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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5 Jul '02 05:12:51 AM

And yes, I know there's not much left. I blame the Beatles.

5 Jul '02 05:06:12 AM

Today I started thinking about "My White Album". I really, really don't enjoy listening to The Beatles. So I thought that I could do the usual exercise that I wish people would do for multiple albums that they think are full of crap. (See here for a stalled thread about this for The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs.) So far all I have is a list of songs. I still need to get rid of the questionable ones and sequence them.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Happiness is a Warm Gun (first part) ?
Don't Pass Me By ?
I Will ?
Julia ?

Yer Blues ?
Helter Skelter
Revolution 1
Revolution 9
Good Night

3 Jul '02 06:29:37 PM

Tape I made for a friend's birthday:


Busta Rhymes - Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check / Le Tigre - Get off the Internet / Faust - The Sad Skinhead / Jay-Z - Can I Get A... / M. Mayer - Hush Hush Baby / The Beatles - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / The Beta Band - Dry the Rain / Wu-Tang Clan - Rules / The Dismemberment Plan - Girl O'Clock / Gang Starr - I'm the Man / Sonic Youth - Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit


Stereolab - Metronomic Underground / Eminem - When the Music Stops / The Avalanches - Electricity / Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out / Outkast - Ain't No Thang / Mystikal - Bouncin' Back / Fugazi - Waiting Room / Herbaliser feat. Latryx - 8pt Agenda / A Tribe Called Quest - Scenario (remix) / Pixies - Hey

Ha. The more tapes I make the more apparent the slow shift in what I tend to put on the tapes.

2 Jul '02 08:24:03 AM

Surely the ecstatic vamping has something to do with how effectively Jarrett is able to fuck around so much with the harmonic 'progression' in his improvisations. Set up a new key for long enough and you eliminate a lot of the 'requirement' that when you change, you've got to do something that fits in with the older harmonic material (like, the stuff from before the last switch, or before that).

2 Jul '02 08:15:22 AM

It's been quiet in my house.

My roommates went on a week-long trip, and as I expected, about three days in, the loneliness started to bother me. In the summer I'm pretty out of touch with most of the people I met this year, so I just don't have the usual ordinary opportunities to be around people. (Forced opportunities are not an option.)

Maybe suiting this, maybe unrelated: I've also been leaving the house more quiet, deliberately, in that I haven't felt like putting on much music. When I do, I don't feel like hearing anything else right away when it's over. And I'm having a hard time picking a record I think I'll be happy to hear, although once I get one playing I usually enjoy myself.

Instead, I'll just do whatever I'm doing - reading, writing, or nothing at all - quietly. The air conditioning and fans make lots of subtle sounds.

I've made an entry very much like this before but I can't find it.

Just now I put on Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert for the first time in a while. I don't remember the last time I listened to it, though I know it was more recent than what I wrote about over two years ago.

Sometimes when I listen to a record for which I have strong associations, I feel as if what I'm really listening for is to see if I'll have a new memory to attach to it, instead of constantly just referring to the old one. It's not automatic, but it can get in the way of things.

Of course, sometimes I'll just keep listening and not having those memories, only to find out down the road that I made some anyway.

2 Jul '02 04:56:22 AM

"a minute passes before the song even begins to make sense": what an odd thing to say. As if he's never heard the beginning of a song before.

