josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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21 Sep '02 12:04:30 AM

I don't know why I put (yesterday) it so that it sounds like a flaw that I don't know how the songs get into the author's head, because I don't think it is. It's just something I'm always curious about.

20 Sep '02 05:46:49 AM

I think the comparatively sparser songs (and that's saying a lot) on fixed::context make the too-familiar harmonies and modulations on Labradford's E luxo so sound more trite (a criticism I would normally be resistant to). I'm not so sure I want to think this.

20 Sep '02 04:58:58 AM

"not familiar with their musical blend" - the idea being, if I were, maybe I wouldn't feel this tug or at least I would but would see nice meaningful reasons for it.

20 Sep '02 04:54:39 AM

Today and yesterday I enjoyed listening to "Burn It Down" on a tape from Felicity. I experienced an odd tug in two directions, though. Aside from other music on the tape, I don't think I've ever heard any Dexy's before. Maybe a few seconds of the chorus to "Come On Eileen" on a TV commercial, but other than that I don't remember any. So I'm not at all familiar with their musical blend (I would say "fusion" but I don't want to get into that right now) - and it does sound to me to be a blend, one intended to be heard as one. Why do I think this? Maybe a few things. I vaguely remember something Tom wrote once, somewhere (not there), that went like this: "If punk's lesson was that anyone can play rock music, then Kevin Rowland followed that line of reasoning further: if anyone can play rock music, anyone can play soul music." Well, sort of like that, I think. But regardless of how well I remember it, I'm stuck with the idea: there's soul in there. Because of the time period, and some vague signifiers in the sound, I also have the idea that there's some punk (or post-punk, at least, not that I really have any good idea how I should imagine that as sounding differently than "punk sound"). And, there are horns on the song, lots of them. Maybe that's supposed to go with the "soul" part, but for some reason I imagine it goes with the "Irish" part instead.

So, uh. I think that all seems pretty simplistic, but it seems to be in my head somewhere, and influencing how I take what I hear. And what I hear is this tug, this tension: especially between any part that sounds more "soul" (they tend to be the ones where Rowland is singing foreground lines, and contrary to what I put above I lump the horns in here too) and more "punk" (which sounds more wrong the more I think about it, but maybe replace it with "determined" or something, I don't know). The former sound hurt or wounded or vulnerable, somehow. (The word "yelp" comes to mind.) The latter, especially in any part where they're singing names of Irish writers (I assume they all are, since most of them seem to be, but it doesn't matter - wait it does, shit), sound - like I said - determined, defiant, anthemic. I never use that word, "anthemic", so that must mean something. It has very much to do with the names being authors - what are by now very canonical authors, many of them not just "important Irish authors" but important authors for any typical literary canon. (And yet no Joyce! Why?) If they were singing names of classical composers I'd think they were chumps. If they were singing names of pop acts I'm not sure - I think I'd be sympathetic if I liked them all, but otherwise might think it was kind of lame to treat the names almost as talismans. But, whaddaya know, I'm a big old canon slut when it comes to literature. Especially the modernist canon, whose representatives are out in full force in this song. So I can't help it: recite a bunch of authors' names and shivers go down my spine.

The tug is in a sense more literal, too, because the song seems to move back and forth between these two things I mentioned, so my reaction moves back and forth. I didn't really say what my reaction was to the "soul" parts (I know, that's a terrible way to refer to them - uh, the ones where they're not doing the authors). It's, uh. Well, I don't have a handle on it. I don't find myself identifying with Rowland at those points, so there's something slightly distasteful about the way he sounds hurt. There's also something appealing about the way he sounds, spitting the words out, anguished.

20 Sep '02 02:50:40 AM

One of my favorite recent finds (recent to me) is Waking Ear. It's not always clear to me how the songs end up in the author's head, but I envy the regularity and consistency and admire the thoughts.

20 Sep '02 02:46:29 AM

Andy Kellman is unbelievably classy. From the looks of RLF007, I can only assume he walks around in a tuxedo or something. I mean the physical looks, as I am now holding a copy of the mix, which he was generous enough to send me (after one of his frequent CDR giveaway offers on ILE). Plastic sleeve, red insert with mix title and track information (including labels) minimally and tastefully arranged in the center. "RLF007" in careful lettering on the disc.

You will notice of course that I haven't said anything about what it sounds like. Well, it sounds good! That's all I can say at the moment - I need more time to listen. I know what's going on my headphones tomorrow morning though.

(There are a number of noises from THE FUTURE for me to emulate with my mouth and face. Obviously this is a good thing.)

19 Sep '02 05:53:56 AM

I really can't find it within me to write the two things I want to write right now. Here's a list of the records I listened to today instead.

On the bus: Emergency & I. At my desk: Zorn's Circle Maker, the first disc. Then that again. Then Laughing Stock. (Every time I think of "Mark Hollis" I can't help but hear the part from the Beavis and Butthead album where they meet Run DMC.) Then the second Circle Maker disc. Then more Dismemberment Plan. Then - oh. I screwed it all up. First this morning there was All Hands on the Bad One. After the second Circle Maker disc it was Chairs Missing. Tonight when I got home it was Hot Shots II then Coltrane's Blues and now the Musical Offering.

No, I don't really have a point to that all being related in a confusing fashion.

The Zorn was the best thing I played all day. I think I just stumbled onto the moment where it moves from being somewhat familiar and enjoyable and beautiful etc. to me to my becoming more and more intimately familiar with it and loving it on a deeper level. Maybe. I mean the string trio disc, by the way. The other is nice but we're not there yet.

I also felt today as if I am slowly coming to understand what Wire's deal was.

I played the Zorn last night and "He Loved Him Madly" a few nights ago but otherwise there's been lots of Bach at home for sleeping lately.

I said I didn't have a point before but obviously I do, I just felt cheap about having it: yes, things do seem this disconnected and flat right now. I'm very busy and having trouble thinking about anything but all kinds of things that I would rather not have be the only things I'm thinking about.

17 Sep '02 04:36:05 PM

If you sent me mail during the downtime, then I probably didn't get it, so if you can then send it again. Thanks.

17 Sep '02 05:03:34 AM

Everything appears to be OK again here. Tell your friends that we're back.