Wednesday, April 13, 2022

January–March 2022 reading & viewing

fiction:

  • William Gibson, The Peripheral
  • E.E. “Doc” Smith, The Skylark of Space
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

visual:

  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

movies:

  • Leos Carax, Annette
  • Edgar Wright, The Sparks Brothers
  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

ratings (and occasional commentary) on my Goodreads and my Letterboxd

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Derek Bailey, John Stevens, Playing
  • Organum, Die Hennen Zähne
  • Jim O’Rourke & Mats Gustafsson, Xylophonen Virtuosen
  • Derek Bailey & John Stevens, Playing
  • Lester Bowie & Phillip Wilson, Duet
  • The Dead C, Repent
  • The Art of Noise, Into Battle (with The Art of Noise)
  • Sparks, Terminal Jive
  • Sparks, Propaganda
  • ZZ Top, Tres Hombres
  • Suzanne Vega, Solitude Standing

The Art of Noise, <i>Into Battle (with The Art of Noise)

A common thread connecting a lot of the music I loved in the mid-1980s was the almighty Fairlight CMI — though I didn’t know what that was at the time. Here’s an article highlighting some Fairlight favorites. The more Fairlight, the more I liked it: Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby, Prince, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, the “Miami Vice” theme, and most all, at the pinnacle, the Fairlight specialists, the Fairlight masters, ultimate gurus of the all-Fairlight-all-the-time lifestyle: The Art of Noise. Not just their own records, but also the songs they and/or Trevor Horn produced for other artists: Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax”, and so on — though again, I didn’t know there was a connection.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Iannis Xenakis, Works for Piano, Mode
  • Iannis Xenakis, Works for Piano (Mode)
  • Derek Bailey, Aida
  • Anna von Hausswolff, All Thoughts Fly
  • The Dead C, Trouble (disc 2)
  • The Dead C, Palisades 7″
  • The Dead C, Tusk
  • T. Rex, 20th Century Boy: The Ultimate Collection
  • Sparks, Balls

The brilliantly stupid lyrics of T. Rex:

Girl you’re good
And I’ve got wild knees for you
On a mountain range
I’m Dr. Strange for you
 
With my heart in my hand
I’m a hungry man for you
I got stars in my beard
And I feel real weird for you...

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Iannis Xenakis, Complete String Quartets, JACK Quartet, Mode
  • Iannis Xenakis, Complete String Quartets (JACK Quartet)
  • Frantz Loriot, While Whirling
  • Gate, Golden
  • Gate, The Dew Line
  • Les Rallizes Dénudés, ’77 Live (disc 1)
  • Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
  • Reagan Youth, Youth Anthems for the New Order
  • Sparks, In Outer Space
  • Sparks, Interior Design
  • Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega

Reagan Youth:

Death to the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan
Anarchy in the fatherland!
Anarchy for the new Aryans
No master race is gonna rule my land!
 
New order?
No order!
New order?
No order!
Disorder!
Disorder now!

Monday, February 28, 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

Instant Composers Pool, Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink, Derek Bailey, John Tchicai, Fragments
  • Anthony Braxton & Derek Bailey, Royal Volume 1 & 2 (disc 2)
  • Instant Composers Pool (Mengelberg/Bennink/Bailey/Tchicai), Fragments
  • Miss High Heel, The Family’s Hot Daughter (feat. Tom Smith)
  • Gate, The Dew Line
  • The Verlaines, Ready to Fly
  • ZZ Top, Tres Hombres

ZZ Top really know how to verb a noun:

Have mercy, been waitin’ for the bus all day
Have mercy, been waitin’ for the bus all day
I got my brown paper bag and my take-home pay
 
Right on, that bus done got me back
Right on, that bus done got me back
Well, I'll be ridin' on the bus till I Cadillac

