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.)

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