Tag Archives: music

October mixture

I hope that you and your loved ones emerged from Sandy unscathed, and that you’re not reading this while plugged in to the first working street lamp or dangling set of twinkly lights you encountered in midtown. (I’ve heard those are popular sources of power for my fellow New Yorkers as of late). I’ve been high and dry in Lunar Camel Co. Towers the whole time, baking bread and watching nature documentaries and whatnot. Friends from Evacuation Zone A have been coming and going and will continue to be welcomed, even my friend Jim, who graciously informed me in advance that he “only sleep[s] in the nude.” Anyone who can’t squeeze in on the sofa with Jim and has to stay downtown will soon be on the receiving end of as many warm chocolate chip cookies as can fit in the storage compartments of a Vespa.

I hope you’re having a happy Halloween too, or will have a happy one whenever you get around to celebrating it. My neighborhood, as you can see below, has been getting ready for some time now, but the storm complicated things. If you’re in need of an extremely last-minute costume for a postponed or fashionably late-night party, I posted a few ideas last year, and if you’re in need of some candy-eating music, I posted some good stuff on my food blog a few years back, along with a vegetarian, pumpkin-centric dinner recipe.

Harlem's bikers are ready for Halloween.

Madison Ave. near 120th St., Oct. 5th.

I’ve been a delinquent blogger lately and I’ve scarcely had time to feel bad about how shabby my rattletrap urls were looking — I’ve been alternating between working sixty-hour weeks and getting out of town. I’ve also been preoccupied with a few little projects, one of which I’ll tell you about very soon.

Deep River-20121006-02100

Applemania is coming soon on my food blog, though it’s not the little project I meant.

sweater scan

I’ve also taken up knitting html sweaters for my blogs,
but that’s not the little project I meant either.

I’ve been reading a lot too, though far more fitfully than is usual for me. I’m generally a one- or two-books-at-a-time woman but there are five or six I’m dipping into at the moment. Among them:

Love is a Pie cover

Love is a Pie by Maude Hutchins has been on my shelf for many years and I’m just getting around to it now. I’m not deeply engaged with it at the moment such that I have a lot to say about it yet, but I wanted to show you the cover, which I love. It’s the New Directions 1952 edition designed by Andy Warhol. (There’s a tiny bit more about his work for them here). I think I paid about $7 for it, partly because hardly anyone knows who Hutchins is, and partly because Warhol isn’t credited for the illustration anywhere in it. The NYRB blog describes Hutchins as the author of “peculiar psycho-sexual novels,” among other things, but Love is a Pie is a collection of short stories and plays, eminently suitable for reading a few pages at a time. My experience with it so far is that it is also peculiar and psycho-sexual. Five of the stories (“The Missing Papers of an Extra Man”) are narrated from the point of view of a bachelor, who wonders, at one point, whether “there [are] gastric juices in the brain?” There’s an interesting essay about Hutchins over at the LRB here, by Terry Castle, whose essay collection Boss Ladies, Watch Out! is also on my bed-side table. I was moved to buy it after reading her review of Lisa Cohen’s All We Know: Three Lives — a biography of three obscure and under-rated lesbians — and I’m really digging it.

I’ve also been haphazardly delving into vintage sci-fi. Doubtlessly this is influenced by an ex-boyfriend who often reads at random. Or what appears to be at random, but in actuality reflects a practiced and discerning eye for strangeness. He used to teach critical reading, actually, but (or “and”?) many of his books are ones he found on the street or in the cardboard box at his gym. After close observation I decided this is a worthwhile manner of reading, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten the hang of it yet. I’m still a bit too purposeful. I picked up the two below because both feature R. A. Lafferty and he was recommended to me years ago. I’ve never been a sci-fi person in the slightest but I sort of like the idea of becoming one. I could definitely get into the illustrations, at least, whether they’re good, terrible, or merely really weird. Plus it seems like a good time, with Singularity & Co., for example, pointing the way towards some of the more interesting bits of the genre, and the rest of the internet readily coughing up oddities.

Alpha 3 cover   Alpha 3 table of contents

Alpha Three (ed. Robert Silverberg, Ballantine Books 1972).
Click on either image to enlarge.
I don’t always buy books with no idea whether I’ll like them or not, but when they’re cheap and have interesting covers, sometimes I do.

if sci fi cover 1961   if table of contents

if Science Fiction (ed. H. L. Gold, Digest Productions, Jan. 1961),
with its table of contents apparently signed by Phyllis Gotlieb. And apparently she ranked all the other stories in order of . . . quality? Or suggested reading order?

Semi-relatedly, a selection of some of the titles I’ve seen on that ex-boyfriend’s shelves / floor / desk:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia. I idly flipped through this one morning but there wasn’t much that held my attention. A few weeks later I happened to read a fascinating article in the Independent about a supposedly-elusive mafia tradition whereby two men in the same crime family will promise not to snitch on each other by sharing a passionate kiss. I asked D. whether this was covered in the Guide and he said yes of course, there is an entire chapter on it. So there you have it: Some of those idiotic-looking idiot guides are well-researched and worthwhile reads.

mafia kiss

a mafia-style kiss from the Independent, June 10, 2011

How to Draw Dynamic Hands. Actually I borrowed this one and now it’s sitting on my floor. I keep meaning to scan a few pages from it for a draft blog post that doesn’t really have anything to do with hands but needs some imagery. I’m hoping to learn something from it too because my drawing skills are not what anyone would call “dynamic.”

The Stain Bible. I remember we were both disappointed that this does not explain how to remove stains from that green kombucha that looks like pond scum. It’s one of the best flavors but also one of the most explosive, and its stains are not the same as grass stains.

Hide Your Assets and Disappear: A Step-by-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace. I realize that for some people, seeing this in a man’s bookcase might be a red flag. But aren’t you curious to read it too now that you know it exists? I should maybe point out that it was surrounded by some really good stuff, like Flaubert’s Sentimental Education and The Lyrics of Leonard Cohen.

• Menander’s Dyskolos. Wikipedia tells me that this title is translated from Ancient Greek “as The Grouch, The Misanthrope, The Curmudgeon, The Bad-tempered Man or Old Cantankerous.” It’s a comedy, though.

Anyhow. Now that the storm has left us it’s a fine time for music from a wonky magic carpet, don’t you think? Here’s Manolo Sanlucar, “Diálogos.”

Michele Redolfi is perhaps more grounded: he’s been performing underwater concerts for years. Specifically, he composes, manipulates, and records experimental music and sounds under water, in pools and natural settings. The immersed participants listen through their bones, as explained by a knowledgable commenter over at Lunar Atrium. I was reminded of him recently when Connie Hockaday posted her underwater wrestling video. Here’s his “Grand Nocturne de Musique Subaquatique” at Grenoble in 2008.

In terms of everyday listening, I’m still pretty into wan and melancholic French synth pop / electro-yéyé. Long-time readers will remember that I was enthusing about Elli et Jacno in my very first post at Lunar Camel Co., and I still love them. (These days I only love them for about twenty minutes every three weeks or so, but still, it’s serious).

Main dans la main

Elli et Jacno “Main dans la main” single

Not related, but seasonally appropriate: the Mo-dettes cover of “Paint it Black”:

While we are on the subject of music, you should try to get to the Metropolitan Opera to see Thomas Adès’s adaptation of “The Tempest.” I’m basically poor people, but I know someone who knows someone and I managed to get in to a dress rehearsal. It was pretty spectacular! I used to go to the opera more often than I do now and it was lovely just to go again, but I came away thinking this was one of the more effective productions I’ve ever seen. I say that as someone who made sure to get herself to that Peter Greenaway one about Vermeer with actual rain and live cows in it. I do love a spectacle, but “The Tempest” was compelling in a character-driven way as well, and the music possessed more subtleties than I could ever hope to intelligently discuss after a single performance. It’s gotten very mixed reviews (WQXR said “eh”, while the Times gave it at least two very positive write-ups), but I say you should go if you can.

Manhattan-20121019-02148

Another recommendation, this one straight out of my superstorm playlists: The birds of Papua New Guinea are sublime. The mating dances they do are too bonkers for words, and there’s one that can make a sort of satellite dish with the feathers on his head and neck to pick up chicks, a satellite of bird love. Here, this short film from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some terrific-looking birds in it.

