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Saturday, April 27, 2002

Samos conversation
We were walking down from our apartment at Potami Beach to Karlovassi port in the dark for dinner. When passing the military sentry watching the Turkish coast line in the North he asked:
He: Do you like Samos?
Me: Yes it is beautiful. And you?
He: No.
Me: I am sorry for you.

Howe Gelb: Confluence
My contribution to Freaky Trigger's second third birthday in 102 Beats That, 102 words on Howe Gelb's Confluence album from last year:
"Howe Gelb has a twisted mind. In his world capacity, dilemma and gazelle are sisters, conformity is a saint and the 'blue marble girl shoves the day into the night'. These surreal lyrics are accompanied by Howe’s bluesy guitar, drums, bass and occasionally farfisa, pump organ and wurlitzer piano. The music is a laid-back blend of country, bar jazz, blues and rock. Its rough charm opens itself only slowly to the listener. In the exemplary lo-fi 'Hatch'delays and breaks lead to the unstoppable pedal steel finish. The album ends in a three guitars desert storm: Howe throws the sand in our ears."

Monday, April 22, 2002

The action is at simple things.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Hello from Chios
We have been spending the last couple of days in Karfas on Chios island between Lesbos and Samos. The weather was not really amazing, we had a lot of rain and morning temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius. We stayed at Marko's place. We were Marko's first vistors this year. It is still very quiet around here. Most of the few tourists we met on the island were Norwegians as 1. there is a direct flight from Oslo and 2. Norwegians prefer Greece in spring when the temperatures are still bearable. Chios is quite a non-touristic island. It does not really need the tourists as in the south of the island the resin of the Mastix shrub is collected and Chios is the only place in the world where the mastix yields the resin which is used a lot for chemical and pharmaceutical purposes. We tried to chew the resin but that is something not really to be recommended as the resin sticks in between the teeth and is very hard to get rid of. The liqueur of Mastix tastes quite nice nevertheless.
Our next destination will be Samos island, the ferry is supposed to leave in one hour. There we will do some more hiking if the weather permits it.

Friday, April 12, 2002

See you soon
Catherine and me are going to be on the Greek island of Chios for the next three weeks. Therefore posts will be sparse. In the meantime I recommend the following daily music blogs:
- Stevie Nixed from Belgium who likes Deus and has a wide eclectic taste.
- Eyes that can see in the dark by Phil who is into more or less progressive music off the beaten track and into chess too.
- Badgerminor from Louisiana who mostly likes the music I like, i.e. music with roots.
- Monkey puzzle my favourite weblogger from Melbourne.
- Blackyellowblack from Oakland where I'd rather like to live.
Something to listen to: Ryan Adams live at Manchester covering Wonderwall (free registration required)

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine
- 100,000 CD covers to download including front, back and inlays.
- Adorno and rock music. Kid Adorno by Curtis White (via sofa blogger) who defends Radiohead's Kid A against Nick Hornby's criticism and tries to use Adorno as King's evidence. Samuel Jeffries in Theodor Adorno Meets "Low-Fi" Rock on how among others the Dead C (noise band from New Zealand) escape the "variation-within-a-structure" that rock usually is and which Adorno sees as "directly interpellating the listener into the 'false consciousness' of capitalist ideology". I don't know the Dead C and hardly know Kid A and have always been intellectually too lazy to dig into Adorno's music theory and those articles didn't rise my interest neither. I hear music with my ears and feel it in my guts if it makes an impression on me. Amnesiac did exactly that. What I heard of Kid A didn't.
- I only publish the results of this quiz as I happened to be the beatnik I wanted to be (without cheating):

Which beatnik are you?
You are Jack Kerouac

The "Which Beatnik Are You?" test was created by livejournal user aglaea. Take the test here!

P.S. There are errors on the page. Probably the comment system YACCS doesn't work anymore. I am fed up and will definitely move soon to antville now. After the holiday that is. First week-end of May.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

I really wanted to write something on Patti Smith's On Land tonight but it is too late now and I have to postpone to tomorrow. In the meantime some other link worthy net programmes:
- Jess Harvell has never been a fan of the Modern Lovers but he has seen the main man behind live and was converted on the spot. ILM discussion: Jonathan Richman: is this guy a class fucking act or what?
- Dr. C asks at ILM about That Melodic *Thing* in Scottish Pop: "There's often a reluctance to telegraph a big chorus, a sort of shy restraint which can often mean that a gorgeous melody takes time to uncover and fix in your memory."
- Marcello Carlin with a long piece on Gillian Welch's album Time (The Revelator) at ILM. I guess I have to relisten to this. The first time it sounded too plain, too barren, too basic for my ears. Her voice reminds me of Michelle Shocked a little which is a very good reference for me.
- Monkey Puzzle, an excellent indie music blog from Melbourne I mentioned before (thanks for the backlink cos) on one of my favourite Lloyd Cole records Easy Pieces. One of those perfect pop albums I listened to a lot back in the summer of 1993.
- P.S. Califone: They sound like a more focussed and less emotionally intense Sparklehorse. The singer's voices are quite similar especially when distorted. Somehow I cannot believe that Califone come from Chicago. Their music has got this laid-back desert feel a little bit like Giant Sand. I would have situated them either in South California, Arizona or New Mexico.
Further reading: 10 questions for Tim Rutili from Glorious Noise.
- Dandelion Wings (pseudonym) of Living Code on Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan. A good short introduction into Brautigan's twisted but realistic mind. Summary: "A whole town gets involved in a massacre (with humorous elements to it) without really knowing why they are fighting. I would say this is fiction if reality was not so much like it. Now I am not sure."
- The nicest webcam views in a world map.
- Active discussion (189 comments this morning) at kuro5hin: Burning a book before it's printed.
The book in question is on the "right" of children to have a sex life. Here political correctness shows its ugly face: totalitarian censorship. What frightens me even more is that almost all commentators want the book banished. I think this subject should be discussed and the more it becomes a taboo theme the more child abuse we will have. Positive thinking in the last contribution: "Nice to know that efforts by religious and governmental groups to squelch this before it could be published just brought more attention to it"

Monday, April 08, 2002

- Discussion at lost for life: Why Chan Marshall sucks live. One reason seems to be that she takes acid before her shows. I saw Cat Power twice. The first time it was the Moon Pix tour and it was a phantastic trip. Dirty Three's guitarist Mick Turner accompanied her and had a very stabilising effect on her perfomance. When she sang she was completely gone but Turner's slow guitar playing absorbed her. The second time she was on her own with her guitar and piano and it was the Cover Songs tour. We saw her in a very small venue about the size of our living-room and it was painful. She didn't hit the right tones and almost ran off in the middle of the set.

- Another one of those damned quizzes. It has got to do with music and is short (five questions only) though:

The Band Quiz By Rahel

Saturday, April 06, 2002

The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. (B.F.Skinner)
As promised some impressions of
Califone's Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People
Califone are from Chicago. In the recent past Chicago has become known for avant-garde rock music made by groups like Tortoise, The Sea and the Cake, Gastr del Soul etc. But whereas those bands till the field of mainly instrumental electronic rock music Califone blend American rural styles like blues, bluegrass and country to create their highly original experimental music . They make me think a little bit of the Chicago Blues, the electrified tamed urban version of the original animalistic Delta Blues. Tortoise and co. on the other hand often indulge in masturbatory 70s jam sessions reminding me often of l'art pour l'art. In one sentence Califone's music is very human and has got a soul whereas the music of those other bands from Chicago feels sterile and artificial in comparison.
That is not to say that what Califone is doing is easy listening. They decompose the heritage of American folk music with percussion and synthesizer. Most songs are slowly flowing rivers with Rutili's restrained mumbled sprechgesang accentuating the relaxed atmosphere. Like the Beta Band in slow-motion. Electric Fence is a good example of their music. Trembling programmed effects merge with a rattling steel drum sounding like the beating of rusty wings, keyboards and a distorted guitar. Lyrics like "you sleep like an angel with sparrows beneath your eyelids" add to the mystery. The percussive sound collage to hush a sick transmission involving a trash can and a bag of nails(!) as instruments on the other hand is close to things Tom Waits has done on Bone Machine. Occasionally Rutili's voice becomes nerve-racking (st.martha let it fold) but overall it fits very well with the music. The versatility and the imaginativeness of the band is shown on tracks like down the eisenhower sun up w/mule where the guitars could be taken for sitars and the listener feels like being on a fair.
This record is like a cashew nut, hard to crack but very nutritive and addictive once the shell is opened.

Friday, April 05, 2002

The best sound in the world is your laughter, the best view your smile (stolen from hydragenic)
I am getting deeper and deeper into the Califone record and I start to love it but I am not yet there. Hopefully tomorrow some words on the music. I really have to hold back from reading your reviews at Pitchfork, Mark. In the meantime another link post.
- Did you know that the line "Here we are now, entertain us" from Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit was something Cobain used to say when he entered a party? More information snippets on pop songs at Songfacts (via netbib)
- The classical music weblog mostly music from Brazil comes up with an interesting physiological effect of a certain instrument: "According to recent studies by the acoustics department at the University of Seil, in Munchaus, Germany, the sound waves produced by a flute can naturally and inherently create an effect that ... can be described in simple language as an enhancement of the psycho-physiological capacity for long-term sexual intercourse, through the expansion of both feminine and masculine resilience... this extraordinary effect has been known since antiquity, and it is no mere coincidence that the mythological god Pan, a satyr, played the flute."
- I want this now: Uri Caine: The Goldberg Variations. Caine performs them in all sorts of different styles: Tango, Mambo, Waltz, Bebop, Gospel, Ragtime, New Orleans and Free Jazz. Article on the pianist-composer Is it classical or is it jazz? in the Economist (via wortmetz).
Tips: In case some of the images don't load on my page try the Ctrl-key in conjunction with the reload button to load the page directly (and not an old cache). The Atomz search in the upper left hand corner only found pages from June to August 2001. I fixed it so that you can search the complete weblog now.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

General stuff
- Random masturbation synonym generator. It says: "this Javascript program creates random synonyms from 150,000 possible combinations." Bloody hell. That means if you read one per second it will take you almost 42 hours to read them all. My favourite: "Shaking hands with the purple-helmeted warrior" (via weblog wannabe).
- A quiz by the weblog wannabe telling me that I should maybe move away from Blogger which I am considering anyway. The characterization is quite spot-on but the blogging tool is not the one I am thinking of:

You are a very conservative and introverted person. You live in your own world and you're not very easy to approach.

Which Blogging Tool Are You?

- Excellent succinct comparison table of weblog software in German including blogger, greymatter, movabletype, sunlog, antville.
- Zettelkasten (slip box) freeware cuecards (via sofa discussion)
- Und am Ende noch ein Zuckerl für meine Handvoll deutschsprachiger Leser. Habe nichts gegen Dialekte und Akzente bestimmter Landsmänner, aber dieses Telefongespräch (300k wav-Datei) hat mich heute wirklich zum Lachen gebracht (Dank u wel Cees).

