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Arrive, courageous springtime!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Sir Walter Wally, Holtsville Hal, West Indies Wilbur, Staten Island Chuck … there are quite a few famous groundhogs who predict the coming of spring but, for my money, the Prophet is the most notorious of all, Punxsutawney Phil. Last year the good-hearted woodchuck (native of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania) emerged from his burrow and didn’t see his shadow, thusly predicting an early spring. (From what I can remember, it did come early, and it was a good warm one.)

Groundhog Day (aka Candlemas Day aka the Purification of the Virgin aka the Presentation aka kinda-sorta the Pagan Imbolc) fell on Saturday, February 2nd this year and Phil gave us the bad news: six more weeks of winter.

Popular statistics (from the pro-Groundhog Day camp) say the groundhogs—although they don’t always agree with each other—are generally 75 to 90% correct for their region, so I’m planning for a few more weeks of grim times. This winter has been pure gloom. I live in Oregon, which isn’t as bad as most places, but the flues and colds and slate-grey skies and weeks of rain have taken their toll on me. Winter 2007-2008 has beaten me down.

Here, then, is my list of why springtime needs to come NOW.

1. The sun. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of it in weeks. (I grew up in San Diego, so sun worship is encoded in my DNA.) I can feel life coming back to me when the sun hits my skin. I can feel my blood surging the twists and turns along its course to and from my heart and I can feel my hair and nails and brain cells growing. Do brain cells grow? Probably not, but something’s happening up there, some weird electricity, and it’s a good and stimulating thing.

Without the sun I feel crazy and heavy-legged and slow-minded and cornered. I tramp lead-footed down my basement stairs, sleep late, take long sullen baths, grow quieter and quieter, and generally wilt into myself. That, I think, is the feeling of death encroaching.

2. Rivers. Swim in them in February and you’ve got something to prove. Swim in them during springtime and you’ll add 15 years to your life and come out with a new centered, balanced outlook on life. You’ll be robust. How often can you say you really feel robust?

3. Warm weather clothes. My old faded swim trunks and cotton t-shirts miss me as much as I miss them. I see them at the bottom of my closet every few days and it’s like seeing someone you love behind bars; you can talk to them on the telephone from the other side of the glass partition but it’s not the same as patting them on the back and looking deep into their eyes and laughing over a good meal and a bottle of wine in their messy living room.

4. Fresh-smelling air. In spring, Portland blossoms into this great fragrant, lush jungle where the air smells like jasmine, warm soil, and blackberry vine. If you hike up the extinct volcano that sits on the outskirts of my neighborhood you’ll experience life and growth and pure vigorous health. The smells that hit you are all honest, nourishing, hardy, resilient, potent, enchanted, radiant, powerful earth magic. (Sometimes I want to take springtime Portland, dry it out, crush it down with a mortar and pestle, and turn it into tea. A hot brewed cup of that every day and you’d live forever.)

What does the air smell like right now? KFC is a few blocks away so it smells like extra crispy recipe. And it smells like rotting leaves, which fill up the gutters and make the sidewalks slick. By February, months of winter have undressed all the trees and turned their leaves into dingy brown slime. This isn’t a good thing no matter your perspective.

There’s something sinister in a Portland winter (just ask Lewis and Clark, who had a rough go of it too.) It’s not a heavy, freezing winter by any definition but under the grey, drizzling skies nothing dries, it soaks right down to your core and slowly turns you into a blind, fleshy cave fish. A cave fish is not robust. A cave fish is pale, ghostly, and feeble (at least metaphorically; I’m sure real cave fish have a great time.)

Life’s dark sometimes and right now I know a lot of people who are suffering pretty hard. Add that to oil wars and imperialism and potential genocide brewing all over the world and we need a little warmth and light. Romanticizing the healing, rejuvenating properties of springtime is not much in the grand scheme, but there are all different levels and stages and incarnations of hope and this kind of hope is good enough for me, at least right now. Conclusion: Winter = death. Springtime = life. I want to live!

