Runcible Blog

chk chk chk / air

Two good bands:

!!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk) is an electronic rock/dance group that puts out some gritty, groovy stuff. The two techno-ish guys that I played with a couple weeks ago referred me to them. I just got the new album, Louden Up Now, which is pretty good. Hello? Is This Thing On? is like a punk disco rock dance track complete with sleigh bells! Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard (a true story) continues with a simple yet infectious groove layered with cowbells and confusing lyrics. It's Bowie-inspired delayed guitar licks fade in and out, but the driving beat really carries the song for a good 9 minutes.

!!! is playing Wednesday at the Middle East. Even though I'm not into dancing, I might go. These guys are too weird to miss.

The band that I'm even more interested in than !!! is Air from France. If you can imagine a less depressed, sometimes-downright-happy version of Pink Floyd (particularly like the Meddle or Wish You Were Here albums), then you might sort of have the idea. I first discovered Air from the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Even though Air contributes just one song, "Alone in Kyoto", some of the other songs are credited to Brian Reitzell, an Air collaborator.

The next stop was Air's soundtrack for Sophia Coppola's debut film, The Virgin Suicides (excellent movie, by the way). "Playground Love" stands out as the only pop-ish tune, while the rest of the album is mostly instrumental and atmospheric. It's dark and eerie -- a perfect fit for the movie.

I became such a fan that I eventually got three more albums:

  • 10,000 Hz Legend, perhaps Air's strongest album, offers a hearty portion of musical meat to chew on. "Radian" is my favorite, particularly when the instruments kick in part way through. The album features Beck on "The Vagabond", another good tune.
  • Moon Safari, released before 10,000Hz Legend but newer to me, has a "softer" feel (as if Air could get any more mellow). "La Femme d'Argent", "Talisman", "Ce Matin-La", "New Star in the Sky (Chanson Pour Solal)", and "Le Voyage de Penelope" are wonderful ambient jams with catchy bass parts. "You Make It Easy" and "All I Need" prevent me from calling Moon Safari their best album because of the corny vocals. Don't get me wrong, they don't seem out of place, just corny.
  • Talkie Walkie, Air's newest album, seems more laid back than the others. "Universal Traveler", "Mike Mills", and "Surfing on a Rocket" (which is in a car commercial now) stand out to me as the pleasant sounding tracks, while "Run" and "Another Day" are more brooding and ominous. But there's enough variety on the album to make it worth checking out.

Well, that's my take on Air so far. I don't yet own Premiers Symptomes, an album of their earliest stuff. Air makes great relaxation music. I listen to it while driving and fall asleep at the wheel.

be a pianist overnight!

That's the claim made by the 1987 video, "Play Piano Overnight", taught by the legendary Patty Carlson. My grandfather suggested I watch it because it taught him a thing or two. He kept bugging me to watch it until I finally did last night. Boy, was it worth the wait! Patty Carlson blows my mind with her unbridled talent! From the box:

People have been fooled by the belief that it takes years of training to play music. They have also thought that the ability to compose music is a rare gift. My method of teaching will prove to you that these beliefs are no longer true.

Oh, snap! Preach it, Patty!

I watched this video then went to sleep. When I awoke, I could instantly play wonderful 1987 vintage piano music! Jan Hammer, look out!

She starts with the basics -- "These are the white keys. Well, I like to call them 'keys'. Just ignore those black ones for now." Then she progresses to chords before unveiling her revolutionary finger technique -- "the New Age Stretch", which is just playing the 1-5-octave with the left hand. Don't ask me why it's "New Age"; I guess everything was back then. Then, an advanced lesson: "Improvisation is a term I use for 'making up music.'" She demonstrates how to do a simple bassline around the "New Age Stretch" while playing a shmaltzy melody with the right hand. "You can play any white key over this, and it'll sound ok." Wow, that's some good instruction!

The only chord progression that she seems to like is VI-IV-V-IV-I or some variation. It's a nice progression for shlocky, "New Age Stretch" kinda stuff, but what else would you possibly want to play?! That's right, nothing.

I'm a Patty Carlson convert, for sure. Check out these testimonials from the back of the box:

Patty makes the piano a toy and brings joy and enchantment to making music.
Helen Howlett -- housewife
It changed my life! Patty Carlson's method is even better than she says.
Barbi Benton -- Actress/Singer
Me play white keys real good now. Baaaaby Ruuuth!
Sloth -- character from The Goonies

I would recommend Patty's video to all my friends, if I had any! I'm too busy becoming a big fat pianist overnight!

Now I'm going to check out another great video: "Learn to Play Music With Just Two Notes!" by Philip Glass. "Hours of music in a 30 minute video."

There You Go Again

I can't say that I remember much of Ronny Raygun (must be Alzheimer's). Lots of people hated him, and lots adored him. I can't say either way. The 80's were a wacked out time for me, mostly spent pooping in my pants, talking gibberish, and later, playing with a Michael Jackson doll...err, action figure. I was much too cool to break-dance on cardboard like my brother. Sporting a bowl haircut and too much chunk in my trunk, I think I was basically an annoying know-it-all, whiney brat back then. Not much has changed except that now I'm a skinny brat with a mohawk.

Yes, the 80's were lame. Every Hollywood movie from the period had U.S vs. Ruskie themes. The music mostly sucked. Fashions were embarrassing. Everybody was a coke head. At least, that's what I learned from video, which killed the radio star.

And through it all, there was Reagan, comforting the nation like only an ex-actor can.

Well, I realize that I have nothing to say about Reagan because I don't know anything about anything. I was thinking, however, that his body must be kind of stinky after being flown across the country for the past few days. And why would they spend so much money to cart a dead guy around? They could just parade an empty casket through D.C, and nobody would notice. At the very least, I hope he gets a discount on air fare.

enough buying

Ok, no more big ticket items for a while. Got it, self? The sunburst jazz bass will tide me over for a few weeks. I'll just buy my usual lettuce sandwich at Subway for lunch, and that's it! I should save more money for the future. [Ah yes, the future, when I'll be wearing a mylar jumpsuit while flying around in my hover car. can't wait.]

Oh, and no more fuzzy stuffed cat impulse buys -- even if they're cheap.