Erstwhile Muse

Oct 14, 2004

Tropical Brainstorms

Spending monsoon season with the Amazons

Every once in a while my internal turntable gets stuck in a bit of a loop, and I end up listening to one album pretty much to the exclusion of all other music. To the point where it would probably drive most others around me quite batty after the third or fourth spin—in a single day that is. Thank goodness for phatty-bo-baddy headphones.

The recent object of my obsession has been Kirsty MacColl and her album Tropical Brainstorm. Now most folks I know will probably recognize her better as the female vocalist on The Pogues Fairytale of New York, which is a shame in and of itself. Not that I dislike Fairytale of New York, quite the opposite in fact. No, the main tragedy—aside from the fatal boating accident that happened shortly after Tropical Brainstorm's release—is that most of my friends would only know her for that song, and then not even necessarily by name.

Part of what makes this such an entertaining album for me is that my mind likes to animate it as I'm listening. The first time I heard In These Shoes? on WCBE, I had visions in my head of an animated music video with character design done by Shane Glines. Minimalistic backgrounds, focusing on the main characters movement, I sit there and storyboard it every time I hear the song. Even stronger is the reaction from my obsession-within-an-obsession, Track 10, Us Amazonians. We bring in Paul Taylor on this one, to produce a rainforest utopian village of Lakshmis and their token kidnapped Owen. Screw storyboarding, I start painting the sweeping vistas of wide angle shots, hell I start planning camera shots and pans right there in the little studio in my head.

Those are the albums I truly like, the ones that engage me completely.



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