Exai Review

                Autechre’s ‘Exai’ is their largest offering to the world. Years after the robust trinity of ‘Confield – Draft 7.30 – Untilted’ Autechre moved into the wilderness. Quaristice came followed by Oversteps and Move of Ten. Of course Autechre fans may heavily disagree about this sort of categorization. That’s one of the hallmarks of being an Autechre fan. Split up into ‘Pre-Confield’ and ‘Post-Confield’ groups the two Autechre style appreciators rarely meet, besides on the internet. Even this is a gross over-simplification. Otherwise they remain hidden from view. I sometimes wonder if Autechre fans even exist in real life or if I’m just being trolled. Compared to other fan bases, the Autechre fan base is rabid. For years the hope of an album that could unite Autechre fans has kept many listeners tuned into every possible Autechre release. Such an album was thought to be mythical, impossible to balance between warmth and experimentation. 

                Exai might be the album to bring Autechre fans together under a common banner. At long last fans will have similar interests. No longer will there be that level of name-slinging, of gripes about how Autechre used to be harsher, or used to be mellower. Well that’s the hope. I doubt that will be the reality. Autechre’s work is so abstract that there are many interpretations. This is the sign of quality. Multiple opinions mean that the work possesses depth. I respect Autechre’s output even if I’m not equally into each one of them. There’s a difficultly in defining the work, a main reason countless impersonators have tried and failed to copy what Autechre does so well.  

 

                The long track lengths brought my spirits up. One of the best things I like about Autechre’s work is their ability to explore literally every aspect of the song, rhythm and melody. With several songs stretching out past the ten minute mark I’m incredibly happy. Personally any of their longer tracks tend to play toward their strengths. Strangely their shorter songs have never affected me in quite the same way. That’s probably a main reason I’ve had difficulties fully enjoying Quaristice. Here though there are several tracks I’ve already been enjoying. Obviously these will change. But by now I’ve listened to the album more times than is healthy. This happens with every Autechre release, I play the album over and over again for a few weeks trying to figure it all out. Below are some of the ones I that have made their ‘presence felt’. 

                irlite (get 0) – I like this one a lot. This feels free. Anyone who remembers and likes Tri Repetae++’s occasional stops should be pleased with the latter half of the track. 

                T ess xi – This is one of the most straightforward songs they’ve penned in a very long time. Or at least that’s the initial impression. I’m still amazed this even exist, this far into their career. How they develop the achingly beautiful melody is through their own peculiar approach. Yes I really missed this sort of Autechre track. I haven’t heard them sound this tender in a while. 

                bladelores – Even those who hate the album would probably admit this is the album’s highlight. The various blurbs about this track compare it to ‘being born’, ‘the universe expanding and contracting’ and other similar glorified terms. What is most important is how much Autechre gets right, down to the rhythm, down to the melody. A lot is going on within the song, up to the point where it feels like an album’s worth of ideas condensed into a single song. 

                spl9 – Madness in sonic form is the best description. Autechre haven’t abused their equipment like this for a while, and they are huge fans of abusing equipment. 

                cloudline and deco Loc– Autechre really enjoy hip-hop. Sometimes this gets lost in their work, sometimes not such as V-Proc. Here on cloudline they make their preference really clear. This track sounds almost Gescom-like in its playfulness. Deco Loc approaches the same idea from a slightly different angle, though the emotion is roughly the same. 

                For some reason Exai and Autechre in general are reminding me of Thomas Pynchon’s career from ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ to ‘Mason & Dixon’ in particular. During that period between the two novels came out the collection of short stories ‘Slow Learner’ and the poorly received ‘Vineland’. After ‘Vineland’ a lot of people sort of figured that was the end of Pynchon, or at least figured they wouldn’t hear from him for a while. Yet not long after ‘Vineland’ came the oddly touching ‘Mason & Dixon’. 

                Most likely Pynchon and Autechre fans overlap. Like Pynchon, Autechre have sort of seen a gradual decline in interest or excitement for their more recent work. Also like Pynchon people pretty much have their minds made up about whether or not Autechre is for them. Hence Exai’s ability to attract anyone but the converted is relatively limited. For the converted, Exai is the sign that two decades later, Autechre can still impress.

The Zen of Boredom

                “The Pale King” David Foster Wallace’s last book came out right in time for tax day. I’ve never read any of his work before but I have started my ritual stalking of the author’s life details, focus, writing style, etc. Usually when I decide whether or not to read an author’s work, I do some preliminary research on whether or not I can relate to the work at hand. Thomas Pynchon went through this phase before I got “Gravity’s Rainbow” and James Joyce went through this before I got “Finnegans Wake” (though in hindsight probably should have started with “Ulysses”). For “The Pale King” I feel the subject matter may appeal to me.

