Monday October 31 2022
I keep returning to an eleven-minute (sort of) jazz-funk reworking of “Sister Ray” from 1976. Lou Reed — with Marty Fogel on sax, Bruce Yaw on bass, and Michael Suchorsky on drums — played this version at the Capitol Theater in Passaic. One of few YouTube comments on this video is “strange arrangement but ok.” Reed rarely altered his vocal to fit the band but here, for once, he does. What goes on here isn’t exactly rap or funk or soul exactly and it also isn’t anything else Reed did.
“Surrealism may have originated in the West, but it is rooted in a conspiracy against Western civilization” is from Robin D.G. Kelley’s Freedom Dreams, and it is only one of many ideas that have been stuck with me since I read it. In a new interview in The Nation, Kelley talks about the genesis of the book, now 20 years old: “The framing of the whole book began with a talk that I gave at Dartmouth. It was for a Dr. MLK celebration, and my daughter came with me. This would have been about 2000, so she would have been about 10 years old. I give this talk, and Elleza has this assignment to write something about Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at school, and we come back and she’s like, ‘I don’t really want to do this.’ So, I say, ‘I’ll tell you what: Don’t turn in your assignment. But I’m going to interview you right now, and I want you to say to your teacher why you won’t do the assignment.’ And I turn on the tape recorder (cassette!) and she said, ‘It’s not relevant to my generation.’ And I’m like, That’s a damn good answer! I give the cassette to her teacher, and as a result of that, her teacher brought me into the class. We did this exercise where we got all the kids to talk about what is actually relevant to their generation. And the top issue turned out to be gun violence.”
Here’s are some new Shfl blurbs on vaporwave albums. I have become addicted to Luke Laurila, a.k.a. t e l e p a t h, and his umpteen productions. The music is a red velvet headphone smear of impurity and radical sparkle and I cannot find my way out of his biolung. I know nothing about Laurila, so here’s a Reddit thread about what he is or is not up to. This Spotify playlist is great but I recommend going to his Bandcamp page and copping the whole discography.
I love the “influences mix” the duo Time Is Away just did for Oddity Radio. As happens with many great DJs, certain records now sound as much like Time Is Away to me as they sound like the people who made them. (The same goes for, say, happy hardcore, which will always be “John Peel music.”) A note from Jack and Elaine on the mix: “For our influences mix we have tried to include some of the things about music that have obsessed us, one way or another, since we started collecting records as teenagers. Things like: minimalism in music, German experimental rock, the human voice, ambient techno, indie, hip hop instrumentals and the influence of dub.” Still sounds like Time Is Away to me. Mesmerizing.
The Spirit is a screen visualization tool that looks like a big cloud of salt being dragged around by a dog. Your cursor is that dog. When the web kicked in, about 25 years ago, this was the kind of thing I would stare at for a week. I am no less susceptible to cheap magic today.
Rob Hatch-Miller’s great Syl Johnson documentary, Any Way the Wind Blows, is available free on Tubi.
A conversation from September of this year between Phil Cho and Bill Laswell is up at In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi. I love how straightforward and humble Laswell’s answers are. If his name means nothing to you, there are two fantastic mixtapes up at Aquarium Drunkard now. Download Volumes 1 and 2 of Bill Laswell Research Institute (nice name) for free, here. Laswell was an important figure for lil Sashi—his concerns, his collaborators, the idea that you could make so many different kinds of records. This quote from the Cho interview will hopefully get you to read the whole thing: “When I was working with Brian Eno, we used to go to Chinatown and buy junk, gravel, marbles, anything you can think of. You bring the stuff back, put a mic over it, add reverb, and that’s your sound collage. Anyone could do it. It’s just a question of if they would do it, when they would do it, and why.”
I’ve been thinking about this Guardian piece on cocaine Tabitha Lasley published back in June. The discussion of class and addiction and daily life is concrete, rooted in either experience or reporting. I love it, and it’s accurate. English people go for cocaine in a way that might surprise an American. (Industry, in this regard, is extremely realistic.) Lasley finds so many ways to look at cocaine usage, and they all work: “This is the real difference between working- and middle-class cocaine users, as far as I can see. The middle classes have a greater margin for error. They don’t have to submit to drug tests at work. Their lives are set up in such a way that they can keep their drug use private. Until they choose not to. Then they can monetise their mistakes, expurgating sin through confession, because they also dominate the arts.”
This two-hour Andy Beta tribute to Pharoah Sanders is the best mix of its type so far. Beta goes low on the predictable tracks and shows how many different settings Pharoah could put himself in while still being entirely himself.
I saw this photo sitting in the trash last week. I don’t know why I didn’t bring it home.