What is coming in July

  • I travel back to Maine for the third (and I hope last) time this year for my father’s burial.

What I read

  • This essay, titled “On the line”, by my partner Éireann Lorsung. It’s adapted from a lecture she gave last December. An excellent piece about poetics and the world.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin. I first read this novel 15ish years ago, and so really was an entirely different person then. Having just recently read Le Guin’s earliest novels I couldn’t help but feel that, as much as this novel is conceptually and culturally significant, it is not as successful a novel as, for instance, Planet of Exile. I know that later Le Guin works (such as Tehanu) will do it all: big questions, deep feminist critique, compelling story. I’m now starting to think of Left Hand as a transitional work. Very good, very interesting, but it’s on the way and not the final arrival.
  • Caldé of the Long Sun, vol III in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the Long Sun. Incredible. These books are about a lot of things. Chief among them seems to be the nature of religious experience itself–what is it? what does it do to us? why does it happen?
  • Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit. As a New Englander from a long line (on one side of the family) of jaded and cynical New Englanders, I do struggle with hope. This is a good book. Uncomfortable for someone like me at times, as it feels transgressive and reckless to engage in any kind of hope or otherwise positive anticipation.
  • Koike and Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub, omnibus vol. 6.

What I watched

  • La chimera, by Alice Rohrwacher. “Dream-like” is the most apt description of this movie. Often when a movie or a TV show is called “dream-like”, that really means “random”. Not so here. La chimera really does seem to operate with the logic of dreams and not rational waking life. Almost a month later I’m still mulling this over. Beautiful, funny, fascinating. At times numinous, truly, in the way that Rudolph Otto meant in The Idea of the Holy.
  • La Bête (The Beast), by Bertrand Bonello. This was overall not my cup of tea. The sci fi framing was fine–interesting, strange, unusual. Léa Seydoux was excellent. The idea of exploring generational trauma and, if I understand the film properly, the particular escalation of alienating and de-humanizing traumas post industrial revolution, is very interesting. Obvious reverberations with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but much broader in scope. But the film was too long, too clunky, and I think too interested in pain to its detriment.
  • My partner and I are watching Mad Men together. The first time I watched it I loved it for being a well made period piece with excellent performances. This time around I am loving it for how rich and rewarding it is. It’s about performance, identity, persuasion, class, desire, capital, whiteness, masculinity. It’s about the United States right now just as much as it’s about the 60s. What makes it so rich is that it is not polemical, and it is not a simple allegory. It merely observes several intersecting lives in their intersecting contexts over the course of a decade, and the open network of meanings grows.

What I listened to

I’m still catching up on new releases from the past couple months, so expect more of May, June, and of course July’s records in next month’s recap. When the routines get interrupted, it’s hard to listen to music.

  • My friend Niall Munnelly has been on a roll creating some really beautiful and complex patches on his 4U modular system.
  • Honeywell Live on KSPC [1992] (and also Industry [1993]). This recent interview on Tone Glow got me revisiting the work of this very special, very chaotic, very brilliant hardcore band. They were very important to me when I was younger and myself trying to figure out how to make chaotic and intense hardcore music. This band was way ahead of its time.
  • Cyrus Pireh Still Here, Still Ripping [2022]. The work of this guitarist continues to be revelatory for me. No one is doing it like Cyrus!
  • Milk Thistle [2023] by Ulaan Khol. I spent a bit of time with this excellent record. Steven R. Smith, the fellow behind this group and so many others, is becoming one of my favourite bandleaders. All his projects tap into such interesting and surprising modes of making improvised and/or repetitive music.
  • Dawn of The Double [2016] by The Double. New to me! So, so good.
  • Megabasse’s Discorde [Feb., 2024]. Somehow missed this in February.
  • Off-Road [2002] by David Grubbs & Mats Gustafsson. Somehow missed this collaboration to until now.
  • Still Lives [2021] by Marja Ahti. Ahti is for me one of the more compelling sound artists to work with field recordings and synthesizers.
  • The Acoustic Appraiser [2018] by Sandra Boss. I found a fully functional Qualitone Acoustic Appraiser in a thrift store in Augusta, ME, back in May. Researching the machine led me to the work of Sandra Boss, including this marvellous album (mis)using the instrument!

New releases this past month

  • adaa’s …img…, out on mappa.
  • Oonst by Synalegg. A short four song set of intricately layered and patterned textures.
  • Sylvester Arias Plus Two by Kieran Daly. This is one of the most challenging records I’ve heard. I’m used to listening to extremely dissonant, repetitive, or minimal works of music and sound art. I like noise. This record is fascinating to me in how it has shown me one of my own limits–for now, at least. Getting through a 20+ minute voice/guitar unison duet is much harder than I anticipated. I don’t like it–that’s an amazing experience.
  • D’En Haut by D’En Haut. From my favourite label, Pagans. It scratches the same itch for me that Cocanha scratches. Complex, intricate vocal music with droning and buzzy accompaniment from, among other things, the stunning tambourins à cordes.
  • Instrumental Works vols. 01 and 02, by Bernard Parmegiani. Was the guy ever not having a beautiful moustache and beard?

New releases this past May

  • actless by helping hands, from 時の崖_tokinogake.
  • And I Saw My Devil And I Saw My Deep Blue Sea by Pentu, on mappa.
  • To All Trains, the final album from Shellac and the late Steve Albini. It’s very good. This band was always good, but this is an especially good record. Albini was far too young, and clearly had so much more good music to make. It’s very sad. But this exists at least, and this band spent ~30 years making only good records, which is beautiful and inspiring.
  • Bernard Parmegiani, Complete Works 04. Comprising the great “De Natura Sonorum” [1975] and its sequel “Dedans-Dehors” [1977]. If you only listen to one piece by Parmegiani, or don’t know where to start, here you go. It’s important to keep separate on the one hand the technical processes behind making this work and on the other hand the experiential process of listening. The making of the work is jaw-dropping given when it was made and whats sorts of tools and concepts were available. But it’s not worth our time simply because it was hard to make. It’s simply astounding to hear. It’s among the most useful treatises on sound and listening I know, and it doesn’t need to resort to language to get its points across. That doesn’t mean I understand anything.

What I did

  • I played three shows with my band Whozyerman? in Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford (the Cork show was cancelled last minute). Very fun, very tiring!
  • I submitted my application to the PhD program in Philosophy at UCD. I’ll be having in interview in early July.
  • I had a track published on a compilation from 時の崖_tokinogake, which I wrote more about in this post.

What I made

  • Some more recordings have been done, but I haven’t had the time/energy/space yet to work on them. July!