I'm really late with this post.
Xu Xu Fang
Joshua Tree deserved the color carnage and carnival that dusted Manimal's 1st Annual Festival. I am very excited, because for the most part these bands are pretty new. The music was a beautiful contradiction, total sophistication in the wake of the new primitive.
Gangi with T.Oliver (of Electrc Tickle Machine)
"The dreams of the old wake up the new,*" and it is like this for these bands. Though there are clearly many applications of new techs in the development of these sounds, they are definitely conjuring elements of ages past and cultures estranged. Still, you can't call it contrived--or fakey--(maybe nostalgic and maybe derivative, but there is nothing wrong with any of that). There is a real calling to recycle aged devices in the contemporary, in keeping with efforts to restore our wayward race to simpler and more primal ways, to bring us back to the reality that resources are precious and human activity is of sacred importance worthy of ritual and reward. And you feel it when you listen to Rainbow Arabia's vocals high pitched against tribal ground beats (think rainjungle birdcaller). You feel like all you need to survive in this world is a flint stone and a pocket full of instincts. And you also feel like there is not enough room in the all the deserts in the world for the crazy you need to dance, so that is a great force. Then there is Gangi's use of samples from the Enviormental Protection Agency in "Ground," so there is no doubt that there is an agenda in place under what is still, on the surface, a really pleasurable listening experience.
As I've passed along all the fantastic bands I was exposed to in Joshua Tree this summer to my east coast friends, the resounding feedback is "this is dark." And yeah, of course the new primitive is dark, because it looks back on everything that has been, a vantage the old primitive was unburdened by.
We Are the World
blackblack, photo courtesy Jim Martin
Another point of rejoice is how fucking visual these bands are. Rainbow Arabia packs a killer stage set complete with elephant and tiger cardboard cutouts that have been painted with literal arabic-influenced florescent rainbow dots. We Are the World won't give you the option of not partaking in their wild visual multimedia program; they are costumed and masked and choreographed and fierce in their M.J-thriller-era performance stylings. Gangi let me go insane to make their stage backdrop, and blackblack had some crazy homemade stage garb that I'm still trying to figure out. These are not musicians in a unilateral sense, they are showmen in a multi-lateral, totally prismatic way.
Hecuba Newspaper designed by OSK featuring photos by Lauren Dukoff.
I love the feminism touted by Isabelle of Hecuba. She demands so much of language, and commands a right to implement silence, "I like to keep it simple, says what i means without too many turns...I don't waste words...I say yes like Yoko Ono / I say no whenever I wanna" (Hey Sir) and it is right on the same level as Geneva Jacuzzi's simple, "Don't like to talk too much**,". Really a reclaiming of the feminine stereotype that all we broads want to do is talk and talk and talk. Maybe not. Maybe its not so important to tell you what we're thinking at all. Where have the feminists chanting the virtues of a command on silence been all this while?
Manimal Vinyl [Official Site][Myspace]
Manimal Festival [Lucyburrows.com]
Download "Waiting on the Line" by Gangi
*Olivia Tremor Control in 'Dusk at Cubist Castle'
** In Bubonic Plague's 'Dracula'
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I'm really late with this post.