Thursday, November 28, 2013

Random Library Audio Artifact: Autechre

I found this cd at the Westport branch of the KC Public Library, a modest outpost that opened in 1898!  I enjoy going to this one, very much, and it's right by Pryde's, the barber shop, the post office, and Mills Record Company.  It's not the kind of library where you'll find four copies of the newest Michael Connelly novel or extensive shelf space for books on breastfeeding, hydrology, or Polish cinema.  It's the little library that could, and you can requisition anything you really want from the larger branches.

I like random music finds, and any music fan remembers when they had the open-mindedness and budget to buy a record based on the cover alone.  As I get older I let go of any pretense of exhaustive expertise when it comes to, well, anything.  Even breathing or walking.  For some reason this reminds me of William Stafford saying something like "Aristotle never got to read Adrienne Rich--too bad for him."  It all becomes one vast explosion of human creativity, and we get shards.  I'm familiar with the canonical view and am glad for my education.  But what to make of something random, something Pop, in a proliferated, curated, commodified, digitized age of media onslaught?

This cd is electronic.  If I was in a camp of survivors on mountain and this were our only cd, I guess we'd want to hear "Brown Sugar" pretty bad after 9 or 10 hundred listens.  It's cool, it has a digital pulse and an austere, lunar color palette.  A lot of it is minor in key and kind of spooky.  It's subtle, but not that subtle.  Some of it is snappier, and I flash on soundtrack music for the montage section of a heist flick.  A crack team of eccentric criminals preparing for one last job, getting their tools together so they can go steal a Feberge Egg with nuclear secrets hidden in it.  John Malkovich with a goatee setting up fuses and plastique, slightly off his meds.

I don't know what to reference with this Pop art object because it isn't a genre I'm very familiar with.  If a rock band is referencing Das Damen and Soul Asylum, I get it--but I am unable to namecheck anything to orient this. What I can reference is what I was doing when I first heard it.  Unpacking the kitchen enough to camp and cook until Tracy got here.  Driving to work in dim light past Rosedale BBQ, Strasser's True Value, and Dagwood's Cafe.  

Little shifts in pulse and tonality is kind of what this music is about, and that makes sense, because life has been full of pretty significant changes lately--moving cross-country, changing jobs, taking a break from things that work OK but might work better, after taking a break.  Like writing songs on guitar and playing them for a band then playing them with a band, at cafes and bars.  It's appealing to think of music made with a computer and a midi interface.  As we set up the music area up in our basement apartment, Mo Tucker-ing on my Gretsch Catalina set is not really an option.  I miss my old practice pad but I'm up for a new flow, just around the corner from building that housed The Foolkiller, where I first saw Sonic Youth in 1986.

Bonus bio from Wikipedia of Autechre, UK electronic duo, and also All Music Guide.  This record, Amber, is from 1994.

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