                According to the little I’ve gleaned from reading about it, it focuses on the idea of boredom as a form of Zen. Characters have to figure out exactly how to handle the often tedious nature of their work. I first put my hands on this book in perhaps the best place for tedium, the Port Authority, a place completely devoted to transit and devoid of any meaningful kind of entertainment, interest, or much of a purpose besides housing countless bus lines going to places of dubious interest. New Paltz, I love you but you’re really quite small in the grand scheme of things. 

                I’ve been thinking about that one central idea, the ability to find  enlightenment in the most boring places imaginable. Over five years have passed since I  began my training under the best dull had to offer. Working in an office sort of prepares you for near-useless, archaic knowledge that may or may not be  transferable anywhere else. But while some of that knowledge may not  have value, it does teach you the importance of killing time and learning how  to appreciate others. How do you manage your time to make sure you  accomplish whatever has been set in front of you while still creating a small  amount of time for human interaction. Any office job virtually guarantees you’ll  learn this skill or go hopelessly insane. 

                Balance is the best word I’d have for this, but it is somewhat incomplete. Sometimes you need to do both work and focus on people at the same time. Zen might be the phrase for this, where you focus on your work peripherally while you are emotionally attached to what is going on around you. Concentration is needed for this skill and you do need a certain amount of knowledge in order to pull this off, but the rewards are amazing. Essentially you are able to do two things at once. While computer screens whiz by as you have the hot-keys memorized, you’re able to avoid being deadened by the sheer tedious nature of the data, of the information. You are aware it is there and what you need to do to interact with it, but you shouldn’t try engaging with it on a heavier level. 

Focusing too intensely on work can often lead to feelings of sourness, of questioning other people’s contributions. This is what I would call the ‘sour’ phase of work, one you really ought to avoid. Questioning what others do or how valuable they are isn’t something that you, as a mere peon (I doubt I have many managers reading this) should be doing in the first place. You’ll begin to put a value on everything everyone does, giving a monetary rather than a more human response. Eventually you may become more emotionally distant from your coworkers and you’ll notice a certain tension growing between you and them. Sure, there will always be egregious examples of the ‘useless’ coworker and that will happen. But try to limit the amount of these negative thoughts. Instead, try to focus on similarities or what you enjoy about the person, that way if criticism ever comes up you can offer ‘constructive’ criticism rather than something bitter.

Waiting forms another large chunk of time we have to spend. New York is a prime example. The city never sleeps since there are so many things to wait for, from buses, trains, lines, tickets, money, food and etc. That’s why I thrive in a city environment. I never understood why people say “in a New York minute”. Nothing I consider worth doing takes a minute or less. Connections mess up. You forget what line to take. Food preparation takes a long time. If anything, I feel by having a giant metropolis you have to accept the idea things will move slowly and ‘all representatives are currently assisting others. The next available representative will be on the line to assist you shortly.’ 

That’s why I can be a sloth in the city. I know how to wait. I know how to be bored. I know I may not always make everything, every train or meeting at a precise time that I want. Automatically I build this into everything I do. Occasionally I’m even given little electronic boards which tell me when the next train is coming, but I can’t really do anything to make things move faster. My expectation remains I may or may not get lucky or my own intuition may improve. Keeping this in mind I have a few different scenarios play out in my head as I’m on my way somewhere, each serving as a back for any given situation.  
 
David Foster Wallace brought me to think about this expectation we create. I’m not sure whether or not his deliberate goal was to make us think about how we use time or how we interact with others, but I’m glad he decided to focus on such a massive part of our lives. A part of our lives edited out of books, writing and so forth rather than celebrated in its own right. So much writing edits out the gritty little details leaving us with a glossy sheen which is why his posthumous novel excites me. Does a broken escalator force people to move faster since they have the idea it should be moving faster, or do people enjoy running up stairs to see if they can beat that languid machine? I see this all the time, of the little kid outrunning his parents by taking the stairs. Then he stands up on top, thinks, and waits for them to realize the folly of their ways. He’s not even thinking about the extra time he’ll be up there, waiting for them. For the child, he has focus and understands the importance of waiting, of boredom. 

Boredom can be a relieving factor. It can drive people crazy. For literally the least interesting thing in the world, it is a surprisingly divisive issue. Maybe I should get “The Pale King”. What do you think?

