Euphonious Fridays (Saturday Edition) – Unfinished Sympathy


Robert Del Naja (3D) and Grant Marshall (Daddy G), with Horace Andy in the background

Yeah, so it’s Saturday now.  Uploading large videos in Iqaluit isn’t exactly how I wanted to spend two hours of my life due to errors, but c’est la vie.

In honour of it being just over a year since I first saw the band that inspired the name of my blog live, I decided I would feature one of my favourite songs by Bristol-based Massive Attack – “Unfinished Sympathy”.  One of the reasons I chose this over another was that I managed to snag a video of this song from the concert.  And because this song has been named one of the best songs of all time by numerous European media sources.  What’s wrong with you North America?!?

So back on May 9 of 2010, Ian and I had the very good fortune of checking out the Massive Attack tour as it passed through the Sound Academy in Toronto.  We both recall it being colder than it should have been that day.  We stood in line freezing our tushes off, listening to some dude who was parked on the cul-de-sac by the club blasting Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” and other classics.  All the while, we remarked on the varying ages of people attending the show…we thought we were gonna be the Oldie Oldersons of the bunch, but there were a couple in their 50s that were standing around us too.  Very cool.  I was overly worried that security was going to snag my camera before I got in, as there had been rumours on some message boards that the club did that – though it appeared to be on a show by show basis.  If the band didn’t care, then neither did the venue.  Thankfully that was the case, as I managed to get some amazing pictures that night – which I am obviously going to be sharing with you.  What good blog host wouldn’t??

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shara Nelson

“Unfinished Sympathy” was released waaaaay back in 1991 on the album Blue Lines.  It features singer Shara Nelson whose amazing vocals layer nicely over the strings and samples.  To hear it live was a phenomenal experience – so rarely do I see a band where the music is reproduced so accurately, so beautifully live in comparison to the recorded album.

Wow.

Shara is just one of many vocalists that have graced core members Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall and Andrew Vowles (who is no longer with the group) with their presence.  Throughout the course of their five full length albums, not including best of compilation Collected, their singles box set or the soundtrack for Danny the Dog (known as Unleashed in the US starring Jet Li), they’ve attracted a huge number of singers to sing over their tracks.  These include Horace Andy (a contributor to all of their albums), Neneh Cherry, Tricky, Tracey Thorn (of Everything But The Girl), Sarah Jay, Elizabeth Fraser (of the Cocteau Twins), Sinead O’Connor, Mos Def, Damon Albarn (of Blur), Tunde Adebimpe (of TV on the Radio), Martina Topley-Bird (who has worked extensively with Tricky), and Guy Garvey (of Elbow).  As you can see from the pictures, some of the past vocalists come back to tour with the band live.

There has been a lot of debate over the actual song lyrics and what it’s about.  From the recorded material and the live versions that I have, this is the best estimation I can make for the lyrics.  Interpret as you like.

I know that I’ve been mad in love before
And how it could be with you
Really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
How can you have a day without a night?
You’re the book that I have opened
And now I’ve got to know much more

The curiousness of your potential kiss
Has got my mind and body aching
Really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
How can you have a day without a night?
You’re the book that I have opened
And now I’ve got to know much more

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I’m missing every part

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I’m missing every part

The video for this song was one of the first to employ the use of a continuous shot.  It has been imitated quite often, including The Verve’s video for “Bittersweet Symphony”…ironic, no?
 
 
Here’s a couple more videos from the concert we attended, including the full length version of “Unfinished Sympathy”.  The audio is quite distorted since we were right in the front and it was loooooud.  You can probably even hear me screaming at points.  Yup.  That’s me.
 
 
 
This is a clip from “Karmacoma”.  I’m screaming in this one too.  😉
 

Euphonious Fridays – Midnight in a Perfect World


When someone mentions the term “disc jockey”, I’m sure that one automatically envisions the typical deejay that frequents your cousin’s wedding – or that spins Top 40 tunes at the local night club.  There are a few individuals who have ultimately changed that for me forever, so that when I hear the term, all I can think of are samples upon samples of songs, layered to produce something completely new and innovative.  One such individual is DJ Shadow.

