Monday, May 22, 2006

Realized that all my posts thus far have been music-oriented. This will change...but not today.

I belong to Record Club. I'm guessing there are more than one in existence, but I'm talking about the NYC Record Club, originally begun by Dan Carlson back, I don't know, around 1996. I've been attending since maybe 1998, sometimes sporadically, more recently with good regularity. The deal, simply stated, is that each person brings two CD tracks of material they, for one reason or another, enjoy. In randomly determined order (OK, we each pick from a hand of playing cards) the tracks are played with no prior speaking-about, listened to in silence, then played again whilst the song-bringer talks about what he/she brought, if they wanna. Discussion ensues. This is repeated for the second round, sometimes the track only being played once depending on the size of the group. Not too geeky. A compilation CD is manufactured post-gathering. There was a rather dramatic schism last year; well, not quite of Luther/Pope vintage, but a split occurred and the current group seems to have a five person core with selected guests on each occasion, more or less monthly. Dan, a musician in his own right (see an AMG review of his disc, "Now" here), his wife, the painter Julia Jacquette and artists Nayland Blake and Nina Katchadourian. That's Nina above, with paired caterpillars on her upper lip, a piece from her Natural Crossdressing project. Last evening, Derick Melander, a sculptor and member of the original group, was a guest. It's a rather amazing bunch of people--highly intelligent, art-attuned, very funny and altogether lovely to hang around, talk and listen to music with.

There's a strong tendency toward the rockish among this (as well as the former) bunch, a tide I generally attempt to swim against as much as courteousness allows, although last evening I was pretty accomodating, choosing Kip Hanrahan's "Two (Still in Half-Life)" and "Do I Want to Be a Dog?" by The Roches. I often go by the feel of the evening, sometimes holding pieces in abeyance to determine whether or not they'll fit. Last night, I had a Javanese gamelan work but, when my turn arose (following Julia's song by the Au Pairs, the one with "It's obvious" in the chorus) I didn't think it would have worked. But I've been known to introduce the odd abrasive jazz track (Pharoah Sanders from the Mantler "Communications" album, for instance) or some current electro-acoustic fascination. I stretched the limits last year by playing the incredible Keith Rowe/Burkhard Beins, 28-minute performance off ErstLive 001.

Nina has chosen some amazing tracks, including a found tape from 1975 of a teenage girl making a cassette recorded love letter to her boyfriend, sitting in a field somewhere outside of Memphis, wind blowing, distant airplanes roaring, utterly heartfelt and unironic. Last month she played bird calls, last night Beethoven (the string quartet section included on the Voyager spacecraft) and some insane jazzy recitation of contemporary artists names from around 1965, kind of a kitschier version of that Bob Dorough baseball song. Nayland played "Black Satin" off "On the Corner" last month, causing me to way belatedly add that one to my collection. The first time I attended, one of my cuts was Robin Holcomb's gorgeous "So Straight and Slow" from her first Elektra/Nonesuch album. Yesterday, Nayland chose the equally profound "Deliver Me" from the same disc. Turns out he'd been a couple with Wayne Horvitz' (Holcomb's husband) brother Phil back in the early 90s and was a virtual brother-in-law to her. Small world.

Lovely way to spend an evening...

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