Friday, October 23, 2009

Owls Under the Radar

In a comment to my last post, Mark from our PR 317, asked me where I find new music and to list my top five bands.

Before I proceed I should address the shock your expereincing at reading the Oort Cloud use the first person. True. It's easier and I reserve the right to switch to my Oort Cloud voice whenever I like. It's my blog.

But remember, like the great and powerful Oz who keeps talking in his great and powerful voice after Dorothy has drawn back the curtain, revealing himself to be a clown, I ... ahem ... the Oort Cloud ... still has lots of great and powerful wisdom.

The Oort Cloud is located a great distance from this tiny place you call earth. But there's a great deal of musical variety on your busy planet, some of which can be heard clearly at the edge of the solar system. The trouble is, the good stuff is sometimes hard to find without a navigator.

Despite the fact that corporate music still dominates the traditional airwaves, there's a great variety of music nowadays. Together with online distribution methods and options for listers to access it, the choices can be overwhelming. The Oort Cloud is a friendly guide.

The Oort Cloud has recently picked up strong signals -- that's how I find new music -- from a Minneapolis band called The Owls. You can listen to their album "Daughter and Suns" on MySpace.

Not every song is as radiantly quirky as "Isaac Bashevis Singer" or "Peppermint Patty." But if the album had only one song, "Channel," it would be enough to satisfy The Oort Cloud. It's timely in an abstract way, and at the same time very specific about the abstract truth it celebrates and commands: "channel the will to find."

I agree. And I will.

There's actually a lot of great songs, lovely voices and harmonies, Kinks- and Velvet Underground-style melodies and intrumentation. What more could you ask for?
A couple less mopey songs, I suppose. But ff you channel the will to find, the mopey songs will escape your notice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Respiration," Black Star

"Respiration," by Black Star, is today's Oort Cloud soundtrack. Here in the Oort Cloud life is hypothetical, etherial and a long long way from Brooklyn, crime and poverty. But the Oort Cloud contains multitudes, inhales and exhales like the city in the song, enveloping the elements of its connecting galaxies.

The Oort Cloud finds this song about the reality of crime and poverty very moving and insightful because it tries to "describe the inscrutable" using tangible metaphors: the city as a body with a human, physical relationship with its desperate residents. It can be loving and abusive, nourishing and annihilating, cosmic and claustraphobic.

The song's poet-participant-observers, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, cope by testifying to the brutal reality of the ghetto with fluid poeticism, haunting but beautiful melody, and a rhythmic throb that pulls its inhabitants into a river where the current intoxicates before drowning them.

This is how great blues music "fingers the jagged grain of a brutal experience," to quote Ralph Ellison," and transforms it via its lyricism, not its answers.

But we do get some answers, like the promise of leaving on the "last train of the evening"; and that "keeping it real will make you a casualty of abnormal normality."