Music references
- Longish 4 pages article on My Bloody Valentine linking them to Deleuze/Guattari (via virulent memes).
- Fuzz, acid & flowers. Guide to US psych & garage 1964-72. By Vernon Johnson. Browse by artist: a comprehensive reference.
- Some Merzbow stuff to listen to at Euroranch: hissing and noise made in Japan.
- The Oligarchist Home Journal has a weblog now, leaned towards indie: "Music writers writing about music".
- Interesting three columns music blog from Amsterdam by a "Dutch-Indonesian Anglophile" my age : prolific (via bellmas)
- A folk musician's weblog: pet rock star.
- Peer-to-peer review project: I am too late for that one but it's a nice initiative to connect webloggers around the world and will hopefully go on. You are supposed to review another weblog. Reviews will be up shortly after April, 8th.
- Linked to by angry robot. Music reviews and commentary. Indie-oriented.
- Monkey puzzle. Interesting daily indie music blogger getting into Giant Sand (via angry robot).
- Mefi thread on Nick Drake. Rare Nick Drake mp3s here.
- Review of Geogaddi by mochi manifesto coming to the point: : "I really like Geogaddi but I can't help but be slightly suspicious of the power it's been granted. There's an element of self-parody when I put on the record in front of friends and enthuse over how 'nostalgic' it feels." I must admit that I am slightly disappointed by Boards of Canada's latest as it has no track coming close to the revelation that Everything You Do Is a Ballon was. Longish interview with the band here.

I'll subscribe to that
"I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."

Albert Einstein
--The World As I See It
(via the Daily Philosophical Quotation)

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Dancing about architecture
There were three propositions concerning the first album I should write about. In the order of entry: Patti Smith, Califone and David Bowie. Me myself I actually wanted to start with the Thin White Rope. All three suggested albums are extremely difficult to review. The Patti Smith anthology is about 160 minutes long and I have only listened to the first disc with the classic "hits". The Califone disc I have not yet gotten into completely. I need some more time for those two. In the meantime I even received another CD: Lucky 7 by Reverend Horton Heat. It was the bonus for subscribing to the German Rolling Stone.
I start with David Bowie's Low then:
Probably the most complex of the lot. I have never been a fan of David Bowie, the only albums I got from him are from the nineties and certainly not his most accomplished. Low is the first album of the so-called Berlin trilogy which is regarded by many as his creative climax. Philip Glass the composer of pleasant-sounding minimal music even did an orchestral version of it some time ago, an honour only very few pop records receive from the "classical" (in German I would have said "E-Musik" for earnest music) camp. I can't really do justice to Low as it is an album so full of ideas and depth that I will probably revise and enlarge my review in the future when I hopefully will have digged a little deeper. For example right now it is absolutely impossible for me to rate it. I can't say that I hate it but I can't say neither that I love it nor that it leaves me cold. It is a rather difficult listen that is for sure. And it will probably grow on me. Low was released in 1977 and stands somehow very apart from its time. There is hardly a trace of glamrock which Bowie helped defining in the first half of the seventies. And there is absolutely no sign of punkrock which had just started.
What can be heard in Low is the very strong influence of Brian Eno's sound sculpting later known as ambient. Eno collaborated as composer, played most of the synthesizers and according to the liner notes sang (does anyone know on which song?). The eleven tracks of the record can be split into two parts. The first six songs are comparatively (!) conventional rock music with Bowie singing (except on the brilliant sparkling instrumental opener "Speed of Life"). With "A New Career in a New Town" the second part starts. The listener is now drawn into ambient soundscapes with a first culmination in the next song "Warszawa" from where Ian Curtis and bandmates got the name of the first incarnation of Joy Division. It is a weird piece of music co-written by Eno. The first four minutes are dominated by a calm slightly vibrating brooding synthesizer sound. Out of nowhere unintelligible vocals join in which hint to world music as for example Peter Gabriel's later soundtrack Passion. The next track "Art Decade" is characterised by long sustained notes and strange underwater noises. The last two tracks have an almost mystic feel to them. "Weeping Wall" with xylophone and a humming choir at the end sounds very spacy. The last song "Subterraneans" is the most orchestral one. It is later on accentuated by baritone (?) saxophone play and has Bowie singing seemingly disjointed words. It finishes on a brighter tone with an open end. Almost like a jazz improvisation.
I much prefer the second half of the record to the first as I have always found David Bowie's voice slightly irritating. That part is also much more experimental and avant-garde than the first. The 38+ minutes of Low don't contain any filler and don't sound dated at all today. That probably is a sign that this is a milestone in pop music.
Sorry for these incoherent incomplete (hardly anything on the first half of the record which has challenging lyrics) ramblings. I should probably have started with a simpler record like UB40 for example.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

