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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15 Feb '02 10:14:58 PM

I must have some variant on, as my roommate puts it, "narcosleepy", because all I could do yesterday when I got home was lay on the couch and drift in and out. After dinner I screwed around and then went to sleep again, and slept for more or less twelve hours.

So my music for the night, and afternoon, is fitting - Bedhead's 4 Song EP. Given how, on other releases, Matt Kadane seems to have more control over how his lyrics scan (though there's always a bit of awkwardness around), the odd little extensions of phrasing here (holding a note to make the phrase match the music even though the words have sounded semi-conversational up to that point), or the vocal wavering, sound more intentional. I'm not sure how much to take them as that, though. (I'm remembering something Andrew Kenny of the American Analog Set wrote to me - "that's just how we sound when we play our instruments".) Also I have in mind what I wrote last June - along the same lines, the music just sounds so intimate that I want to take these vocal things as contributing to the sense that these songs are very personal communications, or at least meant to seem like them (obviously the fact that there's a band ruins that a bit, plus the widely distributed recordings, etc). The sense of looking on on Kadane singing something to someone else.

This EP was recorded live in one take at a church. The guitars sound more up-front than the drums, which have more room ambience, presumably because there was only one mike so the drums are farther away from it. I don't get as much of a "guitars sounding like viola" feel here as from, say, the preceding album, WhatFunLifeWas. At times, even though it's in 4 it feels like it's in waltz time. And sometimes I get the sense that I'm hearing more well-defined melodies (more vertical melodies, maybe) that have been stretched out and smeared together - part of the way in is getting to know the individual guitar parts apart, which is posible since they're all clean and clear. But the way they play, and the close proximity of all the parts to each other, lends to hearing them as more unified.

14 Feb '02 08:04:16 AM

I have a lot I want to write about, but I've been busy this week and don't anticipate having the time I need until later. But here's what I listened to today.

In the morning, Bobby Hutcherson's first album as a leader released on Blue Note, Dialogue. Sam Rivers' sax stands out on the first track - aside from the Dolphy record that Hutcherson plays on, which is kind of laidback for an a-g record anyway, I think this is the most startling thing I've ever heard on Blue Note. Things get very free jazz (groove falls apart, replaced by more tentative pulse, lots of people playing at once what sound like solo parts) later.

69 Love Songs, Vol. 2 on the way in. Like with a number of other records lately it sounded a lot more spacious than the last time I listened to it. Again I had an urge (which I eyed warily) to do another song-by-song thing on here. I supressed it.

Talk Talk in my office, with the sun coming through the windows and for once it being warmly comfortable rather than witheringly hot or bitterly cold.

Smog on the way home. The more I listen to the record the harder it is to finish the article I'm writing about it.

Some of Zorn's Circle Maker (the string trio disc) at home now. Does it seem odd that someone like Zorn, with a penchant for ruining eardrums and getting in people's faces, signed off on this very refined-sounding recording? When the strings get screechy, they're still kind of distanced. The Shostakovich string quartets by the Borodin on Melodia sound a lot more raw.

I watched Antonioni's Blow Up tonight. I thought the sound with the trees rustling in the wind was astonishing.

I didn't get the film study fellowship, I found out today. I had my hopes up because I hadn't gotten a rejection letter yet like my friends, but I guess my letter was just lost in the mail or something.

I was reminded earlier tonight that Thursday is Valentine's Day. I hadn't really been thinking about it, but now when it comes to mind my mood is slightly darkened. Jazz tomorrow then.

12 Feb '02 07:34:01 AM

Today at my desk I listened to some Monk, from disc twelve I think of the Riverside box. For a while the disc is from some solo session, as far as I can tell, though by "San Fransisco Holiday" there's a band with him. The solo stuff felt ideal because it was so casually contemplative, even more so than usual for Monk: it was unhurried, and that pace seemed to be meant to give more time for the notes to hang in the air, to be considered. Rolled around on the tongue, savored.

12 Feb '02 07:26:31 AM

I swear the part where the drums come in on Gastr's "Bauchredner" sounds like the Who's "Squeezebox". Really.

