The sublimely postmodern style of The Books has had me hooked literally since I first heard them at my friend Josh’s apartment. We were having a fun and spirited philosophical discussion, which had a momentary lull. That allowed me the opportunity to experience The Books for the first time, which, previously in the background of our conversation, jumped to the foreground in an almost seamless manner continuing on as a veritable and formidable third party to our colloquy. Since then they have remained the first thing I think of whenever someone mentions either “music” or “postmodernism.” Postmodern in the sense that their music is a contestable whole comprised of seemingly random spoken word samples, their own guitar and cello snipets, etc. This patchwork structure gives the music a feeling of a composed instigation, rather like the feeling one gets from reading a good essay. Rather than pontificate further on the subject, I’d prefer to illustrate the point by simply quoting one of their songs at length in a play format. That is, I will introduce each “voice” in the song as a character and add additional narratorial comments in italics to indicate that they do not actually appear in the song itself. The song is, “Be good to them always,” from their 2005 album “Lost and Safe.”

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A middle-aged British man: “Here we are. Here we are… We are antici… There it is! There it is. That’s the picture.”

(A record plays an electric cello. The record skips repeatedly throughout the scene.)

A middle-aged British man: “You see.. see it for yourself. There it is. It’s a man… There it is. With… uh…”

Narrator (in a tone of increasing depth): “Be good to them always.”

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A pad thai western

May 5, 2007

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a wonderfully strange Thai take on the classic Spaghetti Western genre yesterday: Tears of Black Tiger (Thai: ฟ้าทะลายโจร, or Fah talai jone, literally, “the heavens strike the thief”). It’s a very odd mix of standard melodramatic romantic elements, with a generous sprinkling of Tarantino-esque comic violence, all suffused in a billowing cloud of hyperreal tobacco-chewing, six-shooter dueling, 10 gallon hat wearing Western cliches. Check out the trailer here: