It's been a minute since I posted a playlist on here, so here's the latest:
(Or if the embed doesn't work, here's the Spotify link.)
This time it's on Spotify instead of regular files. I've had Spotify Premium for a few months, and I'm liking it a lot; now that the vile radio ads are gone, it's reminding me a lot of the brief glory days of Napster?! I didn't think I'd have that feeling again, of being able to just check out anything I was curious about without any particular rigamarole. Yeah, I know, I'm late to the party. (Also, Discover Weekly is pretty cool. I keep a bucket of interesting stuff that rolls through the weekly, if you wanna lurk on that.)
Anyway, this playlist: Uh, it's about trying to make ends meet and find time to party a little in a kind of broken-down sci-fi universe. I guess it's Dicebox x The Z Radiant crossover mixtape fanfic. Yeah, that's a thing now, welcome.
On my end, this has been a very good year. Due in large part to Ruth! Being in her life is a delight and her influence makes me a better me, and also I've probably had more adventures this year than in the previous three combined. Speaking of which, that's what's up with the early New Year's post, here: I'm going to be in Edinburgh and then Belfast with her, and will probably be mostly offline. (Well, night-tweeting in the deep Eurosphere, at most.)
As for next year: It's a big pile of things that are scary but really exciting, and a smaller pile of things that are just plain scary. I'm pretty sure I can handle both piles. Wish me luck, and I'll wish you some.
Anyway! It's kind of insubstantial for a Christmas present, but I figured I'd share this latest mix tape with you. It's short and asymmetrical, it's called "Every Devil As She Pleases," and it's about feeling sorry for yourself but nutting up and setting things right anyway. (I was trying to make a sequel to "Shinier & 1000⨉ Harder," but it insisted on becoming something else.)
- Plane — Gauze
- The Kills — What New York Used To Be
- Sondre Lerche — Face the Blood
- Metric — Gimme Sympathy
- Miike Snow — Paddling Out
- Tegan and Sara — The Ocean
- Green Day — F.O.D.
- Nedelle — Fanfare
- Jesca Hoop — Born To
- Lorde — 400 Lux
Halation blears the freeway signs,
And holy blood turns back to wine.
What each man catches, time releases
—Let every devil go as she pleases.
If you want to try that free Apple Music trial, you should know that there are two components to it. One is safe (I think), and the other one has a solid chance of destroying data and garbling your music library. When it asks you to enable "iCloud Music Library," DON'T.
I did NOT know this, because it presents it to you like there's only one decision to make, so I got hosed.
Here's how it happened, I think. I use iTunes on a main computer (home) and a secondary one (work). I enabled iCloud Music Library on the second computer first, because I had to update my OS anyway and I was at work when the update came out. When I enabled it on my home computer, it:
- Deleted my ratings for every song that existed in both my home library and my work one.
- Duplicated a bunch of playlists, with some of the duplicates being zombie copies that kept coming back when I tried to unify them.
- Possibly some other stuff I didn't find out about yet.
iCloud Library has some other problems too: a bunch of the songs that my home library made available at work ended up being the wrong version of the song, and the way it tried to combine playlists was a complete opaque mystery. But none of that matters, because I disabled it, made note of music I'd added to my home library in July, then reset my entire library to June 28 with a Time Machine backup. I will probably never turn that shit back on, and will probably not pay for Apple Music once the trial is over. Don't delete my fuckin' work. >:|
This is sort of an experiment in mixtape-as-short-story. Definitely influenced by This Time I Know It's For Real (Brenna and Chase's epic playlist / comic). It's also an exercise in exorcism. This story works best as a video game, but I really didn't want to make a video game, and trying to do it in pure text would have lost enough in translation to not be worth it. But the plot and main characters congealed really quickly and vividly for me, and I wanted to make something tangible to share how much fun I'd had thinking about it. So! Multimedia funtimes.
The librettos over at the mini-site only talk about the story, but I spent some time thinking about gameplay too, so maybe I'll say a thing about that before I hit post.
I love top-down brawlers, and I love it when combat acts as a story vehicle. I also like when a game's walk-n-talk segments stay in a restricted area so you get to know the NPCs really well over time. (Alundra pretty much did this part the best.) I'm also fascinated by the potential of friendship/relationship sim mechanics; I haven't really liked any of the games I've tried that are built around this, but I loved stuff like deciding who would choose to lead the party after Crono died. (Sorry, spoilers I guess.)
