Thursday’s listening

What a day.

Once again I worked from home, which despite the evidence of this week isn’t actually usual at all. This time, unlike Monday, I was prepared though, and could set-up my work laptop in the front room where the “big” stereo is (although the one in the backroom is bigger than most regular people’s, I suspect), which meant I could play music from in front of myself all day long (in the backroom, when at the computer, the speakers are behind you), choosing what I wanted of the shelves next to me rather than having to wander to the next room.

So that’s what I did, all day. Almost.

0730: Juliana Barwick – The Magic Place
The first time I’d played it, via the iPod and the Zeppelin dock whilst I made breakfast, pottered from room-to-room, etc etc. I only got through the first 7 tracks though. Very pretty, much more ambient than I expected (I think my mind was saying “Juliana Hatfield” at me), but not overwhelming.

0810: The Necks – Chemist
The first CD of the day was actually spun in the backroom while I wrote Wednesday’s entry. If you don’t know about The Necks, you should; an Australian (post)jazz trio who play elongated, hypnotic grooves of the highest order. Perfect for working to, and doing a lot of other things to, too.

0940: Primal Scream – Screamadelica (Remastered)
I worked for about half an hour in silence, and then the bright sunshine and clear blue skies demanded that I celebrate them with something suitable. I’ve not really opened this up since I got the remaster the other week, and it seemed like a great opportunity to open the windows and let the street hear it too. So I did, while spending an hour going through the previous day’s emails and editing photos.

1055: Various Artists – Impressed (with Gilles Peterson)
A thread slagging off Gilles Peterson got revived on ILM for seemingly no reason, and it inspired me to dig out this awesome compilation of 60s British jazz, which was recommended to me by a colleague when I worked in the library, many years ago.

1210: Boards of Canada – In A Beautiful Place In The Country
Em had arranged to work from home in the afternoon too, and would be back at 1230 when we had to pop to the post office, so I decided to put on an ambient-ish EP to fill the 20 minutes. This suited.

1230-1320: Buskers
In town we heard two sets of buskers; the first pair were playing Take Five by Dave Brubeck on a couple of acoustic guitars, the second was a lone beatboxer making a weird digderidoo sound. I preferred the former; who likes digeridoos? Everybody else does: he had a far larger crowd.

1345: The Field – From Here We Go Sublime, Yesterday and Today
Emma prefers the repetitive beats and droning synth textures of The Field as “music to work to” than the more ambient likes of, say, Stars Of The Lid, so I put both Field albums on, one after the other. I still adore Sequenced as much as I did two years ago. Emma prefers the debut, I think.

1600: The Necks – Hanging Garden
More Necks.

1715: The Beta Band – Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos EP
Slightly disappointed at not finishing this whole EP the other day, I clocked off from work and played it again, in full, in the backroom, while updating this blog re; #musicdiaryproject activity.

And then I went to Devon Record Club.

In the car on the way (to Ipplepen and Tom’s house, via Sainsbury’s car park and Rob’s car) I listened to about 8 tracks from The Very Best of The Stone Roses, inspired in an absent-minded way by the rumours (and rapid refutation) of a reconciliation and reformation. I’m very glad they’re not reforming; it would be horrific. Please, Stone Roses, stay dead. It struck me that the vocals on Love Spreads were in a much better… safe range… for Ian Brown to stay in than those on Ten Storey Love Song.

In Rob’s car on the way to Tom’s house, I announced my intention to play Zaireeka the next time I hosted, and take advantage of my surfeit of stereo equipment. I joked to Rob, who’s my direct boss at work, that I’d need the afternoon off to move and cable everything.

Devon Record Club
Tom, as host, had stipulated that we had to bring a record we’d not heard before. He went first, and played the new Kurt Vile album, which was much more mellow than I expected.

I went second, and played the new Bill Callahan album, which I had bought the previous day in London and left shrink-wrapped until it was time to put it in the CD drawer. We all seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.

And then it was Rob’s go, and he said he’d brought a record that he purchased 14 years ago but had never played. And he got Zaireeka out, and revealed that he’d also brought a boombox and a pair of speakers and his laptop so that we could play all four CDs at once. So we did: with Tom’s hi-fi, the boombox, Rob’s laptop hooked up to ancient computer speakers, and Tom’s iMac brought in from the other room and perched on a chair, pausing, synching, starting again for each track, trying to keep Marge, Rob’s dog, who was also in attendance, from being freaked-out, talking, smiling, being completely wide-eyed in bemusement and wonderment.

I’ve heard Zaireeka several times before; a couple of times at university, when we pointed each bedroom-stereo towards the landing, and once at home, with Emma, a similar array of motley sound-emitting-devices scattered about my parents’ home and us brandishing two remote controls each… I’ve also heard a stereo mixdown of it a couple of times, burnt to CD and given to me by a friend who is a ravenous Flaming Lips fan. Of course, I discarded the mixdown hastily, because it is as pointless as looking at a Kandinsky on a postage stamp. Once upon a time I was pretty much reduced to tears by seeing a Kandinsky exhibition at the V&A. On a stamp… “that’s pretty”. On a wall… sublime.

Zaireeka is, obviously, a phenomenon, and I use that word after some consideration, unlike any other musical experience you will ever encounter. It is overwhelming, and loud, and intense, and at the same time it is communal, and physical, and joyous, and dark, and mystifying, and magical. Tom kept saying “it’s not music, is it? It’s something else” and maybe he’s right; it’s sound-art, or interactive aural theatre, or participatory sonic sculpture. I don’t know. But it’s fantastic.

I got home just before midnight, and fell asleep happy, thoughts gently buzzing around my head.

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One response to “Thursday’s listening

  1. Pingback: The Flaming Lips – ‘Zaireeka’ – Round 5: Rob’s Choice | Devon Record Club

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