The Zen of Boredom

                “The Pale King” David Foster Wallace’s last book came out right in time for tax day. I’ve never read any of his work before but I have started my ritual stalking of the author’s life details, focus, writing style, etc. Usually when I decide whether or not to read an author’s work, I do some preliminary research on whether or not I can relate to the work at hand. Thomas Pynchon went through this phase before I got “Gravity’s Rainbow” and James Joyce went through this before I got “Finnegans Wake” (though in hindsight probably should have started with “Ulysses”). For “The Pale King” I feel the subject matter may appeal to me.

                According to the little I’ve gleaned from reading about it, it focuses on the idea of boredom as a form of Zen. Characters have to figure out exactly how to handle the often tedious nature of their work. I first put my hands on this book in perhaps the best place for tedium, the Port Authority, a place completely devoted to transit and devoid of any meaningful kind of entertainment, interest, or much of a purpose besides housing countless bus lines going to places of dubious interest. New Paltz, I love you but you’re really quite small in the grand scheme of things. 

                I’ve been thinking about that one central idea, the ability to find enlightenment in the most boring places imaginable. Over five years have passed since I began my training under the best dull had to offer. Working in an office sort of prepares you for near-useless, archaic knowledge that may or may not be transferable anywhere else. But while some of that knowledge may not have value, it does teach you the importance of killing time and learning how to appreciate others. How do you manage your time to make sure you accomplish whatever has been set in front of you while still creating a small amount of time for human interaction. Any office job virtually guarantees you’ll learn this skill or go hopelessly insane. 

                Balance is the best word I’d have for this, but it is somewhat incomplete. Sometimes you need to do both work and focus on people at the same time. Zen might be the phrase for this, where you focus on your work peripherally while you are emotionally attached to what is going on around you. Concentration is needed for this skill and you do need a certain amount of knowledge in order to pull this off, but the rewards are amazing. Essentially you are able to do two things at once. While computer screens whiz by as you have the hot-keys memorized, you’re able to avoid being deadened by the sheer tedious nature of the data, of the information. You are aware it is there and what you need to do to interact with it, but you shouldn’t try engaging with it on a heavier level. 

Focusing too intensely on work can often lead to feelings of sourness, of questioning other people’s contributions. This is what I would call the ‘sour’ phase of work, one you really ought to avoid. Questioning what others do or how valuable they are isn’t something that you, as a mere peon (I doubt I have many managers reading this) should be doing in the first place. You’ll begin to put a value on everything everyone does, giving a monetary rather than a more human response. Eventually you may become more emotionally distant from your coworkers and you’ll notice a certain tension growing between you and them. Sure, there will always be egregious examples of the ‘useless’ coworker and that will happen. But try to limit the amount of these negative thoughts. Instead, try to focus on similarities or what you enjoy about the person, that way if criticism ever comes up you can offer ‘constructive’ criticism rather than something bitter.

Waiting forms another large chunk of time we have to spend. New York is a prime example. The city never sleeps since there are so many things to wait for, from buses, trains, lines, tickets, money, food and etc. That’s why I thrive in a city environment. I never understood why people say “in a New York minute”. Nothing I consider worth doing takes a minute or less. Connections mess up. You forget what line to take. Food preparation takes a long time. If anything, I feel by having a giant metropolis you have to accept the idea things will move slowly and ‘all representatives are currently assisting others. The next available representative will be on the line to assist you shortly.’ 

That’s why I can be a sloth in the city. I know how to wait. I know how to be bored. I know I may not always make everything, every train or meeting at a precise time that I want. Automatically I build this into everything I do. Occasionally I’m even given little electronic boards which tell me when the next train is coming, but I can’t really do anything to make things move faster. My expectation remains I may or may not get lucky or my own intuition may improve. Keeping this in mind I have a few different scenarios play out in my head as I’m on my way somewhere, each serving as a back for any given situation.  

 

David Foster Wallace brought me to think about this expectation we create. I’m not sure whether or not his deliberate goal was to make us think about how we use time or how we interact with others, but I’m glad he decided to focus on such a massive part of our lives. A part of our lives edited out of books, writing and so forth rather than celebrated in its own right. So much writing edits out the gritty little details leaving us with a glossy sheen which is why his posthumous novel excites me. Does a broken escalator force people to move faster since they have the idea it should be moving faster, or do people enjoy running up stairs to see if they can beat that languid machine? I see this all the time, of the little kid outrunning his parents by taking the stairs. Then he stands up on top, thinks, and waits for them to realize the folly of their ways. He’s not even thinking about the extra time he’ll be up there, waiting for them. For the child, he has focus and understands the importance of waiting, of boredom. 

Boredom can be a relieving factor. It can drive people crazy. For literally the least interesting thing in the world, it is a surprisingly divisive issue. Maybe I should get “The Pale King”. What do you think?

