Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh, I had better get brownie points for having read Judith Butler and Monique Wittig.

On my own, no less, because we all know how easy it is to find classes on queer theory up and running in Memphis. Even if I haven’t quite yet made it around to Foucault.

Okay, moving on to the point of the this post. I noticed while having another revision session with my paper that WordPerfect 10 doesn’t recognize “deconstructed,” “gendering,” or “anathemizes.” Or rather it didn’t. I added them to the dictionary, of course. Silly WordPerfect!

On to finding a new title since I can no longer use “Origen and the Angry Inch.” *sniff* I’m currently meditating on the merits of “Breaking Both the Vessels: Narrating the GenderQueer Kingdom of God.” Not as much fun, but I dig the Bible verse twisting.

Teehee. As I told a friend the other day “I have losted my mind.” Oh, yeah, RSL – must do RSL things. But having made it through the oral presentation for the nationalism in Eastern Europe class, I deserved a trip to go play with the ascetics.

Yes, I play with ascetics. They have a great sense of humor. ;D

Monday, December 10, 2007

Notes on Russian Rock

So I recently managed to massively expand my Russian music collection. (Still am failing to find Provoda’s album. Maybe I should try rereading the news section of their website with my improved reading comprehension. But I’m pretty sure it was released. And, yes, I’m too scared to just ask some dude in a music store. Okay, and I don’t know if liking Provoda – which is certainly pushing the beautiful emo boy stereotype – means that I have lost my hard rock cred, but that probably went out the window when I decided I loved Depeche Mode, anyway.)

A general note – the rolled “r” works incredibly well in rock and roll.

So, here’s the preliminary run-down.

Akvarium: F’ing amazing! Happy folk rock. Paul Simon is a fairly apt comparison but I do believe that Boris Grebenshikov, the lead singer, for Akvarium has a much better voice than Paul Simon ever did.

And I just saw a poster for a concert in Petersburg before I leave. If I can get someone to go with me, I might just shell out what I’m sure will be a decent amount of money to go.

Kino: Definently likable. I don’t dig Victor Tsoy’s voice nearly as much Grebenshikov’s. But the eighties stuff I’m listening to at the moment has some nice synthetizer action (and I have a thing for synthetizer and electric organs). Moving on later Kino . . . late eighties as Tsoy died in 1990. Ooo...nice guitar – country/western sound, but paired with a heavy rock and roll drum. One of the things I like about Russian rock is that they seem to feel freer to cross genre boundaries, than American rock bands do. (Probably not a Russian thing, Russia just happens to be the only foreign music I’ve really had a reason to look into.)

So, I’m not feeling the immediate blown-away love Akvarium inspired, but Kino has (well, had) a lot working in their favor.

Mumii Troll’: I took a walk today so as to not acquire cabin fever, and decided to check out a CD to give my walk a purpose. Picked up a 2 CD greatest hits number, because the guy who wrote Lonely Plant mentioned this as a good band. Musically, I like it. It’s not the type of music I love, but not bad. Again, the voice is slightly grating, but something I probably just need a bit of adjustment to. I will listen with more care later – bit overwhelmed with music at the moment.

Unfortunately, one of the photos in the album art is the lead singer holding a chihuahua. I now find it impossible to fully respect anyone who owns a chihuahua. Or well, to look at a chihuahua without thinking violent thoughts.

Nautilus Pompilius: Hardly a new find for me, but it fits the topic. This is the first Russian band I heard (T.A.T.U.’s brief foray into the US does not count), while watching Brat (Brother) and falling in love with Sergei Bodrov Jr. Then I promptly got on the internet, found out that Bodrov had died in an avalanche was briefly sad, and then went to find out what group was responsible for the amazing soundtrack of that movie and secure a CD in my grubby little, trembling music junkie hands.
I bought Kryl’ya, a later album of Nautilus’s, because that’s the one mentioned in the film, and I had nowhere else to start. This album isn’t particularly hard, but you can’t quite call it soft rock. It opens with violins, a synthetizer droning in the background. And then, enter Vyacheslav’s ---- strong vocals, and then a beat of a single kettle drum. Ah. Lovely. And that’s just the beginning of the album. Nautilus uses a lot of elements from jazz, it has the effect of making their songs incredibly catchy.

Second CD I purchased was the earlier Chelovek Bez Imeni, which is a harder, darker album – which, I might add, ended up being played on repeat at Burger King several nights in a row during my tenure, because my co-workers liked it – that on the whole, I think is stronger than Kryl’ya. The first track has resulted in me wandering about singing that I’ll never again trust women’s eyes, while describing a rather impossible scenario. (I can’t knock up a girl I don’t love.) The second track starts slow and then becomes a becomes a driving ballad with great drums. The highlight, however, is track five – Kras’naya List’ya. Many different tempos, different moods – it alternates between recalling a industrial scene, a circus, has a great jazzy interlude that I swear is the metro, and then the end just fades into longing. All in all, a gloriously haunting piece of hard rock.

DDT: Another vocalist that takes a little getting used – and unfortunately, the vocal type I associate with chansons, which I don’t care for in the least. But instrumentally, another amazing group. Catchy goodness.

So, in conclusion, Russian Rock – particularly that from the eighties and nineties – lots of good stuff to be had here. (I suspect that has something to do with all of the above bands starting out as very underground, but were hugely popular by the fall of USSR. So they weren’t produced by a music industry, and when the fledgling music industry picked them up, it didn’t have creative rules and boxes like the US industry.) The closest thing I’ve heard in mainstream US music is – surprise, surprise – Gogol Bordello. And they mostly share an infectious exuberance and the ability to blend genres to great effect. Gogol Bordello, however, is a New York band, and there’s a certain difference that I can’t quite describe, since I don’t read enough music reviews to know how to write them.

Chansons, on the other hand . . . let’s go with a no. I think I might have to go pick up a Delfin album; the idea of Russian rap amuses me. (And he actually seems rather talented, from what I’ve listened to on the internet.)

And, being that I am indeed a music junkie, leave suggestions (for whatever – however, I have a distaste for country – blame going up within the Nashville sphere of influence) should you feel so inclined. I’ll be needing another fix sooner or later.