Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Smooth Jazz, Panflute Fusion, and...

I find it rather amusing to look at the stuff that gets sent to the radio station at my college. Sure, we get shipped the typical indie fare from Sub Pop, Kranky, Matador, Merge, and so forth - but what makes it worth going to the station every week is seeing the stuff we get that is not worthy of our approval. Every Tuesday night, all the CDs mailed to us are emptied - along with the paper promotional extravaganzas that come with the music itself - into an old post-office crate; we go through them, one by one, deciding what stays and what, to put it lightly, is crap.

Back when I started, I observed that much of the crap was very generic indie product - this band thought they were Sonic Youth; that one thought they could sound like Morrissey and get away with it; that one took the twee-er-than-thou aestetic a bit too far and its idealistic view of life and love makes us cringe. I remember liking a lot of stuff we threw out secretly - stuff like the recent I'm from Barcelona disc, which we panned because "if we wanted that, we'd be better off listening to the Arcade Fire".

But when we came back from winter break, something happened. We started getting more and more music of genres that were not "rock" (at the radio station, "rock" includes electronic and club music for some reason) or experimental. We'd typically grab a pile of CDs from the crate and be stuck in Smooth Jazz hell for the next twenty minutes, as we tried to give each its fair listen so we could at least claim "we gave it a chance" before we pseudo-violently crammed it into the crate with the rest of the crap. What's amazing is not only could you tell the smooth jazz records from the outlandish covers, but also from the liner notes. There was one disc I remember us getting three weeks ago where the liner notes not only told some story where the gods of different religions intermingled in cosmic space, but it gave goddamn reviews of the musical content wherein the form, timbre, dynamics, and instrumentation were analyzed.

Of course, I'd think this a fluke, but then we got Panflute Fusion. And then we got the sultry voice of Vayo.

The thing about Panflute Fusion I remember is that it was a CD-R single, on a vanity label, with one three-minute song. And what made it awesome, in retrospect, is that whatever man or machine (we really can't tell) made it displayed its suckiness on the front cover. If it weren't a single, we would have kept it as a novelty record.

Vayo, on the other hand - that we did keep as a novelty record. The cover of the disc promised nineteen tangos; however, upon listening to the disc, there was not a single note of music. Essentially, each of the nineteen tracks was a spoken word explanation of one of the tangos, all done by this Vayo person in a comically bad accent.

I'm certain that the person is real, and he's taking his work seriously. But out of context, with virtually nobody at the station knowing anything about Latin music, it was enough to keep as a novelty disc. I really wish I could post some stuff from it, but the disc is at another station member's dorm for the week, as he composes a review of the disc.


kat said...

Just a question: how much importance do you place in the tune of the song, as opposed to the lyrics and the kinds of instruments utilized?

For some reason, when you said, "generic indie", I thought of that.

Aaron Leclair said...

With listening like that at the radio station, it's all about rash judgements. It says nothing about how I listen to music. I think the tune's just another vehicle we can use to implement whatever we want to.

I'm a sucker for music about music myself, hence the love for Pavement. Anything that's postmodern without being satirical, anything that uses genre like an artist uses paint. It's easy to screw up being serious because the potential for sappiness is easy.

Did I ever recommend you Sebadoh? That's more music about music, though they get into the whole post-hardcore thing a bit too intensely at one part of their career.

kat said...

No you didn't recommend me Sebadoh, but any particular albums I should look into?

D said...

Vayo is quite a novelty. Spoken word in a remarkably sexy accent! Way to go Vayo.

Aaron Leclair said...

You're telling me you found Vayo's music on the Interwebs? That is impressive if that's the case

I'll probably be writing about the Andrew Bird concert soon.