« Rescued notes: Mexico | Main | Sound at the speed of thought »

Feeling fragmented

I've lost my footing with this blog, and am not sure how to regain it. Even writing that sentence sounds so horribly LiveJournalish that it makes me want to close my browser and do something, anything else. It's not writer's block, but something else -- purpose block? The sense that I don't know who my audience is, or what the reason for this blog is -- simple self-promotion? An outlet for my more unguarded thoughts? I've come to see much of my work as too confessional as it is, almost too maudlin at times. I'd kill for a breezy, cut-to-the-core analytical style that said its piece and got the hell out, but that's not me. Can one invent a style? Is style "natural," or is it learned -- and if so, can it be unlearned? I suppose that depends on whether you think writing is expression, and if so, to what degree.

I'm also feeling a bit adrift in music lately. Stacks of CDs pile up on my desk, and as the eye scrolls down their spines, nothing jumps out. Things I'd expect to love sound passable. Things that should be passable I throw in the trash. It can't be that there's nothing good right now; am I simply glutted? Sated? Full to the point of bursting? Do I simply need some silence? Would listening to that compilation of covers of 4'33" help?

I'm tired, at the moment, of writing about the note-by-note. I certainly don't want to read it. I want to read stories, and tell stories, if I have any worth telling. But what kind of stories -- that's always the question, isn't it? Is it time to start making shit up?

One thing that has been consuming me of late is the creation of a schaffel mix CD for Sónar's "Musica a la Carta" listening stations, which is turning out to be one of the more difficult mix projects I've ever attempted. To begin with, there aren't that many tracks from which to choose, relatively speaking -- I'd guess that I have perhaps 40 in my collection. Easily half of those are Kompakt, and for reasons of balance, I'm trying to limit the disc to being only 25% or so Kompakt-related. (They did pretty much invent the form -- and corner the market -- so it's impossible not to lean heavily upon them.) And then schaffel ain't exactly easy to mix -- schaffel tracks' individual rhythmic signatures vary pretty widely, from lockstep triplets to drunken lurching to ghost-schaffel with an implied techno pulse underneath. There's also a huge range of densities, from the garish, overdriven girth of Electronicat to the lithe clickiness of Wighnomy Brothers. My set list is about 20 songs long, for an hourlong mix, and I have listened to each of these tracks -- singularly and in various combinations -- more times than I care to think.

I will say this, though: it's gonna be pretty cool. Just trust me.

And I will say this as well: on days when I can't stand words any more -- and most other days, come to think of it -- deejaying is about the most exhilarating freedom in the world.


What I spect in this post in to remain in the thought that everytime I come to this page is to find a clue to the curse of music from an analyst inside it, not just a glimpse of whats happening... "on the edge". So, although I always stress with the phobias and phillias of blog writers, the personal vision is as valid as a collective, yet nothing is really objective...

well your opinions on music-related issues have been a big influence on me since i discovered your writing at neumu. your critical beats column is the only reason i still pick up wire. and for purely selfish reasons, i wish there was more of that to be found here. but i continue to visit for several reasons — the photos, the stream-of-conciousness, the occassional political diatribes, and in hopes that a narrative, such as the piece on MUTEK, will appear.

don't self-abnegate, activate!!! the readers of philipsherburne.com are here because of philip sherburne. also feel free to assume my new mantra for the crappy trashed cd's: "it's not me, it's you."

You could just post mp3s so I would know what the hell you're talking about!

holy shit, they are the truest words i've heard in a while. i guess that's exactly why i keep checking out this site.

yeah mp3s are good.

I've been following your blog as of lately. I am some guy in Canada who stumbled across your blog someway in which i cant recall, something to do with music i guess.
Anyway, hopefully you keep going. I find your articles interesting and that schaffel mix cd sounds that a difficult but rewarding project.
i love to check it out once its complete.

I will have to agree with jon up above. You seem to be the most "real" of the music bloggers that I regularly read. SF/J is good too but sometimes a bit tooooo esoteric, Woebot cares for nothing but music, and Simon R is often just too Simon R.

Too much praise makes the spirit weak though, so just carry on till you lose the spirit.

If nothing else, please rattle on about the process of putting the mix together. For those of us who dabble lightly in finding the mesh point of things, a little illumination of the methodology would be delightful.

And yes, I feel your pain on the lack of stories. Some days they are just notes.

I feel ya, Phil. Even Areal's Bis Neunzhen didn't really jolt me out of my benign neutrality regarding all things musical. It's become increasingly rare to find things that truly zing you. Lately, that's been Jason Forrest's album on Sonig with the long title and oddities like Vinny Miller's On The Block (4AD) and Octavius' Audio Noir on Mush. Writers get glutted with product and even the good stuff comes to sound just okay. But it goes in phases and I suspect you'll regain your enthusiasm, or some exciting new subgenre will dazzle your ears anew.

two things:

it's dangerous seeking 'a point'. i try my best not to.

maybe go deep on the shaffel thing and get some T-Rex, Glitter Band, and Norman Greenbaum on there. Kompakt wears its influences with pride.

hey you, keep it! UP! This is one of my favourite blogs ever. And it would be good even if we only got a Kompakt-related little splurt every other month. As for the mix: explosions between tracks always works.

cant wait to check out the mix man!


good luck with the CD, philip, and remember that if the set's too long, you can always fade it out at 72-74 minutes long... By the way, does anyone out there have an ftp server for Philip to upload it?

I believe that this very post is the purpose for this blog.
It could be kept as more an extension of your printed writings, but I tend to like stream-of-conscious writing. There are also shared interests that make me think to stop by. Much less for reviews, MP3's, or news about music.

"I've lost my footing with this blog, and am not sure how to regain it. Even writing that sentence sounds so horribly LiveJournalish that it makes me want to close my browser and do something, anything else."

aww man... that one made me feel good.
anyway having laughed my ass off reading
your last 4 entries dwindling back in
Phillip Sherbourne time maybe your drifting-ness
is the best thing right now. your drawing more comedy
per paragraph than I've seen before. Oh yeah, don't fret about those Frisco parties, cats be spinning Bpitch Control at those things these days along with Soft Pink and some Herbert. Next thing you know indie-kids will have holes in their brains.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)