Category Archives: all kinds of music

Billy Corgan on Christian rock and more…


BCBilly Corgan, (or is is Willie now?), singer of the grunge band the smashing pumpkins, has done a pretty interesting interview with CNN in Hong Kong earlier this month. The whole transcript is here.

One part from it has been going round, and is about God as the future of rock, and his message to Christian rockers:

RAJPAL: So what are you exploring now?
CORGAN: God. I once did – a big American magazine was doing a thing called, “The Future of Rock”.
RAJPAL: Yes.
CORGAN: And, you know, they asked 50 artists, “What’s the future of rock?” And my answer was, “God”. And they said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Well, God’s the third rail of -” What is it? “Social security is the third rail of politics in America”. Well, God is the third rail in rock and roll. You’re not supposed to talk about God. Even though most of the world believes in God. It’s sort of like, “Don’t go there”. I think God’s the great, unexplored territory in rock and roll music. And I actually said that. I thought it was perfectly poised. And, of course, they didn’t put it in the interview.
RAJPAL: What would you say to Christian rockers, then?
CORGAN: Make better music. (LAUGHTER) CORGAN: Personally, my opinion – I think Jesus would like better bands, you know? (LAUGHTER) CORGAN: Now I’m going to get a bunch of Christian rock hate mail.
RAJPAL: But that’s interesting -
CORGAN: Just wait, here’s a better quote -
RAJPAL: Yes.
CORGAN: Hey, Christian rock, if you want to be good, stop copying U2. U2 already did it. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of U2-esque Christian rock.
RAJPAL: Sure.
CORGAN: Bono and company created the template for modern Christian rock. And I like to think Jesus would want us all to evolve.

I’m not in touch with the modern commercial Christian rock scene, nor do I live in a country where one can find a Christian rock radio station on a car radio,  but I do think what he’s speaking about, even though I have heard more third-generation Coldplay clones in Christian rock lately than U2-sounds, but whatever.

Maybe that’s indeed the overall idea of Christian rock you get from the radio, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of people, adherents to the Christian religion,, making rock music or something like that which is informed by their faith soemwhere, and who do not sound at all like the mentioned U2 (or coldplay) rip-offs. They might not get as much airplay and sell as much records, but they are musically much more interesting. And Billy Corgan must know that, having Jeff Schroeder in his current band  line-up (who has been part of the Christian indie scene, and played guitars on the violet burning’s selftitled album).

Mr. Corgan himself has been singing about God and other religious themes since the beginning of the Smashing Pumpkins, but does not seem to tie himself down to one religion, even though he appears to be more spiritual than ever.

What also struck me is how he describes his old band, the original line-up of the smashing pumpkins:

we were four strangers who agreed on a musical vision. And we did more harm than good.

And then he identifies one of the problems of that band as ‘false loyalty':

I would say the key experience for me, from the original version Smashing Pumpkins was, “What is loyalty?” What is loyalty? Because I had a false concept of loyalty and I rode that ship all the way to the bottom. When most people wiser than I, would have jumped off the ship when it was to their benefit.

So people always say, “What’s your greatest career regret?” It’s when the band blew up in ’96, that I didn’t jump off and make a new ship. I rode that ship all the way to the bottom. Like, literally, until it was like the bubbles were coming up and I was sitting there like -

RAJPAL: Is it kind of like, you know, when you’re staying in a bad relationship, that you’re always hoping that something will change. That things will work out in some way, shape, or form.

CORGAN: Yes. I’m sure you’ve only had successful relationships, but I mean, if you’ve ever been there where you’re breaking up with somebody for the ninth time – [..] We did a lot of that. We didn’t really break up so much as we were like, “OK, now it’s going to be like this, or it’s going to be like this”. And then, of course, nothing would change.

Another idea that could be interesting to think about is his rejection of the very well-known dogma that suffering is good for art. I actually have never seen that one questioned before, and it’s even more interesting that he uses an Eastern religion -shintoism- to make that point. I don’t know why he uses shintoism and not Buddhism here, which is based on the elimination of suffering, and does not see a positive role for it.

