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Current listening: “The Best of the Alessi Brothers”

Currently listening to The Best Of The Alessi Brothers (1998). Had no idea about them, came across them via two cool cats on Twitter.

These vibes are the perfect thing right now. Also, will be taking photos of the Alessi Bros to the hairdresser when that’s an option again.

Apple Music | Spotify

The album’s not on Bandcamp, but “Seabird” is included in Late Night Tales: Metronomy.

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Current listening: “My Finest Work Yet” by Andrew Bird

Currently listening to My Finest Work Yet (2019) by Andrew Bird. “Bloodless” is particularly on the nose.

Well, the best lack all conviction
And the worst keep sharpening their claws
They’re peddling in their dark fictions
While what’s left of us
Well, we just hem and we haw

And it’s so damn slinky, catchy.

LP from Loma Vista Records | Apple Music | Spotify

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“the mystic mouth / leaves me so defted”

sweet love, sweet love
love

my throat is gurgling
the mystic mouth
leaves me so defted
defted

my throat is gurgling
the mystic mouth
leaves me so defted

and the deep black nightingale
turned willowy

and the deep black nightingale
turned willowy

by love’s tossed treatment
berefted

The lyrics to John Cage’s “Four Walls: Act I, Scene VII”. I couldn’t find the lyrics many places online, so here they are.

Been listening to Symbol by Susumu Yokota a lot recently, finally took the time to look up a few of the songs he sampled. The voice in “music from the lake surface” is particularly haunting and weird, turns out it’s this piece.

“Four Walls” premiered in Steamboat Springs, CO in 1944, and this particular piece was originally sung by Julie Harris. The lyrics are a poem by Merce Cunningham.

I wonder which recording he sampled… It’s my favorite that I’ve heard so far, am not that in to many of others I’ve heard. Though I do think that the version from the 1989 album by Richard Bunger and Jay Clayton is pretty good (Apple Music, Spotify).


Related: I purchased John Cage: A Mycological Foray published by Atelier Editions a while back and it’s gorgeous. I really should send the postcards inside, but I’ll probably hang on to them. Need more pleasurable things to look at during the day-to-day right now.


Related to related: Listen to Mushroom Haiku, excerpt from Silence (1972/69) on UbuWeb. Browse the rest of Ubu’s John Cage artefacts.

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Current listening: “Playing Piano for Dad” by h hunt

Currently listening to the album Playing Piano for Dad (2016) by h hunt. Thanks to BL for the rec, by way of SB. It’s all about the piano, but I also like the occasional background talking, bits of humming, snaps, throat clearing, restarts, sighs, hearing the pedals. It’s an antidote to the franticness of the news cycle this October.

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So dark

Photo of the orange smoke in San Francisco

Taken at 9:40am today. Somehow it seemed to get darker between when I woke up around 7:30 and now. It’s dark enough to be 7/8pm. Apparently ash is falling like snow in Concord.

Soundtrack for this morning: Silver Apples’ eponymous album from 1968. Came across this via @erikinternet’s tweet, didn’t know about Simeon Coxe III before. RIP.

Worth reading: 2019 Guardian article ‘Fire is medicine’: the tribes burning California forests to save them.

Edit at 9am on 10 September

The sun never really came up yesterday. We woke up this morning wondering if it would be the same.

The orange is gone, replaced by light beige smog. The 10 minute average air quality index (AQI) is over 200 in most of the city according to PurpleAir, over 270 in parts of the Sunset district. “Everyone may begin to experience health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.”

Though it looks better than yesterday, the reality is way worse on the ground.

Edit at 4pm on 10 September

Now the air is thick, opaque. AQI is in the 300s in most of the city, mid-300s in the Mission. “Health warnings of emergency conditions if they are exposed for 24 hours. The entire population is more likely to be affected.”

Edit at 9:30pm on 10 September

The AQI has dropped back to the mid-200s in SF. Things are a bit better (still not great) once you get south of Santa Barbara, hovering around 100. In the mid 100s around Tahoe. Oregon is feeling it the worst right now, it’s over 500 in Portland. As Duane King said on Twitter, “‘Airpocalypse’ helps explain why my eyes are burning indoors.

Read more edits

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Slow Radio from the BBC

Listen to Slow Radio, more excellence from BBC Sounds brought to my attention by SB. The first episode I listened to was a short one, a 16 minute visit to a snowy forest near Oslo. I’ll most likely listen to all of them at some point, but might particularly listen to Dementia voices, the last Elfdalians, life on a shanty boat next.

Definitely looking forward to the multipart, multi-hour Arctic Sound Walk coming up on 24–26 December.

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The wonderful world of BBC Sounds

BBC Sounds is such a treasure trove.

It introduced me to You’re Dead to Me, a very funny history podcast by Greg Jenner. My favourite episodes so far are probably the ones on Mansa Musa and Harriet Tubman.

Around Halloween I came across Haunted Women, a one-off program exploring how women have used the ghost story form. Reminds me, I am way overdue reading some Shirley Jackson. I’ll probably start with the bookends, The Road Through the Wall and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Will definitely have to read The Haunting of Hill House as well, The Haunting is one of my favourite horror films. The film was released in 1963 under the Hays Code, so I’ll be interested to see how much more of Theodora’s character is revealed in the book.

Other BBC Sounds programms that I’m planning to listen to include:

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Gogo Penguin + Koyaanisqatsi, and the memory of a tower in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Last night I went to a live screening of Koyaanisqatsi at EartH in Hackney with GC. I knew Gogo Penguin would be playing live, but I didn’t realise they’d be playing their own re-scoring! Pretty impressive, both the execution and to even take it on considering the epic proportions of Philip Glass’s original score. The synchronisation of the rhythm and the visual was maybe not quite as intricate as the original but it was expertly handled, particularly for a live performance. Most of the time the pace was frenetic, frantic. There weren’t quite as many despairing moments as in Glass’s score, but the overall vibe was very similar.

I need to listen to more Gogo Penguin and definitely need to watch the original film, before this I’d only seen small bits of it.

The derelict facade of the Ljubljanska Banka Tower, or “Sniper’s Tower”, in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Photo taken 15 April 2009

The second half of the film includes many clips of derelict housing projects and other buildings. Those clips unearthed a ten-year-old memory of a tower I’d seen when visiting a good friend in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The angular concrete structure loomed over the playground in Park Zrinjevac. It was an inanimate casualty of the catastrophic conflicts that consumed the region in the early 1990s, abandoned but clinging to a few remnants of glass and insulation.

That much I knew from the pocked concrete, but I didn’t know the specific role it played in the war until today. Once called the Ljubljanska Banka Tower, it’s now known to some as the Sniper’s Tower. It was used by gunmen targeting people below during the 1993–1994 Siege of Mostar. The multiple sieges led to the widespread destruction of the city, and almost 100,000 people fled.

I searched everywhere online for pre-war photos of the tower but couldn’t find any, just this photo taken a few months after I was there. The photographer captured it in much better light than I, the photo hints at the building’s formerly mirrored, golden facade. It still stands from what I gather, but the exterior structure has been removed and the entries have been blocked off. Graffiti artists use it, and urban explorers try to have a poke around. It looks like a skeleton in the more recent images I’ve seen. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable going in.