Friday, September 03, 2010

Montreal to Brooklyn by Vespa

Go here to read about my epic Vespa journey from Montreal to Brooklyn.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fenn O’Berg- In Stereo


This admittedly silly name is a portmanteau of the names of its three incomparable members: weird music greats Christian Fennesz, Peter Rehberg (who runs the Mego label,) and Jim O'Rourke (Sonic Youth, Gastr del Sol, etc). Returning after an 8 year absence with In Stereo, the trio take a slightly different approach with this unexpected record. Unlike their initial two LPs, 1999’s The Magic of… and 2002’a The Return of…, which were both recordings of live improvisations, this new output is a studio effort, and one in which the three composers have managed to create a unique hybrid voice. Such ‘super-groups’ often run the risk of disappointing the listener, or of failure to compromise clashing egos’ signatures, but In Stereo will appeal to any fan of innovative electronic music.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Expand, Escape by Vadim Taver

Check out the debut solo album from Vadim Taver (of This Day Forward, Superstitions of the Sky, Marigold, A Life Once Lost,) Expand, Escape over at I met Vadim in 2002 through a mutual friend, Bethany Spiers, who played in an excellent local band called Morgan Storm and who continues to make really lovely music solo under the moniker the Fever Few. At the time, This Day Forward had just realized their Kairos EP, and I really liked their prior record, the Transient Effects of Light on Water. So, I ran into Bethany at the Knitting Factory on my way to see a This Day Forward show sometime in that fall of 2002, my freshman year at Eugene Lang. She introduced me to Vadim, who opened the show as part of the duo Superstitions of the Sky. I was instantly impressed, and bought their 2 song CD-R demo. SotS was the vehicle for Joshua Jakubowski, who played in Hot Cross, Joshua Fit For Battle, the Now, and probably other bands I am forgetting. At the time I was really into all those bands, and TDF, so to see those two guys come out and play melodic acoustic music was really pleasant. I think versatility is a virtue, and besides, there is only so much heavy music one can take at a time. I believe the rest of the bill was: In Pieces, and On the Might of Princes, and possibly Little Yellow Box? Yea, I think Ian booked the show. In any case, it was an a amazing show.

But I'm not writing this to reminisce about the past. I do that often enough. Over the years, I got to know Vadim better, and followed his musical output post TDF. I booked Marigold, his next band, a few times at Purchase College, put the band up, and really dug what they were doing. Not long after that, Vadim moved to CA, and I've been waiting to hear what he would do next. Though I look forward to seeing him in a rock band again, I'm pleased to here his debut solo record, Expand, Escape is a more stripped down affair. Primarily he relies on guitar and voice, with piano and other tasteful accompaniments. Though he's told me on many occasions he doesn't think of himself as a front-man and doesn't like to sing and blah blah blah. I think you'll agree that it is a good thing he didn't mean it. Though it's hard not to hear echoes of Elliott Smith and the Beatles, Expand, Escape sounds unique, and I am looking forward to taking more time to take in the whole record.

Please check it out, and donate some money if you can.

Expand, Escape, by Vadim Taver

1. Watching the Sun
2. Apples and Oranges
3. Little Paper
4. Net of Being
5. 12/8
6. So Soon
7. Reflections
8. The Truthful One
9. The Glass Conceals So Much
10. Happy Branch
11. The World
12. A Parallel Universe

Released 09 February 2010.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caethua - The Long Afternoon of Earth

Here is a link to my most recent review on The Silent Ballet. The initial paragraph was cut, but I'd like to include it here. I thought I was making a valid point about why it was appropriate to review a (seemingly, from one perspective) vocal-centered album on a site such as ours. Which in turn makes a larger point about 'post-rock,' again as distinct from mere instrumental music, which is a completely neutral term without the historical context implied by the former. The fact that I could make this point with Zizek and gay penetration was a bonus, but also relevant because the artist in question, solo artist no less, is a woman. I'm being a bit playful, but also making a more or less serious point, both employing Zizek and poking fun at him at the same time.

Caethua - The Long Afternoon of Earth

Most instrumental rock is characterized by its distinct lack of vocals (much the way the female identity can be said to have been constructed around the lack of a phallus). The difference between classical music and opera, for instance, is then distinct from the difference between rock and ‘post-rock.’ Throughout the late 20th century, concomitant with the ascent of ‘postmodernism,’ rock underwent a transformation; adopting drones, gradually retreating from conventional narratives and structures, abandoning vocals. To continue with the gendered metaphor, the Slovenian philosopher and rabble-rouser Zizek, following Lacan, suggests that “standard heterosexual sex is the most homosexual act. It seems to me that gay penetration realizes and confronts the phantasmic support of straight sex too directly.” That is, those engaged in the act are always already imagining a voyeur, a gaze directed at and observing the act. Similarly- and perhaps this connection isn’t as neat as I’d like- Caethua (aka the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Clare Hubbard) here presents us with a vocal driven album that, in it’s queering of the role of the vocals, is as ‘instrumental’ of an album as one actually lacking vocals, precisely because it does have vocals. Make sense? (I never liked Lacan anyway.)

read the whole review here

Sunday, October 18, 2009

straight arrows and flashing green lights

Well, it's about time for a venting post. The past few weeks have been pretty difficult. I've realized that I grew accustomed to being around people, having a pretty extensive social life. I went to work, saw my co-workers, advised my students, hung out with my friends, girlfriend, etc. Here, the amount of time that I have any genuine interaction with other people is far more limited. I think that's a big part of why I actually miss having a job.

Otherwise, despite all the things I've had to give up (hopefully just temporarily,) I'm glad I'm here. I've met some very interesting people, though I suppose I always do. I have the opportunity to read and think, hone my craft (writing,) and really engage in the issues in a way I've wanted to but have been largely unable. I am hoping to add some more activities to my routine, but in the meanwhile I have been playing more music than I should be. I recorded a song last week, on a late night, in one sitting. I called it "Static Learning," based on a chord progression I've been bumbling around with for a long time. I recorded it in that one sitting, and mixed it the following afternoon. Each track was recorded in one take. I am happy with the result.

I'm working on recording some other songs I've been holding onto for a while as well, those the one-take model isn't working on these because the skeleton of the composition isn't laid out. I have at least two more songs that should be finished in the next couple weeks, hopefully, and then maybe some different styles; more glitch, more beat-driven.

Which reminds me. Since coming back from a visit to NY a few weeks ago, I've been pretty busy, which was much needed. I worked at Pop Montreal, Lexy came up to visit for her birthday, then Molly and her friend came up for Canadian Thanksgiving. This weekend I'm on my own. I staid in last night with my roommate and her friends, and had a good night talking and not understanding French. I do miss NY a lot though. Some days are better than others. But overall I've had a great week.


I wish I felt like talking about something important, sharing some news stories or something, but I'm falling short right now.

I guess I should encourage people to follow me on twitter.

@thesilentballet for all things instrumental music....

and @thenewobjective for random updates and interesting re-tweets.

That's all for now. Maybe I can make it a point to use this blog to force myself to explore Montreal more.

I worked at Pop Montreal just recently, and as a result got to visit more clubs than I'd already been too. I guess I should compile a list. I'm visiting Le National on Monday night, which is one of two important venues I have not visited yet, the other being Divan Orange.

I'm also trying to find out where the best loft parties are. I'll keep you posted. The Vice party next week is supposed to be impressive. We'll see...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

TSB Goes to Digital Only Submissions, I Reflect on Materiality

After returning from Ecuador, I managed to have a very satisfying week in New York before packing up and moving here, to Montreal where I am currently studying at McGill University. But instead of writing about any of that, which perhaps one day I'll have the urge to discuss, sooner than later I'd bet, here is an email I sent out to all my colleagues at The Silent Ballet in early July. We had recently switched to a digital only submission policy. TSB headquarters had to move, and it is becoming to difficult to mail out all the CDs we receive each year, not to mention ripping them and adding them to the FTP. In addition, digital only ensures a certain fidelity, and is 'greener.' I support the policy. But on the other hand...