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

Category Winners of Great Sufjan Song Xmas Xchange

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Category winners of the Great Sufjan Song Xmas Xchange:

Best Rock: Lawrence, “Christmas Song”

Best Techno: moon:patrol, “Christmas Hi-Fi”

Best Punk: Billy Crescendo, “Kitten For Christmas”

Best Instrumental: The City Arms, “Joy to the World” bestinst.mp3

Best Garage Pop: Mumpsy, “Left Alone on Christmas Day”

Best Song in Latin: Zach Winters & The Winters, “Sol Invictus

Best Folk-Punk: Rough Dogs Have Bumps, “The North Pole”

Best Techno Ambient: The Serendipitous Cacophonies, “Christmas in a Hurry”

Best Seasons Greetings from a future inhabited by cyborgs: Boris Smile “Christmas 2040″

Best Repeated Use of the word “Christmas:” Theater Fire, “Xmas on the Installment Plan”

The BQE – Who’s Who

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

The following is a list of those able bodied souls involved in the performance of The BQE at BAM:

Alan Hampton (bass) studied Jazz Performance at the New School and was at The Thelonious Monk Institute at USC, where he found opportunity to study and perform worldwide with jazz icons such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Jack DeJonnette, Clark Terry, and many others. He graduated from The Thelonious Monk Institute in 2005 and returned to New York where he has found himself in a variety of musical situations.

Alex Sopp (flute) lives, loves, and plays all genres of music in New York City. She performs, premieres, and records with NOW Ensemble, Philip Glass, The National, Nico Muhly, The Knights, and ACME, and recently appeared with the New York Philharmonic and the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble. Sopp is a graduate of The Juilliard School where she studied with Robert Langevin and Carol Wincenc.

Amie Weiss (violin) plays with the Knights Chamber Orchestra, Allsar Quartet, Columbia Composers, and the improvisation group, Eunoia. In the past year, she toured internationally with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and Ensemble 21, and appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brian with singer Teddy Thompson. The 2007—08 Season includes performances at the Museum of Biblical Art in Manhattan, National Gallery of Dublin, The Stone, and The Seattle Rhetoricians Union.

Arthur Sato (oboist) appears regularly with Cygnus Ensemble and Second Instrumental Unit and has collaborated with Herbie Hancock and Alicia Keys. In 2006, he was chosen as a founding member of The Academy, the resident chamber music and outreach ensemble of Carnegie Hall. Sato has performed as principal oboe in The Juilliard Centennial Tour Orchestra and Richmond (IN) Symphony, and has appeared with Oregon Symphony and Haddonfield Symphony. He holds a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Benjamin Lanz (trombone) has toured and recorded with Sufjan Stevens, performed, arranged, and recorded with My Brightest Diamond, performed with the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, and has given two solo recitals, as well as performed with many other prominent musicians and groups this past year. He is associated with the contemporary music ensembles Companion Star: For the Living and the Dead (including an annual residency at Mälardalen University in Västerås Sweden); ensemble, inc.; and Magnetic North and is currently working on projects focused around the expansion of solo trombone repertoire through the commissioning of new works by young composers. Lanz completed his Doctor of Musical arts Degree at Stony Brook University in spring of 2007.

Beth Meyers (viola) performs in janus (flute/viola/harp trio), QQQ, (a Norweigen folk music-influenced quartet), and Clare and The Reasons. She also sings the music of Steve Reich with So Percussion and Alarm Will Sound. She lives for good new music, good food, and the great outdoors.

Casey Foubert (guitar, vocals, piano) is a multi-instrumentalist, engineer, and producer who lives in the Seattle area. He has toured and recorded with Damien Jurado, Richard Swift, Sufjan Stevens, Jeremy Enigk, TW Walsh, Crystal Skulls, Rocky Votolato, and Pedro the Lion.

Corrina Albright (viola) is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. She is heard frequently with such diverse groups as DiCapo Opera, Chelsea Opera, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Ionization New Music Ensemble, and is a member of Brooklyn-based rock band La Strada. Recently she has played with jazz bassist and composer Ike Sturm, jazz pianist and songwriter Anna Dagmar, and jazz trombonist and composer Alan Ferber. Albright is on Extended Day faculty at the Berkeley Carroll School in Park Slope.

Damian Primis (bassoon) is skilled on bassoon and contrabassoon, performs extensively with the Princeton Symphony, Absolute Ensemble, Barge Music, Handel and Haydn Society, Brooklyn Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, Queens Symphony, and Long Island Philharmonic. In 2003 Primis went on an international concert tour with the Orchestra of the 18th Century under the baton of Frans Bruggen performing the complete Beethoven Symphonies on period instruments. Primis completed his masters degree at The Juilliard School, where he also completed his bachelors as a scholarship student of Frank Morelli and David Carroll.

