Tuesday, August 5, 2008

mia doi todd @ spaceland

I've been leaning towards the sweeter, simpler things in life again. Blame the clogging team disguised as carpenters who seem to have taken permanent residence in the apartment above me. But if there's one thing a dyed in the wool cynic such as myself knows, it's that forays into sincere sweetness must be delved into carefully. Don't try to Norman Rockwellize your daily life too much...you'll just end up with Blue Velvet. You've probably already figured that one out. So has Mia Doi Todd. With my plate frighteningly full and my wallet terrifying empty, her brief set at Spaceland's free Monday night residencies was a much needed break.

With this year's sweet new album and last year's delicious contribution to the DNTEL single "Rock My Boat," Mia has me fully under her spell. Watching her play, one can easily forget the other chatting bar patrons, or the power tool cacophony waiting for you at home. This isn't folk hearkening back to a simpler time or musical magical-realism, this is a whole new and unexplored world. Or at least new and unexplored if your world view is as ethnocentric and white as mine tends to be. Music bearing gentle Asian influences rock my world! I can't go so far as to call her voice miraculous (although it is important to note it is as strong live as recorded) but it did get me to unclench my jaw for the first time in a day...quite an accomplishment! 

In addition to songs off her newest album, including the hypnotic, ten minute "River Of Life/Yes Song" set- and album-opener, Mia played an almost chipper Nick Drake cover, and the aforementioned "Rock My Boat," an especially impressive accomplishment as the cold electronic backing of the original track translated into warm, playful guitar strumming, a quasi-cover indistinguishable from her own highly accomplished songwriting.  My own personal pre-apocalyptic plague of construction workers might continue on - heck, my new neighbors might really be in to daily bouts of feng shui and in-apartment dodge ball tournaments - but as far as musical eyes of the storm go, few have the calming affect of Mia Doi Todd. 

(photo Mia Doi Todd: Theo Jemison)

mp3: "The Way" by Mia Doi Todd
mp3: "My Room Is White (Flying Lotus Remix)" by Mia Doi Todd (from the album La Ninja: Amor and Other Dreams of Manzanita)

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