Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness: Indonesian Music And Shadow Plays

“There was no sense of urgency, no real plan to finish this album,” says Chris Goyer, lead singer of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, a band that’s taken eight years to follow-up Fear Is On Our Side. With titles like “You Are Dead To Me” and “The Sun Burns Out,” Dust picks up exactly where Fear left off, piling dark atmospherics on top of pained, brooding, impenetrable lyrics about whatever happened to be on Goyer’s mind when the tape started rolling. If it sounds heavy, that’s because Ministry’s Paul Barker produced the album, just like the one before. If it occasionally sounds lighter, that’s because the rest of the band members—Daniel Del Favero, Ed Robert, Ernest Salaz and Tim White—haven’t lost their fondness for modular synths, chorus pedals and looping guitar arpeggios. ILYBICD will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

Gamelan

“The Balinese believe there are two parts of the world: the visible world, and the invisible world, and that the shadow is in-between the two.” – Larry Reed

Salaz: Back in the late ‘90s, I’d started listening to minimalist composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Erik Satie, but also heard similar approaches in electronic music with Brian Eno and Richard D. James (a.k.a. Aphex Twin). It was rhythmic, repetitive, trance-like and had a completely different sense of time and space. This path led me to Indonesian gamelan music. Indonesian gamelan music is thousands of years old, and it’s timeless as it is mindful of time. Unlike Western music, Indonesian gamelan functions more like the gears in a clock, with cyclical, repetitive, interlocking parts (called kotekan) overlapping until they realign on the same beat, usually indicated by a deep, low gong. I joined a gamelan ensemble in college called Sekar Setaman, and became aware of Larry Reed and his work with ShadowLight Productions, which produced shadow puppet plays in the style of wayang kulit. Larry tells complex stories with music, lights, shadows and perspective that for me resonate much deeper than any movie with the latest CGI effects.

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I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness: Out Of The Shadows

ILYBICD

Austin’s I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness reemerges with its second album

“There was no sense of urgency, no real plan to finish this album,” says Chris Goyer, lead singer of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, a band that’s taken eight years to follow-up Fear Is On Our Side. “We would work on stuff for a while, then stop, then work on it again. People kind of came and went, did different things in their lives, until we finally committed to putting out an album. A normal band would have had a better work ethic, but obviously, we have no real concept of it.”

With titles like “You Are Dead To Me” and “The Sun Burns Out,” Dust picks up exactly where Fear left off, piling dark atmospherics on top of pained, brooding, impenetrable lyrics about whatever happened to be on Goyer’s mind when the tape started rolling. If it sounds heavy, that’s because Ministry’s Paul Barker produced the album, just like the one before. If it occasionally sounds lighter, that’s because the rest of the band members—Daniel Del Favero, Ed Robert, Ernest Salaz and Tim White—haven’t lost their fondness for modular synths, chorus pedals and looping guitar arpeggios.

“Honestly, with the best songs, we just start playing until we find something that sounds good, and that’s pretty much it,” says Goyer, who thinks of himself as a guitar player who sings, rather than as a singer who plays guitar. “Maybe somebody we’ll have a guitar part or a keyboard loop, and we’ll just start playing. In a room. Together. Whether that’s three of us, or four of us, or five of us. Sometimes, there’s a little more thought that goes into the words or the melodies later, but the more we try to change things, the worse a song typically gets. So, we’re really big into thinking less, playing more and letting whatever happens happen.”

After releasing an EP in 2003, produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel, and a full-length in 2006, the band members thought briefly about turning pro, but quickly decided they were better off keeping their day jobs. (Goyer runs a software development company. His bandmates also work in tech, and none has other bands to distract them.) Midway through a 2006 European tour, they realized they’d rather be home in Austin, so even though they love to perform, they’ve scheduled only one gig to support the new album.

“There’s no pressure to do anything we don’t want to do,” says Goyer, who plays most of the high-end rhythm guitar parts. “Since the last album, everyone has grown up a little bit, emotionally, behavior-wise. That’s a positive. We’re definitely more laid-back, and everyone’s attitude is, ‘This is what it is.’ That’s fine. We sound better than we used to, and I don’t know if that’s because everybody is more anal, but we sound really good. I know, we spent a ridiculous amount of time on this record. But the time actually spent working was probably comparable to a normal album. We just spread it out.”