Hideaki Aomori (clarinet, saxophone) is a multi-instrumentalist freelance musician specializing in classical, jazz, and popular music. Past collaborations include performances with Sir Roland Hanna, Tito Puente, Ron Carter, Sufjan Stevens, Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, and Moscow Chamber Orchestra. A native of Japan, he majored in clarinet performance at The Juilliard School, jazz saxophone at Queens College, and is currently completing his doctoral degree at Stony Brook University. His past teachers include Ayako Oshima, Antonio Hart, and Dan Gilbert.

Hiroko Taguchi (violin) has toured with the Dixie Chicks, East Village Opera Company and appeared live on stage with such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Josh Groban, Donna Summer, Ray Lamontagne, and many others.

Jane O’Hara (cello) is originally from Ireland. Now based in Brooklyn, she is in the Syrius Trio and plays with The Knights, Wet Ink, and Quartet T. She has also played with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in concerts at Zankel Hall and Ozawa Hall.

Jay Hassler (clarinet) is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music. He performs as a clarinetist in a wide variety of groups throughout the world. He has been featured as a soloist with the L’viv Philharmonic in Ukraine as well as the national orchestra of the Philippines. He has worked with many notable music figures from many different genres including Wayne Shorter, Andrea Bocelli, Randy Newman, and Anna Netrebko.

James McAlister (drums and percussion) has recorded, toured, and collaborated with Sufjan Stevens since 2004. He plays drums on Illinois, The Avalanche, and Songs for Christmas. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Percussion from the University of Tulsa, and has toured Internationally since 2000 with the rock band Ester Drang and songwriter Richard Swift, among others.

Jody Redhage (cello) is a composer and vocalist and a passionate proponent of new music and chamber music. She has premiered over 100 pieces, and especially loves to sing and play cello at the same time. She has performed with artists as diverse as the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Neil Diamond, Jay-Z, Enya, Guster, Duncan Sheik, the Flux Quartet, and has worked with composers George Crumb, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Julia Wolfe, and Lois Vierk. Redhage recently released a CD of new works for voice, cello, and electronics, All Summer in a Day.

Joshua Frank (trumpet) performs and teaches in New York City. Frank has performed with Riverside Symphony, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Long Island Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony, New World Symphony, and many others ensembles. In past summers he has been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. Frank received his Bachelors Degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Raymond Mase and Mark Gould.

Kyle Resnick (trumpet) is a multi-faceted New York based musician who has performed or recorded around the globe with artists ranging from Placido Domingo to Shakira. At home, he plays in venues like Carnegie Hall and the Bowery Ballroom. In his free time he usually is thinking about what he wants to have for dinner.

Marla Hansen (viola) is a violist and singer-songwriter. She is a member of the string quartet Osso, and has worked with My Brightest Diamond, The National, Inlets, The New Pornographers, Oneida, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Duncan Sheik, Alice Coltrane, and of course Sufjan Stevens. Her debut EP, “Wedding Day,” is available on Standard Recording.

Maria Jeffers (cello) is a natural born Rock Star. She was born in Los Angeles. On her seventh birthday, she asked for a My Pretty Pony, but instead received a cello and her love was born. When Jeffers isn’t rocking out with Sufjan, she loves to play Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, The Beatles, and she is quite partial to Belgian Beer.

Mat Fieldes (bass) is equally comfortable in jazz, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and classical genres, Fieldes has collaborated with such luminaries as Joe Jackson, John Cale, Ornette Coleman, Steve Vai, Peter Erskine, Paquito D’Rivera, Kristjan Jarvi, Joe Williams, Arturo Sandaval, and Toni Tennille, among others. His recent appearances include The Dream Engine—the latest vehicle for legendary songwriter Jim Steinman. In 2006 he performd with the acclaimed crossover hip-hop virtual band The Gorillaz, live at the Apollo Theater, and hip-hop luminary Jay-Z at Radio City Music Hall. In 2001, he performed on Joe Jackson’s album, Symphony, which won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental.

Matt Moran (percussion) is an indispensable part of a wide range of groups, from his own brass band Slavic Soul Party! to John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, from new music vibraphone to piano-pop drumming, from jazz quartets to Greek zourna music. Moran received a masters degree from New England Conservatory, where he studied with visionary composer and improviser Joe Maneri.

