Author Archives: knowb

Up in Flames

Manitoba - Up in Flames

Manitoba/Caribou - Up in Flames

Dan Snaith’s first album, Start Breaking My Heart (2000), is usually categorized as folktronica or intelligent dance music (IDM), in the vein of Boards of Canada and Four Tet. Samples are precisely calibrated and meticulously arranged in exact sequences. It is an appropriate sound given Snaith’s academic background: a B.Sc. from Toronto and a Ph.D. from Imperial College, both in mathematics; his father and sister are also mathematicians. In contrast, his sophomore album, Up in Flames (2003), is a messy, vibrant, wall-of-sound that wears its bliss on its sleeve and smacks of instant gratification. It is shocking to discover that both albums were similarly composed on a computer; Snaith cooks up a delightful smorgasbord of echoing vocals, punishing drums, animal sounds, organ blasts, and strummed guitar. Serving suggestion: enjoy with headphones on a sunny, carefree day. Continue reading

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New Order Goes Kaputt

In its February 2012 issue, MOJO has enclosed a CD of covers by different bands of New Order’s Power, Corruption, & Lies (1983). The timing is bittersweet, as the tension between Peter Hook (who has been touring Joy Division’s back catalogue) and the two other original members of the band, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, has recently escalated in public spheres. The chance of a full reunion is rather slim.

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This, My Friends, is What a Cocktail Party Should Look Like (Part 2)

This is the second of our two part post on the Summer 2011 edition of Four Eleven, a  recurring cocktail party held by the authors of bybe. In this post, knowb discusses his contributions to this iteration which featured a menu of all original drinks. If you haven’t done so already, check out the first post here which introduces Four Eleven and details contributions from bybe’s other author, mccowan. Again, both authors graciously thank Mandy McGee for photographing the event and allowing us to reproduce her pictures here. Continue reading

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The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Not without controversy, the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year was awarded to The Tree of Life, the fifth film in nearly forty years by American director Terrence Malick. As the title suggests, The Tree of Life attempts to relate our cosmic origins, the mundane and sometimes tragic occurrences of our lives, and aspects of our emotional and spiritual selves like love, redemption, and forgiveness. Without too much spoiler, the anniversary of a tragedy necessitates a phone call between father and son. Most of the film is spent on a journey through the son’s memories and thoughts on existential questions that are ultimately raised when one recalls an event of this enormity, as if the viewer were privy to the flashbacks and mental images behind the closed eyelids of a person deep in recollection. As such, The Tree of Life is impressionistic and not strictly temporally ordered, which may alienate filmgoers – it continues to polarize critics after Cannes.

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Allegri’s Miserere

This post is brought to you by American Airlines and the miserable weather blanketing both the Midwest and the East Coast: a cancelled flight and the subsequent thirteen-hour limbo at O’Hare provided me an opportunity to share some thoughts on Easter music.

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The Debut May Have to Last Me All My Life

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

This post continues the anniversary series on albums with some personal significance, but I want to digress before writing about the album. Some time ago, while out with friends for drinks, a discussion sprung up regarding sampling. The debate centered on its artistic validity, and whether the albums of say, Girl Talk, deserved the label “music” or a dismissal as glorified mixtapes. I supported the former, and in my argument, used an analogy with the visual arts inspired by my best friend.

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A Hypnotic Shade of Blue

Chagall Windows

I alighted from the 6 bus yesterday, the first snowy day of the year, to start a last round of profligate spending that began during Thanksgiving with the goal of leaving my walls and wardrobe less bare. The stores lay on a convenient south-north route along State and Michigan, and I got off at Jackson. With the Art Institute directly in my line of sight, I decided to delay my brief foray into Christmas consumerism and take advantage of the university’s Arts Pass to see the Chagall windows.

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