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Monday November 14 2022
I spent two years talking to people (108 of them) in order to write this essay on loudspeakers and how we listen to music for Harper’s Magazine. Enjoy.
Last week, I opened a chat thread which is visible only in the Substack mobile app. (I have no idea why this is the case, beyond pushing users to the app.) Drop in and tell us what music you loved this year.
There’s a peaceful new set from Time Is Away for Fruitful.FM, which describes itself as “a temporary radio station housed inside a greenhouse.” Click play and you will see Jack and Elaine revolving in (and as) a cube. The site also tells you how much CO2 the site itself is generating. A complete Time Is Away stan, I have already listened to this set twice.
If you want to understand the Tumblr publishing project that was (and is) Gauss PDF, I recommend this Twitter thread or this short BOMB piece on founder Gordon Faylor. It’s all still up and all still free. I hope to be interviewing Gordon soon.
There’s a great (and unprecedented? I think?) set of twelve free jazz films up now at the Criterion Channel. They are not all about free jazz—a few are simply films that have free jazz in them, like Les stances à Sophie, the story of a French woman and her stifling marriage scored by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. (If you know the music, you may be freaked out by how little the story matches the sound.) In associated news, someone named Jay Korber (a YouTube user since 2006, respect) has been uploading live jazz footage. Go immediately to the Cecil Taylor Unit playing Copenhagen in 1969 or the Art Ensemble of Chicago playing in 1970. There’s crazily rare footage of The Manfred Schoof Quartet playing live in 1967, featuring Jaki Liebezeit of Can and Mani Neumeier of Guru Guru. Phil Freeman pointed out on Twitter that Cecil’s band was touring with the Miles Davis Quintet at the time, and you can watch the Davis band playing a fiery version of “Agitation,” recorded the same night as the Taylor set. As for what free jazz is, my recent Bookforum piece took a stab at figuring that out.
We lost guitarist Keith Levene of Public Image Ltd this weekend. I recommend this 2001 interview with Jason Gross if you don’t know Levene, or just listen to this first three PiL albums all week long, without surcease. In a full coincidence, I listened to Fugazi this weekend, and both “Reclamation” and “Long Distance Runner” made it clear to me that they are simply Public Image Ltd songs with a different singer.
This Twitter thread from a software engineer tells you what kind of fuckery the company gets up to. I don’t mean now, in the Elon era—the events in this story happened several years ago. These are vultures! They want to watch you crying in the park so they can sell you tissues. I am not saying they can’t be used but I am saying they can’t be trusted.
One of the strangest and coolest things to pop up recently are these King Tubby live dance tapes from 1975. I haven’t seen a single person mention them? There is not a lot of information in that blog post, and the audio quality is pretty rough but these are sort of phenomenal documents. I am listening repeatedly, hoping I get used to the noise. I haven’t, yet. U Roy is definitely on the mic and I assume he’s DJing on Tubby’s sound system.
Someone named King Vision Ultra has done a series of tapes called Slowness as the Vehicle. The idea seems to be chopped and screwed, using a cassette deck, with metal and free jazz and pop as the target material, rather than rap. Doesn’t always hit but a chunk of it does. A hissy fit.