The Bucket List: People I’d like in my Facebook Profile Picture

  Bucket lists offer a peek into your soul. All that wishes, hopes, dreams are revealed in what appears to be an innocuous list of things. Usually people create it as a way of exploring their most suppressed sexual fantasies, but that’s not all there is.

                Facebook offers one the opportunity to look cool in front of their peers. Some seem to have misconstrued this to mean “Let me hook this up to my twitter and annoy my friends.” Others discovered that by posting and commenting on every political story that comes into their RSS feed. Yes, we get it. Aren’t you ever so opinionated? You get music nerds who post up youtube clips that make you shudder out of embarrassment. No one else shares your love of disco, sorry. Last but not least, there are the dreaded tech fans who get aroused at every new techie product they probably can’t afford or shouldn’t buy.

                The main way of looking cool on facebook: profile pictures. Without even having to read any of the lame quotes (oh, you quoted Nietzsche on your profile, poor tortured soul. Maybe you should read more than two sentences of the guy’s stuff, hmm?) You know how cool that person will be. I never have profile pictures with other people; they are always me, alone. Honestly, I’m not bothered by this, but I wonder how people would react if I had someone else, someone vaguely internet or nerd-famous standing with me. Below are some of the people who might give my humble profile a slight boost. They are categorized by my likelihood of actually meeting them. Let’s begin.


Fairly likely to meet them:

1.       The Hipster Grifter – She’s great. I’ve covered her before, and she goes all over New York City. A few of my friends have met her, greatly improving their respectability.

2.       IMBOYCRAZY.COM (Alexi Wasser) – She’s great. However, she lives in California, so my chances of seeing her in Brooklyn are slim. Plus, she does guerrilla-style interviewing with boys asking them about girls. I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be getting filmed and explaining my thoughts on love, since I have complicated thoughts on that.

3.       Tao Lin – I don’t live terribly far from him. As cool as it would be to meet him, most of my friends in real life have no idea who he is, despite my slight nudges that perhaps they ought to read his books. 

Unlikely to meet them:

4.       David Duchovny – Apparently he hangs out in Brooklyn a lot. Most of my friends would know who he is. When I’m fifty, if I look this good and am this well-read, my life will have been a success. 

5.       Thomas Pynchon – He lives in New York. Despite popular belief, he’s not a recluse, he just dislikes journalists. People can and do meet him, it isn’t particularly tricky. But you need the timing right and the correct vibe. Failure to have either one of these things results in a failure to meet him. What having him in my profile picture would be to simultaneously have a secret and a real scoop, though if he were there, he’d probably just look like some old intellectual dude?

6.       Kim Jong-Il – Yeah, I know this is a weird one. Hear me out. I’d try to get a visa to see the film festival there. Since he personally approves each visitor (they don’t have too many) I might have a fairly decent shot of going. I could claim to be an unpopular blogger who writes for a super-elite group of hipsters.  Oddly, my light poking of his stature could help me. When he saw “Team America” he wasn’t bothered by the obvious mocking of him throughout the movie. Instead, he was annoyed that his puppet didn’t get its own sex scene. So we’re dealing with an extremely strange individual here. Plus, as most of my friends are political junkies, they’d know who he was. Bonus would be to my weird cred, which is calculated by random trips and experiences. I’m ahead in this field. 

7.       Mayo Thompson – I adore him. This is the guy who was cool decades before you knew what he was doing was cool. Every music project of his is excellent, tastefully appointed and artsy as fuck. You can’t come close to this guy’s meticulous timing. A few of my friends would know who he was, since I have a lot of music nerd friends who are confused by him. Even the hippies were afraid of him and he did acid with the secretary of transportation. Oddly, our transportation infrastructure was much better back then, so I have an idea of how to improve it which wouldn’t cost much money at all. 

8.       James Murphy – Many of these people are older than me, at least the unlikely to meet people. I need to meet people older than myself, to convince myself that it is possible to be cool at a certain age, rather than falling into some mid-life crisis buying a red convertible problem. He’s a cool guy and knows way too much about music. Somehow, that seemingly useless information served him well. 

9.       You, dear reader – Sadly, I will never meet any of my readers. This worries me, as great deals of you are cool, hip, relevant people. You spread intelligence, humorous musings, and joy throughout the land. Most of you I imagine are around my age, which would help me get out of being the ‘baby’ of my workplace.

Any of these people could be perfect for that perfect profile picture. I hope someday they’ll grace me with their presence and make me a better, happier person. Who out of these people would you want a picture with? Did I leave out anyone who you think deserves greater attention?

