Saturday, February 25, 2006

An Avantgarde Saturday: Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen


"How comes a man by a name?" you ask, With a curiosity shallow. You wish for a simple anecdote, a trifle, an entertainment for you and your fellows. Very well. Have you seen a rock on a cruel headland? Where the winds and the tides ministrations make no allowance, nor follow any plan, yet conspire to expunge imperfection. Is a child in his crib, with his fat little limbs and his doting mother in attendance to be tested, and scarred, and beset as if he were a man in the prime of his strength and endurance? No. Names we have we are given at birth. Some look to genetics to tally their worth -- the offspring of magnates whose power and fame confers elevation and prestige all the same. But a man puts no stock in notriety unearned, the notions unworthy and so must be spurned.

So it was meant to be and so it went with me.

I packed up my pride and struck out on my own. I ran away to sea at the age of 11, in lowly estate you well could imagine. Serving the needs of a harsh and cruel captain -- enduring his scorn and cleaning out his cabin. He called me "his little papito." Ah we sailed the high seas and I grew into manhood, and I was impatient to stand where that man stood -- to be a ships captain, arrayed in my finery, but my plot was uncovered to suceed him by mutiny. I barely escaped with my life in a longboat to the west coast of Turkey, where I was captured by the wild Tsuleots who took me to be a gypsy. It was considered unlucky to kill a Gypsy. They camped along the beach, they danced along a blazing fire. They chided and taunted, and called me a liar when I told them I was a bitter-ships-captain, ill-used by fate and usurped by my crewmen. They drank all the while -- some vile spirit distilled from the berrys of the wretched grass which grew in abundance in the area. And the drunker they got, the more my story seemed to amuse them. So I joined with their band and we rode off to the mountains together. Many fine adventures we had, too.

Awww.. the Tsuleots, they loved me so well, they gave me a horse. I could not ride him, though -- and this added to their general amusement. They called me Muldavio. "Crazy, wild, gypsy who can't ride his horse well" is roughly how the translation went.

"How comes a man by a name?" you ask, the answer is more than you wanted -- and had better remain a mystery than remain so mundane and deflated. Do you think that you now have the measure of me? Is your orb cured by this revealation? Are you happy that romance and mystery have abandoned my bluff constitution? Well it seems you see less the more that you think you know. By the moon and the stars and the tides that flow, I will happily accept the name they bestowed, I'll stand on my pride and I'll reap what I saw. God's in his heaven and the devil below. Receive with your heart what the mind can not show.

I am the great Muldavio.

-- Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlmen.
As far as music goes, this is exactly the sort of thing that I wish I could find more of. The plucking of strings, bellows of accordian, and a wafting of clarinet brings out a unique sound -- something that more bands should concentrate on. Not to say that I want more avantgarde, old time, sea-farer tunes -- I just wish that our music scene had more breadth and depth. Today we have cookie-cutter indie rock, MTV marketed "underground" sounds and even the band names are only aspiring to a mediocre level of conformity. The sentence for most music: boredom. Then Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen slowly crawl onto my playlist -- the world changes. This is the sound of risk. The steam that comes from a boiling pot of tango, waltz, polka, and rock. This is where Andrew Bird comes from. This is where Tom Waits comes from. This is where I found Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen. I can only sit and imagine how fantastically engaging these boys must be live.

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