The waiting was gruesome, but Kanye never faltered. Every now and then he applied his ear to the chest of the specimen, and bore the negative results in typical Kanye fashion: by throwing a non-sequitur rant. He’d wax hyperbolic about breadth and width of his art, claiming that it couldn’t be contained by mere genre conventions like “life.”
Growing up in a Dutch suburbia, which to friends, acquaintances, and the occasional individual in the pub I often refer to as “The Whitest Place on Earth”, my fascination for Kanye West was only inevitable. As far as our similarities go, we both studied English and once rewarded ourselves with pet fishes for a major achievement. At the age of seven I bought a gold fish with my pocket money after I got my swimming diploma; Kanye purchased an 18th century aquarium with 30 koi fish after the successes of College Dropout (2004). Both well-deserved rewards I would say, but undoubtedly my fascination is more based on the allure of otherness than on the comfort of familiarity. And so I have no illusions that my attraction to the Other is any better than a white baggy trousered teenage boy shouting “Fuck the Police!” from his new housing estate bedroom or any other instance in which black culture becomes, as bell hooks puts it, “a seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture”. Not wishing to participate in this white escapism, my affairs with Kanye are strictly private and rarely find their way past my own ivory white bedroom door. Instead, I indulge in his music the way I experience a Thomas Pynchon novel: from a respectable and self-aware distance but engaged enough to be overwhelmed by the sheer genius of it all. Continue reading “Kanye West – Reanimator”
While classical music has been a rather large part of my cultural education, it hasn’t played an important role in my adult life. I do like to listen to it playing in the background while I study, read a book, or do one of my other very wild favorite occupations. But after all this time, I find it hard to actually form an opinion on it. Even though I can identify some difference between the music of various composers, I have difficulties exploring the possibilities of classical music by myself. As I can hardly be the only one who feels this way, I’d like to draw your attention to a lovely series of concerts, aiming to introduce classical music to a new public. It’s called Pieces of Tomorrow, and it takes place about once a month in TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. Continue reading “Classical Explorations”
Ah, love songs. They’re hard to love, but harder to hate. The two are never far apart.
Except for today, that is. Around Valentine’s Day people usually start to ponder more about love. What’s it all about? Worth the trouble, or just a pile of rubble? It’s different for everyone. Yet the songs on the radio suddenly get a new ring to them. As you listen closely, you’ll soon find that a big chunk of the pop charts are composed of love-related songs. All year through, people hum along without noticing. It’s usually only until around Valentine’s Day that people start to hate the same songs, and with good reason. Who needs a millionaire pop artist to whine about that particular one who got away, their break-ups or happiness in love? We ordinary people go through the same shit every day, except we don’t have money-oozing bank accounts and tons of admirers. Damned be capitalism, commercialism and their soul-wrenching, toe-curling spawn that is Valentine’s Day!
Continue reading “Review: 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields”
The holidays are around the corner and with that comes Christmas. There is a lot to say about this festivity. On the one hand Christmas can be materialistic, commercialized, boring and a disappointment (last year I heard someone say that they did not like Christmas because they did not like their family). Not to forget that Christmas is a celebration that oftentimes cannot be escaped; it’s everywhere. It’s seen as the norm, and people who do not (because of their religion), or cannot (perhaps because of lack of family or money) celebrate it just have to live in a world were an entire month (if not two to three) is dedicated to this holiday. Continue reading “Seven songs of Christmas: a holiday soundtrack”
When a music freak (lover) like me finds out that one of her favourite musicians is coming to her town and that there are still some tickets available, even though they apparently had already been available on the internet for a while, it is time for a party, and of course a new article to put the artist and his work in the spotlight.
Another reason for writing about this artist is to make sure this man will not disappear after one great hit. That one song made him famous for obvious reasons; it is amazing, and certainly worth taking a closer look at, but it is most definitely not his only piece of art. Continue reading “Take Me to Hozier”
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more. Well, I wake up in the morning. Fold my hands and pray for the rain. I got a head full of ideas that are driving me insane. It’s a shame she makes me scrub the floor.
These lines mark the first sentences of a song by the impeccable Bob Dylan: his acclaimed “Maggie’s Farm”–approximately 23 plays today, still counting. Apart from its blues characteristics and musical arrangements, of which I have no expertise whatsoever, this song from 1965 still has enormous relevance today. Writer’s Block Magazine has offered me a great platform this past year to write about cultural developments‒digitalisation in photography, the humanities, the online zeitgeist, and many more‒notwithstanding the existential angst in writing about this wide range of topics. So while I’m looking for yet another internship, working yet another job on the side with minimum wage, I can only move up and down the postmodern ladder of existential angst and creativity and conclude that it’s been more than worth it just to create works of writings in a team of which its members have continuously proven themselves to be more than a random group of crazy, university students. So I propose to move on Kantian and Enlightenment’s ‘Sapere Aude!’ (Dare to know!) and usher in the period of ‘Dare to create!’. Not without a Revolution Mixtape though. Oh, did I mention our next issue’s theme is, par accident, ‘Revolution’?
I was rather late to join the Hozier bandwagon. So late, in fact, that when I recently sang Take Me To Church at the top of my lungs, my 11-year-old sister was baffled I even knew the song. (Is my pop culture knowledge now, at the tender age of 19, inferior to that of an elementary schooler? Ouch) But now I know it and I like it. Or perhaps “like” is not the best word exactly. It is a fairly multi-layered song and I… let’s say I acknowledge and appreciate it. I was intrigued by Hozier’s deep, almost syrupy voice and headed over to Spotify to give his first album, Hozier (2014), a listen.
As I expected, the album opens with Take Me To Church, a song about love and obsession with the object of the singer’s desire: not exactly an original concept. Nevertheless, it is unique. Hozier describes his lover along the lines of a metaphor. She is a religion, her body a church and loving her, or making love to her, is worship. The powerful instrumentals, mostly piano, bass and drum, underline his strong vocals and the darkness of his descriptions.
Not all of Hozier’s songs are as dramatic (and I mean this in the best possible way). Some are tender (In A Week), some upbeat (Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene), some quite shocking (To Be Alone). They do, however, stay true to his forceful, brooding folk style. Hozier also establishes himself as a good songwriter, not just a good singer. I love his use of, for example, assonance and alliteration in Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene: “Calling to join them the wretched and joyful.” Sentences like these really come to life when heard, so citing them isn’t doing them much justice. You’ll know it’s good when you’re listening.