April 10, 2014
Johannes Kepler, conceptual noise rock pioneer.
Just sayin’
mackro:

The Most Important Record Of My Life
(This entry is a repost from a blogpost entry I did in 2009.  The record has come back into my life again, thankfully, hence the repost.)
The Harmony Of The World was the first record I ever bought. I was only 8 years old, and the 25 cents my grandfather gave me to buy this record from a neighborhood garage sale in Pacific Palisades, CA circa 1980 wasn’t technically “my” money. However, I had a choice of records, and my pick was made. And I was holding the money to acquire it. The only other hobby that interested me more than music and computers at that age was astronomy. At that moment, there was nothing cooler in life than space and astronomy.
I had zero interest in Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back (having just been released that year.) Those were just movies. Neither was about real space. Having read several books mainly concentrating on the nine planets and all their discovered satellites at the time, and having my interest in music grow and grow each year, a record about astrononomy was a major score.
I wasted no time putting on this record the moment I got home. I didn’t know what to expect… and what I heard was nothing I would expect.
An 8-year-old doesn’t care how accessible or difficult a song or album is. It’s either cool or it is not cool. Since this was an astronomy record, it was automatically cool. This meant that if I didn’t “get” what I was listening, I was going to force myself to understand why this record was cool, no matter how long it took.
I had no clue what to make of The Harmony Of The World. There’s no singing. There are no voices at all. There are no melodies, and there are no rhythms (to an 8-year-old, that is.) There was a lot of scary humming sounds that went on for a long time. The only fun I could get out of the record was to play around with the speed of playback. 
The giant 70’s wooden monstrosity that was my grandparents’ stereo system had a built-in turntable with four record speeds: 16, 33, 45, and 78. I would often just play around with these four speeds whenever I gave The Harmony Of The World my daily listen. 
It wasn’t until too long that my mother and grandparents asked me to use headphones whenever I played “that” record. They bought me a pair of headphones just for the purpose of saving their sanity from my super cool astronomy record. “Why don’t you listen to other records? You played that one enough already.” They never realized how much they were daring me to play this record longer and longer every time they asked that. How dare they tell me to put away something they knew I loved. I was always overly obsequious to my elders. I never was when it came to The Harmony Of The World.