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Okkyung Lee, Speckled Stones and Dissonant Green Dots
  • George Crumb, Makrokosmos I & II (Margaret Leng Tan, piano)
  • Derek Bailey, Incus Taps
  • Okkyung Lee, Speckled Stones and Dissonant Green Dots
  • Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, The Far East Suite
  • Anna von Hausswolff, All Thoughts Fly
  • The Dead C, Repent
  • The Dead C, Rare Ravers
  • The Dead C, Palisades 7″
  • The Dead C, Live 5-31-1995 Lounge Ax, Chicago
  • The Verlaines, Bird Dog
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening
  • Martin L. Gore, Counterfeit
  • Sparks, Balls

I love Martin Gore’s version of Tuxedomoon’s “In a Manner of Speaking”.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Dave Holland, Derek Bailey, Improvisations for Cello and Guitar
  • Derek Bailey, Solo Guitar Volume 1
  • Derek Bailey, Domestic & Public Pieces
  • Dave Holland & Derek Bailey, Improvisations for Cello and Guitar
  • The Dead C, The White House
  • The Dead C, Clyma Est Mort
  • The Dead C, Perform DR503b
  • Jason Henn, Jazz Pigs in High School
  • Reagan Youth, Youth Anthems for the New Order
  • Iggy & the Stooges, Raw Power
  • Betty Davis, Betty Davis
  • Betty Davis, Nasty Gal
  • Betty Davis, Is It Love or Desire
  • Sparks, Indiscreet
  • Sparks, Propaganda
  • Sparks, A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
  • Sparks, Sparks
  • Sparks, Music That You Can Dance To

From “Underground”, on A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing:

Once I dreamed I was on a basement tape
Took in just one take
Oh lord, we gained our world distribution by relevant means
Jazz folk-rock fusion appealed to the teens

Friday, February 25, 2022

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Dead C, World Peace Hope et al
  • Bailey-Bennink-Parker, Topographie Parisienne (disc 4)
  • Cecil Taylor, The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert at the Town Hall NYC November 4, 1973 (disc 2)
  • Lester Bowie & Phillip Wilson, Duet
  • Lester Bowie, Fast Last!
  • The Dead C, Unknowns
  • The Dead C, Palisades 7″
  • The Dead C, World Peace Hope et al
  • Jandek, You Walk Alone
  • Jandek, Blue Corpse
  • Jandek, Follow Your Footsteps
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening

From You Walk Alone:

He brought a lot of phony eyebrow pencils
I hid behind an electric fence
Oh they brought all the jellyfish from Ireland
You said ah, just put ’em you know where
In the closet, that’s where

Where else?

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Lester Bowie, The 5th Power
  • Gavin Bryars, Three Viennese Dancers
  • Iannis Xenakis, Electroacoustic Works (disc 2)
  • Iannis Xenakis, Works with Piano
  • Lester Bowie, The 5th Power
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago, 1967/68 (disc 3)
  • The Dead C, The Operation of the Sonne
  • The Dead C, Horror Stories
  • The Dead C, All Goodbyes
  • The Dead C, Golden/Canine 12"
  • The Dead C, (split w/ Hi God People)
  • The Dead C, (split w/ Konono No. 1)
  • To Live and Shave in L.A., Noon and Eternity (feat. Tom Smith)
  • Jason Henn, Jazz Pigs in High School
  • T. Rex, Electric Warrior

The 1978 Lester Bowie date’s got a dream lineup: Arthur Blythe, Amina Claudine Myers, Malachi Favors, Phillip Wilson. And check out the brief, intense duo session by Bowie and Wilson, also 1978, also outstanding.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

T. Rex, The Slider
  • Frantz Loriot, While Whirling
  • Cecil Taylor, The Complete Candid Recordings of Cecil Taylor and Buell Neidlinger (disc 1)
  • Reagan Youth, Youth Anthems for the New Order
  • The Dead C, Harsh 70s Reality
  • T. Rex, The Slider
  • T. Rex, 20th Century Boy: The Ultimate Collection
  • Foreigner, Complete Greatest Hits
  • ZZ Top, Tres Hombres
  • Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega
  • Betty Davis, Is It Love or Desire
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 3)

RIP Dusty Hill of ZZ Top (in 2021).

