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This becomes especially important in Mortal Thoughts , where the story, characters, and settings are restricted to a working-class milieu — the film was shot in New Jersey, in Bayonne, Hoboken, and Jersey City — and the music clearly belongs to another realm entirely. My father, a literature professor, used to argue that the novel was an invention that made it possible, for the first time in history, for those in the middle and upper classes to imagine what it was like to be someone in a different milieu.

A quarter of a century ago, the prevailing liberal-humanist ideology in this country appeared to be that as the world steadily shrank through the growth of communications, racial, ethnic, and economic differences between people became less and less important. The problem with this attitude is that it uncritically assumes that mass communications communicate, while overlooking the ways in which they might do the reverse by reinforcing language barriers and other cultural differences. In a similar fashion, phone-answering machines could just as accurately be called phone-nonanswering machines because they serve to block as well as facilitate communication.

In terms of the recent war in the Middle East, for instance, mass communications made it possible to believe that the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people was less important than the proud victory of a beleaguered world power suddenly feeling its oats again. But it never, not even for an instant, allows us to make the leap that a novel or short story by, say, Nelson Algren would, in order to imagine that these events could happen to us or people close to us.

And although the song swirling on our portable player was not the same — Bach , not Mendelssohn , the memory surged. There I was in my head, transformed, a young man gardening with his mother — a cello, violins, a viola, and a harpsichord flowing through the winter-promising breeze. We worked together without rushing. We worked together simply and quietly enjoying our tasks. And here is the most important part of the memory — we worked together and communicated with almost no talking. In addition to communicating silently about our gardening chores, we were also communicating about this: Pure Uncertainty.

I had worked most of the summer while living at home. I had been away from family and friends, and uncommunicative, on a trip to Italy during August and September. I was going to be moving away from Nebraska to Boston in a few days and had no real idea about what I would be doing there — not even about where I might live. She was filled with well-founded apprehension, and I was filled with eagerness and anxiety. It all worked out. In the way that gardens need attention, or the way that homes need attention, need periodic transformation — their shutters removed, their paint sandblasted, their patios broken up and carted away — our lives get shaken up and we metamorphose.

And it all works out. In I was This is a photo of my mother at I am grateful to have had this memory, spurred by the sounds of stunning classical music emanating into the open summer air from inelegant speakers. Most of my recent memories of my mother have come from her in her later, end years, when she was confused and so frail. But I got a lucky picture in my mind of my mother — her friendly ghost. I began to imagine her at different ages. She was younger, surer, sound, and healthy. And I got a clear glimpse of a morning from my past when my mother and I found several calm moments together, quietly connecting, each forgiving the other of our fleeting fears while our lives underwent their separate violent evolutions.

Harpsichord Concerto in f minor. Beyond calling this music experimental , it is nearly impossible to classify. Another clear influence is Broadcast. Both acts share a super-cinematic, deeply psychedelic vibe with the spacy, noisy sensibility of kosmische Musik. She also plays violin and mandolin as well as other instruments. Now she has grown the outfit into its current cosmopolitan form. She is also a survivor of a medical syndrome called vanishing twin.

At around age 12, Lucas learned that before her birth, her mother had been pregnant with twins. Nearly everyone at some time entertains thoughts of what might have been. Those meditations can, in some cases, land one in a great imaginative playground of memory. What might have happened if I had actually made a move to such and such city? What if I had pursued this dream, or that one?

You will hear new things upon each listening.


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This is somehow dark and bubbly at the same time. There are friends and acquaintances, over 30, of them, who lived, worked, and played together for eight or nine months during the academic year, who said goodbye for a spell as they finished exams and split off from each other. It is a nostalgic phrase to hear, and my mind floods with images of fresh young faces — long-ago friends engaged in smiley handshakes and hugs — memories from 35 years ago. Well, I intend to have a good summer, and I will need a proper soundtrack for the season. She is new to me. Until recently she was the keyboard player for the rock outfit, Cherry Glazerr.

A little over a year ago, she left the group to pursue her own career as a solo artist. In addition to playing keys she is a wonderfully straightforward and expressive singer. Her vocals sometimes carry an unaffected quaver that matches the woozy synth melodies. Here are a four songs to get you started. Keep them in your back pocket for playing some night soon when the sun sets late, and the sun-warmed earth radiates its insistent heat upward after dark. Her voice sounds as if it is travelling across a great distance to reach you.

At other times her quiet voice and her simply plucked guitar seem to be floating through the very dimly lit air of a low-ceilinged bar in California during the middle s. The record is a sprightly marvel. Poly Blue. This Time Around. She sometimes performs as the singer and guitarist of Brooklyn band Big Thief. Dripping with glorious minor keys and chords, the songs are delivered as easily as breathing.

There are ten jewels to wonder at, given in 34 minutes. Upon finishing listening, the feeling one gets while rushing to restart the whole enterprise is that someone has just spent a half an hour sharing with you her most beautiful secrets, her most marvelous observations. In addition to Nick Drake , there are pleasant reminders of other artists. Incredible playing and singing. How could a better set of songs have come to us in autumn, when the spinning world turns crisp and colorful and we contemplate the plays of light and shadow between bright days and long nights?

I welcome the nihilism. Message received. Just these four words and a link. Sent from my friend Jeff, I clicked the link. The first few seconds of sound sent me back in time to the days of post punk at their darkest and most glorious fringes. It announces itself with a fast ringing guitar that is quickly joined by a thick, urgent drumbeat and clear bass. Her singing combines the best of rock and roll theatricality with sincere rage and desperation. It is filled with lots of intensity and lots of two-and-a-half to three-minute songs.

There really is a strong whiff of nihilism hovering over this enterprise — and it is strangely purposeful and super satisfying. The group can take a tender turn, too. There are also meltdowns like Trashyard , a tune that starts with a warm and assured bass groove and marches through its six plus minutes swirling into slow, screaming bewilderment.

After that, a British tour with a couple of dates possible in Europe. Catch them if you can. Take a few listens. Hopefully you had one too — a dark summertime place that you could go to — an isolated country place where you could lay on the hood of a car at midnight and take in the perfect sky and its impossible thickness of stars. The full flickering sky. Photo by Johannes Nollmeyer. We had a place east of town that we called Sleepy Hollow, far enough from the city to support the magical blackness of a rural summer night, and close enough that we could see the orangey glow of our city lights spread on the distant horizon.

We rode with windows down and music filling our ears. The Smiths , R. By the edge of town, the volume would creep up. By the turn off the highway to a dirt road that led us through miles of cornfields, music roared from the speakers, wind spilling in, filling us with whooshing sound. Then northward to the gentle hills on the dirt road where sometimes the fields sparkled with thousands of fireflies, mirroring the sky. Then a preserved stand of a dozen Cottonwood trees at the edge of a cornfield provided our Sleepy Hollow.

Time slowed. We would stalk along the road and trade stories of our day, sorting out our passions. Eventually we would land on the car hood and sip beers and smoke cigarettes and get lost in silence. We would cast our individual twinkly eyes up to the unimaginable points of glistening stars. Night inspires. My friend, Amy Plettner, an award-winning Nebraska poet, used a nighttime drive, music, and a great artist to inspire her to strike a feverish and sensuous tone with her poem:.

Originally published in Misbehaving Nebraskans , and reprinted with permission of the poet. Here is a great new song by some kids who are now about 20 — the age now that we were then:. Twinkle by Sorry from the single Showgirl Domino. Languages die surprisingly often, and for a multitude of reasons. It is probable that most of the languages that die are so remote that they do so unrecorded, and so will be forever lost. According to a article in The New Republic , of the roughly 7, diverse languages now in existence, linguists predict that half will die over the next century.

More aggressive forecasters assert that 80 to 90 percent of existing languages will die in roughly the same amount of time. A National Geographic article claimed that a discreet language dies about every 14 days. Some languages are relatively rare, but they hang in there. For example, in Great Britain, some 5, people claim to be conversational in Cornish, one of three Brythonic Celtic languages.

Welsh and Breton are the other two. But Cornish may boast fewer than a thousand fluent speakers, and perhaps far fewer — only By comparison, about 6, people are fluent in the Lakota language. The artist Gwenno has released a wonderful new record called Le Kov , sung entirely in Cornish. You may be sure that its pleasures will not be missed because of a language barrier.

