Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm obsessed!

I can't get over The Real Tuesday Weld (the London band that may just be one guy, Stephen Coates) and the incredible music and animation that those four words continue to mean. Octopunk introduced me to them years ago by walking into my house, opening his laptop and insisting (before even taking his coat off) that I watch the animated video for their "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" (one of several collaborations with Russian animator Alex Budovsky). (The sequel, "Last Time in Clerkenwell", is even weirder, and its music is vastly more complex.) The below is the first of two new TRTW videos by Giant Squid Eye, who take a completely different approach to a far more conventional song (or is it?)

The entire thing is completely fascinating. Coates calls the style "antique beat" (kind of a musical steampunk? Or would "musical steampunk" be fucking Victorian CoE hymnals?) since it's built on clarinet, acoustic guitar etc., but it's also heavily dependent on an old Roland analog synth (the famous MC-303, the foundation of all Acid House). (!). The cartoon is pretty deep stuff, in my opinion...the Biblical lounge atmosphere is surreal. Anyway I thought you 'thonners might enjoy it all.

UPDATE: Here's the other Giant Squid Eye/RTW video, "Kix," in which they violate the basic laws of space and time.


Catfreeek said...

Fantastic! Thanks for posting it Jordan.

Jordan said...

Glad you like it!

Now, you should watch the Budovsky cartoons that I linked too.

This stuff is more and more interesting the deeper you get into it. The arrangement of this song is so clever! I love those bluesy arpeggios on the tinny piano.

Catfreeek said...

I'm headed there right now :)

JPX said...

Wow, love it! "Antique beat" is the perfect description. Initially I thought it had a Steamboat Willie feel (especially the guitar-playing cow), but it's so much better than that. I love the simple, clean animation, the hypnotic song that's been in my head for an hour, and the overall somber feel to the innocent looking characters. Weird stuff, that's why I love this site and all you guys for keeping me on the pulse of the unusual!

Dana's Brain said...

Very cool! Octo had shown "Bathtime..." to me as well. Didn't realize it until I started watching. Love all three.

Jordan said...

Several great things about "The Show Must Go On:"

1) The part where the singer impatiently taps the microphone

2) The sudden cut to the clarinet player (and the realization that he's not an animal; he's another guy in a suit!)

3) The giraffe sampling the martini

4) The alien piano player returns to his spacecraft

5) It's Noah's ark, right? "The show must go on?" Life must continue even as God floods the Earth?

JPX said...

I had to watch it a few more times to catch all that, thanks for pointing out those more subtle aspects. It's just so weird!

Jordan said...

I especially love that the big line of the song is

Just get up off your knees and say
"Fuck you -- I'm on my way"

In the cartoon context it's especially jarring and brilliant. Note that the animation cuts to a big facial closeup just before he sings it.

Some of the commenters on YouTube compare the singer to Pete Doherty. I'm about to append the posting with a link to the other Giant Squid Eye/Real Tuesday Weld video, in which they violate the laws of space/time.

50PageMcGee said...

i too got turned on to rtw by the bathtime in clerkenwell video. i'm really impressed with his breadth -- not just the instruments he employs, but also how in-idiom he makes it all sound. the tracks you picked are undoubtedly hip-hoppy, but the background music has a really classic feel and the animation really captures this.

if you like rtw's music, you may also wish to check out Mr. Scruff. similar weird sense of humor and taste for mixing styles.


unfortunately, i couldn't find a video for "fish" that was any good...


Jordan said...

I'll have as long a conversation as anyone wants to have about the specific musical techniques being used. The information about the Roland MC-303 is fascinating; I'm sure that's the Roland coming in with the drums two verses into "Show Must Go On." The arrangements starts with that bluesy-arpeggio melody; the guitar contributes NO complexity at all, while the Roland carries the beat and the harmonics with the piano.

"Last Time" is a very very deep mix: it's almost like Dust Brothers in that he seems intent on filling every quarter-note-sized empty space with something interesting. The xylophone on the second verse is amazing; it returns later, but with minor-key overtones. The pacing and the variations are cool, given how the main vocal line never wavers at all.