Friday, January 08, 2010


There are two bands in America who base their sound on accordion and musical saw. I wonder if they know about each other?

Don't get me wrong - I love rock 'n 'roll like my name was Joan Jett. But having only a couple of sounds deemed "cool" results in a skimpy musical diet. Information is lost, like when a language or culture dies off, and we're all the poorer for it.
Baltimore's Madagascar and Dreamland Faces from Minneapolis don't use guitars or electro beatz, but have an alluring, haunting, and, well, dreamy sound based on the folk oddity, the musical saw, and that perpetual punchline, the accordion. After sending away for their cds (and a 45 from Dreamland Faces!), there are times when all I want to do is listen to this stuff:
Dreamland Faces: Ball Buster - kooky kartoonishness (from their "bunnies fighting" album)
Madagascar: Bear Goes Shopping - bear can shop in a brisk 7/8 tempo? Clever bear! (from their album "Forced March")
Madagascar's sound leans more towards the "garde" side of the antique-garde equation, sometimes getting quite hazy and sloooow, while Dreamland Faces have been know to play up their antique-ness, with guest crooner Randall Throckmorton providing occasional vocals, and even accompanying silent films.
What's so funny about the squeezebox, anyway? It has a fantastic diversity of sounds and styles, from raunchy Louisiana zydeco, to the moving, melancholy tangos of Astor Piazzolla. And polka is fast and wildly energetic, and uses a two-step rhythm. Like punk rock. But at least one South American country thinks accordions are cool. News website GlobalPost sez: "In many countries, the general public gives little recognition to talented accordion players...Rather than aspiring to be guitar gods, many Colombian children dream of striking it rich with the accordion, a bulky instrument that seems to be the result of a keyboard mating with a cash register.” Watch the video, and see the full article here.
Let's Polka is a great accordion blog that actually covers sounds far beyond polka. Not that there's anything wrong with that!


Saw Lady said...

I'll invite both of them to play at the annual NYC Musical Saw Festival ( ) and then they could get to know each other :)

All the best,

Saw Lady

Mr Fab said...

Saw Lady! Thank you for reminding me of your existence, I've been meaning to check your stuff out for ages.

A Musical Saw Festival sounds incredible. Really enjoying the videos on the website (handbells! hey, that's a future MUSEUM OF OBSOLETE INTRUMENTS post.)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know Morrisey played the saw!