Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
I think this review does well to focus on the songwriting on Sound-Dust. Perhaps it's the case that they've had as well-developed a sense of song structure in the past, at least as of Dots and Loops, but this album seems like the first place where they're really consistent about combining the sort of catchy, poppy drone music that they can write in their sleep with song structures that keep the catchy, poppy drone music interesting over the course of an album. There's nothing wrong with catchy, poppy drone music, but if a song is built out of one thing, and it repeats for two to ten minutes, then if you don't like the song, you're stuck in it until the album moves on (or you do). There are parts here that I don't like, just like on past Stereolab albums, but even when I don't like them they're often part of songs with parts that I do like, and it's consistently kind of surprising how those parts are stuck together. It seems like kind of an idiot's trick to write songs by just cutting together different-sounding drone-pop (as if that were all they're doing here!), but it really is quite effective.
Hmm, after Stereolab having Klucevsek's "Wave Hill" come on sounds very much like a typical rock/pop-music end-of-album thing, where the music is done with unconventional instruments (accordion and violin), and very wistful and beatless.
Uh oh Tom has caught me: I forgot Change on this (caveated, I note) list. Rest assured the record has never been far from my mind and will be my absolute favorite this year. If I can rank them, it wins, without a doubt (and this over the Betas, even, which I am also very keen on).
Oh, what's this? It's gotten very quiet in here. With occasional drones and scratchy violin noises (but very pretty ones). It must be the one for John Cage.
Mixed in with these other discs, the tracks from AAS sound a lot tighter and more like "proper songs" (gag, cough). Well, except for "Like Foxes Through Fences" which just came on. I'm not sure what I disliked at first about this album, but I guess it had something to do with it not sounding enough like the old ones, especially The Golden Band, which has a special sound and a kind of ephemeral, elliptical quality to the songs. The vibes (vibraphone, I mean, not "vibes, maaan") are gone, and it seems like the guitars and other sounds are made to be a bit more trebly, scratchier too. (?) I'm not sure yet how the songs compare. They're more definite and less peripatetic than the other music in my changer, I gues you could say (or maybe you couldn't at all: they depend on much tighter harmonic structure, though), but they do sound something like AAS's old songs.
"Somethin' Else" sounded vibrant and exciting so when "Bangoon" comes on it's a little disappointing: the recording sounds shabbier and the music sounds older, from say '55 rather than '58. But I guess that it's a bonus track, and sure enough, it is, the only one on the album (one of those Rudy Van Gelder series remasters on Blue Note) not to appear on the original album.
It's surprising how much confusion I've engendered by putting in both Stolen Memories and Masses: they sound different enough in style, I think, and Masses even has a lot of other sounds on it (like from the saxes) that Stolen Memories doesn't, but when tracks from either start I'm uncertain which record is playing (maybe due to their avant-garde-soundingness, vague as that is).
I bought Guy Klucevsek's Stolen Memories and Susie Ibarra's Flower After Flower at the same time, for some reason, and apparently since I listened to Ibarra first and wasn't in the mood for it, I misled myself into thinking I didn't want to hear the Klucevsek either. But today I'm "working" at my desk-table so I threw in a handful of discs I haven't heard all of or haven't gotten comfortable with: the Klucevsek, Spring Heel Jack's Masses (whoops typed Messes heh heh), Stereolab's Sound-Dust (the one I'm plenty familiar with and like a lot), Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else, and the American Analog Set's Know By Heart.
And what do you know, the Klucevsek (at least on the tracks I've heard - there's a long track dedicated to John Cage which I expect to be different) is feisty and satisfying. As the group is similar to Dave Douglas' "Charms of the Night Sky" group, which Klucevsek plays in, except for the lack of the trumpet, the music has a similar tone, but even compared to Douglas' faster songs, Klucevsek's music is a lot less refined-sounding, if that's the right way to put it. Douglas is doing other things with his sources, or perhaps inflecting his music with different styles of music in different ways, compared to Klucevsek, where you can hear the polka and Jewish music and whatnot much closer to the surface, as if it wouldn't be that strange to hear people kicking up their heels to Klucevsek at a wedding reception. And sure enough, he composes a lot for dance productions.
Despite the character of Klucevsek's music (there are even hollers reminiscent of Mingus on "Regunkitation"), hearing the title track to Somethin' Else come on next on shuffle is surprising - because the music sounds even more vibrant.
Hearing "Cross" from Spring Heel Jack's Masses record (the one where they produced a bunch of contemporary free jazz musicians like Evan Parker and Matthew Shipp) as a more-fucked-up late-period Miles track seems to make a bit more sense of it, but wouldn't it be nice to find a way of making sense of it that circumvented Miles?
(That has the possibly unsatisfying side effect of consistently making interesting-sounding things seem a lot less interesting.)