October 2010


I never would have classified myself as a fan of the spoken word genre, and to be honest am not particularly familiar with Gil Scott-Heron beyond hearing samples of some of his older work from the 70s-80s (i.e. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”), but I recently came across “Your Soul and Mine” and loved it immediately.  It’s amazingly dark, dramatic, and moving – and when it’s put into video along with “Me and the Devil”, it’s pretty mind-blowing.  One of the YouTube comments described it as “badass”, and I guess that’s as accurate of a description as you’re going to get (especially given that the average YouTube commenter has reached the educational development and maturity of an 8-year old).

Both “Me and the Devil” and “Your Soul and Mine” are off of 2010’s “I’m New Here”, his first studio album in 16 years (and only his second in the last 28).  His voice is dark, soulful, and a bit grizzled – he come across as a man of experience and wisdom, which isn’t a surprise given that he’s over 60-years old.  But what is surprising, or a least amazing, is that he manages to retain the power, tension, and emotion that made his spoken word style in the 70s and 80s such a force.

[mp3] Gil Scott-Heron – Me and the Devil
[mp3]
Gil Scott-Heron – Your Soul and Mine

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Today, for your enjoyment, a very cool video by a band that isn’t OK Go.  And for some bonus points, the song is pretty catchy, and the band (Hollerado) is from small town Ontario (Manotick to be exact).  Favourite parts are the Pong match and Space Invaders (you’ll see).

I’ve got just the thing for all you dark melodrama lovers, and it’s called Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus is the performing name of Nika Roza Danilova, who’s training as an opera singer helps make her dark, atmospheric music come alive through dynamic and powerful vocals.  “Night” is a perfect example of how this can work well – the thumping bass, reverse reverb, and haunting supporting vocals create a dark, climactic environment where the vocals can shine – or, I suppose, where they can darken.

So for those of you who are done with the lo-fi pop anthems of the summer and ready to move on to something a little more appropriate for the darkening and moody days of autumn, check out Zola Jesus.

[mp3] Zola Jesus – Night