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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sonics

posted by on October 28 at 11:00 AM

In case you haven't heard, The Sonics are playing this Friday at the Paramount Theatre. KEXP DJ and all-around great guy Greg Vandy conducted an interview last week with the archetypal Northwest garage rockers, who haven't played a show (in Seattle - ed.) since 1972. The interview doesn't happen until about halfway through his (October 22) show, but Vandy always puts together excellent episodes of The Roadhouse (Wednesdays, 6-9 pm), and this particular show is dedicated to Northwest garage bands from the 60s. Getting to the beginning of this interview is half the fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cover Versions That Surpass the Originals

posted by on October 22 at 2:42 PM

Hearing LCD Soundsystem’s rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” on KEXP this morning prompted me to ponder the phenomenon of covers that may be better than the originals (totally subjective, of course, but it’s fun to play). As fantastic as Nilsson’s “Jump” is, I think James Murphy & Co. just may have nudged out the blueprint.

Off the top of my head, I give you a few more examples:

Aretha Franklin topping Otis Redding’s “Respect”
Spacemen 3 over the Red Krayola’s “Transparent Radiation”
Bauhaus surprisingly besting T.Rex’s “Telegram Sam”
Anything the Byrds did from the Bob Dylan songbook
Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” over Dylan’s
Mercury Rev soaring over David Bowie’s “Memory of a Free Festival”
Skylab triumphing over Kim Fowley’s “The Trip”
Loop edging out the Pop Group’s “Thief of Fire”
Stevie Wonder beating by a nose the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out”
And some days I think Devo’s version of “Satisfaction” is better than the Rolling Stones’ and Primal Scream’s “Slip Inside This House” is superior to the Thirteenth Floor Elevators’.

What are your picks?

Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire”

Friday, August 8, 2008


posted by on August 8 at 9:56 AM

To celebrate the 8, Manchester's Acid House kings, 808 State, have announced the remaster/reissue treatment in deluxe 2CD format.

London/Manchester, 8.08.08

The date of this press release is no coincidence! On 8.08.08, ZTT announces four deluxe reissues from one of the UK's most important electronic outfits - 808 State - celebrating the band's 20th anniversary, the 20th anniversary of acid house, and the 25th anniversary of ZTT itself. (Release date for all four is 06.10.2008)

The four albums getting reissued are: 808:90, EX:EL, Gorgeous and Don Solaris. Gorgeous is probably my favorite 808 State album but EX:EL has been imprinted on my brain permanently. Cubik, In Yer Face, Olympic, Spanish Heart, Oops...they all feel like nursery rhymes or ancient scrolls. Perhaps I just mean classic.

In honor of this day and the start of the Olympics, 808 State - Olympic

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Biggest Regret

posted by on July 17 at 1:00 PM

2006-12-12T14_52_16-08_00.jpg How in the world did I manage to miss Cornell Campbell at Nectar on July 12th? How? The man has a voice that instantly fills my heart with sweet, sweet melodies. And his old age has had little or no impact on the heartbreaking soul of his craft--listen to Rhythm and Sound's "Empire." Is it the air? Is it something in the water? What could it be that makes the small island of Jamaica produce so many great singers?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Future Conditional - We Don't Just Disappear

posted by on July 3 at 5:00 PM

Bobby Wratten has just entered my top 5 songwriters list. Other four to be named at a later date. I've just started listening to some of his output as The Field Mice, Northern Picture Library and Trembling Blue Stars. Since my two favorite bands are The Smiths and New Order, I find it odd that The Field Mice were never recommended to me by either a smarty pants record store clerk or one of my friends. As a fan of Saint Etienne, I was aware of The Field Mice but hadn't explored them beyond their original take of Lets Kiss and Make Up. I originally heard it on the Rough Trade bailout compilation A Historical Debt but preferred the St. Etienne version and didn't bother exploring further. I recently acquired their double disc retrospective, Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way through illegal means. I couldn't stop listening to it for days. All 36 tracks sound like i've known them all my life. Instant classic. An obsession was born. I've since spent just under $100 buying Field Mice and Northern Picture Library CD's around town. I've decided Bobby Wratten is a musical genius who's songs are laced with equal parts wit and sadness. Actually, maybe it's closer to 70/30 sadness/wit but that's my preferred split anyway. I very recently purchased a 2007 album by a Piano Magic alias called Future Conditional that features members of The Wake and Nouvelle Vague as well as Bobby Wratten. The album reminds me of Wasps' Nest by the 6ths but more electro-pop than jangle. I'm just getting into it but I can tell this is going to get multiple spins. Today has been all about the title track, We Don't Just Disappear. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

We Dont Just Disappear - Future Conditional

Future Conditional review via

Update: Found this on the Future Conditional MySpace page. I think it explains my interest in We Don't Just Disappear.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

What You've Been Waiting For

posted by on June 19 at 12:36 PM

Long and hard thought has finally produced an answer to this question: What is the greatest rap record in the history of hiphop?
rakim-1.jpg The answer? It's one you can't disagree with: "Follow the Leader" by Eric B. and Rakim.

