Friday, July 10, 2009

Moving = Insanity

We here at the Dishes Project normally stick to music-related/inspired content. However, the last couple of days have been so insane that they require some commemoration.

Backstory: I moved across the country -- sold all furniture, shipped all worthwhile possessions (clothes, books) and got rid of the rest. I had help (thanks Mr. R.!) but the last day was still utterly exhausting. My move-out date was Wednesday, which is where our story begins....


7/8/09, 7:30 am: Wake up time

8:30-10:30: Retrieved moving van from San Jose airport

10:30-12pm: Disassembled various furniture items, emptied apartment storage area

12-1: Went to recycling center and gave them mattress, cardboard boxes from storage area

I was so happy to get rid of the mattress in a legal way... but it took a lot of time.

1-2:30: Met with former professor to retrieve library books, went to campus and cleaned out office, returned library book, ate lunch

He could only find one of the library books...

2:30-3:30: Gave dresser to Mr. W. and fan to Ms. F., removed seat from moving van, carried bed, microwave, dresser, multi-drawered office organizer, mirror and end table to van

3:30ish-5ish: Went to Public Storage, set up storage unit, unloaded all furniture into storage unit

Furniture Count: 7 pieces, including mattress

5-6:30ish: Loaded van with futon (frame and mattress), Ikea chair, bike rack, and bookcase and delivered to Mr. N. on campus

6:30-7:30ish: Loaded van with couch and filing cabinet with help of Mr. H., delivered couch to Mr. H.

Furniture Count: 15 pieces

7:30-8:30ish: Gave floor lamp to random person, loaded van with large bookcase, small bookcase and TV, delivered the previous to Mr. T.

8:30-9:30ish: Took more furniture to storage unit before it closed (desk, bookcase, printer), deposited check, checked in at hotel, ate dinner

Furniture Count: 21 pieces

9:30-10:30ish: cleaned out car, sold car to Mr. T.!

10:30-11: shipped two last boxes, retrieved shelves accidentally given to Mr. T.

11-1:15ish: cleaned remaining stuff out of apartment, packed multiple suitcases

There was so much stuff to be gotten rid of: misc unclaimed furniture and household goods, food, plants, gah.

1:30-3:15am: cleaned apartment, loaded van with vacuum cleaner, garbage cans, misc small lamps, filing storage bins, toaster, box of kitchen goods, standing lamp, returned keys

3:15-3:45am: delivered standing lamp to Mr. T., went to hotel, crashed

The standing lamp had to be last since we wouldn't have been able to see without it... no overhead lighting in most rooms of the old apartment.

Total Furniture: 25 pieces or so in approximately 12 hours (garbage cans+ lamp + bins = 1 piece, toaster + box = 1 piece)


7/9/09, 5:15am: wake-up time after 1.5 hours of sleep! gotta get to the storage unit again before leaving SC

6-6:20: went to storage unit, unloaded all items which had been loaded at the end of the previous night

Very bleary-eyed...

6:20-7:30: breakfast (thank you Hampton Inn), got gas for moving van, drove moving van to San Jose airport and returned it

8am Pacific time to 8:30 pm Eastern time: in airports (San Jose, Reno, Las Vegas, Baltimore), on planes (reading Breaking Dawn), wrangling four suitcases, riding on courtesy shuttles

9 pm: Finally in Lutherville, watched Ghost World for no reason, crashed



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bossa Per Dishes

Artist: Nicola Conte
Album: Bossa Per Due
Released in: 2001

Acid jazz/downtempo/Italian film music from the 60's/sitars/go-go wonderfulness. Recommended for: cocktail parties, secret missions, summertime afternoons, jetting around town on a Vespa. Nicely done, Nicola.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Top Five Artists (week of 6/21-6/28):

1. The Magnetic Fields
2. Dave Brubeck
3. Wye Oak
4. Arovane
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Entirely different from last week.

Dave Brubeck + Arovane = working

Magnetic Fields = I listened to their latest album Distortion again... there are some lovely songs (like Courtesans), but also some novelties that grow quickly old (like Zombie Boy). Not my fave MF album.

Wye Oak = excellent Baltimore band that my sister introduced me to

Yeah Yeah Yeahs = their latest album is great.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flash Forward

All of the music on the Dishes Project so far was purchased eight to ten years ago -- I don't listen to most of it on a regular basis. As a sampling of what my music taste is now, here are some statistics about what I listen to on iTunes (courtesy of*

Top Ten Artists:
1. Dave Brubeck
2. The Magnetic Fields
3. St. Vincent
4. Steely Dan
4. Belle and Sebastian
6. Arovane
7. Apparat
8. The Postmarks
9. Saint Etienne
9. Ladytron


1. I <3 Dave Brubeck, but he wins this little battle only because I ripped a 4XCD compilation of his from the public library awhile back, and often listen to it while working.

2. Most of these bands fall into the indie (pop) category: Magnetic Fields, St. Vincent, Belle and Sebastian, The Postmarks, Saint Etienne, arguably Ladytron. A few of these are really among my all time favorite bands (Magnetic Fields, Saint Etienne) but the others are on there because I have the majority of their albums only as mp3s (St. Vincent, Postmarks, Belle and Sebastian, Ladytron).

3. The first set of outliers are Arovane and Apparat, both idm-inspired although Arovane more contemplative and Apparat more propulsive and conventionally-structured. Again, they are on here because they're good music to listen to while working.

4. And then there's the Steely Dan. It is all the more impressive that Steely Dan is up there given that I only have one Steely Dan album (a greatest hits comp). The truth is that there's simply nothing like a little Steely late on a California night when you're feeling bitter and rueful and want to revel in it...

Top Five Artists (week of 6/13-6/20):
1. Goldfrapp
2. Air France
3. Air
4. Tahiti 80
5. Royksopp

No overlap, interestingly (although Goldfrapp are #15 overall). The Air France/Air/Tahiti 80 (all French pop suaveness/goodness) are all from a sunny placid afternoon when I wanted some happy and chill pop to listen to. I've been listening a lot to Royksopp's new album Junior, which is pretty good (especially The Girl and the Robot). I had a Goldfrapp attack earlier this week where I listened to their lastest album a few times (Seventh Tree, beautiful) and also listened to all the remixes of the track A&E that my sister was gracious enough to furnish me with (thanks, sis!).

I'm hoping that the weekly top 5 will continue to be a regularly posted event here on Dishes Project (shout out to postlinguistics for giving me the idea).

*I could use a widget to post these stats permanently along the side of this here blog... but that wouldn't be as fun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Compost Dishes Hundred

Various Compost signees
Title: Compost One Hundred
Released in: 2001

Excuses for massive time lapse in-between posts: dissertation (done! finally!), long 2XCD set. Moreover, the first of these discs was completely boring. I don't think I ever really listened to it much after I bought it and now I remember why.

The second disc was marginally better, although in the interests of full disclosure, I did finish my defense draft in-between the first and second discs which may have brightened my mood independently. The first track Come Along by Minus 8 is a lovely Latin-infused jazzy-housey number which makes you feel like you should be sipping martinis next to a pool at a rooftop bar in Rio. Needless to say, this is not quite how my life is going right now, but one can always dream This is followed by very respectable tracks by Beanfield, Wei Chi and Supersempft although there are also some duds by Fauna Flash and A Forest Mighty Black. Overall: eh.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Compost Dishes

Artist: Various lights of the Compost record label
Title: Compost Community
Released in: 2001

In the early aughts, I was obsessed with a German record label called Compost. They were at the center of the jazz-house or downtempo-house movement, which is known to most people as the music played at swanky lounges. The music is smooth and has a groove, but can be a little inoffensive and background-y. Many of the artists on Compost resist this tendency towards the bland, though, and this compilation is a serviceable representation of the diversity and energy of the artists.

There are four stand-out tracks.

1) Truby Trio - A Go Go (video edit)
Latin jazz makes nice with some breakbeats. The video, though, is some of the worst footage of dancing I have ever seen.

2) Minus 8 - Badman and Throbin'
Hideous title, amazing song. A crazy female vocalist goes through some dramatics above some latter-day funk. See below.

3) Kyoto Jazz Massive - Eclipse
A lovely fusion of jazz and house -- the paragon of the genre.

4) Syrup - Chocolate
A pitch-perfect straight-up funk track. The horn kicks alone are priceless. Go ahead -- push play and listen to it. I bet you $5 it'll make you happy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let Dishes Replay!

