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August 31, 2000

10:14 PM
This will perhaps interest
Mike - ecstasy hits Ames, IA.

12:41 PM
This week's TWAS interested me more than most of the past year's worth, because of the (formally standard for a TWAS piece) digression before the actual record-oriented content in the first review: McDonald's musings on his different tastes in books, movies, music. Thus I was extremely disappointed when he didn't actually explore the issue any, just used it as a lead-in to (and perhaps justification for? though it's not as if he needs it by now, since his reviews have become increasingly dominated by a certain few kinds of pop in the past few years) his Corrs review.

So does this mean I'm going to discuss differing tastes in different media? Yes. But not right now.

2:07 AM
I found a couple nice posters to hang in my new pad - one of Miles playing at Birdland (with sunglasses, that cool cat), and one of Coltrane with the Blue Train design scheme (though not the same picture as the cover) and personnel. Minor problem, which I noticed once it was at home and on the wall: Paul Chambers is credited with "base".

August 30, 2000

4:56 PM
Regarding the
comment about boxed sets: I can, but only for jazz artists, and then not necessarily always "the same" band if you want to be pedantic.

12:11 - 1:08 AM
Stealing a tiny bit (very tiny) from Tangents, here is an alphabetical list of things I've been listening to lately, and what I was doing while I listened.

American Analog Set, The: laying on my bed after a long day and wondering whether it was a good idea to lay on my bed and listen to AAS before I was finished with my day.

Bach (JS): sleeping, and things immediately adjacent to it on both sides.

Cat Power, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction": is there a single verb for "being in a state of sublimity"?

Davis, Miles: all kinds of it, while I read his autobiography

Ellington, Duke: comparing his performances of "Mood Indigo" with Mingus' from Mingus Dynasty

Fat Albert Rotunda, Herbie Hancock, from Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings: supposedly after these recordings, and Sextant on Columbia, his emphasis shifted to "making people feel like getting up in the morning and going to work." He wasn't already? Cf. "Wiggle-Waggle," the title track, or "Oh! Oh! Here He Comes"; I'm already out the door. My traveling music for the first week of school.

Get Off the Cross... We Need the Wood for the Fire, Firewater: trying not to let my vicariously-obtained menace seep out into my facial expressions while I walk around

Holiday, Billie: stretching (inside) - still sounds nice, but only nice

"I Love a Magician," The Dismemberment Plan: walking down the hill to my apartment, and noticing how my stride is more even when listening to the Plan, than to Built to Spill

Jarrett, Keith: writing analysis proofs; thinking, "why is Wynton Marsalis more famous than Keith Jarrett?" (answer: decent trumpet playing accompanied by more hot air than effortlessly melodic and innovative piano playing)

K. 361, wind serenade in B flat, Mozart: listening for the dance structures and rhythms claimed, in the liner notes, to have been appropriated for the form of the music, and wondering if the stereotypical (easy to find examples, though) western-tradition distaste for structurally "simpler" but more rhythmically-involved African-derived music (and before that, any music derived from folk music; African music has simply had the largest contemporary influence) is very directly related to the mores which direct interpersonal conduct, including, but not limited to, dancing: c.f. any formal, high-culture dance portrayed in films (that's where I find out about them, at least) about the 1800s and earlier centuries. Social conventions have loosened but we still have many visible remnants of the ways of living that dictate, e.g., that we shouldn't touch one another too much, or that allusions or outright references to sexual behavior are to various extents taboo. Connect this to the supposed refinement of western art music - it's said to be removed from, e.g., messy worldly things like fucking

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space: A-Bing the "Elvis" version of the title single

Monk, Thelonious: reading, working, listening; melodious thunks, all. Must expand, have Riverside recordings.

"nevermind (what was it anyway)," to accompany the pretty pictures

"Out of Sight" / "Bring It Up" live medley, James Brown: is there a single verb for "experiencing funk"?

Perfect Circle, A: eating a sandwich at the deli, hearing this for the first time, thinking, "yup, that's the guy from Tool, alright"; also, the drumming is a lot more trad rock than is Tool's

Q: ooh, tough one. If anything it's a song, but if so I don't know what it's called. Oh well. Can't win them all.

"Redukt," Einsturzende Neubauten, from Silence is Sexy: trying to determine just what sort of negative reaction to the western tendency to reductionism Blixa is having, without constantly referencing the liner notes to get the translations to the lyrics again; sounds like righteous frustration to me

Stellar Regions, John Coltrane: notably, most things that I normally do; i.e. a frequent player

"The Professional," Sleater-Kinney: wondering if it would help any to figure out what the lyrics mean since it's Socially Conscious music and all; isn't enough that it kicks ass?

"Uh, Zoom Zip," Soul Coughing: perusing their catalog to see if I could recommend something for Tom who liked, surprisingly, "Screenwriters Blues"

"Velvet Waltz," Built to Spill: indie rock lives, Tom, and it lives here.

"Was It A Lie?" Sleater-Kinney: cf. above, but it would help more here, because I'm intrigued by what seems to be the switch from the somewhat-specific death of the girl (which I always somehow take to be a metaphor for her rape or something similar) to the more general indictment of media and public treatment of women, especially those involved in situations of subjugation

"X-Files Theme:" the Spiritualized version; begins suitibly eerily but then becomes less appropriate

Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out: doing math homework (surprise) and wondering how many more listens it will take for me to decide what I think of this (oh, it's very good, at least) compared to their others

Zorn, John: playing a tune from Masada 7 on my show

August 29, 2000

10:18 PM
Charlie Parker was born on this day in 1920.

