Author Archives: eliyag

August 3rd, 2016 – April 22nd, 2017 (Twenty second week)

This one took a while, maybe the longest gap between entries so far. I actually cheated and listened to other records that I haven’t included here but will include in the next post, if there is one. I’m feeling unsure about this whole thing again. First, it’s very self-indulgent and not interesting to anyone but me. I know I’m doing this for myself, but it’s hard to shake the thought that it doesn’t need to be online. I’m also doubting the efficacy of it. First, it took me almost a year to listen to ten records (well, a bit more, but you get my point), so is it actually urging me to listen to more records? At the same time I also went beyond my self-imposed ten records a “week” limit and listened to other things I haven’t written about yet.

I think that after the initial rush of actually listening to 10 records every week, this blog became a way with which I’m cataloging what I listened to. The idea is that I can go here and read about records and see what were my impressions of them because sometimes I really don’t remember. If I really liked a record or really didn’t feel a record, and I don’t remember that, then I have reason to put it on. The issue, though, is that I almost never check this site to find out what records I should listen to again. Another problem is that writing the entries takes a while. It’s just so much time and I find myself wanting to spend this time on other things, which is because I don’t have the need to express myself in this way about records I listened to.

So is this thing over? Maybe. Right now 220 records in almost two years seems like a pretty good accomplishment to me.

1. Conrad Schnitzler – Rot [1973]

“Holy crap!” was my reaction as soon as I put this record on because the sounds are just so incredible, full of clarity and focus, and beautiful and weird both at once. He creates suspense, anticipation, and progressions with just sounds, no melodies to help the pieces evolve.

What I really like about this record, and I think Con is similar in this way, is that it’s timeless. It could have easily been made today and no one would have thought it sounded dated.

Rot predated Con by a few years, and I think it stands on its own. However, it’s a lot more abstract than Con. I think I listened to Rot 20 times now, but I can’t really sing anything out of it. Of course, I would recognize it if it played somewhere else, but there’s really nothing that I can grab onto to remember the record, hum it to myself, or anything like that.

2. Faust – Faust [1971]

I’m going backwards. I started with Faust IV which was their last record, then to So Far, and now to their first record. It’s interesting hearing their progression in reverse.

This record is more jam-y and kind of psychedelic. It seems obvious to me from listening to it that they were into a lot of British bands of the time, but a lot more experimental than any of those bands were. There are little drones, stuff that sounds a bit like collage, weirdo vocals, synthesizers, and spoken word.

I read a review of Faust IV before that sort of called it their mainstream record compared to the records that preceded it. I see where that reviewer came from, but I disagree. Faust has longer stretches of noise/experimentation, so naturally it’s a more difficult listen, but experimentation isn’t measured in length. I think experimentation has to do more with how far the artist goes outside of their comfort zone, and whether or not they’re doing something that was done before. Artistic experimentation is a personal thing and Faust IV has them doing different, new things. Faust IV has them moving completely outside the British psychedelia thing.

3. Conrad Schnitzler – Blau [1974]

My first thought was that this record is more musical than either Rot or Con, which in my mind it’s a bit diminishing but I really shouldn’t think of it that way. Blau is just easier to follow because there are identifiable intervals and melodies that don’t sound like transmissions from another planet. The end of the first track has a guitar!

Where this record really shines is the bonus tracks. Even though I had access to them, I didn’t listen to them at first because I try going by how the record was originally released. However, one time I let it keep playing and I was absolutely hooked. I think it’s fair to say that like the “actual” record these tracks are also musical, but at the same time they’re a lot more radical. Just like Rot this record definitely sounds like it could have been released today.

4. Suicide – Suicide [1977]

A couple of years ago I was talking to my friend about cats and he told me one of his cats is named Frankie Teardrop. So I asked what or who he named him after, and he played me the Suicide song. I asked if that’s how the song just goes for 9 minutes and he said “yeah”, so I replied “yeah, I got then idea then”. Now that I think about it, that’s probably when he stopped liking me very much.

It’s kind of funny that that was my attitude three years ago. Not sure why. I like this record, and I like Frank Teardrop, but I honestly haven’t listened to it a lot. Probably because it’s so intense.

5. My Bloody Valentine – Glider [1990]

I read an interview with Brian Eno on The Quietus before his latest record (The Ship?) came out. He listed his favorite (or recommended) records and this was one of them. I listened to Loveless before and it didn’t grab me, but that was easily 10 years ago.

When I put it on my wife looked at me and said “what is this? pop music?!” and yeah, the first song is like that. The second, Glider, is awesome noise, err, collage? Or maybe a collection. Then a couple more songs that are more like what I remember Loveless to be like, except that I now like it. The ghost-like vocals (especially the ones sung by a woman) are hitting a spot for me, but I think what really does it for me is that the band sounds like one instrument. Like one human played all of them at once. All of it – vocals, bass, guitars, drums, feedback – the band gels together real well.

There’s something comforting and predictable about this record. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but it’s almost like I know where the music is going. It’s not a bad thing, even though I think I’m making it sound like it is. I think I’ll just have to keep listening. Thanks, Brian!

6. Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen [1968]

Leonard Cohen died at the end of 2016, and I started writing this entry in 2017, but I actually listened to this record last summer before Leonard Cohen died.

I never really listened to Leonard Cohen before. I heard Hallelujah, of course, but that was it. I heard some of his songs on WZRD here in Chicago and I liked them immediately. I went ahead and got this record (one of the songs they played was Marianne). I like it, but I find that I feel about the folk revival the same way I feel about hardcore punk, which is that the genre was really saturated. I think that the folk revival had more finesse to it, but at the end of the day it’s a man or a woman with an acoustic guitar singing songs, and I like it, but I don’t have the need to listen to every folkie. I do, however, think that folk has more to offer because the singers usually have pretty unique voices. Also, some folk musicians evolved when the 60s expired – like Dylan and Cohen did. I should also say that I don’t feel this way about actual folk music from before the Great Depression.

So where does it put me when it comes to this record? I don’t know. I like the songs and the lyrics seem good (I never really “get” lyrics), but I don’t desire to listen to it often or a all.

Yeah, this entry isn’t saying much.

7. Silver Apples – Silver Apples [1968]

The first thing I noticed is the compact, succinct drums. The drums sound like loops or a skillfully programmed drum machine, because there’s little to no variation between one bar to the next. On Program, a four minute track, the drums are exactly the same for a minute before there’s a drum fill. Then it’s the same beat with a bit of accents on the snare. It really is like a drum machine where the accent has been turned on for the snare hits, but you know, with a beating heart. It’s interesting that this was happening here in 1968 while at the same time Jaki Liebezeit was working in Germany on similar of minimalism and repetitiveness of the rhythm.

