PDA

View Full Version : Dumbstruck with the sweetness of being: Ys Listening Party 25th Sept 11pm GMT/6pm EST



ebby
09-25-2011, 01:31 PM
http://www.albumoftheyear.org/album/covers/ys.jpg


"Emily" – 12:07
"Monkey & Bear" – 9:29
"Sawdust & Diamonds" – 9:54
"Only Skin" – 16:53
"Cosmia" – 7:15



_____________

beanstew
09-25-2011, 01:35 PM
I'm in. :)

other pete
09-25-2011, 02:46 PM
Amen amen amen.

rubidoux
09-25-2011, 04:14 PM
I'm not sure if I can make it but I'll try, since Ys is one of my favourite albums, and I love the idea of online listening parties (never participated in one, though).

ebby
09-25-2011, 04:28 PM
yeay! Other people too?

Nora
09-25-2011, 04:41 PM
I'm going to try to make it - I have a meeting beforehand and I'm not sure when it'll be over.

Perfect thread title, by the way.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 05:35 PM
I've been meaning for a long time to suck it up, sit down, and really listen to Ys. I'll do my best to be here.

just owls
09-25-2011, 06:57 PM
Oh! I have to try to make this. I didn't realize it was today.

ebby
09-25-2011, 07:17 PM
I'm already gutted that Kari can't make it :(

ebby
09-25-2011, 09:51 PM
Ten minutes folks! Who is here?

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 09:52 PM
Cuddlefish, reporting for duty.

beanstew
09-25-2011, 09:53 PM
Present.

ebby
09-25-2011, 09:59 PM
woot woot. Almost time.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:01 PM
Ugh. I love how beautifully simple the opening is. And then the melody repeats as the music gets more complex around it, subtly growing and easing into the song.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:03 PM
...I think I'm having a moment here. I'm reading the lyrics while listening, and just...

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:03 PM
Those orchestrations are really wonderful, yet never become the singable melody of the song, if you know what I mean? They highlight, and dance around, and create atmosphere, and keep the music feeling fresh, but never overpower her vocal melody.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:05 PM
I love it when the harp drops out for "you came and lay a cold compress upon the mess I'm in"... it makes it all the more potent a line.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:05 PM
I just can't imagine how she can remember all these lyrics and these, like you said ebby, complementary melodies as she's performing live. Wow.

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:07 PM
Kari calls Emily a Joanna "gateway drug" and I think that is so right - on first listen, Ys can be a bit overwhelming or at least it was for me, but Emily was the one that really kept me coming back.

The melody change into the "help me find my way back in" bit is extraordinarily beautiful.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:07 PM
It's one thing that I think she does rather masterfully is having some real musical complexity to her harp / accompanying parts, and keeping the vocal melodies quite straightforward, folky, and singable. It makes the music both accessible and yet complex, interesting, and engaging. There's real artistry to her melodic writing - some of her melodies on this album are some some the strongest ones she's ever written.

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:10 PM
I also think this song flies by. I just looked down at the time at the "pa pointed out to me" bit and it's already been on for almost 10 minutes.

beanstew
09-25-2011, 10:10 PM
I'm still fairly new to Joanna and Ys was the last album I got but it definitely significantly increased my love for her and this track was a big part of that for the reasons ebby mentions. I wouldn't try singing though, the people around me wouldn't like that. At all.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:12 PM
*sniff*

Not the most constructive comment, but still, *sniff.*

beanstew
09-25-2011, 10:13 PM
I love meteor spotting! :)

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:13 PM
Those low bass plucked strings at the end are so wonderful.

(sorry, my internet crapped out for the second half of that song)

Monkey & Bear was the last song I got into on this record, but it's grown so much in my love ever since. That opening is wonderful.

The orchestration in this track is wonderful - some great little brass moments and the like. Really colours the music quite beautifully.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:15 PM
...I have no idea what's going on. ;l

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:17 PM
...and their applause caws the kettle black
and we can't have none of that!

That's adorable.

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:18 PM
Monkey and Bear is possibly the album's most underrated, I feel. It's amazing, of course.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:20 PM
Lyrically this one is a little more cryptic, I think. I honestly leave the lyrical interps to other people, and just revel in the sound of the words she chooses. Even if the lyrics were poetry and not sung, there'd still be so much music in those words.

