Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ween - "Buckingham Green" from the CD The Mollusk
Dungen - "Sluta Följa Efter" from the CD Ta Det Lugnt

Ween The Mollusk CD coverTa Det Lugnt CD cover
To understand the circumstances of today's missive, it might be helpful first to understand, as McLovin might say, how I roll.

You see, here at the La Historia home offices, the death of the album is not just another fuzzy sociological conceit: it's a way of life.

Time was, the way I'd introduce myself to new music was to 1) read something about an interesting album in Spin or hear something interesting while out somewhere, 2) go to Y & T's or some other indie record store to buy the full-length & 3) take it home and listen to it immediately, all the way through.

Ha! Silly naive days those were.

I still get Spin, but because I am cloistered and old, I almost never go anyplace where I might hear good music I'm unfamiliar with. But no matter: the internet is quite large, you may have noticed, and I travel its byways extensively.

Like, I may not have remembered in what corner of the net I had found that little essay which claimed Genesis' "The Firth of Fifth" was the infinitely superior source material for Kansas' "Song For America." But read it I did, and the fact that once I heard the Genesis song, the clown who wrote it was proved comically wrong doesn't even matter. What's important is how the websites and blogs and discussion rooms of the internet are better catalysts by far for the introduction of new music unto oneself than any kind of half-assed "social life" ever was.

Needless to say, Yesterday & Today's and most like them are gone, so the delivery method has changed too. When I frequented Y & T's, Rich wasn't going to sell me "The Firth of Fifth"--he was gonna sell me Selling England by the Pound. So it's certainly better for me now that the iTunes store or Amazon are willing to sell me the track for 99 cents--which is about 30% of what Rich might have charged me for a used copy of the Genesis LP back then, and never mind the difference between 2010 and 1985 dollars.

But the last difference between these days and those is I think the greatest. Staying with the Genesis thing, once I'd given Rich Ulloa my 4 bucks and gotten back on my bicycle and ridden home, I'd immediately yank the vinyl out of its sleeve and pop it onto my turntable.

It wasn't like, "at last, 'The Firth of Fifth,'" but it was a part of the ritual, that was your day, you went to the cool store with the cool posters on the wall, you bought it while browsing for stuff to buy next time, you rode (or drove) home thinking of playing it when you got home, and then you played it, all of it all at once, hope that worked out for you.

Music delivery these days is either so trivial and instantaneous, or so drawn out, that there is no ritual and no process left about it at all.

I didn't even buy "The Firth of Fifth," truth be known. I downloaded it off eMule. I put it in the queue on a Tuesday; it came in on a Thursday, and I noticed that it had done so on Friday. By that time, the whole Kansas comparison had become a little hazy in my recollection, so while I was still interested, I didn't feel compelled to listen to the thing immediately. I instead copied it into my iTunes library. The next time Autoshuffle cued it up, or Autofill copied it onto Jr., was good enough for me.

I still do buy CD's, usually through Amazon or eBay, but you know what? That takes a week also. I follow the same procedure. Once I've received them in my mailbox, I'll rip off the cellophane, drop the disc into my CD drive, let iTunes import the whole disc, and put the disc away in long term storage.

I've been typically verbose, but hopefully you get the deal: with music for me, it's find it one day, get it another, and hear it a third, with the days sometimes being separated by weeks or possibly months.

So then.

Going a little time back, I had read this interview with Rick Wakeman somewhere online. They interviewer had asked him whether he had any favorites among the new prog bands. He was a fan of the Pure Reason Revolution, I remember, and maybe of The Secret Machines, too. He also mentioned a Swedish band called Dungen, so I queued some of their songs up just to, you know, see what Rick was on about, and moved on to the next thing.

Because I handle my music the way I've explained, months pass without development. Then, as I'm driving to work Wednesday, Jr. plays "Sluta Följa Efter"--and I start laughing uncontrollably.

