Monday, October 30, 2006


I've a bar for myself with posts that might be damn near unattainable. I've got two (2) topics but need to research them a bit, however I'm not dead. Here are things rattling inside my head:

1) This Most Annoying Song quagmire has already dragged me to depths I didn't think possible. Get your nominations in soon.

2) I plan on attending MIT's Sensorium exhibit before the end of the week, maybe Thursday. This will go nicely with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project concert I'm going to on Friday.

3) My term paper's topic has switched from Martin to Reich, which complements my goal of a Reich concert. His story is actually rather inspirational, for me anyway. This is one (1) of the two (2) topics I previously alluded to.

4) Who gets to decide what their good pieces are? Is it rude to dig up a composer's "student works" if you think they're good?

5) Oh shit, Halloween's in seven minutes.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I highly doubt that I have the traffic to pull something like this off, but we all have to dream big! Many have noted that I have a tendency to listen to (possibly enjoy?) a variety of musics that could be described as Most Annoying Song Ever. Can this be measured quantitatively? It sure can, with the most democratic device devised by man.
Single-elimination tournament of champions. 16 songs enter and one leaves with the crown. One round per week would give me enough blogfuel for close to four months. I doubt that even my devoted readership would stay with me for that long. What's the answer then, two battels per week? Half week battels?

Furthurmore, I need nominations. I have plenty of the spots filled already but need an even 16. Lastly, how to seed? Should irritation of academic precision be placed first round against maddening radio drivel, or be placed for a likely final? I'll think about all these myself but multiply in comments with nominations and suggestions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I worked as the metal director for WLFM for close to three years, and I found a lot of cool bands that way. It's always a bummer when a band you dig calls it quits, but when Swarm of the Lotus announced they were hanging it up it stung just a little more. Their independent debut was one of the first CDs that came through when I had just started my show (prior to my staff position) and Sizzle and I played the shit out of it. Having been such an advocate I actually felt proud when I opened the package and saw that they had been signed by Abacus for their second album.

One of the downsides to my job was that all these cool bands were never coming anywhere close to Appleton. Therein lied one of the excitements of moving to Boston, I'd be able to actually see these sweet bands! Unless I can make it to their last show I won't be seeing them live, I think it's in Baltimore alas. Now if Drunk Horse breaks up I will be pissed.

Check out here for the "A-Bomb Rock" that could have been.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dominance and Submission

So I didn't get to see Isbin last weekend, as we all suspected she sold out. (I'm considering making a case for Aspen this summer, and that last sentence en't helping.) I did go to some bizarre hippy ritual instead, and took pictures even! Too dark out for the Populist, and my cell-phone camera takes too big a pictures for any sort of transmission but honest physical movement. So until I feel I can afford a miniSD card you won't be seeing those either.

Nevermind that. After beholding Kaiju last Friday I enjoyed a couple related clips on GooTube. Alas, it also reminded me of what a quagmire of copyright violation it is and how its freakish landscape will undoubtedly change with the introduction of $∞ billion. Is there no citadel for the accumulation of the species's knowledge in video form?

Of course there is. Wired and Lifehacker have made mention of The Internet Archive recently, but due to a variety of hawt weblabels I've known of its secrets for a long time. Everything public domain shakes down to it, even if Disney is trying to prevent the public domain from ever happening again. So in the spirit of Do The Math's WikiTube posts I'll share the treasures I've mined out of

1) A surprising number of important feature length films have lapsed into the public domain for a variety of reasons. You've perhaps heard of a movie along the lines of Night of the Living Motherfucking Dead. Also worth checking out on a first run-through is Gulliver's Travels, the first non-Disney animated feature film and the first successful use of rotoscoping. And who gets that money when you buy the DVD of Reefer Madness anyway?

2) Don't be blinded by all the feature films, I've certainly been blinded by all the Coronet Instruction Films. These films aren't as oppresive and malevolent as they may seem at first blush, but are certainly artifacts from an alien civilization. There's a interest spike around Are You Popular?, but that's probably from getting slashdotted or dugg or whatever. (Also the devastatingly acidic line that happens around 1:40) Make sure spend some time brushing up on Lunchroom Manners and How to Say No (and Still Keep Your Friends).

3) And perhaps most importantly, scores of people use the power of Creative Commons to add their own work to the collective. The most intriguing I've found thus far is, as my cohort in pretension would say, a meta-discussion of the public domain examining the case of the Amen break. You have heard this drum break, this is a statement and not a question. You might not know it, but one you watch this you will hear it everywhere. To be haunted is worth it to be informed.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Despite being here for nearing two months I have yet to be to a "rock show" or a "punk show", but the good Mr. Borej and I were finally able to go to the esteemed club Avalon (normally known for house music), but not for a rawk band. Instead we watched a radioactive can of soup kick the crap out an unbelievable number of Space Bugs. What? Believe what I say, for danger can happen! (The uninitated might want to check out the Wikipedia entry.) Most of the big press for Kaiju Big Battel happened a couple years ago, but if Schpladoinkle Mania XVIII is any indication it is only getting more twisted. It was unbelievably refreshing to actually get out and do something that has absolutely nothing to do with classical music, and after having wanting to witness Los Plantanos in action since I heard about them, itturns out that the damn thing is based in Boston! Evidence of moving to the correct city #2, but I wish I could be involved in something as insane as this.

