Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Quest for the Perfect Segue

I had the dream again last night. In it I'm doing a shift at the old radio station, manning the turntables, and continually missing segues. I'm running around looking for an LP I can't find while the song I'm playing fades out. One factor is constant in every recurrence of this nightmare: observers' total lack of concern. I'm pretty sure this is my subconscious mind reminding me just how convenient a low-set bar can be.

(BTW: ever notice how Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap never had to wear headphones or even hear the music to perfectly cue a song? I could never fathom that.)

The dream reminds me of my favorite segue from that life: Roxy Music's 'Sentimental Fool' into Led Zeppelin's 'D'yer Maker.' Try it: buy yourself a couple of Technics 1200s (don't forget the felt pads) and a Mackie 1402 and have a go. If not now, at least by noon tomorrow.

While you're at it, drop by your local vinyl emporium and grab a copy of The Atlanta Rhythm Section's 'Champagne Jam' album. When you get home, play 'Imaginary Lover' at 45. At that speed, the vocalist sounds remarkably like pre-reconstruction Stevie Nicks.

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The foregoing geezing was inspired by this dandy Vanity Fair article about the decline of cultural snobbery. As folks draw the blinds around their personal iPod and Kindle-filled spaces, we are less able to make snap judgments about their tastes and, similarly, trumpet our own.

Also, as media content becomes intangible, we cannot readily display our patently superior collections. For instance, I've owned thousands of LPs and CDs in my life, none of which are now in evidence. The living room here has no CD player, no discs of any kind, and only the stray music magazine to betray the nature of my primary avocation.

Oh, blogging and virtual community have done much to take up the slack. But the serendipitous meeting of the cultural minds is becoming a dying phenomenon. Yes, there are still folks proudly blatting almost uniformly bad music out of their roided-up automobile sound systems (windows rolled down, of course), but these have always been fleeting glimpses into the tastes of people you surely do not want to meet.

(Or who don't want to meet you. The other day I was strolling a pedestrian crosswalk when I walked in front of a car driven by a young woman enjoying the strains of The Ting Tings' 'That's Not My Name.' This particular song was my number one Summer '08 repeat-play fave, so as I walked in front of the car I almost flashed a smiling thumbs-up. But I quickly placed myself in her flaps, looking out the windshield and seeing this smug boomer displaying (presumably) ironic derision just inches from her grill. Who knows what kind of a day she was having and how leaden her accelerator foot was?)

Yes, I love my tens of thousands of song files and their associated delivery gizmos. I just bought my first e-book and found reading on an iPod Touch to be...satisfactory. But I do miss the analog opinion-swaps in record and book store aisles.

At least we still have art galleries and museums.

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Remember Twin Peaks? I was crazy for the show at the time, and I dutifully bought the DVD sets when they arrived. What really stays with me through the years, though, is the music. The three Angelo Badalamenti soundtracks (including 'Fire Walk With Me') and the two Julee Cruise albums comprise a whole genre of mood music unto themselves.

Perhaps we should add Bohren & der Club of Gore to that elite grouping. This German quartet first formed due to a shared love of death metal, but what resulted from their collaboration was what they called 'doom-ridden jazz music.' This is Fender Rhodes and sax and brushes played at a glacial pace in an all-hours club (The Roadhouse? The Black Lodge?) somewhere in the vicinity of infinity. Try this. There's lots more where it came from:



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Finally, a music pen-pal forwarded a link to an interesting 1995 article about a then-thriving record label that was at once forward-thinking in its embrace of cutting-edge music media yet reticent about newer forms of electronic communication.

I took particular interest as I used to know one of the label's principals. I've long since lost track of him; as I understand it he years ago moved to Sweden to worship at the feet of a Scandinavian snow princess.

Read on. Cheers.

Spin Doctors

1 comment:

Angel of Rock said...

I missed out on Twin Peaks, but have just started watching it on DVD. How funny. Great music, great post.