Saturday, November 20, 2010

Layers of Culture

I've been listening recently to Girl Talk's most recent album, All Day (free download). I've heard of Girl Talk, but never sat down and actually listened to any of his stuff before now.

I love the way it's a compilation of layers and layers of culture--and not just recent culture, it samples the Stones, Cyndi Lauper, Nirvana, Madness, Simon & Garfunkel, and tons more. It melds mellow memories of listening to my parents music with the aversion I have to mindless modern pop into something entirely new. The hooks that pop up literally every few seconds trigger fireworks of neurons that don't normally fire up together.

Yes, Girl Talk didn't write any of this music. He just stuck all the songs on top of each other in an amazingly complex, 71-minute amalgamation, olio, mashup, whatever you want to call it. It's genius. It's a cultural fun-house mirror that bends the sounds we thought we knew into something that's alternately amusing, weird, catchy, funky, ridiculous, and grotesque.

Here's a sample:


Feel free to download the whole hour-plus-long album here (legally!), but be aware that it has cuss words strewn liberally throughout.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Most Beautiful Music You'll Never Hear (Update: Now with 100% more audio)

OK, you can hear it, technically, but you won't really be able to hear it in the way it should be heard because it's in Estonian and the lyrics are magical. So unless you want to learn a more obscure version of Finnish (or you were lucky enough to be born Estonian!), you'll never hear it.

But I want to share it with you anyways.

The Johanson Brothers, Märt and Jaak, play some awesome folk-inspired Estonian music. One of the songs from their awesome 1993 album Põhja Vahemäng (Nordic Interlude) is called Mu Süda Ärka Üles (Wake Up, My Heart). It's a traditional Estonian folk song and they do a wonderful and powerful arrangement.

You can read the Estonian words here if you'd like, but I'll provide you with a (liberal) translation into English here: (I'm using the words from the song, not from the online version--there are fewer verses and a few minor changes)
Awake, my heart
And praise the Creator in song
Who provides us with all that is good
And bears our burdens too

When I laid down to sleep
I buried my head in father's lap
Satan tried to catch me
But father denied him

"Stay calm," you cried
"My child, I will protect you.
He can't hurt you--
You will yet see the light of day"

Your word has come true
I have seen the new day
No harm came near me
Your might sheltered me

I thank you for this
and honor you greatly
I offer up to you sighings
and holy prayers

May your kindness remain always with me
May my heart be a temple to you
May your word nourish me
and show me the heavenward path

Awake, my heart
And praise the Creator in song
Who provides us with all that is good
And bears our burdens too
Trust me, it's amazing. Here is a youtube video I made with the music playing in the background (if anyone knows of a simple website for recording only audio so that I don't have to have a pointless video with almost no motion, please let me know).