Music

Madagascar: Forced March

Michael Metivier

Mostly instrumental compositions drawn from everything from chamber music to Yiddish folk, this debut is a gorgeous surprise.


Madagascar

Forced March

Label: Western Vinyl
US Release Date: 2005-06-07
UK Release Date: 2005-06-13
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Seven daydreams for the seven songs by Baltimore, Maryland's Madagascar on their Western Vinyl debut, Forced March:

1. The sky above my quaint neighborhood clouds over and begins a Bible-grade downpour. The wind whipping down the one-way streets is the musical saw on "All That Spring You Could See Halley's Comet". Swallows beat their wings furiously but still are pushed backwards into eddies of accordion playing a narcotized gypsy rag. Audrey Tautou parts the curtains of her apartment window to watch the water rising in the alley just as a couch carrying Madagascar floats by, the band singing wordlessly.

2. The Dirty Three jousts with a gang of Spanish minstrels in a black and white film set to "I'm So Tired of Violets (Take Them All Away)." The proceedings are shot in extreme slow motion, heightening the drama. The only color in the movie belongs to the violets getting trampled under Mick Turner's mighty steed. The minstrels use melodicas for jousts, which makes you kind of worried for their safety. This is the Dirty Three after all. But just as the two pitted sides are about to clash instrument on instrument, each is overwhelmed by the skill and majesty of the other's sound. Everyone leaps into the grass for picnic and backgammon.

3. A White Plains mother of two (Madison, 3, and Jackson, 5) instructs the nanny to pick up the soundtrack to the new animated movie Madagascar on their trip to the mall. Distracted by the kids' pleading and pulling toward Panera Bread, the nanny absent-mindedly grabs Forced March instead. Later that afternoon, the mom takes scissors to the CD's shrink-wrap, wondering aloud why there are no pictures of Melman the Giraffe or Alex the Lion on the cover, then slips it into the stereo for naptime and departs for a Tivo browse. She returns during the third track, "Our First Communist Psychic Researcher" to find the kids wide-eyed and vaguely trembling on their mats, cascades of glassy percussion rattling under the saw's whine. They do not see the movie.

4. The bear from Björk's "Human Behavior" video does indeed go shopping on "Bear Goes Shopping". Inspired by Madagascar's glockenspiel/bass drum arrangement, he buys wooden clogs and 20 pounds of fresh salmon.

5. Milkweed drifts through the air and settles on the winding river like little clumps of cloud. On the shore, paper lanterns are hung from tree to tree at sunset for the weekly village dance. "A Brief Stroll - The Velvet Parasol" starts the evening out right, as played by brothers Michael and Anthony Lambright, and Justin Lucas, accompanied by Walker Teret on upright bass and Drew Nelson on percussion. The townsfolk clap and twirl their partners in the soft colored glow. At last light, a troop of orioles settles on the branches above the dance, swaying and whistling to the music's easy gait. Every bird, man, and woman is in love.

6. O Holy Night, "When the Telegram Arrived That She Was Dying". I lie on the floor holding the parchment above my head, scanning the words until my arms grow numb. She wove the rug that absorbs the lone tear running down my cheek and over my ear. It is in the ornate pattern of Forced March's cover art, each fiber like the pluck of a nylon string, or the ping of hammered percussion. It took her years she no longer has.

7. Two lovers part on the train platform of an old provincial town. One asks the other "Will you be true?" The partner's response: "I Know That I'll Be True." There is a pause before continuing, "Alone, it is easy to feel that the world is without magic, romance, mystery. But for these few months do not despair. Our love is music descended from mazurkas, waltzes, from cultures far flung and proud, triumphant and sorrowful. From reeds, keys, strings, breath, wood, brass-all of it recorded with fidelity. When you hear it, you too will know that I'll be true."

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Music

Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.

Music

Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.

Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.