Monday, July 17, 2006

Recently seen: A Scanner Darkly

It's been years since I read the novel this was based on, but it seems an accurate representation of Philip K. Dick's ideas about control, self-alienation, and paranoia. There's a lot of great stoner humor wrapped inside this claustrophobic little story about an undercover cop (the futuristic conceit is that all cops are anonymous in uniform by virtue of a suit that constantly shifts appearances) who is assigned to investigate a dangerous addict who just happens to be his underground identity. The rotoscoping provides a wonderfully shifting perspective providing viewers with the slightly askew world of the high, and the themes of government intrusion on private lives and out-of-control corporate malfeasance could not be more timely. Some reviewers have thought the plot hard-to-follow and the characters overly chatty, but I didn't find the movie to be either.

Current listening: The Congos - Heart of the Congos

Speaking of shifting realities, this album is one of my favorites, one of the rare albums where production and performance combine into a lovely muddy funk with diamond-crystal points (so you know that the mud is there on purpose). Lee "Scratch" Perry produces the album so that each song is built around a rich, heavy bassline (playing slightly off-kilter, the reggae way) with all sorts of phased percussive sounds weaving in and out of the songs (the dub way) while the Congos wail and harmonize over the top. The best song - "Congoman" - layers the Congos' voices so many times with such heavy reverb that they sound like the voices of forgotten gods. The rest of the album is almost as compelling, full of brainteasing noise and ass-shaking grooves. This is the sound of your brain on drug music.


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From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

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