the music issue
At Amoeba Records the going rate for your average used LP of twentieth-century classical music is two to four dollars, so I came home with a bunch of Kodály. The string quartet No. 1, Opus 2, turns out to be a pretty dull student piece and for some reason the recording has a terrible screechy timbre; but the record of choral pieces is great, as are the orchestral Háry János Suite / Dances of Galánta and Marosszék, which sound like cheerier versions of Bartók's "Miraculous Mandarin." I know, I should not compare him to Bartók just because he's Hungarian, especially after the incident where some reviewer referred to Kodály as "the poor man's Bartók" and Bartók wrote an angry letter to the effect of "Stop it, Kodály is my friend and you guys are idiots and you all should go listen to his cello sonata." Said sonata, in which a solo cello keens and wails like a lost soul, is the reason I went out and bought all the other Kodály. It's also his Opus Eight; didn't take him long to find his feet.
Also picked up the first Erase Errata recordwe're going to see these four local ladies open for Mission of Burma at Bimbo's, woo!and fortunately the album, while abrasive, lies on the good side of my personal Boundary of Unlistenability, which lately I've become very aware of. Over the past ten years you can trace a pretty linear history of my ears learning to accommodate harsher stuff, but I think I've hit the wall. Possibly I'm just older and have decided that life is short and that if I can't figure out the aesthetic of, say, Melt-Banana after fifteen minutes, there's all that Bach I've never heard. I recently heard an anecdote about a friend of a friend encoutering a great industrial station on the radio and only realizing later that it was a dead shortwave channel and most of what he was hearing was static. Which isn't to say that his aesthetic experience was invalid while it lasted; it's just that once you find out there's no human agency behind that sort of thing, it gets much harder to talk yourself into appreciating it unless you're unusually attentive to the everyday details of the world. (Kant would draw a distinction and call it natural beauty and, I suppose, try to get teleology involved.) Meanwhile, if you're unusually attentive to the everyday details of the world and are enterprising, then presumably you can record the shortwave static onto a CD, slap your name on it with some liner notes explaining that you're interested in the aleatory properties of unregulated frequencies, release it on a label operating out of someone's basement in New York, and you'll find a small coterie of fans. I've got nothing against it, just like I've got nothing against Jainism; but I will admit to being nonplussed.