Have you ever gone back and read all your old reviews? I mean, I look at my music library all the time, but rarely do I pull out a physical CD any more. Sure, sometimes I’ll put on a vinyl record when I’m home, but I’m usually so often on the move or perpetually in front of a computer, that the mobile, CD popping days of my youth, mostly in cars it seems, is a thing of the past. There is a really important difference between the solid product and a digital library. Most of the discs Jordan sends me end up in a pile by my stereo.

Last fall, I had a rental car for a few work trips, and I’ve learned one must remember to bring CDs, unless you have a transmitter for your iPod. I do not, so I began carrying around a stack of CDs again, as I did in high school, and even a few years ago in college. I would have the pleasure of digging through piles of CDs and concocting a bizarre or fun combination. For the road trip cross country last summer, I had Metric alongside Johnny Cash, and Trane and Monk with Justice. When I’d go skiing, Boards of Canada and the Drift would fuel our late night drives to the mountain, and P Funk and house music on the way home. So the only time I ever look at my CDs are the off occasions when I'm driving a car. (I normally ride a Vespa, so no stereo, or I wear my iPod.)

So tomorrow I’m driving a rental car to Montreal. I am now digging through my CD piles. And as I dig, I find myself remembering reviewing this album three years ago, sounds and names I hadn’t called to mind since then, mostly. One artist I can remember what I wrote almost verbatim, but cannot remember the band’s name for the life of me! As I flip through mainly chronological stacks, I come across Sumner McKane’s latest album. But below it, is, out of order, McKane’s Two if by Sea, which is one of my favorite albums of recent memory. And it is still in the shrink wrap. So I have the uniquely 21st century experience of being surprised by having an unopened physical copy of a favorite album. Of opening my favorite album.

Or not. Perhaps I should keep it unwrapped, as something of a testament to an age.

I didn't think I'd miss CDs when we discussed going to digital only submissions, but really, without the packing, something is really lost.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Brisas del Mar

Haven´t had the time to write much (electronically) on this trip.

Lucy and I spent our fist three weeks traveling at a pretty rapid pace. We stayed in each place for only 1 t 3 nights. We arrived in Lima on the 14th, and spent our 3 days there walking around, seeing ruins, exploring the bohemian district of Barranco, and the affluent suburb of Miraflores, where we discovered an amazing Cafe called Cafe Z. Peruvians were somewhat frustrating, and we were excited to leave Lima. We went next to Ica, but stayed in nearby Huacachina lake, a dessert oasis. The next day, we went wine and pisco tasting in Ica, and dunebuggying and sandboarding in the dunes. Pictures when I return. The next day, we took a long bus ride to Cusco, and stayed at a nice rustic hostel, Sweet Daybreak, with an amazing view of Cusco. We visited KM0 at the recommendation of a friend. Altitude sickness was apparent, and I got a small stomach bug as well. After 3 days, we took the train to Ollantaytambo, and chilled there a few days, enjoying the charms of a once small town in the Sacred Valley. We then took the train to Aguas Calientes and hiked up to Machu Picchu. Sunset was spectaculor. After returning to Cusco the next day we took a bus back to Lima, and this time enjoyed Lima much more, attending a gallery opening, playing cards at Z, and visiting other galleries. Then we headed north, stopping in the shithole northern city of Piura. We did have a nice dinner at a Cuban place. Next we crossed the border at la Tina and stayed in Loja on night before going to Cuenca for 4 days, our favorite so far. Especially the restaraunt Tiestos and chef Juan Carlos. I can´t say enough about it, and will write a review when I return. We also hung out in a pleasant travelers hang called Wunderbar. Then we went to Guayaquil for one night, and finally met up with Bachi in Manta. We will be exploring the coast from here, but mostly are greatful to be hanging out with Bachi in a city with wonderful weather and beaches. Up next, is more Manta, Puerto Lopez and the coast, Isla de la Plata, Montanita, and more Manta. Then, Banos and Quito. More reflections and actual thoughts when I return.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hola desde Peru

Quick Update from the road. Lucia and I left on Monday for Peru. We´ve been in Lima, a city that has been enjoyable, however the weather is really dismal. It´s foggy and cold this time of year. It´s funny to see the Limeños reaction to ¨winter¨ though, as it´s still about 65 degrees. They dress their little dogs in sweaters. So, after exploring fine dining and bars in Miraflors and Barranco, we are heading to Ica, for a quick stay in an oasis, and then taking a long bus ride to Cusco, to explore the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Then back north on our way to beach paradise in Ecuador! and volunteer work.

Monday, May 18, 2009

He Doesn't Realize there's another Option

Well, I'm long overdue for an update. Somehow, between all my other commitments, I've never really taken to making this the kind of 'blog' that made blogs popular. Oh well.

My tenure at Purchase College is finally coming to an end. Last Friday was Commencement, so the official academic year has now ended, which means my last at Purchase. No more parties in the Olde, early morning rendezvous at Starbucks, no more sleeping in the dorms, no more classes in Humanities, no more VA shows,no more imbibing myself in Alumni, no more walking clumsily across the mall. I know I have done quite enough of this over the last 6 or so years, and it's also not the first time I've left Purchase, but it's sinking in, again.

But, for the best of reasons, and in order. I've accepted a spot in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal. I will be heading up to the great white north to check out apartments soon. June 5th I will be heading into Charleston, SC, to visit one of my bestfriends, Caitlin (!, who has been studying in Athens since last summer and so I'm quite excited to see her.) I'm then, finally, going to visit Atlanta (airport in 2007 apparently didn't count)en route to Bonnaroo, where I will be working as a volunteer. This is very exciting, for not only is it free since I'm volunteering, and not only will I see Al Green, Phish, MGMT, Mars Volta, BRUCE SPRINGSTEIN, and on and on, but, also, my old roommate and long long friend Ali, whom I haven't seen since leaving San Francisco almost 18 months ago, will be working security!

After Bonnaroo, I'll put in a few more weeks of work, and then... Lucia and I are off to Lima, Peru for the start of a month long backpacking adventure. We will leave Lima quickly, probably visiting somewhere on the coast on the way to Cusco (Ica, maybe Nazca.) After a few days in Cusco, we will hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, maybe throw in some more hiking, and then head north, to Trujillo, and then to Ecuador. We will be staying in Manta, a coastal city, and occasionally exploring other destinations nearby. Before heading home, we will stop by Banos and the Amazon, with our last 3 days in Quito. This is highly subject to Change. It sounds like a lot, but mostly we'll be in Cusco and Manta, with travel days in between. The airfare was dirt cheap, considering we bought it recently (only 600 round trip! from JFK,) and we don't expect to spend much while traveling. We also, hopefully, have a place to stay in Manta.

After this, I'll sadly only have 2 weeks until classes begin in Montreal. But, I am ready! I have a few major themes I'll be exploring (technology and aesthetics, intellectual property law and new media art, the history of art of appropriation, transcultural communication and gov't funding for the arts, collaborative online international learning, blah blah blah.) I've already got my reading lists ready.

So, I know I haven't been writing here, but I haven't been traveling much, just around NY and such (well, and Chicago, and Dominican Republic, and cross country road trip...) I lost my camera, unfortunately, last summer, so I need a new one, but Facebook is my depository for visual records.

Once I get my new computer, I will try to incorporate some video and photos into the blog. In the meanwhile, my main creative outlet has continued to be The Silent Ballet. ( You can know follow us on twitter, sadly... Sad because I made and maintain it.) I do have a TSB NY music event in the works. More on that later.


I'm always struck by what it is people seem to place value on. For some, it may be collecting things, for others it's sex, or drugs, or family, or tinted car windows. But for many, they don't seem to even be aware what it is they value, or why, and haven't the slightest that they, or others, can commit to a different set of values.

I, of course, do palce value aesthetics, but there is a line that is often crosses that goes beyond a judgment of beauty and is rather simply one of shallow impersonation. For these, there lack of taste, or their blind dedication to a style- style not being as empty as it seems, but rather as Nietzsche may use it, as in giving a style or shape to one's life- Sometimes we set goals for ourselves without even realizing it. It's not until actions have been taken, when we have the time to look back and we begin to shape our lives, in retrospect, and we see motivations. Are they real or imagined? I'm not even convinced it matters. Once these goals are met, they can seem completely useless, a waste of time and energy one wasn't even aware one was exerting. Entonces, it is so much more important that we really do take the time to examine carefully our lives, ourselves, our values. Because we do, in fact, posit our values, so do not let yourself be a one-way receptacle of moraes. For example, I noticed today how many CDs I have, and how much music I've accumulated on my external harddrive, how compulsively I organize my iTunes. At some point when I was younger, I decided I wanted to have a lot of CDs, I wanted to be the guy who knew more bands than other people. But, I didn't consciously or insincerely chase this goal. But, here it is. Now that I am moving, I've started sorting through some of my junk (articles, comic books, CDs, vinyl, books, clothes,) and I've realized how much junk I have. It holds me down. This is one reason I love to travel, to have all my possessions on my back, to be mobile.

I'm not thinking of any one person in particular when I say those who take there provincial styles too far. Of course, many of the kids I went to high school come to mind, with there silly, manufactured and replaceable music, lampoonable haircuts, beverages, and cars. A few incidents to come to mind as well. In Chicago recently, Sam introduced me to an acquaintance, who was in turn with a friend. After leaving these two, I remarked that I didn't know guys could be such bimbos. But, here was a gay boy, who couldn't even remember the name of the UNIVERSITY he attended, and could apparently care less. He didn't seem shamed, or embarrassed, but rather continued to futilely flirt. Another: I've had to explain what it is I'll be studying. And interdisciplinary cultural studies department is hard to explain, (though there are good reasons for why this is a good choice, particularly for me, I'll leave that for another time, after school begins most likely.) But I've often had to justify not just my decisions, but academia in general. Some people simply cannot comprehend anything other than salary. "Why waste so much time earning a PhD when you can just do occupation X and make 60k/year right off the bat?" People like this simply don't get it. I think the Hindu conception of souls is a good analogy here. People who think that may are on a lower plane of existence. They cannot see beyond there own selfish interest, beyond material attachment temporary conditions. They will struggle against death with all their might. It's almost not worth trying to explain it to them, I've found, because they are not capable of being made to understand.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FMTM interview Finally Finished!

"Joseph Sannicandro hosts a discussion on politics, technology, and activism through music with From Monument To Masses, finding out why they love Mandy Moore and pick fights with Metallica. Part 1 of a 2 part feature."

Long in the works, though not quite as long as On Little Known Frequencies, themy article on/interview with From Monument to Masses is finally completed. The first installment is on TSB now! Let me know what you think. And check out FMTM's latest album, On Little Known Frequencies

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Madoff Continues to be a Disgusting and Unrepentant Human Being

"Lawyers for Bernard L. Madoff have asked that prosecutors be barred from seizing the New York City apartment of the Madoffs and $62 million in bonds and cash that they say belong to Mr. Madoff’s wife, Ruth, and “are unrelated to the alleged Madoff fraud.”

The request was acknowledged, but not granted, in court documents filed on Monday both by federal prosecutors and the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Mr. Madoff’s estate for the benefit of his former customers." -NY Times

"Secretary of State William Galvin said Ruth Madoff, 67, withdrew $5.5 million on Nov. 25 and $10 million on Dec. 10 _ the day before Bernard Madoff was arrested _ from Cohmad Securities Corp., a New York firm co-owned by her husband.

..They also appeared to follow what authorities consider a disturbing trend on the part of the Madoffs to hide money that could be used to reimburse burned investors.

Prosecutors have already said investigators found 100 signed checks worth $173 million that Madoff was ready to send out to his closest family and friends at the time of his arrest in December. Two weeks later, during the Christmas holidays, Madoff sent more than $1 million in jewelry and heirlooms to family and friends." -Huff Post

I seem to have a slightly different opinion about the Madoff scandal than my friends and peers, so let me quickly share my opinion. I feel for those who lost money, of course, though I do think they share some of the blame. If you are investing money, particularly large sums of money, it is your responsibility to know where and how your money is being invested. Madoff's clients were always making money, at least on paper, and because of that they never looked closely enough. And they are paying for it.

Now, Madoff himself. He and his entire operation personify the worst of American business at the turn of the century. He is clearly unrepentant. He acted for himself and his family, with no regard for others. He's likely covered his tracks enough to protect his sons, who I have no doubt were involved, or at least greatly benefited. I'm an advocate for compassion, and though I think compassion should not be let go, Madoff and his family should all be in jail, or at least forced to live destitute. If our society is unable to offer this sort of justice, than something is deeply off balance. He is hardly on death's door, but he is still old enough that he can justify his actions to himself as having made a good run of it. Don't let him get away with it! When so many people are suffering, how are we letting this greedy man and his wife retain their assets and apartments? I don't care if he posted 100 million dollars for bail, that is dirty money, and he can't be allowed to buy his way out. He belongs in a cell. Let's hope the judges act justly.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

SFMOMA and Waltz with Bashir

On my first day back in San Francisco, my first full day anyhow, I woke up, walked around my old neighborhood (the Tenderloin, for those who are familiar,) and spent a significant chunk of my day at the SFMOMA.

I spent a good amount of time sitting in Yerba Buena park, reading, watching the old-folks practicing tai chi, other people working out and running around the small circular path, the young children playing. The weather was unseasonably warm, the sy clear, and I was quite happy to be in America sharing public space with so many people from various backgrounds and of various ages. The exhibit I was about to participate in was made all the more interesting by this mindset.

I spent several hours exploring the entire museum, which I had not visited since my first time there in October of 2007 for Olafur Eliasson's solo show. I spent most of this time viewing "The Art of Participation, 1950-now," though I also briefly took in Martin Puryear's retrospective, which was pleasant, but I won't discuss here.

The Art of Participation covers many different styles and movements, but the temporal distance is never jarring, and even the oldest works still seem fresh and relevant. The curator has more or less resisted the urge to organize works by decade, instead organizing them by theme; "Utopia Revisited," "Testing Authority," "Instructions for Use," "Calls to Action," "The Open Work of Art," and "Public Dialogue." I was pleased to see that much of the work was rooted in the philosophy of John Cage and the Fluxus movement, both of which began to orient our understanding of the work of art as involving not only the artist and the artobject, but also the viewer. It is important that I stress, for me at least, it is necessary to remember that only great art is capable of opening a space for community to be sustained, and much of this 'postmodern' art is incapable of being raised beyond the category of Thing, a site of temporary gathering. Nonetheless, many great pieces certainly were included, and not all from the big names like Abromovic and Rauschenberg.

I won't bother to explain each and every piece, but here is a stream of consciousness recap of my highlights. Upon first entering the exhibit, I saw a printer and mounds of paper, part of the Open Work of Art section. I cannot recall the artists name, but the piece actually made an impression on me. The printer was printing news headlines from around the world, and had apparently been doing this since the exhibit opened, creating a long steady stream of text and paper. A grand piano was in the middle of the room, and the score to John Cage's 4'33" was on a wall nearby. Apparently regular performances of the work are given.

