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On December 3 and 4, 1996, tape manipulator and sound collagist Phil Milstein got together with Sonic Youth guitarist, singer, and songwriter Thurston Moore to take a musical trip. They didn’t physically travel far to record their two duets, one at the Iron Morse Music Hall in Northampton, MA and the other at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA. But what they created might help send a listener to the inner or outer limits.
Their recordings stand as the ultimate in “Anti-Pop” music: There are no 3-4 minute chart-friendly singles, no twenty-something starlets singing passages from their diary, no breaks featuring this month’s hot rap star. What you do have is two middle-aged dudes who recorded two very long tracks (Vol. 1 is 42 minutes long and Vol. 2 is 44 minutes) that set aside verses and hooks in favor of an approach similar to drone and noise music, something they’ve both been doing for decades.
Moore layers his guitar improvisations and effects over Milstein’s found-object sound structures as musical themes and ideas drift by like clouds. Their interactions are not unlike what jazz musicians do when they improvise, listening and responding to each other through the sounds they make.
Both volumes of this 2-record set are the kind of music where you can put your headphones on, press “play,” and lose track of time for a while. It’s good stuff if you need to add some active yet low-key abstraction to your life.
[photos by Jim Kirkhoff]
Music fans had a blast at Saturday Audio Exchange listening to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The gathering was part of the worldwide series Classic Album Sundays, where people gather in cities from Oslo to Miami to listen to and appreciate the same album.
Saturday Audio Exchange will be Chicago’s host for the next CAS session on Sunday, March 25th, where the spotlight album will be The Velvet Underground and Nico!
By Josh Friedberg
Alison Krauss has been recording bluegrass, country, and pop since she was a teenager, and her 1995 compilation, Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection, first exposed her to a mass audience years before her appearance on the smash soundtrack to the Coen brothers’ movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?
For millions of country fans, including my mother, Now That I’ve Found You introduced them to one of the most beautiful voices of the last generation. I heard this album when I was a kid, and I was drawn to the quiet, largely acoustic sound, which reminded me of a variation on the ‘60s folk in my parents’ record collection.
Hearing it now after seeing the CD at a library, I’m amazed at how well it holds up. I’ve generally enjoyed this collection more than the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, despite Krauss’s excellent contributions on that album. Now That I’ve Found You is gorgeous and intimate, containing moments of both older and more contemporary styles.
[Introducing Fourth Wall, a new CHIRP Radio series featuring discussions about movies and other things worth talking about. The first conversation is by CHIRP Radio volunteers Clarence Ewing (listen to his radio show on Sundays form 2pm-4pm Central Time) and Kevin Fullam (film blogger and podcaster extraordinarie).]
CE: Hello, Kevin! Here it is, our new series where we’re going to talk about the movies. Many thanks for conceiving of this idea. I feel like, in our own small way, we can carry on in the Chicago tradition of Siskel and Ebert and, through conversation and kicking around ideas, gain some insight into a subject we enjoy.
I thought we could start things off by talking about movies in general. There was a time when I was almost as obsessed with movies as I was (and still am) with music. I even got THIS CLOSE to getting my own film production company off the ground a bunch of years ago. It fell apart like most startups with no money tend to do, but I learned some valuable lessons from the experience, as well as an appreciation for how hard it is to finance and make even the smallest, lowest-budget project.