Archives

Four Questions: Kronos Quartet, Short Stories

[Kronos Quartet - Short Stories]

Artist

Kronos Quartet

Title

Short Stories

Original Release Date

March 9, 1993

Purchase Date

March 9, 1993

What is the memory you most associate with this title?

I was living in New York City at the time this album was released. That season, Kronos performed twice at Alice Tully Hall. Most of the pieces on those programs would eventually make their way to the Night Prayers album. So I was a bit disappointed they didn’t end up on Short Stories.

I sat a few seats away from Osvaldo Golijov at one of those concerts. He stood up when Kronos acknowledged him after starting the concert with a premiere of his work. I congratulated him as he passed me on the way out to intermission.

What was happening in your life when it was released?

I had adjusted to life in New York City. I had a rough bout of homesickness the preceding autumn, which I found disappointing because I had waited what felt like an eternity to escape Hawaii.

But I wasn’t totally at ease. I still was in denial about being gay, and I hadn’t learned how to be comfortable with solitude. I did lay the groundwork for what would eventually pivot me away from music and into journalism by writing for the campus newspaper. I had also started to enjoy reading fiction, which was handy because that winter was actually rough.

What was happening in your life when you bought it?

I bought the album on release day, so same answer as above. I’m pretty sure I took a crosstown bus from Hunter College to the Tower Records at Lincoln Center, which had an entire floor dedicated to classical music.

What do you think of it now?

I do not like Short Stories.

Up to that point, Kronos crafted their albums well, threading diverse pieces into a thematic whole. Short Stories felt like a compilation with uninteresting B-sides.

Perhaps the lack of a thread was the point of the album. I just remember feeling impatience with a number of longer pieces on the album.

If I were to rank Kronos’ Nonesuch albums, Short Stories would anchor it.

Tags: ,

Purchase log, 2020-01-14

[Soundtrack - Death Note]

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

Catalog

CD
  • Billie Eilish, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  • Clipse, Lord Willin’
  • Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle
  • Metallica, Garage Days Revisited
  • Sigur Rós, Von
  • Soundtrack, Death Note
Vinyl
  • Duffy, Rockferry
  • Kronos Quartet, In Formation
  • TLC, Fan Mail

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Soundtrack, Death Note

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Purchase log, 2019-09-10

[Infomatik - Technologies]

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New releases

CD
  • Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley: Sun Rings

Catalog

CD
  • Carole King, Tapestry (Remastered)
  • Infomatik, Technologies
  • Jack Ingram, Live at Adairs
  • John Wesley Harding, The Confessions of St. Ace
  • Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
  • R.E.M., Monster
  • The Bad Rackets, Full On Blown Apart
  • The Manhattan Transfer, Brasil
  • The Manhattan Transfer, The Best of the Manhattan Transfer

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Looking ahead: July-August 2019

[Re-Flex - The Politics of Dancing]

Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes, July 26

I would not have been interested in remixes when Control came out, but I bet I’ve heard them without realizing I have.

Re-Flex, Politics of Dancing (Deluxe Edition), July 26

The title track alone is probably worth the price of the entire album. It’s a collection of reliably-80s synth pop, heavy on the beats and big on melody. I found this album on CD at the thrift store, and I’m actually heartened to see it reissued.

Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold, Aug. 16

I don’t even listen to St. Vincent, and I was excited to hear she was producing the new Sleater-Kinney album. Is that weird?

Ty Herndon, Got It Covered, Aug. 23

Herndon had already teased this album, posting short videos on Instagram of the recording process. He’s already changed the gender references on his big hit, “What Mattered Most.” I’m hoping he doesn’t stop there.

Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley: Sun Rings, Aug. 30

It’s a Terry Riley anniversary year! So of course Kronos commemorates it with a release of a piece they’ve performed in concert for at least a decade.

BBMak, Powerstation, late August

OK, guys, you’ve announced a title and a track list. What about an actual release date?? Part of me wished this album was a track-by-track cover of The Power Station, i.e. the Duran Duran site project with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson of Chic.

Vinyl

Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation, July 26
Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope, July 26

I already have an original pressing of Rhythm Nation, but the length of the album doesn’t allow it to fit well on a single disc. So I would welcome a double LP with improved sound.

The Velvet Rope is Janet’s most underrated album and deserves more attention.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Purchase log, 2019-05-21

[Soundtrack - Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu Ka?]

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

I traveled to Austin for the record convention this past weekend. I didn’t find much of what I wanted, but I did find a lot of what I didn’t know I wanted. This list includes purchases at Waterloo Records and End of an Ear.

