filibuster necromancy
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Happy Canada Day, to those of you over there. (And my woo-hoo congratulations huzzah [to Spain as well!] on the passing of the gay marriage legislation.)

I wrote about Canada Day in a blog entry two years ago. I talk about fireworks, melancholy, and riding on the bus. I still quite like it, and since (probably) none of you were reading back then, you might like to take a look.

I don't have much Canadiana to share with you right now that I haven't already, but I'm absolutely delighted to bring you this.

I was mint-green with envy, reading Carl's review of Final Fantasy's gig in Toronto earlier this week. New songs in a perfect setting, string quartet at the rear. Has A Good Home remains my favourite release of the year so far, but I'm more excited still for what Owen has in store for us later this year.

It was a great pleasure, therefore, to find at the Final Fantasy LiveJournal community that someone had made an unexpectedly exceptional recording of the event. And it was available to download.

So here is a song from Final Fantasy's performance at the Music Gallery in Toronto on June 25.

Final Fantasy - "If I Were A Carp [live]". Somewhere between Caetano Veloso and Shostakovich's 8th String Quartet (yeah, the one about the bombing of Dresden). It's a song thick with dread, utterly compelling, but also a rising dark shape that you daren't look in the eye. The orchestration is frankly remarkable; there's the burnished main theme, those slow sea-strokes, but then you'll hear a shimmering, a sigh, and a lighter motif... But it's an uncanny breeze, a Wrong Wind, and suddenly there's the blackness yawning before you, unshakably so.

In this terrifying section, amid the screaming damning truths, it's hard to make out the lyrics. So I'll share with you what Owen told me about this song, writing a couple of months ago.

"If I Were A Carp" is about necromancy. It's the saddest song I've ever written, there's no humour in it like Les Mouches stuff. It's about a dead man coming back to tell the living: "Death fooled you! No black robes! No scythe! No skeleton! No throne of bone! Nothing! It's all nothing!"
This will stay with you.

[buy Has A Good Home and stuff. "If I Were a Carp" should (?) be on his next LP, He Poos Clouds.]


And because I don't feel right leaving you both in this place, here are two fantastic, beautiful, wonderful songs about girls. They might look like opposites, but they're not. (And if you want, they can also be songs about boys.)

R. Kelly - "Kickin' It With Your Girlfriend". TP-3: Reloaded is a marvel of smooth, round sounds, of heat and melodies and finger-snaps, so masterfully composed that its complexities are essentially invisible. I'm beginning to understand why some people scoff at the Postal Service, say, when used for purposes of seduction. "Such Great Heights" is nice enough - but gosh, isn't this a more true statement of love? Or at least of like-very-much? I don't deny Ben Gibbard's feelings, but the clarity of Kelly's rhetoric seems much more difficult to doubt. His feelings are so sweetly, so gently, so totally confessed that I can't, I cannot disagree with him. Sung like this, so slow-and-easy, his logic seems so sensible. "I did not ask for this / it just happened outta nowhere since the day we kissed." So now he's "kickin' it with your girlfriend". It was meant to be. "I never meant to hurt you / but girl I LOVE HER." (And it doesn't hurt that there's a closet reference.)

[preorder at Amazon]


Damien Jurado - "Apart". I don't recommend listening to this when you're on your own walking through a park on a bright greenyellow leafypicnic summer day. Because it's one of those lovesongs so simple and sappy and magnificent that it can also be real hounddog sad. This is just a man and his guitar, but when Jurado sings with his river-run voice a statement that you believe, a truth that you feel, it's so purely powerful that it may just take your breath away. So plain, so fair, so lovely. The sweetest Rothko painting ever sung.

(from the tour-only Walk Along the Fence LP)


Tonight I saw Antony and the Johnsons at the Liquid Room here in Edinburgh. It was an excellent show. And not excellent because I like Antony and so all he does must be gold - no, because he performed beautifully, because he gave us more than he had to, but most of all because he surprised me. His voice is far more lovely than even his recordings suggest; it's so supple, lifting with every palpitation of his heart, but in person it's also plummy, soft, very easy to listen to. Furthermore, whereas on record he's a rather ferocious performer, (melo)dramatic and forceful, every song very boldly sung, tonight Antony's power was much more restrained. It was an immanent presence there on stage, with vastnesses and fastnesses of feeling that didn't impose themselves on you if you didn't choose to reach out and take them. It helped that his band (cello, violin, accordion, bass and wonderful classical guitar) were superb. Better live than on CD, I think, and definitely worth seeing if you can.


Please consider commenting on today's post. I'd really like it if you did.

Posted by Sean at July 1, 2005 4:35 AM

I'm going to be in Ottawa for Canada day this year (because I'm going there for my cousin's wedding). And I was reading here 2 years ago. And First Post!

Posted by dustin at July 1, 2005 5:07 AM

But why are you awake!?

