Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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The Monthly List: Jan + Feb’s Top 26 Albums

haptic_bandBetter late than never: here we go with a combined monthly list for the first part of the year. The last two months have been filled with tons of great new music, some of which I’ve had the chance to review, some of which I’m in the middle of writing about now. There’s lots more due out in the next few months too, which means I need to pick up the pace.

That said, here’s a list of what’s been in my CD player and on my turntable in the last couple of months. Links to my favorite sites for reviews and information are found at the bottom of the page. You can always find good info at Brainwashed.com, DustedJust Outside, and All Music Guide, and samples are available virtually everywhere. Forced Exposure and Boomkat are good places to go if you’re looking for the more obscure stuff.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.

  • Tarab, Strata on UNFATHOMLESS (CD)
  • Haptic, Abeyance on ENTR’ACTE (CD)
  • Morton Feldman, For Philip Guston on DOG W/A BONE (4CD)
  • Morton Feldman, Piano and String Quartet on BRIDGE (CD)
  • Philip Corner, Italian Air: Wind, Water & Metal on RICERCA SONOROA (LP)
  • The Shadow Ring, Remains Unchanged on KYE (2LP)
  • Jacques Lejeune, Parages and Other Electroacoustic Works 1971 – 1985 on ROBOT (3CD)
  • Max Neuhaus, The New York School on ALGA MARGHEN (CD)
  • Michael Byron, Awakening at the Inn of the Birds on COLD BLUE MUSIC (CD)
  • Michael Byron, Music of Nights Without Moon or Pearl on COLD BLUE MUSIC (CD)
  • Anne Guthrie, Codiaeum Variegatum on STUDENTS OF DECAY (DIGITAL)
  • Machinefabriek, Attention, the Doors are Closing! on SELF-RELEASED (DIGITAL)
  • Joseph Clayton Mills, The Patient on ENTR’ACTE (CD/BOOK)
  • Michael Pisaro/Greg Stuart, Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds on GRAVITY WAVE (CD)
  • Joe Panzner/Greg Stuart, Dystonia Duos on ERST AEU (CD)
  • Jim O’Rourke & Christopher Heemann, Plastic Palace People Vol. 1 on STREAMLINE (CD)
  • Claypipe, A Daylight Blessing on MIE (DIGITAL)
  • Robbie Basho, Visions of the Country on GNOME LIFE (LP)
  • Rodd Keith, My Pipe Yellow Dream on ROARATORIO (LP)
  • Autechre, Amber on WARP/WAX TRAX!/TVT (CD)
  • Poemss, Poemss on PLANET MU (DIGITAL)
  • Venetian Snares, Doll Doll Doll on HYMEN (CD)
  • Venetian Snares, Winter in the Belly of a Snake on PLANET MU (CD)
  • The Orb, U.F.Orb on ISLAND RED LABEL (CD)
  • No Right Turn, No Right Turn on EM RECORDS (CD)
  • Ida, Will You Find Me on TIGER STYLE RECORDS (CD)
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Review: Anne Guthrie, “Codiaeum Variegatum” (Students of Decay)

Since about the time musical theory was first written down, musicians, scientists, mystics and philosophers have sought to discover and explain the presence of harmony in the natural world. One of the most famous products of that endeavor is Pythagoras’ music of the spheres, a theory that ascribes a constant tone to each of the planets based on the period of their transit through the sky.

For Pythagoras, the harmony wasn’t merely mathematical. It had an audible component even if humans couldn’t hear it. Johannes Kepler devised a more sophisticated picture of that heavenly music more than 2,000 years later when he calculated the differences in planetary motion at perihelion and aphelion. The ratios yielded by their combination produced musical intervals that he notated in hisHarmonices Mundi. Jupiter and Mars didn’t just hum as they plowed through the ether; they sang in major thirds and octaves.

Four hundred years later, we’re less interested in the metaphysical connotations of astronomical symphonies, but we’re still fascinated by the sounds of the universe. Interest in the sub-surface growl of geological events and in the sound of Saturn’s magnetic activity betrays a continued love affair with the idea that harmony persists in the cosmos despite all the terrestrial evidence to the contrary. Anne Guthrie knows that it persists, albeit in a form different than anything Kepler might have dreamed, and she gives us a strong example in Codiaeum Variegatum.

Read more…


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Broadcast 09: Persists Into Winter

helm-the_hollow_organ

Below are two links to the WZBC Archives where you can listen to my Super Bowl Sunday (February 2nd) radio show, broadcast on WZBC 90.3 FM in Boston. Those links will remain active until the 16th of February 2014, at which point the show will disappear and be replaced by a new one.

Lots of new music on this program, including two new songs from one of Joseph Clayton Mills’s most recent projects, The Patient. It’s an incredible record paired with a fantastic book that serves as a loose score for the music. The book includes notes written by Franz Kafka to his friends while he was suffering from tuberculosis of the larynx. The notes include common questions and observations that you might expect from someone unable to talk, but they’re also filled with peculiar fragments that seem designed to confuse. Mills takes advantage of their intensity and ambiguity and uses them as inspiration for recommended musical (and maybe non-musical) actions. The performance of those actions in whatever combination constitutes The Patient.  I talk about it a little on the show, but you just have to see it in order to appreciate how amazingly well it’s put together. Anyone interested in Kafka should definitely pick this one up. I have a review of that in the works, but if you want some information now, go here.

I also played a new piece from Anne Guthrie’s latest, Codiaeum Variegatum, due out on Students of Decay the 18th of this month, along with a composition by Jacques Lejeune,  who has a new 3CD collection out on Robot Records. Both are excellent, but I’m particularly in love with that Guthrie record. It’s one of my favorite albums of new music so far this year.

There’s a new song from Helm tucked in there and a new one from Machinefabriek too, plus a superb, low-key piece from Philip Corner. Italian Air: Wind, Water & Metal, the album it’s from, might be a little hard to find, but is worth seeking out. If you can’t find one at a local shop, copies are still available from Forced Exposure.

Any questions, comments, or requests, please send me an email or just drop a message into the comments section below.

Thanks for listening.

Laughter: February 2nd, 2014 – Hour 1 and Hour 2

  1. The Shadow Ring, “The World Phone” from Remains Unchanged (2012) on KYE
  2. Anne Guthrie, “Rough Above with Uneven Base” from Codiaeum Variegatum (2014) on STUDENTS OF DECAY
  3. Philip Corner, “Ear Wave” from Italian Air: Wind, Water & Metal (2012) on RICERCA SONORA
  4. Joseph Clayton Mills, “Part III” from The Patient (2013) on ENTR’ACTE
  5. Helm, “Analogues” from The Hollow Organ (2013) on PAN
  6. Aaron Dilloway & C Spencer Yeh, “The Hydra” from The Squid (2008) on HANSON RECORDS
  7. Jacques Lejeune, “Cri (Bursts/The Earth is Telling the Dead What the Living are Saying)” from Parages and Other Electroacoustic Works 1971-1985 (2013) on ROBOT RECORDS
  8. Baudouin Oosterlynck, “Le Point et la Ligne” from 1975-1978 (2008) on METAPHON
  9. Machinefabriek, “Manipulation” from Attention, The Doors are Closing! (2014) SELF RELEASED
  10. Joseph Clayton Mills, “Part I” from The Patient (2013) on ENTR’ACTE
  11. Zeitkratzer, “Four6” from John Cage [Old School] (2010) on ZEITKRATZER