I was one of the lucky few to see Animal Collective play before 300 people at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur two nights ago. I’ll have much more to say about the show in the days to come, and a ton of pictures and video to share too, but I can’t get the memory tied to “Lay Low” out of my mind.

Words fail to express the love I have for this stretch of the California coast. So many of my happiest moments have their roots here, and I know of no other place that so thoroughly calms my restless soul.

I proposed to Abby in China Cove, a secluded beach in the Point Lobos State Reserve made just for us, but totally unknown to me before we arrived:

Point Lobos, China Cove

And shared the first of many Carmel sunsets that night:

Our first Highlands Inn sunset

And celebrated her birthday the next day at Nepenthe, perched high above the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur:

Abby and Scott at Nepenthe in Big Sur

And were married in the Carmel Highlands, with our families in attendance, on a day when the fog to burned off just in time to give us our moment in the sun:

Abby and Scott

And I love the drive from Carmel to Big Sur. If I stopped every time I saw an astonishingly beautiful scene like the one below, the 35 mile drive would take a lifetime:

Big Sur

So you can imagine my delight to find out about the show in Big Sur, and my sheer joy at getting four of the most precious tickets on earth, in my humble opinion of course. Abby, Sawyer, my brother Kevin, and I arrived to find the Library tucked in between towering trees and completely enveloped in the densest fog. The entire scene was magical, and only made more so by the song that plays in the background of this quick video:

I only wish I would have moved the camera more slowly, in spite of the speed it reminds of how time stood still that night. The entire hour plus before Animal Collective played was filled for much of the same ethereal sounds, none of which I recognized, but this one stood above all else.

I spent the better part of tonight with that video looped, trying in vain to decipher the lyrics with the hope of identifying the song, when at last I remembered seeing an app for my iPhone called Shazam. Sure enough, a ten second sample identified it, and after scouring the internet again I finally had my song (it seems to be a live version from SxSW, the album is all but impossible to find). Here it is:

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The show itself was almost an afterthought given the majesty of the setting, the crisp and cool air ever so slightly misty from the fog, the history of the land on which we stood, and the band that brought each one of us there. But my most cherished memory is the few hours I was able to share with my family in such a magnificent place, and now I have a song to take me there in an instant.

I was looking for a song to post last night, something that captured the energy and beauty of the afternoon I shared with my wife, son, and brother in San Francisco, but nothing quite fit. It wasn’t until this morning’s walk to work that it all fell into place — clearly, the answer had to be “Star Time 2″ by Squarepusher.

This track starts slow and quietly comes to a crescendo, only to completely unwind in the most peaceful repose. It is positively euphoric and borders on cartoon-like exaggeration, yet it still remains serene and well-composed.

I definitely gravitate toward music with space, which to me means an ample separation of sound that gives room to explore what lies between. And what lies between? Exactly: nothing. Most artists fail to consider that it might be better to not throw everything in all at once, and even fewer can wear that restraint as a badge of courage and push for greater separation. When he chooses to, Jenkinson masterfully toes the line between obvious and subtle, chaos and calm, thick and thin; I can think of no better illustration than “Star Time 2″:

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I think it will be an all-Squarepusher week, with a quick look back at how he arrived at this point and that long-promised write-up of my favorite track from Just a Souvenir. But I’m also itching to play you some Plaid too, the Beatles of our electronic era. Perhaps that’s for next week?

And I couldn’t be happier about that fact. Here’s Sawyer demonstrating his uncanny ability to take over the much desired middle of the bed:

Cornholio takes over the beds

Note the pillow barricades. While merely preventative when sleeping, they were once sufficient to contain him when awake, now they’re nothing more than minor impediments to his progress. He’s growing up so fast.

Though the demands on my time and efforts at work are rapidly increasing, and happily so, there’s nothing I love more than coming home to find my wife and son eagerly awaiting my return. In fact, I can’t think of any other way I’d rather finish my day, and the joy of that moment brings new life to me no matter how tired I might be.

Now if only we could get him to sleep through the night again!

