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Posts Tagged ‘lateralus’

The 'James Keenan Maynard' experience

Layne Staley, Mike Patton and James Keenan Maynard were the first batch of musicians I slavishly worshipped. I played their albums till my technologically-impaired Panasonic system bled with familiarity and sang praises in their names to anyone who bothered to listen. James Keenan Maynard in particular had a major influence in shaping my musical inclination. My Gmail ID even namedrops one of Tool albums, which just about makes me a bigger loser than that dude who sold his kid on eBay to buy Bruce Dickinson’s jockstraps (stop googling, that didn’t actually happen). Fronting bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer and Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty, he created a niche for himself as the reclusive enigma of alternative metal who could go from a whisper to blood-curdling scream, and make it sound like provocative manuscripts without which our lives would be emptier. At times he wore blue makeup and adorned prosthetic breasts on stage, but thankfully, through several incarnations, Maynard rose above such momentary lapses in irony through his music.

Tool

Tool sounded a lot like King Crimson would have if they had still been  relevant during the Nineties. While wussies like Eddie Vedder, Bono and James Hetfield were milking dead horses by singing about dead girlfriends and bad memories with their Xeroxed vocals, these guys came along and kidnapped the collective consciousness and fed it something substantial. Not that singing about Jungian psychology and Aristotelian concepts gives any sort of credibility to the music, but when it sounds as spectacular as it does on their albums (especially Ænima and Lateralus), who in their right mind would deny themselves of such an experience. Maynard’s vocal prowess on tracks like Reflections, Prison Sex, The Pot and Forty Six & Two are yet to be surpassed by any other, but it isn’t all about Maynard. Guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey bring with them a wall of noise that creeps up from behind you and knocks your teeth down your throat, sometimes pausing to serenade you with somber moments. I’m not one for philosophizing through music so you can read this, this and that to know about Maynard’s exploration of the consciousness through heavy metal’s most progressive sons.

A Perfect Circle

People who were turned off by Tool’s vigorous experimentation fell in love with A Perfect Circle’s debut Mer De Norms. It was a lot like Tool’s melodic side, but about four minutes shorter. What they lacked in originality by following the “verse chorus verse chorus bridge louder verse” pattern was more than made up for by their tighter-than-a-duck’s-arse arrangements that made it impossible for us to resist drooling all over them. From the masterful guitar strokes in Judith to the gorgeous crescendos in Orestes, everything felt so perfectly timed, even peaking to reach Joy Division’s level of greatness. Their next album Thirteenth Step had them momentarily breaking free of the pattern on tracks like Noose, Blue and The Nurse Who Loved Me, drawing us closer to their music with spirited string arrangements and haunting atmospheric passages. APC’s third album – Emotive – had them playing neat covers, including classics by Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye and screaming punksters Crucifix. The original tracks – Passive and Counting Bodies Like Sheep – are undoubtedly the cream of the lot, intense as hell and furious as the fire burning in it. A Perfect Circle’s finest moment for me however is the brilliant Acoustica, an unplugged bootleg album recorded by one of their fans. It features six songs from their debut, two from their sophomore and a cover of Tool’s love letter to religious nihilism – Eulogy. The acoustic version of Three Libras is the stuff that would have had Wes Bentley clutching his knees in fetal position and weeping, unable to stomach the beauty of it all. Also, Troy Van Leeuwen and Paz Lenchantin should never stop creating music together.

Puscifer

Puscifer, previously known as Umlaut, finds James Keenan Maynard fiddling around with electronica and the very ambidextrous post-industrial genre. He claims to be the only permanent member of the band and has once said “it is simply a playground for the various voices in my head, a space with no clear or discernible goals”. Possible self-gimmickry besides, he crafted a couple of gems under this outfit. Revelations 22:20, first heard on Len Wiseman’s Underworld soundtrack compiled together by Danny Loher, has him taking to electronica as hungry eyes would to expensive thighs, pacing the verses at an unfamiliar tempo, sounding more like a lounge remix of an APC’s song. Their debut V For Vagina comes off as cheesy despite its apparent esotericism; thankfully, tracks like Indigo Children and The Undertaker pull the album back from the abyss.

Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty

Now on to some of his earlier and more obscure stuff. A long-haired blonde Maynard led the way for the lo-fi Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty (CAD) by handling vocals, bass, and the drum machine while some dude called Kevin Horning played guitar. They even released independent cassette tape in 1986 called Fingernails, with evidence of Maynard’s obsession with transcendence in tracks like the sparsely-woven dub track 25 Hours in which he asks, “Give me 25 hours a day, one more hour to ask why”. Vaguely interesting only for those who with official membership access to the cult of Maynard.

TexA.N.S.

A year later in 1987 CAD metamorphosed into a fully-fledged band called the TexA.N.S. when Chris Horning brought on-board his brother Todd Horning to handle rhythm guitar duties, Stan Henderson to slap some bass, and Tom Geluso to keep a steady beat going. Their Dog House EP sounds more polished than the Fingernails tape, with the perversely entertaining Suburban Death Trip and premonitory tribute to Queens of the Stone Age in the form of Social Declination. Weirdly though, Maynard sounds like Lemmy Kilmister without the badass growl, but the Horning brothers pack enough punch in their rhythm sections to make this sort of work.

Shandi’s Addiction

Shandi’s Addiction was formed to contribute to Mercury Records’ Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved album, a collection of songs, in my opinion, better than any of the originals. Check it out if fancy bands Nineties’ lost rockers like Dinosaur Jr, The Lemonheads and Gin Blossoms. Anyway the band comprised Maynard, Tom Morello and Brad Wilk from RATM and uber-bass guru Billy Gould from Faith No More. Their contribution to the album, a solid version of Calling Dr. Love, is not the highlight of the lot but certainly not the worst, thanks to Lenny Kravitz and Garth Brookes doing what they do best – sing with the intensity of Dalai Lama on Ritalin.

Axis Of Justice Concert Series

Axis Of Justice, a non-profit organization co-founded by musicians Serj Tankian and Tom Morello, ran a concert series, hoping more people would listen to their cause and make this world a better place or whatever. Maynard opened the show with a rousing version of U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name. Not fantastic or anything, but considering Bono sang the original, even David Hasselhoff could have done a better job.

(with) The Deftones

The Deftones’ White Pony album featured them in their most expansive mood. On the track Changes (In The House Of Flies), Chino Moreno’s dueling vocals with Maynard gives shoegazing a well-deserved spot in alternative metal. The track also features guitarist Stephen Carpenter showing both technical mastery and passion, something that cannot be taken for granted, considering musicians like Satriani and Malmsteen have made a career out of being blind to one of them.

(with) Green Jelly

Heh. I didn’t know it was him singing the “not by the hair of my chinny chin chin” falsetto line in the hilariously metal anthem – Three Little Pigs. Kickass song by the Grammy-winning (gulp) Green Jelly too!

(with) Tori Amos

Apparently Tori Amos and James Keenan Maynard came up with the arrangement to their version of Muhammad My Friend an hour before performing it. Even more unfortunate is that the guys recording the video act like they snorted a wicked mix of coke and wood shavings before recording it. I cannot determine the extent of awesomeness with such poor clarity now, can I?

(with) David Bowie

Bring Me The Head Of The Disco King, undoubtedly the best song on the Underworld soundtrack, has Maynard collaborating with the artist previously known as Ziggy Stardust. A little theatrical at times, but immensely fun to listen to, with the two great vocalists trading lines of each other in style. Plus, John Frusciante shows up and dazzles during the bridge.

Download

A Perfect Circle – Three Libras (Acoustica version)

James Keenan Maynard – Where The Streets Have No Name

Watch

Tool – Prison Sex, 46 & 2, Reflections, Sober, Rosetta Stoned

A Perfect Circle – Orestes, Passive, Counting Bodies Like Sheep, Nurse Who Loved Me, Noose (DVD version)

Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty – 25 Hours

TexA.N.S. – Suburban Death Trip, Social Declination

Shandi’s Addiction – Calling Dr Love

The Deftones & Maynard – Changes (In The House Of Flies)