Source: Residentadvisor.net

DJ Shadow – AKA Joshua Davis – is an American DJ, songwriter and music producer who has been in the business of recreating music from samples for over twenty years.  Back then, I had not yet been exposed to some of the new hip hop and electronic music that was starting to come out around the world.  In fact, I think I may have been of the mind that if you didn’t make the music with an actual instrument like a guitar or piano or drum set, then it couldn’t really be music.  You couldn’t just take songs that other people had created and use them like that.  Luckily, my stint at the record store opened my eyes to the world of turntablism and I eventually discovered DJ Shadow.

The talent of a DJ does not lie in the creation of music with an instrument…at least in the traditional sense.  Their talent lies in their ability to take something that has been created, turn it into something that may not be recognizable upon completion, and make it their own.  And this is something that DJ Shadow has an amazing gift for – reworking sample upon sample without the addition of any new instrumentation to tie it all together.  This not only takes creativity, but a good ear for harmony, and a memory that will allow one to know exactly what kinds of sounds they need to bring the song into existence.  Not to mention a ginormous collection of vinyl.
 
“Midnight in a Perfect World” has been and likely always will be one of my favourite sampled songs ever released.  It can be found on his debut album Endtroducing… which was released in 1996.  The song, if not the album, was ahead of its time – and I’ve read reviews where people still believe it’s the music of tomorrow in the world of sampling and turntablism.  The album itself was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 as the “First Completely Sampled Album”.  It’s power lies in its fusion of rock, soul, ambient, jazz and funk, telling a story through haunting melodies and narrative samples.
 
The song samples the following sources:
  • “Outta State” – Akinyele (hip hop)
  • “The Human Abstract” – David Axelrod (jazz, funk, experimental)
  • “Sower of Seeds” – Baraka (prog rock, jazz, funk, blues)
  • “Biography” & “Dolmen Music” – Meredith Monk (pianist, vocalist, theatre performer)
  • “Releasing Hypnotical Gases”- Organized Konfusion (alternative hip hop; includes member Pharoahe Monch)
  • “The Madness Subsides” – Pekka Pohjola (prog rock, jazz fusion)
  • “California Soul” – Marlena Shaw (jazz)
Since it’s a sampled song, there aren’t really any lyrics per se…but I did manage to track down a video.  And it’s quite innovative as well – using samples of other videos mixed with a trip to the local used record shop for some “new” old vinyl.  Check it out…
 
 

Euphonious Fridays – Underwhelmed


Jay Ferguson, Patrick Pentland, Chris Murphy & Andrew Scott (L-R); Source: Breakthruradio.com

When I was back in high school, I was struggling to find myself.  The first couple of years consisted of sending out my feelers to figure out where I fit into in regards to education, friends, society…and most importantly music.  Luckily, at the same time I was doing this, a band was forming on the east coast of Canada that would influence at least the next few years of my musical life – Sloan.

Though now Toronto based, Sloan’s humble beginnings started in 1991 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where two of the members were attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.  A year later and a band of four, they created their own record label – Murderecords – to record their debut EP Peppermint, as well as the albums of the very active Halifax music scene.  If you know anything of this scene in the early 90s (I’m looking at you Schar!), you’ll likely have heard of bands like Eric’s Trip, The Super Friendz, Hip Club Groove, Thrush Hermit, The Inbreds and The Hardship Post.  Aside from Sonic Unyon Records out of Hamilton, Ontario, Murderecords produced some of my favourite Canadian indie of the decade that encompassed my high school experience.

Over the band’s twenty year career, Sloan has released twelve albums (including a live album and a best of compilation) and two EPs.  Sloan’s sophomore full length album Twice Removed still ranks up as one of my top albums of all time.  I’m apparently in good company – it’s been highly acclaimed by many music critics and magazines.

