Friday Random 10

In case you haven’t noticed, the blog in general has been very slow lately. I’ve been overwhelmed, both by work, and by being the administrator for Scientopia. That’s helped turn blogging into more of a job than a hobby. I’m trying to make some changes in how I’m doing things to try to make things fun again.

It’s been a hell of a long time since I did one of these. In fact, I think this might by the first random 10 I’ve posted on Scientopia!

  1. Crooked Still, “You Got the Silver”: Crooked Still is a very nice, mildly progressive bluegrass band. Beautifully performed bluegrass music, with a very distinctive style.
  2. Sonic Youth, “Alice et Simon”: this is a really intriguing track. Sonic Youth is a band with a very distinctive sound and style. This track has all of the trademarks of SY – and yet, it’s very different from their typical sound.
  3. Mogwai, “Danphe and the Brain”: absolutely typical Mogwai. And that’s a very good thing. Mogwai is one of the very best post-rock bands out there.
  4. The Tangent, “Grooving on Mars”: a live track from the Tangent. The Tangent started off as a collaboration between Roine Stolte (from the Flower Kings) and Andy Tillison (from Parallel or 90 degrees). Stolte left, and the Tangent has become very much Tillison’s band. They’re fantastic. There’s a strong Flower Kings influence (for obvious reasons), but also a very visible connection to old Genesis, and a variety of other influences. The main problem with the Tangent is that Tillison has some really annoying vocal ticks. But this is an instrumental track, so it doesn’t even have that to hold against it.
  5. Punch Brothers, “Ride the Wild Turkey”: Ok, so remember I said up above that Crooked Still was mildly progressive? Well, where CS tries to gently probe the boundaries of what bluegrass is, Punch Brothers attacks them with a hydraulic sledgehammer. It’s hard to say whether Punch Brothers is a bluegrass band with classical influences, or a classical chamber ensemble with bluegrass influences, or a bunch of post-rock geniuses playing with bluegrass. But whatever they are, they’re one of the very best bands in the world. Brilliant musicianship, brilliant compositions, brilliant arrangements… Just all around a thoroughly and delightfully amazing band.
  6. The Books, “Idkt”: this is one of my favorite recent discoveries. The Books are a post-rock group that work with found sounds. All of their tracks are built by playing instruments against a backdrop of found sound. They use everything from the voice tracks of old elementary school documentary filmstrips, to traffic noise, to numbers station broadcasts, to the sounds of doors opening and closing in a hallway. They take those found sounds, and they find the music in them. It’s an amazing thing. They’re really not just fitting these sampled sounds into their music; their fitting their music into the found sounds.

  7. Naftule’s Dream, “The Unseen”: progressive klezmer. If you like Klez, this is not to be missed.
  8. Build, “Imagining Winter”: Lately, I’ve been buying a lot of music from New Amsterdam records. They’re a not-for-profit label that’s operating out of (I think) Brooklyn, which specialized in what they call post-classical music. It’s basically the same sort of stuff as post-rock, but with a very strong classic influence. Build is a very, very good example of the post-classical style. I strongly recommend visiting New Amsterdam’s site. They’ve got samples and free download tracks of just about everyone on the label – so you can get an idea of what they’ll sound like before you buy them. It’s fantastic, innovative music, being built on a model that allows the musicians to survive in the internet world.
  9. King Crimson, “Sleepless”: my favorite example of how catchy, dance music doesn’t need to be insipid bullshit. This is King Crimson, at their progressive best – and it’s bouncy-catchy-fun-engaging music, while also being complex, intricate, and experimental.
  10. Sunday Driver, “Snow Song”: This is a band that’s really hard to describe. They connect themselves with the Steampunk movement in fiction, but I find it hard to find that in their music. To me, they sound like mid-80s Kate Bush with influences from Indian music. Not something I feel like listenting to every day, but very interesting, and terrific if I’m in the right mood.

6 thoughts on “Friday Random 10

  1. rolak

    From the 1984 “Three of a Perfect Pair”, Gil.

    For me Naftule’s Dream was the good news – thanks for the hint!

  2. SeanH

    Gotta tell ya, IMHO the Punch Brothers are closer to traditional bluegrass than Crooked Still. I think it’s the mandolin … .

  3. eric

    Just started reading “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian. Pretty good discussion of AI and human psychology so far. I recommend it just based on the first two chapters.

  4. William Wallace

    Something to get you back on track:

    To reduce typing, let s(x)=sort(x).

    What is s(1+2*s(1+3*s(1+4*s(1+5*s(…))))) equal?


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