Monday, February 22, 2010

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hello I am a kick drum slanting ever so slightly this way and that, eyeing the lattice above and wondering about my weight. I weigh a lot. But I'm fleet, still, fleeter still as time draws on and I have accumulation at my back. I used to be over there and though I'm still there I'm also here, slanting. I don’t suppose I slant, exactly, but all the parts around me make it sound as if I do. Slant isn't even really a verb; it's more a property I exhibit, and I can only be said to exhibit anything in a context. Remove me from here and I would sound more rubbery than I otherwise do. As I’ve learned of kick drums generally though there is no otherwise. There is only context.

Hello I am a snare drum and though I'm a bit embarrassed about how little I sound like an actual snare I think you know what I mean when I identify myself as such. I keep time. I lead the march, so to speak. I think it rather more stately the way I've grown beyond battlefield rustle but I'm the first to grant dissenters their right. Leading a march foregrounds functionalism and the dictates of functionalism are bound to change. Either way I'm the center of a structure whose center is self-abnegating if drawn right. Rhythm has no center; it has only outlying traces that answer to centrifugal force the same as you or I.

Hello I am the hi-hat and as might be readily apparent I am pleased to meet you. But just because I tickle doesn't mean I’m coy. I fancy myself a workhorse who keeps easy hours and knows the ways of management theory. I manipulate, sure, but when exactly did manipulation get written down for good as necessarily bad? I’m less a sound than the pinched suggestion of a sound, a letter pulled out of a word whittled to its essence. All talk of minimalism in dance music begins and ends with me. All talk of movement, likewise.

Hello I am an acid line and I don’t expect you to expect me to answer for myself in any way whatsoever. You want to know what I am and how I work? Take a number. Get in line. Don’t let the floor hit you on your way out hahaha. In certain moments I might find myself reflecting on history but seriously fuck off if you're waiting for such reflection to show. Everything I have going for me is that which continues to go, and I’m smart and devious enough to know what mystery means in the end.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


When work sort of starts to begin.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I've been reading Borges and flashed on him on lot during Dandy Jack's set at Cielo tonight—which, granted, is transferrence of the highest order. But is that not what this is all for, at least in part?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Here’s an Onion A.V. Club interview I did with David Lynch in his suite at the Hotel On Rivington on the Lower East Side. We sat and drank cappuccino (not, as I’d hoped per Twin Peaks fan fantasy, coffee “black as midnight on a moonless night”). I gave him a Buddha’s hand, a weird fruit I only recently learned of that is basically a lemon with no meat and in the shape of something tentacle-y from space or deep within the sea. He put it in a bowl on the table between us filled with strange gourds. He was warm and receptive when not receptive at all. His new movie Inland Empire is better than you might have heard or read. It's about identity drift and finger-snapping and the fact that the bus from Hollywood to Pomona costs $3.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Chicago bending on silver that turned black.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Here's my Top 10 Albums & Singles list for 2006, with notes that ran in The Onion, plus a couple other short lists submitted to the Idolator "Jackin' Pop" poll.

01 Ricardo Villalobos, Fizheuer Zieheuer (Playhouse)
Fizheuer Zieheuer is all about sublime repetition and subtle modulation, which wage battle in two 35-plus-minute tracks that run druggy minimal-techno rhythms under a Balkan brass band foreshortened to abstraction. Both are outlandish for their length, but they’re also outrageous for how much variety they squeeze out of tracks that sound the same until you really home in and get lost.
02 LCD Soundsystem, 45:33: Nike+ Original Run (no label)
A digital-only release made to take on 45-minute jogs, Nike+ Original Run finds LCD Soundsystem paying equal mind to its lust for punk-funk disco and celestial electro. The gapless sequencing illuminates links between parts that might not fit so well otherwise, and the chartable rising-and-falling action testifies to LCD’s increasingly impressive range.
03 Destroyer, Destroyer’s Rubies (Merge)
Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar is the best lyricist in rock, and—not exactly typically for him—he sounds driven to make that less of a secret on an album as allusive and elusive as the best poetry.
04 Trentemoller, The Last Resort (Poker Flat)
Adapting haute techno sound-design to moody and methodical swells of post-rock, Danish DJ/producer Trentemoller made a capital-A album that upped the ante for what minimal-minded electronic music can do in a full-length format.
05 Scott Walker, The Drift (4AD)
No album this year had a better song with a guy singing while punching a slab of meat.
06 Various Artists, Superlongevity 4 (Perlon)
A two-disc compilation for the best and weirdest techno label in Berlin (and, for that matter, the world), Superlongevity 4 offers up 17 hectic, humid, and hallowed tracks by Pantytec, Melchior Productions, Cabanne, Luciano, Matt John, and more. Most of the year’s best Perlon-stable stuff came out on vinyl 12-inches or on other labels (seek: Luciano & Melchior Productions’ “Father”), but there’s enough mystique here to go on.
07 Matmos, The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of The Beast (Matador)
08 Shearwater, Palo Alto (Misra)
09 Uusitalo, Tulenkantaja (Huume)
Another alter-ego of the Finnish artist who moonlights as Luomo and Vladislav Delay, Uusitalo falls between the two other guises (more dance-y than dubby, and more techno-y than house-y). No matter the network associations, Tulenkantaja features some of the most intricate and interesting rhythms of the year, finding elegant splints to wrap around fractures and giving the programmer’s arrow evermore organic aim.
10 Midlake, The Trials Of Van Occupanther (Bella Union)
This masterfully produced album sounds like high-period Fleetwood Mac. So why did the guys in Midlake go so far out their way to angle themselves as just another lazy, shambling indie-rock band in their live show?

