Friday, June 01, 2007

The Stack

The idea here is to note down thoughts about some of what I've been listening to lately. (N.B.: this is completely different to Ben's posts where he notes down thoughts about some of what he's been listening to lately. For one thing, he has a pile of CDs whereas I quite clearly have a stack.) I plan to do this regularly, although it'll probably be superficial and sophomoric in the extreme. I should mention that the stack in the photo is several stack-generations old. Some stack members remain, others have been replaced, still others have joined separatist movements and have begun their own stacks elsewhere in the house.

Orpheus, The Lowdown by Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge (2003) is actually a poor choice to start with as it is destined to remain aloof from the stack, packaged as it is in a kind of paperback-sized digipack. There's not a lot of conceptual packaging in the CD era, or the post-CD era, as I suppose we - if not specifically I - have now entered, and when it is attempted the results are usually pretty bad (see: Tool). Orpheus is an exception. There's a crispness and subtlety to the packaging - the elegant lyric booklet, the obliquely illustrative photograms - that perfectly complements the album's content.

Orpheus is a combination of spoken word and sound collages that occasionally threaten to turn into songs. It's detailed, deliberate music, and remarkably unified considering it was recorded over a thirteen year period; at the same time, each track is a discrete unit of intention and meaning, with little repetition of sounds or ideas. Overall, this is a sparse-feeling recording, Blegvad's deep voice enunciating over soundscapes that are occasionally bright but never colourful - the aural equivalent of a solarised image.

6 comments:

TimT said...

My most recent CDs acquired are a copy of songs from 42nd Street (which I listen to over and over again for some reason - even the infuriatingly banal 'Shuffle Off to Buffalo' - I'm a bit of an obsessive-compulsive listener) and Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner's '2000 Year Old Man', comic interviews from the 1960s - they're deceptively simple, but full of wonderfully absurd ideas.

Orpheus sounds interesting; I guess from the title it's a modern take on the old myth that mystics and opera composers have loved for millenia. (Or then again, maybe I'm completely wrong and the title is just one of those random labels that modern musos like to use).

Thanks very much for the side-bar link to my blog, by the way. I had fun writing that post on the train back from Yarraville one evening after seeing a film (in my notepad, not on my computer, obviously!)

Tim said...

Yes, it is yet another reworking of the Orpheus myth. I probably should have mentioned that in the post. It's Orpheus meets musique concrete with monologues by the Coen brothers and their weird beatnik uncle. Or something. I'm trying to avoid those "something-meets-something" formulas, although obviously I'm not trying particularly hard.

TimT said...

At least you didn't use a smattering of those vaguely irrelevant adjectives that has become a cliche amongst music critics: 'it has a chunky beat', 'its dirty textures', that sort of thing.

Ben.H said...

Did you weed anything embarrassing out of that stack before you photographed it? You know, a little grooming, a small tweak here and there, slip in the Shostakovich while taking out that Sister 2 Sister album?

Tim said...

No, it's the genuine stack, and I thought it was embarassing enough as it is. Come on, there's a Univers Zero CD in the photo - if that doesn't scream "I'm a nerd, please punch me!" I don't know what does. Not to mention the Prince...

Ben.H said...

Sweetheart, this is a blog, remember. Univers Zero is not nearly nerdy enough. Ner.