Sunday, October 17, 2004

Quoth everybody's favorite pimp: "One! Two! Three little plasma-bags to join my undead army; ah ha ha ha!"

Hey, remember when we used to do entries with multiple reviewers?

For the past several months, I've been sending out a mix CD collection with an arbitrary and offbeat theme (previous mixes include "songs by children", "songs with the word "f*ck" in the title", "songs that start with the letter B by artists whose names start with the letter B", "embarrassing music to listen to at the gym", "spider music", "acapella tracks", "blue music" and our last compilation, "drunk songs"). These CDs are sent to Tofu Hut listeners who are granted a scant few days to listen to the CD and then email me a track by track review of the mix. Then I post their reviews UNCUT, UNCENSORED and UNEDITED (but peppered with my own smartass comments and observations in italics) along with the tracks in question. It's like listening to a mix CD with a bunch of friends... only you don't have to have any friends... except me. And I'm already your friend! Yay! Get it? Got it? Good!

The theme for the next MONTH or so is:


The CD itself has twentytwo tracks, one intro and one outro with the word "numbers" in the title and each of the remaining twenty tracks feature an appropriate number; say, Air's "Radio #1" followed by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock's "It Takes Two" and then They Might Be Giants' "Greek Number Three" and so on.

Herein lies the rub: there are SO many songs out there with number titles that I feel like I could've done this disc at least TWICE. So I did. For each entry, I'll post two tracks: the first track is the one that's on the CD that I sent out to our guests; the second track is a fabulous BONUS song. It's like two numbers discs in one! Here's hoping you appreciate the irony.

You can also feel free to submit your suggestions for OTHER numbers songs in the comments box at the bottom of each day's entry.

Anyway, speaking of our guest reviewers, here they are now! This time around we have QUITE the distinguished entourage. Let's start out with a man who knows a little something about numbers, Mr. Fortyone:

Hey there. Short of chatting with folks while sharing music on the net I have no experience 'tall, that's at all, writing reviews like this. I make music using absolutely nothing but 100% samples (mainly from old phonograph records) that's what I do. Check check me out on Comfortstand
And I'd love to sample most every song on this CD and particulary enjoy a few. I think the theme is beautiful. Very clever and very well put together. Tasty. All in all quite good. T'was a fun time.

A fun time is what we aim for here at th' Hut and giving numbers to numbers certainly qualifies!

Next up we have the Scandinavian Scooter, Avi:

Hi, I'm Avi. I live in the SF Bay Area with my wife and three dogs and in my free time, I run the Scandinavian music webzine/record label It's a trap! As for my musical background, I played in bands and did the touring/working band thing for awhile until I got to the end of my rope and turned into a total burnout recluse. It took some time, but I finally recovered enough to get excited about music again once I figured out I get more pleasure from writing and working behind the scenes. Now I can safely channel all my built-up cynicism into being a critic. (I kid! Honest!) Since I'm so involved with only the Nordic scene for the most part, I thought it'd be nice to break away and check out some other kinds of music for a change. That's why I signed up for this honor. Oh, and maybe to also put in a plug for the comp I'm putting out. Thanks again for letting me take part! I listened without a tracklist the first time through to see if I could guess what song came next and was surprised every time. Just as I had anticipated, lots of material I never would have discovered on my own. I may not have loved every single track, but I was thoroughly entertained and have quite a few names to investigate further. Certainly can't complain about that. Cheers!

I'm just embarrassed at my lack of Scandaknowledge. It's Scandalous, I tells ya!

Holla if ya hear Lee:

I'm a radio technician and producer for the CBC in Canada. I was incredibly lucky enough to find my soulmate (or she found me, I should say) and marry her. I collect music of all styles and have done so since I was 5. Played drums for a very long time, been in lots of bands that never made it anywhere but gave me tons of horror stories. Record music for fun on my trusty analog 4-track, and run websites like Jem's Starlight Jukebox and Audio Oddities. Latest listening: Right now my wife and I are catching up to the sadly underappreciated career of Laura Branigan. Man, she could sing.
This CDs theme is a pretty challenging and limiting goal. The hardest thing about a mix like this, can you find enough stuff that fits the theme, different style of music, and a good track? And how well does it flow? I'm open to lots of styles and genres, but I found this to have way too many rap and blues songs. Also, no childrens songs? Sesame St. could fill a disc alone with number songs. Overall, it's not a very 'fun' mix...it's pretty serious in tone and it's not quite what I expected. This was a challenge.

