I <3 Music

I love music.

No, really: I love music.

The funny thing is, I never really noticed that before.. When I was a kid, music wasn’t that accessible. I had access to radios, sure, but they only played what they wanted to play, and I had no control over that. Radios were always on, but the music served as a drone. It was, after all, a rural area, and the predominant kind of music I heard was either bland country or top 40 rock ‘n’ roll.

My mom had an 8-track player. We never had records. Or rather, we had a few records, but never did own a record player. (Must ask her about that sometime..). We had a few 8-tracks that I like to play, but it wasn’t much to me.

And then came the audiocassette. Suddenly, it was possible to get my own music. Or better yet: tape it off of the TV when they played videos. Granted, there was only one program that played videos, and it was only on once a week for an hour. (This is pre-Much Music days, after all.)

And granted, the only cassettes I could get were the ones in the spinning rack at the tiny Radio Shack, two towns over. We didn’t have any sort of music store, that’s for sure, unless I went over across (e.g. across the border, into the US, specifically into Maine) where I could go to K-Mart’s tape section.

I remember getting “Big Hits ’86” and marveling at it. Well, at some of the songs, anyway.

I’m struggling to remember, to piece together my past, but I think it was Columbia House which started me on the really big music trips. You could send away for tapes — and they delivered them right to your door! And they offered you a bundle of cassettes right up front for almost nothing! You just had to send back in that order card with “don’t send me the current selection of the month” checked off, and you were pretty much able to buy a tape every couple of months and be done with it.

Yeah, I forget things from time to time, particularly sporadically repeating things like Columbia House return forms. I have a few cassettes in my collection to this day which I didn’t exactly “choose”, although I don’t entirely regret them. The soundtrack to “Beaches” for example, a movie I’ve never seen, but which made the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” popular. On that soundtrack, I remember listening, objectively, not entirely getting it or really being impressed, but then discovering a really bizarre, theatrical song called “Oh Industry”, by Bette Midler.

I haven’t heard that song in a couple of decades (*shudder*), but I think it’s probably one of those turning points, one of those things which suggested to me that there was a whole lot of music I had never heard of, that there was something to it all..

I vaguely recall hearing the newer or perhaps just more powerful rock station broadcasting from Maine — WAGM, I think (no, that was the TV station.. WEGP, maybe?)— and seem to have fond memories of the concert series King Biscuit Flour Hour, although I cannot name any of the artists, or really articulate the style of music, although it was likely rock and roll.

I went through much of the popular music of my generation, and I still listen fondly to the occasional ZZ Top or AC/DC song, or dig out the Heavy D and the Boyz or Digital Underground’s bizarre-but-excellent Sex Packets tape to play in my car.

I’m feeling strangely nostalgic tonight, although there’s no surprise that music is on my mind. @Mainframe on Twitter pointed me at Jamendo tonight. That’s the site from which he got the excellent theme song for his Geek Out With Mainframe! podcast, and the connection to that podcast is that the current episode is his interview with me.

So, I’ve been exploring Jamendo tonight, along with trying to choose which albums I’ll buy with this month’s allotment from eMusic, and also sampling an album by the band Kuato, who’ll be dropping by the station in a couple of weeks to play a Session for us.

So much that I haven’t blogged about, I realize..

Well, I made my eMusic selections, and I felt like sharing. I’ve been a little nostalgic for industrial music lately. The station hasn’t had an industrial show for a while, and what I actually know about the genre is very little. Actually, it’s probably the case that I really don’t know anything about most of the things that I love, be it movies or music or books. I absorb them, enjoy them, but rarely retain or even investigate the details.

So, tonight’s selections were:

  • Angst by KMFDM; when I put the call out for suggestions, @Nuchtchas suggested this venerable industrial band.. Good call!
  • Improvised.Electronic.Device (Deluxe) by Front Line Assembly; I remembered the name FLA, but I realized I owned only a little. This looks like a release from just last year, so I’m interested to see what it sounds like now.
  • Making Monsters by Combichrist; to satisfy my industrial urge, I’ve been periodically listening to the fantastic Dark Horizons podcast. I’d listen to it more often, but it’s 3 hours long and comes out weekly, and my life is way too full for that. They played Follow The Trail Of Blood on the last episode I listened to, so it stuck in my ears.
  • La cara oculta by Squizoo; I love to find new music, and I’ve found that the prices and selection on eMusic are great encouragement for me to take risks. I don’t know anything about this group, but I liked the sound enough to give them a try.
  • Secrets of the Lost and Wicked by Saence; another random album. One of the beliefs I’ve found reinforced in the very existence of CHSR is that there are a tonne of super-talented but never-heard-of bands out there, so when I see a single album by a band, I’m inclined to give them a chance.
  • Geneva by Russian Circles; probably the album closest to the stuff I’ve mainly been buying lately. Heavy post-rock, heavier than I would typically play on Cappacino! (and probably not likely to end up there, for that reason). I’ve picked up a couple of their albums before, and really like it.

And just to show that I’m not totally just an eMusic fan-boy (although considering how much I like them and have bought from them, they should probably pay me..), I also picked up the album The Vision by Oleg Serkov from jamendo. It was one of the two albums I found myself previewing simultaneously and completely by accident, and I picked up both. (The other album is Dark Passage by WMRI.)

Well, now that 3am has rolled around, I suppose I’m done this “short” post.. 😉

My last night in La Rochelle

La Rochelle at night

La Rochelle, one night when I remembered my camera

Well, here it is: the final night. I’ve been in La Rochelle, France for about three-and-a-half months, and it will definitely go down in my big book of Life as “an experience“.

I’m starting to gather my thoughts together. I suspect that the next weeks will be filled with many such posts, as I think over things and re-read my journal and go over my many photos (5800 so far!).

But right now, I’m thinking of today — or more, really, of tonight.

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Album Walk: “Blush Music” by Woven Hand

"Blush Music" by Woven Hand

"Blush Music" by Woven Hand

I’ll admit: I’m not a music writer. I don’t have the right vocabulary for it yet — but practice supposedly makes perfect, and if there is anything to come out of this notion of re-integrating my life and sharing thoughts and reflection, it will be at least to generate lots of practice.

I like to try out all kinds of music. I often treat eMusic like Wikipedia, moving from one loose connection to another, ending up miles from where I started. I don’t know how I stumbled upon Woven Hand’s Blush Music, but I’ve very glad I did.

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How Do You Structure Your Life?

A mannequin's mechanical parts exposed. Seen at La Musée Des Automates, La Rochelle, France.

Man's Mechanics Exposed

How does life become complicated? Why does it happen? How do we fix it?

These questions occur to me once and a while. I’m not always lucid enough to remember just how complex life is — or perhaps I’m blithely unaware of it.

In either case, I think I prefer those times when it does occur to me, because it also highlights my own problematic patterns. And when a problematic pattern is highlighted, you can address it. Its visibility is its weakness, as you can change or slay that which you see.

In this case, there are a couple of patterns that come to mind. First, I have a great desire to learn things. Not quite everything, but certainly a substantial list of things. I’m constantly frustrated by my lack of knowledge of history, or the limits to my scientific understanding. Lumped in with this is the desire to explore those great works of fiction and philosophy that inform our society. Not knowing those means a break in the universe, a separation between the foundations of how the world is and the understanding of how it came to be.

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