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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31 Jul '03 08:13:30 AM

The small deviations from regularity in house music, like a few extra hi hat hits every eight measures, even when they occur as part of a larger regularity, can sometimes become especially surprising - charged - just because there are always other regularities (ultimately always the kick drum, regardless of what else changes) to fix on. And once I do fix on them, and I become locked in somehow, eventually I hear one of the (regular) deviations - which can be so small - as enormous.

31 Jul '03 07:54:21 AM

I was listening to Kompakt Total 3 today (it would be more appropriate to say that I made the house have Total 3 in it, because it's not as if I was sitting in front of the stereo), and when I went into the bathroom adjacent to my room and shut the door, the midrange and high range sounds were mostly filtered out, leaving behind just thump thump thump thump through the wall. It occurred to me then that maybe some part of my early antipathy toward the house beat was due to the fact that I often only heard the house this way - playing off in the distance, in someone else's room, muffled and reduced to mostly a beat. That's not the sole source of my antipathy, but it makes sense to me that it would not help me understand house any better. Early on I could do little more than hear that beat.

30 Jul '03 06:52:49 AM

My god, I can't read my handwriting.

Well, it's hard.

I found some old notes trying to find analogues in rap for the codes from Roland Barthes' S/Z. Findings were inconclusive. These were from some of my leisure time, oh yes.

29 Jul '03 11:26:35 AM

One of the diverting causes I alluded to below is my inability to keep up with my shifting taste. It's been frustrating to find just how much my critical skills are wedded to the kind of music I grew up listening to. I would like to write more entries that, as in the past, attend closely to the connection between what I feel and what the music sounds like. (I don't know if I have a reason for that, I'm probably just an unreformed autonomy-of-the-work slut.) But with music that's substantially different from rock music, two things falter. I'm less likely to feel the music as anything, as far as ho-hum preschooler emotions go (happy, sad). Then it has more to do with lyrics, if there are lyrics, or it feels as if my responses are more formal somehow, in the sense that some classical music formalists prefer (oh no no lame everyday emotions for us, this is some abstract shit): being excited by rhythms, tensions and releases, structure. This thing is minor, though, because I do still respond to the music emotionally. The bigger problem is that I don't know how to describe lots of the things I feel, particularly when I want to describe them in close relation to the sounds. 'Describe' is probably not the right word. My reactions aren't to ineffable things - it's just that I don't have the right way of talking at my disposal. Some of that's down to experience. I've had an enormous amount of time to pick up the nuances of the conventions of both rock music and rock discourse, compared to music that's newer to me. But I suspect more of it's due to the way the rest of the world treats other kinds of music (partly because the music is made differently, sounds different, but also just becasue they regard it differently). The language isn't out there for me to pick up somehow.

29 Jul '03 10:57:23 AM

For a brief, shining moment on Sister Sonic Youth 'sound like' Mogwai circa Young Team and a few other spots, promising to make the easy genealogical links (the ones made by people who think ''sounds like'' - did you see what I did there? - means the same thing as 'influenced by').

It doesn't shine that much, though.

24 Jul '03 02:05:09 AM

I feel totally disconnected from whoever my current audience is. If you you think you check this page regularly, please drop me at least a quick note saying hello (anything more about yourself would be welcome) at my email address, Response to this kind of request has been historically poor. I hope it won't be this time.

A number of things have conspired to divert my writing here. In the coming weeks I hope to get a better view of how this has happened.

15 Jul '03 10:44:42 AM

I think Stevie Wonder pretty much always sounds believable when he sings "there'll be brighter days ahead". This is significant to me especially because so many of the sentments and emotions expressed by other music I love, especially the positive ones, never seem guaranteed to work completely. There could always be a time - there are times - when I play them, perhaps just feeling bad and playing a record, or perhaps deliberately hoping to feel better through playing them, and they fall short. The happy songs ring false or never seem to rise beyond the level of musical convention ("they're doing this happy thing there and singing about being happy but it's only supposed to sound happy because that's how you're supposed to make happy sounding music"). Maybe this is why sincerity and its relatives authenticity and soul and etc. are so important to people, at least in the way they talk: the hope is that these failures will never happen. They must be guarded against, because we don't want to be let down by the things we love (a danger: that we stop loving them).

This is surely misguided, but it seems so easy to persist in thinking this way.

14 Jul '03 09:40:24 AM

LCD Soundsystem, "Daft Punk is Playing at My House (live)"

If rock bands insist that they can too make "dance music" by hitting the snare on 2-4 and leaning on the cymbals, then I insist on not listening any more. Don't be afraid. Give up your snares, dance-punk drummers.

14 Jul '03 09:32:39 AM

If it seems to you as if, when I start edging toward admitting unflattering things about myself (see also here, regarding Basement Jaxx), I also become defensive and apologetic, you're not right but not totally wrong. I know I do it. I know that in any case like this, there are ready-made stories out there. My ad hoc attempts to evade those stories are meant to serve as reminders to me (and you) that my own story (like yours) is never that simple.