9:59 PM
I like Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On, but it's always sounded funny to me. It's the production, but only in part: this music is big, or at least wants to be - not just big, humongous. At the same time it occupies a very tight sonic space - thus, big and small together. Having heard their live album puts this one in better perspective for me, though, because the highs seem higher.

9:56 PM
This fucking sucks. My biggest regret in pointing this out to you isn't that I actually "read" it, but that by pointing it out to you, I've earned Pitchfork another 0.02 cents or howevermuch for the ad that loaded when you followed the link (save for suave readers like myself with imageless browsers - banner ads can bite me; er, us).

August 28, 2000

3:53 PM
I hope all this
constant trashing of my tastes is getting you more hits, Solinger, because it's COSTING YOU MY LOVE.

9:23 AM
I wonder if it's a play on Mingus Ah Um.

August 27, 2000

Article about
Rhino Records' boxed sets.

Excerpt from Miles' autobiography:

When Bill Evans - we sometimes called him Moe - first got with the band, he was so quiet, man. One day, just to see what he could do, I told him, "Bill, you know what you have to do, don't you, to be in this band?"

He looked at me all puzzled and shit and shook his head and said, "No, Miles, what do I have to do?"

I said, "Bill, now you know we all brothers and shit and everybody's in this thing together and so what I came up with for you is that you got to make it with everybody, you know what I mean? You got to fuck the band." Now, I was kidding, but Bill was real serious, like Trane.

He thought about it for about fifteen minutes and then came back and told me, "Miles, I thought about what you said and I just can't do it, I just can't do that. I'd like to please everyone and make everyone happy here, but I just can't do that."

I looked at him and smiled and said, "My man!" And then he knew I was teasing.

August 26, 2000

8:23 PM
Weezer's Pinkerton good for scaring little girls - or something like that. [from]

12:00 AM
It's neat to look at the list of "tones" listed in the AMG's Miles Davis entry - runs the gamut, including many contraries.

Ethereal, Reflective, Intense, Fiery, Poignant, Provocative, Laid-Back/Mellow, Aggressive, Restrained, Visceral, Stylish, Cerebral, Sophisticated, Elegant, Nocturnal, Druggy, Eerie, Melancholy, Rebellious, Cathartic, Volatile, Angry

August 25, 2000

8:09 PM
No, Tom, I don't think that's representative. While there are lots of people that listen to whiny emo (e.g., it's popular enough at my college station to have a definite "emo area" staked out on the new music shelf), there have been college-student-aged people listening to whiny music for years! When I was a wee lad my friends and I used to refer disparagingly to "college rock": behold emo, college rock for the 90s (and 00s, probably).

Of course, I give Tom Dismemberment Plan music to listen to so he can hear good indie rock but does he like it? Nooooooo.

August 24, 2000

11:51 PM
Bruce LeClaire offered a (probably, he admits, apocryphal, but damn it's funny) Monk anecdote on recently:

I recall another anecdote I read about Monk, again my recollection is vague but I think Budd Johnson was responsible for this one too.

Somehow Monk and Budd (let's say) found themselves alone at a party (let's say). Monk waved Budd into an empty room with a piano, shut the door, and then opened up the piano. Budd listened as Monk proceeded to play the piano exactly in Bud Powell's style, both left and right hands. After his demonstration Monk closed up the piano and whispered to Budd, "I just wanted to show you, but don't tell anyone else I can play like that."

10:51 PM
Having fun with my new extended (who really needs a book until May 10, 2001 starting now anyway?) checkout at the library, I got a stack of music books today: Miles Davis' autobiography, Lewis Porter's Coltrane: His Life and Music, a biography of Thelonious Monk, David Toop's Rap Attack 3, and a book about the value of popular music by Simon Frith called Performing Rites. Strangely the sizeable holdings of the Parks Library at good old ISU are not sizeable enough to contain a copy of Charles Mingus' biography, written in a strange combination of third and first persons, Beneath the Underdog.

Why the library rush? Despite a strong affection for libraries early in my life (they have all these books, see, and they let you have them and read them for free), I don't like to use the library much any more. I have a compulsion to own any book that I read, which means I don't get around to reading some things just because I never feel like spending the money on them (biographies, for instance, seem too light to me - I'll probably finish the first one I start in a day or two of quick reading).

But, I finally have a burning need to know more about some of my favorite music and musicians, and as great as the net is, it's just a little too fragmentary for some things (I say, writing in a blog...).

Expect some comments soon on the books (and I'm still thinking about the Hancock comments I promised below).

August 23, 2000

10:45 PM
Another minor quibble: the second of the 3 LPs reproduced on the Hancock Warner Brothers set is spread over the two CDs. Doh.

9:15 PM
Quotes from the liner notes to Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings (which includes the jazz-funk of Fat Albert Rotunda, and the impressionism and funk-fusion of Mwandishi and Crossings, which immediately preceded the otherworldly Sextant and commercial breakthrough Headhunters, both on Columbia):

"I've played with some fantstic soloists... but there's a thing that I think is more important than solos. I think music is supposed to make you high, to give you an experience so that you can transport yourself from wherever you are and that whole physical contact with the world so that you can gain a little more consciousness - inner consciousness. I think it would be impossible for most of my early music to do that, just from the very nature of the material; but my new music is set up to do just that. It's set up to make you high."

