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Five books I read recently (from my bookstagram)

The New Analog by Damon Krukowski

read this. it was cool. a love letter to analog music… pretty rudimentary stuff but definitely worth reading if you a have at least an admiration for the LP or cassette (or, gasp, CD). also written by the Galaxie 500 frontman so that’s cool.

 The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross

read this. it was … ok … i imagine if you’re into classical music you might dig it more than i did. it just feels a bit disingenuous to subtitle the book “Listening to the Twentieth Century” and pay microscopic shrift to blues, soul, r&b, rock music, hip hop… etc. i mean i know that wasn’t the book’s angle at all but even from its classical-music-in-the-twentieth-century angle it still seemed isolated and stuffy. which i KNOW ross wasn’t trying to do or be here. though i did originally pick up this book because i’d written a New Yorker Letter to the Editor in response to something problematic Alex Ross said in an article he wrote (link in bio to my piece hehe), so i like to think this is my first official beef as a music writer. (next only to the time i pissed xiu xiu off so much  before an interview that he stopped replying to my emails)

Angels in America by Tony Kushner

read this back in, like, October. i recall it being an evocative and insightful look into the AIDS epidemic (and affected communities). i am absolutely not in a place to comment on its themes of Jewish mysticism, but just know that they exist and there is extensive secondary literature on it. what it does do, however—and what i feel like i can comment on—is the ways the play obfuscates and idealizes (scrambles) history & the state of America & the world in which Kushner was writing. its treatment of Roy Cohn & the whole fragile-yet-effervescent state of New York powerbrokers fell much in line with a lot of my personal views on the treatment of history, hope, and the future. in particular the ways we grapple with political-economic hierarchies that seem out of our control and beyond time. in order to topple superstructures we must become bigger than them; we must mythologize, we must become giants walking among specters. imo.

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis

read this. It was great. not as theory-heavy as Davis’s other books but i really enjoyed this one nonetheless, and it was important in its own historical/historiographic moment for shedding light on the racism within mainstream American feminist movements. highly recommended for any susan b. anthony stans

Live at the Lighthouse by Elvin Jones

Actually this one is an album. WOAH!!! classic Blue Note live album by one of the most talented and prolific jazz drummers of all time (Jones was a member of the Coltrane quartet for a stretch, appearing on A Love Supreme, which i personally think is crazy — that lineup was stacked — given Jones, along with Tyner, seemed never to slump, after that, in his/their solo work). this concert is mostly covers, it seems — of Donald Byrd and Ira Gershwin among others — worked through creatively, insightfully and relentlessly. it is, i believe, one of the greatest live jazz records out there. the height of hard bop. on a more sentimental note, though, this was one of the first LPs with which i felt like i “got it.” that is, Live at the Lighthouse was the first album for me, at the age of 18 — after fruitlessly trying to enter the hallowed halls of audiophilia for years — i felt like i finally understood what all those vinyl snob types were talking about… Blue Note held nothing back, production-wise, on this album. it is the clearest-sounding and cleanest record i own, and it’s always the one with which i test our system. (did not find this one anywhere, ‘tis my dad’s, unsure where he got it though…)

Follow my bookstagram. @n.malte.collins

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