Friday, October 10, 2008

Deeper into the dark

This morning, my boss and I were called into the conference room to sit in on a meeting between Mr. M., VP of G/MP, a modestly-sized and resilient publishing house of stationery and children's educational toys, and the president, Mr. G.

Sharply dressed, his collar unbuttoned, his arms taut, his eyes piercing, his expression serious, his deep wrinkles and leathery white skin augmenting the sagacity of his words on business, G.G. sat at the end of the dark wood table and calculated in his head - twist this, cut down on that, pour money into this, bring up those numbers. The VP, an immense fellow with a cool demeanor, sat to G.G.'s side, nodding, interjecting, consulting documents. My boss sat across from me. Brainstorming about ways to maximize profitability, the three of them engaged in a numbers conversation that seamlessly shifted from subject to subject and grew faster and faster, to the point that it became incomprehensible to me. Suddenly, a live recording of the Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed and his band popped into my head. I listened to the imaginary alto saxophone wend its way through a sultry and ominous melody.

These days feel like October 2006, when the Military Commissions Act appeared and shot through Congress in a flash: Being thrashed and upturned, experiencing fundamental change, falling ever deeper into the "death-spiral." Only then, I applied sharp focus to the ghastly tectonic shift meant to swallow up the invisible Others. Now, I am aloof, focused on countries continents away, other peoples and cultures, but the devastation is descending on me and my ilk.

The other day, on my usual calling spree, I asked Stewart, the owner of a book store in Illinois, if he'd like G/MP's catalogs. He gave a deep sigh. Sure, why not? "We're not doin' a whole lot right now," he said. "But who knows? Better times will come."

On Cokemachineglow, a track review of Alva Noto's "U_03"...

Suffocated by my Macbook’s worthless speakers, “U_03” sounds like a fax machine on the fritz. But in the hermetically sealed soundscape of my headphones, this track sounds like a fax machine—or even one of these fancy multi-use appliances—that has been dismantled and rebuilt into a cyborg that communicates in funky rhythms. Alva Noto mastermind Carsten Nicolai, an intense looking German who mines jpg data files, telephones and indeed fax machines for sonic material, starts the piece out with a rapid succession of high-pitched blips and abrupt kicks that pan right and left to make a tight beat. It gets heavy—really heavy—when deep and buzzing electronics suddenly burst forth. Verily, upon this aural plateau, the fax machine cyborg ghost rides tha whip.

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