Gwenno Saunders was a member of the s pop group The Pipettes. She then released a debut solo record as Gwenno called Y Dydd Olaf sung mainly in Welsh, with one song in Cornish. Le Kov is her second record. Her influences enjoy a broad range, and there is a pervasive wooziness to the production that compliments all these stylistic influences. Piano is up front on some songs, with tidy string orchestrations and horns joining the act, so there is a distinct and groovy Bacharach vibe. Fans of Broadcast and Stereolab will be rewarded by the confident and laid back la-la vocals.

Some of the more dedicated electronic instrumental backing would be right at home on a Boards of Canada record. I love it when an artist can mix so many influences and come up with something that still sounds so original. There is much here to set us free in our memory, despite the lack of lyrical understanding. It is just beautiful and it is a testimony to the power of music to transcend the sometimes confining nature of language. Its passion shines. Below is a link to a song from the record, called Jynn-amontya :. Le Kov by Gwenno Heavenly Recordings. This has been going on for months — maybe even years.

I think I am losing my hearing. So, I made an appointment to have a hearing evaluation. I suffered from repeated ear infections when I was younger. One ear infection episode in my mids was so protracted and painful multiple steroid and antibiotic courses that I was damn near ready to turn in my ears for good. Just be done with them.

Earless seal. This beast seems to get along nicely without ears. Could an ear infection from half a lifetime ago — one that lasted for several weeks — have tipped the balance toward a slow hearing loss? Through the years I have worked at some super loud jobs, but have often worn ear protection. Would the times I did not wear ear protection have created a crack in the armor to contribute to some permanent hearing loss?

A sampling of tickets stubs representing a fraction of the concerts I have attended. These tickets stubs represent a fraction of the live music concerts I have attended over the years — mostly without ear protection. There would certainly have been a negative cumulative effect on my hearing from all the beautiful and very loud music I heard through the years.

Could it have been a single incident? Was it Deerhunter in ? Stereolab several times in the 90s and s? Metallica in ? Dead Kennedys in ? One of the half dozen or so times I got to see the Flaming Lips? The evaluation was this morning. I have been thinking for weeks about what hearing loss would really mean to me. What would it be like to lose something so dear? Then, last night, I learned that someone who was very special to me had died. She was special to everyone who knew her, by the way. My friend, my Dear Steffanie, had an incandescent smile and an easy laugh. She also had a very cruel disease, as well as punishing complications that followed her disease, that she dealt with in an almost superhuman way.

A truly brave way. We became friends in junior high school and became closer in high school. We went to the same college, and perhaps it was there especially, as we matured and our lives became more complicated — even though the trajectories of our individual lives continued to diverge — we became closer still. Our friendship, even just thinking about our friendship, acted throughout my adult life as a placeholder for returning to a time when things were blessedly simpler. Learning that Steffanie had died made me want to listen to music. Music was her default mode, and she was herself a talented, joyful singer.

At first, I thought of listening to sad, pretty songs sung by women. But I quickly concentrated on the news that Steffanie had died at peace, on her terms, and surrounded by family and with her friend Jon. I decided to find some upbeat songs from the time when we were young.

I wanted songs that would represent youthful abandon. I disregarded the lyrics or found instrumental songs that would make me close my eyes and bob my head. Songs that I would want to play very loudly. Songs to remember times when my friend was young and healthy. Here are a few. Ladybird by XTC from Mummer Windout by R. So I have let that go for now and instead I have been thinking about how lucky I have been to have had such friendships.

I have been thinking of all the people whose lives my friend touched. I have been thinking about losing dear things. And I have been thinking that there are some things that you never lose. Dear Steffanie, goodbye. Among other things, you were a proud redhead with a blinding grin. A teacher, a singer, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. There was no one else like you. Your very presence was cheering. You were easy to love. Thank you for the memories, dear things I will never lose. Goodbye, Dear Steffanie.


