25 January 2008

dancing about arkitektur

i've spent the last day and a half, roughly (while frank kogan was looking at taylor swift's dresses) listening to, investigating and writing about the ark, a swedish glam-rock/pop group who are just possibly one of the greatest bands of the decade. i don't particularly want to say anything about them right now, since i've just written well over two-thousand words, cumulatively, about their four excellent full-length albums and one mediocre pre-fame EP. not at all a bad way to make a hundred bucks, though not an especially efficient one. those links don't work yet - that is, my reviews aren't up - but they should be soon (although with amg's buggy and byzantine navigational system it's hard to be too sure about anything - supposedly the url "tokens" change from time to time, which just seems totally bizarre to me.)

they are fascinating, though, and as usual it's interesting to find out what sort of things their fans have to say about them. their third album (in my opinion their absolute masterpiece, though maybe just because it's what i heard and loved first) was a partial stylistic departure, while their most recent was either a retreat or a regression or a return-to-form, depending on your point of view - i'd go with the former but a lot of fans feel the opposite. i'm still not entirely sure how i feel about it, but considering it in the context of their whole career definitely changes things. it's interesting to try to reconcile that in an 'authoritative' review. a lot conditional clauses. (obviously my opinions hold ultimate sway in the reckoning, but i think it's good to represent other prevalent perspectives.)

also, i must say that ola salo, the ark's iconic, idiosyncratic, palindromic, perfervid, bisexual, brilliant, flamboyant firebrand of a lead singer and songwriter, is a truly amazing guy - why don't we have superstars like that in our country? (any more? mostly?) i highly recommend the interview with him here, for anybody interested in gaining insight into the band. (clicking will download as a pdf.)

incidentally salo is evidently best known to wikipedia (to americans generally?) for once having made a throwaway joke about george bush. he's probably best known to readers of pitchfork and stylus (who have never reviewed an ark album!) or to listeners of my ¡OhSiX! mix as the guy in this song (by robyn, though actually by christian falke - and cowritten by k. åhlund - original/video is here but they're not in it), in which he is totally underused and wasted, singing in an uncharacteristically low register and masked by robyn's vocal the whole time.

here they both are:

speaking of robyn, who is the other absolute visionary genius of pop music that sweden has produced this century ... except wait i forgot about dreijer & dreijer and karlsson & windbag [remember?]... okay well, anyway, did i ever mention that she's coming to america?? and i'm gonna see her, in, um, a week and a half. and there are still tickets available for her new york show - wtf, i thought ny'ers were supposed to be hip or something. well i'll guess i'll have more to say about that later. (in the meantime, you can help her throw red things at bees here - while listening to electro remix of "bee mine"...get it??)

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