Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ege Bamyeezy

I like Kanye's Dark Beautiful Miasma, but it's his second straight album that won't be on my year-end list. Graduation, from 2007, was on that year's.

I was lucky to be invited to the advance-listening session for press for it (and for the two that came before). For this one, which was at a movie theater in Midtown, he stood onstage and took questions afterward. I was totally floored when this song had come on, to hear the booted melody line (from Can's "Sing Swan Song"). Against form, I strenuously raised my hand in an effort to get his attention in a theater of possibly a thousand people. He pointed to me and I realized I didn't really have a question; it was more that I somehow had to acknowledge that he used a Can song. I blurted out, "Where did you first hear the Can song you used as a basis for 'Drunk and Hot Girls'? People sitting around me turned to look (and afterward, a bunch of them descended on me, notebooks and pens in hand, to ask who Can was), but Kanye either didn't fully hear me or he was just rolling so hard on his cocktail of adrenaline and pride that he heard only what he wanted. "Yeah, that was a Can song," was all he said, before launching into a long and weird and somewhat caddish explanation of what the song is about. Which is summarized well by its title.

Friday, December 10, 2010

On the passage of time

You'd think by now that any real music fan has got to be pretty fucking sick of the Pixies.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lear Town

The idea today, of Anne Carson's, that madness precedes winter, roused me from slumber, and set my heart racing, despite my ignorance.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Record Store Day

Thought I'd wander toward Other Music this morning to see what was to be seen, and dis is what I saw:

A line around the corner at a record store made me wistful for the days of camping out for tickets, and also wistful for a time when not everybody knew everything instantly and acted as one cell in the hive mind. That's indie rock for you. So I wandered over to the newish location of what used to be known as the other big store in the Easterly Village, and not only was there no crowd whatsoever at Kim's, clerks who'd never even acknowledged my existence before were downright regular and friendly. The Moby Grape 7-inch? Why yes, it's right over there and we have plenty, well thank you. Oh, is that the new Fall record over the p.a., why yes it is, isn't it good, well yes it is! Picked up a few other specials of the day but decided to save most of my cash for whatever the Jooklo Duo is selling tonight.

On the way to Kim's I saw perhaps the truest expression of record-store-ism when I passed Rockit Scientist — still closed on Record Store Day, almost an hour after their posted opening time. What's more record-nerdy than being late?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jooklo Duo + Barker/Carter

Zebulon the other night after a frustrating/fulfilling ba gua, looking for a flight off this stone. Found it. Andrew Barker and Daniel Carter went first (well, first as of my arrival; woulda liked to have seen Nate Wooley's duo), and if I tell you they were "regular," promise you won't read that as an insult. I found a table — joint was only half full! Or rather, all the way full, but only half with people — behind a cute hippie couple making goo-goo eyes and whispering cheek-kisses to each other, she a slight figure in a stripey shirt (not an uncommon sight at Zebulon) and he a slight figure with hair obscuring a tye-dyed T-shirt. Barker/Carter were "regular" only because NYers have seen them do this a lot, together and elsewhere — Barker hitting two drums, three notes and four directions at once, Carter the consummate inside-outsider, swirling melodies around pillars of sound driven down to Earth's core. At one point Andrew announced the set's end by way of thanking everybody, except — Carter wasn't done. This led to a pretty glorious passage, ten or so minutes of bonus time (or in my case, injury time).

Jooklo, Jooklo, Jooklo Duo were next. Knew nothing about them other than their Italian base of operations and Conklin's effusive praise (not to mention his having booked them), proof of which was proved further when my favorite new hippie couple took to the floor and made it the stage. It was them! What the hell. Stripey shirt is Virginia Genta, and she is an earthy intergalactic badass of effectively limitless power. She wasted no time and went right at the fabric, tearing huge swaths of truth from the sky with her tenor, ripping, rending, turning gold into wine and wine into bread and roses. Incredible power — pierced, pinched tones blasting forth in a spectrum of color tones so far above where we live and work and wrestle the daily pain. She was tearing down sky-castles and replacing them with affordable sky-housing for the people. He is David Vanzan on drums, and he is right there with his pal, driving hard, more linear than we often get in Fire Music and refreshing at that; S remarked wisely (as is her wont) that he probably came to this freedom from a rock background, and also that she couldn't remember ever seeing these two so unfettered. After a spell, Virginia went for a melodica — to my chagrin for a moment, as she started tentatively in a space David had cleared out. Then I realized she wasn't tentative, only her part was, and Jooklo sense quickly came back in. Soon she went to tin whistles, two of them in a V formation, before returning to reeds and docking us all back in safely, happy to be home and much the better for the trip. Pretty fuggin' rewarding, and at 28 minutes, their set could not have been more fit. Dropped a few dimes at their merché table and have listened to nothing but for the past two days.

Promoter-mook Conklin (left) with Jooklo Duo: David Vanzan, Virginia Genta

And I will go back expecting the same or even better: Jooklo Duo hits Cake Shop Saturday night (the 17th) and Public Assembly I think the next night (deets and more here), but I don't care cause I'll be behind bars that night and I'm feeling selfish these days. You can get your own freedom.

Lookit me, off to the Notekillers now — whose next record may or may not or definitely will not be called Expired Links. More to come, more than likely.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The 25th Frame

"…brain can't make sense of it…or stop it."

Went to the Kitchen tonight for the second of three performances of The 25th Frame, the new dance/theater work from Brooklyn's Alex Escalante confronting the way manipulated language and the ceaseless swarm of messages we live in and under completely fucks us up. The piece was performed by Escalante, Nancy Garcia and Jon Moniaci, and it was a 55-minute jolt.

Escalante, doing things on a ladder

Dark and funny, The 25th Frame opens with Escalante and Garcia up on stage-bookending ladders engaging in rapid-fire tag-team psychobabble, peppering the room with repeating syllables that bleed and morph into others: "buy-buy-buy-buy-buy," "true-true-true-true-true-truth-truth-truth-truth-justice-and-the-American-way," mimicking/mocking the way we're hypno-bludgeoned by advertising, polit-speak and propaganda. This went on for 10 minutes or so and was set off crisply by the next movement, with the pair descending for a long, elegantly expressive dance, struggling on the floor under the crushing weight of invisible forces and slipping in and out of symmetry and synchronicity. Excellent choreography (by the pair in collaboration) and the silence in the room made the sweep of arms and legs across the Kitchen floor all the more dramatic — that is, until Moniaci's live electronic score crept into range, eventually growing into prickly presence as Garcia and Escalante, upright now, vibrated around the room, caught up in the manic energy field that's replaced our old atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen and other useful stuff. Watching Nancy Garcia the performer vibrate like that made me think of the way Nancy Garcia the musician's still-pretty-new album, Be the Climb, vibrates out of the same frustration and with some similar tactics ("I wanna make something clear — I-I-I wanna make something clear — I wanna make something clear"). The rest of the piece moved briskly and pushed the commentary (as the performance itself already was) into true artfulness, utilizing video, animated Soviet prop-films (though an eagle that gobbles a steroidal diet of money and weapons could be labeled as objective reportage, too) and an ending meta-auction conducted brilliantly by Moniaci, involving more vibrating and the piece itself being sold for a nice five-figure sum.

It was great to be reminded by smart people that the very nature of this society (kind of all of it) is corrupting and corroding…regardless of whether there's fuck-all to be done about it on anything but a personal level. Do we not talk about it because it's already so suffocating?

One more night of Escalante's piece tomorrow (Saturday the 20th), which could be a nice lead-in to gigs by Evangelista and Zola Jesus back on the LES, if you know what's good.