Current Month

January 31, 2001

3:40 AM
Anticipating my trip to Madison this weekend, and thus to the Exclusive Company, I am working on a
shopping list. Got any recommendations?

January 29, 2001

8:43 PM
A letter to the editor from Keith Jarrett appeared in the Times a while ago.

40 Years Missing
To the Editor:

Regarding Ken Burns's (or is it Wynton Marsalis's?) "Jazz": Now that we've been put through the socioeconomic racial forensics of a jazz-illiterate historian and a self- imposed jazz expert prone to sophomoric generalizations and ultraconservative politically correct (for now) utterances, not to mention a terribly heavy-handed narration (where every detail takes on the importance of major revelation) and weepy-eyed nostalgic reveries, can we have some films about jazz by people who actually know and understand the music itself and are willing to deal comprehensively with the last 40 years of this richest of American treasures?

New York

1:26 AM
A note from reader Johan regarding the below entry about Cursive's "Brechtian" guitar sound (and yes, I changed the typo, ha):

hi. quick note re. today's blog entry about "brechtian guitarwork". this ex-proofreader notes that maybe you should change "playright" to "playwright", and, no, i don't know what it means either but there is a style of theatre music that can be described as "brechtian", no matter who the actual composer was (weill, eisler, dessau). brecht's aesthetics were very clear about the function of the music in the plays and his composers more or less conformed to these notions (which isn't to say that they forsake all individuality). brecht was a guitar strummer himself and worked out the basic melodies for some of the classic dreigroschenoper songs credited to weill. but "guitarwork"? the only guitar sound i associate with this music is kind of a twanging banjo-like sound, 30s cabaret style. look out for the new 11 cd lotte lenya box set!

12:28 AM
Apparently I am a
confirmed miseryguts, because "Number 15" is one of my favorite songs from the Beta Band's self-titled.

I bought this album sometime last spring (it was a hot day, I remember, so say late April) quickly after buying the 3 E.P.s and knowing full well that I might not be happy with what I got. So, what do you know, I wasn't happy with what I got. That's OK - it happens. I put the record aside, listened to it occasionally, still didn't like it that much.

I think often I made the mistake of listening to the 3 EPs, then thinking, "oh, this is great, I should try out the next record now just to see." The mistake lying in the fact that I was kind of setting myself up to not enjoy the s/t each time, coming down off of records of theirs I found more enjoyable. It would maybe be similar to me listening to Bitches Brew right before Live-Evil every single time.

So of course I did the same thing tonight. But for some reason the s/t has worked out much better for me. It may be that, having now heard "To You Alone," the sounds on this album make more sense - or at least, they make me more excited for the Betas' future. (Because the sounds aren't really all that hard to "get" - they just seem a bit lacking, coming down off of the EPs. Much less layering.)

January 28, 2001

4:52 PM
Dave sent me this link.
Oh, man.

3:42 PM
"... sings like an angel..."

2:31 AM
It is apparently not allowed to write about Debussy's music with talking about impressionist painters and visual images.

2:39 AM
"Already for Beethoven the art of development consists in repetition, in the incessant restatement of identical themes ... And Wagner has exaggerated this procedure to the point of caricature... Do you think that in composition the same emotion can be expressed twice?"

- Claude Debussy

2:28 AM
Also: I did end up picking up that Cursive album. Not much to say at present, except: it's a lot better than reading the lyrics sheet would lead you to believe, and also a lot noisier; the guitars are something, I don't know about "Brechtian" though, ha. Why oh why must emo have the thing with the barked vocals?

Clocks in at about 30 minutes. Briefness is one of its virtues.

2:20 AM
I have discovered my Autechre Anvil Vapre/Garbage CD snapped in two (I set a book on a carrying case, and something happened, I guess). This displeases me.

In other news: I finally heard the Beta Band's "To You Alone" tonight, by way of the new Astralwerks comp, and boy was it good. Dare I hope this kind of thing could spread (like a virus!) through American independent music? (Or better yet, that it would make it to the charts - and given its Timbaland/Neptunes/whatever influences, I don't see why not.)

Listening a lot tonight to Claude Debussy's string quartet, op. 10. I'm still trying to put my finger on why, but it's as if it's made from completely different material than, say, Beethoven's or Shostakovich's string quartets. In a very real sense it is, both structurally and harmonically, but that reason seems unsatifying. I want an answer that relies less on musicology.

January 27, 2001

1:00 AM
A nice
account of Charlie Parker's life from the liner notes to the Yardbird Suite anthology.

(Among other things I am listening to Bird and Diz tonight.)

12:01 AM
Anton Webern's quiet movements, especially in the six bagatelles, are very, very quiet.

12:00 AM
Article on what "atonality" means or is used to mean.

January 26, 2001

9:24 AM
Here's some info which may interest
Mike, who was wondering about jazz sales recently to me. It's from p. 232 of Lewis Porter's Coltrane book.

[About A Love Supreme:] Recorded December 9, 1964, and issued the following month, it became Coltrane's best-known and best-selling album. Typically, his Impulse albums sold well enough by jazz standards - about 30,000 each. But this one sold roughly half a million copies by 1970, and more than that since. Many bought it because of its spirituality, not necessarily because they were jazz fans.

Also note the stuff about percentages of sales (not quite the information you were looking for, but still interesting) at Amazon in this press release.

Along similar lines: I've read it mentioned recently that "Ken Burns Jazz" has now sold more than any individual Coltrane album. I'm not sure how to take that, because it wasn't specified if that was supposed to mean the entire series of compilations imprinted with Ken Burns' "brand name" (oh fucking please, but really, they call it that), or a single item in it. Either way, check this out. Some of the people in the article mention how well this bodes for jazz. Well, it bodes well for the record companies because they get to repackage prerecorded music by musicians who are now dead, which is very profitable. Thankfully one of the people also mentions how the real challenge is actually interesting people in real live musicians who are struggling to survive commercially. I'll tell you one thing that won't help: keeping Wynton Marsalis on the dole as your primary talking head in your megalong jazz documentary, and telling the public jazz died in the 60s until it was resurrected by a select group of people (led by Wynton) whose records are the ones people should be buying.

1:55 AM
And now that I've read the TWAS review I must say: it's the most pleased I have been by an entire TWAS review (as opposed to just the off-topic introduction, which ended up being more integrated than normal this week) in quite a while - even the ending, which in general I have come to prefer skimming over. Screaming, man. Yeah.

Oh, any why have I avoided this album (which I definitely want now) thus far? The dreaded "emo" tag.

1:39 AM
I haven't been too keen on Glenn McDonald's tastes for quite a while now, so I am a little confused how the very thought (for I have not really read the review yet) that he reviewed Domestica this week makes me want to buy it.

And about the latter link - what the hell is "Brechtian" guitarwork? Brecht was a playwright. Maybe they mean Weillian?

January 25, 2001

10:39 PM
An experiment I'm thinking of doing:

Instead of taking my CD player with me whenever I leave home, take a radio instead, and only listen to the radio at those times (or nothing, depending on my patience). Stay on one station every week, and go through all the stations in my vicinity.

I don't know if I could stand to do this, though. Besides having to hear the radio (hello commercials, hello annoying "on-air personalities," etc.), it means listening to lots and lots of music I will likely not enjoy. It would of course be for "research" purposes, but I don't know how much of my life and patience I want to give up for the sake of my research.

