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The buildings tumbled in on themselves

A brief post, as I’m neck-deep in deadline at present. Today’s post is what I’m currently listening to – Godspeed You Black Emperor’s F#A#∞ album. And, as happens whenever I listen after not hearing it for a long while, I’m amazed anew at how good it is. (more…)

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NO! I WILL FINISH IT!

This pretty much describes the attitude I’m going to force myself to take. Even though I may not be producing Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People, I have a couple of projects I Don’t Want To Let Slide.

And so, a reminder. No high-fives from God. Just a bunch of not-pissing-about.

Tomorrow. 

(Hear the rest of this Patton Oswalt show here.)

Review: Frank Bretschneider – Super.Trigger (and some gear)

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review of Frank Bretschneider‘s Super.Trigger album for Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample:

Eschewing romanticism doesn’t remove character, though some tracks are more favoured in this regard. ‘Pink Thrill’ is all nerdly tetchiness, but ‘Machine.Gun’ is the clear winner. Staccato drum rolls imitate the track’s titular weapons while a frenetic background conjures the image of a gunfight held over the top of a Blaxploitation soundtrack. It crackles, and when the end comes – in an echo-chamber of steely ricochets – it’s triumphant. Worth special note too is the album’s attention to bass sounds. On some tracks – the opener ‘Big.Hopes’, and ‘Day.Dream’ in particular – there’s window-shaking kicks and tones that are so immense that it’s difficult not to fist-pump in celebration. Coupled with the appropriate atmosphere, such as the dubby, dark sound of ‘Over.Load’, it’s overwhelmingly great.

You can read the full review here. But the reason I’m linking it today is that this rather neat article details Bretschneider’s studio setup and workflow. If you’re interested in electronic music (and like the track above) then you’ll find some good info in there.

(As an aside, I like reading this and discovering that I mentioned fist-pumping. I hadn’t even seen Regular Show when I wrote this, but the power of the Fist Pump can’t be denied. See below.)

 

There’s bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet

No matter where you live.

Today I’ve been listening to a fair bit of the Mountain Goats. Namely, The Sunset Tree, which is perhaps the most overtly autobiographical thing Goat chief John Darnielle has done. I guess you could argue that his life has provided grist for the lyrical mill all along – they are a deeply personal band (even when it’s just John) but The Sunset Tree was forthright in the handling of its author’s time as an abused kid. It’s also a more fulsome recording, benefiting from the expansions extra instrumentations introduce to a body of work more usually recorded on a boombox.

The first video in this post is what I’d pick as my go-to song on the album, though there’s really an embarrassment of lyrical riches on the bloody thing. Recently featured in an episode of The Walking Dead, the song ‘Up The Wolves’ is deeply sad and ebullient at the same time. It’s pugnacious sadness, and it gets me every time.  (more…)

A brief shakuhachi break

I recently went to a shakuhachi ‘blow’ – a group playing event. I’d not played my shakuhachi – and trust me, I’m not very good – for almost a year, and so it was a little intimidating, especially as the only other attendees were accomplished players, including the first non-Japanese grandmaster, Riley Lee. We weren’t playing this piece, but playing with others reminded me how good it feels to share a musical experience with people, even if you’re not on the same level.

This video features the legendary Katsuya Yokayama playing ‘Tsuru no Sugomori’ or ‘Nesting of Cranes’, a sort of sound-portrait. Another performance of this piece (played by Goro Yamaguchi) was included on the golden disc that went into the universe on the Voyager probe. (You can hear that version here, should you wish to.)

I include this video today because it’s been a day of stress, and though I find it difficult (sometimes) to maintain focus through a shakuhachi piece, I really like this one. It’s a pretty popular piece, or at least there’s a lot of different takes on it.

The different versions show how much scope there is for interpretation, and give me the hope that someday I’d be able to play a version, however flawed, of it. Or, let’s face it, of any honkyoku.