Seven Songs

Posted on June 5th, 2008 in entry

I don’t write about music — I listen to it, but I’m not equipped with the proper vocabulary to tell you what I’m hearing. Where a music connoisseur would say “Oh, that’s some pop-infused thingama with deep shades of post-progressive somethingorother” I’m just going to say “Oh, hey, it’s got a good beat and I can dance to it.” Like when I taste wine I say “Yum” or “Ick” — never catch me going on about the woody notes or hint of cheese. But Warren says he wants me to meme along, so blame him.

Let’s see, what am I doing?

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.”

So:

“They Do Not Come Knocking There Anymore” - Natural Snow Buildings
I have no idea where I got this one — I don’t have the rest of the album or any recollection of downloading it. It’s still very chilly here at night, and it’s hard to remember it’s already June. In the early still-dark mornings, here, the foghorns are louder than any music I’m playing. It’s very easy for me to lose track of the music in a room — it hovers on the edge of my consciousness and keeps my fingers moving, but if I’m not sitting back and just listening I don’t always know what’s playing. This track is just harsh enough to cut through work-fugue and catch my attention. If I loop it, I realize how much the beginning sounds like an orchestra pit having difficulty tuning up in the next room — but at about the six minute mark it shifts to a train leaving the station. Dunno. There’s something about the slow march of layer on layer of dying notes that makes me keep it on list, yet. I don’t see it lasting on rotation into summer.

“Momentary Drowning” - Young Coyotes
Another one I’ve got no idea where came from. It’s the precise opposite of the previous track, a stomp and call that doesn’t care if it’s in tune, because what does it matter? I’m not fond of the primary vocals on this one, but the beat, the claps, how can you say no to that? I do not think this one plays if you aren’t close enough to the water to have the scent of salt in the air — it’s got a definite beach band flavor (beyond the mention of waves in lyric, I mean).

“Black Cat” - Ladytron
Pretty sure it was McKelvie that told me there was new Ladytron, and this is the first track I heard. It’s…. well it’s Ladytron. It’s good, it’s a little defiant, with that “I’m pretty but I’ll cut you” undertone you expect. It’s older, somehow — the sound is tighter and deeper than earlier tracks, maybe the word I’m looking for is matured, or maybe, hell, maybe it’s that I’m older, who knows?

“Dance Dance Dance” - Lykke Li
&
“Heels on Fire” - Sargasso Trio

Got both of these off Warren, actually, and they’re one after the other on the playlist because one segues into the next no matter which order you play them in. (Which amuses me, as I don’t know that you’d see one act opening for the other, ever. But they’ve both got that same pitterpatter beat.) They’re just two ridiculously spinny little numbers that put a bounce in my step when I’m walking to market. Very much morning and afternoon music — if they come up late at night they’re a little too loud for the room.

“The Beat That My Heart Skipped” - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
I don’t know who the hell I got this one off of… Gillen or Kitten, maybe? It’s from last year, but it didn’t get much rotation during the winter. This is one of the rare songs on my list that makes me listen to the lyrics — something between the repetition and force on each word draws my conscious attention. The beat’s what I want it to be — just strong enough to make me nod, just fast enough to match my walk or the turn of a wheel, just loud enough to bring up my pulse rate a little.

“Take this Waltz” - Leonard Cohen
This one is very old, but it comes out every spring. I don’t know why. It sounds like spring - blue sunlight on budding leaves, damp earth in the chilly morning. It’s the waltzing strings, the soft swells that always seem to rise just as a spring breeze lifts a strand of my hair to my cheek. It’s sweet, and a little bitter (like much Cohen, and everything in my herb garden).

Apparently, I’ve also been tasked with passing the disease on. Well, joke’s on you Warren — no one reads my blog, so your dirty little game dead-ends here. Although, I suppose I could throw it up on Whitechapel. At least there it would be contained. We’ll see. That’s probably cheating. But I might not care.

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in which i wear a red hat and travel by vine via Wil Wheaton

Friday June, 06 2008 02:48 PM PDT

This totally made my day week, and I wonder if this is how Cory Doctorow and Stallman[1] felt when they were in xkcd?

You know, things like this have been happening to me more and more frequently lately, and while it's still very hard get used to, it's genuinely wonderful to feel cooler than I really am, even if it's only for a few fleeting seconds.

