Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Fartwork: Stars' Sad Robots EP

Sad Robots EP
(Arts & Crafts)

Today, we're gonna dissect the fartwork of Stars' 2008 EP Sad Robots.

As is always, we start with the text - which is placed on the top left corner, clearly as a compositional afterthought. The font for "STARS" is a serif font. The font for "SAD ROBOTS" is sans serif, and the font for "EP" has very, very small serifs that only I can see. All this indicates to us already that what we're looking at is a deep social comment on the collision of modernity with post-modernity.

In the picture, we see a robot, his human wife and his two brothers-in-law. The scene is a turn-of-the-century industrial balcony, with its crude mesh fence, overlooking the historic and original Brighton Pavilion. The setting itself is brimming with the temporal clash - an industrial observation deck ominously watching an elegant city, waiting to destroy it from top-down with its robotic metal ugliness. The right half of the picture is blackish and evil to behold. The left half is pristine and virginal in its serenity. Clearly, a metaphorical rape of a civilisation is about to occur.

Which leads us to consider the relationship between all four parties. What's happening here is that there are two sad female robots beneath the deck - they are cousins of the robot in the picture, whom he is introducing as spouses for his two brothers-in-law. But they are caught in a taboo-filled setting.

The woman is placed in the middle, linking the two distinct worlds with her pink dress - a colour that symbolises the corruption of her innocence with the metallic non-human behind her. Her brothers are watching and considering if this is a fate they want to embrace. The brother in the barret isn't amused, possibly because he cannot yet fathom the pleasures a female robot can give him. All this contributes to the sadness of the two unseen female robots standing downstairs. Their brother, the robot in the picture, stands back because he cannot watch his sisters' rejection.

But obviously, by now, even you can see that the end is nigh.

Stars - Sad Robots

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday Fartwork: Regina Spektor's Far

Regina Spektor

In Regina Spektor's album fartwork for Far, we are confronted with a complex vision of labour and oppression. To break it down, let's start with the text.

The words "regina spektor" and "far" are placed at the central top portion of the image, in the same font, size and spacing from each other. This emphasises that neither the person nor the produce are in competition - both are equally important (or unimportant, as we shall soon see). Regina's name is coded in black, or the feminine yang. The fruit of her labour is coded in white - the masculine yin. This is to represent the totality of the working person.

Curiously, the font chosen is a hollow font, and is intentionally used here to represent the vacuous role of art and artist in the larger scheme of things. People see through them even as they see them.

The image itself is an illustration of a lady cleaning her piano from graffiti that clearly has been sprayed all over her instrument of music. Eventhough the lady is hard at work wiping the stain off, she is clearly pleased with the progress she is making. We the viewer, of course, are not privy to her progress. This has serious significance, because the lady represents the working class woman, cleaning the graffiti stain of the slums as it invades even whatever little she has that represents a bourgeois existence. Her environment is self-destructive. Yet, we cannot see her results. Her labour, like all working class labour, is hidden from our bourgeois eyes.

Her environment is also constricting. Behind her, where an open window should reveal an open sky, there is instead a brick wall. This case of poor building craftsmanship represents the poverty of the entire architectural concept - another sign that all elements of the middle-class is under threat.

The cleaning lady herself - resembling the actual Regina Spektor - has brownish red hair and brownish red lips. Nothing else on her is coloured, but the colouration of her hair and lips is cryptic. It seems to imply that objects of personal beauty alone can triumph in this constricted space.

All-in-all, this album fartwork is saying that for the working class woman, living in a working class environment replete with vandalism and shoddy building work, the only escape for her is her beauty. But consider this: the very thing she is trying to wipe off - the sky graffiti - is itself a symbol of freedom and emancipation. Unknowingly, in her faithful labour, she destroys all hope of eventual escape. Truly, this is Regina's most cynical, bitter commentary on life till date.

Regina Spektor - Folding Chair

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Broken Social Scene in Malaysia (not just Singapore)

Right, right so we know the band's penned for a show at Singapore on the 27th of July, but hey, word has it that some peeps at this end are trying to get the guys down here for a show as well. That would be swell. So swell that I have in fact offered to put up the band. Yeah, all 329 (or was it 331?) of them. Yeah I have this large field behind my home where they can lay wherever they want, take a dump wherever they want and eat whatever they want (only grass is on the menu).