Makes one wonder if the ‘suffering is good for art’ is born in Christian ideas about suffering. And if it’s indeed as valid as we all suppose…

CORGAN: There’s a long established concept that gets bandied about, which is “Misery makes for great art”. And I actually think this is – if we were asking a Shinto Monk, I think they would laugh at this idea
RAJPAL: Yes.
CORGAN: Because you’re basically saying, “Suffering’s good for business”. And I don’t think suffering’s good for business. Crazy’s good for business, suffering isn’t. I think suffering or the gestalt of, “Here I am, ripping my heart open” – I think that lasts for about two or three albums.
RAJPAL: Yes.
CORGAN: At some point, you have to mature into the deeper work. Most people are living lives of sort of survival. And constantly posing an existential crisis, either through fantasy or oblivion, really has been pretty much explored in rock and roll. At least in the western version of rock and roll. Maybe not over here in Asia, but we’ve sort of, kind of, been through all that.

I wonder if his ‘deeper work’ as he sees it himself will ever be able to reach as much people as ‘mellon collie and the infinite sadness’, which was one of my favorite rock-albums in the nineties, but I must say that his last CD ‘oceania’ is not bad at all and better than most things I’ve heard from him from the nineties!
But it seems like he is not concerned with getting that success back.

Well, if you make repressed, middle class, white, suburban, existential crisis music and a bunch of people just like you buy it, is that success? [...]  I mean, yes, it’s success in the form of communication. But is it success in being true? No, it’s not true. It’s true to its corner, but it’s not true.

Maybe it’s just me, but the guy says a lot of things (some of which I’m not even talking about here) that are really worth contemplating.. Rockstars can be interesting sometimes, don’t they?

peace

Bram

(PS: normal blogging schedule might resume somewhere in September)

2 new Bram Cools songs


I haven’t been playing music for ages it seems, which has something to do with a small baby and stuff like that. But listening to old recordings I decided it is time to finish a lot of almost-finished and half-finished songs before making new ones… Which led to the bandcamp release of 2 songs I’ve been working on since forever… They’re not my usual style (if such a thing exists) so I just bundled them into a two-song single.

The first song is some dark metal-without-the-metal thingy about the way in wich images of women are used in our digital country. The second one is an electronic rock tune about a failed postmodern savior. At one moment I thought about including those 2 songs in my cyberluddism album, but they didn’t fit…

Both songs can be listened and downloaded here on my bandcamp.

BYTEtext

byte of my byte, pixel of my pixel

softly spoken to my eyes
images of naked flesh they tell intimate lies
how could I want her if she’s not mine
how could I want her If she doesn’t even exist
how could I want her

and this game will always go on
in this world Venus is just a slave of Mammon
how do I fight against those evil gods
oh lust in the eye only also is adultery yes it is

softly spoken these intimate lies
could I just not turn away my eyes
why should I look at her if she’s not mine
why should I look at her if she doesn’t even exist
why should I look

and this game will always go on
in this world Venus is just a slave of Mammon
how do I fight against those evil gods
oh lust in the eye only also is adultery it is
oh beautiful re-creation oh sweet deception
byte of my byte and pixel of my pixel

The chosen one

Am I the chosen one
who’s gonna save the world
am I the chosen one
from the ancient prophecy
they all told me that I was the one
they all believe will deliver
they all see something that I’m not
And I’m here face to face with evil

I’m just a pointless stupid postmodern guy
on opium for the people I’ve always been so high
distraction much more pointless than the most deformed religion
I’ve wasted my whole life and now I’m ready for nothing
the great nothing

I’m not chosen one
that was gonna save the world
I was not the chosen one
from their stupid prophecy
they still think  that I was the one to save them from evil
they still believe that I will deliver the way their fairy tales told them
but here I’m being  torn into pieces
it wasn’t me they needed to fight this evil

I was just a pointless stupid postmodern idiot
I didn’t learn a thing, I cannot use their stupid magical sword
and now the world must end, and evil will take over forever
I’ve wasted the world  I wasn’t ready for nothing

should I’ve been the chosen one
that could’ve saved the world

enjoy

Bram

“Father I feel”, or cyndi McCoy playing “Father I’m tired”


When you make songs you also create the possibility for people to play them themselves and do their own thing with it. This is a beautiful rendition of “Father I’m tired” by Cyndi McCoy:

Enjoy!