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Dead C, Eusa Kills
  • Pan American, The Patience Fader
  • Cecil Taylor, Love For Sale
  • The Dead C, Palisades 7″
  • The Dead C, Stealth/The Factory 7″
  • The Dead C, Metalheart 7″
  • The Dead C, The Dead C vs. Sebadoh 7″
  • The Dead C, Trapdoor Fucking Exit
  • The Dead C, Eusa Kills
  • The Dead C, Helen Said This
  • The Dead C, Perform DR503b
  • Sparks, Big Beat
  • Sparks, Balls

Sparks, Balls

Balls (2000) is the last proper Sparks album (not a collaboration or soundtrack) that I hadn’t heard yet and it’s... a little better than I expected, as if some of the creativity that would burst forth a few years later on Lil’ Beethoven was already building within them. For one thing, it’s the best sounding album of their 1984-2000 period, like they finally more or less caught up with the dance-pop present instead of endlessly chasing after it. But it was too late.

No particular song is a total knockout, but one I like is “The Calm Before the Storm”:

The dogs are letting postmen come and go
The muscle cars are driving way too slow
And everybody’s walking on tip-toe
For every yes, a hundred nos
The kind of day when nothing hits the fan
The kind of day when nothing’s in demand
The kind of day when music means Chopin
And love is shown by holding hands...

Monday, February 21, 2022

Monday, February 21, 2022

Cecil Taylor, Looking Ahead!
  • Gavin Bryars, The Sinking of the Titanic / Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet
  • Cecil Taylor, Looking Ahead!
  • Cecil Taylor, At Newport
  • Cecil Taylor, Jazz Advance
  • Gate, Fear of Music
  • King Crimson, Red (feat. Ian McDonald)
  • King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (feat. Ian McDonald)
  • Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
  • The Verlaines, Hallelujah All the Way Home
  • Joni Mitchell, Hejira
  • Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

RIP Ian MacDonald.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Arvo Pärt, Für Alina
  • Gavin Bryars, Vita Nova
  • Gavin Bryars, Biped
  • Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
  • Arvo Pärt, Für Alina (Mississippi Records)
  • Frantz Loriot, While Whirling
  • Jim O’Rourke, Too Compliment
  • Jimmy Giuffre, Graz Live 1961
  • Cecil Taylor, Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants)
  • Anna von Hausswolff, All Thoughts Fly
  • Franz Ferdinand & Sparks, F.F.S.
  • Betty Davis, Is It Love or Desire
  • ZZ Top, Tres Hombres
  • The Who, Live at Leeds
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening
  • The Verlaines, Juvenilia
  • Suzanne Vega, Solitude Standing
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 3)

Gavin Bryars, Biped

Can’t hear “Biped” without thinking of the two times I saw the Merce Cunningham Dance Company dance to it. Here’s a three-minute sample.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Flower-Corsano Duo, The Halcyon
  • Jim O’Rourke, Happy Days
  • Iannis Xenakis, Electroacoustic Works (disc 2)
  • Fred Van Hove, Die Letzte
  • Charles Gayle, Time Zones
  • Jemeel Moondoc, The Zookeeper’s House
  • Boards of Canada, Geogaddi
  • To Live and Shave in L.A., Noon and Eternity (feat. Tom Smith)
  • Flower-Corsano Duo, The Halcyon
  • Reagan Youth, Youth Anthems for the New Order
  • Jason Henn, Jazz Pigs in High School
  • Sparks, Hippopotamus
  • Sparks, Hello Young Lovers
  • Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega

Jim O'Rourke, Happy Days

According to my concert log, I attended the following:

19961108 Empty Bottle
- Loren Mazzacane Connors
- Jim O’Rourke
- John Fahey

Pretty good lineup that night, eh? Yeah, not bad.