Everything that is great about hiphop is in that track: futurism, lyricism, politics, modernism, and experimentalism. It's at once a revolution in sound and a reaffirmation of traditional hiphop themes and tropes. And it's spacy sample and hyperdrive beat transport the listener to a vector of the imagination that is outside of the limits of time. The track will never grow old.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

RE: The Oldest School aka Manchester Computer Music

posted by on June 18 at 3:42 PM

Yesterday I was trying to come up with a good reason to post a video of a very sweaty Tony Wilson discussing the importance of the computer and synth technology in Manchester music. Now Charles has given me one. I believe the computer in the background in this video is the same one that was used to record the Ba Ba Black Sheep and In The Mood bits. I could be wrong but so what. It's still great to see Tony sweating like a pig, answering a phone call from his son Oliver and singing the praises of New Order. Wish you were here with us now Tony.

This clip reminds me that Mr. Anthony H. Wilson deserves both the "genius" and "wanker" tags.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keymatic's Utopia

posted by on June 11 at 12:41 PM

After all these years, after the death of the space race...
...I still believe in and long for Keymatic's vision of utopia: breakers in space. "Living in space is the thing of the 80s."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Minimal

posted by on June 5 at 10:41 AM

If you happen to be in Shanghai this Saturday:

Saturday June 7th: Robert Hood plays The Shelter, located at 5 Yongfu Lu near Fuxing Xi Lu (永福路5号,近复兴西路). 50 RMB gets you in the door starting at 10 PM. Shanghai_Ultra, Nat Alexander, and Ben Huang ope

Robert Hood's Minimal Nation (1994) is black thought in its purest condition. It is nothing but thought. Nous qua nous.

My minimal techno list:
"Enforcement" by Basic Channel
Minimal Nation by Robert Hood
Metropolis Jeff Mills
"Bubble Metropolis" by Drexciya
Coldest Season by Deep Chord

Friday, May 30, 2008

That's The Way I Feel About Ya

posted by on May 30 at 12:52 PM

Fuck a duck! I guess I should start checking Pitchfork more often. I just read that yesterday saw not only a release of a new Best Of for one of my Top 3 favorite singers of all time- BOBBY FUCKIN WOMACK- but a first-time digital release of classics such as 1968's Fly Me to the Moon, 1969's My Prescription, 1971's The Womack Live, 1973's Lookin' for a Love Again, 1975's Safety Zone, 1975's I Don't Know What the World Is Coming To, and 1976's BW Goes C&W. GODDAMN!

Not only THAT:

What's more, May 27 will also see the digital release of recently unearthed recordings of a previously unavailable 1972 Womack gig under the title Live at the Apollo.

Oh lordy lord, I'm there. I actually need all of these in my life! I can only pray to baby black jesus that this will coincide with a TOUR, and that it comes to Seattle. Shit scratch the last part, if I have to I will fucking fly to LA if he comes at least that far. I will not miss another chance to see The Womack! (Last time he was here- at The Paramount- it was the same night as Cancer Rising's first show.)

Check the shit I ran down on my personal favorite album of his, 1973's Facts Of Life.

Also peep the man sangin "Woman Gotta Have It":


Monday, May 5, 2008

A Love Connection

posted by on May 5 at 5:11 PM

Love is like a butterfly As soft and gentle as a sigh The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings Love makes your heart feel strange inside It flutters like soft wings in flight Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

How I love this line, this string of words: "...a rare and gentle thing." So simple, yet I feel them so powerfully. I repeat the line over and over, and with each return I love the words even more. I can say them forever. They open me to the infinite: "...a rare and gentle thing."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Was ist dub?

posted by on March 20 at 10:59 AM

It's common to describe the affect that dub has on one's senses as aquatic. Dub, however, is not watery but atmospheric. Dub is nothing else than what we experience during course of an ordinary day.
Travel%20-%20Hong%20Kong%20dusk.jpg A day is never clear. A day is an amazing light show. Light is bent and distorted by distance, dust particles, random hexagonal ice crystals, heating gases, and the vibrations of vapors. Sunlight bounces from droplet to droplet. Blue rays concentrate here. Orange rays disperse there. The shadows, sun ripples, sun dogs, fog, smog, solar halos, coronas, mountains of clouds, glories, rainbows, inferior mirages, superior mirages, green flashes--what we daily see in our agitated atmosphere has its match in what hear in the agitated sounds of dub. Was ist dub? Dub is a day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Stockhausen

posted by on March 11 at 11:31 AM

The March issue of Artforum has an excellent article on avant garde avatar Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007).

