Coney Fan Tutte?

Tom-Hulce-Amadeus-1 (scribol.com)SteeplechaseFunnyFace2 (pinterest.com)

If Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were air-lifted out of eighteenth-century Vienna and plopped into Coney Island circa 1950-something, he would undoubtedly fit right in among the brightly-lit thrill rides, oddball sideshows, and gritty vendors selling piles of popcorn and cotton candy. Picture Tom Hulce’s giggling Amadeus character skipping around the modern-day boardwalk, grinning and staring wide-eyed at the Parachute Jump and the Thunderbolt, the iconic “Steeplechase Funny Face” grinning right back at him! Which is why the setting of the Metropolitan Opera’s latest presentation of Mozart’s comic opera Così fan tutte, which just concluded a month-long run, seems to work like a charm. Instead of a café in Italy, the action unfolds at a 1950s American seaside resort and amusement park. From the cheap motel with bright blue neon sign, to the actual sideshow performers (including sword swallower, fire eater, and bearded lady), to the constantly-turning Wonder Wheel in the background, the Met’s colorful interpretation is a magnificent mashup of Naples and Nathan’s.

Cosi-fan-tutte-1 (metopera.org)

Cosi-fan-tutte-3 (broadwayworld.com)

Così fan tutte follows the escapades of Fiordiligi, Dorabella, Ferrando, and Guglielmo (played by Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Ben Bliss, and Adam Plachetka, respectively) – two pairs of lovers who test each other’s fidelity in a game of lighthearted deception and disguise, as the guys’ friend Don Alfonso (Christopher Maltman) wagers that their fiancées are as fickle as any other girls. The boys pretend to sail off to war, then, dressed as “Albanians” complete with mustaches, they each attempt to seduce the other’s mate. In the end Don Alfonso wins the bet, hence the opera’s title – Così fan tutte – “So do they all” or, more precisely, “All women are like that.” Rounding out the cast is Despina the maid, portrayed in scene-stealing fashion by Tony winner Kelli O’Hara, forever going in and out of doors on the revolving motel room set as she dispenses radical advice to the two young ladies.

Cosi_fan_tutte_-_first_performance (en.wikipedia.org)

Nowadays it seems like a storyline of this type and all its ensuing action could fit into the space of a half-hour sitcom…but of course in Mozart’s pre-TV, pre-movies, pre-Internet day, an audience was probably very happy to sit through a three-hour-plus opera on a Saturday night, after a week of toiling away at blacksmith and seamstress jobs.

So let’s fire up that famous overture…and imagine the rambunctious Mr. Mozart transplanted into the twentieth century, riding the Cyclone and spinning around in polkadot teacups! Coney fan tutte!

Tom-Hulce-Amadeus-4 (oscarchamps.com)

 

Images courtesy scribol.com, pinterest.com, metopera.org, broadwayworld.com, en.wikipedia.org, oscarchamps.com

YouTube video courtesy Till Rye

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A trip around the world…of psychedelia

psychedelia_by_011art-dn2np0 (aroundthesound.com.au)

It was the British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond who came up with “psychedelia,” from the Greek words for “mind” and “manifest.” The term has since become associated predominantly with music.
                                                  — Rob Young, “How psychedelia transformed pop culture,”
NewStatesman.com, 8 Sep. 2015 (a review of Rob Chapman’s book Psychedelia and Other Colours)

Let’s proceed to do just that and associate the term with music, but rather than focus on the half-century-old 1968 stuff, why not explore what’s been coming out more recently, say since the 1980s. The style and spirit that drove the creation of bands like Iron Butterfly, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Moby Grape, and songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Itchycoo Park” and “See Emily Play,” has continued – and has morphed and re-morphed to include sounds spanning the far-reaches of the musical spectrum, from punk band Bad Religion’s formation of Seeing Eye Gods to the colorful dance beats of Red Red Groovy. And from the far-reaches of the globe: Melody’s Echo Chamber from France, Australian group Tame Impala…and the Flaming Lips who hail from someplace called Oklahoma City. So drop a tab (or just spin around really fast with your eyes closed and then stare at the image at the top of this post, or better, the one at the bottom), and let’s board the Lysergic Express…

 

Dukes-25OClock (chalkhills.org)

25 O’CLOCK – The Dukes of Stratosphear (1985)

Starting off in Swindon, England, with an XTC alter-ego album originally intended as an April Fool’s joke. This 6-song EP actually outsold the “regular” XTC record at the time, The Big Express. No (big) surprise! And check out that cover. Pick hits: “My Love Explodes”, “Your Gold Dress

The clock strikes 25 now

 

The-Seeing-Eye-Gods-Cover (thebrpage.net)

THE SEEING EYE GODS – The Seeing Eye Gods (1985)

Welcome to California! These guys sprang out of L.A. punk band Bad Religion in 1985, led by Brett Gurewitz, with this obscure 5-song gem. Including a cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”! Pick hit: “Psychedelic Suzy

Impossible to find! Take it from this guy

 

redredgroovysmall (fallingblog.double-knitting.com)

25 – Red Red Groovy (1993)

From the astral planes of Minneapolis, witness the formation of obscure dance-rock trio Brett (another one) Edgar, Mike Hill and Lori Larson. The B-52s and Happy Mondays meet Ray Manzarek in a sunny park in the late 60s. And more dazzling cover art! Oh and what’s this with the number 25? Pick hits: “The Time Has Come (To Go Out of Your Mind)”, “Another Kind of Find

The time has come to find out more

 

TheFlamingLips-Yoshi (organissimo.org)

YOSHIMI BATTLES THE PINK ROBOTS – The Flaming Lips (2002)

Off to Oklahoma City and legendary indie darlings the Flaming Lips. Here’s their tenth (out of 14!) album, with the inspirational “Do You Realize??” and the, uh, psychedelic? (ya think?) “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell.” Become engulfed in their otherworldly sounds driven by frontman Wayne Coyne’s gorgeous falsetto. Pick hits: Those two.

