Monday, September 15, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Alan Catlin Only the Dead Know Albany (sunnyoutside, Aug. 21, 2008)

"Pub-crawling down the dead-end, cul-de-sac alleyways, the twenty-four-hour drunks are sleeping it off, weapons of choice lying empty nearby:" from "Night in Albany"

The eyes of the commuter are often red, swollen, nearly closed and always searching. Searching for the end, a relief, an escape plan, or some kind of diversion. A non-driving commuter has even more time to investigate the scenes that paint his journey from home to work and back again. Alan Catlin spent most of his professional life commuting to and working in Albany, New York. This collection, his 59th, features a series of street scenes one darker then the next. On his journey he finds the homeless, the violent, the fast moving, the successful ignoring the world, the lost, the feared, and the fearless. These little snapshots of society flow together to create a look at society that is dark and uncertain. Each character more lost then the one before, but the only truth is that no one can ever really leave or break free. Hence, Only the Dead Know Albany because only in death can you escape and finally understand.

One of my favorite aspects of each publication by sunnyoutside is the Colophon. This is where David McNamara explained the typeface and paper choices for the book. He doesn't just print the name of the typeface, but fully explains the history behind it. According to colophon, this book is set in Bell, which was originally cut in 1788 by Richard Austin and whose vertical stress and horizontal to serifs reflect its birth during the British industrial revolution. Fascinating information to top off and incredibly fascinating fast-past collection of poems.

Karl Blau Nature's Got Away (K Records, Sept. 23, 2008)

One of the most underrated singer/songwriters around today in Washington's Karl Blau. He is also one of the most prolific. He runs his own label, of sorts, called Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society, and has released many of his own albums and albums by others. What really sets him apart is his ability to craft perfect pop songs, but also add just enough electronics and lo-fi beauty to give a captivating layer of depth. In the last two years I have been fortunate enough to receive three albums of Karl's to review. Each has been more creative and intimate then the last. This album, Nature's Got Away, features my favorite song by Karl, "Before Telling Dragons". It's like a fairy tale told in verse, sung in the perfect cadence, with understated music guiding the way.

Nature’s Got Away made it to tape fresh off of a tour in Spring 2007 where Karl Blau traveled to Japan and performed with some of his biggest musical influences: namely Tori Kudo (Maher Shalal Hash Baz), Reiko Kudo, Nikaido Kazumi, the Moools, Tennis Coats, and Arrington DeDionyso (of K Records, Old Time Relijun). Written on the road and recorded at “home” at the beloved Dub Narcotic Studio by Karl Blau accompanied mainly by: Olympians-- Peter Dolan (Chin-Up Merryweather), and members of LAKE: Lindsay Shief, Eli Moore, Mark Morrison, Micah Davis-Wheeler, Andrew Dorsett, and Ashley Eriksson; with also Portland folks Nate Ashley and Greg Olin (Graves); and Seattle’s Steve Moore (Earth, Sunn0)))))).

Move On From Dreams • Nothing In the Way • Carry and Rob • 2 Becomes 1 • Make Love That Lasts • Before Telling Dragons • Ghostly Appearance • Mockingbird Diet (mp3) • It’s the Stars • Of Your Feet, Of Your Place • That’s the Brakes • Stream of Ganders

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