Mike Atkinson (conductor, french horn) has performed throughout Europe and the U.S. with Sufjan Stevens playing French horn. He has also adapted tracks from Sufjan’s album Enjoy Your Rabbit for the string quartet Osso, which were premiered at the 2007 Music NOW! Festival in Cincinnati. Atkinson plays principal horn in the orchestra for Broadway’s production of Les Misérables, and received his BM and MM degrees from The Juilliard School.

Mio “Pico” Alt (violin) entered the Juilliard Pre-college division at the age of ten and graduated with a BM from the school in 2005. She has attended music festivals all around the world and performs frequently in the New York City area.

Naho Tsutsui (violin) is originally from Japan, received her BM from North Carolina School of the Arts, and both her MM and DMA from the Stony Brook University. She is a member of the Hyperion String Quartet and is on the violin faculty at the Bloomingdale School of Music in Manhattan, as well as the Kinhaven Music School in Vermont.

Olivier Manchon (violin) also plays viola, saw, guitar, piano, and is a mean recorder player. He is undeniably French. He is a member of string quartet, Osso, who often accompanies Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond. Manchon arranges and performs with Clare & The Reasons and his own band, The Orchestre de Chambre Miniature. Currently, Manchon plays violin and guitar for the Broadway show Spring Awakening.

Rob Moose (violin) moved to New York in 2000 to pursue a violin performance degree at Manhattan School of Music. In 2005, he joined Antony and the Johnsons, playing guitar, violin and singing for world tours including shows at Royal Albert Hall and Late Night with David Letterman. Since playing on the album Illinois, Moose has continued to work with Sufjan Stevens, including conducting and co-orchestrating his concert at the Kennedy Center Opera House. He’s played and recorded with Jay-Z, Duncan Sheik, My Brightest Diamond, Savion Glover, James Carter, Alice and Ravi Coltrane, Burt Bacharach, Linda Thompson, and The Walkmen.

Sato Moughalian (flute) a chamber musician and soloist with the Diaghilev Festival (Perm, Russia), Moussem Culturel d’Asilah (Morocco), Festival de Prades (France), and has played at Pablo Casals, Skaneateles, Lincoln Center, Cape May, Adirondack Festival of American Music, Bar Harbor, Music from Salem, Mohawk Trails Concerts, and Costa Rica International Festivals. She has offered classes in such diverse places as Tblisi, Georgia, Beijing, China, and Cali (Colombia). She is a member of the Quintet of the Americas, American Modern Ensemble, and has appeared as guest flutist with numerous groups including Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Richardson Chamber Players, New York Chamber Ensemble, CounterInduction, and Amadeus Virtuosi. She is the solo flutist of Gotham Chamber Opera, L’Opera Français de New York, New Philharmonic Orchestra of NJ, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Colonial Symphony, and guest principal with American Ballet Theatre, American Symphony Orchestra, Long Island Philharmonic, Westfield and Stamford Symphonies, Sao Paulo State Orchestra (Osesp). Moughalian co-founded MAYA, and is Artistic Director of Perspectives Ensemble.

Shara Worden (vocals, celeste, guitar) received a BM in vocal performance from the University of North Texas. In the present day she has a band called My Brightest Diamond, and has released two albums on Sufjan’s label, Asthmatic Kitty. She lives with two sassy white rabbits.

Suzy Perelman (violinist) can be heard playing in Brooklyn Philharmonic, Long Island Philharmonic, and various Broadway shows. She is also the teacher of fifteen young violinists ranging in age from four to twelve. In her spare time, Perelman loves rollerblading, word games, playing chamber music, long walks, concerts, and trapeze.

Tim Albright (trombone) is a chamber musician and a cutting-edge jazz artist. He is a regular member of many New York ensembles including Atlantic Brass Quintet, Argento New Music Project, and the Riverside Symphony. Albright is also a long-standing member of renowned saxophonist Steve Coleman’s group, Five Elements, widely considered one of the most challenging gigs in jazz. He can be heard on numerous recordings and has toured extensively throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the US. Other appearances have included the International Contemporary Ensemble and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. He is frequently heard in the orchestras of current Broadway shows. Albright attended the Eastman School of Music.