Tonight brings me back to the land of pretention (as opposed to irony?) with trying to scam some tickets to see Sharon Isbin play the Aranjuez with the Boston Philharmonic. I'll admit that I'm going if I can't get rush tickets, but it's crucial for the Aranjuez cagematch. (Pepe Romero is performing it with the BSO come December)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Further Necrology

CBGB's is dead, but there are a list of other things.

1) Dream Evil is dead. Not really, they have a new album out with another rediculous lead single (Evilized's "Made of Metal", and the eponymous Book of Heavy Metal has been followed by "Fire! Battle! In Metal!") complete with video. Yeah, but I don't know, you know? If they are to continue being the archtypical Gothenburg band they must now enter their "totally amorphous lineup" phase. I can't feel good about a band where every single member has quit between this album and the last.

2) Night After Night is not dead. In fact has won some sort of award, huzzah! Tardy congratulations to him, especially since I feel much the same way about things. Por ejample:

During the years that I've been active in classical music journalism and especially criticism, I've often been stricken with an envy of peers whose grasp of the canon is deeper than mine. Many are the times that I've felt an encyclopedic grasp of all things King Crimson, a nearly complete collection of Art Ensemble of Chicago recordings and a working knowledge of the differences between Swedish death metal and Norwegian black metal might not be traits as desirable as a comprehensive familiarity with the complete Bach cantatas, Haydn string quartets or Donizetti operas in my line of work. What gives me the courage to continue raising my voice in public is the conviction that I'm capable, given proper preparation, of perceiving what there is to be perceived and feeling what there is to be felt in any music out there -- and so is anyone else who cares to invest in that same preparation.
3) King Koopa is dead. Only you can make it happen. This is also late since National Bosses's Day was yesterday (Monday the 16th), but the Phoenix celebrates with the 20 greatest video game bosses of all time. I do take minor issue with the ordering near the top, but my main question is where the fuck is Lavos?

4) Fullermusic is not dead. She started posting again, neat.

5) John Mayer must be stopped. I've been wary of him (Do The Math has an opinion on his trio album, which I didn't mind so much) but mainly because I have a friend who is obssessed with him. His blog proves that he probably wouldn't enjoy said friend's company, and that he is totally batshit insane.

Monday, October 16, 2006

You Had a Lot to Say, You Had a Lot of Nothing to Say

CBGB's is dead, all hail CBGB's. The Times has perhaps the most fitting eulogy to the little club that could, appropriately with Patty Smith dealing the fatal blow. The overall sentiment seems to be stated best by Ms. Smith herself:

“Kids, they’ll find some other club,” Ms. Smith insisted during her set. They’ll find a place, she continued, “that nobody wants, and you got one guy who believes in you, and you just do your thing. And anybody can do that, anywhere in the world, any time.”

I was lucky enough to actually poke my head into the mecca a year ago when the Save CBGB's campaign was hitting its peak, and I can't say I disagree. The place is (was) a filthpit, but an extremely charming filthpit. It wasn't so unlike the bars I had seen and played shows in back in Wisconsin, right down to the bottles of PBR. Would this place be any different than Oshkosh's Reptile Place if it hadn't launched a million billion important bands? Well yes, it's still (was) in downtown Manhattan. Despite all the history it still wasn't Disneyland (although I did find myself in Times Square more often than I'd rather), it was the goddamn archetype. Later than night I saw two unavoidably better shows, one at the Knitting Factory. It has its own claim as fostering great stuff, but the pretention was a little thicker there. Not nearly the sense of drive, a lot of hipster dancing. Now the other show, in some guy's basement. There was potential.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Shrapnel sequel

I told you I'd be back sooner than you thought. I even did some culture last night n' stuff. First, however, comes all the random things I wanted to mention yesterday.

1!) I've been listening to Ornette Coleman again lately, mainly suckered in by his bizarre "Bach Prelude" on the album Tone Dialing. The first half is Denardo going to town underneath the guitarist playing that insufferable arrangement of the first cello prelude. It seems like he's trying to do "Lonely Woman" again except he's not bothering to write his own head. However, at the end of the prelude the band takes the repeat, except everything is 200% apeshit. As a corollary, Ethan Iversen has a completely terrifying post about Coleman. That man drops theses like illegitimate children.

