The National’s ‘Sorrow,’ for Six Hours Straight at MoMA

This is your brain on The National. You wake up, and the sun is shining, and the birds are chirping, and you actually got a seat on the bus or the train to work and it’s not because you’re accidentally sitting in pee. You got a text from someone you like. Everything is going well. Your smile is big and obnoxious. And then you accidentally listen to High Violet and suddenly you become a hung-over, sobbing mess.

This is obviously an extreme, but whether you’re trying to convey a lingering, sad-bastard, rainy-movie-scene sort of sorrow or something a bit deeper and existential, the kind of sorrow other languages than English have words for, The National tends to be a go-to band. So it’s pretty unsurprising that when Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson wanted to incorporate a singular work speaking to “romantic suffering and contemporary Weltschmerz” (German for “world pain”) into his piece A Lot of Sorrow for the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, he goes with The National. Specifically, their gutting 2010 number “Sorrow,” performed live on a loop, for six hours straight.

As written on the MoMA website:

“As in all of Kjartansson’s performances, the idea behind A Lot of Sorrow is devoid of irony, yet full of humor and emotion. It is another quest to find the comic in the tragic and vice versa.”

If “by finding comic in the tragic” they mean “a bunch of people are gonna write snarky blog and Twitter posts about an attempt at an earnest meditation on sorrow,” then that’s a pretty apt description. And to the brave intern someone will inevitably make livetweet this experience, or suggest doing so themselves out of some duty to intense experiences, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. You can leave. It’s okay.

[via ANIMAL New York]

Today In Streaming Music: The Walkmen, Sigur Ros

It’s not as good as a download, but it’s better than watching a song’s video—or worse, a single image with a soundtrack behind it—but a stream is the music industry’s preferred way of getting new tracks out in the world.

It’s not portable and any kind of pirating from a stream would require technological know-how that’s way beyond us, but there’s something to be said for being able to hear an album front to back.

Today we’re treated to two pretty excellent new albums via stream. The first is the Walkmen’s Heaven, not out until May 29, which is streaming over at NPR. The band delivers yet again with the sort of music that makes us believe that we can be grown ups and still like great music. The title track is a killer, though the entire album is fucking excellent. Even if this one was downloadable, we’d plan to buy it.

Another streamer today is Sigur Ros’ latest, Valenti, which is out May 29. In addition to the album, which is streaming here. The band has also announced a project called “Mystery Film Experiment,” in which they gave a dozen filmmakers a small budget and asked them to make a video based on a song from the new album. Directors on the project will include Alma Har’el, John Cameron Mitchell, Ryan McGinley, Arni & Kinski, Ramin Bahrani and Ragnar Kjartansson, whose short, “Ég anda,” dropped today.