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So I guess if I just write all these things down they’re going to be meaningless strings of names and words, so I’ll try to put together a short review of each one as well (which will have periods, since they’re considered pieces of writing, which is a pleasant side-effect I hadn’t considered, but hey, there you go). These are the CDs I bought in LA:-
Indeterminacy John Cage, David Tudor, 1959
90 lectures on indeterminacy written and spoken by John Cage, accompanied with music by David Tudor. I haven’t listened to these yet, but John Cage has never let me down so far.
Pop Tatari Boredoms, 1992
Awesome anarchistic noise-punk that sounds like a million guitar-staircase interfaces – this record breaks so many rules, minds, hearts, and is so much fun. It takes cliches and then pisses about with them. Ultimate lawlessness.
Super Ae Boredoms, 1998
Like, I don’t know what happened between 1992 and 1998 (that’s a lie, I know exactly what happened, the Super Roots EPs happened, which you should also own) but at some point in those six years, Boredoms became amazing and released Super Ae, which is so far removed from Pop Tatari it’s laughable, apart from how insanely loud it is; it shifts and re-invents and pushes and pushes and pushes, and it is full of energy, life and light.
Sequenzas I-XIV Luciano Berio, over, like, 34 years from somewhere in the 1950s onwards
Berio’s Sequenzas for solo instruments push musical instruments to their limits, and make them do things that they’re never meant to do. They’re an inventory of every sound the instrument can possibly create. They remind me of Alvin Lucier’s Silver Streetcar For The Orchestra for solo amplified triangle, but more batshit insane.
Studies 13-32 for Player Piano Conlon Nancarrow, 1927
A whole host of pieces written for a grand piano with an Ampico player piano mechanism attached, which basically means that Nancarrow wasn’t limited to ten fingers, he could play as many notes at the same time as he liked. Which is a lot. A lot of notes. Also, the man had amazing facial hair.
Early Keyboard Music Philip Glass, 1969-78
This CD features Contrary Motion, Mad Rush and Two Pages, three beautiful bits of minimalism for an electric organ. It’s also got these two versions of a piece of music for solo table.
Zaireeka Flaming Lips, 1997
Still haven’t listened to this one, because it comes as four CDs to be listened to at the same time on four different CD players. And I haven’t got four different CD players. I’ll have a listening party soon, where people bring their Hi-fis and we all sit around listening to Zaireeka. Good times. (PS: If you haven’t heard of the Flaming Lips, check out The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots)
Feels Animal Collective, 2005
We’ve been over this.
Continued Story/Hi, How Are You Daniel Johnston, 1983-85
Two tape albums on one CD, which is great value for money (came with a poster of his Symbolical Visions too!) – awesome poppy tunes rendered on fuzzy incredibly lo-fi tape in a garage on a shitty organ by a manic-depressive teenager in the middle of the night. Powerful stuff.
Before Today Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, 2010
Ariel Pink used to be worse than Daniel Johnston, recording these incredible 80s pastiche numbers on tapes so fuzzy they were more snowstorm than actual music, but then, like Daniel, he got a recording contract and did this. Where the two differ is that Johnston flounders a bit in the studio, and it all detracts a bit from the immediacy of his music, but Ariel Pink flourishes and has put together an amazing laid-back synth-pop groove album with great tunes.