Theodore Primis (french horn) is originally from Alaska and came to New York to study as a scholarship student of Jerome Ashby’s at Juilliard. Primis performs extensively in New York as a freelance musician playing everything from movies to performing with many of the areas top orchestras. He is also currently principal horn at Wicked on Broadway.

Yuuki Matthews (bass) is a Seattle based multi-instrumentalist. He has played with several Seattle bands including Pedro the Lion, Crystal Skulls, and Seldom. He is currently working on a soundtrack for an upcoming independent film and material for a new album of his own.

Alban Sardzinski (lighting designer) is passionate for the arts and has worked with many artists including Wilco, Linda Ronstadt, Thursday, The Strokes, Vertical Horizon, and Killswitch Engaged. Currently he is with See Factor Industry Inc. as a Sales Associate.

Caroline McAlister (costume designer) is a costume and apparel designer based in Seattle, WA. She is a graduate of the Apparel Design program at Seattle Central, where she debuted her conceptual Spring 2008 line, URI URI. Her first collaboration with Sufjan was in 2006, creating the Majesty Song Bird and Butter
ly Brigade. She accompanied his North American tour as “Wing Master,” where she resurrected broken wings. She is honored to collaborate once again on The BQE.

Christopher Colbert (audio engineer) was raised by raccoons in eastern Los Angeles. They taught him much about music and audio engineering. The flashing lights and brightly colored knobs keep him happy and quiet.

Deborah Johnson (projectionist, video artist) is Brooklyn-based and has designed live video accompaniment for Wilco, Lambchop, Calexico, and Sufjan Stevens, performing around the globe in such legendary venues as Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, The Fillmore in San Francisco, The Ryman in Nashville, and Wiener Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria. She has collaborated with a number of renowned visual artists in the creation of these sets: painter Fred Tomaselli for Wilco, filmmaker James Clauer for Lambchop. Collaborations with artist/programmer Siebren Versteeg on visualization and animation programs can be seen in her recent work with Stevens, including two of his forthcoming music videos. Later this month she will be performing with the Japanese pop-duo Chocolat & Akito in a “lounge club” next to Tokyo Disneyland. She is super psyched.

Malcolm Hearn (film editor) first discovered his language was film while interviewing a gravedigger in Liberia. Since then, he has wandered the earth with his passion for filmmaking and now calls Brooklyn home.

Reuben Kleiner (cinematographer) is an award-winning cinematographer with experience in narrative, documentary, and experimental film. In 2006 he ranked among the top nine student cinematographers in North America by Eastman Kodak for his 16mm short, Birth of the Box. A graduate of Pratt Institute, Kleiner pairs his emotional sensitivities and abstract thought to enliven even the most mundane settings.

BQE Detritus, as found during the NYPD 76th precinct BQE patrols

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Brooklyn! Queens! Here lies your detritus, as found during the NYPD 76th precinct BQE patrols:

1. Your cloth-and-speckled-rubber dot work glove, which lasted through two weeks of day-labor construction gigs, jobs you got while standing at the corner of Flushing and Classon Avenues inhaling the sweet odors of BP Petroleum tankers rumbling over your head.

2. Your action figures. Bendy Spiderman with bite marks, former fascination of your teething toddler?

3. Your wedding album! Photos of you and your man together, a lovely African-American couple, seeming happy… but perhaps the album is a record of a day that was something less than your dream, a union that was something less than forever? Picked up by the NYPD, and the cops can’t help but wonder: what happened in your car that day, as you sat in traffic with your bumper pressed against another? What became of your memory then?

4. Your cane. Why walk, when you can drive the BQE!

5. Your chicken nuggets, half-eaten. Did you finally come to terms with industrial food, and think better of your culinary choice? Or did you simply overindulge on the special limited edition McRib and run out of room for deep-fried chicken byproducts?

6. Your used plastic water bottle, now holding mysterious yellow liquid. Perhaps Robert Moses should have considered rest stops?

7. Your dead cat. Actual dirt in which to bury things is at a premium in Brooklyn after all. Perhaps cremation was too expensive?

8. Your mattress. Leave your bedding on the BQE, and the bedbugs most definitely won’t bite.

9. Your Chinese menu. Apparently, you weren’t quite dexterous enough to hold the menu, dial the number, and dodge the Geo Metro that so rudely cut you off.

