Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Yes, good folk, today is the day of Saint Patrick, that saint who converted the Irish to Christianity and banished all the snakes from the Emerald Isle, all while wearing some stylish green robes.

We at the music library may not all be Irish lads and lasses but we sure do like to celebrate this most viridescent of holidays! We have plenty of streaming audio (thanks to our many electronic libraries) that can provide the perfect soundtrack to your St. Patty’s merriment.

Yes, our electronic resources offer plenty, featuring many sides of Irish music. For beginners, there’s the Rough Guide to Irish Music, which is exactly what it sounds like: an introduction to the traditional sounds of the Isle. If Irish folk is your thing, we have Adieu to Old Ireland by the House Devils streaming, as well as a collection of Irish sailing songs called Ships Ahoy! and an album of folk songs performed on Irish harps called Harps d’Irlande.

If these folk songs have gotten you into the mood for this joyous day, you’re either taken up with the holiday as official Church feast day, the death date of Ireland’s patron saint, or you’re trying to party! Fear not, for we have appropriate streams for either position.

For the religiously-inclined, we have a great compilation of Irish sacred music called Irlande musique sacree. If you’re looking to have a roaring good time, look no further than this comp of the 20 best Irish pub songs, and top it off with this collection of olde irish jigs and reels.

Well, what are you doing still reading this? Go out and have yourself a time for St. Patrick, and bring your AU credentials with you so you can stream these awesome compilations!

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Björk on Pitchfork, Björk on our shelves!

Not sure if you’ve been around the internet, but this interview that Pitchfork held with Björk has been making the rounds among those passionate about music & gender equality (two great things to care about, imo).

In this interview with P4k’s Jessica Hopper, Björk touches on several issues, all of which surrounding the release of her new album Vulnicura, out on One Little Indian. First of all, this album takes the role of Björk’s “breakup album.” For Björk, Vulnicura is a catharsis of the emotion of leaving her longtime partner. While all of Björk’s releases have contained songs touching on love and interpersonal relationships, this album narrows the scope, and the subject matter is now her love and her interpersonal relationships. It is far more personal than  her previous releases, and in this interview there are several times where the Icelandic artist begins to cry simply thinking about it.

While this alone would make for a great interview, Björk took it to the next level when beginning to discuss taking credit for her music. It seems that in the press release rollout for Vulnicura, co-producer Arca (a man) was given full credit for producing this album, while Björk had actually simply brought him in to collaborate at the end. While Arca tweeted about this attempting to rectify the error, this misinformation was still posted all over the internet.

Björk was upset by this but sadly not surprised, given that male collaborators had been unduly given credit for her ideas for her entire career. In this interview she laments the fact that female songwriters and artists often have credit for their music co-opted by male collaborators. With an album as personal as Vulnicura, it’s ridiculous that Björk wasn’t even given shared credit by many sites. Hopefully this interview will set off some sort of paradigm shift among music fans (and critics), and a mistake like that won’t plague Björk the next time she releases an album.

While we don’t have Vulnicura on CD (yet), we do have several Björk albums, her first three solo albums DebutPost and Homogenic and her most recent album Biophilia. If you’re inspired by this interview, come check ’em out!

Sweet New Arrivals – The Disintegration Loops

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I can’t believe I’m writing this.  The AU Music Library now has The Disintegration Loops.  So weird to write that.

It’s true: the AU Music Library now has a CD set of the complete Disintegration Loops, by Mr. William Basinski.  I am beyond pleased that we get to share this incredible music with the AU community.

Most people haven’t heard of this piece – really a collection of pieces – and many won’t have too much of a reference point for something like this.  But I’m not worried, as this is, despite a good story about its creation, some of the most direct music I’ve ever heard, pretending to be nothing that it is not.  The sounds do not need explanation.  The few times I’ve put it on here in the library, almost everyone asks what’s playing.

 

 

 

The story.  In the early 80s, Mr. Basinski, interested in ambient sounds and ambient music and Brian Eno and somber tones, made some tape loops.  He recorded simple melodic phrases from pretty inexpensive synthesizers onto short bits of magnetic tape.  This was, of course, when all recording was done on tape, and Mr. Basinski was experimenting.  Nothing much came of these melodies, and a young Basinski put the tapes in Tupperware boxes and stored them away.

In the summer of 2001, an older Basinski found the tapes, and started playing them on his old tape machines, listening to the sounds of his younger self.  He had the idea to preserve the sounds on these loops digitally, so he hooked up the tape machine to his computer and pressed play.  As he was recording them, to his horror, the metals on the tape had oxidized over the years, and hunks of the metal tape began to fall off of the plastic, leaving holes and fractures in the melodies.  Whole pieces were reduced to metal filings left on the machine, completely disintegrating with the repetitious playback.  All he had left were the digital recordings of these disintegrated tape loops and small piles of metal dust.

 

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Basinski was continuing this process in late August and early September, and on September the 11th.  Standing on the roof of his place in Brooklyn on that Tuesday morning, he stared at the skyline in a daze, in utter shock, just the same as the entire nation.  The loops played on out loud and he could hear them from the roof.  Basinski dedicated this piece to the victims of that tragedy, and the two have been linked ever since.

