A Buddhist phase

Anyone who may be a regular reader of this blog may recognize that the posting has been sporadic for the better part of the last couple months. I’ve been going through what I’m calling a “Buddhist phase” lately: I got rid of a bunch of shit in my apartment, I got rid of all my social media accounts, I got rid of most of my hair. I’ve basically been on a quest to distill everything in my life down to its essence, stripping away all the extraneous noise and trying to pay attention to what’s in front of my face as much as possible. Is it working? Fuck if I know, but I feel better, and I’ll take that as a yes for now. Continue reading

Showdown: Blahzay Blahzay vs. Mystikal

The Contestants:

blahzayBlahzay Blahzay was a 2-man rap group consisting of DJ PF Cuttin’ and Outloud. There’s a distinct likelihood you’ve never heard of them as they only released one album, though they are featured on a track from the very good posthumous Ol’ Dirty Bastard mixtape Osirus from 2005 (remind me to write something about “Dirty Dirty” sometime, one of the best beats I’ve ever heard).

MystikalMystikal was a rapper from New Orleans who peaked with 2000’s Let’s Get Ready. You’ve almost assuredly heard of him because he’s the guy that did “Shake Ya Ass,” which is EVERYWHERE. You’re probably thinking it’s been quite a while though, and it has, because he served six years in prison for making his hairstylist perform sex acts on him (and here I thought that was part of the famous Aveda Institute method).

The Rep:


There’s something about the word “danger” that has inspired a tremendous amount of quality music, from the Kenny Loggins masterpiece “Danger Zone” to the legendary in my world “Danger High Voltage” of Electric Six. Danger is defined as the possibility of suffering harm or injury, so you know there’s a great chance shit’s about to get real real. Continue reading

Death and the Maiden’s New Clothes

It’s interesting to consider just how important a role the instrumentation and orchestration of a piece of music play in its overall aesthetic. I never gave it all that much thought. I knew there were some tremendously gifted orchestrators scattered throughout musical history like Rimsky-Korsakov and Berlioz and Haydn. I knew that many composers had authorized arrangements of their music in new orchestrations if they didn’t do it themselves. I knew that the character of a piece could change based on the instrumental colors it was dressed in. But rarely has the fundamental nature of a musical moment shifted so radically to my ears than when I ran across a version of the Schubert “Death and the Maiden” Quartet for full orchestra. Continue reading

Undisputed Champs: Otmar Suitner conducts Suppe Overtures

MI0000966862Commenter Tristan reminded me of a proposal I had made many moons ago about a series dedicated to those recordings that stand so far above the competition as to render the very notion of a competition moot (the inspiration for his comment being, if memory serves, the Bernstein/Chicago Shostakovich 7. We’ll definitely be covering that one at some point). I like the idea a lot in that I brought it up two years ago, and I thank Tristan for whipping me into enough of a frenzy to do something about it. With that in mind, let’s begin with a name that anyone who’s spent any length of time reading this blog will know is near and dear to me: Otmar Suitner. Continue reading

Something cool you might have missed: Henry Purcell, Queen Mary, and Droogs

Stanley Kubrick had pretty good taste in music. His use of the opening sequence of Also Sprach Zarathustra is about as legendary as music in film gets, but it wasn’t just the ultra-famous Strauss bit that he employed to great effect. In fact, an equally effective use of the other Strauss’ By the Beautiful Blue Danube waltz can be found in the same movie. Composers as diverse as Ligeti, Bach, Khachaturian, and Liszt can be heard in Kubrick’s films, and his sense of the moment and the mechanism of classical music to help achieve that moment is one of my favorite things about his films. Continue reading

The Shostakovich Chamber Symphony op. 110a: the greatest cover song ever (even including the Clapton Unplugged “Layla!”)

I had the great pleasure of conducting the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony on my Master’s Conducting Recital (followed by Plink, Plank, Plunk by Leroy Anderson, just to give you an indication of my inability to take anything seriously). I knew enough about the whole DSCH motive and his relationship with Stalin and the Volkov-ish idea that the string quartets said everything that the symphonies couldn’t and all that shit, but I never really appreciated just how God damn cool a piece it is. Continue reading