Friday, December 27, 2013

North Star Idol Omen Gravel Thunder, Lightning, Strike

"I'm playing around town," said Lester Young, softly. "Whoever needs a reed man. Bill Basie called me, so I'm with Bennie's band this week, maybe I'll be with some other band next week. Long as nobody tells me how to blow, like Fletcher did."

He spoke with a slow, dreamlike fluidity, as if his intent was less literal meaning than tone and nuance.

-Harper Barnes, from Blue Monday

The world of phenomena and the phenomena of the world have their existence, but it's quite apart from us, from our language, from our naming, from our categories. No piece of reality can be discrete, completely apart, and no edge or boundary can cut off or contain. I think maybe music can depict this mess more precisely than can language. All these different strains come out of the past, frozen on records, sucked into the cloud, digitized, replayed. In record stores categorized, I go to the rock section, the international section, the jazz section, the classical section, the metal section, the hip-hop section, I select.

Frances has now turned the camera on me.

All we do is try to freeze time. All we do must fail. Thunder, Lightning, Strike. The Go! Team recombined signposts of disparate musical strains to make a kind of easy listening, birth of rap electro thing that was inconceivable until they did it. Now it's all these indie kids want to do. The genres, they used to mean something, but the kids have less and less respect for the boundaries the more and more they go on the Internet. I had the legacy of a hundred years of recording available to me, before the Internet, and I lost respect for those boundaries too. It's taken till now for the thaw.

We've still got them. Glue. Gravel. This guy I met sixteen years ago, Angus, was in this band. Scottish. Like Heroin kinda, more on the punk side. Why not Glue? The production's not so magical as the Heroin records. Maybe not the songs? Would those Heroin songs sound so much like the heart inside my body if it weren't for the production? Would that one earnest guy's vocals be so perfect if they were higher or lower in the mix? Maybe Glue's got too many words. Fuck, that's my problem too. And too they actually only have a passing resemblance; the comparison is misleading. The production pulls me out though. And the words. I like the vocals. But wait I wanted to make a more eternal point. Quibbling. Bickering about the details. Caring too much about the individual things.

There is no eternal. There is no everything. There is only an infinity of little things. Every little thing is a big thing, just not so big as the really big things that are collections of littler things. And anyway any thing I talk about is only a thing because I call it that; the infinity is only a single thing and all I do is create divisions with names. I can only respect the totality by digging all the way into each thing, because the universe only exists as a really really really big collection of arbitrarily divided entities. I put them in alphabetical order. The alphabet is sufficiently bloodless for my purpose, allowing Philip Glass and the Go! Team and Glue and Glass Ghost to all be neighbors, but it's really so Euro-centric, don't you think? What would they say in India of my distinctions? It gets to be too much if I don't surrender at some point to the futility of names and just let them fall where they may. Where I may let them.

Nations are like that. Races too. India's a big damn place, man, it's arrogance to the extreme to characterize such a thing as anything approaching singular. Black people. White people. What the fuck are you even talking about when you say that, right? British people say "Asians" and mean South Asians, Americans say it and mean East Asians. These divisions of humans are not of the world; they are bullshit that humans create.

What happened was, Frances didn't want to go out somewhere, and she has some techniques for stalling. Idol Omen. This was a new one, that she hadn't tried before, and which she hasn't done since: she grabbed a bunch of records and wanted to take pictures of them. Now here I am listening to them all cause that's the rule I made for myself. Rules are arbitrary but the only way we can have order is to respect them. Hence, nazis. Hence, unregulated capitalism. It's all for the good of mankind. I played the Glass Ghost record a lot of times this past year. They're sort of a less arty (or maybe just less self-conscious?) Skeleton$. Wait so rules or no rules? Anarchy? Sorry, guys, that's mob rule. The commies gave us North Korea. State control. I relax the rules if I need to because I have reason. I am in control. I exercise rules to achieve mental peace. Stop thinking. Ultimately I will die, but will I be relaxed? The Glass Ghost record is deceptive: its sound is smooth and quiet but its brow is troubled. Music is messy. It can only ever be one thing at one time, so that's why I need all these records. And time, time, time, time, time, time, time to listen to them. In music, time has a signature. My signature is messy, illegible. I got Idol Omen because I ordered a Callers record from its label, Western Vinyl. The label included the Glass Ghost record in my box, unsolicited. I thought I would like Callers (and now that I've let them sink in, I do, I love that band, it is a magic, mystic band) but they didn't catch me on first listen, and Idol Omen had such an ugly cover I thought I wouldn't dig it, but it didn't care what I thought I would think and yeah, I like it.

Words are rules. They fill the space and they can never contain infinity. North Star. I kind of can't bear to play this one again. Phil Glass goes for the heart of the matter by working that same thing into a froth or a drool, he batters your mind with this violent hell that you can't escape. It works really well and in an enjoyable way on Koyaanisqatsi, but this North Star record maybe has too much of a cheesy synth sound? You guys dig classical? Me too. Classical promises freedom by making room for so many sounds, but classical allowed Phil Glass to have a cheesy synth on this record. Classical's freedom is produced through an insistence on very explicit rules and sets up a framework where the only way forward is to infinitely break those rules over and over again. It has less and more respect for those genre boundaries than the kids do. Love it / get so frustrated. North Star. Tells you where to go.