Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cocteau Twins

'Other wordly'. Cocteau Twins are by far one of the most unique bands. Just listen to the elements that compose its sound, Liz Fraser's voice with its unmistakable swirls and warmth, and the peculiarity of the lyrics, which are sometimes made up of random words and even some 'inexistent' ones, the guitars add up an atmosphere of heavenly dreamy fanciness.
They had a dark period which was much faster (early 80s) and later they developed their characteristic ethereal landscapes (late 80s-early 90s).

Favorite Albums:
Blue Bell Knoll
Heaven or Las Vegas

Favorite Songs:
Cocteau TwinsLorelei
Cocteau TwinsGarlands
Cocteau TwinsCarolyn's Fingers
Cocteau TwinsPearly-Dewdrops' Drops

Garlands (1982)
Garlands is the 1982 debut album of Cocteau Twins. The result is an album, and a guitar sound, with a strangled, constricted range and a dark ambience. In the post-punk world of the early 1980s the influence of Siouxsie and the Banshees and other proto-goths is clear, but the beginning of the trademark ethereal Twins sound is also here, especially in Elizabeth Fraser's curiously addictive and largely indecipherable vocals.

The songs are simple, repetitive and haunting, with guitar, vocals, bass and the lo-fi drum machine usually entering separately and building to a climax.
The album made a huge impression at the time with its distinctive sound, a still embryonic sound which the band would continue to develop over the succeeding albums and other releases. Garlands ended the year as one of the best-selling 'indy' albums, helped by the fact that band was championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. With the nurturing of label boss Ivo Watts-Russell, who also co-produced the album, and the band's participation in the successful first This Mortal Coil album, the Cocteau Twins soon became the iconic 4AD band.

With her often opaque textured singing style, Elizabeth's Fraser's lyrics were a source of debate from the start, though Garlands is one of the few Cocteau Twins releases to feature any printed lyrics.

Cocteau Twins - Lorelei (Live 198?)

Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (1988)

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956): Passion. I first saw a film of this amazing artist when I was 10 years old, and ever since his incredible expressionism and perennial genius have captivated my soul. The power of his abstract depictions of his feeling by physical means transports my mind to a cacophonous world where everything, even the amorphous is possible and, best of all, beautiful.

"My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting."

"I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added."

The abstract painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is widely known for his spectacular, wall-sized paintings, which typically feature a combination of swirling drips, bright splotches, and bold, rhythmic streaks.

Pollock's signature technique, which he developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, was to drip house paint--in colors such as black, white, silver, taupe, and teal--from hardened, worn-out brushes, sticks, and other applicators onto enormous sheets of canvas spread across the floor. His approach, however, was somewhat more systematic than the chaotic results might suggest.

Pollock would begin by using a series of fluid strokes to draw a collection of loopy figures. When the paint dried, he would connect the scattered shapes with darker, thicker slashes of pigment. Additional layers of dripped, poured, and hurled paint would further obscure the original forms, creating a dense web of trails across the canvas.

To many, the large eloquent canvases of 1950 are Pollock's greatest achievements. "Autumn Rhythm," painted in October of that year, exemplifies the extraordinary balance between accident and control that Pollock maintained over his technique. The words "poured" and "dripped," commonly used to describe his unorthodox creative process, which involved painting on unstretched canvas laid flat on the floor, hardly suggest the diversity of the artist's movements (flicking, splattering, and dribbling) or the lyrical, often spritual, compositions they produced.

His revolutionary technique can be appreciated in this 'classic' footage (1951)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Swans only sound like Swans. Their sound has changed dramatically from their early era in the 80s to their later in the 90s. From being a brutal and visceral combo with intense and obscure performances to achieving more atmospheric textures and even heavenly melodies. They can be tagged noise, industrial, ambient, folk, experimental, post-punk, no wave, metal and even post rock. My beloved Swans, I will always have a shelter under their music, either if i am feeling hopeless or hopeful.

Favorite Albums:
Children of God
The Great Annihilator
The Burning World

Favorite Songs:
Big Strong Boss
SwansI Am the Sun
Beautiful Child
SwansMoney Is Flesh

Filth (1983)
Another exciting piece of history from one of The Big Apple's meanest, creepiest and uncompromising bands ever. Swans could only have come from New York, no other city other than Berlin could have produced such a glorious cacophony of unrelenting brutality. For me Swans rests somewhere between real industrial (not 90s industrial metal) and noise-rock. Their only peers would have been Glenn Branca, The Butthole Surfers, early Sonic Youth (who were more song based) and Einsturzende Neubauten. On 'Filth' they use repetition to exhilarating effect slowing everything down to a virtual crawl. It's difficult to describe this album but know one thing: nothing produced before or after it can match it in the brutality stakes. Like a wrecking ball it demolishes your weak mind while never overstaying it's welcome. 'Filth' is as the title would suggest an ugly beast of an album that will beat you and leave you paralysed on floor simply because it can.

