Morning Becomes Motorik

Okay, these days I try not to bore you all with my latest music purchase details as often as I used to (well, also I’ve been trying my best to cut down on my purchasing until I can sell off some stuff and clear the shelf space), but today I just have to share that after having Califone’s Heron King Blues and Neu!’s Neu! 75 on my Django notify list for two and three freaking YEARS respectively, I finally managed to snag them. For the princely sum of about S$15 each after postage and handling. Rock!

Purchase Notes (10 CDs)

CDs I have ordered/purchased in the last week:

From Django’s:

  • Low: The Great Destroyer
  • Andrew Bird: The Swimming Hour
  • Alison Krauss & Union Station: Lonely Runs Both Ways
  • Of Montreal: Satanic Panic In The Attic
  • Amon Tobin: Permutation (having loved this album for the last 5 years, I’m so happy to finally own it!)

5 for $10 at Music Junction, Parkway Parade:

  • Mia Doi Todd: The Golden State
  • The Rosenbergs: Mission: You
  • Steve Earle: I Feel Alright
  • The Whitlams: Torch The Moon
  • The Donnas: Spend The Night

[I saw the Mia Doi Todd and couldn’t believe my eyes, the other 4 were mostly just leaps of faith from my vague memories compiled over a decade of music geekery. It’s quite possible they’ll suck, but at 5 for $10 who cares?]

And Then There Were Nine

The music lists still aren’t going well, and it’s really not helping that Music Junction at Parkway Parade is having a 3 for $10 sale which actually features decent albums. So I bought 9.

  • Bjork: Vespertine
  • Daft Punk: Discovery
  • Ladytron: Light And Magic
  • Mos Def and Talib Kweli: Black Star
  • Bubba Sparxxx: Dark Days, Bright Nights
  • Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach: Painted From Memory
  • Philip Glass: Songs From The Trilogy
  • The Essential Sibelius (2 CDs)
  • Gabriel Fauré: Requiem / Cantique de Jean Racine / Messe Basse (Arte Nova recording)

Yay. :)

These Are My Friends

I’ve been meaning to write about music for so long, but my listening has been too scattered and unfocused for the writing of reviews per se. Still, it’s been making me very happy.

I got Sonic Nurse and Aw Cmon/No You Cmon a couple of weeks ago. After spending three years on Django Music’s notify list for President Yo La Tengo/New Wave Hot Dogs, I finally got my bite at the cherry, and the album arrived today, hooray! Of course, I never only buy one album from Django at a time, so Black Heart Procession’s 2, Low’s Long Division and The Frames’ For The Birds are on their way too.

* * *

Sometimes music on record store sound systems can grip me with an unexpected intensity. I think it’s because my experience of music most of the time is so utterly solitary that hearing something in a setting that isn’t my bedroom feels strangely special, like a sudden realization that yes, this music is real, it exists for other people too, it’s not just some beautiful dream of mine that will fade into oblivion even as I struggle to remember everything.

The last time I was in London, I hit Berwick Street like a commando, determined to get through my favourite shops within the short amount of time I had. As I riffled steely-eyed through huge handfuls of CD sleeves, Will Oldham’s Viva Last Blues on the Reckless Records speakers steadily seeped through every chink in my fierce concentration it could find. Finally, I couldn’t continue with my browsing until I’d found out what it was and how much it would cost me. (A little too much, it turns out. But it’s on my Django notify list now, and as usual my patience will probably be rewarded in time.)

On the second floor of HMV the other day, they were playing Adem’s Homesongs (finally available in Singapore! But, as always, at a price I can’t afford). At some point I decided I’d finished looking at what they had on the floor, and wanted to head to the third level to look in the dance section, but then These Are Your Friends started, and I just couldn’t leave. I was slowly going mad with joy and trying my best to keep looking normal, walking around aimlessly, pawing a CD every now and then but I wasn’t seeing or registering anything. All I knew was that cracked, earnest voice, that querulous guitar, the way everything in the song has fragility and conviction at the same time like the tensile strength of spiders’ silk, and as the song’s mantra “Everybody needs some help sometimes” built and built I felt like bursting into a wild run down the aisles like a kid pretending to be an aeroplane.