01 Luciano & Melchior Productions, "Father" (Cadenza)
02 Justin Timberlake, "My Love" (Jive)
03 Lawrence, "Along the Wire [Superpitcher Remix]" (Ladomat)
04 Ricardo Villalobos, "Seive" (Diamonds & Pearls)
05 Pet Shop Boys, "Flamboyant [Michael Mayer Kompakt Mix]" (Parlophone)
06 Midlake, "Roscoe" (Bella Union)
07 Ne-Yo, "So Sick" (Def Jam)
08 Nelly Furtado, "Maneater" (Geffen)
09 Phoenix, "One Time Too Many" (Astralwerks)
10 Henrik Schwarz, Ame & Dixon, "Where We At [Version 1]" (Sonar Kollektiv)

01 T.Rex, Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow (Rhino)
02 Milton Nascimento, Milagre Dos Peixes (Water)
03 The Cure, Pornography (Rhino)
04 Arthur Russell, Springfield (Audika)
05 Karen Dalton, In My Own Time (Light In The Attic)

01 Ricardo Villalobos
02 Three 6 Mafia
03 Joanna Newsom
04 David Milch
05 Scott Walker

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My thinking as to the relevance of trees within these lives that we live? I’m glad you asked! There’s a remarkable one right outside my bedroom window that I’ve watched, over the past three weeks or so, go from haggardly green to vivacious yellow to all but leafless save for a few last stragglers hanging on in a fashion reminiscent of Cezanne or those Pennsylvania Dutch emblems that subject trees to strong but ultimately deferential graphical impulses. Its status as of this morning: neat but noncommittal. It’s a delicate condition that will almost assuredly be different when the sun rises next, variables being what they are.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

CNN's Dana Bash: The blinkingest human being on the planet?

Monday, October 30, 2006

I played a lot of chess this weekend and failed increasingly miserably by the game, flaming out in the fourth and final one with a whimper. I’m liking chess right now because I’m hating it; I’ve gotten to a point where I sense vague recognitions of the character of each game as it takes shape, where I respond to the properties of certain alignments and appreciate what they say about the moves that made them so and the kind of moves they portend—where I understand the very nature of each game and how it differs from that of any other that has or will come to pass. But I still don’t know what best to actually do in almost every situation. I lack for vision. I dwell on differentiating aspects at the exclusion of likenesses. Each move is an isolated instance, an existential event with no sense of history or wisdom accrued. It’s frustrating, and fascinating—like being lost and then slowly figuring out, with increasing clarity, how lost you really are. Does the process of deciphering and systematizing the ways in which you are lost make you more or less lost in the end?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Today started with coffee sipped while interviewing Lindsey Buckingham at the Ritz Carlton and ended with beer finished just as two guys in (really rather convincing) gorilla suits bounded onstage to join the 10 other earthy/galactic freaks making a go of it at a Basement Jaxx show at Webster Hall.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fruitful exercise for gorgeous twilight Sunday afternoons/evenings in Prospect Park: try to imagine what a startled stickbug might think while stuck to a kite flown high over a pickup soccer game played by émigrés from island nations where spectacular hair and real-deal soccer socks are rites of custom. Adjectives abound! Adverbs accumulate! A stickbug in such a situation would have lots to say about the bounties of Brooklyn, would it not?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The rain sounds distant and miffed, bored with itself, resigned to its fate as rain but just barely. Tired, spent, uninvested. In the earliest, surliest stage of mourning the sense of propriety that once stood in for a sense of self. Amoral rain, agnostic rain. It lacks direction and purpose. It might identify as nihilistic if the idea of identifying as anything struck it as even the least bit worthwhile. The rain just doesn’t care. It’s going through the motions. It puzzles over the difference between detachment and indifference, laughs down those who might think that difference significant. It’s rain ready to plead the 5th Amendment, with attitude. Sarcastic-clapping rain. Did you hear the one about a rabbi and the rain walk into a bar? Bartender says, “What can I get you?”; rain says, “Fuck off. Leave me alone.” Cold, harsh, clinical rain. Sociopathic. The kind of rain you imagine falling on the Soviet Bloc in the ’70s. Rain that drew pictures of skulls and fire on its folders in high school. That’s what the rain is like here now.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