New releases

CD
  • Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!
  • Kronos Quartet with Masha and Marjan Vadat, Placeless

Catalog

CD
  • a-ha, Hunting High and Low
  • Bill Frisell, Before We Were Born
  • Dwight Yoakam, Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • Joy Division, Closer
  • Robert Palmer, Pride
  • Robert Palmer, Some People Can Do What They Like
  • Shovels & Rope, Swimmin’ Time
  • Tomita, The Planets
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Symphonies / Concertos / Vocal and Choral Works
Vinyl
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet, Crazy People Music
  • Everything But the Girl, Everything But the Girl
  • Franz Josef Haydn, Streichquartette, op. 20, 2 & 4 (Quarteto Esterhazy)
  • Giovanni Palestrina, Pope Marcellus Mass / Stabat Mater / Three Motets (Pro Cantione Antiqua, Bruno Turner)
  • Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar
  • Megadeth, So Far … So Good … So What!
  • Olivier Messiaen, La Nativité du Seigneur (Jennifer Bate)
  • Olivier Messiaen / Toru Takemitsu, Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony / Takemitsu: November Steps (Toronto Symphony, Seiji Ozawa)
  • Seawind, Seawind
  • The Old 97s, Too Far to Care
  • Soundtrack, Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu Ka?
  • Soundtrack, The Iron Giant
  • Various Artists, Brown Bags to Stardom
  • Various Artists, Boulez, Messiaen & Koechlin
  • Various Artists, Music by Busoni, Franz Schmidt and Lutoslawski

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Looking ahead: April-May 2019

[NUMBER GIRL - OMOIDE IN MY HEAD 1 ~BEST & B-SIDES~

I didn’t have a chance to update the March-April 2019 preview when these releases were announced.

Kronos Quartet with Mahsa and Marjan Vadat, Placeless, March 22

This album is already available on streaming services, which means I’ve had a chance to listen to it. Unfortunately for Kronos and the Vadats, the new Solange album has also monopolized my attention.

Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Beth Gibbons, Krzysztov Penderecki, Polish National Radio Symphony), March 29

I don’t know about this one. Portished has never been a band I could internalize, and while I like Górecki’s third symphony, its reputation has become a bit outsize. I’m wondering how Penderecki got roped into it.

Emerson String Quartet and Evgeny Kissin, The New York Concert, April 12

The works on this program are tamer than what I normally pursue, but I like both the Emerson and Kissin.

Björk, Vespertine: A Pop Album as an Opera (Nationaltheater Mannheim), April 12

I’m willing to give this one a chance, if only because Vespertine is one of the few Björk albums I no longer own. I couldn’t get into it when it came out, so I welcome a chance to hear it in another context.

Jack Ingram, Ridin’ High … Again, April 26

I’ve been wondering what’s up with Jack Ingram. I stopped following him when he decided to make friends with country radio, but he left that behind at the end of his Big Machine contract. His 2016 album, Midnight Motel, is breezy and off-the-cuff, so I’m curious to hear what’s next.

NUMBER GIRL, OMOIDE IN MY HEAD 1 ~BEST & B-SIDES~, May 1

More time has passed since NUMBER GIRL’s break-up than the band was ever together, and a large portion of the band’s discography is out of print. So on the heels of their reunion tour, this collection of singles and b-sides gets reissued for a generation who missed out the first time.

Mikami Chisako, re:life / Utopia, May 22

Wow, she really is back.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition 2018 Year Final

[Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!]

Last year, new releases made up 7 percent of my music purchases. This year, that number ticks up to … 8 percent. For a while there, I didn’t know if I would find enough titles to make a Favorite 10, but I did.

  1. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!: When you visit multiple record stores and ask what is playing, you probably ought to buy that album if the answer is the same at each store.
  2. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: I also liked the Emotion Picture that accompanied the release of this album.
  3. Christine and the Queens, Chris: Those dance moves!
  4. Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo: I didn’t realize the cover of “Sid to Hakuchuumu” was by MIKA, the singer “discovered” by Perez Hilton. MIKA’s circumspection about his sexuality drew a lot of attention and some controversy. I checked out his music as a result of the brouhaha and found little that was remarkable. That said, he nails the French interpretation of this very Ringo track.
  5. Steve Grand, Not the End of Me: I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I hear a bit of Matt Alber’s swoon on some of the quieter moments on this album.
  6. Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson, Landfall: Take all the swagger and posturing out of hip-hop, and it would probably sound a lot like Laurie Anderson.
  7. Seattle Symphony with Roomful of Teeth, Berio: Sinfonia: This piece was awesome to hear live.
  8. Nico Muhly & Thomas Bartlett, Peter Pears: Ceremonial Balinese Music: Oddly enough, I found a recording of Colin McPhee performing his gamelan transcriptions with Benjamin Britten, and I kind of wish Muhly and Bartlett had also done the unpublished scores.
  9. Yore, EP1: Recent press seems to obscure the fact Yore released music under his own name, so we’ll stick with that preference and just mention this EP finds him moving in a direction more akin to Cocteau Twins or even Utada Hikaru.
  10. Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi:Her sound has gotten darker since her comeback.

