03 November 2006

there's nothing i can't stand as much as good modern art.

tomorrow night i'm djing for (the first half of) the opening of an art show. looking forward to it but it's a funny mixture of probably going to fun and also not really that big a deal. trying to figure out what to play/how to approach it. want if possible to somehow use it to promote my deejaybizness, to which end i'm making some copies of those two mixes i posted here recently.

anyway, i've been playing around with records all morning. part of me wants to do a relatively straight (well, and relatively obscure) soul and '60s pop set, at least for a while, but then we'll see, because i'm just as liable to veer off into oh, frinstance, abdullah ibrahim, ada, john lennon, daedelus, steve reich, why?, the aluminum group, gary lucas, nat king cole, mahjongg, ry cooder, schneider tm, the jimmy castor bunch, camera obscura, asa chang and junray, enoch light, bill frisell, moreno+2, matmos, ashlee simpson. i'm planning to pack a wide enough range of records to allow for some fortuitous fluctuation. (though it may well end up being exactly those artists.)

in the meantime, here's something that's actually not very relevant there, but is in keeping with the (original) brief of this website. it's a mixtape i made last summer for laura for her birthday, with all songs about art. i'll explain the title. it's called "the eyes the ears", which is the english translation of "les yeux les oreilles" which is what the parisian music listings publication lylo stands for (as laura told me.) t.e.t.e. of course is the french word for head. so there's yr rather duchampian pun. (fitting cuz one of the songs is about duchamp.)


the sides have titles, which are listed on the tape: the eyes first; the ears second. fun to make tapes based on lyrical unifying concepts like this (especially around topics where there just aren't that many songs) 'cause you end up with combinations of songs that never would have come about any other way. in this case, some rather unlikely cuts of high-minded "serious" songwritery stuff which was sorta more my bag several couple years back (dire straits, paul simon, steely dan, xtc, e.c., - not to suggest those aren't most of my favorite bands ever), similarly literate hipster-types (al-group, llamas), scrappy punk nerds (art brut, futureheads, thermals, modern lovers), and the some sneaky inclusion of purely instrumental jazz (byron), d+b (mocean worker) and idm (sybarite, boc, jxb) trax that just happen to be named after artists.

there's a roughly (art historical) chronological sequence to side one, after the 1,2,3 intro punch of ifrb's best ditty, tmbg's indelible start-stop pop classik, and art brut's bludgeoning thesis statement: starting with paleolithic, jumping straight ahead to the 20th-century torch-passing lineage of picasso>duchamp>warhol>basquiat (good a story as any, right?) and then the awesome (and awesomely named) architect renzo piano (on whom i one wrote a paper, the research for which included an unwitting visit to germany.) "rrose selavy" (like "rene m." on side 2) is way too long for it to be included on a normal mixtape; i was only too happy to let it fill up the space here - and it's a nice tune to boot. (one draft also included stereolab's epic and maybe only tangentially relevant "brakhage.") then there's the generic (not art-historical-specific) topicality of "venice" (which i adore) and two tracks ("artists only" and "in the gallery") that i would probably never have put on a mix under other circumstances.

on the second side: "wanted" stands out like a sore thumb as the only hip-hop (actually, the only black artist period unless you count don byron [oh diss, just kidding don]) and also somewhat envelope-pushing in the topic dept (it's about graffiti - does have some interesting things to say about it though.) elsewhere "guernica" breaks the 'only include good music' rule [i like blanket music, but that album and that song in particular are somewhat painful - but it's such a no-brainer topically that i had to include it], "art class" breaks the 'don't reuse songs' rule [i've used it for several mixes, but in particular another mix i'd made for laura - but never mind, it's a total bleeding masterpiece and definitely one of my top x indie rock trax if i had to name], jonathan richman struggles but manages not to break the 'don't repeat artists rule' [if the modlovers and jojo solo can count, surely ifrb and jxb can too, even singing about the same artist - it was a close call not putting jr's "salvador dali" on (but it's not really that good.)] and dar breaks some kind of rule for being a song i'd never even heard, but i just happened to have a random burned copy of the album it's on. meanwhile it's hard to say quite what "no culture icons" is about, except that it roxxx, and i've always had a soft spot for "wrapped in grey" (an unabashedly drippy ballad) and especially the 'your heart is a big box of paints' bit.

so that was that. not too painful rite? i think the tape came out quite well, and it's certainly chock-full of idiosyncrasy. if i'd made it even a few weeks later, steve malkmus' "post-paint boy" would definitely have found a well-deserved spot.

anyway. in real life i've been thinking a lot about the '90s lately. re-read this awesome article/list. started posting in the poptimists livejournal pazz/jop polls, for '95 and '96. i'm contemplating a mix paying homage to my earliest days as a dj, for hi-skool parties and first year or two of college - centered around '99 and a year or two before and after. (so many great fatboy slim and les rhythmes digitales remixes!) so stay tuned for that. a couple insights in the meantime though: the 90s many highlights notwithstanding, the 00s really are such a better decade for music. can i possibly say that objectively? i feel like it's objectively so. (though even i could think of counterarguments. secondly: my pick for single of the decade is third eye blind's "semi-charmed life." i feel quite strongly that, though it may not have been the best song released in the 1990s, it epitomizes the decade for me perfectly, and it is devastatingly great. sadly, it just missed the cutoff for p+j voting for '97 (top 25 yes?) ah well. 1997 was an incredible year for music.

[ooh ooh, just got back from tower records where the latest lovely fruits of the going-out-of-business insanity were copies of the new records by don byron and various productions, just sitting there on the clearance table as if they were waiting for me specifically - for about five bucks apiece. definitely gotta play some o that jawn 2morrow.]

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