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Ilya Gutner

I was told that I would know him by his unruly hair, beard bare face, and gray tie. We met at the Esspresso Royal cafe. A five shot cappuccino whet Ilya’s poetic flute and prepared us to read from his found Blue Books. He discovered the collection of poems in Hamilton Hall of Columbia University buried in a book donation box. The invocation of the books reads;

Here is a Bluebook for the City
Examination in Old Age:
I’d put some markings on each page
A few of even have some meaning.

I wish you, Reader, some enjoyment
At least a little as you read
(Since you’re the one who speaks the word if
It’s a long afterlife I lead…)

I wish you well, I wish you happy,
I wish you happy with me, too;
And if of friends you’ve got a few,
I’d wish your friends would get a copy.

But I am not pretentious after all;
Or if I am then cavemen were pretentious
When sharing markings for each other’s wall.
Is facebook progress? For your wall: my pictures.

Ilya Gutner is studying the Classics as a graduate student at Columbia University. His reading does the poetry justice below.


High Violet

The National, a brooklyn based quartet, will release High Violet tomorrow. The Band’s previous album’s Boxer and Alligator were conglomerations of jack-and-coke anthems, and step-down-the-ballroom-stairs swaggers that established their distinctive sound. This sound is evolved and perfected on High Violet.

Songs like “Daughter’s of the SoHo Riots” and “Fake Empire” submerged the listener in a New York City sound tracked by melodies of pondering. High Violet feels as though the City were scoring the sheet music of one’s brain. The album is consistent with The National’s musical diction and tact, but has pulled away from the single throbbing line of the band’s previous albums. The poignant  reflectiveness remains, but seems to have adopted a more global weight on the grains of Matthew Berninger’s baritone. His voice stands solitary and eager to react to the delicate rising of the strings.

The album is like a family of seals swimming in interweaving harmony.

The old National is apparent on High Violet. Songs like “Sorrow” are reminiscent of “Slow Show”; the steady stroke of the guitar, the emphasizing send of the snare, and the lugubrious rumble of the baritone. However, songs like “Afraid of Everyone” establish a previous un-sprung freshness. A subtle morphing that rivals the screaming power of Alligator’s “Mr. November,” is built into a crushing anthem, and then effortlessly wound into a tight percussive drive.

High Violet categorizes The National with Radiohead, Coldplay, Iron and Wine, and Modest Mouse. The National’s success with High Violet is not exclusively the effortless perfection of their brand of music, but their ability to innovate within their own territory and sacrifice nothing to redundancy or chicanery.

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Your Inheritance