Sunday, May 15, 2011


Artist: Daft Punk
Released in:1997
File Under: Famous

I grew up in the suburbs, and unsurprisingly there was a mall in the neighboring town. I spent the most time at the Rave clothing store and in Waldenbooks, both of which have long since gone out of business. The place to go for your best 90's style was Contempo Casuals (bought out years later by Wet Seal), and they had a giant screen behind the check-out desk where they played music videos.

Usually, the videos were your typical bland shopping fodder. But I remember standing transfixed in front of the screen one afternoon -- there were suddenly mummies, girls in sequins and bathing caps, guys with giant shoulders, skeletons and robots. They were all on a series of raised circular platforms, sorted into groups, and they were doing mechanistic, adorable dance moves. The beat had a nice thump, with a bouncy, playful top note. It only had one lyric that repeated over and over: Around the World.

That was my introduction to Daft Punk, and I bought Homework shortly thereafter. I never really adored the album, though -- Around the World is by far the cutest, catchiest song. The rest are well-done but not as interesting (to me) acid house/techno tracks, with stand-outs including Da Funk and Teachers. I do get a special kick out of Teachers since it's a list song (thanks, Stephen Sondheim, for introducing me to the concept). It also has a bassline that should be enshrined as the definition of squelchy: it kicks in at about :32 and is particularly audible around 1:06.

Although nearly fifteen years have passed, Around the World remains one of my favorite tracks. I've even been known to perform the moves from the video at parties. So, though this album as a whole wasn't too exciting to revisit, the shot of 90's nostalgia that it triggered has been enjoyable.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Artist: Couch
Album: Fantasy
Released in: 2000
File under: Unexpected

The Dishes Project has been on a long hiatus, and partially that's because I didn't want to listen to the next CD in line. I vaguely remembered that Couch were some early project of Kieran Hebden and that I didn't care for the album. False on both counts, although perhaps my taste has merely changed (matured?) with respect to the latter.

The name of Kieran Hebden's early project is Fridge (I was close), and this album is excellent. It's post-rock done very well, with the right balance of interesting sound textures, melodic elements and motif repetition. Post-rock = bands that use the instruments of rock (in this case, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards) but without rock/pop song structure. Post-rock bands vary in how much they end up sounding like electronica (in developing and repeating themes) and/or jazz (in noodling around). Fantasy is more on the electronica end and also encroaches somewhat on shoegaze, especially in the final track Gegen Den. The stand-out tracks are the gently propulsive opener Ich Bei Davor, guitar-heavy (in a good way) Control, and the contemplative Nah Dran. Ich Bei Davor and Nah Dran are available at my profile if you want to take a listen.

As some of the song titles suggest, Couch is a German band. The keyboard player, Stefanie Boehm, turns out to be half of Ms. John Soda -- a band on Morr that I like. So perhaps I was bound to be a fan of this album, but it seems fortuitous that The Dishes Project has restarted with such a pleasant surprise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Interlude : Mix

I recently created a mix for my friend L.K. She was interested in hearing some minimalist classical music, but the mix ended up more of a meditation on modern electronica (and, to a small degree, how modern electronica is influenced by minimalist classical music). I made it late on a Tuesday night, when my brain was all relaxed and fuzzy. Sometimes mixes turn out better the less you think about them, and I like this one a lot. Enjoy: Mix for L

Return of the Dishes

It's been nearly two years since I last wrote for the Dishes Project. For those of you who may be newcomers, I started this blog for two reasons:

1) I was washing a lot of dishes, and found it boring

2) I have a lot of CDs and I don't listen to enough of them

I decided to solve these two problems at the same time by listening to all my CDs alphabetically, one CD per dish-washing session. I then posted reviews, comments, rants, anecdotes, etc.

Nowadays, I have a dishwasher, so Problem (1) is no longer applicable. However, Problem (2) remains, and the more time passes, the more I forget the stories behind all the music that I own. So, I've decided to restart the project. I'm going to aim for two CDs a week, and we'll see how far I get!

NB: the ugly red boxes in the old posts used to be links to individual tracks that I uploaded to a kinda crap site called imeem. I think I will use henceforth, unless anyone has a better suggestion.