10:21 PM
I sat through all of Coldplay's "Yellow" tonight while choking down a steamed meat slab at my neighborhood Burger King. I had heard the beginning before, for the
focus group, but I didn't bother to sit through it. Gawd, at least I showed some sense then (in my defense tonight, I still had some onion rings left).

Be sure to note what Kris said about it (scroll down to the bottom).

I also heard "Stan," which I haven't heard in a while since I don't listen to the radio, have a TV, or frequent any places where I might hear it. There seemed to be something fundamentally different about it from the rest of the music I heard (including the Coldplay, some kind of danceish pop about being young and the night being young, a more forwardly dance-pop number, and something that sounded like a boy band being backed by an AOR modern rock band), because of the lyrics and their delivery. When Eminem is in his Stan voice, he really starts sounding a little bit more fucking crazy than is proper for the stuff that typically plays in a Burger King. That is part of the unusualness of Eminem, of what focuses public attention on him even more than it already would have been, just for the music alone, in and of itself (whatever that means).

Stan's noting that he shouldn't be able to send the letter being read, right before he crashes his car, is a nice touch because it points out the artificiality of the lyrics: built-in response to the people who say Eminem is a bad influence on kids, blah blah blah.

3:18 AM
(And, as with anything else (or so it seems again and again to me), turning PIL up really fucking loud does wonders. In their case, though, this is at odds with the problem of being able to stand their music long enough initially to be able to get situated. Perhaps that is what turned me off the first time - I was thinking ahead then and had my headphones very loud. At the moment I may be going deaf but other than that it's working wonders.)

2:46 AM
The lyrics are included with Second Edition. This kind of irks me, because this music seems as if the lyrics should be as obscure as possible.

2:34 AM
In response to an I Love Music question from Mark Richardson, about music we felt guilty for not having heard or known about, I said

I have lots of them. And no, these are not just things I haven't heard, but things I am embarrassed to have not heard. Soul. R+B. Jazz: pre-57 or so, post-69, more free and European improv, plus loads of stuff from 57-69 that I just haven't gotten to yet. Pre-Baroque classical. Post-WWI classical. Opera, leider, sacred vocal music. More rap. Punk before the 90s. Postpunk. Postrock of the early 90s. Indian classical (and lots of other music from non-western countries, at that). Music by women. Pre-AOR rock. Old bluesmen. Electroacoustic music. Koto music. Black (dark? death? I get confused) metal. Early industrial. "Glitch." Pre-SAWII Aphex Twin. For that matter, early Warp. More Krautrock. "Alternative" from the late 80s to early 90s in the UK and US. Drone of a million stripes. Coltrane's "Ascension". Vocal jazz, and pre-rock pop in general. Klezmer. Disco Inferno. Dance. Pop. I have a lot of guilt.

This list is nowhere near complete. I felt the need to record it here, as well, for posterity (ha). Maybe I'll run across it and remind myself more often.

I've talked about this recently with Tom and Maura. Often I feel very stupid musically, in terms of things I've heard. Yes, I understand this is irrational of me.

1:59 AM
The musical selection in my 18th c. philosophy lecture today was Thomas Tallis' "Spem in Alium...". It was real purty. I gotta pick me up a copy.

1:57 AM
So, while it's glaringly obvious to me that John Lydon wanted PIL to sound like a post-punk Can (because, you see, he succeeded), I am at a loss to describe what exactly the differences are. The affective differences. In terms of musical elements, it's easy (and left as an exercise for the reader, ha).

12:33 AM
Sterling (who by the way has really gotta get himself some permalinks, and yes, I know that I only halfassedly have them myself, but then this is all hand coded baby) and I have had a brief exchange, which last saw him say

So I come across Simon Reynolds Rave Theory Toolkit and send the link on to Josh, who promply dismisses it as "indiscriminate, as if the theory is only being used because it sounds good." The following is my response:

Actually, that casualness is just what I like -- the whole idea of a mix n' match theory toolkit which places Virilio, Neitzche, and Gabba as equals in conversation. The notion of constant relations and expressions, at least constant in the modern era, which permiate theory and practical existence -- the idea that the quotes on "luminous chaos" and "joyous freedom" are just as much millenarianism which we can now view from the morning after the supposed coming as the dance music itself. Theoretical excess, chemical excess, I don't know which would be more insulted by the comparison, but Reynolds manages to do a job on both.

More generally, the most novelty and imminence driven of all music meets the most novelty and imminence driven of all academia, and of course they mesh.

I suspect the "promptly" is supposed to say something about the content of my response, but really I've just thought about this before.

I'm not one to reject continental thought out of hand. It's obscure and sometimes damn near impossible to read and understand, but it has its pluses. But I do care about things like appropriateness. Despite their obscurity, often even the thinkers cited by Reynolds are responding to specific things; their thought says specific things. The problem I have with these kinds of applications of critical theory is that they seem to ignore those specific things. It seems as if the theory is supposed to carry some weight or provide some kind of explanatory power, because of its status as theory. Yet writers often try to get that weight, that power, for free, without paying the price of making sense, even relative to the theorist's thought.

I don't think Reynold's quotes, which he admits he may be reading a bit into, are completely off base. But the way he's using them, they function more like aphorisms than anything else, which is to say that they are to some degree divorced from the thought of their original speakers. I have no doubt that Theodor Adorno would have hated rave music. But the reasons why are, I think, more complicated than the is indicated by a surface reading of the stuff about ecstasy and convulsivenes that Reynolds quotes:

"Their ecstasy is without content.... The ecstasy takes possession of its object by its own compulsive character. It is stylised like the ecstasies savages go into in beating the war drums. It has convulsive aspects reminescent of St Vitus's dance or the reflexes of mutilated animals. ... The same jitterbugs who behave as if they were electrified by syncopation, dance almost exclusively the good rhythmic parts" -- Theodor Adorno "On The Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening"

This applies to the other folks quoted too. For instance, the subtitle to Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus doesn't include the word "Capitalism" by accident - yet just reading the quotes in the context of rave music, I wouldn't really think of capitalism, directly. I'm not opposed to the theory providing the seeds of a different (new?) critical language - but without more careful connection to Deleuze and Guattari's thought, or any of the other thinkers, the genetic connection is one in only the most cursory sense.

Perhaps I'm not doing anything more here than explicitly opposing myself to the view Sterl presents above, repeating myself, restating what he's said as a negative rather than a positive. Oh well.

Another way of looking at this kind of thing might be as follows. What does this kind of appropriation of critical theory do for us? What does it get us that can't be gotten with better-founded thinking and writing? Tim does an excellent job of writing about dance music, and he generally does it even-headedly and -handedly. Clearly he's a post-Reynolds writer (and no I'm not going to expand on that claim at the moment) - but it seems to me that he is more careful about how he talks about the music.

12:30 AM
Also, re PIL: it sounds to me as if they're ripping off at least one bassline, later on the album. I wonder if that's so, and if so, from whom and what.

12:27 AM
The number of visits josh blog has seen in the past day is twice as high as the current average daily number of visit, despite the fact that the average (kept over the past year) and the recent daily numbers have been roughy equal for more than a month. So what I am confused about is where the hell all y'all came from (the referrer logs don't seem unusual). I bet it's broken. Computers are neat.

Anyway, sorry to dwell on this for even as long as I have. Just wanted to say yo to all the potentially new visitors, whoever the hell they are. Oh, wait, I told Nina I was going to swear more. Whoever the fuck they are.

12:21 AM
A while back I got Public Image Ltd.'s Second Edition. I was expecting to like it a lot so I was surprised to find it quite unappealing on first listen. Tonight marks the first time I've listened to it since then. For some reason I've enjoyed myself. I can't really tell what's different. Typically the difference between a first listen and second listen would be something I wouldn't worry about much, just because the conditions I listen under, and the frame of mind I listen in, can be so different. But the difference seems unusualyl drastic this time.

Even though the bass sound on this album is supposed to be incredibly massive, I find myself a little disappointed by it. It's loud and pretty deep, but the notes lack attack and body. Even though my headphones are far better, in a limited technical sense, at reproducing bass frequencies, this music is better to hear on my crappy stereo speakers, where the benefits of hearing the music in a room outweigh the deficits of muddy speaker thud. It's a very environmental album as far as bass is concerned.

January 24, 2001

3:40 PM
I think I should start searching my
archives every time I post something, to make sure I'm not repeating myself, as I feel I'm doing that a lot lately.

Not sure how bad of a thing that is.

3:39 PM
And, ha ha, note the mention of Wynton on that M-Base page.

3:32 PM
From what I've heard Wynton Marsalis thinks composition is where it's at these days - all that silly old improv stuff is played out. (I'd like to find a source to verify this so I don't just sound like a grump, but oh well.) So it's especially pleasing to me to hear Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds, which is an intriguing combination of composition and free improv - for, while it's plainly obvious that there's some kind of free improv going on, thematic materials (melodies mostly) reappear frequently, and in group statements, not just solos. Everything feels structured on a larger scale, even if the solos themselves can feel, close up, as if they're just playing nonsense ("nonsense" I should say). I wish the M-Base people weren't so closed-lipped about their methods so I could understand them better.

January 23, 2001

1:18 AM
Listening to a tape of the "Uplift broadcast" on WPOO radio from San Fransisco, on which the
Saint John Coltrane Orthodox African Church plays the music of Coltrane and talks about his "testament." Very interesting; more later. Thanks to Mark Richardson for the tape.

There's an article about the church which is also interesting.

January 22, 2001

10:42 PM
Have been listening to Godard a bit lately, and am warming up to it despite the barriers to understanding. It's kind of like leaving a movie running but not watching it, which I suppose sounds like a pretty banal observation - but it's something to take note of, as it's an experience I don't often have.

I have thought that if I could someday have a nice system - hell, any system - to play movies on, I would start the practice of leaving movies running in the background while I do other things, just as with music. Thus I would be able to occasionally look at the movie (I'm thinking here of ones I've seen a lot), and sort of consume it disjointedly, as I do more routinely with music. I would also be able to focus more on the soundtracks. I am thinking: they would alter my environment more that way, as opposed to usual movie viewing, where I am inclined to forget about my environment (move into the environment of the film somehow).

10:41 PM
John Zorn's top 10 lists. John Zorn kicks ass.

8:17 PM
A quote I stole from a post:

Quote from Leopold Stokowski in 1924 -

"Art is going to develop in the future, speedily and in multiple forms. There will be no prohibition going on in music. There is going to be greater and greater variety, because it is going to reach more and more persons. Music is going to enter more and more into our lives and become part of our philosophy."

p.52 of "Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History" edited by Robert Walser Oxford 1999

January 21, 2001

10:44 PM
Yet another article on Godard's
Histoire(s) du cinema. It sure would help to actually see some film, since I speak no French.

7:30 PM
Listening to "About a Girl" just now I realized that after all these years, I still couldn't tell you what it's about. Specifically, I mean, besides "a girl".

But then hearing "School" and Cobain's repeated howls of "no recess!" at the end, I am reminded that maybe I should not be trying to tell you what these songs are about, at least in the sense of relating a lyrical story.

Expressionist art need not be only high art.

January 19, 2001

4:00 AM
Maybe: it's that time seems to stop passing; there's a sense of everyone drawing everything out, as it becomes more apparent that Coltrane is developing his material (er, finishing the development of his material) in his typically repetitive fashion: play the lick five times, change the notes around, see how it sounds.

Contrast to Garrison's bass solos, which almost always feel to me as if time has stopped - but in a different kind of way. "Meandering" in a positive sense: the way a nice walk can be, when you're not in such a hurry to get anywhere.

3:55 AM
Most times I get lost somehow at the end, during "Psalm" - it's a slow section, more Coltrane "pretty" flourishes, Elvin on tympani. A cadenza of sorts. I am so caught up in the rhythmic aspects of the previous three parts that the drop-out of rhythm causes my attention to falter. And the "pretty" playing on Crescent or Stellar Regions does a lot more for me.

The best part of Part 4: the sound of Jimmy Garrison's arco playing right near the end before the fadeout - he sounds so insistent.

3:45 AM
Often jazz piano is talked about in terms of the different roles of right and left hands; since the bebop era the left hand often has a more percussive role - it beats out chords - and one of harmonic assistance - it beats out chords. The right hand moves more laterally - which word is maybe a reference to the keyboard, physically, and also to the positions of notes on the scale (note how there is a correspondence between these two things).

In the Beethoven I listened to tonight the piano part felt crippled, because it was all right hand. I don't mean that literally. But both hands sounded like they were doing right hand things. This is my jazz influence making itself felt: for the left hand part to be so blatant, vulgar, about harmony and rhythm would perhaps be a petit scandal in classical music. There is an orchestra for that - with very received ideas about how it should be used.

Small groups need the left hand to fill this role, though.

That's not true. They don't need it. The music imposes rules. The Biber I heard Wednesday in class had very slow harmonic motion - it changed chords every measure, and the music was somewhere around an andante tempo. The background instruments asserted slash emphasized the harmony at the head of every measure with a sounded chord. As I listened I thought to myself, harmonically, compared to jazz, this is a joke. They are moving up and down in predictable modulations, and spelling out the harmonic foundations for me. In jazz I might not even get that, depending on what the piano is doing at any given moment: the bass player can and does follow the harmony as well, but he often picks which notes to play, and he only often plays one at a time, or a run or cluster of them - so the harmony is even further implied. (Cf. gestalt psychology: the phi phenomenon.)

But like I said: jazz influence making itself felt. After all, the Biber was really pretty.

3:36 AM
Sometimes I need to remind myself that the title of the second part, "Resolution," has more than one meaning as a noun: I usually read it in the sense of "finality," but a resolution is something one can make, too, a declaration, and that sense of the word seems to reply more here. If there is resolution, it comes at the end of this part, also the end of side one of the vinyl. Near the end I have the sense of finally being able to breathe again, of something lifting.

I always have problems with the way Bob Thiele recorded a piano. McCoy Tyner's playing is enormous, it needs a more enormous sound.

3:33 AM
A help to following Elvin a bit more: listen to just one single piece of the trap set as he plays it. After you've done that for a while listen to two of them (and there are multiple ways to do this).