All I can suggest in my defense is that my mixes are meant to be smorgasbords. These are almost GUARANTEED to contain music you’ll love and hate, tracks you’ll know like the back of your hand and songs that you’ve never heard before. Diversity and (relative) obscurity is the name of the game and that sometimes means that I sacrifice a little bit of flow in the name of broadening the musical panorama. Hopefully not TOO much flow; ya'll will be the judge of that.

Enough hedging! Let's meet our next Tofutripper Skipper, Rosecrans:

Rosecrans Baldwin is a co-publisher of The Morning News. He lives in Brooklyn.
Overall: Nice mix, very nice transitions, and quite a few songs by artists I'd never heard of. Thanks for let me playing John.

Pal, you'd be SURPRISED who I let play with John. Take a number.

Oh say have you met David:

I've never actually written any reviews of anything before, so if this is all a little bland (or repeats the same stock phrases over and over again), I apologise. Next week, I'm going to try dancing about architecture.
Stuff I've done on the internet, if anyone's interested: three stupid computer games quizzes, a weekly newsletter containing rubbish cartoons and a cartoon generator.
A damn good compilation. There's a couple of pretty rubbish tracks, but the rest of the album drowns them in excellence, really. Well done. and surprisingly coherent, consider the pretty tight restraints of having each track containing a different number in its title. And some of the stuff is just too good for words.

Flattery will get you everywhere DG. Last on your radio dial is Jamie:

I'm a 29-year old editor from the centre of the universe (as it likes to think of itself) Toronto. I grew up surrounded by records and picked up my father's habit of compulsive music buying from our dives through $1 record bins in Detroit - places like Car City, Sam's Jams and Street Corner. Put the library we amassed to good use as a DJ during my university daze and a stint as entertainment editor of the campus paper. One reason I love mp3 blogs is that they allow you to still cram in a bit of DJing into a busy schedule - hence The Sound and Fury of Radio CRMW.
Great concept for a disc - I made one for a friend a few years ago, but it pulled some of the obvious choices (One, Seven and Seven Is, Eight Days a Week, etc). Nifty mix you've made, though I wonder how tongue-tied I'll get trying to describe each track :) Not too familiar with many of the hip-hop/DJ acts, so it was a challenge to review those tracks. Maybe this will add to my expanding tastes...that's enough yammering, on with the game!

Indeed. Time to get our abacus on.

glistening by the numbers: Countdown

DJ Shadow - "The Number Song"

NB:With so many reviewers on board, I'll be cutting out one response per track for the sake of brevity.

Avi: I know it probably sounds totally ridiculous, but I don't think I've ever really listened to DJ Shadow. I suspect I've probably heard some stuff in passing, but it certainly never made an impression. Now I find myself trying to think of something to say about this track and drawing a complete blank. That drum break at the end is decent, but otherwise it's forgettable.

Lee: This guy is truly innovative. He's in the top of turntablists for me, in terms of the samples he chooses and how he puts them together. Totally obscure stuff, but it all works. Kid Koala and Christian Marclay are other favorites in this field.

Jamie: The countdown song needed to get the numbers theme rolling - the drumming's like a marching band leading you into the stadium for rest of the disc.

Rosecrans: Nice opener, lots of style and big sound. But boy, even excellent turntabling gets real dry real fast. Is this excellent turntabling? I can never tell.

David: I love DJ Shadow, so I'm probably too familiar to review this properly. It is excellent, though. I bought this album when I was still at school, about ten years ago, almost, and have probably listened to it about a million times, and yet I never get bored of it...

This isn't exactly the most obscure track out there but it's one that I have a real fondness for. Shadow lit the way to a world of cut'emup DJing and electronics that I was mostly ignorant of in college; "Endtroducing" opened my mind to a lot of new concepts, cliched and weak though that statement may be.

That slow grinding guitar sample that drives this forward is from Metallica's "Orion"; in high school I remember thinking you could build a whole song around a sample from that. I used to try to do just that with a dual-cassette deck... ah, memories.

