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From the monthly archives: December 2010

Gobble Gobble is the moniker under which Canadian, Cecil Frena, releases his largely underrated bedroom pop. The project has been making a few light ripples since its conception two years ago, that are just finally starting to turn into fully-realized, rightfully-deserved waves. Thanks to a relentless touring schedule, and the privilege of sharing the stage with established acts such as Baths, Teen Daze and Braids, Frena churns out blissfully schizophrenic songs that somehow manage to be both endearingly noisy and obnoxiously catchy. Gobble Gobble has an uncanny ability to produce melodies and his music has a tendency to not only make a home inside your head, but dwell there for some time.

Cecil pulls from a surprisingly broad range of influences, citing unlikely artists anywhere from R Kelly to Weezer, and yet, these influences are all relevant within his finished product. The listener is left with an array of songs gleefully brimming with a self-awareness of their own insanity, heavily rooted in loud, pulsing electronics. There is an obvious knack for layers on display, as Cecil Prena eagerly harnesses intricate textures that fuse together to form something melodiously pleasing. However, perhaps the most interesting component of Cecil Frena’s strange musical expression is his unrestrained vocals. The undoubtedly quirky, yet poetic responses only add to the endearing nature of the music being created, that occasionally leads into a frantic yelp. And while some may dismiss this strange vocal noise as something out of the Animal Collective, there is no denying that same feeling of excitement that compels you to shout along with him.

Keeping with the do-it-yourself mentality from his past involvements in the Canadian punk scene, Gobble Gobble embraces the information age by putting all their releases (and there are many, from an LP to several EPs, remixes, singles, and mixtapes) up on the band’s Tumblr for free download, complete with hi-res artwork and lyrics sheets, while still putting out physical releases on vinyl for the prideful collector. They also incorporate that same ethic into an extensive love for touring, packing into a van and playing wherever they are welcomed, whether it be a decent-sized club or cramped sweaty basement. Although the recordings are primarily the work of one person, the live show is something else entirely.

While the songs easily stand up on their own, the true genius of Gobble Gobble is revealed in a live setting. Cecil Frena produces the music from his station, and three other touring members come out and set up completely unorthodox instruments, be it drum sets composed of kitchenware or the added percussion of clanging shovels. Often in bizarre outfits that only add to the confusion, they manoeuvre their way through the crowd, sometimes dancing, sometimes crawling, bustling you with feathers and bringing you into the moment. The feeling created is uninhibited madness, capable of making even the stiffest of bones joyously writhe to the beat in what is in all-too-short feeling of unbridled exhilaration. It’s incredible how they’ve managed to fly so low under the radar, with the impossibly infectious hooks and the incredibly innovative live shows, it is clear to see just how much fun they’ve having with their music. To any naysayers who feel this approach too bizarre, Gobble Gobble’s live show is likely something that must be experienced to be truly understood, the chaotic simplicity of their music is too pure and far too fun to ignore.

Recommended release: Lawn Knifes 7”
 Available here
Gobble Gobble Myspace

Writer: Joel Siggelkow
Location: London, Ontario Canada
Joel Siggelkow is a student at the University of Western Ontario, and closet music critic. Joel mixes english with philosophy to critically analyze the wide spectrum of musical talent available today.

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Ever since taking a university class on politics in Africa, I have been borderline obsessed with humankind’s first inhabited continent. The cultural, political, and historical distinctness of the place swelled in my mind.

Despite hours spent researching the topic of Africa, the shock and awe of reality during my first encounter with the continent went far beyond any book I had read.

The Sore Thumb

As a pale-skinned, shorts-and-sandals-wearing Westerner, I stuck out like a sore thumb in Kenya. From the start, I was inescapably an outsider.

Interactions in Kenya are, to put it simply, raw – at least compared to those in the Western world. For instance, when you sit down at a cafe the waitress doesn’t ask you how you are; she asks you want you want to eat. They were quite clear about my position in their county as a tourist – someone with expendable funds.

Kenya’s economy is very much based on tourism, which is the country’s principal source of foreign exchange. The economy and society are very much set up with this in mind. Our hotel in Mombasa, the country’s beach location, which I visited for a weekend had a very clear price list, with different rates for (in ascending price order) Kenyan residents, residents of nearby Central African countries, and visitors. Likewise, at Nairobi National Park, where we went on an afternoon “safari” drive, my companions (British) and I (American) were both required to pay in U.S. dollars (which, I hasten to add, we had to attain by finding a currency exchange shop), whereas our Kenyan friend and driver paid in Kenyan shillings – and at only a fraction of our rate.

