Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Arbol : dreams made of paper

ARBOL. dreams made of paper.

Arbol is multi-instrumentalist Miguel Marin's solo project. Prior to this, he worked as percussionist for the artists-collective known as Piano Magic. Arbol takes a lot of the quiet percussive combinations of electronic and acoustic sounds that Miguel used in his earlier work and builds on it. His work is simultaneously influenced by post-glitch electronica like Alva Noto and other artistis on the Raster-Noton label, and also by moody noirish film soundtracks. Arbol is at once sparse in texture and psychologically gripping. "dreams made of paper" is a clear progression form his prior self-titled debut as it collects work he composed on travels throughout Europe. Again, the delicate rhythm of the songs forms an intricate web that shelters the exquisite voices of Suzy Magnion and Eugenie Garreth. Both of the singers have a certain degree of depth to their voices. The lush melodic quality of their vocals plays against the electro-acoustic percussion to create songs of loss and awakening. I enjoy this album quite a bit because it utilizes the same fabric as the debut but develops the sound even more. Where the debut leant more towards the acoustic and found sounds, the new album feels slightly more electronic in parts. One of the later tracks feels like good IDM in the vein of Hermann and Kleine or Marc Leclair. Overall the new album has an embracing near mystical feel. It is a child's dream of loss and hope. Open your ears to Arbol's celebratory stories of the beauty and cruelty of nature.

I should perhaps mention the disc also has one of the best packaging ideas for a single compact disc I have ever seen. You lift up the tab of the white envelope that houses the disc and open it gently, four corners pushing into the center hold the disc in place at an angle, presenting it to the listener. The dark green words printed on each of the four corners pushing away from the center are the lyrics to the four songs that have words. The case is light, efficient and environmentally sound.

01 a bird’s day 02 dreams made of paper 03 bright day 04 reborn 05 0.13 06 moon shadowed 07 noga 08 0.26 09 not with you neither without you 10 november 11 little dancer 12 lost angel 13 golden section 14 too late to say goodbye
+ videoclip bright day

From the Lejos Discos press release:

Our first full length at Lejos had to be something special. For us, it is a dream come true. This new release is made of cardboard, paper, and 14 tracks that define the boundaries between ambient, electronica and soundtrack music.
“Dreams made of paper”, Miguel Marin’s second album as Arbol, is a melancholic work, motivated by the loss of someone dear. Yet it is also full of hope, full of life, as sunshine seeping through the leaves of trees to illuminate the darkest moments of life. One of the main virtues of this work by Arbol is the perfect combination of digital and natural resources. From the magnificent artwork by Queralt Antú Serrano –who has also made a videoclip inspired by the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí included in the CD- to the collaborations of Suzy Mangion (George) and Eugenie Garreth as singers, all the different pieces within “Dreams made of paper” shine in this particular path along a world of dreams.
Our third release, following up on the concept of “pop music for the open minded” that Lejos proposes, reflects all of Marin’s musical background, from his past in Piano Magic to his passion for electronic music, along with his collaborations with different movie directors such as Bigas Luna or Leo Obstbaum and also the famous French architect, Jean Nouvel.
Now that the work is done, with this new album for Lejos, Arbol is getting ready to present these new songs live in different formats (as DJ, alone with his laptop or with a band of up to 4 musicians). Miguel Marín already performed as Arbol at the Sonar 2003 festival.

Arbol (Indus Sonica - Rocket Girl.2002)

“San Francisco” in Comes with a Smile #10 (2002)
“Summer and you” in Acuarela Songs vol. 3 (Acuarela.2004)


Saturday, May 21, 2005

The prizes: 58th Cannes film festival.

