Tortoise, Star Trek, and Orbital (with more Star Trek): Song of the Day Triple Feature

I spent a good seven+plus hours burning through some iTunes today to make up for yesterday’s somewhat disappointing performance a shortened day at the office will do that. With about 100 songs to choose from, I had a very hard time narrowing down the song of the day, so lucky you, here’s three songs to choose from. Choose wisely.

Orbital: Time Becomes


Constructed from a single line spoken by Worf from the 2nd season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Time Squared which I happened to see just the other day—it’s almost unwatchably bad, this song is more of an experiment in recording technique than actual music. But it’s fun to have your own personal Moebius.

Time Squared of course, is not to be confused with the 5th season episode Cause and Effect, where the Enterprise is destroyed every 11 minutes or so.

Tortoise: Swung From The Gutters


From TNT, this song is just great; not quite as good as The Equator, but still one of my faves from the band.
tortoise at iTunes.

Boston Pops conducted by John Williams performing the theme to Star Trek


A very unusual and extended take on the classic and well-known theme to the original Star Trek television program, performed live in concert by the Boston Pops.

on attention span and epic works

tunequest in review: for the week ending may 27, 2006.

stats: 226 songs played over 16 hours. a further 11 were removed and 1 was added, for a net progress of 236 songs, which is a nearly 50% decline from last week's performance.

well, it figures that this week's would be lackluster compared to last; i'm nothing if not inconsistent. it's not surprising though. i knew there would be a drop this week. for one thing, i was out of commission for most of friday. the office closed early and then i spent far too much time at ikea (neat furniture. bad service, but the restaurant serves free coffee until 10am). furthermore, i apparently developed a severe case of space brain at work, resulting in much un-listened-to music. hell, hours would go by before i would even remember that i had an ipod with me. this week's workload wasn't that heavy. i really have no other explanation, save for adult-onset ADD.

and that brings me to an interesting phenomenon. i'll be the first to admit that my attention span is about as reliable as a kitten's (damn you television!) and there are times that without serious effort, i can become easily distractable. which is why it's ironic that i'm drawn to music projects of record length. (and books too for that matter).

mo' longer mo' better is my general rule.

an 80 minute symphony (such as mahler's 9th)? bring it on i say. john barry's complete james bond scores? why not? my 3 hour/3 disc kit-bash of orbital's in sides or a 2.5 hour pearl jam concert? turn it up!

the natural result of these 2 forces is a cycle of initiation, abandon and renewal until i either 1) devote the proper effort and attention to the project 2) keep muddling through it without fully appreciating or comprehending its scale, or 3) give it up completely (that last one almost never happens. i always think i'll get around to it). case in point: i've had both bernstein's complete mahler cycle and hughes' complete holmboe cycle for nearly 2 years and there are still several works that i've never listened to.

but that's partly why i've undertaken the tunequest, to give those under-appreciated masterpieces the chance to shine. and it is working, to a point. i have already found or re-discovered much great music and i'm only 1/3 of the way through the project.

but there is a downside. in order to reach my goal of listening to every song in my library by the end of the year i basically have to "speed listen" to everything, rushing through as many songs as possible. each song gets a single listen, then i'm onto the next. there's no time for me to dwell on any of these new discoveries of mine and give them serious critical thought. it's not so bad with pop and rock music, those songs being generally less complex. but for classical, jazz and film scores, one listen is certainly not enough to develop a full appreciation for the art.

i guess that's what tunequest 2007 will be for…

anyway, this week's complete album list is in the Continue reading

April 11-13

wow. a whirlwind of music the past couple days. i guess that’s what happens when impending deadlines force you to stay at the office into the wee hours of the evening. who says publishing isn’t a rewarding field?

some great music this time around:

  • alan silvestri [back to the future ii]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: the ragged edge]
  • string theory [anhedonia]
  • hum [downward is heavenward]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: lines of communication]
  • medeski, martin and wood [combustication]
  • john barry [across the sea of time]
  • stereolab [dots and loops]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: the coming of shadows]
  • daft punk [discovery]
  • at home with the groovebox
  • mikhail pletnev performing tchaikovsky’s morceaux (18) for piano
  • mouse on mars [distoria ep]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: no surrender no retreat]
  • oslo philharmonic performing tchaikovsky’s manfred symphony
  • yoko kanno [cowboy bebop: vitaminless]
  • orbital [diversions]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5 volume 1]
  • man or astroman? [destroy all astromen!]

dots and loopswhile we’re on the subject of leaps-above-the-bar music, i must also mention both stereolab’s dots and loops and hum’s downward is heavenward. though i’ve been a stereolab fan for quite some time now (i’ve even been to 2 shows), i didn’t realize until i was preparing this write up how highly rated dots and loops is. stereolab is a great band, but it can be very uneven. on most albums, every 5 star song is countered by a 3 star song (the lowest on my ratings scale; 1 and 2 stars are reserved for organizational purposes), but not dots and loops. every song on that album is either 4 or 5 stars. ‘miss modular, ‘prisoner of mars’ and ‘parsec’ stick out as particularly outstanding works.

i remember my first stereolab reference. it was my senior year of high school and i was on a road trip with 2 friends and my mom, scouting colleges in central florida. we were walking around the campus of the florida institute of technology when my friend roy mentioned that he was getting into this new band stereolab (of course, the band had been together about 6 years at that point, but it was new to him). now, i never really trusted roy’s musical recommendations. our tastes overlapped for the most part, but not enough for me to heed his opinion. nothing really came of it, but i do remember seeing dots and loops laying about his room. it wasn’t until 2 years later when i heard cobra and phases that roy was vindicated in that regard. the rest, as they say, is history. •

a note about the babylon 5 music: i’ve gotten about 60% though my collection of it and i still can’t make head or tails of it. it all just sounds so… the same. the 30+ albums that make up the more than 17 hours of music is a lot to digest, particularly when it’s all a similar style. that’s not to say that it’s not good. each season’s theme is excellent of course, and some choice cues are great, such as the classical guitar work that i heard in the ragged edge today. but there’s a lot of more ambient ‘mood setting’ music that kinda blends together from album to album, which makes it hard to decide which tracks to take special note of.

then of course, there’s the coming of shadows, which also made the playlist today. the entire production team was firing on all cylinders for this episode, including christopher franke, who has written some very tense music for a very tense episode. if i had to recommend any of the babylon 5 albums, it would be this one. •

some smooth slacker jazz from medeski, martin and wood.
the surf-inspired stylings of man or astroman?, including a rendition of the MST3K theme.
some competent electronic work from orbital.