This melody that comes in from :"deep in the night
shone a weak and miserly light
where the monkey shouldered his lamp" is just so divinely beautiful. And those winds playing around behind her before the surge of the strings!

and then it comes back with the dual vocal to the end.... UGH brilliance.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:22 PM
IIRC the names are also references to the stars again - there are a buttload of astronomy references in this album. Ursula = Ursa = Bear. Ursa Minor and Ursa Major.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:23 PM
'scuse me while I well up to "Sawdust And Diamonds"

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:24 PM
Just listen to those cross rhythms in her harp part! And they don't cease, they just expand and get more complex until everything breaks at the end and stops with those big chords.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:25 PM
Ys is a lost city immortalized in the folklore of Brittany, a region that lies along the northwest coast of France. As Newsom read more deeply into the legend, things got a little spookier. Here, in a nutshell, is one version of the tale: Dahut, the blond daughter of King Gradlon, begs her father to build her a citadel by the sea. And so he does, creating a city that's protected from the waves by an enormous wall of stone whose one entrance, a gigantic bronze door, is opened by a key that Gradlon carries around his neck. Like a lot of seaside towns, Ys attracts horny sailors laden with goods, and Dahut makes a wicked pact with the powers of the ocean to make the already decadent city rich. The agreement is rather kinky: every night the princess takes a new sailor as a lover, and places a black mask on his head. In the morning, when the song of the meadowlark is heard, the mask strangles the guy, whose body is then offered to the waves. Eventually Dahut meets her match: a haughty crimson-clad lover who persuades her to slip the key from around the neck of her sleeping father. The rake then opens the gates of Ys to the raging ocean, which swallows the city. Father and daughter escape on a magic steed, but daddy is forced to drop the princess into the sea and she drowns. In some tellings, she is then transformed into a mermaid.

"Newsom saw so many parallels between this story and her own that it freaked her out. There were the themes of decadence and excess, of fathers and daughters and boundaries burst, not to mention details like the meadowlark and the heroine's underwater metamorphosis. Then Newsom stumbled across the clincher: according to Breton folklore, on calm days along the coast you can hear the sunken bell of the cathedral of Ys, tolling evermore. Later, as Newsom finished the fantasy novel, she stumbled across yet another uncanny echo of her own tale: a line that spoke of 'that damnable bell,' a direct sample, as it were, from 'Sawdust & Diamonds.'

a random quote from an article I came across..

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:25 PM
Kind of intrigued to hear how Sawdust and Diamonds would be with the orchestrations; I can sort of hear where there might be little string accents (swelling in the "the moment I slept" part; on the "long face" part) but it feels a bit blasphemous because the song is perfect as is.

The End of the Road festival performance from the other week is genuinely incredible. And that audience reaction at the end, and then her reaction to their reaction, gah! Just so good to see.

SMMY
09-25-2011, 10:26 PM
Don't know if this has been posted before, but a little bit with Van Dyke Parks: (http://blog.freshjive.com/tag/van-dyke-parks/)


JOEY ALTRUDA: You’ve been working on an album. You want to talk about that a little bit?

VAN DYKE PARKS: Well, you never know what gets from the page to the stage, so I’m not sure [that] by the time the stage gets to the page or the magazine I’ll be anywhere near the theater, but . . .

True.

I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch, but I’m working on a record for Joanna Newsom. She is on Drag City Records out of Chicago, and she made a very good showing on her first record with harp and vocal and songs that she’s written.

And you’re writing string arrangements?

Generally a small orchestra around her: five woodwinds, two percussion, etcetera, and 21 strings.

You like 21 strings, don’t you?

Two brass. That’s the norm I use for impoverished record artists . . . to get at a small sound. It’s very interesting and it’s a phenomenon of strings that, of course, the larger the numbers, the quieter the potential. And I think about that because an orchestra should be used in accompanying vocalists to support them, and it’s a strange thing, you know, that one instrument may speak louder, even at an un-ambitious level, than an entire orchestra.

Alfred Newman, the great film composer who wrote the theme logo for Twentieth Century Fox when he was 18, told me when I met him that the quietest sound available was the philharmonic. Now, the [average] philharmonic [has] 98 players, and this is nowhere near that. But it attempts to be, so this group will try to wrap itself around this wonderful young singer’s rhapsody in her rapture of songwriting.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:26 PM
The Ursa Major reference makes a lot of sense now, thanks!

I love the sort of nautical vocals in the beginning of "Sawdust & Diamonds." Joanna, you sound like a ship in the best possible way.

Now I'm wondering what that harp is building up to.

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:26 PM
Just listen to those cross rhythms in her harp part! And they don't cease, they just expand and get more complex until everything breaks at the end and stops with those big chords.

I could watch her playing harp on this song all day. Hypnotic!

beanstew
09-25-2011, 10:27 PM
I was awestruck watching her fingers on the harp when she played this as EotR.



and the moment I slept I was swept up in a terrible tremor
though no longer bereft, how I shook!
and I couldn't remember

then the furthermost shake drove a murdering stake in
and cleft me right down through my center
and I shouldn't say so, but I know that it was then, or never


'Bereft' and 'Cleft' really jumped out at me the first time I heard this. Wonderful words.

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:28 PM
Don't know if this has been posted before, but a little bit with Van Dyke Parks: (http://blog.freshjive.com/tag/van-dyke-parks/)

Ooh had never seen this - thank you!


I was awestruck watching her fingers on the harp when she played this as EotR.

'Bereft' and 'Cleft' really jumped out at me the first time I heard this. Wonderful words.

Jealous!

