The music we made in Genie Boom was not unlike the music made by the pumps and steam lines and reactors of Firmenich. Michelle drummed on garbage cans, a red school bell, a gas tank, whatever banged. Todd pressed buttons on his Casio synthesizer and Roland drum machine. I plugged five cheap guitars—old Silvertones and Kays, before they became popular—into whatever amps I could find, turned the knobs on my effects pedals all the way up, and screamed the lines from my poems into the guitars’ pick-ups.
The AZ9345 is on right now. And it sounds pretty damn good to me. I’m listening to Smog’s latest album, A River Ain’t Too Much to Love, and god, I love it. I love it. I don’t even know exactly what it is. I keep wondering, “What is it? What’s so great about this album?”
Throughout college, Michelle and I—along with our very good friend, Todd—played in a performance art/noise rock band called Genie Boom. We took the name from the sky-blue steel beast that you sometimes see at construction sites, or on highways, or—here in New York City—even on Madison Avenue; the same sky-blue steel beast that I once used to propel myself a hundred feet into the air to install all sorts of I-don’t-know-what along the tanks and pumps and whatever else that make up Firmenich, the chemical plant where I worked at the time. They make flavors and fragrances; much of what you taste and smell everyday comes from Firmenich. I spent four summers there, painting curbs and railings “emergency yellow,” watching flaming bits of iron fall from the welders’ gloved hands, finding beauty in how smooth a beveled pipe could be.
In a sense, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are music historians and preservationists. In "The Hard Sell," they take us on a scratching, mixing, looping journey through musical genres and fads, from the wildly obscure to the completely commercial, while employing not one, not two, but eight turntables and a collection of original 45rpm seven-inch singles that would make Mikey Fremer's hair go straight.
It’s been an unusually stressful couple of months here at Stereophile, thanks in large part to a succession of unusually demanding endeavors. Preparing our October issue was difficult for the usual reason (“Recommended Components”) and our November issue was particularly exciting for me, as it includes my first full-length review (VPI Traveler turntable), but nothing could prepare us for the intensity that came with producing, in a single month, both our December issue and our annual special issue.
Really, one issue per month is enough fun; two is cruel and unusual. In previous years, we created a Buyer’s Guide, but this year, we opted for something a bit more extravagant: 10 Years of “Recommended Components.”
A shot of me at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. The headphones are Skullcandy's Aviators. Photo: Robert Deutsch.
Tomorrow afternoon, from 3 to 5pm EST, I'll be joining the Reddit social news and entertainment website for an "I Am A" question-and-answer session. Participants can ask me anything pertaining to Stereophile magazine or, I suppose, life in general. I'll do my best to answer intelligently.