by Kirsten Carey
Primus has been something of an obsession of mine for the past few months. You can guess that Les Claypool has had a rather expansive playlist, from funk to hard rock and metal to bluegrass - hell, when I saw Primus live, they had Spike Jones blaring between sets. Yet, Primus’s music doesn’t sound like the sum of its parts, and in that way it’s completely unique. Plus, Claypool’s goofiness and dark sense of humor are an integral part of his music - it’s a kind of warped, absurdist sincerity previously popularized by early Talking Heads. But the style of disillusionment and cynicism belongs squarely in the 90s - somehow, it makes perfect sense that Primus and The Ren and Stimpy Show co-existed. (Let’s not forget Claypool’s role in South Park, after all.) What "Mr Krinkle" is actually about, if anything, is up for debate, but it communicates that trend of dealing with frustration through wittiness.
Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra
This week’s spotlight album is Wax Tailor’s live recording compilation, Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra, which sits at number two on our chart. Wax Tailor, born Jean-Christophe Le Saoût, is a French trip hop/hip hop producer. In the early 90s, he was the host of a radio show in a suburb of Paris called “Droit de Cite”. His guests, such as The Roots and Cypress Hill, inspired him to start his own band, La Formule. He served as the producer, MC, booking agent, and manager.
Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra is his fifth album. In 2004, he released his first two EPs: Lost the Way and Que Sera / Where My Heart's At. In 2005, he released his first full length album, Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, in which he mixes hip hop, downtempo, and trip hop with samples taken from movies. His other four albums include Hope and Sorrow (2007), In the Mood For Life (2009), Dusty Rainbow From the Dark (2012), and Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra. Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra is compilation of live recordings Wax Tailor has performed this year with a symphonic orchestra. Sometimes is an example of the mix of classical instrumentation, electronic beats, and samples typical of the album.
Satori is one of those classic psychedlic rock albums that you have to dig to the bottom of the bin for. Japan's Flower Travellin' Band never achieved commercial success, but Satori - their first album featuring all original music - resonated in a time where rock was being digested by other cultures and shipped back to American audiences. Of course, Krautrock was the most well-known of these exports, but 1971 was also a time when, for example, Fela Kuti had recently returned to Nigeria and started releasing music. Like these more well-known artists, the music created by FTB (as they’re colloquially known) offers an alternate take on rock music through the lens of their own culture. After all, “satori” is the Japanese term for a Buddhist awakening, or the ability to see into one’s own nature. Take, for example, "Satori 2" - a raucous celebration where the drum beat somehow marries rock with the low-toned, driving resonance of taiko drumming. You can listen to the whole album here.(link: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x22yzbj_flower-travellin-band-1971-satori-full-album_music)
"When I walk into the WCBN offices and studio on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing that hits me is the sheer enormity of the space.
Tucked away in the basement of the Student Activities Building is a fully functional multi-room studio. The walls are covered in paint and band stickers. There are shelves with CDs and LPs everywhere. A student or two wanders through the narrow hallways as music plays overhead from the station’s current DJ.
This is the home of WCBN, the University’s free-form radio station on 88.3 FM. Broadcasting in, as their website states ‘one form or another’ over the past 50 years, the station currently hosts over 90 DJs from the University and Ann Arbor community, as well as live music acts, and also gets regularly involved in out-of-studio concerts and events in the city. It prizes itself on its free-form nature; DJs are free to, and do, spin almost any kind of music imaginable."
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WCBN and Sweetland Center will host an interview with between Sweetland's Shelley Manis and Professor Laura Kasischke. It will be broadcast live on WCBN.
Sweetland Center for Writing's Word Squared lets you hear directly from U-M professors about their challenges, processes, and expectation as writers and also as readers of student writing. These conversations offer a rare glimpse into the writing that professors do outside the classroom and how they handle the same challenges student writers face.
Laura Kasischke is the Allan Seager Collegiate Professor of English at the University of Michigan, where she has won a number of awards for her teaching, including the Henry Russel Award, 1923 Memorial Teaching Award, and a Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.