So anyway, S&1000×H would be split between brawler and walk-n-talk segments.
The brawler part is nothing but bosses. Some of the battles have a chase component, and some enemies will throw some mooks at you, but the core is just eight big multi-part setpiece fights. Combat would have a lot of context-sensitive actions; lots of blocking/parrying, and a few different attack types to choose from at any given time.
Each fight is split into multiple parts. In most of them, you're badly outmatched for the first round and have to struggle to stay alive, but you learn a lot about the enemy's tendencies and patterns. At the halfway point you get to use the power you stole from the last enemy to improve your battle transformation, making a choice from a few options. These changes add up, and your battle form gets progressively more inhuman over time, resembling your enemies more and more. Then you fight back on a more even footing for the second half of the battle.
(This totally guided the structure of the mixtapes! I think having several songs per boss let me outline their personalities a bit even if you aren't combing the libretto.)
(Also, I liked the effect of breaking the rhythm in Act 3.)
Cleista fills the "spotter" role, telling you what to watch for during a fight and often talking back to the enemy. He's usually an invisible voice, but can sometimes project as a human figure made of insubstantial flames.
Some of the walk-n-talks are pretty long, but they all limit the amount of stuff you can do before the story moves on. So the player will choose to hang out with the NPCs that are most interesting to them, and that will determine who Jessie's closest to. This is mostly for its own rewards, but I figured whoever turned out to be Jessie's boyfriend or girlfriend or bestie would be the person Melciel the Nail would choose to take control of, and then you'd have a different voice actor reading her lines in the endgame depending on how you played the friendship sim part. Yes, it's totally impractical, BUT ADMIT IT, THAT WOULD RULE.
I have been REALLY digging the new Nick Zammuto album, Anchor. (Clip here, and you can find the rest of the tracks with notes on his blog.) I bounced off his first one, the self-titled record — it seemed kind of indulgent and dorky, and after streaming it three or four times I just couldn't get into it. My hope was that it was just him offgassing now that he didn't have de Jong to push against, and once he got some of the pent-up absurdism out of his system he'd find a new resistant force to orient himself by and put out something interesting. Well: yes. This is really good.
And it is definitely not The Books. But a lot of it explores some familiar emotional ground, dark and weird. The Books would go to those places sometimes, but they'd often pull back and get some ironic distance, to keep it from becoming The Thing The Whole Album Is About.
And then there's that track that sounds eerily like Devo.
The other record that's been surprising/delighting me is Kilo Kish's Across EP. (Here's a clip.) She put out a mixtape called K+ a year or two back, and I thought it was really provocative — bits I was SUPER INTO mixed with bits that were like WHAT. Lots of both sonic and emotional dissonance. So anyway, I recently rediscovered how much I like "Better" and "Creepwave," and I looked around to see what else she'd done. This one came out earlier this year, and it sounds quite different and very good. Moody and lush.
Oh, ALSO it's been awesome concert city for the last month or so. The Kills, Sondre Lerche, Sza, The New Pornographers, Of Montreal, Zoe Keating, La Roux, and then later I've got tickets for Shovels and Rope, and Slowdive + Low. (Did I ever tell you about the time I ended up at a Low show by accident? Seeing them again will be neat.)
A few years back, I happened across two separate songs called "O[h] Katrina," and decided to make a pair of mixes around them because I thought it'd be funny. I finally finished the second one!?!! Wow that was a stubborn damn mix tape. I think it came out okay, though.
Oh Katrina, Part One
- Conor Oberst — NYC-Gone, Gone
- Peter Bjorn and John — Dig A Little Deeper
- Tender Trap — Oh Katrina
- Florence + The Machine — Dog Days Are Over
- Masia One — Telephone Love
- Xperiment — Currently Flow by See-Saw Kids (Xperiment x B Lewis)
- Lykke Li — Dance, Dance, Dance
- Fort Wilson Riot — Love Song for Mabee Burlingham (Pieces of the War pt. 1) (Live)
- Balkan Beat Box — Joro Boro
- Frank Black & Teenage Fanclub — Handyman
- The Go! Team — Buy Nothing Day
- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings — How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?
