Category Archives: Culture

A Conversation With David J On His Most Personal Album, Yet

 

“It’s descriptive of a period of time, the last five years in my life.”
“A journey I’ve been on.”
“The whole thing is a love letter.”
“I dedicated it to my wife.”
“It’s all there in the lyrics.”
“The most personal recording I’ve made.”

Gather together these small fragments David J allows himself to say about his forthcoming double album and very quickly you’ll feel as if you’ve been granted a peek into the man’s heart and soul. Listen to all sixteen tracks from Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure for confirmation. With a celebrated heritage beginning with Bauhaus, then Love & Rockets, and a vast catalog of his solo work, you may believe David has poured his heart out in the studio at least a couple of times. There can be no doubt he has on occasion suggested to the listener that his emotions were on display in his music. The boldness of the title for his latest release could be a warning. Don’t expect a collection of neo-BowieSylvian maudlin-style odes to unrequited love. The opening cut, Mosaic tells of a jaded rock star’s cocaine-fueled fractured life, complete with an exotic violin refrain. A simple-sing-along Blues Eyes In A Green Room underplays the serious lyrics as the seeming laissez-faire snare drum gives space for the pristine piano leading the melody. David’s only cover on the album of the late Peter Laughner’s Baudelaire is both poignant and reverent, while he manages to craft what essentially could be mistaken as his own composition. “Like a kid in a candy store, I want to lick what I like”, sings David in I Don’t Want To Destroy Our Beautiful Thing. Self-confession and reflection while away from home. There is an unnerving wavering quality to his voice on this cut. How many takes? Was this the first and last? Lovelorn comes next. Surprisingly jaunty albeit with a raw biting story.

At this point in listening to the record, an overwhelming thought sweeps in – how come we don’t listen to whole albums from start to finish anymore? The accordion(?), then the strummed acoustic guitar, the up-close vocals, the piano, and the plaintive violin all deliver Clandestine Valentine as if as a familiar song. And, that’s a good thing. With references to Pasolini and arty-farty girls, you know you’re in for a “triple X” adventure as David says in Purgatory and Perfume, masquerading as Blood On The Tracks era Dylan. The story behind the evolution of Migena And The Frozen Roses is best told by David J, which he does in our conversation. The collaboration with The Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman, Anton Newcombe and actress Asia Argento on this song is indicative of the brilliance of David’s ability to co-opt the talents of other artists to accomplish an exceptional body of work. Oh, and yes, this is the song that unabashedly explains so much about this double album. In No Floods Can Drown, an honest statement, simply presented. “Morning wood” may not be your typical idea of love. Yet, David does suggest it’s all part of thinking about love, a Pre-Existing Condition. “She bats her lashes and a hurricane starts in China. You’re on your knees at the vestibule of vagina.” Sings David J in Copper Level 7. The power of a woman who uses hair color apparently. Rhyming China with vagina is just part of his flavorful word-play – “She slips on her stockings and initiates a coup d’etat.” The tune breaks down halfway through into a mock ragtime interlude before easing back into the original melody. The positively-poppy tone of (I Walked Away From) The Girl In Yellow disguises Mr. J’s self-questioning or is it congratulation of being able to avoid getting into trouble. Beginning with a quasi-western guitar sound, Best Western Blues proves how smart David J’s writing can be. In the end, he is still checking in to find love as the song closes with an electronic wind sound, the ascending violin(s), and the clippity-clopping beat. The sound of rain recorded on David J’s iPhone begins the title cut Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure. The somber violin coming to the fore as an acoustic guitar strums behind compliments David’s woeful but assured voice. Is this the album’s tour de force? I would argue that it could well be, yet David gives us two more tracks to contemplate. The Auteur (Redux / The Starlet’s Cut), an older song from his library of work has been revisited adding the voice of actress and activist, Rose McGowan. It’s a haunting song, disturbing in that Ms. McGowan has featured at the forefront of the #MeToo movement and David has not shied away from exposing his interaction with women. Finally, the beautiful voice of Emily Jane White joins David on I Hear Only Silence. Listen carefully to the words and reflect on what you have heard already on this album. A simple piano coda plays and the quietness, the vulnerability comes scorching through with the two voices.

In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, David J talks openly about Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure with Norman B. Plus you’ll hear a Life Elsewhere exclusive, a world-wide premiere of the title cut.

