astute poetry; the first one a lullaby of comfort for a beloved child, warm and so very tender…
…and the second so cruel and very devastating. Fasten your seat belt, and witness a child despised by an obsessed mother who is lost in her desire for the father:
Damn; what do you follow that with…? We’ll try to work back up out of the depths with “The Tower”:
Let’s get Alex back out here:-) From the Shoe on the Other Foot Dept: “No Gringo” live…
Wow, I spent an hour trying to find a good live version of this next song, “Grandmother Song”, because the stage version is so lively, but either the vocals or the drums were mixed way too far back. Funny advisory/adversarial lyrics xD So here’s the album version to get you up on your feet! Short ‘n’ sweet
…and that should make up for that woefully-short first introductory post
I hope you enjoyed the exposure; if she meets your approval and tastes, please support her by buying her albums
I was actually dreading doing yet another Kate Bush post. There’s way too much too say, and all too often words just do not suffice to describe the more intangible levels and layers of her work and how they affect me. With some relief I read My Kate Bush Page (off of the Menu menu at top), and found that most of the important bits are covered there anyway, so no need to repeat them here. There’s so much that I haven’t said that the prospect of writing another was a bit daunting, but I found myself inspired after watching a few of her vids. Quite a few, thanks to The Timesink That Is YouTube. Kate’s like kandy and a sure cure for the blues whether you want to wallow or escape.
I do feel much better now, thank you
There are just two videos there though (“The Sensual World” and “Lily” official vids), so I thought I’d do this post in reverse. Instead of another “wall o’ words” post of stuff I’ve already said, it’ll be more of a “wall-o-videos” of Kate songs, with minimal text. I hope. You know how I get (Watch these in Fullscreen for maximum enjoyment!)
First up, the official “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” video. Kate composed, choreographed, sang and played, and left some other bits for her mates to fiddle with, quite competently, I should add. Great song, and as always her lyrics are unabashedly honest, heartfelt, thoughtful, deep, and most of all, True:
The wonderful full-length “Cloudbusting” video she made with Donald Sutherland (one of my favorite actors) depicts the relationship between Wilhelm Reich and his son Peter, who had written the book that had inspired Kate, “A Book of Dreams”. Contains one of my most-loved Kate lyrics:
“But every time it rains,
You’re here in my head,
Like the sun coming out–
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen.
And I don’t know when,
But just saying it could even make it happen…”
The above clips are from 1985′s Hounds of Love, which ignited a fiery months-long period of discovery that followed the slow burn lit by the first Kate album I bought in ’84, Never For Ever. One of the more haunting tracks from this album is “The Infant Kiss”, here represented by another Kate fan, not-so-oddly named k8fan, who skillfully edited scenes from the film that had inspired Kate, “The Innocents”, against the music, creating a whole that is seamless. Well done!
(K8fan also helps run the superb Gaffaweb with Vickie (among others, I think), home to all things Kate-related; do check it out.)
It’s certainly interesting to see how Kate is interpreted by others visually. There are some other excellent fan-made videos out there, and these next three celebrate the soundscapes of 2005′s Aerial album. First up is the exquisite A Coral Room, probably Kate’s most personal song, and my favorite, I think. It’s so hard to choose! Gives me chills every time I listen to it. The movie scenes it is playing with is (I believe) Swept From the Sea; it and the song fit together so beautfully… “Put your hand over the side of the boat/What do you feel?”
