Ice Cream for Crow (1982) by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Categories: 1982 and Music.

If you have come at the Captain through his earliest works, this record might feel like not much or a man settling into his mid life. It’s far less radical than his most radical work of the early ’70s, wherein he basically pioneered the intersection of blues and free jazz and other things. Read More

Smiley Smile (1967) by The Beach Boys

Categories: 1967 and Music.

If you read a lot of music criticism about the ’60s, like I used to, you have heard about Smile ad nauseum. If you read a lot of indiependent music criticism at the turn of the century, like I used to, you have also heard about Smile ad nauseum. You’ve heard about Smile to the point that, whatever it was supposed to sound like, your expectations have been permanently set either to view it as an unfinished (later finished!) masterpiece, or the manifestation of a bunch of silly pop critic dreams for something “even greater than Pet Sounds” that couldn’t Read More

Hotel Dallas (2016, Sherng-Lee Huang, Livia Ungur)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This is a thought-provoking, at times very amusing, but very artsy examination of the affect of the TV show Dallas on Romania during the communist era, with ruminations on memory, change, media representations of reality, and other things. Yes, there’s a lot going on here. Perhaps too much. But for the most part the movie – really several different smaller ideas, including a musical, rapped up into one thing- lives up to its philosophical posturing. And it is the rare pretentious art film that is funny – I’ve seen a lot, trust me, I know. Though it is not consistently Read More

Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1996) by Tortoise

Categories: 1996 and Music.

Whether or not Post Rock actually began in 1994 with [i]Hex[/i] is something we can argue about, but you could say that Post Rock, for Americans, started with Tortoise. Now, I’ve never heard their earliest albums, but it’s hard not to look at this record – with its suite-like 20 minute opener, and its genre hopping between krautrock, math rock, electronic music, and other styles – and not see the foundation of American post rock and, particularly, that brand of post rock that is most influenced by electronic music (and minimalism). So, to my ears, this is a foundational record Read More

Weasels Ripped my Flesh (1970) by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Zappa takes his musique concrete collage obsession and applies it to a live album. It’s nowhere near as radical as the Mothers’ records at their apex – as this is mostly a collage of songs, rather than song fragments, jokes and the like – but it’s still hard to recall another live album of this (or any) era that is this deliberately constructed, and where the construction is visible on its sleeve. Though I have yet to fully familiarize myself with Zappa’s post Mothers discography (beyond his biggest “hits”), this has to be one of the last times Zappa was Read More

Geocidal (2014) by tetema

Categories: 2014 and Music.

Mike Patton has long been one of my favourite rock musicians. And I think he has also made some objectively great music; at least six albums he has been involved with I would put on my “core” list of important music a neophyte should listen to. (For your reference, those albums are, in chronological order: Angel Dust, King for a Day…Fool for a Lifetime, Disco Volante, California, The Director’s Cut, and Anonymous.) But even though it really hasn’t been that long since the last one of those (7 years), it sure has felt like a long time to me. I Read More

A Field in England (2013, Ben Wheatley)

Categories: 2013 and Movies.

I don’t really know where to begin with this film. Experimental or avant garde cinema – whether that cinema forsakes narrative or not – rarely has a sense of humour. So I must say that it is a bit of a delight to watch an obviously “experimental” narrative film – kind of a rare thing these days, I should think – that has a strong sense of humour. I’m pretty sure it is the humour alone that saves this film from being either a disaster or boring. I have never been big on film effects unless I see a point Read More

This Heat (1979)

Categories: 1979 and Music.

This is like some unholy combination of ’60s avant rock, early industrial music and the earliest post-punk. And that description really isn’t fair. Really, there’s little out there like this, especially so stylistically diverse. Usually experimental music is experimental in one or two ways; this manages to run a whole gamut. Like little else. 9/10 Read More

Bish Bosch (2012) by Scott Walker

Categories: 2012 and Music.

Walker continues his unique path – nobody else makes music like this as far as I know – which seems to my ears to be some kind of combination of the singer-songwriter of the folk and rock traditions with someone who listens to way too much serialist and horror film music (and also no wave and post-no wave, specifically Swans). Walker has made a few concessions towards his audience this time (at least on some of the songs) where riffs that could conceivably be found in rock songs do indeed appear, briefly. I can’t decide whether this makes what he Read More

Laborintus II (2012 Ipecac) by Luciano Berio, performed by Ictus Ensemble, Nederlands Kamerkoor, Mike Patton

Categories: 2012 and Music.

I should eat this up. This is a work written by my favourite Italian composer of the second half of the 20th century (and with Busoni and Puccini, a contender for my favourite Italian composer of the 20th century) performed, in part, by my favourite male rock singer of all time (and the Greatest Male Rock Singer of All-Time, and if you doubt that, leave a comment and I will prove it through a blog post). Read More

The United States of America (1968 Columbia)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This stuff is mind-blowing. Almost as out there as Zappa and the Mothers (at their very weirdest) or the Velvets (at their very artiest) and not quite as crazy – and far more artsy – as Beefheart was about to get. It’s too band the sound isn’t exactly great, as apparently these guys were very, very noisy in concert, which doesn’t exactly come across here. The songs aren’t exactly great – Zappa was certainly the better composer – and the band could really use a real rock singer. (I do get that having a singer like her was part of Read More

Frances the Mute by the Mars Volta (2005 GSL)

Categories: 2005 and Music.

The more I listen to the Mars Volta the more I become convinced that they are pretty much the only mainstream band keeping the spirit – if not the sound – of progressive rock alive. They manage to combine relatively adventurous ideas – whereas early prog rock usually borrowed from Romantic music or mainstream jazz, they borrow from free jazz and funk – with the volume that only a few select prog rock bands from back in the day actually managed. Too many of the revivalist neo-prog bands don’t are about the “rock” part of progressive rock but these guys Read More

Four Guitars Live at Luxx by Lee Ranaldo, Carlos Giffoni, Thurston Moore and Nels Cline (Important 2006)

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Pretty directionless. And there are many times where I can’t really distinguish all four players. This is the kind of thing I would gladly waste 45 minutes on if it was live, but as a home listening experience it just doesn’t work. Still better than top 40 though. 5/10 Read More

Dirty Baby by Nels Cline (Cryptogramophone 2010)

Categories: 2010 and Music.

A soundtrack to an art exhibition is certainly an interesting / odd concept. I like the possibilities even though I don’t know anything about the actual installations. The first disc actually stands alone as an album. I don’t really need to know anything about the art to appreciate the music, though it is neat to imagine it being played on continuous repeat as people toured the exhibition. It shows off Cline (and his larger than usual band) as a little more varied than usual. He comes across as a little more of a composer than merely my current favourite guitarist. Read More

Zaireeka (1997) by the Flaming Lips

Categories: 1997 and Music.

In the CD players (this time around): 2 of the four discs of Zaireeka by the Flaming Lips. In case you don’t know, the album is 4 separate discs of the same “songs” and you are supposed to create your own listening experience using 2, 3 or 4 discs played at certain times. Right now I have disc 1 and 2 going slightly off, it’s pretty rid-damn-diculous. Incidentally, the theory is you will never once repeat a playing because each CD player is different. Who knows? It’s pretty crazy to hear one piano chord (obviously distorted by something) from one Read More