The Greatest Conversation

The King Switches To Decaf

Posted in Mixtapes, New Music, Old Music by Brian Park on December 2, 2009

GJ Pearson is an artist who does a lot of whimsical, playful, and downright strange pieces. His taste in music is really really good, so I asked him to help curate a mixtape. Put this on and don’t let winter bum you out.

GJ Pearson – The King Switches To Decaf Mixtape
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Tracklist after the jump. (more…)

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Máximo Pujol Played By Jason Vieaux

Posted in Old Music by Brian Park on November 22, 2009

{I have no idea who this is, but he terrifies me and the photo is from here. Via Google Image Search of Jason Vieaux.}

Jason Vieaux is a classical guitar wunderkind, and he also has a lot of consecutive vowels in his last name. Máximo Pujol is an amazing Argentinian composer who is very fond of strong melodies and interesting chords. This is a beautiful song, listen on headphones or when it’s quiet.

Jason Vieaux – Pujol: Cinco Preludios – #2, Preludio Triston

ps. The album this song is from is for sale for retarded cheap on Amazon. Buy it if you feel so inclined.

Autumn Mixtape

Posted in Mixtapes, New Music, Old Music by Brian Park on November 4, 2009

autumnmixtape

Here is a nice, self-indulgently moody mixtape for the fall weather. I’m not one to give you background music, so there are a few strange tracks in there, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

The Greatest Conversation – Autumn Mixtape

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Tracklisting:

1. Portishead – Deep Water

2. Marianne Faithful – Witches’ Song

3. DeVotchKa – This Place Is Haunted

4. Röyksopp – Silver Cruiser

5. Clark – Frau Wav

6. Elbow – Weather To Fly

7. Ralph Towner – Élan Vital

8. Kyle Eastwood – September Nights

9. The Swell Season – The Rain

10. Keith Caputo – The Girl I Love (Unfinished)

11. Strength in Numbers – No Apologies

12. Ólöf Arnalds – Englar Og Dárar

Fusion Isn’t Just For Cooking

Posted in Old Music by Brian Park on October 28, 2009

oldman

{Pic has nothing to do with anything, it’s just awesome}

When I listen to a lot of fusion, I imagine artists somewhat stuck in their genre. They are full of brilliant, catchy lines, but lack the musical perspective to produce pieces that are coherent on a greater scale; their music ends up having pop rhythms and melodies and structure, but with the virtuosic playing and disdain for actual pop sensibilities of the “higher” forms of musical composition.

That isn’t to say I dislike fusion. Jun Fukamachi’s Evening Star album is a great example of what I love about fusion: great synth sounds, fun melodies, good playing that shows off just the right amount, and a great rhythm section. I used to have an mp3 rip of this album (it is out of print), but I’d lost it a few years back between computers. Of course, the first thing that came up when I searched it was My Jazz World’s rip of it. Seriously, I owe that guy a lot.

Jun Fukamachi – Sea Horses

This is what I imagine Air would do if they had been born 20 years earlier. They obviously love this synth sound, and they have the same penchant for stuffing a ton of catchy-yet-strange melodies into songs while eschewing more mainstream pop styles. Of course Air as a fusion band is a stretch, but listen to their new single, Do The Joy, and I think you’ll hear the similarities. Jun Fukamachi’s song is catchy as fuck, to the point that I’m surprised it hasn’t been sampled (as far as I know) for Kanye to put shitty lyrics over. I hope you enjoy it, and I do recommend you grab the whole album; it’s all great.

{Audio may not play in some RSS feeds, visit the post to listen}

Sausage Lynx

Posted in New Music, Old Music, Random Things by Brian Park on October 15, 2009

lynx

Take that title how you will. Here’s some cool shit from the interwebs.

1. Waxy has an amazing analysis of a few Beatles multitracks. Via the Listenerd.

2. The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra is a local gypsy/folk band that just sent over a link to a video of them recording. Also I think the bass player is naked.

3. To promote their Chipsounds softsynth (which sounds fucking awesome), Plogue put together an EP of chipsounds music. Some of the tunes are great, some of them not so much, but it is all fun, and they released the album for free so I’m all for it. Get it here.

4. On a totally non-music note, Riley McMaster has largely taken over Gnarwhale.com, and since he has it has gotten so much better than when Andy and I ran it. There are a ton of new edits and other content; go see!

