Last Saturday was my fifth anniversary broadcast of my radio show, “It’s Too Damn Early.” I thought it would be nice to post the playlist at STARTLING MONIKER, seeing as how I haven’t done much in the way of show commentary here yet. Also, perhaps some listeners or casual blog readers will be interested to find out what sort of music I play, and why I choose the things I do.
I started this show a little early, at about 3:30 A.M., because the people who host the show prior to mine were not still present. I’m not sure what’s been going on, but for the last few weeks, the two shows before me have been a bit squirrely– I’m getting a note from at least one of them each week, to the effect that someone didn’t show, and nobody feels like sticking around until my show begins at 4 A.M.
So I put “Diving Bell” on right after I walked in the door, even before I had the transmitter powered up. I hate having the transmitter broadcast “dead air,” and it also helps the station be a little more “awake” at this time of day. By the time I had re-locked and checked the outer doors, got my Coca-Cola, settled into my comfy chair, and opened all my mail, it was time to begin the proper broadcast; which began with “Reinforce One Another, Conditions for Contraction.”I had been wanting to play The Gates Ensemble the week before, but hadn’t gotten around to it. As stupid as it sounds, sometimes cover art throws me a little– in this case, album reminded me quite a bit of a much older album of mine, and I had passed it over the previous week. I followed with “Tube Mouth Bow String,” another long-ish track from Nick Didkovsky. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a gaffe, restarting the Gates Ensemble. I blame the ever-changing array of compact disc players we have in master control. They must get a lot of use, because it always seems like one is being changed out or replaced while being fixed again. The Didkovsky material, on Pogus, is quite good. I’m mostly certain I’ll be playing more of it this coming week.
Kotra and Zavolonka’s album “Wag the Swing” was up next, with four tracks getting airplay. They flow into one quickly, which makes it difficult for me to cut them. My sympathy is to allow tracks their life, and a bit of breathing space. I don’t like cutting the flow of an album, or individual tracks, so I will sometimes let them come to their own natural pause. In fact, from the very beginning of my own radio broadcasts (about seven years ago, with “Radio Show For Resume”) I have tried to hold fast to a personal rule: avoid playing excerpts when possible.
It often surprises artists contacting me for the first time to find that I am willing to play tracks longer than a few minutes. Even for those musicians who have managed to get “outside the box” enough to create unique music still have a tendency to think along the traditional lines of radio programming. Corporate radio has a powerful chokehold on people’s imaginations, unfortunately.
I also played some tracks from The Painful Leg Injuries’ new album. It’s been one of my favorites lately, especially the short films on the accompanying DVD. Personally, I’m very interested in the DVD-R as a format, and I’m curious to learn more about what can be done with it. I am heartened to see that a small (but growing) number of artist submissions to the show have either been on DVD-Rs, or accompanied by them. Technology is obviously giving these artists greater freedom to express themselves, and it will be interesting to see where folks go when they are free of the 80-minute mark. My concern is that artists will be pressured to automatically take advantage of the increased time available, though, resulting in “filler” tracks, which seem to plague nearly every major release these days.
Here’s a pronouncement for you: if I was a pop star, I wouldn’t make any albums. I think I’d record singles ONLY. Why bother with other songs when your core audience just wants to hear that one song over and over and over again anyway? Leave full-length albums to us weirdos. Besides, a pop concert would be way more fun if you didn’t have to see the singer slogging through eight uninteresting things before getting to the big hit. Maybe they could just do covers of each other to fill out the time? It worked in the old days– they were called “standards.”
All pop music aside for now– back to this long-winded commentary. Hotel, Hotel was up next. Guitarist P.D. Wilder is coming to the show this next week, so its only fair to do a little radio warm-up for the listeners. I did a double set with his Hotel, Hotel project (three tracks from the latest album), and two tracks from an older one under his Pablo St. Chaos name. Now folks have no excuse to say “P.D. Who?”
I had queued up some Jack Wright in the meantime, of course– from his “As Is” album, which is really nice. The title suggests something slapped together, but this is anything but the case. Sure, there is really no cover art to speak of– and yes, the disc is stuck on some foam on folded paper– but do I give a damn? Hell no. Wright’s kick-ass liner notes explain everything, taking the time to lay out the mental hell that thinking artists walk through in the confrontation between art and business. Although I haven’t met him, I suspect Wright be a bit like myself– thoughtful to the point of overthinking, both a blessing and a curse. Thankfully, the music was worth it as well. Alternately challenging and infuriating, I am once again wondering how Wright is able to create these sounds. Not physically, mind you– but how he is able to control them, channel them, communicate… I am at a serious loss of words here.
Moving on… Edgetone Records sent me a copy of Eddie the Rat’s “Once Around the Butterfly Bush,” which is simply fantastic. It’s really wild where it needs to be, and presents a lot of interesting sounds. I’m certainly playing this one next week as well, hopefully a lot more tracks also. Following Eddie the Rat, I was starting to feel a bit tired, so I switched gears into Mike Hansen’s new album on Etude Records. The first track was just enough low-key to give me some breathing space, but I knew the screwed-up nod to rock drum solos on the next one would have me pepped up before I left the station. By the end of “Once Held a Lighter to the Sky,” I was physically ready to go, but still had a bit more time on the clock– nothing better than oddball kalimba tunes to lead into the kid’s show, eh?
I ended up playing some R.P. Collier tracks (“Axba,” and “Zaltr,”) both beautiful little slices of improvised melodic weirdness. Just the sort of thing for signing off until next week. See you then! –DaveX
Diving Bell — Diving Bell
The Gates Ensemble — Reinforce One Another, Conditions for Contraction
Nick Didkovsky — Tube Mouth Bow String
Kotra & Zavolonka — Uneven Walk
Kotra & Zavolonka — A Task of Live Life
Kotra & Zavolonka — Analog Tender
Kotra & Zavolonka — Spacey Drift
The Painful Leg Injuries — In the Haze, You Can See So Much Everything It’s Nothing
The Painful Leg Injuries — Very Alone Out There Tonight
The Painful Leg Injuries — Perfect Sunsets, Admired and Forgotten
Hotel, Hotel — Denial
Hotel, Hotel — Shock
Hotel, Hotel — Anger
Pablo St. Chaos — A Boucle Ouverle Comme Point de Reference
Pablo St. Chaos — Orange
Jack Wright — Live at Irtijal Festival, Beirut, April 2006
Eddie the Rat — Once Around the Butterfly Bush
Mike Hansen — The Alarm Went Off Sooner Than Expected
Mike Hansen — Once Held a Lighter in the Sky
RP Collier — Axba
RP Collier — Zaltr