Category: World Music

New Video: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Gerald Toto Releases a Cinematic and Symbolic Visual for “Away Alive”

Last year, I wrote about the acclaimed trio of Toto Bona Lokua, comprised of French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona and Congolese singer/songwriter Lokua Kanza, and as you might recall, with the release of  2004’s, critically applauded sophomore effort Totobonalokua, the pan-African act received attention across world music circles for a sound and aesthetic that effortlessly blended several different traditions, cultures and languages; in fact, the album was a commercial success in France, despite very little promotion and no touring.

Since the release of Totobonalokua, the members of the trio have pursued a series of diverse solo projects, which kept them incredibly busy. Of course, because of the success of their sophomore album, the individual members of the trio would frequently be asked by fans and the press if they would be reuniting to write and record new material — or if they had any plans to tentatively do so. Although the individual member of the trio’s paths seldom crossed, they managed to stay in touch, and as the story goes Gerald Toto suggested that it might be time to reconvene the trio and try to write new material. Bona and Kanza quickly agreed and while it took some time to synchronize the schedules of three extremely prolific and busy artists, they found time to write and record their third full-length album Bondeko, which was released earlier this year through French record label Nø Førmat. (By the way, the album’s title is derived from the Lingala word for  “friendship” or “fraternity.”)

This year has been a very busy one for Gerald Toto, as he followed the release of Toto Bona Lokua’s third album with his latest solo album Sway, and from the album’s first single “Away Alive,” Toto will further cement his reputation for crafting infectious and breezy pop that’s mischievously difficult to categorize. In fact, “Away Alive” is centered around a languid and tropical groove, featuring gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically the song hints at Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk while not being one thing in particular; but perhaps more important, the song encouragers the listener to slow down and pay close attention to gentle sway of life’s rhythms every now and then. 

Produced by Paris-baed company La Sucrerie and directed by R&D, the recently released — and incredibly cinematic — video follows Toto as he wanders about the desert. Speaking about the video, Toto says “The desert is an allegorical dream. An inner space where one seems initially lost, without reference or bearings, before finding, within, an anchor point from which to walk. With a heart open to all encounters.”

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New Video: MUNYA Release Dreamy Visuals for “Hotel Delmano”

Josie Bolvin is a Quebec-based, classically trained pianist and opera vocalist, as well as an electronic pop producer, singer/songwriter and artist, best known as MUNYA — and as the story goes Bolvin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at last year’s Pop Montreal. Ironically, at the time, Bolvin had never intended to pursue music full-time but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that what she was meant to do — be a musician. So Bolvin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy — with each EP comprised of three songs — named after a significant place in Bolvin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Bolvin’s favorite little villages in Quebec and her second EP Delmano, which was released earlier this month through Fat Possum Records derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Delmano‘s first single ”Hotel Delmano” is a breezy and mischievous, synth-based tale of melancholy surrealism, centered by Bolvin’s ethereal vocals singing completely in her native French. Interestingly, the song is largely inspired by a dream Bolvin had that was inspired by the video for Vendredi sur Mer‘s “La Femme à la Peau Bleue.” As Bolvin says in press notes, “I watched it so many times that she entered my dreams once we were having a drink at Hotel Delmano. The song is about that dream.”  Sonically, the song sounds as though it should be a part of the soundtrack of a Michel Gondry film in which its sad protagonist gets thrown into a whimsical and colorful world while recalling La Femme, Polo & Pan, and others.

The recently released video premiered over at Highsnobiety, and as Bolvin told the folks there, “The song ‘Hotel Delmano’ came to me in a dream. So when it was time to make the video, I wanted it to have the same feeling—an ambiguous collection of images, whose meaning is derived by the connection of the time and place. We shot this in my hometown, visiting the most ‘trivial’ and ‘unremarkable’ places that I’ve known my whole life but now feel like a dream.”