She’s Lost Control Again

This week’s Breezeblock show has an even higher hit:miss ratio than usual, although the Knifehandchop live session should be skipped if you’re prone to nosebleeds. I started making a list of the good tracks but got tired of it because I was pretty much just adding every track. Can anyone out there be a lovely geek saviour and tell me how to record RealAudio streams and convert them to mp3?

Django’s offer of 25% off new CDs AND free shipping for new CD orders over $25 was just too good to resist.

  • Low and Dirty Three: In The Fishtank ($8.78)
  • TV On The Radio: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes ($9.58)
  • Mogwai: Ten Rapid ($9.58)
  • Diverse: One A.M. ($11.18)
  • Explosions In The Sky: Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place ($11.98)


[Random question: does anyone find my frequent use of lyrics/song titles as blog entry titles pretentious?]

When Exams Attack

Studying will really really begin tomorrow. For real. Really.

Unfortunately, going by previously established patterns, dear Reader, this probably means you’re in for a rather slow 3 weeks. No more of my rapier wit and irresistable personality! No more visceral vignettes of my swinging rock and roll life! Indeed, my friends, you will have to get by with my usual exam output of unrestrained music geekery, pointless links collected during hours on end of study avoidance surfing, and most certainly nothing even remotely intellectual.

So, pretty much the same as what you’ve always got here, just with even less of a life than before. Sigh. Here’s a little taster:

Music Geekery
Newly arrived from Django, yay!

  • Bubba Sparxxx: Deliverance
  • Dirty Three: Whatever You Love You Are
  • Aereogramme: A Story In White
  • Lewis Parker: Masquerades And Silhouettes
  • Bedhead: What Fun Life Was
  • The Walkmen: Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone

Pointless Links
In honour of For Alec, who had his first actual bout in a boxing ring a few days ago and wisely decided not to tell me about it until after the fact: Mike Tyson Quotes.

Here’s one I’d like to highlight for you, you big dolt no one in particular, because of course I’m totally cool about the fact that my favourite nose in the world could quite possibly have been broken before I got the chance to see it again – “I try to catch him right on the tip of the nose, because I try to push the bone into the brain.”

Nothing Remotely Intellectual
I certainly never kept my Will Young mania a secret on this site during the original Pop Idol, and I see no reason to be shy about my commitment to its American franchise. This Ryan Seacrest fellow is a poor substitute for Ant and Dec, and I like Pete Waterman so much more than the painfully inarticulate Randy Jackson, but at least sexy Simon is still around, and getting sexier by the episode. Oh, and GO FANTASIA!

Breezeblock / 7 Purchases

The most recent Breezeblock show starts with Midnight In A Perfect World, and goes on to feature a bloody amazing white label track by Knifehandchop and a live mix by Kieran Hebden.

Django’s got 10% off all used CDs and 15% of all new CDs, plus free shipping worldwide for over US$25 worth of new CDs. I ordered:

  • Soundmurderer: Wired For Sound
  • Edan: Primitive Plus
  • The Decemberists: Castaways And Cutouts
  • Six By Seven: The Things We Make
  • DJ Spooky: Riddim Warfare
  • Aereogramme: Sleep And Release
  • Doctor Octagon: Doctor Octagonecologyst

Thank God for the Internet. There is only so long I can subsist on MTV and shitty local radio.

Arranging Shelf Music To Suit Head Music

And now the CDs. Brilliantly handy shelf inserts from IKEA have been installed and a provisional arrangement is in place, although it’ll have to be tweaked again when my boxes finally arrive from England with the rest of the CDs.

The Arrangement of CDs is a difficult matter. I could go on and say it isn’t just one of your holiday games, but then I’d have to apologize to T.S. Eliot, and I am adamant that I owe that man NOTHING after struggling through The Waste Land. But where was I? Ah yes, I was being a total nerd. Onwards.

The thing is, the most obvious way to arrange CDs is alphabetically, but that seems to assume the arrangement’s meant to facilitate the locating of a CD I already know I want to listen to, and how often does that happen? Sometimes I don’t realize how much I wanted to listen to a CD until I’m two thirds of the way through. I want an arrangement scheme to detect the music in the back of my head and tell me what it is.

