by Emma
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.



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 January 30, 2015 9:29 AM

Love this writing.

Posted by Brendan at January 30, 2015 12:43 PM

I'm glad we'll be receiving dispatches from your own dumb computer Emma. This is beautiful.

Posted by garconniere at January 30, 2015 2:09 PM

I really enjoy reading this blog and discovering new music, but I have to say that, like most of Sean's musical suggestions, I just don't get this one either. So yes, it doesn't need at least me to keep living.

Posted by madalina at January 30, 2015 8:24 PM

"I've had this little nausea gnawing gently on my throat" is one of many phrases in this post that make me very, very glad you're here.

Posted by Lindsey at February 1, 2015 11:56 PM

Love the songs and excited to read more of your writing!

Posted by Sam at February 2, 2015 7:01 AM

I love Chad VanGaalen's music, too.

Your writing is wonderfully humane and warm. I'm trying to think of a metaphor that buttons the way yours do, but I got nothing.

Posted by Blayze at February 2, 2015 10:26 AM

So happy to see you writing here on a regular basis.

Posted by Kate at February 2, 2015 2:38 PM

Welcome to Said the Gramophone! As someone who also methodlessly tries to keep up with music, I'm looking forward to reading even more of your writing.

Posted by Zoë at February 4, 2015 10:07 AM

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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