Wednesday links

  • The Source highlights DMC’s work as a role model, covering a recent NYC panel on encouraging schoolkids to explore careers in the arts.
  • The always delightfully kooky Devendra Banhart discusses aleatoric music, his elderliness, selling out, alcoholic suppositories, falling in love with Natalie Portman, harmonium orchestras, and much more (and also makes some incredibly insightful comments about the incestuous relationships between indie and major labels–credibly defending his statement that to go with a major is actually the new anti-establishment) over at Pitchfork.
  • The NYT profiles the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  Need I say more?
  • Scientific American gives us another sort of silly attempt to impose science upon music.  The only thing that’s good for is acoustics in my opinion.  Anyway, if you’re interested, check it out.

Tuesday links

Soundtrack to the lifecycle of a pig

The vegetarian in me thinks this is completely bizarre and sort of barbaric: producer Matthew Herbert will choose a pig (yet to be born) and record every step of its lifecycle, from birth to butchery to its eventual consumption, and release it as an album.  I’m all for experimental art, and I know the pig probably would have died anyway bla bla.  But I admit that I don’t really see the point of this work given that Herbert doesn’t appear to be doing this to raise consciousness about animal consumption or anything, you know, worthwhile.

Quick hit: Vibe magazine is back…

with an 808 and it’s bossy.

Anyway, I digress.  Vibe, one of the premier (if not the premier) hip-hop magazines, officially folded about 6 weeks ago under a whole bunch of debt.  It’s being resurrected first as an online-only publication, and its new management hopes to subsequently put it back in print (albeit with a bit of a new spin on the business end).

I always feel that the more written about music (well, the more well-informed, insightful pieces written about music) the better–music is so important, and so useful for understanding other aspects of life and society, that it’s good to have lots of minds thinking and talking about it.

I’m enough of a nerd that I just might buy this “album”

According to Pitchfork, Fiery Furnaces’ new album won’t be an “album” at all, in the way we’re used to thinking about albums.  As opposed to releasing a sound recording, they’re releasing

instruction, conventional music notation, graphic music notation, reports and illustrations of previous hypothetical performances, reports and illustrations of hypothetical performances previous to the formation of their hypotheses, guidelines for the fabrication of semi-automatic machine rock, memoranda to the nonexistent Central Committee of the Fiery-Furnaces-in-exile concerning the non-creation of situations, Relevant to Progessive Rock Division, conceptual constellations on a so-to-speak black cloth firmament, and other items that have nothing to do with the price of eggs, or milk, or whatever the proverbial expression ceased to be.

Try reading that all in one breath.

Grandiose and hipsterish as this may be, it’s kind of a cool idea.  It’s intended to be avantgardesque (yeah, only “-esque”) but ironically (perhaps that’s the point) is throwing us back about 100-150 years to the heyday of American sheet music publishing–an era when many homes had a piano, guitar, banjo, fiddle or accordion (etc. etc.) and several people who could play and/or sing, and who consumed their pop music by buying broadsheets, or inexpensive simplified sheet music arrangements, then performing for friends and family.

Pitchfork kind of hates on this as a liquid-courage-inspired, lazy-musician’s-way out.  That might be true, but I like the fact that it forces audience participation in a way that we haven’t seen explicitly required since the advent of recording technology.  I also like the fact that listening to this “album”–just like in the days before everyone could afford a phonograph–requires a group of people to get together.  I like the fact that, though visual representations of sound have their own limiting effects, the ambiguity of the “album” (yes, I will persist in using scare quotes) allows for a diversity of representations without worrying about intellectual-property tussles.  I really dislike the potential for music snobbery and clique-iness that is inherent in this project, but that’s an occupational hazard of indie/prog rock anyway.

More to come if/when I get my hands on this.

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