Bram

musical interlude: dissapointed in the sun (dEUS)


When I was a teenager, I didn’t try much to rebel with music at first. As a young teenager I kinda liked the music my parents were listening (a CD collection that included U2 and Bob Dylan) and I always tried to find decent music on the radio, which was harder than it seemed, since the commercial radio here in Belgium in the nineties seemed to mostly play euro-house and boysbands at that time. every rocksong, every song with  real instruments even, was a pearl between the trash for me…

Later on I got more interested in ‘alternative’ music, and one of the biggest names in althernative music at the moment here in Belgium was dEUS, a then quite weird band from Antwerp. Rock’n roll and arty-fart weirdness went together with strange sounds and a lot of different musical styles that were mangled together. Their biggest hits are songs like suds and soda, roses, and theme from turnpike, which are very unlikely hits, but even now they still have 4 songs of that era in the timeless list of stubru, the alternative radio station. The first albums ‘worst case scenario’ and ‘in a bar, under the sea’ remain unique and unlike anything I’ve ever heard before or afterwards.

They still make music, but for me thy lost most of the vibe around the time of their third album, and became a more regular band afterwards. Which does not mean that their later hit ‘nothing really ends‘ is not a good candidate for the best slow ever written in Belgium.

Todays song is a title-song in disguise, for their second album ‘in a bar, under the sea’. Unlike most songs on the album it’s not experimental or weird, and neither are the lyrics completely weird and cryptic. It’s a song about escapism, running away from all life’s problems in a bar under the sea.  It is alleged to be inspired by Captain Beefheart who commented after visiting an exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh, remarked that he was disappointed in the sun.

dissapointed in the sun (written by Tom Barman and Piet Jorens)

Who could tell the story better
About the things that I went through
Some were great but most were terrifying
And so spooky too

Had to get out of there, to hide away
Had to get out of there, to find my way
I troubled everything too soon
Now where I want to be is…

Need I say my only wish was
To escape my earthly life
High skies were no option whereas
Diving deep in oceans wide

Was the way for me, to hide away
A possibility, to leave today
I troubled everything too soon
Now where I want to be is…

Under the sea, is where I’ll be
No talking ’bout the rain no more
I wonder what thunder will mean, when only in my dream
The lightning comes before the roar

Circumstancial situations, now I know what people meant
Beware of the implications, God I’ve had enough of them

Decided to be brave and hide away
Just picking out a wave and slide away
I troubled everything too soon
Now where I want to be is…

Maybe taking it another hour then taking away the pain
I troubled everything too soon, now where I want to be is…

Under the sea, is where I’ll be
No talking ’bout the rain no more
I wonder what thunder will mean, when only in my dream
The lightning comes before the roar
Under the sea, down here with me I find I’m not the only one
Who ponders what life would mean if we hadn’t been
So disappointed in the sun

And that’s why we’re thinking,
That’s why we’re drinking in a bar under the sea

enjoy

Bram

PS: more about Belgian music can be found here, in this post about the Gorky song ‘Mia’ which some have considered the best song ever.

The lost psalters interview (from August ’11, Kortrijk)


Last August the psalters, one of the most remarkable, unique and impressing band of the planet, were in Belgium to play their amazing music, and they did a show in Kortrijk. I was happy to be the opening act, with just a crappy guitar as a substitute backing band, but I actually hardly remember anything of that, since the psalters concert itself that came after my set was much, much more impressing. (one bootlegged song of my own set, called ‘Ellulian glasses’ can be found here)

As was their new CD ‘carry the bones’, which was for me the best CD of 2011! You can mail order it through their site now btw. Do it, you won’t regret it! The real CD has a very cool package and does sound lots and lots better than mp3’s of it at 128 bpm.

I also did a very interesting interview that night for a Flemish website with the mysterious ‘Captain Napkins’, as the CD booklets call him), one of the two leading forces behind the band. Browsing through my old files I found the English version again today, and I found it way too interesting to not share it with the world. Sharing is what makes us humans…

So here it is (drum roll on oil barrel), the psalters interview from Kortrijk, Belgium on 8/23/2011, done by myself (Bram), originally for cultuurshock.net (read the shorter Dutch version here!)

Bram: So this is your second time in Belgium. please tell us about the first time you were here:

Captain Napkins: Well, the fist time here in Belgium we got to play in Antwerp. We were invited by some cool folks to stay in a squat-house, that used to be a customs building on the bay. It was an amazing experience to stay in there, and then on top of that we played a show in a squat bar (the Scheld’apen) The interesting thing was that Antwerp had just kicked a lot of gypsies out of the city and given them some land right next to the bar to camp out, so when we were there was a couple of acres full of gypsies and then there was anarchists, punks and different folks all together. It just made for an amazing night.

