National Public Viking

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Every NPR story should be introduced with the grimmest metal ever made

|current sounds| Burzum- Burzum

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An artist's rendering of our valiant hero (or, really, Sarah's mind wandering during a meeting a few weeks ago)

Around seven o'clock, the crazy ideas that often appear after hours of concentrating too hard came full throttle. I heard the theme to the Legend of Zelda introducing a story on orchestral musicians' use of beta-blockers (performance enhancers) and laughed wildly at the thought of black-metal band Burzum and their punishing "Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown" serving as this summer's theme music. Just think of it:

From NPR in Washington, D.C., this is... [Hosts Nathan and Rhitu destroyed by buzzing guitars, blast-beats, and the indiscernible screams of...] DRIFTIIIINNGG IN THE AIIIRRR ABOOOVE A COOOOLD LAAAKE IS A SOUL FROM AN EARLY, BETTER AAAGE!!!!

The music director position for Intern Edition has turned out to be as challenging as I knew it'd be. I have never thought of music in terms of 5, 10, and 15 second clips, especially since I gave up on pop and rock music for a year to study and purchase extended free-jazz blow-outs and noodling psychedelic-rock jams (hey, time well spent). As with all art, I tend to view and listen to music as a cohesive whole. I value an artist's work in its entirety and rarely on single works of genius (or luck). I'm approaching this program to present a coherent aural piece, which is the only way I'll be able to justify three guitar strums from Jack Rose.

Arriving at noon, I listened to the entire program minus music and host tracks. I wanted to discern a pace to the stories, what music (if any) each used, what kind of ambient sound was recorded (e.g., traffic, children laughing), and pick up on key themes. In the end, I'm going mostly on gut, which is how I DJ-ed at WUOG. I'd hear a certain rhythm by The Specials and knew I had to play "Manteca" by Dizzy Gillespie afterward. But I want to keep the whole of the show in mind, especially since this isn't an off-the-cuff improvisation.

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My cube overtaken by CDs.

I sift through that large collection of CDs every day to screen and review music for All Songs Considered and Open Mic, but I came back to my pile plus my own 300 gigs on the external harddrive, the extensive NPR music library, and a few stolen discs from Stephen Thompson (NPR Online Producer, former Onion founder, and my mentor) to undertake the task of selecting ten clips. TEN. The shortest is five seconds and the longest are four 59 second "beds" of music spoken over to introduce upcoming pieces. The hardest have been the latter, especially since I refuse to use any cliché post-rock like Explosions In the Sky or Mogwai (for the uninformed, post-rock is more or less predictable, instrumental rock music). It's been a mix of jazz, afrobeat, folk, and Tropicalia, so far. Diverse, but would sequence brilliantly to a mixtape. Still haven't found a way to include The Velvet Underground, which has been my goal, but I'm willing to sacrifice smart art school kids making rudimentary pop music for the sake of the show.

And, yes, I am going to see The Devil Wears Prada tomorrow with Jamie and others excited to have our coming-of-age/pop-culture needs pandered to. Christa will be proud.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger PJ said...

aw, poor lars. i've never thought about how much work goes into those 10 seconds. but wow, listeners really pay attention to those few seconds and want more. it's like a taste of a potato chip.

i'm gonna call you soon and tell you about life on the west coast.


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