Stockhausen at the Studio for Electronic Music, WDR, Cologne, 1969

Björk, Morton Subotnick, and Robin Maconie reflect on Stockhausen's multifarious contributions to music. Maconie, author of Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, leads with a terrific essay ("For Stockhausen, the issue was not just how art in the modern world can respond to the presence of evil but whether art deserves to survive.") though I have to disagree with his aside that Stravinsky's "Movements for piano and orchestra (1958-59) owes much of its élan to Stockhausen's Kontra-Punkte (1952-53) for similar forces." While the post-Webern language of Movements was created by Stockhausen, Boulez, and others, the élan derives from Stravinsky's rhythmic language, a raw intervallic impulse in place since The Firebird of 1909.

Björk, who interviewed Stockhausen several years ago, and Subotnick, composer of Touch and several other classics of electronic music, contribute personal reminiscences ("I remember very well sitting in his studio in Cologne...") and sensible insights ("Stockhausen’s work solidified major ideas in the history of the avant-garde.").

The print edition has additional reflections by musicians Irvine Arditti, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and composers La Monte Young and Maryanne Amacher.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Conversation in a Song

posted by on March 3 at 1:26 PM


I said, "What?"

She said, "Oo-oo-oo wee."

I said, "Alright!"

She said, "Love me, love me, love me."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mo' Better than the Book

posted by on February 27 at 10:35 AM

The best thing about Michael Radford's adaptation of George Orwell's novel 1984 is not in the movie, the Eurythmics' soundtrack.
Radford rejected the Eurythmics' synthpop score and instead used a dull (dry, dead, dreadful) original orchestral score. The Eurythmics, however, released the soundtrack separately and provided the world with what might be the only instance of a soundtrack being not only better than the movie but also the book.

No need to read Orwell when the essence of his famous work is better captured by the Eurythmics' pop.

Track List

01. I Did It Just the Same - 3:29

02. Sexcrime (nineteen eighty-four) - 3:59

03. For the Love of Big Brother - 5:06

04. Winston's Diary - 1:22

05. Greetings from a Dead Man - 6:14

06. Julia - 6:40

07. Doubleplusgood - 4:41

08. Ministry of Love - 3:48

09. Room 101 - 3:50

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Hands of Bill

posted by on February 18 at 10:06 AM

For a split second, I thought the cover of the 1999 Vintage edition of Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus : The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend ...

...was of this man:

...Almost, but it's not Bill Evans. However, the matching of Evans' image with Mann's fictional musician and genius, Adrian Leverkuhn, would not have been totally wrong. Though Evans is much closer to Debussy than Arnold Schoenberg (the man who inspired Mann's character), his music possesses the kind of intellectual depth and pull we feel when reading Mann's novel. A novel, by the way, that is greatly admired by a circle of black American jazz musicians and writers that had its peak in the late '80s and has Albert Murray as its leading intellectual and Wynton Learson Marsalis as its leading celebrity.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tonight on Flotation Device

posted by on February 10 at 10:23 AM

Music by underrated electronic music pioneers Josef Anton Riedl and Alwin Nikolais, the first person to buy a Moog synthesizer. Also on deck: Leticia Casteneda, who served up a superb set at the Wooden Octopus Skull PFest in 2006, acousmatic music by Darren Copeland, and the League of Automatic Music Composers, perhaps the first group to make music with networked computers.

Nico Muhly

Also in the mix: two Seattle sound artists - Byron Au Yong and some fine field recordings from China by Jason Kopec, who performs this coming Tuesday at the Chapel Performance Space - as well as work by Annea Lockwood ("Delta Run," a haunting end-of-life portrait of the sculptor Walter Wincha), John Adams, Nico Muhly (pictured above), and much more...

Catch the on-line stream or tune in to KBCS 91.3 FM from 10 pm to midnight.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Recent Reading

posted by on February 7 at 11:00 AM

In case you missed the Seattle Chamber Players' Morton Feldman marathon, Kyle Gann posted his talk, In Dispraise of Efficiency: Feldman, which profiles and parses Feldman's influence on post-classical composers today: "Feldman changed what composers think, how we feel about what we think, and how we are allowed to defend our choices. He gave us a sword with which to shatter the thick shields of rationalism, professionalism, and conventional wisdom."

Following the tradition of composer-as-writer (Berlioz, Wagner, Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Cage...and later Ellington, Braxton, Mingus, Cardew, Gann...), Feldman was a fine, fun, wry essayist. Peruse a selection of his essays here, especially "Boola Boola" - " father said he would give me what his father gave him - the world. The world turned out to be Lewisohn Stadium on a hot summer night. It never occurred to me to go to a University."

Anthony Braxton

A few folks asked me about the source of the Anthony Braxton quote in "The Score" recently - "anyone seriously studying composition and making music in this current time-space needs to pay attention to what the video-game people are doing. They're navigating a dynamic system that can go just about anywhere at any time and we can learn a lot from their solutions." Read the rest of it here. Hat tip to HurdAudio.