"The new avant-garde has finally found a direction, but it's like a spectrum. It's not one direction; there are many directions and they all have to do with giving people an experience rather than just giving them a bunch of notes."

"One thing became apparent to me last year. I'd go to friends' homes and see my albums on the shelves with lots of other peoples' records, and they'd play all the others except mine. My intention at the time was to play music to be listened to with undivided attention; but how many people have time to approach music that way? Before, I was so interested in spirituality that I didn't recognize that a person puts on a record with his hands and not his spirit. [The emphasis shifted from] heavy musical trips that try to expand people's minds [to] making people feel like getting up in the morning and going to work."

"I'm not knocking the other thing. I'm just saying that there are several ways to look at music."

Comments to follow later.

You'd think Warner Brothers could've included full-page, and color, reproductions of the original album covers in the liner notes, since the cover is a picture of Herbie. But nooooo.

8:57 PM
History of House link stolen from Tom. I don't like house but I don't like being ignorant either.

1:30 AM
Everyone else is link to this so I thought I might as well. I started reading it before, passed it up as Yet Another MP3 Overview, but on reading the rest tonight I found it was actually very, very thorough.

And once again, the whole issue makes me feel patriotic and concerned about (vaguely) political / socioeconomic issues. How about that. Me.

August 22, 2000

6:55 PM
We've had
this in the KURE studio for a while now and I think it's pretty damn cool. Possibly cooler than Mark Richard-San gives it credit.

6:53 PM
Massive Attack are back in the studio, yo.

6:46 PM
Splendid's damn lists offers shows at which to pick up chix, and what to say to them.

August 21, 2000

11:28 PM
Check out this
cool article on structure in Miles' electric period music - it talks about "coded phrases" that Miles used to direct the music, and his move from all-standards live shows to "medleys" of nonstop FUNK.

11:20 PM
I noticed today that the Monk page I pointed to the other day links to a nice Coltrane page as well; not as immediately informative for those who are already familiar with Coltrane, but it contains lots of good links which I will be exploring in the near future.

Also on the Monk page - this nice Miles Davis page, Miles Ahead.

12:42 AM
Beautiful, just beautiful. [from Mike posting to NYLPM]

August 20, 2000

2:32 PM
The other day the chant to Sun Ra's "Space is the Place" popped into my head, unbidden. So I listened to it today. When I listened to the second track of the album, "Images," I got the very strange impression that the bass (electric, vs. an otherwise all-acoustic band) was playing alongside the band, rather than beneath it, as is customary.

12:41 PM
Mike wrote in to remind me, regarding the Monk article below, that a lot of this brain-separation stuff is bunk anyway. Certainly there is a separation, but the author seems to have given it a little more importance than he should scientifically be able to. Unfortunately (?), I never bought a book for my freshman psych class. So, yes, bunk. I guess they hand out degrees for anything these days.

12:35 PM
Tom wrote short sentences about a band. The name of this band is Talking Heads. Tom did a good job.

2:59 AM
I lied before, or at least didn't know any better, when I said I owned no Bud Powell; I own at least one track (there may be more hiding on other albums, like my Diz or Bird stuff) including his playing, his guest appearance on "I'll Remember April" from Mingus' live Mingus at Antibes.

Mingus was never one to kowtow for kowtowing's sake, so his respect for Powell is obvious here; after the head Powell takes the first solo, and it's a long one (can't be bothered to count the choruses right now, but it's around 3 or 4 minutes of the 13 minute running time) - much longer than Ted Curson's trumpet blow, and maybe each of the saxes (though Dolphy and Ervin trade fours later).

The liner notes have this to say (isn't it convenient that archival releases have discursive liner notes?):

The pianist is in a deliberate mood here, phrasing in a blocked-out, infinitesimally behind-the-beat manner that brings the Powell-Monk relationship to mind. His style is leaner and less like a steamroller than in his earlier years, and there are a few occasions when his articulation is not all it could be, but these are the kind of quibbles only a pedant would take seriously. The man was playing music of a very high order.

Hearing this, comments linking Keith Jarrett's style to Bud Powell's suddenly become clear to me. In fact, they seem more apt than those which tie Jarrett to Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, though I've only heard so much of Jarrett's work. Notably what I've heard has been some of his most melodic stuff. Powell's solo on "April" seems effortlessly melodic, just like Jarrett's on his live "standards trio" album, Tokyo '96. He even "sings" like Jarrett (or is that vice versa?)!

And as a side note: though Dolphy gets more and more out later on, he's never all that far out and for the most part his playing is brilliantly lyrical and inside. That and the fact that this is a fairly plain-vanilla, hard-driving bop number should dissuade any doubters from thinking Dolphy was just some atonal weirdo.

12:29 PM
I regard this paper, "Studies in Madness," with suspicion. It's by a psychologist and amateur musician, and attempts to contrast the music of Monk and Bud Powell by way of their mental illnesses. I'm not very convinced by the argument because it relies on some half-assed assumptions: first, that Monk even suffered from mental illness (he may have been hospitalized for depression once, and he was certainly eccentric, but one of the institutionalizations referred to in the paper is characterized in the Time magazine cover story as simply accidental and uneventful).

