Sep 222004

The Dining Rooms - Numero Deux

Brand new in these parts, and yet if feels oh so familiar.

I like to avoid descriptions such as Ex meets Why they had a bastard child named Zed. It’s tempting here, though. Names like Lakuna, Portishead, The Beta Band, and especially the greatest of the Australian pace-setters to my mind (The Necks, and Paul Kelly’s score to the film Lantana) muscled their way right up to the fore, on first listen.

And that’s just it: It’s the pacing, stupid.

The ideal pacing for those moments in our everyday lives: preparing a meal, making love, shaving, sifting through the mail, grinding away at a keyboard or with a shovel or on the back of that big John Deere or setting down the briefcase at the top of the stairs. I know this music has been or will be co-opted by the forces that call themselves automobile commercials for the upwardly mobile, wipers all alive and swinging. The music on this record bleedin’ resonates.

At the same time, from the music-making point of view, it’s so simple and so clear. I don’t hear a single track on Numero Deux that couldn’t be completed, start to finish, inside of an afternoon.

For us in the Soundroom, the combination there is its draw.

And hey, it prompted Ms M. to encourage me to–impromptu-like, as if on the dance floor–”pretend to be a woman pretending to be a man.”

Much fun was to be had.

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Sep 212004

I just can’t imagine ever again participating in the music-making process while neglecting the danceability factor.

(There are many ways to move the body.)

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Sep 162004

Bjork – Medulla

Bjork’s new record, Medulla, is nothing if not brave. It is singular, it is vast, it is muscular. It is probably the most beautiful record we’ve heard this year.

The kind of bold statement Bjork is making here is an abrupt and welcome reminder of what confident risk-taking can bring to any artistic expression. It sounds confident, anyway–but it doesn’t sound like Bjork was much conscious of her own risk-taking. She’s just doing it. She’s following what’s special and magical and what’s turning her on at the moment. I love that.

The record is almost entirely voices, but make no mistake, it’s unlikely these tracks will be heard much on your neighborly Sunday afternoon a cappella radio program. Blistering funk, operatic choirs, industrial edge, primal pulses–all coming from the mouths of the main artist herself and the diverse group of musicians she has invited to join her.

Inspired by this recent release, we are now following a new philosophy in the Soundroom. From this point forward we shall always have a vocal mic up and ready to record at a moment’s notice. I’m not talking about the need for a Neumann U47 or something; i went to Radio Shack over the weekend and bought a windsock for three dollars and slapped it onto a Shure SM57.

One can now be listening back to, say, the rhythm section of a song, and instantly grab the vocal mic in hand, stand over the hot console, and growl or hum or hiss and huff new ideas or accents or even a lead vocal, inspired by the energy of the moment.

Many thanks to Ms B. for the nudge.

Daniel Lanois – Rockets

A lovely companion to last year’s Shine, but by no means a replacement. (At first listen to Shine in May of 2003 we thought, A tasty plate of hors d’ouvres, where is this main course? And we’ve been feasting ever since…)

Another display of musical bravery, Rockets is a collection of live recordings and studio alternative takes. A delicious reminder of the live show we caught in Boston last May at the Paradise Club: broad, deliberate strokes; a visceral demonstration of instrumental performance and songwriting; delicacy and vulnerability meeting strength of voice and craft and the learning of distance traveled.

Rockets is raw, it is a personal note from an artist who is known for bringing out the most personal in other artists in the role of producer. This is music to learn from, to take to heart, to enjoy.

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Niskayuna, NY
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