Current Month

October 31, 2000

8:19 PM
Joel let me know that
Firewater has two new mp3s available.

1:12 AM
Looking for deep material on expressionism in music (with a jumping-off point as Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, etc., but ideally up to the present day), but coming up short. Mail me anything interesting.

This is what I've got to start with. Not even immediately germane, perhaps, but it looks interesting, at least.

Also this, apparently from a music appreciation class. Still a little light but better than the 40-year old biased piece of crap book I've got sitting in front of me. (See attendant page here on serialism.)

There's also, spinning even farther away from my projected center, this critique of Egon Schiele's expressionist paintings. OK, not expressionist music, but Rachel's has an album that traces the life of Egon Schiele. Eh. I suspect some of the criticisms this guy makes could be transferred into music fairly easily. (Note to self: artfulness vs. artlessness)

1:03 AM
I've read this elsewhere before, but it's so awesome, it's worth repeating. Erik Satie on what he does:

Everyone will tell you I am not a musician. That is correct.

From the very beginning of my career I classes myself a phonometrographer. My work is completely phonometrical. Take my Fils des ...toiles, or my Morceaux en forme de Poire, my En habit de Cheval or my Sarabandes - it is evident that musical ideas played no part whatsoever in their composition. Science is the dominating factor. Besides, I enjoy measuring a sound much more than hearing it. With my phonometer in my hand, I work happily and with confidence.

What haven't I weighted or measured? I've done all Beethoven, all Verdi, etc. It's fascinating.

The first time I used a phonoscope, I examined a B flat of medium size. I can assure you that I have never seen anything so revolting. I called in my man to show it to him.

On my phono-scales a common or garden F sharp registered 93 kilos. It came out of a fat tenor whom I also weighted.

Do you know how to clean sounds? It's a filthy business. Stretching them out is cleaner; indexing them is a meticulous task and needs good eyesight. Here, we are in the realm of pyrophony.

To write my Pièces Froides, I used a caleidophone recorder. It took seven minutes. I called in my man to let him hear them.

I think I can say that phonology is superior to music. There's more variety in it. The financial return is greater, too. I owe my fortune to it.

At all events, with a motodynamophone, even a rather inexperienced phonometrologist can easily note down more sounds that the most skilled musician in the same time, using the same amount of effort.

This is how I have been able to write so much. And so the future lies with philophony.

12:13 AM
If amazon is to be trusted, then according to them, the #2 purchase from them emanating from the Association for Computing Machinery (i.e., the main professional computer science organization, and probably hooked up with computer e. somehow as well) is of Philip Glass' soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi. How odd. Not that it's the ACM. Just that that record is the #2 purchase for any non-trivial purchase circle.

12:12 AM

October 30, 2000

10:48 AM
Two things:

  • pretty sad that even current-day Bad Religion is punker then the Promise Ring
  • pretty sad that current-day Bad Religion fans are mostly little shithead 13 year olds. Punk rawk roolz!

2:00 AM
Interview with DJ Vadim.

October 29, 2000

11:05 PM
I have been informed by someone or other of a new
discussion board associated ("unofficially," the anonymous management claims, but if it's not official, who else would care enough to bother starting one?) with Pitchfork.

So, there you go, guys - there's your free "publicity," for what it's worth here at josh blog.

Hmmm. Remember the days when usenet was usable (heh) for discussions?

6:48 PM
I reviewed this for KURE over the summer. Eh. It did not make it into the new music bin.

6:37 PM
The AMG on a special Shellac record:

With Shellac's fans waiting patiently for the follow-up to At Action Park, the band oddly pressed and "released" approximately 800 copies of this half-hour of voiceless experimentation to a select group of people. Strangely popping up briefly on Touch & Go's release schedule, the record quickly vanished from it amidst rumors of its nature. The record accompanied a Canadian dance production, and it was deemed by the band a mediocre recording. So rather than flood the market with a sub-standard release, they decided to give the record to friends as a gift. The cover consisted of the names of all the recipients, and each rightful owner had their name circled in pen. So if someone opted to sell their copy, it was obvious who got rid of it.


6:26 PM
Now listening to:

Shellac - At Action Park
Shellac - 1000 Hurts

(and note, the 31st is Tuesday):

Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

The record store clerk wasn't sure why I was told this was due out Tuesday, but oh well - it was on sale today.

I'm very surprised by how much I like the Shellac, since Big Black hasn't done anything for me. In fact, I like both so much I haven't even gotten to the Godspeed yet.

6:20 PM
Interview with Shellac pre- 1000 Hurts.

12:02 PM
Chuck Eddy on "deciding" whether or not to like music (which he does):

p.s.s. Want to know what I think is weird? Lots of times in the last few years I'll be talking to a female friend, and she'll say she "hasn't decided yet" whether she's physically attracted to some guy. I've never heard a male say anything similar, I don't think--either they're attracted, or they're not. (Though it's possible to change your mind. I wonder if Phil ever does.) Ann Powers even told me once about when she was a teenager, and she had to decide what "kind" of boys she'd be attracted to. I sure don't remember any similar thought process; do you? It just kind of happened.


A friend of mine has even admitted to having a list of mental criteria for finding a guy acceptable. Apparently this is not all that unusual (?). But to me, this sounds completely insane. In general if I'm attracted to a woman, it's immediate. And if it's not, it's because I initially thought she wasn't, but I got used to the way she looked. Goes the same way for personalities. And the same way for music.

This isn't to say I don't come up with things that sound like criteria. But - and this is just what I think I see myself doing, after the fact - they're employed as justifications, as attempts at explanation of why I made the less criteria-based decisions that I did.

I feel like I've written about this before.

Hmmm, and something from Phil Dellio which makes this clearer:

5) That Chuck hadn't decided whether he liked the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony record simply because he'd only heard it twice: Perfectly normal, and if that's what Chuck had written, I never would zeroed in on that quote-I never would have brought the matter up at all. But that's not what he wrote; Chuck's exact words were "I haven't quite decided if I want to like [this] or not." To me, there's a world of difference between saying you haven't decided if you like something and saying you haven't decided if you want to like something.

11:38 AM
Well, how bout that... Julian Priester used to play in Sun Ra's Arkestra, as far back as 1955. I know him otherwise from Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi band.

1:15 AM
This review of the new PJ Harvey album says: "to some she is... a gorgeous piece of ass." Someday, perhaps women will be able to just make music.

12:54 AM
Sometimes I wonder exactly how many different cars it is I hear driving by at night with "Country Grammar" blasting. It could conceivably only be one car, since I only hear it every couple of days.

In a month or two I won't be able to tell what new rap hits the Ames frat boys are listening to, since they'll not drive with their windows down in December.

12:50 AM
I hear so much Bjork in Kid A.

October 28, 2000

1:55 AM
I don't own a tape recorder but I feel like making a "mixtape", so this one may be a little half-assed, me not having to go through the requisite work and testing of a real tape.

Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
The Velvet Underground - "Jesus"
Yo La Tengo - "Every Day"
Einsturzende Neubauten - "Dingsaller"
The Orb - "Little Fluffy Clouds"
Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette - "John's Abbey"
The Dismemberment Plan - "Respect is Due"

The Sea and Cake - "Lost in Autumn"
Spiritualized - "Broken Heart"
Boards of Canada - "Eagle in Your Mind"
King Crimson - "Book of Saturday"
Can - "Halleuwah"

And as much of Thelonious practicing "'Round Midnight - in progress" as I can fit in, somewhere, reshuffling unimportant.

A little jumpy, but I feel a little jumpy lately. Internally speaking. On the other hand, if I put on a CD I will listen to it incessantly. I think all week I've slept and woken to Music Has the Right to Children, and I've heard 3+ hours of Keith Jarrett today alone (and what's more, "John's Abbey" has put into me a hankering for the new Whisper Not, said to be heavy on the Standards-trio-does-bop-standards - i.e. sounds like "John's Abbey", mmmmm). Now I'm listening to "Pale Blue Eyes" and "Jesus" on manual repeat - i.e., I hit the remote button after "Jesus" ends and before "I'm Beginning To See the Light" starts - since I don't want to even get up to program my CD player - I just want to hear the songs again.

Of course, spending all this time typing has shot that mood to hell.

1:44 AM
Good god, it's almost November.

I find the GIANT SPACE ECHO used on The Velvet Underground very annoying. It's absent for all of "Jesus" and "After Hours", but is used, in each song, just at the end, as a vocal effect. What exactly is the point of this?? What does it add to the songs? Dorkosity? Some days, I really just want to punch Lou Reed, or whoever, in the nose. Usually Lou Reed regardless, because, well, look at that smirk.

In his essay in the book to accompany the Peel Slowly and See box, David Fricke makes "The Murder Mystery" out to be an epicly monstrous closer to cap off the album. It just causes the album to fizzle, for me. Especially when "Mystery" sounds so half-baked, compared to the quaint, simple "After Hours", which seems like a much better coda to this quiet album.

October 27, 2000

10:38 PM
Very awesome
Jarrett interview in which he elaborates a lot more on, well, everything. In particular about the role of the ecstatic in his music. AKA "drone" to modern indie rocker types.

9:38 PM
This is really the only mostly negative review of La Scala that I've seen - and the reviewer really seems to have an antipathy toward the record for some outside reasons, apparently that it doesn't follow the pattern of Jarrett's other successful solo concerts. Hmph.

9:28 PM
Jarret himself writing about the creative process and improvisation.

This here probably sounds exactly like what people who misunderstand jazz as "people just getting up and playing what they feel" misunderstand (and sometimes, consequently, hate) most about it. Especially at the end, regarding ecstasy. But in Jarrett's case (really, go listen to the Koln Concert for a few weeks and then come back and read this again), I think it's justified - the thing is, he has the immense talent and skill to back up a characterization of improvisation like this one. Unfortunately, he neglects to mention the technical (and not so technical) preparation involved in improvising like he does - and perhaps, just the inborn proclivity for it. For most in jazz, it's not nearly so easy.

9:18 PM
A transcript of Jarrett's recent NPR appearance, where he spoke, among other things, about his illness.

8:54 PM
Interview with / article about Keith Jarrett.

7:21 PM
Cf., for a counterexample, Wilco's "Passenger Side". Can't say I know that much about the rest of, though.

7:17 PM
For FT readers, more on Futurism.

7:10 PM
Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children really takes on a different dimension when played really loud.

That is all.

October 26, 2000

1:14 AM
Note for later:

Neubauten, Sonic Youth
late-career avant-garde - what happens?

1:05 AM
It hasn't really been all that long - 2 years really - since I started thinking about "best music of the year" type stuff, at the end of the year. And the first year, I didn't really share my opinions with anyone. So I'm anxious to do it again this year.

Curiously, though, I've quickly become disenchanted with the idea. This year I will certainly only discuss (because of course I'll write it up) records which really hit me, somehow, whether they be 2000 releases or what. This includes 20-year old records.

On the one hand, this is better for me because I buy more from years past than the current one. That wasn't true maybe 5 years ago, but it's unavoidable now. My year-end assessment should rightly take that into account.

On the other hand: it's been a curiously slow year for new music. Out of the 28 2000 releases I have, I can only really say that 3 have definitely had an impact on me. I liked many of the other ones, and think they are excellent works. But somehow they haven't gotten lodged in my ears - they're just... nice. Hmmm.

The 3, by the way, are:

Yo La Tengo - And then nothing turned itself inside out
Sleater-Kinney - All Hands on the Bad One
Einsturzende Neubauten - Silence is Sexy

12:38 AM
A while back Jon mailed me demanding to know what I liked about Yo La Tengo (or, as he put it, this "pussy-voiced dork" music). Just so you know, Jon: I'm still thinking about an answer that will satisfy you. As if you haven't liked everything I've ever told you to get. Hmph.

October 24, 2000

9:42 PM
"New music: new listening. Not an attempt to understand something that is being said, for if something were being said, the sounds would be given the shape of words. Just an attention to the activity of sounds."

- John Cage

7:29 PM
It's not music, but... eh. Tomorrow is John Berryman's birthday.

Dream Song 14

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) 'Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.' I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
People bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

7:05 PM

ALL THREE of the new releases I wanted today were not, in fact, newly released today, having been pushed back to next week: Godspeed You Black Emperor!, PJ Harvey, and Outkast.

October 23, 2000

9:27 PM
Oh man, I am so all over
this. [stolen from Sophie]

October 22, 2000

4:16 PM
Today the very beginning to Sonic Youth's "Junkie's Promise" sounded like just about the dirtiest thing I'd ever heard.

So, reading some poetry today, as one does, I was thinking about how I latch on to little bits of poems. I'm still not a huge poetry fan, but I often find that I really enjoy small phrases, even just a few words, by a poet. And if I do, then that's enough for me to value to poet in some way, to regard them as having given me something.

Yet, somehow, internally I don't feel the same way about music. Certainly not on the level of interesting chord progressions or just a specific sound 2 minutes into a record, or whatever. But not even on the level of a single song. Even if I really really like a song, I still don't regard the musician the same way I do an author of a favorite line.

This isn't all to do with my predilection for albums rather than songs, either. Even then my attitude toward the artists remains the same. I wonder why that is.

(This was prompted, by the way, by Marianne Moore's "Poetry". First sentence: "I, too, dislike it.")

