Wednesday, February 27, 2008



"Conan, what is best in life?"

"To crush your enemies; see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women?"

"No, Conan. Too passe, and misogynistic to boot. This is the 21st century, you know."

"Oh. Well, then. There's always L O S T."

"Closer, but what about music?"

"Hmm. Good point. What if there was music about L O S T?"

"THAT, Conan, would be what is best in life."



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Future Music?

So, those of you who read this blog (basically, my mom and my girlfriend) know of my predilection for music that aggressively questions the notion that rock and roll is "just" popular music. Certainly, the rock and roll that I listen to is anything but popular: if I heard the Dillinger Escape Plan on the radio, I'm pretty sure that even I would shit my pants. But, nevertheless, through thick and thin, rock and roll as art music soldiers on: from Zappa, to Sonic Youth, to Tortoise, there are always rock musicians who are interested in creating music for listeners and thinkers, not just for the unwashed masses.

In that spirit, I am proud to bring you two of my newer discoveries in this regard: JerseyBand and Basilica.

JerseyBand are a collective of musicians from the Eastman School of Music who are attempting to pursue rock music from their own skewed perspective. Fusing the sound of horn-driven third-wave ska revival bands like Reel Big Fish and Mustard Plug with the highly technical and uncompromisingly dissonant aesthetic of mathcore and math metal bands like Meshuggah and Botch, JerseyBand treads upon the same spastic sonic ground tentatively explored by Candiria, but inject their own brand of off-kilter humor and their classically-trained view of new music to create something more energetic and complex. As tempting as it is to call these guys the next iteration of math metal, these guys are really something completely new.

On to my next discovery, and, perhaps, the more interesting one: Basilica. Founded by two students at the IU Jacobs School of Music, Ben Jacob and Derek Johnson, Basilica seeks to chart a tenuous sonic landscape they have termed "Chamber Grind", informed in equal part by the bleak and terrifying soundscapes of Penderecki and Xenakis and the similarly frightening
grindcore experiments of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Carcass. In doing so, this multi-instrumental ensemble has created a monster: music comprised of the most aggressive and challenging music in both art and rock music, played by musicians of the highest standard with the aim of exploring the darker emotive qualities of music in the grand tradition of both art music composers like Mahler and rock musicians like Napalm Death. This is some seriously difficult music, not just to perform, but to listen to. However, don't for a second assume that this is bad; it's just intensely challenging. Contemporaries Behold...The Arctopus draw on much the same set of influences, with similarly complex results.

I'm pretty sure that this fusion of art music and rock music represents the future direction of serious music: we see, in both cases, trained musicians drawing upon both their backgrounds in experimental art music and in experimental rock music to create what I believe is the next front of the avant-garde. I think we're standing at the precipice of a brave new world for art music, wherein compositionally forward-thinking musicians can create interesting and visionary pieces of music that transcend genre and defy pigeon-holing. This new attitude towards art, I believe, might be the most exciting development in music in the last 50 years.

EDIT: I didn't realize this until looking at my older posts, but nearly every blog entry I have written commences with the word "So..." I apologize for this grievous literary transgression, and I pledge, in the future, to take pains to ensure that the variety of introductions to my missives are commensurate to the diversity of music contained therein.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Generative Systems

So, once in a while, the Intertube spits out something so awesome that it reminds me of why people branded it the "Information Superhighway" when it was new, instead of branding it the "Porn and LOST spoilers Superhighway" (which is really probably a more apt description). Today's evidence that the internet is more than just cat macros and cult apologists:'s awesome lecture by Will Wright and Brian Eno on generative systems. This totally rocks- it bounces from music, to technology, to music technology, to basically everything in the physical universe. Here it is, embedded, all 1.5 hours of pure academic glory, for you lazy shlubs to bask in instead of leveling up your Night Elf Mohawks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

1.21 Gigawatts of Upcoming Funk

So, it's cold outside, which means one thing: time for some hot electro beats. Well, not quite. But, nevertheless, some hot electroacoustic stuff is going down at the University of Kentucky. First, I will be playing Cort Lippe's "Music for Hi-Hat and Computer" tomorrow at 12:30, during the UK Percussion Studio Magic Hour of Lovin' and New Music (Studio Class). Then, on Tuesday, February 19th, from 3-6 AM (that's right, AM) , direct your radio appliances to WRFL 88.1 (or, check it out streaming on the web), where I will be teaming up with DJ Brian Archinal to spin the freshest electroacoustic club bangers from hot producers like Mario Davidovsky, Pierre Boulez, Javier Alvarez, and maybe, just maybe, some phat electro. No promises, except for these: it will rock, and I will be tired on Wednesday. Also, approaching quickly on the horizon is the UK Chamber Ensemble concert on Friday, April 5th. More details will be forthcoming, but, as of right now, I can tell you that Clint Davis and I will be playing John Luther Adams' "Red Arc/Blue Veil" for piano, percussion, and electronic soundscape. There will probably be some other bleep-blorp non-music electrofoolishness on there as well, so all of you Haydn Haters know where you need to be on the night of Friday, April 5th. Yeeah boooyyyyyyy.

So, I'm not much for blog worship...

But holy hell, DiscoDust is awesome. It's basically just what I needed: after gazing, longingly, at pictures of the ridiculous parties that Valerie throws, I was growing despondent. You see, Valerie might be the raddest disco house record label ever, but, for all their claims to being a record label, they don't seem to have any actual record RELEASES. Thankfully, DiscoDust remedies this by basically offering tons of free disco house singles on their blog. Hooray for the Weird 80's!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

French Connection/UK

So, I've decided to scrap the idea of making this blog entirely about electronic music, although electronic music will still be an area of predominant focus. I think I'm going to try to take this in the direction of providing a clearinghouse for any and all reviews/think-pieces I might feel compelled to write.

On the subject of reviews, Kyle Gann, one of the foremost scholars in the realm of contemporary music, was in residency at the dubiously beautiful University of Kentucky last week. I say dubious because, the night before Kyle arrived, the storm of the century decided to abscond with part of my apartment complex's roof, as well as taking various and sundry gutters and light fixtures as sacrifice. All that aside, Kyle was fantastic, and it was a true joy to spend some time with someone who knows so much and is so well-versed in so many areas of music scholarship. He is a consummate musicologist, critic, and composer, and it was great to have him here to share his insights on all these disciplines over the course of the week. Be sure to check out his blog on the regular!

On the subject of other blogs, I've added a handy-dandy link table to the blog. Be sure to check out these links- of particular note are Valerie and 20jazzfunkgreats. Valerie never ceases to amaze me- it's a collection of weirdo Frenchmen making the best house music that 1982 has to offer, only in 2008. 20jazzfunkgreats is what The Onion's AV Club would be if it had spent its formative years playing tabletop war games instead of wearing tight jeans and smoking clove cigarettes. Both of these blogs are excellent. Europeans have their finger on the pulse of the 1980's (and anyone familiar with me should be well aware with my obsession with the "weird 80's"), while the extent of American 80's worship is this tripe. God help us all.