Thursday, September 25, 2008

Electronic Glossolalia. 90s/00s Nostalgia.

Purchased High Places' new self titled album on Thrill Jockey today and I am quite smitten. This is encouraging as I've been feeling remiss about not listening to enough 'new' music lately. It also confirmed a trend I have noticed in contemporary avant-rock/free folk; a conscious or perhaps unconscious homage to late 1990s/early 2000s click-n-cut style electronica, or what was shamefully called IDM (intelligent dance music).

I'm quite enjoying this short-term-memory retro-ism. Its been making me feel nostalgic (and only slightly embarrassed) about my college days. While young white men with guitars were all the rage (even more so after 9/11) I voraciously consumed a great deal of music from the record labels TigerBeat6, Morr Music, Carpark and Hefty among others. I put together a few sweet jams, old and new alike. Listening to Cex, Slicker, Marumari, etc. again reminds me of living in Sunset Park and getting all stoked to be voting for Ralph Nader in 2000, his election feeling entirely possible for one brief moment.

Perhaps there is some inscrutable and bizarre historic correlation to be etched out between collective fetishes for melodic low tempo dance music and pre-election anxiety, I don't know. I just hope the results are better this time around. Until election day High Places will be constant rotation, soothing my frightening psyche.

Electronic Glossolalia
1. yacht 'so post em all' (2007)
2. paavoharju 'kevatrumpu' (2008)
3. slicker 'bindusky' (1998)
4. high places 'namer' (2008)
5. valet 'streets' (2008)
6. cex 'theme song to cex' (2000)
7. e-vax 'glacier' (2000)
8. kid cudi 'heaven at nite' (2008)
9. cex 'callmewhenyouneedsome' (2001?)
10. high places 'a field guide' (2008)
11. marumari 'untitled' (1999)
12. high places 'from stardust to sentience' (2008)
-Jams are not in order, my apologies.

Image: High Places courtesy of the amazing Todd Seelie

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Electrifying Mojo. Detroit. Rock Lobster.

It probably comes as no surprise, but my favorite moments on the internet are the things that are as far removed from the internet as possible. Which is a clumsy way of saying, the internet gets better the closer it gets to tangible relationships, computer-less experiences, and pre-internet histories (NisN and RI embody this perhaps better than anyone). I've done some time writing and researching about purely virtual/internet phenomenon and I can only describe it as an awkward tautological depression.

As great as the interweb is, it's comforting to know so many things still exist within histories outside its purview. In particular, I have been wanting to write about Charles "The Eletricfying Mojo" Johnson and unless my research skills fail me, little is available other than a poorly written wiki page and some brief bios. A seminal Detroit DJ from the 1970s to the 1990s, the Electrifying Mojo was first a DJ in Vietnam where he was exposed to a myriad of global sounds. When he got back to Detroit, he had a nightly show and introduced the youth of Detroit to all of these diverse sounds, not least of which was Kraftwerk. All the founders of Detroit Techno (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derick May, Carl Craig, et al.) site him as a major influence.

My initial search for the Electrifying Mojo came from a quote I read from 'Mad' Mike Banks, ringleader of the Detroit Techno and Afro-Futurist collective Underground Resistance - "I think he ended gang warfare in Detroit with one band. A lot of guys will know what I'm talking about. That summer (1978) the gang warfare was at a height and Mojo would get on the radio and ask for peace, pray for peace, and then drop the B52s, man. "Rock Lobster". Truthfully, you can't be too much of a tough guy while doing the rock lobster."

While the accuracy of this statement is open to debate, the sentiment behind it is remarkable and embodies the way sonic narratives, including the most absurd and wonderful pop music, can activate new social realities.

Images: Ruins of Detroit courtesy of Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre.


New HIT BOOK is up! (Perhaps the best one yet!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Posthumous Florist

I know a blog has rarely, if ever, been used to complain or critique's one job, or the institution of labor in general, so forgive this departure into a path seldom traveled by the multitudes.

Yesterday I was reminded of a dream I had before moving back to New York in February of 2006. I think I have written about it before so forgive me if this is repetitive for some of you. In the dream, I was working with a large group of friendly enough strangers. We were in a large field, in a single file line, picking flowers, each of us making a bouquet. While this sounds like a leisurely activity, it was very clear that this bouquet was highly important and I took this task seriously and with the utmost diligence. At the same time, I was in a good mood and enjoying this communal 'labor.' After a while I had put together an impressive and beautiful arrangement of flowers. From the field we moved to a smaller enclosed area, still in single file line. I don't know how, but at some point it become startlingly apparent to me that the bouquet I put together was for my own grave and that I was already dead.

Initially freaked, this ended up being one of my favorite dreams ever as it ultimately signified putting to death a former part of myself. And anyone who knew me when I was living in Texas after grad school in London knows that this was certainly a self that needed to die. Though I have haven't had a similar dream since, I am hoping that my actions yesterday (walking out on a terrible job) will similarly put to death a part of me that has been lingering around for far too long.

In a further vulgar display of banality, I put together some sweet jams related to my feelings about 'jobs' and the experience as a whole. It was hard to resist some of the more obvious inclusions (lee dorsey working on the coal mine, NIN head like a hole, temple of the dog hunger strike and any number of kinks songs). If nothing else, it made me realize that for some reason I associate being malcontent at a job with singers' named 'Lee.'

Posthumous Florist
1. lee hazlewood pray them bars away*
2. soft machine hope for happiness
3. skip bifferty money man
4. doris waiting at the station
5. lee dorsey who's gonna help brother get further
6. gamers in exile I am a decent man
7. the 24-carat gold food stamps
8. the people's victory orchestra and chorus a long way from home
9. lee hazlewood wait till next year
10. townes van zandt waitin around to die
11. beck forcefield
12. gorky's zygotic mynci shore light
13. the free design going back
14. lee dorsey a mellow goodtime
15. purple image marching to a different drummer

technically a song about prison but I think it is apt.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest (1956-66) Pt. 2

Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon Steal Away to Jesus

Bessie Jones & Children from the Downtown Community School I'm Gonna Lay Down my Life for my Lord

Malvina Reynolds No Hold in my Head