He spent all kinds of time in mind of lederhosen yet knew nothing of their provenance. His favorite kind of cactus was ocotillo for reasons that went without saying. He hated time-lapse photography and twitched at the mere mention of Irving Thalberg’s name. His favorite color was actually three colors. He regarded magnets as mystical but kept graph-paper by his bedside. His favorite sound was the sound of a fan switched off. Do you know the type?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The print of Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances I saw tonight at Film Forum had no soundtrack, which, after an initial spell of anxiety over being perhaps too fixated on noise to actually see anything in a situation so pregnant came to pass, proved a rich way to watch Keaton indeed. It’s not like rollicking piano and tubas and slide whistles work to obscure it much otherwise, but his expressiveness was all the more nuanced and loud. Interesting too how the silent print evoked a sense of sonic naturalism that never accompanied films of the sort (this one is from 1925, a “silent” of course accompanied by music made with rollicking piano, tubas, slide whistles). There’s a long passage where Keaton runs desperately to escape an avalanche of boulders, and only occasionally did I find myself pausing to wonder what kind of music would have accompanied it; instead, it evoked (intriguing how “invoked” seems completely right in spite of being completely wrong in this context) the low slow rumble of rocks, upping the sense of danger and awe in a scene that plays, maybe even moreso in silence, as comedy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I went sailing for the first time last weekend in Connecticut, where you can rent a 14-foot boat for $26/hour without being asked any questions like “How are you with a jib? Do you know what a jib is? Have you ever been on a sailboat?” Turns out it is in fact exceedingly difficult to banish Christopher Cross from your mind while doing the ethereal geometry one does on water waiting for breath from the weather. Turns out docksiders assert their worth more demonstrably with a soak of saltwater in their soles. Turns out sailing ranks among the better ways I’ve yet found to spend an afternoon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I’ve long liked Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk (after reading of it being Lindsay Buckingham’s coked-up answer to Brian Wilson and Brian Eno) but I recently pulled it out again and just today sprang for the remastered version that came out a few years back. Some of the remaster actually makes it sound more rickety and toy-like than the crappy version I got from one of those BMG-or-whatever CD club services, but Stevie Nicks’ voice on “Beautiful Child”: Oh. My. God. I’d like to see anybody sit on a couch and try to move while it’s playing. Good luck with that. Even in a fire, or a piranha attack. (Or for that matter underwater.) The only thing I ever bought off TV was a videotape of a nature show I once saw about piranhas that had old grainy B&W footage of tribesmen pushing a live cow into the Amazon River to watch what would happen when the razor-fanged fish went after it. A long take of water splashing furiously as the cow writhes and presumably screams (the footage was silent, sans narration—what could one say?) that then went close-up on the head, in which the flailing of piranhas was discernible beneath flesh that rippled and stretched like a probability wave put in place to account for the location of a quantum particle. It’s the most disturbing image I’ve ever seen by a good measure. I think I moved on the couch during that one, but not much more than a twitch.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

So Thursday marks the premiere of the newly redesigned and expanded print edition of The Onion, which has commandeered most of my waking hours of late. I couldn’t be happier with it after all this time. (Some of my best and most impassioned writing, I’m convinced, lurks in long memos about fonts, style points, and visual syncopation.) The local section in New York (which I edit) has expanded to include features about things outside our regular orbit. And, overall, the weirdness factor has been ratcheted up considerably. Pick up a copy if you have one at your disposal. I think it’s worth the smudge.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Great New York scene on the late-night subway ride home: Guy with natty dreads compulsively filing through his iPod and screaming about Black Power while dude beside him reads, with quizzical indifference, a tattered copy of Naked Lunch. Hats off to all involved!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I’ve been finding the whole Zidane affair almost unbearably sad to watch footage of the past few days, this stately legend jogging taxed and tired in the waning moments of a glorious game before turning around to make a really major mistake on a world stage he obviously remembers he’s on about 1.8 seconds after an incident that nobody wouldn’t regret. It’s some real DeLillo shit. I’m sure this has been written about in places I haven’t read, but the thing I’m most tripped out by is the fact that using his hands to shove the guy or throw a punch never even seems to have crossed his mind. His arms just don’t figure into the equation. So soccer. I won’t claim to know enough about the sport to rate how the whole thing will either linger or fade, but I do know enough about this last World Cup to register some serious separation anxiety over its having ended. The whole past month has been flush with the worldly feeling of like sitting around reading The Economist while waiting on an international flight.

