the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

Posts Tagged ‘review

Children of the Wave – Carapace

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This music has space in it, around it, beyond its borders. It’s about traces and remnants that are left behind from something that once lived, something that held quarters inside its walls. For want of a better word, it feels delicate, this Carapace.

Though the duo responsible for these sounds cut their teeth in bands as diverse as the folk-pop oriented Major Chord and noisier Front of Van, their resulting collaboration takes little from these origins except for a true love of meshing a variety of aural echoes together. The difficulty, then, is finding a suitable entry point to begin to describe the luscious flow this album has. ‘Something Good’ is perhaps the best place to start, though this realisation doesn’t come immediately, it takes several listens, indeed almost ten, to appreciate the gentle majesty of this track. It’s disjointed – thoroughly so – but recalls some glorious folk-pop moments of yesteryear complete with an extra beautiful, indescribable touch that manages to transcend any particular notions of the here and now.

There are field recordings, too, but Carapace is not swamped in them. Fragments of kora, violin, melodica and glockenspiel enter the proceedings – all performed and integrated with such grace that they end up floating over you like some sort of quaint dream, a fleeting memory that doesn’t return until the play button is pressed again. Fortunately the melodies never escape the billowing chambers, but grow ever more with each listen, slowly and gradually taking the place of the experience that its creators had when making this record. Intimate and quirky at the same time, the strains of ‘Happy Bats’ marry a gentle strum with a reverberating hum, layers upon layers of sound nestled within the walls of the song.

All too soon, the proceedings end with ‘Should There Be Violence?’, the epitome of the Children of the Wave experience. It feels as if there are at least three separate songs within this final opus, a sprawling experience that takes over thirteen minutes to fully unfold with a lengthy void between each movement, as it were. For all the languid moments though, Carapace seeps into the real world and exudes a vibrancy that’s simply astonishing to behold. The shell is no longer a cage to store these experiences but a fully fledged home; a place that can be returned to time and time again to explore the delights within.


Written by lexstatic

January 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Album Reviews

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Sydney Film Festival: I Always Wanted To Be A Gangster

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The Sydney Film Festival is, more often than not, a place to be seen rather than a place you go to see. Red carpets and media starlets aside, the crowded foyer of the State Theatre plays out like a casting call for a meet and greet, air kiss extravaganza.

Of course, a French film shot in black and white seems like the ultimate film to be seen at. However, rather than just being a du jour thing to do, Samuel Benchetrit’s Sundance award-winning film J’ai toujours rêvé d’être un gangster (I Always Wanted To Be A Gangster) uses this monochromatic palette in a very effective way.

There are four interweaving stories, each using the central theme of a highway cafeteria in suburban France as their main focus. As such there is no traditional linear narrative, and essentially it is a collection of four short films which, on a superficial level at least, are tied together by little more than one common element.

However, that being said, the element that struck me most about Benchetrit’s script was that every story told a gentle tale of a forgotten character – the bumbling would-be robber who opens the film, to the emo heiress to her father’s wealth. Even the aging musicians who meet surreptitiously in the cafeteria late one night on tour with their respective bands are in essence a part of the forgotten landscape.

Interspersed with gentle throwbacks to film noir, as well as silent and classic cinema, I Always Wanted To Be A Gangster flourishes because of the elegant cinematography and humorous, at times slapstick, script. The best performance comes from the bumbling kidnappers in the second story, echoing Jean Reno and Gerard Depardieu’s silliness in another French film, Tais Toi. Given such a subtle script and an ensemble of talented actors, even cornflakes can be made funny.

Written by lexstatic

June 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm