As I seem to do every so often, I wandered off into the weeds for a few months there. But it’s fall, and the election is almost past (PRAISE BE), and I can start to think about things other than politics, economic misfortune, and the unfortunate impossibility / undesirability of revolution in a post-industrial, media-driven and self-aware society. And Sarah Palin. Fucking Sarah Palin.
I’ve continued to trawl the MP3-blog depths, and am no closer than I was six months ago to figuring out how to describe what I’ve found. I’ve heard a lot of music that’s new to me this year, and I’ve found an intimidating amount of it interesting, entertaining, or weird enough to hold my attention. I’ve been emitting little drips of information on my Twitter feed, but I’m not sure there’s enough context there to make it interesting to anyone other than myself. In the end, I’ll just have to start writing here every day again, and see if that knocks loose anything interesting.
Of course, I’ve been continuing to buy music. I’m enough of a completist that I’ll probably provide a complete dump of everything I listened to over the summer at some point, but for now, here’s what’s most interesting to me, my October shopping trips to Amoeba:
- Antony & The Johnsons: Another World
- Arckanum: Antikosmos
- The Breeders: Cannonball
- The Breeders: Divine Hammer
- The Breeders: Pod
- The Breeders: Title TK
- Darkthrone: Soulside Journey
- Ladytron: Velocifero
- A Minor Forest: Flemish Altruism (Constituent Parts 1993-1996)
- The New Year: s/t
- Sparks: Indiscreet
- Sparks: No. 1 in Heaven
- Sparks: Propaganda
- Sparks: A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing
- V/A: Dubstep Allstars, Volume 6 (mixed by Appleblim)
- V/A: Uproot (mixed by DJ /rupture)
- Vivian Girls: s/t
- Akimbo: Jersey Shores
- Antaeus: Blood Libels
- Bass Communion: Molotov and Haze
- Loren Chasse & Michael Northam: The Otolith
- Coelacanth & Keith Evans: Wrack Light in Copper Ruin
- Darkspace: Dark Space III
- The (Fallen) Black Deer: Requiem
- Daniel Menche: Creatures of Cadence
- Slagmaur: Svin
- Urfaust: Drei Rituale Jenseits des Kosmos
- New Egypt: White Magic
Aside from the limp and lifeless new album by The New Year, these are all interesting records, worth further discussion, and if I can, I’ll say more about them. Right now, I’m listening to the Darkspace record as the band seems to have intended (i.e. listening to Dark Spaces I through III straight through, at which point they becomes something more than a churning blackened crust-metal soundscape and start living up to the grandiose, symphonic concept indicated by the album and track titles). And last night, I listened to the A Minor Forest record, and was delighted to know the songs deeply and immediately, despite never having heard this record before. A Minor Forest were a shambling mess at times (especially for a math rock band), but they put on a great show, and their studio records sound more live than not.
Also, since I last wrote here, I saw Polvo and My Bloody Valentine play live. Polvo were OK and deserve credit for trying to wrap their weirdness around “Mexican Radio” (one of my favorite songs), but My Bloody Valentine did things with sound I didn’t know were possible, and the experience was more satisfying to my inner 19-year-old than I really had any right to hope going in.
I’ve been busy, and I continue to be distracted, but it’s a really good time to be a music fan.
And oh yeah, if you don’t have these records, your musical experience of 2008 is sadly incomplete and you are probably a hollow shell of a person:
- asbestoscape: s/t
- Clark: Turning Dragon
- Fucked Up: The Chemistry of Common Life
Talking about my visit to Aquarius reminded me that I’ve already had one shopping trip so far this year. There’s only one store in San Francisco / North America that can really compete for my affections with Aquarius, and that would be Amoeba. I don’t really see them as competing; Aquarius is run by my friends and is a boutique with a high density of specialty items and Amoeba has a huge variety and much better coverage of electronic dance music (such as it is these days). Neither of them has any trouble separating me from large piles of my money.
Anyway, here’s what I picked up at Amoeba last week:
- Akimbo: Harshing Your Mellow (Alternative Tentacles)
- Akimbo: Navigating the Bronze (Alternative Tentacles)
- Cabaret Voltaire: Eight Crepuscule Tracks (Giant)
- Cabaret Voltaire: The Living Legends (Restless / Mute)
- Darkthrone: FOAD (Peaceville)
- Nick Drake: Bryter Later (Island)
- Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left (Island)
- Nick Drake: Time of No Return (Hannibal)
- Echospace: The Coldest Season (Modern Love / Baked Goods)
- Fairport Convention: Liege & Lief (Island)
- Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking (Island)
- Fotheringay: Fotheringay (Fledg’ling)
- Gravenhurst: The Western Lands (Warp)
- PJ Harvey: White Chalk (Island)
- Daniel “belteShazzar” Higgs: Metempsychotic Melodies (Holy Mountain)
- LCD Soundsystem: 45:33 (DFA)
- Gram Parsons with The Flying Burrito Brothers: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969 (Amoeba)
- Pylon: Gyrate PLUS (DFA)
- Seefeel: CH-Vox (RePHLeX)
- Six Organs of Admittance: Shelter from the Ash (Drag City)
- Wiley: Eskiboy – The Best of Tunnel Vision (selected by Logan Sama) (Eskibeat)
- Wire: Read & Burn 03 (Pink Flag)
- v/a: Fabric 36 (mixed by Ricardo Villalobos) (Fabric)
I’d say it’d been a while since I’d been shopping, but this happens pretty much every time I go to Amoeba.
The newest Darkthrone, F.O.A.D. (no prize for guessing the acronym), sounds more like Darkthrone than ever before. It seems like they've finally found a way to combine their original, raw black metal sound with the devil-may-care (ha! ha!) punky thrash / thrashy punk of The Cult Is Alive or Sardonic Wrath. They're as tongue-in-cheek as ever, from the thudding midtempo musicology lecture that is "Canadian Metal" to the drily sarcastic potshots Fenris (the chief songwriter) takes at Nocturno Culto (the only other band member) in the liner notes. They absolutely have a formula, and they have it down cold, and they don't care if you don't like it. They're more likely to get on a plane and fly to your home town so they can piss on your lawn than they are to apologize for making music you don't like, or think isn't blackened enough, or whatever pointless, stupid complaints you feel like making. Ulver once tried to pull off this kind of truer than trve kvlt attitude and it came across as amusingly pseudo-intellectual bullshit (even though Nattens Madrigal is still a total kick in the pants); with Darkthrone there's only a faint whiff of meta hanging around, and by F.O.A.D. it's almost completely gone.