The Air Is Still And The Light Is Cool #27

One of the most satisfying surprises you can get from a music collection is pulling out a release you haven’t played for, well, a lot longer than you might have imagined, and though it’s highly respected in general and you know you like it, there’s a beauty and depth you haven’t noticed before. The album fits with you and times better than ever.

I’ve been on a quest to identify records that generate deep, intelligent peace (gosh, I wonder why). While it’s too old to put in a new review, I have to give my blog prize to

The Pearl by Harold Budd/Brian Eno (with Daniel Lanois), Editions EG, 1984.

You stay alert and want to follow all the way through the 42 minutes. Really does take you on a trip, scene to scene, second to second. Sensuous as much as smart, kinetic as much as still.

Hail and Farewell and Welcome To Tomorrow: Peter Margasak

Your work in the Reader prompted us at Rock.com to make you a key outside-the-office voice.

It was a joy to labor with you on the long-gone dream of the music-magazine internet.

(This guy was an insanely easy edit, btw. Just fun conversations and you have a perfectly clear, vivid and balanced essay at the end.)

R.I.P.: Village Voice

This time it looks permanent. Would be tough to convey to someone in their 20s how much freedom and excitement alternative newspapers once delivered weekly. The Boston Phoenix was my main operation, of course, but I considered the Voice my second home.

Then again, the building has been crumbling for a long time. My best memories of the Voice now feel distant. And one of the last is bitter — I was suddenly not invited to participate in the annual Pazz and Jop Poll, for reasons I have never been able to find out (I certainly didn’t stop writing about music).

But I’d rather focus on the fond recollections. Getting my copy in the mail, finding my article and admiring the wild and way-out illustrations Joe Levy would occasionally commission for my reviews. Good times.

Unquiet Thoughts About “A Quiet Place”

Watched twice on HD TV.

It’s been a bit overpraised, though you can sure understand why reviewers would be grateful for a horror movie that wasn’t screaming in your ear and slapping you in the face relentlessly. Nevertheless, Get Out or Arrival it is not.

I say it would make a dandy Saturday matinee at my Dad’s old movie theaters. First-rate Creature Feature. What most bugged me the initial watch is that I detected no clue where these superpredators came from. Can’t just come out of the Monster Hole. And because they’re beasts with no technology, it’s impossible to imagine them invading from UFOs.

Second time through I noticed a headline I had missed in the Dad’s War Room: “METEORITE HITS MEXICO.” The idea being that these monstrosities could be hibernating inside a smallish Asteroid, which would explain why there are not so many of them.

Horror highlights:

the opening sequence, which is perfectly paced, terrifying, believable and unforgettable.

the scenes with the grain silo, which center on one of my favorite little-known deadly dangers of the things and reveal that the predators are hard and strong enough to rip right through metal.

the clever climax which showers posthumous honor on Dad and shows Mom has unlimited courage. Once again, I believe it was A.E. Van Vogt who came up with the idea that a particularly deadly quality of an alien being would be its ability to remain perfectly silent and still and then attack with supernatural speed.

Prediction:

Millicent Simmonds is going to be a superstar. I was in her power after the first five minutes.

For the Record: Denouncing a Boneheaded Idea About Pop Music

An unfortunate, lingering side-effect of the persistent remnants of high-culture arrogance 30 years ago was the following “reasoning”:

Theater and classical music were Serious Art best explained by serious writers for a serious, intelligent audience.

Films and jazz had earned a seat at the lower end of the Serious table, but they had a essential commercial streak that made denouncing big hits something to avoid.

Popular music was garbage and nothing but commerce. So a serious writer who took on pop was a fool. Writing for a tiny audience of other fools. The correct move was dumb writing for dumb people, which would attract a huge audience.

Of course this never worked in practice. (Pointing out that those who read about pop music were already the intellectual fans didn’t seem to make any difference.) So the nonsense has fallen out of favor.

What has replaced it is the notion that gossip and celebrity-drooling will make a lot more bucks than serious discussion. And that, sadly, is hard to deny.