When Rich and I first discussed Lingua Shapta, we knew that we had a common musical ground in our appreciation for the band Soul Coughing. What we didn’t realize at the time, however, was that our musical pasts were completely divergent. Rich was immersed in Hip Hop, Industrial, and Techno, where as I was all Prog Rock, Psychedelic, and Grunge. It limited our conversations about music at first, because excepting the recent past, where we began to converge, we shared little in what we considered essential music. But that was ten years ago. (Yipes!) Since then, we’ve had a decade of commonality in our musical surroundings. Even if I’m reluctant to admit the talent of someone like Eminem, I’m more than aware of his presence in pantheon of popular music, so the conversations about music and style are far more productive than they had been all those years ago. Still, because the two of us were shaped by our earlier musical influences, there’s still gaps in our understanding of each other. So Rich proposed a musical exchange. Each week we would give each other a track to listen to. We would comment on the tracks and get each other’s comments on the track. I thought that was interesting, so I said I’d post them. Here’s our first exchange: I sent Rich “Pretzel Logic,” by Steely Dan. In my email to him, this is what I wrote:
Well, if we’re gonna go with music that the other one isn’t exposed to, I’ll have to start off with Steely Dan. I’m pretty sure your exposure to them is limited and you probably can’t stand them. ;)
Steely Dan is one of the bands that’s both respected and vilified by critics. They’re consummate musicians, but too cold and aloof, apparently. I don’t know from any of that. I think their music is a perfect mix of jazz and rock, and their lyrics are clever and often misanthropic, which is pretty much my style all around. Hmm…, maybe I just justified the cold and aloof charge against them.
Anyway, this song, “Pretzel Logic,” is a smooth blend of Dixieland and country rock. The thing about the Dan is that it’s hard to date when the music. Almost everything they do has a late 70s vibe and late 90s production values. I won’t give away when this one was recorded, but you’re pretty savvy with the ‘net, so if you must know, it’s just a few clicks away. ;) For those readers who must know, it came out in 1974. You can’t tell that from the recording though. The Dan had amazing production quality. Rich then sent me “Cowgirl,” by Underworld. In his email to me, this what he wrote: Thanks for the Steely Dan track! I can’t wait to spend some time with it (as soon as American Idiot- er i mean American Idol is done!) The only song i really know by Steely Dan is “Bodhisattva” which is pretty groovin’, so i’m looking forward to this! The only other thing I know is that they really don’t like touring and don’t really care about the fan’s response to that, so maybe that’s in part where their reputation for aloofness comes from.
Here’s the first song I’d like to offer in our exchange….
The song is Cowgirl by Underworld from their first album Dubnobasswithmyheadman, released in 1994.
This song is the epitomal underworld song, and probably in my top ten songs of all time. (Only the best for you, Supa!)
Right from the start, it puts me in a sonic and emotional space. I love how rhythmical the vocal loops are and how well they integrate into the sonic soundscape without defining a distinction of “this is the music, these are the vocals.” There is just music, and it’s a great trip. This song has taken me places both in my mind and on the dancefloor. The structure and development of the song is also something to note, as each element gets it’s moment to shine, and the song seems to never stop evolving.
Plus, it works in the club, at the rave, in headphones, and as listening music–how cool is that?! Next week, I’ll post our findings on these two songs, and the next two songs we’ll be exchanging.