Tag Archives: Asthmatic Kitty

luckier

nations

i read yesterday about sufjan stevens‘ latest venture – as p4k’s head put it, Sufjan Makes Instrumental Album With Stepdad and National’s Bryce Dessner. it’s part of asthmatic kitty‘s library catalog music series, the aim of which is to make what is essentially background music. on one level this could be seen as a perverted, introspective approach, making music that isn’t meant to be listened to but simply heard, not unlike the sound of the rain or of passing traffic, but the more i think about it i think it’s a delightfully novel approach which goes against everything i think is wrong with music right now. this is what the site says about the project:

Asthmatic Kitty’s Library Catalog Music is a series of instrumental albums designed for possible use in films and television, background sounds for home or office, or personal needs, such as relaxation, stimulation, meditation, concentration, or elevation. For your listening pleasure, we asked a select group of talented artists to create a unique recording for this collection. Specific uses for the music is this series may include accompaniment to cooking, eating, sculpting, exercising, high stakes poker, soaking, panoramic landscapes, cuddling, car chases, drawing, knitting, bandaging, romance, playing chess, or planning the rest of your life, of which this is the first day.

now i’m trying to apply this logic to club music. the library catalog wouldn’t ever work in a club (well i guess it wouldn’t, from the blurb above) but i think that it raises questions about people’s intentions when they make music. when kids are first learning to make music in their bedroom, they’re going to look to their idols – and right now those idols are people like boys noize, crookers, justice etc – most of whom are known for their peak-time bangers. no-one starting out is going to want to make a track that a dj will play to an empty floor as soon as the doors open. but the dj has to play something. so when does a producer make the transition, from making, as i call them, peak-time bangers, to tracks that just sound good at any time?

listening to chromeo’s dj-kicks i was really taken aback by the contribution from perth’s shazam. the guy’s already made a name for himself with that awesome remix of dance wiv me, as well as the unstoppable pool party 2009 (i swear i heard that in arnotts last week and thought it was late 90s french house – it’s that good), and now this track shows his abilities range far beyond late night fare. this slow-burning disco track fits in beautifully to the chromeo mix, in that it’s got that cheesy 80s sound – you know, that dancing organ sound, the soft warm synths, the seinfeld bass – it’s all there. this guy is, what, 19? i think more producers need to take a leaf out of his book. go hard in what you do, yes, but you don’t always have to go hard.

Shazam – Luckier

i’m not one to regret

bqe

i have many memories which involve the music of sufjan stevens. most notable i suppose is a bizarre eight weeks spent in chicago in 2006, where i listened to come on feel the illinoise and the avalanche many times. for example i can recall trying to catch a final glimpse of the sears tower (sorry, willis tower) as i listened to the album while i made my way to o’hare. furthermore, casimir pulaski day is loaded heavily with emotion for me, given its subject matter (the loss of a loved one to cancer and the difficulty in accepting the Lord’s will). his is the kind of music that can simultaneously evoke tears of pain and joy. but in the last three years his output has been minimal. i know he released songs for christmas in 2006, and he had a song on the dark was the night compilation, and even a song about sofia coppola… but what happened to the 50 states?

well he’s finally releasing something substantial, so i guess we should all be excited by the prospect of the bqe, a cinematic suite composed by stevens and first performed in 2007. inspired by the brooklyn-queens expressway in new york, it appears to be some sort of exploration on the place of architecture, transport and humanity in modern life. or maybe i’m making that up – sufjan may be a genius, but i’m not going to be the one to explain away his idiosyncracies. there’s a trailer here. it’s coming out in october and it sounds like a colossal package for the collectors out there. there’s more detailed info here, but i guess the important stuff is that it’s out on october 20, and:

The BQE is available as a double-disc format (CD/DVD), which includes the original 16mm/8mm film (in widescreen “triptych” display), the original motion picture soundtrack, a 40-page booklet (with extensive liner notes and photographs), and the stereoscopic image reel (playable in all View-Master® viewers).

wow. it certainly sounds like an epic achievement. whether or not it’s as good as it sounds remains to be seen. also out in october is run rabbit run, a re-imagining of sufjan’s second album. some sort of quip about buses might be appropriate. right now, we can see both buses coming but they’re not quite here yet. but hey, after three years, what’s a few more months?

Sufjan Stevens – Christmas In July