I can’t always trust what seem to be my memories of gigs that happened over 20 years ago, but I think Jim’s set consisted of him performing Happy Days — probably for the only time, live? He stayed on his chair and kept playing his acoustic guitar throughout the entire piece, even long after the guitar was rendered completely inaudible by the massed wall of hurdy-gurdy drone.

I do remember walking into the Empty Bottle that night and seeing Fahey sitting by himself on the low sofa by the pool table, wearing sunglasses, motionless, and I wondered if he was awake. From everything I’ve read about Fahey late in his life, it’s entirely plausible he was asleep.

I also saw John Fahey at Unity Temple in 1998, and I remember very nearly colliding with Jim, on a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed stairway, as Jim was rushing to bring Fahey some iced tea. John Fahey wants iced tea? You definitely bring it to him as quickly as you can. It’s not a question.

According to the same concert log I saw Fahey play a third time, at Schuba’s in 1999, but I have no memory of this, none, zero. He died in 2001.

All Revenant releases are long out-of-print, but Happy Days is available again on Jim’s Bandcamp, but with helicopter, not duck.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Friday, February 18, 2022

Iannis Xenakis, Electroacoustic Works
  • Iannis Xenakis, Electroacoustic Works (disc 1)
  • Harry Bertoia, Gong Gong / Elemental
  • Cyanosis, Stave
  • Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase, Glistening Inn
  • Graveyards, Blues for the Night People
  • Tom Carter & Vanessa Arn, What Is Here For?
  • Gate, Fear of Music
  • Sparks, No. 1 in Heaven
  • The Verlaines, Hallelujah All the Way Home
  • Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince
  • Pan American, The Patience Fader

Iannis Xenakis’s classic Persepolis (1971) is unquestionably the greatest hour-long abrasive monolithic noise epic ever commissioned by the Shah of Iran. Trust me, you don’t want to hear the others.

Home listening hardly seems a substitute for being present for the original outdoor performance, but you could try cranking the volume up and pretending that 500 little Iranian kids are marching around your living room brandishing torches and dodging laser beams.

“Persepolis” is perpetually being remastered, re-edited, and reissued. Every few years they discover they used the wrong tape, or ran the tape at the wrong speed, or two minutes of material went missing, or lord knows what. Even the cuneiform on the cover of the original Phillips LP is upside down. You should think twice about the possible consequences of letting any version of this cursed music into your home.

None of the versions are backwards. That’s some consolation.

I don’t have any of the vinyl versions, but I now own four CD versions: on Fractal, Edition RZ, Asphodel, and now this new one on Karlrecords. And I want to be clear on this point: these aren’t different performances. It’s a goddamn tape piece.

This latest version was remastered by one “Martin Wurmnest”, and that seems like a suitable name for a man brave enough to open this nest of worms, as it were. I can’t find it right now, but I swear I read an interview with him where he said something like, “Well, we probably screwed it up this time around, too.”

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Cecil Taylor, The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert at the Town Hall NYC November 4, 1973
  • George Crumb, Makrokosmos I & II (Margaret Leng Tan, piano) (disc 1)
  • Frantz Loriot, While Whirling
  • Cecil Taylor, The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert at the Town Hall NYC November 4, 1973 (disc 2)
  • To Live and Shave in L.A., Noon and Eternity (feat. Tom Smith)
  • Anna von Hausswolff, Live at Montreux Jazz Festival
  • Sparks, A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing
  • Sparks, Angst in My Pants
  • Betty Davis, Is It Love or Desire

Cecil Taylor, Indent

The download-only issue pictured at the top of the post finally restores an important Cecil Taylor record to the catalog: Spring of Two Blue-Js, only ever available on CD as a poor-quality bootleg ripped from vinyl. Taylor’s own label, Unit Core, only ever released two albums, this one and Indent (1973). The latter is better known in the Freedom reissue, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the cover art of the original issue. Those mountains... aren’t mountains. Were they made by holding objects over the photo paper in the darkroom, or what? Was this a one-off by the artist or was there a series of similar images? I’d love to own the vinyl so I could stare at this while listening to the record.