I noticed on the sign that SFMOMA has createda rather ingenious alternative to carrying around those silly audioguides. Each work has a unique number on it. By pulling out your cellphone and dialing 415-294-3609, and then keying in the work number, you can have access toa free audiotour, from home or in the museum.

Before coming to this floor to see the exhibit, I had first gone to view a short documentary about the composer, adding to the secondary literature and films I've already absorbed about Cage's life and work. Somehow, it is still striking to see an original annotated score of a work that was so transformative in American music. On the wall across from the piano was one of Rauschenberg's White Paintings, (1951,) which Cage sighted as an influence on his creation of 4'33". Instructions for Use included pieces that tell the viewer to do something. This could include using your body to hold 6 objects against the wall (with your feet, knees, waste, stomach, chest, and forehead,) or to bat another object around the floor with a broom. Another exhibit asks your to merely take a print, which are stacked in a 2-foot-tall pile on the floor. As I grabbed my copy, which was a bird in the sky, a young man with a thick accent asked, are you sure you can do that?, to which I replied, after removing my headphones, yes, look at the instructions on the sign. "Take One." The piece which really stuck out however was an installation by Tom Marioni, made from the remnants of a performance piece he's been doing since the '70s called "The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art." Marioni would invite friends, and museum goers, to drink beer with him. The installation on view is a document of one of these performances, made of a shelf filed with hundreds of empty Anchor Steam bottles (a great beer brewed in SF,) a refrigerator, and a chair.

The next room, Utopia Revisited, consists mainly of digital/new-media/internet based pieces, some of which were pretty groundbreaking. Lyn Hershman Leeson's work in particular has stayed with me. Entitled "Life Squared," she uses Second Life as a way to explore her back catalog and to interact with her work in a way the traditional gallery space does not allow. Check out for more on her project. Along those lines, I was also impressed by Warren Sack's "Conversation Map," a work from 2000 which you can read more about at I really enjoy seeing artist experiment with the internet as a medium, and have some ideas I'd like to try out on my own in this regard.

Another piece which was interesting, though I've forgotten who the artist was, was in the next room, a giant lattice of rubberbands. The spectator is invited to grab a rubberband and extend the grid, and then to do weird things with others with the rubberbands, stretching them out and whatever. The museum apparently hires folks to encourage the viewers to actually participate, and explain the works to the museum going public. The etiquette here is quite different than we have been trained to expect, and this is actually a bit discomforting, though ultimately it should be liberating. In the next section, Testing Authority, is a video piece by Francis Alys, a Belgian living and working in Mexico City whose work I was first exposed to in a Neuberger Show last year called "Person in the Crowd," which was also about performance art and sometime included participatory actions. Alys' work can be described as psychogepgraphic. (See his piece walking around Mexico City with a dripping paint can, something he's done in other cities as well. Also, here is a link to a web project he did for Dia, His video in the SFMOMA consists of two shots projected side by side, in which Francis walks into a shop in Mexico City, buys a pistol, loads it, and then walks down the street until the police arrest him. One is of the actual event/walk, which lasted for almost 12 minutes, and the other is of a recreation of the event, in which the police agreed to take part. The recreation is heavily stylized to be reminiscent of a police/crime drama, with close ups of the gun and so on. In both case, particularly the 'real' walk, the attitude of the passerbys is astounding. It says a lot about Mexico City, but would be interesting in any city.

I should mention the pieces by Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Marina Abromovic, and Vito Acconci, but I won't. As much as I like all their work, they seemed more there for historical reasons, and I wasn't particularly enthralled, tho Yoko's "Cut Piece" was very interesting. Oh, that reminds me, of another film dramatization by Pierre Huyghe, called Third Memory, showing the reenactment of a crime on which the film Dog Day Afternoon was based, led by one of the actual participants... Lygia Clark's wearable objects bring to mind Charles LaBelle's similar work, and Joseph Beuys' piece was fantastic as well. An image of his signed by the artist, letting us know, in italian, that we are the revolution. Another was a cheap replicated box, empty, ready to be posited with meaning. The last is a TV address he made by satellite in the '70s, as a teacher, explaining his concept of social sculpture, that art has a social implication, and that art and politics coexist. The works themselves do not stand out in my memory, but his ideas do, and I think he'd be pleased by this.

Another interesting aspect of the exhibit was "Freecell," which was in th museums "D-Space." Modular cardboard which is intended to be folded and stacked to create tables, chairs, and other environmental components.

But the absolute highlight, easily my favorite, was an audio-video walking tour by Janet Cardiff. I took her audio walk of Central Park back in 2004 (?) and also had the chance to see 40-part Motet when it was at MoMA in NY. This piece is easily my favorite of the three. I would like to see more of her work, both av guides and installation, which are frequently collaborations with her partner George Miller. So, she created this piece back in 2001 or so for SFMOMA. I checked out a video camera, but on my headphones, and began the tour. Her pieces instruct you to begin in a specific spot, and follow her instructions, letting her guide you on a narrative tour. In some ways, this piece was incredibly disorienting and at times uncomfortable. She lead me through a staff only door and up the stairs, while the sound of footsteps chased us. Where they real or in my headphones? She pauses in front of a window that is no longer there, musing about the beauty of the peaks in the distance, peaks I can only see through her lense. As we ascended the final stair case, I follow my camera in place with hers, paused on a large women singing soulfully. In front of me, I see a man wondering why I am 'filming' him, giving me a dirty look, while on the little screen of my camera I see the woman belting out the blues. These awkward moments make me love her work all the more, as they create real human emotions and interactions, often misunderstanding and disorientation. In this case, she is engaging with the museum setting as a space and imagining the lives of it's patrons.

Last spring, I took a course entitled "Aesthetics and Politics," and one of the texts we read was Nicolas Bourriaud's "Relational Aesthetics," a collection of critical pieces and curatorial explanations contextualizing a non-movement of '90s artists known as 'relational.' I later wrote a piece on pyschogeography and contemporary/performance/conceptual art, and Bourriaud's work was important in my understanding of the aesthetics behind these types of works. Lucia and I recently attended the "anyspacewhatever" exhibit at Guggenheim NY, and there was some overlap in the types of work presented in SF, though the scope and tone were completely distinct.

All in all, another impressive show at SFMOMA, one of my favorite art museums, and hopefully a future employer (?).


Last night, Lucia and I went to the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. I had decided to take it easy this weekend, so we took the train away from White Plains, had a nice dinner at Bollywood (contemporary indian, i had cocunut curry mahi mahi, which was delicious,) and went to see Waltz With Bashir. I had heard much about this movie, beginning with an interview Ari Folman, the film maker and lead character, on NPR months ago. Almost entirely animated, the film is a documentary of Folman's attempt to regain his memory of the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut during the first Lebanon War. Folman was 19 and in the IDF at the time. The score is composed by Max Richter, a German whose work I've written about before, and who I am a big fan of. The movie begins with Folman meeting with a friend at a bar late at night, and listening to his friend's recurring nightmare of being hounded by 26 dogs, the ghosts of 26 dogs he killed to keep from alerting the enemy more than 20 years prior. At this telling, Folman realized he had no memories of his own from his war years, and begins to track down his friends and comrades from the war. We are presented with a diverse and imaginative look at the experience of being at war. Folman doesn't really get into the politics of it all. No attempt to rationalize or justify the otherside is given, nor are any of the enemy combatants ever presented as characters. A clear anti-war message is intended, but Folman focuses only on the actual horror of war as experience by these young boys, and any group of young people really. This is the most striking point, for me, and an important point often missed more generally. After Folman regains his memories, he is describing them to his therapist and friend Ori Sivan. He remembers the nights of the massacre. His unit was shooting flares into the night sky, lighting up the area so that the Phalangists could carry out their massacre. He cannot recall if he launched the flare himself, but he still regards his action as comparable to carrying out the massacre itself. As Sivan mentioned earlier, it was another massacre that has haunted Folman as well, the much more terrible and sustained massacre at Auschwitz. Sivan says to Folman that he "took on the role of a Nazi." He isn't judging him, though, but explaining Folman's own worry. Later, a friend of Folman's, or maybe it was the TV host, describes the scene of the Palestinians leaving the camp as being reminiscent of the line of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. They are not comparing the Israeli's to Nazis, however. Many lines of civilians who have been mistreated have looked like this. The point is an important one, however.