October 21, 2000

7:19 PM
Economic analysis of women's roles in music. Not sure I buy the conclusions, but I have yet to read it carefully. [stolen from Gillet's blog which seems to have replaced "my science project", not that you'll probably be able to read it.]

4:43 PM
Robin Carmody reviews the new Outkast album, Stankonia.

4:05 PM
This observation really deserves to be part of the long-ignored blogging manifesto that Tom has mentioned (I, too, have thought about it and gotten almost nowhere), but what the hell.

Greil Marcus is a blogger.

Well, almost.

One difference is that he updates infrequently, by comparison to actual bloggers. I don't know, maybe he has trouble turning up items for his "real life top 10". It doesn't seem like he should, so it's probably just a publishing thing - salon schedules him regularly so they always have a new Marcus "piece" every two weeks.

Another difference is that he seems to try much harder to have a point. Not that bloggers write pointless things, but... it seems to be less forced with, say, Tom.

Simon Reynolds is a blogger, too - or at least, he really should be. Check out his best of the 90s. His year-end reviews look pretty similar - and by the ends of them, even the single/album-specific comment format disintegrates, and he just throws out comments on everything and everything. A man whose writing is crying out for a visit to And, hey, it's the internet. Something a big techno pundit should be cozy with, no?

I think these two should commit wholeheartedly to blogging their musical observations. I don't want to read more Reynolds bullshit about the festering corpse of rock and roll. Well, that's wrong - I do want to read it. But the structure of and expectations brought to longer-length music writing sometimes bogs down people like Marcus and Reynolds, I think - people with strong opinions about music. They think they're obligated to present more substantial, coherent arguments. And so forth. I like thinkpieces, but it seems like there's a lot more some people could be saying. Blogging seems to, when done properly, allow for less self-censorship, more open assessments.

Admittedly there's an economic factor here, since these two are both paid to turn out words for bucks. Surely there's a little more to give, though?

October 20, 2000

11:25 PM
Hmm. So I guess what I'm saying is what they really needed was Tricky in the production chair. Which would, I suppose, be much better than him being left to make Angels with Dirty Faces.

11:15 PM
Though it was my first Massive Attack album, and for some time after getting the first two I still liked it more, I've always had an ambivalent relationship with Mezzanine.

Perhaps this is why: the sounds on the album are too clear, too precise. The music seems as if it should sound more noisy, dirty, druggy, damaged. But everything is so precise, that part of the effect is lost.

9:58 PM
Does Steven's dad own the company or something? The songs on Blue Lines, indistinguishable from one another? WTF?

2:28 PM
One of my favorite things of Otis' to read is from his list of "The 111 (or thereabouts) Greatest Albums of the Decade":

32. Nirvana: In Utero
Notable because "Scentless Apprentice" and "Milk It" are the two best songs in the collections of countless teenagers. And also because it was the album that made me realize I could like music for the drum sound alone, presumably paving the way for my love of the Dead C.

The drum sound - the drum sound! Jesus christ, I cannot believe how much I am loving the drum sound on Mogwai's Come On Die Young right now. Somehow, despite sounding like the drummer actually played with sticks, it's got something of the sound of brushes, only played really loud, which given that I love brushed drumming makes it EVEN BETTER. And the hi-hat - the HI-HAT! Oh boy. I must be crazy.

Drum sound on Rid of Me also outstanding.

2:27 PM
"I dreamed about killing you again last night
and it felt alright to me."

2:09 AM
"Alone", Low, from Long Division

Tom's review of their Christmas album has changed how I listen to Low, because ever since reading it, I've thought explicitly about the religious content in their music, whenever I listen. In particular, how to reconcile the ease with which Tom drew the Low / "Christian rock" parallel, with the usual attitude displayed on the Low mailing list, where the religious aspects of their music come up rarely - and then usually with respect to the more overt statements like "If You Were Born Today" or "Lion / Lamb".

Something I often overlook, probably because I'm so used to it, is that Low's Midwesternness (whew, what an ugly word) plays a big role in their sound. In fact, a few times in the past I've seen that terms used in reviews, and been confused - what could they mean? Alan Sparhawk has a "Midwestern" voice? For me it's not just the voice, though - their entire attitude is reminiscent of, I don't know, my basic environment as a Midwesterner. Tom referred to post-Reformation Christianity, and certainly that has something to do with it: Protestant work ethic and all that. In fact, that's why so many people can listen to and love Low, I think, be enthralled by them and speak glowingly of the spiritual sense they get from their music - without thinking directly of religion. Protestantism has left its mark on the US, to be sure, but it's always seemed to lay heavier on the Midwest than elsewhere. We take starker attitudes toward most things, and that disposition is everywhere, not just in things religious. It's just that, in combination with slow, "sad" songs like Low's, the "Midwestern" contribution gets overlooked.

Normally I don't like to speak in such broad generalities without qualifying things a lot, so suffice it to say that I'm just thinking about some tendencies in Low's music, and in my fellow Midwesterners.

And I really should have saved Low until V, for "Violence," but oh well. You take 'em where you can get 'em.

1:37 AM
I've got a big backlog of music, so I think it's time to go for a little discipline and do an alphabet thing again. So, hopefully it will begin shortly, and who knows when it will end. Don't think I can do it all with just recently-acquired music, though; 'Q' and 'X', e.g., are rare enough as is.

1:19 AM
Another Oui review.

October 19, 2000

11:58 PM
Initial verdict on the quality of the newly remastered, 30th anniversary edition of King Crimson's Larks' Tongues in Aspic -

The sound is better, but subtly so. I haven't been very exacting in A-Bing the older CD release with the 30th ann. edition, but it sounds as if the biggest improvements have been made in the quieter sounds. E.g. the drums (bongoes? or tabla? some kind of hand drum) at the beginning of "The Talking Drum" - they seem to come through more clearly, and I can hear more variations in tone, from where the drummer (Muir, most likely, since Bruford comes in later with a basic backbeat) is going for sort of a waver effect (don't know what it's called, technically). This extra clarity comes in all over the place, but it's easiest to notice when sounds like Wetton's MONSTER BASS are absent.

As for the louder sounds, unsure. Aside from being mastered a bit more loudly (typical for remasters), the bass seems to have about the same force it did before, just slightly punchier because of the clearer sound.

So, I'm interested to hear what the result of the remaster on Red (on backorder, currently, doh) will be. Though it does have its quiet moments to complement the loud ones - it is Crimson, after all - I've always thought of Larks' Tongues as much quieter and more delicate, and thus benefitting more from clearer sound.

The mini-LP carboard sleeve is nice. And though Fripp included a bunch of his scrapbook clippings about the formation of the second (major) Crimson, and reviews of the new album, from the music press of the time, he didn't include all the typical DGM crap about how royally screwed by EG he was. Which is an improvement, sort of.