Those in the know can go look up the "up again down again" Complete DJ Shadow Sample page for references and sounds for everything that's included in this sonic collage; that website's author prefers not to have the address reproduced on the web.

Buy "Endtroducing, the trailblazing first release from DJ Shadow, from Amazon.
Incredibly influential. Future releases never completely lived up to the promise, though Private Press WAS quite good.
At the very least, this will always hold a special place in my heart for turning me on to Georgio Moroder by way of his reimagining of "Tears" as "Organ Donor".
Visit Shadow's official site.
Read this "Endtroducing" era interview.

Kraftwerk - "Numbers"

There's something downright Seussian-ly minimalist about making a song that features no other lyrics than counting and something obscenely perverse about couching that simple theme in the rich layers of Kraftwerk production.

Heads will recognize this as the inspiration for Africa Bambaataa's "Planet Rock"; if you're ever in the Big Apple you should look me up for a copy of Kraftwerk's HOUR LONG remix of that hiphop standard.

Buy "Computer World", Kraftwerk's 1981 digital textbook, from Amazon.
Almost twenty five years old, but still as contemporary as all get out. Electronic club kids with a taste for Daft Punk who've never tried out the Kr-auts can jump right in here. "Pocket Calculator" and "Computer Love" set the standards.
Visit Kraftwerk's official site.
Listen to Kraftwerk live audio and interviews with the band.

Meeting the Neighbors

Radio Babylon is mostly electronic music with a considerable amount of political commentary thrown in. Babylon is also a lesson in zero-cash musicblogging; Babylon links almost exclusively to music hosted on label and artist sites. While it's really downright SKANKY to do this with a privately owned musicblog for a host of reasons, I'm of the opinion that hotlinking to a label mp3 accomplishes exactly what was initially intended: further dissemination of the track to the musiclistening (and buying) public.

I'd welcome further conversation on this ethical boondoggle; when should hotlinking be verboten?

I'm getting ahead of myself tho'.

Let's say hello to Babylon.

Radio Babylon launched on April 15, 2004 as a music blog. Now it's a sort of hybrid blog; combining images, music and other writings. I am Kevin and my computer is bluecalx.
What's the worst job you ever had to suffer through?

The worst job I ever had was working for a movie theater. Awful. Bloody awful. My second night there was spent containing crowds on opening night for Star Wars: Episode I (and yes, many of those people were wearing costumes). And it only got more fun from there. I worked there for two months. When I tell people that I used to work there, I usually get something like, "Oh, that must have been fun!" Generally, people don't make the mistake of saying this to me twice.
Recommend three other musicblog sites and give them a sentence or two of introduction.

1. Music (for Robots) - community blogging, it's like nine blogs in one, each with amazing taste.

2. An Idiot's Guide to Dreaming - in the blogger's own words, "the blogging equivilant of an acid tattoo scare"

3. Scissorkick - amazing selection of electronic, indie and experimental music.

And of course Fluxblog and Tofu Hut both continue to put my humble blog to shame.
Do you really think that posting music effectively promotes sales of the album?

I prefer music blogs as opposed to all the P2P systems that are constantly trying to dodge legal battles in the shadow of Napster. I feel like there's less exposure to new artists, when you're just searching for the stuff you already know. I have about a dozen or so blogs that I read daily because I like their tastes, and a ton of others on my blogroll that I check occasionally. So I learn a lot that way, and yeah, I've bought some albums because of it. It's a better way to find new music than listening to what Viacom and Clear Channel say are the hits. The motivation is different.
Can you list a few bands that you enjoy listening to that might surprise your readers?

Most everything I post is electronic, some of it is experimental. But I try to post other genres from time to time, so I don't really know what my readers would be surprised by. I listen to some old jazz stuff that I don't post (Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and the like) and lately I've been interested in some international music (African, Indian, South American, etc).
Give me a good story about how one of the tracks that made it up on your blog got there.

The best story I can think of I wrote about recently on the blog. It was in this post about Stereo Total.
Pick one musician and one question. Who is it and what do you ask?

