Friday, April 11, 2014

We'll be right back after these messages.

Please take some time to look at Albrecht Dürer's "Rhinoceros." It's a woodcut the artist made in 1515. We are mildly curious about the text above the illustration, but that's a distant second to the detail of the rhino's "armor."

Look at:

Really, look at it. And know that it sold at auction in 2013 for $866,500. LOOK AT IT. You can't put a price tag on that. But someone did and now they have it, hanging somewhere, or in storage. But we can see it here, rendered in ones and zeros.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free Music: Interpretations & Trip-hop by Any Other Name

Let’s start this three-part offering of links to free music with the double-scoop ATCO: A Tribute from Xiomara, a musician from San Francisco.

Radical re-workings of rap are a dicey game, often producing novelty (which isn’t automatically bad) but usually cringe-inducing. But once in a while, the right performer picks the right material and does something genuinely interesting with a style of pop music not necessarily suited to cover treatment.

Xiomara spritzes Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” with a nearly a capella first verse to show off her Depression-era blues voice that, appropriately rides into a sort of gypsy-jazz breakdown at the end. The flipside puts a daydream drift across “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a watery, soft and positively sensual reading of ATCQ’s already drowsy tune. The original is a request, Xiomara’s reading is pure promise keeping.

Get it, spin it, dig it.


Electric Wizard’s legend is mostly true. The English doom metal act has conjured a certain strain of creepy, occult-shaded metal sludge so filthy that listening to them can still feel transgressive. But turn off the amps and most classic metal, and a fair amount of doom, can sound like folk-blues that trades in murder-ballad imagery.

So what happens when a talented fan scrubs the druggy fuzz from Electric Wizard’s music? Acoustic Wizard answers that with some of the scariest campfire jams you’ll ever hear. The first two volumes, each with three tracks, are called Please Don’t Sue Me, which seems unlikely as we imagine the members of Electric Wizard would be all over this. It’s an act of pure love, with wonderfully gloomy results.


Electronic music site Earmilk calls Goldbloc’s Black Gold EP “one of the best slept on acts of our time." The term “slept on” seems to have lost its potency in this era of music consumption. After all, there’s so much new music that even dedicated genre fans are going to miss out on something. It’s just too hard to keep up. That said, Goldbloc really is a fantastic duo from Boston.

As our headline says, the four songs comprising Black Gold are trip-hop. Whether Goldbloc calls it that doesn’t matter. Don’t go in expecting the languorous, end-of-the century angst of Portishead, nor the jazz-lite chillout sound that made coffee houses seem cool in the late ‘90s. Seriously deep bass rolls with midnight menace beneath slightly glitchy treatment of vocals that recall the post-coital rasp of Elin Kastlander from jj. This is where soul music should be today.

You can download the EP for free by liking them on Facebook. We got a download error message, but that’s just Facebook being willfully difficult. You should be able to see the Dropbox link where you can grab the compressed zip file. Roll up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eat It: Lavender Chocolate

Sjaak's Organic Chocolates aren't all dairy free, but many are, so they're a popular treat when when we find enough change in the pay-phone coin return in the lobby of the TMI offices.

One of the most interesting confections Sjaak's makes is the Lavender Heart. It's a heart-shaped truffle of dark chocolate infused with real lavender oil. If that sounds like a soapy nightmare, it is not.

The lavender actually comes through in a subtle way, a summer wind to stir a romantic memory your brain has filed away. It's a lovely top note -- barely there alongside the bitter dark chocolate and never too sweet.

Find them if you can, or order directly from the Sjaak's site. Get these into the mouth area of your face soon and realize that your tongue has wanted to lick a meadow in the French countryside all along.

Hell, buy a tub and take them to book club.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Everybody Loves a Doris

Please accept The Typing Monkey's apologies for the long absence. Shit got real over the past few weeks and nobody at the offices felt like lifting the pencil or finding a piece of paper unbesmirched by memory and loss.

Let's get back to publishing with a belated birthday wish of health and happiness to Doris Day, who turned 90 on April 3.

It's easy to dismiss Day as a peroxided, harmless cutie whose sole purpose was to be irritated and flummoxed by Rock Hudson only to come around and fall in love in the third act of the many meringue-light romantic comedies the two made together during the 1960s.

That's fine, but we've always preferred the rom-coms with James Garner as her foil/paramour, as Garner's gravelly nature played better off of Day's sugary charms. Her outing with David Niven ain't bad either.

Better still is to remember that Day is the secret key to the success of Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much. James Stewart does great work in the film, but it's Day's determined, crafty mom who finds a way out of the international intrigue mess they're in. It's a shame she didn't get more roles of this nature, as Day holds her own in a way many probably don't expect.

Her delivery of the song "Que Sera Sera" is not only a great plot device in Too Much, but just straight-up great selling of a song that uses Day's velvety delivery to great effect, given that the lyrics are actually quite clear-headed when put up against many other romantic tunes of the day.

And with that we arrive at Day's other great gift: The woman could sing. She's on par with other lauded Big Band vocalists (Kay Starr, et al.) and her creamy vibrato stands proud alongside Dinah Shore (another singer who rarely gets her due.)

Day could deliver the sad and heartbroken as well as the dreamy lovestruck material. And The Typing Monkey says if you want a real snapshot of what Day could do, look no further than "Everybody Loves a Lover."

It's not a showcase for her vocal abilities the way "Dream a Little Dream" or "When I Fall In Love" are. Instead it's a testament to Day's ability to inhabit the material. Where she's both mother and child -- and all realist -- in "Que Sera Sera" Day plays the wholly self-aware woman who is both confident and stupidly in love in "Everybody Loves a Lover."

It's an almost Bugs Bunny-like performance culminating in Day's round-style duet with herself. She found a guy she loves who loves her back and has no qualms floating by the rest of us, flaunting her luck and (subversively) the hint of the skills she employed to snag her man.

[courtesy of VinylNostalgia]