josh blog

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.

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27 Jul '01 09:33:05 AM

It took me less time to warm up to Joy Division than I expected, based on their reputation and on hearing a song or two of theirs a while back. But I think the chronological sequencing on Substance makes it a little harder on me; the earlier, 'more punk' songs do it more for me (especially the bass guitar), and I think that having some of the later ones together with their album-mates would make them easier to like.

And oh jesus are the drums loud.

27 Jul '01 09:18:24 AM

I've been noticing a lot lately (while walking around with my headphones on, which is why I've been forgetting to write it down) while listening to rap the production technique / musical element of doubling up the voice (sometimes with a separate rapper, sometimes with another recording of the rapper 'soloing' at the time) just at the points where words rhyme or are stressed or otherwise stick out (often, stick out semantically). I think that's a very important thing. A pop or rap cynic (think Theodor Adorno) would regard it as a meaningless embellishment, probably. But it seems to be widespread enough to be considered some kind of element of rap's musical 'language' - the sort of thing which would figure in a good ethnomusicological study of the music. Surely the listeners don't need such a thing, but it would be a step toward legitimacy in certain circles, which I'm not totally convinced is a healthy thing, but which I sometimes hope for anyway.

27 Jul '01 09:06:44 AM

Does anyone think of the Beta Band as a hip-hop group?

They slide in and out of using hip-hop beats, or at least hip-hop related beats. But they sing. If they mostly rapped, I suspect people would think the music was some kind of hip-hop, even if hip-hop filtered through the ears of British Beach Boys fans (pick any sort of description there you like...). But here's a question: what kind of music would you tend to categorize them as, if you were made to do such a thing, and - Hot Shots II were an instrumental record? The instrumental mixes of Deltron 3030 are a hip-hop album. So is plenty of instrumental hip-hop which doesn't have a vocal hip-hop lineage to qualify it as hip-hop.

Then there's also the fact that the singing and the lyrics are just pretty different from what shows up in most hip-hop, even hip-hop which features lots of singing. Which reminds me (sort of uncomfortably) of Wynton Marsalis's strictures on what can and can't be jazz - because a lot of this music is very similar in significant ways to hip-hop, but just different enough that it might be similar to something like deciding whether Miles's electric music is jazz (and when it stopped being so), or whether Getz/Gilberto's samba is jazz.

27 Jul '01 08:07:42 AM

I wonder if more of a Beach Boys fan like Fred can tell me what he thinks of the similarities between the production (possibly the songwriting, or arranging, or whatever) on Pet Sounds and that on the Beta Band's Hot Shots II. It doesn't feel quite the same to me, maybe because I'm still not that much into Pet Sounds, but at the moment it seems like there could be some overlap in the way the production is very "internal" in a way - it sounds like it's perfectly suited for the kind of introspective listening you might do best over headphones. That's not quite it though. It's more than a headphone album - something more deliberate than that. Maybe there's something to the production that rewards the trancelike kind of attention that so many people say they give to Pet Sounds, laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, headphones on. And that kind of attention seems more appropriate to call "introspective" to me, even if I don't quite like the word.

Of course, the Betas are well-known Beach Boys fans (cf. "Around the Bend")...

27 Jul '01 05:47:06 AM

Time to start packing for my move to St. Paul on Saturday (assuming that the truck rental company actually obtains a truck - they're not really known for their reliability). Yes, I know it's getting a bit close. I'm hoping it will not be as onerous a task as it was last year.

No bother picking CDs this year, either. I had my stereo up pretty quickly last year, and anyway exactly what I have in my backpack right now will be just fine (except that I have to put this Beta Band CD in it):

The Shipping News, Basement Jaxx, Sleater-Kinney, Aaliyah, Monk Live at the Jazz Workshop, The Sea and Cake, three Bjork albums, Kid A, Low, Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home, In Utero, the new Labradford, 69 Love Songs vols. 1 and 2, the new Mogwai, Joy Division, the Dave Holland Quintet, Emergency & I, the new AAS comp, Rodan, the new Will Oldham, and the Velvet Underground and Nico.

Well, OK. Maybe I want Coltrane's Crescent in there too.

27 Jul '01 04:56:19 AM

For the first entry in josh blog's new home, I am listening to the Beta Band. It's not up very loud but the shuffly background is keeping me comfortable while I work on some behind-the-scenes technical matters.