If you’ve got more time to devote to bird-viewing, seek out “Nature: Birds of the Gods.” It’s about the same birds but it’s with David Attenborough and it’s about an hour long.

spring mixture

overgrown ferris wheel via beaucolburn.com

Overgrown ferris wheel photo by Beau Colburn via AnOther.

Shangri-la Leisure Center

Shangri-la Leisure Center
East 9th St. between 1st and 2nd Ave., NYC.

George Barbier, La Luxure

George Barbier, la Luxure, from here.


Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, “Chanson des Jumelles.”

underwater crystals

Fire Island sunset

memorex 90

mixtape contains:

Alternative TV, “Love Lies Limp”

Charles De Goal, “Syncho”

Pizzicato Five, “Twiggy Twiggy / Twiggy vs. James Bond”

Serge Gainsbourg, “Baudelaire”

David Bowie, “Oh You Pretty Things”

Marcel Zanini, “Wana Nene Wana Nana”

Ike Turner w/ Lonnie the Cat, “I Ain’t Drunk”

Bob Lind, “Go Ask Your Man”

Les Rita Mitsouko, “L’Hôtel Particulier”

Music from Saharan Cellphones vol. II, “?”

The Rolling Stones, “Sing This All Together”

Luke Haines, “Inside The Restless Mind Of Rollerball Rocco”

Olivia Tremor Control, “Green Typewriters” [I]

Air, “Cosmic Trip”

New Order, “Ceremony” [single]

Jacno, “Anne Cherchait L’Amour”

Belbury Poly, “A Pilgrim’s Path”

Cibo Matto, “White Pepper Ice Cream”

up yr junction

My friends are DJing tomorrow (Thursday) at One Last Shag in Brooklyn. Sadly I won’t be there because I’m Doing Other Stuff, but I see no reason why you shouldn’t be there. The flyer says it’s a queer party but they don’t get into scraps with breeders or anything like that. If you request a shit song, however . . . look out!

up-the-junction flyer

Update: More info here.

moon mania addendum

Melies moon in 3D

3D Méliès moon via Monster Kid magazine

When I wrote that moon mania post about the restored color print of George Méliès’s Le Voyage dans la lune I was so into Air’s new soundtrack for it that I didn’t realize I already had an alternate soundtrack lurking in the more recessive recesses of my iTunes: Daniel Arfib’s L’Approche de la Lumière, from his album Musique Numérique. It’s just not an album I play often, but I happened to take a closer look at it the other day and immediately noticed that the length of the song (16:31) was maybe pretty close to the running time of the film. The title, of course, is not directly on point; it means “approach of the light.” The film is titled “Le Voyage dans la lune,” usually translated as “A trip to the moon,” and was made by George Méliès rather than his peers the Lumière brothers, who I used to mix him up with when I was a film student. (There was a healthy competition between them; Méliès was present at their first screening and offered them 10,000 francs for their camera, which they refused). But! It sounds like it could be a soundtrack. It’s not just that it’s outer space-y, it has a narrative feel, and it’s as arid and crunchy as moon rocks.

The running time isn’t quite right — the film is a couple minutes shorter, even with the long-lost ending that was discovered in 2002, which was well after the album was made in 1981. But if you press play on the song and the video at kind of the same time (or not quite the same time), something interesting might happen. As it did for me when I started the video a few seconds after the song and noticed the percussion kicking in at the same time the workers started hammering away on the projectile. There aren’t many moments of synchronicity like that but I think overall it’s more intriguing than the tired old Pink Floyd + Wizard of Oz sandwich others may have offered you.

Daniel Arfib, Musique Numerique


I don’t know how to change the color of WordPress’s sickly pale little mp3 player so I’m calling your attention to it with words. There it is above. Under the video.

