This is a musicblog. Every weekday we post a couple of mp3s and write about them. Songs are only kept online for a short time. This is a page from our archives and thus the mp3s linked to may not longer be available. Visit our front page for new songs and words.

January 30, 2015



Chad VanGaalen - "Cut Off My Hands"

So the other day at work I had to write this thing. Just a little blurb, said the email, about this guy here. He does 4D printing. Look at the notes if you get stuck. I'm new, so I look at the notes a lot. Right below his job title, in a parenthetical, there was an answer to the question I didn't even realize I had:

• (the fourth dimension is time.)

So it turns out the guy, his job was - is - to design and build materials that can change and adapt to different conditions over time. The goal is to eventually have whole cities that just build and fix themselves without us even asking. Roads that seal off their own potholes like it's nothing, buildings that brace themselves ahead of time for storms we haven't named yet. You get to go about your business while the world around you (the same one we once anchored with, what, pegs? Poured concrete? The mute kind? Like chumps?) does its thing. Alone. Or in tune with itself.

What I'm learning about this job, the more I do it, is that sometimes writing these things is easy and sometimes it's less so. Imagine, I typed, deleted, then typed again. Imagine a city that doesn't need you to live.

Chad VanGaalen - "Where Are You?"

I love Chad VanGaalen's music, whatever that means. The songs on Soft Airplane are threaded through a clutch of crucial moments in my mind; same deal with Diaper Island, which I could probably sing through in my sleep if you asked me. But to be honest, at this point those older records mostly stay on the shelf. There's something about their songs that pulls a tiny, tense knot in my spine; listening to them feels like reaching into an old memory and discovering some connection's come loose. I don't know if this is because I've papered them over with relistening, or if there's something in the music that misses itself, but even his still songs always feel a little worked up to me. Like they're constantly checking to see if you're checking.

Ever since Sean asked me if I wanted to write here, I've had this little nausea gnawing gently on my throat - the worry that I'm not really qualified. I try to keep up with music but there's no method, I'm not diligent like some people I know. The songs that end up sticking with me always just happen to swim up at the right moment. Shrink Dust, VanGaalen's newest album, came out in April, but when it did I thought oh, I probably know what that sounds like, and then I completely forgot about it until the other day. Who knows what made me look it up? The fourth dimension is time, or whatever, I guess.

These songs are built out of the same materials as VanGaalen's older ones, but the tension that once tugged them along's dissolved somewhere en route to the present. This is music that's fully entrenched in its own weirdness, and in that it's resplendent. No struggle, just a self that touches all edges, swallows everything it meets. These songs do not care if you're looking. Imagine a bored lake lapping into itself, a road healing its own cracks over and over. Imagine a city that doesn't need you to live.

[buy] // image via my own dumb computer

Posted by Emma at 9:29 AM | Comments (8)

January 29, 2015


Sheep shearing

Jib Kidder - "Appetites". On shrooms, Stuart sheared the sheep. He hadn't meant to be on shrooms but he was out with Al when he got the text from his pa. Sheeps wont shear themselves. Now pls. So Al doubled him back to the farm then pedaled off himself, cap turned backward. His pa barely said a word - dropped the bucket with the razor at his feet, thump, and stamped off. Stuart took the bucket and and went out into the yard. Across the pungent mud and over the pricking fence, into the shadow of the barn. There were tiny starry twinkles at the corner of his sight. The sheep smelled like sheep. They baaaed like those toys at the shop on high street, a sour sound like cherries. Stuart put down the bucket. He thought to himself, I am high. He rubbed his face and fetched one of the sheep, grabbed it by the collar, but then he had to let it go so he could rub his face again and plug in the razor. Sun was roaring into the barn through the gap in the rafters. Straw was flying like ticker-tape. The baaaas like cherries. Stuart grabbed the sheep again, yanked it gentle and firm, as his father had taught him, clutched it to his knees with a razor buzzing in his hand - brrrrrr fffffffff brrrff ffff fffff shhh brrrrrrrfff. The sheep looked this way and that. It smiled like a happy grandma. It was skinny and weird, hot and animal. Stuart felt like a field of cotton, a field of soft fluffy cotton like you see on TV. [buy]

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 2:36 PM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2015

Keep calm and walk into Costco.

Stelvio Cipriani - La polizia chiede aiuto.mp3

Apparently, "Being confident and positive is the key to success." I heard it on a late night infomercial which had a psychic with a green screen cloud background. I was only a 16 year old kid, who just arrived in Canada, and couldn't speak English very well. I didn't have any friends, so I watched a lot of TV. The first three sentences that I knew were, "Im hungry." "Where's the bathroom?" and "I'm tired." All the basic human needs that I learned from watching re-runs of Roseanne on late night tv. Later, I learned "Shut up!" from Judge Judy and "You don't know me!" from troubled-out-of-control-teens episodes of Maury Show. In fact, I didn't know anyone, People didn't know me and the worst is I didn't know me. and I had to tell my negative thoughts to shut up.