And Ken Vandermark and Rob Mazurek play on Camofleur!

11 Feb '02 06:17:51 AM

This mix Jess made recently reminded me that I hadn't listened to Gastr Del Sol's Camofleur in a very long time. I had never especially liked it, either. As far as I can tell I've never written what I thought about it here before now, so unfortunately I can't remember much of what I thought besides "this sucks." What I can remember is that the first track annoyed me, that the vocals were slightly off-putting, and that as a whole it kind of bored me. I may have also found the parts with horns and melodies and stuff later on the album a little too saccharine.

Somewhere along the line I must've just come to be able to appreciate the right things about the album, through liking other music. Aside from maybe the saccharine thing (which I'm not sure is what I thought anyway, whether it's actually what I thought or just what I'm not mislabeling as sugary mistrust), I'm not sure why that would have been necessary, since I think I had all the right pieces in place (love of droney things, love of art-damaged things, love of indie-tinged things of various stripes). But it feels more like that, than the sort of thing where I just never heard an album right or gave it a fair shake.

And now I still don't especially like the first track, but the rest of it is beautiful. At the moment all I would like to say, though, is that the record is vital (in the "full of life" sense, not the "you should get this" sense, though that might be a good idea). Including in its quiet moments, and its repetitive moments.

Here is a nice interview with David Grubbs.

8 Feb '02 06:58:37 PM

1. I am listening to Call the Doctor.

2. I am going to St. Louis this weekend.

3. That is all.

8 Feb '02 08:24:50 AM

This morning once I was awake enough I fumbled around with the remote and put on "Lord, Can You Hear Me?" I started crying a little bit so when it finished I started it over again and turned it up really loud.

It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. I'm still left almost speechless by it. Tears started streaming down my face. The contrasts. Even with Mimi Parker behind him, an enormous gospel choir, an orchestra, J. Spaceman sounds as alone as he can be. How? All the racket, and he sounds like he really doesn't think God can hear him. But he still sounds hopeful.

And not because of that, but just maybe because I was overwhelmed by everything, I started laughing. Laughing and then sobbing and then laughing again. I mean, fuck. Overwhelmed, but it was totally different from that time. I don't know what to make of it right now.

After that second time through I turned it back to "The Straight and Narrow" - I couldn't do it again.

7 Feb '02 08:52:35 AM

Listening to "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" today, I tried to sing the "Elvis" parts really loud in my head to make it sound more perfect, but it was hard to make it match the sound in my headphones.

(I/can't/help/falling in love/with/you)

7 Feb '02 08:49:49 AM

Today I listened again to the five Disco Inferno singles Ned (check the byline on some of the reviews there) was fabulous enough to send me. A few scattered thoughts:

Besides just being derived from their stylistic British post-punk ancestors, the whole lockstep, super-precise chimey guitar thing was probably almost essential to doing what they did: with guitars wired to samplers, I would suspect that restraint would be in order, lest an unimaginable din result (and, ha, some would say that it did a number of songs into the disc).

Lots of the samples are 'nature' type samples. This makes me feel a little embarassed, like if I were caught listening to a Pink Floyd record and pretending that all the found sound sort of stuff was really revolutionary. Clearly this is partly just me being a snob, and partly me overlooking the whole rock-sampler link being so crucially tight. But nevertheless it seems to me as if using nature noises is pedestrian somehow. Maybe it's just an overkill thing.

On a related note, even when not nature noises the samples tend to be along those lines - glass breaking, noisy clunky stuff, chattering, footsteps. Earlier today this made me think "it's a shame they never really followed this to its ultimate conclusion," which now pains me because I read something this afternoon that said something like that about some other band and it made me grit my teeth and call the writer a stupid fucker (so, er, I think this "following through to the ultimate conclusion" crap is crap, even if it could be meant well and clearly - maybe I will save that for another time). But, wouldn't it have been really great to hear this whole D.I. thing, only with other music as the triggered samples? Other instruments? (I'm sure some of the things triggered are their instruments, but that just makes it like, uh, weird postpunk.)

I'm sure I'll have to amend some of this later after actually following the music a little better. I suspect I've said this before anyway.