Not There hits the stage at Midnight. Open bar Tsing Taos. People get ready.
Monthly Archives: April 2013
Wherein I load 7 albums on my iPhone, listen to them for a week, and write something about each record.
Artist: Alice Coltrane
Album: Journey in Satchidananda
Comments: A meditation on life and death. Pharaoh Saunders. Harp. Om. A deep record, you should listen to it late at night.
Artist: Brian Eno
Album: Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy
Comments: Art-punk before punk existed, Eno used a deck of cards called Oblique Strategies to mimick the randomizing effect of the I Ching. The results are weird, moving and incredibly influential. Repetition is a form of change.
Artist: Dr. John
Album: The Sun, Moon and Herbs
Comments: Gris Gris. Voodoo. Funk. Death and magic lurking everywhere. A criminally underrated Dr. John record. Zu Zu Mamou might be the most terrifying thing ever, in a very good way.
Artist: James Blake
Comments: No one else sounds like James Blake. You can trace his influences–Burial, R&B, Gospel–but Blake somehow blends them into something way more interesting than “spot the influences.” Overgrown is close to a perfect album. It has 9 songs that are basically a window into Blake’s bittersweet head-space. But (and this is a big but) Overgrown is marred by the absolutely horrendous RZA collaboration “Take a Fall for Me.” It is hard to over-state how terrible this song is. It weighs down Overgrown like sack of rotting potatoes, damning the entire record. Deleting it from iTunes doesn’t help either, because you still know it exists.
Artist: STS 9
Comments: I like STS9 a lot but this record is missing something. It’s culled from a New Year’s Eve run, but it lacks the narrative of a good STS 9 show. I highly recommend downloading an STS9 show from either the band’s website or archive.org.
Artist: Stuart Duncan, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma
Album: The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Comments: Since leaving pop bluegrass favorites Nickel Creek, Chris Thile has been concocting a strange fusion of Bluegrass and Classical Music with his band the Punch Brothers. The Punch Brothers records are close to good, but show their seems a little bit too much. The Goat Rodeo Sessions, however, represents a seamless blending of the American Folk tradition and Baroque romanticism. This is a great a record for a Sunday afternoon if you have a very, very intellectual front porch to sit on.
Artist: Tom Waits
Album: Glitter and Doom (Live)
Comments: It turns out a circa 2009 Tom Waits show is basically a freaked-out, lysergic blues revival carnival. The band is super tight and Waits is “in good voice.” This is definitely not a “greatest hits live!” album, it’s like a post-card from the road. If you like Tom Waits, you’ll like Glitter and Doom. If you aren’t sure, this probably won’t help you make up your mind.
Well, first of all we sing sometimes. But, we do it through machines that make us less/more human.
And its not that we have nothing to say.
But usually words are just too vague and used up.
The point is to be subjective, not to instruct.
Who are we to decide what something means (?)
There are no words that
do not equal symbols.
The headphone jack in my iPod broke last week. My first reaction was to get it fixed or buy another one, but then a I suddenly got very busy and didn’t have time to deal with the Beijing Apple Store. Instead I whipped up a 7 album playlist and put it on my iPhone. Yes, I was one of those idiots who walks around with an iPhone in one pocket and an iPod in the other. Why? Because I have a ton of music and I wanted all of it at my fingertips. It’s taken me 20 years to amass my music collection and having it in my pocket was remarkably comforting.
But a funny thing happened. I discovered I actually liked having a limited amount of music with me because it forced me to listen. On the bus, on the subway, in a taxi or walking down the street there were only 7 choices. I listened to every lick on every album in a way I haven’t since I was a teenager and the internet was something that existed on telephone lines and free AOL CD ROMs jammed in Time Magazine.
So I’ve decided to run with this. Every Monday, I’ll be picking 7 albums and loading them onto my iPhone. After listening to them, I’ll share my impressions, feelings and responses to what I listened to. I’m calling it the iPhone Blues.
the iPhone Blues 4-1-2013 to 4-8-2013
Artist: Afrika Bambaataa
Album: Looking for the Perfect Beat
Comments: I was struck by how incidental the rapping felt. Bambaataa’s beats were upfront and clearly the most important part of this music. Hip Hop has become an MC driven medium with producers/DJs mostly behind the scenes, but it started off as music made by DJs.
Artist: Autre Ne Veut
Comments: Part of a recent trend favoring weirdo / auteur R&B, Anxiety is a cool record that’s just a little bit too over-produced. This is R & B for the internet, not the bedroom, but I don’t mean that to be as negative as it sounds.
Album: Kill for Love
Comments: One of my favorite records from last year. Dark, danceable and immaculately produced, Kill for Love is very nearly a perfect record. It sounds like you’re driving home from a club when you shouldn’t be.
Artist: Dr. Dog
Album: Be the Void
Comments: This was surprisingly good. Dr. Dog have been around forever, mixing quirky indie-pop with rock cliches. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. “These Days” is a killer song that redeems Be the Void’s occasional forays into glam rock, a genre that fits Dr. Dog like a poorly tailored suit. If it was 1976, “These Days” would have been a very big hit.
Artist: Paperclip People
Album: The Secret Tapes of Dr. Eich
Comments: Carl Craig is the anti-dance techno artist, but Paperclip People might be his most danceable alias. It has a hip hop vibe and strong synth lines. Very “musical” dance music which can be a good or bad thing. Better for the living room than the club, where it would leave people leaning against walls while looking at their shoes.
Album: Sheet One
Comments: One of the best techno records ever made, Sheet One is minimal but dance-floor ready. It’s deep, dark music that reminds me of looking at a Rothko painting: it dances but it shouldn’t. In short, Richie Hawtin is pretty fly for Canadian.
Artist: Professor Genius
Album Professor Genius
Comments: Basically an ode to Giorgio Morodor, this is a great intro to Italo Disco. A very fun record that plays with Morodor’s proto-house, Professor Genius is like listening to an hour’s worth of the instrumental breaks on a Donna Summer record. That’s a good thing.