Recent comments

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)   1 week 2 days ago

    Oh crap, wtf? I don't know... Hopefully it gets recovered. Otherwise I'll have to put together my year-end top 50 almost wholly by memory :-(

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Miscellaneous Art of the Week (2014)   1 week 2 days ago

    Pretty much! :)

    Hey where did the rest of this list go?

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 2 days ago

    Correction to something I said above about his rock list having not been significantly updated since 1998. Actually, replace what I said with "2005"...

    Here's his list from 1999:

    From 2001:

    From 2002 (Faust's debut suddenly leaps into the top tier out of nowhere -- #114 in 1999):


    2005 (the current crop of 9.5s, and most of which remains the same to this day):

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 2 days ago

    Additional note: My opinion on Forever Changes is still varying fairly wildly, so I haven't permanently concluded that it's 8.8+ yet. On one listen I thought it might be as high as 9.2/10 even, while on other recent listens it has varied between 8, 8.5 and 9. So, the "jury" is still out, so to speak, and even though I have it ranked on my 8.8/10+ list, it is one of the few I have occasional reservations about, it's less stable than most of the others and could still be demoted or even promoted upon any given listen.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    Indeed, I do agree with his criteria for music/art very closely. There are several writings that I disagree with (certain statements regarding the Beatles, for example), but in general, his results/qualitative conclusions often "foretell" my own, or occasionally, I "foresee" his (if I happen to fully assimilate an amazing work or masterpiece before him).

    I am curious (not as a "challenge" whatsoever) -- but really curious -- what are some amazing albums (particularly 8/10 or 9/10+) where his lack of aesthetic skills (your, presumably technique/skill-oriented [???], definition) prohibit his understanding?

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    the emotional response generated in the experiencer) is not an absolute value: it depends on the aesthetic skills of the experiencer. Those "aesthetic skills" are mostly derived from "knowledge"

    We have different understandings of the same text. Agreed to disagree.

    Your taste seems to be very close to his taste. His website probably makes a lot of sense to you. On the other hand, a lot of his writings make no sense to me (even when I agree with his ratings). The reason is his focus on historical context and his lack of musical knowledge. Musical knowledge is more interesting to me, specially when discussing music. He lacks the "aesthetic skills" to fully understand a lot of great albums.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    I'll avoid going into this much further because I don't think it's that important to either of us, but to answer your question, this is the paragraph where he goes over "emotion" more clearly, though the entire article really puts two major ideas together: "emotion" and the singularity or propagation of ideas, or "innovation".


    If I had to come up with a "theory of musical appreciation", I would probably quote one of the philosophers who influenced me: Abhinavagupta. This Indian thinker (who lived around the year 1000) first formulated a theory that in my opinion is simple and elegant: experiencing the flavor of a work of art requires not only that the work evoke an emotional response, but also that the "experiencer" possess the aesthetic skills required to respond in an appropriate way. The experience of appreciating a work of art is a process of exchange: the artist provides the work of art to be experienced and the "experiencer" provides his aesthetic skills. The appreciation (i.e., the emotional response generated in the experiencer) is not an absolute value: it depends on the aesthetic skills of the experiencer. Those "aesthetic skills" are mostly derived from "knowledge".

    --And, here he gives some insight into his criteria being uniform and "mathematically logical":

    I have a mathematical background and I can't help applying Logic. If rule X applies to the Beatles, then it also applies to everybody else, and viceversa. You can't tell me that the Beatles are great because X, but someone else is not as great even though X applies to him as well (eg, the Beatles are great because they were the first to use the sitar in a pop song, but the Tokens are not great even though they were the first to use an electronic instrument in a pop song). Most stars are credited with "skills" that turn out to be ubiquitous (their fans don't know that those skills are ubiquitous simply because they don't know the lesser publicized musicians who have the same skills). As far as I am concerned, those stars are as good as (basically) everybody else. On the other hand, lesser known artists frequently exhibit more talent and introduce more innovations than the stars. As a mathematician, I draw the logical conclusions.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    I did read the whole thing. I didn't find any part where he says he ranks albums based on how much emotion they contain. I don't know why you're claiming that he says that.

    But yeah, who cares.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    Oh good you found it. Read the whole thing. He goes over it fairly extensively.

    Also, I am pretty sure he's stressed it in an email or two to me from several years ago, and if I still have the content of that somewhere, I'll post it.

    But really, the above should cover it well enough. Other than that, it's just experience with the albums and recognizing those as the overriding common denominator in all of them. You're entirely free to disagree if you don't see it. It's either apparent or it's not, and either way, it's not a big deal.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    I found his criteria. Here's the link:

    Here are the first few lines:

    "Countless readers ask me what are the "criteria" that I use to come up with my ratings of musicians, albums, and works of art in general.

    I have no idea how I judge music."

    He doesn't claim to rank albums based on how much emotion they contain. There's no "theory". He has no idea how he judges music.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    Here's where he touches on it in his jazz section. I don't remember where it is for rock. Some back page somewhere probably...

