Friday, November 29, 2013

Magic Trick, C. Spencer Yeh and Snowbird

First the obligatory post-Thanksgiving thanks for having a roof over my head, a nice family, reasonable health and really excellent food at, as an added bonus, $600 to pay the first heating oil bill of the year!


Now, onto what I've been listening to lately, in the free-ranging, nearly-assignment-less interval of December, when I slap on whatever people send me...

Magic Trick, River of Souls (Empty Cellar) Kind of a headphones record, though I can't figure out why. It is not especially complicated or overstuffed or even hard to parse -- in fact, it is exceptionally, almost surreally clear sonically. But the fact remains that I listened to this once in the kitchen on speakers and thought it was dull, then twice on a run with earphones and thought it was remarkable.

What do you think?

C. Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug, Wake Up Awesome (Mexican Summer) Extended technique (i.e. banging, squeaking, scratching and, in general, playing your instrument in ways that would drive your orchestra teacher batty) and electronics make this an odd, twitchy, discontinuous listen...and weirdly, the breaks from abrasion make it all the more difficult to get situated. There's a hovering, half-focused loveliness buried in scratch and hiss on "Ophelia Gimme Shelter," a baroque throb of cello(?) in "Mission: Nothing" and even some kind of German music-box-y sentimental song in "Anise Tongue and Durian Wet Dream" in jarring conflict with the harsher elements of this album. Actually the soft pretty bits are just as jarring and the noisy ones. It's the constant back and forth that unsettles. Like when you're in Paris with your English-speaking friends and you'd be picking up a lot more French if you weren't always switching between languages. But it's interesting, and if you listen to it a few times (like three or more) it starts to make sense as a whole.

Snowbird, Moon (Bella Union) This is Simon Raymonde from the Cocteau Twins and Stephanie Dosen and it's very pretty, maybe too pretty, too soft? IDK. Guest shots from members of Radiohead, Midlake and Lanterns on the Lake, lots of gauzy, dreamy textures, but no spine, do you know what I mean?

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