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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Griff says; A purrfect excuse for some kitten art

I've been feeling a little tense recently and I think it has been reflected in my blogs. Christmas always makes me feel grumpy; it really seems to exacerbate my alienation from consumer society. Gordon, on the other hand, as regular readers will know, loves Christmas and feels full of joy and peace and goodwill to all men etc etc, which , quite frankly, just makes me grumpier. So, I was looking through my recent posts and realised that, rather than giving you my usual fare, i.e. something about undemocratic corporate oligarchies, or suicide, or homelessness in Russia, I'd reveal a little of my sweeter, more gentle side. If you think you can take it, that is.

What many of you may not realise is that The Streetlamp team are very much cat lovers. Is that a surprise? I suspect not - if you've thought about it you'll have twigged that dogs are too slavishly obedient to inspire our love. No, it's feisty and independent cats for us all the way; all three of us too, particularly Gordon who is practically Egyptian in his adoration of felines. That being the case, I came across something very cute recently and wanted to share it with Gordon and Ray, but then thought; what the hell, I'll stick it on the blog and cheer everyone up at the same time.
My find was a blog called the kitten covers, which has a very simple but effective premise. Basically, it takes iconic pop and rock album covers, mainly from the 70s and 80s, and faithfully reproduces them but with the crucial introduction of kittens into the image. OK, I know what you're thinking; 'How, very internet. How very lightweight'. Yes, that's true but in my defence all I can say is... look at them, they're soooo cute!

Here are my favourites so far:

Aren't they brilliant? There are loads more on the kitten covers site, so please do pay it a visit.

Now, as you know, I never leave you empty-handed on your Streetlamp visits so I racked my brain for a song to accompany this and had an inspiration. I'm embedding 'One Kitten' by Julia Vorontsova (pictured) below. This charming, slightly eccentric song, features the sombre and melancholic Russian poet/chanteuse both purring and meowing throughout to startling effect.

One Kitten - Julia Vorontsova by SadPanda

Here's a translation of the lyric:

Yawning cavities of the soul
This fluffy snow has covered.
And through this floury powder
An eager and scary morning rushed in.
Where’s heaven for little kitties ? Where is it?
January. Everyone is asleep and I lean to the cold walls.
Why the silence torments today?
So dreadful… At least someone meow!
Where, where did you get lost?
Amused me and enough, come out!
Let’s play! Let’s go to the basement, it’s so dark there!
I’ll teach you to run up and down the stairs.
Please come! I’ll wash you up, I’ll lick you clean!
Something taps in my chest, someone restless is tapping.
You’ll come and you can bite my tail or my paws
And you can sleep on my rug and you can scratch anywhere!..
Oh, I see, that brother you called it!
Once I’m offended you can meow for an hour even
I’ll walk away and sit alone and show you my back,
So that you’ll know how to get a sister upset!
Where’s heaven for little kitties ? Where is it?
January. Everyone is asleep and I lean to the cold walls.
Come back, right away I’ll follow
Come back at once, after all there’s two of us…
Where’s heaven? Where’s paradise for little kittens , where is it?...

Isn't that amazing? I totally love Julia's output, it is by turns solemn and exuberant, but always dramatic. That particular song is from her 2004 debut CD 'From St. Petersburg With Love'. This can be downloaded online at the usual places, or the physical CD can be purchased from Abaton Book Company and includes a 12-page booklet of English commentary and drawings by the artist. Julia is originally from St. Petersburg (a city I featured in a blog just last week) but has lived a markedly peripatetic life and is currently resident in Paris, where she is working on new material and starting to collaborate with other musicians.

Julia's music falls within the Russian бард (bard) tradition. This term came into being in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s/early 1960s, and continues to be used in Russia today to refer to singer-songwriters who write poetic songs, accompanying themselves with fairly simple guitar arrangements so that the emphasis is very much on the lyric. It is a very direct, powerful and emotionally profound style when done well and Julia is a wonderfully talented modern exponent of the genre.

As the бард tradition puts a heavy emphasis on its commerce-free nature; with the songs written to be sung and not to be sold, I'm hoping that Julia won't mind me making a free MP3 of the above track available 'here'. This track, from my own collection, of course, is provided purely for promotional reasons and I do hope that you will come to love it as much as I do and go on to investigate the rest of Julia's output.


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