8:46 PM
Just like Is This Desire?, PJ Harvey's Rid of Me makes funny humming noises in my CD player (machine's fault, not the CD's). Luckily her cover of "Highway 61 Revisited" is late enough in the CD that it plays OK. Beautiful.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me this album was so damn good?

Come to think of it, I'd pay good money to hear PJ cover all of the album, Highway 61 Revisited. Or at least the stuff like "Highway" and "Ballad of a Thin Man" (crazy drugged out whitebody surrealistic blooz).

1:58 AM
From a footnote in Paul Berliner's already-excellent Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation:

John Coltrane expresses exasperation at the initial response of critics to his groups' creations. "I couldn't believe it... It just seemed so preposterous... absolutely ridiculous, because they made it appear that we didn't even know the first thing about music - the first thing."

This, after Trane and his groups had already been well-praised for earlier work. As if somehow they were simply lucky fools who stumbled onto some good jazz initially, but then managed to avoid it later.

1:12 AM
From the recording of Iggy Pop talking about punk rock at the beginning to Mogwai's Come On Die Young -

"that music is so powerful... that it's... quite beyond my control. and, uh... when I'm... in the grips of it, I don't feel pleasure and I don't feel pain... either physically or emotionally--" (to the crowd now) "do you understand what I'm talking about? have you ever... have you ever felt like that? when you... when you couldn't feel anything, and you don't want to, either. you know? like that. do you understand what I'm saying, sir?"

Earlier in his speech / rant / monologue / response to The Man's queries, Pop starts to sound, I don't know, more "extreme" -- talking about punk rock, decrying the use of the label as a negative one, he praises how committed to music the "young men" who play punk rock are. "I don't know Johnny Rotten... but... but I'm sure... I'm sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does, as Sigmund Freud did." Blood, sweat, extreme dedication: traditional halmarks of rock music, as a base, primitive thing (or so we're often led to believe). But Pop betrays that line of thought, or even better, never commits himself solely to it, as he goes on. He quips about his music being the brilliant work of a genius, in what sounds to me like a moment of self-defense; he's feeling caught up, trying to explain punk rock to whichever tool it is that's interviewing him, so he uses a little humor as a tension-reliever. But the brilliant moment comes, for me, in the bit first quoted above: Pop here isn't talking just about how punk rock makes him feel, but about how any music can make me feel, given the right conditions - and possible many other people, as well (though I wonder). It's brilliant, because Iggy the punk rocker is so exposed, for that moment - and he indicates so, in his voice and phrasing. He almost sounds irritated, maybe impatient, in the way he breaks off and looks to the crowd for support. He doesn't want to keep musing like this, especially when he feels he's not being understood, but I think he also suddenly felt self-conscious about what he was saying. Perhaps it's a very odd thing, to want to be in that state - no pleasure, no pain. Myself, I'm not sure.

It's possible that Mogwai chose the sample more for the punk rock / blood / sweat / genius bit, than the part above, but I don't think so. The no pleasure / no pain idea is curiously appropriate for much of their music.

Curiously, because I can't say that, listening to them, I'm without emotion - or pleasure, or pain (leaving aside for the moment whether those are emotions proper - it's complicated). To the contrary, I experience very strong emotions. But sometimes they feel so contradictory, that I don't know what to do with myself. On a song like "Helps Both Ways," I feel calm, peaceful, and thus happy, pleasurable - peace being something uncommon enough to me that I enjoy having it. But I also feel some kind of despair, melancholia. It's an odd kind, though, because it feels unfocused, undirected. Not caused by anything in particular. Or by everything. I can't say this is an altogether good emotion to have, but I do seem to enjoy having it, because I listen to this CD (and others that leave me feeling similarly) quite often.

I still think this no pleasure / no pain thing is appropriate, though, because there's something neutral about this state. Probably most people would detect something stereotypically "sad" in Mogwai's music, but I think that's not as important. Or, not solely important.

Perhaps I could think of it as a widening of the middle; makes the highs and lows seem more pronounced, because any sort of departure can be taken as a high or low, and the big ones then seem really big. Hmm.

12:19 AM
I was expecting more from MENSA. Silly me. [link stolen from DJ Martian]

October 18, 2000

11:59 PM
But now the band's been yanked offstage, and the fireworks have started. I could feel a big one, not just hear it, so I suppose that atones for their earlier intrusion into my life.

Some of them just sound like hard rain.

11:22 PM
And now it sounds suspiciously like crowd banter. So maybe in fact it's just one of our worthless local bands. Ugh.

11:14 PM
While the location of my apartment means I get to hear the drumline practice (cf. entry of a couple days ago), it also means I "get" (have) to hear the utterly, totally, completely banal and awful music they're blasting on central campus as part of ISU's homecoming rituals. It's about 20 degrees hotter in my apartment than outside right now, but I'm considering giving in and closing the window.

12:48 PM
Wordds cannot express the immense sense of satisfaction I have at finding my copy of Coltrane's Stellar Regions. And to think, I was almost ready to buy another copy again today because I was convinced I had lost it, and I really like it a lot.

Silly me, I hadn't yet finished following through on my logic, namely: I have 200-odd CDs not in their jewel cases, either sitting in a stack on my stereo, or in various travel cases. If I haven't lost this CD, it must be in the wrong jewel case. Therefore, to find it I only need to check every jewel case which corresponds to a CD I have out.

Unfortunately while putting away CDs the other night I got bored. And sleepy too. I finished most of the shelving without finding Stellar Regions, so I figured that I really had lost the disc. But I couldn't get any homework or anything else worthwhile done tonight, so I decided to finish shelving. I guess I was listening to Coltrane the day that Digable Planets showed up in my mailbox at the math department, and had nowhere else to put the Coltrane disc.

I know the preceding was all probably of almost no interest to you whatsoever. I put it here so that Damon will see it someday after he returns from Spain, because I know it will fill him with self-righteousness about his CD filing habits. Hi, Damon.

October 17, 2000

10:09 PM
Oh really? I hope it grows on me, because I was expecting more from these two, what with all the early descriptions of Low as a "Galaxie 500 tribute band". Apparently for Jason Ankeny "spiritual" means "boring as hell".

I still have hope for Ghost alone, though.

12:08 PM
I skimmed through a couple of tracks looking for something to play on my show. Skimming was enough for me. Ugh.

12:01 PM
If I'm the biggest referer Tom has, then he must not get many hits from referrals at all.

October 16, 2000

8:07 PM
Some more anagram music reviews from
the anagram server:

Mogwai: Come On Die Young
I'm one gooey, magic wound.
Moody, genuine, magic woo.
Good! owe young, nice maim.
I'm gooey cow moaning due.
O My God! O! I am genuine cow.
I'm wooden, agonic you gem.
I'm wooden, magic you gone.
Dung a gooey, commie wino.

