Thursday, February 27, 2014

Poltergeist (1982)

USA, 114 minutes
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, Mark Victor
Photography: Matthew F. Leonetti
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Editor: Michael Kahn
Cast: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robbins, Heather O'Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein

Let's stipulate right off that Poltergeist is silly and unscary, except (maybe) for a couple of scenes jammed in the middle. The funny thing ha ha about this movie is how wrong it gets everything, even basic stuff, with paranormal investigators who are easily spooked, anachronistic science fiction effects, a proto-Big Chill couple smokin' dope in the bedroom, and seeming endless out-of-context hokum about "the light." It tries very hard to appear to know what it is talking about but it is obviously empty: "Poltergeists are usually associated with individuals. Hauntings seem to be connected with an area," explains our head paranormal investigator at one point, who wraps herself in a motherly shawl (Beatrice Straight). She is only reading lines from a script by Steven Spielberg in which he is merrily making shit up to fortify the special effects. He is the only poltergeist anywhere around here.

Therein lies the rub, of course—there's an exciting credit in director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), but the script is by Spielberg, the first words we see at the end are "A STEVEN SPIELBERG PRODUCTION," and it is, by all indications, Spielberg in full flush of working on Raiders of the Ark and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial wanting to take on a horror project. By all indications, Hooper was there for the cred to get the deal done. By all indications, it was dollar signs on eyeballs (not least Hooper's) that wrecked this. And by all indications, it worked, a sideshow in the big summer of Steven Spielberg, with E.T. released just a week after it. Cha-ching, baby. E.T. is still high on the list of all-time earners, currently #9 between Shrek 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. But Poltergeist is not doing so shabby itself—#800 all-time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Aphex Twin, "Pulsewidth" (1993)

(listen)

In the interests of honesty, I have to admit I don't know very much about the prolific electronic artist Aphex Twin (aka Richard D. James, an Englishman born in Ireland). But something about the warm and soothing cold tones of the instrumental "Pulsewidth" has always appealed to me a lot. In this one track I hear the essence of every track on every techno anthology I've bought blind over the years, and it's definitely the high point for me of the interesting but often unfocused LP Selected Ambient Works 85-92. More or less generic techno, perhaps even a key template of the form, it's driven by a supple rubbery bass and various keyboard splashes and effects, yet marked by an unusual and almost clinical hush. It's basically a mood and a reason to move that lasts less than four minutes. Somehow it always sounds good. As with all the tracks on the album (and a '94 sequel), "Pulsewidth" is in part the result of James's avowed allegiance to Brian Eno's conception of ambient music circa 1978, extending it into the '90s and beyond. Aphex Twin, of course (with all the other monikers James has worked under, more than a dozen altogether according to Wikipedia, from AFX to Soit-P.P.), has turned out to be a giant in this particular corner of electronic dance music, although in terms of overall career output I think I might still prefer the Orb. But this is such a fine and unpretentious distillation of a sound that it almost needs to go under glass.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Help! (1965)

(There's a less fragmented version here. And see also A Hard Day's Night, now with complete updates, here.)

More on the mess made by the marketing laboratories of early/mid-period Beatles. For the record, I am officially in sympathy with the Beatles who wanted to put chopped-up dolls and cuts of meat on the cover of the US-only Yesterday and Today. It's a travesty. At this point these UK track sequences can still be alienating too. (I still feel like someone midway in transition from a QWERTY to a Dvorak keyboard. It messes with my mind.) Example: WTF is "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" doing here? Or "Yesterday"? They are less like albums (let alone soundtracks) and more like collections of songs that sometimes clump. For this album, the first seven tracks also appeared in the movie and on the US version of the soundtrack. To me they are the core of Help! and then there are some pretty good random Beatles songs and/or weird soundtrack blurts, depending on the version you have or know or prefer. In short: Help! I need somebody.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here (1971)