It has been argued that the concentration camps are the logical end of industrialization. The development of weapons, bombs, and other technology of death has made killing so much more efficient than in the past, and so it was inevitable that a people would develop a more efficient and industrial way of murdering. The camps, which were this but even more importantly were a means of dehumanization of the victims, were this end. But it's not just the Nazis. It is so easy to take on that role, it is inside all of us. That is the most horrifying thing about them, and about a movie like this. The last bit of the film is actual footage from the refugee camps after the massacre. Some film critics have suggested that the transition from animation to film is too abrupt and disorienting. I though I would agree, but it is actually necessary. Although much of the film can be disturbing, we have been lulled into a fantasy world. When the archival film footage comes on, we see actual dead bodies, murdered children, women crying out to god for help, and we are brought back to the realization that these events really happened. These poor young men were in some way involved in this massacre, though all they did was launch flares. No wonder they may have blocked out their memories of the event.

While I was in London back in 2006, I visited Oxford, and stopped by to a contemporary art museum. There was an exhibit at the time of Lebanese artists. I will never forget one of the pieces which showed a film of fireworks going off over Beirut. Or maybe they were rockets. It is hard to tell, but the point was just that. We often forget what fireworks stand for, but I doubt the citizens of Beirut do. So used to the shellings and falling rockets, the flares that light up the night sky so that their own citizens, Christians, can butcher Palestinians. And many other tragedies that occurred during the war that followed. About a week after I saw this exhibit, I was sitting in a cafe/laundromat doing laundry in Berlin, and my new friend came in to tell me that Israel has begun to bomb Lebanon. It never ends. Just like the line of refugees leaving the Warsaw Ghetto, or the Sabra camp, or Beirut in 06. I can't help but think of Nietzsche. What a crushing weight indeed if this is what we are meant to perpetually repeat. I think it is important that we recognize where we have gone wrong in the modern world, and that we understand that we are all capable of such things. We must therefore take steps to allow for authentic political engagement in society, but it seems naive to write even this after seeing such dreadful reality in this film last night.

Makes an exhibit about participatory art seem a bit hollow.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Family Suicide in LA Reminiscent of Cartier Incident

With no job and 5 kids, 'better to end our lives,' man wrote

"It was described as one of the most grisly scenes Los Angeles police had ever encountered: the bodies of five small children and their parents, all shot to death, in two upstairs rooms of the family's home.
But even more incomprehensible to some was the story that emerged after the bodies were found Tuesday: A father who, after he and his wife were fired from their jobs, killed all six family members before turning the gun on himself."

I just came across this article on, and was immediately reminded of the Cartier affair in France, back in 2002. I first heard of the Cartier's when I began more seriously studying the work of Bernard Stiegler last year. Stiegler is a French philosopher, who after discovering philosophy while inprisoned for armed robbery, began a serious study of technology called Technics and Time. Stiegler wrote about the Cartiers in Mécréance et Discrédit: Tome 2, Les sociétés incontrolables d'individus désaffectés (2006). An extract was published in English translation as The Disaffected Individual. (according to wikipedia.) The story goes something like this. After returning home from dinner, Patricia and Emmanuel Cartier had decided to end their lives, and the lives of their 5 children. Patricia was working as a caregiver to the elderly, and injected her children, aged 11 months to 13 years, with insulin, telling them they were being vaccinated before going on holiday. She then gave herself the same injection, and her husband attempted to slit his wrists. The dose proved not to be fatal, however, and only 11 year old Alicia would later die from the injection. Coincidently, on the same day that Alicia passed away, the children's grandmother, whose custody they were under, also died in a car accident. The Cartier's claimed that desperation from being over 250,000 Euros in debt led them to wish to end their lives. They claimed that they were caught in an "infernal spiral" of consumer spending and debt, and blamed societies consumerism for their actions. "After 15 years of marriage, the Cartiers, described by a psychiatrist as "immature, emotionally insecure and depressed", had six different bank accounts, 21 distinct consumer loans and 15 credit cards. They earned €1,300 (£900) a month each, with an extra €500 in family allowances." Patricia and Emmanuel were later convicted of attempted murder and murder, and sentenced to 10 and 15 years respectively. I'm not sure why Patricia, who took the insulin from her job and administered the injections, got a lighter sentence than her husband, who was also 7 years her junior (not that that's particularly relevant.)

The family in LA, who also had 5 children, claimed to be driven to despair by economic causes, being terminated from their jobs, though they didn't directly blame consumerism, and their method of carrying out their task was far more pragmatic, and effective. The things that struck me, aside from the superficial similarities, is the immaturity of the acts. I suppose things like this have always occurred, but it seems to me that there is something about modern life that not only creates citizens who are unable to take care of themselves, but also drives them to such deep despair that they see murdering their own family as the only way out.


On a lighter note, I spent two weeks in San Francisco (with brief trips to Davis, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe,) seeing friends, visiting museums and galleries, and meeting with professors at the graduate programs I've applied to. I saw an excellent show at SFMOMA called the art of participation, in which I was blessed to yet again experience a Janet Cardiff piece. I also saw a wonderful show on Afghanistan at the Asian Arts Museum. I will try and post my reviews of these shows shortly. The Art of Participation in particular, which was a retrospective of works from the 1950s to the present, had many recent new media pieces with online components, so I think it will be quite fun for those who read it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of Year Wrap Up

Top Albums of the Year, 2008

Over at the silent ballet, we recently posted out top 50 albums, top 30 tracks, top 30 electronic records, etc. Please check it out.

Although it seems the years go by faster and faster as we get older (yet another thing our elders warned us about,) and usually I agree, something about 2008 has seemed to drag for me. Since returning to NY, on one hand it seems that the time has flown by, yet I’ve also been fairly busy, and when I think back to what I was doing at this time last year, it seems like ages ago. I’ve spent a lot of time this year playing music with friends, listening to music made decades ago, o longer.

I realized that certain records just don’t do it for me, not because of any deficit on the composition or energy or virtuosity or fidelity, but because certain tones, certain sonorities, just don’t communicate anything to me. This isn’t necessarily a pure analog v. digital debate, although it is much harder for a record entirely made of digital sounds to speak to me. There needs to be something organic. Quantized dance music is great for it’s utility, of making a body dance, keeping a perfect time, but I’ve been much more impressed with fusions of the organic with the electronic.

I hate lists. I don’t have time to get drawn into message boards to discuss things that basically have no real world consequences. I’m more than happy to write about music all year and discuss in person, but the whole *this is better than this* stuff that goes on this time of year is silly. But, there are a good bunch of artists whom I’ve really enjoyed this year, and who I think should be shared. They don’t get enough attention, and they really do deserve it. Like others I’ve seen, I’m making no attempt at ranking. Instead, these are records released in 2008 that I enjoyed.

There were a slew of mainstream records that we all know are pretty great; Santogold, The Roots, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Eryka Badu, Death Cab, Wolf Parade, Fleet Foxes, Portishead, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird. These all got tons of attention in mainstream publications, so I will just basically ignore them. So, most of you, hopefully, will discover some lesser known artists..