Monday, June 19, 2006

How exciting to be typing away at nothing in particular and all of the sudden find fresh blood on my desk where my arms rest! It's unsourced still. No cuts or scabs I can find. No presence in my room of anyone other than myself for longer than I can care to think about right now. Must be some stigmata shit, I guess. I can only read the signs as they present themselves. The "nothing in particular" tapped away at would be related to watching soccer and biking around Brooklyn, which have been my most worthwhile activities of late. (Rufus Wainwright at Carnegie Hall was worthwhile too, but delving into specifics strikes me as unappealing at the moment, being all specific and all.)

I will take this opportunity to point out a rather phenomenal blog started by my brother Jeff, who is spending his summer in Argentina. If I hadn't already been itching to go there, I certainly would now.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Allow me to stand up and say that not everything David Blaine does is automatically, inherently, diabolically lame. It’s almost as if there’s no other language to address him in, so everybody reverts to this stock idea of him that’s been planted and allowed to fester with no real examination of its roots, for good or ill. Thought about this lots when I went to the Whitney Biennial, which has been roundly lambasted but which features an awful lot of good work among the bad. It’s a big show of modern art, though, right—so it’s (drum roll…) unfocused, impotent, vacuous, etc. It’s downright laughable how often this line gets recycled in common conversation without being challenged or at least questioned.

Another thing: food-writing is where it’s at. I went with a food-writer friend of mine (Bret Thorn) to a dinner tonight and scored not only a three-course meal with matched wines but also a $50 Calphalon knife, gratis. Much of the food was excellent and/or interesting, including slices of quite literally clear meat that I was very excited to see served but which wound up tasting, disappointingly, like clear meat.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tonight involved playing a Table Tennis video game in a Bowery loft that Rockstar Games rented out for the express purpose of showing off a new product on extremely nice TVs set in front of no-less-nice couches near tables full of beer and pizza (Domino’s, which isn’t especially common in New York for reasons that needn’t be gone into). I wasn’t very good and don’t take to video games all that much, but the sound-design was impressive indeed. Time to pull out that Safety Scissors Vs. Kit Clayton Ping Pong EP from a few years back. Strange to think how a techno record from 2002 now seems so ancient.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Do you think CNN chief national correspondent John King talks like that all the time? Like telling his friends about a vacation or just gabbing with some old woman in a grocery line? I mean, the guy never trips up while coursing through information prioritized and pared and cross-referenced for pertinence across several layers of inference and innuendo. You can actually hear semi-colons in his speech. Follow his flow and you start to see the kind of outlines you learned in school girding answers to questions he couldn’t possibly have rehearsed. The guy’s a robot of the most lovable and valuable kind.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I’d never had a professional massage before but after cashing a gift certificate tonight I found myself face down in my underwear under a sheet on a table in Gramercy Park with the sounds of lilting piano and ocean waves crashing quasi-serenely as a woman I don’t know and only barely looked at spent a rigorous hour reminding my body of its status as just that, a body. It was weird and wonderful. I couldn’t help but sharpen every now and then and wonder what particular music was playing or what would happen if I brought a Merzbow CD to request as an alternative. But mostly I was just there, a mess of receptors molded into something more holistic by the end. I can’t recommend this highly enough. You deserve it even if you don’t.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

