Monthly Archives: February 2013

Yoko Kanno Week #7

Welcome all to our final E. Leventine feature entry on composer and performer Yoko Kanno. If you are just joining us now, here are the first six parts so you can catch up:
#1 (Intro)
#2 (Jazz and Blues)
#3 (Classical)
#4 (Rock and Metal)
#5 (Electronic and Ambient)
#6 (Pop Music and Ballads)

In this last post, we’re going to try and wrangle up the stragglers. The pieces that didn’t really fit into the previous categories, but deserve to be heard. You’re going to hear lots of foreign influence in this category, and a touch of hip-hop. I guess you could call this section Kanno’s Oddities.

I mentioned before how much I love the GITS :SAC OST be Human. It is just full of these ridiculous surprises. I’m like, “What’s this now? A bossa nova track? Sure, let me have it.” And it turns out to be such a ridiculous track that I’m like “Oh, Kanno. What is this? I love you”. It’s like they told the vocalists “ham it up! ham it up like you’re in a detergent commercial from the 50s!” and on top of that, it honestly sounds like it was written on one of these:
casioDespite how poorly I just hyped the song, Bang Bang Banquet is legit super cool. She made it work.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Comples (be Human)- Bang Bang Banquet

Really not sure how to academically describe this song. I’m hearing latin guitar technique, gaelic influences, and a touch of something middle-eastern. 2nd life is from the Earth Girl Arjuna sountrack I discovered while researching Kanno for these posts. Keep an ear out for the barely-audible whispers of the background vocalists. It sounds like a countdown.
Earth Girl Arjuna: Into Another World- 2nd Life

I love it when you hear the first twenty seconds of a song and still have no idea of where its going, what it will sound like in another twenty seconds. Cream starts off with some borderline discordant digital echo. The percussion quickly joins in, awkwardly hollow and metallic  and I’m wondering how I’m going to make sense of this messy track.  Before I can finish my thought, the strings make their grand entrance,  then it’s suddenly a rap, then the drums are genius I get it now. I love this track, you guys. Rap and male vocals by Hideyuki Takahashi from Project.R.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complez (be Human)- Cream

I thought it would be fitting that our last track be from Cowboy Bebop, as the series is what began my awareness of Yoko Kanno as an artist. Yo Pumpkin Head is from the Cowboy Bebop Movie soundtrack. You know when a song stops being a song and becomes instead the musical manifestation of something tangible? This song, to me, is the musical manifestation of Mardi Gras.
Cowboy Bebop Movie OST (Knockin On Heaven’s Door/Future Blues)- Yo Pumpkin Head

That’s it for our Yoko Kanno feature. If you ever hear a fantastic Kanno track and think of us, drop by and post it in the comments.  I’m feeling a little poignant, now that I’m finished. I’ll leave you with some of her lyrics.

Everything is clearer now
Life is just a dream, you know,
That’s never ending
I’m ascending”

Yoko Kanno- Blue

-Pont

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Three Word Phrase- Chaud

Three Word Phrase

Ryan Pequin, you are a goldmine and a national treasure, sir. Holla to all my French Canadian bitches! Who else is excited about McDonald’s free coffee week? I AM. I seriously score like five free coffees a day when they pull these stunts. Because I am TROUBLE and I will
NOT BE PART OF YOUR BUREAUCRACY, MAN.

-Pont

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Baby Cadel

Baby Cadel

BMCMB has this habit of drawing people when she’s out in broad daylight. She then attaches these creepy one-liners to them and calls it a day. She calls it whimsy, I call it a red flag.

-Pont

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Yoko Kanno Week #6

This officially marks the penultimate post in our Yoko Kanno musician profile. Bear with me, because this is going to be the least impartial Kanno post so far (in terms of being objective and showing you a wide representation of Kanno’s pop work). Today we will be covering her work in pop music and ballads. And by ‘covering’ her pop music, I mean ‘ignoring all of her work with pop idols except for Maaya Sakamoto because I like Maaya Sakamoto the best’. So if you want a full list of her work with japanese idols, free of my Sakamoto-bias, see this list.

