Kelela ‘Take Me Apart’ Album Review

Kelela’s debut album ‘Take me Apart is a relaxed R&B album with a heavy use of overlapping. The 14-track album is her first futuristic work, has mainly slow tempo songs and uses synths appropriately.

‘Frontline’ uses a battle as a metaphor for a tumultuous relationship “its a race against time, when you on the frontline” and has sudden breaks in the beat for effect. The slow tempo speeds up for a catchy chorus and harmonies at the end. ‘Waitin’ has a faster tempo and similarly to ‘Frontline’ the song fades seamlessly into the track ‘Take me Apart’ after the album title. Take Me Apart ” is a fusion of R&B and dance that creates an atmospheric track with “Take Me apart” as a basic chorus. ‘Enough’ follows ‘Take me Apart’  with a deconstructed melody and no words in the chorus. Kelela’s voice in the background sounds like an echo throughout the song.

Jupiter is a short two-minute interval between ‘Enough’ and ‘Better’ that has the sound of rainfall in the background. ‘Better’ is about taking time apart from a relationship for six months and trying to get back together. “Remember I told you that we would be closer if we took some time further apart didn’t it make you better, aren’t we better now?”

“Tell me is this how is goes when you let someone know that they gave it their best but you still gotta roll”

LMK is the title of the seventh track and in the chorus it is revealed that these letters stand for ‘Let Me Know’ and has overlapping melodies similar to the beginning. “yYou don’t read between the lines, about to leave can you read my mind?” This song has it’s own music video that emphasises the pop/dance sound compared to the rest of the album. ‘Truth or Dare” brings the album back to the slow melody at the beginning and references the Truth or Dare game as a date.

S.O.S is like a slow two minute twenty second interlude that fades into Blue Light. Blue Light has been released before the rest of the album. It has rhythmic drumming around the chorus. ‘Onanon’ (On and on) is sung in the bridge. This was one of the longest tracks on the album. “A promise we made, to do it always we’re not in a race, you’re running away”. ‘Turn to Dust’ uses violins during the chorus which gives it an airy sound rather than heavy drumming. Bluff is a short track, only a minute long, and is followed by Altadena that brings the album a soft close and a return to the high notes used in the beginning.


Links

Pitchfork Review

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/kelela-take-me-apart/

The Guardian Review

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/oct/05/kelela-take-me-apart-review-future-facing-glitchy-rb-with-traction

NME Review

http://www.nme.com/reviews/album/kelela-take-me-apart-review-2147200

 

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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Review

The Turn of the Screw is a novella written by American author Henry James and published in 1898.

It began with a short chapter with a group of people listening to a re-telling of the story, but they are not introduced very much, they are just the introduction. The rest of the book is told from the perspective of the governess of the house. She is hired to take care of two children by their uncle who is too busy with work and uninterested. It’s a ghost story that does not reveal very much about the characters but focuses on the tension between the governess and her uneasiness.

The main focus is on the children because they, along with the housekeeper Mrs Grose, claim they cannot see the ghosts, only the governess can. It can be interepreted in different ways and it is not clear whether it was a haunting or whether the ghosts are in the governess’ imagination because she is the only one who can see them. Other than the governess the children, who have minor speaking roles, can also see the ghost, but the housekeeper Mrs Grose, cannot. She does not believe the governess at first but steadily begins to believe her that there is something wrong with the atmosphere of the house. Her character asks a lot of questions but is slow to reveal information about the house to the governess as she doesn’t trust her.

The governess, a main character, is nameless except for this job title and does not have much description of her appearance either she is referred to as a young woman but doesn’t reveal much about her background and her actual job in the house is not explained because she does not take them anywhere or cook. The governess’ paranoia and distrust of the children is a large part of what makes her suspicious of the ghosts. Her isolation is apparent as the owner of the house does not want to be bothered and the other staff do not believe her until the drastic conclusion at the end.

 


Links

My twitter thread

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

 

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The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850 by Nathaniel Hawthorne from Salem, Massachusetts, a US State in New England. This was a puritan era when moral purity was encouraged in every aspect of life, public life and personal life. The main character Hester Prynne is forced to wear the embroidered Scarlet letter ‘A’ on her clothing after being found guilty of adultery which was a crime.

