If I were writing about this in the style of an American sportscaster announcing a soccer game for the first time
Ana Helder, what can you say? A phenom. This young, stunning woman from Argentina has put together some SPECTACULAR stuff. One almost trembles to think what might happen when this talent truly blooms in the next few years, my god. I’d venture to say you can hear the HEAT in this track, that Argentine sun, the history, the Buenos Aires air, the twists and turns of Borges even! Like a sexy tango with the sex turned up to the sexth power. Sizzling like asado de tira…
Suspiration is the basis of this track. So many delicate inhalations and exhalations. Even the beat is just a cough, a punctuated form of breathing. Are there frogs chirping here too? You forget that they breathe through their skin, they’re always breathing, even when they’re chirping (frogs use circular breathing, same as some saxophonists and trumpeters). The Soft Pink Truth are possibly coming back soon from a long-ass hiatus, maybe with original material, maybe with another album of covers, according to this interview. Did you also know that soft pink truth is a concept in modal logic? It refers to when a proposition is probably necessarily true, but might be totally wrong. Modal logic has a lot of concepts like that.
A few words on this mini-mix of imperious guitars. First two are downers, or semi-downers, last one is a pick-me-up. “Sexual Vietcong,” from “Mr. Driver” is a phrase that I believe can and should be used often in casual conversation, and should maybe on t-shirts someday. I’m going to estimate that I listened to “Sing” once a day for the nine months of the 1999-2000 academic year, along with an appropriate amount of Portishead and probably too much of the first Muse album. “Eyesore” itself is irresistible, and I wish they had ridden that ending out for another half hour. There’s also something in the way that P. Flegel sings this song that makes it seem like an exaggerated conversation, like he’s transcribed someone’s spirited speech (a la Janácek) into notes.
It wandered and did wondrous deeds. Cawed the sun up from Tokyo and down in San Francisco. Pecked pebbles from shoes without even being asked to. Scratched fearsome furrows so deep you could plant anything. A comb so awesome that you had to give it credit. “There’s a feather in your cap,” some said. “Whew, mon dieu,” others said. Refused to fight even in instances when it had been slighted in the extreme: when it was fed last by some hapless hand, or awoken in the middle of the night by birds less noble. What you’ve heard is true: God sent his only rooster to take care of us, but then He forgot about it. Though, it goes without saying, not vice-versa. The rooster lived almost exclusively in churches.
Graham was wrapping his head around the shape of Hell, and the lay of the land, to him, resembled the sets of Night Court and It’s A Living, two sitcoms from his childhood that had been in almost constant broadcast either in new programming or in syndication, and whose characters all appeared to live in the places they worked. The only evidence of the outside world existed in the title sequences of both shows, when scenes from presumably New York were shown for Night Court, and a long montage of the It’s A Living waitresses featured them entering the Bonaventure Hotel accompanied by the theme song of the show, all arm-in-arm, showing up for work simultaneously and ecstatic. But beyond that it was if the cast of characters on both shows lived in ignorance of the existence of the real world, as sheltered as those Amazonian Indian tribes who still thought of the sun and moon as deities. All of that had formed the basis of Graham’s notion of Hell—the sitcoms’ suspension of time and place: Judge Harry always made jokes and would make jokes forever; Dan Fielding, state’s attorney, liked women and wanted women forever; Amy Tompkins worked hard for her tips and would work forever for those tips; and Sonny Mann, the piano player, longed for the waitresses and would long for them forever. The two sitcoms were what immediately came to Graham’s mind whenever someone said the word “existentialism,” which he had not studied much but took from its use to mean something like sophisticated despair. It seemed possible but weird to Graham that the shows’ creators had had this in mind when writing the sitcoms and knew that they were providing a valuable service by acclimatizing viewers to the idea of everlasting entrapment and routine.
I don’t think I loved Stephen Malkmus as a songwriter until I heard this song while driving around Richmond, VA, in 2005. Incredibly enough, I had heard only a few Pavement songs in my entire life at that point, and even that was due entirely to the efforts of one or two girlfriends or almost-girlfriends. Basically, I was lazy, and there was too much going on in the present for me to track back and investigate Pavement or Silver Jews or anything, really: there was a glut of new and exciting music to download, listen to, absorb. I remember ’05 feeling like a wild time, where it seemed as if all music was available all the time–all you had to do was think of it, and it existed, somewhere, and in only a matter of five or ten minutes of searching, you could find what you wanted. So Malkmus and his history were not a priority for me, I’m saying, until I heard this song, which startled the shit out of me, partly because it rises from silence, and partly because the music reminds me of songs I heard on the radio around the ages of 5-7. “Dynamic Calories” is different, too, from the other songs on both Pig Lib and the Dark Wave EP–a little more vibrant, a little less ponderous, and it has that wonderful moment when Malkmus changes the course of the music with his lyrics, as if by fiat, when he says, “and those wet, wet drums.” Who knew you could even do that?
Geoff Farina’s “Steely Dan” feels even more like a farewell transmission than Songs:Ohia’s “Farewell Transmission” (which, hopefully we can all agree, is an awesome song in its own right). Every time I listen to this, I picture Geoff standing on the roof of a small shed, or a bungalow, playing this song through a tiny practice amp, letting it loose into the air. This is another song that, by way of its structure and feel, somehow conveys the pleasures of being able to play music for yourself and only yourself. “And Steely Dan is all you ever wanted in a band.” That is a comforting phrase, delivered in the same manner as a friend taking you by the shoulder after some tragedy and showering you with platitudes, but in a heartfelt no-bullshit way that acknowledges how the sayings and commonplaces do not contain emotion or consolation, but are nevertheless a means to an end.
Languid languid languid, drums, voice, guitar. I could listen to any element of this song on its own almost endlessly. Narcotizing. Do you get what’s sexy about falling asleep–that’s what the music of this song is asking you. Peacefulness, vulnerability to all predators, everyday unconsciousness, close to the inanimate world as ever, so apprehensible. Wakefulness is what’s really problematic. “Your eyes consume me/they always have.”
Working since 2004 in various roles. Background music at an exhibition of Coptic calligraphy in Bern. Part of a wedding ceremony for the marriage of two computer programmers in French Guiana. Prominently displayed in the collections of music critics in New York, Chicago, L.A., Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Tehran, Yamoussoukro, Milan, Paris, Madrid, London, and Reykjavik. Loved by some, understood by none. Looking for a lasting relationship with a good listener. Won’t play games.