The basic conceit of this volume in the 87th Precinct series by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter, which was not his real name either) may feel just slightly belabored, but I like the gimmick a lot anyway: a 24-hour ticktock from midnight to midnight following along with pretty much all the detectives of the 87th Precinct (hence the title, one presumes) as they go about their daily business. It's a short novel that basically breaks into two longish stories: "Nightshade" and "Daywatch" by names. It's a real jumble of police business, one of my favorite flavors of the procedural, perhaps best exemplified by the Jack Webb TV series Adam-12, which was less often one big case and more often three to five small threads of case work, some left unresolved. I have to say there's also some welcome relief for me that insane people with or without knife fetishes are missing from this one—they can be overworked in the series. I think these somewhat more low-key efforts are where McBain really did his best work in this series. I wonder if part of that isn't the constraints of the gimmick, reminiscent of those great and strange crime novels of the '30s and '40s such as They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, The Big Clock, or Night of the Jabberwock, which among other things chipped in to an intensely creative time in the genre. In fact, Hail, Hail includes a ghost story in the nightshift section. There's a detective here, Kapek, who's not familiar to me. I realized, after I finished a burst of McBains toward the end of the year, that I didn't even get to very many of the titles from the '50s and '60s. I would think there are plenty of McBain partisans who might swear on either or both of those decades as his best, and I may yet include myself among them. Certainly the '90s and later seemed weaker, and there are some continuing problems with the '80s. It's a lot of books, after all—some 54 novels plus miscellaneous. That reminds me, I need to catch up on Dragnet again. Look, I'm just nutty for police procedurals. My favorite TV show of all time is Law & Order. McBain is plain one of the masters.

In case it's not at the library.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Gingerbread Man (1998)

USA, 114 minutes
Director: Robert Altman
Writers: John Grisham, Clyde Hayes
Photography: Changwei Gu
Music: Mark Isham
Editor: Geraldine Peroni
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Robert Duvall, Tom Berenger, Famke Janssen, Clyde Hayes, May Whitman

The last few years I've been making a project of going through Robert Altman's considerable body of movies and TV episodes. No surprise, they are wildly uneven. I have even formulated a Paul Dooley axiom, though he is an actor I enjoy: Any Robert Altman movie with Paul Dooley may safely be avoided—with the possible exceptions of A Perfect Couple, Popeye, and A Wedding (and if they are best in class, I hope you can see what I'm talking about).

Paul Dooley is not in The Gingerbread Man, which I saw when it was new. Not much had stayed with me beyond a vague sense that I liked it. Most of the reviews I looked at beforehand were mostly unimpressed. "Routine thriller, in which the director's usual quirkiness has been reined in by the script," says Halliwell's 2008, which was typical. Add to that, The Gingerbread Man has many earmarks of Oscar-bait—big names in juxtaposition all over the place, John Grisham, Altman himself, Kenneth Branagh, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, etc.—but the January release date suggests it was considered a dog by the studio, which lowered my expectations further. Last (and least), in one of those Hollywood coincidences that seem to happen all the time, it was second to the market (though it was shot first) with a movie set in the surprisingly exotic location of Savannah, Georgia, after Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, released two months earlier.

Playing this kind of game, you can probably guess what happened. I thought The Gingerbread Man was terrific.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Elvis Presley, "Make the World Go Away" (1970)

(listen)

No part of Elvis Presley's career is a gray area (or every part is), but 1970 comes close. Still basking in the glow of his late-1968 comeback, before he had mostly slipped into rote biz again as he'd done a decade before, 1970 was the year Presley recorded one of his most singular albums, Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old), a concept work that attempts to embrace and weave together all country: bluegrass, honky tonk, rockabilly, countrypolitan, etc. No doubt "Make the World Go Away," which closes out the original album (since decked out in reissues with multiple additional tracks), is intended as the countrypolitan statement. A Hank Cochran song, it has been a hit twice—by Timi Yuro in 1963 and by Eddy Arnold in 1965, probably the best known version. It was also recorded by Ray Price (the first to do so, in 1963), the Osmonds, Roger Whittaker, Mickey Gilley, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, and many others. It would have to be the strings mainly that make it countrypolitan, but it's also the Presley vocal style of the period—compare "Suspicious Minds," "Kentucky Rain," "In the Ghetto." He sounds hoarse, tired, and depressed. I don't say that like it's a bad thing. It's not—it's highly effective. The sadness of all these songs is their chief virtue, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Presley, the consummate professional, were so playing deliberately to the dimming fatigue. "Get it off - get it off my shoulders," he whimpers in "Make the World Go Away," speaking for all of us I guess at one point or another. The sentiment is just right, the mood of the song suited exactly to the performance, as Presley simply lays claim to ownership of one more pop song others are known for.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Nothing Man (1954)