After a S.H.I.T.T.Y. day that involved lots of staring into space and wondering what, if anything, differed between me and the space I was staring into, I stewed up a few euphoric hours reading Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities (I just started this book but already my fingers tremble at simply typing its title) and listening to the excellent new Uusitalo album Tulenkantaja. The only logical next step was to put down the book and crack the new Journey Into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story compilation on Rhino. Last night a Modernist, a Finnish dub fiend, and a DJ saved my life!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Right now my (Russian? definitely Eastern European) neighbors upstairs are hosting a party that involves an unbelievable amount of singing and stomping on the floor, Toby Keith is talking to a Scottish talk-show host on TV, and I’m finishing off a bottle of Primitivo that stayed drinkable under a hand-pumped vacuum seal for longer than I would have thought possible. I’m killing time. Or biding it. By all means the difference is notable, but I’ve been busy trying to think my way out of dualism so I will let that difference lie. You know what’s good when the need for grounding announces itself? Reading Raymond Chandler in the rain. (So too is buying a new baseball, the excited acquisition of which, unlike that of most things of late, exercised precisely zero misgivings about commodity-fetishism.) A beautiful new baseball goes for just $3.99. This is a bargain, people.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Of all the single-malt Islay scotches I’ve become devoted to in recent months my favorite is generally whichever one happens to be in my cabinet. Right now it’s the Bruichladdich “Moine Mhor” Second Edition 3D, which swings with a bit more style and panache than more stately Islay malts from Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Caol Isla, all of which I’ve taken to cycling through on a rigorous mission of sorts. I’ve long liked whiskey, ever since giving up on beer early in high school (I’ve recently corrected for that, but that’s beside the point). Part of it owes to growing up in the South and attaching a certain sense of romance to bourbon and various treasures from Tennessee. But more of it owes to whiskey being whiskey. For those who might not know, scotch from Islay—an island off the southwest coast of Scotland—is regarded as especially harsh and mysterious, suffused with a brooding sense of darkness and hints of the sea. It’s the kind of stuff that makes tasters trot out notes of “rotting bandages” and “sun-dried brine” (not quoting directly, but I’m sure they’re there to be cited). It’s strange and enigmatic, a taste that demands to be approached on its own terms. Spend enough time with Islay malts and whiskies from elsewhere, in their comparative sweetness and just plain drinkability, seem almost to pander. They’ll go down smooth and sometimes reveal impressive complexity, sure, but rarely give pause and make me just stare into a glass dumbfounded.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

—So what is served by serving no one at the expense of another? Except for everything. That’s so lacking in structure as to be meaningless.

—But so what solace is there in structure then? It’s not like it shouldn’t have to answer for itself.

—It does.

—Tautologically at best.

—Tautology is unfairly maligned.

—But to be resolute is not a virtue.

—It is if you believe in the virtuousness of it.

—But to what end?

—It’s a way of cauterizing the end, however artificial.

—I would say arbitrary.

—Same thing. So what’s the knock?

—What’s the purpose?

—The purpose is in the process.

—I don’t buy it.

—It’s not for sale. It’s shareware.

—Used by whom?

—Those who choose.

—The choice is a fiction.

—So is its negation.

—You think?


—I don’t know.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I just played five tracks and spoke about them for the "Aesthetics Of Pop" podcast series on Stylus Magazine. It's 38 minutes (and no, the first track isn't messed up) and hearable by clicking on the red box here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spent the night freaking out over Busby Berkeley after getting the new six-DVD set in a box I was as excited to open as any I've pawed in a long while. Watched 42nd Street and couldn't get over how disco some of the music sounds. I guess it's not a secret (Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band and all that), but I've never been so struck by how ... not just disco-y but even house-y ... big-band music from the '30s is at its core. The way it moves and sashays, hi-hats snapping all the more grandiose elements of rhythm to attention. And Berkeley! There's this part in the big musical climax where what seems like hundreds of dancers assume their places and then turn around holding wooden buildings to recreate Manhattan in twittering 2-D. It was enough to make me want to throw down everything I've ever dreamed of doing in shame.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I don't feel entirely comfortable just posting a link to something else I wrote on another blog (this one a more official one, for where I work), but since it's a take on an actual event (the "Bring 'Em Home" Concert in NYC w/ Michael Stipe, Cindy Sheehan, Bright Eyes et al.) more notable in a bigger context than anything I get to here, I thought I'd point to this.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Call up your henchmen and slam on the brakes. The time to end it all is nigh! By all I don’t mean everything; that should go without saying. But does it? Might it be an affront to language to think it so? Actions speak louder than words, but it’s not like words are loafing somewhere on the dole. Or are they? I don’t know. (But even "I don’t know" means something or other close to what I mean.)

Spy the pariah and lift up your plow. All talk of historical drag has been overstated! Newness is new whenever it is so, the relevance of context an addendum to be accounted for thereafter. Or is it? Certainly the window of time before accounting has grown more closed. Already the breeze threatens to stall, direction a vestige of pasts with fewer buildings and more painted rocks.

Disturb the saints and wind your twine. The virtue of transubstantiation leaves the jury hung! To see things you cannot see suggests more and less than might be clear. No? Either way they might be so, a conditional one can dine out on if not jar for seasons yet to turn. Bring floss and a change of clothes; preparedness befits those at the ready.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


This is what it looks like where I was in the Austrian Alps with skis on my feet.

I know his stock has dwindled but after seeing him DJ last week and having my own rather surprisingly low expectations met with the kind of mind-melt I would’ve banked on just a few short years ago I’m here to issue a strong BUY on Herbert. I’ve liked his work of late just fine, but none of it has been the kind of stuff I’d thrust into the hand of a skeptic done keeping up. I was one of few I know who really liked the Matthew Herbert Big Band album, grinned through the clever-but-stunted Radio Boy Mechanics Of Destruction project, and did some cheerleading for last year’s Plat Du Jour. But none of it was really what I wanted to hear from a producer I just couldn’t get enough of in his prime. I wasn’t even sure if Herbert would play dance music as a DJ at this point, but oh did he. He started off with stuttering samples of George Bush uttering “terror” over and over (my girlfriend nailed what I’m sure a lot of people were thinking when she said “I just don’t want to hear his voice right now!”), but that was the only suggestion of the ideas and ideology that have gotten the better of his aesthetic judgment for a while now. From there he was chopping into house and disco and dancehall and crunk and soul without sounding like he knew where he was heading exactly. Some of it fell apart in unmatched tatters, but much more of it meshed beautifully and bizarrely. Hearing him bounce around and jam things together made me think lots about how so few DJs I see and love right now are unpredictable in any way. They play sterling tracks and unveil tons of stuff I haven’t heard or wouldn’t necessarily expect, but is there really any question how a Superpitcher or Michael Mayer or Matt John or Audion set will play out in the macro sense? With Herbert there were all these moments of having arrived mapless in areas that made all the sense in the world for not making any sense at all. He played hard and tangly, too: An extended block of distended clangs and singed synth noise effectively distilled the whole idea of Chicago house into four-or-so minutes so abstract and rewarding I could hardly keep from screaming. It was not only impressive structurally but fun, funny, free from the kind of caveats I’ve found myself attaching to recent Herbert work I appreciate but don’t really respond to. It all gave me new ears to hear his forthcoming Scale, which is too new to address in full yet but which is curious and comely for certain.

(And here's a Jukebox Jury I did with Sir Simon Reynolds in the Seattle Weekly.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Here's my Top 10 albums list for the year, as published in The Onion.

And a piece on Diplo that ran in the Washington Post.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Here's a Vashti Bunyan piece I wrote for the Washington Post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

andy's big trout copy

He was a worthy adversary, this brown trout caught at the furious end of a few days' fly-fishing in Scotland. There were lots of sheep there, and fish that would leap out of the water to feed on bugs we tried so hard to create the illusion of commandeering.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

As might be inferred from the picture below, I went recently to Marfa, Texas, where Donald Judd worked to reconcile minimalism (as a medium, a movement, a philosophy) with a big-sky landscape it makes a lot more sense in than might otherwise seem sensible. It’s a little weird there: You can only see the art work as part of a structured tour, which goes against the grain of the place as a whole, and it’s discombulating to see the New York Times displayed prominently in Taschen-stocked bookstores in a town pop. 2400 (the same size, I couldn’t help but note, as my high school) literally in the middle of nowhere. But it’s also amazing in all the ways I’d hoped. The rigorous placement of things there felt neither mannered nor precious, but rather smally human and endearing--the ambitious gestures of a man who set out to create his own world in an obviously much bigger world well beyond his control, equal parts swagger and surrender. It’s a place that sets the critical apparatus into overdrive while also jamming gears with dust and rust and wonder.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Here's a Seattle Weekly piece I wrote about a mix I made.

Also, where I work launched at long-last a new and several-thousand-times-more-pleasing web site.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Superpitcher threw down Tuesday at Cielo, moody and musical at the start but then quickly antic in ways that made his boat-stripe shirt twitter like op-art as he writhed in front of walls that lit up like lightning. He played tons of tracks from the forthcoming Total 6, and made a rather monstrous show of “Brutalga Square” and Le Dust Sucker’s “Mandate My Ass” (which I’d never heard loud on a nice soundsystem, which is to say I’d never heard). The crowd was big, too; I left at 3:15 and there was still a full floor egging him on, getting him to drop bangers and flop that mop of hair over what I have no problem calling two of the best musical ears on the planet right now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

There’s been a whole lot of not posting going on around here and I guess that’s not good but blame it on summer and a newly acquired taste for writing at least some things with pen and paper (which make ever so entrancing sounds, I’d forgotten). Let it be known though that Kompakt and Villalobos sound world-tiltingly terrific on long drives through West Texas, all freight trains and oil derricks and then hourglass-slow spells of nothing but brown and green and the blue that hovers above. Setting off into it all from the Midland/Odessa Airport, after what felt like 29 hours of penance in fluorescent light and overzealous air-conditioning, I had a literally breath-taking fit of euphoria with Michael Mayer’s Touch played loud in a rental car that would be returned so dirty I keep checking my credit-card bill for cleanup fees. It’s dirty there, though, and beautiful too.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

As per Matos’s invitation:

1) Total number of books I’ve owned
Oh jeez, enough that the piles grow and bend as much as my plants. In the neighborhood of 500, I guess.

