Friday, September 19, 2008

"Nat Pwe - Burma's Carnival Of Spirit Soul" DVD

I don't pretend to understand Burmese culture, but this audio-visual travelogue, filmed and created by Richard and Alan Bishop (of Sun City Girls, and past collaborators with Arizona experimental groups Maybe Mental and Life Garden) is a surreal and respectful look at a society that holds its' ideals and traditions alive, despite growing influence from Westernism. There's no commentary here, no judging, no supposition. Just raw, fly-on-the-wall sights and sounds.

Recorded in Burma in 2002, the brothers captured a wild festival celebrating ghost spirits (NATs) that have the power to assist or destroy mortal lives. This huge celebration (a PWE) plays out like a wild Mardi Gras, with festive street performers, ecstatic dancing, singing, improvised ritual musics, and Kadaws, or spirit mediums (often cross dressers) who invoke the spirits and appease them with their garb and graceful movements.

The revelry is frantic, with some people becoming religiously possessed. Others simply observe passively, drinking and smoking and sometimes dancing along or placing money on the performers' costumes (for good luck?). It must be a (literally and figuratively) intoxicating place to be, and kudos to Sublime Frequencies for bringing this slice of distant culture to our sheltered world. Their work is an essential documentation and celebration of our world's distinctive and often-forgotten music, culture, and history, and wholeheartedly deserves your attention.

Check their site for more info:
Sublime Frequencies

BeeReviews for the All Hallows Harvesting!

Ah, nothing like a warm drink on a chilly breeze wafting though your toes. Or is it just me? Hmm. Anyway, a longtime favorite, Dogfish Head, has a superb new one out this season. Get it before it's gone!

Dogfish Head - Punkin Ale (Milton, DE)
One of America's more creatively-inclined craft brewers, Dogfish's success rate has been pretty remarkable. This, their Fall seasonal style, is a distinctively rich brown ale accented with real pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Punkin ale is an ideal complement to a lazy Fall afternoon. The strong, spiced taste doesn't make it a quick downer, but this sipping beer has character - rich, sturdy, and unusual. Me likes.

Clipper City - MarzHon Oktoberfest Style Lager (Baltimore, MD)
This pale and translucent amber lager has a weak and faint appearance, and makes even less of an impression with its scent and taste. Kind of overly sweet and flimsy, this Oktoberfest is not among the better ones of this style. Pass, please.

Budweiser - American Ale (St. Louis, MO)
Boasting of all-American-originated ingredients, this patriotic ale is another example of a corporate beer going for a 'craft' appearance and appeal. The frothy head is a bright beginning, but tastewise, it's hoppy but oddly mild and perhaps even a bit acidic. Maybe they're trying to appeal to everyone here? I dunno, but it definitely looks better than it tastes. Nay.

Michelob - DunkelWeisse Dark Wheat Ale (St. Louis, MO)
A nice fruity aroma permeates the air around this one's initial pouring. But what about the taste? It's a rich and flavorful coriander/clove spice sorta vibe - malty and robust. This DunkelWeisse is surprisingly heavy and bodes well for the season. Tasty.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meatmen - "The Devil's In The Details Vol.1" DVD

Offensive, crude, politically incorrect, juvenile, and devoted to offending just about everyone, legendary zinester-gone-punk rock star Tesco Vee isn't afraid to brandish a massive fake phallus onstage or curse public authority figures (namely religious/political leaders and, umm, Abba?). This extensive 3-hour DVD includes a treasure trove of bootleg live footage, TV clips, home movies (including some excellent looks at Tesco's collection of vintage toys - amazing stuff!), and skits.

Covering the entire 1979-to-2007 history of punk/metal offenders the Meatmen (and Tesco's post-Meatmen venture, the Hate Police), this smattering of visual debris is hosted by Satan himself, who, unsurprisingly, is a big fan and collaborator with Mr. Vee. Tesco has a special place in his hall of ridicule for you and those you love. His systematic tearing down of all that is sacred reflects a need to 'shake the chains' of our ramshackle culture. He is a punk rock icon, and a (well-educated) nihilist who's all for bringing more evil and mayhem to the world through music and mean-spirited (good) humor. Take it with a grain of salt, though. He's no illiterate slob like G.G. or Il Duce.

Included here, as well, is an ill-fated TV show of Tesco's creation called 'Way USA', which featured John Waters and seemed to be a kind of surreal travelogue and variety/comedy show. Quite entertaining. And the addition of a pseudo-'Behind The Music' program that chronicles the history and upbringing of Tesco and the Meatmen makes for a fine primer for Meatmen novices. Interspersed are some really classic old TV commercials (dating back to the 50's) that are wonderfully goofy and naive. All in good fun.

Superb release, and a real value for the money. And remember, in the words of Mr. Vee himself, 'Jesus Hates You'. (Meat King Records / MVD Visual)