theo parrish

We all made it through the six-hour morning set, somehow — lots of runs through the “Theo Parrish Loop” of soul / jazz / disco, house, ultradeep tech jams, repeat. This time we stopped on No UFOs, a Temptations record with a kickdrum snuck under it three times in succession, a gospel record cut against a vogue beat — to say nothing of the many unshazamable 12-minute epic tech records. I saw at least two people moved to tears at various points, someone brought a speaker cone to be signed, there were people who appear to have made their own merch for the show, etc

the vices, the vibes

A few thoughts for April, having made it past April Fool’s, the NYC miniquake, and making it right up to the eclipse.

I’ve been reading books about “focus”, of late, having mine damaged by some combination of age, the pandemic, getting covid, the internet, etc. Cal Newports’ smug-but-mostly-good text, Deep Work, talks about the power of being bored and letting one’s self be bored (this is also in Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing, and many other places) — and I realized today, while at Nowadays, that “the club”, combined with Nowaday’s bans on phones, is why I tend to have so many good / bad ideas on the dancefloor.

(Today’s Bad Ideas was the music studio as array: four small production studios that have magical moving soundproof walls that can be opened to have a four-point surround setup in a bigger room.)

Further along these lines, this Ted Gioia piece really left me shook, in terms of how fractured I see my own focus — and this response from L.M Sacasas was perhaps even better. As a secret fan of Blaise Pascal, I’m always glad to see him pop up. Sacasas’ mention of acedia, usually translated into English as “sloth”, struck especially hard: “But it may also look like incessant busyness, so long as we are busy at everything but what we really ought to be doing”.

I also made it through Susan Rogers’ book, This Is What It Sounds Like, which is a good read — but starts off discussing “authenticity” in music with a very striking turn of phrase: “Authenticity is the _subejctive_ conviction that the emotion expressed in a musical performance is genuine and uncontrived” — italics mine.

This is sort of amazing, because throughout the rest of the book, Rogers sneaks away from the subjectiveness part, e.g. “To be clear, _Bach’s music is no less authentic than The Shagg’s_” — italics from Rogers. I certainly don’t often think of authenticity (my 2017 least favorite word of the year) as being in the eye of the beholder — probably because it makes talking about music with others very difficult, if you can’t agree on where the band is starting from — but I will have to do so more in the future.

we spring

new cultural spaces for music

^^ that turn of phrase leaped into my mind when walking around Seattle. I went past Sonic Boom, and was struck by a possibly false turn of nostalgia, that I had heard 107.7 The End talking about “tickets at Sonic Boom, <other record store>, etc”. I had also gone by a million bookshops, which, correctly, also double as event spaces … and also by the wonderfully named and totally gigantic Mox Boarding House, a gaming store, which of course runs a ton of events. (We’ll leave the Wargaming Speakeasy for another post).

“Record Stores” are a known space for music. “Boarding House” is a goofy name for gaming. Does the phrase “Techno Boarding House” have meaning? Probably not. What about “Dance Speakeasy”? Or “Listening Motel”?

The game, then, is simple: Take one thing from List A, and one thing from List B, and see if you have something – order is variable, articles and prepositions are optional, maybe add an adjective for kicks.

List A:

Record, Book, Music, Instrument, Electronics, Synth, Gear, Synthesizer, Concert, Dance, Art, Choir, Fashion, Rent, Vinyl, Listening, Meditation, Night, Cassette, CD, MP3, Band, Community, [List of all Music Genres, but here are some to start], Jazz, House, Ambient, Techno, Grime, Hip-Hop.

List B:

Store, Cafe, Club, Social Club, Nightclub, Night, Hall, Dancehall, Bar, Gallery, Center, Centre, Conservatory, University, College, Institute, Party, Concert, Room, Show, House, Studio, Atelier, Venue, Function, Exchange, Community, Collective, Co-Op, Restaurant, [List of all Food Venues, e.g. “Bistro”], Theatre, Gallery, Performance, Zine, Magazine, Label (oho), Space, Clinic, Hospital, Archive, Library, Forum, Gymnasium, Lyceum, School, Speakeasy, Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn, Boarding House, Church, Cathedral, Mosque, Ashram, Madrasa, Temple, Tabernacle, Yard Sale, Garage Sale, Rummage Sale, Livestream, Multipurpose Room.

Here are some examples from real life: Bar au Vinyle, Ambient Church, De School, The Music Institute. Here are some silly examples: Community Community, Dancehall Dancehall, The Choir Hospital (ouch!), Lyceum of Cassettes.

But, here are some fun examples: The House Music Rummage Sale, MP3s de Party, Heavy Jazz Madrasa, The Grand Listening Motel. How do those spaces work? Are they actually new? I can imagine each of them, which suggests that they are not — but perhaps there’s enough to grow on.

western wind

louisiana, louisiana

winter city

the sun, again

It’s back, we’re back, we’ll be back – we go again.

2023: tracks of the year

Another big year, yes yes:

Oklou – God’s Chariot (SH Remix) [Welt Discos]

What’s such a big deal about a skippy garage-ish beat, a kind-of-an-organ bassline, and a sing-song vocal? Well, pretty much everything; the SH remix veers between Two Shell, early Jacques Greene, the “feels” of the original ballad, and the post-pandemic desire for Big Tunes with totally perfect aplomb.

