Early Vacation Housekeeping: Recent Acquisitions and Discoveries

Some time away in L.A.’s offered the opportunity to visit the blog and catch up on posting some things I’ve been meaning to get up on tirado for a while. If there’s anything that these posts indicate, is that unless I just spend hours a day writing, I could never write with a gun or paycheck pressed against my temple.

If anything’s characterized the last couple of months, it’s been a steady stream of book and music-buying. They are the consumer vices I allow myself to indulge in from time to time. Consider this an offline roundup of what I hope to be drawing from a little more deeply in from the future. A short summer reading or listening list, if you will.

  • Gilles Deleuze’s Two Regimes of Madness. It looks like a good introduction to his basic concerns and the trajectories of his though. I’m dreadfully unaware of Deleuze’s work. Given that Deleuze drew the attention of Badiou, Agamben, and Zizek, and is seen to have an influence on thinkers such as Manuel De Landa, he’s worth boning up on.
  • The Tate’s Modern Artists treatment of Julain Opie’s work. So you’ve probably seen his work on St. Etienne and Blur album covers and in various public spaces, including the Northern Avenue bridge in Downtown Boston. His extremely recognizable later work imbues digitally-rendered and animated drawings with eye-catching simplicity. Skimming through the text reaffirms a constantly-held thought: that I am a perpetual beginner when it comes to just about anything. It’s a pleasant retrospective. The accompanying essay is informative, if not slightly pedantic, but worth flipping between different sections of the defectively bound book to read the book from beginning to end.
  • The Confidence Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville. Two immediate associations coming to mind from the title were Roxy Music’s nine-minute trackThe Bogus Man and Agamben’s assertion that the exemplars of the coming community are “Tricksters or fakes, assistants or ‘toons…”. What fun will lurk at the indiscernable turns in the darkness? I’ll find out when I read it. To what extent was Melville’s writing a bellwhether of ascendant American capitalism? Will reading Melville’s work offer more insight into that historical question? Is this text capable of illuminating notions of the Coming Community or Whatever Being? Maybe I’ll let you know in a few months.
  • Miles Davis’ On the Corner. Here we find Miles insistently beating at the boundary distinguishing music and sound. And that a portion of the image on the gatefold is the inspiration for Troubleman Unlimited’s logo is a bonus. It’s long-overdue essential listening.

  • DJ Nobody Presents: Blank Blue, Western Water Music Vol. 2: Elvin Estela’s been plugging away at manufacturing sounds and rhythms for well over ten years now. Blank Blue is his fifth full-length production. His pedigree in underground hip-hop is solid, having collaborated with Project Blowed in the late 1990s and working with Busdriver in the present day. As a producer, Estela is active with Guillermo Scott Herren (aka Prefuse 73) as part of the outfit La Correcion, and is a prolific remixer. He is a regular on dublab.com and he co-hosts the weekly cavalcade of psych-rock on KXLU, She Comes in Colours, consistently touted as one of the best radio shows in Los Angeles. Someone once called his music “Paisely Soul”, and it’s an affectionate, if mildly apt, descritption. In a previous post, I mentioned something to the effect of how the Rain Parade was able to temper psych-rock with doses of punk discipline. Estela’s project weds free floating psychedelic soundscapes and makes them sway with beats that move away from an imaginary center point in the first half of the bar and return in the second. Singer Nikki Randa’s vocals emerge from the aquatic soundscapes to ping Blank Blue’s way through your subconscious.
  • When I was picking up the above three records, I was looking for a Miles Davis record featuring Keith Jarrett. I had no such luck. In an ironic twist (perhaps out of exhaustion), I picked up Jarrett’s Standards in Norway, one of his many straight-forward jazz discs with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette.
  • W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants. If I remember correctly, I was introduced to Sebald’s work when I read an article by Benjamin Kunkel mentioning him. In any case, what matters less was the specific written piece than the fact that Sebald became interesting to me. After reading the traversals and intersections of time, images, recollections, fiction, truncated interaction, nostalgia, and reflection that was his Vertigo, I wanted more Sebald. This particular copy was whatever I could get my hands on at the time.

I’ll leave this post with footage of Keith Jarrett getting down with Miles Davis prior to Jarrett’s renunciation of electronically-generated music. He bluntly stated his discontent in the liner notes for his Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne album from 1973:

I am, and have been, carrying on an anti-electric-music crusade of which this is an exhibit for the prosecution. Electricity goes through all of us and is not to be relegated to wires.

In a way, it’s too bad, because what the video below will show that the Jarrett’s got soul in super-abundance. But then again, had he kept on working with electricity, those amazing solo piano concerts of the mid-70s would probably not have happened. At any rate, the electricity hops out of the wires and into his body through the keys while Jarrett plays, coinciding in an ecstatic display. Check him out on the Rhodes for his part of “Inamorata”. (You might have to turn it up to hear…)


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