January 23, 2010

Playlist 1-23-10

* Buxtehude: Six Sonatas (Holloway/Mortensen, et al.) (Naxos CD)
* J.S. Bach: Violin Sonatas (Manze/Egarr/ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Klavierubung (Alard): Église des Minimes, Brussels 7-25-09 (FM CDR)
* Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Shaham, et al.) (Deutsche Grammophon CD)
* Messiaen: 80th Birthday Concert (Ens. Intercontemporain/Boulez/Loriod) (Montaigne CD)
* Charles Mingus: Black Saint & the Sinner Lady (Impulse! CD)
* Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano (Impulse! CD)
* Andrew Hill: Passing Ships (Blue Note CD)
* Andrew Hill: Lift Every Voice (Blue Note CD)
* Andrew Hill: Mosaic Select 16 (d.1) (Mosaic 3CD)
* Bobby Hutcherson: Dialogue (Blue Note CD)
* Alice Coltrane: A Monastic Trio (Impulse! CD)
* Pharoah Sanders: Karma (Impulse! CD)
* Pharoah Sanders: Jewels of Thought (Impulse! CD)
* Sun Ra: Lecture, U.C. Berkeley 5-4-71 (AUD CDR)
* Sun Ra: The Warehouse, San Francisco 6-10-71 (SBD CDR)
* Sun Ra: J.P. Widney Jr. High School, Los Angeles 6-12-71 (AUD 2CDR)
* Sun Ra: Universe in Blue (Saturn LP>CDR)
* The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (stereo remaster) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Beatles for Sale (stereo remaster) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Rubber Soul (stereo remaster) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Revolver (stereo remaster) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (Capitol/DCC LP)
* Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (mono) (Columbia/Sundazed LP)
* Grateful Dead: The Omni, Atlanta, GA 12-12-73 (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Public Auditorium, Cleveland, OH 11-29-79 (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA 11-30-79 (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL 6-23-91 (SBD 3CDR)
* The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (Polydor CD)
* Henry Cow: Leg End (Red/Virgin LP)
* Henry Cow: Unrest (Virgin LP)
* Tom Waits: Glitter & Doom Live (Anti 2LP)
* Guided By Voices: Sandbox (Scat LP)
* Guided By Voices: Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia (Scat LP)
* Guided By Voices: Same Place the Fly Got Smashed (Scat LP)
* Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino CD)


I finally picked up a copy of the Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion album and, after two listens, I am intrigued but not totally convinced of its alleged greatness. What is intriguing to me is their ability to resurrect a much maligned genre like eighties-style synth-pop without resorting to sneering irony; there is a giddy exuberance to their music that is refreshing in an era of calculated cynicism and faux-sincerity. What is lacking, to my ears, is compelling and/or catchy songwriting that I want and expect from pop music. While the electronic textures are trippy and evocative, they fail to cohere into actual songs – at least after only a couple hearings. Perhaps that is intentional and part of their supposed genius. Or perhaps, after further listens, an inner logic will reveal itself beyond the music’s sparkling surface appeal. I will therefore reserve ultimate judgment until after I’ve spent some more time with it. Regardless, this is an interesting and ambitious album and it is encouraging that such a thing could find a (relatively) broad audience in our fractured and fragmented society. That is an unqualifiedly good thing.


Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-203, 2010 U.S. LEXIS 766 (U.S. Supreme Court, January 21, 2010) (Opinion by Kennedy)

I try to avoid politics on this blog, and I hesitate to make any comments about the law since I AM NOT A LAWYER, but the latest 5-4 decision out of the Supreme Court is alarming on so many levels, I had to read for myself what our esteemed Justices have to say. I suggest that every citizen turn off the television/internet and do the same. (The slip opinion is available here.) The majority makes an elegant but intellectually dishonest (and procedurally defective) argument to support the idea that corporations should have the same unfettered First Amendment rights to speech (via money) as natural human beings. In so doing, the Court overturns over a hundred years of jurisprudence and resulting statutory schemes. In effect, Thursday’s decision makes it impossible for legislatures to regulate the financing of political campaigns vis-a-vis corporations in any meaningful way. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly agree with Justice Stevens’s eloquent ninety-page dissent which concludes:

In a democratic society, the longstanding consensus on the need to limit corporate campaign spending should outweigh the wooden application of judge-made rules. The majority’s rejection of this principle elevates corporations to a level of deference which has not been seen at least since the days when substantive due process was regularly used to invalidate regulatory legislation thought to unfairly impinge upon economic interests. At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics. (pp. 296-297)