29 Jun '02 04:03:33 AM

Ideas for an unwritten review of the new Tom Waits CDs: both records a lot more textured than his recent ones. I haven't heard Mule Variations in a while, so maybe that one is, but I don't think so. The texture is fascinating, like I can reach out and grab it. And so many of the songs are slow enough that it's like the palpable parts of the tracks are just hanging suspended in air. I think this helps his ballads. Since Swordfishtrombones they've been often done in his sad drunk persona, or variants on it or relatives of it, and when the production is flatter that makes me feel like the songs are more of an ordeal (cf. Frank's Wild Years), which is maybe appropriate given the songs and the whole theatericality schtick, but still. With the added texture in the new songs, when the forward motion and the melodic motion are de-emphasized to get that dreamy and defocused-gaze effect that can come from the sad drunk reveries, there's still something there to hang your interest in the song on, and consequently your emotional reactions. The songs help pull me along more. It also helps that the backing band's parts carry a lot of the standardly 'emotional' stuff, like violin solos and such. Those small details are much more important here than before. I listened to the trilogy and the two new ones today, on shuffle, and besides sometimes being a little confused about which I was hearing when (ha), I noticed that a lot of the bluesier or rockier (or carnivalesque weirdo variants on same) songs on the trilogy have pretty simple lyrics and harmonic motion, and tend to repeat themselves a lot. Those songs have sort of disappeared here - the faster or louder ones tend to be done in goofy German-derived rhythms and such, and only some of them, like Komminezuspadt or whatever, are as repetitive - others are in the clomp-clomp mode, like Belly of a Whale or the opener to Blood Money. The ballads on the trilogy are more pop-rocky too - the ballads here rely on delicate harmonic modulations, and lyrical subtleties. The first n many times I heard "Alice" I noticed the reference to ice skating at the beginning, and at the end, but never put them together and so thought both of them sounded a little lame. At one great moment when I put them together, I realized: these tie up the whole song, and they do so with an image that: a) requires attention (more than my usual amount ha), b) exemplifies innocent childhood activities, and c) cleverly ties these to the narrator's fixation on Alice, how it's harmful to him, and how he is oblivious to that harm because of the fixation (he fell through the ice because he repeated the name, following in her tracks (did she do it at the beginning?)).

29 Jun '02 03:55:24 AM

Something I wrote earlier this month, which a) I'll have to write more about later, and b) looks a little different than usual because I had an awful time writing and I didn't plan on showing it to anyone (so let's just go and fuck that up ha ha).

Oh and more importantly it's important to the earlier entry about 'don't like this!'

The Meshell Ndegeocello album is interesting and so enjoyable to listen to that I played it three times straight through before I put on the other CD. I actually wanted it because of a Rolling Stone review, which I don't normally trust. It said that it was the album Prince had been trying to make for years. But someone on ILM told me it was worth getting and he seems like a good sort so I went for it. It doesn't really sound like a Prince album in the sense that the poppiest thing on it is the Redman and Missy remix tacked on at the end. In fact the songs mostly tend to be bass vamps with other stuff. Lots of spoken word samples. Etheridge Knight! At times the whole thing feels a little strange, the sort of thing I "shouldn't be liking". Very slow-jam R+B sound at times - music to play while you're maaaakinnn loooove. (See, I can do that here because no one else will read this.) And the lyrics are a big mash of racial consciousness stuff, mostly tasteful (by my standards - if you say 'touch my ass' or 'eat my pussy' in a song I get embarassed though) eroticism, and confessional type stuff. Very womany. No surprise that Ndegeocello, a German-born black bisexual, was asked to contribute to Lillith Fair's third CD. So from time to time all that stuff gets to me. It makes me hope that I'll bend to be OK with that. It sounds like a really good CD and I don't want to only like it for a while then not listen to it all year (or ever again). Put it this way: it's the kind of CD I would expect Anna to like. What an essentialist mentalist I am ha.

When I'm not worrying about that stuff though (or the two or three studio guitar metalgod solos - why do sessioners always sound like that now?), I have a very good time listening. I think Tribe said about A Love Movement that they wanted the bass to make love to your ears. That's what I felt like here. And more often than with the Tribe album. The rhythms were looser and less samey for one thing. But Ndegeocello's bass was super super low (in a couple songs repeatedly outdoing my headphones, which rarely happens except at high volumes usually), and she's got a very assured playing style, stable, solid. That combined with the rest of the sounds - some wooshes and stuff from synths, her husky (for a while I thought I was listening to a man and wondering when she would sing) voice - made me feel like I should be laying back on my bed to just feel pleasure all over. No wonder the connection to sex music above.

29 Jun '02 03:44:50 AM

Kardinal Offishall's "Husslin'" has a section the starts about 1:30 in where the bassline (which elsewhere has that strange high-and-low-simultaneously quality to it that I find hard to describe, plus it has lots of large jumps in it) switches to a bunch of pulses on the same note, and a similar one more then 3 minutes in. In a song that doesn't have a great deal of harmonic motion, just a switch like that is enough to suspend things momentarily and create a lot of tension. (The idea being that it's then resolved by switching back.)