One guy and it feels like there's more rhythm than in all of Beethoven's fourth piano concerto, which I also listened to tonight.

3:20 AM
As Elvin Jones' drum parts come in after the initial flourish on "Acknowledgement," the first part to A Love Supreme, they come in layers: you can actually hear the different rhythms superimposed on one another as they're added.

Tonight I listened to this five times. After the first two something hit me. It was like being physically hit - I was struck alert. I was suddenly reminded of exactly how distinctly different this band sounds, from its predecessors in jazz. We're talking five years' time here: listen to the Coltrane of Giant Steps and you still hear a steady beat (a single steady beat) from the drummer, walking basslines much of the time... there is more "order". With the quartet, there's so much going on at once that at times tonight I was baffled as to how the band could even play this music. Everything is so together, so in time, and yet Elvin is banging away, pulse everywhere, it feels impossible to find a steady beat to cling to. Jimmy Garrison is firing off pulses, clusters of notes - again, no regular beat in the traditional (ha, "traditional") bebop sense - or earlier. Yet - yet! - McCoy Tyner's solos, especially in "Resolution," are so dead-on swinging, rhythmic in the more ordinary sense of the word... it's just. ...

Let's just say that for a few weeks I felt a sense of wonder had been lacking. But tonight as I listened I felt like a child: grinning, laughing, yes actually laughing out loud, jumping about because hearing this music filled me with such unexpected energy that I had no idea what to do with it.

3:13 AM
Lewis Porter is extremely cogent when he is analyzing the formal content of Coltrane's music. But to me it is very obvious when he switches to the "informal" (the term should not be taken to meant that it's not as good) mode of criticism that most people who are not musicologists prefer to use. The change is abrupt because there is a sensation that all the authority has disappeared. Suddenly Porter seems to only be employing cliched readings of musical elements. He treats the informal vocabulary as if it has the same kind of currency as the formal one, which it does not.

His insistent repetition of the rhythmic figure is puzzling at first; during the last six measures, he plays it on the ascending pattern of D, E, F-sharp, G, A-flat, and finally plays in unison with the bass in F. This reconfirms that COltrane hears cell a as his basic unit of composition, isolatable from the scale built upon it. At this point, Coltrane and another group member - probably Garrison - chant the words "a love supreme" in unison with the bass ostinato and we realize that this was the goal toward which Coltrane directed his solo. He brilliantly executed a reverse development, saving the exposition - or perhaps "revelation" would be a better word in this case - for the end. He's telling us that God is everywhere - in every register, in every key - and he's showing us that you have to discover religious belief. You can't just hit someone on the head by chanting right at the outset - the listener has to experience the process and then the listener is ready to hear the chant. As we listen to the music, its meaning unfolds for us. We realize that there is a method behind the unusual sound and structure of the piece - Coltrane's music is not abstract, but is dictated in part by the messages he wishes to convey.

There is something there in what he's trying to get at, but he's too heavy-handed - right after "He's telling us that God is everywhere" my alarms go off.

3:11 AM
"It is impossible for me to say one word in my book about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?"

- Wittgenstein on writing the Investigations

3:05 AM
"If I understood him rightly, on that occasion he was saying that you couldn't speak of the meaning of a work of art, say a particular piece of music, as if the meaning was something that could be separated from the work itself. 'Part of the pleasure in hearing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is hearing the Ninth Symphony.'"

- Drury on Wittgenstein

January 18, 2001

3:49 PM
When I took Physics 221 oh so many years ago, the instructor we had would wheel in a stereo and play classical music during his lectures. Very quietly, so I mostly couldn't tell what it was. But I didn't know very much about classical music then anyway. One day he played Pink Floyd, and everyone thought he was very hip in that old-person way.

Now, in my 18th century philosophy class, the professor plays music at the beginning of class while he's writing some preliminary notes on the board. He's told us that he likes to play music that's in-period, so we've heard (only two class meetings since it meets once a week) part of a mass by Palestrina, and some of one of the "Mystery Sonatas" by Biber. Joel tells me that once Davidson played "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet" for a class. I would love to hear that. But it's kind of out of the time period.

It's a little odd listening to music in a room full of people like that, especially when it's "pretty" and/or "serious" music that a lot of people seem to be made a little uncomfortable by. They'd probably react a lot more oddly to "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet," though.

1:06 AM
I should note that my ass will be out of town in Chicago this weekend, thus no radio show on Saturday night.

12:44 AM
If there's one thing DJ Martian is good for it's reminding me of things that I forgot to pay attention to, e.g.: "Arab Strap release their new album 'The Red Thread', on February 26". I wonder when the stateside release will be.

Oho, 27th, the Arab Strap site sez!

January 17, 2001

11:35 PM
Last night listening to Zayin I suddenly noticed that I was following the trumpet line (by Dave Douglas) and somehow identifying it with "the leader" because of the similarities in sound between Masada and Miles Davis' second quintet (which is wrong, of course, because Zorn the altoist is the leader of Masada, which means he doesn't even have a direct counterpart in the quintet because Wayne Shorter played tenor). I'm not sure what other effects this may have had on my listening, because I hadn't noticed it until, I, uh, noticed it (hello tautology of the day). After I noticed it I was more vigilant and didn't again have the opportunity to observe myself slipping.

11:33 PM
The Hot Rock seems much more nimble than Sleater-Kinney's earlier albums (and All Hands on the Bad One as well, I think). Fleet of foot, I would say, except they're not doing anything with their feet. Well. Except Janet Weiss maybe.

January 16, 2001

11:05 PM
If you read one thing carefully today, it should be

January 15, 2001

3:41 PM
A dilemma: I have been thinking for a good 20 minutes or so about how I would listen to Masada's Zayin on my headphones as I walk to lunch and then to Mickey's house. So when I go to put it in my CD player, what do I find, but Sleater-Kinney's The Hot Rock, already ensconced therein. This actually happens to me with sort of disturbing frequency: I will think that I want to hear something, but upon finding something else already in my CD player, I'll suddenly be unable to choose between the two.

I think I will stick with the Sleater-Kinney. Not sure why. It just feels right.

(And, viz. my Masada-listening-initiative below, I've already listened to Dalet and half of The Circle-Maker today, so it's not like I'm missing my daily recommended allowance of John Zorn. I still should listen to Zayin later though, because focusing on a single recording is what I need.)

January 14, 2001

7:27 PM
I'm not happy with how much I appreciate John Zorn's
Masada group so I've decided to start listening to Masada at least once a day until I feel I should stop.

I think the main thing that makes me think I haven't appreciated Masada enough is that I can listen to the albums I have, and enjoy them, but aside from some particular spots in the music it's hard for me to differentiate between the songs.

The simplest way I can think to explain this is that the Masada project is an excellent example of a group working with a specific musical language. In this way I consider them very similar to Miles Davis' second quintet. But like the second quintet I think this gives Masada a bit of a hermetic quality: they don't make all that many concessions to outsiders seeking to become familiar with the music.

(Also: the harmonic vocabulary sounds constrained to my ears because I'm used to hearing more traditional western harmony, despite my appreciation of modal jazz - the result is that Masada can be samey-sounding for a while until you learn to pick up on the other musical elements.)

