Monday, November 30, 2009

the snapped rope of the catapult

Michael Hurley - Ida Con Snock (listen) Michael Hurley is one of those grizzled coot burnout types from a famous band you've never heard anything by (Holy Modal Rounders, in his case) that I tend to enjoy, but I've never really latched onto it until this record. I suspect it might be the guys from Vetiver and the Devendra Banhart commune doing the subtle backup music, but really it was the mouth trumpet and sweetness in his version of "Valley of Tears" that got me. Close readers may recall that swamp pop titan Warren Storm's version got to me a while back.

But this is almost Robert Wyatt or Vic Chesnutt beautiful, which is a special kind of beautiful that you requires your wicked heart to pass though a clean room to get. I'll show you what I mean in a minute, but this popped up.

Ralph Shapey - Songs of Life (listen) I'd never heard of this composer until Alex Ross piece in this weekend's New Yorker, and I don't know upon listening if I've really heard it still. Playful, evocative, plink-plonk music that uses Ives as a trampoline to reach the lowest of the stars before bounding back. It reminds me of Lukas Foss, a composer that not enough people talk about; not impenetrable music, but you are going to have to chase it around the tree a couple of times before catching it.

Various Artists - From Behind the Unreasoning Mask (listen) Or Earl Kim. No one ever talks about Earl Kim and his "Earthlight" is just one of the best things ever. This ancient Smithsonian Folkways recording of immediately forgotten American composers was one of my standby records when I was 18, 19. I wore out a cassette copy of it walking around the fog of my freshman year and had to bring my stereo home with me one laundry weekend so I could check the record back out from the Houma library and retape it. But man, "Earthlight" is so slight it hardly exists, like the fluffiest desert or the fleeting breeze of youth.

Harry Partch - "Dreamer that Remains: A Study in Loving" or Jesus Christ, this! This is one of my favorite pieces of music ever. EVER. Why haven't I looked for this on here before? I assumed it was lost to me. My back-burner-ed book of personal music essays that garnered a favorable reception at the reading a couple weeks ago should really bear this as a title, because this piece is the book's fulcrum; the snapped rope of the catapult. World's wilder than the song Beck did in tribute to the hobo/madman/genius composer a week or so ago in his website.

Vic Chesnutt - Skitter on the Take-Off (listen) Here is what I meant about Vic Chesnutt.

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