—Kenny Berkowitz

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: MAGNET Magazine

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

Magnet

Again, I have to reiterate that I am not pandering to Mr. Eric Miller and his longstanding baby when I say that MAGNET is easily one of the world’s finest music publications. Eric and I have been connected for two decades now, easily—me, mainly as publicist, he has editor, journalist, publisher, etc. … working on possibly hundreds of things together, but, Eric has been very kind to the Sharp Things over all this time. Knowing Eric as long as I do, I can tell you that he is a man of top-notch integrity, and if he didn’t like what we did, we’d know by now. And so, we’re honored. But, as a fan, a reader and a music fan, I look forward to getting my copy of the magazine every month, as I have for years now. Why? Because MAGNET is one of the few outlets covering music that has managed, somehow, through some incredible feat of business acumen and pure sweat, I would imagine, that balances astute and intelligent coverage of a variety of genres, letting us know what the veterans are up to, while giving the upstarts a chance and displaying amazing bravery in its cover choices, that range from fringe comedians (Sarah Silverman is the current issue’s choice, Fred Armisen, a few issues ago), then tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus, Tom Waits, Weezer, Tweedy, Spoon—just awesome interviews, great and fair reviews and choice sections that always jazz me, man: Where’s The Street Team?, and the brilliant Phil Sheridan’s The Back Page, to name a few. It just doesn’t get much better.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: London

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

London

Even though it smells like sausages, London is my favorite city on earth. My home is NYC, so I suppose that, by default, I should be suffering such guilt right now. But, having endured the Big Crapple for almost half a century, I feel that I’ve earned the right to be critical. There’s a lot to be critical of, although we finally have a liberal mayor who doesn’t hate teachers (my wife is one) and who probably wouldn’t attempt to buy a third term, if he were to stick around for a second. NYC is fast becoming the shining example of class disparity. The folks in the middle are being pushed out, and the working classes are being pushed away entirely to make room for an ever-growing influx of finance types. But we’re not here to talk about NYC (hmm … maybe we are), anyway, London, right? Yes! Having visited the city more times than I could count and having a significant number of good pals there, it does feel like a sort of home away from home. Meaning, I know it. I know my way around there. I even know some shortcuts. While I never actually lived there, the more I talk to people from here who’ve settled in there, the better the stories get, and the more jealous I feel. When I go, I love taking long walks alone, plotting my course through the parks, to the record stores, into certain pubs (my fave is Spaniards, near Hampstead Heath) and back again through other neighborhoods. My friends who call London home will read this and likely say, “What a quaint, poncy bastard,” to which I give you a preemptive, “Fuck you!” London, there’s no better place on a Saturday afternoon than Rough Trade East down around Old Street. The whole area is teaming with all sorts of stories, but you get the impression that the store is the epicenter of indie music as we know it and that it somehow contains every record and book about records ever written.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Mike “Sport” Murphy

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

Mike

I was introduced to Mike “Sport” Murphy over a decade ago by my cohort, TST guitarist, Jim Santo. Sport had just completed what I still contend to be a masterpiece of modern popular music, an album called Willoughby. The album possessed everything I cherished in music: a mythology, a great voice, poignant lyrics about a multitude of subjects, un-alienating eccentricity (which is something I value deeply, as alienating eccentricity is something that many music makers seem to work toward these days while all the while complaining that no one understands them) and beautiful melodies. I mean, beautiful melodies—another sidelined aspect of popular music, which makes sense if trying hard not to actually reach people. Sport’s not having any of that. An incredibly well-versed music aficionado, Sport, through his songs and other writings, has paid homage to Jacques Brel, the aforementioned Scott Walker, but also folks like Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Stephen Foster and, most of all, Charles Ives. To listen to any one of his three albums (there’s one on the way, too), is to have a history lesson in all of the above, and more. Even 2003’s Uncle, Sport’s visceral and heartbreaking tribute to his nephew, Pete, a firefighter, who was lost in 9/11 contained such heady nods. Something for everyone! At press time, Sport has become something of a minor celebrity in France. Say what you want about the French; the fact that such special music can be appreciated there, while being “under the radar” here, speaks volumes about us. Such losers, we are. Sorry, but it’s true. The fact that someone of his caliber has struggled to make a living off his music while tiresome, artless, faux-tortured, over-breathy little boys can become rich by the dozen, makes me hate life. I love you, Sport Murphy. Fuck ‘em. Keep it up.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Kurt Vonnegut

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

KurtVonnegut

It is befitting, I think, to follow my blather about Nick Hornby with some more blather about Kurt Vonnegut. For me at least, there is a direct line between the two who have written about idiosyncratic personalities who get in their own way. Often with a darker take in Vonnegut’s case, this remind us that there’s a surreal aspect to the human experience, that either comes from forces within or without, and that affects the course of lives all around us. The courage of change, especially with Vonnegut’s narratives, is a running theme. Breakfast Of Champions’ Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout are perfect examples—but while telling important stories, with Vonnegut, there is always the appreciated reticence to pull back on the propensity to make their characters larger than life. Which creates the humor in his prose (and Hornby’s): irregular folks dealing with irregular circumstances. Vonnegut, who’s done this with more poise than any other author I can think of, aside from maybe Salinger, uses everyday colloquialisms to get incredibly insightful points across. As an active member of the ACLU, I also have a deep appreciation of his politics, an aspect of his writing that seemed to become more overt in his latter works, but certainly a centerpiece of novels like Slaughterhouse-Five and Welcome To The Monkey House, etc.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Nick Hornby