2) The last book I bought
Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse. Won’t claim to know Barthes much beyond secondary sources, but this one is a valiant attempt to take stock of “the ‘language’ of ‘love’” without expecting it to be tidy and without quotation marks.

3) The last book I read
For work, Paul Morley’s Words And Music, which practically hummed every time I opened it, and Salvador Plascencia’s The People Of Paper, a strange novel that evokes the flavor of limes with eerie ease.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order)
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Steven Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives Of Ants, Brains, Cities, And Software
Donald Barthelme, 60 Stories
Simon Reynolds, Generation Ecstasy / Robert Palmer, Deep Blues

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why do you like repetition, how, and when? In what way does it affect your interaction with people and things, generally? Do you consider repetition to be a known quantity with qualities in and of itself, or is it the simple aggregation of that which repeats? How do you like repetition, when, and why? Does it grow more or less interesting over time, or both? Is it the thing repeated or the space between that repetition comprises? Which of the two is more alluring? Which is more arresting? Are they one and the same? When do you like repetition, why, and how? What does it mean to like it, if you do? Does repetition follow in line toward entropy, or escape it? Can repetition accrue and increase? Or wane? What, if anything, doesn’t repeat? Would you want to confront that which proved fundamentally incompatible with repetition and all its matters? Really? Are you sure?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Saw M.A.N.D.Y. at Tribeca Grand last night, who were awesome. Two guys who it’s said produce most of the tracks for comely Berlin label Get Physical. Colorful warping electro and Chicago house without the historical drag. Many spacey disco runs that would make Justus Kohncke’s blue eyes bluer. One track that made me think of Billy Ocean for reasons I can’t precisely figure out. Mostly, a 20-minute or so visitation of insane zipper-pull techno I’d quicker associate with Perlon or Playhouse than Get Physical, brittle minimalism atomized and injected with growth hormone (or maybe slightly rotten collagen). The kind of techno that made me think if only people not into dance music could hear this they’d pretty much have to fold their hand and thrill to concede that it’s not all the same, that nothing like it has (or could have) been made before, that the whole project is very much alive and spinning out ideas whose smallness is not a knock but a virtue.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Here's a Fischerspooner piece I wrote for the Washington Post.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Just how techno is cross-country skiing is the rhetorical question I would pose were I to address the two in tandem, which two incidentally have a lot in common as you might have guessed were you to wonder. The motion of the cross-country skier could be said to not only mimic but quite actually embody techno or at least the working idea of it: a cyclic churn that answers to economy and efficiency first (less Marxist-baiting words might be well-served here but alas…), moving parts most moved by the prospect of a gliding reprieve during which they don’t move, motions suggestive of being expressionless when they’re obviously anything but. And so on. A day cross-country skiing is not unlike a night in a club, though the air is better and the drinks (sipped from a flask made crisp and cold) are cheaper. There are no billboards in Vermont.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It’s been out for what context qualifies as ages now (which is to say a few months), but Michael Mayer’s Touch continues to grow more and more revealing every time I play it (which is a lot). I’m beginning to think there’s really no end to what dude can do to a kick drum, and every snare tap and cymbal cinch slants and recoils at a different angle with each iteration. Playing it today I realized I’m finally at the point of listening to Mayer the way I do Ricardo Villalobos, where the notion of time and each component’s relation to it colors both the part and whole…that 4-D backdrop making the context curve over top of it. I’m always taken by that re Villalobos…the thrill of being a thousand developments into a track and then realizing there’s like six more minutes left to go. Mayer is less immediately meandering, of course, but even charted by calendar the effect is much the same. (Here’s a review of Touch I wrote a few weeks ago in The Onion; there’s also a non-webbable short feature with a few choice quotes in the current issue of RES magazine.)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Grapefruit pulled in sections not meant to be savored in any way you might have thought to, rolling on a ledge, the fire escape lean, rust on its rind tossed aside, birds cast eyes down, did you hopscotch as invited? An outlet frayed all expectant, dragon veins locked laughing at Pompeii. Ha, we’re right—on the right day, New York seems invented for the music of DNA.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Have a filter or don’t it’s really not a choice so there. Of all the things to choose or not you’d have to rank it if not rate it regardless. There are many things we do not choose among them whether to have a filter irrespective of what kind or in what instance it might be employed. Filters make up systems in which we order arrangements just so to make them such. (Those things of course are not without their virtues independent of what we choose to call them.) [Some of those things are not which is to say they are.] Deference as a choice remains unbecoming only in those cases in which it indeed does not become or at least show signs of effort or promise. This is what it means to signify or mean when we talk of such things which is not often enough.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