10. Your tricycle
11. Your car tire
12. Your wicker chair
13. Your dead goldfish
14. Your Chinese menu
15. Your driver’s license
16. Your seat cushion
17. Your screwdriver
18. Your milk carton
19. Your comb and brush set
20. Your running shoe
21. Your romance novel
22. Your dinnerware
23. Your grill
24. Your air conditioner
25. Your volleyball
26. Your Nerf ball
27. Your stuffed animal
28. Your condoms, used, unused
29. Your coffee cup
30. Your car seat
31. Your dead squirrel
32. Your bike pedal
33. Your fan
34. Your stapler
35. Your hutch
36. Your old purse
37. Your half-eaten donut
38. Your house key
39. Your shell casing
40. Your jewelry
41. Your wristwatch
42. Your toy airplane
43. Your Wiffle ball
44. Your briefcase

Caila’s List

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Photo by Murat Eyuboglu

[Listen along here.]

"The Dumb Drums," Ohsees
The first time I heard or heard of the Ohsees was when I saw them open up for the Fall at CMJ this last year and immediately I was blown away: surf rock with male-female unison melodies that almost sound like outsider music. This song sounds like the Shangrilas meet the Shaggs.

"Fight Against the Darkness," Chet
Chet is a band from Victoria that we have always admired and been really close to. For years they have been writing these beautiful, heartbreaking songs that always move me.

"Bad Dreams," Weird Weeds
I never tire of hearing the Weird Weeds. They are an exceptional group that keep surprising and delighting me; my love for them can only grow.

"Zut!" Deep Dark United
Deep Dark United quickly to my consciousness. Within a couple weeks this group that was previously unknown to me came recommended by lots of good people and the songs have certainly made a deep impression on me. They are from Toronto and I put another song by lead-guy Alex Lukashevsky on this mix too.

"Bearded Clouds Pass Rainbows to Get By" Le Ton Mite
Our first show in New York we played along side a rare gem and king of the live show: McCloud or Le Ton Mite. His show was mostly improvised with the spontaneous creation of a little ditty called ‘Blood on the Wall’ possibly being the highlight of the night. Upon listening to his recorded music we were very blown away, possibly because we weren’t expecting it from our orange-wearing, outgoing and illusive friend, or possibly it was because we loved it so much.

"Spiral Golden Town," Deerhoof
I think all S&S members can agree to a mutual shining admiration of Deerhof. I think this song is hilarious in a really great way; it just sounds like Bollywood to me.

"The Highway," Peter and the Wolf
Red Hunter of Peter and the Wolf has been a real great friend and support to us since our first recordings came out. Memories of time with him reveal West Texas, dirt roads, camping out and searing, beautiful songs. His latest album, Lightness, is amazing and hosts a few absolutely perfect songs. The song I chose, the Highway, is a delicate beauty that displays his honesty and skill as a song writer.

"Dreadful Flutes," Dixie’s Death Pool
Dixie’s Death Pool is a Vancouver group that is no longer together; however, writer, Lee Hutzalic is still very active in the improvised, experimental community in Vancouver. We were lucky enough to have him do some very exceptional work on Split Lips also.

"Party," Kickball; "Blessed by the Bicycle," Mt. Gigantic
Mt. Gigantic and Kickball came to us as a unit. Kickball, from Olympia, Mt.Gigantic from Bloomington. Our first encounter was at the Smell in LA where they knocked the socks off our sorry asses. These are hard working, kind and talented people.

Favorite electronicish records

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

1. Pierre Boulez: Anthemes 2
Favorite recording entitled: Boulez: Sur Incises/Messagesquisse/Anthèms2
For those of you new to the world of Pierre Boulez, let me give you a quick introduction. Mr. Boulez is one of the most important composers and conductors of modern classical music and also, I have a huge crush on him. The fact that I have a crush on an 81 year old man, I can assure you, disturbs even me, but I swoon in his presence. In recent years, I have stalked Mr. Boulez at Carnegie Hall, on the streets of Paris and at The Manhattan School of Music, in which instances I have successfully taken grainy, poorly lit photographs of the man, and have acquired his petite autograph on my concert program. Unsuccessfully I chased him down a hallway in the hopes of getting a picture with him on my birthday, but I was turned away by his bodyguards. Still my hope and love remain. I have seen/heard Anthems 2 performed twice and both experiences were inspiring, thought provoking and beautiful. This piece sounds like the future of music to me. Set for solo violin and electronics, the concert hall is restructured with the use of surround sound speakers to create a completely unique listening experience. As I understand it, the computer is used in real time, manipulating live samples, and creating loops while at other times the player triggers pre-existing musical material. Move over you rockers with your Line 6 guitar pedals, Pierre is bringing his computer to the gig.