Two months later, I was giving up. I was growing tired of trying to figure out why The Harmony Of The World existed. Nonetheless, I refused to toss this record aside. Even though I had moved on to more conventional records by Lipps Inc., The Gap Band, Devo, and XTC, I knew I had something special, and always kept it in a special place since.
…
Several years later, thanks to two adventurous 80s radio stations in Los Angeles: commercial station KROQ and college radio station KXLU, my tastes in music had expanded beyond mainstream pop and dance circa 1985. I had no friends from grade 7 to 12, so the radio, the record store, and the cooler magazines at the nearby supermarkets were my only source of music discovery. My family always encouraged me to indulge in music, as it certainly was keeping me out of trouble, so I went record shopping every weekend.
The last summer before I headed out to college at UC Irvine in 1989, I came home and played my Happy Flowers record Oof. I put the needle on the track “I Said I Wanna Watch Cartoons.” Happy Flowers were a Charlottesville, VA duo known for making nauseous sounding noise rock with affected baby screaming and elementary bullying as their vocal delivery. 
My grandparents and my mother ran into the living room and thought I was choking or dying! They found out it was just the record I was playing. “HOW CAN YOU CALL THIS ‘MUSIC’? YOU SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON RECORDS, AND THIS IS WHAT YOU BUY? THAT’S DISGUSTING!" 
Somewhere in the middle of my whole family yelling at me, I turned my head. And for the first time in almost 10 years, my eyes landed on the corner of “that” record poking out from the little pocket inside my grandparents’ still functioning 70’s wooden stereo monolith.
I’ve kept and protected The Harmony Of The World ever since. It changed my life. During those two months of stubbornly listening to the record in all possible manners, this process rendered me immune to being turned away by how weird or odd or experimental any music could be. I also realized I wasn’t constrained to how I wanted to hear my records, thanks to playing around with the speeds on my grandparents’ turntable.
The biggest irony, however, is that I finally understood The Harmony Of The World when I played it for the first time in nearly 10 years — and I became extremely disturbed. I quickly calmed down once I realized the benefits I got from this record. Yet, The Harmony Of The World became and has remained the creepiest record I’ve ever heard.
The full title of the record is: The Harmony Of The World: A Realization for the Ear of JOHANNES KEPLER’S Astronomical Data from Harmonices Mundi 1619. It was made by two Yale professors in 1979: Willie Ruff and John Rodgers.
I was just about to post a link to my vinyl rip of this record, as I had yet to see another copy of this record in existence. However — according to Amazon — this record is currently available for purchase. So I will hold back from my original plan to share the album in light of this discovery. I just purchased the CD, and will report back if this CD’s contents differ from the album’s.
Just take this as a recommendation, in case you’re looking for bowel churning drones — and also to get a small slice of what has changed the course of my music tastes and hence my life.
(So this ended my original post.  Now for some postscripts.)
PS: It turns out the version listed on Discogs and available as a CD-R on Amazon is not the version of the record I have!  The general idea and sounds are the same, but the available version only has three tracks.  Mine has five tracks.  More on that in a future post. (FORESHADOWING)
PPS: I only discovered a few months ago that while I knew, since, that this record wasn’t super rare, I had no idea that a sample of the general sound was the intro to a B-52’s single — of all fucking things — “Is That You, Modean?” from Good Stuff. Now,I love the B-52’s (although not a fan of Good Stuff.) But I went through a brief snobbish denial that something so sacred and personal to me had actually been played & ignored several times on MTV in the early 90s and listened to by hundreds of thousands of fans of this group, even if they didn’t know what that was.

Johannes Kepler, conceptual noise rock pioneer.

Just sayin’

mackro:

The Most Important Record Of My Life

(This entry is a repost from a blogpost entry I did in 2009.  The record has come back into my life again, thankfully, hence the repost.)

The Harmony Of The World was the first record I ever bought. I was only 8 years old, and the 25 cents my grandfather gave me to buy this record from a neighborhood garage sale in Pacific Palisades, CA circa 1980 wasn’t technically “my” money. However, I had a choice of records, and my pick was made. And I was holding the money to acquire it. The only other hobby that interested me more than music and computers at that age was astronomy. At that moment, there was nothing cooler in life than space and astronomy.

I had zero interest in Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back (having just been released that year.) Those were just movies. Neither was about real space. Having read several books mainly concentrating on the nine planets and all their discovered satellites at the time, and having my interest in music grow and grow each year, a record about astrononomy was a major score.

I wasted no time putting on this record the moment I got home. I didn’t know what to expect… and what I heard was nothing I would expect.

An 8-year-old doesn’t care how accessible or difficult a song or album is. It’s either cool or it is not cool. Since this was an astronomy record, it was automatically cool. This meant that if I didn’t “get” what I was listening, I was going to force myself to understand why this record was cool, no matter how long it took.

I had no clue what to make of The Harmony Of The World. There’s no singing. There are no voices at all. There are no melodies, and there are no rhythms (to an 8-year-old, that is.) There was a lot of scary humming sounds that went on for a long time. The only fun I could get out of the record was to play around with the speed of playback. 

The giant 70’s wooden monstrosity that was my grandparents’ stereo system had a built-in turntable with four record speeds: 16, 33, 45, and 78. I would often just play around with these four speeds whenever I gave The Harmony Of The World my daily listen. 

It wasn’t until too long that my mother and grandparents asked me to use headphones whenever I played “that” record. They bought me a pair of headphones just for the purpose of saving their sanity from my super cool astronomy record. “Why don’t you listen to other records? You played that one enough already.” They never realized how much they were daring me to play this record longer and longer every time they asked that. How dare they tell me to put away something they knew I loved. I was always overly obsequious to my elders. I never was when it came to The Harmony Of The World.

