If You Find The Earth Boring...

Bouquets of Bokehs

I’ve posted some photos taken a while back in a new folder in my photos section.  Check back for more soon as I have a lot more photos to put up.

Annoying & Self-Indulgent Reflections On The Year 2010

Again, I know this is self-indulgent, but it’s still relatively new in the year (I actually started writing this more than a month ago).  Here are some of my personal reflections for the year 2010: Best Things About 2010: Overall, this was a year of wonderful happenings, especially in the second half of this past year.  After a string of pretty depressing years, 2009 got better and 2010 was absolutely great.  I’m very thankful for so many wonderful sights, sounds, and happenings this past year. I was surrounded by so many incredible people this year.  A big thank you goes to all these people. Enjoyment of completely loving what I do on an everyday basis.  Actually looking forward to going into work and working with incredible people who have been so much fun to be around, both in the US and in France.  A year of amazing professional contacts and meetings and discussions. So much wonderful travel this past year.  Many miracles in making connections and meeting great people while traveling.  Receiving help from numerous strangers while traveling. Financial support and travel funding from numerous fellowships. Made proud little steps towards betterment: saving money, diligent schedules of athletic workouts, research, and writing, got rid of some clutter in my life.  Lots of running and miles logged in this last year. Having a really incredible family who is so much fun to be with.  Becoming an uncle again! Becoming better at letting go of things that are out of my control. Treasuring so much good healthy food in this past year. I was able to see so much great music, movies, and art museums this past year. Worst Things About 2010 (all minor things in the grand scope of wonderfulness that was 2010): The frequent reminder that I have wasted my time and energy on people and projects not worth my time and energy. Cracking a tooth on a tiny rock in a pizza crust. Two incidents of my stuff getting stolen. Annoying tea party propaganda and the over conservatism of the USA.  The hopelessness of the administration of hope. Too many grant proposals rejected. The ONLY bad things about living in France: Cigarette smoke in unavoidable public places, too much dog shit on the sidewalks, and no concept of waiting in lines. Too much useless, worthless, and ego-driven online communication in cyberspace.  The ever increasing loss of digital privacy.  The prevalence of misinformation spread on the internet taken as fact and the people who refuse to research, question, and search for the truth. Too little time for art and sleeping. Too many people communicating who don’t know the difference between YOUR and YOU’RE; THERE, THEIR, and THEY’RE; and AFFECT & EFFECT, among others. Well, there you have it. UPDATE: I have been informed by a loving, respected, and faithful reader that the end of this post is a real downer, and I not only respect this person’s opinion very much, I agree with this sentiment, so I want to BOLDLY reiterate that the year of 2010 was incredible and wonderful.  The negative final points - this is me mainly just venting about certain frustrations - are not in any way, shape, or form, reflective of the whole of 2010.  Here’s to an even more incredible 2011!

