Thursday, 18 December 2008

A Guide To Listening To Earth 2

I recently remarked that I was disappointed by the latest Earth record. Other than the fact that it was just a boring record, I'm bothered by how it just isn't Earth 2. Now, now, repeating the same thing is not the best for artists who want to grow and change and evolve and all, but Earth 2!! It is a classic, great album and easily one of my favorite albums ever (genres aside, it needs no specific categorization). However, Earth 2 is not everyday listening. The grandiosity, the magnitude of the compositions is basis for not playing it all the time. It is for a special occasion (whatever that may be), but more importantly, under specific conditions. You don't just put on Earth 2 and check your e-mail or read a book. It may be "ambient" or "atmospheric" or some other rather pretentious adjective, but it is not background. Henceforth, I suggest that one ought to abide by the following conditions while listening to Earth 2:

1. Go to the bathroom first. Interruptions are BAD.

2. Also make sure you've eaten, because you'd hate to have a rumbling in your stomach while the speakers are rumbling incredibly loudly.

3. Find somewhere comfortable to sit and/or lay down. A bed is a good place, but a couch also works. Pillows are a worthwhile investment. I highly recommend having blankets if it is cold outside or you're in an air-conditioned room.

4. Don't be in an air-conditioned room. The sounds will distract you from the music. Actually, this rule ought to be don't be in a room with too many loud or noticeable aural distractions.

5. No headphones. You want the sound to seem like it is filling up the room with its heaviosity. Also, if you are laying down, headphones will eventually become uncomfortable.

6. Darkness is your friend. The room should be as dark as possible. It's good to do this at night or have drapes on your windows. A basement would be a good room.

7. You should probably be alone. If your friends (and you) can shut up for about 80 minutes, then it could be OK, but it's not likely.

8. Try not to move around too much while listening. Not so much because it makes noise, but you want to focus on what you are hearing and not what you are feeling on you skin.

9. No food and drink, except, maybe some water. I told you to eat first! This goes back to the focusing on aural sensations and not other senses.

10. Drugs are optional. They are not necessary, but may help. Something to help you focus or something to mellow you out (some stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens...)

11. Have yourself a good stereo. I did mention that you must not use headphones, but it is also important to have a stereo that can ably handle extreme low-end sounds (subwoofer!)

12. Turn it up. This should be self-explanatory. Louder = better, in this case.

13. Don't fall asleep. Meditation is fine, but no sleeping, you must listen.

14. Clothes are optional. I haven't tried listening without clothes on, but it is worth trying. It could possibly be distracting, though.

15. It's worth reiterating that you should NOT interupt your listening experience and prepare yourself before.

I think that's all (there may be more later). According to my iTunes, Earth 2 lasts 73:01. It really isn't that long. If you can sit through most films, you can take the time to follow these instructions and listen to Earth 2, without anything else getting in your way. And if you do, you will sleep better and you will be saved.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

2008: A Look Back, The Year In Review, Year-End Wrap Up...

I realize the year is not over, but it's close enough for me. I don't think I'll be hearing any new music in the next 2 1/2 weeks. Maybe! But I doubt it. So, here's my lists and such.

Top 20 Best Albums:

1. Marnie Stern - This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That

I couldn't stop listening to this album. It's a bunch of weird things put together that somehow work. Insane overdubbed vocals, motivational lyrics, SHRED, furious drums, and excellent, disjointed songwriting somehow made this album this best thing ever.

2. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

I also could not stop listening to this album. When I first heard CC, I dismissed it as lame, video game music. After a while, I noticed the complexity and craftsmanship that went into it. It's not just video game sounds, there are actual songs and a lot of punk attitude and sass.

3. Boris - Smile

This may be the most inconsistent Boris album, but that's probably why I love it so much. All their different styles, noise, drone, rock-n-roll, experimental, krautrock, and even shoegaze, appear somewhere on this album, making diverse, but still distinctly Boris.

4. Titus Andronicus - The Airing Of Grievances


5. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing

Noisy, droney, hypnotic and addictive is how I'd describe this record. It's abrasive, yet beautiful. It's the kind of album designed for a stereo and best listened to without any distractions.

6. Ellen Allien - Sool

A huge departure for Ellen Allien, but an exciting new direction. I don't know if I'd call this her best album, but it is great.