Show #394

Rudy Tambala on A. R. Kane, Jübl & The Business Of Life

Discovering new music has been an integral part of my life for many years. That that I’m still able to get giddy with excitement when hearing Arlo Parks or Pela or Barzin for the first time is, honestly, the same rush I got when hearing The Stones at The Railway Hotel, the same night Andrew Loog Oldham showed up and changed history. Your brain-pan is either open to new music or it’s stuck in a musty-dusty time warp which usually marks the time you first said, I love you after an orgasm — and meant it. The notes accompanying the new album, Sweet Company by Jabu cite A. R. Kane as an influence which makes discovering new music to another level. The impact A. R. Kane’s Lolita had on me was has resonated for over thirty years. How exciting then to know that Amos Childs, Jasmine Butt, Alex Rendall, and Daniela Dyson of Jabu unabashedly give a nod to Rudy Tambala and Alex Ayuli of A. R. Kane. No doubt, many musicians have, over the years listened carefully for hours to Lolita and asked, How did they get that sound? That plaintive, sexy treated guitar sound mixed with an acoustic on top, the seductive voice, and then — the thundering electric guitar explodes in your head! From the first moment I heard Lolita, I had to hear it again and again. Thirty years on, it still sounds so modern, so new. And of course, there was the sleeve. Enterprising 4AD records were known for inventive artwork, but this one went further. A provocative nude, a young girl — holding behind her back a huge knife! The sum total of the sound and image A. R. Kane presented was/is extraordinary, as in fuckin’ brilliant. A year or so back I blabbered on about my fascination and enthusiasm for A. R. Kane to Rudy Tambala in a long in-depth conversation. I soon learned that Rudy is a smart guy, he’s well-read, he’s articulate and he enjoys a spirited conversation. He’s sincere when he states, “Rock ’n’ roll is fucking sex! It’s the rhythm of your blood. It’s the most vital force. Without it, there isn’t any existence on this planet!” The irony of his words adds to the fascination of listening to a man whose creative talent has been on display for over three decades. The forthright musician reveals how he and his bandmate, Alex Ayuli created their extraordinary and frequently emulated sound. He talks enthusiastically of the beginnings of A. R. Kane, detailing the creation of the noted Lollita artwork. Rudy shares his thoughts on current music, design and why style is important, “It’s not what you play it’s the way you hold your guitar. It not what you wear it’s how your hair looks…it’s a youth thing.” He says wryly. The legacy of A. R. Kane continues with his new band, Jübl and Rudy gives us an insider’s take on the demands of his new project. This is an interview full of warmth and candor. The conversation flows seamlessly from previously unheard details about recording techniques to spot-on observations about the business of life. Thank you Rudy for a wonderful conversation.

Norman B October 9, 2020

Show #393

The New Map & White House Inc.

                                 
Daniel Yergin – The New Map: Energy, Climate, And The Clash Of Nations

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and global energy expert, Daniels Yergen offers a revelatory new account of how energy revolutions, climate battles, and geopolitics are mapping our future. The world is being shaken by the collision of energy, climate change, and the clashing power of nations in a time of global crisis. The “shale revolution” in oil and gas–made possible by fracking technology, but not without controversy–has transformed the American economy, ending the “era of shortage”, but introducing a turbulent new era. Almost overnight, the United States has become the world’s number one energy powerhouse–and, during the coronavirus crisis, brokered a tense truce between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Yet concern about energy’s role in climate change is challenging our economy and way of life, accelerating a second energy revolution in the search for a low carbon future. All of this has been made starker and urgent by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic Dark Age that it has wrought. The chessboard of world politics has been upended. A new cold war is emerging with China; and rivalries grow more dangerous with Russia, which is pivoting east toward Beijing. Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping are converging both on energy and on challenging American leadership, as China projects its power and influence in all directions. The South China Sea, claimed by China and the world’s most critical trade route, could become the arena where the United States and China collide directly. The map of the Middle East, which was laid down after World War I, is being challenged by jihadists, revolutionary Iran, ethnic and religious clashes, and restive populations. But the region has also been shocked by the two recent oil price collapses–one from the rise of shale, the other the coronavirus–and by the very question of oil’s future in the rest of this century.

Dan Alexander – White House Inc.: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency Into A Business

Dan Alexander is a senior editor at Forbes, where he leads the magazine’s coverage of Donald Trump. His news-making exposé that details President Trump’s efforts to make money off of politics, taking us inside his exclusive clubs, luxury hotels, overseas partnerships, commercial properties, and personal mansions. Alexander tracks hundreds of millions of dollars flowing freely between big businesses and President Trump. He explains, in plain language, how Trump tried to translate power into profit, from the 2016 campaign to the ramp-up to the 2020 campaign. Alexander explains, just because you turn the presidency into a business doesn’t necessarily mean you turn it into a good business. After Trump won the White House, profits plunged at certain properties, like the Doral golf resort in Miami. But the presidency also opened up new opportunities. Trump’s commercial and residential property portfolio morphed into a one-of-a-kind marketplace, through which anyone, anywhere, could pay the president of the United States. Hundreds of customers—including foreign governments, big businesses, and individual investors—obliged. The president’s disregard for norms sparked a trickle-down ethics crisis with no precedent in modern American history. Trump-appointed an inner circle of centimillionaires and billionaires—including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Wilbur Ross, and Carl Icahn—who came with their own conflict-ridden portfolios. Following the president’s lead, they trampled barriers meant to separate their financial holdings from their government roles. Dan Alexander has written a page-turning, hair-raising investigation into Trump and his team, who corrupted the U.S. presidency and managed to avoid accountability. Until Now.