Stelvio CiprianiI was a Italian composer who scored many soundtracks during 70's. The feel of this song somehow reminded me of my first time and last time at Costco. First time, my host family took me to Costco and I was fascinated by massive pickle jars and 100 litres of ketchup and mustard. They also gave out so many free food samples. I kept coming back to eat. It's basic human needs I was hungry. Then, I became tired from eating, but no problem, there are beds at Costco too.

Fast forward to 2012, my friend had to stop at Costco. 15 years since the last visit to Costco. Now I seem to know myself. I enjoy stupid things like wondering if I could enter Costco without its membership card. If I was confident, maybe they would assume I have a Costco membership card. So I walked in ahead of my friend, my chin up, calm, this song playing in my head, walking in slow motion. But I was wrong. It is as tough as going across the boarder without a passport. They stopped me and asked me for a Costco membership card. I could have said, "shut up!" and "you don't know me!" but I'm now a grown man and didn't want to get deported from Costco. So I pointed at my friend and told them, I know him.


(photo by Dan Gutwein)

Posted by Mitz at 8:00 AM | Comments (12)

January 27, 2015


Describe the image

Sleater-Kinney - "Get Up"

For me, this is the sound of teen anticipation. I first heard Corin Tucker's guitar and voice on the song "Monsters" by Heavens to Betsy, which was a standard of teen-punk mixtapes in the early 90s. It's a stompy warning to avoid creeps, a riot grrrl classic that ends with thirty seconds of glorious shrieking. This song, "Get Up," came into my life in the small window of time after finishing high school and before moving out of my parents' house in the suburbs. After listening to Dig Me Out constantly the year before I was looking for clues about what the next Sleater-Kinney record would sound like. When this song came out on a seven inch I picked it up and began decoding. In my memory, the excitement of waiting for their next record is mixed with feelings of trying to figure out what the eff came next in my own life, the last moments of lingering between a small safe place and the whoosh of the unknown. This music pulls in different directions. Two distinct voices and guitars intertwined over a persistent beat. Wild and tender, punk and not punk, no easy solutions. There are many right ways to move forward.


The reunion of Sleater-Kinney feels like a necessary realignment in the universe.


Hi, I'm new. Thanks for reading! If you're in Montreal this Thursday the 29th I'm launching the new issue of my zine Ghost Pine at le Cagibi (5490 St. Laurent). The event is free and starts at 7:30 p.m.

(photo of the suburbs by Spike)

Posted by Jeff at 1:01 AM | Comments (9)

January 26, 2015


Said the Gramophone is now twelve years old. I remember being twelve. It was terrifying. A time when childhood stories, dreamlike and brave, began to brush up against the chafing, torrid, unkind facts of adolescence. So much of being a good grown-up, curious and full-hearted, seems to be a matter of repealing the defence mechanisms learned at that time. Not to be childlike again - but to unlearn the lesson that the world must let you down.

At eleven and a half years old, I almost shut Said the Gramophone down. Dan had told me he was saying goodbye, making time for different things. I published my first novel and won a big prize. I wondered: What's the point? Maintaining this weird old blog, with declining readership, for free, at a time when hardly anyone is using a platform like this to introduce people to new music, when hardly anyone is writing like this, oddly and personally, from a realm of sense and feeling, intuition and dream, not to mention on a site that's green as a pistachio, unfestooned with ads.

But then of course I realized: That's the point. Those are the points. That this is old and weird. That not enough people are doing it. That even if the market can't support writing about anything that doesn't attract >25,000 views, that even if people want music streamed direct to their ears without any intermediary - Said the Gramophone's ambivalence to markets and masses affords it the luxury of stubbornness. Writing Said the Gramophone lets me work things out about songs and art, about myself; lets me figure out new ways of writing, lets me practice new sentences every day. Reading Said the Gramophone, reading the posts and stories by Dan and others, introduces me to wonderful new songs, paints pictures in the back of my heart, and also - best of all - shows me new ways in to music. Each post here, if it's working, is its author's doorway into a song: hand-made, hand-painted, with wood dragged in from the swamp.

I decided I wanted it to continue. And so I packed some provisions, got on my horse, wrangled myself a new gang. In alphabetical order:

  • Emma Healey is a Toronto-based poet and essayist. I first read her work when Dan asked her to fill in for him here. Last year, she wrote "Stories Like Passwords" one of the most important essays written anywhere in 2014. She loves music and dislikes puns. She writes like every sentence is a book of matches.

  • Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He has been publishing photocopied, stapled, stamped-and-posted issues of Ghost Pine since 1996. Some of this writing was anthologized for a 2010 collection, showcased on this blog. Last week he took me to more-or-less my first hardcore punk show. It was awesome and as we trekked home through the snow and cold I could think only of how hot the thrill in my chest. Each of Jeff's stories is like a new arrow.

  • Mitz Takahashi is a musician, woodworker and furniture-maker who was born in Osaka, Japan and now lives in Montreal. He DJs and plays in bands, including Mavo, who have appeared on this blog. He loves amazing music. English is his second language so he has found new ways to use it, shortcuts and cheatcodes, and his sentences have a way of undoing me.

  • I'm still who I am, and I'll go on posting.
Starting today, Said the Gramophone will once again be updated five days a week.

Thanks to all of you reading. To Jordan Himelfarb and Dan Beirne. To Emma, Jeff and Mitz, for joining this dumb folly. Please leave some comments on their posts, in the coming weeks; let them know if you're listening.

Posted by Sean at 1:39 PM | Comments (51)

January 22, 2015


Image by Andrea Galvani

My Brightest Diamond - "Looking at the Sun".

When you close your eyes
you imagine where you think the limit is
and you make the limit move.

It is an orderly court. A yard of white marble, a white sun, each of the square's four sides bordered by a line of baobabs. Osiris on his throne: just a plain wooden chair, nine pieces of wood, inscribed in gold by the first high priest. Osiris sits straight, but not too straight. There is no effort in it. Seated, erect, listening to his two closest advisors. Four steps away, a knot of merchants. Four steps beyond them, an admiral, an astrologer, a priest. The courtiers wait in a space beyond that, clustered around a musician. There is the sound of spring birds, the visitor's lyre. The conversations in measured voices. A close observer would watch the way Osiris's eyes move from one face to another. It is a snap of focus but he makes it seem like a gradual thing - something invisible and foregone. His advisors do not dare to watch him. They cannot know where he is in the process of looking to; they do not want to be caught peeking. Instead, they make statements that they know to be true. They give advice that they would die to defend. The musician's song is like a sunbeam unpeeling ray by ray. Beneath the court, it is rumoured, there is an underground river.




  • I am hiding in this gorgeous video for James Irwin's "Sahra". Album launch in Montreal tonight.

  • However I will be spending this weekend at Fredericton, New Brunswick's Shivering Songs festival, alongside Owen Pallett, Bry Webb, Henry Adam Svec, Peter Broderick, Buck 65 and more. I'm doing a reading on Saturday.

  • Can't wait to dig into Aquarium Drunkard's mixtape of vintage Saskatchewan gems.
  • Tune in on Monday for a big announcement.

    (image source)

    Posted by Sean at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)

    January 19, 2015


    Astronaut by Scott Listfield

    The Soundcarriers - "Entropicalia". Takes a few seconds, sometimes, to work out if something is being done or if it being undone. Your eyes or ears take these moments to adjust: to work out the order in the shapes & lines, the clatter & motorik. Then you see: this is doing, not undoing. This is assemblage, erection. This is weaving and growth. You listen to "Entropicalia" - its Neu-like swagger, its Stereolab shimmer, its Broadcast shine - and you hear the accumulation of rhythm, chords, voices, harmony. A luscious gathering, loose and tight. Galloping movement, rising temperature, soaring melody. And then the gradual realization: it is not always a choice between doing and its opposite. Sometimes assemblage is collapse, growth is destruction. Sometimes, entropic, everything gets hotter & wilder & freer until finally it's ruined.

    [buy / with thanks to David Belbin]

    (image by scott listfield)

    Posted by Sean at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

    January 15, 2015


    Blue ombre

    Christine and the Queens - "Saint Claude". French pop with the interesting (time-honoured) tactic of making the chorus en anglais - a break from what's come before, a change of affective key, a switch from what's frilled and elegant to something a little clumsier, to something much more vulnerable. The words themselves aren't great, or those soppy strings, but "Saint Claude"'s full musical landscape, that sunlight dancing on ice - it's enough to make this track compulsive, a little treasure you want to hear again. [buy]


    Some wonderful changes coming up soon for Said the Gramophone. Super excited. Stay tuned.

    (image source unclear)

    Posted by Sean at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

    January 12, 2015


    Image by Zviane

    John Prine - "Hello in There". [buy]
    Bill Callahan - "Sycamore". [buy]

    Can the same seeds grow two different trees? I have read almanacs, Whole Earth Catalogs, listened to twin songs by John Prine and Bill Callahan, and the evidence points to yes. Trees from the same seeds will not have the same spirit. They will not blossom at the same time, or wither. They may not even look the same. But they will bear the same fruit: identical apples and pears, rosy apricots. The luckiest of us may sometimes have a fruitbowl filled with matching specimens, siblings, resemblant and unique, in a brief still life.

    (image from Zviane's Les deuxièmes, source)

    Posted by Sean at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)