Worse than the bad result in the instant matter is the Court’s willingness to make sweeping changes in constitutional law on the flimsiest of pretexts. It is essential to note that the appellant in this case had long ago abandoned its constitutional challenge to the statute at issue in the lower courts, only to be revived, sua sponte, by the majority on appeal. This is an astonishing move by the Court. Whether or not one supports the end result, this radical departure from the rules of procedure belies any notion that these Justices are in any way “conservatives,” “originalists,” “strict constructionists” or even remotely interested in the concept of “judicial restraint,” as they have been sold by the presidents who nominated them. They are activist judges of the worst sort, driven by a suspect ideology and they are vigorously enacting their agenda. Whatever one’s political viewpoint, the Court’s actions in this case should give pause. After all, there is no appeal from the Supreme Court and we suffer their decisions for years if not generations.


Sam said...

I'm with you on the Supreme Court. What the &^%(? (as usual, my incisive political commentary nails the issue!)

I think we're on the same page, too, with Animal Collective. It's not that I don't enjoy listening to it while it's on, but I have to force myself to go back.

Playlist 2010-01-25

*Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Roots and Herbs
*Anthony Braxton Septet: "Accelerator Ghost Dance" 2008-07-25 San Sebastian (CDR)
*Peter Brotzmann: Fuck De Boere
*Rodger Coleman: Winter Solstice 2004
*Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (side 1)
*Billy Fox's Blackbirds & Bullets: Dulces
*Jimmy Ghaphery: Path (web-only release: http://www.archive.org/details/03MBP)
*Andrew Hill: The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill Sessions (1963-66) disc 7
*Andrew Hill: Mosaic Select 16, discs 1, 2, 3
*New Loft: 2009-11-05 Live at Bossa, Washington DC (wav)
*New Loft: 2010-01-06 "Count the Crackers"
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: Memory/Vision
*Sun Ra: Unreleased test pressing tracks, NYC, 1965 (CDR)
*Sun Ra: Horizon (Art Yard)
*Sun Ra: Media Dreams (Art Yard) disc 1
*Sun Ra: Detroit Jazz Center, disc 8 (1980-12-27/28) (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor & Tony Oxley: 2008-11-06 Village Vanguard (late show) (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor: 2009-08-31 Highland Ballroom, NYC (CDR)
*David S. Ware "New Quartet": 2007-08-25 Sardinia, Italy (CDR)
*Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam
*Beatles: Beatles For Sale (2009 stereo remaster)
*Beatles: Sgt. Pepper (2009 stereo remaster)
*Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
*Genesis: Live, Wembley, London 1975 (CDR)
*Grateful Dead: 1969-07-07 Atlanta (CDR)
*High Llamas: Cold and Bouncy
*Rolling Stones: Love You Live, disc 1

Reading log 2010-01-18

*Kirby, Jack. Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle (started)
*Kirby, Jack. Jack Kirby's The Forever People (started/finished)
*Kirby, Jack. Jack Kirby's New Gods (finished)
*Larson, Gary. The Complete Far Side (in progress)
*A New Literary History of America (ed. Greil Marcus & Werner Sollors) (in progress)
*Musil, Robert. Man Without Qualities (in progress)
*Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet (Oxford ed., ed. Jill Levenson) (in progress)

Sam said...

p.s. Hope you're not counting "Pet Sounds" as your weekly cheese! How does that DCC LP sound? It's mono, right?

Rodger Coleman said...

How does "Strawberry Jam" compare to "Merriweather Post Pavilion?" I'm curious. I remember that record got a lot of favorable press when it came out.

Re: Beach Boys. I dunno, Sam. As much as I try, I just don't get what's so great about this. I like "God Only Knows" very much, but the rest...it sounds so old fashioned and precious to me. I think there's something wrong with me!

Sam said...

"Starwberry Jam" is not as "out there" as "Merriweather" is--at least in terms of some of the repetitious, trancey aspects of the latter. But, frankly, I should listen to it more before saying anything.

I don't think "Pet Sounds" is one of those albums where you say "you had to be there." Its influence and popularity have done nothing but grow since it first came out--it's not wedded to its time and context (although knowing some of that context certainly helps enrich an appreciation of it). But I will say that it's definitely one of those albums that I didn't out-and-out love when I first heard it (and I didn't hear the whole album until 3 years after it came out)--it grows on you. It really does! Maybe a way in for you would be to listen to the instrumental tracks on their own, and see where that takes you. There's some gorgeous playing in there! "Old fashioned and precious"? Hmmm. Stephen Foster, I'd call old-fashioned. Then again, I really like a lot of his songs! So, I don't know what to say. Better writers than me have defended "Pet Sounds" more eloquently than I ever could. And I know you've given it proper attention. Maybe it's just not your cup of tea.