Tag Archive for 'Noteworthy'

Records That Changed My Life, Part IV

Records that changed my life, in one way or another (1999 – ?) | Part IV :

The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin / Zaireeka – Sure they were released in 1999 and 1997 respectively, but I still jumble them together as a similar era – and in the genre of rock. Especially for groundbreaking music production in popular music. I use the word popular very loosely. The first time I heard The Soft Bulletin I couldn’t stand it. Honest truth. I thought it was a total indie cliche. And in some ways, it still kind of is – but of course does not make it bad music. I was also going through this anti-music period where if the music had a key signature I couldn’t listen to it and it would grate on my ears. Yeah, I know. Weird phase. But then again The Flaming Lips on 90210 was weird, too. So anyways. I heard this record and wasn’t blow away. Then I heard this 4-disc set called Zaireeka. Wait. 4-discs at once. On different CD players! This idea was amazing to me. It got my full attention. I had never heard of something like this. It totally fascinated me and I found out it was an extension of Wayne (the singer/guitarist) performing a similar idea with car stereos and cassette tapes in a parking garage. Totally revolutionary and put 5.1 and 7.1 sound to shame. I never did get 5.1 and all that surround sound for music. It just doesn’t make sense to me. But that’s another story. Zaireeeka: 4 CDs. Similar production to The Soft Bulletin. Crazy lyrics and vagina and planes and suicide. Kind of symphonic with the strings via Roland keyboard. Music beyond emotion. DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS. And likewise with The Soft Bulletin. The Soft Bulletin was a little more cohesive of a record and in my eyes “less concept” – but I am sure others would disagree. Dave Fridmann is truly an engineer of audio. He placed the sounds on this record impeccably. The vocals and lyrics will make an asshole cry. Seriously heartfelt regardless if they happened to Wayne or not. It was a reality. Someone’s and it worked. And the lack of guitars on every cut (in other words not ever track has guitar in it) is inspiring for rock bands across the world. Rock with out guitars is not such an amazing thought. But at the time it was for me. Waiting For A Superman still gets me choked up. Those ghost notes on the snare are mesmerizing. And the Gash. Jesus Christ. Talk about pure sinister. And the gong. One can never get over the gong. Wayne loves his gong. To not be moved by this record might prove one to be lifeless and/or dead. But what do I know.

Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000) – I bought this in 2000. In NJ at a random record store that was selling a Pearl Jam record the day before it was supposed to be selling. Random, I know. But I remember these things and forget where I put my house keys. Anyways… I initially liked this record, a lot. I had not heard anything so emotional in a while at this point in my life. It was sincere heart searing instrumentals. Piercing emotions that anyone in the Western world should be able to relate so. Lots of ups and downs. The highs really high and the lows really low. It was symphonic with all the strings and mallets and rolling drums. There was seriously repetitive melodies. But it wasn’t until Emily and I were driving through a semi-worn-down area of Delaware. It was kind of baron and depressed. And the music completely fit in and clicked for me. The music already made sense to me, but it REALLY made sense to me. It was emotional and timely. There is nothing better than that. Oh yeah and there are no lyrics, so that’s always an added bonus for me.

Command Records/Terry Snyder & All Stars’ Persuasive Percussion II (Acquired in 2001 – Recorded in 1959) – This was a record given to me by a friend. I thought it was going to be simply all percussion. But it was not. It was sort of like easy listening big band music or “space age pop” as the critics call it. But the more and more I listened to it the more textures and layers and sounds I heard. Jesus Christ. This was music recorded in the 50s and 60s and it sounds like music coming out of the studios of today. It was fat and chunky and detailed and not muddy and washed out and flat like a lot of pop music from the 50s sounded like. They used stereo like George Martin started using 5+ years later. No one had ever really done such dramatic stereo panning at this time. It was a breath of fresh air for me and reassurance that there was interesting and breakthrough music happening in pop music and in recording techniques, best of all. After reading more and more about the label, I found out more about their recording techniques, like using 35mm film to record audio on to. Yeah, totally ZERO wow and flutter because the tape is sprocketed. I started picking up other Command Records records where ever I could find them. Strangely very few were ever transfered to CD. Rightfully so, as I am not sure how this music would translate to CD. If you still have no idea what this music sounds like, think Esquivel but seriously wider and deeper and bombastic. And if you ever see a Command Records LP in a bin somewhere pick it up and if you don’t like it, give it to me. I’ll give you a big kiss.

