Listen . . . Oka!/Oneohtrix Point Never
Post-Everythingism Meets Nature
Listen . . . Oka! (Oka Productions)
This beguiling piece of post-rock is neither a proper soundtrack nor a field recording‑-not with the African musicians offered the chance to hear their own inventions on headphones and add overdubs. It's a soundtrack-based Bayaka Pygmy audio collage, very much doctored by producer and frequent co-composer Chris Berry, a Californian adept of Zimbabwean thumb piano. With their dream songs, 54-bar structures, and propensity to turn anything from a babbling brook to a scrap of plastic pipe into an instrument, these culturally threatened Central African Republic hunter-gatherers seem to live music even more than most Africans. Women are the chief creators, which has major consequences as regards both prevailing pitch and how much the music hunts and how much it gathers. But either way, it pervades their lives. By manipulating recorded sounds and songs and inviting the Bayaka to do the same, Berry translates that pervasiveness into a form comprehensible in a culture differently pervaded by music‑-ours. A
Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica (Software)
Daniel Lopatin may be a deconstructionist, but he's no ascetic. Unlike too many post-rockers, he has a taste for content as well as form and for creation as well as contrarianism, harvesting a healthy plateful of diverse sounds and textured note sequences from his beloved analog keyboards and then arraying them in songlike tracks that stay in the four-minute range until the quietly celebratory seven-minute finale. Chugging, grinding, crackling, swelling, bubbling, babbling, these tracks don't sound like part of the natural world, but they certainly sound cognizant of the natural world. And although I may be missing some of their formal interrelationships, I swear they behave as one thing. A MINUS
Sonic Youth. Certainly one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time. Problem is, I love so many of their albums and from so many periods. A Thousand Leaves might lead the pack, but I so love Daydream Nation, Washing Machine, Murray St, Rather Ripped, Sonic Nurse... gosh, it never ends. In other words, no single album is definitive and my 25 picks as so limited, I've decided not to include artist repeats. So my inclination is to list "Hits are for Squares" which is the Starbucks (****!!!!!) comp that includes great stuff both old and new. Nothing from A Thousand Leaves or Rather Ripped, but great nonetheless. And it holds together as a great listen from start to finish.
Naturally, I'd have picked other selections ("Theresa's Soundworld!" "Karen Koltrane!") , but heck, I'm leaving a lot of Stones on the table too by naming Exile on Main Street. Anyone else in the same predicament? Thoughts? Dean?
And, if he places an album in a list and the album is surrounded by A albums, I don't think it is a leap to assume that the album in question is now an A album. In fact, it is pure logic. He's done it time and again (even Parallel Lines started out as an A-).
Thus ends another edition of "Christgau Geekery."
EDIT: Why does all this make me think of Lana Del Rey again?
Marcus sold off most of the vinyl when he moved from North Berkeley to just over the line in Oakland this year, just before he wrote "The Doors." He has CDs, mostly live bootlegs, but he doesn't volunteer to put anything on.
That said, and I do understand how this undermines our host, ranking qua ranking ain't where it's at for me, which is actually how the iPod in a sense brought me back to music when I wasn't able to afford my "currency" in album-listening anyway -- that started happening to me about the early Nineties.
Ioannis, LOL, I believe there are 5 As and one A minus.
If I may reveal my total list nerdiness, I think we can all agree that Xgau's subsequent year-end and decade-end ballots reveal that at least 5 of these 6 have been upgraded to A+. And the Aretha? Maybe that one, too. (Love you Alex!)
Which is not to say that Christgau wrote, performed, or released any of these albums. All 25 albums are super great, of course; sometimes it just takes a superlative critic to point that out to us and, even better, offer a compelling and informative explanation for that opinion (EDIT: and create a context for them as some kind of unified something, a context that I believe many of us here enjoy, or perhaps even obsess over). (Love you Bob!)
Now how to divide it all up between Dylan, the Stones, The Who, The Beatles, The Clash, The Kinks, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, , Neil Young, The Band, Husker Du, The Replacements, The Gang of Four,Television, The Ramones,Elvis Costello, the other Elvis, Prince ,Jefferson Airplane, Oasis, Cream, The Allman Brothers, Zeppellin and many others-imposible. Oh yeah- The Vibrators "Pure Mania". Oh, baby.
Given that this "best ever" poll was my idea to begin with I'll gladly take the credit
Given that someone else is doing the work
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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