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Archive for August, 2000

I don’t know how to judge hip-hop

Thursday, August 31st, 2000

I haven’t been this pumped about an order in some time:

  • Miles Davis - Bitches Brew [2CD version]
  • Andrew Hill - Point of Departure
  • Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit/He Miss Road
  • Mos Def - Black on Both Sides
  • Sun Ra - Other Planes of There
  • Frank Zappa - One Size Fits All

I’m not quite sure what makes a good hip-hop album good, or what makes a bad one bad. I’ve heard some of the good stuff - A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, The Roots, De La Soul, etc (hell, I have a soft spot even for NWA’s high-energy, terribly violent stuff) - but since I haven’t heard much else I don’t know exactly why they’re good; I just know I like ‘em. Same goes for any other genre I’m just beginning to explore, I guess - free jazz, for instance - but for some reason hip-hop stands out the most.

Packing for college is hellish. This is supposed to be my “relaxing” week, between my summer job and school. Yeah, whatever.

MTV anchor not much into jazz

Friday, August 25th, 2000

Ha! From Guy Berger’s sig file. Formatting is mine:

Bill Clinton [responding to a question about his favorite musicians]: “…and another of my favorites is Thelonious Monk…”
Tabitha Soren: “Mr. Clinton, who is the loneliest monk? Can you tell us more about him?”
— MTV’s Rock the Vote, 1992

I updated my top 25 list yesterday. Just noticed that I use the word “blistering” at least three times on the page. Hehe.

From the Arlequins news page I read this, said by Neal Morse of the upcoming Spock’s Beard album: “It has all the typical elements of a SB cd plus a couple of surprises. There will be two long pieces in order to make prog fans happy and 4 short songs for normal people.” You know, I don’t think writing long pieces “in order to make prog fans happy” is a particularly good reason to write long pieces. Perhaps this explains why most of the long Beard pieces I’ve heard are disjointed and contrived.

Sexism in classical music, and the brilliance of Dave Stewart’s liner notes

Thursday, August 24th, 2000

From from The Times (London): Cover up, conductor tells fat fiddlers. Offered without comment, only the following excerpt.

Nothing, however, can compete with an orchestra director who recently insisted that his female players did not wear underwear because it “spoilt the line of the dresses”. A friend of one of the musicians said: “He even wanted to inspect everyone to ensure that they weren’t.”

Basically the entirety of Dave Stewart’s length liner notes to National Health’s Complete is amusing, but I find the following excerpt particularly so. Incidentally, Complete, whether you like the music or not, is almost worth the price of admission for its liner notes. All formatting is directly from the notes:

“Drummer wanted. Must be able to play well in unusual time signatures” ran our ad in Melody Maker

…One drummer…made a big impression. For a start, he was almost 2 feet shorter than me, but more impressively, had sewn yellow satin triangles into the bottom of his trouser legs to convert them into ‘flares’. This was the man for the job! Despite my giving him an absolutely precise, explicit and unambiguous lecture over the phone about the status, ambitions and current requirements of this group, he arrived from the North of England convinced that National Health was the name of some kind of West End musical, and asked a bewildered Phil Miller [guitarist] when the show was going to open.

To ease the general air of discomfort, we attempted to break him in on one of our ‘easier’ sections, a riff from a piece called Elephants over which Alan [Gowen, keyboardist] used to play a serpentine Moog solo. It was in 25/8. The short chap was not a bad drummer, but this was beyond his musical experience. After a few minutes of floundering (which sounded like the riff from Elephants accompanied by a free form percussion concerto) we stopped, and I explained how the 25 quavers could be subdivided into 3 sixes plus a seven. This made no audible difference (riff from Elephants accompanied by air raid) so I further explained how the sixes could be regarded as half time bars of 3/4. This was a mistake. At the mention of “3/4″, the drummer’s eyes brightened, and before I could count in, he launched like a madman into a brisk waltz beat, punctuated at random intervals by a deadly even, robotic 7 beat tom fill in a different tempo. We tried to join in, but it was chaos - the resulting musical carnage is beyond my descriptive powers.

In the midst of this mayhem, looking around the room at the other musicians’ concerned expressions, it suddenly occurred to me that the whole situation was becoming cartoon-like, and I had to try desperately hard not to laugh. The same thought had obviously struck Alan, because when I turned to look at him for some kind of moral support or guidance, he had slipped out of sight down behind his Fender Rhodes, and was lying on the floor wheezing, weeping and convulsing with suppressed laughter.

This was typical of Alan’s qualities of leadership, which I came to admire tremendously.

Virtuoso rock musicians

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2000

The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly landed in my mailbox yesterday; on the cover: “Internet Piracy Isn’t the Problem, The Music Industry is the Problem”, or something like that. Cool. The article is online as well.

I abandoned the “Our Children and Music” thread in a while back because it had simply become too tiresome. Finding some downtime at work today, I revisited it and found some more amusing and/or sad tidbits. Well, a lot of them, actually; here’s just one.

