Chris Clark, or simply Clark as he is currently, took me by surprise when I was already too late. Last Summer I was perusing the racks at the Fremont Easy Street Records, really wanting some good new beats. My thirst/hunger for and ability to consume the poorly-termed (but will have to do for now!!) Electronic music had reached voracious levels. In fact, I remember when I was in my early twenties, I was pretty sure that the only thing I'd ever be that edacious of would be sex...ah, the folly of youth. Only music can satisfy this sort of appetite, this kind of seeking. The problem is that it needs be fed often, with the new and the old, but never just the same old leftovers (leftovers are fine to an extent, but after a while, they require spicing up for new life). So, I was in Easy Street and talking with my buddy John who works (worked? are they closed yet?) there and asked him to suggest some tasty new beats. Now, John and I don't always se eye to eye on beats. In fact, I'm downright snobby compared to him when it comes to Electronic music and Hip-Hop. Knowing full well he might run into a brick wall with me, he took a flier anyways on Clark's Body Riddle. They didn't have a play copy, so he slipped open one from stock to let me peek at it with the old eargoggles. It was an instant, "I'll buy it!" I only needed to hear the entirety of the first song and about a total 35 seconds of snippets from the rest of the album to decide. The funny thing, to me, was I was still about a year late on this freakin disc; it was released in 2006 and here I was in '07, never even heard of the guy. His style is magnificent (am I some Wu-Tang Master describing a student's technique?!?). First there is the hard, acid-induced clench of Aphex Twin's rhythmic psychosis mellowed by a more Hip-Hop sensibility, at times. Then, his melodic approach combined with his choice in synth sounds can only be part of the camp I like to describe as Disney on acid (or did I hear that in a review of AM-Boy and am now co-opting it for my own damn use??). But, as I have truly come to see as his most delightful skillset is a twofold piece of music magic. First, through all this acid-heavy, dance-thumping and jumping is his ability to still "sing" a lullaby with his creations. His tunes are almost never edgy in a way that would keep babies from sleeping. Well, at least not this baby. Second, and this is where some of his real genius shines through (particularly on Body Riddle, but also on Empty the Bones of You), is his ability to Extract. Well, what the fuck do you mean by extract??!? Electronic music is born of dance culture, thus most of it sticks in a groove or pocket for each specific track/song and only recently in the last handful of years, have artists really broken some of those barriers and been able to even illuminate movements (ironic...it's dance music!) in their songs. These are not your great-great-great-great grandfather's movements in Bach or Mozart, but they certainly are related. They work from form and variation. But more importantly, they function to convey a much deeper, richer sense and palette of emotion in a music that has often been criticized for a lack of just that. So, as for extracting, I mean to describe his peculiar prowess in illuminating movements in electronic music. I call it this, because he seems to set up shifts that may appear to be bold beforehand, but are subtle as they transform. He seems to simply extract, or pull what comes out of what was first; a little mini-birthing. For example (the best would be for you to go listen to his stuff, but........), he will have a certain melodic motif hovering all ghostly like above a beatless soundscape and then meticulously craft a rhythm that seems made for the melodic motif like life partners meeting in some Hollywood romantic comedy. On top of that, the tempo will change slightly with the coupling of melody and rhythm and with all that, the intrinsic emotion of the piece comes squeezing out (a tall glass of Clark juice!!!) with seemingly little effort. To make an analogy: when a skilled filmmaker switches the angle of a shot, but maintains continuity, while also never even coming close to shredding suspension of disbelief? That is what he is doing musically. Believe me, I've listened to the two albums many times to come to attempting to describe it here.