I'm also enamored with Music as a Living System by Seattle composer, improviser, and SIL2K honcho Stuart McLeod: "Time is not an absolute entity but instead a ruler by which we measure the relationship between objects." I don't agree with all McLeod's propositions, but he thinks big, something composers rarely do these days. It's provocative - and essential.

I finally read the masterly profile, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, by Gay Talese. The piece portrays Ol' Blue Eyes at work, with his cronies, and talking about his "bird."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Because It's Late...

posted by on January 30 at 9:30 PM

And I have a cold. And I'm hopped up on a combo of Nyquil and Sudafed.

For some reason that combination made this little ditty so compelling and beautiful.

Carl Orff, meet the banjo. Banjo, meet Carl Orff.


Sandy Bull - Carmina Burana Fantasy

(hat tip Bumrocks)

Monday, January 28, 2008

DJ Mullet

posted by on January 28 at 12:10 PM

mulletclose.jpgToday in snowday dick-tie’s -

We have DJ Mullet.

DJ Mullet spins rock hits, rap hits, and hits that aren’t even hits. The fattest of beats are backdropped and scratched. DJ Mullet has a full on Camero Skynrd-Hawk mullet. He ain’t fakin. Just standing within this guy's vicinity heightens your testosterone level. See – 9/19/06 Drunk of the Week.

The back of Quinn’s has a two level room for parties and private gatherings with high ceilings, indirect lighting, and a sleek sofa loft-lounge overlooking the bar. (Quinn’s serves a wild boar sloppy joe. Has anyone tried it? Stranger review.)


I wondered by the DJ table and Mullet’s tie was paisley. With headphones shouldered to one ear, he eyed me, and put on Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”. Then he popped, snapped his fingers, and his tie magically turned into a cock. I did the Macarena and could not help it.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Freak Out, Far Out

posted by on December 19 at 4:54 PM

While searching for photos of local band The Moondoggies for next week's paper, I came across this classic video of Dr. Hook playing the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Holy fuck! This clip has everything: high kicks, lewd hippie spider-dancing, gratuitous instrument-swapping, a capella drum solo, fuzz-bass solo, air-boxing, cowbell supreme...

From what I hear on their page, The Moondoggies do a more reserved kind of backporch boogie, but if they draw any sort of inspiration from the above performance, then their New Year's Eve show at the Blue Moon should be a riotous good time.

(Just noticed Zwickel posted about these guys earlier today. No matter. That Dr. Hook clip needed to brought to people's attention.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

'We Gon' Keep Dickin' Down Yo White MuFuckin Women, Aiight?'

posted by on December 10 at 12:45 PM

Master P- Gutta Time

Master P gives the whole world an early Christmas present. I'm not even trying to read any of the comments on this post but goddamn- this is a rap video for the ages, right up there with "Fight The Power" and..."Make Em Say Uhh". 10 points if you can tell me what classic video they reference in this one.
Oh, and probly NSFW.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pop and the City: Part One

posted by on December 4 at 10:58 AM

And now for a song written by Glenn Frey:

The sun goes down, the night rolls in You can feel it starting all over again The moon comes up and the music calls You're gettin' tired of starin' at the same four walls

You're out of your room and down on the street
Movin' through the crowd and the midnight heat
The traffic crawls, the sirens scream
You look at the faces, it's just like a dream
Nobody knows where you're goin'
Nobody cares where you've been

'Cause you belong to the city
You belong to the night
Livin' in a river of darkness
Beneath the neon lights

Why do I always hear this bad song? Why does it haunt my mind? The answer must be in this line: “'Cause you belong to the city/You belong to the night.” What’s remarkable here is part one: “[Y]ou belong to the city”; and part two: “You belong to the night.” Part one gives us the first layer of the song’s subject: He is a city person. This is where he lives, works, eats, and spends all of his free time. But the second part, “You belong to the night,” tells us something about subject’s soul. The second part deepens the subject. Why? Because the night is specific to the city. The night and its artificial light is the true spirit of the city. The country, like the city, has a day. The night, however, only happens in the city. The country sleeps; the city never sleeps.

Those who belong to the night are the most urban and also the most perverted characters. Why? Because nightlife constitutes a break from, a perversion of, the rhythms of nature. According to the laws of nature, the human must be conscious during day and unconscious during the night. This law dominates the countryside. The urban undoes this natural law and order and institutes a new one. And from this perverted order, comes the new subject: the person who belongs to the night.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Ultimate Clash

posted by on December 3 at 10:10 AM

It all comes down to this:

When they kick out your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Your entire political position must be built on the answer to this grounding question. It's one or the other.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Major Label Satanism

posted by on October 25 at 1:44 PM

Words by Fred Beldin


Happy Halloween, fellow mortals. The current edition of The Stranger features my second stab at the "Turn You On" column (dig Black Gladiator, circa April), a consideration of the seasonally-appropriate 1969 LP Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls by Coven. The Chicago-based rock act formed in the late 1960s and toured the hippie underground with a wild stage show that incorporated authentic Satanic rituals and a mix of brooding folk and raw psychedelia. Remarkably, they attracted major label attention and eventually earned themselves a hit record.

