COLUMNS

  • Music

    Scream Queen

    FT on Diamanda Galás

    DIAMANDA GALÁS’s FIRST ALBUM, The Litanies of Satan (1982), was reissued last year, and now her second LP, Diamanda Galás (1984), is finally available again after being out of print for thirty-seven years. In high school, I traded a pen pal an Einstürzende Neubauten concert bootleg for a hissy nth generation cassette copy of the two albums, one on each side; these vital reissues, beautifully remastered by Heba Kadry, restore the recordings to crystal clarity. Both albums are a testament to how fully formed and relentlessly radical the American singer’s creative approach and vision were from the

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  • Music

    The New Thing

    David Grundy on A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle

    JOHN COLTRANE IS OFTEN HELD UP as a sui generis figure, A Love Supreme his magnum opus. Yet overemphasizing the Coltrane’s individual aura obscures the true force behind his music. The release last week of a previously lost live version of A Love Supreme, recorded at the Penthouse Club in Seattle in October 1965, provides an opportunity to redress the balance, locating the saxophonist within a collective history still not often told.

    Throughout the history of jazz, its musicians have been subject to systematically exploitative labor conditions. At the time the Seattle recordings were made,

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  • Music

    Watch the Throne

    Sasha Frere-Jones on King Crimson’s prog overthrow

    IN NOVEMBER OF 1974, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, and Bernie Rhodes collaborated on a T-shirt printed with two columns of text: a list of “hates” alongside a list of “loves.” As reported in Jon Savage’s 2002 book England’s Dreaming, those hates included Yes, ELP., and Bryan Ferry. The loves included “sex professionals, renegade artists, hard Rockers, IRA terrorists, working-class heroes and, well hidden, the first printed mention of ‘Kutie Jones and his SEX PISTOLS.’”

    Those two columns were the shadow commandments of New York critics for decades, and it would not be wrong to lump King

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  • Music

    House of Mirrors

    Sasha Geffen on Willow and Olivia Rodrigo

    IN THE FIRST OF TWO VIDEOS for her song “Transparent Soul,” Willow thrashes in a featureless white room flooded bluntly with light. The song’s lyrics are full of barbs launched at a disappointing “you,” but Willow is alone in this visual capsule. She sings into and kicks at the fish-eye lens set on the ground, then backs herself into a corner of the claustrophobic box, whose walls have suddenly sprouted security cameras. She aims one at the viewer, threatening us with a reciprocal gaze. 

    The low vantage and ultrawide-angle lens draw a clean line back to the ’90s, when director Hype Williams used

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  • Music

    Into the Groove

    A playlist by Macy Rodman

    These songs were the inspiration for my new album, Unbelievable Animals. I wanted to feel happy and energized, so I went back to music that I listened to as a kid, when the radio hits were somewhere between electronic and adult contemporary. Their sounds are groovy, space age, and clean, like the sixties via Y2K. A familiar chaos for our current moment.

    Madonna, “Candy Perfume Girl”

    The Chemical Brothers, “Hey Boy Hey Girl”

    Felix, “Tiger Stripes”

    Magda, “Naomi Campbell”

    New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”

    Towa Tei, Kylie Minogue, and Haruomi Hosono, “GBI (German Bold Italic)”

    Janet Jackson, “So Much

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  • Music

    Other Voices, Other Rooms

    Thea Ballard on Alvin Lucier’s I am sitting in a room

    FOUR YEARS AGO, the composer Alvin Lucier, then 86, performed his best-known piece, I am sitting in a room (1969), at ISSUE Project Room in downtown Brooklyn. Sitting cross-legged in a folding chair and sporting a Black Lives Matter T-shirt under his rumpled khaki jacket, Lucier read into a microphone from a hardbound copy of the score as if it were a storybook:

    I am sitting in a room, the same one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any
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  • Music

    Hearing Voices

    Jesse Dorris on Kristin Oppenheim's Night Run: Collected Sound Works 1992-1995

    FROM THE EARLY TO MID-1990s, the Brooklyn-based installation artist Kristin Oppenheim made hushed, hypnotic, almost impossibly minimal recordings, singing with herself, by herself. At the time, visitors to galleries in New York, Nice, or Milan might have stumbled upon them playing from a tape deck displayed on a plinth, or perhaps hidden from view. The first of these recordings she considered finished, 1992’s “Shake Me,” is a loop of roughly twenty-two seconds, repeated some twenty times, of Oppenheim softly warbling the title. Yet the track sounds massive, at least emotionally. With each

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  • Music

    For The In Between Days

    A playlist by Sarah Davachi

    The first half of this year has felt quieter and more pensive, and perhaps a bit lonelier, than last year. Music has been keeping me company in a meaningful way. Here are some pieces I’ve felt myself gravitating toward as I let my mind go into that particular emotional space. I’m also working on a couple of larger recording projects that I’m really excited about—I’m feeding all of these influences into that state of being.

    Stevie Wonder, “Golden Lady”

    Yoko Ono, “Even When You’re Far Away”

    Catherine Christer Hennix, Mode nouvelles des modalités II

    Robbie Basho, “Cathedrals et fleur de lis

    Robert

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  • Music

    Forever Changes

    Sadia Shirazi on Arooj Aftab

    AROOJ AFTAB’S WORK TRANSFORMS the nearly millennium-old tradition of Hindustani classical music from which it emerges, a form whose tenets of improvisation, repetition, and rasa, or emotion, have inspired American composers such as John Cage, La Monte Young, and Terry Riley. Aftab responds to their musical borrowing by restituting what these white men excised from their arrangements—the feminine voice—and treating it as yet another instrument in her bright, layered compositions. The pentatonic melodies and mixed genres of the Black avant-garde vocalist and composer Julius Eastman’s shimmering 

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  • Music

    Astral Traveling

    FT on Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, & the London Symphony Orchestra’s Promises

    PROMISES, a new collaboration between American free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders, British electronic musician and composer Floating Points (Sam Shepherd), and the London Symphony Orchestra, made me wish I was holding the sleeve of a 12" LP instead of squinting at a digital thumbnail. Even without the multiplex cover art by Julie Mehretu, there are only so many names you can squeeze onto one album cover before it threatens to buckle. I was not without trepidation when I first hit play: The easiest way to disappoint is to promise too much. Fortunately, Promises more than delivers.

    Though it’s the

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  • Music

    Taylor Made

    Domenick Ammirati on Taylor Swift’s rerecording project

    SPRING IS IN THE AIR, and with it the buzz of a new work by that most accomplished execrator of man-children, a musical artist who penetrates deep into the American psyche with ballads of love and loss: That’s right, Taylor Swift is dropping an album. Yes, there is that other icon with a record out, nostalgiste de la boue Lana del Rey, the voice that launched a thousand think pieces, but now is the time to give the author of “Dear John” the intellectual consideration she so richly deserves. It’s a love story—just say yes.

    Swift’s newest venture is to revisit an old one: a rerecording of her

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  • Music

    Pluck, House, and Float

    A playlist by Jace Clayton

    For this playlist, I decided to focus on the three fundamentals of music: Pluck, House, and Float.

    Pluck: A spiky attack followed by a slow decay. Nearly all that we understand as the character of any given sound happens in its first milliseconds. And the noises that stay with us keep reverberating long after they're no longer heard. Chiweshe's mbira, guitars of The Ex and A. Kostis, Colleen's viola da gamba, Sudan Archives' violin.

    House: Sweat stains the difference between repeatability and desire. Clubs resist abstraction: Every night is the only night. Octo Octa's blush, Ngly's mumble, Sofia

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