Annoying & Self-Indulgent List Of My Favorite Music of 2010

It’s about time I posted this.  Here’s my annual list of music I enjoyed this past year.  I know I have forgotten tons of records or have yet to realize just how great some of these recordings are.  Just as I am writing this, I went to pull something to listen to and came across the great Woods At Echo Lake LP (on Woodsist) which came out this year and which I totally forgot to put on this list.  I just need to stop revising and procrastinating and post this list.  There’s also plenty of music which came out this past year I am still discovering.  I gave up in vain when I tried to sort out all the compilations and reissues I have listened to this year.  This list has come about from many nights sipping coffee and whiskey while spinning records.  So, fuck it, without further ado, here’s my favorite music of 2010: 1.      LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA) 2.      Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp) & Pattern + Grid World EP (Warp) 3.      Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush) & Maybes EP (Hotflush) 4.      Caribou – Swim (Merge) 5.      James Blake – The Bells Sketch EP (Hessle Audio), CMYK EP (R&S) & Klavierwerke EP (R&S) 6.      Darkstar – North (Hyperdub) 7.      The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence) 8.      Future Islands – In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey) & Undressed EP (Thrill Jockey) 9.      Jaill – That’s How We Burn (Sub Pop) 10.  Toro Y Moi – Causers Of This (Carpark) 11.  Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego) 12.  Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL) 13.  Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me (Drag City) 14.  Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino) 15.  Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop) 16.  Sleigh Bells – Treats (N.E.E.T./Mom & Pop) 17.  Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jon’s Records) 18.  Wild Nothing – Gemini (Captured Tracks) 19.  Nice Nice – Extra Wow (Warp) 20.  Javelin –No Mas (Luaka Bop) 21.  Sun Araw – On Patrol (Not Not Fun) 22.  Sun City Girls – Funeral Mariachi (Abduction) 23.  Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam/Rock-A-Fella) 24.  Surfer Blood – Astro Coast (Kanine Records) 25.  Caitlin Rose – Own Side Now (Rough Trade) 26.  Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek – Bird, Lake, Objects (Faitiche) 27.  Demdike Stare – LP Trilogy: Forest Of Evil, Liberation Through Hearing, & Voices Of Dust (Modern Love) 28.  Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer (Warp) & The Caliph’s Tea Party EP (Warp) 29.  Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD) 30.  Autechre – Oversteps (Warp) 31.  Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge) 32.  Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here (XL) 33.  No Age – Everything In Between (Sub Pop) 34.  Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD) 35.  Twin Shadow – Forget (4AD/Terrible) 36.  Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal (Editions Mego) 37.  PVT – Church With No Name (Warp) 38.  How To Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse) 39.  Supersilent – 10 (Rune Grammofone) & 11 (Rune Grammofone) 40.  Dustin Wong – Infinite Love (Thrill Jockey) 41.  Mark McGuire – Living With Yourself (Editions Mego) 42.  Philip Jeck – An Ark For The Listener (Touch) 43.  Oval – O (Thrill Jockey) 44.  Strong Arm Steady – In Search Of Stoney Jackson (Stone’s Throw) 45.  Keith Fullerton Whitman – Disingenuity (Pan) 46.  Harlem – Hippies (Matador) 47.  Dirty Projectors & Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca (Self Released) 48.  Hype Williams - Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite And Start Gettin’ Reel (DeStijl) 49.  Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular Recordings) 50.  Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise (Rough Trade) 51.  Matthew Dear – Black City (Ghostly) 52.  AMM – Sounding Music (Matchless) 53.  Avey Tare – Down There (Paw Tracks) 54.  A Silver Mt. Zion – Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation) 55.  Alasdair Roberts & Friends – Too Long In This Condition (Drag City) 56.  Best Coast – Crazy For You (Mexican Summer) 57.  Jaga Jazzist – One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune) 58.  Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (Bad Boy/Wonderland Arts Society) 59.  Forest Swords – Dagger Paths (Olde English Spelling Bee) 60.  Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Love Is A Stream (Type) 61.  Jonsi – Go (XL) 62.  The Knife & Friends – Tomorrow, In A Year (Mute) 63.  Brian Eno – Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp) 64.  Salem - King Night (IAMSOUND) 65.  oOoOO – oOoOO EP (TriAngle) 66.  Wavves – King Of The Beach (Fat Possum) 67.  