The novel is written in a third person narrative, which the exception of the introduction where Nathaniel Hawthorne speaks directly to the reader, talking about his experience working at the Salem Custom House. The introduction describes the people that he worked with impolitely “I characterize them generally as a set of wearisome old souls, who had gathered nothing from worth preservation from their varied experience of life” (p.g 13) and their work ethic “mighty was their fuss about little matters, and marvellous sometimes, the obtuseness that allowed greater ones to slip through their fingers.” (p.g 12) One particular man he commented “My conclusion was that he had no soul, no heart, no mind; nothing.” (p.g 14) In the preface to the second edition it explains that these comments and the introduction to The Scarlet Letter caused an “unprecedented excitement” in the community that the author was talking about. “It could hardly have been more violent, indeed, had he burned down the Custom house, and quenched its last smoking ember in the blood of a certain venerable personage, against whom he is supposed to cherish a particular malevolence” and the author responds to criticism saying it was written with no ill feeling and it was true so he decided to republish the introduction without changing it, shows slight hostility towards the Custom house.

“BUT WHO CAN SEE AN INCH INTO FUTURITY BEYOND HIS NOSE?”

A native American character is described as Indian (a historical inaccuracy) and his clothing is described as “savage” compared to the clothing the puritans wear, which is described as “civilised” an antonym showing puritan dress in a positive way, while showing Native outfits as opposite to this, a negative trait. Also, the devil, or a demon the characters believe to exist, in the book is called “the black man,” that is the description for him. There are other negative associations with the word black throughout “vileness and blackness” and “black trouble of the soul” describing an illness.

Hester Prynne is cast out of the community so the other puritans do not speak to her in public and the puritan children attempt to throw stones at her and her daughter Pearl. “She was banished, and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere”. The only people who speak to her are the ministers and the governor, who attempt to take her daughter out of her care and have her raised by someone else. Hester argues that she should have custody of the child so they relent “God gave me the child! cried she. He gave her in requital of all things else which ye have taken from me.” The governor’s sister, who is later executed accused of being a witch, also talks to her to encourage her to join witchcraft but Hester refuses.

The word ‘ignomany’ and variations such as ‘ignominious’ appears throughout the book, approximately 20 times in the 200 page book. It means public shame or disgrace and also public contempt. Hester Prynne faces this until her death and her lover is eventually revealed in a plot twist. There is not much dialogue at the beginning of the book, as the main character does not have any interaction with other characters, because she is publicly treated with contempt and the people treat Pearl the same way because of her illegitimacy. Hester and her lover are eventually buried together in a grave marked “On a field, Sable, the letter A, Gules” meaning “On a field, black, the letter A, red”

Links

The Salem House & Nathaniel Hawthorne

https://www.nps.gov/sama/learn/historyculture/hawthorne.htm

Meaning behind the word ‘ignomany’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ignominy

Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nathaniel-Hawthorne

Background of the Salem Witch Trials

http://www.history.com/topics/salem-witch-trials

My Twitter thread while reading ‘The Scarlet Letter’

https://twitter.com/xlaurenhw/status/909435733554974720

Dracula by Bram Stoker Review

Dracula introduced the vampire myth to its own area of literature and fantasy. There have been numerous films, performances and television performances of Dracula so he is now a famous villain in literature.

It is an epistolary novel, a novel written in the form of documents. The story of Dracula is woven together with the diary entries of the main characters of the book Jonathan Harker, his wife Mina Harker and Dr John Seward. There is also Van Helsing, Lord Godalming and Mr Morris. Certain words and phrases are in Latin, French and Greek and the One World Classics version that I read had an explanation of the phrases at the back. “Dos pou sto” was translated as “Give me somewhere to stand,” a Greek phrase. There were also biblical references particularly towards the end when the characters realise that vampires dislike the crucifix being close to them, signalling them as irreligious beings, possibly influenced by Bram Stoker’s upbringing as he was attended a private school that taught protestant Christianity. Christianity is largely what influences the characters voyage to find Dracula.

“Give me somewhere to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the earth” -Archimedes

The beginning follows Jonathan Harker’s experience staying with Count Dracula at his castle and how he learns that he is a vampire. The word vampire is not used widely throughout the book, there are several hints that Dracula is a vampire however as Jonathan discovers. As the story progresses, many of the typical traits of a vampire are uncovered It is also hinted that Dracula is a vampire because it is discovered that Dracula cannot be seen through the mirror and does not eat regular food.

Dialogue is sporadic within the novel and there is use of literary devices for descriptive purposes “There for a while there came over her face a repose which was like spring after the blasts of March” a description of Mina, who is described as beautiful. While Count Dracula’s descriptive technique is harsh “You think to baffle me- you, with your pale faces all in a row like sheep in a butchers.” Van Helsing also uses multiple rhetorical questions when he is trying to convince John Seward of the existence of Vampires. “Can you tell me why the tortoise lives more long than generations of men?” As well as being immortal, it is also revealed that Count Dracula sleeps in a coffin and dislikes garlic. Because of this Count Dracula is described as having a “child-brain” rather than the ‘man brain’ of humans. This is a reference to Lombroso the Italian criminologist who believed facial structure was related to whether someone was a criminal and criminality was inherited. “The count is a criminal and of criminal type. Nordau and Lombroso would so classify him.”

