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Totoro's rants

Eels at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen

Music Posted on Sat, March 01, 2008 00:46:17

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The picture is from one minute before the ‘movie’ begins, the BBC documentary ‘Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives’.

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Introspective is the first word that pops up in my mind after the concert.

About 15 minutes before the ‘official’ start of the concert an hour long BBC documentary Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives is shown. The documentary is about E’s journey to learn more (or actually to get to know something about) his father Mark Everett the ‘inventor’ of the Many Worlds theory – an opposing theory (partly) to the Copenhagen theorem proposed by among others Niels Bohr. After a disastreous journey to Copenhagen in 1959 , where his father, in youthful ignorance and arrogance, expected the world (and Niels Bohr) to fall over and support his theory, but was basically ignored. The result of this is his leaving the science world and entering the world of military science and later establishing a private enterprise. A few years before his death (of a heart attack at the age of 51, probably due to too much drinking and smoking (E should take a hint, although he did NOT smoke during the concert or drink for that matter)) he was started to getting acknowledgement as both Science Fiction writers and Hollywood jumped on his theory, also it was the age of the stoned physicists – which also helped. One of the last scenes in the documentary shows E listening to some of his fathers old tapes where he (and we) can hear E (at a tender age) drumming madly away on his drums in the background. If one arrived late and did not see this documentary one lost a bit of the concert as this was a part of the whole experience.

The opening and closing (excluding the obligatory extra numbers) of the concert, with a god-like (or farther-like) voice ‘introducing’ and ‘ending’ the concert, had the air of a conceptual concert.

E (or Mark Oliver Everett) had only brought The Chet, so during the
concert, except for as far as I remember 2 numbers where E performed
alone, they were only 2 musicians on stage. E doing vocals, guitars,
piano and drums, and The Chet doing guitars, a saw, vocals and drums. In contrast to his last concert in Vega (Store Vega) in 2005 where he had the standard rock setup and had also included 2 string musicians. ‘The Chet’, also performed at that concert although he was only known as Chet then.

With only 2 musicians on stage the focus on the lyrics of the songs became so much stronger. The music was, obviously, more minimalistic versions of his songs, not that they neccessarily were so much different as Eels songs in general are relatively minimalistic.

The climax of the concert was, in my opinion, the song Flyswatter, where E started on piano, The Chet on drums. At some point E walks over and without missing a beat replaced The Chet on drums (who then walked over and continued on piano), thereby linking to the end of the documentary (and E really played like an angry young boy with some serious issues, as quoted by my accomplice in attending the concert).

All in all it was a very different concert from the previous in 2005, but in some ways much better as it was a much more personal work by the Eels. But to be honest one probably had to be a fan to appreciate this concert, it was not one for the casual listener and the casual music journalist. If you were interesteed or are already into Es at times introspective musical universe where he is dealing with rather personal issues then this was a concert for you. On the other hand, if you are just a casual hit listener then hopefully you skipped on the concert or maybe you were that single clueless guy who was yelling ‘music’ several times during the concert (initially I thought it was part of the ‘show’, but I don’t think so in retrospect).

Having bought all Eels albums since and including Beautiful Freak (not the Live album yet though) I still consider Beautiful Freak and Daisies of the Galaxy the highlights. Is E a nice guy? Well, I don’t know and frankly I don’t care. He is obviously fairly intelligent and has a self ironic and sometimes sarcastic distancing defence, and he could for all I know be a truely great a**hole. But it does not matter, as long as he can create his musically interesting albums and do a concert in my neighbourhood once in a while, at the level of this one and the one in 2005, I will buy the music and I will go to his concerts.


Music Posted on Sun, December 30, 2007 02:05:36

In the 70’s I listened to, among others, Gentle Giant, Gong, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Well if those groups were making music today, they might be sounding a bit like Koenjihyakkei. A group described as doing avantgarde progressive symphonic fusion chorus rock, in the style ‘introduced’ by the French group Magma as Zeuhl.

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Click on the image to go to a YouTube video from 2003, where they perform Gassttrumm.

Koenjihyakkei is a Japanese band, but there is nothing in particular Japanese about their music, the style Zeuhl seems to describe it very well as they have more of a ‘French’ sound.

For me they are interesting as a trip down memory lane.

Ai Yamamoto

Music Posted on Sat, December 29, 2007 01:26:14

Occasionally one falls upon something interesting by chance browsing on news sites (Japanese). Usually this is not about music though, but in this case it was a Japanese composer of what could be called electronica, Ai Yamamoto. Somewhat more easier listening to than some of Brian Eno’s more obscure works (e.g. Thursday Afternoon). With her quite entertaining (in my opinion) videos, which she started making so that the audience would have something to look on, other than her, during concerts, there is both audio and visual entertainment in one.

The following video (which includes an interview of Ai Yamamoto) features abstract (so it says) electronic melodies and digital animation. By the way I suspect the way her name is written is a westernisation of her Japanese name, Yamamoto being a common family name and Ai a common first name.

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Click on the above image from Ai Yamamoto’s video to get to the YouTube video page.

Other than that I have only found her MySpace page here, where it possible to listen to a couple of her compositions.

Ai Yamamoto has made a couple of records, but I have not managed to find out where one can buy any of them, yet.


Music Posted on Wed, August 22, 2007 01:12:28

One of my favorite japanese rock bands (at the moment) is chatmonchy. They have
a very unique sound that reminds me of a mix of Go-go’s, Raincoats and Elastica (all from way back in the 80s). Also the lead singer Hashimoto Eriko has a very distinctive voice that sounds (when she goes real high) a bit like chalk being
scratched on a blackboard – slightly painful, but also a bit addictive. It of course helps that they are an all-woman band, and that they are somewhat cute…

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A couple of YouTube links to give a flavour of them: A japanese show where they just talk called Chat Food. This is probably some sort of competition about food,
including an Eriko with a severely bad hairday – in my humble opinion. A live performance of Renai Spirits which is very close to the single, especially on the vocal side. Lately they have moved more towards J-Pop and being less rock-like with their latest single, Tobiuo no Butterfly, which does not bode well for the futuresmiley

The sound quality on these videos is pretty bad (understatement of the century) but it will give an impression of their music.

The MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3) encoding especially does not treat the singers voice kindly, and their songs should really be not be listened to being maltreated to sound like coming from a 50s transistor radio. Buy the CD.