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19.11.05 R.I.P.  

Is Jazz Dead? asks Stuart Nicholson in a new book of the same name. The Nation's David Yaffe, a great music journalist also writing at The New Republic, reviews it. (Btw, Nicholson's solution: relocate to Europe, where the avant-garde is safe from the neocon likes of, say, Ken Burns & Wynton Marsalis.)

11.11.05 Late > never  

OK it's decided: I'm gonna take a swing at both NaNoWriMo (50,000 words) + NaSoAlMo (28 min. 22 sec.). Starting late (I forgot it was November), I'm giving myself 30 days, starting tomorrow. Thus, the projected completion date: 12/12.

Reverse the polarity  

// Kelley Polar, "In Time"

The Croatia-born Kelley Polar, the viola-toting Stravinsky of Juilliard, has clearly drunk from the wells of early IDM & Italian post-disco. Blame his ├╝berproducer, Environ's Morgan Geist. His forthcoming Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens is a frontrunner for the blogerati's collective year-end lists. Yearning in breathy harmonies for that perfect dance moment, "In Time" closes the album representatively: orchestral icing on an electro-house cake.

9.11.05 Recruiting film  

Samuel Fuller dismissed Full Metal Jacket as "just another fucking recruiting film." He felt the first half, the sadistic psychic crumpling of the warriors-to-be, would perversely activate its audience's latent testosterone/death-instinct. He'd likely feel the same way about Jarhead, which rips off this sequence. Another relevant auteur quote is Fran├žois Truffaut's observation: that there can be no such thing as an anti-war film because films make war look exciting. That is, the very fabric of the medium, an audiovisual spectacle, glorifies violence. Commenting on soldiers' ironic reception of famous anti-war films, like Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, Mendes' adaptation may pretend it's aware of the limits Truffaut pointed out & Fuller anticipated, but its self-consciousness doesn't help it succeed as an anti-war film. As better critics have said: Jarhead is hackneyed, lacquered, hermetic Oscar bait.

6.11.05 Undercover  

Spotlight on Alex Steinweiss, inventor of the album cover.

4.11.05 Less than human  

Charles Rosen, brilliant author of The Classical Style, applauds Robert Philip's Performing Music in the Age of Recording for the NYRB. Philip's thrust: recording has driven performance style to seek cold precision, sacrificing warmth & spontaneity--its human traits. The performer's old resources of expression--"portamento," dislocation, arpeggiating chords & flexibility of tempo--are now verboten. Perhaps, Rosen thinks,

the best thing about his book is the way it makes us appreciate the heritage that recording has given us and forces us to recognize the limitations of our taste by an understanding of what has gone out of fashion. He allows us to estimate how much we have lost in our rejections.

Outside the classical realm, it seems that in much of today's music, both underground & above-, this sense of loss has permeated studios on both sides of the Atlantic. For retro-minded indie rockers, vintage amps are in demand. For electronic artists in search of (in a way) new sounds, recording software companies are straining to recreate the imperfections of analog recording. It all comes down to a fear of dehumanizing music.

Ab ovo

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