Count Dracula is the only male vampire shown in the novel. The others are all women and there is no explanation for why the men do not get bitten by Dracula when attacked. The main female character Mina is described with thinly veiled sexism “She with all her goodness and purity and faith was outcast from God” for reasons which are not her fault. The men have a paternalistic attitude towards Mina and believe the is fragile. “Most we want all her great brain, which is trained like man’s brain, but is of sweet woman and have a special power which the Count give her” They appreciate her for her knowledge but do not believe that it is her own capability, it is seen as ‘like man’s brain’ which is assumed to be superior. Any ability she has is not her own but “a special power which the count give her” so she does not receive the necessary praise for her help.

Dracula appears mainly in the beginning, with Jonathan Harker, but does not have much of a role in the rest of the novel, his character depiction is mysterious and there is not much emphasis on his appeareance “tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache” but mainly on the plans he has to turn people into vampires. His traits are discovered throughout the book by the John Seward and Van Halsing, because they have access to the information about vampirism along with Jonathan Harker’s experience staying at the castle. A long read, with 27 chapters, but the pace was steady and it has helped begin the enduring myth of the vampire in literature.


Links

Bram Stoker’s Great Grand-nephew is writing a prequel to Dracula

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/07/bram-stokers-nephew-dacre-writes-first-authorised-dracula-prequel-dracul-jd-barker

Context of ‘Dracula’

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dracula/context.html

Plot overview of Dracula from SparkNotes Editors. (2003). SparkNote on Dracula. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dracula/summary.html

Cesare Lombroso, Italian Criminologist & discredited views

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cesare-Lombroso

My Twitter thread on the experience reading Dracula

 

‘With you in Mind’ by Duvv Album Review

Artist and self-described creator, Duvv, from New York, released her 10 track album ‘With you in Mind’ on August 25th. Duvv’s musical influence of R&B and soul music is recognisable within the album and does not sound repetitive of other albums in these genres. ‘With you in Mind’ begins with a brief intro with Duvv saying “God is love, God is truth, God is hope, I love you Lord” and shifting into a short 1 minute long song, that marks the beginning of the album and is similar to a musical interlude taking place between songs.

The first song of the album, “Waters (Blue Screens) begins with soft piano and then Duvv sings “Maybe In the future water will be dead and blue screens will be the new ocean” which could be interpreted as a commentary on the influence of technology into our lives and how the blue light that comes from our screens could soon replace the amount of time we spend looking at nature and scenery, such as the blue of the ocean. “I stare at the screen then I stare at myself, is it good for my health? like a digital death.” In the second verse she questions “Do you see me swimming, do you see me floating?” This reminded me of the poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ by Stevie Smith and the misunderstanding of what is actually happening, as ‘swimming’ and ‘floating’ are different things. The rest of Waters (Blue Screens) has a beautiful melody paired with a soft beat.

“Maybe in the future water will be dead and blue screens will be the new ocean”

Dare to Dream begins with synths and has a faster tempo than anything before it, the positive, uplifting message in the title is reflected throughout the song. “If you want it and you’ve got it then you’ve got it, just know you’re not alone” is repeated in the chorus. It ends suddenly and is replaced by the slower paced track ‘Are you Numb?’ where she questions someone’s intentions, it sounds related to a relationship issue. In a 35 second interlude Duvv’s does a short edited voice over. ‘Cold’ is the first song after this interlude and has a relaxing melody and also asks the same existential questions heard in Waters (Blue Screens) “You’re going far all by yourself, is it in faith?”

“Love me despite my flaws, Love you despite your flaws”

Games has a catchy beat with vocals and harmonies with a relaxing verse and upbeat chorus which goes into depth on a relationship rebuilding “Love me despite my flaws, love you despite your flaws,” the ending of ‘Games’ blends seamlessly with the beginning of ‘For You’ which is a slow tempo song similar to ‘Cold’ and has a relaxing feel as well. ‘Creep’ has a slower beginning, but includes a piano before the chorus that brings the song together well. Lastly, Outside / Inside is a short spoken piece about choices that wraps up the album the way in began.

Links

Link to ‘With you in Mind’ by Duvv album on Spotify

http://open.spotify.com/user/earlbrutus/playlist/0RiouvADJnixDMISdfD5Wc

Duvv’s official website

http://www.iamduvv.com/

Not Waving but Drowning poem by Stevie Smith

https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/not-waving-drowning