The tone generators do a lot more than I thought they could. What I mean is that I have heard of the Silver Apples before and knew what they were about, so I formed this idea that it’ll be very primitive in terms of the notes and sounds. It’s not like it sounds like a synth, but it doesn’t sound rudimentary either.

I have talked before about how I experience music differently when I sit in front of the speakers vs. when I do stuff around the house. That’s about how much attention I’m paying to the record, but with this one, there’s no way one can experience it when not being in front of the speakers. This record is panned like a lot of 60s records, but it has this really psychedelic, trippy effect here. I actually felt a bit nauseous at times.

 8. Fire! – She Sleeps, She Sleeps [2016]

Fire! is sort of a supergroup that I’ve only recently heard of even though they’ve been making records since 2009.

I spent some time thinking about if this record is “new” or not, and I know it’s stupid and is a problem that’s plaguing me, but what can I do. At least it makes me listen to things more intently. Anyway, yeah, I think it’s new.

They create an atmosphere in each song in a way that I don’t think I hear often. Part of it is the recording, which is exquisite, and makes me feel like I’m in the room where they recorded. But it’s also something about the timbre of the instruments and how they blend together. Instruments drop in and out and let others take over, but at the same time no one is ever claiming all the space that was given to them.

It’s free jazz but it’s not pummeling the listener like a Coltrane record could. Mats Gustafsson creaks and howls, but he’s also following a tangible melody and not cramming a million notes in. The guitar is also unconventional to free jazz – no virtuoso solos or disjointed ba-bee-boop solos, and no too many chord changes when accompanying the rest of the group. The guitar player sort of just spits out sounds that add to the atmosphere.

Lastly, the drums. Very choppy but at the same time flowing. Beautiful beats.

9. Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity [1975]

I think this might be my favorite Kraftwerk record so far. I like all of them, and they are all different, but I like what this one establishes. The tracks are beautiful and kind of sound like German folk songs but with synthesizers and drum machines instrumentation. There are “space” sounds. There are odd sounds. It’s a little experimental. Their singing is great. They essentially talk with a bit of a tune in their voice, but also none of them is a “singer”.

Unfortunately, not all the tracks on this record are like that, onlyRadioland and Ohm Sweet Ohm. The rest are shorter, and either more experimental and “weird” or more, eh, bubble-gum-y?

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about this record, at least for now.

10. Joy Division – Closer [1980]

This record is the sole reason why it took me so long to finalize this post. I actually finished listening to all these records way before 2016 ended, but I had and still have a hard time connecting with this record, or Joy Division in general. It’s not that I think that Joy Division were bad, but that the mood of their music is very specific and I never find myself in that mood. I also noticed that whenever I listen to them I’m a little hungry and their music makes me desperately hungry.

I like most of the songs on this record with the exception of a couple, but the thing for me is that at first they weren’t memorable. What happens often when I listen to music is that it either wows me as I’m hearing it, so then I want to hear it again because I remember that it blew my mind (for instance, Conrad Schnitzler records did that), or that a couple songs get in my head and I went to listen to them again. With Closer, none of the songs wowed me or got stuck in my head, so there was never something that was driving me to listen to it again other than feeling like I should listen to the record so I can write about it. It’s only now, April 2017, that I woke up in the morning and had Twenty Four Hours and Decades in my head, and that’s because I listened to Closer last night in order to familiarize myself with it further.I’m still conflicted when it comes to their “sound”. The records sound awesome, but their sound also places them in that time period. Moreover, it was Martin Hannett’s sound and not theirs.

 

 

May 4th – August 2nd, 2016 (Twenty first “week”)

Almost three months since the last entry. For what it’s worth, I think I finished listening to all these records almost a month ago, but writing something substantial about them required more time. Also, school as well as other things had gotten busy. I don’t know why I’m explaining myself to… myself.

Sort of strayed a little bit from Krautrock. There’s Joy Divison here, as well as Autechre and Plaid, and Chuck Brown. I think the next “week” will have more Kraut in it.

1. Kraftwerk – Autobahn [1974]

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I’m reading David Stubbs’ Future Days, which as you can guess from the name, is a book about krautrock. I’ve been trying to listen to the music of the bands he talks about as I’m reading the book, and some of them I’ve been familiar with, but now he’s spending a lot of time on Autobahn which I never listened to before in its entirety, so that’s why I’m here.

I listened to the title track before, maybe it was a decade ago, and I wasn’t impressed with it, even though the refrain (fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn”) has been in my head since.

It’s interesting to read what Stubbs writes about the motivation for Autobahn, like how it’s Kraftwerk’s version of an idyllic Germany (or even the whole world?). I don’t know how much I buy into all of it, but I will say that the track Autobahn definitely gives the feeling of driving on an empty highway. What’s funny is that on this first listen, Autobahn is my least favorite track. It’s good, but the second side of the record is a lot more interesting to me, and things really come alive in Kometenmelodie 2 onward.

2. Tony Konrad – Four Violins [1964]

Almost self-explanatory from the title. Four distorted electric violins that drone and sound mostly like screeching doors. I like the droning part of it, but it’s hard to sit in front of the speakers and listen to four screeching doors. If I stand far back, or do something else when this is in the background, then it becomes easier to listen to, and sometimes it sounds like bagpipes playing and not violins. However, I’m right in front of the speakers as I’m writing this, and there are are subtle changes that I’m not sure I’d catch if I were in the kitchen making food.

This is a recurring theme in a lot of the avantgarde music I’ve been listening to. On one hand, it’s tough to sit in front of the speakers for 30-45 minutes and listen to the music because it’s literally not an easy listen. But then if I step back and avert my attention to something else, I also lose a lot of the subtlety of it.

3. Tangerine Dream – Alpha Centauri [1971]

Alpha Centauri came right before Zeit and it is very obvious that it is the precursor to Zeit. It has a lot of the same elements that Zeit has – slow buildups and eerie melodies, a lot of synths, and very few actual drums. It’s not as epic as Zeit, but it’s a good alternative when I don’t have the time to listen to all of Zeit.

4. Stereolab – Not Music [2010]

This record, like Transient Random-Noise, etc. was a slow burner. The first few listens didn’t leave any impressions on me. It was neither good or bad. It was mostly long (still is). But now I’m starting to open up to it and things are clicking.

This record is whimsical – a lot of toy-ish and retro sounds and noises, but at the same time the songs themselves are serious, so it doesn’t sound like Jean-Jacques Perrey, but definitely has his sonic influences. I think this band has found a musical niche and have been exploring it since then. What I mean is that I don’t think they’re straying very far from where they started. If you listen to Transient Random and Not Music you would know that it’s the same band, where with some bands you wouldn’t know, because the circles around their origins are much wider.

5. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures [1979]

My familiarity with Joy Division is anecdotal. I remember watching the live video of She’s Lost Control (you know which one) maybe 10 years ago, and I was totally into it. Then I listened to the record and that song sounded nothing like the live version. I don’t know if that alone turned me off to the rest of the record, or if it’s the fact that the record sounds similar is what turned me off to it. Anyway, here I am again listening to it a decade later.

Even now as I listen to it, I think that the production detracted in some ways from the songs. I like the production, and I know it was revolutionary (still is in some ways), but it reigned in the aggressiveness of some of the songs. It works for some, like New Dawn Fades, but it totally messed up a song like She’s Lost Control. The production makes the album a slow burner for me, because it takes me a while to uncover the songs under Martin Hannett, but at the same time I enjoy his radical ideas for a rock band.

6. Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers – Bustin’ Loose [1979]

So the other day my wife and I were watching TV and then this commercial comes on and it has the best groove, I jump out of my seat and ask her to rewind and she’s like “Uhh, that’s Nelly’s Hot In Herre”, and like yeah I think I heard it before, but don’t really know it. So I spent a few days listening to Nelly’s Hot in Herre, and then I moved on to the song that sampled it, and that’s Chuck Brown’s Bustin’ Loose.

So Bustin’ Loose, the song, is awesome. The record is almost split between ballads and more up-tempo grooving songs. I like the up-tempo songs better because the slow stuff isn’t hitting the spot for me. It’s not like a slow Curtis Mayfield song. The up-tempo ones are good, but keep in mind that they’re not hard hitting grooves. They’re more mellow. Still a good record that I should listen to a couple more times, I think.

7. Kratwerk – The Man-Machine [1978]

I accidentally skipped over Radio-Activity and Trans-Europe Express (I’m going to go back to them), and it’s amazing to hear the difference four years made in this band. This record has less experimentation and more songs, as in verse and chorus and singing (although sometimes vocoderized).

The last two tracks, Neon Lights and The Man-Machine, are more experimental and “meandering” like the old records, and for now, after listening to this record once, I prefer them over the songs.

8. Plaid – The Digging Remedy [2016]

Can’t find an angle with this record. I have stuff to write, but I don’t think I get this record. It’s not an abstract record, so it shouldn’t be hard to get – I just don’t. Here’s what I have:

The only other Plaid record I know is Double Figure, which is fifteen years old, but I don’t feel like The Digging Remedy is that different. Some songs on this new one sound like they could have been made during the time they made Double Figure. The songwriting and a lot of the sounds they get (even though their process now is different) are the same. This disappoints me a bit because I keep holding every record to this ridiculous bar that it has to be groundbreaking. This record isn’t groundbreaking, and it has a few good songs (Do Matter, CLOCK, Yu Mountain, Reeling Spiders), but these songs don’t pull me back like a bunch of songs on Double Figure did. I think if it had more songs that I deemed good I probably wouldn’t complain about how innovative it is (or isn’t).

 9. Autechre – Tri Repetae [1995]

I read this interview with Autechre a few weeks ago, and it made me want to keep delving into their discography. These guys are cool. I like how they can talk about what they do without being “my art” kind of people. It’s a good interview to read if you’re at all interested in electronic music and how it’s made today.

I picked this record because in the interview they say how the one before it was the first “weird” record they gave Warp, and Warp loved it and it sold, so then Tri Repetae is where they let loose and do whatever they want. At this point I’ve listened to this record at least ten times, and I still don’t have something substantial to say about it. I like the sounds. It’s very intricate, like a painting with million little details. I also enjoy how some of the sounds are annoying. “Here’s this high pitched buzz/rattle that maybe not everyone is going to like”, but it’s interesting. The tracks themselves don’t floor me. I do like Leterel, Stud, and Rsdio, but the rest leave me ambivalent. It’s frustrating because I like a lot of the sounds and I keep constantly feeling like I’m just missing something crucial. So I want to keep listening to it, but it’s also over an hour long.

10. Can – Soundtracks [1970]

My first listen to this record left me bitter. It didn’t sound like a Can record! It sounded like schmaltz except for maybe a couple of songs. So on my second listen, along which I was writing this entry, I came in trying to defend that bitterness.

The first song is from the movie Deadlock and has the same name. It’s actually a pretty good song that maintains the Can-ness that I’m used to, but it’s pretty short compared to their other songs like it. Tango Whiskeyman, the second track (also from Deadlock), is where I’m reminded of my bitterness. It’s got good groove, but the actual melody is very schmaltzy. Then the chorus comes in and I’m really surprised that they went for this low hanging musical fruit. I tell myself that seeing how two of them were students of Stockhausen and one was a free jazz drummer, it was probably a conscious choice. The song does have a good break in the middle, though. The last song, She Brings the Rain, is also very out of character of Can. It’s a faux jazzy ballad that has no place on a Can record. I mean, I get that that was their thing – they were experimenting and seeing if they could do something like a jazz ballad and make it sound interesting. It’s fine, but I’m not into it.

The only reason I bring up these two songs that I’m not into is to circle back to my previous bitterness – the record is book-ended by them and that’s probably what left a bad taste in my mouth. But most importantly, I think I had a sprout of personal growth here. I didn’t like the record at first and I started writing with the intention to defend my dislike, but then halfway through listening I realized that maybe I just wasn’t listening very closely the first time around. So instead of defending my position before, I decided to open my mind. Cool.

So why is this record great? Because of all the other songs. Mother Sky is a perfect and quintessential Can song, and the others are succinct Can songs. I can see why some people think of it as the best Can record. (I disagree and would probably go with Tago Mago, but that’s for a different post on a different blog.)

March 3rd – May 3rd, 2016 (Twenieth “Week”)

Exactly two months! I didn’t plan for that to happen! I actually finished listening to all these record maybe two weeks ago, but didn’t have time time to write about them until now.

So far this is working really well for me. I get to listen to a lot of new music while going back to stuff. There’s no rush, but there’s always the motivation to find more new music.

1. Faust – Faust So Far [1972]

I’m writing this as I’m listening to this record a third time. It’s not as catchy as IV, which isn’t to say that IV is poppy! What I mean by catchy is that IV has more songs, and they’re weird songs, but they’re songs. So Far has fewer “songs”, and it’s mostly sort of jams that are reminding me American psychedelia. So my point is that it’s not as easy to get hooked on this record as it was with IV. Also, I think that the “songs” songs weren’t as good.

One thing I noticed is that they use I’ve Got my Car and my TV in Faust IV (Picnic on a Frozen River, Deuxieme Tableaux), but it’s way goofier here.

 2. Morton Subotnick – The Wild Bull [1968]

I re-watched I Dream of Wires a couple of weeks ago and I really enjoyed hearing Subotnick talk about the first Buchla and some ideas he had (and still has) about music. He didn’t just want to expand the vocabulary of music, but also to make music accessible to people who aren’t musicians. He talks more about these ideas in this interview. The video is great, but it’s worth anyone’s time to read the full text.

As far as the record itself, it continues what he started with Silver Apples of the Moon. Definitely broadening the musical and sonic vocabulary, but I think this one might be a tiny bit more approachable in the sense that there are more rhythms and sometimes even melodies. The beginning of Part B is great in that sense, but the whole record is fun to listen to. Also, full sonic spectrum on this record. Ridiculous low end and a lot of popping high frequency noises.

3. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman – Self-Titled [1963]

This is a Facebook recommendation. From the way people talked about it, and I think phrases like “opened my mind” were thrown, I thought this will be a very different record – free jazz, but maybe bridging the gap between what people view as jazz and free jazz. I thought also that Johnny Hartman is a piano player, but he’s a crooner. That probably tells you what kind of a record this is!

Because I totally misread the conversation about this record, I was a little disappointed that this is an easy-listening/soft jazz record with crooning vocals, but it’s been growing on me with each listen. The solos are pretty good, and Johnny Hartman has an amazing voice, although the crooning definitely puts a time-stamp on the whole thing, so I enjoy the solos a lot more than when he sings.

4. Tangerine Dream – Atem [1973]

I keep wanting to compare this record to Zeit, and that’s unfair. I mean, they probably didn’t try to make the same record again, and why would they? But still, Zeit is amazing, and I want more of it, but not exactly more like it. Also, these two records were released a year apart.

Zeit has certain finesse to it that Atem is lacking. Zeit builds up so slowly, almost excruciatingly slow, but there’s always enough progression to keep the listener hooked. It’s kind of difficult to explain this without listening to Zeit. The timbre of Zeit is also unique, because the cellos mix in with the synths to create this one complex sound. Atem has interesting elements, but it lacks the finessed progression and timbre uniformity. The title track has a lot of layers that are introduced at once and feel detached from one another, but not in the sense where they don’t fit, but in the sense that they don’t intertwine as well as they do on Zeit.

The rest of the record has a lot of what I always call “sounds of the forest” (did I use that before? probably), and those sounds truly do sound like sounds from a forest, and it’s cool because it was new back then, but I feel like there’s not a lot behind it. I might be wrong in saying this, but I think they might have gotten caught up in the equipment and lost track of the music. They play a lot with where sounds are panned, and there are weird sounds on, and a lot of synths, and it all amounts to something, and that something isn’t bad, but also doesn’t really floor me.

(God damn, this turned into a review AND a comparison to Zeit.)

5. The Necks – Vertigo [2015]

These guys are playing Chicago this week (not the week when this post will finally be finished), and I never heard of them before so I decided to check them out.

My understanding is that their performances and records are just them continuously improvising for about an hour without a predefined theme. Or maybe there’s a theme that they know about, but the point is that the listener doesn’t hear a melody or a chord progression that is then improvised on. However, they do resurrect themes within the piece, but never in a reprise kind of way. Even though it’s all improvised, musically it’s not jazz, unless we broaden the definition of jazz, and it’s actually kind of closer to krautrock.

EDIT: I saw them live. It was really good and a much different experience from just listening to the record. The drummer was really fun to watch. He never once played a beat or hit the snare with a stick. During the second set he played the hihat in a way I never heard anyone play it. He was sort of riding it but was getting these crazy resonances out of it. A truly unique drummer. Both sets were different from each other and different from the record, and I really won’t do it any justice by trying to describe it. I also take back what I said about it being jazz. This is what jazz sounds like in 2016. It’s improvised, it has the same instruments that jazz music has (bass, drums, piano), so I’m calling it – it’s jazz.

6. Eliane Radigue – Vice Versa, etc. [2009]

If my understanding is correct, Eliane Radigue made those pieces for an installation. Later she pressed a few copies of it, and in 2009 they were reissued as a 2xCD thing.

These pieces are described as “feedback on magnetic tape”, and what I believe this means is that she fed one tape machine into another, and then back into the first, so they naturally started oscillating and feedbacking, and she was controlling it with input/output level potentiometers on the machines. At least I think that’s what she did. Basically, it’s a drone.

I like that it’s a step further from Western music, and I like the way it sounds, but it’s impossible to listen to it while doing anything else. If I don’t let myself be enveloped by the music, then a lot of the minute details are lost. I’m also not sure it makes sense to always sit through all eight of the tracks, because while they’re somewhat different, they’re still conceptually the same, so I keep thinking, “what did she achieve in one track that she didn’t achieve in another?”

I decided to try and answer that question so I googled this record, and I stumbled across a Pitchfork review of it. In it it says that the eight pieces are really one piece, played at four different speeds, and backwards, and that Radigue meant for the listener to choose the order of the pieces and which ones to play together. So, yeah, I totally missed the point!

(I gotta try and mix and match the pieces!)

 7. Popol Vuh – Hosianna Mantra [1972]

I only listened to this record once, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s kind of vanilla, and doesn’t fit with any of the krautrock I listened to so far. It just doesn’t sound very experimental. For instance, the first half of the record is guitar, piano, and sometimes a female vocalist. The guitar is playing sort of blues-y stuff, the piano is, eh, I don’t know, doing its mellow thing, and the singer is la-di-da-ing over it. She’s not pulling a Renate Knaup (who later joined Popul Vuh). If krautrock is counterculture music (which it is), then this record sounds like a later Pink Floyd record more than anything. I guess it’s neither Schlagger or American or British “blues” rock, but it’s also not pushing the envelope, really.

Maybe it’s a matter of expectations, and that soured my opinion. Maybe now that those false expectations are out of the way I’ll get what this record is about.

8. Charlemagne Palestine – Strumming Music (For Piano, Harpsichord, And Strings Ensemble) [2010]

Charlemagne Palestine is another musician I’ve been meaning to listen to for a while now, and after the Necks’ first set (see earlier in this post), I was talking to my friends who also went and one of them mentioned how the piano playing was reminiscent of Charlemagne Palestine. That was enough to get me to try and check him out.

I’m not sure how to describe what’s going on here, so I’ll start with the basics that can be figured out with googling. There are three tracks and they’re all in the same “style”. However, the first track is solo piano played by Palestine himself, while the second is harpsichord (not played by CP), and the third is played by a string ensemble. All the pieces, of course, were written by Palestine, which is weird because I thought Palestine improvised more. Also, I have no idea how one write a 50 piano piece like the one on this record. Anyway, the piano piece was recorded in the 70s and I believe it was released on its own, and this reissue (and maybe a few earlier ones?) include the other pieces.

So the solo piano piece is ~52 minutes long and it’s an incredibly unique slice of music. Even though the Necks were sort of similar in some ways, the two are still quite different and Charlemagne Palestine sounds just as fresh to me. Yet, I still don’t know how to describe what’s going on there. If you ever listened to music that was done with loops that are going in and out of phase, then it kind of sounds like that, except it’s not loops and he’s playing everything himself live. There are a lot of resonances going on and just sitting in front of the speakers I start hearing things that aren’t there. At times it sounds like there’s another piano playing, but then when I shift my focus I can tell that it’s only one piano.

Like I said earlier, the other two tracks are similar, but they don’t hit the mark quite as well as the solo piano piece.

9. Laurie Spiegel – The Expanding Universe [1980]

As my interest in krautrock is splitting into minimalism, I asked a friend to recommend some minimalist music. He recommended Laurie Spiegel’s The Expanding Universe.

Spiegel created all these tracks while she worked at Bell Labs in the 70s, but I’m not sure at what capacity she worked there (programmer? music/technology researcher like Max Matthews?), but she created these four tracks, and a bunch more that came out when the record was reissued in 2012.

Musically, I really like this record, but the sounds drive me nuts. What I mean by that is that the synthesizer sounds are all very cliche, and almost 8-bit sounding. I’m sure this was by design because Laurie Spiegel doesn’t look like someone who would consider the sounds as an afterthought, but it is really grating to my ears. The last track, The Expanding Universe, has better sounds although they’re also a bit cliche. It is also my favorite piece on the record (original issue, not the reissue).

10. Tony Conrad with Faust – Outside the Dream Syndicate [1973]

Tony Conrad just passed away and I had no idea who he was until now, so I asked a friend to recommend a few of his works. He said I might find his with collaboration with Faust self-indulgent, but I still had to check it out because it’s with Faust. His description was, “you know ‘It’s a Rainy Day’ from So Far? so imagine that, but slower and with a violin drone”. It’s a pretty good description,because it is similar in that way to “Rainy Day”, but it’s so much more than just that. There are subtle changes in the drums and bass, and the violin playing is quite amazing – obviously inspired by the Tanpura that’s used in Indian music, but different enough where I don’t think it’s just some dude trying to play classical Indian music.

The second track, From the Side of the Machine, offers more variation in the drumming and bass playing than the first, all the while still maintaining violin drones. Oh man, this track also has a lot more weird noises that just pop up on either side of the stereo all of a sudden. It kind of feels like they were warming up with the first track and then jammed this one out. Yowza!

I think that the similarity between this and Faust (what I know of their catalog) ends with the drum beat, but from what I know about them, it seems like this was absolutely up their alley.

February 11th – March 2nd, 2016 (Nineteenth “Week”)

Got this one done pretty quickly! I actually finished listening to all the records on Friday, February 26th, but took some time to re-listen to things and edit. There’s more krautrock here and some more music that is a little out there, as well as totally “normal” stuff, like Liz Phair.

1. Chris Walla – Tape Loops [2015]

I’m not too familiar with tape loops music. I listened to the four Ambient records Eno did, and that’s pretty much it, and that’s the extent of knowledge I have when it comes to ambient music. I should actually listen to the Eno records again because it’s been a while.

I really like the idea of tape loops. Looping in the digital realm seems like cheating. It’s a lot more impressive when there’s a machine that can be tricked into playing the same section of tape over and over, and I like how the loop goes outside the machine and through everyday objects in the studio (or home). Chris Walla’s record is interesting to me from this aspect (and he talked about the technical side of recording it and making the loops in Tape Op #111). Musically, I find it hard to relate to, partially because it sounds a lot like Eno’s ambient records, and in fact Walla said in that Tape Op interview that one track is actually him trying to reverse engineer an Eno piece.

I only listened to it once twice so far. In an interview I watched with Terry Riley he said that loops reveal more of themselves and change the more you listen to them. So far it hasn’t revealed much, and a part of me wonders if the fact that he made it with old technology (tape) cornered him into making something that’s already been done.

2. Conrad Schnitzler – Con [1978]

This entry is edited [June 16th, 2016] from how it was originally posted.

It took me a couple of listens to start understanding this record, and since those couple of listens I’ve listened to it probably 20 times. There’s something about this record that even if you don’t initially get it, you want to go back to listen to it. For me, I think what kept drawing me to it was the sounds. It just has really amazing electronic sounds, so I kept going back to listen just for the way it sounds more than anything. I think that the sounds are still my main fascination with the record, but I also enjoy the rhythms and melodies in here.

Schnitzler was in Tangerine Dream (briefly) and in Kluster, and originally I thought this record will sound like Cluster (because Cluster was Kluster minus Conrad Schnitzler), but that doesn’t make sense. Kluster sounded nothing like Cluster, but at the time I initially wrote it, I barely got Kluster. It wasn’t until recently that their records started to click for me. So the point of this detour is to say that Con is actually a continuation of Kluster’s music more than it touching on anything Cluster did. Con is an abstract record, and the tracks don’t have a clear theme. There are melodies and beats, but they are sparse and they’re not meant to drive a song as much as they’re there to drive a feeling or a moment. I’m not sure that makes sense. When I first heard the record it actually reminded me of Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon (see Week 11) in the sense that both are broadening the musical vocabulary. I don’t know if it’s fair to say that musically similar.

3. Tangerine Dream – Zeit [1972]

This entry is also edited [June 16th, 2016] from how it was originally posted.

Originally I said that I couldn’t figure out what to write about this record, and to be honest, I still don’t. I have listened to this record multiple times, but it’s a double album and I don’t always have the time to listen to it all in one sitting, so I end up not listening to it as much as I want.

Musically, I don’t know what to call it. It’s not the krautrock of Neu!, or Can, or Faust, or Kraftwerk. I’m not sure what people mean by kosmische musik (“cosmic music”) but my feeling is that this record falls into this category. The best way I can describe it right now is that this record is like watching a storm. It’s like being somewhere very open, like a field, and watching a storm slowly heading towards you. At first it’s just an image from afar, but then the winds are getting stronger, then the sky is turning grey and the light turns a different color. Then it seems like it should start raining at any moment and maybe there’s a bit of a drizzle, but all of a sudden the storm is gone. It takes a turn right before getting to where you stand and goes in a different direction. That’s what this record feels like to me. There’s a great, long build up, but it’s not really building up to anything big or pompous, it just takes a turn and quiets down.

There’s not a lot more to say about this record except that the instrumentation is pretty cool. No drums (I’m pretty sure), just a bunch or synthesizer and something like four cellos.

4. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville [1993]

I read an interview in an old TapeOp with Brad Wood who recorded this record (produced it too?) He worked with a lot of Chicago rock bands that I like or are related/similar to bands I like. Anyway, it was a cool interview, and I decided it’s finally time to check out Liz Phair.

From what I understand, the record is a response to Exile on Main Street (which I never listened to), a very 90s response in the way the songs are written, recorded, and the way her voice sounds. It didn’t really grab me on a first listen (it’s also very long), but after listening to it I was humming a few songs, so there’s that.

I want to say that I’ll listen to it again, but it is very long, so I doubt it would happen. I do like Liz Phair’s voice, though.

5. La Düsseldorf – La Düsseldorf [1973]

La Dusseldorf is Klaus Dinger’s band (he was in Neu!) with his brother. Of all the krautrock labeled records I’ve been listening to recently, this one jives with what I always thought is considered kraut the most. It’s similar to Neu! but a little more rocking and goofier, but not as intricate.

I’ve listened to it two or three times and I can’t tell if there’s anything else that will reveal itself or if this is it.

6. Ash Ra Tempel – Ash Ra Tempel [1971]

Amboss starts off sounding like Tangerine Dream’s Zeit (see above), but then it turns into a “freakout” jam, or whatever you want to call it. Essentially, it’s a 15 minute guitar solo, and while I love guitar solos, this one is a little uninspiring.

Same thing with Traummaschine, the second track. Starts abstract and ominous, and then after 10-15 minutes there’s the long guitar solo again.

7. Damaged Bug – Cold Hot Plumbs [2015]

This record was mentioned in a thread about krautrock a while back (different from the one I was referring to in the Conrad Schnitzler entry), and I listened to one song and was intrigued.

I would describe this as “current krautrock”. There are other influences in here, some of them I can’t put my finger on exactly, but the drums are all motorik or a variation of it, and every song has a synthesizer playing along. However, the sounds they’re getting, especially out of the synths, are leaving me a little cold. I feel like they went with the first sound you could get out of a Mini Moog. I feel like it would be a whole different record if the sounds were more messed up.

I will have to revisit this one a few more times for those other influences to kick in.

I’d like to mention here that I listened again to Stereolab’s Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements again, and man oh man, I really dig it now. It didn’t click the first few times I listened, but I’m totally in now. I just thought I’d mention it here since I consider Damaged Bug to be modern/current krautrock, and so is Stereolab.

8. Manuel Göttsching – Inventions for Electric Guitar [1975]

I was talking to a friend about how I’ve been listening to krautrock and early electronic music and he suggested I check out Manuel Gottsching’s record New Age of Earth. As I was looking Gottsching up, I saw that he was in Ash Ra Tempel and that he also made the record I’m writing about right now – Inventions for Electric Guitar. Being someone who’s always interested in music that pushes the guitar further, I decided to check Inventions first.

Inventions for guitar is a good way of describing this record. The guitar playing itself isn’t different (and he’s not doing any prepared guitar stuff), but the processing of the guitar – lots of delays and loops and arpeggios, that is different. It’s interesting but I’m also conflicted about it. First, the sounds are sounds you could get out of a synthesizer, and like I said the playing isn’t different than “regular” playing in any meaningful way.

Musically, I don’t know if you ever played around with a guitar and a looping pedal, but it’s easy to corner yourself into boring patterns, and that happens a lot on this record. However, some moments are cool, like from 12:30 until around 17:50 in Pluralis. Quasarsphere as a whole is pretty good.

9. Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry – Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul [1950]

This is a musique concrete record, and if you don’t know what it is, then go read on Wikipedia because it’ll do better job of explaining it than me. Basically, it’s music that is composed with found sounds and existing music, so essentially it’s a collage. I think it’s easy to discredit it from today’s perspective, because we can record whatever, and then load it into whatever DAW and organize it the way we want. However, this record came out 66 years ago, and all they had were mono tape machines, so it took a lot of foresight and tape splicing to put together each piece. I don’t think it’s wrong to call that composing. It’s just that they were composing with already existing sounds.

Even though this isn’t my first exposure to musique concrete, it is the most avant-garde record I have ever listened to. What makes it so extreme for me is that I cannot follow the narrative. I don’t even know what is the narrative! I think music always has narrative, and this idea is very instinctual (just thought of it) for me and not something I can put into words yet, so I won’t even try. But anyway, music always has a narrative, and it’s not the lyrics or a narrative the listener can follow like a story. It’s something about the song that keeps it propagating. Sometimes I start listening to something and I want to know where it’s going, because the narrative seems interesting and I’m not familiar with it. Sometimes I start listening to something and I know where it’s going so I turn it off – the narrative is boring. With this record, I don’t know what is the narrative, but I believe there is one for two reasons. One is that from what I read Schaeffer was a smart guy, so he probably didn’t just whip something together without giving it much thought. The second is that the technology of the time was so limiting that there’s no way someone could compose something like this without a clear idea of what they’re doing.

I think that intent is what separates avant-garde from fake avant-garde. Everyone can hit random keys on a piano and say “here, I made an avant-garde recording”, kind of like Mirror Father Mirror. You can program a computer to do that. But when there’s intent to stretch boundaries, and there’s a particular process for stretching those boundaries, then it becomes interesting.

So yeah, no idea what the narrative is here, but I’ll keep listening.

10. Perry and Kingsley – Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight On The Moog [1971]

As I was finally getting Stereolab last week, I read about about Transient Random-Noise Bursts and it mentioned something about this album. I think they sampled something from it. Anyway, I know some of Jean-Jacques Perry’s music so I jumped in.

This is electronic music in the sense that it’s music being played with synthesizers. The actual music, though, isn’t different from pop music of the time, and in fact most of the tracks on the record are covers of famous songs. This is the same criticism that the west coast synthesizer people (San Francisco Tape Music Center) had for Wendy Carlos’s Switched on Bach. Playing classics on a synthesizers isn’t expanding music.

January 3rd – February 10th, 2016 (Eighteenth “Week”)

I’m back, but in a different configuration!

The idea now is that I’m going to write about 10 records I never listened to before, but this time there’s no time limit. So it’s ten records a month? two weeks? three and a half? two months? These ten took a little over a month to listen to. I hope to keep this pace, or maybe even listen to more every month. We’ll see. I’m just happy I found a way to keep motivating myself to listen to new stuff while also taking the time to listen to music I already know and like.

