Previously on our program, I discussed a close friend, lost five years ago. When I was writing that post, I had my friends in general on my mind. Living where I do, I haven’t got a social life outside of work. OK, yes, I pop into the city once, perhaps twice a month and see a couple people, but that’s it. When I was in Rochester, I went out with friends a few times a month at most. So why am I now giving a damn? One might say it is because it is one thing to have an option to see friends and choose not to do so, but it is another thing not to have much of a choice as to whether or not one sees friends. That person would be right, but that’s not the meat of it. I think I have performed my trademark unconscious stressing over changes in my family structure and performed my trademark obliviousness towards how I feel on a day-to-day basis. Dammit: I have really loved conversing with, spending time with, and just feeling the warmth from my friends over the past 18 months.
I don’t think Chris knew just how much I loved spending time with him. No, I won’t beat myself up over the missed chances to tell him so. So I think I’ll now make November 4th the Bizza Memorial Tribute to My Friends. A guy as honest and kind as he, it makes sense.
I am afraid that I will step on a few toes with the following action: I’m going to tell a bunch of people how they’ve been wonderful in my life lately. I suspect some people will feel offended if they’re excluded. Well, er, I am sorry — if we’re still friends, then I obviously like you. If you know me, you know I have little tolerances for wankers. I wouldn’t keep you around if you didn’t mean something to me. It’s just that…well…some people I really have to give them applause. It’s nothing personal to you. Consider this an Oscar speech where you shouldn’t be offended by falling under the “and everyone else who means a lot to me” heading. I hope you understand…I assume you do, you’re smart enough for me to be friends with. ;) On that note, and in the order in which you all come to mind, let the public displays of affection commence. I love you all:
Peter Carbonaro, J. Christian Guerrero, and Shawn Rahman: of course it is fitting to thank the League as one, even though you are all serious fucking individuals. No fooling here that I look up to all of you as the cool older brothers I never had, and I always feel blessed to be in your presence. You raise my game. May the classy-assed hijinks continue throughout the years. Thanks to you all for having kids as well, because you give me hope for the future.
Noah Stupak: miss me now, don’t you, you fool? Ya shoulda never moved out. Oh, er…
Melissa Farnand: …I’m glad Noah moved in with you. Always wonderful to drop by for dinner and a movie, even though Lola hated me. I think.
Brandon Snavely: a week in PA was really perfect for us, eh? We both we saying goodbye (which was tougher than I figured), and hanging with your parents is always decent. I feel I sorted a lot out talking to you under the meteorites that night.
Jessica Rider: nobody ever tried harder to get me out in public and meet new people. It was an utterly thankless task you took upon yourself, but it has done me good and I just never knew how to be grateful (or gracefully decline). I am very glad you cornered me before Edline’s class three years ago, and I am more glad you weren’t offended by my sour face.
Daniel Pontillo: thanks for helping keep me sane through my last year of RIT when I just wanted to split and get my fucking life in gear. It was brief, but we’ll always have Boris and Antichrist (nobody else wants ‘em, probably).
Dave Loehlin and Genevieve Waller: thanks for being one of the oddest bits of domesticity I had in Rochester. Duden, Boggle, and kale was always a good time.
Judy Margo: I am very glad your mother raised you to be a sensitive person, and your tolerance and desire to understand are unparalleled. Thanks for listening to my wackiest ideas in their most unfinished states and helping me to see what I was thinking.
Niall Munnelly: I am glad you are here, happy, and forthright. You’re a fucking good egg, and I can’t see how someone’s life would not be improved with you on their side. Thanks for helping me out here out here.
Cristina Stoll: why the hell are you so easy to talk to? Seriously, I was dragging out crap I rarely tell anyone about in your presence, and very quickly. Oh, Deutsches Voodoo auß New Orleans…? Macht’s kein problem. I hope someday to repay you, at least for the crash space.
Keren Fleshler: as if it wasn’t enough that we met after I left NYC, did you have to rub it in by moving two blocks over from my old place? Fiddlesticks. Thanks for being so tolerant and generous. You were the perfect person to go see a-ha with.
