Monday, June 10, 2013

Recently, again

*Black Sabbath review at Pitchfork. It's been a bumpy ride, but the new Sabbath album is finally here. I'm thankful that I had the space to muse on it at length. I'll echo Stereogum's Michael Nelson, who graciously shouted out my piece in his write-up of the new "God Is Dead?" video, and point out that the discourse surrounding this record has been especially lively. I disagree with Ben Ratliff and Adrien Begrand's evaluations, but they both make solid, compelling points—Ratliff re:, e.g., the oft-overlooked "insane party" aspect of Sabbath 1.0; Begrand re:, e.g., the tough-to-beat sturdiness of Iommi and Butler's last go-round with Ronnie James Dio under the Heaven and Hell moniker.

For a true expert opinion, I highly recommend Steve Smith's NYT Popcast discussion with Ratliff. I doubt there are many commentators covering 13 who have a more detailed working knowledge of Sabbath's entire history than Steve; I'd like to offer a special note of thanks to Steve for abetting my own last-minute crash course re: Sabbath's shadowy non-Ozzy, non-Dio years. I'm still immersed in those seven LPs, trying to make sense of the weird, divergent sprawl. For starters, I'm beginning to feel like Born Again and Headless Cross are both real keepers.

P.S. Phil Freeman's review went live after I published the round-up above, but that's well worth a look too. Again, I'm not on board with every one of his points—e.g., while I do hear Brad Wilk deliberately playing it safe, I (thankfully) don't think there's oppressive ProTools looping/"gridding" going on here; you can hear the patterns/fills fluctuating throughout the songs, in ways that you wouldn't if all the drum tracks on 13 were subject to a ruthless, industry-standard cut-and-paste job—but this is a very sharp evaluation with a provocative conclusion.

*Milford Graves preview at Time Out New York. I've had Milford on the brain lately, largely due to call it art. The lineup for Wednesday's Lifetime Achievement showcase—opening night of Vision Festival 18—is insane; I can't wait.

*Black Flag preview at Time Out New York. As Ben Ratliff has eloquently noted, in another thinkpiece/Popcast combo, the current bifurcated reunion is insane. When I interviewed Greg Ginn last July, he was playing to near-empty rooms with his Royal We project, which I caught twice (once at Iridium, of all places) over the course of a week. The situation is somewhat different now. I look forward to seeing how it all goes down.

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