Friday, August 31, 2012

August Roundup: Muddy Waters and Loud Halls

The first day of school inevitably came and went this week, and it was quite the far cry from Fraggle Rock with the Little One and aikido summer camp. In truth, there was a sense that an oar violently dug up the bottom of a still pond, leaving murky and agitated water in its wake. As the week has gone on, however, the dust has started to settle, both for the students and myself, and I am getting a feeling for what kind of year it’s going to be.

It’s always particularly interesting to look out on a class full of beginning band students and wonder who will be the ones to rise to the challenge. For some of them, it starts an arc that I hope will take them somewhere beyond the walls of this school. Right now, though, as I am writing this entry from a quiet band hall on a late Friday afternoon, I’m just enjoying the silence. It’s a commodity that shouldn’t go unrecognized.

The art of sound and silence, or maybe even the silence in the sound, is all over one album that is sadly not in this month's playlist, although I have listened to it closely.

Yoshio Kurhashi - Kyoto Spirit: My shakuhachi teacher is back in town, and I'm excited about studying again. This disc, by his teacher, has many of the songs in my repertoire, but played exquisitely well.

The rest of the month in music went like this:

Jellyfish - Bellybutton: A desert-island classic that I can't listen to without singing along. I am always astounded by the amount of nuance, beauty, and angst coexisting in this seemingly quaint collection of pop songs.

Anais Mitchell - Hadestown: I'm still getting new things from this album all the time, and each piece of the puzzle makes the entire picture more gratifying. It’s a brilliantly conceived and executed piece of work.

Kill Bill vol. 1 - Original Soundtrack: Like most collected soundtracks, this one is a bit uneven. However, it captures moments of the movie so well that its standalone value can't be argued.

Bear McCreary - Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Original Soundtrack: Once you know who McCrary is, his name keep popping up. On this release, he blurs the lines between Celtic, Persian, and symphonic styles, creating something quite distinctive.

Astra - The Black Chord: There is a distinctively complex melodicism that lies within this album's trippy stoner-rock window dressing. Fans of 70 psychedelia who want to hear something fresh will love it.

Scott Walker - Climate of Hunter: Walker hadn't totally committed to avant-garde experimentalism on this 1985 release, but it was certainly his last stop before doing so. Its an interesting axis upon which his past turned towards his future.

Anglagard - Hybris: After almost twenty years, Anglagard is scheduled to release a new album, which inspired a revisit to this classic. Its amazing that the progressive flame had died down so far that this little band from Sweden, whose albums are now notoriously hard to find, pretty much kept the whole thing alive in the early 90s.

Rush - Clockwork Angels: Just when I think that I should put Clockwork Angels to rest for awhile, it reinvigorates me. It captures that essential "Rushness" that put the band so close to my heart in the first place

Queen - Queen II: Their sophomore release is almost like an album-length version of Bohemian Rhapsody. It covers all the same bases, but doesn't quite have the focus of this quintessential track.

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