Curiosities and special effects!

Houdy!

I love music. Melodic, Inharmonial, Cacophonic, Euphonic, Brutal, Soft, Simple, Complex, anything (well, almost). And, as a professional music consumer I’m also interested in everything related – the bands history and relations with other bands, how certain songs are composed/produced/whatever and other curiosities. Thus, it made all sense to write this post about some curiosities and special effects.

Ok, let’s start with special effects. I once saw a documentary from the series Classic Albums about the Judas Priest best seller British Steel. In the time it was released (1980), digital sampling was not widely available and so any extra sounds to be added would have to be analog recorded and processed. This paved the way to ingenuity: for example, the song Metal Gods, about machines taking over the Earth, needed the sound of machines marching. Listen to this snippet of the song and tell me how do you think they achieved it?

If you said a cutlery tray, you’re correct! They also broke milk bottles and used police sirens in the song Breaking the law. Inventive, ha?

Another guy who loved inventing was Frank Zappa (remember him?). He created a composition technique called Xenochrony, which comes from the greek words strange and time and consists on extracting a musical part from one song and putting it inside another song. All the guitar solos in his rock opera (another one, yes) Joe’s Garage are xenochronous, but a great example of xenochrony is the song Rubber Shirt. In Zappa’s words:

And so the musical result is the result of two musicians, who were never in the same room at the same time, playing at two different rates in two different moods for two different purposes, when blended together, yielding a third result which is musical and synchronizes in a strange way. That’s Xenochrony.

Zappa also used polyrhythms in his career (as did Queen, King Crimson, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix). Polyrhythms are the fusion of two tempos together, like in this example.

And finally, here’s the curiosities!

Zappa must be mentioned again, as he was so eccentric. He was probably the only artist to release an instrumental album (Jazz from Hell) with an “explicit lyrics” sticker. Yes, in an album without any lyrics whatsoever! That’s how harmful his music can be to your hears haha!

Last but not the least, we arrive to the very good icelandic band, Sigur Rós. They are amazing, their music is so different from everything else, so soothing yet daunting. Just listen to their masterpiece Viðrar vel til loftárása:

But that is not why I brought them here. Their 3rd album in 2002 was sung entirely in a constructed language with no semantics called Vonlenska, or Hopelandic. How awesome is that?

But, however awesome that is, they were not the first to do it. In the early 70’s, the french drummer and composer Christian Vander assembled together a band called Magma in which all songs are sung in Kobaïan, the language of the fictional planet Kobaïa. Their music is completely different from anything you’ve ever heard, to the extent that it generated a whole new genre, Zeuhl, which is Kobaïan for celestial. It is a mixture of jazz, big band, large choruses, rock, heavy bass-driven music. As one of the many Magma alumni said:

Zeuhl sounds like, well, about what you’d expect an alien rock opera to sound like: massed, chanted choral motifs, martial, repetitive percussion, sudden bursts of explosive improv and just as unexpected lapses into eerie, minimalist trance-rock.

Hope you liked this as much as I enjoyed putting it all together! 😀

Folk’s passions

I must bring back folk to this blog once more!

A couple of years ago, I found (probably through Bob Dylan) one of the most beautiful voices I have ever known – Joan Baez.

Joan is a folk singer who started her career in 1960, being active until today. Despite the modest success of her first recording, her next 3 recordings went gold, which lead Joan to become a widely known star with great success in the 60’s  – maybe reaching a peak in her career with the participation in the Woodstock Festival.

She recorded many popular songs, as well as covers from other musicians – Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, as well as many others -, many of them with political lyrics.

Diamonds and Rust Dylan and Baez romanceHowever, and this of course is just my opinion, her best performance is in a song composed by herself, not related to politics at all! This song, released in 1975, was inspired in a romance that Baez and Dylan – who at the time was more interested in Baez sister – had many years before. Things did not turn out great in their relationship and it didn’ t last long. In musical terms, I am glad this happened, as otherwise we would probably not have the song I bring you today – Diamonds and Rust.

Note: If you don’t like this version, see the links below. Whoever sings it, this song is too great to be missed!

If you were one of the those who cannot really stand Baez voice, listen to Judas Priest or to Blackmore’s Night versions, also quite good ones 😉

Astounding Songs, Amazing Covers

With Pedro’s last few posts containing covers by himself or his friends (and also David’s), I decided to show him what real covers are like. No, I’m not making them myself, maybe another time 😛

It is obvious that I’m just messing with him, the covers he posted are very well done, especially considering that they’re home-made. But, when I listen to a cover by a proven artist, I expect to hear something of his own in the version. So, don’t expect to hear here copies note by note, but rather very personal interpretations of some good songs. Some are even better than the originals! But I’ll leave that assessment to you..

I’ll start with a song I thought no one could or would cover, Starless by King Crimson. I came across this version by the Unthanks in Pete Sinfield’s (KC’s old lyricist) facebook page, and I was instantly blown away.
(Covers on the left, originals or most known version on the right) Enjoy 🙂

   
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

If any of you wants more information regarding the bands on the left, just leave a comment! Most of them have more amazing covers 🙂

Judas Rising [Part 2/4]

(continuation of part 1/4: http://wp.me/p2ldeO-7v)

…my second note of appreciation goes to Pedro Lourenço (also an author of Cacophonic Euphony). As you’ve already seen by now in his cacophonic corner, his musical scope goes way beyond the average and maybe someday he’ll share with us some of his own work… *hint hint* 😉

He made me an open-minded music consumer, introducing me to a brand new, black and thrilling world!
Six years ago I asked him for some music suggestions and suddenly I jumped from country/pop/rock music into heavy metal and hard rock.
In the beginning it took me some time to adjust to this new kind of music with all those aggressive riffs, wild solos and screaming lyrics, but soon I let myself go and I’ve never stopped ever since!

Thanks for Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Moonspell, System of a Down, Metallica and all those great bands you once thought I was ready to meet! 😀
Along with all the dark stuff he also introduced me to the best group the Earth has ever seen, The Queen (the entire discography!!).

I reckon this music genre is not well accepted in general so click on the images below at your own will, if you’re in the mood for some aggressive-energetic songs.

   
I can’t explain my addiction of heavy metal, nor will I try to convince anyone into it, but I believe those who like it understand the rush and thrill that has the power to either pump or ease heart beats that I’m talking about.

But life isn’t just black or white, dark or bright. For more colorful songs wait for the next post: Dreams of a Journey [Part 3/4]
See you soon 😉

PS: Feel the power of the drums in Judas Rising live song here.