There was a big tree-house right behind the bar, a huge tree-house even, like a real house in a tree, And there was lots of good beer. It was one of our favorite shows that we have ever done, very intense, The place was packed. Yes, we loved it! We absolutely loved Belgium!

Bram: What’s the difference between playing your music in Europe and playing it in america?

Captain Napkins: Sometimes it overlaps, you know: There are places in America that we’ve played that remind me a lot of some places that we’ve played in Europe. But I guess as a generalization, I would say more consistently people in Europe take what we’re doing much more seriously, like they think of us more a like we’re trying to be ourselves: as an organization, as a community, as a movement of combining worshop and justice, and ehm, fighting the empires that we humans create. In America, I think a lot of venues and places see all of that as just a gimmick, and at the end of the day we’re just a band…. So I think in Europe people have been taking us more seriously, which has been great. Plus the shows in Europe, it seems like people take music more seriously, not just us, but in general. The venues seem to take sound more seriously, like they’re very apologetic if they don’t have exactly what we need.

Bram: I heard the same from an interview with Dave Edwards (frontman of woven hand and 16 horsepower) once. Who said that Belgium was the most receptive country for just listening to the music, and taking it very seriously, even in the details.

Captain Napkins: Yeah, but I would say lot of the countries we’ve been to in Europe. The venues seem to take the music and the show a little more seriously, you know they put more work in it. but Belgium is one of our favorite places, for sure.

Bram: Okay, let’s switch to another subject: you guys are known to be both Christians and anarchists, how do you combine that?

Captain Napkins: It’s not at all a matter of combining, for me, for us… Well, anarchy… (pauses) We’re Christians, In a way I’m a Christian and I’m just a Christian, but I like to articulate ourselves as anarchists because the concept of anarchy helps people to understand better what we’re talking about: that there’s no system of man that works. All systems of man end up oppressing other people and elevating some people at the expense of others, and for us end up in the way of God, the One who created this world, so, yeah.

Bram: I understand that, but some people might not: I’ve just heard that there is a group of anarchists here in Kortrijk that refused to go come to your show tonight just because you’re Christians. How would you react to that?

Captain Napkins: I understand that. There’s a lot of Christians that have been very judgemental and hurtful to a lot of people. You know been jerks basically, so I totally understand that. There’s also been times for that we’ve been invited to play in a place and we found out that they were Christian and we didn’t want to play, you know.

Bram: Well, I heard that about Christians too, when hearing that you were anarchists, didn’t want to hear your music…

Captain Napkins: yeah, same thing

Bram: I remember when I let someone hear the song ‘come now and join the feast, right here in the belly of the beast’, they thought you were satanists. So how do the common Christians in America react to your music and your message?

Captain Napkins: yeah we’ve been shut down sometimes. We’ve played some shows.We’re very anti, we’re very unpatriotic, you know, like I love, I love the people of my country, I love the l…

Bram: (interrupting quite impulsively) Belgians are the most unpatriotic people of the world.

Captain Napkins: Okay

Bram: We actually just don’t care, we still don’t have a government now for I one year and a half and we don’t even care.

Captain Napkins: That’s maybe similar… that’s how we feel. I’m sure Belgians love each other, and they love the land. That’s how I feel, you know, I love the land from where I come. I love the people, but I don’t care about the government, I don’t care about those people more than other people. so in all those ways I’m not patriotic at all. and that offends of some Christians, and so we’ve kinda shut down

Bram: In America?

Captain Napkins: some of them are very conservative people and we’re not….

Bram: So, conservatives in America are really patriotic?

Captain Napkins: yeah the conservatives in America are patriotic and they tend to be violent.

Bram: recognize this T-shirt? (show T-shirt of the ordinary radicals)

Captain Napkins: yeah

Bram: I guess you know the ‘litany of resistance’, where Shane Claiborne says something like ‘I pledge allegiance to the transnational church that transcends all borders’ or something like that. (losing my words) So, when you’re thinking of Christianity and being part of a country, part of a nation, whatever, Being a Christian and being part of a people, part of a nation, what’s the connection?

