the original soundtrack

I've been using the famed 'oblique strategies' cards to snap myself out of my funk; the cards are now available as a free program that you can install on your Mac (thanks to Flavorwire for the tip). (PC users get no love as per usual.) In five years when Google and Apple merge into one massive Uber-Company (Goople), which runs by itself (perpetual motion machines), I hope they install Eno (a digital version) at the helm to hammer out announcements (in the old Mac SE "Bruce" voice) like "REPETITION

11.28.05 @ 01:54 AM EST [link]

I'm going to try to move the discussion on this blog in a happier direction, so take your protein pills, put your helmets on, and let's go back to Berlin for a little adventure.

Over the summer I visited the Get Physical label offices, conveniently located about a ten-minute walk from my apartment. The offices are at the end of a tiny, nondescript street, off of a massive avenue called Schönhauser Allee. Near the end of your journey to their offices, you will most likely pass by this mural, which is the most electro mural I have ever seen!

It's electro! It's house! It's...electro-house!

I was heading there to meet and interview the mysterious Chelonis R. Jones for the mysterious German newspaper die tageszeitung. I get a bit lost on my way to the interview. Aha! I've found it! I get to the street and look for a sign. Surely there's a sign for the offices...

Hmm. I think this is the wrong sign. (I found that sign in San Francisco.)

Aha! This must be the place!

The Booka Shade crew opens the door. I hook a right and there's Chelonis R. Jones himself, looking sharp. Here's the short story with Chelonis: He paints and writes and makes records that you can dance to and brood to. He's a lovely guy. He's a little shy, and he speaks very quietly and deliberately and intelligently. Chelonis grew up in Los Angeles and New York, and he's been living in Europe for the past several years. The article I wrote about Chelonis is here, and yes it's in German I'm afraid. If you run it through Google Translator you get some hilariously amazing off-the-wall statements that I wish I'd written, like: "Because the electronic dance music of these days actually offers little area for feelings of the confusion unity, the fear or the in the long runness. Techno and House work within the quite close framework of a Four ton the floor Funktionalismus, for which it is perfectly sufficient, the party to rocken. To bring out the more amazingly that Jones found accomodation with GET Physical, a label, which understood in the past two years like hardly another, at the same time glitzernde and bolzende party TRACKS - for the Partylifestyle, which this music suggests, seems to Jones one too fragil." And just think--now Google is doing books too! Incredible!

Here's a picture of Chelonis. I have no idea who the other person is in the photo!

More to come...

11.27.05 @ 01:13 AM EST [link]

on. some. faraway.

I haven't been listening to music for weeks, which is strange. It's partially because all of my CDs and vinyl are in storage--stacked and packed neatly away in black milk crates--and that my stereo isn't even plugged in. I'd been thinking about selling all of my records. It was such a pain to move my record collection to a new apartment; sometimes I think my record collection is like a kidney machine or a catheter, something bulky and faintly embarassing that I'll have to drag around forever to keep myself in working order. And with the recent death of someone I'd known for years and years and years, music suddenly seems more irrelevant than ever. I'm finding that mourning the loss of somebody you knew is a gradual process; it's not something that's over in a week; it's something that takes time. It grows easier as the days go by, but half-buried memories keep flickering into my mindframe. And because remembering is how the healing process begins, suddenly music seems more important than ever.

What is it about music that makes us remember? What is it about particular songs, tracks, albums--that makes us cry, that makes us recall people and particular feelings and places? What is it about music that helps us to remember love, and helps us to forget it? In college I was interested in the answers to these questions, and I looked to neuroscience to help me out. Maybe there were some answers in the auditory cortex, in the hippocampus, in the amygdala, in neurons, in connections. I never found much solace in neuroanatomy, but maybe I wasn't peering deeply enough into its fissures and folds. Why do I instinctively reach to music for comfort? Is it some kind of sad rock-critic autism, some desperate inability to cope with the real world except through music? Can I only experience my own life through records?

I went to Boston this past weekend for the memorial service. For the several days before that, I spent all of my time obsessing over a memorial CD, a compilation of some favorite songs of his that I could give to his friends and family. I had a lot of trouble making the CD because so many of the tracks brought back such powerful flashbacks. It was comforting to be in Boston among friends I knew from many years ago, instead of pacing around my apartment in a state of neurotic Manhattan aloneness, obsessing over the track listing of a final mix CD. I wanted my friend's life to go on, shimmering and magnificent and endless. It wasn't supposed to end like this. Once, many years ago, I crudely looped the guitar solo at the end of Pixies' "No. 13 Baby" because I didn't want it to end. Shimmering and magnificent and endless. When I saw Brian Eno speak in New York a year or so ago, he said the way he got into electronic music was by making loops of his favorite guitar solos because he never wanted them to end. Well, I think he said guitar solos. I think he said Hendrix, but I may be forgetting. I'm always forgetting.