Jim Thompson's The Nothing Man features an angry, sarcastic, drunken newspaperman named Brownie, who was castrated in the war, hence "the nothing." His boss at the newspaper was also his commanding officer in the war and Brownie is constantly mocking, needling, and trying to provoke him. As usual, something well to the side of the main events brings the most energy, in this case Brownie's constant caustic spew. Brownie dishes it out constantly, another one of Thompson's hellishly observed cases of foul disposition. The boss takes it from him because he feels sorry for him. At which point, some structural POV problems crop up, which Thompson attempts to deal with using alcoholic blackouts. Well, Thompson's plots tend to be purely incidental anyway, a loose skeleton onto which to drape things. What matters more is how well he manages to burrow into the psychotic mind, or some semblance of it peculiar to him and few others. On that score, The Nothing Man is not among his best. With Thompson, the hope always is for those chilling, clarifying breaks with reality, which connect in significant ways I think with writers like Poe, O'Connor, and Faulkner. In many ways all Thompson springs from the third section of The Sound and the Fury: tethers cut loose, raging with great abandon and almost no reason, and so desperate and vivid it is like staring through the pages. "Writing ecstatically," as Updike said of Nabokov. Well, there's less of that in The Nothing Man—it's good enough but second-tier. The whole impotence thing bores me now, after Faulkner's Sanctuary. With Thompson, I can let that go, along with the disappointing and mechanically happy ending. He's earned the right to fail now and then, even spectacularly, and The Nothing Man is not a failure, it's only entertaining.

In case it's not at the library.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Everything Is Wrong (1995)

I'd been aware of Moby before Everything Is Wrong, but this third album by him (not counting anthologies and remix projects) was about where I got on board with the larger project—as I recall, it got a lot of warm reviews, and was the shiny object of everyone's attention for a few minutes. It is uneven—Moby seems to have some formal ideas about incorporating electric guitar and punk-rock noise into some of these tracks—something about "authenticity" I think, or maybe it was just that it was still the post-grunge times. They don't work as well. I get the sense Moby decided "punk-rock" meant "ugly as you can make it," which of course is wrong. But not everything here is, by any means. In fact, the high points—"Hymn," "Feeling So Real," "Everytime You Touch Me," and many others, including the exquisitely titled "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" (longest song here, clocking in at 7:22)—are high points of his whole catalog. Everything Is Wrong is not skimpy with them at all. I think these soaring exercises he seems capable of pealing off are just remarkable, reducing me to all kinds of tender emotional submersions. Moby's music absolutely can take one by surprise. It is startling in its beauty, deeply felt and moving, even against one's will, though all he appears to be doing objectively is touching high notes on keyboards, powered by interesting beats. Actually, it's the melodies doing the work, and the gospel sources, tracing dynamics and swells so few even try for, entering spiritual realms of peace and joy. Listen to me. I am often surprised all over again when I play his stuff. Speculation: Eminem hates Moby so much for exactly this reason (if indeed that is anything more than a convenient public stance Eminem has adopted, which is quite possible, though the animus feels real, not least for its persistence). Moby is Gallant to Eminem's Goofus, and everything he touches becomes good and beautiful. No wonder Eminem resents him. I suppose Moby might also seem lame to a red-blooded American character such as Eminem, but hey, Moby is the one with bloodlines back to Herman Melville. In fairness, and as a consumer guide note, the best of Everything Is Wrong is collected (and the least of it eliminated) on the anthology MobySongs 1993-1998, which is probably the wiser use of your money.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, "Dragon Song" (1971)

(listen)