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Icelandic Post-Punk Act Kælan Mikla Perform Shimmering and Euphoric “Næturblóm”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla, and as you may recall, this year has proven to be a breakthrough year for them so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records. 
“Nornalagið,” Nótt eftir nott’s first single was a chilly yet dance floor friendly track, centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths. Punctuated by piercing waiting throughout, the track managed to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm slowly rolling across enormous skies. The album’s latest single “Næturblóm,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor — centered around an arrangement of shimmering synths, angular bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, industrial clang and clatter and Laufey Soffía’s ethereal vocals, the track manages to be atmospheric and cinematic; however, the song may arguably be one of the most euphoric songs they’ve written to date as it manages to recall Siouxsie and the Banshees and the classic 4AD Records sound simultaneously. 

Interestingly, as the band explains in press notes, the song’s title “Næturblóm” translates into the English as “Nightflowers,” and its lyrics were initially a poem that the band’s Laufey Soffía wrote and then gave to Sólveig Matthildur as a birthday present. ” It’s about how Laufey sees Sólveig as a beautiful flower that blooms in the winter darkness. An everlasting reminder of their friendship.” 

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves and to build up buzz for the momentous occasion and for a handful of live dates across Scandinavia, they’ve released a live video performing “Næturblóm” in an abandoned factory space. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Limiñanas Team up with Peter Hook on the Shimmering “The Gift”

Over the past couple of years I’ve written a bit about the Perpignan, France-based psych rock duo The Limiñanas, and as you may recall the duo have become one France’s most renowned indie acts, thanks in part for a sound that draws from psych rock, shoegaze, and yé-yé, centered around arrangements featuring fuzzy, distorted power chords, reverb heavy hooks and effortlessly cool vocals. And much like fellow countrymen La Femme, their sound is heavily indebted to 60s American guitar rock and psych rock — while managing to capture something  quintessentially French.

The last 18 months or so have been very busy for the French duo, as they released the Istanbul Is Sleepy EP, an effort that was initially recorded at their home studio and finished it at Anton Newcombe‘s Berlin-based studio. Of course,  The Brian Jonestown Massacre founder and frontman,contributed his imitable vocals and guitar playing to the scuzzy, garage rock stomper and EP title track “Istanbul Is Sleepy” which was reportedly influenced by Rain-era The Cult. Earlier this year, the duo released the Shadow People LP and the album finds the renowned French duo collaborating with a number of folks including French actress Emmanuelle Seigner and Renaud Picard, the frontman of Hair and the Iotas on the meditative and hazy “Shadow People,” Bertrand Belin on the chilly and menacing, synth-based  “Dimanche.” Adding to a very busy 18 months, Because Music will be releasing I’ve Got Trouble in Mind, Vol. 2, The Limiñanas’ second collection of rare recordings, 7 inch singles and unreleased material on November 16, 2018; but in the meantime. the duo released a video for “The Gift,” off Shadow People, a single that features the imitable and unforgettable bass playing of Peter Hook.  Interestingly — or perhaps I should say unsurprisingly — the track sounds like the perfect amalgamation of Hook’s most beloved New Order work with the renowned French duo’s effortlessly cool take on psych rock. “We wrote and recorded ‘The Gift’ at home in Cabestany and then finished it Berlin at Anton Newcombe’s studio,” explains Marie. “I’m pretty sure you’ll recognise Peter Hook’s lead bass. He’s been one of our heroes for a very long time.”  (I’ve Got Trouble in Mind, Vol. 2 features Anton Newcombe’s mix of the song, so in some way this video is something of a teaser for the compilation.) 

Directed by longtime collaborator Aurélien Richter, the recently released video is decidedly French New Wave-inspired and continues a run of incredibly cinematic accompanying visuals. Unsurprisingly, the video features Foulke de Boixo in a prominent role, and as the duo explains “The video reflects on high school years in gangs; the mods, the skins, the rockabs and the rudeboys smoking cigarettes while hanging in the schoolyard. ‘The Gift’ looks at what’s happened to two of these people over the years and how they may have missed out on a lifelong love story.”

