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Old 09-22-2012, 10:21 AM   #151 (permalink)
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Jansz, consider me intrigued. I'm going to listen to that album soon, it sounds great.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:44 AM   #152 (permalink)
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Oops! I'm ****ed then! There's not a single mention of RH in my entire journal, now hitting over 150 pages! Quickly, telephone the local constabulary!

Jansz, another epic piece of writing that has earned you a place near the top of my "envy/admire" list, with Mr Dave and Anteater. Totally compelling, well researched and absolutely different. All the things we've come to expect from your sadly all-too-infrequent entries.

If they have an internet connection wherever they wait before riding down upon us in three months and counting, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse must be reading this and remarking "DAMN! That's what I'm talkin' about!"
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:20 PM   #153 (permalink)
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4. Grandaddy—Sumday (2003)

I'm OK with my decay.
I have no choice.
I have no voice.
I have no say on my decay.
I have no choice
so I'll rejoice.

—"OK with My Decay" Grandaddy

In some other house, in some other part of the world, a young couple lies in bed staring into each other's eyes. They've only been married for five years, and have no children thankfully, but when they look at each other they still feel the same fire they felt when they first met. Outside, the sky is dark and red and angry, the earth-rending percussion of impact shaking everything. Pictures fall from their walls, the house creaks, but the two of them press their foreheads together and gaze into out-of-focus eyes, trying with every ounce of mental strength to conjure memories to escape into: a sunny drive up the coast, laughter, goofy pictures, camping on the beach.

This kind of feeling—this warmth in the face of destruction—is what Sumday is all about. I actually had a very hard time deciding between this album and Grandaddy's album The Sophtware Slump for this list, but in the end I decided that the latter was just a little too dark, a little too pessimistic for what I was going for. Sumday is the perfect combination of beauty and the knowledge that all beautiful things come to an end. The arrangements are lush, the melodies sunny. The songwriting is compact and gorgeous but suffused with substantial clouds of modern world angst, just like good pop music should be. The lyrics are cynical yet whimsical, silly yet heartfelt, with a sensibility that can best be compared to Kurt Vonnegut finding humor in the face of tragedy.

This album, like the best pop albums, has its upbeat tracks and its downbeat tracks, but there is a definite trajectory here from upbeat to downbeat, from social commentary to introspection. What would be side one, if this were a vinyl or cassette release, blasts out of the gate with the cheery and energetic "Now It's on" but quickly reveals the album's pained beating heart with "I'm on Standby". "The Go in the Go for It" and "The Group Who Couldn't Say" retreat to mid-tempo breeziness, but bitter lyrics and a heartfelt piano interlude reveal this to be a feint. Conversely, "Lost on Yer Merry Way" and "El Caminos in the West" deceive with lighthearted titles but still cut like a recent breakup. Side two doesn't even pretend to hide it's sadness and existential angst, opening with the dual open wounds of "'Yeah' is What We Had" and "Saddest Vacant Lot in All the World". For a moment the band masquerades in a playful fashion with the album's catchiest song "Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake"—though once again lyrics implying isolation and regret haunt the carefree tune—then they quickly descend into an emotional black hole of introspection. This probably sounds like a criticism, but I assure you it isn't. "OK with My Decay" and "The Warming Sun" are two of the most gut-wrenchingly stunning and emotionally raw pop songs of the past decade or two—and the latter is responsible for coining the wonderful word "overmisunderstood". After them, the world really does feel like it might be ending. "The Final Push Toward the Sum" finishes things nicely, broken but with a faint glimmer of hope, which is right about where our little story stands at this very moment.



Love this album. It's one of the first records to inspire me to listen to good music.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:21 PM   #154 (permalink)
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Well that's an interesting pick. It's not OK Computer but I can deal with that because it might not fit wiht the theme as well as this one.

I do think you should've put Kid A on this list though, cos Kid A works well with every possible scenario. Not even kidding.
Heh. I like Radiohead well enough, and I agree that Kid A is probably their best album, but it's not an album that particularly fires me up. I enjoyed it when it came out but it hasn't really held my interest over the years.

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Yeah Janszoon, you're in clear violation of MBRS 80.1, there must be a minimal amount of Radiohead praise regardless of thread topic.


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Jansz, consider me intrigued. I'm going to listen to that album soon, it sounds great.
Hope you enjoy it! And I hope I didn't overhype for you.

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Jansz, another epic piece of writing that has earned you a place near the top of my "envy/admire" list, with Mr Dave and Anteater. Totally compelling, well researched and absolutely different. All the things we've come to expect from your sadly all-too-infrequent entries.