Imaginary Softwoods – Imaginary Softwoods (Digitalis) 68.  Balam Acab – See Birds EP (TriAngle) 69.  Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (Anti) 70.  The Fresh & Onlys – Play It Strange (In The Red) 71.  En – The Absent Coast (Root Strata) 72.  Spoon – Transference (Merge) 73.  Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love (Matador) 74.  Madlib – Medicine Show Series (Now Again) 75.  Tristan Perich – 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe Music) 76.  Liars – Sisterworld (Mute) 77.  Dom Thomas – Synthetic Soul & Other Junk (Brutal Music) 78.  Natural Snow Buildings – The Centauri Agent (Vulpiano Recordings) 79.  Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring (Arts & Crafts) 80.  No Joy – Ghost Blonde (Mexican Summer) 81.  Scott Tuma – Dandelion (Digitalis) 82.  Eleh – Location Momentum (Touch) 83.  !!! – Strange Weather, Isn’t It? (Warp) 84.  The Samps – The Samps (Mexican Summer) 85.  Games – That We Can Play EP (Hippos In Tanks) 86.  Koen Holtkamp – Gravity/Bees (Thrill Jockey) 87.  Bill Orcutt – Way Down South (Palilalia) 88.  CocoRosie – Grey Oceans (Sub Pop) 89.  Warpaint – The Fool (Rough Trade) 90.  Yellow Swans – Going Places (Type) 91.  MGMT – Congratulations (Columbia) 92.  Date Palms – Of Psalms (Root Strata) 93.  The Radio Dept. – Clinging To A Scheme (Labrador Sweden) 94.  Barn Owl – Ancestral Star (Thrill Jockey) 95.  School Of Seven Bells – Disconnect From Desire (Vagrant Records) 96.  Broken Bells – Broken Bells (Sony) 97.  Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty) 98.  Happy Birthday – Happy Birthday (Sub Pop) 99.  Kyle Bobby Young – A Young Person’s Guide To Kyle Bobby Young (Low Point) 100.                      Fabulous Diamonds – II (Siltbreeze) Stuff that got listened to this year but didn’t make the list for one reason or another: Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop), Bardo Pond – Bardo Pond (Fire), Blonde Redhead – Penny Sparkle (4AD), Broken Records – Let Me Come Home (4AD), Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts Productions), Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer (Elektra/Asylum), Chromeo – Business Casual (Atlantic), Circle – Rautatie (Ektro Records), Common Eider, King Eider – Worn (Root Strata), Duane Pitre – Origin (Root Strata), Elephant9 – Walk The Nile (Rune Grammofone), Eluvium – Similes (Temporary Residence), Evan Caminiti - West Winds (Three Lobed Recordings), Fursaxa – Mycorrhizae Realm (ATP Recordings), Gaslamp Killer – Death Gate EP (Brainfeeder), Glasser – Ring (True Panther Sounds), Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Virgin), Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (Anti), Heavy Winged – Fields Within Fields (Three Lobed Recordings), Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Astralwerks), Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk (Vanguard Records), Jack Rose – Luck In The Valley (Thrill Jockey), John Roberts – Glass Eights (Dial), Kemialliset Ystavat – Ullakkopalo (Fonal), Kevin Drumm – The Obstacles Of Romantic Exaggeration (Karl Schmidt Verlag), Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin (French Kiss), Little Women – Throat (Aum Fidelity), Local Natives – Gorilla Manor (Frenchkiss), Lone – Emerald Fantasy Tracks EP (Magic Wire Recordings), Lost In The Trees – All Alone In An Empty House (Anti/Epitaph), Magic Lantern – Platoon (Not Not Fun), Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop), Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Totem Two (Important Records), Menomena – Mines (Barsuk), MIA – MAYA (NEET/XL/Interscope), Mike Patton – Mondo Cane (Ipecac), Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (Glass Note), Nobody – One For All Without Hesitation (Traffic), Owen Pallett – Heartland (Domino), Pulse Emitter – Over Clouds (Root Strata), Sharron Kraus – The Woody Nightshade (Strange Attractors Audio House/Carrot Top), Squarepusher – Shobaleader One: d’Demonstrator (Warp), Sunburned Hand Of The Man – A (Ecstatic Peace), Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge), Teebs – Ardour (Redeye) & Ardour B-Sides (My Hollow Drum), The Black Keys – Brothers (Nonesuch), The Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP (True Panther Sounds), The National - High Violet (4AD), The Roots – How I Got Over (Def Jam), The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack (Kemado), The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans), These New Puritans – Hidden (Domino), Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (XL), U.S. Girls – Go Grey (Siltbreeze), Wolf Parade – Expo 86 (Sub Pop), Wooden Wand – Death Seat (Young God), Yeasayer – Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian), Zola Jesus – Stridulum EP (Sacred Bones Records), This was my least favorite thing I listened to this year (and a record that actually received a fair amount of hype): Fang Island – Fang Island (Sargent House)