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:30 PM
Oh, the ending of this song just kills me.


darling, we will be fine, but what was yours and mine
appears to be a sandcastle that the gibbering wave takes
but if it's all just the same, then will you say my name:
say my name in the morning, so I know when the wave breaks?

I wasn't born of a whistle or milked from a thistle at twilight
no, I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright
so: enough of this terror
we deserve to know light
and grow evermore lighter and lighter
you would have seen me through
but I could not undo that desire

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:32 PM
The opening of this song is so cinematic - musically and lyrically. It really sets a scene and draws you in and traps you for 17 minutes.

menju56
09-25-2011, 10:37 PM
Her voice on the "violins" bit!

The "shallow waters" bit!

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:38 PM
I remember posting in the SOTW for this song how it's almost like an expanded Sonata form, which fascinated me. Structurally, this song is so tight and together that it never feels meandering or aimless even though it is so long. It feels like it couldn't possibly be shorter or longer. There's a sense of trajectory throughout the song, and each section holds you and the pushes you off into the next one.

It reminded me of a quote from Tori from the Boys For Pele EPK, about how there has to be this "takeoff" like an airplane or something as you go from one section into the next. This song does that for me. It propels you through the song and never lets you rest too long or feel that it's dragging. It pulsates and moves as restlessly as her vocal melody which swoops and soars so gracefully.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:39 PM
I've never felt so sad for spiders as I do right now. :(

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:40 PM
The arrangement at this part is so wonderful:

"though we felt the spray of the waves
we decided to stay 'til the tide rose too far
we weren't afraid, 'cause we know what you are
and you know that we know what you are"

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:42 PM
And we are back to the restatement of the opening section of music again. Here be the musical analysis I did, for ye music nerds: http://www.unforumzed.com/showthread.php?1364-SOTW-Only-Skin&p=71801&viewfull=1#post71801

beanstew
09-25-2011, 10:44 PM
Just read the first paragraph of that ^. I'll have to do a lot of reading before I understand it.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:46 PM
all my bones they are gone, gone, gone

This part is stunning. Wow!

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:46 PM
Yeah. I guess it was written for music nerds by a music nerd :( Sorry! I'll have to find a way to rewrite it in simpler clearer language.

Oh this ending. This ending. I will never tire of this.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:47 PM
What makes it even more powerful is that she's sung this melody in two different places before putting it in this amazing arrangement at the ending. Brilliant stuff. Hinting at what's to come, so we're familiar with the melody when it comes back like this as the great climax and finale.

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:48 PM
That harp at the end is wonderful. The recording of the harp throughout this record is so good - Mr Albini did a darn good job of capturing the sound of the harp and her voice.

beanstew
09-25-2011, 10:49 PM
Yeah. I guess it was written for music nerds by a music nerd :( Sorry! I'll have to find a way to rewrite it in simpler clearer language.


No worries. I'll just appreciate the beauty of the music. :)

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:50 PM
Cosmia is the only one on the record where I kinda wish they'd expanded it more - but that's just from the live version on the Ys Street Band EP being so very good. I think that version is better than the album version.

beanstew
09-25-2011, 10:51 PM
I've only just got the EP and have only listened to it twice so haven't made my mind up yet as to which version I prefer.

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:52 PM
Those strings are kicking ass.

(That's the technical term, right, ebby?)

ebby
09-25-2011, 10:55 PM
Those strings are kicking ass.

(That's the technical term, right, ebby?)

Yes.

They really, really are. And the percussion! THE PERCUSSION!

Cuddlefish
09-25-2011, 10:59 PM
YAY! I'm going to go listen to this again.

Right when Ys came out, I made the mistake of skimming through "Cosmia" and stopping at the, "AND I MISS, AND MISS, AND MISS..." part. So, naturally, I was like, "ouch, my ears, and wtf." But I am so happy to have sat through Ys and loved it.

beanstew
09-25-2011, 11:01 PM
I'm not going to listen again now as I have to be up early for work so should be going to bed but Ys is one of the few albums I normally do listen to two or more times back to back. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.

other pete
09-25-2011, 11:19 PM
A real shame I missed this one, "masterpiece" is overused but Ys is one of the handful of album's I'd stamp it all over. I'll have a listen and read through during the week I think.

beanstew
09-25-2011, 11:24 PM
It is a masterpiece and I will be nominating it on Album Masterpieces (http://albummasterpieces.wordpress.com/about/) in a couple of weeks when I get my turn at a week of contribution. I fully expect a certain amount of controversy and abuse. :)

baroquepopfan
09-26-2011, 09:08 AM
Sorry I missed this last night, I would have enjoyed sharing the experience with you. I'll try to make the next one. What about Milk-eyed Mender?

rubidoux
09-26-2011, 01:48 PM
Ah, shame I didn't make it. I guess I'll just have a late private Ys listening party this evening. ;)

I wish I actually knew somebody IRL who loves this record as well, but all my friends don't seem to be interested in a 'freaky girl with a harp'. Even my most musically open-minded friend was like 'NO' when I played him "'81" (which I think could serve as an easy introduction to Joanna). Oh well, their loss.