The way I got over this with Miles' second quintet is simply by listening a lot. Well, that's not the only way. Also: it helps to consider the work of the group (both groups) as one large flow of work. Because, in many ways, it is. Thus the "project" terminology that Zorn often uses. The word underscores the relationship that all the music produced by the group shares.

2:06 AM
Note to self: new Low is out Feb. 6, new Labradford is out Feb. 19.

1:43 AM
I heard a promo of Low's forthcoming album Things We Lost in the Fire at the station tonight. I didn't have the chance to listen very closely, but at first glance it sounds like a logical extension of what they did on Secret Name. In other words, they sound even more like a "pretty" band and less like the one I fell in love with. Oh well - you can't win everything. At least it's really pretty.

And: I kind of got the impression that they are more comfortable now in their expanded musical language.

1:42 AM
Mark wrote to me to say

The Panthalassa thing you heard may have been the "remixes" version (the remixes of the remix); there's no drum'n'bass on Laswell's original. In fact, I think he added very little to the recordings. He really did just "re-mix" and loop a few things, as far as I know.

Like, duh, I knew that. I just forgot. Thanks, Mark.

January 13, 2001

5:55 PM
Also, note the AMG
review of In a Silent Way, which I just looked at because I wanted to double-check that I had the song name right below.

The line about the "rhythms and power" of rock sounds like they cribbed it from a freshman music appreciation textbook without ever having heard the recording, because "power" is not a word that fits this music. Not even compared to what came before.

5:45 PM
So I guess I heard part of Bill Laswell's disc of fusion-era Miles Davis remixes, Panthalassa. I was eating a sandwich, and the joint I was in was playing some kind of beaty thing. When suddenly comes Miles' trumpet solo from "SHHH/Peaceful" on In a Silent Way. I could hear a few bits of the band as well before the drum-n-bass kicked in. I'm not sure what the intention was, because I found myself unable to listen to the solo (it seemed to be almost verbatim from the original, so I guess Laswell didn't cut it up or time-stretch anything) without feeling Tony Williams' original rhythm (for him, very straight rock beat, on the hi-hat mostly I think) behind it. The rhythm, I think, in some way influenced Miles' phrasing. So hearing a very different beat beneath the solo makes the phrasing seem a little limp, like Miles wasn't sure where the time was. Like I say, I'm not sure what the intention was: Laswell could have been going for something like this (maybe to fit in somehow with drum-n-bass aesthetics?), but it's more likely that I'm so attached to the original solo that I am having trouble hearing it in a new context.

4:25 PM
Mission: Control! seems to share an excellent sense of pace and programming with the Dismemberment Plan's Emergency & I - I wonder if that's due to J. Robbins' production. Once I start the second half of the album, I don't really want to stop it anywhere. Rather... there's no place that it feels right to stop, if I want to for some reason (like a need to leave, or I've already listened to it 3 times in a row, or whatever).

3:44 PM
Last night I was leaning over the edge of my bed while reading for some reason (well, I know why I was reading: but leaning thusly made my head fill with blood and my nose run so I'm not sure why I chose to remain in that position), and so I could hear one speaker of my stereo really well, the other not at all. My stereo is a little fucked anyway - I'm not sure if it's the wiring or the ancient speakers or what - so that speaker is already louder. But listening to Burning Airlines' Mission: Control! I heard all sorts of things differently. At one point there was even a very indie-rock rhythm guitar part chugging along underneath everything else, which I never noticed before, at all. I say "indie-rock" because it sounds very much so - that sort of no-frills, guitar-plugged-in-that's-all sound - compared to the much more metallic parts more prominent on the record. Noisy parts too.

I think it was "Scissoring."

Anyway, the lesson is: listen to your music in weird places and positions.

2:47 PM
So I've listened to all of 69 Love Songs, and to my surprise I actually liked it. I've heard some of these songs before as mp3s, and really didn't like them. I'm not sure what to chalk the difference up to.

I've found that on average I prefer the synth-poppy tracks more than any with 'real' instruments (though this doesn't hold on a song-by-song basis). This is really odd, because I really don't like synth-pop. However, as Tom has pointed out to me, most of it is indie synth-pop, which is rather a different thing from what I'm thinking of (which really is just a weird mental residue of all the synthy things from the 80s I've heard and didn't like, many of those also being things I haven't heard in a very long time, and also very popuar things at that).

I suspect one reason for this is that the production on the synth-poppy stuff tends to be more direct. In the book that comes with the boxed set, Daniel Handler, acting as interviewer, frequently says (they're going through every song, getting comments from Stephin Merritt) something like "this song really has the feel of a real band playing together, on real instruments," to which Merritt usually replies, "really? It's not." Many of the live-band-sounding tracks sound a little off to me, just because (I think) I can hear different "air" around the different parts that have been superimposed. The impression I get is that Merritt just likes it to sound this way. I guess. Anyway: the synthier stuff sees the synth tones run into a recording board, I guess, and thus there's less different-air clash. Plus I just like the synth sounds better than e.g. the ukelele.

Of the singers, I like Merritt himself and Claudia Gonson best. Glenn McDonald described Gonson's singing as having "artless clarity," and I think that fits perfectly. She sings beautifully, but is pretty apparently not a professional singer (either that or she hides it well) - in the sense of having vocal training, etc., but also just in the sense of having a cultivated vocal style. (Compare to Merritt, who certainly has the latter.)

I'm reminded of two things: 1) Mo Tucker's infrequent singing for the Velvet Underground. 2) My ex-girlfriend's singing. Early on in our relationship I heard her sing every now and then, and I was very happy to. The "artless" above is a compliment, I think - it means you're just getting to hear the person (I think, at least), as they are without so many extra layers or filters (mental ones, I am thinking here). [Compare maybe to Chan Marshall of Cat Power, who though I'd often think of her in terms kind of like "artless," is anything but: her voice has a very cultivated kind of childlike naivete plus existential weariness to it - more like the outer appearance of unguardedness and "real" singing.] Sometimes when my ex would sing she would start trying more to imitate the vocal style of whoever she was singing along to. Something about this disturbed me, and I said so. (She stopped singing around me so much. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything.) I think it had something to do with why I don't like to sing around other people, myself. It seems that when you start getting into something like that, your defenses go down because you need them to to start being more like someone else, temporarily. But this is something that makes you sort of exposed. That's something I personally don't like, I suppose, but it seems as if it's a little awkward (not just for me, but in general for lots of people) to be around someone who's exposed like that, who is sort of subsuming their own personality, or maybe wearing a mask and pretending (sorry for the second-rate lit-crit terminology, will try harder next time).

On record it's more OK though, which is why I have No Problem At All with Claudia Gonson. Incidentally, I am to start reading John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding soon so if you start seeing crazy capitalization of various Nouns and such here don't be alarmed, I just find it incredibly amusing to capitalize thusly.

Tom tells me that he finds 69LS an odd record to play with an audience. I don't really want to play it when anyone is around, either. I'm thinking in particular of the stuff about artless vocals above. When Gonson sings I'm sort of implicated in the situation that's set up, where there's more emotional honesty and directness (yes bear with me here I realize I'm talking about Stephin Merritt songs which perhaps means I should avoid talking about "honesty") - I'm sitting there enjoying it, which makes me feel a little like the song. Maybe. The theories are flying quickly now, with little aiming.

