Works of art that make us hear and see things in a new light

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Darth_Pazuzu, Sep 4, 2007.

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  1. Darth_Pazuzu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2005
    star 4
    I recently bought the CD of a cult classic album called "Trout Mask Replica." I had read many interesting and intriguing things about this disc in books and magazines over the years, so finally my curiosity was piqued enough to check out the disc myself. Has anyone else out there actually heard this disc? "Trout Mask Replica" was released in 1969 by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band and produced by none other than Frank Zappa.

    So what is this album like? Believe me, it is weird! I suppose as a listening experience, it's the equivalent of watching a movie like David Lynch's "Eraserhead," on one hand thinking perplexedly to yourself "What the hell is this?!" and at the same time finding it totally and utterly cool and fascinating.

    Captain Beefheart (whose real name is Don Van Vliet) has actually got a really cool singing voice, this wild, slightly deranged-sounding bluesman's voice. And the music performed by his band is this really strange, bizarre mixture of blues, avant-garde jazz, and God knows what else. And what makes the music even more amazing is that, even though it sounds utterly chaotic and random, it was actually fairly well-thought out and rehearsed in advance!

    Basically "Trout Mask Replica" seems to be a record made by someone totally hellbent on absolute originality at all costs, even if that means creating something that a great many people listening would have any sort of point of reference for! On one hand, this sort of approach is decidedly limiting in terms of popular appeal. But this album definitely ranks as a cult classic, and many people find the approach of Beefheart and his band of merry man very refreshing and original.

    I mean, yeah, I'd be lying through my teeth if I were to claim to have "got it" at this point in time, but I know I'll definitely be cranking this fascinating record again some time in the near future!

    Also, I recently purchased a new copy of an older book called "Stranded: Rock and Roll for A Desert Island," edited by Greil Marcus. It's a collection of essays from rock writers and critics in which they review the one album that they would want to have with them if they ever got stranded on a desert island! And one writer, Langdon Winner, reviewed Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica." The book and the essay were first published in 1979, and Langdon Winner's essay in its entirety covers pages 58-70. Here's some of what he had to say about the disc:

  2. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Usually it's a performance in a movie: Laurance Olivier as Hurstwood in Wm. Wyler's "Carrie" comes to mind; and generally I'm not fond of Olivier in movies. But it was bone-chilling to watch.
  3. Darth_Pazuzu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2005
    star 4
    By the way, I'm so sorry this thread got duplicated![face_laugh]I've just been having a load of trouble posting anything here that's got so many italicized and boldfaced words. I just assumed my first effort to post this thread was a bust, so I got rid of the boldfaces and italics and used quotation marks instead.

    Like I said, sorry![face_blush]
  4. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Not a problem; done it myself. [should I admit that?]
  5. Darth_Pazuzu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2005
    star 4
    Well, it's certainly been a while! Does anybody have anything else to add?:)
  6. darth_frared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 24, 2005
    star 5
    in retrospect there were many works of art that i felt i was transformed by but few actually do that... so i'd say i'm more transformed by people. that seems to make more sense...

    what i wrote longer about was radiohead's music at time when i was barely twenty and their paranoia seemed to fit so well (it still does) so my experiences there are always tied to specific places in my life, metaphoric places, i mean, you see.
    one could think it was bjork for me and she's certainly spent a lot of time on the pedestal i built for her but i didn't consciously acknowledge her as a role model of any kind. i'm not good with role models for some reason.

    a movie that had immense power was 23. it's still something that resonates with me in various disguises you could say, a young person trying to find their place in life. this time karl gets it wrong, he starts taking drugs and becomes paranoid (yeah, that's the other thing) but what is truly horrifying to see is how he is being manipulated by the government with no regard to his condition.
    when i *like* something i begin to obsessively research and in that case there was a whole book on him (although his case isn't terribly relevant to world politics) and i got into psychiatry und therapy through having seen it. neither has left me. it's the sort of story that sensitizes you to personal journeys and how you can majorly screw up when you're young because you have no friends and such. maybe sounds feeble put this way but i like stories that deal with human struggle. if they are done with artistic hands, even better, but they have to work on a different level first...

    23 was also the movie that made me look at german cinema anew, which must be a good thing.

    i don't know. right now i fail answering this.
  7. padluv Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 4
    these aren't all non-mainstream, sorry:

    THE SECRET GARDEN, the book that officially made me a book lover
    DEAD POETS SOCIETY bc it made me think about my hs experience differently
    Sarah McLachlan's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, also in college, that showed me intensity was ok
    Coming to know and love The Grateful Dead--changed my whole world view of life in college
    REALITY BITES right as i was about to graduate college, which really opened my eyes to life after school

    Recently,
    MUNICH and SYRIANA about the Middle East conflict



  8. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5
    Easily topping my list is Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Many people are baffled by the film, but when I was young, I at least had some access to the film's events and meanings for having read the novel, which gave me an awareness of the SURFACE intentions of Clarke and Kubrick in literary form. But through the years, I've seen it many times, and read hundreds of different critiques of it's images, analysis of it's filmmaking techniques, standard film reviews, complaints about it's ambiguity and slow pace, and countless tributes. But it's the visuals where Kubrick deliberately buried the film's appeal to the unconscious and that's what continues to fascinate me.

    How did the film make me see things in a new light? Simple. In it's telling of the tale of man's tools. And the dangers of becoming too dependent on tools. The film is, in my opinion, ultimately a cautionary tale about tools...our tools must ALWAYS serve US, NOT the other way around. The film shows it's messages over and over again. The very first time we see a human in 2001, he is ASLEEP while a tool (his pen) is floating out of his control. In the same way that a computer (a tool) will go out of control later in the film. Perfect symbolism for the storyline, in that mankind is not realizing his tools are getting away from him.

    The astronauts on board the Discovery spaceship have to ask Hal the computer to do even the smallest task for them. That's not healthy. And eventually, the astronauts are subjugated and even murdered by their tool, the computer, it's as if they are there to serve him and not the other way around. Eventually, in order to not be destroyed by Hal, one astronaut has to in effect KILL the computer, and we're back to the story presented at the beginning of the film, killing with a tool (bone) in order to survive. We've come full circle from our primitive origins. And how does the astronaut kill the most complex tool ever created, Hal the computer? With the simplest tool of all, a screwdriver. Perfect irony.

    To this day, 2001 makes me look at all our technology differently, the computer I'm typing this sentence on right now, my cellphone, traffic cameras, laser guided missiles, everything. Technology must always serve US and not the other way around. When I see people so enraptured by technology, and I see it all the time, I think of 2001, and Hal, and all that went wrong. And how at the end, it's man's SPIRIT that matters, not his tools.

    By the way, it's interesting to notice the "look" of 2001. The machines and vehicles begin to look more human, in subtle ways, and the people become more boring and predictable, almost machine-like. A curious role reversal and an intentional message from the director.

    Look how many films have carried on warnings about technology that began in 2001, The Matrix movies, the Terminator films, just to name a couple. You can't let the machines gain control, or look out!

    As for the symbolism of the monolith, and the intentions of the aliens who plant it on Earth,
    that's a whole other ballgame. I'm too sleepy to tackle that right now.
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