Okay lets start this off heavy. Blue is a track from Cowboy Bebop. Once more defying traditional genre tropes, this song could have been included in either the atmospheric or classical categories I covered earlier. I felt it belonged most of all with the ballads, due to its outstanding gradual crescendo, husky female vocals (Mai Yamane) and Queen-esque hyper emotional breakdown.  Pairing that with the ethereal chanting of the two soprano vocalists strikes a devastating blow to my not-crying-while-watching-Cowboy-Bebop gland. The soprano vocalists are Soichiro Otsuka and Gabriela Robin (I see you there, Yoko)
Cowboy Bebop OST III (Blue)- Blue

Yoko Kanno is a talented musical imitationist (as most good musicians are). I am hard pressed to find a genre she has not mastered like a native (yodeling perhaps?). Sometimes her inspirations are so specific, they are immediately recognizable. Despite this, she avoids the trappings of being a straight up plagiarist by incorporating something uniquely her. Park Amsterdam is a good example of this. So, have you ever wanted to hear what the Beatles would have sounded like if they had been an adorable young Japanese pop idol? We’ve got that. It starts at 0:40.
Maaya Sakamoto: Shounen Alice- Park Amsterdam

This next Kanno/Sakamoto track is not my usual style, but there is just something so earnest and energetically hopeful about it. It melts my cynicism every time. I picked a live version, partly so you can see Sakamoto in person and read the translated lyrics, but also so that you, too can experience the joy of watching a full grow woman wearing converse sneakers and a paper-mache tutu held up by suspenders sing her heart out and somehow not come out of it looking like an absolute idiot. How is it done? Don’t ask me. It didn’t turn out the same when I did it.
Maaya Sakamoto: Shounen Alice- Hikari Are (Let There Be Light)

This next one is from the Escaflowne Movie. It’s a great example of the trademark ‘made-up-Kanno-language’. It is listed as ‘Old Fanelian‘ which is a reference to the series and movie itself. It is supposedly a hybrid made up of Germanic, Latin, French and Japanese.  Strong vocal performance on this one by Shanti Snyder.
Tenkuu no Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaia OST-  Sora

Aw hell, you guys, this one is just so much fun. Skip to 1:38 for the COOLEST PIANO BREAKDOWN POP MUSIC HAS EVER SEE N***
Maaya Sakamoto: Lucy- Honey Bunny

***song is not officially recognized as having said coolest breakdown in pop.

Stay tuned for our final Kanno installment. Things are going to get weird.

-Pont

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Amazing Lee Possibles- Demolish Us Vol.3

Here we go, boys and girls! As Boo-Boo mentioned in our last post (featuring cover art), collective member Stuart Driedger (with eraticon studios) is undertaking a multimedia release. This will include an album with now-defunct band The Amazing Lee Possibles and an accompanying comic.

Enjoy, and keep an eye out for Santa and The Enchanted Delorean, the previously mentioned comic to be posted on E. Leventine and comicfury.com.

-Pont

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Santa and the Enchanted Delorean (Cover Art 1)

santa finished2

Finally got the cover art done for the last Amazing Lee Possibles demo, Santa and the Enchanted Delorean (Demolish Us 3).
Super heroes from the future with a great band. Correction. Dead band. The band leader wants Ursa to assist him with unfinished albums and art. Bizarre but whatever.
Stuart Driedger is an artist and mostly a musician from BC. Ursa Urn will be releasing some of his works and our graphic collaborations here on E Leventine for your viewing pleasure. Amazing Lee Possibles is kind of a punk rock thing. There’s some jazz elements and odd time signatures in the collection. Stuart assures me his next release (full length live album of the band’s first performance) will be much worse than these demos but far more entertaining. Is that good marketing? …? …it’s a paycheck.

He said for this cover he really wanted to have it look like the Santa and the Delorean he sent me appears to be coming out from or causing  the big bang. Band logo and “Santa” font supplied by Stuart Driedger. Back to the Future font by Cyril Bourreau jacked and utilized from dafont.com.

Whatever, he’s stoked, i’m stoked. We are on fire now.

In the mean time, stay tuned for the official comic book release.

ursa urn

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Yoko Kanno Week #5

Here comes portion five of our Yoko Kanno feature artist week (the loosest definition of a week here applies). Today we’ll be looking at some electronic and ambient pieces. I mentioned in the previous entry how Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex planted the seed of what today has become my propensity towards electronica, ambience, trip-hop whatever you want to call it. Consequently, you’ll be seeing a couple tracks from GITS, but you can frequently find little electro-oddities on her other OST works as well.

Here’s some in Cowboy Bebop! Now, like many Kanno pieces, this track is hard to place in terms of genre (it sounds like a music box. Music box is not a genre). I may be stretching the term ‘ambient’ here, but it’s all in the details to me. The huge echo applied, for instance, the hesitancy of the rhythm, and the general sensation of weightlessness and vastness. That last point is especially relevant in a series about bounty hunters in space.
Cowboy Bebop OST III (Blue)- Stella by Moore

Earth Girl Arjuna (or Earth Maiden Arjuna, depending on how you wanna be about it) is a good example of the Magical Girl  anime archetype, and a good example of something I would have never discovered had I not done this Yoko Kanno feature week. I had never heard any of the music she wrote for this series, and likely never would have due to my general distaste for Magical Girl and Harem anime series (Sailor Moon and Ranma 1/2 notwithstanding) I may have to watch Arjuna, though, because I am dying to see what kind of visuals this outstanding original score was paired with. Take your time with this track, it’s a slow build, but it’s building up to something good.
Earth Girl Arjuna OST I- Time to Die