That’s how I feel about tankt right now.
Too many other more enticing ideas on my mind:

  • I wanna see who. (Not really sure how.)
  • Building and simultaneously demolishing grids.
  • User vs. Designer vs. Developer. And the astonishing difference in my expectations depending on my current position.
  • Apathy, decency, and subtlety. Fuck ‘em.
  • The future. It’s about time.
  • Too many tees. (They’re a walking banner ad.)
  • You say you want a revolution. Get up. Stand up. Save your own damn self. Take the time to think.
  • Is it feathers on a bird or lotsa different chickens?
  • Machines for living.
  • Embrace the glitch.
  • Fragments. Bridges. Limited editions. 10″ wax presses. Social mixes. Unconventional remixes. Oh, and a Truitt / Brown collaboration known as TruBro. Is that offensive?
  • Outside.in in Brooklyn. Warp Records in London. Family in Ohio. Three in San Francisco.

And,

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

- Steve Jobs

What was once and always ‘all in my head’ is now ready to see the light of day. Like branches on a tree, some will thrive, while others whither and die. It matters not which is which, merely that they exist.

The rich tapestry of life seems especially so these days. After several years of deep and difficult introspection, I feel whole again, and stronger than ever. I am loved and loving more than I ever thought possible. I (really, we) feed and sustain me.

I am grateful for my lot in life, truly blessed, and finally prepared to share it with the world, not for gain or glory, but for the chance to make new connections, gain new experiences, and maybe just get a little closer to a deeper understanding of the world.

As always, more soon.

Today is the very last day of March, as I realized earlier this morning, which means that today is my very last chance to sustain my streak of posting at least once each month since May of 2007. Of course, I began 2008 as ambitiously as ever, with even loftier goals for myself, hoping to post to either one of my blogs at least once each day, but that quickly faded. So what happened? In a word, life. In another, love.

After so many years of living almost exclusively in my head — long and lonely commutes, brutal brain-draining work, and little time in between to barely breathe let alone heal — my wife and I gave birth to Sawyer, our bouncing baby boy. Abby was so in tune with her body and our baby during the pregnancy that even I was able to move into my own. It was a time to be, not think, and it worked wonders for me. I have never felt so alive.

Naturally, blogging has taken a backseat here — those first two months are killer — while I do occasionally post on Sawyer’s blog, I have hardly been standing still. I continue to work with this notion of doing from the being place, not the thinking place, and have begun to see an incredible shift in my life. Surprisingly, my dreams and aspirations haven’t changed, but my approach to them has, and now the idea of dwelling in and writing more about a “world of me” now seems wholly uninteresting, even to me!

Long story short, this post marks a turning point, not the first and certainly not the last, but definitely a sea change. What was once a blog all about me will soon become less declarative and more inclusive. I may be the beginning, but the story will no longer end with me — I want to open doors not shut them with my old “here’s how I see it and you should too” attitude.

In that spirit, I would like to close with an excellent new track from Beckett and Taylor, one of whom I have written about before, called “World of Me” — it truly is the perfect bridge between these two worlds:

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Come play with me. The more I think about it, that might just be my new tagline…

↓ Download all ten songs Just like last year, though admittedly much less ambitious, I want to mark the passing of another year of with my thoughts on the most distinguished artists and albums of 2007 (according to me), and give you a song from each one to take with you.

If there’s one common theme in this disparate mix, it’s a delicate balance between such lush and abundant instrumentation and a sparse and minimal sound. As I’m fond of saying, it’s the space in between that’s most interesting, and that’s clearly the case in these ten songs, listed below in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

Animal Collective · Strawberry Jam · Unsolved Mysteries

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I would have never known about AC if not for my brother Kevin — he was the first to suggest Sung Tongs and Feels and even sent me some pre-release mp3s from Strawberry Jam. While I liked songs from the first two, SJ was so dense (and unbelievably tense) that I found it difficult to listen to in the very beginning. But again, on his recommendation, I bought tickets to see them live and then also began to listen to SJ more intently, often for days on end, as the show approached. It’s safe to say I was absolutely blown away by their show (see my pictures and my videos from it) and now I’m completely hooked on the album in its entirety. Definitely at the top of my list for 2007.

Battles · Mirrored · Tonto

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Warp heavily promoted the new BTTLS album for a number of months, but it never really caught me the way it seemed to hook everyone else. My good friend Andrew ‘Japandy’ Tweed insisted I take a second look, and I did to my great delight. I wrote about both of their incredible videos, and was lucky enough to see them live not so long ago in San Francisco (need to upload that video to YouTube, it’s amazing). I have yet to see anyone or anything play with such pace, precision, and passion; the only way I can describe it is to say that I can’t listen to their incredible album anymore: it’s too slow, too lifeless (that’s a preposterous thing to say, btw). I was exhausted at the end of their show and (still) incredibly inspired by the whole thing.