The Žižek Experience

Posted in Old Music, Random Things, Video by Brian Park on October 6, 2009

zizek

Slavoj Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher, Lacanian theoretical psychoanalyst, Marxist political thinker, film theorist, and cultural critic; he is also batshit crazy in the best of ways. My brother introduced me to him, and ever since I’ve been oddly fascinated. I stumbled onto an excerpt of his on the very odd Turn On The Lights blog, and I think it is a good introduction to the strangeness that is Žižek:

Let us recall the example of a (’straight’) sexual relationship. The success of Peter Hoeg’s The Woman and the Ape indicates that sex with an animal is today’s predominant form of fantasy of full sexual relationships, and it is crucial that this animal is as a rule male: in contrast to cyborg-sex fantasy, in which the cyborg is, as a rule, a woman (Blade Runner) – that is, in which the fantasy is that of a Woman-Machine – the animal is a male ape copulating with a human woman, and fully satisfying her. Does this not materialize two standard common daydreams: that of a woman who wants a strong animal partner, a potent ‘beast’, not a hysterical impotent weakling; and that of a man who wants his female partner to be a perfectly programmed ‘doll’  who fulfils all his wishes, not a living being? What we should do in order to penetrate the underlying ‘fundamental fantasy’ is to stage these two fantasies together: to confront ourselves with the unbearable ideal couple of a male ape copulating with a female cyborg, the fantasmic support of the ‘normal’ couple of man and woman copulating. The need for this redoubling, the need for this fantasmic supplement to accompany the ’straight’ sexual act as a spectral shadow, is yet another proof that ‘there is no sexual relationship’.

(Slavoj Žižek, The Fragile Absolute or, Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? p. 59-60)

Now, what does that have to do with my blog? Very little, but I have a sound experiment for you to try. Žižek has a speech impediment that may or may not be intentional, but anyway it is hypnotic and almost soothing; I suggest you get relaxed (pot or scotch), and press play on both the video and the audio below. Adjust the volume ’till it sounds right; stop trying to understand the words, and just listen to Žižek as an auditory anomaly. Fuck you, do it.

Keith Jarrett – Last Night When We Were Young/Caribbean Sky

Okay fine, if you aren’t going to do it, at least listen to Keith Jarrett’s Last Night When We Were Young/Caribbean Sky from the album Tokyo ’96. It’ll do you good.

Music for the Drive

Posted in New Music, Old Music by Brian Park on October 1, 2009

dancingsphinx

I’m definitely going against my own “music is not the sountrack of your life” manifesto here, but I’d forgotten how fun putting together little mix cds for driving is. Here are a few from the one I’m working on now.

Dancing Sphinx – Neptune Lady

I got this song on an album from the excellent My Jazz World. It caught my eye mostly because of the amazing cover art (see above). As with most things I like, I didn’t at first, but it is definitely perfect driving music: upbeat, a little virtuosic… I’m not one to actually sit down and listen to funk, but this stuff is fun.

Amon Düül II – Green Bubble Raincoated Man

This band was an early ’70s krautrock collective, and they’re very good in a very, very strange way. This is more dissonant than most of the stuff I post; the song is naively written, loosely played, and badly mixed… but somehow it all works. The writing and playing are somehow endearing, and the production really gives you a sense of just how experimental they were in their time. I don’t know why, but I’m digging this shit. I love the silly chanting stuff and all the bubbles.

Broadcast – Man is Not a Bird

This is a band recommended by my friend David, and I’ve been enjoying them a lot. Their melodies sound very much like what would have happened if Air was really into krautrock (I’ve been listening to Air’s new album, Love 2, as well these days. Not sure yet, but I think I like it). The production retains a lot of what I like about Amon Düül II’s production, though what that is I’m not sure. Maybe something about the rawness of the sound, despite all the synthiness happening. Yes synthiness, fuck you.

{visit the post if your RSS feeder doesn’t display the songs}

Lyrics are Embarrassing as Hell, Sometimes

Posted in New Music, Old Music by Brian Park on September 27, 2009

lylelovett

Popular art is becoming more blatant. Rather than subtly directing the viewers/listeners/readers through the film/song/book/whatever, artists are choosing to smash them over the head with obvious symbolism, metaphor, et cetera. I don’t care whether we should blame the artists or the people who need things to be obvious for them to make an impact at all; fact is, it’s a shame.