7. Black Mountain - In The Future

This was a real surprise. At first, it just seemed to be a derivative, 70s rocknroll/psych retread. And it kind of is. But the songs are interesting and memorable. They have two vocalists, both of whom are distinct and add something different. The guitar tones are lovely and the riffs are effective.

8. Enslaved - Vertebrae

This rules. I've liked pretty much any Enslaved tracks I've heard over the years and this is the first proper Enslaved album I've heard. It's just amazing proggy, black-ish metal. It's like a much more interesting and just plain better version of Opeth.

9. Basic Channel - BCD-2

Best album to dance to of 2008. It's minimal, but pounding techno with 10+ minute tracks that get stuck in your head right away.

10. Indian - Slights And Abuse/The Sycophant

Amped up doom metal with savage vocals. Perfect for the stereo.

11. the Magnetic Fields - Distortion

So many good songs, plenty of biting humor and guitars turned up to 11: a winning combination.

12. Juana Molina - Un Día

I don't know what to say about this album, other than that it's wonderful. I can't find the right words to describe it or even a genre that accurately suits it.

13. Gigan - The Order Of The False Eye

This is the best death psych-inflected death metal album Dillinger Escape Plan never made. I really can't stand Dillinger post-Irony Is A Dead Scene, so it's good to hear the tech-metal style continuing and still being innovative.

14. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

One of the most surprising albums of the year. It's beautiful and relaxing, but full of force and strength. It's mind-bending, but danceable.

15. Intronaut - Prehistoricisms

Another surprise. I liked Intronaut a lot on the strength of The Challenger EP and eagerly awaited a new full-length. I couldn't believe how proggy this album is and how much awesome bass work is present. I mostly expected it to be a relatively good Neu-Isis/Metalgaze record.

16. Matmos - Supreme Balloon

I love Matmos. Doing an all-synth album sounded a bit too restrictive to me, but they managed to make something completely out-there, with each track sounding totally different (and incredibly Kraftwerk-ian).

17. Portishead - Third

Portishead's comeback is a resounding success. The songwriting is stronger than ever and the sampling is refreshing and modern.

18. Origin - Antithesis

Absolutely brutal technical death metal, no surprise that I like it. But Origin knows how to write a song and these dudes really brought their A-game to this record. I now want to buy their older albums...

19. Roots Manuva - Slime & Reason

I can't get these songs out of my head. At first, I thought it was a bit gimmicky and one-note, but it's got a lot more heft and innovation than it initially lets on. Roots is a fabulous emcee and his beats incorporate reggae and electro.

20. Cynic - Traced In Air

Cynic is back and kickin'. The disparate elements that make up Cynic's sound are better incorporated on this album than on Focus (I'm not sure that it's necessarily better, only time will tell). I'm glad that Cynic didn't botch (or Botch) this one. I was afraid it might not have the artistic merit of Focus and would be a sell-out album (not that that could be good also), but my fears were in vain.

Honorable Mentions:

These are some enjoyable albums that I didn't think were great per se, but still worth my time in some way. Some were very close to making the top 20, but there was something else better.

AIDS Wolf - Cities Of Glass
Bison B.C. - Quiet Earth
Black Spade - To Serve With Love
Blink - The Epidemic Of Ideas
the Breeders - Mountain Battles

the Bug - London Zoo
David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Cosmologic - Eyes In The Back Of My Head
Cult Of Luna - Eternal Kingdom
Dismember - Untitled
Dub Trio - Another Sound Is Dying
Dungen - 4
Eagle Nebula - Cosmic Headphones
Experimental Dental School - Jane Doe Loves Me
Fujiya & Miyagi - Lightbulbs
Jucifer - L'Autrichienne
Gong Linna - Chinese Folksongs
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
Maus Haus - Lark Marvels
Meshuggah - ObZen
the Microscopic Septet - Lobster Leaps In
Murs - Murs For President
Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part 2
Hossam Ramzy - Sabla Tolo III
Saviours - Into Abaddon
Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
Squarepusher - Just A Souvenir
Jessica Williams - Songs For A New Century
Withered - Folie Circulaire


the Bad Hand - In This Line Wish You Happiness,
Starting Teeth - I Continue In The Nude
Talk Normal - Secret Cog

Haven't Heard, But Wanted To:

I didn't have the time or the money to check out these albums, unfortunately.