A Silver Mt. Zion- 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons- I love Godspeed. I’m sure you do too. And I love all of ASMZ’s records too. This is a bit more controversial, apparently. He Has Left us Alone… has it’s own magic. Born of Trouble… is just downright beautiful. Pretty Little Lightning Paw EP sounds pretty shitty, but the songs are solid, and are some of my favorites live. This is our punk rock thee… seems to be the band at their most pretentious. However, people who say that don’t get their humor, just like those that accuse Morrissey of being depressing. (I really love the Smiths by the way.) Horses in the Sky has some great full songs. 13 Moons features a new drummer, and tons more energy and much better production. I have a full review of it in my blog here:

Earth- The Bees made Honey in the Lions Skull This album was a huge shock. I remember being 16 or 17 and discovering Sunn 0)). (I still laugh when I think of the description of Sunn as “baby pleasing sounds” from initial records back then.) Anyway, I knew Earth in the context of Sunn, who formed to fill a void left by their decline. (The main figure behind Earth was a heroin addict, and is infamous for being the dude who bought Kurt Cobain his shotgun.) I was never a huge fan of Earth, although I do appreciate the occasional drone album. This record is surprisingly beautiful and majestic. The main reason this record is so much better than all their previous output combined is the addition of the lap steel.

Bersarin Quartett
- s/t- I know nothing about this band. Except they are one of my best new things I’ve heard this year. New to me anyway. I guess they’re German. Or Austrian. Or maybe German-Swiss? In anycase, it’s… chill, electronicky horn piano music whtvr.

Emmanuele Errante- Humus What can I say? Italy is a strange country. So many amazingly talented musicians, and yet, the scene there sucks, and their artists (Port-Royal, Giuseppe Ielasi, Nicola Ratti, Giardino di Miro, etc) get more respect in other countries. Errante’s Somnia debut is a stunning. Check it out.

Mogwai- The Hawk is Howling- I love Mogwai. Have since high school. Have even more since I started to smoke weed. People like to give them a hard time, but they are fucking awesome. If you like any of their old material, I can’t see you not liking this too. They continue to evolve (The Sun Smells too Loud is a new direction) but they continue to be heavy and amusing.

Sparkle in Grey- A Quiet Place- Another talented group from Italy, this record was produced by Giuseppe Ielasi. Originally a solo project of Hue, this is their first release as a proper band. Not that that means much. A Quiet Place is a mix of found sound, field recordings, conventional instrumentation, electronics, and downright noise. Somehow, something beautiful has emerged.

Sigur Ros- Me_ su_ í eyrum vi_ spilum endalaust- Fuck you if you don’t think they are the best band in the world. You are wrong. That’s all. I see their shortcoming, I do, but it doesn’t matter. If this were a church, I’d be a preacher.

Max Richter- 24 Postcards in Full Color- This is a collection of 24 tracks. An experiment to see if meaningful music can be written for use as ringtones. I love the concept. I love the results.

Sumner McKane-What A Great Place To Be – I think, more than any other artist, I want people to know Sumner. He sells himself, really, if people could just hear this stuff. Honestly, he blows me away. Please check this out, and see my reviews on TSB. Just, beautiful, talented, wonderful production, and full of soul and love.

Kayo Dot- Blue Lambency Downward- This is not an easy record to absorb, but with repeat listens, and close attention, it pays off. Most people will hate it. They’ve been on Tzadik, Robotic Empire, and Hydra Head, but that alone will not give you a hint of what they sound like. On tour 2 years ago, all the members but Toby and Mia quit, leaving the band a chance to reinvent themselves. Finally pulling out of the metal shadow of Maudlin of the Well, BLD marks a milestone for the group.

MGMT- Oracular Spectacular- You all know this shit. They’re huge, they’re played all over the place, everyone loves them. It’s silly, they’re having fun, we’re having fun. Sometimes we don’t need serious. There is still something sincere about what they are doing, though, not in the lyrics, or the sound, but just the energy. Fun fun fun.

GrailsDoomsdayer’s Holiday, Take Refuge in Clean Living- Many of us at TSB loved their last 2 records, particularly Burning Off Impurities which was our #1 last year. I first saw Grails at CMJ in 06, at Sin-e, and they blew me away. I loved their EP this year, and the new lp is pretty good. A bit different, doesn’t really top BOI, but still classic.

The Drift-Memory Drawings- Again, see my review for more on this. If you miss old DMST, you’ll probably love this. Organic, jazz infused post-rock from the Bay.

Neil on Impression- ...l'oceano delle onde che restano onde per sempre- Yes, another Italian band. Yes, they are really great too. The thing I love is that each of these three groups are entirely distinct from each other. The Perfect Tango (2006) was pretty impressive, but they’ve really solidified their identity here.

This is Your Captain Speaking- The Eternal Return- Name checking Nietzsche in the title in a subtle way? They win. Glad to see Australia is still putting out great records too.

Samuel Jackson 5-Goodbye Melody-- Nice followup to 2005’s whtvr it was called. Good solid instrumental rock. Goes beyond the loud/soft dynamic, doesn’t rip off mono/eits/gybe/mogwai. Scandinavia ftw!

Beneva v. Clark Nova- Sombunal- I don’t know much about these guys, but another great electronic record. The cover of the album has a bunch of naked baby dolls all over it. Kinda creepy. But they turn what should be a bizarre inaccessible record into surprisingly catchy pop glitch.

Akira Kosamura- Tiny Music- Another TSB favorite. Japanese, very pretty. As opposed to last years collaboration with Haruka Nakamura, Aftetglow, which was composed of 2 long tracks, Tiny Music consists of many shorter tracks. Mostly Akira’s piano, and some classical and acoustic guitar.

Juxta Phone v. offtheky- !escape kit!- Wow. This was a great year for electronic artists collaborating to create amazing records. Offthesky releases a good deal of music, but we don’t seem to know anything about this ‘Juxta Phona’ cat. In anycase, it shows that these guys must have put an incredible amount of time into making this record. Slight tweaks, hundreds of filters and effects. The result is hard to define, but dense and smoky electrojazz comes close.

Kira Kira- Our Map to the Monster Olympics- Finally a female electronic/sound artist! Another original group from Iceland. She weaves together various toy instruments and recordings with guitar, glockenspiel, and laptop.

Autistici- Volume Objects- You know the drill. Italian. Careful electronic collage. Organic development of electronic sounds. Check TSB for the review.

Gang Gang Dance- Saint Dymphna - I won’t even try. Pretty original stuff. Out there. Lots have been written about this Manhattan it-band, and they deserve it.

DJ Spooky- Sound Unbound- Following Rhythm Science, his book on remix culture on MIT Press, and last years Africa mixtape for the Venice Bienniale, Sound Unbound is a collection of essays Paul D. Miller edited. The book comes with an accompanying CD, a collage mix culled mainly from the archives of Sub Rosa. Where else can you hear Iggy Pop reading Burroughs, and Dada mixed with Sonic Youth, etc.

Nico Muhly- Mothertongue - I’d like to hate him. 27 year old polymath prodigy. It’s hard not to be envious. But, he’s too talented. This album has some missteps, and is nowhere near as pretty as his last, but I think that’s the point. Everything shouldn’t be conventionally pretty. The album has three movements, each exploring a different idea. The eponymous piece is sung by Abigail Fischer, and was performed early this year at a Wordless Music show. Nico was trying to capture the incredible array of information crowding our brains, and succeeds by programming a sampler with all the numbers and addresses Abigail could remember, and creating an electronic backdrop of monotonous numbers that she then sings over. I’m a sucker for conceptual art. The piece with Sam Amidan is also very striking, a reworking of an old folk song whose mood had been altered to better suit the lyrical content.

I have also become a great fan of his blog. It is the most interesting mash up of intelligent fragments on pop culture, linguistics, classical and pop music, food, etc.

My Education-Bad Vibration- They are from Texas? I dunno. Mad chill though. These guys pull off the folksy-postrock aesthetic amazingly. Recommended.