Now, there's just one little beef I gotta pick with this guy. Why the hell does his new album sound like shit?!!??!!!!?? Yes, artists must push themselves to change and grow in order not to stagnate and produce the same old thing over and over, but did he have to throw his melodic talents in the fucking blender and turn up the clatter? Well, I'll just keep listening to the other two (his very first LP is kinda grating to me, too, but whatever). G'night!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I know I'm a coupla days late posting on this, seeing as that both the Sox and A's team planes have already touched down on the US West Coast, but give me a fuckin break, I've had a flu from the Dark Ages. It doesn't matter what anybody else says about this bad man to me, I love Manny. Sure, he's a bit of a dipshit from time to time; standing in the batter's box for ages as he admires his work or tripping on nothing and landing straight on his kneecap as he nearly bungles a routine fly ball. However, he can do what the rest of us only dream night after night. And in some ungodly hour on Tuesday morning, he saved the day again, in a way only he can. By hitting a two-run double that he obviously thought was a three-run bomb, listing in the box to watch his handywork. However, once he realized it wasn't going out, he bolted up the basepaths and arrived at second base, safe, faster than I have ever seen him run. In fact, it may be faster than he thought he could run, but he covered nicely in the post-game interview by saying he's "got some speed" to get there (check video of Manny down the page through quoted link). All in all, this just gets me that much more excited for another baseball season, even if the Sox lost this morning (Manny hit a bomb though!!!)!!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I learned something sad about myself today, as I woke from a bedfull of twisting dreams. I discovered that, which I have known for years, yet denied and iced over like a mid-winter stream. I am completely heartbroken for a love affair that I have never been a part of, never touched the lingering ends of the hairs of. Once, when I was young, younger, I thought I had had it, I released her only with a mighty struggle, even after she had left me. I couldn’t let go of the idea of a bond that really only ever counted in my mind, not hers, or at least that is how I’ve left that tattered page of an unwritten, insignificant history lie; skittering across a flat, grassy field in a windstorm. And now that breeze is hitting my face again with last night’s dream. As it has happened so many times before, I hold a hand that searches for mine in reciprocal earnest. Fingertips do not come crashing together like misguided trains in the middle of nowhere, but intertwine lithely as some odd courtship dance of snakes would progress. A soft, inspecting cadre of fingers torturing wanton wrists with anticipation, coupled with knowing glances that always align, mystically, with the rays of the sun coming in the window. For a minute, she is the girl from fourth grade, half a foot taller than me at the time, who I asked out in front of most of a classroom. But it is no certainty, as this is always the case with these dreams; SHE is an amalgam of knowns and unknowns and even the unknowns carry with them a familiarity of joy and compassion, interest and concern. The wind from the window of the bus blows the finer ends of her hair just across my face (Nerve endings aren’t supposed to be this accurate in the dreamstate, or are they?). We smile, washing away imperfection in our world, even if just for a moment and not a word has yet been uttered between the two. The only way to describe this sensation would be the word “home” (And now, maybe it begins to make sense to me why home has been such a hard thing to find all my adult life). The changes in this amalgamation of SHE continue the way that subtle, nearly unnoticeable ripples of hallucinations can blend together to create a constant: something with the same heartbeat, same innards, but never exactly the same surface, like a young planet in turmoil. Now we are walking, instantly, suddenly off whatever bus we where on. This time-space jump only noticeable, or even notable, upon waking, as it never matters in the heaven of dreams. Everything we encounter from here on is familiar, as if we both owned it in our collective and individual hearts. The details themselves are barely memorable, describable nor worth mentioning, but the very feeling of finding home together is what is so incredible. The sadness of it all is that I felt it ripping away, like a limb being torn to pieces as I watched, while I was waking and then had to go through the normal phase of disappointment as I lay in bed, counseling myself to reaccept this waking reality; to force myself to acquiesce to currently living a life where the love affair is lived all in those wonderful, free, cerebral moments of sleep.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Realizing, in your minds eye, that, due to nasal/bronchial congestion, when you talk you sound and look just like a mouth-breathing Shaquille O'Neal giving a post-game interview on ESPN or some shit!!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Took a little jaunt down to Portland for the day with my Moms. Had some Greek eats at Greek Cusina (Kalamari!!!) and the hit up a couple of Portland's finest record slangin spots. First, I dropped in on 2nd Ave Records, which I didn't even know existed until today, and found some nice little jewels: Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band In The Jungle, Baby, Allan Toussaint The Wild Sound of New Orleans, Old Man Gloom Christmas, Cool Calm Pete Lost, and a coupla funky sound effects LPs. Then, on to Jackpot Records, which, by the way, had a very cute and knowledgeable redheaded woman in their employ (getchyer flirt on!!), and slected some more fine wax: Godflesh Love & Hate In Dub and Jakob Solace. The latter was also purchased on cd, so as to put it on the GabePod.