Next up is another fan-made video for “Nocturne”; it’s clearly a labor of love! If you want to get right to the song, it’s at 2:30 following a sort of prelude. Lengthy video, but worth it. ‘cos the music, y’know… is great
Next up is an exhilarating video of a… well, “aerial” performance by the Cirque du Soleil, to the title track “Aerial”:
Due to damnable circumstances far beyond my control, I still haven’t been able to buy Kate’s latest, Director’s Cut, released this May. But while searching the Tube of Yous I came across a few of its songs, and hearing new Kate material really lifted my downtrodden spirits. I’ll get it eventually, that’s for sure! Normally I won’t “preview” any music from albums I intend to own, preferring to have a hard copy in my hand when I’m first hearing it. Resistance to DC, as it turns out, is futile *whine* -I HAD TO TASTE ITTTT!!! Anyway, I found several tracks along with finally allowing myself to hear the 55-minute interview with Mark Radcliffe, and am doubly anxious to get it now. Triply. Great, like I needed that LOL
First up is Kate’s re-imagining of “Never Be Mine”, which I like just a bit more than the original, paired with some very nice imagery and lyrics. I should note here that I don’t feel that one version overwrites another; actually now there are two versions I can have to choose between to listen to, not rank. Lovely, thanks Kate ;-)
Finally, we come full circle (of sorts) with her re-do of “Lily”. Needless to say, I was both anticipating and dreading a new version of the most singular of Kate’s songs (for me), considering its connection with our own Lily. I do believe that I like it better than the original, but I won’t be able to tell until I listen properly: between the speakers, eyes closed, lights out and no other distractions. Who knows when that’ll be? In the meantime, at least, I have this version and the original, with Lily in between; a veritable bouquet of lillies
If curious about Unbound and the story of Lily, this video definitely echoes some of its vibe (as does Kate’s!). While completely unrelated, the two Lilys are connected. Say no moah Oddly (and incomprehensively LOL), this vid features two “Lily-likes“, Charlize Theron’s role from Aeon Flux (or is that another, Kate Beckinsale?), and Milla Jovovich. Inconsequential, I know, but curious as they really have no connection with Kate’s Lily, hm…
STRANGE PHENOMENA, oh yeahhhh…
an aspect of Kate as Molly as Lily
I’ve found a few Kate Lily-like pics as well, not surprising since her Molly Bloom character from The Sensual World is probably more Lily-like than anything else, especially in the video for it (it’s on the My Kate Bush Page). Both of them ”stepping out of the page and into the sensual world…” as it were. Wonder how she’d look with blue eyes, hm… (Not that I’d EVER change a thing about her, especially her eyes!) (<— hastily added)
Hope you enjoyed this very small tip of the Kate-iceberg, and please feel free to leave a comment if feeling friendly, informed, or informative ;-)
(STRANGE PHENOMENA Update & Bulletin Edit:) About a half-hour later after I finished this up I received an official email notification regarding the new album’s imminent release!!! Woo-hoo!!! Isn’t that Strange??? (Actually, no it’s not, All Things Considered, as “everything’s connected”!) The title will be “50 Words for Snow” to be released November 21! Seven tracks running about 65 minutes, titles include (more significance!) “Among Angels” and “Lake Tahoe” which I really find mind-blowing, as that is my favorite vacation spot where I spent many summers while growing up. If I ever have. BUT WOW! During one winter excursion there, I met a sweet girl who showed me my first snow angel :-O
Damn, too excited to sleep now, and it’s after 4AM o.O -But it’s a good damn
I’ve been wanting to make a Post about both Kara no Kyoukaiand its composer Yuki Kajiura for awhile now. If your tastes in anime run towards the supernatural/psychological/mystery/thriller, and you’re easily enchanted with atmospheric, ethereal soundtracks… and more than a little blood, please proceed. Otherwise, be advised: There Will Be Blood. At first. Then there’ll be some awesome Kalafina music without any blood at all ;-)
This opening sequence is really all it took to hook me; the music was exquisitely enchanting and so haunting. I knew that the creators of this seven-movies-and-an-epilogue project were going to deliver; Type-Moon stories are usually thought-provoking/brain-twisting/insanity-causing, and Studio ufotable’s works dazzling and well-directed, with animation of the highest quality. The combination proved to be as much a killer as its very-troubled knife-wielding star, Shiki Ryougi. In total, this series of deep, dark, and complex movies is a masterpiece if there ever was one; I loved every minute. For what ratings are worth, I gave each movie a 9, 9, 10, 9, 10, 8, 9, 9. Good enough for “masterpiece” for me!