Danny Murcia is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, founding member and creative mastermind of Los Angeles-based bilingual indie rock act El Mañana. As an English major in college, Murcia immersed himself in magical realism, a major tenet of modernist and post-modernist Latin American literature, and after graduating, he was able to marry his loves for language and music as a songwriter. Interestingly, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter wound up penning a number of songs that were recorded by mainstream radio and as a result of the attention he received as a go-to songwriter, Murcia wound up as part of the major label system, signing a record deal with a major label that released a single; however, it didn’t take long for Murcia to to realize that he was a commodity in a machine that wanted to exploit his Colombian heritage — and that the label was actively trying to mold him into a white person’s version of a Latino pop star. At the end of the experience, he felt as though is creative energy was sapped.

El Mañana finds Murcia returning to his original dream of what he wanted his sound and music to be: insightful, earnestly emotional and bilingual rock driven by enormous power chords and plaintive vocals. As the story goes, Murcia who suffers from bipolar disorder began writing material for this new project while he was battling cancer, having to undergo multiple surgeries before the cancer went into remission. During his recovery, he read the works of Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which long informed his own work.

“Gota En El Mar,” the Los Angeles-based band’s latest single sonically manages to bridge the dreamy psych pop of Tame Impala and Washed Out with enormous Siamese Dream Smashing Pumpkins-era like  power chords fed through distortion and other effects pedals, thumping drumming and arena rock friendly hooks — but most importantly, the song is a swooningly urgent and earnest song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preview: MONDO.NYC 2018

Founded by some of the originators of CMJ and its long-running CMJ Marathon, Mondo.NYC is a music, technology and innovation-based festival that within its first couple years has quietly taken the place of both the CMJ Marathon and New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival. Interestingly, the third edition of Mondo.NYC, which will take place October 2, 2018 – October 5, 2018 finds the global, emerging music, technology and innovation conference moving east across the East River to Williamsburg with The Williamsburg Hotel, Rough Trade and Brooklyn Bowl hosting daytime conference-related events. Interestingly, those daytime events feature partnerships with The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Guild of Music Supervisors, Record Store Day, a collection of international consular and export agencies and others to connect fans, artists, music industry professionals, business pioneers and veterans, leading names in tech and music to network, trade ideas and learn in a rapidly changing industry landscape as well as inspired others to become the industry leaders and up-and-coming artists of the future. Live music will take place on both sides of the East River with showcases being hosted by the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, Piano’s, Berlin, Arlene’s Grocery,  Coney Island Baby, The Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara and N.O.R.D.

Some quick highlights include:

  • RIAA hosts “Everything You Need to Know About Streaming Revenue and Policy in One Hour”
  • Guild of Music Supervisors NYC Education Event & Film Fest, an immersive full-day symposium to meet, network and learn from some of the top music supervisors and industry executives in the business, that will take place at The Williamsburg Hotel, October 5.
  • Record Store Day presents “A Conversation With…” Series at Rough Trade Records
  • The Second Annual Marauder Radio Room @ Pianos — College stations record interviews and live sessions with Mondo showcasing artists.
  • MusicTech Day @ Mondo.NYC hosted by Brian Zisk
  • Northern Beat: Indigenous Canadian New Music Showcase at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with iskwé, DJ Shub with James Jones and Elisapie
  • HOTS, The Hungarian Music Export Bureau, presents Breakthrough Artists from Hungary Ivan & the Parazol and Mörk
  • SWISS LIVE TALENTS present KT Gorique, The Last Moan, Sophie De Quay & The Waveguards, Eliane Amherd

Mondo’s speakers include key leaders from the emerging music and frontier tech industries:

