Girl 1: This music sounds tentacle-y.
Girl 2: Yeah, it makes me want calamari!

the human sea

Yesterday I checked out Yo La Tengo at the Propect Park Bandshell to watch them perform Sounds of the Sounds of Science, their instrumental score to a selection of Jean Painlevé’s short undersea documentaries. I had no idea what the films or music would be like, but figured…hey, it’s free, one of my friends is going, and there isn’t much point in going back home to NJ if I don’t have to. (And of course, I like Yo La Tengo. And sea life.) As the bandshell was completely packed, I guess lots of other people had similar ideas.

I dunno what it is, but it's from the sea
looks like tentacles?

While watching the films, you didn’t really notice the music. Or maybe that was just me. And by that I mean it went really well with the films–it certainly wouldn’t be the same without any accompanying music. You could also listen to the music by itself, but it makes more sense when seen with…jellyfish budding, octopuses mating, shrimp shedding, etc.

The audience sometimes cheered on the documentary subjects, most notably when the male seahorse painfully birthed babies from it’s engorged egg sac. “The Love Life of The Octopus” was also particularly freakish (cos ye know…they look a bit freaky), but also funny due to the fertilization process during which the male octopus hooks it spermy tentacle into the female’s respiratory cavity and just…leaves it there for a while. Let those eggs and sperm do their thing and voila, end up with a gajillion eggs linked together in a ghostly plant-like fashion.

I probably would’ve focused more on the music if I had sat closer within view of the band (we picked the last row figuring it’d be a good spot to view the film from), but I happily walked away with the message, “The sea is full of crazy-ass stuff.” Which is is. I wouldn’t otherwise think that looking at the development of nearly microsopic jellyfish or the countless undulating tentacles of sea urchins could be so interesting. It made my accomplishments feel highly insignificant; “Damn, I can’t reproduce by budding.” Seeing the survival instincts nature pre-wires into all organisms makes me wonder what’s up with humans (a highly eloquent and deep question). Of course, we’ve had to do many unnatural things to populate the whole world. May someday we can be ROBOTS!!!

…And thanks to Yo La Tengo and Jean Painlevé, now I want fried calamari.

Holy crap, it’s birthing time! (Also time to “dissect the male seahorse” and “show the embryos”. The music and film are beautiful. Thanks to John for taking this video:

Better reviews/photos:

Brooklyn Vegan
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society