Posted by Sean at July 1, 2005 5:16 AM

Your descriptions make me want to hear the music, especially the Carp song but I don't know how it works. I get a mac page and nothing happens. Sorry but there is no knowledge in my brain to decode. Happy Canada Day

Posted by Annette at July 1, 2005 8:51 AM

That's very strange, Annette... the links work fine for me... Can anyone confirm?

Posted by Sean at July 1, 2005 9:08 AM

I've been reading for a while. Keep up the great work.

Posted by m at July 1, 2005 10:40 AM


the links are working for me

Posted by m at July 1, 2005 10:41 AM

That R. Kelly thread you linked to is inexplicably hilarious. I will profess that I had no idea he released the album in "chapters"???

Posted by Alia at July 1, 2005 12:01 PM

Happy Canada Day! I agree with your comment that, "Has A Good Home remains my favourite release of the year so far". Great site.

Posted by Jere at July 1, 2005 1:46 PM

Great post, three tracks that are quite diverse in style, yet all carry a sort of melancholy air and fit nicely together. Well-done.

Posted by Cameron at July 1, 2005 2:01 PM

I have no comment on Canada Day, as I am bitter about living in George Bush's America. Thanks for the Damien Jurado song, though.

Posted by john at July 1, 2005 4:26 PM

That's funny, I didn't know that today is Canada Day. Funny because I wished someone a Happy First of July and claimed it was Doggie Independence Day (for no other reason than I have two cute doggies). Happy Canada Day and a good post (as usual) to boot!

Posted by Anonymous at July 1, 2005 6:04 PM

I posted that comment just above and meant to add that I didn't know it's Canada Day because I'm American. But that's probably obvious now.

Posted by jennifer at July 1, 2005 6:07 PM

I will be watching the fireworks a couple of hours from now with my girlfriend. Local stuff, suburbs, fifteen-year-olds on bikes, and drunk friends by the lake (not too drunk). We probably won't talk about the R Kelly song, but it's a good song (by which I mean enjoyably terrible). Happy Canada Day, Sean.

Posted by JSS at July 1, 2005 10:20 PM

I really love Damien Jurado; thanks for the mp3. I'll even give R. Kelly a chance because you linked to it.

I've been hearing about this "Do You Know It's Halloween" single that's supposed to be released. Do you know where it can be ordered from?

Posted by ceruleanlobster at July 2, 2005 10:55 AM

"Somewhere between Caetano Veloso and Shostakovich's 8th String Quartet"-- I'm still chuckling and yes, you nailed it!

Posted by moominpappa at July 2, 2005 1:18 PM

*meaningless "I'm here and I am reading" comment*

Posted by s at July 2, 2005 11:01 PM

Thanks for directing to the Final Fantasy show! I was there, and really wanted to hear the new stuff again. As much as I adore Has a Good Home, the new tracks - minus the first couple he played - didn't do much for me. Revisiting is required I'd say. Still: superb show.

Posted by Paul at July 3, 2005 10:08 AM

Adore your posts. Am checking out Final Fantasy as we speak - you haven't steered me wrong in a recommendation yet! Question - assuming that you're in Edinburgh for the fringe festival, have you thought about maybe doing a blog post of what you've seen? I'd love recommendations for when I'm up there... It's the tiny productions that you discover that are always the best.

Posted by James at July 3, 2005 10:44 AM

Thanks to all those who have said hello! :)

ceruleanlobster - Final details of the Halloween thing haven't been announced yet (including how to order).

James - I might. My film and theatre writing isn't as strong as my music writing, so I try to keep the blog free from it. It may depend how much I get to see at the Fringe, as recent developments here make it rather less likely I'll get press credentials, and things aren't wildly cheap. I suppose we'll simply have to see!

Posted by Sean at July 3, 2005 11:41 AM

i'm officially in love with you for posting and writing about the final fantasy track.

Posted by iliana at July 3, 2005 12:08 PM

thank goodness for you canadians, else i would have nothing to read today

Posted by elliott at July 4, 2005 10:17 AM

Maybe, then, just a list of recommendations, assuming that you have any? There just too much for me to see and too little time...

Posted by James at July 4, 2005 2:29 PM

oh dear, the damien jurado song has conquered me. utterly. thank you!

Posted by Ing at July 4, 2005 8:45 PM

The new R. Kelly album is fantastic, it's worth checking out. Where the Trapped in the Closet series may have the same beat for 15 minutes, and half-assed writing, it still grooves and is a blast to listen to. Plus the R singing reggaeton? Priceless.

Posted by eric at July 5, 2005 5:04 AM

i got the very fucking last ticket to that final fantasy show. a lot of people hate me for that. listening to that recording almost made me feel like i was there again.

every single song gave me chills.
i heard it will be broadcast on cbc radio soon.
he also sang a cover of jann arden's "good mother" which was ridiculously awesome and hilarious.

Posted by julia at July 7, 2005 11:16 PM

Funny that even as he's been facing all sorts of personal trouble, R. Kelly has become probably the best commercial R&B artist out there. He's certainly cranking out better material than Alicia Keys (and she's good) and definitely far ahead of the Ciaras of the world.

Posted by Mack Simmons at July 10, 2005 1:52 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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