Said the Gramophone - image by Matthew Feyld
by Sean

Bruce Conner, Sound of Two Hand Angel

Jessie Ware - "You & I (Forever)". One of the common tricks to pop songwriting is to write verses with specific, sited details, and then, in the chorus, to go big and universal. With "You & I (Forever)", Ware deploys an inverse strategy: the chorus contains the song's only specific reference, a line about going to tea. It's a subtle move but something in it, what she says and how it lands - it gets me verklemmt. I am, like most living humans, a sucker for the happy-sad; and although I'm skeptical toward this song's hamfisted interpolation of The xx, I love the shearing lap of the production, the buried drone, and that plaintive loon-call of a sample. Mostly I love that line, about tea, what she says and how it lands. I'm listening to a pleasant, melancholy pop song and then she sings she Only wanted tea with you, and I find myself in particular memories, or imagined memories, a hapless heart in a certain place & time. [from Tough Love - buy]

Jessie Ware - "12". You can dial back a song: you can dial back a song to make it less of a song, a sketch not a drawing. "12" is full of line and colour, crosshatching, but it is sparer than most of what Ware's now up to. It is a place where the sun is slowly rising, slow as ever, half-formed shapes slowly lit up and warmed. ["12" is a Tough Love B-side.]

(image is Bruce Conner's "Sound of Two Hand Angel", from 1974)

by Sean

Caribou - "Silver". The silken reset was invented by a hacker in Yemen. The date isn't clear. One month the resets were as they had always been: crisp, jarring; the next month, some of them were silken. A silken reset on your favourite website, a silken reset on your nearest traffic light. Soon, joked the TV presenters, a silken reset on your life.. It was fall, and it was easy to imagine that this could soon be true. Everything crisply divided might soon be softly changing. One thing might become another thing without a tremor or a snap. We walked around our neighbourhoods slipping hands into pockets, hands into pockets, imagining that our futures could be reset, silkenly, with just as little force. [buy Caribou's sumptuous Our Love]

(image source)

by Dan

Today there is great news: Sean's book Us Conductors made the Giller Prize shortlist. But I don't want to say anymore, besides that I am so unstoppably happy for him I can't keep from grinning, proud, amazed, but also: "of course!"


So today I will post a couple of things I've been working on because life is short and I hope you like them.

FIRST is a proof-of-concept video as part of CBC ComedyCoup, a television "accelerator" (read: contest) towards a single winner of a $500K half-hour prime-time pilot. Our show is called One Night Only. Your views and faves and follows and ratings and shares are all the gold coins we need to collect. If you like it, pass it on.

SECOND is a music video I helped out on. Yes! There is still music today! The marvelous new band Brave Shores teamed up with some of my closest friends Tony Ho to make a lovely little celebratory romp (not without its darkness of course) that I think you will also like.

by Sean
Anatomy Lesson, by Patrick Henne

James Irwin - "Face Value". When yr heart's so crowded; crowded with reflections and every reflection still separate, distinct. Minutes in an hour, faces in a crowd, motives like fish in deep currents. Whenever I am standing,, you think, standing at the bar, I am teetering. A tower on the verge of falling, all its rooms filled with scholars. A woman puts on a record, a shiny black piece of vinyl; you listen to it, teetering. Whole schools in yr heart, a hundred mirrors. The guide of a rhythm: a beat you can dance to, for a sec, making yr teetering seem graceful. A drumroll that tumbles like a falling moon. Guitars that ring like starlight. Synths all blurring, rain poured onto everything. And a voice, thank god for that voice, a guide through the empty night. Someone to murmur, like an arm around your chest, I am not becoming you / I am not becoming me. [website / soundcloud / previously / James Irwin is currently unsigned]

Luke James - "Love XYZ". A few minutes of arthouse R&B. akin to Miguel, Frank Ocean or Jessie Ware, but "Love XYZ" leans in instead of back - it's seduction as forward press, as push and push, skin on skin all asking. James craves his lover, goes to them, pleads. And yet he is undesperate. Ardour is around them like incense smoke. In the sonics of the song: distant schoolyard voices, hidden strings, dancing motorik. The hunger is layered overtop these subtleties - a chorus of calling; a voice that lands on its edge; rebounding beats that come & come & come again, undeterrable. You rarely hear a love-song that feels like a soft touch and also like a hard one. Here is one. [buy

(image is Patrick Henne's painting, "The Anatomy Lesson.")

by Sean
100% Polyester

Sharon Van Etten - "Our Love". I have probably listened to this song 75 times. You can consider me an expert. So after you have listened once, twice, 70 times, what I am going to suggest is that you listen to the moment just after 2:24, when this pretty song sounds an awkward, human beat. The overblown tom drum, or whatever it is, feels less like a beat than like an utterance - a confession from the rhythm section, a plea, a belch, something messily & bodily, less considered than the rest of the song. Less finely wrought. In such a pretty track, the human part is crucial:the sigh of a bending guitar string; the fading strain of Van Etten's voice. The suggestion that "Our Love" isn't just the recollection of feeling but a feeling itself. That it isn't theatre: it's a moment in time, remembered.

(photo via Alexis O'Hara)

by Dan

There's a song I left amidst the papers on your desk. I wiped the phone receiver clean, but could do nothing about the coffee ring. The window was open a crack, was that on purpose? I closed it. I hope it doesn't get too stuffy in there. That whole place seems to be tweed fabric stretched over metal. It's hard to remember when it rains, that it's not raining everywhere. That somewhere it's very nice. There's a film playing in my head when I close my eyes. It's of a rabbit being peeled like a banana. It's hard to remember when there's music playing that somewhere there is silence. I left a song amidst the papers, you'll find it if you look. It's long but you can read it if you like.

by Sean
Patrick Fitzgerald's flowers

Grass Widow - "Time Could Bend". "There are six ways to sing," the teacher told her. And so for the next two years, she learned the six ways: highsinging, lowsinging, clearvoice, falsetto, nightingale, hog. Every week, she studied the six forms; with lectures, in workshops, at home with a textbook and a tape-recorder. Her notes were smudged phrases, blotted treble-clefs. Her meals were composed of simple, separate elements: starches, proteins, fibre. Sometimes, for dessert, she would prepare a perfectly-layered yoghurt parfait. The woman dreamed of voices - separate voices, harmonizing voices, overlapping voices. She dreamed of clearvoice that was lowsinging, falsetto gone hog. She imagined her teacher looking through a telescope, staring at the moon. "Sing like a moonbeam," he said, "a moonbeam through a lens." [buy

(photo source)