2!) Steve Reich turned 70! That's much years! I hope I can still enact my secret plan to convince him to write a guitar quartet, but it will involve me becoming important first. While New York has all the big shindigs, including the most important concert ever (Reich's two seminal albums, performed live before you!), all the celebrating I got to do was the Boston Conservatory Percussion Ensemble's performance of Six Marimbas. I hadn't gotten a chance to see one of his process pieces live, and recordings are never able to really capture that shimmering omnipresent chord that the marimba ostinatos make. I'm plotting my own Reich @ 70 concert for Boston, but that is still only plotting.

3!) I am still a guitarist, and I got a chance to indulge that by seeing Isaac Bustos last night at the Old South Church. Fantastic venue with a warm sound despite all the stone, and Bustos really punched his tone out into the crowd. Opening with the Bach Prelude, Fugue and Allegro was a daring choice, especially since it was an audible. Having played the PFA for my senior recital, I had kind of forgotten that it's a rather light melody as far as Bach's works go, as opposed to an unstoppable monster that wants to claim all of your limbs. Bustos had a smile on his face the whole time and gave a very nimble treatment to a series of wrist-shattering works like Le Catedral (In a cathedral! Get it? Get it?), Ponce's Sonata Meridonial, and Rodrigo's Sonata Giocosa. The strange thing for me was that absolutely everyone in the audience played classical guitar, at least at a hobbyist level. What other concerts could you even concieve of that? (Vocal recitals don't count just because everyone is physically capable of singing.) Classical music may have been walling itself off a bit in the recent past, but the guitar community seems pretty damn fortified. I might be thinking of this the wrong way, Thom Yorke said everyone can play guitar. Maybe it's a sign of the guitar's inclusiveness.

Also I switched my blog over to Blogger Beta, so if the layout gets a bit hegulated it's because I'm not used to what I'm doing yet. Fie!

Friday, October 13, 2006


Further adventures in embarassing autobiography: I've never been to a big boy orchestra concert. Sure I've seen the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, and been friends with members of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra. However, the BSO is unavoidable an upgrade, no offense to members of the previous two ensembles. Thusly I'll attempt to step into far deeper waters than I've attempted before and actually review last night's concert. We'll see how that goes.

Autobiography point #2: My (second) roommate of my (first) senior year of undergrad had a tempting collection of classical music at the precise time I decided that I couldn't continue knowing nothing but guitar composers. I was given a brief guided tour before ransacking it when he wasn't in the room and one of the highlights was Ralph Vaughan-Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, the opening piece of the concert. I can't imagine a better introduction to a super-pro string section, especially one as tight and lush as Boston's. Any attempt to describe my reaction will probably be read as pithy hipsterati, so I won't try. The liner notes ruminated on Vaughan-Williams's use of a modal theme as a way to escape chromatic harmony while avoiding sappy Neo-Romanticism. It's a popular way to get out of sticky harmonic problems. (Ralph didn't get to hear his influence, he died the year before the album came out.) Also notably is that both this and the last revelatory song I geeked over are both based around the Phrygian mode. I have an affinity perhaps?

The rest of the program, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto #1 and selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, were new to me. Yes yes, boo away. It's much harder to review the performance of unfamiliar pieces, maybe they're supposed to sound like that? However, not to make it sound as though I'm making up problems to sound smart, but after the lush Fantasia it seemed like the strings had difficulty finding their teeth for the Shostakovich. Not to detract anything, it didn't sound bad as much as the string section has a distinct character and the extreme gear shift didn't play to its strengths. The opening of the second movement, a floating chord that falls apart into the grinding dissonance without losing its timbre, found the strings back at full power and it was sheer (appropriate) bloodlust from then out.

The soloist, Lynn Harrell, was unstoppable. He played with the rhythm of the triple stop stabs to give them the feel of a drag triplet, but the aforementioned tentativeness of the string section didn't let that play out to its full effect. The cadenza was stunning and the glock duet preceeding it were stunning, with (Mr.?) Harrell pulling out the pianissimo notes that in a good hall, as Symphony Hall is, sound like they're coming from behind you!

I know that I haven't said anything about the Prokofiev, but I'm a rookie at this you must realize. Well, it didn't have any narration. I'm looking forward to doing this again. While writing this post I remember most of the shrapnel I've meant to talk about the past few days, so expect another one soon.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Boston Without A Lens

Having begun an apprenticeship in the lost art of complaining, CVS has provided a CD with (most of) my pictures taken with the trusty Dvoracek II. Some highlights:

BoCo Front Steps

The front steps of the fair Conservatory

Albert Alphin Library

The library where I work, as seen by Hunter S. Thompson

Ghost Party 1

Ghost party.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The First Church of Christ, Scientist. Very bizarre in the middle of Mass Ave. It's like the Vatican except no one cares.

The full set is on flickr. I also have yet to mention how great and awexome it is that gapless playback has come to the iPod. Listening to Trance this afternoon was like listening to it for the first time again.