I suspect that if I went into a class of undergraduate English students there would still be an uncomfortable atmosphere if we started analyzing a love poem.

Back to the voices. For some reason I'm not that fond of LD Beghtol's vocals on 69LS. I actually like those on Flare's Circa better, despite not having listened to it all that much. Maybe: they sound more practiced than many of the others. They sort of rub the wrong way against the music. I don't listen to "good" singers in the more traditional sense all that much anyway (i.e. pre-rock, or just outside rock/r+b traditions).

Sometimes it seems like Stephin Merritt has a compulsive rhyming disease and I would just like to smack him. I suspect often the meter implied by his tight rhyme schemes drives the songs more than the music. I guess Merritt and William Carlos Williams wouldn't really dig each other.

More to come later (after all I've barely listened twice through yet). Maybe I'll talk some more about the stuff I didn't like (there's a lot of that too). And my favorites so far too. Er. Yeah. The Things I Liked And The Things I Didn't Like.

2:31 PM
Lately I've been listening a lot to Miles Davis' first album with his second quintet (Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter), E.S.P. It's been my default choice when at home because I haven't really felt like picking anything else. It has the added benefit of being more ignorable. I mean that in a good way.

So, something I've noticed about it: there's a very, and I'm not sure this is a good way to put this, "tiny jazz" sound on the disc, much more so on the second half. Everything is incredibly low-key, yet they're still playing with plenty of energy. It makes for a very crackly kind of ambient music.

January 12, 2001

2:26 PM
Once again this semester I am doing a radio show for 88.5 FM KURE, Iowa State's campus radio station, which is generally, as Tom might say, "one of those communist indie rock stations, no doubt". I am on Saturday nights from 9 to midnight in the US central time zone (barring some interruptions from sports telecasts and my ass being out of town). You can listen if you wish by looking up 'KURE' at I will play lots of sad songs.

This will be the only announcement of this sort, though the show lasts through early May.

I should note that this week's will be a low-talking show, which is either good or bad depending on whether you would rather hear me or the music. (Personally I'd rather hear the music, too.)

January 11, 2001

12:20 AM
Hello. How are you? I am very sick. I feel like shit. 69 Love Songs came today but I think I may not listen to it until I feel better. I don't expect to like it very quickly, and being in a totally undesirable state of mind would not help matters. At all.

Hopefully I will soon also be able to update again. I am busy settling in to classes, and scrambling to finish graduate school applications. And also sick.

My apologies for this personal information.

January 9, 2001

10:50 PM
Complete text of mail from Jon:

Subject: goddamn sonuvawhoringbitching stanley crouch

1:35 PM
(So what I am thinking here, I should add, is that that seems like a pretty classy thing to do.)

1:31 PM
Something I noticed about James Brown's "The Payback," which he wrote after some girl of his cheated on him, and which I'll have to listen to some more to be sure: the song is all about how angry and upset he is at being cheated on, but for the most part, Brown doesn't really direct any anger at the girl.

January 8, 2001

3:06 PM
Oh, you knew I was going to blog
this sooner or later. Via Jon, would you believe it.

10:00 AM
Josh blog opera summaries. Oh yes.

Gounod, Faust
Dr. Title Character is going to off himself but gets all horny when he sees some young folks out the window so he makes a deal with the devil (he gives up his SOUL) and then goes off in the guise of a young man to get it on with Marguerite. Some other shit happens. Marguerite walks the gallows for some reason. Then some angels save her. Er. Proclaim her salvation.

Puccini, La Boheme
Mimi comes upstairs, meets Rodolfo. They fall in love. Everyone except Alcindoro has a good time at the Cafe Momus on Christmas Eve. Mimi and Rodolfo don't separate. Mimi dies.

Verdi, La Traviata
Violetta Valery has tuberculosis. She falls in love with Alfredo Germont. Alfredo's father convinces Violetta that she must leave Alfredo for the honor of the family. Alfredo publicly insults Violetta at a party. The guests are shocked. Violetta dies.

Dick Wagner, Der Fliegende Hollander
Sailor is condemned to sail the oceans of the earth until doomsday. Only chance for rest is to find a woman who will be faithful to him until death. He's allowed to land and look for such a woman every seven years. Sailor meets a dude, says "trade ya my treasure fer yr daughter," dude agrees. Shit happens. Daughter and sailor meet. Daughter says she knows about the sacred duty of a woman. But she's got herself a man who's still hot for her. The sailor gets pissed off, starts to bolt. Girl jumps off a cliff, ship sinks, sailor and girl are seen embracing and ascending from the ocean to the heavens. What a load of bullshit.

Beethoven, Fidelio
So this dude discovers he is alone in the prison courtyard with this chick. He says, yo, chick, marry me. She's like, uh. Someone knocks on the door, and while the dude is gone, the chick says, yo, I'm in love with the title character. The jailer tells the title character, yo, kid, get yrself some money, cuz if you have to depend on the food of love, you'll go hungry. The kid says, but. Romantic love, and other shit. Then some other plot stuff happens. The kid turns out to actually be a girl in disguise, and her husband is in jail, put down by the man or some shit. So she says to the jailer, yo, help me save my husband. So they go dungeon-crawling. Some other shit happens. (Romantic love wins in the end.)

Verdi, Turandot
So we're in China. There's this mandarin who sez Princess Title Character will marry the man (of appropriate family connections, of course) who gets her three freaking riddles right. Dudes that fuck up get their heads IMPALED ON POLES. There's some kind of Tartar king. And he's blind. And his kid the prince is hanging around too. And they're both in disguise. You know - to thwart their enemies. So the Prince of Persia is brought out, and he's already fucked up the riddles. But he's young and shitting himself so the crowd displays pity. So the first prince - the Tartar one - is all pissed and is like, you stupid princess bitch, why are you killing people. But he chills when he sees Princess Title Character because she's hot, and he wants her so bad. So he rings the big gong which means, yo, I'm ready to play Avoid Having My Head Impaled On A Pole. There is some squabbling, some singing and shit. Princess Title Character puts on her Exposition Hat and tells (in song of course) us that she's such a bitch because an ancestress of hers (my source really says 'ancestress') was taken, raped, and killed, so in revenge Princess Title Character kills dudes who want her body. Then she asks the riddles and Prince Lucky Bastard gets them right. Princess Title Character says whoa wait a minute please daddy I didn't mean it I don't want to marry this dude (what if he isn't even any good in the sack? and plus I am all vengeance-seeking still). Daddy says tough shit, but Prince Nice Schmuck says, yo, Princess TC, guess my name (he's in disguise - to thwart his enemies, remember) by dawn and I'll SACRIFICE MYSELF FOR YOU (WTF? like he couldn't just say, well, guess my name and I'll go find some other chick who's not so touchy). The emperor says, kickass, fine with me. The princess says, yo, nobody sleeps until I learn Prince Don't Know His Real Name's real name. The emperor's ministers try to trick Prince Whatever's name from him with promises of various cool shit. So somebody saw the king (Prince X's dad remember) and his slave girl (who oh yes did I forget to mention before is in love with Princey fuck these opera plots get complicated) hanging out with the Prince and they're dragged in front of the emperor. The slave girl, apparently REALLY fucking in love, grabs a dagger and offs herself so she won't crack under torture and reveal Prince Calaf's name (oh shit I said it he's done for now). The crowd goes 'awww' and drags away the corpse. The Prince and Princess Title Character are now alone, so he's all, yo, you're such a bitch. And then he rips her veil off and they go at it a bit. And she 'submits' it sez here, and then she says, yo, you are like so strong, I have feared you and loved you since the MOMENT I SAW YOU. Calaf has apparently never seen a fucking soap opera and so is DEEPLY DEEPLY MOVED by this, and tells the Princess his name, basically saying, your move, honey. Apparently she decides to love him instead of fear him, because they make it to scene II with nobody else buying it. Princess Title Character and Prince Calaf appear before the emperor and she anounces that (oh boy get ready for this) she knows the stranger's name, and (OK brace yourself) 'it is love'. Love. LOVE? His name is LOVE? What kind of fucking bullshit is that?

