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April 08, 2001

6:16 PM
josh blog is going on vacation.

It will be a long vacation; regular entries will resume around May 7. This is not coincidentally the Monday after my last week of classes for the semester. I've already unsubscribed from mailing lists and am making (perhaps doomed to fail) attempts to avoid computers until the end of the semester. But my need to do schoolwork isn't the main reason for going on a josh blog vacation - that's just a bonus.

Rather, I'm going on vacation because I haven't been consistently happy with josh blog since the new year. So I am taking a break from writing so that I will feel more comfortable doing josh blog again. When I'm satisfied with how josh blog is going, it seems to be in part because there's a specific kind of casualness to the writing; I don't want to always feel obliged to write things about what I listen to, because that gets me writing a certain way that I would rather avoid.

There is a twist, though. To give you and me a little something to stay in touch and keep thinking about music (I certainly won't stop doing that), I'm making a request. During my vacation, I want you, reader, to send me some email. What about? About music, and you listening to it.

I don't care what kind of music, or how much you write, or about the way you write, ultimately. It will just mean a great deal to me to read you, writing about music and listening. Don't worry about whether or not you think it's any good, or whether or not you can do it. Write even if you never write.

If you have some trouble (or even if you don't), it might help to use josh blog as inspiration. If you don't like something, try and figure out why - be unfailingly self-critical. Or focus in on one particular thing you like in a song. What does it sound like? Why do you think you like it? Or write about the relationship between different pieces or kinds of music that you like (or don't, or kind of like, or whatever). If you're walking down the street and you see a cloud or a tree or a good looking person and that makes the music you're listening to sound better, write about that too. Write about writing about music. Write pages or a couple sentences. Write in as much as you like (you may find that it changes the way you write). Just don't limit yourself.

Maybe I'll write back, but maybe I won't. It depends on what you write, eh? Just like on josh blog, some things draw long responses from some people, and some things go unmentioned. If you want me to write back, then say so, just like I would. If you don't want me to, then say that too.

See you in about a month.

April 07, 2001

4:36 AM
Something to
read about Coltrane's "Wise One," though I think I didn't do a very good job at all.

April 06, 2001

2:42 PM
I think the Magnetic Fields' Holiday gives me a tiny headache every time I listen to it, but it's getting smaller with repeated listening.

April 05, 2001

2:50 AM
Oh, and I think I might as well say screw the experiment. Viva la experimental failures. They give us knowledge too, you know.

I think the plan for next time shall involve regular attention over a longer period of time.

2:38 AM
The new Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album is... aggressively pleasant. If I say that will you get what I mean? Maybe not. I mean it in a good way. I haven't played anything else in the 5 hours since I got home tonight. There is still quite a bit of residual darkness - forboding music, lyrics about having killed men, etc., but for the most part there's an even more relaxed feeling to the music than in the past (if you can believe that), and even on the "tenser" songs things seem pretty low-key.

The synthesizers... what to say about the synthesizers. Ripped straight from the 70s and, to be frank, they sound completely out of place. You may recall how some people find the robo-drum on Arise, Therefore off-putting. That's nothing. It has some aesthetic purposefulness, I think. This is just like... suddenly being in an AOR song for anywhere from half a second to an entire solo break, and it's not entirely pleasant being there. But soon this has passed and Will is singing about sticking his finger up his rich happy wife's ass. Like I said. Aggressively pleasant.

2:35 AM
From something I scribbled between math problems the other day:

Listening to Tom Waits' original version of "Downtown Train". Never really noticed the lyrics in the first verse before, about the Brooklyn girls trying to break away or whatever. Once the chorus kicks in all that stuff is irrelevant. Maybe Waits knew that and was just hurrying things along...

2:34 AM
But doesn't the
English-language version go "You/You hate/You hate me to say" etc.?

April 04, 2001

3:17 PM
This is not going well at all. I must confess: I have been cheating on my project. In several ways. On my stereo, and on my headphones walking about town. John Coltrane, Morphine, Dismemberment Plan and Juno, Outkast, the new Matmos, and soon the new Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

Perhaps this is not the best way to go about this sort of undertaking.

April 02, 2001

4:56 PM
Sole listening most of the day: Rachmaninov's third piano concerto, perf. Vladimir Ashkenazy and the LSO with Andre Previn conducting.

Oh god please give me a beat or some distortion or something. There's this part in the allegro that's really huge, this big, loping Russian-sounding bit, and it's fucking fantastic. But it lasts like less than a minute. Then it's back to, uh, not that. Lots of floaty things. This week is already making me very aware of just how much I need any kind of beat or rhythm at all. In classical music, the rhythm is all smoothed out, and most importantly, far, far far far far far far (I cannot emphasize this enough) less percussive.

This is less noticeable when I am not listening to classical music for a week, though of course I've already made note of it in the past, because I get to switch back and forth. I have moments that feel appropriate to me for classical music, so now I am experiencing a large amount of inappropriateness.

Jesus, one fucking beat, please.

And no, "Rite of Spring" is not enough.

April 01, 2001

5:45 AM
Hmmm. If I'm going to insist on listening to "Musical Offering" a whole bunch this week, thus negating the listen-more-to-unfamiliar-music purpose of this experiment, I'm going to have to make it harder on myself. So, one way: listen to the bass line or slow line or low line (usually the one I pay less attention to on this because the flutes and violins and such are jumping around and placed a lot more prominently in the arrangement) over the other parts.

1:32 AM
Remember yesterday how I said I was cheating? Well I may just have to allow for Dismemberment Plan-related cheating during this entire project. (The Juno tunes on the EP are excellent reasons to cheat, too.)

1:23 AM
I'll try,
Dan, but I can't promise much. I don't like vocal music, so I don't own much - off the top of my head, I think all I've got is: the Missa Solemnis, a Vespers and a Mass by Rachmaninov, Mahler's fourth and eighth symphonies, Beethoven's ninth, Anonymous 4 doing Hildegard von Bingen's chants for the Feast of 11000 Virgins, Debussy's Pelleas et Mellisande, and some Brahms settings of love songs from some era or another.

I am finding, though, with the Rachmaninov religious music, that I much prefer choral music to opera, and to basically any other form that involves individuals sticking out (like Mahler's eighth). I find it quite moving. Solo voices, though, fucking piss me off.

I'm still dealing with that. Partly by more deliberately approaching vocal music in general via choral music and religious music; I hope soon to pick up the nice Phillips set you can read about in my wishlist, which has some things I am pretty sure I will like in it, like Tallis' "Spem in alium...".

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