Oh wait, I had that field before I gave all my money away to charity (it's just something I do). Now all I have is a small laundry area behind my room. No worries, we can just stack them up to the roof. You still have my go ahead organizers! *shows a thumbs up gesture

Broken Social Scene - Guilty Cubicles (from Feel Good Lost)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fartwork: DCFC's Transatlanticism

Death Cab For Cutie
(Barsuk Records)

Look what we have here with us. The fartwork of Death Cab For Cutie's 2003 breakout album, Transatlanticism. Looks benign on the surface. But unbeknownst to you, an insidious message lurks beneath this cover.

The band's name and album title are in a serif-styled font, in a dark colour, and placed at the top of the image, balanced - one of the left and one on the right. This is Ben Gibbard telling you he takes his band seriously and he thinks they've got themselves on top of things.

But what's with the bird and the ball of red wool? The bird is a crow. He looks pissed off, for reasons that will soon be obvious, but who does he represent? Clearly, he represents DCFC's singer Ben Gibbard. The name "Ben" comes from "Benjamin", which is a Hebrew name meaning "son of the south". Gibbard longs to go southward, perhaps to Argentina, or to Africa, but he's stuck in a web of "Transatlanticism", a metaphor of going sideways without really going anywhere.

The red wool, then, represents the oppressive forces of left-wing elitism of the music industry. We know this because the wool is wrapping Gibbard the Crow and is stifling him from flying wheresoever he wishes. We also know this because in 2003, DCFC was signed to Barsuk Records but one year later, they would sign on to Atlantic Records. Hence, this record cover is Gibbard's way of saying that his band's trans-Atlantic signing is leaving him as pleased as a wound up crow.

The creased paper-like quality of the backdrop emphasises the fakery of the world he lives in and the soft focus at the bottom of the artwork where the wool and the bird's body is further reinforces that the focus is not on going south, where Ben, the son of the south, actually longs to be.

I am truly brilliant. All hail me.

Death Cab For Cutie - Death Of An Interior Decorator

Look what I found in the bargain bin

Ryan Adams
(Lost Highway)

Price: S$3.95

I decided to feature 'Nightbirds' as the token mp3 here because rumor has it that it's Ryan Adams' 1,789 876 song written. What significance does that number have in general? Well for one, it's exactly the amount of times I've played poker with a Cheetah, as well as rode a camel in a Camel Grand-Prix.

Ryan Adams - Nightbirds (from 29)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gig-gles: Andrew Bird Live in Singapore

Better late than never, that's my motto. Some might say this gig review may have come a tad too late but I maintain that it's right on time. Because the wonderful show that this Chicago native threw together will forever be relevant, from his brilliant ability to sample the crap out of everything right down to his ability to whistle like like me (when I catch the eye of a 'fit bird')

Oh yeah, back to the 'on time' bit. Yup, it's totally on time. See unlike losers like Genusfrog, I actually prefer to catch a bus three days after I'm supposed to catch it and eat cheese cake four years after it's expired. I can then call it 'blue cheese' cake. Oh wait, it looks kind of green. Or is it purple? Hmm ... might be a tinge of navy blue in there somewhere. Ooo ... the Navy! Guns ...

Andrew Bird - Simple X (from Armchair Apocrypha)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gig-gles: Stereophonics Live in KL

From the picture above, I can immediately tell that the upcoming show by this Welsh band in our home turf is going to be fab. Why? Because of these reasons:

1) It will feature many leather jackets. Not one, but many
2) There will be groping, much groping
3) There will be semi-orgasmic faces, not one, but many
4) There will be at least one douche bag
5) Kelly Jones' mouth. Watch that thing open and swallow up the earth


Date: April 28
Venue: KL Live
Price: RM78 (early bird) and RM118. Tickets available here

Stereophonics - Local Boy in the Photograph (from Word Gets Around)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gig-gles: Shai Hulud - Asia Tour 2010

American hardcore band Shai Hulud is slated for a couple of shows around this region. This represents the first time the progressive hardcore/punk band has traveled to these parts and it should be a maximum treat for their fans here.




Just kidding. This Shai Hulud is coming instead ...

Yeah man, shit your pants suckers, shit your pants.


1 May Singapore, Blackhole
2 May Jakarta, Indonesia, The Green Cafe
3 May Bandung, Indonesia, Fame Station
4 May Solo, Indonesia, Megaland 2nd Floor
7 May Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, One Cafe
9 May Bangkok, Thailand, The Rock Pub

Shai Hulud - In the Mind and Marrow (from Misanthropy Pure)

Look what I found in the bargain bin

Bruce Springsteen

Price: S$6.95

Looking at the cover, I can therefore conclude that Nebraska is not too far away from Alaska, simply because the name of both places sound fairly similar. Kinda like how my name is Geekosus Magnifitous while my little half brother's name is Loserus Fatilicious. Both are my momma's sons.