Thank you, mysterious creator of Abstruse Goose!

[1] Does Stallman feel things like the rest of us do? I'm a little afraid to go exploring through that twisty maze of passages, all alike, to find out. It is very dark, I'm afraid.[2]

[2] If you understood any of that, congratulations, you're a Geek. If you went exploring to figure out what it all meant, you just gained a level in Geek. If you feel compelled to argue about these footnotes, immediately gain another level in Geek, and lose a turn.

election t shirts via Irene Kaoru (Flickr)

Friday June, 06 2008 02:09 PM PDT

IreneKaoru posted a photo:

squawking like a pink monkey bird via Wil Wheaton

Friday June, 06 2008 11:12 AM PDT

After the great post-eating disaster of 2008, I've elected to experiment with offline composition tools until I get distracted by shiny objects or I find one that I really like. My two candidates are Ecto and MarsEdit. I actually used Ecto quite a lot until I upgraded to Leopard and it expressed its allegiance to Tiger by refusing to work. Luckily for me, the developers gave it a nice talking to and the most recent version appears to play nicely with 10.5.x. I suppose we'll really test that theory out when I hit publish, won't we?

So, rather than make this one of those "testing . . . testing . . . is this thing on?" entries we all make from time to time, I thought I'd take a moment to share some links:

I've begun playing pmog. I figure that if I'm on the goddamn internet all day, I may as well rack up meaningless badges and add an extra layer of fun to my whole experience. I'm a mighty level 3, and I'm not quite ready to reveal my player name.

Warren Ellis has been doing a free weekly online comic called Freakangels. It's been running for a couple of months now, and I absolutely love it. Unlike most of the serials I've read over the years (Green Mile, I'm looking in your direction), this one works in both short weekly installments and as a longer narrative arc when you read several episodes at once.

There's a new version of Propeller in the works. I've seen it, and I'm just blown away by what it can do. There's some official talk about it on Newsquake. Hear me now: Propeller is the future of social news, and the new Propeller is going to redefine the standard for a social news community. I can't remember the last time I was so excited about something like this. Disclosure for the seven people who don't know this: I work for Propeller as a scout.

Some dipshit at TBS thinks that it's a really great idea to interrupt a show -- by pausing the show in the middle of dialog -- to run annoying interstitial advertising. This has to be seen to fully appreciate the magnitude of idiocy on display here. I submitted the link to Propeller a few days ago, and posted the video in my Vox blog.

Yes, I have a blog at Vox -- mostly for pictures and videos -- because what I really need is another fucking blog.

Ecto is as easy and full-featured as I remember it. I especially like how it handles creating links. Just for grins, here's an Ecto-created Amazon link to Interzone by William S. Burroughs. There's a story in Interzone called The Junky's Christmas that is one of my favorite things he ever did. I was introduced to it when someone gave me the CD Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales, where Burroughs performs some of his work. Unlike a lot of authors who really should stick to the writing, Burroughs, like Charlie Stross and Neal Stephenson, just make their work something -- well, the best I can come up with is more -- when they read it. In fact, I think the best way to experience Burroughs is to listen to him perform it.

I just found out this very moment, through the magic of the googles, that The Junky's Christmas was adapted into a weird and avant garde claymation movie in the early 90s. There's a short clip from it on YouTube.

Have I mentioned before that Burroughs is one of my primary influences? It's a little strange, because I don't write anything like he did, but something about reading and listening to him accelerated my desire to write more than just a series of journal entries when I was in my early twenties. My first short story, called Scene Missing was heavily inspired by stories in Naked Lunch.

Okay, I am not making this up: in the middle of the last paragraph, my machine's screen saver turned on, and it refused to wake the screen up. This is the second time it's happened to me this week, and I had . . . an episode . . . while I shut down the motherfucker and restarted it. I thought it was the second time in two days that I'd worked on a blog entry and lost it to the land of wind and ghosts.

But! It turns out that Ecto has an auto-save feature which meant I only lost half a paragraph instead of an entire entry. For that reason alone, Ecto is a HUGE SUCCESS.

I'm off to lunch with a friend of mine who just got laid off from TokyoPop. I think we're going to plan global domination together.

