Molars
23Sep/10

Proposal to a Cycloptrix

Aidan Baker and Tim Hecker - Auditory Spirits

Here's another small excerpt from my forthcoming mp3blogging memoir, "Bit Rate and Hit Rate." The below details my first encounters with a renowned music listener.

I first met Jason Carlisle in the fall of 1999, during my second year in college. He was performing an a cappella version of the title track from "Bitches Brew" at an open mic night on campus. I was impressed by his ability to mimic the sounds of so many instruments simultaneously, as well as his knack for exuding a kind of cool jazz vibe, augmented by his wearing of mirrored sunglasses indoors and his inhaling what he claimed was heroin but what looked upon further examination to be brown sugar. He later told me he had been listening to that record as far back as he could remember, when he was still in his mother's womb. "Bitches Brew," he said, "is a heady brew. You have to start listening as an infant to really get it. Do you dig?" I took this to be a straightforward question about my shoveling technique and answered that I hadn't held a landscaping job in a while, but I still knew which end of a shovel moved dirt. He laughed--a long, hearty, musical laugh, full of vibrato and weird harmonics--and took me under his wing. Jason introduced me to music I had never known about: Riley, Can, Wire, Penderecki, etc. He claimed he had recorded the movement of earthworms through the earth and set that field recording to a 15/8 beat, and the resultant song, "Ad Astra Per Humum," had become a huge club hit in Berlin. He claimed he fell asleep to a tape he'd made of distorted jackhammers and sirens because it "extimbrilated" his ears. He said he knew a noise that, like the woman in the Rolling Stones song, could make a dead man come (it came from modified mbiras, illegal in the States). And a noise that could make people lose bowel control. He said he listened across all music for depth, breadth, and azimuth. He claimed to have heard records, made by ancient Egyptians, that were wooden and came with unmarked papyrus labels (these could only be played on a turntable powered by oxen). [...] The last I'd heard, he'd dropped out of school to follow a black metal cover band (they played music with the covers of old LPs) around on tour, and he sent me a postcard from Antarctica that said, "the acoustics here are pretty good."

[BUY Fantasma Parastasie, which has some amazing cover art]

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