What’s on top of the (virtual) pile?

Sunday 1 March 2009

New Directions in Music 1 (Robert Craft et al.)
This 50-year-old LP of Pierre Boulez’ Le Marteau sans maître and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Zeitmasse* is just one example of many Vinyl Age recordings of the post-war avant garde I’ve been enjoying lately. This guy conveys some of the thrill in hearing performances made of music when it is still brand new and something of an unknown quantity (when this record was released, both of these pieces had been completed only the previous year**.)
That’s not all, though. These old recordings have a starkness to them, a thinness of sound which emphasise just how unfamiliar the music was to a contemporary audience. Modern recordings too often have a sweetness and softness to them that is appealing at first, but eventually sounds bland.
Lux and Ivy’s Favorites, volumes 1-11
Speaking of scratchy old records…. The Cramps have always been a band I intellectually admired but not subjectively liked. Lux Interior’s recent death has spurred WFMU into hosting on their website the complete set (so far) of Lux and Ivy’s Favorites: fan-compiled CDs of songs mentioned by Lux and Ivy in their various interviews. Liking random collections of old records as much as I do, this plethora of pop, soul, blues, and novelty records from the 50s and 60s has made my week – and given me a better-sounding copy of The Five Blobs’ “The Blob”.

* Or Zeitmasze. Stockhausen seems to have changed his mind later about how to spell it.
** And now they are old. And yet…

(Last time on that conceptual pile.)