Specifically when it comes to modern popular music, lyrics play too great a role, but they aren’t thought about enough. What I mean is that they’re often designed to elicit an emotional response that the listener can relate to and latch onto, but they aren’t really thought about. For example, listen to most any Animal Collective song and you’ll have no idea what the fuck they are actually singing about, but the lyrics will be carefully crafted so that dramatic, self important teenagers will be able to relate the song to their own lives. And, this tendency for vagueness is everywhere in modern music. Seriously, what the fuck:

Now it’s day and I’ve been trying to get that taste off my tongue
I was dreaming of just you, now our cereal, it is warm
Attractive day in the rubble of the night from before
Now I can’t walk in a vacuum, I feel ugly, feel my pores

In a way, it smacks of obscurantism, but not because they’re shielding an unready public from some dangerous truth; rather, it obscures the lack of truth behind their lyrics, and simultaneously makes their lyrics accessible to a broader range of people. If you don’t commit to saying any one thing, nobody can disagree with you.

On the other hand, sometimes lyrics don’t matter.

Can – Sing Swan Song

I love this song, off of Can’s brilliant Ege Bamyasi album. It is beautiful and melodic, and though it’s in English, I have no idea what the hell he’s singing. I’m purposely avoiding looking up the lyrics because, frankly, I don’t care: it sounds perfect. Of course, Kanye West had to take that song and destroy it. Using Sing Swan Song as its chorus, here’s Kanye’s Drunk & Hot Girls. This is how embarrassingly bad lyrics murder a good melody.

Lyle Lovett – The Fat Girl

Kanye leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so I want to end this post with a song I think is an amazing use of good lyrics. Lyle Lovett has something interesting to say, and he says it in an unconventional and poetically engaging way. On top of that, the rest of the instrumentation sits in perfect relief to the lyrics; the tune begs to lock into a beat, but Lyle wants you to listen to what he’s saying, rather than have the beat wash over you, so he only hints at finally locking in, right before the song ends. Fucking brilliant.

{note: some RSS feeds may not play content, please visit the post}

Fear in Music, Pre-Dubstep

Posted in Old Music by Brian Park on September 16, 2009

hika

I’m thoroughly tired of dubstep. Listening to wobbly basslines just makes me nauseous, and honestly I have no idea how Skream ever became popular. Anyway, a friend and I were nerding about why dubstep has exploded these last few years, and he was saying it is the whole element of fear. Anyway, tonight my goddamn iTunes Genius mix decided I wanted to hear Skream – Midnight Request Line, but it just made me start searching frantically for other music. So, here is some music with lots of fear.

Ralph Towner – Oceanus

The album Oceanus is on may be my favourite album of all time. I’ll say more on it another time, but this is the title track and it is very strange. I can’t tell if there’s a phantom rhythm being implied or if it is supposed to be free playing; either way, this song freaks me right out. It is the perfect way to start an album, and it even sort of resolves all its tension as it ends.

Christopher Spendel Group – Morning In The City

This track continues the tense aspect of the last one, but in a more blatant way. It’s basically proggy fusion with lots of 9ths that has a really rushed, hyper feel. Some nice melodies, and nothing too dramatic. Also, I got this track from the always excellent My Jazz World. Everyone should keep an eye on that site, so many amazing albums that are out of print.

John Williams – Concerto De Toronto: Moderato (Leo Brouwer)

This piece, written by Leo Brouwer, takes fear to epic places. I hate to make the connection, but it is like the score of a strange, terrifying, dream-like art film. Turn it up, it is very moving. John Williams (the guitarist) isn’t my favourite guitarist, but he does an amazing job here. He lets the song breathe.

John Williams – Hika – “In Memoriam Toru Takemitsu” (Leo Brouwer)

After those last three tracks, you’ll be glad this one takes it down a notch. This is off the same album as the last song (it is called The Black Decameron, quite fitting). Leo Brouwer wrote it after the death of the composer Toru Takemitsu, his close friend. The emotions are more restrained, but this is one of the most terrifyingly intense songs of all time. Pour a glass of scotch, turn it up, and close your eyes.

Video: Graphical Beethoven

Posted in Old Music, Video by Brian Park on September 10, 2009

This is incredibly cool. I wish I knew more about the scoring of a symphony. Via Andy Chung.