Wednesday, January 7, 2009

List of Lists 2008

Its absurd on so many levels, but I love nothing more than best of lists. While none of them describe the elusive listening experience, but rather 'albums' here are some noteworthy lists. Mine is on the way soon (although I shouldn't inadvertently built it up as it is somewhat predictable).

Experimental Etc.'s (aka my current favorite blog) Top 12 of 2008

We Are Up For Sale's 20 of 2008

Cocaine Blunts' Best Rap of 2008 & Top 10 Mixtapes

Root Blog's Best of 2008

Incomplete Tales of Several Journey's Top 25 Albums of 2008

Other Music's 25 New Releases and Reissues (perhaps the list closest to my own tastes)

And most importantly The Wire's
2008 Rewind

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Great Moments in Dallas History

Tum Tum Caprice Muzik (2007)

Fila Fresh Crew Tuffest Man Alive (1988?)
This was the DOC's first group before he left Dallas behind for NWA, forever being considered a west coast rapper by the uninformed.

Nemesis Munchies for your Bass (1991)
This is a serious classic. Yes the lyrics and delivery are less than stellar but it still sounds amazing. I remember really loving the whole album as a kid and wish I still had my CD version.

New Years 2009 Addendum

dearest readers,

My deepest apologies but I realized just yesterday that the mixtape I posted has a fatal flaw - the flying lotus song may not be able to play since i 'legally' purchased it. Sadly I won't be able to correct this till I am back in brooklyn which will be in the new year. Do what you wish but I didn't spent hours upon hours obsessing over it to have a song not play.

In the meantime get Clipse's new mixtape road to till the casket drops. It is amazing. But you probably already knew that.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Years 2009

It's a New Years Mixtape! Strolling through the 2,900 or so songs I added to my iTunes this year in order to prepare this mix yielded some interesting surprises including; a renewed interest in American music or at least music sang in the English language (as opposed to Portuguese), a deeper focus on early American blues and mid 20th century Soul and Funk, as well as an overall obsession with the unending complexities and beauty of the human voice in song. A 'best of-year in review' is on the way wherein I will elaborate more but in the meantime please enjoy!

New Years 2009
1. amon duul II freak out requiem III
2. davy graham both sides now
3. flower travelin' band heaven and hell
4. flying lotus BNG GNG
5. black sabbath supernaut
6. joy & the hit kids run away
7. merry clayton country road
8. judson moore everybody push and pull
9. wale (w/bun b, pusha t) the feature heavy song
10. lil wayne phone home
11. scientist the voodoo curse*
12. nathanial mayer
dancing mood
13. the walker brothers i can't let that happen to you
14. roberta flack compared to what
15. brownie mcghee/sonny terry better day
16. the beach boys feeling flows
17. arthur russell close my eyes
18. shivkumar sharma, brijbushank kabra, haripreasad chaurasia bhoop ghara-dadra
19 doris i wish i knew

*big shout out to rude boy number one Augustus and the whole bushwick dub massive!

Monday, December 8, 2008

L' Enfant Assasin des Mouches

About a week ago, I had a dream that after taking part in a Pig Butchering class at Brooklyn Kitchen I found myself in the store cutting up a human being. Within the dream there seemed to be nothing strange or out of the ordinary about this. The human body in question was a headless male figure. With a long boning knife I started cutting it up as it lay on the floor. Similar to a normal animal butchering, the man had already been drained of his blood. Removing the arms and deftly carving into it was in no way gross or bloody even if I was slightly self-conscious in the dream. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the human was wearing jeans and a blue sweater. Anyone who has seen me in the last few months knows this outfit has been my winter uniform. (For the record I have two of the same exact blue sweater)

In 1972, after creating music with Serge Gainsbourg including the 1970 arguable masterpiece Histoire de Melody Nelson, French composer Jean Claude Vannier made one of the most glorious, delirious, and baffling albums of the last half century. L’Enfant Assassin des Mouches, (The Child Killer of Flies) is a stunning and tightly composed pastiche of musique concrete, film score, carnival waltz, psychedelic rock, free jazz, lounge, etc. And be certain a great deal of emphasis should be placed on that “etc.” An instrumental concept album of sorts that seems to revolve, as best as I understand it, around a young child and his descent into an underground kingdom of flies, wherein after a great deal of struggle, the child is eventually murdered and consumed by the flies. And while this operatic narrative is only suggested within the French titles and linear notes, a sense of the grotesque and violent lurks just beneath the absurdist pop compositions.

