Levels of dissonance in music had been steadily rising since the last years of the nineteenth century, when Liszt wrote his keyless bagatelle and Satie wrote down the the six-note Rosicrucian chords of Le Fils des etoiles. Strauss, of course, indulged discord in Salome. Max Reger, a composer versed in the contrapuntal science of Bach, caused Schoenberg-like scandals in 1904 with music that meandered close to atonal. In Russia, the composer-pianist Alexander Scriabin, who was under the influence of Theosophist spiritualism, devised a harmonic language that vibrated around a “mystic chord” of six notes; his unfinished magnum opus Mysterium, slated for a premire at the foot of the Himalayas, was to have brought about nothing less than the annihilation of the universe, whence men and women would emerge as astral souls, relieved of sexual difference and other bodily limitations.
As someone has who read some Borges, i actually already got the reference that the Stereogum writer was trying to make to Pierre Menard. It just happens to be shorthand for being dismissive of any kind of post modern deconstruction. That story gets invoked whenever someone wants to chop someone off at the knees when they getting a little too deconstructive for the critic’s taste.1 It’s not much better than a jock yelling, “Way to go, Einstein!” sarcastically at anyone evidencing higher thought.
I don’t really have a stake in this minor conflict. I’ve been a fan of Eppy’s3 writing for years. Although i hate the vibe of Stereogum, that writer doesn’t seem so bad in comparison. However, he’s guilty of placing a huge target on Eppy for having the nerve to say anything deeper than “Rock on! Free the music!” and changing the context of Eppy’s writing to something other than Eppy intended after Thom Yorke made his comment.
So, almost ironically, the Stereogum writer changed the meaning of the piece by removing it from the period in which it was written, and placed in a different time completely changed the meaning…. just like Pierre Menard, with Eppy as Cervantes. Eppy is no longer the author of his own work, or better yet, the Eppy, a simulacrum of Stereogum™, who is the author of the latter piece, has ceased being the Eppy of the prior piece. The first Eppy no longer has a credible perspective on the reaction to these words, as they no longer belong to him.
Yep… i’m just winging it at this point.
p.s. The point is moot.
Although i cannot cite specific examples at this time. [↩]
The Cassette from My Ex site has some nice little stories, even though i cannot really do that. My now ex-wife made some awesome mixes, but they were mostly CDs and i don’t feel like listening to those much yet. The tapes that she made were damned good as well, but i was easing out of the tape format at that time, so i never connected as much with them. The only other mixtapes that i received were not from exes, but friends and penpals. The penpal that i was closest to, and still mourn losing touch with, didn’t so much make mixtapes, as copy entire discographies of artists.
It was me who made most of the mixtapes in my life. Most of them were probably desperate, toxic creations. The tracklistings are locked up in a filing cabinet with ten years of diaries and letters that i don’t dare yet exhume. The recipients are now hated, long missing or dead. So yeah… fuck mixtapes. I’m not so nostalgic about them after all.
These days i only make mixes that are commissioned by requests. Kat asks for an artist or style, and i line up a CD or playlist. I don’t miss laying my heart bare in a tracklisting at all. Some of the people i don’t miss at all, yet the music that was selected for the ears is still tainted.
It looks like if i’ll be seeing him, it’ll be in Mobile, Alabama on July 2nd. Betcha i’ll be too broke or too busy. It’s too idiosyncratic a route for me to get worked up about his grudge against New Orleans.
Back when this was a music blog, i’d slip in some of Damien’s music every so often, hoping that some higher profile blog would figure out how great he is. It never happened. He’s quite happy doing what he’s doing, but i still get the urge to proselytize every so often.
Damien knows all too well about my old Julian Cope fixation, so he pushed this on me.
Yeah, why not a modern indie band that sounds almost exactly like the Teardrop Explodes? Misty’s Big Adventure has brought me much joy this week.
It’s just gravy that in looking at their MySpace profile that i was reminded of Pram, an excellent band that had been completely erased from my brain since 2003’s Dark Island. News of them releasing an album in 2007, The Moving Frontier, eluded me.
Yesterday i dropped by to beg some more copies of White Witch from Damien. For some freaky reason, my copies keep mysteriously disappearing, even though it’s obvious that no one could possibly snag them. “You’re the One” popped up on my iPod and i missed the rest of the material. When i helped set up the White Witch website many years ago, i used to mock Damien’s sincere love of the band, but now i’m hooked. After transcribing several interviews and editing Damien’s gushing love, I became all too fond of them as well. It wasn’t just about the music, but their mad dream of being space rockers in southern Florida in the ’70s.
It couldn’t just be White Witch though. I wound up hassling him into tracking down songs that was on a beloved compilation that he made in the early ’90s. There is something impure and insane about that particular collection of songs. It’s the mixtape on which i discovered the Television Personalities and Magazine, but i have all of that stuff. It’s name was Meatshed incidentally. In our circle of friends, it developed a such a reputation that it became a yardstick to compare all other mixtapes to, a milestone in compilations. As with any other great mixtape, it wasn’t just about song choice, but the order in which it flowed.
I have no idea how most of it came together anymore though. I doubt whether Damien remembers either, aside from a long lost evangelical preacher segueing seamlessly into the strangled gasp that starts the Creepers’ “Old Man’s Treat.”
Now Diamanda Galas’ “You Must Be Certain of the Devil” is rattling around in my head. …which wasn’t on Meatshed. “Malediction” was on Side A, but the “You Must Be Certain of the Devil” holds up better in its absurdity.
Yeah… lemme think some more. This nostalgia is a good thing.
