November 27th, 2008

operesque

The subversive gorilla

Today's topic is gorillas. First of all, my latest piece for the New York Times is about a 23 year-old French artist called Stephan Goldrajch, who makes woolly masks capable of transforming your face into a colourful gorilla face.



As I explain in the piece, Goldrajch (who calls himself a "eudemonist", a person dedicated to pleasure) likes fairy tales, and has written a few of his own, including the Tale of Bryone, the beautiful and rich daughter of a king who ultimately slits her throat for venturing too far outside his castle walls. Do not under any circumstances miss the fabulous and bizarre Bryone Song, which sounds like something from my Analog Baroque period (or perhaps the songs of Rroland).



Here's the other gorilla thing: an English translation which has just gone up on YouTube of Georges Brassens' song The Gorilla. Listening to this song -- in which a hanging judge is raped by a gorilla -- you can't help thinking that an enormous mistake has been made by historians of popular song. Rebellion has been equated, since the 1950s (when this song was released, making Brassens a star) with pelvic thrusts and songs about "rocking around the clock". In fact, rebellion is much more reliably to be found in this deceptively-gentle song about a gorilla. It still packs a huge subversive punch, and there are countries all over the world -- including, perhaps, our own -- where you still couldn't sing this gorilla song on TV, though you could shake your pelvis and rock until the cows come home.

Finally, my various record labels have asked me to point out to you that the Joemus album is available as a digital download. Here it is direct from Cherry Red in the UK and via eMusic in the US.