Fear of a Black Planet (Public Enemy)
Crap! fake fat on label.
Off-balance, per a talk.
Bleak pal or an affect.
Farce banal flak poet.
A cranal, off-peak belt.
Flake fart an able cop.

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
I'm enviable if odd sulks.
Funk evades slim libido.
Sod! divine sublime flak.
Loveliness if a dumb kid.
Lesbian's devil if OK mud.
I'm funked libido slaves.
Invoked blissful media.
Bled vile, infamous kids.
Loved as if kind sublime.

8:04 PM
Really fucking cool: listening to Autechre's LP5 with the window open while the ISU marching band drumline is practicing just up the hill. Do-it-yourself phase music a la Steve Reich's "Drumming". Unfortunately since they're practicing, they keep screwing up and stopping to fix things.

2:14 AM
It's slightly odd hearing Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, since aside from a few exceptions almost the only trumpet I ever listen to is Miles'. It's as if Hubbard is playing a completely different instrument, I'm so used to hearing Miles' technique and voice as standard.

October 15, 2000

11:28 PM
Trouble for low-power FM radio.

9:01 PM
Herbie Hancock's most popular album as a leader before Headhunters was probably Maiden Voyage. It's a fine album, but even more interesting because of the contrasts between it and Miles Davis' second quintet. Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams are the rhythm section here, just as with the quintet, which they had already played in together for a couple of years. But hearing these songs gives me an even better sense of what Miles, and Williams, brought to the music. The songs are replete with Hancock's trademark sophisticated, impressionistic harmonic structure, his penchant for fluid, slightly flowery soloing, and the soul-jazz feel (though I think My Point of View has more of that) he often favors. But without Miles' super-improv composition (method: take two or three chords, or part of a melody line, or one little part to one of your sideman's song, then use that as the whole tune), the songs here sound more fully formed, more traditional: we get more details than in Miles' flitting suggestions of songs. Williams just reinforces this impression, because he plays fairly straight - even on the first quintet album, he was far more "out" rhythmically and with the passage of time than he ever is here.

4:52 PM
This article at the Boston Globe talks about Kind of Blue because of the recent book about the making of the album, and in the process makes a bewildering claim: that there are very few great jazz albums. I quote:

Yet there remains a fundamental conflict in jazz between what happens onstage and what happens in the studio: One is about contingency, the other about permanence, and the improvisational imperative always comes down on the side of the former. Maybe that's why, though there are countless great jazz recordings, there are relatively few great jazz albums.

''Album'' is meant very precisely in this context. It does not include compilations or concerts or blowing sessions. There are no more important jazz recordings than Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens, none more transporting than ''Ellington at Newport,'' none more integral to the post-bop canon than the sides recorded by the Blue Note roster throughout the '50s and early '60s. But for our purposes they don't qualify. An album, by this definition, is a gathering of discrete individual performances made with the aim of producing a unified whole greater than the sum of its aural parts. Think of Ella Fitzgerald's series of ''Songbooks'' on Verve, or of Frank Sinatra's collaborations with arranger Nelson Riddle on Capitol. Few jazz albums have ever combined intent and coherence as they have. Of those that do, the supreme example is Miles Davis's ''Kind of Blue.''

So, for some reason the 50s and 60s Blue Notes don't count as albums? The author seems to be reaching for some kind of "concept album" standard, though he probably wouldn't want to admit it. Also, he brings musicians' intentions into the mix: they have to have wanted to make something which is a "unified whole greater than the sum of its aural parts." Who cares, if it works? Moreover, isn't this what most jazz (since the sixties) and rock (shortly thereafter) musicians who work in the album format have been doing, anyway? It seems that by the author's standards there should be no fewer great jazz albums, than any other genre.

2:20 PM
Someone on the droneon list posted some appropriate (more or less, depending on your opinion of the band) anagrams of "Godspeed You Black Emperor":

O My! Geek deplores cupboard.
Crookedly mega, superb dope.
Glory Be! O Dear Me! Pop sucked.
Pompously bored greed cake.
Deplored gruesome pack yob.
Odd books meagrely creep up.
Book glum, creepy desperado.
Doubly compared geek poser.
Good Day! Rock supreme plebe.
Okay preceded superb gloom.
Plucky, eager boredom dopes.
Good! Superbly creaked poem.
Glory Be! Comrades do upkeep.
Am greedy bloodsucker pope.
Good-bye! Suck prepared mole!

In fact, some of these are so good I think an entire school of music criticism should spring up around anagrams.

October 12, 2000

11:53 PM
"but as I drifted off, I heard Al Roker say to me..."

11:50 PM
Something I never noticed before: bassline to Soul Coughing's "Mr. Bitterness" = pure disco.

11:37 PM
you get the ankles
and I'll get the wrists
you get the ankles
and I'll get the wrists
you get the ankles
and I'll get the wrists
you get the ankles
and I'll get the wrists
you get the ankles
and I'll get the wrists


3:58 AM
From the same page: a quote from ol Frank about the deep deep meaning of the song:


"The prison inmate of 'Cactus' pleads with his girlfriend to rub her dress with sweat and blood and send it to him (with music inspired by T. Rex's 'The Groover')" (Melody Maker)

Prison inmate, huh? Damn intentional fallacy.

3:46 AM
Paul wrote in with lyrics from
here to the Pixies song I mentioned the other day.

Sitting here wishing on a cement floor / Just wishing that I had just something you wore

I put it on when I go lonely / Will you take off your dress and send it to me?

I miss your kissin' and I miss your head / And a letter in your writing doesn't mean you're not dead / Run outside in the desert heat / Make your dress all wet and send it to me

I miss your soup and I miss your bread / And a letter in your writing doesn't mean you're not dead / So spill your breakfast and drip your wine / Just wear that dress when you dine

Sitting here wishing on a cement floor / Just wishing that I had just something you wore

Bloody your hands on a cactus tree / Wipe it on your dress and send it to me

Sitting here wishing on a cement floor / Just wishing that I had just something you wore

And yes, I changed it to "dine" - sounds more right.

3:40 AM
And right before the end to "Stuff," I remember the odd little way the song ends: with the bass on an up note, "blue" one too (not really, since this sounds like a modal piece so that's not the right word, but you get the idea) - just a single note up, after having continued a vamp for some 15 minutes that never sounds like it's going in that direction at all.

3:33 AM


3:16 AM
The melodies to the music from Miles Davis' second quintet don't stick in my head very well. Mostly I just have impressions, memories of sensations that I have when listening. I remember the bassline to "Footprints," and the opening guitar vamp to "Paraphernalia," but after that it gets hazy. I have the idea of how the static horn backings plus Tony Williams drum solo of "Nefertiti" sounds, but I can't remember what the horns actually play (it's slow, though). Similarly with Miles' and Herbie's solos on "Circle".

