Ombra Mai Fu & Handel & Mera

Wdydfae will be away from the computer for a bit, and I leave my honored visitors, scattered and few though they be, with the musical selection “Ombra Mai Fu.”

Until now, I only vaguely knew this aria, just by being familiar with the melody. Though it sounds like a typical Sunday selection for this blog, it’s actually from George Frederic Handel’s secular opera Seres, or Xerxes (who was king of Persia).

I stumbled upon it because I got into Yoshikazu Mera’s voice recently and started tracking Mera’s videos across the Toobs. He’s the counter-tenor who sang the theme of Princess Mononoke and was featured in our most recent Sunday post here. I never really paid much attention to counter tenors before, but the unearthly purity of Mera’s voice really turned me around, and he really seems to nail those baroque arias in particular.

Special thanks to the Youtuber who goes by the name asterisk (literally *). In addition to having the smallest Youtube handle I’ve ever seen and matching the music with great visuals, this good servant of humanity also seems to have sneaked in a replay of the song at 2:53 (the aria is indeed a bit too short and does benefit from the replay).   * also worked in a subtle fade out from about 4:15.  I think these are nice touches but others might think * has a lot of gall for doing that.

* has a lot of gall.

Doesn’t anyone get that?

Sunday Music & Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach aria “Widerstehe doch der Sünde”, Yoshikazu Mera (counter-tenor), Bach Collegium Japan, directed by Masaaki Suzuki. (Mera sang the theme to Studio Ghibli’s classic animated movie Princess Mononoke.)

Widerstehe doch der Sünde,
Sonst ergreifet dich ihr Gift.
Laß dich nicht den Satan blenden;
Denn die Gottes Ehre schänden,
Trifft ein Fluch, der tödlich ist.

Just resist sin,
lest its poison seize you.
Don’t let Satan blind you;
for those who defile God’s honor
will incur a curse that is deadly.

Pat Metheny Group & Bright Size Life

Pat Metheny (guitar), Richard Bona (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Vienna, 2002. Richard Bona channels Jaco Pastorius nicely here on fretless bass! (Jaco was the bassist in the original 1976 recording, which is the first track on the eponymous album, considered one of the best jazz albums of all time.)

500 and 501 at BoFN

Monday marked a milestone at the Blog of Funny Names: its 500th post. There were generous shout outs from the great monarch Dave to the whole crew there, including to yours truly. The following day, BoFN’s 501st post was considerably less of a milestone, but did have the distinction of being my own. Yes, it was me doing my usual monthly stint. This time it was on Tristram Shandy, a gentleman from the literary archives of yore who famously had a hard time getting to the point. And had a funny name. Please go over there if you have any inclination, and make what you will of these two Internet offerings.

Sunday Music & Rimsky-Korsakov & Our Father

Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, from Sacred Treasures III: Choral Masterworks from Russia and Beyond, St. Petersburg Chamber Choir, Directed by Nikolai Korniev, St. Catherine’s Lutheran Church, St. Petersburg, Russia. (If you’re wondering what’s up with the heading, the Vertigo theme, in which this blog is composed, automatically changes a hyphen up there into a dripping syringe. Yeah, I don’t know either!)

Capsule & Control

Can you guess which is the name of the song and which is the name of the band?

The band belongs to Yasutaka Nakata, who also produces and writes for Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. It’s really striking how the “techno” music of each singer/group has a completely distinctive texture, though it’s all written by the same guy. Nakata’s the one who slowly turned me around on the techno genre, where instead of headache-inducing club music I could start to see it as a world of unlimited and mostly untapped possibility.

Sunday Music & Stravinsky & Sacred Choruses

Igor Stravinsky, Three Russian Sacred Choruses.

Our Father (1926), Ave Maria (1934), Credo (1932). The Gregg Smith singers, directed by Robert Craft. Courtesy of Youtuber Stravinsky91.

Well, except maybe for the first one, I wouldn’t say Stravinsky’s sacred selections stir up the spiritual juices, exactly. (There are parts of Firebird that do the job better for me!) Still, it’s interesting to find out that Stravinsky did any sacred music at all.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Kirakira Killer

I’ve lapsed badly in my Kyary kyoverage. This video kyame out about three weeks ago but I wasn’t paying attention.

Our intrepid J-pop specialist and Kyary reporter Superhappyawesome does the honors yet again here, with a translation and some excellent and informative kyommentary. Kyary kyontinues her kyaracteristic dadaist wordplay over otherwise fairly inane lyrics. “Kirakira” means “twinkle twinkle” or “glitter glitter” while “kiraa” is a direct loan word from the English “killer.” Also, “kira” backwards is “raki”: “lucky.”

The music at first seems a bit thin, kyontinuing on in the pounding rinky dink Elton Johnish piano type anthem vein, fresher when it was introduced in Mottai Night Land than it is now. But like a lot of Kyary, it rewards relistening more than you’d expect. The visual spectacle does not disappoint at all, though kyostume design, surprisingly, may be the least imaginative element. In my estimation, Kyary only looks really kyute here once, in the brief moment when she dons glasses and channels Tommy February, who also looks cuter when she wears glasses. Or maybe I have a thing for girls who wear glasses.

At any rate, the kyostume deficit doesn’t stop the visual discombobulation from spiraling arrestingly out of kyontrol in the trademark Kyaryan manner. Among very many other things, you can witness Kyary donning an Einstein moustache, and being eaten and pooped out by a snake–in between riding down the reptile’s spiraling gullet like it was a waterslider. Superhappyawesome thinks this song is a sort of placeholder before her next big musical production, which she thinks will be more substantial.

In terms of symbolic imagery, we will have to give this one a Level 3 religious syncretism alert, which is high even by Kyary standards. We haven’t approached that magnitude of syncretism since Tsukematsukeru, which registered 2.7.