Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Kanye West's Bitter, Bone-Chilling 808s & Heartbreak

Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak ends with a bonus track called "Pinocchio Story," a self-lacerating six-minute freestyle recorded in front of a rapturous Singapore crowd that presumably can't understand a word he's saying. Over a few bare plucks of acoustic guitar, Kanye moans and sputters about depression and blames himself for his mother's plastic-surgery death, all while the audience whoops. Kanye: "Real life! I ask you tonight! What does it feel like?" Crowd: "Whoo!!" If he wanted, he could've recorded "Pinocchio Story" in a proper studio. But the audience's euphoria here says more than anything that comes out of his mouth. He's telling us that we don't understand him—that we never could.

In the time since Graduation, last year's exercise in synth-rap shit-talk, Kanye's suffered both the death of his mother and a breakup with his fiancée. For someone whose lyrics already betrayed weird ideas about women (see "Gold Digger"), that's a hell of a one-two punch. 808s & Heartbreak, recorded in Hawaii in a brisk three weeks, is mostly Kanye's attempt to wrangle with the fiancée thing, and essentially amounts to an album-length tantrum at his ex. It's also his superstar-freakout album: his Low, his Trans, his Kid A. The one where he decides that frozen remoteness is the only thing that makes sense. The affably doofy Everydude rapper from The College Dropout has all but disappeared. Kanye's barely rapping anymore, preferring instead to sing in a whispery coo over ominously sparse electro tracks, occasionally adding in thundering tribal drums for chaotic force. And he's become about the millionth post-T-Pain abuser of AutoTune.

A word about that: Kanye West now owes Ron Brownz a fruit basket. Through his blippy earworms "Pop Champagne" and "Arab Money," Brownz has made the world safe for utter AutoTune half-assery. "Pop Champagne," especially, sounds like the handiwork of a 10-year-old who got AutoTune as a Christmas present. Brownz only barely manages to make a sound that could be described as "singing," and he falls off his own beat less than a minute into the song. And it's still all over the radio. Next to that guy, Kanye, who can actually sort of sing, sounds like an angel riding on a Pegasus made out of rainbows and ice cream.

Kanye is also the first of the post-T-Pain masses to use AutoTune as something other than an ear-grabbing gimmick. On Heartbreak, it's a distancing effect, an opportunity to push his emo bellyaching to spectral levels. "Street Lights" buries his voice under layers of effects, turning him as ghostly as the M83-esque shoegaze synths that lace the track. And "Amazing" takes a triumphant-on-paper lyric ("My reign is as far as your eyes can see") and—with Kanye's flattened-out vocal and a death-march drum-track—turns it into a grim lament. When Young Jeezy's voice roars in at the end of the track, it's a reminder of the full-blooded charisma Kanye has refused to fall back on this time out.

Musically, he's dropped any connection to his boom-bap past, leaning instead on mechanized glaciers that justify all the Gary Numan name-checks he's been throwing around in interviews lately. "Love Lockdown" rests on a heartbeat-thump drum that recalls nothing so much as Björk's Homogenic; hearing it burst out of every passing car in Brooklyn this fall was a thing of wonder. "See You in My Nightmares" eschews drums entirely, resting instead on a burping keyboard and a fog of strings. Even "Paranoid," the closest thing to a club-jam here, sounds creepy as fuck, its sticky French-house synths conjuring coke-fueled restlessness. Here's where Kanye's recent Euro-dance influences start to take over, pushing his music into thrilling and unrecognizable new shapes.

But as open-eared as Kanye might be, Heartbreak doesn't reveal him to be particularly open-hearted. Even for a breakup album, it's almost frighteningly cruel and devoid of empathy. He's not interested in picking apart where the relationship fell apart or confessing what he did wrong. Instead, he stays in accusatory mode throughout, using blame as a blunt-force weapon. On "Heartless": "How could you be so Dr. Evil?/Bringing out a side of me I don't know." On "Bad News": "Didn't you know I was waiting on you?/Waiting on a dream that could never come true?" On "See You in My Nightmares": "OK, I got you out my mind"—a blatant lie. And on the gorgeously airy string-driven outro to "RoboCop," Kanye repeats over and over, in a tender near-falsetto, "You spoiled little L.A. girl/You just an L.A. girl." Yikes. Given that Alexis Phifer, Kanye's ex, is a non-celebrity with no way to publicly fire back, the album's entire existence ranks as a supreme dick move.

Even when he leaves Phifer alone, Kanye's words can be tough to take. On "Welcome to Heartbreak," he pretends to complain about the travails of fame while bragging backhandedly about his riches: "My friend showed me pictures of his kids/And all I could show him was pictures of my cribs." Because, see, Kanye envies the other guy. It's not the other way around. Not at all. The album-closing "Coldest Winter," where Kanye finally sings about his mother, seems designed to humanize all the bile that came before, but it mostly just makes Kanye sound like he's falling apart. Over a sighing Tears for Fears sample, Kanye wails, "Will I ever love again?" And it's more than a little unsettling to hear him using breakup language even then.

1 comment:

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    2009年3月3日 上午 6:15
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    2009年3月3日 上午 7:38
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    2009年3月3日 上午 8:27
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    跳轉到: 導航, 搜尋

    從詞源上來說,活體解剖是指為為生理學或病理學科學研究而對活著的動物進行的解剖。 最近,在人們,尤其是動物權利激進分子的觀念中,活體解剖這一條目被廣泛地應用到任何形式的有動物受到傷害的實驗中,無論這些實驗是否有明確的書面表明是活體解剖。

    動物權利提倡者致力於通過有關活體解剖的批判性討論而支援其立場。對此,動物實驗的支持者們回應道,動物實驗過程中通常不需要使用侵入性的手段(暗指活體解剖)。動物權利激進分子一直以來反對和抨擊諸如杭廷頓生命科學研究中心(Huntingdon Life Sciences)一類的機構,因為這類機構從事於——依照批評人士主張的——動物活體解剖研究。激進分子們為此採取的反擊策略多種多樣,從純粹的和平抗議直到實施恐怖主義迫害。



    [編輯] 參見

    * 動物實驗
    * 大屠殺
    * 實驗法
    * 關於活體解剖與實驗的論爭
    * 動物權利
    * 動物援助
    * 動物解放陣線
    * 致力於以倫理對待動物者
    * 731部隊

    [編輯] 參考書目

    * Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003)
    * Vivisections at Kyushu University Hospital in 1945

    1個分類: 解剖學

    2009年3月3日 上午 8:39
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    2009年3月3日 上午 8:43
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    * 色相
    * 色度
    * 明度
    * 色調
    * 顏色
    * 透視
    * 構圖
    * 寫生
    * 速寫
    * 素描
    * 臨摹

    2個分類: 藝術相關列表 | 繪畫術語

    2009年3月3日 下午 9:25

    2009年3月3日 下午 10:42