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Poll: Which album is your favorite? Please listen to all ten before voting.
Return Of Fenn O'Berg by Fenn O'Berg
6%
 6%  [1]
Fantasmes Ou L'Histoire De Blanche-Neige by Jacques Lejeune
0%
 0%  [0]
Super æ by Boredoms
0%
 0%  [0]
Tago Mago by Can
37%
 37%  [6]
Aviary by Julia Holter
12%
 12%  [2]
Heave To by Olivia Block
6%
 6%  [1]
Syro by Aphex Twin
0%
 0%  [0]
Sung Tongs by Animal Collective
25%
 25%  [4]
Let My Children Hear Music by Charles Mingus
12%
 12%  [2]
Wild Why by Wobbly
0%
 0%  [0]
Total Votes : 16

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#51 | Posted: 01/07/2019 21:07 | Post subject: Reply with quote
oh thanks Tilly! I hope to get the last 5 big write ups in this week and then get into fun mixing it up too, I'm looking forward to it.

And yeah Keith I'd agree that that's the impression I have, and also that it's all a really great development. But it's still interesting to me how this competition is present for this album. I think what makes it work is that it was something Mingus was already working towards, and also I'm pretty sure he hadn't heard Skies of America and had only heard of the ambitions generally, since they really were going for different things. But I think it worked out as a positive here that Mingus felt like he had competition. Though the modern approach is probably accomplishing more for appreciating improvised or jazz-based compositions as on par with traditional classical than what Mingus or Coleman were able to achieve with these albums.
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#52 | Posted: 01/08/2019 08:17 | Post subject: Reply with quote
Olivia Block - Heave To (2006)
First Heard: 2014
OK so this takes some setting up. When I started getting into electronic music, another direction I hit off of Kid 606 was from his album Down With The Scene, it included an incredible remix from Hrvatski at the end of it. I got very into Hrvatski's stuff, and then when I found out he was starting to release processed microtonal guitar ambient music under his full name Keith Fullerton Whitman, that started up a whole bunch of other interests. Following that led me to KFW's work writing blurbs for Forced Exposure's mailorder and eventually his own mailorder shop, Mimaroglu Music Sales. That store carried the stock from the bootleg cd-r label that KFW semi-secretly ran, Creel Pone (he still runs it, it's just less secret now). That label is all about getting old out of print obscure electronic stuff from the 50s-80s out into the world so that it didn't totally disappear, and it has led to a fair amount of official reissues. Anyway, I got a copy of Pierre Henry - Cortical Art III, and that's what really did it for me. It's a live album performed for a conference of neuroscientists where Henry has his brainwaves getting fed into synths so that he can think the music to be different, but then also has people like Bernard Bonnier helping out so that he doesn't have to think of everything. That one really set me off on exploring electroacoustic music from all over, but I tended not to go too much further than the initial Creel Pone time limit. It didn't start out that way, I was checking out all sorts of stuff. Through all my searching I would be finding annoying sine waves, a whole bunch of dynamics with way too much quietness, improvisation that didn't make any sense to me, and field recordings where it sounded like almost nothing. It seemed like these things would be happening a lot more in the electroacoustic in the 90s and so I focused more on computer music of the contemporary time. I was a little familiar with the EAI (electroacoustic improvisation) stuff that was happening in the 00s, but I really didn't pursue it. I'd get into the fringes of acoustic instruments and improvisation through stuff like Borbetomagus and free jazz, but I did develop a blindspot around these preferences. Part of it, I think, was that music still had a certain necessity for me w/r/t outside noise. I would be in places where there would be annoying noises around me, siblings and eventually roommates and neighbors and traffic and trains. I was not in a place where I could really appreciate the quiet moments too often. I needed a stable noise floor that could rise above the noises a lot of the time. It wasn't impossible by any means, but the hurdles involved contributed to this focus, I think.

