All posts by Suzanna McMurtry

SONG OF THE DAY – Ben Aqua – “Don’t Play Dumb”

DON’T

lol don’t we know this by now? SMART is cool! KIND is cool! DUMB on purpose is NOT cool.

If u smart, listen to this song. It is from Ben Aqua, who has worked with PC Music (audio gold), DFA Records (unknown to me) and has his own “experimental electronic music and art label #FEELINGS”. Despite the questionable but likely satirical naming of that label, I am often fond of this kind of music. Which surprises me. Isn’t electronic music #MINDLESS? I’m starting to think not!! Imagine the landscape of this track in physical space with every beat and type of sound possessing a different line — how complex and calculated!

This being said, Ben Aqua and those that he might associate with  (AG Cook of PC Music) are getting a lot of attention for what is being called “The online underground: A new kind of punk?”. An article/podcast of this name from Resident Advisor explores this concept using Ben Aqua as a main talking point (find at residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2137). Even though the nuances and specifics of this comparison are beyond me (I will read the full RA article and get back to you), the idea is not far fetched. With a record label that contains a “hashtag”, successful sales of a T-shirt  with “NEVER LOG OFF” printed on it, and a proliferation of ideas manifested aesthetically across some sort of media is undoubtedly similar to the progression of the punk movement.

“signs and connotations of the digital medium are appearing all around online music in the same way that punk wore its gritty origins on its sleeve” (RA).

don’t play dumb, b as smart as u can b

SONG OF THE DAY: Neil Young – The Needle and the Damage Done

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the music of Neil Young has dotted many times in my life. When I was really little I used to hate his voice, not understanding how meaningful and personal that sound was for my parents.

His music will always be so tied to the time it was made in whether it be about heroin in the 1970s or his current campaign against GMOs and monocropping. This song is in response to his grief over the loss of more than one close musician friend to the “needle”. Neil seems to always have been able to translate intense personal tragedy into something beautiful, without compromising the inherent pain of the situation.

This from Neil in a recording of “Live at Massey Hall 1971”:

“Ever since I left Canada, about five years ago or so… and moved down south… found out a lot of things that I didn’t know when I left. Some of ’em are good, and some of ’em are bad. Got to see a lot of great musicians before they happened… before they became famous… y’know, when they were just gigging. Five and six sets a night… things like that. And I got to see a lot of, um, great musicians who nobody ever got to see. For one reason or another. But… strangely enough, the real good ones… that you never got to see was… ’cause of, ahhm, heroin. An’ that started happening over an’ over. Then it happened to someone that everyone knew about. So I just wrote a little song.”

“Every junkie’s like a setting sun”

SONG OF THE DAY: WILLIAM ONYEABOR – “Fantastic Man”

WILLIAM ONYEABOR is hopefully but not likely a name you have heard before. The music of the mysterious man, released in the late 1970s and early 80s, characterizes a unique form of African electronic funk. After self-releasing eight albums during this time, he became a born-again Christian and essentially denounced his whole music career. To add another level of intrigue, there are rumors of his having went to Russia to study filmmaking.

After recently being “discovered” by Damon Albarn, David Byrne and other powerful male white British musicians, his music has gotten a little more exposure.  There is apparently a short documentary released by Noisey (affiliated with Vice) on Onyeabor and — someone — has been trying to write a biography on him for a year and a half – but no luck there.

David Byrne’s world-music focused record label Luaka Bop recently re-released a lot of Onyeabor’s music with his approval and enthusiasm, but was unable to secure event a statement from him much less a live performance. He did, however, make an audio appearance on the radio program BBC 6 Music in 2014, where he stated that he “only create[s] music that will help the world,” and sort of announced to his fans that more music is to come… We can only hope.

I was first introduced to Onyeabor through a friend who has a habit of finding precious things in small crannies in the music world; I initially had absolutely no idea if this music came from one of this friend’s obscure, hyper-modern Soundcloud-only DJs from this decade or if it was from the middle of last century. If I ever find myself in Enugu in Eastern Nigeria, I will be looking to make contact with the High Chief William Onyeabor, operator of a flour mill and proponent of the local Christian music scene.

see another track: “Good Name”

STEPPENWOLF, JOHN KAY – “SNOWBLIND FRIEND”

 

Even though “Snowblind Friend” is undoubtedly about cocaine rather than snow, it still promotes the kind of vibe you might feel in looking out the window today in Colorado Springs.

I heard of Steppenwolf when I literally judged them by their appearance and bought this hilariously 70s-looking record Steppenwolf 7 from Independent Records my freshman year at Colorado College. When my mom first came to visit my dorm room in Slocum and saw it on the wall, she groooooaned. Steppenwolf is one of the many bands that makes her cringe and think of her and her brothers in high school. I loved that.

“He said he wanted heaven, but praying was too slow.”