Kristin Brumbach: thanks for opening the door, and also for giving me time with a kid that was awkward in how decent it was. I’m happy you’re one of my reproducing friends.
(last but farthest from least)
Yoli: no list of gratitude and love for the good people in my life is complete without you. No list of good people in my life is complete without you. No life of mine is complete without you. I’ve tried time and time again to put into words all you’ve done and do for me, and, even if I talk for hours, I never come close to all that could be said. Many things between us are, perhaps, better left unsaid…words just don’t cut it.
no alcohol was involved in the writing of this post
Vergangenheitsbewältigung might be my favorite German word. Lots of jokes about the German language having a (normally long) word for everything, and, well, it’s true more often than not. “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” means “a struggle to come to terms with the past.” I’m thinking about it today because it’s the five year anniversary of the death of the only Doktor I have ever known.
You can click through my archives and find other November 4th posts about Chris. Each year I say something. I feel decent about what I’ve written in the past — in fact, one of them I think is one of the best things I’ve ever written. This year, though…well, I’m not going to call this a waste of a post, but I felt like I had to find an angle for writing this. “An angle,” what the fuck? You just write and your feelings come out. This is serious shit, you don’t need some magical gateway, you’ve got it all in you, if you start you’ll finish.
Well, er, not always. Sometimes you don’t even start. Sometimes you sit all day, thinking about his loss, my loss, our loss, and you realize you don’t feel it like you used to. You just…accepted it. You came to terms with it. Sometime over the past year, a dead Chris became part of my Weltanschauung (German vocab time again; “world view”). I think I feel guilty and/or ashamed about this. Why should I? I left a little piece of my life behind that day, but there’s no reason to leave a breadcrumb trail of more little bits of my life back to it, especially as I like to believe and often claim that I have a very enlightened (perhaps a/k/a callous(ed)) view of death. So why do I feel like a dead Chris is now a Chris I know, and a live Chris isn’t, and both of these feel wrong?
I’ve had tragedy over the past year. I have mourned a few times and nearly mourned a few more. Have I supplanted tragedies? Is this possible? Do we do it consciously? I doubt it. I think we…live. These are the actions of a living soul. These are things people do in their day-to-day lives. We start anew regularly (momentarily, anon) and probably don’t notice it because we still have reminders of the past. My life has, well, greatly started anew and maybe the unanchored nature of my life since May has put me in a state where the past does not hold as it once did? (Maybe, my ass: the past is another planet to me now.)
And that’s what got me today about not having Chris anymore. Selfishly selfishly, I want to talk to him. I want to tell him about how I’ve finally gotten my shit together and am pretty damn happy. I want his advice on some things. I could greatly use his sympathy, understanding, and kindness at times. I think he would enjoy visiting me in Chicago. (I know I would sure as hell enjoy it.) He’s missing opportunities to share in his friends’ successes, and we’ve got no idea what his successes would be.
I am coming to terms with the past. I accept what has happened. I see it as it is. I am living my life as best as I can. Chris…shit, if it could be said of anyone, it must be said emphatically of him:
It’s what he would have wanted.
I was in a theatre watching a movie that was a bit of a mash-up of Inception and Fitzcarraldo (in my dream, it was cool, but looking at it now…yeesh). At one point, one of the characters (a young actress currently popular whom I sorta respect, not remembering who now) tells someone “Don’t swim in the current. Stand, standing is benthic.”
In my dream, in the theatre, I punched the air and yelled “yeah!” Looking at it now, it looks like dream wisdom, but that can be useful and sorta applicable in real life if you think about it enough.
Peter Gabriel “San Jacinto”
Thick cloud — steam rising — hissing stone on sweat lodge fire
Medicine man lead me up through town — Indian ground — so far down
I hold the line — the line of strength that pulls me through the fear
I hadn’t done a mix in a long while, and after that awful Red Wings loss Saturday, I needed to turn up some loud music and feel a little better. I ended up throwing a mix together that’s a little springly. Saturday was a warm, sunny spring day; Sunday was a cooler, rainy spring day. It’s a little sloppy at the beginning, but there are some inspired moments throughout.