Rings. Black Habit. Nothing is quite as devastatingly great as “Mom Dance” but this is a spookily good album. Come to think of it, “Mom Dance” alone does a better Afro-pop reinvention than the entire Vampire Weekend output, if i have any comprehension of Vampire Weekend. Aside from the yelps on “Double Thanks,” i could have been conned into believing that this was a genuine article undiscovered since the early ’80s. Now that i’ve listened to it more though, it is something more to be admired than to be enjoyed. It seems like they would have been served better by cutting some of the songs shorter, as my ears would perk in interest, and then my mind wandered off… loose tribal post-punk makes for lousy walking music. “Mom Dance” is good weird pop though.
Vampire Weekend just sounds like a ska-punk with a bigger palette covering the Police (or vice versa) to my ears. It’s not bad, but it just doesn’t sound as groundbreakingly new as the reviews that i read. They may be genuinely influenced by African bands, but the path that they took to get there seems to be written broad, yet unacknowledged. One of the only critical bits that i read mentions Paul Simon, but the Police influence is far more damning.
The new Black Mountain seems like an album that i should like, but it reminds me of the filler from those classic rock stations that i listened to in the ’80s. I never much liked Santana, Blue Oyster Cult, Free, Deep Purple, Montrose, Mountain, and their ilk. In fact, i loathed that stuff. Yeah, the more tasteful influences are there, but i keep hearing snatches of the lower tier stuff that back then made me want to rip the radio out of the truck and throw it out the window. It’s certain kinds of organ and synth sounds that seem to be the key element in the yuck factor.
Back in December, some forgotten blogger fingered why the National leaves me feeling unsatisfied… the singer sounds like the one in the Tindersticks. Matt Berninger doesn’t do that quavering thing like Stuart Staples, but it is more than enough. What’s funny is that i had to check the AMG to get the name of the singer for the National, and there it is laid bare… that they are regarded as similar to the Tindersticks, and are influenced by American Music Club. Ah, that’s it. Both of those bands were introduced to me by a dear friend that i’ve lost contact with, perhaps permanently, and they make me even more miserable then they already intend to.
Xiu Xiu’s Women As Lovers is probably going to one of my favorite albums this year. The Queen/Bowie cover with Gira is not as fab as i imagined it would be though. Sometimes Stewart’s freaky breathiness is too much for me to tolerate, but there are moments of stomping atonality that bring joy. They like to experiment with open space in their music, but i enjoy them being cluttered better. “In Lust You Can Hear The Axe Fall” over-eggs to pudding of that game though.
’80s Bowie is something that i simply wouldn’t touch, as it felt like it was for neon cokehead degenerates freeze-dried in hairspray. It never seemed so much bad as creepy, and not my kind of creepy. The space zombie karaoke of “Let’s Dance” has finally made its way onto my iPod though. Before too long, i can easily see Labyrinth OST on there.
There has to be a better way of titling these posts. Here we go:
For ages, Damien tried to turn me onto Throwing Muses. When he first started loaning records to me, he slipped House Tornado into the stack, which i doubt if i ever copied to tape, like i did with most of those albums. He apparently noticed that i didn’t embrace it. (He often quizzed me on the albums that he loaned me, so it was homework in a sense.) When i’d borrow a new batch, he’d slip that one back into the stack, like a few other albums that he knew that i didn’t connect with, but felt that i would eventually. But, yeah, i have finally embraced Throwing Muses.
I have a lot of regret regarding the ’80s. There was a guy who turned me onto Tom Waits, Robyn Hitchcock, and Julian Cope, and R.E.M. was self-evident. However, a lot of “college rock” was ignored in favor of metal and “classic” rock. It’s not as if i knew anyone who listened to Mission of Burma and Pylon at the time. In fact, it wasn’t until ’89 that bands like Black Flag and the Butthole Surfers appeared on my radar, and not until ’90 did i become familiar with Sonic Youth. I would gladly trade some of hundreds of hours spent listening to those same tapes of Master of Puppets and mix tapes of Roger Waters’ Pink Floyd (dubbed from the radio) for… anything.
The Smiths actually were appearing on my radar, but they were too treble for my ears for many years to come. Wimpy or gay are the wrong adjectives. It was the actual tone of the music that grated to my ears. Jangle was okay to a point, but when the guitar practically shimmers, it was too much then.
The new British Sea Power album is okay, but all they might ever be now for me is okay, since that guy left to focus on Brakes. Together, their palette was larger, and for me, complementary, with fun, disposable shrapnel to give respite to the Big Songs. BSP is still less monochromatic for me than, oh… say… the Arcade Fire, but you get the idea.
Jarvis Cocker’s “From Auschwitz to Ipswich” brings me great joy lately. Ah, the evil of banality…
The new Malkmus & the Jicks has left me nonplussed, but that says nothing. When it came to late Pavement and the last two Malkmus albums, it took awhile for me to love the whole things, aside from a song here and there. “We Can’t Help You” is the closest thing to a favorite song so far. The verses make me think of Dylan circa John Wesley Harding, which makes even more sense post-I’m Not There OST.
Los Campesinos! album Hold On Now, Youngster… pleases me, but it feels more like they should skip albums, and just release a series of EPs. I used to have the same issue with Hefner, a great band that made me squirm over the course of 45 minutes or so.
No opinion on the new Hot Chip yet, but it took me awhile to catch onto them in the first place. There doesn’t seem to be the odd flavor of melancholy that caught me on “Colours” and “Look After Me.” What the hell do i keep thinking of Sparks with this band, when they sound nothing like them?
Cat Power. Ah, whatever, i’ll pass on that. It did remind me that “Nude as the News” is a favorite song though. It also came up that her cover of “Wonderwall” done on John Peel has gone missing from my hard drives. I’m pretty sure You Are Free is going to be my cut-off point with her.
No wonder why i stopped blogging about music so many months ago.