Songs for Desert Refugees/The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia
You Think Marcus Garvey Prophesied This?
Songs for Desert Refugees (Glitterhouse)
All proceeds from this charity comp go to two NGOs serving a war zone created in part by the Tuaregs whose music it puts to use‑-music more humane by definition than Tuareg nationalism, but just as fierce in its cultural pride. Since that music can seem as unvaried as one of the desert vistas the Tuaregs see in a detail we can't, the multi-artist format provides easeful marginal differentiation rather than jarring stylistic disparity. As with 2005's Rough Guide to the Sahara, the 12 tracks, most previously unreleased and all postdating that prophetic piece of genre-making, progress like a single expression toward the showy new jack guitars of Tadalat and Bombino and the overdue female voices of Toumast and Tamikrest. A MINUS
The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia (World Music Network)
The latest of the label's unlabeled updates/Second Editions/Volume 2s of national overviews they did well by the first time (catalogue number: 1286CD) favors 21st-century material whether it's quinquagenarian Dutch punks inviting a septuagenarian saxophonist up from Addis or Tirudel Zenebe's abrasive Ethiopian disco. On some of the 13 tracks, the beats and tonalities first documented by the completist overkill of Buda Musique's Selassie-era Éthiopiques collections are infused with a funkier feel, but the old-school stuff also sounds pretty fresh‑-my favorite is a contemplative workout on a buzzing lyre called the begena by Zerfu Demissie, one of many artists here better served as a taste on a sampler than an album-length meal. Which in turn is provided by Anglo-Ethiopian Invisible System's bonus disc, a best-of that often surpasses their track on the overview. Start with "Gondar Sub," or "Dark Entries." A MINUS
The idea that aesthetics are morally separate from politics or content is not what I meant, and I can only blame writing quickly at work at lunch for not being more exacting in what I wrote. This also goes for the quote of mine that solidstatendc uses, which I meant to indicate that others were treating Shoah as if it were beyond reproach, even they would state otherwise.
I’m reminded that many found Christgau’s review of I Am a Bird Now to be odious as well. Both Christgau and Kael are arguing for art that is more “complex” (whatever that may be) and that uses means that will reach them. Many found the line “his failure to undercut that emotion with irony or humor is a spiritual weakness” to actually be indicative of Christgau’s weakness. I find both Christgau’s and Kael’s viewpoints to be morally defensible and close to mine for both works, so I suppose I give them more leeway than people who don’t have that reaction.
Their work together would certainly indicate that. The damned mess of life.
Handsome Family and Al Green? On back to back nights? MBN. :)
"I'm not sure what in the review could be viewed as odious, except for what she states at the beginning, that "Shoah" was/is beyond reproach because of its subject matter."
Richard, that's the opposite of what Kael wrote, which is: "Probably everyone will agree that the subject of a movie should NOT place it beyond criticism." (My emphasis.) William Shawn insisted that she write the opening paragraph that sentence kicks off, after she defied his wishes not to run the review at all. Kael was famously indifferent to received opinion, and offense at her use of "sniff" (which I'm surprised the gentlemanly Shawn didn't catch) ignores this much more central fact. Like her or not, she was absolutley true to whats he experienced at a movie.
On this high freaking holy day, I wanna testify that for we children of assimilated Jewish fathers it's *all* projection all the time...
Absolutely. But what is everyone counterposing "aesthetics" against? I imagine it's something like "politics" or merely "content." But are aesthetic responses not political? Aren't form and content one? Are purely aesthetic responses (if they even exist) immune to the charge of being odious?
Kael's turned off by Shoah's form - its langours, its dead spaces, its attention to minutiae - but her conclusions about that form mirror the common complaint that Jews never stop moaning about the Holocaust. She's deaf to how Lanzmann's attention to minutiae moves toward an understanding of the uniqueness of the Holocaust. And she sees only a "lack of moral complexity" in not paying attention to heroic Gentiles when one of Lanzmann's main goals is to reconstruct the everyday banality of the Holocaust, to ponder how it could have happened and been sustained for so long. Focusing on the Schindlers and Sobibors (which Lanzmann tackled eventually anyway) offers nothing for achieving that goal.
It should also be noted that Marcel Ophuls called Shoah "the greatest documentary on contemporary history ever made."
A tale of two shows: my partner, our 15 year old, and I saw Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric on Saturday, the Avett Brothers on Sunday (in Somerville and Boston). The first one was a nightmare, the second one quite a gas. I can hardly even speak about the first show--I'm just such a huge fan of Amy Rigby. I'll give details if you all want. It wasn't even that there were only about 40 people in the place. It wasn't that Eric spent a bizarre amount of time playing with various pedals and switches. And it wasn't even that he bizarrely *didn't* sing the Todd Snider part on "Till the Wheels Fall Off." It was just the whole sad vibe of this couple. Maybe I'll leave it at what our 15 year old said to my partner on the walk home as the two of them tried to sort out how miserable the show made them feel: "Do you think maybe she'll divorce him and she'll live happily ever after?" One upside was that we two 48 year olds were definitely on the young side of the demographic. Avett Brothers? They can get cloying here and there, and the one Avett shouldn't just strum that banjo so much, but they were sweet and lively and a good time was had by all.
which also includes her reviews of Out of Africa and The Color Purple. It is entitled Sacred Monsters.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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