Do you dare to actually sample these forbidden sounds, harvested via YouTube? Make peace with your god, turn on your speakers, and explore this opening track from Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, an extremely moody number that describes its subject in vivid detail:

"Black Sabbath" from Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls
(images from the 1922 film Häxan)

As the legend goes, Mercury Records withdrew Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls from stores after Esquire illustrated an "expose" on countercultural Satanism with a shot of Charles Manson holding Coven's debut LP. Apparently there is such a thing as bad publicity (and anyone with a copy of said storied photo, please speak up).

So Coven pulled up stakes, leaving Chicago for the godless city of Los Angeles to start over. They caught a break when filmmaker Tom Laughlin asked them to cover a song first performed by Canadian pop band the Original Caste. "One Tin Soldier" served as the theme for Laughlin's delirious cult hit Billy Jack, Warner Brothers released the single, and the rest is history.

The song charted multiple times and became an enduring favorite of campfire singalongs, AM oldies radio, and karaoke bars worldwide. This animated music video proves the strange state of affairs--the band that celebrated drinking the blood of children on its first LP eventually found itself marketed directly to America's underagers:

"One Tin Soldier" from Coven

"One Tin Soldier" was also included on Coven's second LP, a self-titled collection of songs for MGM that lightened up on the Satanism. The band switched labels again for their third long player, Blood on the Snow, this time going with Buddha Records, home of artists as diverse as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and Captain Beefheart. While certainly no return to the bluntness of Witchcraft, Blood on the Snow's cover art of a fiddle-sawing Satan proves Coven's heart was still in the same place. Check out this suitably disturbing music video for the riff-heavy title track:

"Blood on the Snow" from Blood on the Snow

Blood on the Snow didn't hit the commercial heights of "One Tin Soldier," and Coven retired its hooves 'n' horns shortly thereafter. Lead singer Jinx Dawson remained active in film and music for many years, appearing in Heaven Can Help and entertaining in Hollywood clubs into the 1980s. She recently revived her career by rescuing the impossibly rare Coven LPs from the clutches of bootleggers and eBay speculators, re-releasing them on CD via her independent label Nevoc Music.

Ready to make friends? You can find Jinx Dawson and all the information you need about Coven at one of her three MySpace pages or her CafePress store (which sells Coven discs as well as Satanic t-shirts, wall clocks and tote bags).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Complete Beatles in One Hour

posted by on October 10 at 5:10 PM

Sound artist Steve McLaughlin has compressed all of The Beatles' UK albums (meaning no EPs such as "Magical Mystery Tour," singles like "Paperback Writer," or later releases such as the embarassingly-named "Past Masters") into a single, sonically jumbled hour.

The WFMU page also has some of the Beatles tracks de-compressed by others; I like the sonic interpolations (a nice term for glitchy, scarred sonic artifacts), especially in "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Revolution."

This is an example of how a technique, in this case digitally time-stretched audio, can birth a genre. For other examples, see Leif Inge's 24 hour extension of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, 9 Beet Stretch, R. Luke Dubois' time compression of several decades of Billboard hits (which I reviewed last year), or Mark Bain's stretched translation of seismic data from the attack of September 11, 2001, STARTENDTIME.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 5

posted by on September 27 at 2:48 PM

The Final Movement

Camille Saint Saëns


Camille Saint Saëns' Symphony No. 3 (The Organ Symphony) is most likely his most famous, and most important work. It showed him to be a fantastic composer of large orchestral work with knowledge of each instrument and how their sounds work together to form interesting tones and complicated structures. The work is dedicated to Franz Liszt who died the year it was finished, 1886.

The final movements, Maestoso and Allegro work as a wonderful finale to the symphony as a whole. Listen to that beautiful piano over the strings, listen to the brass with it's strange complaining line, that gets picked up by each instrument finally being wrought out and solidified by the organ in grand guginol fashion.

The lowest notes of the organ, played by pedal, are barely audible on this track, but trust me, if you ever get the chance to see this crowd pleaser live, do it. The low notes are at such a frequency that they often make church chandeliers quiver and your seat vibrate. It's an awesome experience!

When it finally ends on that wonderful majestic C major chord it sends shivers down the spine.

Arcade Fire


Intervention by Arcade Fire, remarkably starts with that same chord on a pipe organ. I can find no better way of ending this series, then by connecting these two pieces together to show you how remarkably well they fit. Not just in their majesty, but in their tone. This is a crowd pleaser, or it was this Monday for sure.

