Flutter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

(Intermission, #1)

So, not a lot happening here. I should let you in on a secret, here and now--I frequently go through stages of enjoying music, but not being able to put together anything resembling a half-decent comment on it. Nothing that isn't recylced opinion garnered from reading other reviews and news from around the Internet, anyway. Also, I do need to do my job sometimes.

So, I beg of you, be patient with me as I ride the sinusoid and wait for the trough to be a distant memory. Be satiated with a list of records I've bought recently. Nothing too exciting, the last of record-store trip concentrated mainly on getting hold of albums that have been on "my list" for some time...

  • Wire - Pink Flag
  • St. Etienne - Sound Of Water
  • The Beta Band - Hot Shots II
  • Autechre - Basscadet EP
Hopefully normal service will resume shortly.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Life Without Buildings - The Leanover

Just when I believed that my ability to become truly excited about music was waning, that perhaps I was becoming old, "The Leanover" fell into my lap. This couldn't have happened at a better time for me. Never before has the kind of melody/vocal/rhythm interaction present on this record sounded so seamless, so effortless, the hairs on the back of my neck standing further up with every second of the ever-increasing crescendo of the song.

It's all about Tompkins' vocal delivery--the hyperactive stuttering providing as much in the way of rhythm as of melody, functioning as both the drummer and the guitarist at the same time--it's the sound of falling in love, the sound of eyes connected across a dancefloor, the increasing heart rates, the dizziness and the only remaining thing left is to close your eyes and go with the flow.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Rough Trade Indie Pop Compilation 01

I've always identified with indie pop in its many forms, from the most saccharine-filled twee of a Belle & Sebastian release, to the more sparse moments typified by the Young Marble Giants. Of course, I've never really known the genre very well, apart from a few seperate, possibly more mainstream artists--Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, The Magnetic Fields, etc.

I feel I should be embarrassed to explain that most of the songs on this Rough Trade compilation are completely alien to me, and strangely I feel that this is largely responsible for me buying it when it first came out--with only a couple of songs in the tracklisting that I can immediately both bring to mind and give name to, I felt as if I just didn't have enough hooks into it, as if this was not something for me, an exclusive club for nostalgists and adventurers only.

I confronted myself over this earlier today, when I saw this and Post Punk compilation together for five pounds each, and decided that it was no longer a valid excuse to feel like there was some form of music completely unavailable to me--plus I really needed to pick up a copy of the Post Punk compilation, rather than stealing my flatmate's copy whenever I wanted to listen to it.

So I'm yet to listen to it all, opting to talk about it whilst listening to it for the first time, in an attempt to capture all the feelings associated with a new record--especially when listening to it is akin to breaking a taboo, the first sip of alcohol, the first date with your first girlfriend.

The shame is that the first track, "All Fall Down", seems to be there more as a curiosity: Look! Look at the sappiness of Primal Scream before they became all macho and told us to "Kill All Hippies" and "Shoot Speed/Kill Light"! It's this association of the context that prevents any reasonable attempt at critical evaluation of the song on its own merits, and I'm dubious also of the rationale behind including on the compilation, other than to provoke a reaction from a listener almost inevitably more familiar with the dancefloor-synth of contemporary 'Scream.

Thankfully the next few tracks prove again that the Rough Trade compilations are a fantastic point of reference for each genre they represent--guitars jangle, the treble sparkles, and I find myself genuinely excited by the possibilities that are presented by each songs, depsite knowing both that this is the past, and that these possibilities have already been exploited--something remains, whether that's due to my subconcious picking up of something in these songs that hasn't been repeated since, or that this is a collection of genuinely brilliant songs--and as such they transcend the genre to the extent that it is largely impossible not to become excited by them--is the subject of some other essay.

Particularly strong in this collection of the initial few songs is The Popguns' "Waiting for the Winter", which took me slightly by surprise, given that I expected this compilation to consist mostly of the weak-spined tweeness that I'm mostly familiar with from the indie pop I already own or at least know. The brilliance of this song comes from the ferocity and energy achieved overall, when analysis of the song's individual components reveals nothing over the top or pile-driving in its approach--a song that truly is the sum of its parts.

(I've gone much more in depth on this than I imagined I would, I'll make an effort to continue this in the future).

Friday, April 29, 2005

Overdosing.

Inspired by this LPTJ thread, I've been pondering over the possibility of a mathematical formula to describe a person's ability to digest music. This is no great surprise, given the sheer amount of electronica entering my ears recently--I have an uncontrollable desire for rigid, formulaic descriptions of everything.

