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.


Balloon hair

Astral Swans - "You Carry A Sickness". A song of original sin or plain human frailty; the clunk and bloom of everyday activity, of strain and flop, with an organ the same blue-flame shade as on the Doors' "Break On Through". For the purposes of this song, Astral Swans might be God, might be Buddha or Vishnu. Might be a liar with a poet's notebook, or a preacher with a xanax, or just a church worker who's been up for six days, his four-month-old shrieking. This is a good song with a dozen uses, a hundred origin-stories. Use it like plaster of paris: build a cast, a sidewalk slab, a little doorway cherub. [out tomorrow / on tour]

Big Nuz - "Incwadi Yothando". Last night we saw the Northern Lights in Montreal, we think we did, this shifting grass-green smear across the bottom of the sky. Nothing was special about that night. Nothing was begun or fulfilled. But when we saw that blurring light it was hard not to feel that something special had taken place. There is a power to a glow, to an aura - in a way it is more powerful than a bright light. A bright light, a shine - it has a clear source, it is a source. The aurora's source is hidden. Maybe it can't ever be known. And so let me tell you of "Incwadi Yothando", from South Africa, a song that's handsome and gracious, with an organ not unlike "You Carry A Sickness"'. But what is splendid here is the glow of the rotating house beat, synth and bass-drum, marimba and whistle; when I listen in headphones it is a blur that shifts across the room, across my heart, full of unclear promises. [website / I recently wrote about this song and its video for Beatclash; see more of my reviews at that site.]


As I've said before and will keep saying, I wrote a novel. It's called Us Conductors and it concerns the story of Lev Sergeyvich Termen, inventor of the theremin. It will be published in Canada on April 8, in the United States in June. You can find out more about it, or pre-order the book, at my writlerly website. That site also has two streaming playlists of music inspiring the book, from Clara Rockmore to Tom Hecker, from Low to Artie Shaw.

Anyway I am mentioning all this again now because some of my reading dates are beginning to be announced. So far - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo. Many more to come. (And you can find all on my website.)

I wanted to mention two events in particular:

  • In Toronto, besides appearances at the Spur Festival, I'm part of a dual book launch on Tuesday April 8 - celebrating with my friend Carl Wilson, who is publishing an expanded edition of his extraordinary 33 1/3 book about Céline Dion. Joining us for the launch will be thereminist Jeff Bird, the band Snowblink, Said the Gramophone's very own rap-battling Dan Beirne, and more surprises. This will take place at the Monarch Tavern, with help from Type Books and Broken Pencil - more details on Facebook.
  • My hometown Montreal launch takes place at the Cardinal Tea House on April 24. I couldn't be more thrilled for the damn thing - apart from a reading and signing there are going to be short musical performances by thereminists Aleks Schurmer and John Tielli, joined by members of Silverkeys, Suuns, Miracle Fortress, Gambletron and more. Presented with Pop Montreal and Librairie Drawn & Quarterly - again, details at Facebook.
  • Hopefully see you there, or in America this summer.

    (photo source)

    Posted by Sean at March 24, 2014 1:11 PM

    Incwadi yothando means love letter in isiZulu. Really enjoying the mix of slow synth and kwaito. Thanks!

    Posted by Chris at March 25, 2014 1:32 AM

    I'm really curious about the novel, I'll definitely order a copy.

    Posted by Michiel at March 25, 2014 3:33 AM

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    about the authors
    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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