Tattoo Yule

Things I did this weekend. In relative order.

  1. Friday night, I went to a bar after work with David. See Friday night’s post.
  2. Saturday Emily, David and I went to Salvation Army to donate stuff and look for a coffee table. We found nothing. Then we went to the Baltimore Tattoo Museum to get my tattoo. (photos here) It was pretty much everything I excepted it to be. So it’s in Hebrew. 5 characters. No vowels. Mendel in English. Next time I am totally bringing my minidisc to record it. It’s fascinating sounding, especially when it’s on your body. Funny too, because the inker grew up right near me. Totally a small world. After that we decided to hit up Jimmy’s in Fells Point because we were really hungry. When we got to Jimmy’s we realized they sort of remodeled there and it’s really bright in there now with new tables. I am not sure how I feel about it. At least the weird waitresses are still the same. And the food is too. Yay Baltimore. Hon! PS. Thanks David for coming and documenting this great day for me.
  3. After we got back from Baltimore, Gordon and Feetnik came over and we drove to Lisner Auditorium at GW University to see the Gay Men’s Chorus of DC perform FabYULEus. The first half was serious and somber while the second half (after they proved themselves) was all fun and games and good fun (gay) times. The second half was what we paid for, at least I did. It was really enjoyable. Yes, I enjoyed singers. However, the only buzzkill was the a Capella song. Not sure what it is about a Capella. I think it’s just the “wooo waps” of the percussion and “other sound effects” are really insulting and it makes me want to throw things at them. Anyways. After the concert we came back (braving the dandruff of god – IE. the sleet/snow), ordered a pizza and drank some beers. It was great seeing them both! And it’s still so cool Feetnik is part of my life. Yay Gordon! Yay Feetnik. Yay Gordon and Feetnik!

The Sometimes Sad Life Of A Recordist

So three things are going on in my head, in no particular order…

#1 – I am burned out from playing in rock bands. It’s now 2005. I started playing drums somewhere around 1991. That puts in about 14 years of drumming mainly in what people would describe as rock music. That’s not to say I didn’t ever play other styles and actually a lot of college was spent not playing rock music. But still it’s a long time. Especially in my thought process. I think I need a break or at least need to slow down. I need to recharge my rock juices. And I don’t know how long it will take but I am slightly optimistic… And I need to be if I am ever going to take The Bakesale in to the studio. Spring 2006!

So in order to accomplish this I bring you to my 2nd grand idea…

#2 – I really need to start recording and playing my own music again. The river dried up and that’s not a good thing. I honestly haven’t recorded since say 2003. And really I finished most of the production for MONSIII during 2001. Playing other people’s music is fun, but only fulfills to a slight degree. I had a seriously in-depth (for us) conversation with David R. this weekend after gathering food at the Farmer’s Market and having a grand breakfast over Alice Coltrane’s Universal Consciousness. We touched on composition and creation and finding sounds. What what they mean and context. I always thought Daniel was my music life partner and I guess he still sorta is on one level, but David really hits it home with me. Definitely on a different level. So we decided to extend a project we had started working on a year or so ago called Betatron. This new project of mine already has a name and will mainly focus on found sounds and field recordings of usually general everyday sounds that people hear but don’t necessarily listen to. And I can record simply on my way to work! Or where ever it takes me. They will be mainly stereo recordings made my an X/Y pattern and perhaps an M/S pattern, if I can get my M/S mic I built working again. Damn Paia. We’ll also intersperse our own compositions on top and layer quite a bit. But not to give it all away… Yeah, a little more high-concept than I am used to working with, but I really like the idea…

And lastly…

#3 – And kinda most importantly, my recording studio needs to be rebuilt. Like, for real. It’s my home away from home that’s really in my basement. Plus it makes money. This needs to happen so I can begin to start thinking about quitting my day job and working from home doing what I feel I do best and love the most in life. #3 is very important to my well-being!

Ok… Signing off…