[Amazon link]

2. Clark: Body Riddle 2006
Dear Mr. Clark,
I love your work and I am totally crushing on you. (I’ve been known to crush on men 3 times my age, but you are probably not that…) You may borrow my music boxes anytime you like. I have a large collection now, but you seem to have your own… perhaps we could create a music box symphony together? Why won’t you answer my emails? Did I say something wrong? Well anyway, you are fantastic. Beat-tastic. When I have a day off, I put this record on repeat all day long and I do not tire of it. That’s got to count for something.
With great admiration, Shara Worden

3. Susumu Yokota: Grinning Cat 2001
I found this record back in the day, when I was first getting into electronic music and it completely opened my eyes to a new world. I had listened to mostly soul and r&b music until college, then came my jazz phase, then my tribal punk phase, then my art rock phase. I skipped over electronic music because the only things I’d heard had been that horribly arranged techno played in sleezy night clubs where girls with backless gold tops and too much lipstick went. Maybe historically other records preceded this one in groundbreaking terms, but it was a revelation to me. Susumu Yokota combines beautiful organic sounds with electronic glitches to create these yummy intimate atmospheres. I say, invite some friends over, slip on the Grinning Cat, pour a glass of wine, and discuss.

4. Four Tet: Rounds 2003
I know you already know about Four Tet, but I couldn’t leave them off the list. This record still rules!

5. Peter Gabriel: Security 1982
This is absolutely one of my favorite albums of all time. Peter Gabriel has been a forerunner in the pop world in the combination of electronic sounds with organic ones. This album seems the perfect culmination of years of experimentation and beautiful songwriting. The instrumentation is largely electronic but also he employs extensive sampling (which according to Wikipedia was through the use of the Fairlight CMI).

6. Alarm Will Sound performs Aphex Twin: Acoustica 2005
This album hits two birds with one stone… wait, MBD is not into stoning birds, so nevermind that analogy. But anyway, we love Aphex Twin and we love these crazy people in Alarm Will Sound who translated this music in such a way that it can be performed acoustically! (However, I am completely un-envious of the person who did all that rhythmic dictation. ) This album contributes to the curious dialogue between classical music and popular music. While there is a long history of classical music borrowing from folk melodies, and vice versa, this takes genre melding to a new level. By changing timbres and translating the electronic blips and bleeps to marimbas, vibraphones, violins and percussion instruments, here Aphex Twin seems more in the family of Steve Reich.

7. The Books: Lost and Safe 2005
The Books are so cool. We all should buy their records. These two dudes make everything all themselves from start to finish. Super musical and creative. Lovely collages of sounds both found and sampled from voices to videos, picked strings and picked banjos. I found out how small the world is in realizing that my pals in the classical-ish musical group Clogs toured the UK with The Books. Dang I wish I could have been there!

8. Throbbing Gristle: The Taste of TG 2004
Lest you think MBD is all about butterfly glitch and fairy tale strings, (not that there is anything wrong with the romantic side of life, but we also like to investigate the shadowy crevices…) I recommend the British experimental music group, Throbbing Gristle. TG was formed in 1975, and thus was born the industrial music genre. This is not music for the feint of heart. If you have something in your soul that needs exorcising, then turn up the volume. TG’s music often uses highly repetitive rhythms, pre-recorded samples and distorted vocal effects. Respect!

[Watch: Live footage of "Discipline"]
[Listen: MySpace]

Year-End Stuff

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Willie Nelson-Phases and Stages
The Proposition
Regurgitate-Sickening Bliss
Jana Hunter
The Knife-Silent Shout
MV&EE with the Bummer Road
The Dream House
Lil Wayne
Dirty Projectors live
Scott Walker-The Drift
Howlin’ Rain
Arrington de Dionysio house show in Seattle
The Pacific Ocean
ESG at Primavera
Phosphorescent’s "Cocaine Lights"