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Steff and me at our 30 year class reunion. She would smile, and she would make you smile. Sometimes the old world feels a little wobbly — half a click off its axis — and our comforting routines evaporate. Things are not as they seem. The ground was covered in still white snow. Tall bare trees crackled on either side of the trail, and in the distance ahead of me I watched a brave and fluffy rabbit take twenty or so hops steadily forward.

My rabbit then leaped on a tree trunk and scramble up to its limbs. My rabbit was a squirrel. If you are lucky like me, routines take a hit because of positive life changes. I gravitate towards songs to help me find some balance, and this year has provided bountiful musical treasures that were beyond my ability to harvest and bank them.

All that I have missed listening to greatly outweighs what I have caught. They are also taking the next step by making their sound essential. This music has consequences — the band wants you to for the love of god!

Mortal Thoughts - Wikipedia

Artistic rebellion takes the form of making beauty from chaos. The link will take you to the full album, released on Nonesuch. Chilled out and thoughtful beyond its simplistic surface, this is a great representative tune: My Old Man. Killer Mike and El-P pack so many ideas and such power into 14 songs that I often found myself hitting replay at the end of one listening to begin another. This one really moves: Call Ticketron. There is one special release from this year that has occupied my thoughts a lot. I have been concentrating on it, and here are a few ideas:. My friend Tama is a dedicated meditator.

I guess it is my form of meditation. Even when walking with a companion, or with headphones on, I get the sense of clearing my mind, and I have loved taking regular walks since I was a little kid. Fairly often, I return to the town of my boyhood. Sometimes when I make these visits I carve out a few minutes to drive familiar roads and lay eyes upon some cherished old sites. When I re-explore my hometown it seems each time to have shrunk.

For instance, I recently drove roughly the route from the house I grew up in to my old elementary school, a trip taken on foot many hundreds of times. At age eight or nine it seemed far, and in my memory the walk almost always provided at least a bit of an adventure. In fact, though, it would take perhaps six or seven minutes to walk that distance now, over 40 years later.

I think this is not uncommon. And to me, in memory it seems nearly paradisiacal. Returning as an adult, the un-hugeness of my own remembered world is disorienting. Sometimes one craves the possibilities of a big world. Driving around my old town gets me thinking of all my years growing up there, when the world seemed larger. I think of fights and friendships; exploring fields and ponds on the edge of town; crushes, romances, and the little heartbreaks that did not seem little at the time.

As I drove around on that recent visit, I thought especially of the summers I used to spend there between college semesters. And I thought of a particular work of art, a movie, that inspired and helped to inform my aesthetic. It was a movie I watched repeatedly and studied.

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For a few of my friends and me it was a formative movie that featured characters that were extremely different from us, but they were people we recognized and related to. Like those adventurous walks to and from elementary school as a child, Stranger Than Paradise made the world seem huge, and the movie was something I wanted to be as familiar with as the steps covering the blocks that I walked each day as a little kid. All this is to say, sometimes when we are not looking, we get lucky and are provided with new art work that inspires and helps to re-inform our aesthetics.

In , such was The Ooz by King Krule. There is no kooler kat than King Krule , and his unclassifiable music makes my wobbly world seem pleasantly bigger and full of possibility. There are elements here of jazz, rockabilly, rap, and ambient. I think I will be listening to this for a long time — and I certainly do not tire of this tune — check out Dum Surfer.

Here is hoping that provides everyone great memories, and lots more good music. Ways of expressing how music makes us feel are as limitless as our own imaginations. Recently, my friend Cathy described the experience of seeing a concert in this way:. Music can be, music is , much more than just the arrangements of notes or sounds. The image of a bouquet or a mountain forest in flames; the aroma of rich baking chocolate or a cloud of sweat; a slant of light that forces you suddenly into a squint, or the shiver of waking from a dream: these are music, too, in their simple or complicated evocations.

Music inspires us to our own expression through forms as varied as romantic dance and violent protest. Music influences personal styles as far flung as Ellington -style elegance, the pleasant messiness of neo-hippie chic, or torn up and raggedy punk. Sometimes, though, music takes us inward — often straight into our own heads — and we focus on things like the disparities of our own self-perceptions. Experience the journey inward with the recent music of Moses Sumney whose newest release Aromanticism , is deeply introspective.

