Some recent work:
Looks like Reverb re-published a piece written for them last year, so here’s a link to a meditation on Kid Chocolate, Lee Dorsey, and the sound of a smile.
“Me, I go with the contradictions. That’s what I’m interested in. That’s where the action is.” On the occasion of his recent string of concerts performing his lone solo album, Corky’s Debt to his Father, a feature on Mayo Thompson’s long, strange trip through Texas psychedelia, British post-punk and art-rock, Chicago post-rock, and more. For Texas Monthly.
[This essay on Jean Seberg originally appeared in the print edition of Stop Smiling Magazine. It’s not in their online archive, it’s one of my favorite pieces from back then, and since there’s now a movie about her life, I dug it up.]
At the end of Played Out, David Richards’s biography of doomed blonde starlet Jean Seberg, he offers an epilogue set at Marshalltown High School, Jean’s Iowa alma mater. Members of the Masque and Dagger drama club are preparing to crown that year’s winner of the Jean Seberg Award, named in honor of the small town’s most renowned citizen, who long since absconded from farm life for the life of a movie star in Paris. Both finalists, Patty Tiffany and Kris Hoelscher, are visibly nervous about the impending honor, yet neither –when prompted– can conjure the name of a Jean Seberg movie. It is September of 1980, but eight months on from when Seberg’s body was found in the back seat of a Renault on a Parisian side street, wrapped and bloated beside emptied bottles of barbiturates and mineral water, and yet she is already a distant memory in her home, all but forgotten in America.Continue reading “Jean Seberg”
Digging through an old CDr of work from 2007 and came across this piece, originally written for The Believer, though I don’t believe it ever ran there and remains unpublished. It was based on a compilation of composer Alireza Mashayekhi and a CDr that Simon Reynolds sent to me. Not sure where either item might be now. But in light of this story about how David Rockefeller’s involvement with the Shah has led to decades of conflict between the US and Iran (buried in the Times buried at the end of the year), it felt timely. Most recent events suggests war is unavoidable. And so…Continue reading “Persian Electronic Music”
In January of this year, I started speaking to Mat Dryhurst about artificial intelligence and machine learning. I knew very little about it, save for the works of David Behrman, George Lewis, and the like, early pioneers into the interface between man and computer. Mat was open, enthusiastic, and suggested many fine articles. Along with partner Holly Herndon, the two created Spawn, an artificial intelligence that was also a member of their vocal ensemble.
In April, I chatted at length with Dr. Holly Herndon about her upcoming album, PROTO, which was the first album to feature AI. It certainly won’t be the last.
And in November, an excerpt from this chat was finally published as part of New York Magazine‘s Future Issue. You can read that here.
Below is a deeper dive into the future of music and machine learning.Continue reading “Holly Herndon & Spawn”
A while back, I had the privilege and honor of bestowing Best New Reissue upon Ernest Hood’s 1975 album, Neighborhoods, over at Pitchfork. If I were to try and summarize it in one line, it would be: “Hear children shouting out songs, crickets chirping, and the noise diesel engines rumbling past and feel the illusion of time dissolve.” The review has most of the bio/ backstory in it so won’t go into much detail here, save that it was a real thrill to finally hold a physical copy of it in my hands. Freedom to Spend label did an incredible job, even digging up the master tapes for it (a real rarity in this age of the easy-rip reissue).Continue reading “Journey Through the Secret Life of Neighborhoods”
“Johnston’s songs were fragile in a way that could disarm even the most cynical of us. His enthusiastic yip and uncanny knack for soaring choruses was undeniable no matter the fidelity. The music could feel silly and sincere, diaristic and voyeuristic, sometimes even in the space of a single line.”
We lost two totemic Texan weirdos this year with the passing of Roky and Daniel. Both suffered from terrible mental disease and mistreatment (even hero worship from non-treatment) but both men somehow turned such suffering into comforting music. In my many hours with their music growing up in Texas, I certainly didn’t understand the ramifications of such fandom, but the one time I saw Daniel perform, it was evident that it was an uneven relationship in a way that was troubling. But it really took seeing the doc The Devil and Daniel Johnston to realize the true ramifications of his suffering.
The genius of “True Love Will Find You in the End” and “Walking the Cow” deserve all the reverence though and they border on being hymns; it’s not hard to imagine them lasting for generations. I also find sweet comfort in the echo between Roky’s “Starry Eyes” (which I now sing as a lullaby for my daughter each night) and Daniel’s line about “Lucky stars in your eyes.”
Daniel Johnston Was a Hero for the Wounded for Vulture.
“I was doing what I loved to do, working in the studio and create. That’s where being a woman in the business really became real to me. I felt like if I had been a man, it wouldn’t have happened in that way, not being called for work. I had to kick the door back down. I felt like I was being a girl, that’s the way it goes.”
“Music is the Answer,” but the question is who created one of the first house tracks? And why don’t more people know Yvonne Turner’s name? A case made for Yvonne Turner at Pitchfork