I had no idea the song was by Dungen, the band liked by Rick Wakeman. Any one playlist for Jr. is bound to include 10 or 15 songs I've never heard before, and while I now see as I probe that I had heard one of Dungen's songs before Wednesday, "Sluta Följa Efter" was completely new to me on that day. Although it HAD sounded like something I knew . . . .

Each time I autofill my iPod, I print out a copy of the playlist to take with me so I can refer to it if perplexed anytime by a song's provenance. So I had that floating around in the car somewhere if I could find it to fill me in, but I'm also in 70 mph traffic, might be hard to grab it in that pile of paper on the floor of the passenger side, among the old yellowing copies of Spin and Smithsonian, hidden among its obsolete brethren, concealed among the car repair receipts, clutter as always my bane, and I'm also, you know, laughing spastically.

It was Ween's fault, of course.

Of course. The man behind Dungen is Gustav Estjes, and he's a serious Swede who's clearly got his psych-prog and orchestral prog down pat, don't get me wrong. The fuzz guitar is pretty smoking and the shrill feedback too, what do you think about THAT*? All the atmospherics are there, the reverb and the treated piano, and the black hashish too I bet. The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack doesn't do it any better.

But unfortunately for my serious appreciation of Dungen, the fuckers in Ween got to me first, with The Mollusk and with "Buckingham Green." And now, whenever I hear any over-the-top psych prog with fuzzed vocals and fuzzed guitar with the widdly-woo keyboards, I'm going to think of the irreverent clowns in Ween, who made the sendup nautical prog album, and who have the disarming ability to produce parody that is both hilariously incisive AND incisively authentic.

Or in my case, whether I should be laughing or not

Ween - The Mollusk - 12- Buckingham Green.mp3

This file was removed May 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

File under: Psych/Prog Parody

Dungen - Ta Det Lugnt - 13 - Sluta Följa Efter.mp3

This file was removed May 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

File under: Psych/Prog Revival

*Though the songs are otherwise nothing alike, "Sluta Följa Efter" with its shrill feedback actually reminded me of "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle." You don't hear that shrill feedback very often, it's usually more . . . . sculpted. (Return)


tad said...

Rastro: Best post ever, of course....
Also, it's a bit off-topic, but yr Kansas/Genesis plagiarism "Xpert" was ... a bit of a long-winded know-it-all. Last I heard he'd retired. I read summa his stuff a yr ago & admired his NRG & productivity, thot (4 instance) he nailed Barclay James Harvest perfectly about their "averageness." But I also thot he over-analyzed 2 much.
& his mangling of song-titles, his sometimes odd sentence structure & lack of proofreading, his made-up words like "thematics" (he meant "themes") & "stylistics" (he meant "styles" -- the stylistics were a black smooth-soul group from Philly) really put me off. & U KNOW somebody's "stylistics" have really gotta B odd B4 I'll even start talkin about em like this....
NEway, niceta have ya back. Nice nod 2 the Nice, 2. More prog reviews planned 4 the future? Can't wait.... -- TAD.

rastronomicals said...


'ssup? (as McLovin might also say).

Careful about using "long-winded" as a derogatory descriptor around these parts. . . . All my life, I've tried my hardest, believe me, not to be a knowitall, but as to long-windedness, I am fully guilty as charged.

I really had nothing against the guy or his writing. It's OK if you don't like Kansas.

Alright; actually it's not OK, but even still, it's not that not OK, you know what I mean? I can get over it.

But what I can't get over is that what he wrote wasn't true. "The Firth of Fifth" does NOT sound like "Song For America." The latter is vibrant and organic, the former has all the ambience of a junior high piano recital. "Song For America" rocks, while "The Firth of Fifth" simply reinforces my preconceptions about overly-mannered British prog.

tad said...

R: No, I meant he was WAY long-winded. (& I'm 1 2 talk?) U ain't there yet. & of course there's absolutely nothing wrong w/ Kansas ... at their best. Keep it up.... -- TAD.