Out 22 September on the Jagjaguwar label. Through luxuriously layered vocals and crafty instrumentations Sumney investigates intimacy, isolation, and existence. The minute record took three years to make, and while the sounds are often light, dreamy, and ethereal, the thoughts that Moses Sumney provokes are heavy. The music weave guitars and pianos with unexpected live instrumentation like clarinets and flutes, and there is a mass of electronic musical mastery used through beats and looping. And dreams are to be desired here.

Check it out — these are gentle, confessional songs. It seeks to interrogate the social constructions around romance. Italicized titles below are linkable to hear songs by Moses Sumney from Aromanticism Jagjaguwar :. Make Out in My Car. Lonely World. Indulge Me. Self-Help Tape. Insignificance and significance on the prairie. Photo by Andy Agena. Grasses low and tall, particolored petals, and lush leaves bent to strong breezes. In the warmth of the summer morning, cottonwood canopies made their watery wind songs. Bright and muted greens and umbers were below and all around us; a saturated azure sky above with wisps and blots of white and pretty grays in the clouds.

There was a joy in gathering. We were hundreds strong at our specific location, folks laying out blankets and dotting the landscape in picnicky clusters, with sodas, beer, and wine. At the same time across the United States there were millions gathering in a roughly mile narrow swath, having left behind jobs and other cares of their individual and collective worlds to witness a solar, lunar, and earthly pageant. We shared positive motivations to come together; in addition to wanting to see a fascinating and rare spectacle there was an unmistakable vibe that was both invigorating and comforting.

The vibe is currently also fascinating and rare; it was an incorruptible feeling that something wonderful would occur, and that nothing controversial was at stake. A glorious convergence of the spinning, hurtling earth with the majestic moon would give us steady glimpses of our movement as we float in space, and eventually the moon would obliterate all but a spectacular corona of our sun. When the blockage was total, we heard and contributed to a strange and welcome new music, a music that was not conscious of itself.

Organic, impulsive, sincere, and wondrous, it was the human and natural sound of music coming from simple exhalations, or murmuring words, Oh my goodness! There was music of confused animals swirling in the newly cooled and darkened air. We made music for a couple of moments based upon a crazy shared feeling: together we were small, or huge, or at peace.

Together we were awed and simply at ease. Some thought in that moment of loved ones, or of the future of their children, or of the future of the earth, or of the solar system. It can be reported with certainty that one humbled witness thought of his fortunate life with his wife, of his dear friends and sisters, and he thought of his moon-loving, deceased mother.

Not only was the sun eclipsed from our view, but cynicism and worry were eclipsed, too. We were looking up. And we were looking at each other. Many thanks to my friend, Andy Agena, who captured the panoramic view presented above. There we were, with hundreds, millions of others, watching the sun set and rise again in the afternoon.

The total eclipse at Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center , one of my favorite places on this tiny planet. A few inspiring moments, a treasured memory. Every season needs a soundtrack. Summer is a favorite, with its joyful hazy nights and its stupefying bright, hot days. Here are a couple of new things to check out that will help you fill in spots on your summer soundtrack.

The amazing vocals, the skill of the music, and the meticulous craftsmanship of production come together to distill a very particular energy. The song linked below is a good example from a group that constantly seeks to lift listeners up. The result is the fulfillment of a simple promise to wrap you in hyper-pleasant sound.

Nance is more interested in spraying energy than distilling it, and the result is consistently successful and always super-vibey. Bring on the glorious noise! More Than Enough Promo Video. There is a lot of music that you can track down on his bandcamp page: davidnance. The influences are too numerous to count, but that is part of the pleasure of listening to Nance. That, and the cat just plain goes for it. All the time. Check out a new one linkable below. As fun as it is to find new music, sometimes you must go back and listen to older music.

No Joy construct sonic walls that feature muscular, rhythmic bricks held together with a sweet mortar of swirling fuzz. Jasamine White-Gluz takes care of the lyrics, and hers are often rich with straightforward adult desire. She treats sexuality like hunger and need, both nutritional and epicurean — there is the kind of healthy expectation that sex feeds, restores, and satisfies as readily, and as often, as a snack or a meal.