Young America Primitive “These Waves“
Yeah, it’s progressive house and trance. Disturbing from me, isn’t it? I mean, holy crap, it’s fucking “Offshore”. Well, y’know, it’s a decent tune and mixes so well into that Lush remix…yeah, a Lush remix by the Drum Club. Stick around for the end: the Feedback track is LFO in disguise, and the Shamen track is from their out-there album, Hempton Manor, and is pretty bangin’. So, yeah, fucking trance music was good back in the early ‘90s.
March first is a good day to post this, right? I mean, the rush to get these out is gone, so now mine will appear more important for lack of competition.
So, remember how I did it last year? The tiering system, as opposed to rankings? Yeah, that's how I've been rating everything since then. Hard and fast rankings are for the inflexible and narrow-minded.
The xx The xx
Telefon Tel Aviv Immolate Yourself
DJ Sprinkles Midtown 120 Blues
The Lullaby League Dormio Animus
Intrusion The Seduction of Silence
Yep, these are the best. Not only are they really good, but they're really moving. That may come as a surprise in the case of Monolake. It's a good Monolake album, on par with Interstate, for sure, but moving? Perhaps an odd claim, but I find this album really affecting. The same goes for the Intrusion album. Not only am I completely comfortable calling that one of the best (dub or otherwise) techno albums of all time, it's so evocative.
DJ Sprinkles is Terre Thaemlitz's moniker for house-influenced material, as opposed to his usual glitched ambience. Amazing how one guy (er) could do two such diverse genres so well. Midtown 120 Blues is one of the three best house albums I've ever heard. Granted I'm not a house head, so my tastes are a bit off, but this is a classic. It's really warm and organic, uplifting yet moody, and just sloppy enough. Oh, you can dance to it, of course. Now that you know about Terre, I bet the Lullaby League is the obscurest thing here. I don't know much about them either. I stumbled across this album, and it transfixed me. It's also warm, organic, and kinda sloppy, but it's a slightly glitchy ambient album with some great spoken word on top. It does wonderful things: when you're trying to fall asleep and listening to it, it keeps you in the space between asleep and awake. Really cool.
Many know the story of the Telefon Tel Aviv album at this point: two guys, one of them kills himself the week before this album is released. I don't bite on those kinds of stories; the music stands alone to me. In the end, I am selfishly moved by his death, because this is the first Telefon Tel Aviv album that blew me away...and now I don't get another. Shitty. So go buy this one. It's shoegazey-IDM-synthpop. Odd combo, I know, but I love it.
And then...the xx. Forced to choose, I think I have to go with this album as my favourite of last year (with very close competition from Intrusion). It's pretty much perfect. A lot has already been said about it, so I'll try and not repeat any of it. It's amazing. Go buy it. (Crap, that's already been said.) The most astonishing thing about this album is its restraint. To make an album so subtle and relaxed is not completely astonishing, but it is for four 20-year-olds. That's the age when rocking is important. Subtlety is for the old who can't handle the noise. Let this be the first sign of a new era in barely-there music.
Weird-looking, but secretly the most interesting people at the party
The Twilight Sad Forget the Night Ahead
Shackleton 3 EPs
Piano Magic Ovations
Bvdub White Clouds Drift on and on
Kind of an odd assortment here, but they make sense together: they're all very good, but there's a little hook to each one that might drive some people away. If you can get over the hump, though, you'll be rewarded. (The bumps? Twilight Sad: "Haven't I heard this before?" Shackleton: "This is a little repetitive." Piano Magic: "This is kinda wannabe late-period Dead Can Dance." Bvdub: "Wait, it's over and I forgot to pay attention.")
Burial / Four Tet split 12"
Others in Conversation "Two Instrumentals"
Data & Cell "Doors of Perception"
Indigo/Synkro "Runes/My Own World"
Putting out two tracks on a piece of vinyl usually precludes you from getting on year-end best-release lists. Not for me. Qualitatively, these records are 100% awesome.
