Archive for December, 2000

Public service announcement

Friday, December 22nd, 2000

I would just like to say that Fela Kuti is the man, and that “Water No Get Enemy” is the shit.

Eric Tamm on the greatness of “Starless”

Sunday, December 17th, 2000

I remember reminiscing in this log a while back about driving to school with King Crimson’s “Starless” blasting out the windows, and about the emotions I associate with this memory. Eric Tamm writes:

…in my opinion ["Starless"] is simply the best composition King Crimson ever committed to record. It is also the only King Crimson piece that has ever made me weep - those tears that tend to issue out of a direct confrontation with what we feebly call “artistic greatness” but is really a portentous and rarely glimpsed secret locked away at the heart of human experience.

Mogwai: I’m getting it (thanks to EP+2)

Saturday, December 16th, 2000

I wonder why I’m currently digging Mogwai’s EP+2 so much more than I dug their Come On Die Young when I first heard that one. I think it’s because it’s short: I can only take about half an hour of this kind of slow, dreamy, moody stuff before I start yearning for more action. EP+2 lasts, well, about a half hour. And it’s fucking great.

I’ve only read the introduction to Robert Walser’s Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music, but already I’ve come across a bunch of interesting tidbits. For example, with reference to his musicological discussions of heavy metal music:

Arguing for the worth of popular music in the terms of valuation used for more prestigious music is not without risk: jazz has gained a certain amount of academic respectibility through such toil by its defenders, but at the cost of erasing much of the music’s historical significance, its politics, its basis in non-European modes of musical thinking and doing. (Indeed, this is precisely what has happened to the many different kinds of historical music making that have been collapsed into “classical music” by our century.

I find the comment about jazz curious. I don’t know enough about jazz to know how correct Walser is (after all, that jazz class I took last semester was worthless), but I wonder how discussion of jazz in a context based on Western art-music notation has “erased much of the music’s historical significance”.

APM is on hiatus

Thursday, December 14th, 2000

Noah says re my question about APM:

I talked to Ulf not long ago on #progrock, and he said that it’s rather unlikely that APM will be releasing anything in the next year plus, due to his switching jobs, moving, and generally being very busy. At the time he said they’d still be filling orders, but when I put in an order through the webpage form sometime later, I never got a response. Thus I think that any currently active former APM bands will be seeking other avenues of release (among which I’d expect Musea to be prominent, as has already happened with Zello and, I think, Ensemble Nimbus [or do they have a different label?]).

Thanks, Noah.

There is currently a little to-do on the Godspeed You Black Emperor! mailing list about some unfounded rumor about the band’s imminent breakup. No one seems to know if this rumor is accurate or not, but the consensus is that it’s a load of crap. Someone points out, however, that the booklet in Lift Your Skinny Fists… contains the statement, “this tape recording is the last stanza of a 3 page chapter”. One response:

and as for the quote, it’s been said on this list by people who have talked with members of godspeed (mainly on the last euro tour, i think) that the band is planning to take their music in a totally different direction after LYSFLATH, and i think that that’s more what that quote from the booklet is about.

Hell, this sounds good to me! The two new pieces - “12.28.99″ and “Tazer Floyd” are definitely more of the same, but maybe after the band records those two (which I remember hearing that they plan on doing), they’ll re-gear their sound and come up with something as fresh as the debut album was. We can only hope.

Scattered thoughts

Sunday, December 10th, 2000

Reading Bill Martin’s Listening to the Future after finishing Macan’s Rocking the Classics, I get the feeling that Martin writes uncomfortably like a prog-rock fanboy, whereas Macan seems more levelheaded. Martin just seems far too defensive about the genre as a whole, and adds in a lot of unnecessary parentheticals about how much prog has been persecuted (as well as even less necessary parentheticals about various political issues).

That one-note guitar solo at the end of Low’s “Over the Ocean” never fails to amaze me. It’s utterly perfect, heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and yet it’s just the same fucking note over and over again. How does that work? Even Fripp’s (in)famous “one-note” solo in “Starless” modulates continuously, so it’s not the same pitch over and over again (and besides, it’s the furthest thing from “beautiful”, though it’s undeniably effective). It boggles my mind how this one-note solo can be so perfectly done, evoking such an emotional response every time I hear it.

Jussi Karkkainen told me that the next Höyry-kone album will probably come out next year, though the band has not found a label for it yet (”certainly not APM”, he says - is this because of APM’s very slow rate of releasing music, or because of conflicts with Ulf Danielsson or others at the label?).

Holy shit: I’m listening now to Hundred Sights of Koenji at massive volume (now this is a bombastic album). At some point in “Ozone Fall”, a new male voice joins the chorus of demented singers and screams out of the left channel. I jumped, thinking someone was yelling at me from the commons room, which is to the left of my computer. Sheesh.

Latest trip to NYC

Thursday, December 7th, 2000

Well, my trip to New York City was a nice success. Since I got into the city at about 4:45 or so, I had plenty of time to burn before the Godspeed You Black Emperor! show at the Bowery Ballroom. I stopped by Other Music, right across from the Tower Records, and plonked down a goodly amount of money for:

I’m always impressed by the stock at that store. They have an unbelievable amount of Area, some Arti & Mestieri, lots of Tatsuya Yoshida stuff, lots of Lars Hollmer and Samla Mammas Manna stuff, Magma, Univers Zero, all that good stuff. It’s an avant-progger’s dream, though the prices are pretty high.

The show itself was pretty good, as I detailed (well, to some extent, anyway) in my review. Since I got back into New Haven at about, oh, 3:45 in the morning, I’m just staying up all night… hence my writing this.

Minimalism and psychedelia

Tuesday, December 5th, 2000

I’m rereading all my progressive rock books for my music project. This, from Ed Macan’s Rocking the Classics, strikes me as a strange thing to say: “…the greatest achievement of the minimalists was to create structural approaches that successfully capture psychedelia’s acid-induced sense of timelessness.” The annotation doesn’t really help either:

The West Coast minimalists—particularly Riley and LaMonte Young—came out of the same general cultural scene as did the Grateful Dead and other Bay Area psychedelic bands, although the composers were a few years older than the band members.

All things considered, the original statement still seems to me to imply that psychedelic rock was somehow a standard for, and therefore a higher art than, minimalism. Probably that isn’t what Macan meant, but that’s what I get from it. This would kind of go along with Macan’s obsession with the effect of drugs on, well, everything (my only real complaint with the book, probably - although I can’t say that he’s downright wrong, I do think he overemphasizes it to some extent).

Josh Kortbein on music burnout

Friday, December 1st, 2000

Josh says:

As quiet as my room seems to be lately, you’d think that my stereo was broken. But I just haven’t been happy listening to anything for a long period of time. I’ll throw on a CD for one or two plays at most, then get sick of music and decide to just play nothing. I’m still listening to a lot of music, but there’s a quite noticeable drop.

This sounds very familiar to me - since Thanksgiving break started a couple weeks ago I haven’t been listening to much music at all, compared to before. I’ll sit and stare at my collection for five minutes trying to find something I think I’d be able to get into at that given moment, and I won’t find anything. Last night I tried a random disc, ended up with A Piedi Nudi’s Creazione, and sat there with the music going in one ear and out the other. I’ve been having a bit more success with those gybe! bootleg MP3s, and now even more success with A Silver Mt. Zion’s album. About damn time - I don’t like not being able to get into my music.