There are lots of reasons to like Nellie McKay, but one in particular has to be the way she’s taken to leading her audiences through existential Mandarin-language singalongs. I saw her the other night at the new Jazz At Lincoln Center palace overlooking Central Park, and near the end of her set, she compelled the crowd to mouth along a Mandarin phrase she said translates as “Help! There is no exit.” It is what it is to read about, but it’s quite another thing to hear: She’s worked out three harmonic parts she splits the crowd between, and once it’s all going she’s literally made her audience an instrument, a mesmerizing store of layered melody and nervous hums. She also did songs in German, French, and Japanese, and told a great story about Cyndi Lauper making her eat some special exotic mud to get over a visibly affecting sickness she sang through with no problem whatsoever. There were lots of old people there, thanks I’m guessing to a recent New York Times Magazine profile (which profile, more than a little surprisingly, cited praise from The Onion alongside praise from People as testament to the attention she’s gotten), and one of those old people, a woman sitting next to me, actually turned to her husband at set’s end and said, “She’s a real piece of work.” How great is that?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It’s Groundhog Day, which you could half-heartedly acknowledge and wave away or take a moment to recognize the many wonders of. Think about it: ridiculous rodents yawning awake to the kind of fanfare only ridiculous humans could make a ritual…town officials in top hats, band fanatics heaving through their freshly buffed tubas, local weathermen crafting 6 o’clock ledes they can’t believe they not only have to write but also deliver, on television, to an audience that for reasons ununderstood and almost never discussed actually kind of does care about the shadow of an animal who might as well not even exist every other day of the year.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here’s a mix I made for a friend that ended up being really good.


01 Scottish Children (Alan Lomax) – “Jelly On The Plate”
02 Kane’s Hawaiians – “Palolo”
03 Jorge Ben – “Eu Vou Torcer”
04 Jeanette – “Oye Papa, Oye Mama”
05 Barbara Morgenstern – “Ohne Abstand”
06 Laura Veirs – “The Cloud Room”
07 Howlin’ Wolf – “Smokestack Lightnin’”
08 The Hoosier Hot Shots – “I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)”
09 Machito – “Varsity Drag Mambo”
10 Vashti Bunyan – “Come Wind Come Rain”
11 Tewelde Redda – “Nehadar Zeytkewen”
12 Al Green – “I Feel Good”
13 Arthur Russell – “Arm Around You”
14 The Chemical Brothers – “Hold Tight London”
15 Johnny Cash – “Green, Green Grass Of Home”
16 Now It’s Overhead – “Turn & Go”
17 Joanna Newsom – “En Gallop”
18 Maximus Dan – “Soca Train”

Thursday, January 13, 2005

There's a short review of Ricardo Villalobos' really rather excellent new album at the bottom of this page from the Washington Post.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Tick tock tick tock...


Thursday, December 30, 2004

She was sitting in Chicago eating rubber bands, spying a jungle gym through her left eye and an airplane hangar through her right. The clouds above smelled of gas and magnolia. “I like the ones with teeth painted on,” she said to no one in particular. If it were a picture, it would have been overexposed. (She always got lost in questions of the subjunctive mood, but not now.) The sun had set, was still setting. She tried to think of nothing before or after or since. “And monkey bars, too.” Her view was split between the geometry of iron and the algebra of the skies. Children swung; planes sat lifeless. Her wine was corked in a way she thought she could hear. She was too smart to believe in silence. Then a flutter, a twitch—a head thrown back on a blanket made wet and red without her knowing. Wine or blood…take your pick?

(And there's a brief few blurbs about my three favorite books this year here.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Here's Superpitcher during a particularly devilish and zoinksy stretch of his set from below.


And my Top 10 albums list for the year is up now here.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

on a lens looking
her face could only begin to resolve,
soft and furious
something out of Guy Maddin
something by Guy Maddin --
oboes and bikes and mariachi
-- pronounced dead in the snow.


I’m not so sure about the font used to mark ounces on my water bottle (a clear container with a hanging top impulse-bought from Bed Bath & Beyond, like so many other things). From a distance they look digital, the numbers, somewhere between Atari graphics and future-fresh football jerseys, but up real close they flag off at their ends, almost arabically. Who made that decision, and why?


I’ve been curious of late what my opinion on Bernard Kerik ought to be.


ex·tem·po·ra·ne·ous – adj.

1. Carried out or performed with little or no preparation; impromptu: an extemporaneous piano recital.

2. Prepared in advance but delivered without notes or text: an extemporaneous speech.

3. Skilled at or given to unrehearsed speech or performance: an accomplished extemporaneous speaker.

4. Provided, made, or adapted as an expedient; makeshift: an extemporaneous policy decision.


Number 3 above is strange, no? “Accomplished” being the word the example actually presses down on?

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