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?

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