Bruce Springsteen - State Trooper (from Nebraska)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Look what I found in the bargain bin

Different Class

Price: S$12.90

You know what is a 'different class'? Genusfrog. Because unlike me, he posts one blog post every 1,295 days, which makes him slightly a little more productive than a Bungalum (a rare Amazonian snail) and about 20 times more unproductive than your garden variety one. Now that's a different class.

Pulp - Disco 2000 (from Different Class)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Let's get lyrical, lyrical: Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You

You are the girl that I've been dreaming of ever since I was a little girl
You are the girl that I've been dreaming of ever since I was a little girl

I'm biting my tongue
He's kissin' on you
Oh, why can't you see?
One! Two! Three! Four!

The word's on the streets and it's on the news:
I'm not gonna teach him how to dance with you.
He's got two left feet and he bites my moves.
I'm not gonna teach him how to dance, dance, dance, dance
The second I do, I know we're gonna be through.
I'm not gonna teach him how to dance with you.
He don't suspect a thing. I wish he'd get a clue.
I'm not gonna teach him how to dance, dance, dance, dance

You're biting my tongue.
I'm kissin' on you.
Is he better than me?
One! Two! Three! Four!

The word's on the streets and it's on the news:
I'm not gonna teach him how to dance with you.
He's got two left feet and he bites my moves.
I'm not gonna teach him how to dance, dance, dance, dance

Wow, everyone's into long titles for songs these days huh? I mean what happened to the days when you just named your songs after one alphabet (namely 'I', as in me, because there should never be anyone else ha ha). I mean just the other day, I saw a song named 'Pork Knuckle, Chicken Feet, Elephant Butts and Squirrel Nuts in the Basket of Shit'. Determined not to be outdone, I wrote a song titled 'Pork Knuckle, Chicken Feet, Elephant Butts and Squirrel Nuts in the Basket of Shite'.

I mean, yeah, mine has to be longer.

Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You (from Partie Traumatic)

Look what I found in the bargain bin

The Raveonettes
Lust Lust Lust

Price: S$4.95

Hey wait a minute, that's some 3D thingy there eh? Let me get my 3D glasses ...

(after 2 minutes) ... found it! Okay lets see what this baby can do ... oh man, those are some seriously hot babes there. Woo hoo, nice pair there girl. What? You can't see them? They are on the TV there. Eh, what album cover? TV man, TV.

The Raveonettes - You Want the Candy (from Lust Lust Lust)

Friday Fartwork: Dylan Mondegreen's While I Walk You Home

Dylan Mondegreen
While I Walk You Home
(Division Records)

I shall kickstart this first piece of Friday Fartwork the only way I know how - in the bedroom. And what a bedroom we've found ourselves in. Let's deconstruct this cover a little and start with the text.

The first line says "DYLAN MONDEGREEN" - that, in all likelihood, should be the name of the album. Which makes the bit beneath it, "while i walk you home", the name of the band. And because it's positioned beneath the album title, and in smaller sized typefont, we're being told that this band, While I Walk You Home, is a humble band that considers its art superior to its identity.

Moving on to the visuals. We have the scene of a girl doing her laundry and a man, positioned further behind her, assisting in this piece of household chore. How do I know this, you may ask. Well, it might escape most of you, but my fantastic powers of semiotics caused my eyes to notice the grimace on the girl's face. This, coupled with the fact that she is staring at a food stain on her collar, tells me that it is Saturday morning and it's time to use the washing machine. The man undressing behind her is complying with this weekend ritual by clearing what's on him to be thrown in along with the wash. He may or may not be her lover - but that's irrelevant.

The real brilliance of all this, of course, is in how everything comes together. The album title, Dylan Mondegreen must have something to do with this mundane scene of two people preparing to wash their clothes. But what is the link? For this, I resorted to a bit of highschool etymology. Mondegreen is made up of two words: "Monde", which means "world" in French and "green" is simply the colour of leaves, grass and jealousy. "Dylan" is a Welsh name that means "son of the sea". So, the name of this record really is "Son of the sea, french green world".

Which starts to make sense now. They're not in fact using a washing machine to do their laundry. They are children of the sea, and they are taking their laundry to the green world outsid... what? Wait a minute.

(What? How is it about vegetables? Oh. U-huh. U-huuuh. Oh. You're right.)

Pantsy just pointed out that Mondegreen translates not into "french green world" but "french world of greens". Which means that this album fartwork is all about the vegetable stain on the girl's collar which precipitates the need for doing laundry. Finally, it all makes sense. Thanks Pantsy. Well spotted.

Dylan Mondegreen - Girl In Grass
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