Hollywood Teeth packs a lot into 2 minutes, and has some wicked time signature shifts that will make your body buzz. There are also three more titles linkable below for you to enjoy. I never get tired of listening to this record. Parts of the No Joy section were adapted from an earlier post.

You get tipsy on the beautiful twinkling sunlight and the plays of shadow dancing on leaves, on branches, on particolored blooms. Pollen motes form ghoulish specters, visibly shifting shapes in the air, and flower dust goes to your head to haunt you like a potent-proofed shot. Gusts move the tree limbs and with your eyes closed will make them sing in a staggering imitation of the rolling sea.

Like a walk on a spring day, listening to some of the best shoegaze music can make you feel half drunk, too. There is a mental modulation and you begin to hear and feel things a little differently. Electronically generated sounds undergo massive manipulation and distortion yet come to feel as if they are purely organic. Weed , an outfit from Vancouver, Canada, will release their third LP later this month. They conjure the type of shoegaze magic that I mean with this brand new song:. This group has been around for over a dozen years, but only recently revealed themselves to me through the Pandora service.

What a treat to find something like this, falling on fresh ears after having been available for a long time. Here is a fellow enjoying warm breezes in Mexico. It is a good guess that he is about half in the bag. Perhaps he is closing his eyes to pretend that he hears wind through the springtime trees while listening to the rolling sea. My Old Man loved my Mom and she loved him. It showed.

That it showed was instructive, and I believe that their love for one another may be what makes me think of them both often. Philip and Florence, many years before I was around. I like to look at pictures of them from long ago and imagine their lives before I was around. And I like to look at pictures of them from their healthy adult years, before they were brought low by ill health and infirmity. Like this one:. My Old Man at my current age. Passport photo — dignified and full of hope. Several people have said how much I look like my Dad.

The cast of dignity is especially clear in photos of him from adulthood, say, when he was around my current age. At 51 he had three grown daughters and a 13 year-old son. What the elf? Me sipping rum at 51, my current age. Friend, Rich, observing. As a matter of ice-cold fact, in photographs I often look like a deranged, if somewhat tallish, elf. I have been thinking of my old man especially often — most especially about the fact that over half my time on earth has been spent without him physically in it.

Lately I have also wondered if, when he was 51, he thought much of his own father. I have been thinking about his taste in music. It ran toward big band, ragtime, and Dixieland jazz on the lively side, and on the more contemplative side, toward traditional- and folk music, and some American jazz from the lates and the s. He liked big choral music and orchestral music. He liked Sinatra and Crosby. As I have noted more than once on this page, he liked to sing and was not afraid to range in the land of the sentimental. He could definitely have got behind this simple and sincere new number from Mac DeMarco , and you should, too.

It is beautiful and I love it. Candid shot of Phil — dignified at age 19 in You thought you were paying attention to music in the s, so how did you ever miss the legendary experimental rock group Memorial Device?

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Indeed, how did you miss the whole Lanarkshire scene? You never knew the music of Memorial Device , nor the proto-industrial duo Glass Sarcophagus. Why not? What if some of your favorite bands of the s never existed? A wonderful promotional Web site is clickable above. A moment where art and the demands it made were as serious as your life. There are also additional links within the page to access music attributed to the bands.

A highly detailed and weird world begins to form. And it turns out to be extremely fertile landscape for a post-punk art scene. It reads like a miniature testimonial to the power of inspiration. After his mistress runs over a young teen, a Wall Street hotshot sees his life unravel in the spotlight and attracting the interest of a down and out reporter. Abby Quinn is eagerly awaiting childbirth but is haunted by dreams where she suffers a miscarriage. When she decides to rent a room to a mysterious stranger, she realizes a chain of events that will unleash the end of humanity.

The hairdresser, wife and mother Cynthia Kellogg is in police department being interrogated by the experienced detective John Woods and his partner, Detective Linda Nealon. Through flashbacks, she reveals how her best friend and colleague Joyce Urbanski married the scum and nasty James Urbanski; how hard Joyce's life with James was; and why Joyce became a criminal. The smart detective finds some contradictions in her statement and presses Cynthia, trying to disclose the truth of two murders. The park is still in operation today and is better than ever.

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