The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

2/13/2005

Thai Elephant Orchestra - "An Elephant's Swan Song"

Second listen to the Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand (still on the sale at alldirect for $9.99) and its hidden treasures are being revealed. And today's song o' the day that most definitely is the most unique[*] song in my entire CD collection: "An Elephant's Swan Song".

The song is a lumbering, yet haunting percussive instrumental track. What's so unique about that, especially so "most unique" about that? Here's how the track is described in the invaluable liner notes that accompanies this CD:

To an unsuspecting listener, computer-generated studio-doctored idol pop might sound less human the the incredible Thai Elephant Orchestra (track 6). From the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, near Lampang, the elephants were taught to play specially designed musical instruments by composer David Soldier and the Center co-founder 'professor elephant' Richard Lair. The instruments were designed to certain criteria, among them (obviously) that they were large enough to be played by an elephant's trunk, but also that they were able to withstand the jungle humidity and should have a Thai sound. They built huge slit drums, large marimba-type instruments much like Thai renats (stringed instruments that sound like an electric bass), and a gong made from a saw blade. They bought the harmonicas, finger cymbals and a khaen from Isaan, plus a bass drum. After learning the instruments, the elephants improvise and play their own music, without overdubs or editing, and the track you hear is exactly as the elephants performed it. The results are amazing -- not just for the obvious musicality but also for the beauty of the sounds. The orchestra now performs daily concerts near Lampang., Obviously logistics mean that they won't be embarking on a world tour soon (that would be some rider) -- that is, unless they get their own jumbo jet.
(Emphasis added).

Groans at the jumbo jet line. I'm guessing PETA would not approve of this use of our elephant friends, since PETA routinely objects to any use of animals that brings pleasure to people, even uses that are non-fatal

The Thai Elephant Orchestra has whole CDs for sale on amazon. Not at an inexpensive sale price like one would find at alldirect, but that, of course, is a problem with alldirect. Its selection is far more limited than amazon. Although, in fairness to alldirect, it should be noted that amazon is not currently selling the Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand CD.

Footnote: [*] Yes, I am aware that the term "most unique" is one of those phrases that I like to call a "repetitive redundancy." However, given the above description of this track, such a repetitive redundancy is appropros, no?
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