. . . I am now hitting publish, and hoping for the best.

fish, drinking via Marc Johns (Flickr)

Friday June, 06 2008 10:06 AM PDT

Marc Johns posted a photo:

ink & watercolour, 5x7 inches (Available at shop.marcjohns.com)

fish, unshaven via Marc Johns (Flickr)

Friday June, 06 2008 10:06 AM PDT

Marc Johns posted a photo:

ink & watercolour, 5x7 inches (Available at shop.marcjohns.com)

laundry day via Trixie Bedlam (Flickr)

Friday June, 06 2008 09:50 AM PDT

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

zeitflickr 6 june 08 via Warren Ellis

Friday June, 06 2008 09:32 AM PDT

1. Oslo, 2. Fresh dye, 3. street fatigued, 4. Red light for Lisbon Treaty at Ballybough, Dublin, Ireland, 5. anna, 6. indexbook

it was horrible via Trixie Bedlam (Flickr)

Friday June, 06 2008 09:23 AM PDT

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

Candice Cardasis

Friday June, 06 2008 08:16 AM PDT

well it ain't no dream now.

food and water not on the agenda today.

FREAKANGELS 0016 via Warren Ellis

Friday June, 06 2008 07:39 AM PDT

It’s Friday, it’s gone noon UK time, so the new FREAKANGELS episode is up for your cost-free enjoyment (as are all previous episodes): http://www.freakangels.com/?p=40

Everything Is Happening via Warren Ellis

Friday June, 06 2008 06:59 AM PDT

The things the internet have done to music continue to fascinate me.

In times past, people recorded for radio — that is, they recorded in a way that would sound good on medium-wave broadcasting, because BBC Radio 1, the nation’s way of discovering music, broadcast on 275 and 285 on the medium wave. FM was, for a long time, reserved for the Chart Show on Sundays, where Radio 1 took Radio 2’s FM slot for two hours. (Or was it an hour and a half?) This is one reason why there wasn’t any bass in British pop music for years and years. It didn’t broadcast all that well. Pop music was incredibly toppy for a long time; you only got real bass in clubs and at gigs.

Today, it’s the middle stretch that goes missing. Mp3 preserves the top and the bottom, but the centre loses nuance in the compression. And now I’m hearing people record for mp3. People are starting to complain about it — click around and you’ll find ”audiophiles” wishing for FLAC and Ogg that preserves more of the music. It’s just another cycle. Sooner or later, we’ll have another moment as in ‘87/’88 when people discovered bass again, and everything else sounded kind of insipid in comparison.

Not that it’ll happen in a big wave next time. The other interesting thing is the immediacy and fractioning of musical movements. In (say) 1988, you could feel it coming. (In actual fact, there were two things coming — in addition to acid, there was a reinvention of guitar music). Genesis P-Orridge has talked about this a little bit, the weird surge in the air that took him to Jack The Tab. In those days, big cultural shifts were a slow wave passing over the planet, moving at the speed of postage and club nights and the occasional phone call. And they came, at best, one or two at a time. And they caught up everybody.

What’s changed is the speed of communication and the speed at which new music can be experienced. So today we no longer wait for the breakers to hit every 11 years (roughly: rock, 55. Psychedelia, 66. Punk, 77. Acid, 1988). Instead, micro-movements pop up every month. Some new eddy in the hardcore continuum, MySpacey chavpop, The Fonal Sound, British ”dark folk,” the spooktronics crowd being drawn to the Miasmah label (and too many more to mention)… far more plentiful than “scenes” in the past, geographically scattered and inspiring the sort of mad group inspiration and evolution that you used to only find at the top of big New Sound cultural events.

Everything is happening, all the time, very fast. I like that.

no, I don't know why my hair is wet. via Candice Cardasis

Friday June, 06 2008 03:16 AM PDT

All I remember is Dave Baldwin telling me about the Carnegie Club, being intrigued, and drinking way


WAY

too much vodka.

anna via Irene Kaoru (Flickr)

Thursday June, 05 2008 09:54 PM PDT

IreneKaoru posted a photo:

Schattenm�dchen via Trixie Bedlam (Flickr)

Thursday June, 05 2008 08:44 PM PDT

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

Schattenm�dchen

Jesus has it locked down via Trixie Bedlam (Flickr)

Thursday June, 05 2008 08:44 PM PDT

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

Jesus has it locked down