September 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Latest Papers for the Border podcast…

Papers for the Border Podcast

… and here is the playlist, featuring music by Horsebladder (Elaine Kahn); Emily Hay; Audrey Chen; Cabinet of Natural Curiosities (Jasmine Dreame Wagner)!

1. Pioneer ~ Horsebladder ~ Not I’ll Not (00:00)
2. Lashe ~ Horsebladder ~ Not I’ll Not (04:20)
3. Five Golden Rings ~ Horsebladder ~ Not I’ll Not (09:25)
4. Liturgy of Sound ~ Emily Hay ~ Like Minds (11:40)
5. Call to Unarm ~ Emily Hay ~ Like Minds (17:21)
6. Glacial ~ Audrey Chen ~ Glacial (26:20)
7. Glass ~ Cabinet of Natural Curiosities ~ Searchlight Needles (48:55)
8. Fabulist Decay ~ Cabinet of Natural Curiosities ~ Searchlight Needles (1:00:20)

  • Not I’ll Not was released on the Ecstatic Peace label in Sept 2011; you can click here for more information on the album and here for more information on Elaine Kahn’s writing (Customer, Radiant Bottle Caps) as well as her music.
  • Like Minds

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Audrey Chen ~ Glacial

September 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

There is precious little information about this album on the internet, and not much more about Audrey Chen, other than a short bio that website maintainer upon website maintainer feels obliged to post. Chen is a cellist and singer, an improviser who incorporates electronics into her performances, and she is squarely situated in the avant-garde camp. According to her bio, she’s collaborated with all sorts of “out” musicians: Phil Minton and C. Spencer Yeh, to name a few.

I don’t remember where I got this CD, but I came across it a few weeks ago while doing some organizing – it comes in a transparent blue plastic clamshell case, and the only text is “Audrey Chen – Glacial” printed on the disc. The CD contains one 22-minute eponymous track that seems to serve as a showcase for everything Chen is capable of, although I wouldn’t be surprised to find that she has far more tricks up her sleeve than are in evidence on this recording.

(I’m doing something completely new here, to me, by the way: writing about a piece of music as I’m listening to it for the first time. This may not be ideal as I’m not able to give my whole attention to the music, but I’m able to at least get some thoughts down during the initial listening. (The piece just ended – I’ve been at this for more than 22 minutes now apparently, most of it surfing the web trying to find info on Chen). In any case this will be something I will listen to again with full attention, because there is a lot going on in those 22 60-second packets (you can only use the word minute so often during the day).)

Chen starts the piece playing a repetitive score,  dryly and somewhat abrasively, with minimal effects. It feels distancing and cold – the title makes sense here. By the end of the 22 minutes, the listener understands the importance of electronics in Chen’s music, and something else: the voice. It’s analogous to some sort of hallucinatory film sequence where we see Bjork singing and then superimposed within the image of Bjork, the voice, the soul within belongs to Diamanda Galas. When it’s done, the glacier’s begun to melt. There’s a clever analogy to be made here to global warming, but it’s too late. I need to catch up on Daniel Johnston’s back catalog. How’s that for ending on a non-sequitur?

(If you can find “Glacier,” get it. If you can find anything else by Chen, check that out too. 4/5 stars, or AAAA, or 8.9 if you’re a Pitchfork reader.)

Poem for September 2

September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


We think of
you often
in Portland —

One night there
Mark & I
walked around

a small pond —
raindrops made
ripples. At

that moment
I said to
Mark – Somehow

this makes me
think of Cid —
and he smiled

and said he’d
been thinking
of you too.

A little rain
has begun to
fall as night falls

* * *


Quiet quiets
if we’d only
sometimes let it.

-Cid Corman, from YEA (The Lapis Press, 1989).

Poem for September 1, 2012

September 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Unturning

for Ben S., 1936-2010

My friend said: write about the dog in The Odyssey
four hundred pages in. I found him lying on a dungheap
where ticks sipped his blood, though in his youth
he’d taken down wild animals, eager to kill
for a man the gods favored! Who comes back
in disguise; you expect the dog to give him away
with a lick or a yip, but this is not what happens.
Instead we’re told that “death closed down his eyes,”
instant he saw his master after twenty years away.
And I wondered if my friend had played a trick–

setting me up with this dog who does not do much
but die. When the gods turn away, what can we do
but await their unturning? That means: don’t think
that after so many years of having such a hard pillow,
the dog wasn’t grateful. But I wonder
if, for the sake of the shape of the plot,
the author ought to have let him remain
for another line or two, if only to thump again his tail.

-Lucia Perillo, from On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon, 2012)

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