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February 20, 2014
"A lot of people told Bob to stop playing in Devo in those early days. Luckily, he had trust. That’s one of at the advantages of brothers. He didn’t accept disrespectful assessments of our experiments. We were feared and objects of derision all at the same time. They felt sorry for us in a way. We couldn’t even get a date."

Jerry Casale remembers his little brother and bandmate in Rolling Stone.

Both Bob Casale and Alan Myers appear to have died from stomach problems.

February 11, 2014

internationalsadhits:

Aleksandr (Sasha) Kolpakov (right) and Vadim Kolpakov (left, Sasha’s nephew), filmed by the classical seven-string guitarist Oleg Timofeyev.

Soviet singer-songwriters such as the famous Vladimir Vysotsky are routinely referred to as “bards,” but an earlier, perhaps more descriptive term for their work was “amateur songs” [самодеятельная песня]. Their approach to song was as lyricists first, singers second, and guitarists a distant last. (In our North American tradition, think Leonard Cohen more than Bob Dylan.)

But those guitars they hardly played are curious! Many of the best-known bards - including Vystotsky, and Bulat Okudzhava - accompanied themselves on the “Russian,” or seven-string guitar, an instrument that reputedly developed in the East parallel to the Spanish guitar in the West. Its traditional tuning is to an open chord, typically G major, though the bards sometimes changed that to minor, or to an open tuning without major or minor (like our DADGAD).

"Professional" players of the seven-string guitar are not bards, however; they are either classical players, or players of gypsy music. Indeed, the gypsy player Sasha Kolpakov might lead one to question the instrument’s “Russian” roots altogether - it seems so well suited to Roma music, and his technique not unrelated to that virtuoso of the Western six-string, Django…

January 28, 2014
"

MR. TAVENNER: Mr. Seeger, prior to your entry in the service in 1942, were you engaged in the practice of your profession in the area of New York?

MR. SEEGER: It is hard to call it a profession. I kind of drifted into it and I never intended to be a musician, and I am glad I am one now, and it is a very honorable profession, but when I started out actually I wanted to be a newspaperman, and when I left school —

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Will you answer the question, please?

MR. SEEGER: I have to explain that it really wasn’t my profession, I picked up a little change in it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Did you practice your profession?

MR. SEEGER: I sang for people, yes, before World War II, and I also did as early as 1925.

MR. TAVENNER: And upon your return from the service in December of 1945, you continued in your profession?

MR. SEEGER: I continued singing, and I expect I always will.

MR. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from the Daily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight-Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

MR. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from the New York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

MR. TAVENNER: I don’t believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to the Communist Party than its official organ, the Daily Worker.

MR. SCHERER: He hasn’t answered the question, and he merely said he wouldn’t answer whether the article appeared in the New York Times or some other magazine. I ask you to direct the witness to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer.

MR. SEEGER: Sir, the whole line of questioning-

CHAIRMAN WALTER: You have only been asked one question, so far.

MR. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

MR. TAVENNER: Has the witness declined to answer this specific question?

CHAIRMAN WALTER: He said that he is not going to answer any questions, any names or things.

MR. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.

MR. TAVENNER: I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of “What’s On,” an advertisement of a “May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy.” The advertisement states: “Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally.” Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, “Entertainment by Pete Seeger.” At the bottom appears this: “Auspices Essex County Communist Party,” and at the top, “Tonight, Newark, N.J.” Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?

MR. SEEGER: Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?

MR. SEEGER: I gave my answer, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: You see, sir, I feel-

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: I will tell you what my answer is.

(Witness consulted with counsel [Paul L. Ross].)

I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

"

Pete Seeger’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), August 18, 1955.

