Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recent Listening

Christian Marclay started playing turntables before the DJ culture in hip-hop had entered the mainstream. His music developed completely independently of that culture and with totally different intentions. He loved hip-hop, though, and preferred to perform with DJs rather than the no-wave and musique concrete types with whom he was usually billed. In the same way that John Cage "prepared" pianos by shoving them full of nails and sandpaper, Marclay "prepared" records by cut and pasting shards of different LPs together. He was a virtuoso at a type of performance which he completely invented. The compilation "Records," which this piece is on, is a must-have.

Gerard Grisey is a French "spectralist" composer. This is my favorite piece by him, a chamber work from the mid '90s. It plays with how the listener's sense of musical time contracts when an unexpected or jarring event occurs. Repetitions of his primary motive become mere fragments of their source material. This kind of diminution really does create the feeling of a vortex or whirlpool or something. I like this technique because by gradually developing his motive, Grisey can eventually associate two phrases as restatements of the same idea even though they sound hardly anything like one another.

Always a badass, always inconceivably bizarre. This song is from 1977's Death of a Ladies' Man, but by 1979 he was doing all of his songs with this sleazy electric big band. As a result the feel of the song is strangely upbeat and twisted by a cornball swing feel to awesome effect.

A lot of Residents being played in the BOFSF house. This is the Residents' dance jam, as you can see from the video. A lot different from the album version (from The Tunes of Two Cities). According to Residents mythology, this song is written by the alien race the Chubs, whose oeuvre sounds for the most part like fucked-up swing band music played on weird analog synths. However, this live version has more of a Texas two-step backbeat to it.

"ONE" by Yeasayer, etc.

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