To this end, some sort of genre-based classification seems more suitable (insert obligatory “of course I know you can’t just force music so rigidly into genres and anyone who insists on this needs a laxative pronto, but it’s just convenient, okay?” disclaimer), but that can entail fairly tough decisions. Do I put Elliott Smith under indie pop or singer/songwriters? Should I separate UK hip-hop and US hip-hop? Does The Cure belong with “sound-of-the-80s” or post-punk? Do I even really, I mean really know what the hell post-punk actually is?

While doing this, I’ve been listening to CDs I haven’t heard in a long time, hoping to whittle out deadwood to sell in order to finance future purchases. Some of it’s fairly obvious, like the shiny circle of turd that is the Manic Street Preachers’ This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, and Beth Orton, who I once liked but now find rather dull, but the search through the less obvious candidates has turned up some fairly pleasant discoveries. Unconditionally Guaranteed 2 (an Uncut compilation) has Prettiest Thing (The Creatures) and My Morphine (Gillian Welch), which I can’t believe I didn’t notice when I first got the album in ’99. Your Sweet Voice, from Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend is the sort of saccharine I hate from most other people except Matthew Sweet, who somehow gets away with it. Unfortunately, as much as I tried to like REM’s Up, it still blows. Sorry, guys.

Post-Masters Bliss

And today it all ended. I wrote my last sentence in my last Masters exam, hoped fervently it would actually be my last Masters exam (last week’s exam was very, very bad. I might fail), freaked out with Gwen a bit about the toughness of the paper and scooted off feeling like I had wings on my heels.

Made a beeline for Gramophone. I haven’t bought a CD in way too long. Found DJ Spooky’s Under The Influence in the used section for S$7.99, and snapped it up goggle-eyed. Was delightfully distracted in Tang’s for the next few hours (note to non-Singaporeans: this is not the orange kryptonite you drank when you were a kid, it’s a department store), and bought shoes and a top. Would have bought a second pair of shoes except for the fact that they made farting noises when I was trying to walk in them.

Met Luke and Yuping for dinner and extended chat. Walked home from the bus-stop by the spooky route because I was feeling inVEENcible. Came to my room and put on the DJ Spooky, which is a daaaaamn fine mix album, great tunes, great flow, great mixing, or admittedly it might just be because I’m feeling great.

You know how you hear a song again when you haven’t heard it in a while and you suddenly wonder how on earth you went all that time without listening to it? Saul Williams’ Twice The First Time is on this album. I’m turning it up, Saul is off on his “and I be riding on the wings of eternity like HYAH! HYAH! Sh-clack-clack, GET ME THE FUCK OFF THIS TRACK!” trip, and now the beat kicks in, now I’m remembering how even Alec (not exactly a fan of what he calls my “hippety-hoppety music”), bought Xen Cuts almost on the strength of this track alone, now I’m hearing Saul say “Not until you listen to Rakim on a rocky mountain-top have you heard hip-hop,” and I’m thinking, Benny? Let’s climb Mount Kinabalu and bring some Rakim.

Go Get It They Got It

Reckless Records slashed 20% off everything (everything being already cheap second-hand CDs), and Benny called with the good news.

Queuing up to pay in the dance branch, I met Dave, who I hadn’t seen since our second year in university.

As we were chatting outside, along came Yoichi, who I’d told about the sale. We said hello, David and I parted ways, Yoichi went into the dance branch and I into the rock branch. Soon after this Benny turned up and went into the dance branch. Neither Benny nor Yoichi knew each other, but Yoichi overhead Benny on the phone to me.

Later all three of us were in the rock branch and I introduced Benny and Yoichi. It was one of those rare moments of my life when people I knew from completely different spheres somehow managed to all converge on one spot. The power of music, eh? Or geekdom, I suppose.


  • It’s All Happening Now (Lewis Parker, £7.19): BLOODY MARVELLOUS, probably the best UK hip-hop album I’ve ever heard, certainly one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve heard recently from anywhere.
  • Come Get It I Got It (David Holmes, £7.19)
  • Fantastic Damage (El-P, £7.19)
  • Ether Teeth (Fog, £4.80)