Le palmarès du 58e Festival de Cannes

- Palme d'or: «L'enfant», de Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne (Belgique).
- Grand Prix: «Broken Flowers», de Jim Jarmusch (USA).
- Prix d'interprétation féminine: Hanna Laslo dans «Free Zone».
- Prix d'interprétation masculine: Tommy Lee Jones dans «Trois enterrements» (USA).
- Prix de la mise en scène: «Caché» (France), de Michael Haneke (Autriche).
- Prix du scénario: «Trois enterrements», de Tommy Lee Jones (USA).
- Prix du Jury: «Shanghai Dreams», de Wang Xiaoshuai (Chine).
- Caméra d'or (premier film): «Moi, toi et les autres», de Miranda July (USA), et «La Terre abandonnée» (Sulanga Enu Pinisa), de Vimukthi Jayasundara (Sri-Lanka).
- Palme d'or du court métrage: «Podorozhni» d'Igor Strembitskyy (Ukraine). Mention spéciale à «Clara» de Van Sowerwine (Australie).

Courtesy of Le Soir (Belgique)

Yann Tiersen - 'Les Retrouvailles'

'les Retrouvailles' is Yann Tiersen's first completely new album since 'Le Phare'. The album is due out this week in France. I believe a domestic release in North America is due to follow in July 2005. This leads me to hope for a few concerts hopefully in Canada if not USA. Based on the brief sound samples on the Labels website, this disc will have a fuller, more guitar-oriented sound. Needless to say, I am extremely excited about this. Look for a full review on this website in the coming weeks.

more information (en Francais):

From the Labels website:
19/5/2005 : 'Les Retrouvailles' : Avant première !
Vous croyez YANN TIERSEN toujours dans les bras d'Amélie Poulain ? Ou à diriger un orchestre symphonique pour un nouveau "Good Bye Lenin" ? À moins que vous ne l'ayez vu, il y a moins de six mois, sur la scène des Transmusicales de Rennes, en compagnie de SHANNON WRIGHT, prolonger le passionnant disque qu'ils ont enregistré ensemble. Sauf qu'un jour, arrive l'envie de mettre de nouvelles idées à plat, de prendre vraiment du temps pour composer.
Depuis « Le Phare », Yann Tiersen n'avait jamais composé un album aussi neuf. Il y a évidemment une petite valse à l'accordéon, une ballade craquante au piano, des chants divins. Il y a aussi plein de guitares, des basses plus présentes, un son un peu rêche, beaucoup d'énergie et, au bout du compte, un disque lumineux. C'est le temps des « retrouvailles » mais des retrouvailles qui reposent aujourd'hui sur une grande maturité.
Avec la participation de LIZ FRASER (Cocteau Twins) sur « Kala », STUART A. STAPLES (Tindersticks) sur « A Secret Place », JANE BIRKIN sur « Plus d'Hiver » et les complices DOMINIQUE A et CHRISTOPHE MIOSSEC sur « Le Jour de l'Ouverture ».


29/5/2005 BREST (29) - Vauban
30/5/2005 BREST (29) - Vauban
2/6/2005 BREST (29) - Vauban
3/6/2005 BREST (29) - Vauban
5/6/2005 ST BRIEUC (22) - Festival Festival Art Rock
14/6/2005 CLERMONT FERRAND (63) - La Coopérative de Mai
15/6/2005 LYON (69) - Le Transbordeur
22/6/2005 LILLE (59) - Aéronef
23/6/2005 PARIS (75) - La Cigale
9/7/2005 RENNES (35) - Théâtre du Vieux St Étienne En solo au festival "Les Tombées de la Nuit".
10/7/2005 RENNES (35) - Place de la Mairie En groupe au festival "Les Tombées de la Nuit"
2/8/2005 RIVIERENHOF (Belgique) (99) - Festival
5/8/2005 LORIENT (56) - Festival Festival Interceltique

Monday, May 16, 2005

I love coffee

When I'm not brewing it at home, I usually stop by Peets Coffee ( for a cup. Peets is one of the few places left that still brews a strong cup. So many places here in Boston, even the ones that aren't controlled by the ever pervasive chains, don't know how to make a good cup of coffee. I find this extremely disconcerting. It would seem that Americans are used to having weak brewed stuff that is more like flavored water than anything resembling coffee. They have grown up with this barely passable beverage and are unable to come to terms with something that contradicts their fixed taste. I do not know how to approach this problem in a gentle manner. I would like to tell the kids at some of the independent coffee houses around here how to properly make a nice full cup.

