Music for the End of the World

Music to end all music:

10.When I Go Deaf (Low) I’ll be all right. I’ll be just fine.

9. And the Gods Made Love...(Jimi Hendrix Experience)

8. A Thousand Year Formation (Off the Sky) For the beginning of the world too. 7. Somewhat Damaged (Nine Inch Nails) Too fucked up to care any more.

6. Thursday Afternoon (Brian Eno)

5. Come in Alone (My Bloody Valentine) Believe what you see.

4. Big Brother (David Bowie) Some brave Apollo, someone like you.

3. Anamorphose (Stereolab) There is nothing more real than breathing. 2. Disintegration Loop #5 (William Basinki) At 53 minutes, it is almost long enough.

1. The Heavenly Music Corporation at Half Speed (Fripp and Eno) Should be at 1/8th speed for full effect.

An Ominous Sound for an Ominous Future

Fripp & Eno started it with The Heavenly Music Corporation, not ambient music but ominous and terrifying sonic explorations, lovely too. (Click preceding link to listen.)fripp_pussybI heard the sound again, years later, at a Grateful Dead show in Miami in 1988; it was like being inside a jet engine, all-encompassing, so very loud.

GratefulDeadSpaceAnd then, in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2006), a new version, low and distant, perhaps over-produced, arrived on screen. (Click preceding link to listen.)waroftheworldtripodIt arose again in the trailer for Chris Nolan’s Inception (2010), promising aural profundity; regrettably, the sound was brief and the movie was not.inceptionsoundThe sound became more realized in Gravity (2013), providing the soundscape for the impending doom of debris.gravity-debrisIt has now returned to the frontier of music, more than My Bloody Valentine’s sonic wall, in Sigur Ros’ latest work, Kveikur (2013).sigurros_kveikurLouder and deeper, back-filled by drums and wailing voices, the sound builds, just falling short of the next plateau. 20140703_052932As this sound continues in its evolution, getting deeper and fuller, it might even be a synchronistic backdrop for our promised apocalypse.

Top Ten Concerts

Yes, I admit this is both anal and childish, but I like to remember the places where my thoughts worked best – even if I didn’t remember much of it at show’s end.

10. Ravi Shankar, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto (1983) Beautiful hall, incredible music. Ravi Shankar performs at Paleo festival, Switzerland in 2005

9. Emmylou Harris, The Boot Saloon, Toronto (1992) A honky-tonk night.Musician Emmylou Harris performs during a concert celebrating musician Pete Seeger's 90th birthday in New York8. Tragically Hip, Cleveland Flats, Cleveland (1995) Canada’s greats, straight & full-on.20140504_2316477. Guided by Voices, Fillmore West, San Francisco (2002) The club is open.GBV Philly 6. Jane’s Addiction, Key Arena, Seattle (1995) Farrell and Navarro in summer dresses. perry-farrell-of-jane-s-addiction 5. Low, The Aquarium, Fargo (2012) Three full sets.Phone 061 4. My Bloody Valentine, Roseland Ballroom, New York (2008) Ears are still ringing. IMAG3757

3. Noel Hill & Tony MacMahon, Mother Red Cap’s, Dublin (1994) The pure drop in a tavern.

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2. Sufjan Stevens, Bowery Ballroom, New York (2013) The end of the world – December 21, 2112 – with a few hundred others. IMAG2066 1. Grateful Dead, Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma (1985) Full moon, at a zoo.Grateful_Dead-Greek_85-1 (walstib)

My Bloody Valentine Play New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom

My Bloody Valentine are, as Rolling Stone Magazine says, committed to distortion; they deliver a wall of sound and light, and turn that around on itself.

My Bloody Valentine plays Hammerstein Ballroom on November 11

My Bloody Valentine plays Hammerstein Ballroom on November 11

They take turns singing, or seeming to sing; there are no intelligible words, just murmuring beneath the din. IMAG3749The sound builds, seems to get louder – although nothing like their 2008 tour – pauses and starts again, a certain blissed-out monotony, chaotic but not, that wears everything down, until it’s just one long thing, only stopping to breath, all of this until the last song, You Made Me Realise. IMAG3757This final, drawn-out moment goes straight in, vibrates against the organs and veins and fights your heart rate until you feel like you’ve been initiated into a murderous cult. IMAG3740And then they leave, and that’s that.

Obsession I: My Bloody Valentine’s “Nothing Is”

My Bloody Valentine released a new album this spring, mbv. It is a haunting offering of distorted, crazed music, much like their great Loveless LP from 22 years back. mbv-lovelessI listened to the new album a few times and became obsessed with the second last track, Nothing Is, which I put on repeat and listened to 300-400 more times. mbvI have come to listen to nothing but this song of 3 1/2 minutes – whenever I write, workout, or do anything with music. I’m listening to it right now.

I must admit to a history of obsessive music listening. My housemates in college stole the fuse from my stereo because of my addiction to The Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station. terrapinI’ve obsessed over all sorts of music – NIN, Aimee Mann, Low, Fripp & Eno, William Basinski, Jesus Christ Superstar – often just a song at a time, and that over and over again. jesus-christ-superstar-131991-jpgI was the perfect audience for Ragnar Kjartansson’s 12-hour performance piece Bliss, where the same 4-minute section was repeated again and again and again. ragnar2It’s like a trap or a crutch or a refuge or just something I like too much, and I won’t stop until there is nothing left and I just can’t listen to it again…for months, if not years, and then just might start all over again.