Summer Travels 2016

All posts seem to begin with ‘it’s been a while since I posted’. Maybe there should be a wordpress plugin for adding that sentence.

Anyway, it has, at least in part because I was busy traveling all over the world this summer for research-related activities. Here’s a little roundup:

A summer of amazing opportunities and adventures. I’m trying to process the material I gathered while I was there, and if I can manage to post it here I will.

Agalloch, Mount Eerie

The excellent David Thomas Manzl sent me a text yesterday to ask if I ever listen to Black Metal. “Some of it is really folky!,” he said. “Atmospheric, ambient, and intense, too.” He recommended Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deafheaven, and Krallice. Today I put on Agalloch, a record called “Marrow of the Spirit,” and it’s amazing. Super-long songs (17 minutes!), each of which is like a little album all its own, moving in and out of different feels and, ya, atmospheres. Some folky moments, some intense moments, some deadly vocals. Cello. Intense guitar riffs. Not virtuosic, just excellent grooves. I want to play this music. I don’t know if I can sing like that though.

Now listening to Mount Eerie, a record called “Ocean’s Roar,” also at his recommendation. Pale Lights is a huge jam with organs and thick guitars and destroying drums. Haunting vocals. Title track is beautiful. Everything on this record sounds pitched down, like it’s being pulled down toward the earth, like everything is bending. “A bottomless absence.” Dig it in headphones, the stereo separation on the cymbals. “Instrumental” is sludgy, piano & deadly guitar and some kind of wooden flute? Piano sounds like a drum set. And then there’s drums, and they also sound like drums. “Waves” has the most perfectly intense sections. David says “that music makes me want to smash things while doing yin yoga.” I don’t know what yin yoga is, but I. am. in.

Reflections on Locations & Dislocations

I attended & presented at a conference in Princeton New Jersey this weekend called Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation. Very nice folks, a great conversational vibe, and a lot of excellent papers. Some of the things swimming around in my mind post-conference:

  • wilderness is a product of civilization; the concept exists because the opposite exists
  • what gets to count as nature is a political discourse, and the concept of rural spaces, linked to ideas of noise and silence, can be contentious and divisive
  • ambisonic recording devices are super-cool
  • thinking about the Niagara escarpment makes me cry
  • the Santa Fe Opera House is weird
  • glass things make neat sounds
  • bamboo things make neat sounds too
  • sound engineers are performers whose performance is supposed to be invisible. especially interesting to think about performing this invisibility in the context of racialized labour in the US
  • it’s possible to stop flying everywhere, all the time. think about carbon, not cash, as a rate-limiting factor in travel

A good one. And another coming this week: