nate patrin.


RANDOM ACTS #1
October 30, 2007, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags:

There’s something kind of weird about the way MP3s and the eventual delivery mechanisms thereof have tweaked my listening habits. In the span of about seven years I’ve gone from making 80-minute mix CDs to 8-hour 100-song playlists, broadened my taste fivefold and spent a lot of time in the process trying to find all the strange invisible threads that connect seemingly disparate songs. Maybe owning an iPod with 20,000 songs and spending most of my listening time in shuffle mode has made me a bit more self-aware of an eclecticism I used to take for granted; it doesn’t seem unusual to like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Nas and 808 State until you realize, completely by chance, that “Sin City” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” and “Pacific 202” sound entirely incongruous played back-to-back-to-back and you have to conjure up some convoluted internal listener syntax that might somehow connect them.

This is really just a fancy-pants way of introducing a timefiller idea I have where I play songs from my iPod at random and talk about them a bit. I plan on making this the first reoccuring feature I have ever maintained past the four-month mark, mostly because it seems like a good fallback “what am I going to write about” thing, and also because hopefully it’ll keep me limber as a music critic somehow. A couple notes:

-Tracks appeneded with the notation FAVORITE are songs that I enjoy to the point where I’ll actually add them to an unfailingly entertaining playlist that I can retreat to if random song selection proves too unpredictably boring.

-Tracks appended with the notation DELETED are songs I plan to delete from my iPod. (Which would technically make them “to be deleted,” but you get the point.) This is less a judgment on actual quality — though I fully expect to find some terrible songs I’ve inadvertently loaded onto the thing — than it is a sign of my impatience with alternate takes, rap record skits, redundant mixes and the generally unremarkable.

-YouTube links will be provided where available. Not always to the original music video, but to something interesting, at least.

-These things will go for five tracks or whenever I get bored/run out of free time, whichever comes last. (For this first installment, it turns out both things happen simultaneously.)

Here we go:

Mudd, “Damn Flu” (from Claremont 56, 2006): Of course this whole thing would have to start with a track I’m not even remotely familiar with, culled from one of my “the month’s almost up and if I don’t download something I will lose the 13 downloads I have left” eMusic panic attacks. Mudd apparently specializes in leftfield downtempo disco house, which means he’s batting roughly .500 (with a walk and a sacrifice bunt), but there’s something kinda irksome about this track — imagine if the beat to Eric B. & Rakim’s “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em” never kicked in or went anywhere and was regularly punctuated by the “pressing the ‘use’ function button doesn’t do anything” noise from the Half-Life games. I can appreciate how this track’s put together — like its judicious (read: sparing) usage of slap bass, the Fender Rhodes (?) that starts seeping in about halfway through, and the fact that it tricks you into thinking it’s going to be an instrumental by waiting until the three-and-a-half-minute mark of a six-minute track to bring the (admittedly semi-anonymous “chill-out” soul-house ice-diva) vocal in. Probably sounds great at 11 PM riding home through a snowfall.

EPMD, “Underground” (from Business As Usual, 1990): No reservations here: thumbs up to the fantastic “Keep on Truckin'” intro that transitions into the sophisticated smooth-funk bassline, Erick Sermon’s neck-snap sound effects, the whole laidback beat/tough-as-hell rhyming duality, the references to turn of the ’90s boxers (“I’m knockin’ out wack MCs like Michael Nunn”) and future NBA stars (yeah OK Parrish says “my main man D-Wade still gets paid” but Dwyane was 8, it’s just a goofy coincidence, let’s move on).

Harry Nilsson, “Jump Into the Fire” (from Nilsson Schmilsson, 1971): Someday I will compile a list of the Greatest Basslines Ever, and this song will be somewhere in the top ten. Some other day i will compile a list of Martin Scorsese’s Greatest Film/Pop Music Juxtapositions, and this will also be in the top ten. Not much else I can add to that, except that getting a lead vocal like this from the man who sang “Everybody’s Talkin'” is a pretty interesting leap, especially when he dives headlong into the whole tormented-wailing bit.

Björk, “Bachelorette” (from Homogenic, 1997): Someday I’m going to have to get ahold of the entire record — for now all I’ve got is this one track, acquired through (I’m pretty sure) one of Matos’ CDR-Go trades. And while this is, judging from my experience with Debut and Post, one of Björk’s most epic and beautiful songs, it seems a bit incomplete without some other context — not just the rest of the album, but the Gondry video or the implicit story arc some of her previous songs hint at.

Nebula, “The Alchemist” (from Apollo, 2006): This song means we’ve hit the second post in a week to use proper-noun capitalization for the word “Alchemist,” which is approximately the most interesting thing I can find to say about this seeds-and-stems stoner rock. DELETED

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1 Comment so far
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Guess I’ll really have to update my bookmark now, since the old method of getting to Rebel Machine was something like a click version of your blogtopsy.

Comment by Fats Durston




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