And there’s lotsa weird stuff on the band’s website

 

The-Sunshine-Fix-GI (amazon.com)

GREEN IMAGINATION – The Sunshine Fix (2004)

Meanwhile, down south…the side project of Louisianan Bill Doss, founder of Athens band the Olivia Tremor Control. This was his second release as the Sunshine Fix…and album-cover-wise, better (and freakier!) than the first, Age of the Sun. Sadly, Mr. Doss passed away in 2012. Pick hits: (not many individual song postings so, the whole album!)

Check out this nice piece at treblezine.com

 

Melody's-Echo-Chamber (melodysechochamber.bandcamp.com)

MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER – Melody’s Echo Chamber (2012)

Back across the pond to Aix-en-Provence, France, it’s Melody’s Echo Chamber, formed and fronted by Melody Prochet and produced by Kevin Parker of Australian band Tame Impala. Pick hit: “I Follow You” Also check out her latest from forthcoming album Bon Voyage, “Breathe In, Breathe Out.”

More Melody for you courtesy of Fat Possum Records

 

Temples-Sun-Structures (templesofficialuk.bandcamp.com)

SUN STRUCTURES – Temples (2014)

Hopping over to Kettering, England, say hello to a Schizomusica favorite, Temples, and their debut album Sun Structures. James Bagshaw, Tom Walmsley and friends conjure up possibly the most 1968 sounds to be heard in the 21st century. Their 2017 release, Volcano, was reviewed here. Pick hits: “Shelter Song”, “Sun Structures”, “Mesmerise

Visit the temple of Temples

 

Tame-Impala-Currents (amazon.com)

CURRENTS – Tame Impala (2015)

Ok, now we’re gonna hafta leave you on the other side of the world in Perth, Australia…and the aforementioned group Tame Impala. Currents is definitely a landmark modern psych creation, with another album cover to stare intently at! Pick hits: “Disciples”, “Reality in Motion

Read more here at curiously-named beardedgentlemenmusic.com

Well, I guess the only way to get home is the old-fashioned way: close your eyes, tap your heels together, and…wait for the acid to wear off.

Psychedelic (kmuw.org)

 

Images courtesy aroundthesound.com.au, chalkhills.org, thebrpage.net, fallingblog.double-knitting.com, organissimo.org, amazon.com, melodysechochamber.bandcamp.com, templesofficialuk.bandcamp,com, kmuw.org

I’ll have the Yung Wu. With extra Feelies.

Yung-Wu-Shore-Leave-cover (rateyourmusic.com)

Schizomusica readers probably know by now that the Feelies are a favorite on this blog. And this is a big month Feelies-wise, with three sold-out shows at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade NYC on April 13-15 and the first-ever CD/digital release of Shore Leave, the obscure and long out-of-print 1987 album by Feelies re-shuffle Yung Wu, on April 21. Re-shuffle because Yung Wu is essentially the Feelies with percussionist Dave Weckerman as singer/songwriter (and keyboardist John Baumgartner, of other Feelies side projects the Trypes and Speed the Plough, thrown in). Looking at the album cover (and the band name) one might be prepared for a collection of Chinese folk songs…the name did actually originate from a (mispronounced) take-out menu item, and the cover art of Red Chinese sailors was opted over a standard band photo.

Yung+Wu+by+J.+Baumgartner (bar-none.com)

Shore Leave was recorded in eight days in 1987 at Hoboken’s Water Music studio. Weckerman was armed with eight songs – not enough to fill an LP – so the band tossed in three covers: the lovely Eno composition “Big Day” from Phil Manzanera’s 1975 album Diamond Head, the Rolling Stones b-side “Child of the Moon,” and Neil Young’s iconic “Powderfinger.” The end result is a pleasant blend of folk-rock-pop-psych with “The Empty Pool” (covered by Yo La Tengo on their Ride the Tiger album the year before), “Aspiration,” “Spinning,” and the complex guitar collage “Eternal Ice” as the standout Weckerman originals. Overall a bit more laid-back than the frenetic new-wave of the Feelies’ 1980 debut Crazy Rhythms – and heading in the direction the band would take on The Good Earth and subsequent albums. And with that same lineup, the lineup that continues today: guitarists Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, bassist Brenda Sauter, drummer Stanley Demeski, and of course percussionist Mr. Weckerman.

weckerman-stays-in-the-background (willyoumissme.com)  The Feelies at Summerstage. The Weckerman effect…in black…and blue

The songs on Shore Leave are rooted in mellow, what-would-later-be-called-jangle-pop, but with Weckerman’s nervous intensity front-and-center. Witness his piercing gaze and darkly-clothed presence in the background at any Feelies performance, as he quickly switches from maracas in one hand to drumstick in the other, and you’ll know from whence we speak. And on that note, if you didn’t snag tickets for the Feelies at Rough Trade NYC, they’re also appearing in Washington, DC and Carrboro, North Carolina in June.

Yung-Wu-at-station (youtube.com)                           Yung Wu performing at Hoboken train station, May 17, 1987

 

Images courtesy rateyourmusic.com, bar-none.com/J. Baumgartner, willyoumissme.com, elmoremagazine.com, youtube.com

YouTube videos courtesy monty4921