testudo: mobile shelter from arrows often formed by overlapping shields in Roman legions titivate: to decorate or spruce up oneself or a location (poss. tidy+elevate/cultivate) tumbrel: a two-wheeled cart infamously used to carry prisoners to the guillotine foehn: or föhn, a warm dry wind in the lee of a mountain range, esp. the Alps debarrass: the reverse of embarrass, to remove something causing shame miniver: light (possibly squirrel) fur used in ceremonial robes of state erethism: abnormal sensitivity of a body part or mind to stimulation precisian: one who adheres closely to rules or forms; or, a puritan plexus: a complex structure or network of parts (fr. Latin to braid) cadaverine: a toxic, colorless chemical produced by putrefaction pintle: a pin on which a part turns, esp. a rudder or gun carriage pelerine: a women’s short cape with long pointed ends in front energumen: one possessed by a devil or evil spirit; or, a zealot kedge: a light anchor used to warp a vessel, or to use one palter: to speak insincerely or capriciously; or, to haggle plangent: resonant and deep, esp. mournful sounds sistrum: a type of metal rattle used in ancient Egypt dree: to endure; to dree weird is to endure fate murrey: a mulburry, or the color of one rodomontade: boasts or bluster pantler: a servant of the pantry bemaze: bewilder, bemuse facinorous: highly wicked
Anna Von Hausswolf – “Pomperipossa” The Miraculous
Having heard Von Hausswolf’s solo organ works at a bar (“It’s like church in here,” some guy told the goth bartender; my friend, the place is basically Wicca-themed, expect organ music!) I looked up her back catalogue and was very pleasantly surprised to find it intricately arranged, metal-adjacent chamber rock. Von Hausswolf clearly has a gift for composing tonal journeys, as opener “Discovery” shows, smoothly transitioning from eerie to upbeat to chaotic to mystical and ecstatic. The rest of the album sees her experimenting with arrangements and vocals to extraordinary effect, with the saturated “Pomperipossa” somehow both the shortest track and most representative. (bandcamp)
Japan has a long and rich history in the mystery genre, stretching back in particular to the inimitable Edogawa Rampo. I read a few modern classics and although they are not all hits — I was not a fan of Newcomer, for instance — these four I think deserve individual recognition and juxtaposition.
weet: also wit or wot, to know (but in the context discovered, ‘come wind or weet,’ probably wet) perdue: a soldier sent on an especially dangerous mission (fr. French, ‘forgotten’) gare: in water, a pier; on land, a station; in a person, greed or miserliness electuary: medicine mixed with sugar or honey for easier consumption garth: a courtyard, esp. within a cloister; or, a hoop for children’s play sendal: fine silk fabric used in the middle ages, or a garment of it grith: in old English law, sanctuary provided by church or crown troke: also troak or truck, to barter or trade, or the items traded corrie: a bowl-like terrain feature formed by retreating glaciers inexpugnable: unable to be overcome or driven away by force eft: certain terrestrial newts or developmental stages thereof syth: also sith, sithe, etc, relatives of sithence, meaning since graith: equipment, or to equip, or to be equipped (graithed) thrawart: stubborn and obstinate, or twisted and distorted umbles: also numbles, the edible organs of animals chrysoprase: gemlike green chalcedony trisulk: also trisulc, triple-pronged speer: also speir, to ask or inquire capriped: having feet like a goat’s sike: a small stream or ditch jimp: scant or dainty fico: a trifle, or a fig
I admit it freely and without shame: I love magical schools. Hogwarts may be the best known, but it’s not the first, nor did it exhaust the theme. That said, such an institution is no guarantee of a good story. Having realized that over two years I’d read four books where a girl attends and learns the mysteries of a magical school, I thought I’d compare.
Showtime Goma – “Come and Know Me Better Man” Smiley Face
I know Goma from her work as virtuoso vocalist in A Sunny Day in Glasgow. Her solo work is similarly varied and anthemic, with thick synths and guitar washes pierced by soaring voices. Some of the other tracks on this album reach a little higher or farther out, but this one packs a remarkable amount into less than three minutes, making the song seem a long journey that’s simultaneously over before you know it. (bandcamp)
Possession is more often secular than supernatural. Men are possessed by their thoughts of a hated person, a hated class, race or nation. At the present time the destinies of the world are in the hands of self-made demoniacs — of men who are possessed by, and who manifest, the evil they have chosen to see in others. They do not believe in devils, but they have tried their hardest to be possessed — have tried and been triumphantly successful.
blackleg: one of several blackening diseases of plant and animal; or, a swindler in racing or sport antinomian: believing morals are irrelevant to those already bound for heaven espalier: a framework by which a plant is made to grow in a specific shape jess: in falconry, a strap around a bird’s leg to which a leash attaches varvel: in falconry, a ring with the owner’s name attached to a jess lunette: in architecture or fortification, a half-moon-shaped space equerry: in a royal household, the officer in charge of the horses cresset: a pendant or mounted metal cup used as a brazier dree: a tedious or dreary noise, or to suffer hearing one ukase: an order by absolute authority, esp. a czar’s drysalter: a dealer of dry chemicals and dyes delate: to inform or report, esp. to denounce disembogue: to discharge or pour forth shend: to reproach, shame, or injure prevenient: before or in advance of vermeil: vermilion, or gilded metal yegg: a safecracker or burglar izard: a Pyrenean antelope langret: a loaded die hautboy: an oboe