I spent most of the day after the memorial service at my friend's house in Massachusetts, sleeping. And staring at the wall, and listening to music. I ate a bowl of homemade cream of broccoli soup--strangely comforting in its thick, dull greenness--and put on David Bowie's Outside. I think that album's beautiful; it's so underrated. It doesn't have that patina of bygone cool that his late '70s records have (even though Eno produced it); it has stupid song titles like "Algeria Touchshriek"; it's painfully melodramatic and has all of these lame concept-album cod-creepy segues. But Outside has some of Bowie's best-ever ballads, hands down. I put on "The Motel" and got really lost in the song, in the stately, elegiac air about it, in the piano parts winding up and down like so many spiral staircases leading nowhere. I love the way the song bursts into a radiant, breathtaking climax in the most ungainly way possible. I love the way Bowie barely forces out the words "I don't know what to do," pausing before "do." I love the way he keeps repeating the words "re-exposing you." It was so comforting to hear Bowie's voice, somehow; for years when I was living in Massachusetts, I listened to almost nothing except David Bowie. I associate him with a particular time and place, and I wanted to be back in that time and space. Shimmering and magnificent and endless.

11.25.05 @ 03:04 AM EST [link]

Ian Penman is back, with some poetry for the ol' soul.

11.23.05 @ 08:36 PM EST [link]

how to move on.

11.23.05 @ 02:42 AM EST [link]

in a beautiful place out in the country.


1. The Orb - "Little Fluffy Clouds"

The scene: Black Rock City, 2001. The sun was setting, in that typically stunning Nevada-desert way, and the sky was purple and red. FB was working on something in the camp, as usual. The dude was always working on something--building shade structures for the camp, toiling on his mammoth wall of LEDs, anchoring tents down with rebar, setting up speakers. I was wandering around with...Beck, maybe, who was drinking from a warm Thermos of Red Bull and vodka. The sky started getting darker. A string quartet, ringed by fire dancers, materialized somewhere near our camp. They started playing "Little Fluffy Clouds" by The Orb, arranged flawlessly for strings, in the middle of the goddamn sand. I immediately thought that FB should see this, but had no idea where he was. Later on in the night, a bunch of us told him about it, and he laughed and cursed himself for missing it. Then his eyes went wide, and he said excitedly: "That's the amazing thing about Burning Man. You would never see that anywhere else. You would never see a string quartet in the desert playing "Little Fluffy Clouds" anywhere else but here." His enthusiasm for Burning Man was contagious.

2. Underworld - entire discography

August 2001. We took I-80 straight across the U.S., and got into some furious fights along the way. Most of the time they were about things that were totally fucking stupid (what music to play, for instance). We got into a big argument in Wyoming about music. I wanted to listen to Exile on Main Street and FB wanted to listen to Underworld. I was exhausted and I was driving and I hated Underworld. Anyway, Exile sounded utterly perfect in Wyoming. FB kinda-sorta fell asleep in the passenger's seat and I was singing-drawling along with "Sweet Virginia" to keep myself awake, as the glorious unspoiled Wyoming landscape swept by. Trying to stop the waves behind your eyeballs.... FB got his revenge later on by blasting Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" while driving in pitch-black darkness through nowheresville, Nevada ("NEXT REST STOP 279 MILES"). Then we bonded again when we discovered that we both dug The Orb's Orbvs Terrarvm, as the sunlight drifted up over the mountains. We finally got to Reno and marveled at its faded glory and seediness and how everything looked wrong in the raw early light of morning. We stopped at an IHOP in Reno and got pancakes. Even our waitress seemed so very wrong.

3. The Minibosses - "Metroid"

Arguing with FB sucked, but being on good terms was the best thing ever. My friends Droid and Noah and I booked the bands for MIT's Steer Roast festival in 2001. At the end of Saturday night--after all of the bands were finally over--I was feeling exhausted and underappreciated, I guess. I'll never forget how FB ran up to me, shook my hand vigorously, and enthused about what an awesome time he'd had and how much he appreciated the work we'd done. He talked about how much he loved the music--especially the Minibosses. (We raised money to fly the Minibosses--a videogame cover band--in from Arizona, just for the festival.) I was so, so happy that he'd had a good time. He had this incredible way of making you feel special, just by talking to you and paying attention to what you had to say, even if it was just for a few short minutes.