Towards the end of school I got too busy to keep up with music much at all, and then getting into the working world, and getting into that quarter life crisis of feeling concerned about having a lack of direction and things like that, I really fell out of keeping up with music. There were even periods where I think I'd go a whole month without intentionally listening to music. Crazy, I know! But I needed to sort some things out. Around 2012 I was on the upswing, moving to a new city to try to make a place for myself. I found a site called turntable.fm, it's no longer running, but it's the precursor to things like plug.dj where people gather in a chat room and take turns playing songs with each other. I decided to give it a whirl, and it was so much fun and so incredibly stressful! Well, not stressful at first, I'd hear something from someone and be like "oh I know just the song to play next!" and it'd be a fantastic experience, making a continuous mix of music make sense and hold together, collaboratively and in real time. But increasingly I'd find myself thinking "I already played this one, I should have something better for this". The desire to know about more things really got fired back up, and I got into looking at more online music discussion and exploring some of the things I'd heard on turntable that I was unfamiliar with. I even registered for general music focused sites like BEA eventually, which was a whole corner of the web I'd never really explored much. I usually stuck with artist or scene specific things. Like there's a P2P software that is still running today, that started while Napster was still up. They would add on the url for the software onto the filenames of Warp Records leaks that were on Napster, and so this P2P software that shall remain nameless had a small community of early adopters who were all really into IDM. So that was the type of community I was used to, but I wanted to get better at filling in the blind spots that my approach had left. Through one of these communities, I find Jon Abbey's EAI Primer list, something he'd been putting together with yearly roundups going back to 1998, although it also included some early examples. And then starting in 2010 it started to include music that incorporated composition, as many artists interested drifted away from purely improvised works. Abbey runs Erstwhile Records, a major figure in that scene, so it only figures that he would have a good handle on it. Olivia Block was an artist I found through that list. Funnily enough, Heave To is one of the few Olivia Block releases not included on the list, but I believe that is because this is an album that incorporates a significant amount of composition, and that wasn't really the focus of the list at the time. Or maybe he just wasn't that into it. Either way, it ended up being one of the first ones I heard and it really connected, because it got me to listen differently without violating the values that I had been developing in listening to electroacoustic music. But through my appreciation of her music, I've been able to branch out into a lot of music that does violate those old rules, and it led to a lot of growth.

Listens since 2016: 3/11/2016, 7/29/2016, 2/21/2017, 8/21/2017, 4/29/2018, 7/29/2018

If I'm being honest, right now Block's album Dissolution is the one that should be up here, if we're going by what has impacted me the most. Because that album has really fucked with how I think about mass communication. I'd have to write a bunch for that one though, and it wouldn't be a good introduction for people unfamiliar with this sort of thing. So I'm happy to have this one on here, because it is still some very special music.

For some context on Olivia Block, a good quick summary can be found via this question from an interview accompanying her album on Another Timbre http://www.anothertimbre.com/oliviablock.html

Quote:
What is your musical background and training? And how did you come to experimental music?


Quote:
I have a degree in biological anthropology, but I also attended a music conservatory and art school for sound. I think of myself as auto-didact, though.

My initial training was when I was really young in Austin, Texas, playing in bands and working as an assistant in recording studios.

I started listening to experimental collage and noise music when I was still in bands. I also discovered the music of Scelsi, Annea Lockwood, Phil Niblock, Ligeti, Jim O’Rourke, Harry Bertoia and the horn and cymbal music from Tibetan Buddhist monks.

I got a four-track recorder and started making solo tape collages. The band I was in played the collages in between songs. Then I wanted to quit the band and focus solely on the studio pieces. I bought a cornet at pawnshop and then only wanted to play cornet instead of guitar.

At around that time in Texas I met Seth Nehil and John Grzinich. We started a trio, Alial Straa, performing and improvising in unconventional, acoustically rich locations. We performed in a drainage tunnel and used the rocks and leaves there as instruments. We made field recordings with a portable DAT recorder and used them in shows with amplified objects.

As I progressed in my solo practice, I wanted to work with ensembles of musicians, adding a different live component to my performances. When I moved to Chicago in the late nineties, I became connected with Jim O’Rourke and the improvisers in his orbit like Jeb Bishop and Kyle Bruckmann.

At first I mostly worked with improvisers, but over time, I composed scores for the musicians to play, which I could then record and add to my studio pieces later. After that, my ideas for scores became increasingly complex, and the combinations with studio-based sounds and musicians became more elaborate. I decided to gain a “formal education” in music composition.

I became fixated on making orchestral music. I thought about it and talked about it constantly. I wanted to study music formally because I needed to learn proper notational techniques for that medium. When I was studying at the conservatory I requested to be paired with teachers who used conventional notation. I wanted to know where to put the slurs and indentations properly.

I could then create pieces for the orchestral reading sessions and try out ideas. I started thinking about how I wished orchestral music allowed for more improvisation in rehearsals, and thought about the social structures of music-making which contributed to my interest in anthropology.

I had several solo recordings released before attending music school. I couldn’t finish at the conservatory because my touring schedule got in the way. I was older than the students there. I finished a degree in anthropology at Northwestern instead, attending school between my music-related trips.


