Monday August 1 2022
Start the day with Raphael Rogiński and his solo guitar set from the Festival of Endless Gratitude. I saw him at Unsound in 2015 and was converted. Kind of like a court musician for a benevolent kingdom that doesn’t exist, Rogiński repurposes Henry Purcell and John Coltrane and Albert Ayler and centuries of Jewish folk melodies. He is present for the decision-making process and spiritually fit.
This East Portal album gets heavy play in my house. John Atkinson (of New York) and Patrick Taylor (of LA) started this album at the beginning of the pandemic and finished it in early 2021. It was done by email; they didn’t see each other in person again until a photo shoot in the fall of 2021.
I talked to Taylor and Atkinson on Zoom a few weeks ago and discovered they got to know each other in a fantasy basketball league (which is like a Rate Your Music thread for sports) eleven years ago. Atkinson plays in bands and makes electronic music, and Taylor plays bass with pop stars and a few bands, none of which will help you predict what this gorgeous music sounds like.
Taylor wrote his parts as MIDI, using a keyboard controller, because he knew it “would force me to do create weird intervals and bends that I wouldn't normally do.” Once written, he learned how to play the parts on fretless bass and bowed upright and pedal steel. He also taught himself how to play clarinet. (He did not previously play any reed or wind instruments.) Atkinson manipulated Taylor’s recordings—“I would bend them even more,” he said—and added some bits. Atkinson reports that he was listening to Paul Motian and Penguin Cafe Orchestra while the East Portal album was percolating. The duo completed roughly a song a month until the end of 2020, and the result is a high density, low light mash of Ry Cooder and Kelly Reichardt movies, a new blend of Cinemascope memory projection.
Fever Dream is a project by eüsh (also known as Seán van Doornum) recorded in 2020. It turns out that Seán, originally from the Netherlands, studied in Australia and has lived in New York for more than ten years. This 90-minute playlist van Doornum made in August of 2021 gives you an idea of where he’s coming from, and it’s great: Margo Guryan, Exuma, Dylan, Emmitt Rhodes, and some other twisty dreamers. I am telling you to listen to somebody singing! This music makes me feel like I’m in some lemony-ass snow globe.
John Corbett just told me about Genosidra, a young producer from Buenos Aires also known as Carlos Quebrada. Digital mayhem in the Arca family, at least in some aspects. Try “Gore Borato”! Pretty sure it involves Chewbacca.
I am vibing the hell out to Stef Kett, a guitarist Finlay Clark of Still House Plants put me on to. His stuff is sort of in a lineage that includes Rafael Rogiński, Big Flame, Still House Plants, and Bill Orcutt, reaching through the mesh screen to play your answering machine with his guitar behind your back!
What do I want you to do with Oren Ambarchi’s Shebang? I want you to pre-order it and get ready to be dazzled on September 30. Like God’s own light coming through the leaves, with BJ Cole on deck just to make sure all glows.
This Bullwackies documentary from 1981 makes clear that essential roots reggae was being made right here in New York. None of the usual suspects or the obvious narratives show up, but you do get some amazing descriptions of what reggae is and isn’t.
This French Kiwi Juice mix from 2015 is what would currently be known as “pure vibes.” Made me feel like I had really nice wallpaper (I do not) and four kinds of seltzer (I do). R&B slow house? A very specific kind of thing here.
The photo on the cover of Slint’s Spiderland was taken by the band’s friend, Will Oldham. How did he make these spooky-ass children look so happy? “Will (Oldham) was treading water while he was taking the picture so we were laughing at him,” bassist Todd Brashear said, in this Curious Kentucky piece.
In June, Sean Booth from Autechre answered questions during a three-hour Twitch session, and it has been archived here to YouTube in two parts. He vapes! He talks! He eats food in Norway! He also dispenses highly detailed explanations. Not so reclusive after all!
I didn’t know anything about music journalist Ted Kessler until I read these two very different excerpts from his forthcoming book: one about interviewing Mark E. Smith, which is as entertaining as you hope it is, and one about his brother being in Interpol, which I did not see coming.
These recordings of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan singing, made between February of 1935 and December 1936, are remarkable. Apparently, his pictures hangs in the home of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, as part of a shrine. It makes sense.
Listening to Matt Christman and Daniel Denvir chop it up on The Dig was the sort of cathartic skid I needed this week. If you don’t want to think about America (who can blame you?), you can listen to the dryer across the street. It had a really good moment.
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