I know that it is a mistake to announce something in my weblog but I cannot resist. To limit my purchases of CDs, books and other media items I set myself the task to write on any new stuff at least a hundred words before buying some more. This won't apply to my whole collection as that would be a Herculean task with probably close to 1,500 CDs in the back catalogue. And I want to try not to buy/order more than two CDs at once in the future. I will start with the CDs I bought in the last two weeks. Those were:
- Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
- UB40: Present Arms in Dub
- Dakota Suite: Songs for a Barbed Wire Fence
- Califone: Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People
- David Bowie: Low
- Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (not the album but a best of)
- Thin White Rope: The One That Got Away
- Patti Smith: Land
Any wishes with which album I should start?

What the others have to say
- Josh suddenly sees colours when listening to the Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin. That makes me want to listen to it again as much as to read josh blog.
- There will be two new Tom Waits albums out May 7th: Alice and Blood Money: one song as mp3 from each album (thanks to badger and happy birthday if it is not too late yet)
- Hydragenic on the equilibrium between routine and spontaneity: "Too much routine can be mind-numbing, just as too much spontaneity can be disorientating."
- I am getting a little pissed off by blogspot (yes you are so bloody right Phil R.). No blog hosted by blogspot can be reached right now. Additionally Google is letting me down by going back to a stone age cache of my site dated February 3rd. The internet is not what it used to be.
- Sorry that I don't have the time to analyse your nice rook sacrifice Phil (from eyes that can see in the dark) in depth. But I guess it's correct. Nevertheless the notation of the moves seems erroneous. Shouldn't 26. ... Ke7 read 26. ... Be7 and 33. Rh3+ read 33. Rf3+? I'd like to play an online blitz game with you. On which site do you usually play?

Monday, April 01, 2002

More uselessness
Thanks to Phil Ringnalda I found out about the weather pixie. That is a service which I customised to give you and me the information (data as of now in brackets) concerning the Frankfurt Airport temperature (12 degrees Celsius), humidity (58%), pressure (1,019 hPa), wind direction (East/North East), wind speed (2 knots) and most useful of all if it is dark or bright outside (the sun is shining so I guess it is daytime). I put the weather pixie into the sidebar. Resemblances between the startrooper guy I chose and me cannot be totally excluded. By clicking on him you get a small text in prose including extra visibility info on the Frankfurt weather.
P.S. Apparently there is a fault in the automatically generated html code of some weather pixies. In mine the "img src" url started with "http://weatherpixie.comm". Obviously there is one "m" too much at the end.

Useless knowledge #1
"The commonly stated rule, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox [first day of spring; explanations in square brackets added by me], is somewhat misleading because it is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules.
The actual conditions to determine the date for Easter are (1) Easter must be on a Sunday; (2) this Sunday must follow the 14th day of the paschal [Easter] moon; (3) the paschal moon is that of which the 14th day (full moon) falls on or next follows the day of the vernal equinox; and (4) the equinox is fixed in the calendar as March 21. Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25."

Easter being a religious feast its date is calculated according to ecclesiastical rules which do not always lead to the same result as the analogous astronomical rules. Everything you never wanted to know on dates and calendars in the calendar FAQ. It also tells you how to calculate the date of the paschal full moon which does not necessary fall on the same day as the astronomical full moon.
More information on Easter: origins, meanings and current practice. Unfortunately according to that source the nominal date of the Spring equinox is March 20th which I think is wrong as then Easter could theoretically fall on March 21st which is impossible.


Copyright 2001, 2002 Alexander Fritz
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