More suspect, though, are the musical assessments. The author characterizes Powell's music as more logical, temporal, and linear, and Monk's as more global, spatial, and nonlinear. Part of the assessment of Powell's music as logical seems to come from its obvious relationship to the European classical tradition, which the author notes and seems to use as justification. But he fails to discuss how, despite its difficulty and oddity to people steeped in the European tradition, Monk's music is certainly no less logical than Powell's - it's different, that's all. Likewise, because Powell's playing is fluid and smooth, it gets the "temporal" label, slighting Monk's music, which as any serious Monk listener will tell you, swings like a mother ("Monk has the best time of all," quoth Charles Mingus). Again, it's different, but not lacking in deep temporal values. (As for "spatial," I would tend to agree, but I haven't heard much Powell and he probably deserves a fairer share on that one, if the rest of the author's assessments are any indication.)

The author uses these distinctions to paint a picture of Monk as right-brained, and Powell as left-brained, backing this up by tying it to their physical playing styles. Monk's playing has a heavy stride component to it, so he often plays with his left hand (operated, because of the crossover, by the right brain) more than his right; Powell, on the other hand, is given to chordal accompaniment with his left while his right performs all the dazzling melodic improvisation (controlled by his left brain). This, too, seems vaguely suspect. Powell was by far the more immediate influence on the generation of bop pianists that grew after the bop pioneers' developments. So by the author's reasoning, scores of pianists should be, to some significant degree, more left-brained than right-brained, right? Just seems too pat.

The sum effect of all these half-assed claims is that they let the author tie the musical styles, playing styles, and behaviors of the two pianists together in one nice little bundle. But to what effect? I don't feel my understanding of these men's music, or of creativity in general, has been improved in any way.

August 19, 2000

11:39 PM / essay on the true art is an essay by an academic serialist that places Monk's "Misterioso" as a tool of music education in the sense that academics use certain classical pieces. He also has some things to say about the structural/formal values of Monk's music, and of jazz's value (well, potential value) in general to the academics.

9:45 PM
Eerie moment: I am listening to Plastikman's artifakts [bc], specifically track 6, "skizofrenik". It's a clattering, calumping percussion solo of sorts. Lots of banging, not many "notes". Right when it ends - I can hear the sound, through my window and the rain outside, of the ISU drum core practicing up the hill.

? PM
This Monk site is loaded with interesting stuff.

Can you name all the WKCR jazz festivals? . . . . . .March of '76 was Thelonious Monk. There was a guy on the air doing that standard gibberish about Monk: "and Monk, playing the wrong notes on the piano, is able to create this kind of music....". Anyway, Monk called the Columbia switchboard, and the Columbia switchboard got in touch with me and said that Thelonious Monk had called to say that we should tell the guy on the air, "The piano ain't got no wrong notes."

August 18, 2000

10:55 PM
Aaaahhhh... it never fails to get me.

"This song is about a superhero named Tony... it's called Tony's theme!!!"

9:40 PM
Sooper dooper mix for tonight:

6:37 PM
What I like best about
Britney Spears' Guide to Semiconductor Physics is how it actually has physics information. [from Esc]

3:40 PM
motion review - Faust and Zeit references -> interested Josh.

10:27 AM
Long lost twin albums:

We Are Mötorhead

We Are Rädiohead

11:35 PM
Cave's "Lay Me Low" is just crying out to be either a) the final track on the album, or b) the climax, somethere in the middle. But it's track 9 of 10. Hmmm.

It's been a while since I've listened to the album as a whole, so I may have a different impression when not hearing the song in isolation. But all by itself...

11:29 PM
Sooper dooper CD changer selection for the night:

  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Let Love In
  • Fugazi - Red Medicine
  • Al Green - Greatest Hits
  • Einsturzende Neubauten - Ende Neu
  • The Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic

August 16, 2000

8:53 PM
JLG quotes from the

  • "I make film to make time pass."
  • "I don't think you should FEEL about a movie. You should feel about a woman. You can't kiss a movie."
  • "There is no point in having sharp images when you've fuzzy ideas."

8:09 PM

I hadn't yet gotten around to listening to the final disc of Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema, which I am doing now. It was a big surprise to hear Hitchcock in the narration, saying

"The mere fact is that they are in succession. That's where the ideas come from. one picture comes up after another. The public aren't aware of what we call 'montage' or in other words the cutting of one image to another. They go by so rapidly so that they are... uh... absorbed by the content that they look at onscreen."

For me, listening to this soundtrack, the situation has been very much reversed. I am both unaware and super-aware of the many jump-cuts; unaware because the whole thing blurs together for me, not because I'm absorbed by the content, but because, being mostly foreign in language or in source to me, I can't abscribe much meaning to it. Super-aware, because when I pay attention the cuts give me information that the content can't alone; new content which can somehow offer comment on the old. For me, this means an attention to the music: what kind is it? how does it make me feel? what might that mean for the narration, which I can't understand without following the notes?

8:03 PM
Authority only goes so far with me, but seeing Carla Bley mentioned frequently in connection with the jazz avant-garde, as well as knowledgeable poster Michael Fitzgerald's referring to her Escalator Over the Hill as "one of the high points of all music," makes me even more interested in these interviews, including one on the making of Escalator.

