Kim's Morning Playlist

Kim Kirkpatrick: Morning’s hour of music for me recently; a bit different of a wake up than my friend Bob.

Things Are Gonna Be Alright-ACETONE
Johnny Hit and Run Paulene-X
Story in a Nutshell-BETTIE SERVEERT
Insanely Jealous-THE SOFT BOYS
Teenage Lust-JESUS and MARY CHAIN
Wherever You Go-BUILT TO SPILL
Gold in the Graveyard-GREEN ON RED


Loren Connors: As Roses Bow

Bob Burnett: I just spent the last few hours slowly nursing a "holiday season" Stella Artois, watching the sky change while listening to Loren Connors' 2xCD compilation As Roses Bow-Collected Airs 1992-2002. Happy Holidays indeed! Loren Connors is someone whom I began pursuing this past year. It was timely to do that given he released this Collected Airs compilation as well as a 3xCD set called Night Through: Singles and Collected Works 1976-2004. Before these Family Vineyard label CD compilations came out you'd have had to pursue Connors via small label or self-released 7" singles or limited edition vinyl or CD runs by labels such as Menlo Park, Road Cone or his "breakthrough" releases on Table of Elements. In fact, the liner notes say Airs 1992-2001, an earlier CDR version of this collection, was released in 2002 on his self-imprint, Black Label, in an edition of......10. In fact, Collected Airs is made up of compositions from 10 albums, 8 of which are out of print. There's more bio information available on his website.

In listening to Airs today, I'm drawn to the floating, fragile openness of this music--and it's charm. Most of his compositions are instrumentals; occasionally he's joined by his wife, vocalist Suzanne Langille. Connors writes that his Airs series is inspired by Irish airs of the past--namely 17th-18th century composer Turlough O'Carolan who wrote for harp. The music is gentle; it draws you into the quiet changes taking place in each particular composition. Connors' electric guitar tone stays relatively the same--fuzzy, warm and pleasingly eccentric.

When I'd made my way through Collected Airs I thought..."now what?"...thanks to the near perfect listening experience. I gave it a break for a few minutes and tried to move to more guitar music--Noel Akchote's trio effort (with Eugene Chadbourne and Marc Ribot) Lust Corner for example. I'm afraid I wasn't ready for their multi-layered virtuosity. I'm now back to Loren Connors---this time disc 2 of the Night Through compilation. My house is filled with fat, floating overtone/feedback joy.

What a nice time.


Saturday Morning Playlist

Bob Burnett: Today the DC area is under a "Nor'Easter" storm warning. Which inspired me to get up early and play some stuff:

Anton Webern: "Passacaglia"
Morton Feldman:"Piano and Orchestra"
Architecture in Helsinki: "Fingers Crossed"
Bettie Serveert: "Bare Stripped Naked"
Colleen:"Les Ondes Silencieuses"
Built To Spill............

I've also begun returning frequently to composer/pianist Stefano Battaglia's Re:Pasolini ECM release too. The music is an homage to artistic visionary/filmmaker, poet, political activist--and eventual murder victim Pier Paolo Pasolini. The set comes as a 2-cd collection--disc one (a sextet--w/ trumpet) reflecting what Battaglia calls the "sweet", filmic side of Pasolini while disc two (string-centric quintet) is "dissonant and tense" supposedly falling towards the influence of the poetry and political activism of Pasolini. I don't feel a need to bracket the work with rigid explanation--both discs contain absorbing, haunting music. This was a blind purchase for me---it was on ECM, it had an interesting cover photograph, it had been hanging around the used cd shop for awhile and I had a little "expendable" credit. I find it rich and genuine; a real stroke of genius that gets more and more rewarding upon each listen.



Cindy (1993); I Guess I Would (1995); If You Only Knew (1996);
Acetone (1997); York Blvd (2000)

Kim Kirkpatrick: Acetone fit in an essential comfort zone for me musically. One also inhabited by Low, American Analog Set, Yo La Tengo, Mazzy Star, and by now I bet you can fill in more bands that are appropriate. Personally, I think Acetone creates a classic sound, with big atmosphere, big guitars, and a sound that is as much about the spaces as it is the notes.

Acetone surfaced with a generally fast paced release (Cindy, 1993 on Virgin), with heavy, fuzzy guitar, played by Mark Lightcap, and a fine, loose sounding bass tone from Richie Lee who also was their main vocalist. The trio was completed with Steve Hadley on drums. With a quick revisit of the first four songs I hear Low, Neil Young (Freedom period), Ride, and The Byrds speedy psychedelic sound on “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”. Oh yeah, Cindy has some heavy, '70s funk 'n roll elements too. When Cindy was released Acetone was compared frequently to The Velvet Underground, we are not surprised, are we? All of the above is meant as positive comparisons. The one consistent element Acetone brought ( from these bands) was their driving sound.

