The year 1977 is perhaps best remembered for a televised incident in September, when "a tube top-clad woman named Yolanda Bowsley is called into Contestant's Row on 'The Price is Right,' and while running down her breasts pop out of her shirt." But also that month, Voyager 1 launched from Cape Canaveral.
The awkward-looking collection of antennas, science instruments and a nuclear power supply has been zooming through space on its grand tour of the solar system for 35 years now. Its sister craft, Voyager 2, was launched two months earlier but took a slightly longer route on its way toward interstellar space. The Voyager missions are now [...]
"I was sitting around in gay bars, and when I'm writing there, I'm usually writing about what's happening around me, even though I don't seem to realize that at the time. What has increasingly been happening is that people in the gay bars are just staring at their glowing gadgets and literally never looking up except to order another drink. So they may as well not be there at all." —Awl pal Matthew Perpetua talks to Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt.
"At around 11 or 12, I became completely obsessed with reading, probably because I was in a hormonal shit storm and couldn’t deal with human beings. My recollection of my 6th grade year is spending each day with my head on my desk. After school, I went to the fantasy section of the Cambridge Public Library and sat on the floor, piling through each title; Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which I read several times, Lloyd Alexander’s various books like Taran Wanderer, some series about dragons which I am blanking on, Ursula Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Narnia, etc." —The Magnetic Fields' Claudia Gonson discusses the books that [...]
What a great time for new music releases! Here's the first single from the forthcoming Magnetic Fields album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea. The album is full of bells and whistles in the good way. And synths abound. Synths! [Via]
"Later experiments in mineral physics found out that when ultramafic rocks, which are rocks very high in magnesium and iron—when those are melted, their conductivity shoots up by orders or magnitude. And it is that very high conductivity that can create the type of signature we have seen. So, we needed mineral physics to catch up with our data." —For a long time, scientists have wondered why the magnetometer readings around the Jovean moon Io were so crazy. Turns out it's because Io is so ultramafic. Io is also the most volcanic world in the entire solar system, due to a seething, 30-mile-thick ocean of magma just beneath [...]
We've been waiting for this one for a while, so good news: "The feature documentary 'Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields' starts its theatrical run on Wednesday, October 27 at New York City's Film Forum. Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields will appear in person alongside the filmmakers at the 8:10PM shows on Wednesday, October 27 and Friday, October 29. Tickets go on sale October 20 at the Film Forum website."
Pre-sale tickets for the Magnetic Fields' next tour are available now. They'll be at Town Hall here in New York on March 10th and 11th, and at BAM's Gilman Opera House a month earlier. If you're at all a fan of the band I advise you to snap these up; I was fortunate enough to catch them at Town Hall the last time they came around and it was just a terrific show. Thank me later.
"After putting out their 'synth-free trilogy,' The Magnetic Fields are returning to their signature mix of synth and acoustic sounds. Merritt notes about the new album that 'instead of using a synthesizer as a melodic instrument, much of the time I used it as a compositional destructive mechanism, something eating away at the apparent order of my perfectionist arrangements. I was very happy to be using synthesizers in ways that I had not done before. Most of the synthesizers on the record didn't exist when we were last using synthesizers.' The songs – none over three minutes long – were recorded with Merritt's usual cast of collaborators: Claudia Gonson, Sam [...]
69. Love is Like Jazz 68. Experimental Music Love 67. Xylophone Track 66. Two Kinds of People 65. Zebra 64. How Fucking Romantic 63. Strange Eyes 62. For We Are the King of the Boudoir 61. Roses 60. Punk Love 59. Fido, Your Leash is Too Long 58. Love in the Shadows 57. Meaningless 56. Abigail, Belle of Kilronan 55. Queen of the Savages 54. Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits 53. World Love
Some historical perspective: A long time ago there was a magazine called CMJ New Music Monthly which came with a CD offering 15 or so recent tracks from generally obscure bands that pretentious young white people like myself favored back in the days when this nation was so carefree that its biggest obsession centered around a figure skater and her skeevy boyfriend who had attacked a rival figure skater and her friend Ron Goldman. Or something. Anyway, CMJ New Music Monthly was pretty great, because back before the Internet you had to rely on your friends or your local college radio station to find out about new bands, which was [...]