Warning: This is really intense!

Swans - Beautiful Child (Live 1987)

And this one is from their 'melodious' period. A documentary covering 1995-1997

Monday, August 13, 2007

14 Iced Bears

They could sound poppy, scratchy, dreamy and psychedelic. Any way I love them.
I was first introduced to a song called 'Like A Dolphin' 4 years ago, and even though, this guys existed from 1985-1992, they always sounded fresh to me.

During my indie pop 'period' I could spend entire afternoons listening to tracks like 'Inside' and others (which unfortunately don't have any video).

Favorite Albums:
In the Beginning (Compilation)
14 Iced Bears

Favorite Songs:
14 Iced BearsInside
Unhappy Days
Miles Away
14 Iced BearsSure to See

In The Beginning - Compilation (2001)

14 Iced Bears' songs alternate between straightforward, catchy pop and more obtuse post-punk-ish art songs. That duality is immediately apparent on In the Beginning, with the first two songs on the band’s first single—the musically gleeful pop of “Inside” and the more complicated rock arrangements on “Blue Suit.” 14 Iced Bears’ lyrical side is persistently multi-faced as well, shifting between enigmatic poetry and straight-from-the-heart raw expressions of love, jealousy, confusion and longing.

The more heart wrenching side of 14 Iced Bears is best capsulated on “Balloon Song,” their second single and a song that no doubt helped give them a following. It appears twice here, in studio and Peel session versions, and it could easily have been here a few more times without me minding. It’s both a truly perfect pop song, with a super glue hook and gorgeous singing, and a heartbreaking portrait of sad love. The chorus is worded just right, with word building upon word until it hits the right bittersweet note: “Don’t call me ever again / I think I’ve lost my only friend/a friend that happened to say that she loved me.”

14 Iced Bears - Mother Sleep (1989)


Oh! The Pixies! The band that introduced me to so many other alternative underground sets.
Fast, weird, loud and highly influential. Formed in 1985 and disbanded in 1993. Members: Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and dave Lovering. They were a perfect mix of punk and surf.

Favorite Albums:
Surfer Rosa

Doolittle (1989)
After 1988's brilliant but abrasive Surfer Rosa, The Pixies' sound couldn't get much more extreme. Their Elektra debut, Doolittle, reins in the noise in favor of pop songcraft and accessibility. Producer Gil Norton's sonic sheen adds some polish, but Black Francis' tighter songwriting focuses the group's attack. Doolittle's most ferocious moments, like "Dead," a visceral retelling of David and Bathsheba's affair -- are more stylized than the group's past outbursts. Meanwhile, their poppy side surfaces on the irresistible single "Here Comes Your Man" and the sweetly surreal love song "La La Love You." The Pixies' arty, noisy weirdness mix with just enough hooks to produce gleefully demented singles like "Debaser," -- inspired by Bunuel's classic surrealist short {#Un Chien Andalou} -- and "Wave of Mutilation," their surfy ode to driving a car into the sea. Though Doolittle's sound is cleaner and smoother than The Pixies' earlier albums, there are still plenty of weird, abrasive vignettes: the blankly psychotic "There Goes My Gun," "Crackity Jones," a song about a crazy roommate Francis had in Puerto Rico, and the nihilistic finale "Gouge Away." Meanwhile, "Tame," and "I Bleed" continue The Pixies' penchant for cryptic kink. But the album doesn't just refine The Pixies' sound; they also expand their range on the brooding, wannabe spaghetti western theme "Silver" and the strangely theatrical "Mr. Grieves." "Hey" and "Monkey Gone to Heaven," on the other hand, stretch Francis' lyrical horizons: "Monkey"'s elliptical environmentalism and "Hey"'s twisted longing are The Pixies' versions of message songs and romantic ballads. Their most accessible album, Doolittle's wide-ranging moods and sounds make it one of their most eclectic and ambitious. A fun, freaky alternative to most other late-'80s college rock, it's easy to see why the album made The Pixies into underground rock stars.

