Stuck (in my head) on a rainy day….


I’m reading at the moment, since there’s not a lot of listening I can do.

An ear infection I thought I’d whipped earlier returned in a pretty ferocious manner (it even set my ENT to clucking sympathetically and peering sympathetically), with the result being that my right ear is totally non-working (except for being a completely workable source of pain). My sensorium is panned hard left, I’m miserable, so guess what happens? I discover that having your ear vacuumed out sounds exactly like a Merzbow recording? Well, yeah, but the real annoyance is the music that keeps crossing the transom. My friend Jon loans me the recent Albert Ayler box to listen to, Kerry and John send me several tracks from their new recordings in progress, I get a great new disc from Robert Henke that I suspect I’ll really like a lot in stereo, and I have to put off critically listening to the live recordings from my last gig with my friend Tom. With luck, the internal and external antibiotics will do their job. Until then, I’ll read.

Since I finished Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (It was a very satisfying finish, by the way), I thought I’d stick to some music reading for a while. An acquaintance had suggested Audio Culture to me, saying that they were interested in using its collection of essays (or some of them, anyway) as a classroom text. Classroom text? Definitely? But something to have for oneself? You betcha.

If you’re at all familiar with Michael Bull’s “The Auditory Culture Reader,” you’ll probably recognize the basic approach-a collection of primary documents, essays, and excerpts from longer works that range widely across the intellectual terrain, connected by short explanatory/expository pieces by the authors.

Reading was a somewhat unexpected kind of pleasure-a chance to read again things that I’d not revisited in a long time, to actually go through pieces I’d only heard about but never actually read myself, and an arrangement that juxtaposed writings by lots of interesting people (Stockhausen, DJ Spooky, Ornette, Eno, Attali, Glenn Gould, and John Zorn, among others) that leaves you with the feeling that you’re eavesdropping on a large rambunctious conversation. Heck, even The Onion thinks it’s a great book-don’t take my word for it.