beta finally feels feels for real
@ Webster Hall
Sunday, November 20
Finally able to get a few words in edge-wise regarding Feels, under the clever title I done conjured up, "Through the Grass Darkly." Few pieces mentioned the female presence on the album, which I may have been a bit too explicit in naming. Ran out of room to tie the epigraph from the Graves book back into the record itself, so perhaps that is just implicit. It's cheating somewhat, as Avey Tare and I had discussed the book some months prior to the album's release. It was by mere happenstance that I stumbled upon a copy of The White Goddess myself some few weeks back, and have been dipping into it ever so slowly, like some sort of chilly moonbath, the kind described by Anais Nin in Spy in the House of Love. Was this what they were up to, conjuring the beloved through the slow ripples of sound and their poesy?
Live, I am always astounded by three things: how the crowds grow at each return to a New York stage, how much more gear they have each time, and how strange the band is. They are always ahead of the album released, and tonight was no different. Many new songs were between the familiar tones and jangles of songs from Feels and Sung Tongs (and at least three songs that mention getting nekkid), and whoever might have been there for the hits had to wiggle and squirm through large swaths of the show that featured no guitar whatsoever, just layers of embryonic voices and ebbing tides of noise. Word is that the group is moving away from using the guitar at all, and watching how both Avey Tare and Deakin approach that thing, you can sense that technique is secondary to the generating of energy on the open strings. The next album may be more like the back half of Feels, meaning voice and piano, drifting further from the entrapping isles of both 'rock' and 'free-folk.'
Not from the show, but from the live disc accompanying the first 1000 copies of it:
"Loch Raven (Live)"
Konono No. 1
Thursday, November 17
While Animal Collective always overwhelms the senses with the unexpected, the trance-inducing, this stateside show by Congo collective Konono No.1 was underwhelming, to say the least. Anyone who has become enamored with Konono's backstory (a good review here) of amplification via car batteries and percussion made from jeep parts, their voices broadcast by loudspeaker would've surely expected something far more hypnotic, distorted, and LOUD for the live experience. Expecting a pineal-pummeling of likembe trepanning into my skull, I instead got something far more pedestrian and politely-mixed. There was a slight trance element to the three half-hour songs that comprised the main set, but it was at such a low volume that it never once threatened to overwhelm the senses or make me forget the uptight bald guy who insisted on putting his forearm into my low back when I got within a foot of his 'space.' You know it's a bad sign when the NPR sector turns out (not to mention dudes from Pavement, Boredoms, Oneida, and Christian Marclay's djTrio in the crowd), but much as it is in their native country, their own people care little for the music they conjure.
My initial flush at seeing the show not abated, here is a link to a Moistworks post I did about mbira/likembe. Ears may connect the sounds of the Ituri pygmies and Francis Bebey back to the Animal Collective, something I wouldn't discourage. An early working title for Feels was African Speaker, a reference back to the raw, mesmerising sound of that Congotronics record.