Flying Lotus- Los Angeles- Phat intrumental hip hop beats!!!!!!!!!!! Did a great remix of Radiohead this year too. Signed to Warp last year, and his debut for them didn’t disappoint. Looking forward to future work.

Silian Rail- And I You, To Pieces I saw Silian Rail open for FMTM out in SF last year, and was very impressed by this duo, enough that I reviewed their debut EP of my own volition. Their proper debut was recently released, and was just what I thought it’d be. Amazing. Has some of my favorite tracks of the year. Just guitar and drums, with occasional glockenspiel, they manage to craft a really distinct sound. There is something honest and sincere about their music that is lacking is a lot of instrumental music.

Colin Stetson- I love jazz, but most of what I love was made from 1950-1976 or so. Obviously there are great players still playing, but most of them either had their hayday in those years (Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Mccoy Tyner, Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, etc) or are young lions who don’t really know their history or are rather just trying to mime the same forms that have already been made. Stetson is in the jazz tradition, but is one of these young cats who is busting out doing something totally new. This record is pretty much unclassifiable. There is little I can say that would describe what it actually sounds like. Sometimes it’s hard to believe it is a single take with no effects of one guy playing horns. Stetson makes use of circular breathing, plays various horns at once, and has a great sense of composition, at times sounding akin to electronic artists. And it’s good too.

Bohren & Der Glub of Gore- Dolores These Germans used to be way heavier. Apparently they’ve been around since the ‘90s, influenced by Gore. Now they play beautiful chill music with horns and shit. TSB ranked them as album of the year. I wish I’d discovered them sooner.

Gifts from Enola/ y/m/d/i/t/d
- Harmonic Motion. Hell yea. Best post-rock record of the year.

Peter Broderick
- Homes Efterklang did not release any full length records or Eps this year, so I had to put Peter Broderick on the list. Honestly though, great record.

Ghostland Observatory
- Robotique Majestique- I liked last years Lightning Paparazzi better, but I didn’t hear them until this year anyway, courtesy of my man Lee.

Machinefabriek- This dude puts out so many records, I’m sure one of them should be on this list. But I can’t remember.

The Very Best- Esau Mwamwam + Radioclit
= the very best This record is really good. A singer from Mali fusing Malinese music with European dance beats and pop remixes. I do not hate Vampire Weekend. But their vague references to early ‘90s Paul Simon does not count as African. They are Ivy league white preppy boys. Which is fine, I aspire to be such a thing. Doesn’t make their music authentic. Anycase, why am I talking about them? Because THE VERY BEST (esau + radioclit) is way better. Download their record/mix tape here for free.

And some others that I’ve run out of momentum to write about.

Le Chat Blanc Orchestra
The Alps
White Denim
En Plein Air
Lykke Li


Somnia seems to be the stand out label this year, releasing fantastic records by Juxta Phona vs. offthesky, Evan Barthalomew, Evan Marc +Steve Hillage, Bluetech, and Emmanuele Errante, all just in 2008. Check them out. Some of the best chill out, ambient, psycbient, glitch, etc going out.

Stand Alone Single

Redhooker- "Telling Time"- This is a group I discovered a few years ago after receiving their EP to review. Basically the sideproject of the guitar player from Slow Six, I really connected with their music, and had the chance to see a wonderful performance in a special place called Monkey Town in Williamsburg during CMJ. The Silent Ballet released a new song on our 9th compilation with Lost Children earlier this year. The track is called Telling Time. Download it here.


Coco Tea- Barack Obama – What with Obama winning the election and all, this tune got a huge boost. The fact that it has been played all over the world makes it relevant enough, but it is also catchy as hell on it’s own.

N.E.R.D- All the girls waiting in the line for the bathroom- This single and accompanying video is pretty funny. Stand out pop song for me this year.

And Past Stuff

Max L. introduced me to a band called Kneebody. They are amazing. No proper releases this year, but their improvised electronic jazz blows pretty much everyone else out of the water. Mostly because they are compositionally mature and can play their instruments amazingly well.

I love the Smiths.

Music for 18 by Steve Reich is still one of my favorite pieces of music.

I really love Brazilian music. After getting some mix tapes from my friend Matt last year, I’ve continued my exploration of Brazilian music. Some of the best stuff I’ve heard ever, combining music with traditional roots, community, musical virtuosity and experimentation.


Sonny Rollins- Freedom Suite

Nina Simone

Stars of the Lid, "Music for Nitrous Oxide"

Gavin Bryars “The Sinking of the Titanic”

Things to keep an eye out for in 2009

Saxon Shore

Bob Ostertag

From Monument to Masses

Moving Mountains- This is kind of out, but not really, so I’ll wait till next year. It’s awesome. I hope they don’t dilly dally on the next lp. Guys?

Looking Glass Wars

I took part in Rhys Chatham’s Crimson Grail this summer, but our actual performance got rained out. So, look for that this year.

The Watchmen movie- not music, but hey.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If I've seen a bit out of it lately...

I sort of have been. I feel as though I haven't updated the world on
my happenings lately, so here's a quick recap...

After returning from the Dominican Republic this summer, I began
working full-time at uPurchase College as study abroad advisor/int'l
student assistant, a position I've held since moving back to NY in
January as a part-time employee. I decided to stay put and take this
position so I could save money and get caught up on paying off my debt (which
after all the traveling and moving I did last year, was adding up.) This turned out to be a responsible move, as the economy then continued it's downward spiral. I think this will be a good thing, creating lots of potential for change, and also for investment. And wealth re-distribution. (But that's another note.) I bought a Vespa and the rest is history... Sometime in October, they also appointed me as the inaugural Fellowship coordinator, to which the entire campus was notified, and for which many folks offered congratulations. I think most people thought that a) I got a raise (I didn't, part of my study abroad workload was redistributed, but that's fine because it is all clerical stuff) and/or b) that I can help them get funding.

Anyway, so I was living life as usual for a while, but things have gradual gotten busier and busier. In addition to work, I am still writing for the Silent Ballet (, volunteering on the Research Committee at the Neuberger Museum, taking a German class, applying to grad school, running the Cultural Immersion club, and trying to get a philosophy journal off the ground with Paula.

My recent countdown (currently 5 down, 7 to go) refers to my graduate school applications. A quick run down; UC Davis, Berkeley, Chicago, NYU, and Brown, with San Francisco State, Stony Brook, McGill, U Buffalo, CUNY, Central European University, and Domus Academy left. They are a mix of PhD and MA programs, mostly in Cultural/Communications/Media/Art History studies. CEU in Budapest is a History MA program. Yes.

So, work has been keeping me busier than I anticipated. In September and October, I did some traveling around the SUNY system doing recruiting for our summer programs. End of October we had a CIE meeting in Oswego, and I'm now part of a sub-committee to redesign the SUNY abroad website. Yay, more on the plate. November was NAFSA and COIL conferences, which were somewhat enjoyable, though time seemed to have accelerated at this point. My first application was due on Dec 1, and since then I've been non-stop. Now, I have a short break to look around.

Things I'm working on:

My favorite albums of 08; I cannot claim to have heard everything (even though I have head A LOT of music this year,) and particularly since I am so busy, there are tons of records I still haven't gotten around to giving a good listen too. So, I've compiled a list of my fav albums released this year, especially some things I think more people should check out. That will be up soon.

Meanwhile, will be releasing our 3rd annual Top 50 list before the end of the year, so check that out for the best postrock/electronic/instrumental/etc. I also have a long-overdue article/interview with From Monument to Masses and another interview with Italy's Sparkle in Grey coming out soon.