The reason I’ve chosen to put the spotlight on Sloan this Friday stems from an event I attended a couple of weeks back.  During the Toonik Tyme Festival in Iqaluit (which I’ll be writing a post on our Nunavut blog soon), Ian and I had the good fortune of volunteering at the big band night which usually flies up a fairly well known band from the south.  This year, a band called The Reason from Hamilton, Ontario was headlining.  They performed a cover of one of my favourite Sloan songs, Underwhelmed.  It was so good that it made me reminisce on those indie rawk days of high school, and I knew I had to post about the song.  I still have yet to see Sloan live…perhaps if I manage to make it on to the Toonik Tyme committee for next year, I can work some magic to get Sloan up here to perform.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!

“Underwhelmed” is a great example of Sloan’s cheeky songwriting – full of their sugar-sweet indie pop rock lyrics – and of their harmonizing.  It can be found on their debut full length Smeared, and in a rawer form on the Peppermint EP.  I can still hear the song and this band’s influence in music by artists like Sam Roberts and Joel Plaskett (formerly of Thrush Hermit, so no surprise there).  It’s songs like this that remind me of how music is supposed to be…hope you enjoy…

She was underwhelmed, if that’s a word
I know it’s not ’cause I looked it up
That’s one of those skills
That I learned in my school

She was overwhelmed
And I’m sure of that one
Cuz I learned it back in grade school
When I was young

She said “You is funny”, I said “You are funny”
She said “Thank you” and I said “Never mind”
She rolled her eyes
Her beautiful eyes

The point is not the grammar
It’s the feeling
That is certainly in my heart
But not in hers

But not in hers
But not in hers
But not in hers
But not in hers

We were talking about people that eat meat
I felt like an ass ’cause I was one
She said “It’s okay”
But I felt like I just ate my young

She is obviously a person with a cause
I told her that I don’t smoke or drink
She told me to loosen up
On the way to the L.C.

She skips her classes and gets good grades
I go to my courses rain or shine
She’s passing her classes
While I attend mine

While I attend mine
While I attend mine
While I attend mine
While I attend

She wrote out a story about her life
I think it included something about me
I’m not sure of that but I’m sure of one thing
Her spelling’s atrocious

She told me to read between the lines
And tell her exactly what I got out of it
I told her affection had two F’s
Especially when you’re dealing with me

I usually notice all the little things
One time I was proud of it, she says it’s annoying
She cursed me up and down
And rolled her R’s, her beautiful R’s

She says I’m caught up in triviality
All I really wanna know is what she thinks of me
I think my love for her makes me miss the point

I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point

I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
Hey mister

Trying to find the video for this song was nearly impossible.  In fact, it’s almost turned this post into Soundful Saturdays or something.  I’ve managed to find a live version of this song from what has to be Sloan’s first live television performance.  It’s so close to the beginning of their career that Patrick even forgets some of the lyrics.  Love it!

Euphonious Fridays – Górecki


Source: LifeMusicMedia.com

From the mid to late 90s, I worked at a record tape CD store called Sunrise Records.  Sadly, I think a lot of the locations are starting to close down.  Funny how music stores never really figured out on how to capitalize on this whole digital music thing using location-based selling.  Sucks, because I’m definitely one of those “hold it in your hands” kind of people.  You know, the ones who read actual books still, purchase real DVDs, and still have a large CD collection.  So it’s a shame really – it makes me sad to think that I never would have been introduced to such a wide variety of music had I not worked at Sunrise.

Around the same time as I worked at the record store, I started to open my ears to a lot of the new electronic music that was coming out.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the more commercial dance music that played at clubs on weekends, but some of the stuff I discovered made it a little more mainstream than I expected.  One of the types of electronic music that I became pretty fond of was drum and bass.  I fell in love with the sounds that musicians such as Goldie, Photek and Roni Size were putting out.  But to this day, one of my favourite drum and bass artists is Lamb.

I first discovered Lamb in 1997 on a compilation CD that MuchMusic released (back when they were still actually playing music videos for more than 50% of their broadcast day).  Before the crap that they play today, MuchMusic had such shows as The Wedge, City Limits, and one entitled rU receiving that featured established and up & coming electronic artists from around the world.  A CD was released featuring some of the more frequently requested videos from the show, including Lamb’s “Górecki”.  The song had only been released earlier that year on Lamb’s self-titled debut album.