Björk and I probably wouldn't ask her anything. I'd just sit there swooning over her for a bit. Hours later, I'd think of something brilliantly witty that I should have said to her about how archaic it is to use instruments to make music nowadays. Something like that.
What's the best live show you've ever seen?

I can't pick a favorite, but Sigur Rós at the Beacon Theater in NYC is up there. I went as part of the 2002 CMJ Music Marathon. They were only letting in 100 people with CMJ badges, so I had to wait in line for an hour in the cold to get in. The seats weren't great, but something about the experience of coming in out of the cold and hearing music inspired by the landscapes of Iceland was an amazing experience. It was close to what I imagine it might be like to die of hypothermia.

This a track from the show: Sigur Rós - Hafssól (Live @ Beacon Theater, Nov. 2002)
Do you have a message for youngsters who'd like to start their own musicblog?

Keep an open mind, read the other music blogs, and update on a regular basis.
Drop on by Better Propaganda and pick out a track you'd like people to give a listen to.

Squarepusher - Ultravisitor

Squarepusher quickly became my favorite drum n bass artist when I first started to listen to his work. The effortless combination of the genre with acid, jazz and ambient music are just part of his genius. This is the title track from his self-declared best album, Ultravisitor (it's a bit conceited, yes, but it's still a damn good album)

REALLY not spiffy

Defining not spiffy: hard drive crash at the casa de tofu. Friday 11:00 pm to Saturday 6:00 AM was spent figuring out how to rout around my now useless D drive, reinstalling Windows and doing my damnedest to get all my settings back to status quo.

The good news, such as it is, is that the drive that crashed was relatively empty: no songs and no documents; just my OS, MS Office, virus protection, lotsa utilities (most of which, unfortunately, are packed up in a box in Florida somewhere).

I'm NOT a techtype but I did manage to fumble about with BIOS enough to get the thing running again, albeit in a somewhat hobbled state. New York pals with a nose for this sort of thing who would like to lend a hand in taking off some of the silicon sutures are asked to drop me a line.

I've lost a few new musicblog addys (along with all the settings to my Mozilla) when I had to reinstall XP; if you're not on here and I've somehow missed you until now, PLEASE contact me with your URL and I'll be happy to put you on the masterlist.

Just a reminder to all you kids out there: backup backup backup! We live on a snowflake!
I COMPLETELY skipped CMJ (though I did manage a quite spiffy meetup with Dana from BetterProp; all future tofufans note: getting me dinner is an excellent way to get on my Hannukah list).

I also missed this opportunity to rub noses with Matt and Mark. I'm curious to hear what was said and how the talks went. Are we evil yet? Or are we journalists? Or are we just hopeless?
MEA CULPA DEPT: Even though these have been some MONSTER size entries, I have no choice but to admit to having been quite delinquent in updating as of late and I will submit myself to your lash as is appropriate. However...


You'll be happy to hear that skeletal posts for the next twenty or so entries at th' Hut have been prepped and are in the oven, GREATLY increasing the chances of this becoming a weekdaily updated site again.

I also greatly look forward to being able to tell you more about a SPECIAL SUPERSECRET MYSTERY GUEST contributor who'll be (hopefully) writing for us on a regular basis. I've heard some of the tracks she plans on dropping and I don't mind telling you that what she has to offer is going to split some wigs wide open.

We're talkin' French labor union protest songs from the late nineteenth century, mid-60's Brazilian female quartets covering indigenous standards, ultra-obscure mid-seventies Moroder, forgotten New Wave one-hit wonders, hard-to-find instrumental versions of RZA's soundtrack work...

So just as soon as she gets some free time.

Then she'll write something.

Sure do wish she'd hurry up.

Then I can tell you more about her.

I may have blown the surprise, though.
I'm going to try to continue to post a new entry over at Music for Robots every Monday from now on. Stop by for this week's bonus tracks, all instrumentals.
Credit where credit is due: all those songs come courtesy of our aforementioned BRAND SPANKIN' NEW TOFU PARTNER, so swing by to see if you think she's got the stuff. I shore do.
Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance is this week's internet wildfire and I would be remiss if I did not throw fuel on that fire.
It's absolutely stunning; along with Borat's "Throw the Jew Down the Well", it's the best television has had to offer this year.