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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13 Apr '03 06:05:25 AM

More moving today, and tapes tapes tapes. At the moment, this tape from Felicity. "Cigarettes Will Kill You" affects me with a strange kind of nostalgia. I've remarked before about how, already just three or four years down the road, hearing songs that I originally listened to a lot in the last part of my undergraduate years immediately gives me a sense that I am back there, that person, in that place, at that time. The Ben Lee song is different, because I know I couldn't have heard it more than a handful of times, and almost always around KURE somewhere, probably during Shar's show since she played it a lot. Yet it too gives me that sense.

Also another one, because even though I associate the song with that time, the song actually sounds out of place next to most of what I listened to then. What it actually sounds like is a minor modern rock radio hit circa 1995, only with more expensive production to throw my unerring detection of the bad-idea "alternative" drum machiney shufflebeat off just for a sec or two once or twice every minute. (Wednesday, Geoff and I wondered what it could possibly be that made so many people think this beat, or rather its platonic antecedent, since there are to be fair subtle and unimportant variations on it, a good idea. Or the only goddamn idea anyone who ever touched a guitar had upon seeing a sampler or 808.)

It's almost as if I'm pulled back five and ten years, all at once.

11 Apr '03 05:26:07 AM

A koan from Ethan: "yeah what's more fun than stuff that's supposed to be?"

9 Apr '03 05:43:33 AM

Did you know that even thinking about the phrase "call-and-response" makes me feel dirty and wrong? And yet. And yet.

7 Apr '03 06:02:31 AM

We ate at Fujiya tonight, the first time I'd had sushi (it was excellent); for a while it sounded like I was DJing. Some housey non-house shit; my favorite Outkast song, "Spottieottiedopalicious"; a Tribe Called Quest song; "Just the Two of Us"; some Biggie (I think, I had never heard it but I'm pretty sure he was MCing). It made me quite happy.

7 Apr '03 05:35:01 AM

Thing I like most about this Christgau essay on Al Green: the phrase "its emotional referent (by which I mean sex)". I imagine Christgau had a tweed jacket on when he wrote that, of course. Or maybe a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. Or maybe a leather jacket with tweed patches on the elbows. Thus ruining two perfectly good jackets.

7 Apr '03 01:41:55 AM

Rather than St. Paul, josh blog is now comin at ya from lovely Minneapolis. Yo. What up Minneapolis.

I should be done moving later this week.

Soundtrack to the move (at least earlier today): Digables and Pixies.

6 Apr '03 05:59:28 AM

Today while in a dining establishment I heard "Love Theme From Top Gun" over the house music system. OK, I don't really mean that, because I mean the Kenny Loggins "Danger Zone" song rather than the Berlin song. Yet I am going to persist in calling it that. Here, then, is a memory for you.

When I was young, before probably even junior high school, I lived across the street from some neighbors who probably provided me, perhaps not coincidentally as far as this memory is concerned, with some early awareness of class differences, as it was unmistakeable to me that their family was of a lower class than mine. One day the older boy who lived there decided, for whatever reason, that he would have a wrestling match in the yard with some other neighbor of ours. This was before professional wrestling's resurgence (?) in popularity, but apparently this wrestling match had something to do with that kind of wrestling. Maybe. Anyway. This boy was quite convinced he would win, and boasted about this a great deal.

Then when they started he put on "Love Theme From Top Gun" on his boombox, in order to get psyched up. Yes.

Today when I heard the song I remembered this, of course, but could think of nothing else besides just how utterly, terribly misguided a choice that would have been, had the same thing taken place today.

It was probably just about as misguided then, only I didn't know, because I was young enough that music from Top Gun (don't you get to see Kelly McGillis naked in that? and doesn't Goose die and stuff? that's pretty heavy shit) seemed terribly (well, sufficiently) adult.

6 Apr '03 05:46:16 AM

"Lonely Fire" (which apparently shows up on Big Fun) sounds more than vaguely eastern, but something about the sound renders it less satisfying to me than I might otherwise expect. My immediate points of comparison, the ones I can't help but think of, are Coltrane's later-period performances (not too late, but at least after the "India" at the Village Vanguard) and Keith Jarrett's more ecstatic mode-locks. On "Lonely Fire" the bassline walks a lot, and probably boogies (I wouldn't claim to know the technical term, ha), so it feels a lot less stable than say a Jimmy Garrison pulse-line (punctuated by smaller runs), and so even though the whole song seems harmonically pretty monotonic, it still moves more and my sense of solidity, long-lastingness, is compromised. Also, with Zawinul and Corea on electric pianos, and Miles and others playing above them, the difference in timbres matters a lot - there's way more space here, compared to a group like Coltrane-Jones-Garrison-Tyner or Coltrane-Sunders-Jones-Ali-Garrison-Tyner, where even if there is some variety of timbres, I'm so used to hearing those timbres together that it all comes as one big meta-tibre, the "jazz sound" (the "the" should be in quotes too) where I hear it almost as one very complexly timbred sound, ongoing through the course of a song. So it's thick somehow, I don't hear the gaps in that sound as gaps, as opposed to the space in trumpet over electric pianos and electric bass. Now, when it's Jarrett over a rhythm section, or even by himself, I do get a different sense of space, one closer to what I hear on these Miles tracks, but in my head it still seems more of a piece with the Coltrane stuff just in the sense that it occupies a similar timbral space.

6 Apr '03 05:12:53 AM

So far everything I've heard from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box that's new to me sounds more reminiscent of tone poem slow-burn vamps like "Sanctuary" than what I tend to consider the meat of the original album - songs like "Pharaoh's Dance" or "Bitches Brew" or "Spanish Key" (notice, all the longest ones - and sides one through three of the two LPs). And though this material was unreleased or even lost for a long time, and thus already selected out as not as good somehow, the difference between the new tone poems and the old ones seems clear as day to me. I remember reading somewhere - some other liner notes, maybe - how a later-period Miles group, maybe after his unretirement in the 80s, would go along, vamping, with not much distinction, and then somehow, magically, Miles would come in again, so authoritatively that the limp band was suddenly energized, unified, dynamized, just by virtue of one of his usual long-tone trumpet lines. I can hear something similar here. On the unreleased tracks, he's got much less presence - he's just as tentative and searching as the rest of the band. Things are slightly better on faster numbers like "The Little Blue Frog" - I'd like to say that's due to some more planning, but then in his liner notes Belden says the song is "just a jam", more than once. I guess just that much more rhythmic understructure does a lot.