In my youth I traveled to the many locations of the magnificent "Coffee Connection". Sadly, alas, it is no more. George Howell has moved on to other ventures, the latest of which is his terroir coffee. ( This website give you extensive information about brewing methods. Lately, I have been using Black Bear Coffee (, which is roasted in New Hampshire. Black Bear Coffee yields a good flavorful cup. It is definately a cut above what is out there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Toru Takemitsu and the Japanese New Wave

Last Saturday (May 7) I saw:

Woman in the Dunes
Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
Japan, 1964, b/w, 123 min.
With Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Hiroko Ito
Japanese with English subtitles

Based on the novel by Kobo Abe, this is the best known of the films adapted from his books in collaboration with Teshigahara. What struck me in particular about this is the effectiveness of rendering of life in the dunes via black and white film. The film simply would not have been as powerful, had color been used. So much of the atmosphere is created by the chiaroscuro of the light upon the sand. The film is a very close depiction of the novel. As for the eroticism, much is made of 'the human body as landscape'. The soundtrack, created by Toru Takemitsu, really reflects the solitude and punishing nature of the desert heat. It also contributes to the non-realistic atmosphere of the film. It is all shifting sand, skin and wind.

(Check for a review of another Kobo Abe and Hiroshi Teshighara collaboration:

The Man Who Left His Will On Film (aka The Battle of Tokyo)
Directed by Nagisa Oshima
Japan, 1970, color, 94 min.
Japanese with English subtitles

This is a strong film made with Oshima's own money, using friends of his as the principal actors. It monitors and documents a radical student movement as it attempts to formulate a kind of political film. The politically charged discussions between the pretentious Marxist Film School clique are witty and hilarious. (at one point it mentions that: 'Japan exists between the feudal and the modern and feels at home in neither of them so it takes refuge in the fetishes of childhood'. No truer words have been spoken.) Oshima easily integrates footage he took of Left-Wing demonstrations in Tokyo into his fiction film. It primarily concerns a couple, a man chasing his doppleganger, as he tries to come to terms with his girlfriend's love for him. Takemitsu's soundtrack is more sort of psychedelic and almost funky. These sounds plus the ultra politically dogmatic dialogue makes the viewer feel as if he or she is under the effects of a mind altering substance. Political theory and Art never felt cooler.

The programme notes describe the series as:

Toru Takemitsu and the Japanese New Wave

"Generally regarded as Japan's foremost contemporary composer, Toru Takemitsu produced over one hundred film scores during his career, working primarily with the masters of the Japanese New Wave. Directors such as Nagisa Oshima, Hiroshi Teshigahara, and Masaki Kobayashi were able to achieve more poetic means of expression thanks in large part to Takemitsu's searching, unconventional accompaniments. The HFA celebrates the maestro who passed away in 1996 with a brief overview of his brilliant work as film composer" (

Takemitsu Tribute Concert

This program is co-presented with the Japan Society of Boston and The Boston Modern Orchestra Project. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project will present a premiere concert in tribute to Toru Takemitsu on May 27 at Jordan Hall. For more information and tickets, please visit or call 617.363.0396.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Water, Inc. by Varda Burstyn

This excellent eco-thriller is a worthy antidote to the Michael Crichton-saturated science-thriller market. Varda Burstyn packages environmental consciousness in a popular genre format. When I read this book, there were time when I was torn between opposing thoughts that either this is the greatest book ever written or it is very good pulp fiction. Ms. Burstyn walks a tightrope skillfully between the two. I found the book exciting and fun. I didn't find Ms. Burstyn's woven polemics a distraction from the tale as the Guardian UK's review points out below, rather they are a vital element to the tale. I cannot wait for the next book in this series. I seriously hope her book encourages a new breed of contemporary socially-conscious thrillers.

What the Guardian UK had to say:

Water Inc., by Varda Burstyn (Verso, £12.99)
Yet another year of severe global warming drought, and water-starved America is burning up. Enter a group of unscrupulous megabillionaires headed by William Ericsson Greele, who have this cunning, secret $15bn plan to build a pipeline from Quebec to Ohio to pump trillions of gallons of water a year from Canada to the US. Luckily, a handful of environmentalist heroes get to hear of the plan and launch a huge "Eau No!" campaign. Greele and his greedy cronies are naturally not going to take this lying down, and they turn very nasty indeed - a journalist is shot, a man is burned to death in his house, a car is blown up, politicians are threatened. All of which have the makings of a cracking eco-thriller, except that the author, a lifelong environmental campaigner, never passes up an opportunity to give a lengthy lecture on a whole range of eco-issues. The result is a book that had great potential but is massively over-written and cluttered with too many characters, and an essentially exciting plot becomes mired in polemics.