I think what makes this music so special for me is how evocative it is, how utterly somber, sweeping, pastoral it is in its themes, and how this music can’t really be said to go anywhere.  It just decays, entropies out into fields of oblivion.  Simple and grand, this music seems to foretell the decline of our nation and our civilization: the decay of values, economies, the natural world, and politics, quietly and stoically.  The loops lovingly obliterate all sense of time, leaving the listener suspended in majestic a-temporality.

 

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You really just have to put these CDs on and see how they color your breathing, you mind, your walls, and our American sunsets.

The highest recommendation.

Sam

p.s. – This interview is a great place to start if you want to read more.  I met Mr. Basinski after a show of his in 2006 and he was a very kind soul.

 

AU Musical Events: WVAU brings BadBadNotGood!

Friday night boys! WVAU, our beloved college radio station (recently voted #1 student-run/internet-only station in the whole country) is hosting their fall semester concert! In the past they’ve had successful shows with artists such as Dan Deacon, Deerhunter and Mac DeMarco, always with a band that’s a great balance of fun and musically interesting.

This semester, they’re bringing the great BadBadNotGood. For those who don’t know, BBNG is a trio of Canadian dudes in their young 20s who play music that’s hard to classify. Essentially they filter their considerable technical jazz chops through a love of hip-hop, electronic music and making noise. Or is it the other way around? Think a more irreverent Herbie Hancock smashing keys over a hard-knocking rap beat with the occasional spastic Aphex Twin-esque drum fill. Their aforementioned affinity for electronic music is clear in their skill at building up momentum to a crescendo on nearly every song before an itch-scratching “drop” of sorts, most often a flurry of soloing, exploratory bass and explosive drums.

One thing’s for sure: these guys will keep your attention in a tight hold as they blaze through their set, usually a mix of originals with a litany of covers: Odd Future, Kanye West, A Tribe Called Quest, James Blake, Joy Division, the list goes on and on. These guys clearly have a massive musical vocabulary and they put it to good use. First gaining popularity on YouTube via their Odd Future covers when they were young college students, they’ve only developed their skills since, releasing three studio albums as well as several live albums and EPs.

This show is sure to be an awesome time. WVAU favorite Ace Cosgrove, a MD-based rapper who’s only getting bigger, is opening. The event is free for all AU students, but it’s closed to the public, so you can leave your 30 year-old Tinder date behind for this one. In Tavern @ 8pm, this Friday!

FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/970469399635205/

Cool DC Event(s): Souleyman and Signh

Team.

A pleasant Tuesday morning to you; and we’re going to cut straight to the chase…

Not one but TWO rad DC events to tell you about today.

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First us is Omar Souleyman.  Souleyman is a wedding singer from Syria, and he made tons and tons of tapes of his music, pretty much to promote himself.  Anti-world world label Sumblime Frequencies brought his sound to American and European audiences maybe 6 or 7 years ago now, and he’s since toured a whole bunch, and made music with Bjork and Four Tet, among others.  Not sure how much of this kinda thing you have in your life right now, but we’re pretty sure you need more of it:

Souleyman is TONIGHT at the Howard Theatre.

Second, there’ll be a truly rare opportunity coming this Thursday.

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You have not heard of Charanjit Signh, most likely.  Signh was in the Bollywood film industry in the 70’s and 80’s, making music for movies.  As such, he had access to some pretty state-of-the-art audio gear for the time, including some now-classic analog synths: the 303 and the 808 and others.  A longtime fan of classical Indian music (and, folks, you need to get into classical Indian music – it’s pretty amazing stuff), Singh thought to try to promote or popularize or ‘update’ these older forms for the new, hip kids the films were being marketed to.  And what was hip in India in the early 80’s?  DISCO.

Thus, 10 Ragas to a Disco Beat, which was released in ’82.  And as a record, it failed.

Flash forward to a few years ago, this record gets “discovered” by dance music nuts.  It turns out Singh’s work sounds a heck of a lot like acid house, which didn’t arrive on the scene in Chicago until 1987.

Behold:

Singh will be at Tropicalia on U street on Thursday, so you have two days to prepare yourselves for this.  It will be quite the show, folks.

[Full disclosure: my friend’s techno unit Protect-U is opening for Signh]

Keep on dancin’, Team.

AU Musical Events: Sound Collage, 4/27

Concert season rolls on and on, enriching AU’s community with art and giving me more to write about! We already talked about Unfinished Business, AUSO&C’s final performance of the semester. But that’s just Friday and Saturday! What about Sunday? AU Workshop’s got you covered.

AU Workshop (formerly AU Jazz Workshop) is like the evil twin of our Jazz Orchestra (in a good way). While the Orchestra, as the name suggests, focuses mostly on traditional big band arrangements, the Workshop explores the history and future of jazz. Student-written bossa nova charts rub shoulders with arrangements of Kool & The Gang and Radiohead.

The Workshop is no stranger to collaborations with the Audio Tech department- band director Noah Getz welcomes electronic improvisations just as much as improv on instruments. This semester’s show,  called “Sound Collage,” includes a collaboration with ATEC professor William Brent, using electronics to enhance the Workshop’s out-of-time vibe. There will also be arrangements of works by composers as diverse as John Cage and Led Zeppelin. Sounds like a surreal dream.

The show will be in Katzen at 3 pm on Sunday the 27th, perfect to catch after your bottomless brunches! Tickets are $5 for AU community members and $10 for the general public.

Here’s the event page: http://www.american.edu/cas/performing-arts/calendar/?id=5122077

And the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/788349541194927/