Solid state

July 31, 2006

I believe I may have gotten the turntable to work, so now all I need is some records so I can make sure.

What else is there?

April 12, 2006

About a year ago I was talking with a friend of mine about my near-obsessive compulsion to download and buy music, when I mentioned that I was glad that I didn’t seem to like jazz. After all, just listening to rock and such can take up way too much time to begin with. Checking out new releases can be a full-time job, and that doesn’t even start to address the issue of back-catalogs. There are hundreds of albums that I own and hundreds more that I “own”, and I still don’t even know what Deep Purple sound like. Hell, two years ago I barely knew who David Bowie was.

I’m not an expert on the music I listen to, but I can drop some pretty obscure names if I need to, and I also have a decent sense of my failings as it were and what I really should get around to listening to. Jazz, on the other hand, I felt was a completely foreign and alien world, with such a ridiculously long and thoroughly-catalogued history that I wouldn’t know where to begin. I was thankful for my ignorance, shielding me as it did from the need to listen to and explore the world of jazz. (Lite-FM stations, incidentally, were also a big help in this regard.)

Sadly I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and for some stupid reason I decided to take a semester course on the history of jazz and the blues. Fuck me in the goat-ass; it turns out there’s a lot of this stuff that I really enjoy, and recently I’ve been purchasing a Horace Silver album a day. (In my defense, he was essentially Xploding Plastix 40 years before they were.)

Am I going to start seriously listening to classical music next? I don’t know if I could take that. At least I should have a steady paycheck (i.e. a way to subsidize this insane music habit) soon.

Song of the Moment: «Calcutta Cutie» — Horace Silver

piss stain

March 2, 2006

Come on and shake away with me

February 20, 2006

Yeah, you wish you had this many sound cards in your computer.

Song of the Moment: «It’s Easy» — The Ladies and Gentlemen


February 7, 2006

I can’t believe it took me this long to finally realize/notice that Jack Feeny and Mark Prindle are not, in fact, the same person.

Practice, practice, practice…

February 5, 2006

It’s funny: the last time I was in Carnegie Hall, I was one of the performers.

How the mighty have fallen.

Diabolus in musica

January 19, 2006

I’ve been a big fan of Love in Reverse for years. They ceased to be a while ago, and I was never quite as fond of Amazing Meet Project, but Ferentino’s next project, Transfusion M, looks quite promising. In any case, if you haven’t heard any Love in Reverse you owe it to yourself to listen to some, especially if you’re fond of post-grunge or neo-prog (whatever those mean), which is how Allmusic has decided to categorize them.

I Was Here is my favorite album of theirs—I was such a big fan of it that a few days after I bought a copy for myself, I went back to the record store and picked up another 5 or 6 copies that I gave out to friends in an evangelistic furore. The reason I was able to do that, incidentally, is also the reason why you can pick up a copy on the cheap as well. While it’s depressing to see such a good album sold at “please just take it off our hands” prices, with the entire music distribution apparatus writing it off as a loss, at least it means you have no excuse not to get a copy for yourself. Of course, Words Become Worms (Pitchfork review notwithstanding) and the posthumously-released Another One for You to Hate are good too, but I Was Here just has a special place in my heart, or something.

Anyway, there’s this song on I Was Here named “Play For Dawn”. I liked the song enough that, after a whole lot of web searching turned up zero tablature for it, I decided to figure out how to play it. It wasn’t that hard: Em, modified Em; G, modified G; D, modified D; F… But what the fuck came next? While the little riff on the D they played might have been the most immediately recognizable meme from the song, the chord that came after the F is really what defined the song and held it together. It sounded a bit like the F before it, yet at the same time sounded vastly different. After literally hours of fumbling around and trying every random fingering I could think of, I stumbled over the answer, which, as it turned out, was only different from the F by one fret on one string.

123211, in case you were wondering.

It was around 4 years ago that I figured that out, and it wasn’t until today that it occurred to me to find out what that chord might be. As it turns out, it’s an Fdim5, and the bizarre interval in it, the one that defines the song and makes the chord sound so unusual, is the “tritone” that was once considered the work of Satan.

So it goes.

2k5, preliminary

December 9, 2005

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite tracks from this year.

  • «Special»—Mew.
    This is a fine example of Mew’s penchant for interesting and atypical rhythmic constructions. The song doesn’t quite go where you might expect it to, which makes it well worth a listen, particularly in its context on the album. And the Glass Handed Kites flows together so smoothly it’s hard to single out a particular song as noteworthy.
  • «Godspell»—The Cardigans.
    The once-rampant popularity of “Lovefool” belies the fact that the Cardigans have been one of the most consistently good bands over the past 10 years. Nina Persson has a wonderful set of pipes and she’s not afraid to use them, as this song indicates. The way the sound keeps flirting with a nice hard-rock feeling doesn’t hurt either.
  • «Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts»—Wolf Parade
    Please forgive Wolf Parade all the hype, and the band name, and the name of the song, and the fact that the first half of their album is entirely unremarkable, and the super-lo-fi sound. Just listen to this song. It’s not going to change your life, but it just may brighten your day.

More is coming, but comment if you have suggestions.

Burning down the horse

December 6, 2005

You know, there was a time when CD liner notes would include messages like this:


How times have changed — indeed, how times changed by the time they released their next album, when they were the proud owners of their very own domain.

If you follow every dream, you might get lost

September 29, 2005

I kept a promise today: I went to meeskoor practice. I showed up half in the bag (thanks, Paul; thanks, XII), but that didn’t seem to really affect things. I mean, the whiskey I sipped throughout might even have helped my voice a bit. I was the youngest person there by at least 30 years, but that didn’t really seem to affect things.

(Did Neil Young just name-drop Chris Rock in “No Wonder”? Shit, I think he did.)

I mean, I’m obviously not some kind of saviour of meeskoor or anything, but everybody seemed legitimately happy to get some fresh blood. They certainly knew their craft, though. Some of them have been coming to practice for over 50 years, and it shows. When you’re the newcomer and you haven’t read music or sung in a choir since 8th grade, it really helps to be able to sit next to a guy who seems to know every song by heart. I’m not ashamed to admit I was essentially cheating off the guy next to me.

(I’m only 4 tracks into the new Neil Young album at this point, and I have to say that so far it feels every bit as good as Harvest. And I don’t say that lightly.)

Anyway, I’d forgotten how good it feels to sing as part of an ensemble. The previous sentence is a complete lie, since I’ve recently been thrilled to harmonize at such events as people’s 70th birthday bashes, or Connecticut suvepäevad, but I had forgotten how good it feels to sing as part of an ensemble where you have four-voice harmony that’s actually composed beforehand, as opposed to being ad-libbed on the fly. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, of course.

  • I need to practice reading music again.
  • I also need to start learning how to play the harmonica I bought over the weekend.
  • I was never particularly good even remotely skilled at playing the violin, so that means it should be trivial to get myself back to my previous level of proficiency, right?

Anyway, I saw the following on a sign in K-Town and decided to put it in my blog:


(Humour me.)

Of course, I fucked up immediately after keeping that promise. I’m simply thrilled that I left the book I borrowed (the NYEM 30.a. Aastaraamat) on the train. I said I was going to look over it, and instead I called somebody, hung up on her in the middle of the conversation for no reason, and started working on the Sudoku (数独?) and crossword puzzles in the New York Post, which so absorbed me that I left the book on the seat. Splendid.

Song of the Moment: «The Painter» — Neil Young

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