In 1995 Acetone released an EP, I Guess I Would on Vernon Yard Recordings, a subsidiary of Virgin and also the label for Low. This EP was made up entirely of country cover songs from the likes of John Prine, Jerry Cole, Smokey Stover, and Johnny Horton. On this excellent sounding recording Acetone reveals music that inspired them, and the band’s performances fit along side the vast, historical country tinged rock sounds of L.A. and The Strip. Acetone covers these songs honestly , and they compare well with the country styles of The Byrds, Neil Young, and Gram Parsons. Overall I Guess I Would lopes along, with some fine twang and fuzzed guitar. The last cut is “Border Lord” by Kris Kristofferson and what a step away from the slower, long strides of the other songs. This song is slightly over ten minutes of extended guitar soloing with stunning Ride-style wah pedal work, country fuzz, and "Lightcap" closing it out with a soft, staccato style, twisted solo.

Just one year later Acetone released If You Only Knew, a full length CD described aptly by Richie Lee as “real slow” and “the pinnacle of quietness”. Lee’s bass playing is up front, with a warm recording hinting at strings and frets being touched. His playing seems to carry the slowest songs, noted from the title track and first song on the CD. "If You Only Knew" has expressed emotions and feelings like a cross between VU's "Candy Says" and Low. His bass playing is marvelously fluid and slithers through coolly on these really, really slow beauties. On occasion the guitar work by Mark Lightcap fuzzes out wonderfully, and is down right nasty. On “99” his playing soars with a blending of The Byrds' “Eight Miles High”, Blue Oyster Cult's “Don’t Fear The Reaper”, and surf/spy tunes, whoa!

Initially I was going to just write about this next release, the self- titled Acetone from 1997. Just prior to this recording Vernon Yard dropped Acetone but with the help of a friend, Jason Pierce of Spiritualized, they were signed to Neil Young’s label, Vapor Records. Acetone to my ears is a defining recording for the band, the point where it all came together perfectly. Richie Lee in an All-Music Guide interview stated, “On this record there was more of an emphasis on recording live. Keeping things simple in the studio yielded stunningly complex and sublime results on Acetone”. Overall this recording is slow, dark, and brooding, down but beautiful.

York Blvd. was released in 2000, also on Vapor Records, and would be the last recording from Acetone. The songs are flowing, floating experiences, some even approach the beauty and blues feel of Jimi Hendrix’s slower songs. For this final Acetone recording Jason Yates joined the trio playing a Hammond B3 on several tracks, a perfect atmospheric addition. Greg Leisz also appears on several songs playing pedal and lap steel guitars.

Richie Lee and Mark Lightcap formed a band in 1987 while attending Cal Arts Institute in Valencia California. At the time Lightcap was studying music composition (and playing the tuba), Lee was a painter and photographer pursuing a Fine Art degree. Lee and Lightcap completed their trio by recruiting Steve Hadley (drums) from a nearby high school, thus completing a trio that would play together for 13 years. In spite of their long history of creativity and steady recording Acetone never received the recognition or support many of us thought they deserved. They were overlooked somehow, never in the right place (or style) at the right time. Instead they followed their own artistic interests and muse. Richie Lee committed suicide in July of 2001.

"Things Are Gonna Be Alright" (from York Blvd.)

You may try and try again
Not to be unsatisfied

Just squeezing by one more time

But how long do you go on

Believing things are gonna be alright?

Not to decry the simple life

But lately I've been getting tired

Just getting by
Biding my time

Now I've always been so sure
Someday, someday
But how long do you go on

Believing things are gonna be alright?


Karlheinz Stockhausen: RIP

From Stockhausen Verlag:

The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen passed away on December 5th 2007 at his home in Kuerten-Kettenberg and will be buried in the Waldfriedhof (forest cemetery) in Kuerten....

Bob Burnett: Wow...I just mentioned him earlier this week too in another post--and was reading about him in Alex Ross' The Rest Is Noise. So many memories, Ceylon/Bird of Paradise (on Chrysalis Records--and almost immediately a cut-out), Kontakte, Hymnen, Sternklang.... The last piece I recall hearing by him was Helikopter Streichquartett "The Helicopter String Quartet" a piece for The Arditti Quartet where each of the four members are aloft in a helicopter, connected with microphones and audio monitors. The sound of the helicopters drones in the background and the strings skritch and batter about for 30 minutes. I recall liking the piece theoretically more than sonically. On the other hand if you ever see a copy of Hymnen grab it--you'll find it as a 2 lp version on DG. Hymnen is an amazing national anthems of the world sound collage featuring radio frequencies, static, electronic sound and creative ingenuity. Kontakte, from 1960, is a composition either for four-channel tape or four-channel tape with piano and percussion. The composition was the turning point for Stockhausen into the approach he called "moment form" which had more in common with film editing than traditional linear development of beginning,middle and end-type scoring. Paul McCartney referred to this work and others by Stockhausen as major influences on The Beatles' re-thinking of the role of electro-acoustics in what they were doing. The James Tenney(piano)-William Winant(perc.) version of Kontakte was recorded in 1978 and re-released on cd in 1997. A quick check at Amazon tells me it's out of print but some "kind soul" is willing to part with theirs for $99.99. Luckily, the Christoph Caskel (perc.)/David Tudor (piano) Wergo label version is readily available at a normal price and what is called the finest recorded version on Koch by Mircea Ardeleneau and Bernard Wambach (which I've never heard but am now curious) can be had for about $30 .