August 15, 2000

7:56 PM
"At one point someone yelled out 'Fire' and he [Blixa Bargeld] said 'Go see Rammstein for that'."

from an Einsturzende Neubauten concertgoer's report

7:45 PM
I'm not sure whether to label it a kind of authenticity fetishism, but the status of Einsturzende Neubauten's last couple albums (at least) - Ende Neu and Silence is Sexy - in the band's canon, among its fans, fascinates me. And when I refer to fetishism, I mean the fans', not mine (though I suppose I should count myself among that group); the two things I've read most often about these albums seem to revolve around "maturity" (variously "subtlety") and / or the similarity to / difference from "old" Neubauten. Why am I fascinated? Because I've never heard any old Neubauten; I have gotten to know them through these two albums, and still come to find them good. So are the old albums really that much better, or is this just a case of "they were better back then, man" (i.e., perhaps not really)?

Some fans try to bridge this gap. It amuses me that "NNNAAAMMM" can be seen as "pop" - in my head I picture an EN fan dividing the world up, and "NNNAAAMMM" and "..Baby One More Time" go on the same side of the line.

Incidentally the site above (poke around) has lots of EN stuff.

6:29 PM
Splendid reviews the new Neubauten, which I like very much. And not just because I like walking around saying "Dingsaller" to myself. But that doesn't hurt.

Also at Splendid, an interview with the Freight Elevator Quartet.

Note to future self: teaching seminars BAD. Avoid at all costs.

August 14, 2000

11:15 PM
I am officially a student again, ISU mathematics MS class of 2001. This will perhaps affect the content of josh blog for the better, if the comparison between January - May / June - August is any indicator.

11:11 PM
Mike AKA Freaky Trigger East (West?) reports on his visit to a zine conference in NYC.

1:14 AM
I've acquired a sad little keyboard, a Yamaha PSR-6, from Neil during his move. It's not really for making music on, but now that I have an instrument that can play multiple notes at once, I can teach myself some basic music theory (that I somehow never got around to in high school).

Along the same lines, here is an article on wavetable synthesis. For geeks.

August 13, 2000

1:27 AM
Arrrr. I am working on 3 hours of sleep after helping Neil move yesterday and today, so not much to say about music at the moment; brain sleepy. But...

Tom saw, read, and wrote about High Fidelity. He has interesting and insightful things to say as always. Something bothers me though, can't figure out what, will do later when break not sleepy. Also, big focus on words in pop songs - messy metaphysical-type stuff Tom mentions seems much more complicated when we're talking about, say, an Autechre song (which Tom may not like, but which he'd still admit to being "pop" in some sense; also note, the kind of musical obsessive portrayed in the book and movie shows up, in the real world, listening to anything (i.e. not necessarily pop music); how does Tom's discussion apply to them?).

Am listening to and loving the original, "Elvis" version of Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. Fucking Elvis's lawyers. One of my favorite albums, and it could have been EVEN BETTER. I didn't get around to it in my recent burn-fest, but I need to burn a new copy of the album, with the original music. To get the full experience.

August 12, 2000

3:24 AM
Man... Tom's list makes me somewhat dubious toward wearing a
Freaky Trigger t-shirt. Ruff Riders can kiss my ass. And Mike, Kant is a hoser. :)

August 11, 2000

3:30 PM
Fairtunes provides a way for you to personally renumerate artists for music you've obtained for free. Like an MP3 but not a record company? Go here to assuage your guilt.

August 10, 2000

5:21 PM
Remember the "dumb law" I mentioned a few months back, that stipulates that sound recordings are "works for hire" by artists for record companies (which basically allows the companies to further fuck over artists by taking away copyrights)? The RIAA is now ready to recommend to Congress that their shifty, underhanded change to the law
be revoked.

5:05 PM
Live at Antibes is supposed to be one of Mingus's best, but I just don't get it. It's very good and all, but so far it hasn't done anything for me like a bunch of his other albums. What does the received wisdom see in it? I even like the versions of songs I own elsewhere better.

OK... I guess the call-and-response ending to "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" is pretty cool - you can even hear the audience laughing.

3:19 PM
"Finnish accordion masters". Ha ha ha.

1:21 PM
Last night I was going to write something about the lack of tension in Music for 18 Musicians. I trashed it because it was inarticulate. But lo, just now up comes track 9, with some genuine harmonic tension, led by the high-pitched singing parts. I wonder if track 9 is supposed to be some sort of turning point?

12:47 PM
Hell yeah! Prince speaks out. [from Fred].

2:54 AM
In a recent thread in - typical usenet snipery about objective/subjective standards in music - a staunch Platonist put to me this flawed little gedankenexperiment, wanting to "prove" that there is an objective link between musical goodness and morals (he's got this funny idea that listening to rock music makes people bad, in their souls):

Let's do a thought experiment. You have sixty seconds in which to choose the woman with whom you will share the rest of your life and fortune. You must choose between two equally beautiful women to marry. The first is neatly attired and loves classical music and the ballet. The second has a ring through one of her nostrils, loves rock and rap, and prefers to spend her evenings making the rounds of discotheques. Whom do you marry?

When I replied I talked about how it's a flawed experiment, but someone else's response was truly excellent:

The one that is more tolerant towards the other.

August 9, 2000

8:35 PM
"Blue Line Swinger" is one of my favorite songs but I have little clue what they sing in it, and when I'm listening, little desire to find out. So I looked up the
lyrics. Now I just have to be able to focus on the singing long enough to put words to it.