Camille Saint Saëns - Maestoso and Allegro from Organ Symphony No. 3 Op.78

Ardcade Fire - Intervention

Also today, now at its end is all the songs put together for a mix. It's about 45 minutes long. If you've enjoyed these posts, listen to the songs all together, especially the last two, they really become revelatory.

Old World Vs. New World Mix

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 4

posted by on September 20 at 2:03 PM

Bach Vs. ABBA


The Hilliard Ensemble doing there best ABBA

Today's classical selection is from a CD called Morimur featuring Christopher Poppen on Violin, and The Hilliard Ensemble on choral parts. It's a pretty high-falutin' study of how Bach's infamously difficult Chacone for solo violin from his Partita in D Minor BWV 1004 is actually structured on choral music he composed for various religious ceremonies.

On the CD is the whole Partita played by Mr. Poppen on a baroque violin, which I think is ever so slightly larger and deeper-toned, then current violins. There is also quite a few selections of Bach's choral arrangements sung by The Hilliard Ensemble. Then at the end, the Chaccone is played alone, with the accompanying relative choral parts.

It's a bit abstract, but basically Mr. Poppen and his friends are making the world's first mash-up. From this study, I've sampled a choral piece called Christ Lag In Todensbanden (Christ Lay In Death's Bondage).


If there is anything as structured, as baroque in the pop music of today as Bach was in his day, then it certainly is the exacting hit-making machinery that was ABBA. No single performer or band has had the ability to quantify what needs to be part of a song to work as a pop hit then ABBA. Which is why, for a decade, ABBA was able to rack up top ten hit after top ten hit, and why 30 years on, love them or hate them, we are still entranced by their talent.


But I've chosen a cheaters way to connection here, by giving you a cover version of their biggest hit, Dancing Queen, performed by a Swedish vocal jazz ensemble called The Real Group. Not just content to do a whole vocal arrangement of the song, the "group" becomes the band and back-up for Frida, who graciously joined them on this cover. I know it's not the original, but this version has just as much spark. You'll see.

The Hilliard Ensemble - J.S. Bach - Christ Lag In Todesbanden
The Real Group - Dancing Queen (Med Frida)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 3

posted by on September 13 at 10:37 AM

Location: Greece

Eleni Karaindrou


The first track in today's post is from an amazing choral/theater piece by Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou. Notable not only for her dexterity in composing very slow odes on ancient instruments like the constaninople lyra, kanonaki, ney, santouri, outi, laouto, daires, and daouli, but also for the fact that this composer is, well, female. I honestly can't name another Greek female composer who's had a major release.

What Karaindrou brings to her work, a choral arrangement of Euripedes Trojan Women, is a genuine female understanding of hard work, domestic care and the grief and loss that goes into the family life of ancient times. Especially for women, who are so massively under-represented in the male dominated world of ancient Greek theater.

The plot of Trojan Women deals with the capturing and suffering of the women of Troy after thier men have all been captured and/or killed. As the women are divied up between the soldier/conquerers of Greece, the women's suffering grows. They recollect on their past and future lives as intregral Greek drama unfolds. Cassandra is taken off to fulfill her role in the plot of The Oresteia, women are raped, killed and sacrificied, Helen begs for her life to Menelaus who takes her back to Greece. At the end there is a very mournful burial of the young girl Astyanax, made even more depressing as her mother can not bury her, for she has been taken back to Greece, for slavery, by Odysseus.

At the end the women who are left gather to watch Troy, and their lives and memories, burn.

The lyrics of this piece, An Ode Of Tears, are:

Sing, oh Muse, a new melody

a tune for the dead, an ode of tears

on Troy's tomb,

for Troy I shall now wail a melancholy melody.

Karraindrou eloquently speaks of the night of the works premier at the ancient theater in Epidaurus, during a festival of Greek drama:

When the performance unfolded under the starry sky of Epidaurus, the music took its place, the womens voices joined in An Ode Of Tears and all became one: sounds, voices, colours, words, movement, light. In the holy area of Epidaaurus, the poet's voice of transcendence, was raised once more, just as back in 415 BC when he was striving through Trojan Women to turn his fellow citizens away from the insanity of war, teaching the whole world now, just like then, that there are no winners or losers in wars, only horror and madness.

That was on August 31, 2001. Twelve days before the horrors of Sept. 11 and all that that day has wrought.

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou aka Vangelis


I knew I wanted to pair this piece with something from Vangelis, but what to chose? The man has so many albums, so many different sounds. At first I thought of using a piece from the album Odes which he produced and wrote for Greek actress Irene Papas. An album full of ancient greek poetry put to Vangelis singular style of new age music, and sung in throaty tones by Papas.

But I thought it would be too easy a pairing and kind of a cheat. After all, the piece was a lament, and I want to leave the listener on a more hopeful not. So I've decided to pair it with a piece from his 1988 album Direct. This album is really as "pop" as Vangelis gets. Even more so, I think, then his soundtrack music. The bonus track for the release of the CD was a song called Intergalactic Radio Station.