Staying with John McLaughlin and things fusion one more week, British keyboardist Brian Auger's first album with his Oblivion Express band offers some slight pop sweetening and really makes the instrumental by McLaughlin gleam. Auger's take on "Dragon Song" (also on the Devotion album) is not so much dreamy and textured as streamlined and propulsive, not so much intuitive as professional, like the engine of transport the name bears. Among other things, the Oblivion Express included drummer Robbie McIntosh, later of the Average White Band, who in turn would later bring in Oblivion Express guitarist Jim Mullen to that project. I might like the McLaughlin original a little better now, but in high school daze the whole Brian Auger album this song is found on became an obsessive favorite. "Dragon Song" stays well within the bounds of what it intends to be, a straightforward blast, with a churning, catalyzing bass figure that sends it hurtling down those tracks. Mullen steps in and peals off a solo I seem to know still note for note. Then Auger has his turn on a Hammond organ (or similar keyboard). Hey, didn't we have a time doing it this way. A bewitching riff, a tight band, solos, music for chair-sitting and head-bobbing at home. With Brian Auger's discography running now into the dozens of albums (none of which I know after the mid-'70s) it's fair enough to call him a professional in the business. But if there is formula and calculation to this, that doesn't make it any less effective. Although it may account for why I lost interest in him relatively early.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Exterminator! (1973)

Zap, crackle, pop. Sizzle. For a whole bunch of reasons I bet you already know (and maybe have some more of your own) reading William Burroughs can get to be an unpredictable mix of tedium, annoyance, and exhilaration. I've made it through Naked Lunch, Cities of the Red Night, and sampled from a bunch of others. Exterminator! is the one I enjoy most. The usual elements are all here: dope fiends, a '50s refraction on "the homosexual lifestyle," secret agents, massive and complex conspiracies, the cut-up style of writing, no discernible narrative through-line ever, sentences and paragraphs you and I can only dream of creating, and Dr. Benway. Those sentences and paragraphs are the only reason for reading him, then as now. Here's one now (and never mind the context, essentially there is none):

A cry of strangled rage bursts from the crowd screaming clawing slipping on their spit to get at him as he drops on all fours smiling his back teeth bare and ejaculates canines tear through his bleeding gums stretching his face to a snout red hair ripples down his back into a bushy red tail laps his lean flanks leaner crinkles and shrinks his balls squeezing jets of sperm from his red pointed wolf phallus quivering teeth bare his eyes light up bright lemon yellow and nitrous fumes steam off his body a reek of burning film and animal musk. He leaps through an invisible window and disappears in the 1920 night with a distant sour train whistle.

I guess that's actually two sentences, but I hope you see what I mean. He breaks rules wantonly, but in this case the depiction of animal transformation is so thoroughly imagined and vividly rendered it's almost better than anything I've seen in a movie (well, The Howling, where director Joe Dante could well have been aware of this). Something so fantastic would seem a natural for a visual medium, but actually the darting compressions of language are amazingly effective, opening up psychological gaps we rush to fill. Burroughs might fairly be considered best-ever at this. Also, this particular set of fragments—marketed variously as a novel and as a collection of stories—has passages that are very funny, which doesn't happen often anywhere—wicked funny. This is also where you go to find the text of "The 'Priest' They Called Him." Sssss—bzzt.

In case it's not at the library.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Lenny (1974)

USA, 111 minutes
Director: Bob Fosse
Writer: Julian Barry
Photography: Bruce Surtees
Music: Ralph Burns
Editor: Alan Heim
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine, Jan Miner, Stanley Beck, Gary Morton

In the chronicles of the careers of stand-up comic Lenny Bruce, director Bob Fosse, and the movie star Dustin Hoffman, Lenny may well be considered a low point. Downbeat, dreary, black and white—something of a willful distortion of a figure now basically obscure beyond "free speech" nuances of legal interpretation and general '60s martyr-mongering, where his reputation largely rests. Released in a particularly emblematic year of '70s cinema, overshadowed by Chinatown, The Godfather: Part II, The Conversation, and many others (not to mention box office juggernauts The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, and Airport 1975), Lenny sometimes seems all but lost to history now.

