Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Song Title: "Tximistorratz Aroko Errotak"
Artist: Bizardunak
Search Term: "Zugzwang" [This is from an album entitled En Zugzwang.]

This song, hailing from the African republic of Gabon, starts off with a minute of a capella crooning in a dramatic style I am helpless to describe properly. (I'd call it "operatic," but then someone would probably inform me it's a popular Gabonese schoolyard taunt or something, so in the interest of retaining my ever-dwindling dignity for as long as possible, I'll abstain from guessing.) Then the singer breaks his solemnity with a strident trill, and the tune turns into a rollicking pub-punk stomper that is clearly the work of devoted Pogues fans, which I found a thrilling surprise upon my initial listen. ... For a while.

Antsy crab that I am, the piece strikes me as somewhat too simplistic to justify its length, but I grant my opinion might be different if I could understand the lyrics. Not that you always need to be conversant in the singer's language to appreciate a song, naturally, but with some artists it's essential. I can't imagine Tom Waits, for one, enjoys a following outside the Anglophone world that comes anywhere near his following within it because his skill with the English language is key to his appeal. (Also, I feel doubly ignorant here because not only can't I understand Bizardunak's lyrics, but I can't even identify the language. Wikipedia tells me Myene and Fang are the two main vernacular languages of Gabon, so maybe it's one of those?) So I may be missing out on some really inspired poetry that would more than make up for the three-choruses-too-many repetition. Who knows. If you generally like the accordions, tin whistles, and slurred, anthemic barking of the Pogues, you will probably find this an acceptable simulation.

This probably could have been a review that poignantly explored the ever-dissolving cultural boundaries of our world. 900 years ago, our species was so compartmentalized that Marco Polo's written accounts of spices that existed in China and India were so revelatory that they sparked a trading boom. In the 21st century, communication between people in disparate geographical locations has become so astonishingly fluid and simple that a band like the Pogues, whose music is a bleary, blustery take on the traditional music of Ireland, can reach and resonate so strongly with a band in Africa that they've been spurred to re-create it, and that song can then be instantly accessed by some dipshit in Maine who wasn't even specifically looking for it. Whatever pitfalls may come with our age of globalization, it's worth taking a moment to discuss how truly incredible it is that this artistic cross-pollination is not just possible but commonplace. But instead you got a review panning this track because it's too long for the author's liking. The Internet: Making Instantaneous Worldwide Discourse Not Worth It!

1 comment:

  1. Neat! I can understand your criticism, but I like it very much just how it is. Very cool find.