4. The Smiths - "This Charming Man"

Back to I-80. We were zooming through the endless flatness of Nebraska. FB had a Rio mp3 CD player in his van, which was the top technology at the time (the iPod hadn't been introduced yet), and a whole bunch of CD-Rs that were marked "1," 2," "3," 4," "5," and so on--his entire mp3 collection, burned to CD-Rs. We had no idea what was on what disc, or what the song names were (they had descriptive titles like "t01"), so he'd just throw them in at random. He tossed a random CD-R in and The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow started playing. Suddenly FB got all misty-eyed and started singing along with all the lyrics. (He had a pretty voice, too.) I remember that I started laughing. The Smiths just seemed so horribly fey in comparison with FB's badass, no-nonsense aesthetic. Then he opened up that two of his favorite bands of all time were The Smiths and Rush. (I could never quite wrap my head around his fascination with Rush.)

5. Boards of Canada - "Dawn Chorus"

The last time I saw FB before he died was on a beach in Long Island in July, about a week before I left for Germany. He set up speakers on the sand and blasted Boards of Canada into the ocean.

6. Orbital - "Attached"

One of FB's all-time favorite tracks. It's almost as beautiful as he was.

11.16.05 @ 05:02 AM EST [link]

Today is my birthday. Here's my birthday wish for you: Take good care of yourselves. Get in touch with friends you haven't talked to in years. Rebuild, regenerate, renew.

11.15.05 @ 07:03 PM EST [link]

Also: my sub-zero email account is down, and will probably stay that way. From now on, please send all emails to my gmail account -- theoriginalsoundtrack ( at ) gmail ( dot ) com.

11.15.05 @ 11:40 AM EST [link]

One of the most brilliant, creative, and open-minded people I ever met in my life died yesterday. I knew him for about eight years, and considered him a friend. Over the years, we had our ups and downs, for sure. Burning Man and Steer Roast and cross-country road trips and parties and blurry memories that mostly exist in watercolor...I had a real fondness for him, a real respect. He passionately believed in things. He was a die-hard individual. He loved beauty and technology and Burning Man and art and new experiences and life. He loved music. He loved Orbital's In Sides and Snivilisation and Boards of Canada's Geogaddi and Music Has the Right to Children and The Orb's Adventures through the Ultraworld and Underworld and he loved loved loved "Little Fluffy Clouds" and I'll never forget the guy. He was much too young to die.

11.14.05 @ 08:53 PM EST [link]

whoa! (bot)
Woebot on bhangra in the year 2005

11.11.05 @ 11:46 PM EST [link]

File under the "I admit it, I miss Berlin" department:

Here's a photo I took of Monolake at WMF this summer. A mindblowing show.

And here are some German kids playing hexagonal ping pong. Just because.

11.10.05 @ 02:13 AM EST [link]

it's no game (part 1)
I just packed up my entire record collection in preparation for moving to a newer, smaller Rubik's Cube of an apartment. I still haven't cottoned on completely to that mp3 train, so I have a lot of stuff that exists in atoms and not in bits. Packing up your entire record collection into neat, compartmentalized little boxes is beyond tough; it makes you feel like a fool at best, and it's agonizing at its worst. When did I ever have $40 to blow on a Japanese import? How did I end up with three copies of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars? Why do I have the Diana Ross Christmas record? Was I really as big of a Stereolab fan as this rickety, towering pile of colorful-yet-cracked jewel cases suggests? (And why oh why was the Aluminum Tunes packaging so awful, and why can't I find Disc 2?) Do I really like The Fall as much as this even bigger rickety, towering pile suggests? Why did I ever invest in David Bowie's mid-to-late '80s output? "Tin Machine"?! What in God's name was I thinking? Two copies of Strangeways, Here We Come? Was I ever that depressed? Karlheinz Stockhausen cassette tapes, bought because I once thought they'd be funny to play backwards? The Biggie 'Hypnotize' cassingle? Techno mixes with the track listings mixed up?

11.10.05 @ 01:45 AM EST [link]

If you buy the latest issue of the excellent German music magazine Groove--with Boards of Canada on the cover--you'll find a big essay by me on electronic music and the brain. Also in that issue: a great Alex Under interview by Phil Sherburne. (I should probably mention that the magazine is entirely in German. But if you stare at the words long enough, it looks just like English! I swear!)

11.02.05 @ 09:18 PM EST [link]

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