music preservation

Realtalk: Beauty and the Beast

((Spoilers: DUH))

Okay, but jokes about bad CGI wolves aside, Disney’s latest live action remake just served to remind me what didn’t work in the last few films. Keep in mind this is all my opinion and you don’t have to agree to any of it.

I could appreciate the effort they took in better explaining the lore. The classic film implied Beast could be as young as 11 when the curse took effect for them to be wasting away for “ten years” (as stated in the original Be Our Guest), and a lot of people were left puzzling as to how exactly an entire town failed to notice the ominous castle sitting on their outskirts for all those years. But as with all the other remakes Disney also attempted to flesh out the characters, usually in the form of a heavy backstory, and this is where they always seem to fall flat for me.

This is the main problem I have with live action: they seem to struggle in deciding which tone they want to run with. Do they want to prove they can play with darker and more sombre themes? Those poignant backstories and frequent deaths in the families would suggest so. But then they turn right around and try to emulate the cartoon almost frame for frame. Suddenly the action sequences, one-liners, and visual gags look too hammy and out of place, especially when juxtaposed with the aforementioned Dark Subjects. This isn’t helped by the uncanny valley characters at all.

I’m sure some kids out there find all of this enjoyable and see no problem with the new films (though personally if I saw that CG Lumiere as a child I would have run screaming out of the theatre), but all I could think as I watched Beast tear through the tower pining and singing his heart out was:

“Holy shit Disney, you should remake Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Think about it: they could play with dark themes all they wanted and it wouldn’t feel out of place at all. The animated film was already one of Disney’s heaviest, in fact I feel it’s been swept under the rug as a result of its heavier tone. The characters themselves are some of Disney’s most subdued and wouldn’t be terribly difficult to translate into live action without changing too much, and they could go nuts with the special effects and locations all they want because it’s got everything.

Medieval city? Check. Tall, ominous towers? Check. Spectacular views for breaking out into song? Check. Political/social commentary still relevant today? Check. Vibrant/fictional locales to pour their CGI budget into? Check. They’ve got one of the best villains in that movie, whether you love to hate him or just … love … him … if you’re one of those weirdos.

But that brings up another point: if they did rework it, I want them to go really dark with it. I’m talking taking cues from their friends in Germany and Der Glöckner von Notre Dame, a musical that managed to preserve a majority of the film while also capturing the weight of the original novel.

Don’t try to redeem Frollo like you did with Maleficent. Preserve all the slimy, misguided, despicable facets of his personality. Don’t gloss over the political commentary of gypsies in Paris, and highlight Clopin’s juxtaposed sides as a result–willing to do whatever it takes to survive even if it means stealing and murdering. We already have one of the most badass women out there in Esmeralda, and finally one who isn’t a damned princess that needs her sparkly dress. Give Phoebus a bigger role, give us time to really see the conflict between his role in society and his moral compass. Focus on Quasimodo’s internal struggle, torn between his curiosity and love for the outside world, but also his blind loyalty and affection to the one man who raised him his entire life.

And for f**k’s sake those gargoyles better be hallucinations to illustrate the toll a lifetime of solitude has taken on the poor guy or I am going to flip some heavy Medieval tables.

And finally Esmeralda dies. No-one gets the girl. Phoebus fails at his job, people get hurt as a result, and he can’t even save the love of his life. And Quasimodo is left utterly broken hearted and alone, with neither his father figure or his friends by his side. The movie ends as the stage play did: with our hunchback carrying the gyspy in his arms in a sad nod to the iconic “Sanctuary!” scene, walking away into the dark unknown, presumably to die as he did in the novel, with Esmeralda in his arms. A sombre Clopin, knocked back down to a beggar (if not dead as well during the seige), narrates the closing scene.

Because life sucks and that’s what you get for attempting to turn a Victor Hugo Novel into anything less than a tragedy.

TL;DR: Disney remake HoND. I double-dog-dare you.

(Oh my god I have not drawn these guys in literal ages. It felt so weird!)

Listen

When All Things Considered launched in 1971, NPR brought a “new and different” sound to radio. This new sound featured the creative energy and electrosonic compositions of Donald Voegeli, a musician and composer at the University of Wisconsin. The university received funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to compose music for both public television and radio. At the time, audio experimentation in electronic sound was on the rise, and Don took on this project with his synthesizer. Using a Putney, Don did some composing and the first iteration of the All Things Considered theme was born.