So this one came out before that pursuit of more formal education, where she was pushing into more significantly composed music. I've been trying to avoid really getting into spoilers, but to talk about why this one's special, I gotta get into it here. So actually I'm going to pause right here. But I think this is all some fine context to be going into the music with. I'll post some more specific thoughts later today.
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Fischman
RockMonster, JazzMeister and ClassicalMaster


Gender: Male
Location: Rocky Mountain High
United States

#53 | Posted: 01/09/2019 14:39 | Post subject: Reply with quote
RE: Super æ by Boredoms

Fascinating.

Okay, so there's some serious noise on this album. Screechy squealy noises and such.
... and there's some vocals that, if taken in isolation, would seem downright silly.

But in the context of these songs and the overall album, it all seems to make sense.

Fascinating.

What I really love is how all that weirdness builds tension and then the distortion guitar and drums burst in and, despite being 'heavy' instrumentation, relieve the tension and really get things grooving. There really is some clever and interesting drum work here.

I also how the album feels like a unified whole. The songs have variety but flow together nicely, logically and coherently, despite the seeming incoherence resident within individual songs. The album seems to know just when to tease and when to release; when to be off-kilter and when to groove.

I especially liked the three song sequence Super Are, Super Going, Super Coming as well as the very cool closer, Super Good.

Fascinating.
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Tha1ChiefRocka
I'm A Cowboy On My Own Trip



Location: Kansas
United States

#54 | Posted: 01/10/2019 04:52 | Post subject: Reply with quote
Syro

I listened to this when it first came out, and I played several of the tracks consistently, but I never really got into it like some of his other releases; however, relistening to it for the first time in a while changed my opinion. This is an incredibly tight and impeccably crafted group of songs. Undeniably his most, to use his own words, "poppy" release, it deftly blends his different creative periods and ideas into a cohesive piece. of music. Will be returning to it more often than I have been.
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#55 | Posted: 01/10/2019 08:14 | Post subject: Reply with quote
Smile happy to see the positive responses there! I'll have some stuff to get into with Super AE for sure, been a bit busy so I haven't been able to finish up the 2nd half of this Olivia Block write-up, I'll get it in soon and get things moving again.

And yeah I'm glad that poppiness clicked, like I hear so many people say it sounds like his old stuff but I will always argue for this being a distinct accomplishment.
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#56 | Posted: 01/11/2019 08:56 | Post subject: Reply with quote
OK so here I go into the spoilers for Heave To, I'll add a post on at the end of this so that if you don't want to read this yet, you can just scroll past and there will be something to scroll to. So anyways, referring back to the interview quote, this album seems to sit at this point where she was really pushing the compositional side of things, before she pursued the formal education. There's a lot of musicians involved here, and they sound very coordinated. You've got Olivia Block on Cello, and then 10 other musicians playing Clarinet, Trumpet, Viola, orchestral instruments like that. They're just one third of what's going on, though. There's also the organic but manipulated field recordings of nature made to sound quite extreme, and

So, what is this album about? It's a tough question to ask for a lot of instrumental music, where a lot of the meaning is made in the emotional response of the listener. And especially difficult when you start to get into avant-garde weirdness. But this album is about something. Look at the album cover.



The title "Heave To" has a specific sailing meaning that can be found on wikipedia, it is a technique that can be used to weather storms. Which then makes the final track title Making The Land make sense, because that's what you would do after weathering a storm, you'd make it back to land (if you survived). This album is about weathering a storm and then making it back home carrying damage from the experience.

I've been watching a bunch of the Leonard Bernstein Young People's Concerts that aired on TV from the late 50s to the early 70s. There's a whole bunch up on youtube, I highly recommend checking some out if you haven't. The very first episode is this one titled "What Does Music Mean", and while I assume his thinking evolved over the years (I still need to go through his Unanswered Question lecture series that are also all up on youtube), he gets into this bit at the end where he makes up some ridiculous narrative off the top of his head, has the orchestra perform the music, and then he goes through with the story that was packaged with the music to make the point that this narrative that gets put onto music isn't really what it's about. And I'm still thinking about it but I really do think I agree mostly, and so I think using this packaging as confirmation of the music's meaning should be something that goes against that. But I think using the concrete sounds of recordings of the outside world might just be something that can be used to push music to more of a concrete meaning, more so than lyrics, or tonality or other purely musical expressions.

I will totally argue with people about how field recording can be a music making process even without any post-processing of the recording. And I have! Recording sound with technology still has limitations, there's a transformation that happens in the process of becoming a recording, it is a partial document. Decisions made by the recorder such as where to be, when to move, and where to point the microphone let alone all of the collaboration with technology that happens in the selection of which microphones and which recording technology, you will end up with something that someone decided to make. It's totally an artistic practice. But there is this aspect of documentation that is at the core of it. And so if you make music using field recordings, and the music is about something that is being documented, then it makes sense to me that that would strengthen the meaning.