The photograph is credited to one “Doyle Roberson”. I don't know if this obituary is for the same guy — seems like it could be, with his interests in music and travel and his proximity to New York at around the right time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Sparks, Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat
  • MX-80 Sound, O-Type
  • MX-80 Sound, Hard Attack
  • The Verlaines, Juvenilia
  • Sparks, Balls
  • Sparks, Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat
  • Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 3)

After Sparks pulled the rabbits out of the hat, they let them loose in this iconic Verlaines video (“Death and the Maiden”).

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince
  • Anna von Hausswolff, All Thoughts Fly
  • Betty Davis, Nasty Gal
  • MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel
  • MX-80 Sound, Big Hits
  • Jason Henn, Jazz Pigs in High School
  • The Verlaines, Hallelujah All the Way Home
  • Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince

MX-80 Sound, Big Hits

Inspirational MX-80 Sounds lyrics:

Guys and gals in all the big states
Are getting together and they’re wearing toupees!
It’s not just the hair, they grow it there
It’s wearing a wig with the people you dig!

Not sure about the third line. I’ll ask them about it at the wig store.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Monday, February 14, 2022

Jessica Pavone, Silent Spills
  • Jessica Pavone, Silent Spills
  • Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio, The Bottom
  • Gate, Fear of Music
  • MX-80 Sound, I’ve Seen Enough
  • Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
  • Betty Davis, Is It Love or Desire

Betty Davis, Is It Love or Desire

Before Betty, after Betty. Betty Davis, on getting her new husband Miles to dress hipper: “I filled the trash with his suits.” (source)

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Frantz Loriot, While Whirling
  • David Tudor, Music for Piano (Edition RZ) (disc 1)
  • Frantz Loriot, While Whirling
  • Okkyung Lee, Dahl-Tah-Ghi
  • Makoto Kawashima, Homo Sacer
  • Fred Van Hove, Die Letzte
  • Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron, At the Bimhuis 1982
  • Peter Brötzmann / Milford Graves / William Parker, Historic Music Past Tense Future
  • William Parker, Mayan Space Station
  • Miles Davis, We Want Miles
  • To Live and Shave in L.A., The Wigmaker in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg (disc 1)
  • MX-80 Sound, O-Type
  • Shellac, The End of Radio
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening

Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, At the Bimhuis 1982

The best 99 cent cassette I ever bought in my life was either Sempre Amore by Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron, or maybe What’s THIS For...! by Killing Joke, I can‘t decide.

At the Bimhuis 1982 is good, too.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Steve Lacy Trio, The Rent
  • New Music for Violin and Piano (Paul Zukofsky & Gilbert Kalish)
  • Steve Lacy Trio, The Rent (disc 2)
  • Dave Rempis & Avreeayl Ra, Bennu
  • Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel
  • Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince
  • Betty Davis, The Columbia Years 1968–1969
  • MX-80 Sound, Hard Attack
  • Jason Henn, Jazz Pigs in High School
  • The Verlaines, Hallelujah All the Way Home
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening

New Music for Violin and Piano, Paul Zukofsky, Gilbert Kalish, Earle Brown

RIP George Crumb 😢

Friday, February 11, 2022

Friday, February 11, 2022

Betty Davis, Nasty Gal
  • Jim O’Rourke, Best That You Do This for Me (Apartment House)
  • Jessica Pavone, In the Action
  • Ken Vandermark, Snapshots: Volume 3 | Brazil
  • Michigan (Hanson / Chondritic Sound / RRRecords) (disc 1)
  • Gate, Fear of Music
  • Talking Heads, 77
  • MX-80 Sound, Crowd Control
  • Betty Davis, Nasty Gal
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 3)

RIP Betty Davis 😢. All of her 1970s albums (including the fourth, only released decades after it was recorded) are great, but start with the first.