    "I am not too interested in the instrumental technique. I am more interested in emotion than in technique. Traditionally, jazz has been associated with technique (an odd mis-interpretation of the original spirit of Afro-american music by white intellectuals). I do not enjoy listening to music for the sake of a brilliant solo. That solo has to deliver emotion. If it is technically breathtaking but does not deliver any emotion, that musician is not very interesting to me. There is a difference, in my opinion, between a juggler and an artist. If the playing is barely passable, but it delivers a lot of emotion, that musician is a genius."

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    That’s great. Please give me the link to the webpage where he says he rates albums based on how much emotion they contain.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    It's a "theory" (though I doubt it's far off, if at all). He doesn't elaborate on it anywhere, except that he says he rates albums on how much emotion they contain. Specifically, he seems to rate albums on "degree/density of emotional content" (with a penchant towards "singularly" emotional). This is simply what all his high rated albums have as their common denominator. There seems to be an attempt to place them accurately within that criteria, and there's no way its random or accidental. It's often too precise to be so. There is something on the order of a mathematical precision from one to the next (how closely they follow that criteria), but this can only be perceived (apparently, I suppose) if you're relatively "in tune" with that criteria, and if that's what you're looking for as well.

    By this, I don't mean he breaks out a calculator and makes sure his albums are exactly accurate by some mathematical formula. I simply mean he appears to make a clear attempt to rank them in a very precise order within that criteria even if he might be slightly off here or there (though that's subjective of course).

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    Can you elaborate more on the mathematical precision of his music rankings? I don’t see it anywhere.

  • Greatest Rock Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    Highly recommend Twin Infinitives and Rock Bottom if you haven't heard them yet.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 3 days ago

    Re: "tough for him given what he wrote" ... That could be a factor. It can be tougher to change a stance on something following an assertion such as that. Naturally, pretty much everyone wants to "be right" and going back on something can sometimes be difficult. What if he suddenly thought, say, a Beatles album, or Kid A, or OK Computer, is a masterpiece? Oh boy...

    But then I realize that, years ago, he once had TMR as an 8/10 (and I think Rock Bottom and Faust I around 8/10 too), and earlier this decade Frances the Mute was a measly 6/10, and in film he used to rate Tarkovsky relatively low (Mirror and Nostalghia didn't have "ratings" but they seemed to be in the 7.5-range for him about 5 years ago), and more recently Weckmeister Harmonies jumped from 7.5 - 8.5 ... nobody's perfect, one's interpretation can change over repeat viewings/listens. As a "critic" or "reviewer" or "fan", it's important to remember that it's totally okay to change one's view. For example, if I stuck to my guns from when I was 8 years old, we'd have Paula Abdul, MC Hammer and Janet Jackson topping my lists, or when I was 15, Live's Throwing Copper. So, it's all good :-)

    Re: "also recommended" for Astral Weeks ... hmmm, there may be a connection there that I hadn't previously considered. Maybe more of a precursor (structurally, in its opulent arrangements) for Moondance (with the obvious difference being Forever Changes has primarily classical elements while Moondance has jazz) ?

  • Clone of The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books   1 week 3 days ago

    Great list! I have read;
    1 The Lord of the Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
    2 The Foundation Trilogy Isaac Asimov
    3 Dune Frank Herbert
    4 Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. Heinlein
    5 A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula K. Le Guin
    6 Neuromancer William Gibson
    7 Childhood's End Arthur C. Clarke
    8 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick
    10 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
    12 A Canticle for Leibowitz Walter M. Miller Jr.
    13 The Caves of Steel Isaac Asimov
    16 The Colour of Magic Terry Pratchett
    17 Dangerous Visions Harlan Ellison
    19 The Demolished Man Alfred Bester
    21 Dragonflight Anne McCaffrey
    22 Ender's Game Orson Scott Card
    24 The Forever War Joe Haldeman
    25 Gateway Frederik Pohl
    26 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone J.K. Rowling
    27 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
    28 I Am Legend Richard Matheson
    30 The Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. Le Guin
    32 Lord of Light Roger Zelazny
    33 The Man in the High Castle Philip K. Dick
    34 Mission of Gravity Hal Clement
    35 More Than Human Theodore Sturgeon
    37 On the Beach Nevil Shute
    38 Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke
    39 Ringworld Larry Niven
    37 On the Beach Nevil Shute
    38 Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke
    39 Ringworld Larry Niven
    45 The Stars My Destination Alfred Bester
    46 Starship Troopers Robert A. Heinlein
    48 The Sword of Shannara Terry Brooks
    49 Timescape Gregory Benford
    50 To Your Scattered Bodies Go Philip Jose Farmer

    read so far - 38

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    Totally agree on Horses - I just think the increase would be tough for him given what he wrote. My misgivings on Forever Changes are definitely fading. Based on your description, would you consider FC for your "also recommended" list for Astral Weeks?