Silvia Tarozzi & Deborah Walker – La Lega (featuring Coro delle Mondine di Bentivoglio)

Not a Big Tune, but another entry in my personal subcategory of folk music vs contemporary music. Tarozzi & Walker appear to have done the very difficult thing of doing nothing more than multi-tracking a song, adding a simple string part under it … and ripping my heart out every time I hear it.

georg-i – Statis

An unrepentant, spectacular DJ tool – 100% roaring, rubbery bass hits, with just enough weird noises over the top to make the whole thing unpatronizing.

CRJ – Call Me Maybe (AYA Edit)

You didn’t seriously think I’d spend a year without Carly Rae Jepsen on this list, did you? The Big Hit gets run through AYA’s modular, with predictable and spectacular results.

Suzanne Kraft – DJ Safety Track

This choppy, German / Detroit sort of record, on a very very hot summer’s day at Mr. Sunday, came within a millimeter of sending me into an altered state of consciousness.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Bad Luck (A Dmitri From Paris Disco Re-Edit)

Ronnie Baker on bass, at his finest – the edit makes a big tune even bigger. Even when you can sort hear the joins, they’re bringing the best parts back.

Minor Science – Workahol

Well, this is nothing more than a really big post-90’s “nuskool” bass music record … but, like, really, really, really, really, really, really big.

Pangaea – Installation

a) another BANGER ALERT; but, b, more interestingly, I think more and more that the reason this record works is the sampled speech, and how the emphases in the speech don’t quite line up with the boom-tss boom-tss drums, cheesy lead, and just-off-kilter-enough bass part.

Very, very honorable mentions to a long list of amazing tunes this year; all of the below are either in the BANGER or SNEAKER BANGER category:

  • Olof Dreijer – Rosa Rugosa
  • Jam City – LLTB (feat. Wet)
  • Sofia Kourtesis – Madres
  • Shanti Celeste – Shimmer
  • Anz – Clearly Rushing
  • Ghost Assembly – I Miss Your Love
  • Louie Austen – Hoping (Herbert’s High Dub)

2023:  albums of the year

A perhaps especially endless year for music, which is saying kind of a lot:

James Holden – Imagine This Is A High Dimensional Space Of All Possibilities

What have I not said about James Holden at this point, sheesh. Let’s just say that as he continues to reach towards his final form, he insists to change, to make new things, and to dig up new sounds and new processes.

Silvia Tarozzi & Deborah Walker – Canti di guerra, di lavoro e d’amore

As per my comentary on the “single”, La Lega, it seems a bit unfair to have such affecting source material to work with … but Tarozzi and Walker are also good enough composers to not ruin the material. It’s perhaps a too-trenchent commentary on how the whole “very quiet and sparse contemporary classical music” things just wants to be sad folk songs, but what an amazing record.

Louth Contemporary Music Society – In C Irish

Whoaaaaaa, yes yes yes! Not as good as the glowing revelation of In C Mali, but millimeters away from that high standard. I am probably more than a bit biased about In C, as this one now means I have five recordings of the damn thing — this one is a strong entry into my collection.

Yu Su – I Want An Earth

Downtempo that sounds like a mid-90s video game sound track, in all the best ways: simple without being bleepy, replayable without being boring, and familiar without being saccharine.

Hiroki Kikuta – Secret of Mana (Original Soundtrack)

And the above Yu Su leads to this, literally, a mid-90s video game soundtrack! I had a very strange moment this summer, when a friend hit a mixing bowl and it made the exact sound of one of the weird “pitched percussion” synths used in this soundtrack … which inspired to me track it down, and being very pleased that I did. It’s not as magisterial as the Final Fantasy soundtracks, but it’s really good and has some very nicely out-there jams.

Laurel Halo – Atlas

Hard to find a better “and breath out” record this year; the quasi-Mahlerian moment when the strings come in is an awfully good one.

Wata Igarashi – Agartha

I did not love this album at first listen, and then came back to it more and more and more; it’s like a techno version of a phasing-era Steve Reich piece, or a lost Krautrock band, or some alternate history of 1970s electronic music in Japan.

Honorable Mentions out to to a lot of great albums this year:

  • John Luther Adams – Darkness & Scattered Light.
  • Natural Wonder Beauty Concept – Natural Wonder Beauty Concept.
  • Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werlin – Ghosted.
  • Avalon Emerson – & The Charm; which has perhaps my saddest lyric of the year on ‘Karaoke Song’.
  • Lalo Schifrin – Enter The Dragon; hey, the 1970s!
  • Conlon Nancarrow – Complete Studies For Player Piano Volume Two.
  • Various – Love Saves The Day (A History Of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979) (Part 1).
  • Mbilia Bel – Beyanga, Congolese dance-pop from the late 80s.
  • Various Artists – Afghan Music In Exile; new recordings of traditional music.
  • Deepchord – Functional Designs; wooooosh, depth, dub, wooooosh.