For me, at 19, having dutifully plowed through Albert Goldman's Ladies and Gentlemen—Lenny Bruce!! and in the process of attempting to construct an authentic bohemian existence for myself in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it was a revelation and running away my favorite movie of that year. I saw it numerous times. The Goldman biography was written before his books on Elvis Presley and John Lennon revealed Goldman to be a mean-spirited distortion artist, and some of those problems plague his Bruce project as well, albeit in milder form. For the most part they are cleaned up in the movie, which then as now is much less about Bruce anyway and much more about Fosse and Hoffman and their egos and pushing the boundaries of moviemaking.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

John McLaughlin, "Devotion" (1970)

(listen)

The Devotion album does not sound like much of anything else in John McLaughlin's catalog. There are a couple of reasons for that: producer Alan Douglas (of the Douglas label, on which the album was originally released) mixed the sessions when McLaughlin was not around, and McLaughlin did not like the result. Douglas got in trouble again later for his work with various Jimi Hendrix tracks after Hendrix's death. But on that score what I know is that my favorite posthumous Hendrix album, Blues, gives Douglas a production credit. And Devotion is my favorite John McLaughlin album. So I guess Douglas has to be doing a few things right by me. I never cared for the Mahavishnu Orchestra albums; the only other project by McLaughlin I liked much was the collaboration with Carlos Santana. I liked his session work with Miles Davis very much, of course, probably more than any of his other work. This 11-minute lumbering slow-burn title song is as good an exhibit as any of the tilt of Devotion, with a classic rock band outfit playing it loose and dreamy. Drummer Buddy Miles (of Hendrix's Band of Gypsys) and bassist Billy Rich are the rhythm section, Larry Young plays a spooky organ, and McLaughlin is on an electric guitar that swivels between squalling and lyrical, sometimes getting them both at once. This is definitely the heavy stuff, with a bottom massive enough to bear its own gravity, a sluggish tempo, and ample room and atmosphere for strange noises to paint various pictures. All four feel totally involved: Rich's swelling bass patterns are often the most lovely thing here, Young's organ lines float at eye level, jagged, translucent, free floating, and McLaughlin's playing is deliberate yet with that sense of rhythm and texturing and anti-melody that is like few others, and was trail-blazing in its time. Let this one flatten you.

Monday, February 03, 2014

seenery

Movies/TV I saw last month...

The Act of Killing (2012)—As sickening as you could want, and thus on some level a kind of porn—I fear we are entering Faces of Death territory with this documentary, which carries the imprimatur of executive producer credits for Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, among others (and one of its three co-directors going by ANONYMOUS). It's brave and complex, yes, that's very true, inviting the hit men and murderers of the death squads operating in the service of the Indonesian government in the '60s and after to reenact their crimes for the film. It's amazing and appalling that they do—"documentary gold," as someone once said in another context. But the heart of what's most sickening about The Act of Killing is that it's too late now. These monsters are old men, and have lived long full lives. Also—and I know this will sound like complaining that the portions are too small at the restaurant where the food is not good—the subtitles on the DVD that Netflix is circulating are of the ridiculous variety I thought was extinct now, too small in the first place, and way too often allowed to get lost in the background. Maybe I'd like it better if I understood what people were saying, but I think I got the gist, so maybe I'd like it less.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Another Year (2010)
Before Midnight (2013)—Worthy entry to what is now a very impressive trilogy. I still find the first movie to be the weakest, because necessarily the most callow, but in the broad scope I think all three now certainly rank together as one of the great epic romances in all movies. This one has some of the fearsome dynamics of Certified Copy, even as it continues to probe the realities and pressure points of a very convincing love story. Are they going to take it out again in 2022? Wow, can you imagine? An American 56 Up (below)!
The Class (2008)—I was pleasantly surprised by this 2008 Cannes winner directed and co-written by French director Laurent Cantet. It stars novelist and former teacher Francois Begaudeau playing himself, based on a book he wrote about his experiences teaching in a Parisian school. The students are of mixed ethnicities, classes, and income levels, and citizenship status among their parents is not always clear. Begaudeau teaches language arts classes for high school freshmen and sophomores. They can involve a lot of managing volatile classroom atmospheres, but more often it is about nagging shy adolescents to learn, trying to guide them into the skills of teaching themselves. The classroom scenes felt immediate and real and so did much of the film, which basically covers an academic year beginning to end, episodically, almost documentary style.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The Stand (1978)