8:00 PM
Interesting tidbit which I'll have to do some more research on: in classical music a "vocalise" is a vocal piece (song, usually) where, instead of a text, the singer uses only a single syllable (like "ooooohhhh"). Id est - no dorky plotlines or religious undercurrent.

4:52 PM
The NME has a funny idea about what's "depressing". The Spiritualized certainly has its moments, but a lot of the rest of it isn't really depressing per se; what's depressing about "No God Only Religion" or "Cop Shoot Cop"? And others like "Come Together" and "Electricity" have too much bite to be depressing. As for In Utero - bleak, harsh, scathing, certainly - but depressing, no, not as a whole. Just because music's not happy and cheery doesn't mean it's depressing - the darker sides of our moods and emotions are just as varied as the brighter sides.

I don't know if I could pick a whole album that I'd call "depressing", just because, for the likely candidates (ones other people might surely call "depressing"), I'm too attenuated to the shades of emotion in each. The Dirty Three's Horse Stories certainly has some parts that qualify (and in fact it's been the soundtrack to some very depressing times of my own - I've written about it, perhaps I'll try to clean it up and post it), but then parts like the surging climaxes to "I Remember a Time When Once You Used to Love Me" or all of "Red" sort of disqualify the album as through-and-through "depressing". I could go on in a similar fashion about plenty of my other favorites.

2:05 PM
News on the new Godspeed You Black Emperor! album. Says October 9, but perhaps they mean 10, new release Tuesday? With this and the new Radiohead on Oct 3, I'll have to make sure I have the spare cash lying around.

1:55 PM
motion review of Moore/Winant/Surgal.

'Trends come and go anyway. I'm not worried about critical acceptance. I just wanna destroy.'

Thus says Thurston Moore in the lengthy 1999 interview by Suzann Zahnd reproduced in the booklet of this stunning live document. Bottom line about Thurston: the word 'compromise' isn't in his vocabulary. Sonic Youth's deep interest in Free Improvisation and ever-more active practice of it both in their 'mainstream' career and beyond it, has earned them a lot of trouble. The rock journalist consensus sure wants to like 'em; it knows a great rock n roll band when it hears it (and having been lucky enough to catch SY in London earlier this year I can confirm that they still rock). But all that noise-for-its-own-sake is just self indulgence, right? Meanwhile, the Free Improv community has had problems with Moore and co because they're not 'players'. Go figure.

August 8, 2000

9:18 PM
I listened to
Pet Sounds again last night. It was better. Still working slowly.

12:58 PM
MAP pricing lawsuit against the big five.

12:16 AM
I was somewhat intrigued to hear of the forthcoming soundscapes release from Fripp and some guy, but reading in this interview/review that the guy did music for The Perfect Storm and The Patriot seems forboding.

August 7, 2000

8:49 PM
Well, re knowing music well or not - I just noticed that when I whistle along (cause it's too high to sing or hum) to the ensemble trumpet parts in "Saeta" from Miles' Sketches of Spain, I include the clams.

8:17 PM
Said before, but oh how I love
it -

LN: Mos Def? It seems as if hip hop has an influence on the way you create the rhythm and structure of your singing and lyrics...Any thoughts?

T: Absolutely. I was telling someone in Tampa that I never fully related to Nirvana because they were the final commercial breakthrough of all the Reagan-era underground rock of the mid-late 80's, and as such had a really strong subtext that all those SST and Homestead bands shared--the subtext being that everything had been said, culture was in a dull cul-de-sac, and it was Top Gun and Whitney Houston and Ed Meese from here until the Rapture. Well, as someone whose fifteen-year-old head had been totally blown by Public Enemy and De La Soul in '88 and '89, I just didn't see it that way. Hip-hop saved me from a life of punk bar chords with its crazy ideas about how music can be constructed from sound and how all sounds have implied musicality, and the raps totally helped me see that language can be elevated and important in music again. Yeah, it's crucial.

8:07 PM
Listening to "Eleanor Rigby" today I was struck by how obviously the string parts and vocal parts were recorded separately; there was different air around the sounds. Obviously this is nothing new, but it interested me this time because just last week I was listening to Lamb's first album and got the same impression, that the parts were obviously from different recording sessions; whereas on Fear of Fours this is not so apparent.

8:02 PM
The feeling is only partially dispelled by paging through his index of reviews, but sometimes Glenn M. makes me feel like such a dilettante. Sometimes I wonder how much I know some of my favorite pieces of music - especially compared to like-minded dilettantes, or narrow-sighted superfans who listen to nothing more than, say, In Utero or Revolver. If I do, does that make my understanding better? And if I don't?

1:40 PM
Tom pointed to this music censorship site. My personal favorite:

Also in 1990, the Meyer Music Markets (a record retail chain in the Pacific Northwest) puts a warning sticker on Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell album. The sticker forbids sale to minors and warns of dirty lyrics. If the execs had actually listened to the record, they would have discovered it was entirely instrumental.

3:53 AM
I was going to say something about what Sterling had to say about "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" but I got sidetracked listening to the live "Introduction/Out of Sight/Bring It Up" from the Foundations of Funk anthology.

Is the Introduction a proper part of the track? Yes, yes it is. If I were that kind of DJ, I'd leave the intro in a continuous mix. The spectacle!

Also, the lyrics to the end, transcribed for your pleasure. Well, approximately transcribed.

bring it up!
bring it up!
bring it up!

