Posts Tagged ‘of note’

of note: Now Writing at Experimedia

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I am pleased to announce that most of my music writing will now appear on the great distributor / mail order website for experimental music, Experimedia.  The first several are available here.

Other thoughts, reviews, lists, and random postings will still appear in this space, but weekly reviews will be found at Experimedia.  As always, thanks for reading.

of note: R.I.P. Amy Winehouse

Monday, July 25th, 2011

She may now be better known for the hundreds of square feet her name has occupied in the tabloids, but for me I’ll always remember Amy Winehouse for her impeccable musical taste and peerless vision in pop music.  Of course, that voice – booming, soulful, and with as much swagger as James Brown – is a close second.

Winehouse was merely 22 years old when she released ‘Back to Black,’ but it displayed a wealth of musical understanding that outstripped her young age.  It did much more than mine the glorious ‘60s girl group and northern soul eras; it effectively lifted a timeless pop formula into a new decade.  But all of this wouldn’t have mattered had Winehouse not had the voice to execute it and the wisdom to recruit the Dap-Kings and their blasts of well-worn soul to provide the musical backbone.  She joins Robert Johnson, Kurt Cobain, and Brian Jones on the list of musicians who pass away at age 27.  Far, far too young.

Hear ‘Back to Black’ below.  Listen to one of her last recordings – a cover of Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party – here.

of note: Trent Reznor wins Golden Globe award

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Trent Reznor may be known for many things (angst-ridden guitar distortion, introducing Marilyn Manson to the world, ridiculously amazing light shows, terrible lyrics, a witty twitter account), but early on in my life musically it was the depth of his sonic creations that attracted me to Nine Inch Nails.  Much maligned by many, ‘The Fragile’ and its intricately layered songs and piano-led instrumentals kept me enamored for years as a teenager.  The scope was vast and the songs quite dense, but there was a certain battered elegance to it that probably informs my taste to this day more than I realize.

Naturally, my interest in Reznor’s projects has waned in the past decade, but while watching ‘The Social Network’ those feelings came rushing back as the opening scene scattered a lone piano melody amidst a peripheral drone that was equally indebted to electronic processing as an orchestra’s strings.  That track, ‘Hand Covers Bruise,’ is understated and slight, but unquestionably memorable as the deep bass penetrates and the piano notes strike the same melancholy chord that affected me so many years ago.  Reznor, along with his studio companion Atticus Rose, won a Golden Globe for best original score Sunday evening and I was reminded that the past will continue to follow you one way or another.

Hear ‘Hand Covers Bruise’ below.

of note: John Cage’s ‘4’33″‘ aims for Christmas No. 1

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

A brief outline: perhaps John Cage’s most recognized composition is one where not even a single note is played for the duration of four minutes and thirty-three seconds.  ‘4’33”’ has become a hallmark of experimental music since it was first premiered by pianist David Tudor in 1952.  Tudor sat at the piano, flipping pages of the score on cue, while the sounds of the concert hall began to fill the space vacated by Tudor’s instrument: creaks of the floor, rustles of the audience, and the incessant drone of heating and cooling units.

In a bizarre turn of events, a recording of this score will take place this coming Monday, December 6th, including an odd cast of UK musicians such as Pete Doherty, Billy Bragg, Orbital, and the Big Pink.  The reason?  A single of this recording will appear the following week in hopes of obtaining the number one song come Christmas, aiming to outstrip the winner of X Factor for the slot.  Last year this goal was achieved with Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 song ‘Killing in the Name,’ but it will be a different triumph entirely if they manage this feat with Cage’s famous composition.

Join the Facebook group advocating the event and subsequent single here.

of note: Jon Mueller leaves Collections of Colonies of Bees

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Despite first hearing this disheartening several weeks ago, reading Jon Mueller’s official post on his website about his departure from Collections of Colonies of Bees still leaves me in a state of dismay.  His work with the band spans 12 years during which the outfit shifted personnel, styles, approaches, and labels several times over.  Creative peaks include:

  • The criminally underrated album ‘Customer’ which folded electronic elements into an array of acoustic strums and unorthodox percussion to form something that’s truly original and experimental while being entirely approachable.
  • ‘Six Guitars,’ a one-sided 12″ that features just what the title states.  Guitars are bowed, plucked, and hammered into minimalist patterns that recall the best of the genre (Reich, Part, Palestine, et cetera).
  • The iconic Table of the Elements label released only a single Bees album, but it was a memorable one as the band, originally a duo, expanded to six members.  ‘Birds’ is comprehensive in documenting this change as the album is fully arranged, extremely articulate, and extensively composed in its translation of Arnold Dreyblatt and post-rock motifs.

One more album will surely be added to this list before Mueller moves on and the Bees replace him when Hometapes release ‘Giving’ in October.  Still, the world will not be without his vision: an incredible solo record entitled ‘The Whole’ is due out this fall to coincide with a short tour through the US in early September.