Knowledge Insults My Intelligence

Everybody must get stoned.  (No, that’s not why I’m unemployed but thank you for assuming the best.)  With that in mind, today’s post comes with some inoffensive musical accompaniment:

I had this song in my head all through lunch and for a while before that, so naturally I thought you should join in the fun.  It’s always a pleasure to infect people’s minds with a melody they can’t get rid of.

Yes, I enjoy plotting evil while I eat.  The TV blasts awful shows while I partake of food so I prefer to burrow deep inside my head.

And on the topic of evil, I once took the opportunity to learn what the title means in English.  “Stoned Satan.”  It’s not stoned as in the symbolic Muslim remembrance but rather stoned in the pharmaceutical sense.  I also checked out the band’s name, which means “Hammer of the Underworld.”

So… I bought instrumental music with innocuous cover art and still managed to land some unholy content.

Yippee!

Seriously, though, I don’t like explicit evil in my music.  And I haven’t looked up any more song titles by this band because I want to continue enjoying them in peace.

Since it’s all instrumental, “not knowing” the titles will also make it suitable for work when I find a job.

Broken Promises Insult My Intelligence

See?  I said I’d be back at the end of my last post.

And silly me!  It seems that I forgot to tell you who the band is.  (The title of this post is “Broken Promises Insult My Intelligence,” not “Lying Insults My Intelligence.”  Very important distinction… )  They’re a Tuvan group called Yat-Kha.  In case you’ve never heard of it, Tuva is located in southern Siberia near the Mongolian border.  The language is Turkic in origin and the culture more closely resembles Mongolian than Russian.

And the vocals, a longstanding art form, are known in English as throat-singing.  Here’s an unofficial video of a song and I’m sure you’ll agree that they don’t growl their lyrics:

Reality check: someone who was “desperate” to join the Western mainstream would not sing so much of an English-language song in Tuvan.  (This was one of the songs the review cited as desperate-sounding.)

And in the interest of full disclosure, here are links to the reviews I mentioned in my last post:

(the main review)

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2003/may/09/popandrock.shopping4

(the second review)

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/oct/28/albert-kuvesin-yat-kha-cd-review

And the picture in my original post was of an instrument that Yat-Kha sometimes uses in their songs.  It’s called an igil.

Lastly, I promise not to be so obnoxious in the future until it suits my purposes again.  The Weekly Writing Challenge wanted me to leave you hanging over a cliff this time around.  I hope the view was nice and that you have not become flattened like Wile E. Coyote.

Unless you taste like pancake…

Meep meep!

Unfortunate CD Covers Insult My Intelligence

I’m feeling inspired today by a couple of recent posts about terrible CD covers over at the muscleheaded blog.

I’d like to add a pet peeve of my own to this: the gratuitous use of pentagrams for music that isn’t satanic.  (That’s satanic, not santaic.  Christmas is over.)  It makes the music harder to find because American sellers fear it and, once it is found, buyers like me experience profound difficulty when explaining the purchase to unenthusiastic friends and family.   Since people are inherently superficial, many would prefer to judge a book or CD by its cover… especially when it comes to anything that might influence their soul’s eternal resting place.  Picky, picky, picky.

I’m done pontificating, so here’s the first CD cover:

Die Prophezeiung

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This CD is about as Satanic as Dante’s Inferno.  However, you can’t really get anything by this musical group in the U.S.  I bought my copies overseas.  And when I wanted to obtain a copy of something that wasn’t even available used, I couldn’t get one despite the fact that Amazon sells MP3 copies on its foreign websites.  I contacted Amazon about it and they apologized for the “inconvenience” and cited vague copyright issues.  I suppose Universal Records can’t afford to be associated with a pentagram in the U.S. market.  (Gratuitous advertisement: I’ve written about this issue before.)

And then there’s “Sex Sex Sex” by JBO, which I also enjoy.

3s

(Tip: the German words for six and sex are pronounced even more similarly than the English words.)

JBO is the closest thing Germany has to Weird Al Yankovic, and who doesn’t love Weird Al, or sex and Satanism rolled into one CD cover?    That surely must make you curious about the accompanying concert tour…

Lives

I don’t own this CD.  I prefer my sexual content to be perfected with all sorts of technological advances.  Anything that’s relatively “unplugged” sounds too much like celibacy.