If they have an internet connection wherever they wait before riding down upon us in three months and counting, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse must be reading this and remarking "DAMN! That's what I'm talkin' about!"
Thanks man! So, out of curiosity, have you given any of these albums a listen?
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:36 PM   #155 (permalink)
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I wonder which Beatles album will be No. 1? I'm guessing Sgt. Peppers.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:39 PM   #156 (permalink)
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I wonder which Beatles album will be No. 1? I'm guessing Sgt. Peppers.
Maybe I'll surprise you by making number one a Wings album.

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Love this album. It's one of the first records to inspire me to listen to good music.
That's cool, I could definitely see it being one of those pivotal kinds of albums for someone. It really is some kind of modern classic.
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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
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25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


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Old 10-25-2012, 09:54 PM   #157 (permalink)
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2. Kraftwerk—Radio-Activity (1975)

... --- ... ... --- ... ... --- ... ... --- ...
[SOS SOS SOS SOS]

—"Radio-Activity" Kraftwerk

Half a billion miles from the imminent collision between the Earth and Moon, another moon, Callisto, orbits Jupiter peacefully. It's been circling this way for several aeons and it will continue doing so for many more. Its skin is grooved and craggy and cratered—evidence of ancient collisions and assorted tumult—and yet it persists in its steady revolutions, millennia after millennia after millennia, around and around and around. There are no days here, as its orbit is tidally locked to Jupiter, with one side always facing the planet and the other always facing away. There's no real weather either. Callisto has only the feeblest of atmospheres barely clinging to the surface, and even the levels of radiation descending from space are minimal. It's a world of cold, gray rock and glittering frost, beautiful in the starkest of ways, but like most of the universe, harsh and completely unaffected by the life-centric drama taking place just two planets away.

Despite its nerdiness and occasional deadpan humor, Radio-Activity is really quite cold and remote as well. That's not a criticism by the way, it's one of the album's strengths. Before laptops—before even popularly available sequencers—four guys from Düsseldorf managed to force their own playing to sound so completely, utterly ordered that it defies belief. Though their music is often associated with machinery, I think it goes far beyond that. This is the perfect sound of electrons circling nuclei—or of comets returning to the same star every century. This is music with the patience of non-life. And yet, just like in the radioactive depths of the universe, there is incredible beauty here. The austere pop hooks of "Radioactivity", "Radioland", "Airwaves" and "Antenna" shimmer with appealing precision. The experimental minimalism of "Intermission", "News", "The Voice of Energy" and "Radio Stars" wrap you in a surprisingly cozy cocoon that feels like the warmest inner decks of some distant space station. The elegant, classically informed "Transistor" and "Uranium" parade the abstract allure of pure physics before you. And the album closer "Ohm Sweet Ohm" somehow manages to combine all of it into one glorious warm, cold, innocent, bleak, minimal, awe-inspiring vision of the universe as a place of both action and stasis, where death and destruction are but exquisite equations of matter and energy transference.

Not only does Radio-Activity manage to achieve such stunning levels of aural expression but it does so in such an isolated way. Maybe that's part of the appeal. This album sounds like virtually nothing that was being released at the time when it came out. It contains custom-built instruments. It was the first album Kraftwerk released on their own label, Kling Klang. It was self-produced. The artwork was designed by one of the band members. It's like the band's own little satellite, circling some distant planet, far removed from the 1970s musical mainstream, sensors picking up distant radiation of dying stars and the final radio transmissions of doomed civilizations.



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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

Time & Place

25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


last.fm
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:55 PM   #158 (permalink)
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Ah, welcome back man! It's been too long without your exquisite prose! I personally don't like Kraftwerk (there's a surprise, huh?); their music is pretty much the antithesis of what I look for. I find it cold, sterile, emotionless, mechanical. I know, all the things you say they intend it to be. To me, it's like the music that Skynet might program for itself if it got bored hunting down humans and erasing history. Almost makes my skin crawl.

But you'll be glad to know that I'm edging closer to listening to Grandaddy. If you happened to catch my review of the "Lawless" OST a few weeks back in my journal, they cover "So you'll aim towards the sky" on it, and I thought it was a lovely little song. I'll definitely put them on my checklist, once I've made some inroads into my own albums yet to be listened to.
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:45 PM   #159 (permalink)
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Ah, welcome back man! It's been too long without your exquisite prose! I personally don't like Kraftwerk (there's a surprise, huh?); their music is pretty much the antithesis of what I look for. I find it cold, sterile, emotionless, mechanical. I know, all the things you say they intend it to be. To me, it's like the music that Skynet might program for itself if it got bored hunting down humans and erasing history. Almost makes my skin crawl.
Heh. And what's wrong with Skynet music?

I actually thought this might one of my few reviews that you'd be into since Kraftwerk is kind of proggy.