Green Jelly & Maynard – Three Little Pigs

Tori Amos & Maynard – Muhammad, My Friend

David Bowie, John Frusciante & Maynard – Bring Me The Head Of The Disco King

Buy

Tool’s discography

A Perfect Circle’s discography

Axis Of Justice Concert Series 1

The Deftones’ White Pony

Underworld Soundtrack

Green Jelly’s Cereal Killer Soundtrack

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last-house-on-the-left-732058Last House On The Left: Wes Craven’s 1972 classic ranks alongside the likes of James Watkins’ Eden Lake and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs in its propensity to scare the living shit out of me. Much like Straw Dogs and Eden Lake, Last House On The Left is a slumbering beast that works tremendously well based on how real it feels to us, the audience. Most of us spend time worrying about the safety of the near and beloved; this fear is an inherent part of our humanity that indicates both maturity and insecurity. The trick, many tell me, is to not let this fear metamorphose into paranoia, but rather to let to meander somewhere around an aura of cautiousness. Wes Craven doesn’t make room for such comforts; this uncompromising urban thriller about a family terrorized almost makes you want to sign up for the next NRA newsletter. Despite the bloodshed and exploitative violence, the film packs quite a realistic punch; and like Ebert says, it has more in common with Bergman’s The Virgin Spring than with any other film that we could rightfully expect from Wes Craven. Google tells me that the tagline for Last House On The Left warned the viewers “to avoid fainting by keep repeating to yourself…it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie”. Well, that was a tad dramatic but still, what really, really makes the film work is the frightening prospect that one day, one of us might go through these ordeals too.P.S: I have not yet seen the 2009 remake, so I shall reserve my comments on it for later

the-wild-blue-yonder

Wild Blue Yonder: My love for Werner Herzog knows no bounds and lately, as I had admitted to the dude from Seventh Art, it has indeed become an obsession. With his dry German-Hungarian accent proving to be a perfect foil for the stories that twirl around his aesthetically tortured psyche, most of his films have left me in an almost drug-induced state of euphoric bliss. Quite simply put, Wild Blue Yonder is a science fiction mockumentary done Herzogian style. In fact, every so often during the course of the film, I was reminded of the track Faaip De Oiad on Tool’s Lateralus album. It was a paranoid mess of a monologue delivered by someone claims to be a former employee of Area 51 over feedback noise that took proper shape every 20 seconds. The thing is, as absurd as the track was, it was also strangely moving in its ability to throw the reins on the listener and to entice him with surrealistic allure. Much like the song, Werner Herzog’s Wild Blue Yonder is a work of art that takes itself seriously for the sake of absurdity. The storyline chronicles the events that led an extraterrestrial from the Water Planet to earth and then goes on to facetiously connect the dots between Kissinger’s diving expedition, the Rosewell incident and a bunch of CIA-led conspiracies. Reijsiger’s original music for this film along with Henry Kaiser’s cinematography hog the limelight as they provide little pockets of breathing spaces that are very necessary for films as fantastically surrealistic as Wild Blue Yonder. Not So Fun FactBrad Dourif, the actor who plays the extraterrestrial is also Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

14-guille

Born And Bred: Sometimes I get the feeling that films get irritated with me. I can visualize them clenching their fists and looking to hammer blows on my skull for not admiring them as they are, and instead criticizing for how I wanted them to be. Pablo Trapero’s deliberately moody Argentinean film Born And Bred must have been sharpening surgical knives on rusty iron by the time the end credits rolled. The story centers around Santiago, a successful interior designer whose life is thrown out of balance after a really bad accident. From then on, he embarks on a thinly veiled healing process that has Santiago dwelling in the nether regions of self-destruction. Relevant Quote From Random Movie: “Self-improvement is masturbation…self-destruction is the answer”. I really dug cinematographer Guillermo Nieto dreamlike photography throughout the film and actor Pfening’s performance as Santiago was riveting enough to evoke sympathy, but the rest fell sort of flat. Now if Mr Pablo had condensed all of this within a short film that ran for no longer than 15 minutes…now that would have been good stuff. Hmmm I can see why films hate my guts.

Twilight: Trashing films is my least favourite part of reviewing. But strangely and not very unlike some really good cough syrup that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I keep moving towards such endeavors. And well, for certain reasons, the readers seem to get a good kick out of it…so what the hell, here goes. Director Catherine Hardwicke’s monstrously silly movie about emo-vampires is so bad and so after-school special-ish that rumour has it that the director’s cut version of the DVD would have Mrs Hardwicke reading aloud a list of Schedule H drugs that she had consumed in order to convince herself that making this film was a semi-good idea. I swear, the creepy uncle in my old neighbourhood who used to beat the shit out of his son all the time had more subtlety in his pinky finger than this idiot director has ever had.

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