(It took me a few to find my voice.)

And - the Puccini and Verdi were mostly stolen wholesale from Operaglass - before I realized they were the shortest ones there and I'd actually have to summarize things myself for the rest. (These were for a thing for my college quizbowl team.)

3:32 AM
It's very hard to tell, but I think on some of the songs with more movement on Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel I'm actually hearing the effects of players beginning a note, letting it resonate, taking a breath (or maybe other players are then playing, same difference), then playing again - the notes, of course, will never have exactly the same waveforms, and thus will be slightly different. So there's just a touch of waver in some of the really long notes.

This is all just supposition, though, it being very hard to determine what exactly is going on, sonically, here (if you'll recall, notes played in this cistern take something like 45 seconds to decay - and there are like ten trombonists playing, at various times).

Oh dear, the hard drive in my computer just tried to spin up and there was a clunk. It tried again and it worked. But this surely cannot be good.

12:31 AM
How a friend of mine described the Sonic Youth Goodbye 20th Century CD I leant him: "it's OK, not my favorite, but maybe it enlightened me in a fucked up sort of way."

January 7, 2001

11:42 PM
Note that my writing about my singing and writing about vocal music have nothing to do, really, with one another.

I picked up my old Russian professor Tatiana at the airport today, using her car, and for the trip there I followed her wisdom in leaving the radio on the classical station. The rest of the radio stations around here just annoy the hell out of me, and at least WOI is usually unassuming (in fact, it seems to be their raison d'etre).

So I heard two motets - one by Bach, written in memory of some dead person that went to his church (and, amusingly, the way the announcer put it, the postmistress' wife had bought it, but somehow I just don't see openly lesbian postal workers in the 17th century church scene). The other was by Handel, written for whatever dude happened to be paying him then. The Bach was in German, and the Handel in English. The styles were slightly different, but I think understanding the words to Handel's motet made it sound dumber. The phrasings were more plainly unnatural, as far as words go. So, thumbs down on the Handel.

The Bach, on the other hand, was real purty. And aside from the slightly amusing preponderance of (I think this is right, maybe I'll check later) velar fricatives from the German, I didn't mind the phrasing - because I don't speak German. I guess I was right in thinking, to myself a while back, that I need some more Bach vocal music.

Between this and the Rachmaninov sacred works I bought, it looks like my path into classical vocal music will be church music. Now that there is funny (I haven't been to church in years, and am not in fact religious). On the other hand, the Debussy opera I bought still sits languishing on my shelf (I got through one disc at least).

12:59 PM
"I want a girl who will laugh for no one else"

Weezer are poets, man. Poets.

I'm having one of those great moments, post-wake up, where my voice is gruffer and deeper, exactly in the range I'd like it to be in. I haven't been forced to practice singing since, oh, fifth grade really, so of course my voice didn't develop as much of a singing voice. So for most things I'd like to sing along to - rock songs, duh - I find either that my voice is not low enough, or not high enough. So it's more pleasurable to have it deepen, because it hurts to try singing too high.

Usually, when I don't have this great wake-up voice, I end up doing an odd thing where I jump around depending on what range the singer on the record is in. If I can follow them for a while, fine. If they're singing too low or too high, I can try to sing in octaves, which doesn't work completely terribly. But then I have a problem following some singers because their vocal ranges overlap oddly with mine, so at a point when I would like to sing higher or lower, they're still singing too in-the-middle for me to sing high or low, because I have such a small range. So the transitions are sketchy.

I don't sing when other people are around anyway, though, because I'm too self-conscious about it. Not the quality of my singing (though I have a good enough ear to know that I don't have enough control over my voice to sing in tune, just a touch off at best) - just the act of singing itself.

12:19 AM
Looking back at
this Sigur Ros review, it occurs to me that since it's Brent D., and since it's Pitchfork, people might think he's making up that stuff about the Hidden People. But he's not.

January 6, 2001

11:59 PM
At the moment I'd really love to have a car (with a CD player, very important) so I could drive for a long time and listen to Modest Mouse, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. I really, really, think it would improve my experience measurably.

11:40 PM
you can't a-void her
she's in the air
in be-tween mol-e-cules
of ox-y-gen and
car-bon di-ox-ide

9:18 PM
Cecil Taylor
interview .

6:20 PM
In the parking lot at the grocery store this afternoon someone was blaring Kid A from their car stereo. "Everything in Its Place." Thom Yorke as cruising music? Who woulda thunk it?

3:35 AM
I like Tim's take on Stankonia but the bit about the guitar solo in "B.O.B." bothers me, just because I don't hear it like that. In fact, I'd forgotten about the guitar being there until Tim reminded me. Funny, that - I probably listen to a lot more guitar music than Tim, and he to a lot more dance and rap and R+B than me. So perhaps the guitar stuck out a lot for him. I, on the other hand, am busy focusing on everything else in the track.

I do notice the guitar part on "Gasoline Dreams," which is less of a solo and more a part of the backing track. And when I notice it, I think "that should be louder." "Gasoline Dreams" is a very light-sounding track, for all its aggression and bluster. The bass frequencies seem de-emphasized, and lots of the other sounds are pretty high. Some people have made comparisons between "Dreams" and the mess of rap-rock out there - saying, of course, this is how it should be done. Rap-rock gets the guitar sound "right," though, at least for me, compared to this. Even if it's got lame beats, lame songs, and lame raps.

Back to "B.O.B." - listening again, I find that I notice the fast wah-wah guitar near the beginning a lot more than the solo. But I hear it as part of the overall matrix of rhythmic effects. And later, after the solo, there's another, more drawn-out, wah-wah section which I also notice for (though it seems as if it promises a buildup and doesn't deliver - but in the middle of this how could it?).

There are some very, very subtle guitar parts on Aquemini - very smooth, which the very layered mix obscures.

January 5, 2001

11:10 PM
Interviews with independent record label owners.

3:09 AM
There is a new section for "resource" links on the sidebar at right. I am a little disappointed with how little I know about contemporary jazz. In fact, my relationship with contemporary jazz is about like many peoples' with most jazz - I have very little to no idea what is out there, or what I might like, or what's any good (I do know that Wynton Marsalis is a prick though). So I've set out to find a little more information. Along the way, I've noticed that there are some other things I'd like to be reminded about more often - you may remember, for example, the klezmer shack link from last July. So, such things will be stored at right, along with some others to round things out.

