Toddlike's Worthless Music Review Blog

Music Reviews and Whatnot, fresh from my brain to this blog. With occasional bonus thoughts.

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Comments by: YACCS

Thursday, February 26, 2004
Out of Business
If you periodically visit here, hoping I'll post more reviews, it ain't happening. I'm out of the review buisness, mostly for good. I have a newer blog, located here, which I am relaunching.


Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Yes, another hiatus.

Not that anyone should really care.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Morton Feldman - "String Quartet (II)"
I'll be honest here. I don't really have a clue how to review this; it's a five hour string quartet by Morton Feldman, a little-known avant-garde composer who was a contemporary of John Cage. There seems to be a recent Feldman resurgence, which probably would make him happy, if he weren't dead. Feldman's "thing" was, especially towards the end of his life, to create very long works of music which effectively sound like they are suspended in space. In other words, Feldman's pieces don't have a beginning, middle, and end, they 'arrive' and then 'are' for a given length of time, and then just sort of end; no dramatic codas or 1812-style overture cannons going off. Feldman's idea of a big moment is to offer a slight change in tempo, or a move from a long drone to a shorter drone-- or, in some sections, pizzicato. However, this does not mean it's ambient, in any sense of the word; your reviewer finds the work relentlessly tense, even approaching unpleasant in spots, and there are sections which reminded me of a warped Phillip Glass record played at the wrong (much slower) speed. Feldman does not go back to reoccurring themes, and though he does use repetition, it is within very specific chunks of time.

So what does this all add up to? Well, it's a hell of an investment in time, and while there are sections which are "conventionally" beautiful, I'd imagine that a lot of people would find this very hard going. It's recorded very well, and the Ives Ensemble gets a lot of credit for being the first to record this monster (it is seldom played, and has never been recorded). The merely curious, however, would probably be better served by some of Feldman's easier to obtain works (this is a limited HatART set), and those which are, perhaps a little shorter. However, if the description above doesn't put you off, you'll find a hell of a lot to like here. Me, I love this thing; I just wonder how many times I'll do so.

Monday, September 23, 2002
Fennesz - "Endless Summer"
Hey kids, remember "glitch"? That flavor of the month "innovation" in techno music, where people like Pole, Oval, and Sutekh uses either the real or simulated sound of equipment failure to add texture to ambient noise? Remember snatching up copies of Ovalprocess and trying to figure out what all the fuss was about? Or the time you listened to "Clicks and Cuts, Vol 2" and wondered what the hell I was raving about? Well, gosh darn it if someone didn't come along in the middle of all that and release a record which simply makes 'em all sound like genre wankery. Fennesz's "Endless Summer" takes it's queue from soft, lilting summer pop (hence the title), and runs it through the glitch "process" to make a record with a perfect balance of melody and texture. Unlike his previous efforts, which showcased harsh noises with their glitchery, Fennesz works with his guitar (he always has, I have heard, but I'll be damnned if you can tell), creating light, simple melodies-- the title track being a prime example. He then layers the rapid fade ins and outs, surface noise, and clicks onto the melodies. It sounds like sunlight being filtered through trees, the dark shadows contrasting with the melodies, somehow beautifying the process.

This album is thought through, and thoughtful. An essential release.

Thursday, September 12, 2002
Wilco - "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"
In which your reviewer lamely passes off an AIM conversation as a review.