In some other timeline her music was hugely popular and influential and I wish that timeline was ours.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Thursday, February 10, 2022

To Live and Shave in L.A., Noon and Eternity
  • George Crumb, “Black Angels” (Kronos Quartet)
  • To Live and Shave in L.A., Noon and Eternity
  • MX-80 Sound, O-Type
  • MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel
  • MX-80 Sound, Big Hits
  • Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different
  • Sparks, Propaganda
  • Sparks, Exotic Creatures of the Deep
  • Sparks, Lil’ Beethoven
  • Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening

Sparks, Lil’ Beethoven

Sparks’ setlist in concert in Los Angeles earlier this week included “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth” from Propaganda and several songs from Lil’ Beethoven; “My Baby’s Taking Me Home”, especially, was a joy.

On the “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour (2013), they did “Good Morning” (easily the highlight of Exotic Creatures of the Deep, one of their lesser recent efforts), but not at this show. I hope they haven’t dropped it from their live repertoire entirely. Ron Mael’s lyric always makes me smile. The narrator has no memory of his one-night stand:

Good morning
Who are you?
I woke up
and saw you
I’m dreaming, still dreaming
My life is now about to have some meaning
 
Thank you, God, for something rare as this
What surely must have been a holy night of bliss [...]
 
Good morning
You woke up
Got dressed up
Hair messed up
While I fix you breakfast
I hope it’s just your laugh that is infectious...

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Jessica Pavone, When No One Around You Is There But Nowhere to Be Found
  • Jessica Pavone, When No One Around You Is There But Nowhere to Be Found
  • Dave Rempis & Avreeayl Ra, Bennu
  • William Parker, Mayan Space Station
  • Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel
  • John Duncan, Soft Eyes
  • Shellac, The End of Radio
  • MX-80 Sound, Crowd Control
  • Betty Davis, Betty Davis
  • The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night
  • The Verlaines, Bird Dog
  • The Verlaines, Hallelujah All the Way Home
  • Moreno Veloso, Every Single Night

Here’s a photo I took of Jessica Pavone performing solo in Los Angeles last weekend. The concert was organized by The Unwrinkled Ear and supported by Black Editions.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel
  • Peter Brötzmann, More Nipples (feat. Fred Van Hove)
  • Shellac, The Futurist
  • Subterranean Modern (Ralph Records)
  • MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel
  • MX-80 Sound, Hard Attack
  • Ramones, Ramones
  • Phương Tâm, Magical Nights: Saigon Surf Twist & Soul (1964–1966)
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 2)
  • Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince

Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince

Here’s a photo I took of Arooj Aftab performing outdoors at Long Live the Thing, in New Hampshire, last fall.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Monday, February 7, 2022

Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, Sempre Amore
  • Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron, Sempre Amore
  • Ken Vandermark, Snapshots: Volume 3 | Brazil
  • Ab Baars Trio, Gawky Stride
  • Jemeel Moondoc, The Zookeeper’s House
  • MX-80 Sound, O-Type
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening

Walt Disney Hall pipe organ

As of today, I have seen and heard Ron Mael (of Sparks) play this pipe organ.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Dave Rempis, Avreeayl Ra, Bennu
  • J.S. Bach, Great Organ Works (Peter Hurford, organ) (disc 2)
  • Brian Eno, Ambient 4: On Land
  • Robert Turman, Flux
  • Ab Baars & Mariëtte van der Voort, Veer and Haul
  • Dave Rempis & Avreeayl Ra, Bennu
  • Merzbow, Pulse Demon
  • Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel
  • Chrome, Alien Soundtracks
  • Killing Joke, The Peel Sessions 1979–1981
  • Shellac, The End of Radio
  • MX-80, Existential Lover
  • Moreno Veloso, Every Single Night

Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel

From the 2020 Tone Glow interview with Jim O’Rourke:

At that time, for people into a certain kind of weird music, it was — of course — Nurse With Wound, Organum, and Hafler Trio. That was like the Holy Trinity [...] That particular time, you know, early Touch, Strafe Für Rebellion — one of my absolute favorites. There’s an early compilation on Touch called Vögel that’s a masterpiece. [...] I love Strafe für Rebellion. They’re geniuses. Vögel is gonna blow your mind.