The thing I love about this track, and it's musical relation to the above track is how precisely it matches the beats of Karaindrou's work at the beginning. It also starts out in a minor key, seeming a bit ominous, then through a slight change the key is moved into a major and the tone of the song changes completely. At the end there is the voice of Casey Young, an L.A. studio musician who calls out:

Here comes the sun! Oh, and by the way... It's been a beautiful morning. What a morning, A great morning. It's a great morning now....
A breath of hope for the future.


Eleni Karaindrou - An Ode To Tears from Trojan Women

Vangelis - Intergalactic Radio Station

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 2

posted by on September 6 at 2:34 PM

This week I've got another German for you. This time though we're starting out in the 20th century.


Carl Orff is probably better known for his dance and choral suite, Carmina Burana, but today's piece comes from a series of sketches he wrote before WWII for children. They were meant to introduce young children to rhythm and poetry, through very simple, and frankly minimal sounds. Collectively they are called Schulwerk, or School Work.

Some are arrangements for recorders and wooden blocks, some are for vocals and snare drums(!), but the most famous of his Schulwerk is his the first movement of his Vier Stucke fur Xylophon. The moment you hear it, you will instantly recognize it. These pieces for xylophone were used in the film Badlands. For these pieces Orff had special little xylophone's made for children, and each child learned a specific part, so that when played together they made a unified and powerful whole. I actually think these are too hard for young children to learn, and especially after you hear the intracasies when professionals play them, as below.


To that mix I give you the minimalist German techno group, To Rococo Rot. They are powerfully steeped in contemporary classical European music, and I think it really shows in their piece here, Cars.

Carl Orff - Schulwerk
To Rococo Rot - Cars

Last weeks installment of Old World Vs. New World is here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 1

posted by on August 30 at 11:46 AM

This is the beginning of a new weekly serial about the relations to be made between classical music and modern pop. The first installment is:

Bach Vs. The Wu-Tang Clan (Remixed By Funkstorung)

Bach's Die Kunst Der Fuge (or Art Of The Fugue) is just that, a rigorous detailing and blue-printing of just how exquisitely baroque his fugue's were. This one is my favorite. It is the first of 14 Contrapunctus simply called Contrapunctus 1.

The players are The Keller String Quartet. It was recorded in 1997 for the ECM label. The playing is very minimal with very little vibrato on the strings. They are really trying to bring you the essence of each voice and bring out each vocal line in the fugue. I find this version to be nothing short of perfect.

I'm not a huge rap fan, but I do like the general hi-jinx that The Wu-Tang Clan get up to in their music. Whether it's the ninja rap stuff or the "i've smoked to much weed for my voice to make any sense" stuff, they are generally one of the most entertaining outfits out there.

Bach will most likely be rolling in his grave at the mere sound of the opening salvo: " It's Wu motherfuckers. Wu-Tang motherfuckers" But maybe back in the 1730's there was no word for "motherfucker". So I'll just assume he wouldn't know what we were talking about.

Funkstorung take their shit to a whole other level. Like Bach, Funkstorung use programmed rythms to "sing" out in squelchy tones and scribble-y, sketchy beats letting each line fade with bell-chime tones. Quick, dirty and minimal. Funkstorung make some of the most reasonable and sensible minimalist techno out there. They are also German, like Bach, so maybe it's something in the water over there. Their fit with The Wu-Tang Clan is perfection. Give it a listen, you'll see.

J.S. Bach - Contrapunctus 1 from "Die Kunst Der Fuge"
Wu-Tang Clan - Reunited (Reunixed By Funkstorung)

See the Wu-Tang Clan Monday night at Bumbershoot. 9:30, Memorial Stadium.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Summer Surprise!

posted by on July 4 at 8:00 AM


Summer Surprise MP3!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Number of Names - "Shari Vari"

posted by on April 23 at 11:47 AM

A commenter on my Detroit video post wondered what the track was in the 2nd video. I answered in the comments with that info. (A Number of Names' "Shari Vari"), but after the videos were posted to a local mailing list, BG posted this link, which gives more information on the track and posts a few of the available remixes.

[Thanks BG]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Harry Partch

posted by on April 18 at 8:44 PM

YouTube has an excellent BBC documentary on Harry Partch, a stubborn iconoclast, visionary theorist, and musical revolutionary.

Karlheinz Stockhausen

What makes Harry Partch great?

Continue reading "Harry Partch" »

Monday, April 9, 2007

Goodbye to All That: An Open Letter of Resignation

posted by on April 9 at 4:50 PM

From our April 4, 2002 issue:


Goodbye to All That
An Open Letter of Resignation


There's a guy who chats me up whenever he buys drinks from me at the bar where I work. Sometimes he mentions The Stranger and One-Night Stand, the column I wrote up until a couple of weeks ago. Though the guy never comes out and says he's a big fan of The Stranger, I've always gotten that impression from him, and that's a nice thing to think. The paper has been a significant part of my life for the past year and a half, and it's rewarding to imagine that the work you do makes some kind of impression upon people.