Verso books:

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Div Com + Douglas Adams

I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie yesterday. It was very entertaining. A couple of things I didn't realize: (1) this is a Disney film. All the trailers prior to the film correspond to Disney's summer schedule; (2) The music for the film is composed by Joby Talbot, yes THE Joby Talbot of the Irish band, the Divine Comedy. The band's lead singer, Neil Hannon, sings the song at the end credits. Its funny hearing them on a mainstream picture. The film itself was decent, although the humour is arguably dated.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Webby Awards 2005

they're up for your pleasure.

I can't believe CarStuckGirls was nominated...

Monday, May 02, 2005

the good son vs The Only Daughter: the blemish remixes ( David Sylvian )

the good son vs The Only Daughter: the blemish remixes - David Sylvian

This disc is quite amazing in that it is a full work. It is able to stand on its own as a new album, despite the fact that it is actually a collection of remixes of David Sylvian's prior solo album "Blemish". This may be testimony to the brilliance of David Sylvian's songwriting. Blemish was largely composed by David alone in his studio in New Hampshire, Derek Bailey and Christian Fennesz helped out on a few tracks but the idea and direction of the project was clearly David's.

As Jason Cowley, writing in the UK Observer, puts it:
"Blemish is brave and uncompromising. Dense and sometimes inaccessible, it occupies an ambiguous space somewhere between hard, free-form experimental electronic music and the avant garde, and has revitalised my own and others interest in his work - which, judging from what I've heard of a new album he's been working on with his brother, is moving in new and promising directions. Blemish can be listened to on many levels - but most notably as an anguished confession during which Sylvian grapples with the failure of his marriage to Chavez, with who he has two daughters. He told me that they are soon to divorce."

It is a troubling and solitary work, this is what makes it approach brilliance. David Toop, writing on Blemish in the Wire, remarked that 'you can feel the room' as you listen to the album. So you can. The starkly minimal compositions complement beautifully the rich tones of his voice.

The good son vs The Only Daughter changes none of this, it merely makes it congeal as a whole and in fact improves on the blueprint Blemish created. This disc works so well because it does not wholly rework the original compositions, instead it sharpens them without deviating from their parameters. Roji Ikeda's quiet, chamber-music-like arrangement of The Only Daughter, allows the listener to inherit the space described by the song. My language may seem a bit abstract in describing what has happened to these songs however, it is exactly to the point. For close to 50 minutes one is drawn into David's world. This is what makes it work so well: each song neatly flows into the other. The disc's sounds move from acoustic ensembles to the bouncy laptop bass of Sweet Billy Pilgrim's remix of The Heart Knows Better to the cheery almosty gypsy-like dance of Readymade FC's remix of A Fire In the Forest to Burnt Friedman's noisy, echoey, dubby version of Late Night Shopping to Tatsuhiko Asano's jazzy reworking of How Little We Need To Be Happy to the closing full 10 minute version of Blemish as mixed by Akira Rabelais as he exposes all the sharp electronic twitches in the song, making you wonder why your speakers haven't melted already.

Maximum enjoyment requires Headphones.

Track Listing:

1. the only daughter
Remixed by Ryoji Ikeda
Featuring: Fabienne Dussenwart: Flute.
Pascal Moreau: French Horn, Wibert Aerts: Violin,
Donminica Eyckmans: Viola, Jean-Paul Zanutel: Cello,
Ryoji Ikeda: Piano.

2. blemish
Featuring: Hayden Chisholm: Clarinet.
Remixed by Burnt Friedman

3. the heart knows better
Remixed by Sweet Billy Pilgrim
Featuring: Alphonse Elsenburg: Clarinet.