Here’s a Promo Video for the release of the box-set which, at ~$500 will sadly not be in my library. This is really unfortunate, because all seven movies (and the Epilogue) are well-worth owning, and I’d buy them in a second if I had the funds. And they were cheaper Hopefully they’ll at least release them individually in the near future…
(EDIT: YT did it again and yanked the video, so here’s another one:)
As for the story… whew. A review would be overlong and pointless; I think I’ll pass on trying to explain it LOL It’s better to try to figure it out on your own anyway! What with the time shifts and shuttling in-and-out of characters, it’s hard enough to follow let alone analyze. If you’re up to the challenge and can stick with it, it’s very rewarding. I’ve seen some very involved and dedicated websites and blogs about Knk written by real fanatics that easily put my own comparatively poor analytical processes to shame. This is a very deep, twisted, and mysterious story punctuated with slices of violence and wisps of a subtle romance that is stronger than it seems.
Yeah… pretty damn subtle. But it’s really integral to the story, and in its contrast with the darkness and blood, beautiful to behold in its rarity. Since I suspect that most Visitors won’t be able to see this series, I’m going to share a great “synopsis” video that will give a fine (if brief) ”overlooking view” of the story. It’s about ten minutes in length, but with the revelatory nature of the story unfolding plus the impressive score by Kajiura (with Kalafina’s vocals) playing in the background, it’ll go fast. Prepare to be spoiled though; if you intend on watching KnK down the line a few surprises won’t delight/dismay you if you see them here first. IF you can make sense of this assortment of scenes, that is LOL
If you figure that you’ll never get a chance to see it, might as well see what the fuss is about; those who’ve already seen it will surely enjoy this “recap”
BIG SPOILERS AHEAD:
If you enjoy supernatural thrillers, deep stories and characters, top-notch animation and sound, and want a project that will really make you think and wonder, you owe it to yourself to watch Kara no Kyoukai. A lot of people have and loved it, so if you can take a wee bit o’ violence, try to find it. For more complete spoilage and revelations, Wikipedia has a thorough article here.
Now… about the music! For the Kara no Kyoukai movies, composer Yuki Kajiura put together a group of gifted singers collectively named Kalafina. You’ve already heard them singing in the above clips; how about catching them performing some of the KnK songs live?
Prepare yourself for some beautiful (and powerful) music, courtesy (once again) of Kajiura-san :-)
These seem to get pulled from YT pretty often, so watch ‘em while you can!
Unfortunately, the next clip is slightly off-sync but still really enjoyable; the girls look great, especially Hikaru (far left, below) :-) -I totally love watching her; I think I’m infatuated LOL She really projects joy and passion in her performance and attitude, and it’s sure refreshing to see in this crass day ‘n’ age. They’re all such similarly great singers that it’s easy to see why they have audiences captivated (as evidenced via these videos). Well… that and their enticing stage presence(s)! Composer Kajiura plainly writes to each singer’s unique strengths and personalities, and combined with the atmosphere of the scene she is writing for makes her soundtracks sound so great…
…now that is a sexiness that speaks to me (From left to right the singers are Hikaru, Keiko, and Wakana.)
Kajiura has also scored many other anime as well, including songs for Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Noir, Le Portrait de Petite Cossette, Madlax (and tons more), and has been signed for the upcoming Fate/Zero project. Aside from the shows themselves, a big reason for my buying Madlax and Cossette were the highly-atmospheric soundtracks. She’s in demand for a very good reason: she knows what she’s doing, ’nuff said!
Here’s a beautiful video to float away on; a return to ”Seventh Heaven”. Check out the incredible “puppet” story-show (not sure what the technique is called but it’s lovely)! (EDIT: It was removed, but I found it again, so I’m leaving BOTH versions in case one gets deleted )
(EDIT: The Control Freaks are at it again; the original video was just deleted, so I replaced it with the abbreviated version below *annoyed* -also, as mentioned above, I’m leaving both up in case one or the other is removed.)