Captain Napkins: for me, I don’t consider myself a part of the nation. I just am a part of the

(We arrive at the bar, looking for a good Belgian Beer, and decide to get a Hopus, a rather strong one)

Bram (to bartender): He’s from America, he’ll really appreciate it, he’s the leader of the band who played.

Bartender: yeah, I know man, it was so nice.

Bram: He deserves a hopus, really!

Bartender: yeah man, of course, of course, of course!

Captain Napkins: yeah, we have a lot of Belgian beers in Philly, in Philadelphia, my city where I’m from they love Belgian beers.

Bartender: Belgian beers are the best.

Bram: So, let’s get back to the interview: one of the guy frsom the squat-house where you stayed last time couldn’t be here tonight but he really likes your sound. He said you were the most tight band heever heard. Like one voice playing together, like there’s no ego in the band. How do you do that?

Captain Napkins: Well it’s interesting. I haven’t really, eh

Bram: You’re just tight together without ego’s, like one band with one vision, musically.

Captain Napkins: (thoughtful) Well, if that’s true, well I mean I haven’t head that a lot, it’s a new thing to me actually. But if it’s true, then what makes it happen is that there is a theology to what we’re doing, there is a vision and a mission that.

Bram: A theology?

Captain Napkins: I mean it’s built on a whole thesis, you know.

Bram: I’ve read a short version of it on your website and I’m still waiting for the whole version to be released.

Captain Napkins: Yeah, I need to write it out… that’s what I want to do when I get back from Europe. some more writing. I wrote it long time ago when I was in college. it’s for college, so it’s not, you know, there is a lot that needs to be changed.

Bram: What would you change?

Captain Napkins: Well, not even so much change as I would just add a lot, there is a lot that needs to be added and kinda updated maybe. I still agree with pretty much everything that’s in there, just a lot of things need to be updated…

Bram: Okay, on to something else, and maybe very strange question: what’s the gospel for you as a Christian anarchist? That’s the most important question for a Christian: What exactly is the good news?

Captain Napkins: Well, for me it’s about… (pauses) Eh… This might sound a little bit vague, but it’s important to me. When you ask that question I think of how God is love and loved us all into existence. He loves creation into existence and because of that our faith is about being in relationship with God, with each other and with creation. And that’s where anarchy comes in, and that’s where radical justice comes in: because the world fights against creation, the world fights against the Creator, the world fights against relationships. But for me it starts with the idea that God is love, God loved us into existence and God wants us to be in a a relationship with Him, with each other, and with his creation.

Bram: Makes a lot of sense to me. When I hear this I’m reminded of the controversy of Rob Bell’s ‘love wins’ book, so maybe let’s just ask one of the hardest questions of our faith: what do you think about hell?

Captain Napkins: (pauses) Wow, about hell? I actually was just talking to somebody last night about that and, eh, I do think that there is a hell. I don’t really know, but Jesus talks about it a lot, and our scriptures talk about it a lot, and eh… I’m uncomfortable, but at the same time I think that, eh, you know, I don’t know what it is and I don’t know who goes there, but I think that God is all-powerful (pauses) There is this woman, Julian of Norwich, who’s the first woman ever published in English. She is way back in the 12th century and she wrote something like she had a vision of hell, and she wrote something about like “and all is well and all will be well and all matter of things shall be well”. And it was just this, like it sounds redundant, but it was just her saying that God is kinda makes it work. And God makes it right, and God bring the healing but it’s tough how, I don’t know man, I mean it’s too tough.

I’m not one of those people that thinks that people who don’t confess Jesus automatically go there and stuff. I mean, I don’t know who goes there. I’m not one to decide who goes to hell and who doesn’t, you know, I do believe. I don’t even want to say that people definitely go to hell for eternity and all I think maybe that’s something that’s out of our understanding I’m also one to not say that hell does not exist, I think that hell does exist. And I think there is this suffering. there’s this horrible mess that’s out there and I think that there is such a thing as justice. I think that when injustice happens there is a need for retribution.

Bram: Would you say that there is retribution in justice, or just only putting things right and cleaning up evil without taking revenge?

Captain Napkins: yeah, I don’t necessarily believe in revenge, but I think when something evil happens I think that something needs to be made right, and it isn’t simply forgiven. It’s not a matter of like this horrible thing happens and well, it’s just okay now. No, I believe that like, when people, when a whole village is slaughtered by another group of people, that evil isn’t simply forgiven by God, there is a payment for it, there is a suffering that makes it right again.