4. a fire in the forest
Remixed by Readymade FC

5. the good son
Remixed by Yoshihiro Hanno

6. late night shopping
Remixed by Burnt Friedman
Featuring Hayden Chisholm: Clarinet.

7. how little we need to be happy
Remixed by Tatsuhiko Asano

8. the only daughter
Remixed by Jan Bang and Erik Honore
Featuring: Nils Petter Molvaer: Trumpet.

9. blemish
Remixed by Akira Rabelias

Official Site

Jason Cowley's article in the Observer.

Bossa what? tonight

This is in response to what's below. re: Nouvelle Vague. The album is finally being released domestically in the USA on the label V2. This process took about a year and a half roughly to do. Hence the need for promotion via Sony's 'indie' label V2. Personally, I think this is rubbish because anyone who really cared about the music would already own this disc. Its really not that difficult to do the leg work and learn what's going outside of your backyard. Needless to say, I'm sure the night will still be fun and the DJs at River Gods are among the best for that sort of thing. Besides, bossa nova-style songs are perfect music for the warmer days ahead. Also, it may be your only chance to hear their songs in the Boston area for a while. I don't think they're going on tour again in the USA this summer.

As reported in the Boston Globe today:
Faux Brazil
By James Reed | May 2, 2005

Adam Pierce is your everyday indie-rock genius who lives in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and has scant Brazilian touches in his music. Pierce is also Mice Parade's songwriter and plays most of the instruments. His 9 p.m. show at T.T. the Bear's Place is your first chance to hear songs from Mice Parade's new album, ''Bem-Vinda Vontade." Tickets: $9. 10 Brookline St., Cambridge, 617-492-2327.

Nouvelle in vogue

It turns out that Joy Division had it all wrong. Yes, love will tear us apart, but that sentiment doesn't have to be such a downer. It can be sexy and lounge-y. At least that's the thesis of Nouvelle Vague, a coterie of très-chic French musicians. Tomorrow is the US release of the band's self-titled album, a collection of new-wave and punk-rock hits reimagined as sultry Brazilian and '60s pop nuggets. The idea behind the album was to strip the songs bare and then get singers who weren't familiar with the original versions. Mission accomplished. If you thought Paul Simonon was fierce on the Clash's version of ''Guns of Brixton," wait until you hear singer Camille purr her way through it. Tonight, the beat masters at River Gods celebrate the album's release with a listening party at 7. They'll play the entire album and have some promotional goodies on hand. Afterward, at 8, the Weekly Wax series will feature DJs K.C. Hallett and Br. Cleve spinning Brazilian music of all flavors. It's free, but a word to the wise: Arrive early to snag a table and have a beer and some dinner.

125 River St., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-576-1881.


"'It's a pity you aren't coming. You could have done some filming on board. I'd counted on you to bring along a camera. Now we won't be doing any film at all. Oh, well...Apart from that, everything's tip-top. You're the only thing that's not working right...I can understand your wanting to rest and get back to your books. Of course you need to think things over, you always needed time to think about a whole pile of things, to look, to see, to compare and record, to take notes on the thousand things you haven't had a chance to classify in your own mind. But why don't you leave that to the police archives? Haven't you got it through your head that human thought is a thing of the past and that philosophy is worse than Bertillon's guide to harassed cops? You make me laugh with your metaphysical anguish, it's just that you're scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral and animal, all disorder, and so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business and the arts, and all theories, passions and systems. Its always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? What are you looking for? There's no truth. There's only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust, stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. What can you do about it, my poor friend? You're not about to start laying books, are you?'
Moravagine was so right that three days later, a Sunday, the day chosen for their marvellous take-off, war was on, the Great War, 2nd August, 1914." -- Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars, pp. 181-182.

Blaise Cendrars's book "Moravagine" has to be one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is a picaresque journey as told by a medical intern, Raymond la Science, (who is only studying medicine so he can subvert it) of the times he spent with the nefarious Moravagine. It was reissued a few months ago by the New York Review of Books as translated by Alan Brown and Introduced by Paul la Farge.

further details at:

I do hope more of Blaise Cendrars's novels will be translated into English. Although, one never needs an excuse to learn to read French!