Beans · Thorns · We Rock

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I came to follow Beans when Warp signed Anti-Pop Consortium (apparently soon to be reunited, thankfully). Most hip-hop bores me — even though I would listen to nothing but hip-hop if there were more artists like Beans — instead I often find nothing but unimaginative rhythms and even more mindless lyrics. I loved many songs on Tomorrow Right Now and even more on Shock City Maverick, so I eagerly awaited Thorns. After hearing Thundermouth for the first time, I thought it would be near impossible to top that track, but he did it with We Rock. Show me someone, anyone, who rocks it harder than Beans — it can’t be done.

Björk · Volta · I See Who You Are

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Abby absolutely loves Björk, and while I do too, it’s not with the same intensity. I was definitely excited to see her show this summer, but after having seen her on the Vespertine tour before, I wasn’t expecting such an intense and high energy show. This song is equally intense, even though it’s much more sedate. I love the delicate instrumentation on this track and her beautiful lyrics, it’s yet another exquisite collaboration with Mark Bell (LFO). Tops.

Burial · Untrue · Archangel

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The reviews on Warpmart practically begged me to buy it, but the lo-fi samples on bleep sounded flat and uninspired. I debated it for several weeks, but finally gave in and bought the album just to hear it for myself. I was immediately taken by it, no doubt egged on by my then new Shure SE530 headphones (such a guilty pleasure, but damn worth it — find ‘em new on eBay, they’re way cheaper there). This album is incredible, infinitely complex and yet just right there where it should be. I find new twists and turns every time I play it. If you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to get it. btw, Abby’s first impression: “It sounds like Jamie Lidell meets Boyz II Men meets Autechre”. Yep, classic.

Flying Lotus · Reset EP · Dance Floor Stalker

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When the news of his signing to Warp hit, I immediately went searching for his prior release 1983 on Plug Research. It’s an epic instrumental effort, notable for its brief but incredibly thick and dense tracks. I was immediately hooked and kept it in heavy rotation on my peaPod this past summer. Luckily, the Reset EP is all of that and a whole lot more. I played this six-track EP over and over without ever tiring of it. The bass is monstrous, the beats are genius, and the flow is absolutely out of this world. FlyLo deserves his place on Warp’s legendary roster, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Matthew Dear · Asa Breed · Don and Sherri

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I almost left this one off, as much as I love this album and listened to it non-stop for a month straight. I saw his show in San Francisco this fall, and well, to put it kindly… It sucked. Ass. The crowd was sparse, poor promotion perhaps, but he failed to connect with it, preferring instead to plod along with his pre-canned rockstar shtick. The highlight of the show was the next to last song, the epic Don and Sherri, also known as that sick track on the Hummer commercial. Even with the goofy lyrics, this track makes me want to shake my booty. I still love the album, in spite of the awful show. I do believe he will learn so much from this tour, and I expect to see a better show next time. I still believe!

Radiohead · In Rainbows · Bodysnatchers

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Yes, I whined about the 160kbps thing, impugned their motives, and generally disparaged In Rainbows in the very beginning. But the more I listened to it, the more I came to see that the music on this album is as revolutionary as all that surrounds its internet-only release. No one makes music like Radiohead, and Bodysnatchers in particular has my head bouncing from side to side the moment it comes on. But nothing, nothing tops the breakdown shortly after the two minute mark, and the way it builds back into the first part of the song just makes me want to play it all over again. And again. And again. I absolutely love this track.

Sky Observer · Sky Observer’s Guide 070707 · Skyway Drive

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“Space, space, space.” It’s true, Stewart Brown and I go way, way back, and I played a small part in getting this release out to the world, but that has so little to do with how strongly I feel about it. At once timeless and yet clearly of this very moment, Brown succeeded in capturing the dichotomy of his youthful, irreverent energy and his measured, masterful touch. With no hesitation whatsoever, I predict that years from now people will love this effort the way they love Boards of Canada’s In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, as an old friend indeed. Listen to the other four songs for free at FORKLIFT ENTERTAINMENT.

The Tuss · Rushup Edge · Synthacon 9

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C’mon, we all know it’s Aphex Twin. And it’s without a doubt the most magnificent track ever created.

Late update: Here’s a pic of Sawyer helping me write this post:

Sawyer helps me write a post for my blog