The Bucket List: People I’d like in my Facebook Profile Picture

  Bucket lists offer a peek into your soul. All that wishes, hopes, dreams are revealed in what appears to be an innocuous list of things. Usually people create it as a way of exploring their most suppressed sexual fantasies, but that’s not all there is.

                Facebook offers one the opportunity to look cool in front of their peers. Some seem to have misconstrued this to mean “Let me hook this up to my twitter and annoy my friends.” Others discovered that by posting and commenting on every political story that comes into their RSS feed. Yes, we get it. Aren’t you ever so opinionated? You get music nerds who post up youtube clips that make you shudder out of embarrassment. No one else shares your love of disco, sorry. Last but not least, there are the dreaded tech fans who get aroused at every new techie product they probably can’t afford or shouldn’t buy.

                The main way of looking cool on facebook: profile pictures. Without even having to read any of the lame quotes (oh, you quoted Nietzsche on your profile, poor tortured soul. Maybe you should read more than two sentences of the guy’s stuff, hmm?) You know how cool that person will be. I never have profile pictures with other people; they are always me, alone. Honestly, I’m not bothered by this, but I wonder how people would react if I had someone else, someone vaguely internet or nerd-famous standing with me. Below are some of the people who might give my humble profile a slight boost. They are categorized by my likelihood of actually meeting them. Let’s begin.

Fairly likely to meet them:

1.       The Hipster Grifter – She’s great. I’ve covered her before, and she goes all over New York City. A few of my friends have met her, greatly improving their respectability.

2.       IMBOYCRAZY.COM (Alexi Wasser) – She’s great. However, she lives in California, so my chances of seeing her in Brooklyn are slim. Plus, she does guerrilla-style interviewing with boys asking them about girls. I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be getting filmed and explaining my thoughts on love, since I have complicated thoughts on that.

3.       Tao Lin – I don’t live terribly far from him. As cool as it would be to meet him, most of my friends in real life have no idea who he is, despite my slight nudges that perhaps they ought to read his books. 

Unlikely to meet them:

4.       David Duchovny – Apparently he hangs out in Brooklyn a lot. Most of my friends would know who he is. When I’m fifty, if I look this good and am this well-read, my life will have been a success. 

5.       Thomas Pynchon – He lives in New York. Despite popular belief, he’s not a recluse, he just dislikes journalists. People can and do meet him, it isn’t particularly tricky. But you need the timing right and the correct vibe. Failure to have either one of these things results in a failure to meet him. What having him in my profile picture would be to simultaneously have a secret and a real scoop, though if he were there, he’d probably just look like some old intellectual dude?

6.       Kim Jong-Il – Yeah, I know this is a weird one. Hear me out. I’d try to get a visa to see the film festival there. Since he personally approves each visitor (they don’t have too many) I might have a fairly decent shot of going. I could claim to be an unpopular blogger who writes for a super-elite group of hipsters.  Oddly, my light poking of his stature could help me. When he saw “Team America” he wasn’t bothered by the obvious mocking of him throughout the movie. Instead, he was annoyed that his puppet didn’t get its own sex scene. So we’re dealing with an extremely strange individual here. Plus, as most of my friends are political junkies, they’d know who he was. Bonus would be to my weird cred, which is calculated by random trips and experiences. I’m ahead in this field. 

7.       Mayo Thompson – I adore him. This is the guy who was cool decades before you knew what he was doing was cool. Every music project of his is excellent, tastefully appointed and artsy as fuck. You can’t come close to this guy’s meticulous timing. A few of my friends would know who he was, since I have a lot of music nerd friends who are confused by him. Even the hippies were afraid of him and he did acid with the secretary of transportation. Oddly, our transportation infrastructure was much better back then, so I have an idea of how to improve it which wouldn’t cost much money at all. 

8.       James Murphy – Many of these people are older than me, at least the unlikely to meet people. I need to meet people older than myself, to convince myself that it is possible to be cool at a certain age, rather than falling into some mid-life crisis buying a red convertible problem. He’s a cool guy and knows way too much about music. Somehow, that seemingly useless information served him well. 

9.       You, dear reader – Sadly, I will never meet any of my readers. This worries me, as great deals of you are cool, hip, relevant people. You spread intelligence, humorous musings, and joy throughout the land. Most of you I imagine are around my age, which would help me get out of being the ‘baby’ of my workplace.

Any of these people could be perfect for that perfect profile picture. I hope someday they’ll grace me with their presence and make me a better, happier person. Who out of these people would you want a picture with? Did I leave out anyone who you think deserves greater attention?