 

1. Ravi Shankar – Improvisations [1962]

I became interested in Indian music, not sure how or why, but I realized I should check out this  stuff. So I heeded some advice and got this record.

I think I’ve been exposed to some elements of classical Indian music through Western music (not the Beatles), so this is outside my “comfort zone” but also familiar at the same time. Speaking of familiarity and exposure through Western music, John Fahey totally “lifted” the first song, Improvisations on the theme music from ‘Panther Panchali’, for On The Banks Of The Owchita from the Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favorites. However, what he does with it is different enough that both his version and this one are original sounding and interesting to me.

The second track has a western jazz band backing Ravi Shankar, and I find it a little distracting. My cat digs it, though.

2. Curtis Mayfield – Got to Find a Way [1974]

I wasn’t very excited about this record on my first listen. It’s a little more schmooze-y than Curtis and Super Fly and that takes a while to get used to. Also, the first song, Love Me (Right in the Pocket), kind of loses direction after a while. It’s an amazing song, but maybe it could have been five minutes instead of 7?

Overall this record is definitely a lot more “baby let’s turn the lights real low” than all the other Curtis stuff I’m familiar with. It almost feels like that’s his response to Let’s Get It On, or something, but it’s still Curtis, which means it’s some of the best music out there.

3. Curtis Mayfield – Sweet Exorcist [1974]

The first time I listened to this one, I liked it more than Got to Find a Way. Now I’m not so sure. Again, it’s Curtis Mayfield. He was one of the best song-writers, producers, arrangers of our time. This record, though, sounds a little more like “generic” funk and soul. I’m not sure exactly how to explain it, but it’s very different than his other records (particularly Curtis and Super Fly)

4. Ravi Shankar – Ragas & Talas [1964]

It’s tough to talk about this music because I don’t have the language to do so. I have no references and things to compare it to. In this case I can compare it to Improvisations, so I’ll do that. I think it’s a little more hardcore than Improvisations, just in terms of length and the playing. There’s no jazz band backing him here (even though it was just on the one track), so maybe it can be thought as a little more out there.

At the time of editing this post it’s been a few weeks since I listened to this record. It was a weird time. I got really into Indian music for a few days, listened to these records a few times, and then fell of the wagon. I need to revisit them and listen to more Indian music in general.

 5. David Bowie – Young Americans [1975]

This Bowie’s faux-funk/soul record. It was recorded in Philadelphia with soul and funk musicians, one of them was the drummer for Sly and the Family Stone!

Bowie himself described this record very well by calling it “plastic soul” and saying, “the squashed remains of ethnic music as it survives in the age of Muzak rock, written and sung by a white limey.” Pretty much. It’s not a bad record, but it doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the music it’s trying to imitate. Of course, that’s not a bad thing, and I think that the idea of plastic soul is actually cool, and I like “cold” things that groove (like electronic music), but somehow this doesn’t hit the mark in the way I hoped it would. I think that maybe Bowie didn’t commit enough to either direction. It’s not “plastic” enough to be this cool fusion that I was hoping for, and it’s also not soul enough to be, well, soul.

6. David Bowie – Low [1977]

This is a cool record and in some way it’s more eclectic than his records I’ve listened to thus far. He definitely dropped the “show-tune” sounding songs and moved on to stuff that is pretty weird, like Warszawa, and even the happy, peppy A New Career in a New Town is a departure. I like it, but I think some of the other songs take me a little while longer to warm up to because they don’t sound as fresh now as they probably did back then. What I mean is that so much stuff is still directly influenced by it, so it kind of sounds like something I have heard before, even though I think he was the originator.

7. David Bowie – Lodger [1979]

When I first listened to this record I thought it’s the weakest Bowie record I listened to so far, and it might be the weakest, but it’s still very interesting. He maintained some of the “pop sensibilities” from his glam years, most notably in Fantastic Voyage and African Night Flight, and that made the record start slow for me. Then Move On has some elements that kind of throw you off, like the backwards vocals; they totally make the song for me. Red Sails almost sounds a Neu!, and D.J. sounds like a Talking Heads song, which is probably why I thought it sounded familiar.

The more I think about it compared to Low, I think that he definitely went back to the pop stuff. It’s pop songs an experimental wrap, because there are weird elements all over and no guitar solo is “normal”, but then none of the songs totally commits to weirdness like Warszawa or A New Career in a New Town from Low.

8. David Bowie – Heroes [1977]

The last (for me) in the Berlin trilogy.

A lot of stuff on this record sounds like a precursor to the 80s, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Some songs are great, like Heroes (check out the NPR interview with Tony Visconti where explains how they got the guitar to sound the way it sounds), V-2 Schneider, Moss Garden, and Neukoln. So basically, half the record is spectacular.

9. Amon Duul II – Phallus Dei [1969]

I listened to Amon Duul II before, but it was maybe 10 years ago and I don’t remember much of it.

Amon Duul (I and II, I think) get labeled as krautrock, and I don’t know if I hear it in the first track, Phallus Dei. It sounds mostly psychedelic with heavy emphasis on improvisation. The next entry about Faust IV has me writing about what I think is krautrock. I didn’t want to move it here, because I didn’t think of it when I was listening to this record and writing about it.

I hear more krautness in Kanaan, but you know, this doesn’t sound like Neu! and it also doesn’t sound like this next Faust record. The rest of the record sounds to me more like an anomaly to what I consider Krautrock. More in this below.

10. Faust – Faust IV [1973]

Why did no one turn me onto krautrock in my youth?

The first track, Krautrock, sounds to me like the intersection between Can, Cluster or Harmonia, and Neu! There are a lot of similar ideas, like what I like calling the “jet” guitars, and the fuzz-wah on the guitars. There’s some of Can unruly-ness, and the beat, which is a tambourine and slightly percussive and repetitive synthesizer line makes me think of Harmonia and Cluster. Now there’s drums playing a variation of motorik and that’s pretty awesome, too, although I wanted more of the “just” tambourine beat.

Skinhead sounds like it is meant to parody skinheads. It’s obvious from the first few seconds of music and made even more obvious by the lyrics. It’s kind of a joke-y song, but still has interesting elements to it.