Feels like seventh heaven, doesn’t it? (EDIT: At least it did while the original video was up, grr…) Nice way to end a day, zzz-zz…
Thanks for reading/listening/feeling, and I hope you enjoyed the exposure
(EDITtoo:) Since I’m here editing I might as well add one more video that at least gives credit where credit is due for this amazing music: Yuki Kajiura. To keep things focused I wanted another live song from Knk, but when I saw this promotional video for Kajiura’s Fiction Junction project… god. This is some serious hotness :-O -So I HAD to put this up to share! At least Ms Kajiura does appear briefly, several times at the keyboard, so it’s not just here for the hot Japanese girls *cough* It may be hard not to get distracted though… but I did want to give her props :-D You might also notice Keiko and Wakana from Kalafina in this troupe from which Kalafina was formed for the Knk project. Please enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment
(EDIT because this is too good to pass up, and timely too:) On Kalafina’s new After Eden CD, some will come with postcards featuring the cast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplaying Kalafina (who did the incredible “Magia” ending theme)! Someone guessed Madoka = Hikaru, Mami = Keiko, and Homura = Wakana but I dunno. Cute though Link to the short ANN News article ishere.
Just a quick pop-in to share the new Kate Bush video released to promote her new single, “Deeper Understanding,” the Director’s Cut version of the track from 1989′s The Sensual World. It was directed by Kate and stars Robbie Coltrane. It’s just brilliant! Make sure that your computer is nearb- oh wait, n/m
It’s available on iTunes with the new forthcoming Director’s Cut to be released next month. The song was prescient in 1989, and more relevant today than ever. Check it out for yourself, and back away from your computer slowly… Disengage just a bit from what you perceive as “reality” and choose your on-and-off-line friends wisely
Since I added the following clip to a comment that might be missed, here’s the official video for her last single “King of the Mountain,” released in 2005 from the sublime Aerial. Elvis and Citizen Kane fans pay particular attention
Another (comparatively) lesser-seen video is that of “Experiment IV” which examines the possibilty of using sound as a weapon. NO CHANCE OF THAT HAPPENING IS THERE? Look for cameos from Kate’s brother Paddy as a loony, bassist/steadfast companion Del Palmer as a guinea pig, and Dawn French (of French & Saunders) as an assistant, among other members plucked at random from her fandom:
Thanks to KateBushMusic at YouTube for allowing these gems to be shared. Now go and investigate her on your own; it’s good to do your own homework
Music comes in all types, and diversity is wonderful and welcome (though it’s woeful in its lack of real variety these days). YMMV according to your tastes, so this Topic is for “the oldies” and the intrepid younger adventurers still seeking out classics from the past to fill in the huge gaps between genre-fied blobs of our more-mundane popular culture (such as it is) ;-)
So: great news for fans of music as it used to be rather than as it is today (in other words merely (mostly) Product). Based on the success of their appearance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit Concert last year, Buffalo Springfieldhas agreed to their first tour in 43 years! Wow, that’s older than most people reading this, most likely LOL And, as a decidedly delicious bonus, Gillian Welch is slated as the opening act! Before we get into the Springfield archives, here’s a Gillian Welch sample to whet your whistle, performing “Elvis Presley Blues” with her musical partner David Rawlings. It’s quite likely that without the influence of Buffalo Springfield (and The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons among other notables), we probably wouldn’t even be listening to it:
Buffalo Springfield PLUS Gillian Welch? Now this is a show that I’d pay to see! There aren’t many acts that I can say that about anymore what with the insane ticket prices, uninteresting and incurious artists performers more concerned with flash over substance, and a general lack of interest in partaking of “the concert experience”, which I’ve done to death already. To put things somewhat in perspective: I have a Buffalo Springfield concert poster from April of 1967 for a date at The Rock Garden in San Francisco that would’ve cost about $2.50 to get in. Shows used to run from around 8pm to 2am in those glory days, usually with three groups doing two sets each. Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium/Winterland and Chet Helm’s Avalon Ballroom were my temples of glory , and there were some glorious shows!
I can’t even estimate the number of concerts I’ve seen; my first ones were free weekly outdoor concerts in Golden Gate Park during the (Spring and) Summer of Love, 1967. My first indoor concert was in March 1968, with Cream, Blood Sweat and Tears (awesome Al Kooper version), the James Cotton Blues Band, and Jeremy & the Satyrs (an early obscure fave). I’ve seen Pink Floyd something like sixteen times :-O My most recent show was probably Kevin Ayers (ex-Soft Machine) in a small club in 2000, and Daevid Allen’s Gong sometime around the same period. Nothing since (that I can remember), due to various (mostly financial) reasons. But I never was able to catch Buffalo Springfield live. AND THEY’RE COMING TO WHERE I LIVE ON JUNE 1ST!!! But… I probably won’t be able to afford to go (With two months to work on it though, I’m sure gonna try!)