This isn't meant to reflect badly on the music. Partly, it indicates that the music is loose, "impressionistic" (now there's an overused word, if any is, in music writing - what sounds are these the impressions of, if the usage is supposed to parallel Monet's blurry pictures of water lilies' representation's attempt to depict actual vision? [red herring: don't forget about the freeing up of the pictorial space, leading to more nonrepresentational painting; parallel in jazz is perhaps less-melodic music, since melodies are the "real" things by default, or fiat, or overwhelming weight of public consensus]). Also partly that a lot of it hasn't stuck in my head just because I haven't tried hard enough (notice how I remember Miles Smiles best; I've listened to it the most, too).

So, tonight while grading (superfluous phrase: I exist, therefore I grade - it's an a priori fact about my existence, baby) I listened to ESP. It was the first second quintet album, and the one I most recently acquired - so it's had to face an uphill battle for my attention, against the other, similar-sounding albums that are more memorable just for being older to my collection, and the later ones which point the way more clearly to In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew and beyond (those being more distinctive because of this). Consequently, it's stuck the least in my head. So far.

At the moment I can't remember how the melody to the title track goes, because I've since put in Miles in the Sky and its music has wiped my memory clean - only room for so much freebop in my mental rehearsal area at once, apparently. I had an odd experience with the title track, "ESP," regardless. During the middle portion, definitely during Miles' solo (maybe Shorter takes one before that, so this may apply to him too), I lost track of the initial melody. I was wrapped up in what Miles was playing, and he was wandering far afield of the head, as is not unexpected with the second quintet. But when Herbie came in for his solo, suddenly I had this intense feeling of inevitableness; I remembered the melody and knew it was coming very soon. It's possible that this happened just because hearing music closer to the end triggered the few memories I have of hearing the song before: like a hint. But I can't tell. It could be that Herbie was suggesting more of the original melody, either through his own, improvised melodic lines, or maybe the harmonies. Must listen again and consider. Whatever it was, it seemed much more unusual than my normal I-remember-this-song-now reaction.

October 11, 2000

11:25 PM
ATN review of Sonic Youth's
Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.

10:50 PM
by how we
could ga
ther knowledge

3:21 AM
I have a hard time telling if the extra-comical vocal inflections on Dylan's "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" are meant to reflect on the characters (since they speak the most comical lines), or if that's just Dylan.

1:54 AM
Ouch!. As if their being mediocre wasn't enough: the double review is just an extra slap in the face. :)

1:45 AM
When I put a new disc in my changer, I usually remove the one I feel least interested in hearing again soon. Sometimes I find this to be a difficult choice.

Telling fact about me and the Pixies: Surfer Rosa usually gets to stay in the changer, while Doolittle usually only gets to stay for as long as it takes me to want to hear something not already in the changer.

October 10, 2000

10:02 PM
Phish broke up. [from Cat]

9:50 PM

12:48 PM
Great, so the result is that the family gets to pick clean his corpse.

12:53 AM
John of the Miles mailing list sent me this link - Paul Gonsalves and Russell Procope of Ellington's band discuss philosophy. Touches some on musical philosophy, heh, but mostly I just get a kick out of reading Paul Gonsalves and Russell Procope talking philosophy.

October 9, 2000

9:36 PM
Doh, I can't find lyrics to And Then Nothing... anywhere.
Help me out if you can.

9:26 PM
This one from the Yale student newspaper seems to miss the point almost completely.

9:08 PM
Another YLT article, this one with some more in-depth info about the recent workings of the band (songwriting in particular).

9:02 PM
Interview / review (kind of) with Ira Kaplan / of the last Yo La Tengo record.

October 8, 2000

11:31 PM
"when I see you look at me
I'm not sure of anything"

9:28 PM
Since hearing Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, I've been haunted by one of the lyrics - "I'm the epitome/of public enemy." I'd heard it before, but couldn't remember where. I figured it was in a Tricky song, since he's fond of borrowing classic hip-hop lyrics (cf., uh, lots of stuff, but specifically whole covers of "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" and Eric B. and Rakim's "Lyrics of Fury").

I was so wrong! Because tonight, listening to Weezer's Pinkerton, I heard the lyric again. I wonder if Rivers Cuomo borrowed it from P.E., or if it's got some earlier source. Or perhaps it's just coincidence.

7:36 PM
Gruf pointed out to me another page of
Can reviews at the Spoon Records site, these from Wire editor Rob Young.

11:19 AM
My, they are cranky, aren't they? [link stole from Mike]

1:01 AM
Julie from Blatz Fanzine wants you to come read what they've got. I don't know if it's my thing, but why not check it out to see if it's yours?

October 7, 2000

1:40 PM
If there's one thing that can put a smile on my face, it's "Tony's Theme." What a song.

Question: in "Cactus" from the Pixies' Surfer Rosa, who is "you"? Are they singing to a specific girl (maybe identified in the lyrics, as if I could decipher them), or just You?

1:06 AM
More on Trane with Monk: on "Trinkle, Tinkle," there's a long passage in Trane's solo where he sounds surprisingly like the late Trane of Interstellar Space. Amazing, especially considering how much development he's usually considered to have gone through to get to the late period. IIRC Lewis Porter argues that in fact, Coltrane was exploring a variety of forms of expression throughout the 60s, so that a lot of the later stuff was presaged in the earlier stuff, and there's not always a "progression" into more avant-garde playing.

12:51 AM
The music from the Monk boxed set for the Monk's Music album sessions includes two whole takes of "Ruby, My Dear" - one with Coleman Hawkins as the featured tenor, one with John Coltrane. This session was still before Coltrane's big move forward - his time with Monk at the Five Spot and subsequent rejoining Miles' group, as well as the Giant Steps music - and I think it shows. Hawkins was older, more experienced than Trane here - and there's gravity to his playing, he captivates me. By comparison, both to Hawk and to his later self, Trane sounds like a mouse. It could be that he's just miked oddly, but he seems to be actually practicing restraint, trying to avoid sounding "ugly"; elsewhere on these sessions he sounds more like the Trane of just a couple years hence.

I'm not sure, but I think I'm a little bothered by the soundstage reproduction on what I've heard so far. Whenever there are horns, Monk's piano seems to fade into the mix too much - it sounds as if it was recorded only across the studio, via the horn players' mike, or something. Oh well.

October 6, 2000

8:40 PM


2:06 AM
I would like to hear a 40-minute album or so (all one track, thank you very much) that continues the thread begun on "National Anthem" - and why not, it's just the right kind of track.

1:55 AM
It pleases me immensely to see both Can and Talk Talk namechecked in this Village Voice review of Kid A - but Laughing Stock, synth heavy?