In this 1974 interview with Don, Susan Stamberg tells him, “You are really the man who has given us our sound.”

Image: Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives (ID S14739)

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DISNEY AFTERNOON COLLECTION retro video games from CAPCOM available 4/18 on Windows, PS4 and XBox One:

SAN FRANCISCO — March 15, 2017 — Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, today announced The Disney Afternoon Collection, a compilation of six games that feature beloved Disney TV characters from the 80s and 90s in fun-filled adventures. The beautifully restored classic games feature crisp 1080p HD support and include all-new modes that can be enjoyed by first-time players and long-time fans. The Disney Afternoon Collection will be available as a digital download across North America and Europe for $19.99 / £15.99 / €19.99 starting on April 18, 2017 on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC.

Players will be able to relive their childhood afternoons with Disney and explore these pieces of gaming history with classics including:

  • Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers – This classic lets players team up with a friend in co-op play as they assume the roles of the mischievous Chip and Dale as they take on memorable villain Fat Cat and attempt to solve the mystery of a missing kitten.
  • Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 – Fat Cat has escaped and his plans are even more dastardly this time. The titular heroes and supporting cast Monterey Jack, Gadget, and Zipper must stop Fat Cat from his evil dream of world domination!
  • Darkwing Duck – Play as the original caped crusader and fight a city full of criminals from the infamous F.O.W.L. organization in this action-packed platforming epic.
  • DuckTales – In this iconic platforming adventure, players help Scrooge McDuck fill his feathery pockets with vast riches from across the world.
  • DuckTales 2 – The sequel to the original game comes jam-packed with more action and an even bigger caper set in new locations like the Bermuda Triangle and Niagara Falls!
  • TaleSpin – Take to the skies as Baloo the bear navigates his plane through exotic and dangerous locations in this side-scrolling shoot-em-up.

All six games are new and improved HD versions of the originals and feature a number of filtering options that replicate a classic retro look and feel. This collection also offers new ways to play with Boss Rush and Time Attack modes for each game. In Boss Rush mode, players battle through challenging boss encounters consecutively, while Time Attack mode encourages time-based gameplay and provides online leaderboards that track the fastest times for each game. A new “Rewind” feature makes these challenging titles more accessible for newcomers, with the option to rewind time and enjoy a swift recovery from blunders. Additionally, the in-game Disney Museum will provide history buffs with a wealth of content to celebrate the era of the original releases, such as concept art, advertisements, character art, and music – all preserved in their original glory.

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Moments of unexpected magic are the Newport Folk Festival’s calling card. The festival typically sells out well before its lineup is even announced — but the official lineup is more of a rough guideline, anyway, since the weekend is peppered every year with surprise performances and collaborations.

An unannounced slot at the smallest of Newport’s main stages turned out to belong to Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, who played some new music with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and finished out their set by parading, second-line style, through the enormous crowd that had assembled.

What We Saw At Newport Folk 2017

Photos: Andrew Kissick for NPR

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Santiago (Live from One Eyed Jacks)

PresHallVEVO 

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“Baifang” by Hanggai (杭盖乐队). 2014.

Hanggai is an Inner Mongolian folk rock band based in Beijing. Their name “Hanggai” is the Mongolian word for natural landscape, and they incorporate traditional throat singing, morin khuur (horse-hair fiddle), and tobshuur (a two-stringed Mongolian banjo) in their music. They aim to preserve native forms of music by mixing them with modern music elements such as electric guitar, bass, and electronic programming. Amidst both Sinofication of culture and westernization of music, Hanggai promotes “Mongolian spiritual strength.” They amassed popularity after appearing on Chinese reality singing show Sing My Song (中国好歌曲) and have gone on to work with artists such as Khalil Fong.

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Silver Standard, Volume 3, Number 11, November 27, 1886

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Somebody I Used To Know Back In The 80s...
Literally what it says on the tin: Gotye's contemporary classic "Somebody That I Used To Know" remixed so that it sounds like it's straight from the 80's. Basically the best thing you'll ever hear -- just play this in a continuous loop at my funeral, folks.
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THE NORTHERN ONTARIO BLACK METAL PRESERVATION SOCIETY
“Rediscovering the Divine”
(Album: Future Northern Prosperity, 2010)


In memoriam…
David “Veillko” Gold