But what really makes it interesting, and sells the narrative I think, is the way the other elements compliment and exaggerate qualities of the field recording collage. That collage works as the foundation of the title piece, like the whole structure is established thru the ups and downs of intensity that it shows. But then you get those moves like the high tremolo strings that glide around, the instability of that or the sine wave feels connected to the wind. Or how the slowly building horns that crest up like waves. And then on Make The Land, the instruments which used to be operating tonally start getting into extended technique. Their timbre communicates the damage of the experience. All of this activity from the other instruments supports what is communicated by the field recording, and exaggerates it into this sort of magical realism space.

And that's why I thought the comment about Wizard of Oz was so appropriate. I don't think it matters if you connect with this specific narrative, you don't need it to get something out of this music, or to make some kind of connection with storms or some kind of natural fury. And maybe you don't even need that either. But I think the clear execution of this concept is something remarkable, and part of why Olivia Block is up there with the greatest electroacoustic composers.
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#57 | Posted: 01/11/2019 08:58 | Post subject: Reply with quote
And now for something to scroll to for the people who don't want to read that yet, here's a photo of Orson Welles listening very closely to Charles Mingus



Found it thru this really cool project that is writing about what was happening in jazz on this day in 1959 https://the1959project.com/
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Fischman
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#58 | Posted: 01/11/2019 23:17 | Post subject: Reply with quote
RE: Can/Tago Mago

This is one of the selections that intrigued me to the point of wanting to attack this list to cover those I wasn't already familiar with.

Despite the early seventies having long been my favorite time period for popular music, I didn't encounter can until a few years ago. This album caught me well off guard, having somehow missed out on such a landmark album back in the day, and that it sounded sooooooo far ahead of its time. This came out in 1971? Really???

So while I was a bit surprised to hear how far out the albums I've listened to so far are based on them coming from the same person who listened to this way back in 1971 release, now that I've listened to Tago Mago again, it seems to be a perfectly logical sequence. Some of the songs, especially Aumgn, sound like they could be direct forbears, in if not actual sound, at least in terms of the experimentation with sound as well as attitude/composition of some of the songs on the likes of Fenn O'Berg or Boredoms.

It was fun rediscovering this album in this context.

Half way through now, my initial impression of preference is
1. Super æ - Boredoms
2. Tago Mago - Can
3. Fantasmes Ou L'Histoire De Blanche-Neige - Jacques Lejeune
4. Return Of Fenn O'Berg - Fenn O'Berg
5. Wild Why - Wobbly
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Skinny
birdman_handrub.gif




#59 | Posted: 01/12/2019 01:50 | Post subject: Reply with quote
Fischman wrote:
RE: Can/Tago Mago

This is one of the selections that intrigued me to the point of wanting to attack this list to cover those I wasn't already familiar with.

Despite the early seventies having long been my favorite time period for popular music, I didn't encounter can until a few years ago. This album caught me well off guard, having somehow missed out on such a landmark album back in the day, and that it sounded sooooooo far ahead of its time. This came out in 1971? Really???

So while I was a bit surprised to hear how far out the albums I've listened to so far are based on them coming from the same person who listened to this way back in 1971 release, now that I've listened to Tago Mago again, it seems to be a perfectly logical sequence. Some of the songs, especially Aumgn, sound like they could be direct forbears, in if not actual sound, at least in terms of the experimentation with sound as well as attitude/composition of some of the songs on the likes of Fenn O'Berg or Boredoms.

It was fun rediscovering this album in this context.

Half way through now, my initial impression of preference is
1. Super æ - Boredoms
2. Tago Mago - Can
3. Fantasmes Ou L'Histoire De Blanche-Neige - Jacques Lejeune
4. Return Of Fenn O'Berg - Fenn O'Berg
5. Wild Why - Wobbly


Bolded = very perceptive, good point well made. Hadn't considered it previously, but there's def a shared vibe between Tago Mago and certain more recent records in the chart.
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Hayden




Location: CDMX
Canada

#60 | Posted: 01/12/2019 02:23 | Post subject: Reply with quote
College from Sung Tongs captured so much from an era.

It's also kinda cool how Aviary wasn't even out during the last 'Get To Know A Top 10'. Really is a beast of a record... can only imagine people warming up to it after they've had time to digest so much. Took me about two years to settle into Have One On Me.

On another note, going to spin Fenn O'Bergs debut. Didn't even know they had more than one record together.
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