> > This quote was based only on the first 6 years of rock
> > music, in which there were no virtuoso musicians,

> Virtuoso rock musicians….bwahahaha ha ha heh eh ….BWAHAHA HA HA HA

You don’t get out much, do you?

Genre fandom and close-mindedness

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2000

The issue of snobbery rears its ugly head yet again on Am I the only one that no longer bothers to read any lengthy post by AllGdPpl (or whatever) anymore?

You know, I don’t really have a problem with, say, Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. I don’t really have a problem with people that like them. I only have a problem when people insist that their favorite band or singer or teeniebopper sexpot is the best musicmaker alive, without bothering to explore the doings of other musicmakers. This is why singleminded fans of Spears or whatever bug me. Problem is, this syndrome is just as prevalent among prog-rock fans, or jazz fans, or classical fans, as anyone else.

As I expand my personal musical experience, I find myself surprised by many things I wouldn’t have thought I would like. The thing is, as I believe Paul Beecham said, if I’m listening to something I don’t think I’ll like, sometimes I just tune it out without even bothering to try. This is a Bad Thing. It’s akin to saying something horribly prejudiced, like “I know I won’t like that man because he’s black, so I won’t even bother to try.” In any case, when I do get over this problem, often I am surprised by what I like.

At the same time, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and I still name progressive rock as my favorite genre of music, for any number of reasons. However, I try to make sure that my dedication to the genre no longer inhibits my exploration of other genres, as it has in the past.

Speaking of other genres, Bob’s isn’t the only site entitled “Dancing About Architecture”, it seems. I found the current article on Afro-pop quite interesting. And this “dual review” is rather amusing.

Themed prog site: Virtuosity

Monday, August 21st, 2000

A few days ago in these pages, I expressed a wish for more themed progressive rock sites. Found one: Virtuosity, which covers “spiritually inspired progressive rock bands”. Not a concept I’m all that interested in, nor a particularly great site, but still, it’s there.

I will have to update my favorites list soon. I’ll probably make it a top 25 list now - there are just too many great albums out there. I don’t know whether both Moonsongs and In This Life by Thinking Plague should go on there - both are great, and I can’t decide which I like better, so they probably will. I’ll probably also add DFA’s Duty Free Area, and also Shub Niggurath’s Les Morts Vont Vite, though that one is already mentioned. And maybe U Totem’s self-titled? Man, like I said, just too many great albums out there. has a nice progressive rock site. I suspect most readers of this site won’t learn much from it, but it’s a good way to spend a bit of spare time.

Interesting how, no matter how academic the music I listen to, it always ties into emotion somehow. I was listening to “Discipline” the other day - the song, which in my opinion is as academic, mathematical, and nerdy as it gets - and it brought back a flood of emotions and memories of the first time I heard it. Which was, oddly enough, on a trip to Europe with my high school history class. I picked up The Compact King Crimson, my first KC acquisition, in a record store in Athens, and was immediately hooked. In retrospect, that one is a less than worthy compilation, but it served its purpose well.

I don’t know this white boy. Really.

WaPo on Happy the Man

Sunday, August 20th, 2000

There’s a great article on Happy the Man in the Washington Post. Cool.

It has nothing to do with music of any kind, but speaking of newspapers, in the local paper today (The Winston-Salem Journal, a rather dismal publication), there was a headline in the sports section that read “Excitement of fishing with flies hard to top”. Hehehehe…

Oh man

Friday, August 18th, 2000

Josh always comes up with the fucking greatest links ever: Britney Spears’ Guide to Semiconductor Physics. Ha!

A site dedicated to female vocalists

Thursday, August 17th, 2000

A page dedicated to female vocalists, mostly Celtic and progressive. Dedicated to their images as well as their sounds, it seems (this might explain the lack of Loreena McKennitt info…). This page seems to have been tailored by and for drooling Mariela Gonzalez, er, I mean Nexus fans.

I think those guys need a RIO contributor. Emily Hay, Deborah Perry, Susanne Lewis… clearly some of the best female vocalists around, though certainly rather unconventional. And how about Stella Vander?

Despite my misgivings I spent an enjoyable half-hour at the above site, and I wish there were more like it: sites that approach prog, or some other genre of music I like, with a specific mindset. For instance, a site that surveyed progressive rock from a political standpoint would be fascinating to me. It might be something as simple as a site that reviewed prog albums from a bass player’s standpoint. Why aren’t there more of these types of resources?


Wednesday, August 16th, 2000

Stroke of luck of the month: I just picked up Fates Warning’s new album Disconnected at Borders for $7.99. Borders has been having a $7.99 sale on selected Sony discs. Fates Warning has nothing to do with Sony (they’re on Metal Blade), but apparently someone mislabeled the disc and accidently put the “Sale $7.99″ sticker on it, so they had to sell it to me for that price rather than the regular $17.99 (!) list price. Happy happy.

Incidentally, I strongly recommend stopping by your local Borders to see what’s left of the Sony sale - here in Winston and also in Phoenix where I was a couple weeks ago, they had some damn good stuff: Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame, Weather Report’s Heavy Weather, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, lots of Miles Davis (Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, Miles in the Sky, Miles Smiles), and some good pop/rock.