Archives for posts with tag: poetry

Ela Orleans 2016 “You Go Through Me” is the second track on Ela Orleans‘ new album “Circles of Upper and Lower Hell” – a 73 minute album loosely based on Dante’s Inferno but infused with deep personal experience.

It’s the perfect song to introduce an immersive concept album from the Glasgow-based electronic sound art composer and performer. Dark as the subject matter is, there is something sublime and surreal in hearing the voices of The Pastels’ Stephen and Katrina joining with Ela to sing lines like “abandon all hope, you who enter here.”  

That mix of breathtaking moments of beauty with soul-crushing darkness is the heart of a sometimes confronting, but rewarding album. Having now repeatedly abandoned hope upon entry to this album, hope is the one quality most restored by completion of this epic journey.

By unwelcome coincidence of recent events in the UK, the album’s hell-on-earth theme represents a perfectly dark melancholia for the times.

In Dante’s Inferno hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth; it is the “realm…of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen” according to American poet John Ciardi. Well, that pretty much sums up the current neo-liberal political and economic agenda, as well as post-‘BREXIT’/ ‘post-factual’ division in the no longer quite so United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, doesn’t it?

Unlike Ela’s previous (and excellent) album “Tumult in Clouds”  which often re-assembled and re-shaped samples into new music, “Circles of Upper and Lower Hell” is built upon the performance of synths drums, percussion and voices mostly, merging synth-pop, electronica, and experimental ambient sound art into an ambitious masterpiece.

There’s a lot to take in, and it’s an album that needs repeated headphone listens with concentrated effort.  The instrumentals have film soundtrack quality. Some are quiet, minimal and eery, suggesting ‘incidental music’ soundscapes, infused with a rumbling dread behind the beauty. Others are more grand adventures in sound textures and atmosphere.

The album may be ghostly, creepy, and claustrophobic at times, but ultimately the uplifting beauty of the melodies and Ela’s voice (singing and spoken/ whispered word) which accompany the listener throughout this turbulent journey inspire hope of redemption.

Sam Hunt at Chicks

For the 9th day of May – NZ Music Month – I can’t let the opportunity to recommend “The 9th” by Sam Hunt with David Kilgour And The Heavy Eights go by. Sadly there is no Bandcamp* our Soundcloud music to embed so you will have to track it down old school style (in a record shop) as it is released on David’s own Bandit King Records (though you can find it on iTunes here).

[UPDATE 22 May: *It’s up on David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights bandcamp now! Here’s the opening track “Rainbows (and a Promise of Snow)”]

Anyone who witnessed the show they played at Chick’s Hotel last year, immediately following the recording of the album in that Port Chalmers pub, will not be surprised to hear there is magic captured within this album.

The combination of Sam Hunt’s words and voice and the musical alchemy of David Kilgour and The Heavy Eights is something special indeed. Even more so than their first collaboration – “Falling Debris” – released in 2009 which was Sam’s words (without his voice) set to music.

Sam was the first poet I ever heard perform. I was still at school. It was in a museum art gallery and Sam was a mess of hair, untucked farm clothes and floppy woollen socks. He was – and still is – unique. That braying sing-song voice, impertinent banter, and his ability to communicate through poetry in the primordial, pre-cultural gloom of New Zealand at that time, was inspirational. He was like a musician, but all he played was words and ideas. But he played them like a rock and roll musician plays an instrument. He was the Iggy Pop of poetry to me. He broke poetry out of a class room struggle and gave it relevance in the real world.

Not long after that I came across another local rock and roll poet, Dunedin’s Peter Olds. At that time he was writing wild tales of drugs, cars, gangs, rock music and existential angst. In photos he looked like Gene Clark from The Byrds. I never saw Peter Olds read his poetry, so I read his words silently in my head in Sam’s voice. I still do today. Sam’s voice can turn any words into the music of poetry.

“The 9th” gives David Kilgour (The Clean) and band freedom to explore free of song structure, although some songs do have a chorus of sorts. The atmosphere of the music is a perfect combination for the words and voice. It’s more than just background. In so many places it merges with the words, like reading off a patterned page.

I’m only just beginning to get involved in the album. I have the feeling it will be a favourite for a long time. The music and words here often evokes NZ and memory in a similar way to great Australian songwriter Grant McLennan in The Go-Betweens. It will be great on repeat on long road trips, the words setting of images, thoughts, memories to keep the mind alert.

So here’s to “The 9th”. You should try and find it. In the meantime I recommend you familiarise yourself with Sam and the album through this great interview with Sam on Mysterion Art Factory.

You can also hear some of the album in this Radio NZ review:

ie crazy mosaic

I.E. Crazy is the most recent transformation of Dear Time’s Waste‘s Claire Duncan. Anyone who’s followed this blog for a while will know Dear Time’s Waste is a longtime PopLib favourite. It all started back in 2009 with the brilliant “Room For Rent” EP and continued through two superb albums, “SPELLS” in 2010 and “Some Kind of Eden” in 2012.

I.E. Crazy continues where Claire left off with Dear Time’s Waste. Thanks to Wellington’s Papaiti Records you can download an artist-authorised ‘bootleg’ of 4 live recordings of an I.E. Crazy show at Auckland’s basement bunker venue the Wine Cellar.

All the familiar elements are there – those detailed lyrics rich with images, that voice… but these are somewhat darker and rawer, built on guitar and drum machine. Fabulous stuff. Assuming Dear Time’s Waste has been ‘retired’, a more formal release of I.E. Crazy songs would be a perfect way to continue the story of one of my favourite songwriters and performers.