There’s not a ton of information on this album on the internet and next to nothing about this particular track, which is the B-side. I don’t know how to explain why but I very often think the things I blog about are not obscure and I am genuinely surprised when someone says “that was esoteric” or something to that effect — apparently I am afflicted by a peculiar sort of naïveté that causes me to think people will know what I’m talking about if I mention, say, a magazine that was published for six months in 1937 and doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page — but I can see that this is something people probably won’t be familiar with. I was tipped off by the eBay seller who describes the album as “private cosmic . . . . insanely rare and insane private electronic ‘photophonic’ music . . . . one of those early electronic music albums whose entire premise is based upon some bat-shit crazy arcane methods of computer programming or mathematical patterns . . .” I don’t have it on vinyl myself, I’ve just got a crappy mp3 I downloaded from who-knows-where a long time ago, but I see it was unofficially reissued by the Icelandic label Creel Pone in 2008, so . . . it is marginally less insanely rare than it used to be when the only actual copies floating around were the ones Arfib had privately pressed.

The internet says Mr. Arfib is currently working on something with “gesture controlled audio systems” in connection with “the geneva emotion research group,” but the links I’ve followed haven’t yet expanded my understanding of what that means. I’ll keep you posted. In the unlikely event you’re now jonesing for something at the poppier end of the French mathématiques-music spectrum, here’s that Jacno-produced single from Mathématiques Modernes I blogged about a while back.

yr gang is here

Coffee Pots close-up

Coffee Pots jacket

Vintage 1940s or 50s Coffee Pots gang jacket on Etsy.

Cloudy Busey, “Pound Your Town To Hell.”

creative constipation + its antagonist

For a long while now I’ve been aware of and mildly interested in Momus without bothering to investigate. (More on this below). Every so often I’ll stumble across or be pointed towards something of his, and that’s that. I recently found myself watching this new-ish video from him and liking it a lot.


Momus and John Henriksson, “Love Wakes The Devil”

I circulated it to a few friends with the qualification “I have mixed regard for this guy” or something(s) to that effect, and I got some interesting responses. One person helpfully pointed out that the mystery man in the video — perhaps a long-forgotten robot built to compete with Elvis, shelved for awkwardness? — is reminiscent of this other guy. Another asked why the mixed feelings? “I think maybe it’s his voluminous and incessant output,” I answered. “All the blogging, etc. I guess I’m a bit suspicious of someone who is endlessly interested in their own utterances, for years and years and years at a time. Or maybe I just resent him for having so much of himself out there, because it makes it sort of impossible for me to evaluate him as a casual listener.” Which is silly, obviously, for several reasons. Why should anyone be graspable in one grab? Of course they should not be, and I tend to actively dislike people who are. Why not put a ton of yourself out there is a discrete, messier and more interesting question, I think, and my friend’s perceptive response made me rosy with self-consciousness:

He’s definitely a certain kind of person. I think he is very comfortable expressing himself. I don’t think he is self-critical (I mean this in a positive way). I don’t think he is trying to make a ‘great work.’ I think he sees himself in the tradition of folk music. And in his mind giving something to world — no matter how imperfect — is better than keeping it stifled up. As a result he has really added something to the world where most of us are trying so hard to be perfect we never actually do much.

I don’t think he meant really for real on a granular level (individual albums, songs, what-have-you), but you get the idea. I’ve struggled with the trying-to-be-perfect thing at moments but the biggest issue for me is wanting to have everything in place before I start a new project. Which is, yeah, a form of wanting everything to be perfect. I find it very difficult to start something new unless I feel I can completely throw myself into it, and how can I completely throw myself into something unless my “spare” time, my energy, and my reasons for wanting to do it are all heaving with abundance? And would you believe I have some trouble getting these things synced up? Of this bundle of idiotic expectations I have, the time-related one seems to be the most manageable; I think it’s a relatively straightforward matter of learning new habits (getting comfortable working in small chunks of time rather than big blocks, for example). Where I really run into trouble is in navigating the ambivalence I develop about my reasons for taking on any potential project, my questions about why do z instead of y or x, and is it worth bothering with at all. Not because I believe in greatness-or-nothing but because I believe in deliberateness-or-nothing. Just about every book or song or arty-whatnot that’s ever really meant anything to me was made by someone who seems to have been working from a series of rigorous aesthetic and intellectual decisions (versus working from a mindset of “oh hell, I’ll just try it and see where it goes”). My ideal is work that appears unstudied coming from someone who has studied the fuck out of it. One example, a curious one considering I don’t particularly like the Ramones: A couple weeks ago this article by Johnny Ramone came out, and in it he talks about the formation of the band and the decisions they made in the earliest days. The four skinny guys in jeans, t-shirts and leather jackets (or, the four skinny guys in jeans, t-shirts and leather jackets) took six months to decide that that’s what they would wear:

At that point, we were still dressed in partial glitter. I had these silver-lamé pants made of Mylar, and these black spandex pants I’d wear, too. I was the only one with a real Perfecto leather jacket—what the Ramones would later be identified with—which I had been wearing for seven years already. I also had this vest with leopard trim that I had custom made.

We were still evolving into the image we became known for, but it was trial and error at first. I’d give Tommy a lot of the credit for our look. He explained to me that Middle America wasn’t going to look good in glitter. Glitter is fine if you’re the perfect size for clothes like that. But if you’re even five pounds overweight, it looks ridiculous, so it wouldn’t be something everyone could relate to.

It was a slow process, over a period of six months or so, but we got the uniform defined. We figured out that it would be jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets, and the tennis shoes, Keds. We wanted every kid to be able to identify with our image.

I’ve never cared about wanting to make anything people can identify with but I do care deeply about singularity, and I think it generally comes from that same process of refining one’s ideas to the point where everything that’s there represents a series of decisions. (To use another Ramonesian example, think of them playing “Happy Birthday”: it would sound 100% like a Ramones song, and we can easily visualize how they would look playing it, the way they’d be standing or holding their instruments, and pretty much everything else about it). It’s not that I think a uniform or an identifiable stance are essentials or that it should necessarily be a slow or anguished process; it’s more about starting from a place that isn’t aesthetically or intellectually bankrupt, and paring away any crap going forward.

Do any of you have secret tricks for working through these pre-working choices, for wading through the muck between having an idea and commencing work on the idea? Please murmur them into my comments section. Highly recommended drugs that enable you to start a hundred weirdo side projects while blogging like a fiend will also be considered.

the new Monochrome Set album is here

Platinum Coils front cover

Cover image politely (in spirit) borrowed
from their booking agent Julie Tippex here.

Platinum Coils! Not here literally, but it will be soon: I ordered my copy first thing Saturday morning, before I’d even gotten out of bed. Yes of course I have email alerts for important events like this. I’m particularly excited because I heard the first track on it on the Marc Riley show last week and became a bit obsessed with it. It’s called “Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome” and you can have a listen (and buy the album, if you are tasteful) on the band’s site here. It’s a song about being in hospital — strangely thrilling subject matter for me, after a year of battling my own Health Issues — but it’s got the same larky wit all my other favorite Monochrome Set songs have. Not just in the nimble lyrics but in the intricate rhythms it unfurls, too.

Apparently I got a bit hormonal about having to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail, because later that afternoon I found myself in Kim’s looking for Monochrome Set vinyl to alleviate my distress. Voila, there’s a new-ish release of White Noise (new to me, at least) with some of my favorite songs from Black & White Minstrels, which I previously had only a crap mp3 of.

The Monochrome Set Early Recordings front cover


“Inside Your Heart” is a favorite among favorites. Press play, or go check out an old but still nice mixtape starting with it that I made for my food blog.

I also somehow found myself poking around the internet as if in preparation to make a sort of blog post-shrine to the Monochrome Set. A weird, candle-lit shrine complete with an old pin-up of Bid. Go ahead and get your special post-punk pants on, it’ll still be here when you return.

light yr candles

Bid pin-up

Bid pin-up via Northern Scum’s Tumblr.

Sorry, I don’t know whether there’s a matching one of Lester Square. If there is it will presumably turn up at the unofficial Monochrome Set Tumblr, which in the meantime has other delights.