5ive - Hesperus
Autechre - Quaristice
Capricorns - River, Bear Your Bones

Clark - Turning Dragon
Coffins - Buried Death
Grails - Doomsdayer's Holiday
Harvey Milk - Life... The Best Game In Town
Hennes Siste Høst - Host
Kasai Allstars - 17 In The 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish And Ate The Head Of His Enemy By Magic
Krallice - Krallice
Mamiffer - Hirror Enniffer
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
the Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
Ocrilim - ANNWN
She & Him - Volume 1
Stereolab - Chemical Chords
Syclops - I've Got My Eyes On You

There's probably some others

Worst/Biggest Disappointments:

In no order...

1. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skill

What is this? Earth? WHAT? This isn't drone or metal at all. My expectations were all wrong for this album and frankly, it just isn't very interesting music at all. What happened, Earth?

2. Made Out Of Babies - The Ruiner

I can't stand Julie Christmas. She's awful. Her singing is just garbage, it doesn't have any feeling. It's like she's just trying to be weird for no real reason.

3. Disfear - Live The Storm

Wow, why is this crap even getting any praise? It's been done and better. There's nothing new or particularly invigorating here. Tomas Lindberg doesn't make an album suddenly good. All the songs sound the same to the point that listening to this album is tedious.

4. Gojira - The Way Of All Flesh

I really wanted to like this album, but I can't connect with it or even just enjoy the sounds. It's like a big mess of polished, overproduced, pristine nothingness. The lack of humanity makes it hard to care about. They band has some serious chops, sure, but where's the heart?

5. the Kills - Midnight Boom

This is crap. Some songs are OK, but what happened to the blues? Why is this band suddenly a crappy, boring indie-pop group? I know, I know, bands change, blah, blah, but this was a horrible change. This band used to actually be interesting and have some substence.

No best songs list, it would take waaaaaaay to much time to compile, even if I only did singles. I guess my playlists in the past would sort of be like best song lists. So look at them.

Playlist 12.12.08 - FINAL SHOW


Hour 1

1. the Jesus And Mary Chain "My Little Underground" Psychocandy (1985) Warner Bros
2. Enslaved "Ground" Vertebrae Nuclear Blast
3. Fuck Buttons "Bright Tomorrow" Street Horrring ATP Recordings
4. Marnie Stern "Roads? Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads" This Is It... Kill Rock Stars
5. Magnetic Fields "The Nun's Litany" Distortion Nonesuch
6. Basic Channel "Enforcement" BCD-2 Basic Channel
7. Indian "Lust" Slights And Abuse/The Sycophant Seventh Rule
8. Roots Manuva "Let The Spirit" Slime & Reason Big Dada
9. Titus Andronicus "Titus Andronicus" The Airing Of Grievances XL

Hour 2

10. Black Mountain "Queens Will Play" In The Future Jagjaguwar
11. Portishead "The Rip" Third Island
12. Gigan "Space Coffin Hallucinations" The Order Of The False Eye Napalm
13. Neutral Milk Hotel "Marching Theme" On Avery Island (1996) Merge
14. Boris "My Neighbor Satan" Smile Southern Lord
15. Crystal Castles "Through The Hosiery" Crystal Castles Last Gang
16. Origin "The Beyond Within" Antithesis Relapse
17. Ellen Allien "Out" Sool BPitch Control
18. Cynic "Integral Birth" Traced In Air Season Of Mist
19. Juana Molina "El Vestido" Un Día Domino
20. Intronaut "Any Port" Prehistoricisms Century Media

It was a very peculiar final show. I got a very random request, that NMH song. I messed up when I played that Portishead song. And I had to drop two tracks, sadly. There were: Matmos "Exciter Lamp & The Variable Band" and Flying Lotus "Riot."

So this was the final show, in all likelihood, ever. I'm going to study abroad in France next semester, so I geographically can't do a show. And I'd be busy anyway. I know I'll be extremely busy next year (my senior year), so I don't think I'll have time to do a show. And then my time in Bowling Green will be over and I have no intention of living in BG after school. Yeah, it's not looking good for the future of MLU. Maybe it'll just become this blog? Maybe the blog will be the only thing remaining ever? !!?? I'm not sure at all. I'm no fortune teller.

