May 292015

Founding (if rarely participating) Townsman dbuskirk has long been one of my favorite DJs. He does a jazz show for Princeton’s WPRB, playing mostly out-there stuff. Dan has also done other sorts of shows over the years, as well as host obscure film events and more. He’s one of those DJs like Nick Spitzer of NPR’s American Roots, someone who can introduce me to just about anything by the power of his intro talk and/or segues and somehow ease my numerous hang ups. Like Spitzer, however, I bet Dan’s one limitation would be turning me onto that accordion-driven music from Louisiana. I’m blanking on the name of that stuff, but…yuck, what hammy party music that stuff is to my ears! (Come to think of it, even Dan and Nick would likely have difficulty turning me onto Love’s Forever Changes. Not even Townsman geo can get me to accept that turd.)

About a year ago Dan launched a podcast, Fun2Know. It’s really good, really relaxed. If you enjoy being witness to the gift of gab, you may find his long chats with artists of various stripes to be as engaging and insightful as I do. His guests typically are based in the 2 areas where he’s primarily lived—Philadelphia and San Francisco. The easy hook for me was hearing interviews with cool Philadelphia-area arts-world contributors I’ve known for years, like local musical legend Kenn Kweder and Fresh Air producer Amy Salit, interesting characters I’ve typically only had the chance to chat with in noisy clubs, while my ears are ringing and I’m trying to lean into the person speaking, but not too far, so that I’m invading their personal space. Eventually I branched out and started listening to his chats with his old San Francisco pals. A 2-parter, for instance, with comedian Greg Proops, one of those guys from “that ’90s improv show,” as I call Who’s Line Is It Anyway, was a dream come true for me, involving tangents on Brian Jones-era Stones and baseball. Through all these interviews, the laid-back Dan chuckles and prods discussion forward.

This week’s episode features Antibalas trumpeter/bandleader Jordan McLean. It was recorded shortly before McLean found himself in a legal mess with Ornette Coleman, over a recently released album, New Vocabulary, that Coleman claims was released without his consent. I’m about to check out this week’s episode, and I invite you to join me. My guess is that, as good an interviewer as Dan is, he wasn’t able to look into the future and bring this suit up with McLean, but my guess is also that an investment of your time in Dan’s show will provide you with some unusual stories, some chuckles, and some moments of “Oh yeah!” connection. Enjoy.

Sep 172013

Years ago, when I was a college radio dj, some of the dance-oriented djs used to pull a mixing trick at the end of a track: while the record was playing, they would dramatically slow down the rpm and use that to seque to another song with the same or similar bpm. Or, to really make a point, they would slow the song down and just stop the record playing all together. I thought it was a pretty cool trick.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I’m stuck in traffic driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and just as the traffic starts to clear, New Order‘s “5 8 6” comes on my cd player. I had always liked New Order, but knew their singles better than their entire albums. So there I was listening to Power, Corruption and Lies, enjoying the car’s acceleration but also noticing that the 1983 track reflected the same Slow Slow Music technique that I had always associated with djs in the 90’s. (If you’re not a New Order fan, fast forward to around 7:05.)

But wait! There’s the technique again, this time as part of Joy Division‘s 1979 “Transmission.” (The technique is pretty obvious on this live version, even if John Cooper Clark talks over some of it.)

Is there a name for this Slow Slower Slowest Music technique? Were Joy Division inspired by some Kraut Rock or Kraftwerk number that I’m not aware of? Can you find other, earlier documented uses of this Slow Music fade out?

I look forward to the elucidation.


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