Show #392

A Conversation With Kris Jozajtis

London’s Notting Hill circa early 80s was yet to be gentrified. The ubiquitous Portobello Road did bring hoards of tourists and suburbanites looking for an actual antique treasure. But the throngs who crowded the ramshackle market on a Saturday were equally delighted to witness a never-ending parade of crusty-hippy-types; rasta youths sporting fierce dreads; skinny-wasted-silk-scarf-draped-wannabe-Keefs with androgynous girlfriends in tow. Unbeknownst to the visitors, behind the raggedy dark-curtained windows of the soon-to-be desirable Victorian three and four-story homes that loomed over every street were a seemingly never-ending warren of squats. These were the days long before Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts turned Notting Hill into a magic place for millionaires to settle. It was in a squat, on a garbage-strewn street in Notting Hill that Geordie, Ian Lowery conjured up the idea for a new band. He hailed from Sunderland, the bleak, tough, coal-mining and industrial north-eastern town. It was there Ian formed The Wall. Regular airplay from John Peel and the relative success of The Wall’s debut single, New Way prompted Lowery to end up in a squat in Notting Hill. Rapid disputes within the band saw Ian Lowery form Ski Patrol. Now closely connected to fellow squatters, Killing Joke and their management, Malicious Damage, the tensions that were endemic to that scene led to Lowery forming a new band, Folk Devils with Alan Cole on Drums, Mark Whiteley on bass, and Kris Jozajtis on guitar. Their sound was a bastardized blend of punk, blues, and amphetamine-fuelled angst with the music often walking a fine line between a patchwork of brilliant musicianship and violence. The political and ideological canvass for Folk Devils was the miner’s strike, Thatcher’s Britain, mass unemployment, and the flooding of Britain’s streets with heroin and despair. Folk Devils first single Hank Turns Blue recorded for £180 (allegedly the bands combined dole money) resided at number three in the indie charts for six weeks. Three John Peel sessions followed in quick succession and subsequent recordings were critically acclaimed. Brian Taylor, of Killing Joke’s management, said at the time, “Folk Devils were a force of nature live and were never quite able to capture that ferocity on record” Ian Lowery died in 2001 having continued to work throughout the late ’80s and the early ’90s on the King Blank project and the Ian Lowery Group. In November 2015, a digital-only release album entitled The Best Protection and the BBC Sessions was made available. And, in September 2016 a collected works album entitled Beautiful Monsters was released and the band resurfaced to play live with a line-up including Dave Hodgson (vocals), Mark Whiteley (bass), Kris Jozajtis (guitar), Nick Clift (guitar), and John Hamilton (drums). Recently the new Folk Devils recorded a stellar three-track EP, titled Forever, and are performing live when the pandemic restrictions allow. Kris Jozajtis joins Life Elsewhere for an in-depth conversation about the history of Folk Devils, the Peel sessions, music now, and Ian Lowery’s boots.

Show #391

The Secrets Of Groceries & The Passion For Baking

Benjamin Lorr – The Secret Life Of Groceries  – The Dark Miracle Of The American Supermarket

What does it take to run the American supermarket? How do products get to shelves? Who sets the price? And who suffers the consequences of increased convenience end efficiency? In his alarming exposé, author Benjamin Lorr pulls back the curtain on this highly secretive industry. Combining deep sourcing, immersive reporting, and compulsively readable prose, Lorr leads a wild investigation, revealing the secrets of Trader Joe’s success from Trader Joe himself. He talks about why truckers call their job “sharecropping on wheels” and the truth behind the alarming slave trade in the shrimp industry. Benjamin’s book is a page-turning portrait of an industry in flux, filled with the passion, ingenuity, and exploitation required to make this everyday miracle continue to function. The author’s enthusiasm for his story is evident in this engaging conversation with Norman B.

Chef Kelly Fields – The Good Book of Southern Baking – A Revival of Biscuits, Cakes & Cornbread

Celebrated pastry chef Kelly Fields has spent decades figuring out what makes the absolute best biscuits, cornbread, butterscotch pudding, peach pie, and, well, every baked good in the Southern repertoire. In her first book, Fields generously shares her boundless expertise and ingenious ideas. With more than one hundred recipes for quick breads, muffins, biscuits, cookies and bars, puddings and custards, cobblers, crisps, galettes, pies, tarts, and cakes—including dozens of variations on beloved standards—this is the new bible for Southern baking. Chef Kelly talks about pastries, pies, and puddings but also gets into why she is so passionate about her culinary skills, and the star chef also explains how the pandemic has helped her take a fresh look at life and being inspired by the music of Sleater-Kinney.

 

Show #390

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