I missed doing these last week, and almost missed it again this week. Part of the problem (if you want to call this a problem) is that I have been spending less time wandering around on the internet, so I am coming across fewer things. So, really, this is probably stuff from the last couple of weeks, But it is all good.
Movie: Moonrise Kingdom, dir. Wes Anderson
This is Wes Anderson’s most recent movie. Wes Anderson has a style that people seem either to love or to, if not hate, at least to find immediately very annoying. I am in the former camp; probably you know which one you are in. This is one of the most Anderson-y movies he’s made. Personally, I really like directors who have a strong and distinctive aesthetic, and who want to build complete worlds in which to locate their movies. Guillermo del Toro also does this, as does Tim Burton—another director who some people find excessive, or overly concerned with the art direction of his movies. I tend to think we should just give these guys free rein to make whatever they want. I am far less interested in films that try to simply point a camera at reality, or try to look as though that is what they are doing. Anyway, this is a movie about adolescence, love at first sight, adventure, childhood, and scouting. It is funny and sad—often at the same time— it looks amazing, and it has some really great performances, especially from Kara Hayward, who is going to go places. Also, the movie website is pretty cool.
Article: Profile of Conny Planck By Geeta Dayal
This is about a guy who worked as a sound engineer for many groups, including Kraftwerk, Can, Whodini, and Brian Eno. There’s some interesting stuff here about exactly how he got the sounds that these groups were using in the 1970s and early 1980s, and especially about how he worked around the limitations of the technology at the time— like setting up a camera to automatically take a photo of the mixing board at the end of each day, so he could return everything to exactly the same setting later. Mostly, though, I thought that Dayal makes a good case, if not explicitly, for paying more attention to the engineers and producers of records. There is a tendency, I think, to assume—if we think about the recording process at all, which probably most people never do— that the musicians are the ones who create, who invent new sounds and ways of making them, and that job of the producer (and even more the sound engineers, whose very title suggests work of a technical rather than artistic nature) is more or less to point microphones at them and try to capture what they are doing as accurately as possible. Sometimes that is probably the case— that is basically what Steve Albini does, and what he thinks everybody should do— but often, and in particular with the bands that push the boundaries of music-making in some way, these people play an absolutely integral role in what ends up on the record. Another good example is Teo Macero, who produced many important jazz records, including Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, and effectively invented new ways of editing tape in order to assemble exactly the takes that the musicians wanted, among other things. The point being, studio recordings are always a kind of collaboration between musicians and the people who know how to use the recording equipment, and this is more and more true as the equipment becomes more sophisticated and the things that can be done with sound multiply.
Song: “Ruin” by Cat Power
Cat POwer has a new album out later this year; this is the lead single. It doesn’t sound much like her previous work, but it still sounds like Cat Power. This is because, really, the essence of Cat Power has always been and will always be Chan Marshall’s voice, which is totally unique and always totally compelling. I like this song a lot, and if the rest of the album sounds like this I will be happy.
Song: “Fireshrine” by Purity Ring
This is the third time I have posted something from this band. It’s the latest song to be released from their first, forthcoming album (July 24); at this point, I think we’ve heard about half the songs, but I’ll still buy it to hear the other half.
Album: The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, by Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Fiona Apple’s first album in seven years, released amidst all kinds of drama with the label about when it should come out, what it should sound like, etc. All that a) build up expectations to a dangerous extent; and b) gets everybody focusing on the wrong things. With regard to a): the record meets all expectations— and that will take care of b). This will be at the top of many best-of-the-year lists, without a doubt.