Tuesday, June 19, 2007

beta remembers to forget to remember

Blab about your music-writing profession and the first question you get asked in mixed company is about what you're listening to. Or even worse, petitioned: "I've got this fye gift ceritficate for $25 from my Aunt Janice. Should I buy the new White Stripes? Or Justice?" Open bar or no, I can't think of a single instance wherein an on-the-spot self-inventory revealed any artist or title whatsoever. If it weren't for the list of titles along the right side over here, I'd promptly forget.

Nearing the midway point of the calendar year, the people want to know what are the noteworthy albums of the year. One discussion with a writer friend prompted the claim that it's been a bad year for music. Reading Amanda's Top 07 of '07 list, I ask her why she even bothers to list albums that she couldn't even deign to give a 7.0 to on Pitchfork. Then I realize she maybe just listed 14 records she actually remembered hearing this year (which would explain Young Jeezy and Andrew Bird).

So listening becomes an act of forgetting. As in: "That's funny, I swore I only gave three stars to Icky Thump and yet Paste says I gave it 4 1/2. Hunh?" My mind verily swears that there aren't stacks of CDs atop the record player and surrounding the stereo on all sides, absent-mindedly left on the kitchen table and on the boombox, piled next to the rest of the household mail, or elsewhere, and yet there are things to recall and recommend.

It dawns on me that what always catches my attention when listening to a new record for the first time is instant amnesia. A bolt upright as I go: "Wait? What is this again?" The title, the artist, the cover art, the PR people, all instantly forgotten in a Lethean flush of noise. Albums that make me snap out of revery and re-check more often than not become favorites, recreating that initial rush of disorientation.

Meg Baird: Dear Companion
Big Business: Here Come the Waterworks
Caribou: Andorra
Kevin Drumm: Sheer Hellish Miasma (reissue)
Feist: The Reminder
The Glimmers: Fabric mix
Eyvind Kang: Athlantis
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas: Reinterpretations
Lubomyr Melnyk: KMH (reissue)
Nico Muhly: Speaks Volumes
Takeshi Nishimoto: Monologue
Optimo: Walkabout
Panda Bear: Person Pitch
Pantha du Prince: This Bliss
Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Valet: Blood is Clean