Circa 1992, I was very much one of those people, into exactly that certain kind of weird music. We talked to each other on early-Internet discussion groups like rec.music.industrial and the nm-list. I don’t think the nm-list archives survive, but if you want, you could embarrass me by digging up some of my old rec.music.industrial posts. Most folks were there for the Ministry and the Front Line Assembly, but some of us were there for... this stuff. The other stuff that Throbbing Gristle led to.

And yes, that was the Holy Trinity, except usually Zoviet France instead of Organum. Not because of quality. Organum’s music was much more interesting, but most of us simply hadn’t heard it. You could go to the imports section at Tower Records and buy the Hafler Trio’s Kill the King or Zoviet France’s Shouting at the Ground. I bought my copy of Nurse with Wound’s A Sucked Orange at a little college-town record store in South Carolina. But I don’t recall ever seeing a single Organum recording for sale back then.

Tastes were heavily shaped by what it was reasonably possible to obtain and hear, especially on a college-student budget. I did swap cassette dubs with the people I was talking to online. That’s how I first heard Jim’s own Tamper and Remove the Need, Pierre Henry’s Les années cinquante, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, and other landmark recordings. But we couldn’t just email digital music files to each other — that came later.

Where was I? Oh, Organum. WHPK (the University of Chicago radio station) did have a copy of Organum’s magnificent Tower of Silence. I was never sure whether to play it at 33 or 45 rpm. It was later collected on the Volume One CD, which is as good a single-disc introduction to Organum as you’ll find, but that didn’t come out until 1998.

Where was I? Oh, Strafe für Rebellion. Who the hell were they? I don’t recall hearing the name back in the day.

So I have now dutifully checked out Vögel; it’s on Bandcamp. And... well, my mind isn’t blown, to be honest, but I am intrigued and puzzled by this music, in a good way. It doesn’t actually remind me of the artists Jim names. It does remind me of the more serious side of the Residents, or a more abstract Tuxedomoon, and even more, it reminds me of Dome. Sonically and formally, the songs on Vögel stretch the word “song” right to the breaking point, but not beyond. Song form and song feel are always lurking, even if distantly. (The singer might even surprise you by busting out some Patsy Cline, or is it Peggy Lee?)

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Saturday, February 5, 2021

William Parker, Mayan Space Station
  • Olivier Messiaen, Complete Organ Works (Olivier Latry, organ) (disc 3)
  • Flowertops, Mimosa
  • Ken Vandermark, Snapshots: Volume 3 | Brazil
  • Ab Baars, Party at the Bimhuis
  • Horace Tapscott, The Giant Is Awakened
  • William Parker, Mayan Space Station
  • Subterranean Modern (Ralph Records)
  • MX-80 Sound, O Type
  • MX-80 Sound, Hard Attack
  • MX-80 Sound, Big Hits
  • Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince

Mayan Space Station is a terrific William Parker record and also an excellent showcase for electric guitarist Ava Mendoza. You can hear classic-rock gods like Jimi Hendrix or even Eddie Van Halen in her playing, and you wouldn’t necessarily expect that to blend with Parker’s aesthetic, but somehow in this trio (with Gerald Cleaver) it all sounds perfectly natural.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Friday, February 4, 2022

Harry Bertoia, Continuum / Near and Far
  • Harry Bertoia, Continuum / Near and Far
  • Okkyung Lee, Na-Reul
  • Merzbow, Screaming Dove
  • Tarot or Aorta - Memories of a PRE Festival (feat. Tom Smith)
  • MX-80 Sound, Crowd Control
  • MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening

