Thursday, September 25, 2008

AWOT @ WOTS

This coming Sunday, I'll be doing a thing at the Toronto edition of Word On The Street in Queen's Park. Not entirely sure what I'll be doing yet – some combination of reading and genial blah blah blah, I'm guessing. I'll try to keep it lively, whatever it is.

What I do know – and what I'm more excited about, frankly – is that Alex Lukashevsky will be reforming The Weeklongs (one time only!) to perform the odd little piece of music he composed specifically for the launch of my novel, lo those many months ago. He has also arranged a version of one of his own songs to perform.

This is all happening at 4:30 on the EYE Weekly stage at the east side of the park. Come one, come all. There'll be books for sale, as well as (I think) copies of Alex's most recent CD.

Speaking of Alex, Owen Pallet (a.k.a. Final Fantasy, a.k.a. the guy who done did the strings for Arcade Fire, etc.) just released an EP of six of Alex's songs, all performed by a full-on orchestra. The results are a little surreal, though I haven't yet heard the whole thing. I think it's great for Alex, and I hope it leads more people to his stuff, but I worry that the orchestral versions remove some of the tight corners and pointy elbows that are integral to the songs. Alex's music can be a hard sell because it revels in its musicness to an occasionally uncomfortable degree. Even having listened to his stuff for years (including a brief period finding myself musically way over my head playing drums in his band, Deep Dark United), there's still a few a few floors on his particular tower of song that I tend to bypass. But that's the point: it doesn't all have to taste like chicken. Alex doesn't present fully formed musical vignettes (however great that can be when done right) or multiple variations on a single theme (ditto), but rather turns the whole process – songwriting, performance, recording – into a kind of continuous workshop, with all the attendant hazards. (I am furiously resisting words like "journey" and "search" and "exploration" due to the anal-clenching that occurs just typing them, but there it is.) Too much Cassavetes can leave you yearning for something a little more composed, idiomatic, and singular in intent, but there has to be room for the kinds of raw power and engagement that only occurs when you take off the leash, or the apron strings, or whatever metaphor of restraint you prefer. And some of Alex's shows – solo and otherwise – are among the most wig-flipping musical performances I've ever seen.

Which is all to say that you should come out Sunday afternoon. There'll be balloons for the kids.

ADDED: Alex and I both pick a favourite in this week's EYE Weekly.

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