Damon & Naomi's cover was released on their second album The Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi, in 1995. Here’s the version from the Bootleg Edition released for Record Store Day earlier this year
Damon & Naomi have just announced the next record on their 20-20-20 label. The release will be by Brazillian musician Alexandre Kassin. The album, released under the name Kassin, is called Sonhando Devagar (which translates as Slowly Dreaming) and was originally released in Brazil in 2011. It is now getting its first release on vinyl and outside of Brazil.
Kassin’s first songwriting project since the +2’s, and his first proper solo release, is likewise a concept album: a set of songs about dreams. This is no routine mishmash of oneiric whimsy, however; Kassin’s unconscious turns out to be both lucid and precise. He dreams (and therefore sings) about eating zebra (“Natural World”) and bananas (“Potassium”); about losing cell phone signal (“Out of Service”) and his heart (“When You Are Dancing Samba”); about sex in a handicapped bathroom (“Gym Pants”), and the similarities between ice cream and bodily fluids (“Absorb You”). It is a journey as deadpan as it is surprising. And you can dance to the whole thing.
The album is available on LP through 20-20-20 and comes in a 3D gatefold sleeve (with a download code of course).
Not sure how this slipped me by, Naomi wrote about five Velvet Underground tracks that “changed her life” for the Boston Globe
In the wake of Lou Reed’s death on Sunday, it’s been heartwarming to see the round of tributes paid to his legacy as a maverick rock musician. His early work with the Velvet Underground, in particular, has cast a long shadow over multiple generations, including Galaxie 500, the seminal alternative rock band that Damon Krukowski, Dean Wareham, and Naomi Yang (inset) formed in the Boston area in the mid-’80s.
“Oh, we got that comparison all the time, but it was apt,” Yang, the defunct group’s bassist, says from the Cambridge home she shares with Krukowski, with whom she now performs as Damon & Naomi.
We asked Yang to name five Velvet Underground songs that changed her life.
1. “Femme Fatale” “Nico singing — so dark, but her trance-like delivery is heartbreaking. [Damon & Naomi] covered it at Ghost’s request when we made an album with them in 2000.”
2. “Sunday Morning” “It was co-written with John Cale. That celeste he is playing is like in a dream. There is a tenderness to the song but still has that rough edge that makes it a Velvet Underground song.”
3. “Sister Ray” “It gave [Galaxie 500] license to play as long as we wanted. If VU could do it, then so could we.”
4. “I’m Set Free” “The build and crescendo seemed impossibly beautiful to me. I think we spent a lot of time just trying to create as much of a mood as there is in this song.”
5. “Pale Blue Eyes” “The tambourine, the rolling rhythm, the laid-back delivery, the guitar sound — Galaxie 500 took a lot from this song!”
And then everyone covered it – I blogged about a few of my favourites a couple of years back.
Then in 1999 Damon & Naomi released a fantastic live version on a 7″ single recorded with Batoh and Kurihara of Ghost
In his now blossoming alternate career as a journalist Damon has written an article for Pitchfork discussing how we listen to music in the modern age and an app that tries to take us back to the way we used to listen to it.
For a listener like me, whose prized teen possession was a turntable with a smoked plastic dustcover, CanOpener makes music on headphones sound more “realistic” because I feel I can better locate where it comes from.
Headphones, for all their clarity and detail, leave a blank in the middle of our foreheads. As a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers puts it: “There are large errors in sound position perception associated with headphones, especially for the most important visual direction, out in front…it is very difficult to externalize sounds and avoid the inside-the-head sensation.”