August 6, 2000

9:08 PM
Lots of interesting stuff at
lacunae - and it's, like, paid writing and stuff, so you know it must be good.

8:51 PM
Hearing the White Album Through Different Voices - a critic assembles an all-covers version of the Beatles classic (at least that's what I'm told...) in order to shake off its roteness.

Also, Alan Pollack's "Notes On" series of posts to analyzes the structures and contents of Beatles songs. Normally I would scoff at such things, but I find the White Album's popularity baffling enough that I'm game for anything at the moment.

3:14 PM
Splendid's got a new interview with Laika, whose forthcoming album Good Looking Blues I heard Friday night during a random stint playing whole CDs at the station. I'm not sure what to make of it; it sounds very nice, of course, but I wasn't sure how much I liked it, overall. Like the only other Laika I've heard, their second (Sounds of the Satellites), it's very distant - hard to approach, because it's so cool. Normally this might not be a problem with me, liking that kind of music often enough and all, but Satellites doesn't play right on my home player, so I can't rely on ambiance and osmosis to let the music sink in.

One song on the new one, "Badtimes," is simply a typical Laika backing track, with Margaret Feidler reading the text of the "Badtimes" e-mail virus (a hoax, knock-off of "Goodtimes", meant to be funny to the kind of people who forward poop jokes to their friends) over it. Which I think is about the lamest lyric, ever. The thing is, though, it's also the most seductive I've ever heard her voice, and I just can't help but love it. I may cave in and buy the album just so I can hear this beautiful, terrible track over and over again.

3:39 AM
They seem sort of blah but at least there are lots of reviews here - and they help me tell who's who and what's what.

2:51 AM
I imagine you'll only finish this if, like me, you are a masochist and also listening to lots of Bach lately. At times I suspected this was written by a computer. Then I remembered - "oh yeah, Glenn Gould."

This points out what I still see as a fundamental problem with "classical" music - the focus on form not only biases how the music is written and performed and valued, but criticized; lengthy, sometimes wearying expositions on minute details of form are taken to be explanations for effects of the music on listeners. "This canonic motive must be resolved in this way because of the absence of a bass figure... and thus the emotional resonance is only partial due to the implied, not stated, consonance with the dominant key." My own garbage, but doesn't it sound plausible?

To some extent I can see the point behind criticism like this. I've been thinking a lot lately about Wittgenstein's aesthetics, and how it can bridge the gaps between "high" and "low" culture. "Bridge" is misleading, though, because Wittgenstein would be content to simply note the different "forms of life" involved in music, and those forms would often, conveniently, fall to both sides of the high/low divide. To a certain group (players of a certain language game...), aesthetic explanations like the one above are acceptable, even expected, because they fit the rules of the game - they are appropriate for pretty much the same reasons that it's inappropriate to give such an explanation for why "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" is such a great song (it won't work anyway - hence "inappropriate").

So the problem, then, or at least my personal problem, is that I want to be able to take advantage of the critical tools available to the classical music listener who is firmly ensconced in his language game, without being committed to using those tools the way he uses them. It seems obvious to me that a lot of what I like about the Musical Offering is its complexity, in the Western/Germanic musicological sense - the interplay of canonic voices, the harmonic modulations, etc. But aesthetic explanations that claim those complexities to be directly responsible for the complexities of my response inappropriately take the normative character of the compositional rules used, and try to extend them to aesthetic rules. Aesthetic "rules" are broader, and less formal for sure. They also don't give a damn about musicology.

1:51 AM
Whoops... that was Bill or Will, perhaps slightly treated, not a woman. And a lot of the "Green Typewriter" tracks are more toward the "song" end of the spectrum than "noise" (or "silence" if noise borse you) - I was conflating the big chunk of, say, maybe track 19, with the whole little suite. Once again, shows how closely I listen, sometimes.

If you have the bonus disc, Explanation II, that came with early copies of Cubist Castle (or, which you bought separately), drop me a line - have you tried playing it simultaneously with Castle, "to realize true quadrophonic sound"? How is it on its own?

August 5, 2000

10:39 PM
Fun activity for the night: sorting out all of the nasty
incest in the E6 family.

6:14 PM
Turns out Uri Caine's Goldberg Variations doesn't come out until the 15th, which is why I'm having trouble finding things on it, probably.

Doesn't That Review Seem Kind Of Odd Because Of The Capitalization? Like I'm Reading German.

This article on Winter & Winter, home to Uri Caine's Mahler and Bach projects as well as many other fascinating things, reminds me a lot of ECM or Kranky.

Also, take note of Caine's Zohar, Sephardic jazz stuff, which I had previously overlooked.

2:20 PM
Possibly apocryphal/slightly inaccurate account of a Monk interview:

Interviewer: What's your favorite kind of music?
Monk: All kinds.

Interviewer: Even Country and Western?
Monk [to 3rd person]: He don't listen too good do he?

1:08 AM
As with much avant-garde stuff I'm finding Histoire(s) du Cinema much more daunting than I initially expected. (Of course, the other side of the coin is that I'll probably have a long, rewarding chain of experiences because of it - so I can take it.) Primarily: so far there's much more narration than music, than film clips even, so it's very hard to follow without the translated text of the books in front of me; just hearing the French, it's all a jumble.