1:46 AM
I've liked Kid A on my few initial listens, but I must say that reading reviews of the thing at just makes me feel jaded and superior. Structure, schmucture. Songs, schmongs. Ha. I have no need for such trivialities!

See, this is what being a music fan for long enough, and with the right kind of music, will do to you. Many things have little to no chance of ever sounding original to you, and similarly some possibly out-there (especially for the mainstream) things like songless Radiohead albums will never sound all that out. Novelty cult strikes again? Is it wrong? Do I care?

1:34 AM
I had been thinking that, despite their tendency to review, shall we say, unpopular selections, motion would review Kid A very soon - and I was right. And they say about what you'd expect from motion.

1:24 AM
Fascinating to listen to 20 minutes worth of Monk practicing "'Round Midnight" alone; he screws things up, tries out some even more dissonant dissonances, hammers on some notes at odd times (perhaps to reinforce things he wants to hear, or to just get the notes under his fingers), plays out of time. I ran across a passage in a Monk bio recently where someone (Charlie Rouse, the tenor, maybe?) said that he was forced to learn Monk tunes at 3 different tempos, just to be able to play them with Monk. The tunes seemed so different at different tempos, that he couldn't just speed up or slow down what he already knew. That seems to be related to something I mentioned a few months ago, about how tightly tied to its rhythm the melody to "'Round Midnight" seems to be - it's harder, somehow, to think of that melody in a different rhythm. Apparently something similar was true even for Monk's hand-picked and preferred sidemen. And Monk, too: on this solo practice track, when taking the song apart he seems to get much slower, as if he needs it just to let the notes come out; many of the faster parts seem less under control, in a sense - they just happen once he plays the parts fast. Erm. If you get what I mean.

1:12 AM
See down a bit here where he claims the new Radiohead never should have been commercially released, because it's "too self-indulgent." I really hate it when the words "self-indulgent" pop up in any record review or critical discussion, because I never think they're being used correctly. Obviously Jerwin doesn't like Kid A, but I don't. By describing his aesthetic response in terms of the band's failure, their failure to indulge Jerwin's tastes more than their own, he's placing the blame in the wrong place. That's because that kind of language is better used, in my opinion, to describe relations between two selves - like in a conversation, or a personal relationship. First of all, Radiohead, as a band, is a more complicated entity than that. And viewing your relationship with their music like you'd view your relationship between yourself and your lover, e.g., overlooks the fact that they've got relationships, through their music, with thousands of people. It's not immediately clear how you could ever expect them, in such conditions, to speak personally to you, and thus be responsible if they fail to reach you.

October 5, 2000

7:47 PM
analysis at the begining here overlooks things like timbre, etc. - which people rely on just as much, I think, as tone and rhythm to identify music. They identify the sounds, not just the formal components.

Also, McDonald is intriguingly opening himself up to questions. Hmmm.

1:42 AM
It's about that time again. I feel like a top ten. Or a top howevermany. Here are some tracks I've been especially struck by lately.

Sergei Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, op. 30 (Allegro ma non tanto); Vladimir Ashkenazy, LSO, Andre Previn
Kraftwerk - "Trans-Europe Express"
Public Enemy - "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos"
John Coltrane - "Ole"
Can - "Mushroom"
Thelonious Monk - "Japanese Folk Song"
Stereolab - "Our Trinitone Blast"
Dave Holland Quintet - "Looking Up"
Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto - "Girl from Ipanema"

Also, I have a burning need to listen to the bass feature on Coltrane's Stellar Regions. Hell, to the whole thing. But I don't know where it is. Not in its case, that's for sure. Hmmm. Time to put away the enormous stacks of CDs again.

Also, I frequently begin sentences with "also". Hope that doesn't bother you.

1:25 AM
Also: besides being eerie, some of Trans-Europe Express is just downright menacing, like many parts of the title track, and "Showroom Dummies".

October 4, 2000

11:32 PM
Having heard Trans-Europe Express most of the way through now, I can take a shot at describing how Senor Coconut's Kraftwerk covers differ from the originals.

Both are eerie, but Kraftwerk much more so; Coconut replaces most of that by a disaffected cool. Also, though Coconut retains a bit of the dorkiness of the rhythms, that aspect of the original music is downplayed; probably because it's the least cool part. There are fewer extraneous (beyond the most rhythmic parts of the underlying synth lines, and the drums and vocals) noises and burblings in the Coconut versions.

11:16 AM
Last night
Tom walked by a pond. Well, so did I, but I don't have any nifty MP3 morals to convey. Weighed down by an interminable, unfinishable mountain of grading, I gave up for another night and headed home. But I was listening to Mogwai, "Helps Both Ways," and it made me decide to walk around Lake Laverne (questionable lake status). A small detour, since I live on the other side of it, no matter whether I take the short or long way around. But since I've moved my walks have mostly become 5-minute dashes to the safety of the math building, or back home; I no longer have a route home that takes me conveniently through a forest and a mile over land. So I appreciated this extra walk. After "Helps" finished and John Madden started yelling, I listened to "Christmas Steps", which finished just as I got home.

11:11 AM
Many have remarked how the last half (that's a lot!) of Kid A is easily forgotten, how it passes by without sticking in the memory. I've seen others, but Brent Sirota in particular, tie that to the dreamlike nature of the music. For me, that leads directly to the question: why the end of the album? It does seem a little unbalanced. My favorite example of dreamlike music that passes unnoticed is the American Analog Set's The Golden Band; the difference between it and Kid A, or at least one difference, is that the time passes fleetingly in the middle. So perhaps a comparison can be made between falling feeling very warm and safe, falling asleep, and then waking up to that safety; and feeling very anxious and nervous, and falling asleep, then waking up and wondering what happened to the record you put on 20 minutes ago.

12:48 AM
More on my Radiohead comments below, re their reoccurring regression back into rock. Why do I think of it in those terms? Perhaps because it seems accidental - as if they didn't really intend it. Or that they couldn't control themselves.

Had an idea that maybe "rock" is sort of totalizing, in that when present it wants to be more present, if you get me. If so, remains to be seen how much of this is a product of the cultural expectations we bring to rock music.

This music, an attempt at combining "rock" (or surpressing it, in order to make room) with electronic music, is a kind of fusion. So like any fusion (jazz-rock, rap-jazz, rap-metal), it's best done carefully, and any slips result in, say, Weather Report rather than Bitches Brew. The Sneaker Pimps rather than Massive Attack. Etc.

So maybe when fusions involve genres that are extra-dominant (critically, or in terms of aesthetic expectations), they overload the fusions. The Mahavishnu Orchestra often sounded more like a dirty rock band than "jazz-rock fusion" in the (hypothetically) ideal sense; the rock held sway. Miles' fusions tended toward rock when he let them (Jack Johnson), but generally he only took what he wanted - rock energy and instrumentation, for example, rather than forms. For form he more often stuck to his own dark-funk take on Sly and James Brown.