Too bad that it’s impossible to recreate the impact of hearing music as different as that new acoustic-based Sound was from all that had come before, or in relation to the times when it came out. Despite so much musical diversity at a time where most everything was fresh and new, the countryfied-yet-asskicking Buffalo Springfield Sound was a needed and sobering counterpoint to the the psychedelic scenes of the day; a bridge between protest-folkies and peace-and-love revolutionaries. The quality of their playing and lovely harmonies combined with the songwriting and sheer talent of five (and later six!) very individual musicians provided a unique voice amongst all of the different sounds of the times.
A blast from the past: a B.S. Smothers Brothers clip featuring a lip-synced version of FWIW over footage of The Riots plus other live Springfield clips:
Naturally, “For What It’s Worth” is their best-known hit; it was one of the first protest songs to popularize the youth struggle against conformity that was raging in those days, namely the riots on Sunset Strip, and later on in the Haight-Ashbury and in Berkeley and so on. But the song that really captured my ear was Neil Young’s “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”. When I first heard it I didn’t know which artist it was, as it wasn’t announced, only that I wanted that song, that sound, that voice, and that feeling as expressed in it. AM radio had “FWIW” playing quite a lot, but at the time I was listening to KMPX-FM (in San Francisco), and became hauntingly enchanted the first time I heard “Clancy”. When I finally bought the first Springfield album on November 27, 1967 (yes, I’ve kept records of my 2, 172 records!), I wasn’t expecting to hear “Clancy” and was thunderstruck upon hearing it. The Thrill of Discovery!
Here’s a live version from their reunion last year (you may need motion-sickness meds while watching some of these Bridge clips though, as they’re a bit shaky):
So Neil became my favorite member of B.S., but the other guys were nearly as talented and creative. Drummer Dewey Palmer and bassist Bruce Palmer provided a solid bottom and seamless unobtrusive playing, but the stars that shone brightest were guitarists Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, and later Jim Messina. I remember being almost continually upset about their bickering and semi-regular breakups over their short career, and saddened at their eventual falling-out. But afterwards we were rewarded with great music from each one of them as they embarked on stellar careers in quality groups like Poco, Loggins and Messina, Manassas, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and many many solo albums. Buffalo Springfield, like few groups before or after, seeded so much music to come that the sum of the parts were far greater and more productive than the output of the whole. The original Springfield (including kinda-latecomer Messina) were groundbreaking visionaries in pop-rock, country-rock, alt-rock, and top-notch players and composers. Even the jazzy “Everydays” and the ethereal “Expecting to Fly” presaged the more adventurous environmental and orchestral experimentation to come.
And, as it turned out, Neil Young became one of my few musical gods! These are artists with whom I share a particular sympathetic vibration attuning of mind/heart/soul with; who, in one way or another, are reflections of Me. I dunno how else to put it; suffice to say that they’re as rare as I am I’ve bought everything of Neil’s up until the point I couldn’t afford it anymore. Heck, I’ve even got Trans. So.
That whole Buffalo Springfield experience was awesome while it lasted, and the three albums released each are classics in their own right. Another song that received a LOT of KMPX airplay was a nine-minute version of Bluebird (an acetate, IIRC) that was mostly 6 minutes of searing, blistering guitar duels and solos between Young, Stills, and Furay. This was the version I was expecting on their second album, and was very disappointed at the new version on it; it simply banjo’d its way to a fade-out rather than jump into the guitarring. Now, I don’t have any problems with banjos per se, but… it ain’t a three-guitar shred! For months I’d anticipated it and was crushed to hear this “alternate” take. I searched for years trying to find it; eventually a compilation album was released that contained it, and while a bit dated, it was just as awesome to hear as it was the first mind-blowing time!