I was disappointed the last time the guy ordered drinks from me. With no apparent concern that I might take offense to a very blunt question, the customer crudely asked if I had recently been fired from the paper. He said he'd noticed that someone else was writing my column. I told the guy that I wasn't fired: I quit. I could tell he thought my decision was stupid. I told him that the amount of work the job required had become greater than the rewards. "Too much work for one column a week?" he asked, frustrated by my laziness, as though I were his own child and it was his responsibility to scold me for having made such a regrettable decision.

I explained that One-Night Stand was only a small part of the work I had been doing at the paper. I told him I had been the music editor, and that more goes into being the music editor of a weekly publication than writing a column with my little picture next to it. I found myself wondering why I felt the need to justify my decision. Meantime, the guy just sort of stood there, reproachfully looking right through me. Then he took his drinks and went to join his friends elsewhere in the room. In hindsight, I don't blame the guy for his rudeness.

I have been asked to write a "farewell essay" explaining why I chose to resign from my position as music editor of The Stranger, and I decided that blame is a reasonable place to start. That's why I've chosen to recount my interaction with that bar patron the other night. The collision between his open curiosity and my defensive perception of his tactlessness goes a long way toward explaining why I'm not willing to do my old job anymore. I know I am to blame for his forwardness. I've spent the past three years writing criticism, and I deserve to be criticized. It's karmic; it's the rule of nature. I half expect that I will spend the next three years being picked apart intellectually by all of my friends and loved ones, a fate I would gladly accept. I love criticism. I'm smart, so that's the way I think.

What I no longer love is being professionally obligated to opine and justify (a rough equivalent to binge and purge) for anywhere from 30 to 70 hours per week, which is the critic's job. And ultimately, criticism is a terrible way to earn one's bread. It's only minimally creative (you get to write and come up with all sorts of opinions), and it's a soul-numbing job that sucks the joy out of a beautiful thing like music, your love for which is likely why you began criticizing it in the first place. Overall, critics are not very creative or interesting people--artists are. Artists do things, like make records and write books. Critics feed off that creativity. They can choose to scold it, praise it, archive it, whatever. It's still someone else's work that the critic is standing on, and when I began to feel like I was in jeopardy of actually becoming a professional critic--like, as a career path--I knew it was time to go.

But that's only one version of the story. The other version, which I began to write earlier today but thought better of doing because it just sounded whiny, is that within a year of doing this job, the way I listened to music had begun to change. I would find myself thinking too much at shows, taxing myself to figure out which bands had most directly influenced the one I was seeing, or coming up with all the things I was going to write in the paper to preview the band next time it played. Each time I did this I would suddenly catch myself. And I would feel this pang of dread: the same feeling a kid gets on a Sunday evening when it starts getting dark and he realizes he'll have no choice but to go to school in the morning.

No, I can't have that. I hated school. That's why I dropped out. And I love music. That's why I quit.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Repeal the TDO! Oh Wait, We Did...

posted by on April 2 at 10:30 AM

Five years ago this week, The Stranger and the city's all-ages music supporters were in the midst of a long (but ultimately victorious) battle against the Teen Dance Ordinance, the Long Winters' The Worst You Can Do Is Harm was the best-selling Northwest record at local record stores, and Unwound played the Theater Off Jackson.

Even more notably, though, The Stranger didn't have a music editor.

From our March 28, 2002 issue:

In late February, Jeff DeRoche announced that he was leaving The Stranger in mid-March. A short time after this announcement, Jennifer Maerz, our new music editor, was hired. But there was a problem: Maerz could not start until the end of March. In a word, there was a gap--an empty space between the outgoing editor and the incoming editor.

It was John F. Kennedy who once explained that the Chinese character for the word "crisis" also represents the word "opportunity." As The Stranger's books editor, I have decided to utilize this presidential wisdom, and turn a negative into a positive by filling this week's unattended music section with reviews of books about music. The reviews are written by our music critics (a contingent of the staff I was surprised could actually read), and so ultimately revolve around the problems of music journalism. Or, to put it another way, the music writers are writing about writers who write about music. --Charles Mudede

So now, instead of watching those Journey videos on YouTube for the 200th time, spend your Monday morning revisiting what happened to The Stranger's music section five years ago when then-books-editor Charles Mudede was left to man the ship before Jennifer Maerz swooped in to save the day:


Love Hurts: An Interview with Everett True by Jeff DeRoche.

Revelations: Mason Betha Is a Better Rapper than Ma$e by Brian Goedde.

California Screaming: L.A. Punk Redux by Nate Lippens.

American Cash: Reading the Ring of Fire by Kathleen Wilson.