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But you'll be glad to know that I'm edging closer to listening to Grandaddy. If you happened to catch my review of the "Lawless" OST a few weeks back in my journal, they cover "So you'll aim towards the sky" on it, and I thought it was a lovely little song. I'll definitely put them on my checklist, once I've made some inroads into my own albums yet to be listened to.
Well that's nice to hear! I'm a little surprised that's what would most interest you out of all these reviews, but I of course heartily endorse that album.
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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

Time & Place

25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


last.fm
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Old 11-03-2012, 08:24 AM   #160 (permalink)
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1. Gavin Bryars—The Sinking of the Titanic (1990)

Take one of those faint radio transmissions that flits through the weak atmosphere of Callisto and follow it backward through space and time. The frost-scarred surface of that Jovian moon recedes rapidly as the radio wave pulls you back toward its point of origin. For a moment Jupiter itself occupies your field of vision but then fades away as you fly through the void, past rock and ice, deep into the asteroid belt. The protoplanet Ceres, king of the asteroids, approaches from one side, but yet you are still pulled back. Back past the red ball of Mars, dusty and ancient. Back to the green and blue of Earth, the gray sphere of the Moon but kissing distance away. Down past dead satellites, through the cool damp mists of the atmosphere. Down, down, down toward green hills and roads in some remote part of the world. Down into the steel of a massive antenna, into wires that run deep underground, protected. Down the wires, through soil and minerals, to room in a bunker deep inside a mountain.

In that room is one solitary woman calmly loading and transmitting data—the sum total of all human knowledge and endeavor—deep into space in the hope that somehow, someday some remote civilization might detect these transmissions and learn something from them, or least know that they aren't alone. Around her are cluttered desks and abandoned chairs, evidence of her many colleagues, all of whom, as the end approaches, have abandoned their posts and run off to be with their loved ones or to dash through the hills naked or to drink themselves into a stupor. Not her though. She has stayed at her post, remaining calm and carrying on, one final reassuring vestige of normalcy in the face of destruction, like the ship's band that continued playing on the deck as the Titanic sank.

That immortal image of the band playing to the very end is what this final album, The Sinking of the Titanic by minimalist composer Gavin Bryars, is built around. His vision was of the band continuing on even as the ship slipped completely beneath the frigid waves of the North Atlantic, the notes of their songs echoing through the darkness of the water for the duration of their journey to the ocean floor. It has evolved significantly as a piece of music throughout its 40-plus years of existence, beginning life as a short open-ended piece written in 1969 and expanding both in scope and length in the following decades. It's been recorded multiple times: in 1975 for Brian Eno's Obscure Records label, in 1990 in a much longer form, and again in 2005 with avant-garde turntablist Philip Jeck.

It's the 1990 version that I'm discussing here. Robert Ballard's discovery of the long-missing wreck of the Titanic in 1986 had inspired in Bryars a desire to revisit and expand the piece and the result is really something to behold. Recorded live in the basement of an early nineteenth century Belgian water tower, the performance is an overwhelming experience of texture and mood. Mournful yet beautiful strings and horns fill the air with slow passages. Distant pinging and clanging echo around and around evoking twisting steel and dripping water deep in the bowels of the ship. Not quite discernible recordings of survivors' voices skip around in the shadows. And a boys' choir floats above it all like the spirits of the victims drifting up into the night sky.

This is not the kind of album you listen to casually, not something you throw on while you're cleaning the kitchen or going for a run. This is an album that's so emotional and so captivating that you just sit still and let it wash over you. From the clanging bell at the beginning to the fading notes at the end, it envelopes you in tragedy. The odd thing, though, about being so immersed in it, is that you begin to see other facets of those moments. The bravery and heroism. The sheer humanity. The cold beauty of waves and metal and stars.

For a moment the sky consuming mass of the Moon appears to just hang there, so close it seems that you could reach out and touch it. It looks different now in the reflected light of the Earth, no longer frozen and gray but warm and inviting. Those last few moments move with the pace of centuries as the world collectively closes its eyes and holds its breath. For a moment there is silence.

And then collision.

The ground buckles. Moondust rains down over the surface of the planet. The areas of the Earth's crust along the perimeter of the point of impact explode outward into space, trailing tails of magma in some synchronized cosmic ballet. The force of the event activates every volcano on the planet. Continents tear themselves to pieces. The seas boil. The atmosphere is ablaze. Every last flicker of life on Earth is extinguished. But rising out beyond the pandemonium at incredible speed are the last broadcasts of that lone woman in the chair. They race out across the solar system, carrying the final accounting of humanity—and of Earth—to places beyond. Past where we found them on Callisto, beyond the famous rings of Saturn and the less famous rings of Uranus, past the blue face of Neptune and the frozen wastes of Pluto, into the depths of space, toward some distant meeting with an unknown civilization, in an unknown time, in an unknown place.


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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

Time & Place

25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


last.fm
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