Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rich Aucoin - We're All Dying to Live

The democratic nature of the Internet is double-edged: The same level playing field that allows every creative type with a modicum of talent and a webcam the chance to become a global phenomenon also results in an exponential escalation in the fight to be heard. The music industry's increasing obsolescence, compounded by ever-splintering genre demarcations, has decreased the chances of a single individual's ever gaining the cross-platform success that the rock stars of yore once enjoyed, effectively surrendering the airwaves to the mercy of the lowest common denominator and leaving the true innovators behind to pick up the scraps.

Halifax native Rich Aucoin emerged from this borderless band scramble in 2007 with his self-recorded-and-released debut solo EP, Personal Publication, a DayGlo glitterbomb that caught the ear of both the Canadian and American music press, due in no small part to its having been composed to synchronize with the animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Aucoin quickly gained a reputation as an amazing live act, a madcap magician dressed all in white, leading his congregation through a 3-D multimedia wonderland beneath a giant rainbow parachute. From the start, Aucoin sought to erase the boundary between artist and audience, performer and participant; his involvement in the same online A/V synching community that birthed the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon phenomenon likely played a role in this, and certainly contributed to his ongoing experimentation with the visual component of his shows. The last three years have seen his career gather momentum at the same pace as his artistic evolution, spurred along by appearances at countless music festivals worldwide, with a magnum opus entitled We're All Dying to Live waiting in the wings.

We're All Dying to Live expands upon the electropop revelation of Aucoin's 2010 Public Publication EP by placing that release's four songs within the context of a classic concept album, painstakingly spliced together to serve as the soundtrack to a video composed of segments from forty different public domain films. The core of the album lies in seven songs spread out over twenty-two tracks, introduced by an overture and held together by interstitial instrumentals that range from breakbeat battles to ambient soundscapes. By Aucoin's measure, roughly 500 musicians from all over Canada assisted in realizing his vision, and We're All Dying to Live boasts a staggering array of sounds culled from studios both professional and makeshift. Combining processed beats with live studio drums, vintage synths and tack pianos propelling Beach Boys harmonies across a minefield of harps, trumpets, and children's choirs, it plays like Wayne Coyne's spiritual heir piloting Arcade Fire's burning carousel to the front door of Daft Punk's beachside bouncy castle to kick off the end-times party of the year.

Sprawling but concise, ambitious but accessible, We're All Dying to Live is a sunburst tapestry of light and color that serves as both an excellent dance record and the perfect salve for a broken heart. The sense of discovery is profound: Melodies both familiar and instantly memorable, drawn from a clear lineage of post-Mangum grandeur, sweep into anthemic choruses consisting of simple but resonant pop mantras: remember what we've been given; we won't leave it all in our heads; we are not dead. The cumulative effect evokes nothing less than the quaking, shuddering majesty of a sunrise seen from orbit, filtered through a lens of half-remembered childhood dreams and multiplied by the sweet agony of your first lost love. Rich Aucoin is precisely the unifying force that this generation needs; at long last, the dance floor messiah we've all been waiting for.

We're All Dying to Live is available now at Rich's website. Help support independent music! Check out the trailer for the album here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So, yeah. I sent this to Obama. We'll see what happens.

Dear Mr. President:

I am a lifelong Democrat who has admired and supported you since your appearance at the DNC in 2006. I waited in line for six hours to see you in St. Louis in October of 2008, and have remained an advocate of your policies ever since, even when I didn't agree with them completely. However, I am beyond disgusted with the fact that you encouraged Rep. Weiner to resign, and I feel obliged to tell you why.

Anthony Weiner embodies everything that is sorely lacking from the Democratic Party: power, conviction, integrity, and a refusal to compromise. He was the fiercest and most courageous House Democrat this side of Dennis Kucinich, and his volatile and incendiary nature was a blessed relief from the timid acquiescence exhibited by practically every other Democrat on Capitol Hill. Of course, this is why he was disliked by members of both parties: he was one of the few U.S. legislators who refused to abide the corruption that has poisoned our political system. We need more representatives like Rep. Weiner, not fewer, and the fact that his own party turned on him is an absolute travesty.

Rep. Weiner's sexual misconduct was an entirely personal issue, one which bore no relation to his work performance, and which was by no means grounds for resignation. That he admitted his mistakes of his own accord, without committing perjury (unlike another still-lauded Democrat who shall remain nameless), speaks extremely well to his character. This scandal only served as a distraction from more pressing matters because the House Democrats didn’t have the courage to speak up in Rep. Weiner’s defense. His public humiliation was atonement enough, and had his fellow party members not jumped onto the sanctimonious and hypocritical moralistic bandwagon set forth by the extreme right fringe of the GOP, Mr. Weiner would still be in office. The fact that you assisted in pressuring him to resign is the most crushing blow of all.

I am ashamed of you, Mr. President. In Rep. Weiner's time of need, you betrayed him, and you betrayed the American people who needed his representation the most. To suggest that he will simply "bounce back" from the witch hunt in which you participated is an egregious insult.

There needs to be a serious change in the political agenda of the Democratic Party. Even when said party controlled both the House and the Senate from January 2009 to January 2011, too much emphasis was placed on compromise with and placation of the GOP; e.g., if you had simply pushed through the health care reform bill as it had initially been drafted, instead of trying to find common ground with the corporate spokespersons throughout Congress, we would finally have a public option. Instead, as in so many other instances, you sought a solution that satisfied everyone, and wound up with a solution that satisfied no one.

Rep. Weiner’s resignation is emblematic of everything that is wrong with the Democrats today. Instead of banding together like the Republicans do, you work against one another, and in doing so aid and abet the sinister motives of the GOP. We elected you on a platform of change, but too often we see politics as usual. Please abandon this insistence to compromise with people who have no interest in compromising with you. Make these next nineteen months count. We need you as our champion. I want to be proud of you again.

Thank you very much for your time.