Sunday, February 12, 2006

Since you been gone Pt. 2

Here's what has been occupying my time lately (outside of work, Colorado real estate searches, fixing my current house up to get it ready to sell, record label fun times, and general on-call friend support):

1. The New World - Terrence Malick's fourth film. It's absolutely brilliant. Forget what any bad reviews say. Terrence's work allows you to fully soak into any environment, his editing is completely on point, and his character direction is insanely perfect. He's got a Kubrickian attention to detail that I think really comes through in the Naturals' village; the place actually looks lived in. There's some great Wagner on the soundtrack that loops and crescendos, and made me feel like my heart was going to explode. It reminded me a bit of a less discordant Ekkehard Ehlers' Woolf Phrase from his Staubgold release, Politik Braucht Keinen Feind (and incidentally a smidgen like a clarinet thing I've been working on...) It's the kind of audio bliss that makes you feel like you are thrown around in the tide, with no clear idea of which way to get back to the surface. I read that there is going to be an additional hour of film in the dvd release of this, and I absolutely can't wait. Like all of Malick's films, I'll end up watching this one over and over and over again. Why can't all films be as good as his? A side note: to anyone who grew up in a somewhat rural area and has walked around in the woods / marshes / etc. and has also seen this movie...did you feel like the sound recording in certain sections of the movie was completely spellbinding? It captures the spirit of the unclaimed wilderness like nothing I've ever heard. Sara and I were both pretty moved by it. I can't remember the last time we talked so extensively about a film and the issues that it made us think of after watching it. (If you're lucky, maybe I'll try to transcribe some of our conversation in a future post!)

2. There's a long discussion stemming at Patrick from Carrot Top Distribution's blog from a couple weeks ago about a particular co-op deal that Best Buy had running with a handful of indie labels (Merge, Secretly Candian, Matador, Touch & Go, and a couple of others). The short description of it is that Patrick was displeased when he found that Best Buy was selling copies of certain releases at a retail price CHEAPER than what he could get the records at wholesale. Sounds like a somewhat small issue...well, it's not realliy, and the past two weeks of discussion sparked by this all over the web have been great to waste my lunchtime on. There are comments and replies from all of the labels involved, indie record store owners, fans, musicians, and on and on. As someone who runs a label, I have had to learn (and am still learning) the way the indie-stry works, and I think it's something that a lot of people who actually partake of independent music aren't even aware of. The way popularity and exposure is bought and sold is a real thing and as a small label it's been very frustrating. We come from a DIY background where merit is generally decided on by quality and nothing else, and lately there seems to be a growing divide within the "underground" of who succeeds and who drowns. I can think of countless "small" releases that get entirely ignored by the indie press and subsequently indie stores. There's a weird cycle that exists that it's really hard to become a part of...if you want to be a part of it in the first place. I was just incredibly shocked to see the candid nature of Patrick's initial post and the even more candid replies, retorts, and comments by many of the "big names." I don't think I agree with anyone involved 100%, but I definitely see where Patrick is coming from...and I'm old enough to remember what happened in the 90's. Independent music right now is very crowded, but some of its artists and labels are experiencing the kind of success that 5 years ago would've seemed ridiculous at best. (Seeing Franz Ferdinand play the Grammys last year with a Domino logo on their kick drum is the best example I can think of). Of course, this type of popularity and exposure brings label and independent ethics to the forefront, and I'm just glad that there are people on all levels of the food chain willing and ready to say what they think. As with a lot of ethical questions, there is no single correct answer. Here's to trying to figure this (somewhat) new line of questions and challenges out, and hopefully without completely eroding what makes this all so special in the first place. If you wanna watch your hours get sucked away start here with "Best Buy BS." Have fun, you may learn a thing or two.

3. Here's a bonus for getting to the end of super post! has some really great web tools available. You can put these lil' players in your html. Their words: "Listen to all tracks IN FULL for free! – The player stops after 30 seconds, just click play again or anywhere on the Waveform to continue." They sell high quality non-DRM mp3's and I suggest checking them out...They've got stuff you just can't get anywhere else. And here's the player...of the Chicago Underground Duo's new album, In Praise of Shadows. Available in a couple of weeks from Thrill Jockey. It's a good bit more "free" than their last album, and maybe even a bit darker. On tracks like "Pangea" maybe it's some of the eerie chaos and intensity of Rob Mazurek's other project Mandarin Movie seeping in.


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