Artist: Coldcut
Album: Let Us Replay!
Released in: 1999

Coldcut are legendary: they founded Ninja Tune and they have been instrumental in shaping the development of breakbeat, experimental hip hop and remixing styles. This album is remixed/live versions of their album Let Us Play!, and I gotta say it doesn't do a whole lot for me. The genre is not really my favorite, and the tracks aren't too attention-grabbing (in my defense, AllMusic agrees). The main exception is Atomic Moog 2000, a very effective sample-heavy break-beat-y topical track with a wicked funk sample.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heaven or Las Dishes

Artist: Cocteau Twins
Album: Heaven or Las Vegas
Released in: 1990

This is one of my desert island albums: beautiful, richly emotional and steeped in personal memories. When I was in high school, my sister (then in college) made me a mix tape. It's hard to convey how thrilled this made me -- my super cool older sis honoring me with some of her favorite tracks. The second track on Heaven or Las Vegas (Pitch the Baby) played a starring role, along with other gems that heavily influenced my subsequent musical taste (e.g., Portishead - It's a Fire, Pizzicato Five - Good, etc.).

However, my sister neglected to provide a track listing, so I didn't really discover the Cocteau Twins until one summer just after high school. Without knowing much about me besides that I like electronica, a co-worker at the time told me, without hesitation, that I would love this album. He was completely right. (His recommendations were in general spot on: he also introduced me to Stereolab).

Years later, I was spending a lot of time driving up and down I-91 in Connecticut. I listened to this album so much on the northward swing that the tracks became correlated with the legs of the journey. Cherry-Coloured Funk will always evoke for me pulling out of my parent's driveway and hitting the road. Road, River and Rail is immediately after the tangle of highways around Hartford.

The title track Heaven or Las Vegas must have been somewhere around New Britain. I can't quite remember because I was probably too busy singing along. The track is the climax of the album, and the soaring chorus still makes me swoon. That's not to denigrate the rest of the tracks, though (Iceblink Luck and Fotzepolitic are particularly wonderful). Moreover, the album is extremely well-structured -- every track is ordered exactly where it should be. I have moved on to make my own mix tapes (er.... CDs) these days, and they usually have a similar dynamic to this album: a slow-building but attention-grabbing start, high-energy tracks near the beginning, a climax, and then a slow winding-down with a stirring, often longer final track.

I suppose I can't say enough good things about this album, but, as they used to say on Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it. AllMusic also effuses (in particular about the track HoLV), and (according to the Cocteau Twins' own website) apparently the album is widely cited as the fan favorite. Below is Heaven or Las Vegas, although I feel its impact is slightly reduced without the context of the surrounding songs -- the album is simply so cohesive that it works best listened to all at one time. Nevertheless, enjoy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dishes Bell Knoll

Artist: Cocteau Twins
Album: Blue Bell Knoll
Released in: 1988
But Really Sounds: Timeless

All the hallmarks of the Cocteau Twins are here:
  • ethereal, other-worldly synths, guitars, harpsichords, etc.
  • feathery light and sky high melody lines with unintelligible lyrics
  • delicate layering of the sounds and soaring climaxes (e.g., 1:45 or so into Athol-Brose)
  • understated but perfect drum tracks
The overall effect is quite beautiful. I'd forgotten how good this album is -- the two other Cocteau Twins albums I own (Heaven or Las Vegas and Victorialand) are soaked in wonderful memories for me so this one tends to fade away.

Take a listen:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Artist: Circulation
Album: Colours
Released in: 2000

It's been a while. Life got in the way of the slow, inexorable progress of the Dishes Project (home for the holidays, professional conference, job interview, cross-country trip, house guests). But Circulation are also at least partially to blame here. This is a double album, with both CDs clocking in at well over an hour. That's a lot of dish-washing.

So, were the many dish-washing sessions spent listening to this album worth it? On the main, yes. Circulation are a tech-house duo from England, and they know their stuff. Most of the tracks are very well-balanced: smooth yet bumping, classy yet with a slightly off-the-wall sample. They are reminiscent of Underworld in the slow layering and adding of synths/drums/etc. as a song begins, but they do have one main drawback. The tracks lack emotional punch (in stark contrast to Underworld). The most these tracks inspire is that wonderful 'get moving' itch that all good techno makes you have, but they don't grab you and take you somewhere new and exciting... y'know what I mean?

Anyway, you can judge for yourself. Here are my two favorite tracks from the album: White and Turquoise (yes, all the song names are colors). White is a great example of the slow build, and it has a fantastic, bouncy groove; wait for the silly sample at 4:00 or so. Turquoise would be right at home on SomaFM's Secret Agent radio station. Enjoy!