Thursday, January 26, 2017

January Roundup: A Little Cross-Training

P has been around the aikido dojo from a very young age, and I have long looked forward to getting her onto the mat when the time is right. That opportunity has arisen since we moved to Denton. She is just now old enough to participate in the kids program at the dojo here, and it has been indescribably rewarding to participate in these classes with her.

For the time being, I consider aikido to be a non-negotiable. I get that she is only five and certainly should not be locked into one thing, but I want her to eventually understand the value of sticking with something in the long-term. Plus, it’s something we can continue to do as a family as she grows into her own practice.

Beyond that, we have always let her interests lead her enrichment activities to an extent, and this path has led her through some great experiences in gymnastics, acting, and swimming. Recently, however, she has taken on an independent interest in learning “karate,” so I found a local Tae Kwon Do school and took her to a trial class. She walked away feeling very successful and was really excited about continuing.

I will admit that as an aikido practitioner I would love it for her to be a purist, but there’s no problem with a little cross-training. In fact, the school that she is involved in gives patches and awards for good job notes from teachers and parents, and I am working on ways in which I can capitalize on her excitement in “karate” to reinforce moral lessons she is learning in aikido while at school.

For example, our kids classes use Japanese terms to cultivate an awareness of positive morals. I have adopted three to emphasize: “yuki” (courage), “shoten” (focus), and “rei” (respect). I talked to her kindergarten teacher in the hopes that she can earn a “good job” note for exhibiting these principles in her everyday interactions. Maybe this will help her to see these principles in herself. We’ll see. At the very least, it will be good to know that she will have the confidence to defend herself if necessary.

Thanks to a really hefty haul at Christmas, I had a huge turnover in my listening in January that I probably need to document before my birthday hits. Here’s what is currently in rotation:

Pavlov3 - Curvature-Induced Symmetry…..Breaking: In the big scheme of my listening documentation system, this album has had to work uphill. It is only available in soft format, and I downloaded it in the nebulous November period, but that is no reflection on its outstanding compositional and performance strengths.

(I have not found a YouTube link to the Pavlov3 studio stuff, so here is a streaming link from their bandcamp account.)

After swallowing that pill, push "play" below and scroll on:

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things OST v. 1: I held off on this so that it wouldn’t obscure the greatness that was S U R V I V E’s release RR7349. As a soundtrack, it has some important differences from this album, but it is no less inspiring.

Crying - Beyond the Fleeting Gales: An exciting, energetic pop-styled release from this “chiptune” band. They use a modded Game Boy as a sequencer for all their synth sounds, which, upon reflection, is a lot cooler than it might seem.

Tortoise - Standards: A little less prog and a little more jazz than my previous impression of this incredible group. Still, that pushes them into Zappa territory, which is no small comparison.

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: My last-ditch attempt to pry open Bowie’s back catalog with one of his defining albums has proven to be gratifying. It’s his Sgt. Pepper’s.

Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands: Stories Don’t End earned my Album of the Year spot in 2014, and I was apprehensive about following it up. I admit that All Your Favorite Bands feels a little forced in places, but it also has some stellar moments that keep me listening.

Anna Meredith - Varmits: Meredith is a BBC composer, and Varmits is her attempt to cross over into more accessible realms. The result is predictably dense and consistently interesting.

Amplifier - Echo Street: As a collection of reworked demos from their 90s back catalog, research has revealed that Echo Street might be a weird place to start listening to Amplifier. It does bear the mark of crossover prog from that era to an extent.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Mustt Mustt: An early 90s Real World release from Khan that betrays the influence of Peter Gabriel on its more Western aspects. Still, Khan’s vocal prowess is on full display, and shines through to electrifying effect.

Joni Mitchell - Mingus: Heijira has long been a favorite of mine, due in no small part to the presence of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius. I’m not sure, however, that I quite get the seemingly disjunct Mingus well enough yet to form a conclusive opinion.

The Wondermints - Bali: In the mid-00s, I was a pretty big fan of Mind If We Make Love To You, but Bali ended up in wishlist limbo. Now that Recycled Records allowed me to finally lay hands on a copy, however,  I can't seem to get into it.

Oum Kalsoum - Mother of the Arabs: In addition to the Stranger Things soundtrack, I have been looking toward various Persian music for inspiration. No one more readily hits this mark than the mid-century Egyptian artist Oum Kalsoum.

Crippled Black Phoenix - Bronze: This band came up highly recommended, but I am not sure what the big deal is. Bronze has some great moments, but generally feels like stoner rock with a slightly psychedelic edge.

Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End: The “white album” ended my moratorium on Weezer albums last year. The generally positive reviews on its predecessor are well-deserved, as they get the balance of maturity and slackerishness more and more right.

Michael Giacchino - Doctor Strange OST: Giacchino was a big player in 2016, scoring two movies for franchises in which I am hugely invested. He betrays his melodic and harmonic preferences on Doctor Strange to an extent, but also creates a soundtrack that is absolutely appropriate for the character while working decently as a standalone experience.

1 comment:

  1. I feel very inadequate to say anything as your musings are so insightful and deep to me, as I listen to music for only it's entertainment, however I enjoy your take on it.

    Little P. Oh that child. I'm enjoying watching her become herself and I know it won't be disappointing!

    I've shared your post via email to my 3 most musical friends, and on Facebook to my nephew who is also a musician. I hope they each enjoy your words!