Harry Bertoia

Some Bertoia LP covers I had on my living room wall, circa early 2000s. Obscured by an extremely large lampshade.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel
  • Oren Ambarchi & Jim O’Rourke, Indeed
  • Rudolph Grey, Mask of Light
  • Cecil Taylor, One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye (disc 2)
  • Strafe für Rebellion, Vögel
  • Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhound
  • Shellac, The Futurist
  • Fugazi, The Argument
  • The Verlaines, Bird Dog

Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhound

Some bands I have seen when they shared a bill with Shellac: Gastr del Sol, Fugazi (twice), The Ex, Space Streakings, Bellini, Helen Money.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Flowertops, Mimosa
  • Harry Bertoia, Unfolding / Sounds Beyond
  • Flowertops, Mimosa
  • C. Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug, Wake Up Awesome
  • William Parker & Hamid Drake, First Communion
  • To Live and Shave in L.A. 2, The 300 Dollar Silk Shirt (not feat. Tom Smith)
  • Sightings / Tom Smith, Gardens of War
  • Subterranean Modern (Ralph Records)
  • MX-80 Sound, Hard Attack
  • MX-80 Sound, Big Hits
  • Captain Beefheart, The Spotlight Kid
  • Moreno Veloso, Every Single Night
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 2)

Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, spent his teenage years in Lancaster, California, in the Mojave Desert. That desert is the only place on earth where Joshua trees grow. I drove by Lancaster the other day, on the freeway, but the town has neglected to put up a Beefheart statue so I didn’t stop.

I always thought Van Vliet died in the Mojave Desert, too. The way I pictured it, Anton Corbijn came to see him there and took the cover photo of the final Beefheart album, Ice Cream for Crow (1982). That photo shows Van Vliet standing by some Joshua trees, holding his hat in front of him, a mourner at the funeral of his own career in music. Then Corbijn flew back to Amsterdam or wherever; and Van Vliet went back inside his desert house and didn’t come out again very often until he died in 2010.

But all that was just my imagination. Except for the photo with the Joshua trees, I mean. I learned last week that Van Vliet and his wife lived out the final decades of his life in Trinidad, California, a tiny town on the green and humid northern California coast, in Humboldt County. He died at the hospital in nearby Arcata.

And then today I learned that Thomas Pynchon lived in Trinidad for a while, though not at the same time as Van Vliet. In Pynchon’s novel Vineland (1990), Humboldt County is very much a place you go to get away from everything. Like the desert.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Okkyung Lee, Na-Reul
  • Okkyung Lee, Na-Reul
  • Jemeel Moondoc, The Zookeeper’s House
  • Tarot or Aorta - Memories of a PRE Festival (feat. Tom Smith)
  • Sightings, Absolutes
  • Shellac, The Futurist
  • Shellac, Dude Incredible
  • Shellac, 1000 Hurts
  • MX-80 Sound, Crowd Control
  • MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel
  • The Verlaines, Some Disenchanted Evening
  • Morrissey, Bona Drag
  • Legends of Old-Time Music: Fifty Years of County Records (disc 1)

The most devastating song on Some Disenchanted Evening is “Anniversary”, and I thought so even before I’d paid much attention to the words, but then oh my god, listen to the words:

She said, “Sunshine will haunt you
And blue sky will taunt you
And beauty will court you with lies.”
 
She said, “Autumn will bore you
And spring time will ignore you
And the cold wind will warm you at night.”
 
And she asked me what kind of creature was I
That I harboured no rain in my eyes
 
Tell me why
Your cheeks are drier than mine
Are you too frightened to cry?
 
She said, “Laughter will hurt you
And children will disturb you
And dirges will serve you with light.”
 
And she said, “By the time
That you open your eyes
There will not be a shoulder in sight.”

And then listen to the music again, and how Graeme Downes’ voice can barely reach the high notes he wrote for himself, and the effect that creates.