- Harvey Danger — The Show Must Not Go On
- Jesca Hoop — Hunting My Dress
- Johnny Flynn — Kentucky Pill
O Katrina, Part Two (the new one)
- The Go! Team — Lazy Poltergeist
- Haley Bonar — Bad Reputation
- Garbage — Special
- Passion Pit — Eyes As Candles
- The Black Lips — O Katrina!
- Flying Lotus — Do The Astral Plane
- Dr. Dog — These Days
- CHVRCHES — Gun
- The Kills — Damned If She Do
- Feist — One Evening (VV Mix)
- Sloan — Witches Wand
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — Shadow's Keeper
- The Acorn — Restoration (Four Tet remix)
(Yes, the last track shifts the theme on purpose. I wanted a palate-cleanser at the end.)
- Ben Babbit — Animal Bones (Exit)
- Okkervil River — Westfall (live)
- The Mountain Goats — Maybe Sprout Wings
- Sarah Jarosz — Shankill Butchers
- Sleater-Kinney — Jumpers
- Cast King — Saw Mill Man
- Toadies — Possum Kingdom
- Christine Fellows — Instructions On How To Dissect a Ground Owl
- First Aid Kit — Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
- Soul Coughing — Screenwriter's Blues
- The Beatles — Run For Your Life
- Verbena — Camellia
- Telepopmusik — Ghost Girl
Miller was one of my heroes, and while it's impossible for me to pick out just one of his records, this one's always been near the top of the Miller pile for me. A month ago I would have agreed with everything you wrote above, and now I just don't know. All the things I used to hear in those lyrics--acknowledging the thought processes surrounding all that pain without succumbing to them--I now hear in a different and more sorrowful context. "Way Too Helpful" from Days for Days is just brutal to listen to now. You've obviously thought a lot about Miller's work as well; I just wondered what you thought. I guess I'm looking for a way to get back to the way it used to seem, which, as Interbabe Concern itself suggests, is a fool's errand.
And I forgot about it for a while, but I did have something to say; I dunno if Anonymous will end up seeing this or not, but this was what I replied:
Y'know what I've been listening to repeatedly since he died? "Ballet Hetero," off Tape of Only Linda. Weird choice, not that I consciously chose it. And I think I know what you're talking about, because that weird allusive run that makes up the last words before that thundering fuzz and guitar reprise closes out the album...
The little deuce coupe
The fox on the run
The fugue state aphasia
The ego dismantled
The kiss in the fourth grade
The sex in the bathroom
The theme varied slightly
The four-county crackdown
The Heisenberg threshold
The virgin conception
...just seems impossibly sad, now; a microcosm of the end of the world, as the light goes iron-colored and the planet stops turning. It hurts like a half-scabbed road rash, which I can't quit picking at.
Same thing with "It weighs on us now, precious and overgrown / And we've lost our old skill at being left on our own," which maybe sums up the whole business, now that I think about it.
Anyway. I'm sad he's gone, too, and it has changed some of the music. It probably always does, but it's worse with Miller because of that talent he had of getting inside your head, right?
Okay, I've listened to Nanobots a few times and I--
(MID-SENTENCE DISSOLVE TO FLASHBACK:
- Calibration pattern: The Else is totally their second-best album of all time, behind only the sublime John Henry and trailed by Flood. (It also push-started my "Enemy Producer" theory, but that's a post for another day.)
- But even though I won't call it "favorite," their early stuff is some big-time lightning in a jar, never equalled.
- I never quite warmed up to Join Us; it seemed incomplete and... I dunno, like it was a research album forced into regular-album shape. "Judy is Your Vietnam" is legit wonderful, the minute-and-a-half song that reminds us what you're supposed to do when you only have a minute and a half worth of song. (Have I mentioned here that I want a 45-second remix of "Call Me Maybe?" Anyway.) "You Probably Get That a Lot" is also wonderful; "Can't Keep Johnny Down" is way catchy in that The Spine period way, where it gets real old quick but burns wicked hot while it still has fuel. "The Lady and the Tiger" is still intriguing, even though it doesn't quite gel. Those are the only four tracks I got feelings about; the rest just really didn't do it for me. Their odds-and-ends album from the same year was a better listen, I think.