I have mixed feelings about the end of the show. Immediately, I feel sad. I'll miss all the new music and the actual act of doing the show. I'll miss the studio, the people, the studio's stereo, all that good stuff. However, planning a show every week is very time consuming and it'll be nice to not have to worry about it. I won't be listening to music and hoping that there are no FCC words in the songs I want to play. It's a little inconvenient that my show was on Friday night, even though I don't know what day would be better. Keeping up on new music is fun, but also very time consuming; it's not that it's bad. There just aren't enough hours in the day to hear all the new stuff. There are so many bands out there! Doing the show made me take note of just how vast the music world is. I think about all the mainstream music that most people listen to and just how limited that world is. How boring. People are missing out on so much.

This brings me to another point: is radio dying? I kind of think it is. I don't know any one, other than the DJs, who listens to the station. I've told my friends and acquaintances about my show and all, but they're just not interested. They just don't care as much about music. Maybe that's it. The radio exists more for the people who do care and that's why it hasn't gone away yet. The future is uncertain. Music will never go away, but the ways that people listen seems to be changing a lot. Maybe WBGU will be gone sometime in the near future. I don't want it to happen, but it almost seems inevitable.

Dang, that got a bit off-topic. Well, I'll post some more stuff about 2008 soon.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Playlist 12.5.08

Hour 1

1. the Jesus And Mary Chain "My Little Underground" (1985) Warner Bros
2. Microscopic Septet "Got Lucky" Lobster Leaps In (2008) Cuneiform
3. Stephen Colbert "Another Christmas Song" A Colbert Christmas (2008) Comedy Central
4. Mouse On Mars "Scat" Autoditacker (1997) Too Pure5. Talk Normal "Grinnin' In Your Face" Secret Cog EP (2008) -self-released-
6. Marnie Stern "Steely" This Is It... (2008) Kill Rock Stars
7. Juana Molina "¿Quién? (Suite)" Un Dia (2008) Domino
8. Enon "Rubber Car" Believo! (1999) Touch & Go
9. Eagle Nebula "Funny (Hip Hop)" Cosmic Headphones (2008) Epistrophik Peach
10. Zach Hill "Hindsight Is Nowhere" Astrological Straits (2008) Ipecac
11. Roots Manuva "Kick Up Ya Foot" Slime & Reason (2008) Big Dada
12. Enslaved "To The Coast" Vertebrae (2008) Nuclear Blast

Hour 2

13. Titus Andronicus "Arms Against Atrophy" The Airing Of Grievances (2008) XL
14. Dungen "Fredag" 4 (2008) Kemado
15. Fujiya & Miyagi "Goosebumps" Lightbulbs (2008) Deaf, Dumb And Blind
16. AIDS Wolf "General" Cities Of Glass (2008) Skin Graft
17. Cynic "The Unknown Guest" Traced In Air (2008) Season Of Mist
18. Squarepusher "The Coathanger" Just A Souvenir (2008) Warp
19. Xinlisupreme "I Am A New Christ (UT Mix)" Neinfuturer (2005) -no label-
20. David Byrne & Brian Eno "The River" Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008) -self-released-
21. the Bad Hand "?doG eeS eseeG Od" In This Line Wish You Happiness (2008) Daly City
22. Daedelus "If We Should featuring Laura Darlington" Love To Make Music To (2008) Ninja Tune
23. Bison B.C. "Wendigo Pt. 2 (Cursed To Roam)" Quiet Earth (2008) Metal Blade
24. Murs "I'm Innocent" Murs For President (2008) Warner Bros

The show went very well. I'm feeling the most comfortable in the studio as I've ever felt. Too bad this was the second-to-last show. I'm finally getting good at DJing, but now my tenure is coming to an end. I have mixed feelings and I'll share more about that later, on what may be the final post on this blog. For now, I'll just make a few comments. During this show, I played quite a few artists that have released their music on their own, ain't that neato? Second, Talk Normal is really cool. They were pretty insane live last week, but I think they sound even better recorded. I've very glad I bought their EP. After listening to that Daedelus album today, I decided that I really don't like it, only a few tracks on it are really good.

I'm beginning to plan the final, best of 2008 show. WHO WILL MAKE THE PLAYLIST????? There have been quite a few great releases this year, but I already know my top favorites. And next week I'll share them all.