The music of 1700

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 11:54 17/03/2014

I was up early this morning listening to Tomaso Albinoni's Concerti e Sinfonie Op 2 - click there on that link, pretty splendid Monday morning music I reckon.

Does the job just nicely. I don't know a whole lot about Albinoni but it seems there isn't a whole lot to know - just the music. Music that keeps being recorded - that is available now to listen to in one 80-minute long YouTube clip; music that was written over 300 years ago. That's about all you need to know - and if you hadn't ever heard of Tomaso Albinoni and needed a comparative name his music was hugely influential on one Johann Sebastian Bach. Indeed Bach essentially "borrowed" some of Albinoni's ideas, paid tribute to them. And that's clear enough to hear when listening to the Concerti e Sinfonie Op 2.

It was a big weekend of music. So to sit with this music from Albinoni feels like the perfect tonic, restorative, inspiring - as crucial as the rare early night I took yesterday.

On Thursday I mentioned the new War on Drugs album and said a review was on the way. So I got that done, and I have a new favourite album for now. I've had that latest War on Drugs album on repeat play for the last couple of weeks actually. It's so good. Actually, it's almost a case of it shouldn't work but it does, the songs feel like rewrites of a whole heap of album tracks from the 1980s, album tracks by Dylan and Don Henley, there's touches of Chris Rea and Lindsey Buckingham in there - but it's all served up, in much the same way as former War on Drugs man Kurt Vile's music, that liquid tone of an ambient Americana. It's so good. Often I'll play an album a bunch of times for reviewing, then that's it. It's months before I get back to it - because, naturally enough, you move onto the next thing - or get sidetracked by Tomaso Albinoni, say. But I'm still putting in a solid few hours a week with The War on Drugs and I know it'll be on the end-of-year best albums list. I'm sure of that already.DJ Oscar

Oh and the other band I mentioned as part of Thursday's post, and I hadn't quite got to reviewing the album at that time, was Thee Silver Mt. Zion's Memorial Orchestra - if you click there now you can read the review of their latest; my favourite from this collective. Another stunner in a year that's already produced a large handful of must-have albums.

Friday night I played records at Motel for the late-shift, 10pm-3am. Had a lot of fun, played a bunch of new and old tunes, new in the sense at least that I hadn't played them before. You'll see the whole setlist if you go to that link above.

Saturday is always a recovery day after a super-long day at the end of a long-enough week but we also went to a three-year-old's birthday party. This is where I realised the influence I'm already having on Oscar, music-wise. In fact it's fairly safe to say he's doomed. He was the youngest there - but still. While the other kids played he decided to sit in a fort by himself and be the DJ at what he decided was now his own party. We all heard the intro hook of Blurred Lines just a little too often. Earlier on Friday night he had danced up a storm in Cuba Mall as the busking Hare Krishna ensemble spread their repetitive cheer and (possibly spiked) lollipops with anyone that would listen. Oscar put on one heck of a floor-show.

Obviously these buskers do better with cash than lyrics, I saw one of the Trustafarian Krishna clan buying his milk the next day in Kelburn, all of a sudden he had covered shoes and the holes in his jeans were gone. A miracle! Cuba Maul

And on Saturday night I saw Yo La Tengo - my review of the gig is in today's Dominion Post (and online here). Earlier I had interviewed the band's bassist, James McNew. What a show. There I was, tired, not really in the mood for any live gig - if I'm honest (which I like to think I am). The first half of the show was a quiet set, acoustic instruments, small drum-kit, brushes, softly cooed vocals. They covered Flying Nun tunes, made dedications to Chris Knox, played songs from their lovely, recent album, Fade as well as going back to various points across their 30 year career.

Then there was an interval and a second - loud - set. Here they had the full drum kit, the guitar was wrestled with and throttled, and we heard Autumn Sweater, we heard the big guitar wig-out moments, we even heard a cover of Adam and The Ants' Antmusic.

What an inspirational set of music - so many ideas, so many songs that rocked along on a hypnotic sway of stoic groove while melodies soared and circled somewhere within the discordant intrigue, in and around the flying shards of feedback, squeal and squall.

And then yesterday I was very proud to post the latest in the series of Five Albums I'm Loving Right Now; this one from MP Grant Robertson. He has some pretty good taste in music, but I was humbled to think he could take the time to complete the task. Ask a busy man...as they say...

That Albinoni is still playing, it might just be me but I'm sure I've just heard a significant part that Vivaldi must have "borrowed" for his most famous work.

I'm nothing like Tomaso Albinoni - I'll never write anything as close to beautiful as his Concerti e Sinfonie Op 2 but, for better or worse, given the nature of this - Blog On The Tracks - for what it is, you know far too much about me. And my life. And you take that as part of being a reader. If you want to you can give back some of yourself. And many of you do. And I'm always very grateful for that. A blog can only work with give and take. I'll give you this; you take the time to read it. You give me your readership; I never take that for granted.

Today is the start of a new week. It's St. Patrick's Day but I didn't blog about Irish music or St. Patrick's Day booze-ups because I have written about those things before. When I first started this blog I was still playing a regular St Patrick's Day gig with an Irish band. I seem to have been able to shrug that off the last couple of years now. Most recently, in terms of St Pat's Day blogs I wrote about appreciating The Pogues (so feel free to go back to it that if you're wanting a little reminder of Irish music for today, or check it out if you missed it previously) and drink sensibly if you're out and about and pretending that your ancestry really is from the Emerald Isle.

Today is a busy working day for me, the start of another week catching up with whatever music I can - finding things to write about, it's an admin day too. I just might be on this Albinoni kick all day. Seems appropriate too, not just lovely, joyous and inspiring music to start the day with early; it's good to be listening to the music of 1700, you see today is the 1700th post in the life of Blog On The Tracks and hey, what's a blog without a few tenuous links.

Thanks all for reading. And have a great start to the week. Tell me about the music in your weekend.

Postscript: Hearing Oscar say - twice - over the weekend, "Daddy I want Prince. LOUD!" makes me sure I'm not doing too bad as a parent.

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