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.
Uh oh Tom has caught me: I forgot Change on this (caveated, I note) list. Rest assured the record has never been far from my mind and will be my absolute favorite this year. If I can rank them, it wins, without a doubt (and this over the Betas, even, which I am also very keen on).
Oh, what's this? It's gotten very quiet in here. With occasional drones and scratchy violin noises (but very pretty ones). It must be the one for John Cage.
Mixed in with these other discs, the tracks from AAS sound a lot tighter and more like "proper songs" (gag, cough). Well, except for "Like Foxes Through Fences" which just came on. I'm not sure what I disliked at first about this album, but I guess it had something to do with it not sounding enough like the old ones, especially The Golden Band, which has a special sound and a kind of ephemeral, elliptical quality to the songs. The vibes (vibraphone, I mean, not "vibes, maaan") are gone, and it seems like the guitars and other sounds are made to be a bit more trebly, scratchier too. (?) I'm not sure yet how the songs compare. They're more definite and less peripatetic than the other music in my changer, I gues you could say (or maybe you couldn't at all: they depend on much tighter harmonic structure, though), but they do sound something like AAS's old songs.
"Somethin' Else" sounded vibrant and exciting so when "Bangoon" comes on it's a little disappointing: the recording sounds shabbier and the music sounds older, from say '55 rather than '58. But I guess that it's a bonus track, and sure enough, it is, the only one on the album (one of those Rudy Van Gelder series remasters on Blue Note) not to appear on the original album.
It's surprising how much confusion I've engendered by putting in both Stolen Memories and Masses: they sound different enough in style, I think, and Masses even has a lot of other sounds on it (like from the saxes) that Stolen Memories doesn't, but when tracks from either start I'm uncertain which record is playing (maybe due to their avant-garde-soundingness, vague as that is).
I bought Guy Klucevsek's Stolen Memories and Susie Ibarra's Flower After Flower at the same time, for some reason, and apparently since I listened to Ibarra first and wasn't in the mood for it, I misled myself into thinking I didn't want to hear the Klucevsek either. But today I'm "working" at my desk-table so I threw in a handful of discs I haven't heard all of or haven't gotten comfortable with: the Klucevsek, Spring Heel Jack's Masses (whoops typed Messes heh heh), Stereolab's Sound-Dust (the one I'm plenty familiar with and like a lot), Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else, and the American Analog Set's Know By Heart.
And what do you know, the Klucevsek (at least on the tracks I've heard - there's a long track dedicated to John Cage which I expect to be different) is feisty and satisfying. As the group is similar to Dave Douglas' "Charms of the Night Sky" group, which Klucevsek plays in, except for the lack of the trumpet, the music has a similar tone, but even compared to Douglas' faster songs, Klucevsek's music is a lot less refined-sounding, if that's the right way to put it. Douglas is doing other things with his sources, or perhaps inflecting his music with different styles of music in different ways, compared to Klucevsek, where you can hear the polka and Jewish music and whatnot much closer to the surface, as if it wouldn't be that strange to hear people kicking up their heels to Klucevsek at a wedding reception. And sure enough, he composes a lot for dance productions.
Despite the character of Klucevsek's music (there are even hollers reminiscent of Mingus on "Regunkitation"), hearing the title track to Somethin' Else come on next on shuffle is surprising - because the music sounds even more vibrant.
Hearing "Cross" from Spring Heel Jack's Masses record (the one where they produced a bunch of contemporary free jazz musicians like Evan Parker and Matthew Shipp) as a more-fucked-up late-period Miles track seems to make a bit more sense of it, but wouldn't it be nice to find a way of making sense of it that circumvented Miles?
(That has the possibly unsatisfying side effect of consistently making interesting-sounding things seem a lot less interesting.)
Since I still haven't written any entry-editing software for myself (for entries I've already made and want to change), and I don't feel like playing with the sql software by hand, I thought I'd re-post a paragraph from the entry below with my HTML error fixed so that the whole thing renders and you can read all of it.
As much as the album frustrates me, I love this song. I've always found the synths a little unsettling (in a good way), and today I thought this: through just the right combination of a songwriting, performance, and production style that marks the music on the album as belonging to "the past", and a certain ineffable "futureness" that belongs to the Moog, especially in its early use, this song harnesses a sense of wonder (or amplifies one with the help of the wide-eyed lyrics, especially the "sun, sun sun/here it comes" parts). Certainly this sense of "the future" doesn't come just from the Moog, or from this music, but a lot of the other places I hear it (self consciously futuristic eighties pop and rock, old Autechre) seem to get it more wrong: in their hands "the future" seems like a silly attempt at pretending what the future will be like. The synths on "Here Comes the Sun" (and elsewhere on Abbey Road, but especially here) remind me more of Will Oldham's "Rich Wife Full of Happiness", with its incongruous squirts of futuristic Moog - except that in Harrison's tune, it all makes sense. And though I repeat "future" over and over, in "Sun" the farty, bubbly synth tones seem divorced from those associations more than elsewhere, concerned only with the wonder at the sun.
The Golden Band ended, and rather than letting it repeat (which is what I do by default with most CDs at home), I had to stop it. Now I'm in a quandry since I have to pick new music that fits the final song: it really sounded final, this time.