Wednesday, September 28, 2005

CocoRosie / Noah's Ark / Rating 3.4

Noah's Ark is one of the most annoying records you're liable to remember

About their image

1) A Native American infused Frida Kahlo isn’t such a terrible visual role model when compared to those female artists who pander to the press with half naked MAXIM inspired “I’m hot first, a musician second” images.

2) Quintron has been drawing on his face with a black marker for at least a decade and if you want to talk about terrifying and intriguing partnerships take a gander and Quintron and Miss Pussycat.

3) You want creepy family relations? Check out the song "Lemon Incest" by Serge Gainsbourg and his daughter Charlotte. Or The Palace Brothers song “Riding”. If CR upsets you than steer clear of the Danielson Family. They really are about God and family.

4) Even indie rock needs an answer to the Olson twins

5) The white stripes wished they were actual siblings rather than a divorced couple. Lying to the press about it is just sad.

6) A quote from CR “But we were very diligent about trying to not let the world influence us or expectations of the world to enter into our creative space. We really worked hard on it and were able to render again this very strange kind of eerie glamour that comes from our aloneness together.”

The cover art: Without getting too art critique 101 on your ass lets look at the basics. The record is called Noah’s Ark so does the crazy art tie in somehow? Yes.

1) Keeping the bible in mind and the sister's love for spiritual / mystical images, the word unicorn is mentioned in the Old Testament 7 times. It appears after doing some further study that the OG translation from Hebrew got screwed up and they were actually trying to describe a different horned beast but nonetheless we have unicorns in the good book.

2) CCR quote:” Christianity still plays a really big part in American culture, and Western culture in general, and that in itself is built in with a load of contradictions that would affect American society.” What could be more contradictory and yucky than a bible story and childlike drawing of unicorns mounting one another in a three way, dashed with bling while spewing rainbows and gems.

3) There is nothing wrong with uncensored doodles straight from the imagination. As humorous as this art looks I believe there is absolutely a deeper level of thought put into it. Coupled with the lyrics / music this art could be considered quite meaningful.

4) Unicorns are suppose to be a symbol of purity, innocence, virginity so its actually pretty funny / ironic to have them behaving in quite the opposite fashion.

5) If you are familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark then you already know how it ends: The Ark door opened and there was the first rainbow. (Gen. 9:12-17) Rainbows? I repeat, we have rainbows on the cover too.

6) Don’t let me fool you, I don’t know crap about the bible but I do know how to use google.

About lyrics and themes: If only more bands put forth 1/10 of the effort CR shows on their records.

1) There is a mythical story told about (wo)man in each song on CR's Noah’s Ark and if that doesn’t sound a little like a Bible chapter (in an opium dream sorta way) I don't know what does.

2) More fun facts from the story of the Noah’s Ark in the Bible: God created a perfect world. 1500 years later God checks in and sees nothing but sin, violence, and wicked things. God regrets making humans so God decides to destroy all living things on the earth. God does so with a flood, a really really big flood. Like 40 days and 40 nights worth of flood. ( Its so hard not to invision the horrific scenes from these past two hurricanes. I know the last thing we all need to talk about is a flood right now so let’s move on) CocoRosie offers 12 songs that capture distinct and wholly unique human experiences in abstract ways that I believe people are more accustomed to experiencing in mediums like painting or photography.

3) We know the Bible says Noah built an Ark so why can’t two sisters make an album representing their special take on humanity while preserving their idea of family. If you really want to get specific the Bible has a kagillion more lude adult situations mentioned between its front and back cover then either of CocoRosie's records put together and on eternal repeat. ( I already know that very idea is many a person's version of a personal hell so save it)

5) A quote about CR “That sense of community—the idea that, as the album's title jocularly suggests, at least two of every type of beast and beauty in the city conspired to make these songs—is what distinguishes the record. "South 2nd" and "Armageddon" are future-thinking, streetwise jeremiads; "Bare Hides and Buffalo" and "Beautiful Boyz" contrast modern times and modern sounds with ancient laments. Drug users and Martin Luther are made into an unlikely pair on "K-Hole." Their first record looked inward, the second looks outward. On La Maison, they wrote about their world; on Noah's Ark, they write about the world.”

6) Their flamboyant story telling and other wordly voices reek of a modern day opera sung by characters one usually saves for those dreams that fall somewhere between fairytale and nightmare. (The delusional state I reach after a week of insomnia finally has an appropriate soundtrack.)

7) There are quite a few Beat writers whose work (from people like Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs) isn't too distant from Cocorosie’s choice of language. I am dissapointed at how annoyed others are by CR's skwed and occasionally jarring lyrical style. I fear we are progressing backwards (culturally speaking) if their words and topics appear so alien and worthy of vicious criticism.

8) More CCR quotes: "In our music, the stories we tell, they are not autobiographical stories. The religious references a lot of people think of as irony. We don't exactly prefer to use that word, but our songs most of the time are about people that we've seen and had much compassion for. They're the raw tales of love and pain and the world maybe in its twisted forms. Christianity comes up a lot for us just because the world is so dominated by the west. For Bianca, she's a strong writer. She's studied linguistics and sociology. She talks about how much language is affected by the Western culture and how much Christianity is in our culture and affects all of us even if we aren't Christians."

CocoRosie's music / the big picture

1) Hells yeah for two people willing to do whatever the hell they feel like doing. I know this kind of art doesn’t appeal to everyone but I am glad to know it is out there. Art for the sake of art is not a crime. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it or see them play live. Just remember that many artists do not create art for anybody but themselves. Many consider that kind of artist the only true artist. I know it is hard to believe but not everyone who makes art even wants to be famous, they just make art because that is a natural part of them. I would prefer a band to make the record they wanted not what they think people wanted to hear. I could debate this for hours but I don’t believe it is any artist’s responsibility to please the world. That includes you and you and……and me.

2) The non-commercial / no formal training approach to art (outsider art if you will) keeps the idea of art real, progressing, changing and moving forward. You don’t have to like it to appreciate the roll it plays in the bigger picture. Picasso, E.E. Cummings, Sun Ra...we need people like them to blur creative boundaries and take moonwalks in any direction they please. CocoRosie is no different. You may not take their talent seriously or enjoy the way they chose to express themselves but there is nothing prefab about their partnership or the art born from it.

3) So back to the music and the 3.4 PFM rating. The sense I get from CR's Noah's Ark with all it's lo-tech meets high-tech stitching is still a very pure and honest effort. The guest appearances mesh into their music as if they were part of their strange family or to keep with the Native American theme, part of their tribe. Something deeply personal and private is being shared here and personally I like the audio challenge of feeling like an outsider listening in. Feeling uncomfortable about a record is ten times more interesting to me than feeling bored by it. CocoRosie are not a favorite band of mine, they don’t even place in my top 100 but I am still willing to offer them a higher level acceptance and understanding than PFM.

4) I bestow upon this record a rating of 30 days out of a possible 40 days / nights.