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    For Forever Changes, it mainly depends on how emotionally significant and transcendent he finds the strange, surreal dichotomies the album presents (may take several listens to fully assimilate; the album is much more deft and multi-faceted than it might at first suggest). It's extraordinarily beautiful, yet it's a "false", hallucinogenic beauty (not "schmaltz" imo; it's surreal and strange and seductive -- think Lynch's Mulholland Drive for a modern, cinematic comparison to this aspect of it). Just as every moment of the album is immersed in pristine classical beauty there is also -- in every aching rhythm, verse, chorus, brass/violin part -- an undercurrent of danger, impending death, and hanging suspense. This is an extremely important aspect of the album that turns it into a stunningly vivid, "technicolor" axis between the real and the imagined, the beautiful and the bizzare, the normal and the supernatural; it becomes a vertiginous experience, driven by a horribly lonely, aching beauty hanging on a precipice between love and death. It is essential when listening to the album to not simply be going through the implied motions of verse-chorus-verse etc -- which still makes for an excellent listen -- but (like The Doors) to realize these additional factors in each rhythm/verse/chorus, which turns it into a much more extraordinary experience.

    For Horses, it's long pieces in particular (Birdland, Land) extend the theatrics of The Velvet Underground's Heroin and The Doors (The End, When the Music's Over) to extreme emotional boundaries and are a collision/prediction of future artists such as Nick Cave, Carla Bozulich (Evangelista I) and Joanna Newsom (Emily, Sawdust & Diamonds, Only Skin) yet are even more emotionally overwhelming, structurally complex and profound (than Bozulich, Newsom and most of Nick Cave). I think it's HIGHLY unlikely that he won't upgrade Horses to at least 8.5/10. Just those two tracks alone would make the album 8.3+, but then there's other amazing tracks to add to that, such as Gloria and Free Money, each contributing to her achievement (more than any other artist before her and probably since) of turning punk into intellectual, (virtually) free form, works of art.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    Based on the below Google translation of the Forever Changes review, I don't think it'll rise higher than 8.0 for him (currently 7.0, as are a few others you listed). I think he's a little biased against artists who hire an outside arranger. But if you believe this interview, Arthur Lee was the brains and arranger David Angel merely influenced his aesthetic: Also, I think he overstates the Hollywood schmaltz factor of the album, but compared to your take, so do I. I have it at somewhere between 7.3 an 7.5, depending on how distracting the brassy parts feel (not sure).

    "Forever Changes (Elektra, december 1967) was part of a compromise with the music consumer and partly a case of yet another record "psychedelic" in reality Dapper tools not rock producer / arranger (in this case David Angel). But it is undoubtedly an original disc, with orchestrations here and la` worthy of classical music that fit perfectly with the rock instrumentation. It is also the most light and evanescent album of their career, full of surreal vignettes and idyllic dreams hallucinogen, including Andmoreagain, Alone Again Or, You Set The Scene, Old Man. It is the most far-fetched album Baroque and their Pet Sounds. A House Is Not A Motel The Daily Planet Bummer In The Summer".

    Related...he seems to feel that Horses (another 7.0) is spoken word poetry performed intensely with intriguing music (however great) to add to the impact of the words...rather than being music driven (music on it's own terms). But that would apply to many great albums too (Lou Reed's New York gets an 8 for example), so it seems silly.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    There is a certain "mathematical" precision to the order of many of his rankings, making them difficult to dismiss providing one has a criteria similar to his (and that one has listened to them enough to realize their full potential). That being said, it's also worth knowing that his last full update of his "greatest rock" albums list was 1998 (aside from some minor changes he's made to the bottom 3rd of it). I've asked him by email and he told me that the list is not fully reliable any more (though he was unclear past that). In 16 years I would bet there have been some (unpublished) changes. Though I would also adjudicate (from my own experiences with them) that those top 3 aren't likely to change that much (though I do think there may be 1 or a few additional 9.5's (rock and/or jazz).

    I would be willing to bet that In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Spirit of Eden, Highway 61 Revisited and Starsailor are virtual locks to enter his 9/10+ list sooner or later (they each thoroughly meet his criteria and their singular, emotional significance is practically impossible to seriously dismiss), and that several others are good possibilities (such as Exile On Main St, Forever Changes, Laughing Stock, Horses, From Her to Eternity, Daydream Nation, Tago Mago, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Who's Next, Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers, Magma's "Mekanik...", Absolutely Free, Litanies of Satan, Downward Spiral, Passion [Peter Gabriel], What's Going On, possibly Dylan's Desire...).

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    I know. I wanted him to elaborate me.

    This whole Trout Mask Replica/Rock Bottom/Faust thing is a joke. It's all over the internet. Hundreds of people "individually" coming to the "conclusion" that these 3 albums (and only these 3, and only in this particular order) are "actually" the "greatest" rock albums ever. It's even more boring than the Beatles/Radiohead/Floyd cliche.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    I think it was meant as a joke.

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    Why are you sure I will find the cough deeply meaningful in the future?

  • Rock : 100 Greatest Albums   1 week 4 days ago

    "Why" what? o.O