Monthly Archives: October 2007

I bet there’s an open source version and a Mac port

Terrific sentence in an Alex Ross article about Philip Glass’ most recent works:

At times, it seems as though [Glass] had launched Microsoft Arpeggio on a computer and gone off to have tea with, say, Richard Gere.

I would have thought Glass would use iArpeggio on a Mac, but then I realized I was mixing it up with iPulse, which I imagine Steve Reich uses. The rest of us could probably use the free versions: OpenArp and ChugChug.

Podcast #1-9. Wendy and Lisa: Girl Bros.

This show is by far the most rushed of the season. I didn’t write much of a script, and the music excerpts really stretch out. I’m not sure what I could have really said about this album aside from “I like Wendy and Lisa, and this album is good.” So that’s pretty much all I say.

Still, I wanted to feature Wendy and Lisa because I really do like their work. These days, they do a lot of film and television scores, most recently for the NBC show Heroes. I never really could get into Prince, but I got into Wendy and Lisa. Go figure.

Some notes:

  • My voice broke while I was saying “high expectations”, so it sounds like “a high expectations”, which is bad grammar. I didn’t feel like rerecording it.
  • I didn’t intend to sound so sinister when I say “Jonathan’s death“.
  • The next show is the season one finale for the podcast. I haven’t started working on the next season yet, but I do have an idea of what I want to cover. Any premiere date would have to happen after SXSW.

Songs featured:

  • Reaching One
  • I Will
  • Uh, uh, Don’t Look Down
  • Bring You Back
  • Anyway/All I Wonder

Shopping list for Waterloo Records storewide sale, Nov. 1-4

It seems to happen every year — when I go to the Waterloo Records storewide sale, I can’t figure out what I want to get. So I end up wandering the aisles hoping something will grab me and leaving when nothing has. After the sale is over, I’ll remember all the things I wanted to get.

So I’m making my shopping list now. And I’m going to remember to print it out and carry it with me come Thursday night.

[UPDATE, 11/05/07 08:48] The sale is done, and I came away with most of what I was looking for. This list has been updated accordingly. Additional comments in italics.

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Austin Record Convention purchase report, Oct. 27

Anytime I go to the Austin Record Convention, I end up buying something — even if I’m going just to see what’s there. Last year, I had a strange hankering to find Turn Back the Clock by Johnny Hates Jazz. Yeah, I can’t explain it either.

I have yet to listen to Nena’s second US album, which I bought on vinyl about three years back. Yes, Nena of 99 Luftballons fame. That was purely an impulse purchase.

The record convention usually happens twice a year, but the spring show was canceled because the Crockett Events Center was under going renovations. (Not sure, really, what was renovated.) I usually try to limit my attendance to one per year anyway. This time, I actually made a mental list of things I wanted to find:

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Anton Webern: Complete Works for String Quartet and String Trio (Artis Quartett Wein)

Until I downloaded this album from eMusic, the only Anton Webern piece I’d heard was the Six Bagatelles, which Kronos Quartet recorded on its second recital album Winter Was Hard.

I’ve always liked the Six Bagatelles for its brevity and sparseness. Even in the span of half a minute, which each bagatelle averages, Webern manages to coax extremes out of the music — long, quiet chromatic melodies burst into a clash of tremolo. Exploring the works of Webern became one of those personal checklist items that get bumped in favor of more immediate gratification. (Thank deity for eMusic.)

Webern’s entire catalog of work can fit on six CDs, as composer/conductor Pierre Boulez demonstrated in 2000. Webern’s life was cut short when he was accidentally shot by an American soldier in 1945 — the glow from his cigar spooked the soldier. The Complete Works for String Quartet and String Trio contains 7 works spread over 20 tracks and clocks in at 64 minutes.

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unkie: the Price of Fame

TOKIE is no stranger to the marriage of indie rock and jazz improvisation. She played bass with LOSALIOS, the instrumental outfit led by former Blankey Jet City drummer Nakamura Tetsuya. It’s easy to assume there would be overlap between TOKIE’s own band, unkie, and her other gig with LOSALIOS.


Both bands share the ability to play hard, fast, loud and free, but where LOSALIOS can get expansive — saxophone is a regular component — unkie focuses strictly on its core. The latter’s first album, the Price of Fame, showcases the white hot electricity this trio can produce.

Guitarist Aoki Yutaka keeps surprising with his versatility. As an original member of downy, he crafted thick, hypnotic textures with a tortured sound. downy broke up, and he was drafted into VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE, where he turned into New Wave guitarist with a lot more distortion and overdrive. With unkie, he turns into a surf twanger channeling the ghosts of Jimi Hendrix and his jazz band bosses.

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That is so last century

I’m in the middle of reading The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. Subtitled "Listening to the Twentieth Century", the book threads together the disparate creative movements of classical music in the last century and puts them in a political and socio-economic context. That description sounds academic, but Ross manages to make the story feel incredibly human.

It’s all too easy to abstract Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Steve Reich and Arnold Schoenberg as vessels from which great works pour forth. The last time I really thought about the lives of these composers was when I was trying to remember enough for the midterm and final exams in my music history class some 15 years ago.

The Rest is Noise has been mentioned a lot on a number of arts-themed websites I monitor. Heck, I probably wouldn’t have known about the book otherwise. (Ross also maintains a weblog of the same name.) And as I’m reading it, I think, "Wow, I really ought to let readers in on this."

But then that gives me pause to consider.

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Podcast #1-8. The Klezmatics: Jews with Horns

Because I was caught in the momentum of getting all the shows of this season done, I recorded this podcast at 11 p.m. on a Saturday. I didn’t realize how tired I sound till after I was well into editing the show. I could have gone back and rerecorded it, but I didn’t feel like starting from scratch. Also, I let the audio excerpts play a bit longer to make up for the lack of narration.

I’ve been meaning to write about Jews with Horns for a while now, but when it comes to the likes of the Klezmatics, Jayne Cortez or anything outside the purview rock music, it’s better to hear it than to read about it.

Songs featured:

  • Fisherlid
  • Khsidim Tants
  • Nign
  • Simkhes-Toyre
  • Freyt Aykh, Yidlekh
  • Man In A Hat

Music for workouts, Oct. 14 update

I used to tell people I didn’t need an iPod because I didn’t live a life that requires portability. I don’t travel a lot, I don’t mind the CD player in my car and until recently, I didn’t work out. I eventually bought an iPod Nano because I went to visit family in Hawaiʻi, and I needed that portability for 12 hours of travel, one-way.

Since late August, I’ve started working out daily on the treadmill, so I’ve been using my iPod significantly more. I actually look forward to those workouts because I get to do nothing but (walk and) listen to music for half an hour or more. Of course, I’m limited to only heart-pumping kind of music — no Explosions in the Sky or Jean Sibelius, unfortunately — but it has allowed me to unearth stuff I haven’t listened to in a while.

Now I have a new angle by which to evaluate my listening choices — by appropriateness to a workout regimen.

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Tokyo Jihen releases new song, limited edition vinyl

Nov. 21 is a big day for Tokyo Jihen, which releases a new DVD single and a vinyl mini-album, so says The DVD single, titled "Senkou Shoujo", features a new song with music written by bassist Kameda Seiji and lyrics by Shiina Ringo. The band premiered the song at the start of its latest tour.

The song is part of a DVD release which includes video clips for the singles "OSCA", "Killer Tune", the title track and coupling track "Tokuten Eizou". The song also appears on Goraku (Variety) Zoukangou, a vinyl release containing all tracks from the singles "OSCA" and "Killer Tune".