At the moment I'm looking for a good link for contemporary jazz - I'm thinking in particular of something broad, with reviews, analysis (dare I hope?), covering people like Ken Vandermark, Matthew Shipp, Brad Mehldau, Dave Douglas, etc. - people from those kind of scenes. Which probably means free-leaning music, as opposed to, you know, the stuff that people enjoy listening to. Ha.

A nice overview for 50s-60s jazz would be nice, too, just because every jazz site I find seems to be kind of crap.

2:37 AM
On the Stuart Dempster -

This is definitely the purest-feeling music I own. I say that because it feels so divorced from any other genre or idiom. I put it on when I'm tired and worn out, or when I want music but can't stand anything else. It has ties to minimalism, some contemporary classical (perhaps), and medieval sacred music (big perhaps), but really it sounds little like them. As drone music it's harmonically simpler than many of those. Though there are many small variations in the flow of sound, its very arhythmic, which makes it quite different from in particular the minimalists. But it's even less rhythmic than, say, Arvo Part's "Fratres," as slow as they are.

2:27 AM
On the Outkast -

Specifically "SpottieOttieDopaliscious." I just cannot stop whistling that horn line. And if I get self-conscious enough about it, like when I was listening to the record when Damon was over and making faces because he didn't like the horn line, I start to laugh. In a good way. The whistling makes me happy, and this is a good thing.

So, when I'm wearing my headphones I have to try to not whistle while I'm walking around.

Also: Neil pointed out the presence of a woodblock in "Rosa Parks" which I am now unable to (and I would like to) stop listening to. I had never noticed it there before. Thanks a fucking lot Neil.

2:23 AM
On the Shostakovich -

I bought his complete string quartets (performed by the Borodin Quartet) along with some Weber and some Schoenberg and some Debussy, which made for a rather heavy bunch of listening compared to most of my other recent purchases. So I sort of have to monitor my thinking, my reactions to this music, a bit more than usual. I would rather consider them, especially the Shostakovich, long-term investments rather then short-term ones. I don't expect to be immediately drawn into them as I am with "popular" music.

So, it was a surprise the other night to put on the no. 11, which I have never heard, and find myself immediately engaged. It may be something about the dynamic contrasts, or the tempos, I'm not sure yet. I first heard Shostakovich on a Naxos recording of the 14 and 15, but I haven't yet been that fond of the Borodin recordings of the same pieces. They require more contemplation than I've been able or willing to give, for the past couple of months. The 11, on the other hand, is fairly direct and lyrical, compared to a lot of other Shostakovich.

2:01 AM
A site with extensive and nicely done out-jazz reviews.

1:05 AM
Ken Vandermark interview (be sure to read the unedited one at the bottom too).

January 4, 2001

3:45 PM
The bulk of my listening for the past few days has been

  • Outkast, Aquemini - particularly the first three (real) tracks, and "SpottieOttieDopaliscious" (oh those horns)
  • A Silver Mt. Zion
  • Shostakovich's string quartet no. 11
  • Stuart Dempster, Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel

I will say a bit about them later.

January 3, 2001

11:26 PM
Tom has a new
experiment which we're lucky enough to see, and I like it a lot.

4:53 PM
Signs of life from the absent Jon. He quoth:

holy shit, dude. holy shit.

You are correct, sir: Al Green still has it.

recovering... will apologize later

12:20 PM
Maybe one (among many) of the reasons I buy so many CDs is that I am looking for a sucker punch: music where I say oh my god what on earth is this, what has it done to me? Kind of like this Silver Mt. Zion CD.

Part (i) of "the world is sickSICK;(so kiss me quick)," "13 angels standing guard 'round the side of your bed," reminds me of the first track from Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, with its (I think?) tape-manipulated vocals.

11:46 AM
I don't see listeners represented.

12:10 AM
What my friend Damon said upon recognizing "Rosa Parks" on my stereo and commenting on his growing appreciation of rap: "it just sounds newer."

January 2, 2001

10:58 PM
Mark Richard-San has written a nice
review for Pitchfork. I very much appreciate the detail about listening loudly to the CD, it's thoughtful.

Besides the fact that Mark wrote it, the review caught my eye because I bought Ovalprocess today. I haven't listened to it yet though because I also bought A Silver Mt. Zion's We are a Godspeed Side Project and Therefore Have a Really Long Title for Our Record, which I have been playing ever since I got home tonight. It's very pretty. I will say more when tomorrow when hopefully I won't feel sick.

And speaking of Godspeed, here is a joke I ran across a few days ago, which betrays (at the very least) genre narrowmindedness but is funny as hell. So there was a reason Blaise Bailey Finnegan talked so much about his firearms, after all...

I hear they are going for a more ghetto feel to their next album and are auditioning a bunch of rappers.

The working title for their new album is Now That Your Skinny Fists Are Raised To Heaven Keep Them Up Bitch Or I Blast A Cap In Your Fucking Ass.

January 1, 2001

7:06 PM
Spring Heel Jack interview at PSF.

5:58 PM
And no, I don't know why I didn't think this before. I'm slow, remember. Also perhaps because many of the songs have more "inside" versions on Mingus albums. And "I'll Remember April" with Bud Powell is pretty straight.

5:38 PM
Listening to Mingus Live at Antibes this evening I realized suddenly why it's been so hard to get into, compared to my other Mingus albums: what we have here is basically free jazz. Pretty structured free jazz, but still free jazz - which typically takes me a lot longer to appreciate.

4:30 AM
Welcome to the second year of josh blog.

The brief and possibly unsuccessful jon blog experiment has officially ended. I must admit I am secretly hoping Jon was involved in a terrible car crash or some other incapacitating catastrophe, but in all likelihood he just hasn't left his bedroom in three days (Jon, you hoser) - hard to say, you've heard as much out of him since his last post as I have. However, it was nice to try him out (think I'll stick with me, though). Maybe I'll even offer up a few things about what he did post, later, after I've slept. I hope that you at least found him to be a curious diversion from the absence of any updates whatsoever.

The first thing I heard this year was: well, I have no idea. I wasn't paying attention. I didn't pick any of the music at this party (except when I demanded to hear Johnny Cash again), but it was all at least pleasant and familiar, and sometimes some of my favorite music. And, well, it's hard to beat Joel belting out Irish (Scottish?) drinking songs about having one's head cut off.

As for the first music I chose: I had the urge to make a symbolic gesture of my own, of sorts, and so for my walk home from the party I picked (before the party even) the Dismemberment Plan for my headphones. I walked in circles to stretch my walk out as long as the CD lasted, and slid around in the powder singing to myself. I didn't quite make it long enough, but I was content to get home to my apartment and listen to "Back and Forth" to finish the album. I am warm-faced, happy, and content, which is a lot better than I could've hoped last year.

to December 2000
josh blog

"This corny shit is somebody's hopes and aspirations. Don't be so hip."

old blog
jazz review project
old notes

mail josh

feed me



bleeding ears
catherine's pita
dancing about architecture
dj martian
freaky trigger
i hate music
in review
loafer's discourse
pearls that are his eyes
vain, selfish, lazy


classical net
european free improv
klezmer shack