If you have Stockhausen on cd or vinyl play some. If you don't, put something on that has any form of
electronic sound atmospherics in it and say "here's to ya, Karlheinz....". If you don't have either, go fire up your helicopter for a quick reverent spin.


Gigs: Circa 1969

New Pornographers: Challengers

Mark Drop: Don't fear the Download.

So, my grip has begun to tear loose. I signed up for emusic.com – and have begun buying music by download instead of cruising the aisles of Amoeba Music or directing my mouse to half.com. I can see almost immediately that this means the death of the album. “Why buy all these other cuts? It’s that one cool chucka-chucka song I dig.”


I’m fighting off being depressed about it. And, thankfully, one of my first full-length purchases from emusic is helping the fight. Quite a lot, actually. The 12 individual files that make up
Challengers (Matador), the latest from Vancouver “alt-super-group” The New Pornographers, demand to be listened to from start to finish, in sequence, just like an album of yesteryear. Over and over and over again. This record is a minor pop masterpiece. I have only had minor exposure to the earlier work of this band – quirky, riotous, cacophonous stuff -- but I am a huge fan of Bowie-obsessed band member Dan Bejar’s other outlet, Destroyer, so this record called out to me. This is by far the best thing any of these people have done, together or separately. It is so full of ideas that it reminds me of a novel. This music tries to get things across. It tries to touch. It yearns to communicate. And it does all this with every component available – lyrics, voices, music. Every detail is purposeful and brilliant. Backing vocals split into delicate, unique harmonies. You can hear fingers on guitar strings, the human breath crossing a flute. As the songs become more familiar, bits of lyric rise out of the lush, human sound and play games inside your head, bouncing around, causing connections. They’re funny words, or startling, or very sad. And they add up to big emotions. The touchstones here are Bowie, of course, and Brian Wilson, big time. But there’s so much more. It’s Beatles through bass lines and backing vocals. Roxy Music ripples through. I hear shades of The Smiths in the tremolo driven guitar of "Failsafe". I heard Sandy Denny and Linda Thompson in the heartbreaking beauty of "Go Places" – a straight ahead love song that could have appeared on one of those lush English folk/pop albums of the sixties. Three vocalists share the spotlight equally -- Bejar, A.C. Newman and Katherine Calder – and each is a unique artist with a fresh voice and a strong point of view. These people have obviously put an incredible amount of thought, work, sweat and blood into making Challengers, a complex, joyous ride that engages the brain as strongly as it moves the body and tugs at the heart. I guess I’m gonna be okay.

Mark Drop writes for television in Los Angeles. In lieu of playing his own music he now spends too much time and money listening to, and thinking about, the music of others. He believes that music might be the only truly good thing human beings do.

Fripp and Eno: No Pussyfooting

Bob Burnett: my iPOD's random shuffle surprised me last evening while I made the 25 minute walk home from my local Metro stop. Up popped "Swastika Girls", the 18:43 cut that makes up side two of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno's 1973 release No Pussyfooting. I probably hadn't listened to this entire piece in 25+ years--no need to really--I wore it out in the late '70s. At that time, I was intensely drawn to the execution, technique, improvisational concept and most especially the lp side duration of each piece.

No Pussyfooting came about because Brian Eno took the signal of Robert Fripp's Gibson Les Paul guitar and ran it through a series of tape loops that were treated to decay, repeat, dissolve or layer. Side one's "The Heavenly Music Corporation" only featured treatments of Fripp's guitar while side two's "Swastika Girls" also included Eno-created loops from a VCS3 synthesizer in conjunction with the guitar. In 1975, Eno expanded the tape loop technique on his Obscure label release Discreet Music. The work with tape loops he did in the mid '70s set-up what became known as his ambient series---solo work and collaborations with Jon Hassell, Laraaji, Harold Budd and others.

When my teenager ears first heard this music I considered it abstract and open. Having never heard anything nearly as expansive or "like this" it redirected my aural circuits. Now that I'm reflecting, I'm thinking back to the series of music that became part of my listening timeline circa 1977-78; Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, John Cage's HPSCHD, the Obscure label (Eno, Gavin Bryars, Jan Steele/John Cage, David Toop) Henry Cow Concerts/ Fred Frith Guitar Solos, Miles Davis' In A Silent Way. I'd have to say Fripp and Eno were a big part of the inspiration to discover new things.

No Pussyfooting
in 2007 terms has an Indian drone quality to it that I didn't recognize way back when. It's as if Eno's synthesizer and loop work represents the tambura-like harmonic base while Fripp's lead runs add the raga-like scales. It doesn't possess the "out there" qualities it once did for me--in fact it sounds very linear and melodic. If you've never heard this it's worth checking out. It may sound somewhat dated given the way technology has so greatly expanded the possibilities of sound manipulation and creation. For me, it'll always be a vital step into new directions in listening. I'm glad it popped-up and allowed me to reconsider it after all these years.