Skip to main content

earthly paradise

music review :: o paradis :: cuando el tiempo sopla :: punch records

i'm not sure why o paradis get lumped in with the whole "neo-folk" movement. other than the combination of acoustic instruments and electronics (which is cutting a pretty broad swath), and a tendency towards a "softer" tone, there isn't much to link them. really, o paradis is part of a much more interesting group of artists (including ait!, novy svet, mushroom's patience and a few others) who have established a new sort of sound with elements of traditional, cabaret/ lounge, and experimental music that is as geographically rooted in southern europe as pure noise is in japan, coldwave is in germany or power electronics is in england.

of this group of artists, o paradis stands out as the most lyrical and the most emotional. this isn't the sort of contrived melancholy one gets from many artists, at times raw and unflinching enough to be uncomfortable, but moving in its complete honesty.

"cuando.." is o paradis' most experimental album to date, with the production and atmospheric sounds taking a more prominent place than previously, but it still falls back on the same key element: sole proprietor demian is a superb songwriter. that's a greater accomplishment than you might think, since it's fairly easy to dress up mediocre songwriting with effects and trickery and, if you're reading this blog, chances are that not everything in your music collection relies on the fragile mix of melody and harmony.

the fact that there is a greater range of elements at play here makes this a more diverse work than previous albums and allows it to float effortlessly between the world of reality and the world of dream. (nowhere is this established more clearly than on the first track, where the blissful intro dissipates into a rhythmic morass of industrial noises and finally into the sound of an alarm clock.)

fans of this school of music will recognise the hyper-distinctive vocals of jurgen weber (novy svet) and tairy ceron (ait!) and there are contributions on vocals and instrumentation from a few others, but, at the end, this is a one man show- deeply personal, exquisitely executed and exuding romance in all senses of the word.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…