I saw some list awhile back that ranked Stephen King's books—he's up to over 60 now. I was only a little surprised to see The Stand top the list, which did not specify an edition: either the ginormous edition originally published or the unexpurgated edition that added some 400 more pages to that, evidently after King had won the authorial clout to add back requested editorial cuts. I've only got the first version; I understand the longer version isn't that much of an improvement. I also happened to be watching Twin Peaks AND The Lord of the Rings at the time, so I had my hands full with fantastical showdowns between good and evil. King's mammoth novel starts with a super-flu virus that wipes out better than 99% of the human population on the planet. All in itself that qualifies as a staggering vision. The survivors sort themselves into Team Good (headed up by a centenarian African American woman known as Mother Abagail, who lives in Nebraska) and Team Evil, headed up by a demon known as Randall Flagg, the Walkin Dude. Team Evil is headquartered in Las Vegas (of course) and Team Good in Boulder, Colorado. The to-do list for the novel is giant, starting with wiping out most human beings. Thus a lot of the action is devoted to setting up the many, many pieces—there are dozens of significant characters—and putting them through their paces. It was a page-turning thrill ride my first time through but has been relatively more sedate since. In fact, I've only managed to get all the way through it again once (hence the real reason for my reluctance to go for the bigger version). As with all of the King I've read it's as compulsively readable as you'd ever want the first time. After that you start to see how he does it more—it's often a matter of repetition, stroking out the main points like brushing an animal. I have no quarrel whatsoever with calling him the master of horror literature for our times—also its best critic. King is good at striking the affable tone that draws you in and stands by all the way as your friend, alternating more secretly with the creep who will say and do anything to get a rise out of you. His imagination truly is fiendish and almost all of his stuff I know, not least The Stand, manages to unnerve me one way or another. The difference in The Stand is that it is on such an epic, colossal scale. If you don't know it yet, as the saying goes, I envy you. Try the big version.

In case it's not at the library.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

O(+> (1992)

Prince does not always make albums the length of feature films, but it does seem to be a default position. This so-called Love Symbol Album is another, featuring the lively New Power Generation band and road-testing his new "name" (the symbol reproduced emoticon style with O(+>). Part grand joke, part deranged reaction from a legal dispute with Warner Bros. over rights to the master recordings of his material, it's about as exasperating and hilarious as anything he has done. Talk about passive aggressive. Warner Bros. was forced to send floppy discs to all its media contacts with the custom font. Flailing for direction, PR and fans took to referring to him as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," "TAFKAP," "The Artist," or "glyph," all of which seemed infinitely more silly than anything yet. "My name is Prince," he announces in the first seconds of this album, on a song of exactly that name. I took that as meaning the issue of pronunciation had been reasonably clearly addressed. At any rate, it's a pretty good song, and it's followed with an even better song, "Sexy M.F." Early indications were thus that this would be a worthy follow-up to the preceding Diamonds and Pearls, which was very good. But O(+> soon wanders off into the great caverns of its 18 total tracks and some narrative "rock opera" concept that periodically surfaces, mostly in connection to the short and baffling (and annoying—please, everyone, stop these skits) spoken-word "segue" tracks. For what it's worth, Wikipedia reports that many more of the segue tracks, clarifying the story, were tossed in favor of a late addition, "I Wanna Melt With You." It's a good song and I applaud the decision to backbench the story. On recent visits, in fact, the more I hear of this album the more I like these songs, so take this if you will as a positive recommendation and not just a cautious one. It's a strong entry in his second tier. As is usually the case, I prefer the songs with more tempo over torchy turns at ballads, but it's all good. TAFKAP has always known what he's doing when it comes to the art and science of entertainment, and the pacing here is flawless. It's the case even on what most consider his weaker albums, such as Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, so easy to take for granted perhaps. But no one puts together a 75-minute album better than glyph.