I love Portland...hmmmm, maybe I should move there.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
So, I have this odd fixation with watching Animal Cops whenever I get the chance and I'm currently checkin an episode of Animanl Cops: Houston where some dipshit had bears and tigers locked confined in these tiny cages. I think I figured out what spiritual function watching this show serves for me. I constantly need to battle a lack of faith in humanity, due to my depressive tendencies, pessimism and cynicism and, well, the human world around us all(shit whirlwind is usually the preferred nomenclature in my lexicon). Well, the beginning of any episode of this show definitely works to further degrade my hope for humanity. BUT, watching people work their asses off to rehabilitate, care for and find homes for neglected and abused animals really brightens my disposition and day. I even get to shed a little tear as the glimpse of hope for humanity can be so bright and piercing, that I have to weep. It is remarkable to watch an animal illuminate and begin to play when they have been liberated from dire conditions. By the way, the picture is of an Asiatic Bear, which was featured on the show. The Asiatic Bear, "Bruiser," is 31 years old, the equivalent of a 90 year-old person!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Will somebody explain to me how this album can still be so Gotdamn good after 11 years???!?!? I must listen to Funcrusher Plus at least 3-4 times a month, even now after having listened to it all these years. El-P's production is just pure genius, Mr. Len on the 1's and 2's? Out of this world understanding of how the turntable is used as an instrument. And the lyricism is unmatched. Simply masterful. I still catch lines, to this day, and go, "Uh! That shit is Ill!!!!" Not only are El and Bigg Jus insanely skilled on the mic, but they bring with them J-Treds, of the Juggaknots, and BMS, who somehow(in retrospect) sounds like the precursor to Vast Aire.
I can still recall my boy Jake-O turning me onto this shit in the "HellHouse" with skater shit all over the walls and a pet hedgehog in one room and the stink of dishes that hadn't been touched in weeks. None of those environmentals could be a detriment to the listening experience. It was truly as if some aliens had gotten a hold of the hip-hop sound and re-interpreted it to fit their language, their cadence, their philosophy. It was a drug experience of its own...sure, I'd smoked myself silly many a times, including the first, listening to this record, but it took on its own form of psychedelia that remains to be defined. Somehow, when an artist puts themselves so deeply into their work, the work itself becomes an entity, though supposedly static, it changes and morphs as time moves and we change around it. It becomes a compatriot that we grow with and about. This is a truly rare thing in art, in general, and music, specifically. My only sadness is that these art entities don't come along more often.
Ah, Sweet Memories!!! My first game ever at Fenway Park in Boston to see the Red Sox! I was out in Beantown for a week or more to see my sister and her family, but I also bought tickets to a June game in February!!! We got shitty seats in Right Field, "Obstructed View", which is quite true and direct in Fenway, as opposed to any other ballpark I've been to. A huge steel post/stanchion stood between us and the path from the pitcher's mound to home plate, but who the fuck cares when they're witnessing their first ever game at Fenway and happen to be a rabid Sox fan?!?!?!?!!? My sister, Sabina(5 years my senior, but looks younger), has never been much of a baseball fan, but always enjoys going to a game with somebody who is into it. So, the Sox gave me a win in my only(so far) appearance at Fenway, 2-1 over the Texas Rangers, and Tim Wakefield was the starter, which means we were privileged to watch a slow-ass knuckleballer for a few innings. More than anything, for me, it was special just to be in one of baseball's sacred churches. To see a place that I have seen many times before, but only on television. There was little drama in the game, but much to be had in the stands. First off, I have never felt more of a pressing urge to fight at a ball game than at this one in particular. As my sister and I were walking to our seats, we passed a dozen or so Navy sailors, in uniform, who immediately began cat-calling at my sis'. I'm normally a pretty mellow guy, but somehow this got to me for a second. She's a Professor at a University(has a PhD and will kick your ass when it comes to Race/Politics/Society/Culture) and a mother of 5 children(not all by birth) and I just couldn't let it go like a good boy should. I didn't say anything, but gave many dirty looks and had daydreams of ripping them all a new one and lecturing them on respect for women. Anyways, overall we had a great time, including the walk home across the Charles, which freaked out a bunch of folks, because they couldn't fathom why we would walk??? I remember looking back at the grandstand light fixtures hovering above Fenway like alien ships as we ambled our way back to Cambridge, feeling as though, knowing, I had just left a special place in baseball history and culture. I hope to go back and maybe even take my sister with me again, for it is a special place...the home of the Boston Red Sox.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Sometimes, there is a synchronous slice of razors. Sometimes, those are an act of subtle protest birthed in hushed collusion. And sometimes, just sometimes, people mistake your Chaplin for a Hitler all fucking day long!!! That's me with the Hi...er...Chaplin, Blaise with a barely visible VanDyke and Chris with his Sexiest Boy at the Bike Shop 'stache and burns. Honestly, a few of us were ready to fight over who would get to sleep with him first, at least cuddle. And we all generally dig girls.