Wednesday, February 27, 2008

video #48: Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood

Here's where it all started. Hard to believe this is really seven years old now. I really wasn't into this "band" at all when they first came out, even coming dangerously close to falling in with the idiots who labeled them as nothing more than a big gimmick. But by the time Demon Days came out, which I've probably heard 200 times or more by now, I was a full convert. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with them -- I don't own a single Gorillaz book, DVD, or figurine -- but if it weren't for Gorillaz, I probably wouldn't have had the idea to start exploring animated videos like this in the first place. This blog would be something very different now.

Between "Clint Eastwood" and the rise of Clinic around the same time, it seemed like we were on the verge of a great melodica revival. What happened?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jim O'Rourke - Bad Timing

Jim O'Rourke - "Bad Timing"

I don't have much to say about Jim O'Rourke. I've tried to come up with something but it all sounds like "back in 2000, this guy was everywhere!" or "is there any style he hasn't played?" or even "so this is from one of his 6,438 albums, but who's counting!?"

This is the title track from his 1997 album, which I just got into a few months ago after finding at the library. I don't know how to describe it; I remember the label "acoustica" that was getting thrown around to describe artists like Air or Beth Orton but it feels more appropriate for something like this. More good music to study to.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

video #47: Chage and Aska - On Your Mark

Easily the most ambitious animated video ever made. Really, it's no contest. I know that Daft Punk had a feature-length movie, and that Gorillaz have... well, "their" whole career, but c'mon.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, a Studio Ghibli production.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Steve Reich - Electric Guitar Phase

Steve Reich - "Electric Guitar Phase"

I've always loved Reich's compositions with percussion, especially mallet instruments, but his works translate just as well to other families of instruments.

"Electric Guitar Phase" clocks in at around 15 minutes, but makes me lose all sense of time whenever I listen to it. Joe Satriani meets Manuel Göttsching, or something. Great study/chill out music. I'm always irked when good music is "praised" like that but you know what I mean.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

video #46: Pearl Jam - Do the Evolution

Can I say anything about this that hasn't already been said? There's a lengthy Wikipedia entry on it already, which I just read and would be plagarising anyway. I've never been a big Pearl Jam fan, and on top of that I only sort of know who Todd McFarlane is. I don't have any business blogging about this at all, but it's pretty well-known as an Important Video and anything that makes people reconsider the place of "Money For Nothing" or "Sledgehammer" in the Greatest Animated Videos canon is a good thing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Luger - Pass Agent

Luger - "Pass Agent"

The first two releases on the Leaf Label were from Boymerang. This was the label's third release. More classic breaks, I get the feeling there are dozens of other records out there like this that I've never even heard of. I wonder if the other groups he was in are worth checking out? Who knows!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

video #45: Cornelius - Wataridori

Probably the only time I've ever cried at a concert. Beautiful, wonderful song, perfect video. Directed by this group.

The Youtube stream was pixellated and awful-looking, so we have the larger, cleaner embedded video straight from the label instead! I was sad to see him leave Matador -- Sensuous could have used more publicity than it got -- but at least the move to Everloving hasn't forced him to sacrifice any of the visual aspects of his work. Still one of the most creative artists of our time. I only wish I'd gotten into him sooner than last year. Even though I'd heard and enjoyed many of his remixes years before, I had a hard time taking anyone seriously who was always being called "The Japanese Beck." But that was my loss.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Oval - Polygon Medpack 2.0

Oval - "Polygon Medpack 2.0"

Ever since I was in grade school, I've suffered from near-weekly headaches, almost exclusively on Mondays. Maybe the stress of preparing myself to head back after the weekend was too much for me when I was young, or maybe it was the awful air quality in our overcrowded elementary school. I don't know. It was bad enough to permanently set my body rhythms up in anticipation for my Monday migraine, which I haven't figured out how to avert since then. There's only so much I can do -- avoiding jarring car rides, bright lights, loud noises, and consuming dangerous amounts of caffeine and acetaminophen -- to hold them off, but unfortunately I don't have any control of these things when I'm away from home. Coming down from these requires a dark, quiet room, a soft bed, and no disturbances for a few hours. I realize that my case is almost nothing compared to many sufferers of real migraines, but it's an unpleasant nuisance that's interrupted my life more times than I can remember.

I usually prefer to spend these times in silence, but I've found that the right kind of music, played at a low enough volume, can be soothing and comforting in these times. Gentle ambient music of nonabrasive pulses, subtle rhythms, consistent volume and tone... this doesn't characterize much of Oval's work, but on Dok the usual destructive sound of crashing hard drives and damaged CDs is worked into something very pleasant. The skips and flips are still there, but it's never overwhelming. Check the old Thrill Jockey mail order catalogs that used to come inside all of their CDs and read the promising teaser: "[Christophe] Charles traveled the world recording bells and Markus added his special touch..." And $9 for every CD? Why did I have to be so poor back then?

The first time I listened to Dok, I'd just come home frome the record store after school. At the risk of breaking into Garfield territory, I had a throbbing headache so it was probably a Monday. I turned off the lights, put in the disc, and laid down on my bed. This was probably my first foray into the territorries of glitch or even "intelligent techno" or whatever you'd like to call it, and it was pretty mindblowing, even though I was too out of it to really appreciate it. I still remember the fractal patterns that flickered in and out below my eyelids as the second track on the disc, "Polygon Medpack 2.0," played from the other side of my bedroom. Having a dangerously hot heating pad draped across my face might have had something to do with that, too.

This is the kind of track that fans of "real music" love to hate. Completely synthetic, soulless in the randomly-generated heart of its composition, and completely unsuitable for dancing or any kind of social function. The narrative behind Oval is too nauseatingly "academic" for most people today who follow electronic music, especially on the Internet. That's right, the party never stops here. I'll always have a special place in my heart for this, even if I can't come up with any anecdotes for it that aren't completely inane. Anxiously awaiting something, anything more from Oval in 2008. Not software, music.

I didn't know the title of this track until now. Seems appropriate, but to point that out and explain why would be unforgivably hokey.