Favorite Tracks: (this one is hard)
PixiesWave of Mutilation
PixiesHere Comes Your Man
PixiesWhere Is My Mind?

Pixies - Dead / I Bleed (and small interview) on Snub TV 1988

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cesar Vallejo

'The Universal Poet'

His poems are forever in my heart. He was Peruvian (March 16, 1892 - April 15, 1938)

So under appreciated in its own land, but glorified in the rest of the world.

Although during his lifetime he published only three books of poetry, he is nonetheless considered one of the great poetic innovators of the 20th century. Always a step ahead of the literary currents, each of his books was distinct from the others and, in its own sense, revolutionary.

Five talking points about Cesar Vallejo.

1) There's the inexplicable mystery of how and why he realized that he could be Cesar Vallejo. That is, speak with such an unmistakably individual voice. What gave him that courage? (Normally I hate to apply the word courage to writing in a particular style; it seems fake and inappropriate to say that it is courageous for me to write in a particular way. For Vallejo, though, this is entirely approrpriate.)

2) He had a complete poetic language, ranging from the colloquial to the erudite, the Quechua-inflected Spanish that he grew up speaking to the avant-g
arde cosmopolitan discourse of Europe.

3) He had a unique way of bridging the individual and the collect
ive voice. "Yo no siento este dolor como Cesar Vallejo." Yet it took "Cesar Vallejo" to articulate this insight.

4) He passed through the historical avant-gardes and forged a style of political poetry totally inflected by the freedom given to him by this avant-garde. He never practiced a sort of "generic" avant-garde style. . .

5) His appeal is immediate and direct. You know tha
t it's great before you even understand what it's all about. Further study only deepens our appreciation.

Cesar Vallejo Tribute
Mariela Dreyfus reads "Quedeme a Calentar la Tinta en que me Ahogo" while Anne Waldman reads the translation, "I Stayed on to Warm Up the Ink in which I Drown"

Translation: "I Stayed on to Warm Up the Ink in which I Drown"
I stayed on to warm up the ink in which I drown
and to listen to my alternative cavern,
tactile nights, abstracted days.

The unknown shuddered in my tonsil
and I creaked from an annual melancholy,
solar nights, lunar nights, Parisian sunsets.

And still, this very day, at dusk,
I digest the most sacred certainties,
maternal nights, great-granddaughter days,
bicolored, voluptuous, urgent, lovely.

And yet
I arrive, I reach myself in a two-seated plane
under the domestic morning and the mist
which emerged eternally from an instant.

And still,
even now,
at the tail of the comet in which I have earned
my happy and doctoral bacillus,
behold that warm, listener, male earth, sun and male moon,
incognito I cross the cemetery,
head off to the left, splitting
the grass with a pair of hendecasyllables,
tombal years, infinite liters,
ink, pen, bricks and forgiveness.

Galaxie 500

Amazing Dream Pop / Slowcore band formed in the 80s, already disbanded.

Their sound is most of the time slow and intimal but also frenetic and passionate.
Members: Guitarist Dean Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang

Probably one of the best bands doing covers, too.

Favorite Albums:
On Fire
This Is Our Music
(pretty much everything they recorded in studio)

Favorite Songs:
Galaxie 500When Will You Come Home
Galaxie 500Tugboat
Galaxie 500Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste
Galaxie 500Snowstorm
Galaxie 500Oblivious

(...and many more)

Actually i never heard any bad song by them (including demos)

On Fire (1989)
Galaxie 500 began to play beyond the Boston limits and their stock rose, especially in the UK where Today wasreceived enthusiastically. In the summer of 1989, the band re-entered Kramer’s studio to record their second album,On Fire, and its companion EP, the UK-only release Blue Thunder, both for Rough Trade. The critical acclaim for these recordings was deafening. Sounds described the album as "utter magnificence," Melody Maker called it "astunning collection of daydream pop," even Rolling Stone gave it 3½ stars.The world was beating its head on Galaxie’s door; the On Fire/Blue Thunder pairing expanded effortlessly on theband’s exquisite base. The plaintive threads of the Galaxie 500 sound had been pulled tighter by the technicalproficiency that had enveloped these ex-amateurs, and unlike so many others, technique had sharpened their instinctsrather than masked them. Playing with flash is superfluous, when you have the moxie to cover Red Crayola’s "VictoryGarden" and Joy Division’s "Ceremony," making both of them over in your own image. With the release of On Fire/Blue Thunder, Galaxie 500 took their playing to a whole new level.

Galaxie 500 - Tugboat (1989)