Bram: And Jesus took that on him to give us forgiveness. (looks at watch) Looks like it’s getting late, so it’s time to end the interview. So I’ll have one last question: If I’d ask what you’d say to Christian people in Belgium, just regular Christian people, what would you say? What would you challenge them to?

Captain Napkins: Well, eh… People respect authority too much. People respect the Powers that Be too much. Because maybe the governments here are better than our government and so it’s easy…

Bram: Well, we kinda do have healthcare…

Captain Napkins: Yeah, yeah so there’s a lot of good things, and, ehm, it’s easy to not respect the American government but maybe it’s harder for Europeans to not respect theirs. But still I think that any government,and any system still falls short to the Kingdom of God. I think we always have to question them, and that we first have to be citizens of the Kingdom of God, and not citizens of a human government or a King. Maybe I’d say something like that…

Bram: Thank you very much! One more beer?

When death dies, all things live


The new gungor record is really good. If you read dutch, I have written a review here for cultuurshock.net. Not only the music, but also the lyrics and the stories behind them are impressive…

And last but not least, Michael Gungor is one of those musicians who can make a brilliant album, and yet play even better live versions. This version of ‘when death dies is just beyond incredible…

[Yes, that black guy is playing cello solo's and beatboxing at the same time...!]

When death dies (Gungor)

Like the waters flooding the desert
Like the sunrise showing all things
Where it comes flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies all things live

Where it comes poor men feast
Kings fall down to their knees
When death dies all things live
All things live

Like a woman searching and finding love
Like an ocean buried and bursting forth
Where it comes flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies all things come alive

Where it comes water’s clean
Children fed
All believe
When death dies all things live
All things live

Beautiful, isn’t it, the idea of the final defeat of death? Why aren’t we more excited about this idea as evangelicals? Especially when even Harry Potter is…

But to get back to the point of this post: Yes, Christian music with roots in the worship scene can be artistic, and lyrically and theologically challenging!

shalom

Bram

The music of the third eagle of the apocalypse, AKA the co-prophet of the end times.


It’s hot as hell over here. Exactly on the first day of school (september 1st) the summer finally began… Life is full of irony, and the climate has been acting weird lately.

Time for something else, like a musical interlude. Some people might know that I’m interested in outsider music and other weird stuff. My favorites are Daniel Johnston and the Shaggs, but the rise of the internet gives everybody the chance to make their art known to the world, which gives every weirdo (including me) a platform as big as the planet…

Most of those people who want their ‘5 minutes of fame’ are not that interesting… Even if you like ‘wrong music’, you know that there’s not a lot of really extraordinary stuff out there….

One of the weirdest things I know is a guy called William Tapley, also known as ‘the third eagle of the apocalypse’, or ‘the co-prophet of the endtimes’.  I think he could be considered as a ‘false teacher’, with a lot of end-times fearmongering, and a weird catholic form of pop-dispensational eschatology. He seems to have quite an audience on his youtube channel, but I suppose people just watch it because they find him a funny loser. Actually it’s a bit sad. His most famous bit of preaching tell us that you will miss the rapture if you use condoms (really!!!)

Most of his video’s are filled with his strange ‘preachings’, but from time to time he makes a music video.  And those music video’s are unique. Not because the instrumentation (a keyboard and  a drumcomputer) nor for his singing qualities (which do fit well with certain lofi and antifolk acts) but just the way he puts really scary endtime poetry to catchy cheerful tunes.  I’ve never heard or seem something quite like this….

The first song is called ‘doom and gloom’, classic stuff:

The second one, titled ‘It’s prophecied (end times anthem)’  is even better, about Obama as the leopard-king, and the frying of the Whore Babylon:

The third one, freedom is not free’, written for the American independence day,  is kinda dissapointing, unless you’re an American patriot I guess:

And the moest recent one ‘The ballad of comet Elenin’ is not as good as the old classics. Is he  going commercial and crossing over to secular conspiracy nonsense? It’s always sad to see our indie darlings go commercial, and to see our Christian acts go secular….

so, what do you people think?

enjoy!