Related reading: There are early reviews of Platinum Coils here and here, at Louder Than War and Retro Man, respectively. If you’ve been reading my post here and wondering who are the Monochrome Set, there’s a brief but effective Guardian music blog post here, after which you’ll doubtlessly want a look at the “History” section of the band’s site, where you can torment yourself with photos of super-fun shows you weren’t at.

the pink collection

The first two images are my pink rocks, most of which are from here. The rest are from who knows where, credited when possible.

the pink collection, gritty

the pink collection, close up

Pink nebula.

pink nebula

Wendell Castle pink floor lamp (“Pinkie”) at 1stDibs.

Wendell Castle floor lamp

Twink, “Ten Thousand Words in a Cardboard Box,” from the album Think Pink.

Naive mountains i.e. sans Evian.

naive pink mountains

Moroccan rug at 1stDibs.

Moroccan rug

Close-up of Tadanori Yokoo’s The Dream Merchant Fairies via 50 Watts.

The Dream Merchant Fairies close-up

Vashti Bunyan, “17 Pink Sugar Elephants,” from the album Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind.

Rose pashmak / fairy floss / cotton candy / whatever they call candy fur in your motherland is available from Pariya.

rose pashmak

London toile wallpaper by Timorous Beasties.

London toile

Shell fragment chez Lunar Camel Co.

shell fragment

Pink Bamileke headdress from Cameroon at 1stDibs.

pink Bamileke headdress

Wire, “It’s So Obvious,” from the album Pink Flag.

This and that No. 6

The proper disco for your Tuesday afternoon: B.T. Express, “Peace Pipe,” on Soul Train, via an impassioned comments-section debate about disco (“a bunch of fucking reactionary hippies” vs. people who say otherwise) over at Dangerous Minds. I think this is from 1975.

Alisha Chinoy’s “Zoo Zoo Zooby Zooby” is, strictly speaking, Bollywood Italo disco. The video starts with an ad and the song gets off to a slow start, but I think it’s totally worth sticking with. Use that time to lie down on the bed or the floor of your office and zip yourself into your disco pants. Based on the wiki page for the movie this performance is from, I think the creepy-looking guy in the audience is her brother. Or maybe the “rich and powerful man.” One or the other. Creepy guy vs. disco.

Groupies. I don’t know if they inherently go with disco, but in my mind they are linked. Here are the archives of Star magazine, a short-lived publication about teen groupies. There were only five issues published, between February and June of 1973, and you can flip through all of them.

Foxy Entertainment for 1973


This and that No. 5 is here.

Christmas stocking blog post

 

Click on the pudding for the first treat.

click on the pudding for a treat!

x-mas pudding via the NYPL digital image gallery

 

I won’t make you unwrap the next one. It’s Ben Hinds’s “All I Want For Christmas (Is A Go-Go Girl).”

 

Santa and his reindeer are all tripping their faces off! Click on the Santa below for an interesting article on how “many of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian Northern Europe.”

Santa is a shaman

 

There, now you are ready for Mark E. Smith reading a Christmas ghost story by H.P. Lovecraft.

 

If you’re going to listen you should have a yule log going at the same time for maximum effect. Here is more than two hours of hot yule log action for you.



yule log via this helpful Gothamist post about NYC bars with fireplaces

 

English readers can go on spacing out in front of the yule log while this next one plays because it will probably be familiar. A small survey of Americans reveals that almost none of us have seen it. Slade doing “Merry Christmas Everybody” on Top of the Pops. A fascinating cultural hairdo artifact!

 

Semi-related inspiration for how to do your eyelashes for Christmas dinner: Carnaby Street at Christmas in the 60s:

Carnaby Street xmas

photo via Retro to Go

 

Are you baking a massive pile of cookies? I am. If you are too, you will be very pleased with the butter calculator I am going to show you. You can go from sticks to grams to ounces to tablespoons, etc., like a magical butter wizard. Click on the cookies below for the link.

xmas cookies

 

Bonus extra for New Yorker subscribers: “Tebic” by Sylvia Townsend Warner. They ran it in the March 1, 1958 issue but it’s quite Christmassy. Click on the issue below for the link.

New Yorker xmas

 

There’s one more thing at the bottom of the stocking: a psychadelic Korean Christmas album from 1969. I don’t think anyone has uploaded the whole album but if you click on the cover below you can listen to “Auld Lang Syne” over at Now-Again Records.

He 5 Christmas!