Sunday, February 17, 2008

And no, I'm not getting paid to do this.

Since we agreed, originally, to branch out into freaky music and movies as well as books, I thought I might as well get the ball rolling a bit, eh? Also I'm really excited to get you Freakybloggers into this band, which is why I'm taking the luxury of posting twice this month, instead of once, which is what I usually do for the sake of politeness.
I have already raved about these guys on my other blog ,so you might wanna check that post out first for more info on the band. Basically Sigur ros are an Icelandic quartet, a bunch of four skinny white dudes with impossible sounding names who one day decided that they would much prefer to hole up in a studio and make strange, wonderful sounds together rather than go to school, which is what they should have been doing.

They recorded their first album way back in the mid to late nineties, making a deal with the studio owners to paint the outside of the building in exchange for permission to use the equipment. For their second album, the members of Sigur ros glued and put together the CD casings on their own, resulting in most of the CDs being useless because of glue deposits on them.
But what makes them freaky, you ask?
They're freaky in a good way. The lead singer's voice is so high-pitched, ethereal and spine-tingling , that you would be graciously forgiven for thinking the voice came from a woman's throat, or the throat of someting that wasn't even human. They sing in a language that doesn't exist. Even their own countrypeople don't understand them, most of the time. According to keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, the lyrics aren't important to them. They aren't interested in tagging each of their songs with a message or a story. They would, in fact, much prefer the listener to interpret and understand and "feel" the sounds in whatever way they feel.
And what a sound that is. In various reviews, the music of Sigur ros has been described as everything from "irrelevantly pretentious" to "the sound of God weeping tears of gold from heaven" .
They have been tagged with almost every musical genre imaginable ;post-rock, progressive rock, avantgarde, new-age, world music; when in reality the sheer size and scope and depth of their sound defies any attempt to categorize them. They are an acquired taste, like blue cheese or raisins (for me, anyway).
I raved about them constantly to one of my friends and whined about how difficult it was to find their stuff. But Annmarie came through spectacularly, and dropped by at my crib with a copy of Sigur ros' 2005 release, Takk...
I now take this opportunity to thank Annmarie, very publicly, on Blogger.

Takk is easily the band's most musically accessible record. Most of the songs remain under 10 minutes long (which is unusual for Sigur ros, but we don't mind) and have a definite structure. They tend to start out slow and soft and tinkly before exploding in a magnificent wall of sound that is predictable but still wondrous. Despite their huge, ethereal, apocalyptic soundscape, the songs aren't about God and Heaven and Hell and Judgement or angels and monsters, but simply about walking in the rain, or admiring the sunrise, or jumping in puddles, or holding hands with someone special, or smelling grass.
At some point, words fail to describe or do justice, when it comes to this band. In the same way that they defy being pigeonholed into a specific genre, they also defy the limitations of language to fully grasp what they have done to music as we know it.

Glosoli (from the album Takk.., also probably my favourite music video of all time).


Sigur ros live in Philadelphia (you gotta watch this, I'm telling you)

The trailer for their new (gorgeous) tour film, Heima.

Buy their albums here.
Stream their stuff here.
Download (free and legal, don't worry.) mp3s here.
Visit their official site.
Check out their MySpace.
Read other (better) reviews here.
Have a look at their Youtube channel.

The official site of their new tour film, Heima.

I think I've pretty much covered everything. Please please please do give them a try, in the spirit of Freakishness! And let me know what you think, regardless of whether you like them or not.

(International Mastermind also recommends!)

edit :International Mastermind, who is something like our Boss here (except that we don't get paid) is adamant that I add more freaky details about Sigur ros. But I'm a wee bit lazy to do that. Soo...if you are interested in learning more freakish trivia on this wonderful wonderful band please head on over to my humble blog and stuff yourselves with all manner of weird and wonderful gifts, talents, behavioural problems and disabilities that make this band true Freaks in their own freakish right! And if you still aren't even a little bit interested in trying their music out, well then I really cannot help you there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

American Gods

If Stephen King is the King Of Blatant Shameless Freakishness, then Neil Gaiman is the Emperor of Subtle Fine Freakishness.

Neil Gaiman doesn't do sharp teeth or gooey ickiness or wet warm blood. He does it in a way that's so subtle and refined and quiet that you forget it's supposed to be freaky. And then you remember. And then you get a wee bit scared.
Take this excerpt for example.

"The telephone in Shadow's apartment was still silent and dead. He thought about getting it connected, but could think of no-one he wanted to call. Late one night he picked it up and listened, and was convinced that he could hear a wind blowing and a distant conversation between a group of people talking in voices too low to properly make out. He said, 'Hello?' and 'Who's there?' but there was no reply, only a sudden silence and then the faraway sound of laughter, so faint he was not certain he was not imagining it."

Shadow, in question, is a convict. Days before his release from prison, he is told that his wife has died in a mysterious car crash. Numb with grief and confusion, he gets on a plane home, where he meets the enigmatic and decidedly odd Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a former god. Shadow, having nothing else left to live for,agrees to work for Mr Wednesday. So they embark on a strange journey across the United States, from New York to Las Vegas, from South Dakota to San Francsico, while a so-called "storm" breaks out, and a war of supernatural and divine proportions is poised to break out.
Shadow meets multititudes of the most remarkable people, all at one time who were gods, brought over from their native lands in the minds and hearts of the people who migrated to the New World.
While Shadow himself struggles with his true identity, and that of the "gods" around him, and his dead wife's corpse who keeps returning to him.
It may not sound like much, but the fact that I am blogging about this book before I have even finished it (just 200 pages to go!) gives you an idea of how good it is.
A great deal of research is necessary in reading American Gods. Neil Giaman features gods, deities and mythological figures from practically every known civilization; Norse, Native American, Bavarian, African, Asian, Arabic, Egyptian. Hindu gods, Chinese gods,Greek gods, Roman gods, even Jesus Christ is given a mention. The process of finding out the stories and details behind the myths and legends, and drawing parallels and lines and connections to the story, are just as fascinating as the book itself.
However if you are familiar with Norse and Scandinavian mythology, to a certain degree, the plot will be quite obvious to you. But Neil Giaman is a fabulous enough author to not let your knowledge of what should happen next spoil the read.
In any case, Bloody Awful Poetry highly recommends.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Edge by...Michael Cadnum

Ugh. This is definitely freakish. In the BAD way.

It starts out with Zachary, a high-school dropout living in a bad area. The first chapter is a blur-a brawl of crazed, drunken teens, that ends up blood spattered cloud of tear gas. Zachary finds himself stowing away a hard, steel gun.
Suddenly his life is falling apart, his father is in the hospital with a bullet in his spine, his girlfriend's mother is a bit too friendly with him, and all he has to hold on to is the revolver.
No one knows who shot his father.

It sounds much more exciting than it really is. The plot could have been great, but the author writes it in such a depressing way. I know that it is meant to have tear-jerking parts, but we are seeing this through Zachary's eyes. And Zachary sounds like he's on heavy meds.

Alas, as an avid reader I am compelled to read the rest of the book, even though it sucks. Oh well.

UPDATE: This is the first book that I have officially abandoned. Of course, I abandoned it to read three fantastic books that I have, stacked up and waiting for me. Midnighters 2: touching darkness, Midnighters 3: (forgot the name), and Specials. Got to love Westerfeld!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Review of the whole midnighers trilogy in progress and coming ASAP! (which might be a while but still...