It's time for Andy's attempt at seriousness!
There comes a time in everyone's life when you just want to get out of your head, happily zoned out in your own little fairy world. Throughout the ages people have employed various different methods of achieving said state; popular choices include the opium dens of colonial China, Ancient Rome's wild orgies, or just getting stoned out of your mind in your parents' basement while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. Far be it from me to dissuade you from any of these avenues of pleasure, bountiful as they may be, but if you're looking for a way to lose yourself in public with nobody throwing you in jail (you exhibitionist, you) then today's pairing is for you.Italo Calvino
was a great Italian post-war novelist, probably most noted for his children's classic Marcovaldo
, but his book Invisible Cities
is the one to focus on, for while the whimsical adventures of hapless Sig. Marcovaldo are brilliantly written, humourous and melodious, it's when Calvino applies himself to the imaginary exploits of legendary Venetian traveller Marco Polo that he really comes into an area of his own. Invisible Cities
consists of conversations between Marco Polo and the aging emperor Kublai Khan, who is rendered powerless to experience his own empire by the endless opus of government. Marco Polo is enlisted as the Khan's eyes and ears, to explore the vast empire and report the numerous cities back to the emperor so that he may know something of his own dominion. It's Polo's descriptions of these cities that takes up most of the book, which occasional interruptions of dialogue between the Khan and Polo. Polo's descriptions of the cities range from the fantastic to the mundane, but every city bears not only descriptions of inhabitants, streets, sights or exports but a key concept to consider. Calvino's writing style here comes into its own as he visualises endless metropolises, often bizarrely rendered or starkly anachronistic, but nevertheless captivating, ethereal and otherworldly.Zero 7
's sprawled album When it Falls
is the perfect companion to Calvino's meditative novel. The opening track, with its synaesthetic title 'Warm Sound', begins with a sustained gentle, fuzzy chord followed slowly by muted background noises, including a telephone ringing, heralding the beginning of your removal from the everyday and humdrum. Throughout the album, pulsing, soft yet insistent synthesisers and electric organs backed by nonchalant basslines and complementary drum grooves almost force relaxation upon you, like a giant hand wrapping you n a warm blanket and depositing you in front of a crackling fire on a cold night, with a mug of hot chocolate and a big furry rug. This isn't to say that the album is without heights of drama or drive; the instrumental, 'Look Up', is one of the most subtly energetic tracks I know; but throughout, instead of blaring, high-NRG in-your-face thumping bass and disco beats, Zero 7's strength lies in springing their own brand of quiet euphoria on you so carefully that you don't notice until it's too late.
Extracts to enjoy together; ( Hypatia (Cities & Signs : 4)Collapse )Warm Sound
(good for 25 downloads only)