But seriously… there’s barely any sex in the music.  And so I offer you a song from one of JBO’s later CD’s because it’s in English.  My more theologically oriented readers may want to skip the video but, then again, anyone who made it through the CD covers isn’t too likely to be offended.  I think…

Space Colonization Insults My Intelligence

S-C21

Become the citizen of the first global state of the universe!  Take a look at our promotional video and be swept away to faraway realms:

Of course, we’re required to tell you that space travel is a little more complicated than getting from one place to another.  We sometimes have to deal with a couple of minor disturbances:

Asteroids screenshot

Our rocket is the triangle-looking thing.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite such brief inconveniences, nothing more explosive can generally be expected to happen.

S-C2

Our rockets are far too monochromatic for such an occurrence to be predicted.

Our rockets are also equipped with additional legally mandated safety measures and cautionary guidance that you will find conveniently printed on the bottom of your seat cushion.  Here’s one of the many helpful hints you’ll discover:

S-C23

But then again, nothing you breathe on our rockets will even remotely compare to the unidentified flying odors (UFO’s) you inhale every day on earth.

Factory Smoke

Will you really miss earth?  (Photo credit: Miroslav Petrasko (hdrshooter.com))

You see, governments want you to believe that UFO’s don’t exist.  We want you to understand the truth because the truth will set you free.  But freedom is never free.  Our new global state of the universe threatens earthly regimes; you must not let them prevent you from exercising your right to assert your citizenship in any way you want.

Don’t just be a citizen.  Be THE citizen.

S-C24

It will be worth your money.  All you have to do is believe.

Unchanged Melodies Insult My Intelligence

Dies Irae

(Photo credit: suyensedai)

So…

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge deals with how music has impacted or represents your life.  My regular readers already know to be afraid of this.  Very afraid.

Fortunately for you, those fears are well grounded.  Out of all the tunes ever written, you can probably guess what I’ll be writing about.  (Hint: it ain’t Wrecking Ball.)

Today’s post will discuss the Roman Catholic funerary hymn Dies Irae.  It just screams my personality, doesn’t it?

For those of you who don’t know the song, here’s a version that some monks performed:

Even though religion didn’t figure prominently in my home life, I attended Catholic schools growing up.  You might say that I absorbed more religion than vodka in school.  That’s vodka, not wine.  The Church endorses an occasional sip of wine from an early age.  So, I suppose I absorbed more alcohol than religion as a child and that’s why I became such an upstanding citizen.

Although the schools offered strong academics, the religious content droned on and on like the monks.  That’s not to say that the monks lack talent, but they, like theological instruction, don’t connect with listeners unless the listeners possess a preexisting desire to drink it in.  I didn’t have that.

Wine, on the other hand, connects whether you want it to or not.  That post will have to wait, though.

Back to the story: I graduated from high school and never attended church again except for weddings and funerals.  I no longer had to appear religion-friendly because I was no longer subject to religious expectations.  During these years, I picked up a CD with another version of Dies Irae… this time by a goth band called Mantus:

No, I never took on goth dress or anything like that.  In retrospect, though, I find it rather amusing that a goth band would choose to sing Catholic liturgical music, even if it was originally for funerals.  I suppose that means the band, much like myself, never became anti-religion in any real sense.  The updated hymn also makes for a more substantial listening experience than the mindless Satan worship that comes from so many cheap metal bands; I guess that’s why I’ve never gotten rid of my old goth-style music.  Goths appreciate the classics.

And then I reached graduate school, an experience that would suffice to send anyone into a greater depression than the average goth band depicts.  Fortunately, I stayed psychologically healthy and made it through to graduation.  And then I became unemployed.  Normally, unemployment is supposed to be depressing but I’ve somehow remained happy.  I guess it’s a lot easier to deal with new problems if you’re glad enough to be free of where you were.  Unfortunately, I can’t use that explanation in a job interview because it counts as badmouthing former employers.

I probably need not inform you that I discovered a more upbeat version of Dies Irae.    I may be in a morbid state of affairs but I’m still cheerful when my intelligence isn’t being insulted.  Anyway, here’s the song:

I presume you want me to finally explain the point of this whole post.  So, here we go: if your music doesn’t fit your life, change your playlist to something more suitable.  Change is liberating, and there’s something in the new tune that will hold an echo of the old… even if that echo is heresy to your earlier life.

Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you a second moral to the story: funerary music is much more enjoyable when it’s not being played at a funeral.

Historical Illiteracy Insults My Intelligence

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Language evolves.  For instance, the word “conversation” used to have a sexual connotation while “intercourse” meant something more like conversation.  Let’s be glad the censors aren’t industrious enough to try banning older books with “intercourse” in them.

Unfortunately, the public doesn’t understand how language changes.  Meanings sometimes shift over time; occasionally, such developments happen suddenly.

