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by John Garratt

14 Jul 2011


Tragedy has long moved artists to write, we all know that. Look at how many songs came out of the 9/11 attacks. Ben Kono, a hard-working sideman saxophonist from New York, started to put together the pieces of his song “Paradise in Manzanar” not long after the twin towers fell. But it relates to a different tragedy: the imprisonment of Japanese-American civilians during World War II. After reading Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar in the tenth grade, “paradise” is one of the last words I would use to describe the California internment camps. But there’s the old adage about life dealing you lemons…

“Paradise in Manzanar” is one of the most striking tracks from Kono’s solo debut Crossing, which is saying something since the whole album boasts an elegant selection of songs of the chamber jazz and/or post-classical persuasion. There is a fine video of the song being performed live on YouTube and it can also be sampled on Kono’s website.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

13 Jul 2011


With the 4th of July holiday over, summer is in full swing and here’s a new tunes playlist ready to provide a soundtrack for everything on the list. From picnics and BBQs to hanging at the beach, the season is just meant to be lived outdoors. A bevy of new releases filled much of the space, rounded out by a few tracks saved from earlier in the year since they seemed more suited for summer. Enjoy!

 

1. “Make Some Noise” - Beastie Boys
Doing their thing since 1979, the Beastie Boys return with a new release, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. (The part one was put aside as Adam “MCA” Yauch underwent treatment for cancer.) This lead track is unapologetically recognizable as a Beastie Boys creation, finding new influences from the current music scene.

by Allison Taich

13 Jul 2011


Lo-fi dream pop lovelies We Are Trees released a new music video for their single “I Don’t Believe in Love”. The song appears on the band’s Girlfriend EP, currently available through Collective Crown Records. We Are Trees have an additional EP Boyfriend also available through Collective Crown.

by Cynthia Fuchs

12 Jul 2011


Structured as a series of memories and gaps, repressions and excavations, Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin’s Enemies of the People tells the story of the Khmer Rouge, from a distinctly, agonizingly personal perspective. Sambath begins by remembering his father’s murder. “They arrested him and took him to the rice field. They killed him by thrashing by knives,” Sambath says. “He did not die immediate. He very, very suffer. My brother, he watch.” Now a senior reporter with the Phnom Penh Post, Sambath has spent years seeking answers to the question that has shaped his life: “Why the killing happened.” His film includes interviews with several killers, now living un-special lives in villages, as well as Nuon Chea, also known as Brother Number Two. The movie—premiering 12 July as part of PBS’ extraordinary POV series—is at once deft and harrowing. As interview subjects sift through memories, they sound variously true and delusional, fragmented and self-serving, working their way to confessions in roundabout ways. You can’t know whether this is a function of fading memories, confusion or deliberate obfuscation. “Frankly,” one says, laughing weakly, “Without the wine, we wouldn’t dare kill people.” At the same time, the film’s compositions insist on the layers of storytelling, showing multiple frames within frames, arranged in camera lenses and mirrors, doorways and monitors. The effect is complex, brilliant, and devastating.

See PopMattersreview.

by Timothy Gabriele

11 Jul 2011


As Sandwell District gets… well, soft is the not the word for it… cleaner, perhaps, a new crop have imported the grit of their Downwards forebears into some neo-industrial atonal labor. One can almost smell the sweat, taste the rest, feel the tetanus coursing through the veins in the work of Perc and proximal ilk like Ancient Methods, Adam X, Tommy Four Seven, and Reeko. The visual filters in the video for Perc’s new single “My Head Is Slowly Exploding” even harken back to the late ‘80s/early ‘90s videos the original industrial pioneers, dragging mysteriously around port containers as an anonymous guy knocks against one, either trying to break in or to just make noise. As noisy as it gets though, the key word here is “slowly” not “exploding”.  There’s a palpable tension, but not one that make your head explode in a Scanners-esque friction of resistance.

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