Here’s an eleven-minute clip of both an extended (acoustic) “Bluebird” and their Neil Young hit “Mr. Soul”, again from the (mostly-acoustic) Bridge shows; Joe Vitale and Rick Rosas replace the sadly-deceased Martin and Palmer, respectively:
Now that I think about it… most all of my early fave groups had three guitarists featured: B.S., Moby Grape, Love, Fleetwood Mac, and The Yardbirds (sort-of). Long ago, when we were young, glory days, and so on…
Here’s a clip of two excellent songs, Neil’s “I Am A Child” and Richie’s “Kind Woman”, one of my all-time favorite songs. All that’s missing from the latter is the delicious pedal-steel provided by Poco’s Rusty Young on the album, but Neil’s piano is just as tasteful (if not quite as wistful):
As tempting as it is, I’m not going to show the whole reunion; that’s for you to check out! And while I’m at it, please consider donating to Neil’s Bridge School charity, it’s such a worthy cause! Happy listening; lots of anticipating to do
In light of the calamities facing Japan, it’s hard to consider any personal hardships in the same light, or even a similar one. Nevertheless, my lengthy three-year period of tumbling down this hill (or down-mountain, more like) has presented just as dire a threat as to anyone anywhere facing homelessness, starvation, and termination. All of these I face, and am facing in the near-future. Yet I still have a shaky faith that I will be provided for, or that I will provide for myself. Still, I feel a kinship with those suffering so much more dramatically overseas, yet find myself unable to dwell on my own emergencies here. I should just say that if there is a protracted absense on my part from this page, then this is why: I’ve hit rock bottom, and will take some time to dig out, if I am able to. But, enough about that; I’m not there yet. This is intended to be a post for both of us and to all others who might need it: a message of Hope, and Faith that things will work out…
I never thought I’d end up like this. I did know that it was a risky chance I took when I decided to “drop out” (again) to write my novel, separating myself from everyone and everywhere I’d known, losing all contacts and networks in my move to a safe haven a thousand miles away. But I was on a mission; one might even say that it was divinely inspired. I knew that creating it was what I was put here to be doing: telling a wonderful story. When I was writing it, at 10-18 hours a day, it was as if I were truly in heaven; it felt so effortless, I felt so connected with my Muse, whom I named “Lily” for her devotion to me and our story, that it left no doubt as to the correctness of my choice. The lights along my Path were bright, and warm.
In hindsight, I think that my decision to return to my Bay Area roots might have been a mistake, or at least to this crucial point it seems so. Let us just say that, for the sake brevity, that it may have been a fatal one. It is truly hellish. I could elaborate to prove my words, but really… I don’t subscribe to the “pics or it didn’t happen” brigade. To the cynics and disbelievers I say believe me or not; I don’t care: I have no reason to lie or exaggerate. (Do not feed the trolls: Good Advice.) Feels like hell, anyway…
I’ve been following the sad and unsettling news from Japan since the quake hit, and have been profoundly moved by the prayers and support from the genuinely good and unselfish people from around the world. But to see those directly affected by the disasters stepping up to the plate and cheering on their countrymen-and-women is truly touching. Some days ago a gathering of anime voice talent came together to provide a seiendan (“seiyuu cheering party”) for those suffering and in much need of good wishes. The following clip is in Japanese, but you don’t need to know the language in order to understand the message:
(This Anime News Network article contains the clip and a little more in-depth information, here.)
My story, and Lily’s story, has been a Grand Experiment in “keeping the faith” and following your heart. Since the telling of it is so involved, and your time is valuable, I’ll just keep things as general as I can here. When you’re crawling around the deepest burning pits, platitudes and homilies seem hollow and pointless, so it’s hard to remain convinced that those nuggets of wisdom might be true. Nevertheless, they are so because they are true! I’ve seen it, and experienced it, and so it’s been proven to me. One must also keep an eye open for opportunities to help others in need, and consider the consequences of one’s more self-centered actions in order to maintain a healthy balance on the Road. Presently I am falling down after losing my own, but still watching for that signal of support to grasp; a signpost on the path to bring me back… even some words will do:
(Such a lovely song, with vocals courtesy of Jon Anderson of Yes.)
