Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Retropost - PART II

10/26/05 - Part II

So here's the following week's post, from May 2005, when I started writing the blog, a bit prematurely... (By the way, that's Mark Hosler (Negativland) there, to the right, taken at the Oak Street Cinema in Fall of 2004 - story below)...

(May 28, 2005)
Here’s the playlist for this week’s episode of Some Assembly Required

01 Akufen – “Wet Floors”
02 DJ Riko – “Whistler's Delight (Full Version)”
03 DJ Babu – “Suckas (Sucka DJ Dis)”
04 John Oswald – “Anon“
05 Myeck Waters - “I love white things”
06 Fat Cougars – “Little ditty about superbike”
07 Jim Allenspach – “People like um”
08 People Like Us – “More Plunderblunders”
09 Eric Vessels – “Limbaugher”
10 Party Ben – “Fischervana (smells like emerge)”
11 Emergency Broadcast Network – “You Have 5 Seconds To Complete This Section”
12 Evolution Control Committee – “Nasha”
13 DJ Shadow – “You Can't Go Home Again”

I got some nice phone calls today. One was from a man who says he looks forward to listening to the show with his son. That’s awesome. I’ve been trying to get a feel for who listens to the show, and so far I’ve got it boiled down to three pretty distinct categories. Prepare yourself for some (obviously) broad generalizations…
1) Punks/Outsiders (We know who we are)
2) Artists/Art lovers (uh, again... we know who we are)
3) Kids (and again!)

I was shopping at the Wedge one afternoon (a Twin Cities food coop) and a woman came up to me and said she really liked the show (I forget how she knew who I was, by sight), and then introduced me to her kids, who looked up at me and shouted, in unison, “Only children can go down a bathroom drain!” I just about passed out, I felt so cool (the phrase repeats in a collage I made and played on the show). When the phone rings at the studio, it’s either from parents/kids, various members of the "counter culture," or other artists and fans of modern art. Or its someone accusing me of having lost my mind and insisting that I start to play some “real music.”

Which brings me to my second subject for this week’s blog entry. “Music” vs. “Audio Art.” When Mark Hosler was in town to give his film presentation on Negativland for Some Assembly Required and Sound Unseen, we had a friendly debate about this subject. He, like a lot of people I know, insists on calling everything "music," even if it has no rhythm or melody. That’s cool - of course - everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But I respectfully disagree. Keep in mind, if you haven’t figured this out yet, I’m a BIG fan of sound collage and am not trying to say that it’s not worthwhile, if its not entirely musical. I’m just saying that if you can’t dance to it, or hum along, why call it music? Music, unlike art, does have some basic guidelines. Why stretch the definition? Why not just call it art?

Anyway, I’m a fan of Negativland, and I'm sure Mark knew that, so he didn't seem overly defensive when I said I don’t always refer to his band, or the artists I play on Some Assembly Required, as music. I think I actually got through to him with this point: My “mission,” if you want to get lofty about it, with Some Assembly Required, has always been to expose people to my collection of unusual and beautiful recordings. Its up to me to try and be savvy about how to get people to listen. I can set up shop for an hour every week for a million years and no one’s going to listen unless I use some strategy in how I present the work...

One thing I’ve learned to respect is the power of preconception. One of my pet peeves is when I find a dramatic film in the comedy section at the video store, because it stars an actor who is a comedian. My personal review of the film is often seriously jeopardized by the fact that I have to first come to grips with the fact that it isn’t actually a comedy. That’s my concern when it comes to what to call what I play on the show. If I tell people to get ready to dance to this three minute text cut-up by Myeck Waters, or Wayne Butane, they’re going to crank the radio, put on their dancing shoes and then completely overlook how brilliant, and humorous, the relationships between all the cut-up fragments are, because they’re trying to figure out why I think they can dance to it. If it has a beat in the background, its musical, yes, but the lines are still blurry to say the least.

So I like to use the term “audio art.” Or as the FAQ page at the show’s website says… “I like to think of the program as a weekly art show. A lot of it IS quite musical, but that’s not necessarily always the case… Basically, while all music is audio art, not all audio art is music. That’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind, when listening to Some Assembly Required.”

So that’s my rant for this week’s blog submission. Feel free to comment if you like. I think that’s a feature of this blog. We’ll see. This week’s image is a picture of Mark Hosler, taken at the Oak Street Cinema in October of 2004, right before his presentation at Sound Unseen. Makes some sense since I mentioned his visit earlier. And feel free to drop me a line, if you have questions/comments about Some Assembly Required or Post Consumer Productions. Specifically, I’d love to hear from you if you’re listening in cities other than Minneapolis. Let me know where you hear the show (city/state/station/etc). Thanks!

Until next week…
Jon Nelson


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