March 1, 2009

More Legacies and Influences

Okay class, this is another history lesson like last month. Pipe down, pipe down... it's for your own good. A little education goes a long way into understanding space rock. Specifically, the experiMENTAL side of rock music. It's basically what happens when you remove the blues influence and start incorporating esoteric ideas like, dissonance, drone, undertones, overtones, just intonation, atonality, microtonality, harmonics, xenharmonics and a whole lotta other concepts with fancy names that aren't really necessary to for you to know. You'll understand this music when you hear it... you'll KNOW it because you hear it all the time. This kind of music is more in tune with the natural rhythms and melodies of your body's own chemistry than any western blues-derived motif could ever be. It's the music of the cosmos!

Before this begins to sound dry, just listen to the tracks. We start with a relatively rockist number from Rhys Chatham, who has composed songs (or movements) for up to 400 electric guitars, all tuned slightly differently, and created a number of sprawling pieces like this one back in the 70's and 80's. He and his contemporary Glenn Branca, another multi-guitar proponent and "symphony" composer, begat Sonic Youth who incorporated a little punk rock and attitude into the mix, with screwdrivers jammed under the strings of their guitars, unorthodox tunings and a complete lack of cymbals on the drum kit. They're represented here with an aptly-named track from their seminal 1988 classic. The more formal side of this ethos is demonstrated by Steve Reich and Terry Riley, who really are more modern classical composers but have heavily influenced experimental rockers like Stereolab, Spacemen 3 and Brian Eno, whose collaboration with treated guitarist Robert Fripp (from King Crimson) is one the most quintessential non-rocking "rock" experiments of all time. I've thrown in some lesser-known devotees like French-Canadian sonic pranksters Le Fly Pan Am who add the element of recording manipulation (yes those little glitches are intentional), the godfathers of motorik Neu! (who in turn influenced Stereolab), fretboard sorceress Marnie Stern whose own downtown NYC milieu has strong ties to the legacy of their forebears (Branca, Chatham, Sonic Youth et al.), Texas psych duo Charalambides (just guitar and voice) and enigmatic whatchamacallits Glissandro 70 (delayed guitar and electronics). Confused? Just sit back and LISTEN...

The following tracks should appear in the player below:

Die Donnergötter - Rhys Chatham - An Angel Moves Too Fast To See
The Sprawl - Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
Swimming Pool - Charalambides - Glowing Raw
Partially Sabotaged Distraction Partiellement Sabotée - Le Fly Pan Am - Ceux Qui Inventent N'ont Jamais Vécu
Electric Counterpoint 1 - Steve Reich - Electric Counterpoint
Something - Glissandro 70 - s/t
Shea Stadium - Marnie Stern - This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That
Hallogallo - Neu! - s/t
Analogue Rock - Stereolab - Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements
A Rainbow In Curved Air - Terry Riley - A Rainbow In Curved Air
Swastika Girls II - Brian Eno & Robert Fripp - No Pussyfooting
Second Movement (The Horror) - Glenn Branca - Symphony #10
Ecstasy In Slow Motion - Spacemen 3 - Dreamweapon

By the way, I recently felt the need for a little terra firma (it gets lonely up here in the spacerock station) so I beamed myself down to earth, Petaluma specifically, and this is what I saw: