Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cool, trippy sh*t: Dave Matthews and King Crimson

I've been cleaning out the email of a certain member of the band I work for and his friends have sent him some really, really awesome video and articles, so of course I get distracted while I'm working. I wanted to share a couple of these with you.

This one is called "Eh Hee" and comes from Dave Matthews back in 2006. The story is that he was inspired by a Khoisan riff he heard in Southern Africa by the San people (Botswana, South African & Namibia). He recorded this song and made this video, but didn't really publicize it and now it's just floating around the internet.

He seems to be channeling Peter Gabriel's wonderfully weird theatrics with make-up and what looks like fake blood. I love the choreography: mostly very slow movements, but sped up so that when the dancers do move more quickly, it looks really jerky. I also like the affect of the dancers moving around in white powder, creating all sorts of bizarreness.

This next one is called "Elephant Talk" by King Crimson, in a live performance back in 1981. Now, I've never really been a Crimson fan, not because I don't like them, but because I just never got into them. Now might be the time. This is just, really, really rad.

My friend from growing up, Will Hattman from the Portland bands Jana Osta and At Dusk has much love for this video and calls it a "space-alien novelty... it's one of my favorite TV performances of any song ever. I've watched this dozens of times and never get sick of it." So I'll let him tell you why he loves it (the following came from an email):

1) Tony Levin's queasy opening trill on the then-virtually-unheard-of Chapman Stick, sounding like an electric snake with a bad sense of humor. (Jamie says: excellent description!)

2) The syncopation game that drummer Bill Bruford and second guitarist Adrian Belew play throughout by punching the unlikeliest of beats—a sixteenth-note before 2—corrupting at regular intervals what would otherwise be a comfortable, even seductive, funk groove.

3) Belew's manic, deranged lead guitar work, dealing in above-the-nut chimes, seasick whammying, and deliciously apropos animal noises (I'm sure you'll hear the elephants in there), and culminating in a solo of jaw-dropping imaginativeness. (This clip's is even better than the album's!)

4) Belew's vocals, a bit of alliterative, metalinguistic slam poetry that from a lesser performer would come off irritatingly mannered, but which Belew somehow makes genuinely funny, and which becomes more endearing as it goes on.

These ingredients are all pathbreaking, and all in ways that poke out and draw attention. They're proudly odd, built on harsh, unfamiliar sonorities and disarming rhythms, and any one of them alone would make an otherwise ordinary song stick in the mind. It takes the most confident of players to throw them all into one song and make something not merely listenable, but beautiful. The passing of three decades has done virtually nothing to soften the stubborn weirdness of this song. I'm still waiting for the pop world to catch up to it.

Thanks Will!

Hope you enjoyed these cool, trippy videos.

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