Monday, April 27, 2009

Pandit Pran Nath - Ragas Yaman Kalyan & Punjabi Berva (1972)

My friend John and I recently had an e-mail chat in which we discussed the implications of various iterations of "spazzy" behavior. Modern dance/performance art often looks to me like Pentecostal glossolalia, and shroomed-out 60s children (saxophones and guitars alike) made no secret of stealing directly from the raga form. What primal itch do the facial contortions of both godheads and dorks scratch?

Indian classical music is an attempt at collectively scratching that itch on the way to enlightenment through a highly complex system of improvisation based upon melodic modes and rhythmic patterns. I, unfortunately, don't have the necessary base of knowledge to break down what is actually occurring on these recordings, but I do know that the primordial ooze flowing through my body starts to bubble and burst when these sounds tickle my eardrums.

PS: For any other bloggers out there trying to figure out the issues with hard returns and formatting, it has something to do with haywire-ass div tags. I still don't know where they came from, but, when I cleaned out those extra div's, my posts finally began to meet the stringent aesthetic standards that I had envisioned for them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beach Boys Collection

So, I mostly thought that it was impossible to offend me, but, the other day, I realized that I am offended by several of the songs on the pre-Today Beach Boys albums. I had a craving for Custom Machine, but I decided, in truly non-Western fashion, to take in all of Little Deuce Coupe and delay my own gratification. Several times, my mouth dropped slightly open, and my neck cocked suddenly: I was offended.

So, what I did was take all of the best songs from those albums and put them in one spot, because, believe you me, the songs here are fucking transcendental.

Structuring is similar to that described in my recent Buddy Holly post, in that extended chord progressions are used to build up to a specific point ("Surfin' USA!") while contemporary verse/chorus arrangements are largely absent. These songs are also super-fucking short, which rules, because I don't always want to hear the half-time chorus/vocal histrionics at the end of a song (sometimes I do want to hear this).

Pick out some voice-leading harmonies! Shut Down and Catch a Wave both have some keen-ass contrary motion, which makes me wonder if the Boys were thinking in terms of chord inversions or some weird-ass sibling mind-meld counterpoint shit, being very neglectuful of equal temperament, etc. Either way, what we end up with is a viscous musical texture pulling at the edges of reality, with the shockingly banal lyrics and more apparent-in-hindsight melancholy only adding to the surreality of the experience. The contrast between the basic rock pentatonic scale framework and the lushness of the vocal melodies (see also: The Beatles, Motown) is sometimes more appealing to me than the more cohesive blending of instruments and vocals found on Pet Sounds and later works.

Also, check out the lyrics to Be True to your School. Whoa!

PS: Can any more knowledgable bloggers explain why the hard returns in my posts keep getting all fucked up? I can't make sense of this!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Midnight Star - No Parking on the Dance Floor (1983)

Super-wet sounding bass, all oiled up and flopping around. Fortunately, sterile vocoder vocals and Kraftwerk synths offset what would otherwise be a shockingly organic sounding 80s cliche.

Cheesy ad-lib lines like "Let me plug you in, baby" on Electricity bring to mind the question: which is responsible for more creeps, sleazy R&B one-liners, or Hollywood-style romantic comedies rewarding male awkwardness/desperation with the love of babes?
Freak-A-Zoid is the unquestioned star of this record, with its thickly layered, highly syncopated robot beat that would make Timbaland proud. Oh and the cut-up, black metal vocals in the intro (probably really a James Brown sample). The melting pot of weirdos/geniuses like Kraftwerk, Prince, James Brown, George Clinton & Giorgio Moroder is what this blog is all about. That and really stupid mid-song skits about how to spell "freak-a-zoid;" typical of uptight, British squares not to know how to spell "zoid."

Guys, I would have been "out" all of the time in the 80s. Is this what bro bars played instead of Flo Rida, because that is pretty much my dream. Imagine the frattiest bro bar just playing Prince and Prince rip-offs. As much as I rag on civilization, that would make up for just about all of its wrongs.

PS: Two of my closest friends have recently updated their online presences. I don't pretend to know anything about non-auditory forms of art, but I do pretend to like guys:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nekropolis - Musik aus dem Schattenreich (1979)

I first saw this album browsing through the Krautrock bins at a local record store. I thought it was a misfiled ass-flap style band, but, after reading the fine print on the back, I realized it was a different story altogether. No, those skulls are not part of the mass grave of d-beat clones. Rather, they are the dystopian echo chambers through which Nekropolis's oppressive, pulsing ambiance reverberates.

"Pulsing" is a good word to describe a lot of krautrock, such as the funky, busy-body songs of Neu! that incessantly call images of Sim City to mind. How interesting to hear that feel recontextualized in Holle Im Angesicht, this time as the next evolution of a rat picking its way through the post-civilization wreckage of the same, once-thriving metropolitan center. The groove of Ghul is textured with the wailing of several hundred televisions blaring to empty apartment buildings, all inhabitants, save the rat, victims of a superbug that is just beginning to stir in the bellies of our midwestern CAFOs. Lights out listening is mandatory for this one.

PS: This rip is from the excellent Mutant Sounds blog. Take a second to consider their bountiful offerings.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition (1874)

My last post on Ildjarn, my contribution to the endless war between trve and false metal, got me thinking of other discussions on this topic that I've had recently. Again, you've got a lot of bands out there playing in a similar aesthetic to Burzum, but they're actually playing Death Cab for Cutie or Jimmy Eat World songs. This is boring to me, and I don't want to listen to it. However, in that initial wave of Norwegian black metal, you had guys (particularly Burzum and Emperor) writing riffs that sounded like fucking Rachmaninoff and fucking Modest Mussorgsky. This rules to me, and helps me imagine myself as a real seed-spreading human, slowly evolving into a tree.

Mussorgsky originally composed this as a suite for piano, but it has been arranged for orchestra many times over. I'm not sure which arrangement this is, since I have a hard enough time keeping all of my digital music in order by artist and year; how dare you also expect me to keep track of arranger & performer, you bully?

The composition mirrors Mussorgsky's movement through a friend's posthumous art exhibition. This type of literal representation in composition is very interesting to me, as I tend to think of music in extremely abstract terms. I suppose this style of composition can push you to new realms of creatvity in an attempt to mirror a specific experience, but, for me, music is its own reality. Music is my only friend, because I can't relate to anyone. Papa Roach. But seriously, I just want to listen to The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks on repeat.


PS: I played a guitar solo for some dads, and their songs are fucking heavy. You may know them as Weekend Nachos. Listen to new songs or download new songs.