Bram

sufjan Stevens, Cirque Royal Brussels, may 10th ’11


Sufjan stevens surely is an unpredictable musician. He might probably be known best for excesively orchestrated indie-folk, but the American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has been playing around with a lot of other genres too through the years. Also unpredictable are his live-shows: the days where he just played his songs on a guitar or banjo have been replaced with big bands and sometimes even orchestras. His most recent album ‘the age of adz’, which came out last year, was based mostly on weird eclectronic beats, sound effects and strange orchestrations, while the folk was driven to a far background on most of the album. And it was this last album that he was touring with when I went to see him in the cirque Royal in Brussels. I was seated very high, which gave a good view on the things that were happening on stage, and the sound was very good. I had no idea what I had to expect, but I knew it was going to be something special…

The opening act was some guy called DM Stith, a man with a pretty good voice, and acoustic guitar and an occasional loopstation. He was already playing while we were arriving, so I can’t say much about his set, except for that the last songs sounded really okay.

And then he’s there: Sufjan stevens. Starting with  ‘seven swans‘ without any announcment, and in a completely new arrangement. From the fiest seconds it’s clear that something has changed. Even his first song alone, impressive both visually and musically, would’ve been worth coming. Sufjan and his banjo get accompagnied by 10 other musicians and even more instruments, alienating costumes, projections and other things. The dynamics between the hard and the quiet parts are incredible, just like the costumes and choreography, which happens to include big swan wings in the first song. We also note two drummers (!) one at each sside of the stage, two female singers who also do a lot of dancing, and a lot of electronics and brass. It’s only the banjo, usually omnipresent in a Sufjan set, that dissapears almost completely out of sight after the first song…

Sufan then leads his gang of weirdos through a set consisting completely of new material from the second one on. More than his usual folk we hear space-music and electronic symponic pop, in a spectacular happening of more than 2 hours. I remember ‘too much’, with strange beats in 7/8 and heavy orchestration, the title song ‘the age of adz’, the quiet and beautiful ‘the owl and the tanager‘ on the piano, played very impressively, a very strong ‘Vesuvius‘ with apocalyptic projections, and a beautiful ‘futile devices‘ with strange solo at the end. I could say that all songs are really strong, not just musically, but also visually, with a lot of variation; weird costumes that get even weirder and more psychedelic in blacklight, strange projections, and a bizarre choreography… sufjan also introduces …; an outider artists on whose paintigs Sufjan based much of the album, which is a good explanation for the near schizofrenic psychedelics of this concert…

The ‘opus magnum’ of the evening is a thundering ‘impossible soul’ of more than 20 minutes; Interstellar pop music, weird instrumental passages, heavy electronic percussion played live by the 2 drummers, and some really cachy poppy dance parts even (that vocoder…) with Sufjan in a strange impressive suit with wings, and hundreds of balloons falling from the roof in one of the climaxes. When the band fades out sufjan takes his acoustic guitar to conclude the song. and then the musicians leave the stage. They have given all…

… And still five minutes later they come back again, after a change to more casual clothing, to play an encore set of older songs. A clearly exhausted sufjan takes a seat behind the piano for a solo version of ‘concerning the UFO sighting‘, to a beautiful ‘Casimir Pulaski day‘ (hey, the banjo is back in the background!) and finally everything goes loose again with ‘Chicago’. The angelic sounds of the outro fade out and there’s one things for sure: This was not just a concert!

(links are youtube videos uploaded by other people taken from the audience. The quality isn’t always that good, but it’s enough to have an taste of the evening….)

Mia, or the all-time greatest timeless classic song in Flanders


Let’s go on with the country I’m living in: Belgium, and more specifically speaking Flanders, since there’s not that much cultural exchange with the parts that speak other languages.

Today I want to take a look at the all-time greatest timeless classic song in Flanders, which is called ‘Mia’, by the dutch-singing rock band Gorky (they made only one CD under that name, and then singer Luc Devos started the band Gorki with other musicians, wikipedia mingles the 2 bands together in english) who sings in dutch.

Like I said, we are not very patriotic here in Belgium, and as a matter of fact, we don’t seem to like music in our language that much. We have a lot of rock bands, but most of them do sing in English, and a lot of rock-minded people don’t tend to like music sung in dutch, since English is the proper language for rock ‘n roll (as Tom Barman, singer of dEUS, would put it)

So which are the Belgian rock bands? Bands like dEUS, Arid, Millionaire, soulwax, absynthe minded, and K’s choice… In older days we had TC Matic, and Ferre Grignard. In other genres we also have a lot of electronic dance music: from front 242 to praga khan, the pop of hooverphonic (they started out more triphoppish, but alas, that didn’t last) and a lot of commercial stuff like Milk inc.