Other favorites from the year:

  • John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once
  • Leo Imai, VLP
  • Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!
  • Craig Armstrong, Sun on You
  • Tracey Thorn, Record
  • Renee Fleming, Broadway
  • Igor Stravisnky, Chant Funebre / Le Sacre du Printemps
  • Eponymous 4, Travis

OK, I’m being a bit cheeky including my own album, Travis, on this list. I finished recording it in 2016, so I’d been sitting on it for more than a year. In all that time, I’ve not gotten sick of hearing it day in and day out, and when I compare it with other albums I’ve recorded, it sounds like a proper, professional work.

So yeah, I think my album is one of the best to be released in 2018. You can check it out at the Eponymous 4 Bandcamp store.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition Rewind: 1986

[Nakamori Akina - Fushigi]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

In 2008, my collection tapered off with releases before 1987. I went so far as to call 1986 an uninteresting year. I’ve since had time to explore the year in greater depth.

  1. The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence
  2. Janet Jackson, Control
  3. Soundtrack, Megazone 23 Song Collection
  4. Paul Simon, Graceland
  5. XTC, Skylarking
  6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
  7. Prince & the Revolution, Parade
  8. Nakamori Akina, Fushigi
  9. Duran Duran, Notorious
  10. Club Nouveau, Life, Love and Pain

Other favorites from the year:

  • Anita Baker, Rapture
  • Bananarama, True Confessions
  • Fishbone, In Your Face
  • Run DMC, Raising Hell
  • Peter Gabriel, So
  • John Adams, Harmonielehre
  • Enya, Enya
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.
  • R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant
  • Pet Shop Boys, Please
  • Kronos Quartet, Music of Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix
  • The Human League, Crash

If you told Younger Me that Older Me would like So and Raising Hell, Younger Me would wretch. At the time, Run DMC and Peter Gabriel were so ubiquitous, I felt I would never need to hear “Walk This Way” or “Sledgehamer” for the rest of my life.

One advantage of growing older is no longer caring about looking at all fashionable.

Younger Me would have been puzzled by the inclusion of Dwight Yoakam on the extended list, to which Older Me would have to tell Younger Me to wait 9 years.

Younger Me: Oh, I was wondering whether I should get that Human League album. Is it really that good?
Older Me: Yeah, but I don’t think you’d quite appreciate it at your station in life. Wait a few years.
Younger Me: Really? How many?
Older Me: 30.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition Rewind: 1987

[Sonic Youth - Sister]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

I go on and on about how much I love 1987 that I should just shut up and let the list speak for itself. Unsurprisingly, the Favorite 10 hasn’t changed, saved one correction.

  1. U2, The Joshua Tree
  2. Sting, … Nothing Like the Sun
  3. 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe
  4. Sinéad O’Connor, The Lion and the Cobra
  5. Bulgarian State TV & Radio Women’s Choir, Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares
  6. John Adams, The Chairman Dances
  7. Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera
  8. Wendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa
  9. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
  10. R.E.M., Document

Other favorites from the year:

  • Kronos Quartet, White Man Sleeps
  • Depeche Mode, Music for the Masses
  • Dolly Parton / Linda Ronstadt / Emmylou Harris, Trio
  • The Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense!
  • Swing Out Sister, It’s Better to Travel
  • Hiroshima, Go
  • The Smiths, Strangeways, Here We Come
  • Eurythmics, Savage
  • INXS, Kick
  • Sonic Youth, Sister
  • The Dukes of the Stratosphear, Psonic Psunspot
  • Dead Can Dance, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
  • Icehouse, Man of Colours
  • In Tua Nua, Vaudeville
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock

I originally listed the cast recording of Into the Woods in the Favorite 10, but I discovered it was actually released in 1988.

The extended list is shorter than the one for 1988, but I’ve actually added fewer titles from 1987 since the original list was compiled. I think I also like these albums more intensely because I had discovered them at the time, and they’ve made a lasting impression.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,