Audible reasons to be happy


I spend part of my life doing a radio program of electronic, experimental, electroacoustic, and various other types of music on Madison’s own community radio station WORT-FM, and have done so for an embarrassing number of years. I guess that’s probably why my colleague D. told me that I should feel free to rave about recent recordings in the course of my blogging life; he’s generous and assumed that this required some sort of critical acumen rather than just listening to things a lot and being forced to decide which among them to play for other people.

Well, okay. Here’s a reissue worth your while, and a new one….

The first happy bit of news is the migration of the Portland-based band Menomena to FILMguerrero records. This is a good deal because I can now go back to recommending it to people who can find it. David Zicarelli first played “their I Am the Fun Blame Monster” (whose title is an anagram, by the way) in the course of a long car trip to a trade show. I loved it even before I found out there was a Max/MSP tie-in–turns out the trio has a fourth member: a delay looping recorder MSP patch named Deeler used to construct the guitar/piano/bass/drum stuff (which the band then learns). The disc manages to combine its slightly twisty song forms with sonic treatment in a beautifully asymmetrical way. You can find a couple of sample MP3s here and here. And if you want to see the MSP patch for Deeler, I guess that l can say is, “Don’t hold your breath.” Oh yeah–did I mention that the cover is a flip book animation?

I have long admired the works of harpist Zeena Parkins (currently handling the harp chores for Bjork on tour) and drummer-turned-laptoppiste Ikue Mori, and have even managed to see them perform live (although not with each other) with considerable pleasure. Their recent duo release on Mego “Phantom Orchard” is a particularly enjoyable outing: an organic outing (as the title might suggest) that runs the gamut from pastoral (Ghostlake) to bramble (Miura) with grace and confidence. This collaboration rates high for me for my usual reason: it unites the things I like about the participants as individuals with work that emerges from the process of collaboration I might not have expected from either of them working alone. don’t take my word for it–you can listen to some of it here.