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

NickHornby

Back in 2006, I wrote an odd little song called “The Jumpers” to kick off TST’s third album, A Moveable Feast. The song was inspired by Nick Hornby’s latest novel at the time, A Long Way Down, a series of intermingling vignettes about four disparate personalities who threaten to off themselves by jumping from the same roof of the same tower block on New Year’s Eve. I emailed the song to Nick, of course, resolved to the fact that hitting “send” would be much like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it into Vesuvius. It had been months, but finally, and coincidentally, while I sat in the smoky lounge at the infamous Columbia Hotel in London, I retrieved an email from Hornby (himself) letting me know how much he liked the song and that he’d downloaded the rest of our catalog and was checking it all out. It was as incredible a moment in my quasi-musical career as playing to David Byrne at the Knitting Factory a few years earlier. Over time, I’ve riffled through almost all of Nick’s inventory, from Fever Pitch to High Fidelity (better in London) to About A Boy (also a great film) and leaping around a bit, How To Be Good, An Education, Juliet, Naked (we’ll talk more about this one at a later date), his lovely Songbook (published as such in the States), chronicling a year’s worth (2003) of songs that inspired him, a few awesome short stories and, more recently, Ten Years In The Tub, a year-by-year diary of literary works he’d been devouring for decade, a work both informative and pretty darn funny. The overall takeaway here is that the man has never let me down. As entertaining as I’ve found his work to be, I’ve also found it to be “just the thing” in each and every case, whether I needed a good laugh or some important insight, or both, the universe led me to this guy and his work: both timeless and timely, and profound literature without being too aware of itself.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Archive X

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

ArchiveX

My good friend Hugo turned me onto this one. There’s not a lot I can say about it due to the interesting nature of the artist itself—you see, Archive X is the sublime, vocal-based canon of, well, a completely anonymous individual or group of individuals living somewhere in the continental United States (or perhaps not). All I know is that this is some mind-blowing shit. I contend, from the perspective of both a listener and a music maker, that the world does not make enough music pulling its cues or inspiration from the vast repertoire of “classical” music available to us. And while several tracks into AX’s series of EPs you realize that many of the ideas are augmented by beats and electronics, there is a unifying purpose—a sense of theme and variation, a technique I learned about in college music classes, whereby central musical ideas are built upon and altered as a progression, thus presenting not only amazing sonic results, but as a modus operandi, there are not too many artists doing this at all these days.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: The Beatles’ “Revolver”

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

Beatles

To have even put this particular album on my short list of faves, you know you’re dealing with an over-zealous Beatles fan. Please. I could have just as well found reasons to drop Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles (White Album), Let It Be, Abbey Road, even Magical Mystery Tour up in this shit, but I choose Revolver. Why? Because while it was Rubber Soul that arguably did the about face on the moptops, it was Revolver that not only hinted at the Fab Four’s bottomless talents at this juncture. It betrayed a maturity that was staggering for a bunch of blokes in their mid-20s, even though this was already their seventh album. It was also, in my estimation, the album that gave us equal billing, Lennon to McCartney, featuring some top shelf songwriting by any standards. In addition, the album sports the best Harrison track recorded to that date, the kick off, “Taxman.” Immediately followed by McCartney classic “Eleanor Rigby,” one of the first to utilize a string quartet. As for Macca, this album presents a handful of his finest moments ever. This is the LP that gives us the timeless melodies of “Here, There And Everywhere,” and the heartbreaking, “For No One,” among others. As for Lennon, it’s an equal triumph of attitude as well as songsmithing, with tunes like “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Doctor Robert” and “And Your Bird Can Sing.” Records, especially these days, rarely get better than this.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: “Homeland”

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

Homeland

It’s 8:15 on Sunday night. Homeland will be on in 45 minutes. I can’t wait.

In what seems like a whole other life ago, I kinda sorta knew Claire Danes.

Despite her marked celebrity status even back then, she was an incredibly nice, accommodating and positive spirit, and I respected her as both a person and an actor. A decade later, here’s Homeland: a political psychothriller that prompted the wife and I to purchase Showtime, against our will.

Claire’s Carrie Matheson brings the sort of pivotal genius in the character’s complicated and empathetic personality to a sort of “we’re not worthy” level. I am so glad that she only had a few cool films, not to mention the greatness that was My So Called Life, under her belt when I’d met her the first time—grateful that Homeland was still a bunch of years in her future otherwise, I would have most definitely made a fool of myself, over-addressing the political implications of each perfect episode, asking stupid questions about her co-stars, and so on. I had a moment in time when I could say hi to this cool lady and she’d remember my name (she probably would not now), perhaps partially because I didn’t bring up what she did, but if it were Homeland, I wouldn’t have been able to resist and she would have walked to the other side of the street when she saw me coming.

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