August 11, 2008

Krzysztof Penderecki’s work, reminiscent of Stravinsky and Mussorgsky in its dynamic, dramatic use of the atonal, has been featured promininently in films from “The Shining” to David Lynch’s “Inland Empire.” His influence is also evident in Jonny Greenwood’s masterful score to “There Will Be Blood.”

Four pieces are contained in this Naxos release: his Symphony No. 3, composed between 1988 and 1995; his most well-known work, Threnody (For the Victims Of Hiroshima), originally entitled 8’37” in reference to the duration of the titular attack; Fluorescences; and De Natura Sonoris 2, which was featured in “The Shining”.


More about the pieces, from

Symphony No. 3
Threnody (For the Victims Of Hiroshima)
De Natura Sonoris II

And a very interesting paper on Fluorescences from the Library of Congress. From the paper:

“The most distinctive timbres contributing to the sonic fabric of this work are the eerie voices of the flexaton, siren, sega, and a typewriter, included as members of the sixth percussion battery. The aural effects heard in Fluorescences go well beyond the percussive and glissandolike gestures of Polymorphia; performers are instructed to hum while they play, to saw wood or iron with a hand saw, to rub percussion instruments vigorously with a metal file, and to rub the soundboard of the string instruments with an open hand. For each of these new gestures, Penderecki created graphic symbols, all of which are derived from the initial conceptual graphic outline for the composition. ”

I wish I knew what she meant by “sega”…


Freeform – 08/10/08

August 11, 2008

I do a radio show every Sunday night from 9 pm 11 pm on WCBN, Ann Arbor’s student-run freeform radio station. I’ll post links to the show here every Sunday. Feel free to provide constructive criticism or just flame me in the comments.

Freeform 08-10-08 – Megaupload

Tonight’s show features the cartoon jazz of Franco Godi, Turkish and Hungarian psychedelic music, some blissful distorted drones and a newly released 2005 composition by Steve Reich.

Also, music from these Men of Men:

Baris Manco

Klaus Nomi

And a mildly cruel twist on fulfilling a listener’s fifth straight Dolly Parton request.

Thanks for listening!

Talkin’ Turkey

August 8, 2008

My life has been made a little better by this 1962 comedy album:

[Click picture for download]

Dick Gregory would become a flamboyant civil rights activist in the late 60s: sit-in strikes, a bid for the presidency, and the widespread circulation of this counterfeit bill:

Due to his political dalliances, it’s hard to mention Dick Gregory without pointing out his relevance this year, as we watch the ascent of the first black presidential candidate to be nominated by a major party. Incidentally, Barack and Dick have another political experience in common: in the 1966 Chicago Mayoral Election, Dick Gregory opposed Richard J. Daley, the country’s last big-city boss and the leader of a political machine that Obama struggled against as a Chicago politician.

But Talks Turkey came before all that, and though it’s rife with social commentary, it’s not as sensationally in-your-face as some of his later speeches and recordings. His voice is warm, soft and self-deprecating. His jokes draw from his Southern boyhood and the subtle absurdities of the era’s race relations. It’s as educational as it is funny. They don’t do stand-up like they used to.

A Psychedelic Surprise

August 8, 2008

A heartwarming story for a relatively cold August day. Back in March, I started a thread on Hipinion in an attempt to get all the albums on the Ptolemaic Terrascope Top 100. We got about 60 of them uploaded, but the thread died because at that point I was the only one uploading anything. Well, today I see a post on my Google Reader from one of my favorite blogs, Un Blog Andalou, saying that another cool blog, Allegory of Allergies, saw my thread and kept at it with more assiduousness than I had been able to muster. They now have 98 of these albums uploaded.

If you have ever liked a psychedelic rock album – even if it was just that one time your buddy played you Dark Side of The Moon when you were stoned in college – I seriously recommend checking out some of these albums. The classics on the list are some of the undisputed greatest records of all time. If you don’t have all of these, then plug up the holes, son:

The Beatles – Revolver
The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle
Beach Boys – Smile
Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsys
Love – Forever Changes
Funkadelic – Free Your Mind… And Your Ass Will Follow
Can – Tago Mago
The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday
Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band – Safe As Milk

And if you have all of those albums, then check out some of these more obscure ones:

Sun City Girls – Torch of the Mystics
Stars of the Lid – The Tired Sounds Of…
The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight
Pearls Before Swine – Balaklava
Hampton Grease Band – Music To Eat
Damon & Naomi With Ghost
Current 93 – Thunder Perfect Mind
Comus – First Utterance
Comets on Fire – Field Recordings From The Sun

There’s a lot of variety on there – everything from blistering howls of distortion to seance-like folk-rock demonic rites to muted, longing ambient to bizarro garage pop. It’s all great. I especially like coming back to this after attending Terrastock 7 in Louisville, KY in June. I saw incredible sets from bardo pond, sharron krauss, kinski, makoto kawabata of acid mothers temple, damon and naomi, windy and carl, ghost – all of whom have albums on the list.

Thanks to the folks at Un Blog Andalou, Hipinion, and Allegory of Allergies for uploading these; Ptolemaic Terrascope for putting out such a great zine, bringing these unparalleled artists to people’s attention, and putting on the best music festival in the world; and WCBN for helping me attend.

Manoogian Stooge

August 7, 2008

Kwame Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit, sits in jail tonight for violating his bond. He is in court facing eight felony charges. To me, the videos in the above link illustrate very clearly that no matter your opinion of Kwame, the court proceedings pursuant to his charges render him unable to serve as mayor.

Obviously, he ought to step down. But Detroit knows better: Kilpatrick has remained in office despite a city council call for resignation and a variety of embarassing new charges. So the focus has also begun to shift toward Governor Jennifer Granholm, who can remove him from office at any time.

Here’s a timeline of the scandal from start to finish.

For some more in depth but undoubtedly less professional analysis, check out these forums.


August 7, 2008

This blog is a humble experiment. I realized that I was posting an annoying volume of items on facebook and decided that I could reroute those musings here. For now, I won’t set any constraints for myself, since the blog itself is a natural outgrowth of a desire to dump thoughts somewhere. If it gets out of hand, I’ll take the trimmers to it.

The name is in reference to the Donacon reed-bed, which Pausanias identifies in his Guide to Greece as the fabled pond of Narcissus. I think it highlights two important aspects of blogging: one, that it is inherently vain; and two, that it is above all things an act of introspection.

There’s a subtler association as well. It’s important to give the mirror itself a name: Narcissus had surely seen his reflection before encountering Donacon, so the pond itself must have had some special qualities. I hope the reader will take the title, then, as a quiet reminder to consider the medium, the blog itself, when apprehending the extrasomatic curiosities that I drop here.