The group features singer-songwriter Lou Rhodes and producer Andy Barlow, both of Manchester, England.  After three albums, a slew of singles and a greatest hits compilation, the group decided to disband.  Good news for me, however, as they announced at the end of 2010 that they would be reforming to release a new album in May of this year.  Needless to say, I’m excited for their return.

“Górecki” has been featured in several films, including the use of its lyrics in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, which of course is a favourite of mine considering Ewan McGregor stars in it.  Singing no less.  The song uses a sample of the second movement of Polish composer Henryk Górecki’s Third Symphony.  While the group’s other work is much more drum and bass-focused than this song is, it is easily their most popular.  Its haunting lyrics float over a backdrop of beautiful string and key melodies, and atmospheric percussion.  Enjoy!

If I should die this very moment, I wouldn’t fear
For I’ve never known completeness like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you
Still my heart this moment, oh, it might burst

Could we stay right here til the end of time
Til the earth stops turning
Wanna love you til the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for

All this time I’ve loved you and never known your face
All this time I’ve missed you and searched this human race
Here is true peace, here my heart knows calm
Safe in your soul, bathed in your sighs

Wanna stay right here til the end of time
Til the earth stops turning
Gonna love you til the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
The one I’ve waited for

All I’ve known, all I’ve done
All I’ve felt was leading to this
All I’ve known, All I’ve done
All I’ve felt was leading to this

Wanna stay right here til the end of time
Til the earth stops turning
Gonna love you til the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
The one I’ve waited for

Wanna stay right here til the end of time
Til the earth stops turning
Gonna love you til the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
The one I’ve waited for

The one I’ve waited for

The video is an edited version of the song, so I encourage you to seek out the full version if you like what you hear.

Euphonious Fridays – Cosmic Love


Taking a cue from my blend over at Thypolar’s Life Uncensored, I have decided that Fridays shall from here on out be devoted to music.  I figure that if the both of us (among others) play along at this, the world will have its musical quotas filled weekly.  Good plan, J?  I plan on taking you all on a musical journey with me.  Follow along as I discover new music and reintroduce myself to the old.

I have only sadly been introduced to this first band recently, and though they haven’t been around for a terribly long time, I’m sure that my aversion to the radio has prevented me from discovering a wonderful artist much earlier than I could have.

Source: Stylebistro.com

Florence and the Machine is the name of a group of British musicians led by the ethereal Florence Welch.  I was first introduced to the name by a friend who mentioned she enjoyed the music.  Then I heard that they had contributed a song to the soundtrack of the latest Dragon Age game (of which I will be reviewing in a future post, I’m sure).  When I heard the song at the completion of the game, I was hooked and needed to hear more.  The same friend who introduced the idea of the band passed over their first album, Lungs, and that was pretty much it.  I fell in love with it!

Some of the musicians in the band have been making beautiful music together unofficially for many years, but released their first album in 2009.  Since then, F+TM have been steadily growing in popularity; their songs appearing in movie and game soundtracks; and being nominated for numerous awards worldwide.  Musically eclectic, Welch’s vocals are some of the most powerful I’ve heard in years – particularly since most vocalists tend to rely so much on editing and synths to modify their voices to unnatural sounds.  Welch’s vocals remind me at times of Janis Joplin, Fiona Apple with a little bit of Elizabeth Fraser thrown in for good measure.  Absolutely stunning…

“Cosmic Love” was released as a single in July 2010.  It strikes me as hugely ambitious and is easily one of my favourite tracks on the album.  Welch has said that many of her lyrics are about boys and love, and this one obviously follows suit.  Heartbreak and angst…my two favourite things to sing along with…enjoy!

A falling star fell from your heart
And landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them
And now, it’s left me blind

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown up
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat
I tried to find the sound
But then it stopped and I was in the darkness
So darkness I became

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown up
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

I took the stars from my eyes and then I made a map
And knew that somehow I could find my way back
Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown up
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

I’m not one for videos, but this one definitely reeks of pretty…