Saturday, May 3, 2008

Shit I Slept On

LOVE (the band, not the disease)

The reason that there's no accounting for taste is that anything on which one's faculty of taste would be exercised has to contend with a whole myriad of factors before it becomes agreeable. There are long-term factors like where you're from or the circumstances of your upbringing, and short-term factors like what you had for lunch, or if you're thinking about something your boss said at work, or that guy won't stop tapping his foot while you're trying to concentrate.

Music has an additional strike against it in this matter, because it's an incorporeal art. So much about music, from the psychology of its aesthetics to its revolutionary capacity to its status as the symptomatic problem of digital capitalism, stems from its disembodiment, the fact that it doesn't need a wall or a screen to be shown on, or any other kind of shelter.

So it's much easier to sleep on music, to encounter song once but not think much of it until it's too late, it's blown up, all your friends have been jocking it for months and are finally tired of it when you're all "oh shit have you heard this?"

As I am particularly guilty of this, I offer the following as a way to make amends. I'll say though that I don't feel guilty about this guilt. My receptivity can be especially flighty, like a haughty broad who is as prone to turn up her nose at a venerable suitor on a whim as she is to giving herself with abandon to whoever happens to be playing tennis that day.

Lastly, while openness is a virtue, it can be overdone. As the infamous Professor Dr. Wolfgang Schirmacher once said, "You can't stand in the open all the time. Where would you be?"

Martin Denny - "Quiet Village"

After I showed him Quiet Village's new "Silent Movie" album which, if the reader is inclined now to practice not sleeping on new shit that's great would be a terrific place to start, Wade Z (aka Zade, aka the Pulled Pork Rabbi of Greenpoint) dug up the band's namesake, the well-known jam by Martin Denny, and thus I realized I had been sleeping on Denny's Hawaiian lite-jazz exotica since, well, birth pretty much. It's not like I hadn't already seen the images of sultry technicolor temptresses lilting their way through one bajillion times after spending endless hours from childhood until current quasi-adulthood flipping through thrift store dollar bins and the moldly aural refuse that gathers on the lawns of middle-aged crackpots after the wife has finally forced, with no recourse to veto, a epic cleaning of the man-cave, an effort never unaccompanied by the deep melancholic pangs that can rend a hairy old collector's pale heart in two.

And here's a clip of Denny from some show called "Hawaii Calls", also a youtube find by Mr. Z:

I couldn't believe how much these sounds, so moldy and comical, now struck me. It's highly functional, proto-ambient, soundtrack-to-nothing music. i.e. shit that I so ride for. In the roadmap of ambient music running from Erik Satie's well-known desire to make music intended to "mingle with the sound of forks and knives at dinner" to Brian Eno's formalized conceptualization, there's definitely a pitstop at Denny's. I'm fascinated by music that is highly tailored, because I live in a DJ fantasy world that operates according to the highly idealistic principle that there's a perfect song for any occasion.

Now, the perfect music for drinking poppy tea in a church is Stars of the Lid, an Austin-cum-Belgian outfit that my best friend John was pals with when we were in high school, whose infinite sleepwalking drones I loved and which John and I endlessly paid homage to on 4-tracks in suburban bedrooms. I slept on their latest album, "And Their Refinement of The Decline", in the way that one tends to give a glazed-over eye to anything too seemingly sucked dry by the vampiric passions of young adulthood to have any virility left inside. Alan, Zade, Otto and I went to the Wordless Music Series last night to check out SOTL perform at a church on 66th street, accompanied by a mesmerizing psycho-celestial light show.

Stars of the Lid - "Even If You're Never Awake"

The evening's largest epiphany, however, of which there were several, was the performance by Face the Music, an ensemble of two dozen members of Special Music School P.S. 859. Middle school kids playing avant-garde classical/experimental compositions. The opening two-piano death duel of what sounded like random bars of Gershwin repeated ad infinitum with jackhammer insistence, performed by a young bespectacled girl with a ponytail and a very young chubby elf with a bowl-cut, was a sincere knockout and the whole performance was the first I've seen in a while capable of melting faces and hearts at the same time.

"When I have kids I'm signing them up for this"
"Hell I'm signing myself up for this"

Glissandro 70 - "Bolan Muppets"

I scheduled my recent trip to London on purpose to include a day or two of doing nothing. I need these days to soak up the atmosphere and settle in to the tasks that lie before me. It's the same reason that when arriving for a social appointment, especially one that is set to take place in an unfamiliar neighborhood, I enjoy arriving 10-15 minutes early, to contemplate the stage being set for the imminent encounter, and to make sure, as best as one ever can, that my enemies haven't sent someone to lie in wait.

During one of these days in London I found myself at Rough Trade East, and there I bought some materials. The first of these is a mindblowing DVD called Krautrock...And Beyond Part 2, of which there are some 8 parts or so. They all have archival music clips from West German TV in the 70s. Needless to say, so needless, is that they are fucking awesome, and that their awesomenesses have varying sources. Sometimes the clips are just archivally awesome, sometimes, as in the following sick-ass early Popol Vuh clip, they are just sick as hell.

Popol Vuh - "Bettina"

I also picked up the latest mix from the jocked-by-me Norwegian space-disco master Prins Thomas called Cosmo Galactic Prism, which is as out-there and wonky and amazing as the title might suggest. It includes "Bolan Muppets", a recent track by some Canadian persons called Glissandro 70. Now, when I mentioned the illness of this track to Jonathan F., his reply disarmed me: he said that a year ago during his visit to Berlin he'd played me the same track and that I had shrugged it off, and now, he said, that Prins Thomas said it was cool, I was all over it.

Guilty as charged, it made me really think about the sheer contingencies of taste, about mood, about digestion, and about being an asshole who thinks he knows better. "Bolan Muppets" is dope, sounds vaguely Animal Collectively, and you should listen to it.

Love - "My Little Red Book"

My onetime roommate Dave at college was way into Love, as I remember, and being a musical creature of a general languid, drifty temperament I wasn't sure how to jack into Arthur Lee's frenetic, amped compositions, the influence of which I think is lurking there often in Dave's band Animal Collective. Although influence is sometimes an impossible thing to evaluate: do I make a song because I like this old record that touched me, or was I touched by this old record because the style this song has been sloshing around inside me forever, waiting for the right time to spring into the world?

Anyway it turns out that, as everyone in the world knows except me, except that I know it too now, effectively negating the need for anyone in the world to read this, that Love is pretty good.


It is ok to sleep on shit. Sometimes it is necessary. Don't feel bad if you wake up and find shit underneath you, that you weren't aware that you slept on. Don't feel guilty because something cool happened and you missed it like a dumbass. If you sleep on it, it means it wasn't where you were at, you weren't in a place to connect with it. And if you connected with everything the first time, what would be left for the future?

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Prins Thomas wishes he was half the tastemaker that I am.