Anyway, I'm into Nanobots, and I think it's managing to call back to their old stuff without imitating it. The return of the twelve-second songs is kind of an obvious Apollo 18 reference, okay, that one's easy. And the return of decapitation/grievous head injury as a major theme. But more generally, it seems like they've gotten comfortable again with letting the weird song ideas be what they want to be instead of trying to make them all into actual songs. Just following it all down the hole. There are still ultra-poppy nuggets in here ("Circular Karate Chop," "Stone Cold Coup d'Etat") that may or may not wear out soon, but then again there always have been. The other tracks combine their old itchy weirdness with a new lazy effortless confidence that was definitely not there on Join Us. Throwing out cool harmonies and arrangements without making it any kind of big Thing, letting the shape of the thing be the Thing instead.
Call me back in a year, but I think it's a keeper.
(And how the push and pull of the content is mirrored by the push and pull of the form, etc. etc., I'm not getting myself started about this record. It's not even my favorite of theirs, but this comes up because I just put it on, got blindsided by one of the more odious bits, and was musing for a second about how much I love it anyway.)
When he started playing said song, I realized that I had actually been there for the first part of that story. LOL SUPERFAN.
(The show was excellent. And yes, the song worked much better with the new bridge.)
I don't know how interested you are in strangers' reproduction, but entomologist Ainsley americanbeetles Seago is journalcomicking her pregnancy over at her Livejournal, and her usual wry scientist-adventurer charm is turned up to maximum.
Can we take a second to call out the album cover of the year? Ladies and gentlemen, Fort Wilson Riot's Generation Complex EP.
Also, it's a pretty wicked record in its own right. "For All the Little Things" is the standout track, for me; an '80s-ish ballad that gets devoured from the inside out by this crawling iterative melodiphagous glitch infection. So good. Go ahead and stream the thing. (And then click around to catch up on Predator/Prey and Idigaragua, if you never did.)
Usually I pore over a mix playlist for a couple months before I let it out the door, but you know what, I threw this together last night and I like it and I think it's probably done. Please to enjoy, y'all.
- Nedelle — Ghost Ships
- Lego Big Morl — 溢れる (Album ver.)
- Sondre Lerche — Private Caller
- The Futureheads — Back To The Sea
- Pato Fu — Cities in dust
- French Kicks — So Far We Are
- Christian Scott — Cease Fire
- Avi Buffalo — What's In It For?
- Hallelujah the Hills — Nurses 5 Float Past
- Wye Oak — Holy Holy
- DJ Evil Dee — Gotcha Opin Remix
(Twitter/Facebook peeps: grab it now, because I'll probably access-lock the post in a week or two.)
The simplicity of this calculation reduces the problem of constructing the sound of one hand clapping to a surprisingly tractable state: if we assume the sound of two hands clapping to be the sum of the sounds of two individual hands clapping (initiated simultaneously), we can solve the kōan by simply attenuating the sound of two hands clapping by 3 dB.
Although some reviewers may question the validity of our base assumption, objections are easily dispensed with: no theoretical framework supporting the non-simultaneous report of individual hands involved in a clap has yet been proposed, and Beau Brosworth's exhaustive high-five experiments (Brosworth, 1987) conclusively demonstrated that, after correcting for strike accuracy and force, homogeneous pairs of dextral and sinistral hands produce identical clap waveforms within a 0.0034% margin of error.
That's about all I have to say about that, except that if you feel inclined to keep listening, iTunes has a pair of albums going for the price of either individually for some inexplicable reason, so do jump on that.
Over the last several months I’ve been nursing an obsession with this song called Ballad of How You Can All Shut Up. Take a minute to listen, please, preferably with headphones. Back yet? Okay, now don’t hit me, lemme explain. ( No, there is too much; let me sum up. )
This sort of willful over-interpretation of what amounts to Miller having some fun in the studio and tossing off a shout-out to all the folks who had actually listened to all of Game Theory’s records is obvious and transparent bullshit, but I find it tremendously entertaining and cool, and I am pretty sure this is how all those “Paul Is Dead” guys felt.