Haul away, haul away, haul away, haul away, haul away
Apostle of Hustle
On November 7, 2008 Apostle of Hustle along with Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq took the stage at the Glenn Gould Studio to record a live performance for CBC Radio 2. This is my “live blog” of the on demand version of the Apostle of Hustle half of the show.
I am familiar with the music of Apostle of Hustle but not Tanya Tagaq. The show begins with her signature throat singing style which is a little strange at first. On it’s own it sounds like she is gagging at first, eventually morphing into a more pleasant sound. The first ten minute track is entitled Improvisation, meaning that this singing is being made up as she goes. As any child of the internet age would, I went immediately to Wikipedia to find out more about throat singing. It may have originated in ancient Mongolia and traveled with the Inuit into the arctic. Interestingly, it is normally done as a competition between two women with the winner determined by who can outlast the other. Tanya Tagaq (find her music here) appears to be the only person practicing this style in a professional capacity as a solo artist. She aspires to be like Bjork in that she is different from mainstream music, and she represents a specific group of people. I have not had much to say about the first track because of its nature. I think it is a unique exploration of two merging musical ideas, namely throat singing and indie rock in an improvised setting. In some ways I imagine it is an homage to the traditional Inuit competition with the band in the role of competitor.
The second track is Baby, You’re In Luck. It is jazzy (a loose term to use I know) and sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of a dark film noir. I can almost see the smoke rising from cigarettes in a dingy bar while two hitmen go about their business.
Next up is Xerxes a song that begins with an upbeat drum and guitar intro. This song has its share of pop culture references. This is more of an indie rock song than the previous one. Obviously “indie rock” is a ridiculously open ended term. I imagine I use it in the sense of guitar based songs with quirky vocals and harmonies that are good but not pop perfect. Of course synth instruments also have a role in a lot of indie songs, but I think you get the general idea. The guitar tone in Xerxes is nicely off kilter. To me, it’s the type of tone that fits in a Paul Simon solo song but that I would likely reject for use on my own album. I probably need to reconsider that.
Perfect Fit. Do you know about Apostle of Hustle? No? Well here is some info. Essentially, they are the brainchild of Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene. He was inspired by the music of Cuba, and Apostle of Hustle grew out of that fascination. I’m not as familiar with Cuban music as I might be, but I can definitely see the inspiration in a song like Perfect Fit.
How to Defeat a More Powerful Enemy is apparently about pamphlets falling from planes, inciting revolution. It starts out sounding like a Broken Social Scene song with sharp guitar lines and splashy drums. This is a new song for the band and I am always fascinated with how bands play new songs. They never seem quite right at first, probably because they don’t have the polish of tunes that have been around longer. Generally, if you hear a band preview a new song that later shows up on an album, you will recognize it, but be happier about the change. This track has a lot of potential, despite it’s goofy premise.
Cabaret Song was part of a theatrical project the band engaged in. They give the impression that the song after this one, Spirit Town, is also part of the same experiment. This is a good song, the guitar is just right in the instrumental parts, but I wonder what this has to do with some kind of theatre production. Spirit Town is a song “for the dancers.” The drums do provide a suitable rhythm for moving at a slow pace. The guitar is U2-esque, playing around with delay a little bit. In fact, this song could be a U2 track. Of course, if they did it, the vocals would be more overwhelming. Whiteman is decidely understated. I take it back, the song takes a turn into funky land at one point and abandons any connection to Irish rock.
That’s it for Part I, as usual Part II runs tomorrow.