Tears In The Typing Pool

It’s been a rough few months for musicians departing us.  I feel bad that I have never had a chance to tell you of my fondness for Captain Beefheart, who unfortunately passed on a few weeks ago.  Now, the news of Trish Keenan passing (here and here and here) has hit me pretty hard since Broadcast (wiki and blog) are up there on my ultimate favorites.  Apparently she contracted an aggressive strain of the H1N1 influenza virus during Broadcast’s Australian tour and was never able to recover.  Here’s two videos taken from last year’s Broadcast and The Focus Group collaboration album called Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age: [youtube OqINetENovg 480 390] [youtube nlVaRcNf9nc 480 390] Update: See Trish’s Mind Bending Motorway Mystery Mix over at Root Blog (and here).

The Future Sound Of London

I haven’t been counting how many candles we can put on Dubstep’s cake - we’re in the kindergarten years I am assuming? - and however old Dubstep is, it keeps changing and, in my opinion, keeps getting better.  I don’t even know if we can call it Dubstep anymore?  I hate titles anyway, why do we need to put titles on things?  People ask me what kinds of music I listen to: I just listen to music. Though to use the title, many albums this past year were cut from the Dubstep cloth but might not be strictly labeled as so.  The following releases – all coming from London based artists and some of my favorites of the past year - have been extricated from a post-Burial world, where voices are put before beats, and whether these vocals are comprehensible or not, they are always veiled in deep layers of South London murk. Darkstar’s North caught me by surprise.  I was already familiar with Darkstar’s first released single “Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer” on Hyperdub so I was expecting an album of the same instrumentals.  It turns out, like designer Will Bankhead’s industrial album cover, this album is not disconnected from a long line of dark post-punk British pop, with surprisingly unadulterated vocals.  If you needed more evidence of the trajectory they are coming from then you should know that they cover Spandau Ballet with the song “Gold”.  In fact, this excellent album is filled with pop songs ensconced in years of post-industrial dust.  I also quite enjoyed chatting with one of the members of the group in Honest Jon’s awesome record shop in Ladbroke Grove this fall. Splazsh (Honest Jon’s Records) by Actress builds on his previous release Hazyville, continuing to submerge a Basic Channel-esque haze with glitched vocals, puncturing through washes of reverb with Prefuse 73-like staccato syllables disguised as beats.  This release takes a bit of time for the sheer density of sound to soak into your brain, but once it does this one is a real keeper.  It consists of an equal distribution of tracks either for kicking back on the couch or shaking it on the dancefloor. I have to be honest, I hate writing about music because it’s so difficult to do, but otherwise I don’t know how to tell you about it, so I do it anyway.  You know the quote (see here and here for the derivation) from Martin Mull - “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” - well, that’s basically about how I feel.  I can’t even begin to explain how off-kilter, warped, and brilliant Mount Kimbie’s Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush) is.  Maybe you could try to imagine what it would sound like if Sly & Robbie’s Jamaican drum and bass, the input from two John’s - Cage and his prepared piano and Fahey and his electric guitar, a roller-rink Wurlitzer organ, a bottle of soda water, two galloping horses playing ping-pong, and a broken record player got together for a jam session in a rotating clothes dryer.  Yeah, it sounds that good. Some of the most exciting music of this past year’s latter half, for me at least, came from a series of EPs released by James Blake.  While not unfathomable, the development of Blake as an artist across these three EPs has simply been staggering.  The Bell Sketch EP, CMYK EP, and the most recent Klavierwerke EP, not to forget numerous remixes, have kept me busy.  If you need statistics to testify, James Blake’s remix of Mount Kimbie’s song “Maybes” was the most listened song in all my playlists in 2010.  The Bell Sketch EP (Hessle Audio) started out this year with three warped noisy dirges disguised as dance songs.  CMYK, the title track from an EP (on R&S) of the same name, with morphed R&B and gospel samples, is the Hyph Mngo of 2010 and undeniably one of the most instantly catchy tracks of the year.  His work culminated in the Klavierwerke EP (R&S) of this fall, hands down one of the best releases of the last year, and one where Blake has started to use his own vocal and piano samples (in an almost sublime tribute to Robert Ashley) to construct his songs instead of taking samples from elsewhere.  Vocals appear like strobe light flashes accenting unknown features but quickly dissipate so that you can’t establish their familiarly.  For me the songs from this EP became the soundtrack to countryside views from trains in motion and these sounds and spaces echoed of half-remembered beats once heard on a dancefloor but replayed through my dreams at night.