Soon after September 11, 2001, Americans came to associate the term “ground zero” with the World Trade Center site.  If you say ground zero to almost any American, that’s all that will come to their mind.  The earlier definition was erased: the spot where an atomic or nuclear weapon hits the earth.

But the greatest travesty emerges when the public, in effect, censors old works because they use the term “ground zero” in an “inappropriate” way.  Entire works of art and other cultural products become nothing more than incomprehensible anachronisms as a couple of historical chapters are forgotten.  I’m sure quite a few Japanese (should) take issue with this revision of history and public memory, as should anyone who ever had to “duck and cover.”

But I’m not here to write about Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

I bring you a song from 1986 that was commonly played at Christmastime until “ground zero” took on its new meaning.  Now we don’t hear the song as much.  You’d think that people could tell from the context that the song isn’t about the 9-11 attack site.

On the other hand, I once knew a guy who thought the song “Jesus He Knows Me” by Genesis was a great religious tune because it featured the word “Jesus.”  So one probably can’t realistically expect people to pay attention to anything more than a keyword or two.

Anyway, the video is below.  Since stores will be putting up their Christmas decorations in a few weeks, let’s have some Cold War holiday fun.

The American Music Industry Insults My Intelligence

Das letzte Einhorn, In Extremo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d like to introduce one of my favorite European bands: In Extremo.  They originate from Germany but they’ve toured in Mexico and probably some other places.  As far as I know, they have never made it to the United States.  Their exclusion from our market reveals much about consumer preferences in this country while enlightening us on what risks the music industry will take.  Let’s have a closer look.

1-  In Extremo has recorded songs in German, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Icelandic, and a host of dead languages… but not in English.  And unlike some other performers, they don’t offer translated versions of their hit songs.  Unless they decide to cover the Macarena or Du Hast, they have no chance here until they jump on the English bandwagon.

2- They released a CD called “Unbridled Sinners” (Suender ohne Zuegel) and that’s totally unacceptable to Americans’ religious sensibilities.  That must be why those devoutly Catholic Mexicans welcomed the band into their country.  Oh, wait, that album title came from the lyrics to a song and those lyrics were “I was searching for people like myself but all I found were unbridled sinners.”  So they’re implicitly criticizing less savory types who love metal (yes, this is a metal band) while still marketing the product to this demographic.

3- On the subject of darker types, metal in Germany is sometimes associated with certain extremist tendencies… which isn’t fair in most cases.  And then In Extremo has the medieval and occult-ish aesthetics that the Nazis also liked, plus the overly masculinized musicians.   That’s why In Extremo has to be kept out of the U.S.  That’s also why Rammstein could create a music video using clips from an old Nazi movie and still be imported into the U.S. market.

4- Americans don’t mind overly masculinized musicians, but the musicians have to play the part.  In Extremo’s lead singer goes by “The Last Unicorn” and that name isn’t particularly manly.  The original German name isn’t much better because “Einhorn” already exists in the American cultural vocabulary.  (In case you’re too young to remember, the first Jim Carrey “Ace Ventura” movie featured a crossdressing villain named Einhorn.)  Oh, and a few band members sometimes wear kilts… and that obviously makes them look like a bunch of neo-Nazis.  And then one guy plays the harp in a few songs.

5- The band’s traditional symbol is too violent for American tastes.  They use a gallows, kind of like the one you drew as a kid while playing Hangman.  I suppose crucifixes are also kind of violent, though.

6- In Extremo signed with one of the major American music labels and rebranded themselves by dropping all of their old costumes and symbols; the resulting CD also lacked flavor and didn’t earn great reviews.  A bonus CD included some of their older music performed in their new style and it disappointed.  And they adopted aviator jackets… which somehow reminded me of the giant bandages the lead singer needed after being injured by the pyrotechnics during their previous tour.  The nostalgic looking biplane on the CD cover didn’t help their image either.  Very medieval.  I suppose making it big can ruin a band.

7- I’ve told you that this metal band sometimes uses a harp.  So as you can probably guess, In Extremo’s choice of instruments lands them well outside of the U.S. mainstream.  Americans expect guitar riffs and more guitar riffs.  And three chords maximum.  I can’t list all of the instruments these guys play, but they do have one signature instrument that constantly appears in their music.  It will convince you that these guys are a bunch of neo-Nazis.

So, without further ado, I present a video clip from an In Extremo concert.  They will be performing a song from “Unbridled Sinners” called “Omnia Sol Temperat.”  It’s a cover of the Carl Orff composition that’s based on the thirteenth century poem from the Carmina Burana.

Classical music was meant to be played with an electric guitar and in the original Latin.