Tea With Chris: Unstudied Strangeness

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: Cynthia Dall died this week, apparently unexpectedly, in her mid-40s. Dall was a side-character in 1990s rock, best known for her collaboration (and relationship) with Bill Callahan of Smog and occasional guest spots on other people’s records (such as The Notwist), and for her photography. But in 1996 she released an album of her own on Drag City that I remember playing a lot at the time, taken with the Nico-esque dryness of Dall’s vocals and the stylistic range, from the minimalist-noise-breakdown below to an acoustic Soviet-era folksong. I hadn’t thought of her in a long time until I came across the beautiful post Drag City wrote about her (as “a muse that crossed over”) this week. I wish I was being reminded of her by the new album she was working on, instead. Sometimes the side characters can be more intriguing and affecting than the stars.

We hear about such losses all the time, it seems – it’s nice to think instead about the aging artists who are still thriving. On that note, here’s a fun conversation our friend Michael Barclay recently had with Nick Lowe: “I don’t lament anything, really. I’ve been through my lamenting process. It didn’t get me anywhere.”

Chris: Regrets, I currently have two or three, but the latest one is missing Lil B’s talk/lecture/happening at NYU yesterday. Nitsuh Abebe and Brad Nelson both attended, though, and wrote about how the guest’s philosophy of disarmingly posi empathy was received by a certain subset of braying lulz-obsessed fan, or, in Abebe’s words, “the kind of young man who likes to engage with oddball black musicians in a fashion resembling middle-school boys making their overweight or developmentally disabled peers dance.” B’s own ramblings are hardly all self-serious, or devoid of irony, but it’s disturbing when someone so good-humoured gets treated as nothing more than a human meme generator. As Nelson wonderfully suggests, his guiding impulse is a braver one: “This kind of naked earnestness maybe seems odd of someone who manipulated songs and tags into the names of celebrities, in order to optimize himself, slipping into certain orbits of the YouTube search function. It feels sort of cynical unless you consider it a path in, a useful bridge or portal into unstudied strangeness. Typing a well-known name ensnares you in an unknown. This was sort of the idea of the internet, right? This nonlinear migration into pure wonder and apprehension. Lil B swiveling there in the darkness, full of love.”

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

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