Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The internet has been out for a few days in my apartment building. Most of the international students would have you believe it is the end of the world but I like having to go out to the library or a cafe to get internet. I waste far too much time at home on my computer anyway. I bought a bag of limes and have been squeezing chopped quarters and eighths of them into my water and onto whatever food seems to go good with them, which seems to be mostly everything. Last night we drank Leffe and Strongbow Gold, enjoyed some a lot of white widow with Jerry, the Container of Poor Judgement and watched Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. We've resolved to make this a Tuesday post-field-trip tradition. Our kind of amazing Art History professor has brought us not just to museums in the area but also to Haarlem, and the Haag.

As I'm getting older, I find myself downloading just as much electronic music as I always have, but mostly only really connecting with music made some time ago. I've been digging on funk and soul music since I held my Summer job, which allowed for music listening so long as it wouldn't offend old white people waiting for their Diet Cokes and paninis. James Brown gets my blood pumping. A good groove makes me want to dance and sing. Is that one measure of the quality of music, how much of a physical response it elicits? But then Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin On makes me feel like I want to lay down like they do in Trainspotting, and I'm guessing that was Sly's intention; Riot is still one of my favorite albums right now. Al Green clearly understood love on a profound level. If you can't get down to at least a couple D'Angelo songs, we can't really relate. I'm over halfway through Infinite Jest. I think that means I'm about to finish it in a relatively fast amount of time, though this is simply a prediction based on my prior reading pattern of taking months (or in this case, years) to finish the first half of a book and only days to finish the second half. I will make risotto tonight. I seem to have pretty accurately learned my lovely late stepmother's risotto techniques. I think one of the things that kills me most is that her encyclopedic knowledge of cooking is gone. Luckily those memories are not so tenuous. I have resolved to cook more. I've also learned my grandmother's grilled cheese sandwich secrets. Now to get that potato pancake recipe from my mother down...

I have a whole fuckload of photos from Europe. I may put some here soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Some good new stuff

So after a bit of a dry spell there is an ass load of really good electronic music coming out around now.

The two former members of the now defunct dubstep duo Vex'd, Jamie Teasdale and Roly Porter, are both releasing their own solo albums, Teasdale under the name Kuedo. They are both very good. Kuedo's album Severant is more beat oriented, and you could probably categorize it as "bass music" or "future garage" if you were so inclined. Roly Porter went in a completely different direction with his LP Aftertime, which is much more concerned with elements of musique concrete and ambience. They are both absolutely worth checking out. I honestly can't decide which I prefer.


Those two albums really wowed me but it's hard to say that either of them are easy listens. This new LP by mystery producer patten conversely aims for the pleasure centers in the brain and is honestly way more experimental and exciting anyway. I'm hearing all sorts of parallels to everything from My Bloody Valentine to Flying Lotus to Oval to that collaboration Teebs and Jackhigh did last year. This is what we call 3D sound. The album is so giddy with excitement and new ideas that it can hardly contain itself. Very fun and different music.


I listened to that Andy Stott album Passed Me By earlier in the year and wasn't really feeling it. Since then I've done a full 180 degree turn and I can't get enough of what the man has to offer. His new album, We Stay Together, could act as a companion piece to Passed Me By. Both showcase his twisted take on bass music: suck out all the treble, warp the results and leave it all out in the open, in negative space, to create a haunting, pulsing, almost primal sound.


Composers Adam Wiltzie (of Stars of the Lid) and Dustin O'Halloran have collaborated under the name A Winged Victory for the Sullen and have released an album of the same name. If you know either artist you can sort of know what to expect here: beautiful melancholy piano and strings with swashes of electronic ambience. It is delicately composed music that is soft to the ear. Very beautiful and moving stuff. I'd highly recommend it if you want something lovely to fall asleep to.


Warp signee Rustie is dropping his debut album Glass Swords soon. It has already gotten a lot of praise as being some of the best electronic pop music to come out in a long time. There are definitely some transcendent moments here. This is exciting, energizing music that takes a lot of cues from '80s pop as well as pushing things forward with modern sounds. There's nothing particularly experimental about this but it stands as an effective amalgamation of a lot of styles into an incredibly catchy product.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ongoing list of Stroopwafel dishes

Straight up Stroopwafels - Incredible instantaneous pleasure. If you are in Holland smoke cigarettes, stop that and allocate your funds to Stroopwafels. A much more satisfying addiction

Peanut butter + Stroopwafel - Thick and wonderful.

Jelly + Stroopwafel - Fruit goes well with Stroopwafels so jam and jelly usually complement them quite nicely.

PBnJ Stroopwafel - Sex

Super Stroopwafel, from the market near my apartment - These are the big ones that they warm right in front of you. They taste much different. It's hard to describe and a bit hard to remember right now. Definitely worth checking out.

Grilled Cheese and Stroopwafel Sandwich - A worthwhile experiment but I wouldn't really go out of my way to do it again. It was definitely weird. I would rather have both things by themselves.

Fried Stroopwafel - I saw God

Still yet to try:
Nutella + Stroopwafel

I'm forgetting stuff. I'll edit this when I remember or try something new.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


If you're looking for a good summation of why Nevermind changed the face of music and youth culture, you'll have to go elsewhere. I'm no musicologist; God knows I try. I've read some good articles. Slate had a good article earlier in the year about the state of the Nirvana legacy today. Drowned in Sound also has a good, honest critique of the recent Nevermind reissue. There are some others I'm having a hard time finding. I'll put them here when and if I find them. I probably have nothing new to add to the twenty-year-running conversation about Nirvana and Nevermind. The only things I can really share are my experiences.

I literally have no recollection of my life pre-Nirvana. I'm not going to say "I was there." I was one year old when Nevermind dropped, only just a bit older than the baby on the cover. I was there, but it was my mother that was really there, exposed to the music of the time and able to appreciate the music as it happened. She listened to the radio and she had a CD player. So yes, I heard Nirvana, a lot of Nirvana, on the radio or otherwise, for the entirety of my childhood. It wasn't until middle school, though, that I rediscovered my mothers CD collection and all of its gems, including most of the Nirvana CDs, which included Nevermind.

Can you imagine what that must have been like? For someone entering puberty, confused as fuck about everything and in doubt of himself and the world around him, Nevermind was pretty much a gift from above. It was cathartic, emotional, punk rock as hell, confrontational and nihilistic at once, and it practically underwent its own identity crisis every time I spun it. In a way Nirvana's music made a whole wealth of my own repressed emotions acceptable, because someone else expressed them: Life really just isn't fair, it's okay to hate your parents for divorcing, the truth is ugly, you don't have to dress like everyone else, people just aren't listening.

In addition to life lessons, Nirvana taught me about a whole new world of music. My obsession with them did not come without a hell of a lot of research into an incredible amount of liner notes, articles, websites, books, VHS tapes, interviews and more. Kurt pushed all of his favorite bands harder than his own, and I would have never known who scores of bands were without his guidance. Through his words, Kurt introduced me to indie rock. Could there be a greater gift than that?

This 1992 interview is proof that Kurt was completely aware of the effect that he was having and would have on young people like me. He realized it and after the fact he continued to spread his knowledge of music and the music industry to everyone he could. That's a pretty generous stance to take on music. His words being broadcasted on MTV and the like, how could he not take advantage of his popularity and use it to change things for the better?

And I suppose I should write a paragraph about the actual music. A big topic of discussion about Nevermind, especially recently, has been about its production values. Some people say they cheapen the album. My feeling is basically that this album's glossy production has nothing to do with why it was popular. Nevermind blew up because it is a legitimately good album. A good album for rock music, for punk music, and most importantly for pop music. To me the keystone of the Nirvana oeuvre is the Unplugged album. Take all the production values away from those songs and you just have some beautiful melodies, simple as that. The "secret" to Nirvana's success is the painfully obvious fact that Kurt Cobain was a great songwriter.

To say Nirvana was important to me would be a criminal understatement. They opened up completely new worlds of thought, music and expression that I had never thought possible. I can imagine that thousands, millions of kids went through the same stuff about ten years before me, and at the same time as me, and still do now, and will continue to do so ad infinitum, at least as long as kids are still into rock music.

To me, that's what I find really impressive about Nirvana, Nevermind, Kurt Cobain. I was relating to this music with my mother. Thirty plus year age gap, there. That's the kind of pathetic reality that Kurt Cobain sought to steer young people away from. I guess that didn't work the way he planned, at least in my case. I think he underestimated Nevermind.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Writing about music...

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture—it's a really stupid thing to want to do."
Elvis Costello, in an interview by Timothy White entitled "A Man out of Time Beats the Clock." Musician magazine No. 60 (October 1983), p. 52.