My point, specifically, is that I--like the poster of the thread--seem to acummulate music at a much, much faster rate than I can ever possibly digest it. I'm sure that it's not an uncommon phenomenon to most people, especially those that are reading this blog, but it's a physical impossibility to pick up just one record from a shop, even though I know full well that some of these records will not get the loving attention they deserve, but instead will linger on the shelf, await their time in the future when I suddenly stumble upon them. There are records I bought in 1995 that still haven't been properly listened to (side issue: formulae for describing when a song/album/etc has been properly digested).

The 'MP3 Revolution', or whatever it was called, didn't help matters much. I hardly download anything now, focussing myself on trying to absorb everything I already own, but at my peak I was obtaining (take your 'stealing' debate elsewhere, please--I bought all of them eventually) something like twenty albums a day, giving them cursory listens, then discarding them in favour of checking out the next one to drop into the incoming files folder. I'm sure there are still songs there now, still completely unlistened to. Perhaps I will resolve to make a public list of the music I own but am still not familiar with, and write a short piece about each one, as some kind of incentive to get to know it better. Maybe they'll remain where they are, usurped by the latest and greatest from the weekend trip.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Random Thoughts On Random Songs From The SXSW Showcase Collection, Part Two

I hope that I'm not going to be falling back on this series in lieu of actually writing anything else, especially so soon in Flutter's life, but the fact is that I've been so busy today that I've only just got time to put on my headphones, let alone get round to actually thinking.

Be Your Own Pet - Damn Damn Leash
I had to listen to this several times over, thankfully it's less than two minutes long (I refer you back to what I said about short, energetic songs in Part One). Initially, I was gearing up to hate this, but the more I listen, the more I find it to be a great piece of guitar pop. I wish I could say more, but it would betray the spirit of the record.

Breather Resist - A Social Worker's Nightmare
A friend of mine used to be in a band called "The National Acrobats", so imagine my surprise when checking out Breather Resist's website, to find their guitarist is "one time National Acrobat member". More confusingly, none of the members look remotely like him. Of course, non of the members really look like they should be in Breather Resist, either. The music? Hard metal. It's not really my bag, and given what little I know of metal, it would be wrong of me to comment on it.

Carter Tanton - 18 & Drastic
I want to like this; there's a lovely little progression following the verses--but Carter! Why oh why did y'have to make it so... emo? I'm having a hard time deciding on the middle section: is it a great, pulsing synth beat overlaid with digital processing, or just a really bad recording. The programmed beat towards the end gives this away for what it really is--a bedroom studio song.

By The End Of Tonight - It's Christmas Time Again
Ostensibly, very little to do with Christmas at all. It is, however, about trying to sound an awful lot bigger than it actually is. And failing. Christ, it goes on for eleven minutes!?! Oh, it's meant to be post-rock. I see. Better suggestion: Listen to Mogwai's "Xmas Steps". See what I did there?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Question.

I was thinking of this yesterday, although several power cuts defied me the ability to actually post it. It was also more developed, but since losing it twice I've forgotten most of the jist, beyond asking,

"Is electronic music--particularly the colder, more mechanical side--inherently a more honest form of music, and to what extent is this related to a lack of humanity?"

This begs the question, "Does a record need humanity in order to be considered honest?".

Hopefully I'll be inclined to think more about this at some point in the future.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Random Thoughts On Random Songs From The SXSW Showcase Collection, Part One

A short while ago, the SXSW conference put up FEST4POD, a collection of songs made by the artists appearing during the conference(s), available as a 2.6 gigabyte BitTorrent package. There are over 750 songs on there, and from March there are a further 20 available as an update, and going through them is quite a challenge. But I invite you to join with me as I put them on random...

Decibully - Penny Look Down
For some reason, when something with as much overt energy as this begins, I'm prone to looking at the total track length, for some other reason, I'm encouraged when it's under three minutes*. The verses are evocative of more curious pop acts--The New Pornographers spring to mind--while the chorus channels 60's UK guitar-pop (I'm deliberately skirting around saying BritPop). This would be much better without the latter.

*although after listening to it the whole way through, the track does cut off unexpectedly, so I'm not sure of the true length.

American Vodka - Falling Water Rising
This is recorded very badly, but I've no idea whether this is intentional or not. It sounds like it could be a live recording. It's appropriate that this band is called American Vodka. It's not very good.

Mary Gauthier - Mercy Now
Standard vocalist/acoustic guitar combination. It's sappy, and if you're wondering whether it changes much over its five minutes, it doesn't, save for a quick exchange between the slide guitar and fiddle towards the end. It's the kind of thing most arts students, typically female ones, listen to at universities, concerning themselves with how meaningful the lyrics are: it's unadventurous, safe and inoffensive.

Welcome.

Hi. This is the first post made to Flutter. It'll be short, as I have a few different ideas for entries, and would rather put them up as seperate posts than make a mess of trying to segue smoothly between them. Consequently, this post is dedicated simply to saying hello, and welcoming you to Flutter. I hope you enjoy it.