ToddLike: np Wilco: "Yankee Hotel..." I don't see what the big fucking deal is.
Internet Cabal Member #323:That's on my Columbia House target .... So you mark this up to Kid A type hype and experimentalism? I might still like it if it's more interesting than the usual dull twang pop Son Volt and Wilco have been serving up ever since the original UT split. But I've always preferred the Wilco records to their SV counterparts.
ToddLike: Much like Radiohead, I find Wilco a good band (if not a bit over influenced by the Beatles), who produces good records that I enjoy, but fail to understand why the critics spooge all over.
ToddLike: It has some interesting production experiments, but nothing original-- if you have heard "I am Trying to Break Your Heart", you'll have a good idea of what's on here.
ToddLike: I liked "Summerteeth" better than this one, actually, mostly because it had the balls to be a straight up pop/rock record.
Internet Cabal Member #323: the only one I've gotten out in over a year is "AM". I've considered selling both my Son Volt CDs, they do so little for me. I HAVE gotten more mileage out of the two Billy Bragg collaborations Wilco did. The music steps up, and I'd rather have Bragg singing unfinished Guthrie chestnuts than his usual self-righteous communist rhetoric. And Tweedy works better with someone like Bragg to bounce off of.
ToddLike: He's now working with Jim O'Rourke on something.
Internet Cabal Member #323: Billy or Tweedy?
ToddLike: Tweedy.
Internet Cabal Member #323: Well, I'd almost rather have O'Rourke trying to make Wilco more interesting than continuing to make Sonic Youth more wanky (or wasting his talents on assholes like Smog and Will Oldham)
ToddLike: I *liked* O'Rourke's laptop record. He does some interesting things. And, it's 45 minutes, which lends it a sense of discipline.
ToddLike: I'd put Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in the same category as "Kid A"... it's "experimental" music for people who don't have any fucking clue what "experimental" means. It's not a bad record at all, and I enjoy it when I listen to it (which isn't a bad thing at all, really), but it's not that amazing or anything.
ToddLike: And, to continue my rant, it sounds like most of the songs were written, then had these wanky touched added to them; like he sort of "thickened" the text with weirdness, rather than having the weirdness in mind. And "Radio Cure" is a shitty song, no matter what you do to it-- Tweedy's voice is horrible on that one.
Internet Cabal Member #323: I still find it ironic that you take pains to put down Kid A and this one (which I cannot back up with actually hearing and liking yet, so...) as music for clueless people but want to continue to harp on several minor metal thing as a work of essential genius? Is it strictly the critical hyperbole being shoved down your throat? Maybe it helps that I keep myself idiosyncratically informed to where all the crap I hear is either about Eminem, Creed, Shakira, and Britney after giving Radiohead its month of novelty spotlight before moving on ----- or Wire and droneON assholes dissing Radiohead and telling me how essential Bardo fucking Pond and Merzbow are.
Internet Cabal Member #323: I'm not totally arguing that any ambitious pop deserves credit ... else I'd be championing U2's past decade and more Bjork than I really like.
Internet Cabal Member #323: But I think it's really callous to marginalize Kid A's ideas to "only appealing to the clueless". I find them a lot more enjoyable than anything Patton has ever done (though I respect his work, it's way too wanky 80% of the time to be really enjoyable when he tries to do rock music instead of voice feedback noise sketches, Zorn sessions, or something)
ToddLike: Hmm. I'd argue that certain things are genius within a genre. Lamb of God, for example, do amazing things with their metal, but I doubt they will have a wider influence. At the end of the day, I *like* this record; but the praise for it seems uninformed-- everyone acts like it's this brave step forward or something. It's not.
ToddLike: Neither was Kid A. It didn't stop it from being a good record. It's just not deserving of the collective critical orgasm it got... just like the last Trail of Dead record.
Internet Cabal Member #323: In the world of current pop music, anything that tries to be more interesting than same ol' same ol' is a step forward and usually brave for guys confined to a silly genre like "No Depression". It doesn't mean it's GOOD .... but I find it a lot more significant and important to this idea of "modern music" than self-righteous wank fests that are sill catering to a genre. It is annoying that only 50% of the pop records that try to do this end up being any good, but that just goes to show you how hard it is to pull off anything like that anymore. And guys like Wilco and Radiohead have had their ears to the 'underground' for a long time, so neither is a dilettante per se. But would it be any less valid if one of those fucking useless R&B or boy/girl singers hooked up with a modern-day Lee Hazlewood and made something more than its parts?
Internet Cabal Member #323: I've probably answered my own question there ... the latter would just sound like the same beat-propelled bombastic shit hipsters try to co-opt like Eminem or Missy Elliott. And I'd be a hypocrite on some level to diss that and praise Radiohead. But the latter didn't feel the absolute NEED to conform to 100 cliches about putting shout-outs, prayers to Jesus, the same heavy beat, and singing in every song with Kid A. It actually has subtle and meditative moments, whether it should be praised or damned for that.
Internet Cabal Member #323: If Kid A were basically 12 versions of "Creep" with drum-n-bass shoved under it, I would have hated it.
Internet Cabal Member #323: which, come to think of it, is exactly what Bjork did for the obnoxiously overrated and overwrought Selmasongs.
ToddLike: Right, right. But the point here is neither album is the "ferociously original" thing that you would think it was if you just *read* about it. It's a dog that has been dyed an unnatural shade of brown or something... it's sort of arresting to look at, but at the end of the day, it's a friggin dog with hair dye on it.

Monday, September 09, 2002
Dillenger Escape Plan with Mike Patton - "Irony is a Dead Scene"

The Dillenger Escape Plan lost quite a lot when their vocalist, Dimitri, left the band. His hysterical shrieks sounded like nothing less than a man with his back against the wall, railing uselessly at a world which he could neither fight back against or comprehend; as a result, simple lines like "You laughed/ quit laughing" carried a depth that made the Escape Plan's all ready complex and chilling songs masterpieces. It was no surprise that while auditioning new vocalists, they decided to collaborate with Mike Patton; he had handpicked them to open for Mr. Bungle on their last tour, and the Escape Plan's spastic style suits Patton's Naked-City-era-Zorn fetish quite well. The results of this collaboration? Ehh.

Though Patton is, as usual, in fine voice, and his staccato raps work quite well, when he stretches it (as on "Hollywood Squares"), it doesn't fit in with the overall sound; so the band respond by altering the normal attack, which makes the whole affair sound a bit like a ballsier version of Mr. Bungle. Now, that isn't a bad thing, really, but I all ready have a ballsier Mr. Bungle record ("Disco Violante"), and have no need to hear one of the fiercest units out there do the same thing. As a result of this schizophrenic tenancy, the record never coheres, despite its short length (just four songs). I'm also going to ding them for doing a cover of the Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy". I'm not even sure the Aphex Twin should have done "Come to Daddy," which, disturbing video aside, comes off as a half-joking, half-serious attempt to sound "evil". Here, without the Aphex Twins spastic beats, it just sounds kind of weak.

If The Dillenger Escape Plan were more prolific, this might settle in as an interesting aside in their catalog. Perhaps it's intended that way, but given their slim body of work, this seems like a feeble aside, a kind of tossed off session which only makes me want to hear what the new material with the new permanent vocalist will sound like. It's a C- effort from an A+ band.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
I have returned
Review later this week, I should think.