Maybe the thing I'm getting off Radiohead's "rock lapses," then, is that the rock form is what's sneaking back in, and it doesn't sit well, at least the way they've done it, with the more open forms of the other music on the album.

All still preliminary thoughts; time will tell.

12:03 AM
Ned pointed out this intriguing piece on content as currency - about point-to-point filesharing and its pitfalls, with suggestions as to how to improve it.

October 3, 2000

8:33 PM
Thelonious Monk - The Complete Riverside Recordings

7:36 PM
Almost forgot another thing about Tom's response to Brent's article: often this mode of criticism is distasteful to me too, but I always try to keep in mind that it's better as a guide to exprience, an option for listening, than as an assessment of content or quality of experience.

6:58 PM
So, I went and (surprise) bought the new Radiohead album this morning.

I must confess that I've had some doubts about Radiohead as of late, well really ever since Tom reviewed "Airbag". I listened to OK Computer after a lengthy absence - busy with other bands, other music - and listened very, very carefully. Not that I had never done that before, but I was trying to hear it as Tom heard it, rather than as I was used to hearing it, if that makes any sense.

I found the result slightly unnerving. It seemed as if the songs came apart for me, for the first time: I could tell plainly where Radiohead's rock-band roots were covered up by schizophrenic, noisy production and fragmentary melodies. I didn't like it, not because I don't like rock music, but because I felt manipulated.

I haven't listened to the album since then, I think. Which makes this new one all the more interesting. I had the music available for listening before today, but I didn't take the opportunity to hear it. I did think about it - given my somewhat recent experience with OK Computer, it seemed like a good idea. I buy enough music already, no reason to buy something I wouldn't like. I didn't listen ahead of time, though. Why?

Because I wanted to feel special. It's rare now, with my tastes, that I can go into a store on an album's release date, and walk home truly excited - almost anxious - to hear what I've bought. Usually, I feel curious, interested. But not anxious. That sensation seems to be reserved for the big-name acts, the ones that everyone is buying and that everyone will be talking about.

So, did I feel special? Yes. Do I like it? I think so, so far, but I've got some worries that may or may not blossom into dislikes.

Some brief comments on the writing I've seen so far. Tom responded right away to Brent Sirota's analysis of the album. I think Tom is right about the lack of attention to Radiohead's musical contemporaries: this music surely doesn't exist in a vacuum, and its popularity (and thus mainstream visibility) is probably the biggest thing which distinguishes it from any number of albums to which a similar analysis would apply. However, I don't begrudge Brent the approach, as Tom and others have: barring musical commentary, which is entirely different, words are all we have to talk about music. So it seems entirely reasonable to look to language that Brent thinks suits the album - dream language, anti-language.

That said, I'd still like to see more. The Pitchfork front page blurbs the analysis as a "deconstruction of a future classic." A more proper (in the Derridean sense, which is my preferred one) deconstruction should look more probingly at one of the main dichotomies in the album, that between rock music and, well, everything else. Brent correctly notes the band's obvious move away from rock, but I think that they move back to it frequently enough that it's a weakness of the album - it's as if they have trouble escaping it. So an anti-rock album contains its opposite, and is always returning to it. Tom said that Laughing Stock is one of Kid A's contemporaries - but I think that it does a much better job of marrying non-rock music and "rock", simply because it seems to approach the dichotomy from the non-rock side. From the sounds of it, Radiohead are approaching it from the rock side.

Currently enjoying "National Anthem" the most. Not because of the horns and any relation to jazz or anything (little to none, I think), though I do like them. Rather, it seems to be the least rock-like song on the album, that still approaches the same kind of energy and motion that rock can. I get the impression from the other tracks, the least rock-like ones, that Radiohead tend toward less beat-driven music when trying to avoid rock cliches. Eno, rather than Can, as it were. Perhaps unfortunately, at the moment I prefer Can.

More later, maybe.

October 2, 2000

9:15 PM
Between my spotting old article related to things I'm listening to, and linking to the new ones, josh blog must seem like a Perfect Sound Forever outlet store today. Nevertheless, see also their
Can tribute, with links at bottom to an article by Holger Czukay on Can history, and his Stockhausen article.

9:11 PM
More good new stuff at PSF: Chuck D interview. And a Tortoise overview. An a Neu! article.

9:07 PM
Some guy with a lot of Can reviews. And more of the same, but at the Spoon records website.

8:20 PM
PSF article on Coltrane's late years.

3:22 AM
Upon hearing Nation of Millions I went back to I Hate Music to revisit Tanya's "Black Steel" letter. Still hilarious.

3:14 AM
Just wanted to point out

The Ten Greatest Songs Of All Time (Right Now)

1. Johnny Mathis' Feet - American Music Club
2. Title Track - Death Cab for Cutie
3. Mykologics - Mouse on Mars
4. Tears Are in Your Eyes - Yo La Tengo
5. Desafinado - Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto
5. Wheres Summer B? - Ben Folds Five
6. Eternally Yours - The Eternals
7. White Girl - X
8. Bombs Over Baghdad - Outkast
9. Never Gonna Come Back Down - BT w/M. Doughty
10. Morning Bell - Radiohead

from the Dismemberment Plan's bassist Eric. Isn't it great when your favorite musicians also have good taste?

October 1, 2000

6:06 PM
Today I had my first experimental confirmation that The Sea and Cake's Oui and Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's Getz/Gilberto work excellently as lazy-Sunday-afternoon music. Will have to perform more tests, of course.

1:47 AM
Curt email received moments ago:

Subject: dismemberment plan concert
Date: Sun, 01 Oct 2000 01:40:04 CDT
From: Tom Plagge
X-UIDL: b5ef83b586c3d4835fab4a4e92d740cc

is this friday in chicago w/ les savy five at the empty bottle
1072 Western Avenue

... from newly-converted D-Plan fan. The question is: is 12 hours+ of my life (i.e. drive time) expendable at the end of this week? Hmmmmm...

1:39 AM
Impression on first hearing Can's Damo Suzuki's largely incoherent vocals on Ege Bamyasi:

Sounds like someone who learned English by listening to rock song lyrics. So by this of course I mean "learned English" in the special rock song sense. Sometimes he sings things that sound vaguely like chorus material, and sometimes he even approaches the anthemic. But most of the rest of the time, his diction alone sounds like the way we all sound, singing along to a song we don't really know the words to: syllables slurred and mumbled over, approximations good enough. Like Frank Zappa said: "it's one way of learning English!"

Works for me.

to September 2000
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"i called in my man to let him hear them"

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