January 17, 2014

blacksabbathsabbath:

We’ve decided to get a little crazy and post both on the Jewish and Christian Sabbaths. There’s a lot of Sabbath to burn through, so this means double the Sabbath for you! Onward and upward to “The Wizard.” (Sorry, we know it’s not sundown yet. Please forgive us.)

JOHN: I do not know what I think of “The Wizard” on any given day….

Here’s the thing with “The Wizard.” It’s there right up top to remind you that what you’re listening to is, in its own fractured way, an electric folk-blues band. We’re a half step removed from Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, and maybe a full step from Fairport Convention or The Pentangle, which were kind of witchy, our-pagan-forefathers, this-is-what-magic-is-like bands. (Pentangle’s influence is a lot clearer on Masters of Reality, when "Solitude" kind of comes out of nowhere and mellows everyone out; Sandy Denny left Fairport Convention and wound up singing on Zeppelin IV.)

English kids with electric guitars were making super noisy versions of Chicago blues… heck, Sonny Boy Williamson was drifting from British band to British band. Psychedelia happened when Jimi Hendrix turned on in London, and even without the same blues chops, crazy new psychedelic bands were alluding to grey-haired folk-blues singers in their band names….

Before Black Sabbath really knew what heavy metal was (which basically means before any of us knew), there was a part of them that was ready to get really high and sit around a campfire with acoustic guitars and, yeah, a harmonica. That eventually got all stripped away and wrapped in chrome and iron, but in the beginning, this was the scene they were in.

Music simple and old, fractured into an pharmaceutically-fueled electric era.

January 16, 2014
Jumble Gym, with its 17-year-old creator, Andrew WK. 
found via Andrew WK Week, celebrating Phillip Crandall’s 33 1/3 book, I Get Wet.

Jumble Gym, with its 17-year-old creator, Andrew WK.
found via Andrew WK Week, celebrating Phillip Crandall’s 33 1/3 book, I Get Wet.

January 7, 2014

Gabriel Brown and His Guitar, “I Get Evil When My Love Comes Down”

What Zora might have been listening to in that last photo.

January 6, 2014
The 80s Cower Before Me And Are Abased

A virtual post-punk mixtape by DannyL

The 80s Cower Before Me and Are Abased by Danmatic on Mixcloud

January 4, 2014
"

He kept in touch with Tucker, who was working at a Georgia Wal-Mart and struggling to get by. A few decades before, she had been hobnobbing with Andy Warhol and his coterie of oddballs and artistes at his Manhattan Factory. She began visiting Kostek in Stuart – as did Jad and David – and the nucleus of what would become 50 Skidillion Watts was formed.

The gang would hang out in town and hit the downtown record store, Confusion Records, right off “Confusion Corner” – the roundabout that even locals used to just close their eyes and gun it through – and visit with John Clements. Half Japanese became regulars in Stuart, even rehearsing and playing a gig at Confusion. “It was almost a democratic thing,” Clements said. “If there were 20 guitars on stage, no one would have stepped in and stopped them. David was like Elwood in The Blues Brothers – dancing bizarrely and punching the air.”

It was a wild scene for a sleepy town. “I just couldn’t believe they had an act like that,” Clements said.

Jad Fair remembers those times – and the weather – fondly. “I’m not very keen on wintertime,” he said.

And, of course, there was Jillette, who was starting to make a name for himself with his irreverent take on magic. He was a Half Japanese fan, too, and in 1987 he fronted the money to start a record label for Fair and the gang to release records. Jad called it 50 Skidillion Watts – a made up name for as many zeros as would fit on the label – and it rose out the Fairs’ previous label. It wasn’t the first time the name had been used, but maybe it was the first time all those zeros were attributed to an actual number.

"

Why South Florida is the crossroads between the Velvet Underground, Half Japanese and Penn Jilette.

From Hey Darren [via Mr. Emmett].

December 13, 2013

"Asimbonanga", Johnny Clegg (w/ Nelson Mandela)

Y’know. For context.

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