Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dead man singing

This is convoluted, as things usually are in my life. Somehow I got onto the topic of Timothy Treadwell, the naturalist who spent years living with the grizzlies in Alaska before being eaten. Supposedly an audio tape of the attack exists (as his video camera still had the lens cap on, heh-heh), but that could be just a grisly myth promoted by Werner Hertzog, the legendary filmmaker who did a very, very strange documentary on Treadwell several years back. After seeing it, I'm not sure the whole thing isn't a hoax. It just has that strange Waiting for Guffman/Best in Show/A Mighty Wind satirical quality, and you expect Eugene Levy to amble on camera any time wearing a lumberjacket.

I did find the so-called Treadwell audiotape, on YouTube in fact, and I'm pretty sure it's a fake. I didn't post it here, just as I didn't post the 9-1-1 call from the World Trade Centre tower on September 11. But I bumbled onto a site of top 10 lists (called Top 10 Lists) that had the Top 10 List of Eerie Recordings of All Time. Or some time. Things like voices from Jupiter 'n such, and the sound of a cosmonaut stranded in space from the early '60s (which may even be true - and I can't listen to that one either). And along with all that, this.

This guy, this Klaus Nomi, I don't know where he came from, and he has been dead for years and years, just like that early music genius I stumbled on to recently (but I am afraid I've forgotten his name. David Munrow?). So now, 30 years after his death from AIDS, I find this very-eerie-indeed recording. Though Nomi specialized in ultra-weird pop, he definitely had a voice, and I was shocked to hear its purity in the countertenor range. Really, he was more of a male soprano a la Michael Maniaci. His range was enormous in fact, without a break, reaching down into an easy baritone. In the middle, he sounded a bit like Joel Grey in his pop numbers, with the same Broadway inflections and trumpet-like vibrato.

He's wraithlike here, like a consumptive Elizabethan, not wrapped in his usual clear vinyl tuxedo or other outlandish garb. I wonder if he chose this piece because it lacks sustained phrases: when one is dying, one must save one's breath. To be honest, I don't want to go very far down this road because I have a migraine today that should have its own postal code. The worst I've had in ten years. I'm only doing this to distract myself, now that I can sit up without puking.

1 comment:

  1. You can read my Klaus Nomi story here...

    All the best,