So if you have the list with timeless classics called ‘de tijdloze’ (the timeless one’) at new year on the alternative radio studio brussel, you won’t find much songs in dutch in there. As a matter of fact, since I’ve been a teenager in the nineties, there have been 4 songs in dutch that happened to find themselves there, while mostly all the others are English, with one occasional instrumental… (Look up the 2010 list here)

Believe me or not, Mia by Gorky being on #5 last year, this song has been the #1 in the list for years, before smells like teen spirit, creep, stairway to heaven, one; … And it has also had very high places on other radio stations. (all other belgian songs in the list are english, or instrumental)

The funny thing is that it hasn’t even been a hit, it was a B-side for another single… They never had big hits, but debut hit ‘Anja’, Lieve kleine Piranha’ (sweet little piranha) and ‘soms vraagt een mens zich af'(sometimes a man does wonder) were at least singles… One of the other songs has a sing-along chorus which translated says ‘sweet little piranha, sweet little piranha, sweet little piranha, devour me’…

Strange lyrics, and a voice that always forms the same minimalistic melodies are also the recipe for lots of later Gorki-albums, but he never really had any big hits afterwards. But for some reason people voted the song into the timeless list, and it kept on getting higher with the year, until it finally kicked nirvana off the first place. No-one understood, not even Luc Devos himself, who found it funny but never seemed very impressed, I think he just wanted to have more of his recenter songs to become classics…

So let’s listen to that great song, and look at the lyrics.

When I was hungry, I came to you
you said you can eat, if you wash the dishes
people like you shouldn’t behave difficult
give them a chance before they do stupid things

the middleclass rules the country, better than ever before
Mia has seen the light, she says nobody gets lost

currently we’re still going on, on the lighted path, the wrong track
people like me can be found anywhere,
on the market of labor in this valley of tears

stars come, stars go, only Elvis keeps existing
Mia never suffered, she asks can you still dream

What does the english wikipedia say about the impact of this song:

After ‘Anja’, several other singles were released from the debute album ‘Gorky’. Among them was ‘Soms vraagt een mens zich af’ (Sometimes a man wonders), the b-side of which was ‘Mia’. By making number one in the ‘Tijdloze’ (the Timeless), the ‘best of all times’ charts in Flanders by the music station Studio Brussel, for three consecutive years, ‘Mia’ became known as their largest hit. Likewise, it made number 1 in a similar chart of Radio 1 in Flanders, and best Belgian song in the chart by Radio Donna (in 2005). In 2006, it was elected the best song about girls on a TV-show on the public network ‘één‘. In 2008, the early music consort Capilla Flamenca issued ‘Rosa (Mia)’, a polyphonic adaptation of ‘Mia’ sung in Latin.

In 2008 a new award show was founded called “de Mia’s” (the Mias). It was named after the best Flemish song of all times, and officially stands for the Music Industry Awards..

I had almost forgotten that the MIA awards were named after this song…

Do I like this song? Yes!

Do I find it the best song ever written? No!

Are there better songs in my own language? definitely…

What do you think?

peace

Bram

on the evilness of Rebecca StJames and evangelical paranoia…


So today for some reason I was listening to some good old contemporary christian music on youtube. And then I saw the following comment under a live video of Rebecca StJames’ song ‘go and sin no more‘:

This kind of music is too worldly. That’s why Evangelicals are leaving the faith because of worldly music like this. This kind of music follows the genre of worldly secular music and creates a brain frequency that keeps the mind locked into this world. That’s why it’s so spiritually dangerous. The Illuminati and Freemasons created “Christian rock,” to numb people down and lead them into apostasy. This is occuring today. Only 9% of Evangelicals adults hold to a biblical worldview.

This leaves me with a lot of questions:

So this music creates a brain frequency that keeps the mind locked in this world? Should I use trance music that creates a brain frequency that brings me into another world then??

The illuminati and freemasons created Christian rock? That’s a new one… It would explain why there is so much bad christian music in the world though…

And where does the statistic of 9% come from? And what is a biblical worldview? There’s nothing in the bible about rock music, illuminati, brain waves or the freemasons…

But I guess I’m already part of the great apostacy, since I prefer most secular rock and folk and indie above this RSJ song musically… My poor brainwaves…