Friday, January 9, 2009

The Shoveller's Blog, part N

It's been one of those weeks when I really fear that thought and patient work isn't any kind of substitute at all for inspiration (which I remember as a more common occurrence when I was younger). So this morning when I rose and looked out the window to see that we'd had the first serious fall of snow for the year, a part of me was kind of cheered; at least I can do that stuff.

I took Erik Friedlander's solo 'cello CD Block Ice and Propane out with me on the iPod. Of late, I've been favoring big walls of dense buzzy stuff [The "snowplow soundtrack." Owing to my less than stellar metal collection, math rock at high volume does about as well as anything], but the openness of this modest little exercise in restraint and beauty was perfect. By accident, I'd actually set it at a low enough volume so that the sound of my breathing and Erik's were almost equally loud. The snow was that very powdery stuff that doesn't pack - for those of you who are not snow-shovellers by avocation, this means the shovelling any amount changes the angle of incline of the new and nonpacked snow, causing mini-avalanches of powdered sugar that fill half of the are you just cleared off. Normally, this is disheartening. But today, it meant that I could stay just a little longer, listening to the marvellous space between the shovel's scrape.

Now, back to work. You should take a listen to this lovely little gem.

Oh yeah - Erik Friedlander is the son of Lee Friedlander, one of my photographic heroes (no, while his album cover photographs are great, it's his series of photographs of vernacular landscapes and American monuments that I go back to again and again). What a small world.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I am trying to not be worried about posting to the blog twice within less than a 3-month period. I'm sure it will pass.

An email [probably collateral damage from entering Facebook and watching the ripples fan outward] about whether or not I'll get back to the promised third [yes, third] edition of an all-analog RTQE. In this case, it's supposed to seriously consider including the "old favorites" of listeners who particularly enjoyed the first two. In the same sense that it's often the case that old-school electronic tape music powerfully catches the attention of my audience of high-school age [for reasons I don't entirely understand], so it is apparently so that the all-analog stuff powerfully engages older listeners who recall the stuff from the first time around. Instead of fantasizing abot how long one would have to wait to program "the golden age of 1980s sampler music," I find myself aided in terms of focusing my thoughts again on the notion of interesting analog studio recordings by the recent release of two things I thought would really never see the light of day in CD form [except for places run by the serious amateur such as Creel Pone, of course]: the original Anthology Of Dutch Electronic Tape Music, Volume 1 1955-1966 and Anthology of Dutch Electronic Tape Music, Volume 2 1966-1977. I've clung jealously to the copies on vinyl of them I had, and it's great news to see these not only re-issued, but re-issued in their original form, complete with the original liner notes by Dick Raaijmakers. The original work with no attempt at the reissue version of revisionist history? It doesn't get much sweeter than that....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

a new year and so on

It's often the case that I'll rise somewhat early and listen to the sounds of our quiet house. I'm not sure why I think doing that for the first time in a given year is special or would be any different, but hey.

Given the ridiculous rate of non-update in this blog, you'd think nothing happened. Pas du tout. It was an amazing year.

I managed to get a nice early start on that annual list of the things that appeared that I valued/returned to for (solace/instruction/edification), and it was a nice rambunctious list that gave me all kinds of trouble. I should have made it a list of "what I listened to while shovelling the 4000 feet of walk," but that would be whiny. Nonetheless, the list is here.

It was an amazing year in terms of my life as a performer and (to a lesser extent) recording musician. I got to play a couple of gigs with my pal Tom that were widely enough separated that the tools and instruments were different, and realized that there was this kind of conversational quality that has run through what we've done from the beginning. One gig reunited us with visualist Mark Hendrikson, which always makes me happy. PGT was actually a busy unit considering that we all have "real" jobs, and our trip and performance in Evora, Portugal was an experience I will not soon forget. Although that specific confluence of idea and material that would have been "the new solo recording" didn't happen, I continue to work patiently. Onward.