June 28th, 2007

2000 Light Years Away

Remember the argument, facilitated by Ralph Nader's Green Party campaign back in 2000, that the difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore wasn't meaningful enough to matter in the long run? Whatever your ideological orientation, I think the spate of recent decisions handed down by the John Roberts-led Supreme Court confirm, just as much as the war in Iraq, how misguided it was. The two-party system may be status quo, but much of what the Bush Administration has been doing constitutes total war against it. Unless, of course, your idea of "status quo" is the American social order before the Depression.


I'm finally going to concede to popular demand, in the form of some cheery prodding to write more regularly about music, and return to my long ago-abandoned plan to share both songs and my thoughts about them. Since my reluctance to do so previously derived mostly from the pressure I feel to compose something with care, I'll start by declaring that I will be going out of my way not to worry myself into silence.

My musical tastes have been pretty consistent for a long time now. I like a wide variety of material, but tend to follow a crop rotation model when it comes to consuming it. I'll get fixated on an artist or period or genre and play what I have until a laser could play me back, then shift rather abruptly to something else. After that initial interest has lain fallow for awhile, I'll return to it in preparation for another harvest. Late last summer, for example, I couldn't get enough of the Mick Taylor-era Rolling Stones. In the spring I revisited some of my favorite Cure albums.

Right now I want nothing more than to immerse myself in German pop and rock. More specifically, I've fallen back in lust with those early 1970s bands Can, Faust, and Neu!: so-called "Krautrock", in other words. I recently managed to procure a replacement for Faust's IV, which got lost when I leant it to a friend, and have been playing the import edition's bonus disc, absent from the version I used to own, over and over. My favorite song of theirs at the moment, however, hails from the Tapes record:

"J'ai mal aux dents"

Although recognizably "Faustian" -- the stops and starts, the extrinsic noises on the margins of the mix, the tight spiral of repetition -- it rocks in a more American way than most of their work, conjuring just enough of the blues tradition to impart a counter-Germanic warmth. For those of you who are interested in discerning the influences on your favorite indie acts, this song demonstrates how much everyone from Belle and Sebastian to Les Savy Fav owes to the anarchist collective from Wümme. Enjoy.
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    J'ai mal aux dents - Faust - Tapes
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