In the new year, I have two artistic projects, at least, that I intend on finishing. A) My paternal Grandfather, Alfonso Sannicandro, recorded a series of tapes in 1988, shortly before he was to have a stroke and ultimately passaway. He tells stories in a compelling style, the narrativ drifting with his mind, as characters come and go while he talks. He relates shining shoes at Yankee Stadium, loosing his wife to cancer, moving a piano, the changes happening in the Bronx, and in the nation. Earlier this year, I tracked down these tapes, and began to transfer them to digital. This project is two fold. One, I will eventually write a book based on his stories, while my family members will receive a copy of the digital transfer. Two, I'm using the tapes as source material for a musical project. It will sound strange. B) Almost one year ago I began saving all of my receipts. I noticed that receipts are ubiquitous, yet most people do not look at them or give them a second thought. Since they are printed, and since i often use my cards to pay for things, I decided to keep them all. As modern trash, as historical documents, as a record of my spending habits and life, of my travel habits. I will soon begin to weave these records into a narrative, which will be presented visually. I am utilizing something that would otherwise be trash, but also materializing a portrait. I don't want to give too much away, but I hope to complete this by May. Additionally, I have some songs I'd like to set down to 'tape' soon, so maybe I'll get around to that. And finally I hope that Lee and I can synchronize our schedules and bring the party this year too.

So, now, before I get back to work, finishing up my applications, studying German, polishing off my TSB assignments, etc, I'd like to catch up with some people I haven't seen often enough recently. I leave for San Francisco on the evening of January 8th, to visit professors/schools, see friends, and ski the West finally. So, let's make plans before then.



ps this post needs a picture, how about....

a detourned duck

and a potentially chilling vision of globalization. We live in financial times, eh?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Just Keeping my Fingers Crossed

I've started to feel a bit powerless here. Regardless of how I feel this moment, things are going well for me, and I hope for the country too. I have been keeping myself very busy, and have many things going on. Aside from work, which has been quiet these last 2 weeks or so, I am primarily focused on applying to grad school, which has been stressing me out in ways I don't feel like going into depth about here at this moment.

Instead, I will drink my chocolate soy milk, read some Cortazar, and maybe do my German hw. I'll probably do some yoga as well, and lord knows I need the energy. This weekend was great, but I need a slow day to recover. in any case, I wanted to drop a line before the election. Maybe tomorrow I will find time between work and class to say a little something about the election and so on. But, I really do hope we get to see a fundamental change in the direction of this country, and one for the better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

David Byrne and Brian Eno's latest record, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

David Byrne and Brian Eno have teamed up together for the first time since 1981's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Eno's work producing and co-writing with Talking Heads. Byrne is a New York based musician, writer, director, artist, and general polymath, best known as the man behind the Talking Heads. Eno is the founding father of ambient music, former member of Roxy Music, and producer extraordinaire, most recently of Coldplay's latest record, as well as classic record by the Talking Heads, U2, and others, as well as his own material. Coincidently, or perhaps not, I just the other day came across their first collaboration, released 3 years before I was born. And today I learned that their new record was released yesterday as well. Check it out at the links below, where you can also download a free track from the album. I am looking forward to getting paid so I can purchase a copy and listen to the whole thing. The record is also available for streaming on the site, though I can't check since I am at work. Speaking of which, back to work.

Oh, two more things though. David Byrne, who lives in NY, has an installation up at the Battery Maritime Building downtown. I've been trying to see/experience it all summer, and haven't made it down yet. This is the last weekend, and I will certainly be there. Check it out if you can. He has rigged an organ to resonate different parts of the building. For a better explanation, see the official site.

And lastly, keep your eyes out for Byrne's recent bike racks he designed and installed around NYC, which the good graces of the Transit dept, of course. More info in this excellent NY Times piece and on Byrne's website.

Friday, July 25, 2008

the oldest frontier in the americas (is untameable)

I keep losing my posts before I post them, so I am frustrated and will keep this short.

I am currently in Santiago with Rob, after visiting Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Sosua, and Cabarete. Alex and ROb went to Cabareta while I was in PP, after meeting some girls on the bus. I went to see Lucia in PP but missed her by about 5 hours. Alex freaked and wanted to leave while I was gone, and after complaining the whole time and loosing the key to the apt he and Rob had, ROb was happy to oblige and put him on a bus. He JUST made it back to the states tho because of delays. Santiago is kind of a disapointment. We leave for Jarabacoa today,a nd then work our way down to Barahona.

I think this trip will produce a book. Lots to say.

Friday, July 18, 2008

If there's something you'd like to try...

Well, by way of an update, I'm saying goodbye, which is funny because this will also serve as a re-introduction.

In January I decided to stay on the East coast. I had left San Francisco for the holidays and to spend 3 weeks with my friend Gianluca, who was visiting NY from Italy. Also, my friend in SF got evicted, and then my roommate decided she was planning a move to Austin. Since the apt with my friend Ryan fell through (they couldn't find a 4 bedroom) I had no guaranteed place to live. Conveniently, on the day I took my final exam, the week after I got back from LA and the week before flying home, I got a call from my old boss that a job had opened up for Study Abroad adviser. I knew I'd be doing them a favor, and I decided to take it, even though it was part time. Since then, it's been frustrating since I haven't had much luck finding part time work to work around my schedule at Purchase. I've temped and catered, but it's been sporadic. I have, however, been reading a lot, thinking, writing, hanging out, and figuring out how to relax, be happy, and find a direction. I've also been taking a grad level art history course and studying German.

So, I had applied to go to Sweden on a research grant. My proposal made the top 10 but ultimately wasn't funded; only 4 were chosen of the hundreds of applicants. I've thus decided to stay at Purchase for one more year. I will be able to save some money, have health benefits, take classes, work as a research assistant at the museum, continue studying German, ride my new Vespa around, and continue enjoying the music, art, and people of NY. I will also be applying for various graduate programs, mostly in NY and SF Bay area, so it is better not to travel too much.

But it's me, and my wanderlust won't let me sit still for too long. I spent 5 days traveling cross country in May. Paula and I drove overnight to Chicago, where we hung out with Sam, and then drove through Kansas and Colorado. I had fun, and maybe I will write about it one day. Basically, America is beautiful, and there are some nice people in the midwest, where it is cheap, but our cities are disgraceful and are values are way off.

I thus decided it was time finally to visit the Dominican Republic. I leave on Sunday for a two week trip, in which I will explore all aspects of the island. City life in Santo Domingo, beautiful tropical forests and a smaller city in Barahona complete with gorgeous beaches, wilderness in Jaracaboa, including the tallest mountain in the hemisphere outside the Andes/Rockies, and finally a resort in La Romana. Flight courtesy of JetBlue flyermiles, everything else dirt cheap. I'll explain everything I do when I get back. Internet access will be limited.

So, I'm looking forward to this, should be fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Everything seems to be fragmented, so.... fragments.

Still waiting. Italy or Bonaroo? Jobs or no Jobs? Sweden or NY? Or something else... stay here, go back to CA?

Still dealing with other things too.

German's going well. My grad class is great too.

Been having fun hanging out. Reading more. Working on paper/writing sample for grad school, trying to figure it out. Maybe I will join the Peace Corps after all. I don't know if putting off decisions is a good reason to do it, but I wouldn't be alone.

Had a great time in VT skiing for a few days. I really enjoy skiing. I also have more respect for mountain climbers now. I climed up a third of the mountain, with 80-100 mph wind, in my skiboots, carrying skis and poles. 7 degrees without the wind. Hardest things I've done in a while. Skiing in fresh powder was amazing.

Stress. I've been trying to spend time with all the people I missed while in CA. Life doesn't always cooperate though, does it?

Been keeping on schedule for the silent ballet, but my FMTM interview still isn't done.

Lots of cool things coming up (Alan Wallace at Columbia, Olafur Eliasson as well, tons of shows, plus I'm working the Stars of the Lid show, and maybe the Whitney Biennial too, or at least attending.)

Still, I feel.... lost. It's been over a year now, I should have figured this out by now.