The album often gets referred to as ‘difficult,’ and to the extent that it denotes abrasive or harsh sounds it is quite misleading. The majority of the compositions are melodic, beautiful, and straightforward. But like a dream in which every scene may be mundane and realistic, the whole narrative is still impossible to describe, and the more one attempts to do so, the faster it slips away. No matter how many times I listen to this record, it remains ever elusive and hard to put into words. It feels distant and foreign upon each listen; and in the surreal pop fantasia there is always something new to discover. Later in the week, JeffH was kind enough to give me a tarot reading, a fantastic and informative exploration. All the details are too personal and complex to share here but the 5 Cups card came up as the card that signified how others see me.

Both this card and the cover of L’Enfant Assassin des Mouches depict a lone figure starring off into the void; wishing for what could have been, confronting the bad choices that lead them there, and feeling overwhelmed by the weight of infinite possibilities before them.

Jean Claude Vannier
L’Enfant Assassin des Mouches (1972)

Jean Claude Vannier
L' Enfant la Mouche Les Allumettes (1971)
Don't ask me to explain it but this is perhaps my favorite video ever.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MC Breed. Rest in Peace.

MC Breed Ain't No Future in Yo Frontin' (1991)
I'm two weeks late on this but I just found out Flint, Michigan rapper MC Breed died on November 22, 2008. As long as this blog has existed I've wanted to post this video. I was 11 when it came out and it was a very seminal moment in my appreciation of music. There was something very distinct about Breed, it struck me as very different than everything else I had been listening to then. For some reason I was convinced he was a Dallas area rapper. I suppose this is because he didn't neatly align himself with either the West or East coast, which was incredibly rare at the time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta. Rest in Peace.

An immensely sad day. Discovering the voice of Odetta was at once thrilling and made me full of regret, regret that until that moment I had unknowingly encountered so many singers that took so much from her and paled in comparison, most notably Bob Dylan. This album of Odetta singing Dylan's songs is a bit ironic as such but still absolutely heavenly.
Odetta - Odetta Sings Dylan (1965)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fall Breaks and Back to Winter

When I was getting my masters degree in London, I wrote a paper exploring the architectural dimensions of silence, which was partially spurred by parents separating at the time. The essay covered lots of different topics including the contrasting nature of noise. One framework the essay suggested is that a large city, beyond just making a lot of noise, creates within us a desire to make more noise; noise as a kind of defensive space of protection. In contrast the open desert's fundamental sonic character is silence and as such it has a historical connotation to 'truth' or 'god.'

As the temperature drops and the leaves slowly change I've somewhat similarly been thinking about the sonic character of the different seasons. While such a thing is thoroughly subjective I can't help think we have legitimate collective pyscho-sonic impressions of the seasons. There are cliches of courses; bells, carols, etc. But there is something more elusive that a season produces spatially and sonically.

For the better part of the summer for instance, my ipod was exclusively full of chopped and screwed music, the slowed pace being a perfect match for the heat. In no way is it surprising that the hot, muggy, and insufferably humid city of Houston gave birth to such music. While DJ Screw sounds excellent to my ears anywhere, it's geographical or at least season specific music.

I don't have any definitive theories to posit regarding the relationship between sound and winter, but I put together a mix that begins to approach winter's sonic nature, even if I don't really know what that is. It's definitely a moody, slow, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts mix so perhaps wait till your in such a state to fully appreciate it. It does seem that rather than a shared energy or melody, each song has a specific sonic tonality; each crisp note seems to rest in a space of thick ether.

Fall Breaks
1. jim o'rourke fall breaks and back to winter
2. sam prekop the company
3. nino rota rugiada sui ranocchi
4. the united states of america cloud song
5. broadcast valerie
6. alice coltrane my favorite things
7. thomas felmann radeln
8. makoto kawabata & richard youngs blue
9. jeff alexander & bonnie beecher come wander with me*
10. francoise hardy la maison
11. jonas bering wissant
12. johnny smith yesterdays
13. catherine howe up north

*This song is actually from The Twilight Zone episode #154 Come Wander with Me. Air put it on their Late Night Tales mix. I still remember the first time I heard it; it absolutely made the rest of the world fade into the background. You may also recognize it from some d-bag's movie.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Murakami was the Rage

A retrospective of photographer William Eggelston, Democratic Camera: Photographs and Videos 1961 - 2008, just opened at the Whitney. Included in the large exhibition is the series Los Alamos, which I wrote about in 2005 when it was shown at the Dallas Museum of Art. You can find it here. Rereading it again, I think the Haruki Murakami comparison still holds up well against Eggelston's aesthetic, even if the piece itself is a bit awkwardly sentimental.