Probably the most astounding tourist situation was the market. We were followed by our own personal shoppers, who did the bargaining on behalf of the sellers. My Kenyan friend was able to make his own purchases at his leisure (again, at a much lower price).

Getting the Experience

Experiencing the true Kenya was a challenge for a few reasons. One reason was the danger that I would have put myself in if I had explored each place that interested me. For example, I desperately wanted to see the city’s Shanty Town, but this was not an option, since shady characters and Taliban members are known to hide there.

My situation as a foreigner became blatantly obvious when a local fisherman in Mombasa described his favorite drink – a coconut wine made in a nearby village. My desire to taste this beverage was accompanied by the knowledge that I was not part of the circle of locals and thus could not partake.

Taking It Home

The striking images I saw were nearly impossible to capture. Portable electronics, other than mobile phones (which can be found even in remote areas), are not common in Kenya. For this reason, a camera is an awkward thing to pull out, emphasizing otherness and advertising to thieves. Further, it feels so sleazy, so insensitive, somehow, to snap away at another’s hardships, or even at the mere difference between the subject and the traveler.

Aside from the logistic problems in creating evidence of one’s African journey, there is still a difficulty in describing one’s experience. The feelings within me during my first trip to my beloved continent are impossible to pass on – both the uplifting and the frustrating.

Writer: Sabrina Cargill-Greer
Location: Sacramento, California
Sabrina Cargill-Greer has three things to thank for her MA in Philosophy: Post-it notes, good running shoes, and the ability to throw random ingredients into a slow cooker and hope for the best. When she’s not simultaneously accruing air miles and trying to offset her carbon footprint, she is taking pictures of her food and posting them on her blog

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Every now and then, the entire process producers go through to communicate with their consumers completely transforms. Indeed, this happened early in the twentieth century with the advent of national media and again in the mid twentieth century as commercial television took off, but now that we live in a world that is saturated in web 2.0, are those value making tables turning?

Anyone paying the least bit of attention during the last ten years could easily tell you that marketing has always been about the brand, and all those associations we tie to them. All those companies that wanted us, the consumer to do exactly that, to consume. It’s old fashioned textbook marketing at its best – messages that were all about the me, the I; the customer who was always in the dollar-sign shaped spotlight.

But something is happening. And on a wave made of web 2.0 we’re seeing marketing that wants to conform more to we than I or me. This has to do partly with the nature of web 2.0 itself; essentially a self-organising and thus inevitably creative undertaking of making stuff together, making it collectively – whether it’s Wikipedia, Twitter or LastFM. But this notion of embracing the collective has actually been seeping into marketing campaigns and indeed the design of Internet services for quite some time. The fact that there are now over ten million Amazon reviews says quite a lot about the state of co-marketing.

This ‘even newer new marketing’ (we’ll call it) is essentially co-operative or co-creative. Co-operative (as opposed to competition, according to our old friend game theory) in a sense of doing something for the group, rather than just our individual interests (and yes, sometimes that’s even the best thing for individuals too). The online world eBay is a perfect example, being a site that always relies on mutual trust and feedback ratings – proving that looking after everyone is better for ‘everyone’ than simply looking after number one. In other words, brands must be seen to share, rather than manipulate consumer’s passions and emotions as they once did.

But it’s also like a good co-creative system really preserves individual initiative, yet still maintains a shared and collective goal. The real gain of co-creation seems to stem from the notion that it’s not necessarily working from the average wisdom of a community, but rather the individual talent that lies there – those millions of columnists and editors (or might we say bloggers) assimilating and disseminating their own take on what’s going on. It’s as though the capacity for talent and mutual quality control co-creative or open source systems call for, outstrip anything the corporate model could ever deliver. Those active contributors will probably learn more from writing their own version of the news than they ever did when the elite few covered it. And the result of all this? Undoubtedly a more openly flexible, progressive and intelligent global information system.

Writer: Jonathan Young
Location: Oxford, UK
Jonathan Young is a recent marketing graduate from Oxford Brookes University. When he is not playing entrepreneur, Jonathan enjoys exploring the infinite depths of the In n Out secret menu and meticulously organizing his life into all time top five lists. He has a web presence at Look Ma, No Hands!

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