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is chock-full of these short, mechanical little songs that leave me wanting (which I love), and the album with the best collection of these pieces has got to be the fourth album, be HumanIt was supremely difficult to choose which song to include, and I encourage you to listen to the entire album, but Let’s Oil is a fair representative.
be Human- Let’s Oil

Okay, so I have this weakness for genre perversion. Gonna Rice could have very easily been included in the ‘rock’ category posted recently, but I saved it until now. I love those almost irrhythmic clicks and snaps and the gradual wax-and-wane of the distortion on the guitar. It takes an otherwise average grunge-rock sound and makes it something really nicely distracting to listen to.
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex OST II- Gonna Rice

Before you listen to this last track (from Bebop again), I want you to think of the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t stop, even though you were going to get in trouble if you didn’t. You know, one of those hysterical laughs where the longer you laugh, the funnier it is; the funnier it is, the harder you laugh until it devolves into pure, uncontrollably manic joy. Are you there? Are you remembering the last time? This is the song that was playing when it happened.
Cowboy Bebop OST II (No Disc)- Cat on Mars

(Bonus note: it is especially pleasing to me to see how poorly the exaggeratedly happy music matches the cover art displayed during the video. “OH GOD” she sobs “This is tragic, I am so depressed!” Meanwhile, the music: “Ba ba baaa! Ba ba baaa! Neko mitai ni!”)

-Pont

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Dear Rhea Smith, darling

you know you look like your mother.

we know you hate that cuz she fucked you over.
somehow he left and you got stuck with her.
wow
that’s why you’re impossible to handle.
so you get out there and get a nice image,
and get a nice job
but you’re paying to look good just to still get nowhere in wealth.

you can’t buy that shit,
but you can let him buy you a drink.

he’s switching careers right now,
but the money is good
and he’s wanting to have the kids and the mortgage, don’t worry, i get it.
this might be your golden ticket.
you’re looking good, y’no
yr teeth are white
big blonde eyes, whitened smile,
but there’s a “howr u wndrng f thrs a grl n thside?” creepin up yr backbone
oooo yeah
and you play like you’re strange.
how long do expect him to hold out
you know, HE DOES WANT TO FUCK YOU, YOU KNOW?!
of course you do,
you’re practically a grown lady,
27 rr wtvr

so he sees how you act with [your old lady]
and of course you get to straight hating the bitch,
never for any reason.
funny cuz
EVERY TIME
you meet a man
you try to remind yourself not to act like yourself today.

it’s like you fucking farted.
and girls don’t fart.

he might not even mind so much
but then you
YOU
blow it out of purportion.
YOU.
constantly i’m sorries,
“blah blah blah, i’m” sorries.
sorry about your mom
sorry about the interaction.
yr not sorry for yr life already,
are you?
really?

and no matter how long you push it
you somehow end up alone.
i gotta admit you have dated some pieces of shit though.

and as for looking like your mother (who i know you fake hate)
its not so much in the pieces but the bigger picture if you know what i mean.

your pal
ursa urn

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Meme Monday: Weegee

weegeeexploitable

Weegee

Oh, Weegee. You were my first true meme love. Originating on /v/, Weegee’s blank, vacant stare has been there, ready to make things awkward since 2007.  The iconically and unintentionally terrifying Weegee sprite was first used in Mario is Missinga reportedly terrible game that starred Luigi as the protagonist for the first time.

weegee actual screencap

“Mario is Missing” actual screencap

With the advent of the internet, this nearly forgotten Luigi incarnation was given new life by user MonkeyInCloset and has been applied liberally wherever awkwardness and general unease is called for. Despite his popularity on 4chan and in Youtube Poops, Weegee is an aquired taste IRL. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends sit and stare mildly at a Weegee image thread while I laugh so hard I end up making multiple trips for fresh panties.

Early use of Weegee

Asian_chicks_hate_Weegee

Weegee robin ood

Weegeetitanic

weegee board

Following an official endorsement by 4chan founder Moot and the widespread use of Weegee on /b/ and other 4chan boards, the meme is now considered by internet elitists (ahem… anonymous et al) to be dead. Weegee’s spirit lives on, however, in the hearts and minds of those who just… can’t… look away…

Allow me to play you out with some videos.

-Pont

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Disney Morning (upcoming series: Colorful Blasé)

disney mornin complete copy

This is a preview of The Colorful Blasé, a “mostly autobiographical” comic series upcoming from BMCMB. It will be hosted at comicfury.com, along with other comics from members of the E. Leventine collective. Light a fire under your ass, B, we need more of this. Our other cartoonist is even lazier than you are.

-Pont

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