Also, from reading the included essay/interview, I can tell that it would help to know a little more about film. I've been learning more and more over the past year, but it goes slowly - I don't go searching for information about films I haven't seen because it doesn't really stick, so I'm limited to the ones I have (more importantly, have been able to have, in Ames, IA) seen. To that end, I am beginning to scrounge for information on Godard, his films, and his philosophy.

Right around the time I decided it would be a good idea to buy this (and I am sure that for the next few listens I will have some lingering doubts, such is the power of the avant-garde, and moreover, my credit card bill), I wondered how the sounds would be programmed on disc. The description of the content suggested long, un-separated tracks, possibly even single tracks on single discs - because the whole point of a montage like this is to blend the elements together, at least to the point of forcing sequential apprehension. So Godard wouldn't do anything, oh, useable, by splitting it up into lots and lots of tiny tracks - right?

Well, unfortunately, right. One track per disc. Which makes for difficult consumption. The included essay repeatedly draws parallels between Finnegans Wake and Histoire(s) du Cinema. But at least I can put down Joyce and start pretty much where I left off, eh?

Regarding the impenetrability: of course, the stuff I'm most likely to recognize are the music quotations. Through the first disc and half the second, there's been very little recognition on my part. Knowing that, for instance, Beethoven and Leonard Cohen have appeared, I think I can tell which ones they were. But other than that... some are things I've never heard, like Hindemith, and others are probably just escaping me (i.e., I think I heard Rite of Spring, and Stravinsky is listed, but I need to listen more closely to be sure).

So it came as a joy to hear the first Coltrane quotation (of what I hope will be more, heh heh), probably something from the Village Vanguard sessions on Impulse (though lots of the things quoted are in the ECM catalog, which makes me think that everything could be - but as far as I know, they have no Coltrane) - "India" maybe?

What effects might recognition or non-recognition have on my understanding of the soundtrack as a whole? For a work with more traditionally strong narrative structure, I would say, very few. But with a fragmentary structure (or at least, method of composition - I'm not really sure about the structure, aside from the fact that it's non-narrative), the little bits seem to matter more.

August 4, 2000

7:45 PM
Oh, man... in tracks 12-21 on Dusk at Cubist Castle (the OTC album below), the action is mostly quiet - in fact, there's not much action. Sort of like a quieter counterpart to Black Foliage's "The Bark and Below It". But suddenly in track 20 a woman starts singing and in a few seconds a big fuzz bass line kicks in - brilliant. Nothing especially exceptional, as far as creative, original ideas go (so, like, after it's quiet for a long time let's have a really cool part build up all of the sudden...), but it does the trick.

3:39 PM
Grabbed a couple things today on a whim - the
Roots live alum, the Low/Spring Heel Jack EP, and the first Olivia Tremor Control album. The Roots so far is, like, excellent.

1:02 PM
How the Game Works, about "scam indie" labels (i.e., imprints or sub-labels owned by major labels which purport to be independent).

12:50 PM
Software in the works that will classify music according to the fractal nature of the amplitudes of the sounds (and the gaps between them).

12:41 PM
More clown action for those who just can't get enough.

11:26 AM
Uri Caine's Goldberg Variations. As I like both Bach and Caine's Gustav Mahler project, I will no doubt be acquiring this ASAP.

The UPS man just walked up with my Jean-Luc Godard package. Whee!

1:09 AM
Couple brief thoughts on some songs that were on my mind (and in my ears) tonight.

Bad Religion - Suffer

Punk rock, yaaaah. Is it more or less punk to use words like "obsequious"?

You Are (The Government)
1000 More Fools
Give You Nothing
Delirium of Disorder
Einsturzende Neubauten - Silence is Sexy

From the new album, which recently came out in the states despite previous plans otherwise. (Or, lack of them.) I haven't bothered to look in the lyrics sheet so I'm sure "Musentango," despite being a swingin' tango that I would play at my hypothetical wedding, is probably about cumshots or something.

Silence is Sexy

Firewater - Get Off the Cross... We Need the Wood for the Fire

More tango. And Jewish/Eastern European music.

Bourbon and Division
When I Burn This Place Down
Mr. Cardiac

Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention - One Size Fits All

Trifles. But "Sofa" is a majestic, beautiful trifle. And its lyrics are in German, and about a sofa. This past weekend I lost my sofa to the evil Landlord.

Evelyn, a Modified Dog
Sofa No. 2

August 3, 2000

8:15 PM
This week's
TWAS written just for Tom - BBR and B+S.

8:07 PM
Dammit, I was waiting for this to show up online but Tom beat me to it in my phoneless state. Diamanda Galas reviews singles.

8:05 PM
"you live in the city
you stay by yourself"
- Massive Attack, obviously referring to my new apartment

Oh god, please, install my phone line soon, US West.

August 1, 2000

Ow. ~1 hour of sleep in > 1 day. Hands hurt. Feet hurt. Nose itching from copious amounts of dust. Move not over yet; last night moved the bulk of my personal belongings to Physics Hall on the lovely ISU campus for temporary storage, now must move into now-open apartment. Viva redundancy. Real josh blog to return later (maybe a taste tomorrow night) - no phone line until Thu. at earliest.

And my $%#$$ Jean-Luc Godard is supposed to arrive soon. %$#%$#.

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in my head:

Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi recordings, Monk, Mozart wind music, "Mood Indigo", Nick Cave's Let Love In, Spiritualized live and assorted, Lamb, Mingus