Monday, April 5, 2010
As seems to happen, I don't know, just about four times a year, a new issue of Jettison Quarterly is freely available for your internet reading enjoyment. Once again, my opinions on music are featured, as are conversations with Cutis Mann, Cody Hudson and Carrie Schneider, director Ky Dickens, author Joe Meno, Andy Butler of Hercules and Love Affair, designer Ra’mon Lawrence, and Ron Banks of The Dramatics. In celebration of this historic release, here are my thoughts on a Moondog record that appeared in a Jettison Quarterly of yore.
This record is well known for its idiosyncratic use of found-sound animal noises and baby cries, and its almost haphazard blending of genres and styles. These elements are, of course, essential to the feel of these recordings, as well as an important chapter in the inimitable legend of Moondog (a blind street musician clad in self-made, Thor-inspired garb). However, framing a discussion of this album in terms of its quirks fails to properly explain that the actual songs and melodies here are completely spell-binding. These microsongs state an idea and fill it out with bizarre percussion and found sounds. There is no room here for narrative and structuring ideas; these pieces exist as only as melody, texture, and slithering percussion. Moondog isolates melancholy through stark piano and violin melodies, and adds bubbling primal instincts through rolling, syncopated percussive arrangements. Sounds of frogs and passing cars whisper deep, important secrets of the nature of men trapped in modern society, but looking for more than civilization can offer.