●      Preeti Adhikary, VP of Marketing, FuseMachines

●      Danielle Aguirre, General Counsel, National Music Publishers’ Association

●      Lauren Apolito, SVP Strategy & Business Development, Rumblefish/HFA

●      Shelita Burke, Pop Star/Data Scientist

●      Bryan Calhoun

●      Susanna Choe, Co-Founder, Peace Accelerators

●      Thomas Emmanuel, US Business Development Advisor, Sonm

●      David Garrity, Partner, BTBlock

●      Mitch Glazier, President, RIAA

●      Adam Huttler, General Partner, Exponential Creativity Ventures

●      Lenny Kaye, Artist, Guitarist for The Patti Smith Group

●      Scott Kessler, Director of Business Development, L03 Energy

●      Tammy Khan, Partner, BTBlock

●      Clara Kim, General Counsel, ASCAP

●      Michael Kurtz, Co-Founder, Record Store Day

●      Andrew Levine, Content Director, Steemit

●      Jonathan McHugh, Director/Producer/Music Supervisor

●      Arjun Mendhi, CEO, MTonomy

●      Tatiana Moroz, Founder, TATIANACOIN

●      Ed Morris, Co-Founder and Director, Gate Reality

●      Rohan Reddy, Co-Founder, Y2X

●      Emma Reeves, Executive Director, Free the Bird

●      Jordan Rudess, Keyboardist/Composer, Dream Theater

●      Xander Schultz, VC, Galaxy Investment Partners

●      Cary Sherman, CEO, RIAA

●      Stephen White, CEO, Dubset

●      Bill Wilson, Co-Founder, Indie Ninja

●      Brian Zisk, Co-Founder/Executive Producer, SF MusicTech Summit

●      Shoshana Zisk, General Counsel, George Clinton Enterprises

 

Of course, I’m looking extremely forward to catching some of the incredibly diverse music offerings, including:

 

  • Omar Souleyman (Syria)
  • Laxmi Bomb (India)
  • Lord Esperanza (France)
  • Crosa Rosa (UK)
  • Kingswood (Australia)
  • Sevi Ettinger (China)
  • Mörk and Ivan & The Parazol (Hungary)
  • Eliane Amherd and Sophie de Quay & The Wave Guards (Switzerland)
  • DJ Shub, Elisapie, Goodbye Honolulu, iskwé, Karimah, and Kielley Koyote (Canada)
  • BriGuel, Girl Skin and HoneyChrome, RYAL (NYC)
  • THRILLCHASER (Providence)
  • The Darbies (Los Angeles)
  • and a long list of others

 

For more information, including tickets, showcases, talks and more, go the following: https://mondo.nyc

Hopefully, I’ll be covering the events of the conference, and if so, be on the lookout for a variety of live conference through my various social accounts:

Twitter: @yankee32879

Twitter: @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: @william_ruben_helms

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Stonefield Returns with a Decidedly Psych Rock-Inspired New Single

Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Darraweit Guim, Australia-based sibling psych rock quartet Stonefield, and as you’d recall the Australian band comprised of Amy (drums, lead vocals), Hannah (guitar), Sarah (keys) and Holly Findlay (bass) began playing together when they were extremely young — the youngest member was seven while the oldest was 15. And as the story goes, the eldest sister Amy recorded their first song “Foreign Lover” for a school project, and then reportedly entered the song into Triple J’s national, unsigned band competition for youngsters Unearthed High as an afterthought. Much to her and her sisters’ surprise, the band wound up winning the contest, and within an incredibly short period of time after their Unearthed High win, the Findlay sisters had two singles receiving regular airplay on Australian radio and an invitation to play at Glastonbury Festival.

Since their attention-grabbing Unearthed High win, the Australian sibling quartet has been incredibly prolific as they’ve written, recorded and released two EPs, their self-titled full-length debut, their sophomore album As Above So Below and their third album Far From Earth through King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Flightless Records earlier this year. Stonefield is currently on a North American tour to support both their recently released 7 inch and their third album that will include stops at Desert Daze, Toronto’s Night Owl Fest, Mexico City’s Hipnosis Festival and a special NYC area show at Baby’s All Right to celebrate the release of the “Through the Storm” 7 inch, a single that finds the Australian sibling and and JOVM mainstays cementing their reputation as one of the world’s hardest bands, while pushing their sound towards a new direction — doom metal with hints of 60s psych rock in a way that brings Black Sabbath, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains to mind.

Interestingly, Far From Earth’s latest single “In The Eve” is  slow-burning, hypnotizing song that may arguably be the most decidedly 60s psych rock-inspired song centered around a propulsive and sinuous bass line, shimmering guitar lines, Amy Findlay’s ethereal vocals and a gently unfurling yet song structure — and sonically speaking, the song brings to mind JOVM mainstays Sleepy Sun, Secret Colours, and Elephant Stone but with a clean yet sensual sheen. The recently released video is equally hypnotic while visually drawing from 60s psych rock as it features the Findlay Sisters dressed entirely in white, wandering in a prototypically British field — and in some way it hints at some menacing ritual about to go down.