Returns to form
Gus Gus 24/7
Tortoise Beacons of Ancestorship
Tortoise and Gus Gus are each coming off two albums or so of so-so material. Ah, they're back! These albums hold their own against their best.
Doing what they do, and doing it well
Fluxion Constant Limber
Alva Noto Xerrox vol. 2
jj jj n2
Lawrence Until Then, Goodbye
Much like finding your way back from a period of pointlessness, there's something to be said for knowing how to do what you do, and then doing it very well. (Junior shout-out to Fluxion, who decided to make a track with a vocalist, and made my jaw drop. It was so unexpected and not terribly original, but the fact that it happened and was successful is something.)
Artist of the year
Oh yeah, yes, YES. Karin Dreijer Andersson, welcome to the pantheon, Micah's Pantheon of Sorta-Crazy, Intensely Creative, Inspirational Women. You already know Kate Bush and Bjrk, of course.
This album is stunning. The singles are stunning. The remixes are stunning. The graphic design and videos are stunning. The live show (going from the live album) was stunning. What can't this woman do? I was surprised at how mellow, dark, and personal this album is. The Knife are dark, and sorta personal, but rarely mellow. She turned it around for the album. The moment that gets me the most is in the album's centerpiece, "Keep the Streets Empty for Me". The last line, repeated, is "uncover our heads and reveal our souls". Definitely heavy coming from a woman known for wearing strange and complex masks for public appearances.
Remixes of the year
Florence & the Machine "You've Got the Love" xx Remix
Hell "The DJ" Radio Slave Remix
Hey, it's the xx again. These damn sneaky kids, in addition to producing their own album, are apparently capable enough to turn out an amazing remix of a song, not in their style, and twist it around to their style. [shakes fist]
I'll keep shaking my fist at Matt Edwards, Mr Radio Slave, doing what he does so well: showing you that when you think you've had enough, sticking with it a little longer is better than enough. Great track for him to work his magic on, too. This DJ Hell album missed the above shortlist by only a little bit (ironically, it's too long), but this track is great. It's good on the album, better as a remix. All of this is prelude to my saying that I'm astonished I ever loved a track with Diddy (yes, Sean Combs) ranting about DJs who only play edits and should be playing the extended versions instead.
(If I hadn't already given the praise to Fever Ray, we'd see the Rex the Dog remixes of "Triangle Walks" and the Scuba remixes of "Seven" here.)
Great producer choice
Fuck Buttons Tarot Sport
Their previous album I loved when I first heard it, but it fell down the list pretty quickly. Why? Too narrowly focused, no soul. What can fix that? Getting Andrew Weatherall to produce, of course! A turnaround and a great piece of work. Cheers, gents.
Ask me when summer comes
King Midas Sound Waiting for You
I think I like this...but as a soft-yet-thick reggae album (or a dubstep-with-vocals album), I'm not going to know until summer. Just the way it is. Can't fully grok this kind of music until it's warm out and I'm living on Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum.
It's ambient music
Leyland Kirby Sadly, the Future is No Longer What It Was
It's four hours of distressed recordings of worn-out 78s. Oh, it's ambient in the traditional Eno definition: aural wallpaper. Wallpaper can be oppressive and really affect your subconscious, though...
Sven Weisemann Xine
The "Xine Zero" 12" is great. A pretty tight little combination of electronic rhythms, strings, and piano. It's quite original. So why is the album so painfully dull? Not enough electronics. Only a couple tracks really bring it all together nicely. Without the beats, it just sounds like sketches for a snippets of a soundtrack. A shame, as I was really looking forward to hearing this kind of sound...
Oh wait, what's this?
Field Rotation Licht und Schatten
Hey, here it is, subtle electronics with strings and piano. Sven has more of a minimal-housey flavour to his work, Field Rotation sounds more like Move D: sorta housey, sorta ambient techno. Damn good. Excellent work by this obscure producer. Now, make haste over to his webpage for two free remix EPs.