I’ve consistently found the work of Mike Oldfield to be highly uplifting and always wonderful to experience. Maybe it’s because we’re near the same birthdate; I’m one year and five days older than he, both Taurean to the bone! Here’s a sample of the title track from his “Crises” album; somewhat pertinent considering today’s headlines. It’s a four-minute instrumental excerpt over video of… skiing??? Yes… skiiing! If you stick with it, you might even see something you’ve NEVER SEEN BEFORE!
But the most significant discovery in my life to date has been Kate Bush. In her creative work and approach to Life, Being, and Feeling I found a like-minded soul, at least insofar as I could determine. I’ve never come across anyone so similar, I’ll just say that. When I say that anime has been my second-most important discovery, it’s no small feat or mean comparison! Both (in different ways) manage to convey the keenest emotions, the deepest sentiments, and moving sense-of-wonder that is truly rare these days, especially in these pessimistic times.
(And thanks as always to Symphonyofflowers’ great videos!)
I always had a firm idea of how I wanted Lily Godwin to Be in our story; the character really wrote herself and I simply Paid Attention to her whispers and suggestions. When The Sensual World LP came out in 1989, Lily’s character was going by the temporary placeholder name of “Dee”. But at this very early point of her creation, her Being was still coming to vibrant life; when I saw Kate’s video for The Sensual World, I “met” her visually for the first time: the Essence of Lily… and they took my breath away!
By 1993, it had become time to give Lily her name. “Lily” means “devotion” and since (a) Lily Godwin is devoted to Will, her charge, and (b) Lily-Muse was just as devoted to me in keeping our story alive throughout the then-current tribulations, and (c) it’s such a cute and fitting name, that’s what I chose for her. Within DAYS (if not the very same day, which it might’ve been) I bought The Red Shoes which contained, to my utter delight and surprise, the following song:
To borrow a phrase from my fellow Kate-fancies and Lovehounds, I was gobsmacked! An aversion to spoilers prevents me from comparing elements of this song with my novel, but… wow. Truly a Phenomena of Strange proportions (sic, but do your homework)! You can see why her decision to issue her “Director’s Cut” using these two albums is so significant for me! We don’t know which tracks she’s redoing at this point, but that’s kind of secondary to me; I’ll love whatever she puts forth
I’d like to finish with a couple of quieter yet equally-as-powerful ruminations for those in need of a calmer, if melancholic, medicine: the magnificent “Hello Earth” and the sublime “A Coral Room” done up in a Special Presentation of sorts…
A CORAL ROOM (music and lyrics by Kate)
There’s a city, draped in net
And in the half light, in the half light
It looks like every tower
Is covered in webs
Moving and glistening and rocking
Its babies in rhythm
As the spider of time is climbing
Over the ruins
There were hundreds of people living here
Sails at the windows
And the planes came crashing down
And many a pilot drowned
And the speed boats flying above
Put your hand over the side of the boat
What do you feel?
My mother and her little brown jug
It held her milk
And now it holds our memories
I can hear her singing
“Little brown jug don’t I love thee”
“Little brown jug don’t I love thee”
Ho ho ho, hee hee hee
I hear her laughing
She is standing in the kitchen
As we come in the back door
See it fall See it fall
Oh little spider climbing out of a broken jug
And the pieces will lay there a while
In a house draped in net
In a room filled with coral
Sails at the window
Forests of masts
Put your hand over the side of the boat
Put your hand over the side of the boat
What do you feel?
Copyright 2005 Noble & Brite
Piano and Vocals: Kate
Solo Vocal: Michael Wood
For more reliable Kate info and study materials, please see the excellent Gaffaweb!
In parting, let me simply say that we are all Citizens of the World, all in the same Boat despite that damnable Tower of Babble (sic)! Anime has taught me this well: emotions, desires, and aspirations are common to us all, no matter our language or culture; our stories and struggles are similar and familiar. We pull for these animated characters as we pull for our own friends and families; the only differences are so marginal. We pull for and root for those souls suffering on Japan’s shores as equally as for those of our own, on our own. We are all our own, and not as alone as we think. We all linger on the shore of this island Earth, dipping our toes in and shivering the same. We should take the time to build a bonfire on the sand, and sing songs of cheer and positivity, a seiendan for us all. There is Hope: hold on to that tremulous Faith; there is Love… can you feel it? Because:
“Put your hand over the side of the boat; what do you feel?”
