elfman bats .500 this week

in baseball that’s great. on the tunequest, not so much.

mars attacks mission impossibletwo danny elfman scores from 1996 made their way through my ears to my brain this week: mission: impossible and mars attacks! and while i enjoyed both films more than the general public seemed to, i had a mixed response to their scores.

this week marked the first in the 4 years i’ve owned those scores that i gave them any serious attention. if that seems like a familiar pattern around here, it’s because it is. about one-third of the Great Music Dump™ of 2001-2002 consists of film scores that i would get, give a cursory listen, then file away with the assumption that i’d be back to revisit them.

well, it didn’t quite work out that way.

like classical music, film scores take a lot of effort to get to know and fully appreciate. with the rapidity that i was adding new music to my collection at the time, there simply wasn’t enough opportunity to give each score the attention it deserved.

which brings me to the strange reversal of expectations for those two scores. giving both a serious consideration, i find it funny that mission: impossible is a fairly serious film of action, adventure and intrigue, yet its soundtrack is clever and lively and downright fun to listen to (especially elfman’s robust rendition of the M:I theme),  while mars attacks! is a ridiculous and playful send-up of old sci-fi flicks, but its score is downright boring. i wasn’t even half-way through it before i was inclined to purge it from my collection, which was done.

so to recap: mission: impossible. yay. mars attacks! nay.

Tchaikovsky’s No. 5: Magnificent!

berliner philharmoniker conducted by karajan 1965

It’s official: Tchaikovsky’s No 5 is now my favorite symphonies of his. It had been running neck and neck with No 6 for a very long time, but a recent Berlin Philharmonic listening has pushed it to the head of the pack.

In addition to those melodies that you just can’t get out of your head, there’s this one passage about 8.5 minutes into the fourth movement were the structure of the piece begins to crumble. But before the piece descends into chasom the timpani roars to life and the woodwinds come flying to the rescue.


suburbia: shaken, not stirred

suburban shakedown

in 2001, suburban shakedown was a band of teenagers who had a band, the way a lot of teenagers do. unlike a lot of teenage bands (mine included), they didn’t suck too much. and rather than follow the conventional rock/country/hip-hop mode of amateur musicianship that is prevalent in the ambitious teenage set, this band of minstrels went for something more unusual. no, not techno or anything involving a computer. and no, nothing classical or in any way avant garde.

no, this group was a jam band, a kind of phish-lite.

i saw these guys a couple times in pensacola throughout 2001 and they were enjoyable. not great, but enjoyable. their album from the time, measuring peace, is the same way: competent grooves and pleasant riffs that are clean cut and inoffensive, but it takes an especially audacious form of young ruffian to write and perform songs about weed at all-ages shows where other teenagers and their parents are sure show up.

on a personal note, the members of suburban shakedown, at the time, were attending the same international baccalaureate program I had attended a few years before. i didn’t know any of the guys, but it was simply amazing how every one of them was a slightly younger and slightly distorted version of someone i had known.

My Ratatat Fix: Live at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

My lowly 15gb iPod, maxed to its capacity, can only store about 2000 songs at a time. At the moment, it houses albums ranging from 0-N (not including albums that begin with ‘the’). Thus, I have not had any Ratatat grace my eardrums in quite some time. And man, i have been jonesin’ for it, with no relief in sight.

But in this junkie’s darkest hour, I stumbled upon a ray of light called CBC radio 3, with its vending machine of archived performances available for all kinds of streaming pleasure. God bless those Canadians; they had a 2004 performance by those electro-synth-rockers queued up and waiting, just for me.

Now I can slip on my headphones and have a prolonged and gentle heroin shot of that driving melodious Ratatat sound and wait in anticipation of their album’s arrival on the tunequest.

Addendum (9:58pm): just discovered that the iTunes music store has a heretofore unknown (to me) Ratatat b-side: "Noose." Yeah, I had a couple free downloads; yeah, this was one of them; yeah, it’s good, very good.

Nobukazu Takemura – Hoshi no Koe: glitches

The note at the top of the page says that the site layout is currently broken in firefox. It turns out that I royally screwed something up while trying to "Improve" Things around here. As a result, I’ll have to recode the site structure and css from scratch. Until then, sorry firefox users. I commend you for your independent spirit, but for now you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the page to see the sidebars.

However, that’s not the only type of glitch in these parts lately. I ran across Nobukazu Takemura’s hoshi no koe the other day. Takemura is a guy I was first introduced to in new orleans 5 years ago in june 2001. He was opening for Tortoise and Mouse on Mars at the howlin’ wolf. (by the way, best concert ever. it’s not often you get to see a band at the height of your fandom for them.)

It was my first exposure to both the glitch genre of music and the concept of a ‘laptop performance.’ For 30+ minutes this Japanese guy with a long pony tail sat calmly behind a table, meticulously twisting dials, pushing buttons and manipulating his powerbook, creating a perfect, swirling mess of sounds… And I was mesmerized by it. By the time he was half way through Sign and those dueling artificial voices had finished their seemingly-never-ending chant, I was hooked.

I bought Hoshi no Koe that night after the show and quickly launched an effort to acquire as much Takemura as I could. It was a foolish endeavor; The dude is as prolific as he is obscure (not to mention foreign) and I had a hard enough time tracking down a full discography, let alone much of his music.

Eventually, I gave up on that particular tunequest as it proved nearly impossible. Besides, the thing I came to slowly realize about Takemura’s music is that it’s very dichotomic. It’s either so brilliantly clever that you want to shout "Oh my god, that’s awesome!" Or it’s completely and totally unlistenably abstract, the type of compositions that certain people who want to prove their intellectual mettle listen to. A similar phenomenon occurs throughout the genre. However, lesser composers than Takemura lean distinctively toward the latter opinion.

In the end, despite the short burst of passion, my affair with glitch was short-lived. As I’ve mellowed with age, I’m not as likely to indulge in the less listenable as I find that my musical tastes are for my own enjoyment and not to impress the kids with some kind of street cred.

But Takemura, the man is still fascinating.

let it come down on me


every time i run across spiritualized, i enjoy it that much more. and the funny thing is, i’ve never really sat down and given the group the attention it deserves. like passing acquaintances from a bar scene, i’ve only bumped into the band’s music a handful of times, despite having it in my library for nigh on five years now.

it’s a real shame too, because i should have been a better friend to the group. i got let it come down and ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space in quick succession during the great music dump of 2001, an event that i’m still dealing with in terms of listenage. it was a year of seismic change in my musical listening patterns and spiritualized got lost in all the, well, noise (that’s a pun, if you aren’t familiar with the band’s music.)

but that goes back to one of the reasons why i am undergoing this tunequest: to unearth my lost musical treasures.

oh, this music will pin you to your chair there’s so much sound.