Jennifer makes me think of what makes krautrock krautrock, other than being music that was made by German bands. I always see certain elements of the music being used. For instance, people say that it’s the synthesizers and motorik. But a lot of bands of the time had synthesizers, all the prog bands did! And I take motorik to mean a very specific drum beat (snare on the 3, hihat on all four, kick when there’s no snare), or a variation of it, which is what you hear in Neu! but other krautrock doesn’t necessarily have it. The first and most obvious characteristic of krautrock is that they don’t care about traditional song structure. There’s no verse or chorus, they just riff on the same idea for 10 minutes. Then the bigger characteristic is that the music is some form of minimalism. There are a lot of instruments playing – bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals, but they all play something that is simple and repetitive. For instance, the drums are super stripped down, all simple beats with almost no fills, and when there are fills they too are simple and subdued. So the result is music that is complex and slowly changing, but every element of it is simple. Contrast that with prog where the music is complex, rapidly changing, and every instrument is playing something that is very complicated. Another difference is the way the synthesizers are played. In prog, it’s one sound and the player is playing it like a piano. In krautrock, it’s one note and the player is playing with the sound. And another is that in krautrock they’re not afraid of manipulating stuff after it’s been recorded – editing or messing up with the playback, where in prog everything is supposed to sound like one continuous performance. Lastly, I noticed that a lot of these bands love having two songs in one track. There’s the longer song, which is the main song, and then when it ends, they just tack a slightly weirder, shorter passage to it. Jennifer has it, as well as almost every song on this record. I don’t know if they got that from psychedelic music (I’m mostly thinking of Pink Floyd’s first couple of records), or if it’s unrelated, but yeah.

Taking into account Phallus Dei, I think the best way to describe what krautrock is to say that it’s German experimental rock from the late 60s to the mid 70s.

David Bowie

I’m feeling pretty low about David Bowie dying. It’s weird, because I wasn’t a Bowie fan. It’s not that I disliked his music, but just that I never fully gotten into it. I knew it was there and that I’ll get to it someday, and I did get to very little of it during this project in the first and second weeks, and liked what I heard. I think I always boxed myself away from Bowie for some reason. Maybe it started when I was a kid and decided that Syd Barrett was the bigger genius, and had to keep defending my position. What a ridiculous declaration, and why does it even matter? I don’t know what I was trying to achieve with it. Maybe more recognition for Syd Barrett’s work?

Now David Bowie is gone and I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I feel bad feeling overwhelmed, because I’m not as big a fan as others. I was talking to my wife about it and she helped me figure out what it is: Seeing how much he meant to so many people is enough to make me sad. And also, maybe I always thought I’ll have my a-ha Bowie moment, and now that he’s gone it’ll be different. I don’t think David Bowie is immortal, but on Saturday I went to his Wikipedia page and saw that his 69, and I figured he has a lot of time left.

I think I always realized that Bowie was a huge presence, even without knowing his music very well. I never said it out loud to myself or others, but I think I always understood it. He was always in my periphery, and he always seemed so true to himself, and he expressed it in his music, fashion, lifestyle, and everything else he did. His career spanned 49 years and he constantly kept changing and evolving, pushing the envelope and never repeating his steps. I don’t think I can say that about anyone else with such a long and expansive path.

I have a lot of musical heroes, and I always wish I could be like them at the peak of their career. I wish I could be like David Bowie at any point of his career, because it was all peak. So long, you weirdo.

(My apologies for breaking character and not posting about 5 or 10 records I listened to this week).

Seventeenth Week: December 27th, 2015 – January 2nd, 2016

This is the last week of this thing, at least for a while. Essentially, it boils down to me only moving forward and listening to new stuff once or twice, but not getting to dig in deeper. I also don’t get to listen to stuff that I know and love and just want to listen to again. Scaling down from 10 records to five made the “project” very do-able, but it didn’t make other music-listening any easier.

I initially started this project/blog because I felt like I wasn’t listening to enough new music. I got a little jaded with the stuff I know, and I knew that there’s a lot of music out there that I don’t know, so challenging myself to actively listen and explore new music was a great solution, and it literally opened up my horizons.

I became acquainted with 140 records, all of them I listened to for the first time in the past 17 weeks. Now is the time to go back and listen to them and get to know them very well. A week or two break won’t be enough to do that, because of the same life limitations that make it difficult to listen to 10 (or 5) new records every week. If I ever reach that point again where I only listen to stuff I know and I get bored with it, then I’ll start listening to five new records every week.

I should say, though, that writing about what I was listening to enhanced the listening experience, and I was getting a lot more out of one listen than I would otherwise. It also helped cataloging things in my head, and having a record of my thoughts on them helped me not forget them. So I’m going to keep writing about new records I listen to, and maybe publish a post when I listen to five or ten new ones.

If you’re one of my friends who kept checking on this site every week (or whenever), then thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to read. If you stumbled on this website and you took the time to read it, then thank you, too.

1. Ron Carter – Third Plane [1977]

Saw this at a record store for $7 and figured that a record with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams can’t be bad.

It’s not bad, but it’s not what I hoped it would be, which is funk inspired jazz like Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters stuff. Instead it’s these three dudes jamming on what sounds like Real Book standards. In fact, when I said to my wife “I don’t know about this record” she said “yeah, it’s perfect for background music” (she was doing some work).

The second side is a little better.

2. Terry Riley – In C [1968]

Absolutely gorgeous and relentless. Nothing like I ever listened to before, although there are similarities between it and some Philip Glass works. It’s going to take me a while to decipher this whole thing, but it’s really incredible.

3. Kluster – Zwei-Osterei [1971]

This record, like Klopfzeichen, is very avant-garde compared to Cluster, and I like it more than Klopfzeichen. it’s pretty amazing to hear the change between the two group. You could say Cluster is almost pop music compared to this stuff.

Anyway, not much to say about this record, other than that it’s more a collection of sounds and truly minimalist. There’s also a lot of spoken word, but I have no idea what the guy is saying because it’s in German. I think I heard Hiroshima at one point, so maybe WWII?

 4. Harmonia & Eno ’76 – Tracks and Traces [2015]

I bought the new Harmonia box set (don’t worry, I had a gift card for about half of it and sold some records). It has all the material that Harmonia ever released, pressed on vinyl, and this record, along with a few extra tracks is in there. I decided to write that the year is 2015 because it does have some extra tracks (I’m listening to it with the extra tracks).

It’s a pretty fun record so far. Very ambient-y, more than Deluxe or Musik Von Harmonia in my opinion. I find that around that time in the 70s, that was Eno’s thing – always try and turn things into ambient music. It’s not bad, but so far I think that is kind of holding Harmonia back. I’m also only on the first side, so I’m holding off on any real judgement.

The fourth side of the record is really strong with a couple of excellent tracks – When Shade was Born and Aubade.

5. Stereolab – Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements [1993]

I like this record better than Dots and Loops. It’s more experimental (kind of) and has motorik, and the songs are overall better. However, at a little over an hour it’s a bit too long. Going to put this one on more often than I will put Dots and Loops probably.