In Kate’s own words from the liner notes of her first album: “Please feel it.”
By feeling, by empathising: this is how we live well on (and in) this Sensual World, because we really are Spirits in a Material World. This is how we grow, and continue to do our best, as we Journey back to that one true Source, somewhere away from the Here and Now, above the Earth and beyond, through Time and Space, returning to our Spiritual Place, wherever that may Be
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Whenever I hear the Opening Theme for the brilliant satire/parody of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, for some reason I always hear the “sound” of an equally-brilliant Dutch band named Gruppo Sportivo, whom I’ve been a fan of since the late-seventies. It’s more the vocals than the music itself that reminds me of them, but the similarity is uncanny at times.
The singer in the anime’s music, whom at first I was sure was the seiyuu for the main character (the award-winning Hiroshi Kamiya), has a similar… “pitch”, let’s say, as Gruppo’s Hans Vandenberg. I think the SZS singer/lyricist’s name is Kenji Ohtsuki, and I’m not sure how to describe his unique “presentation” but it reminds me of Hans everytime (and fits the anime perfectly)! So, a little mash-up of clips from both SZS and Gruppo’s music. This is gonna be a reeeally schizoid post!
First, a small clip of the show to give an idea of its skewed sense of humor; the series is pretty much the epitome of Studio SHAFT and Director Akiyuki Shinbo’s manic over-the-top vision and artistic creativity. Your eyeballs are going to be quite busy, so be prepared to pause quite a bit to see all the quick-cuts, especially the LOL “character sheet” for the “guest-villain” at 1:57:
There’s SO MUCH going on that the translators must’ve worked ’round the clock to get in all the signs, text and dialogue. In fact, I marathonned season 2 over a 24-hour period with my finger poised over the “pause” button the entire time, resulting in a pinched nerve in my neck! Bugged me for a few weeks, too But… IT WAS WORTH IT!
I’ll save comments about the show for a later Post; way too much to cover here! Suffice to say that it’s one of my favorite series due to its unapologetic non-conformist nature (not to mention the amazing visuals), and its pointed observations about Society (mostly of the Japanese variety, but we ARE all human, right?). Wicked and sharp, not to mention clever. That’s probably a large part of the connection to Gruppo for me, which you’ll see later. The SZS theme songs are all catchy, warped, and funny (if you can catch the lyrics); there’s probably more variety offered up over the several season’s worth of them than for any other anime. Here’s a little treat: A combined subtitled OP/ED clip from Zoku SZS! (A little NSFW and naughty, so the immature and moralists are advised to steer clear :-P )
Okay, now that your eyes are pleasantly baked, some Gruppo Sportivo! We’ll start out acoustically and gently and work our way up from there. For some anime relevance, the short little ditty called ”In Tokyo”:
Two Gruppo songs that I really enjoyed are “Disco Really Made It” (“it’s empty and I hate it!”), and “Rock ’n’ Roll”; since they’re kinda joined at the hip I’ll join them thusly by presenting you with these “live”/live versions (the first is actually a vid for the single IIRC). I really dug the “Grup-ettes” and missed their enthusiasm and playfulness (and sexiness!) when they left Hans & Co…
The Grupp-ettes are sadly absent from the next clip, but that allows the excellent horn section to move into the spotlight in this cool, little-heard gem called “Oh Caroline”. It also shows the clever construction of Hans Vandenberg’s lyrics: “They say you’ve got a familiar face/So I close the curtains just in case/I start reading the instruction sheet/You’re still a little bit flat indeed…” Hmm… wonder what he could be singing about~
Finally, a tiny (and short) flashback to the band’s beginnings circa 1976; they perform “Out There In the Jungle” in all its 1:19 glory! Talk about cramming so much into such little time, this punchy little tune is concise! Quite unlike myself
I suspect that Zetsubou Sensei knows about “the Jungle” all too well! Hopefully he can take a cue from Hans Vandenberg’s wonderfully wacky sense of humor and “oh, what the hell” optimism and adjust somewhat. I think that Fura Kafuka (Not Her Real Name *cough F. Kafka cough*) would approve ;-)
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
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