Josie Bolvin is a Quebec-based, classically trained pianist and opera vocalist, as well as an electronic pop producer, singer/songwriter and artist, best known as MUNYA— and as the story goes Bolvin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at last year’s Pop Montreal. Ironically, at the time, Bolvin had never intended to pursue music full-time but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that what she was meant to be a musician. So Bolvin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy — with each EP comprised of three songs — named after a significant place in Bolvin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Bolvin’s favorite little villages in Quebec. Now, if you’ve had been frequenting this site earlier this month, you may recall that her second EP, Delmano is slated for an October 5, 2018 release through Fat Possum Records and derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Delmano‘s first single “Hotel Delmano” was a breezy and mischievous, synth-based tale of melancholy surrealism, centered by Bolvin’s ethereal vocals singing in her native French. Interestingly, as Bolvin explained, the song is largely inspired by a dream Bolvin had that was inspired by the video for Vendredi sur Mer‘s “La Femme à la Peau Bleue.”  “I watched it so many times that she entered my dreams once we were having a drink at Hotel Delmano. The song is about that dream.”  Sonically, the song sounds as though it should be a part of the soundtrack of a Michel Gondry film in which its sad protagonist gets thrown into a whimsical and colorful world while recalling La Femme, Polo & Pan, and others. The EP’s second and latest single “If I’m Gone Tomorrow (It’s Because of Aliens)” will further cement Bolvin’s growing reputation for crating breezy and ethereal synth pop centered around shimmering synths and Bolvin’s equally ethereal vocals; however, unlike its predecessor, it’s the first song that the French Canadian singer/songwriter and producer has written and released entirely in English. But underneath the breezy and mischievous air, is a bitter break up/bitter tell off of a callous and indifferent former love. As Bolvin says, “When I was a kid I really loved the movie Independence Day,” she explains of the track. “One night, years later I was home alone and I kept hearing really weird loud noises, not like a truck driving by, but a truck crashing into a building over and over. It freaked me out so bad I called my boyfriend and told him that if I’m gone tomorrow it’s because of aliens…he wouldn’t stop laughing at me. I was so mad he wouldn’t take me seriously I didn’t sleep that night and instead I wrote this breakup song.

 

 

 

 

Last year, I wrote about the acclaimed trio of Toto Bona Lokua, comprised of French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona and Congolese singer/songwriter Lokua Kanza, and as you might recall, with the release of  2004’s, critically applauded sophomore effort Totobonalokua, the pan-African act received attention across world music circles for a sound and aesthetic that effortlessly blended several different traditions, cultures and languages; in fact, the album was a commercial success in France, despite very little promotion and no touring.

Since the release of Totobonalokua, the members of the trio have pursued a series of diverse solo projects, which kept them incredibly busy. Of course, because of the success of their sophomore album, the individual members of the trio would frequently be asked by fans and the press if they would be reuniting to write and record new material — or if they had any plans to tentatively do so. Although the individual member of the trio’s paths seldom crossed, they managed to stay in touch, and as the story goes Gerald Toto suggested that it might be time to reconvene the trio and try to write new material. Bona and Kanza quickly agreed and while it took some time to synchronize the schedules of three extremely prolific and busy artists, they found time to write and record their third full-length album Bondeko, which was released earlier this year through French record label Nø Førmat. (By the way, the album’s title is derived from the Lingala word for  “friendship” or “fraternity.”)

Unsurprisingly, this year or so has been a very busy year for Gerald Toto, as he follows the release of Toto Bona Lokua’s third album with his forthcoming new album Sway, which is slated for an October 26, 2018 release, and from the album’s first single “Away Alive,” Toto will further cement his reputation for crafting infectious and breezy pop that’s enigmatic and mischievously difficult to categorize; in fact, “Away Alive” is centered around a languid and tropical groove, featuring gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically the song hints at Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk in a way that feels both familiar and new, but while encouraging the listen to slow down and to pay attention to the gentle sway of life’s rhythms every now and then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.