Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Field notes

I was happy to sit down recently with Joe Oestreich at The Normal School and with Dan Klefsatd at WNIJ to talk about Field Recordings from the Inside and the many ways we listen to and are marked by music. My interview with Oestreich is here, my talk with Klefstad, along with video of me reading a couple excerpts from the book, is here.

I'm also grateful for this thoughtful review of the book by Megan Volpert in PopMatters. "The author is at his best when he’s talking about music delivery systems—records, cassettes, juke boxes, radios, Shazam."
He delves into the careful technicalities of repairing a favorite mix tape, the agony of the broken 45 and the scratch of a needle, the magic of requested songs, the terror of sudden volume and creeping static, the melancholy of instant gratification in a digital world. These are great leaps into the sensual, tangible, liminal properties of our experience with music. They are instantly relatable and will springboard readers into a renewed sensitivity toward their own parallel history of sound.

There’s a solid essay of Elvis Costello and Patsy Cline. I confess to not listening to much of either of their bodies of work over the years, yet I found myself turning the pages ever so slowly. Bonomo’s poetic craft remains strongly redolent even when one is not terribly interested in his specific factual content. On the other hand, there’s a quick paragraph on Nirvana that I reread several times after exclaiming aloud, “that exact same thing happened to me!”

He knows big bands and obscure bands, ancient ones and happening ones, so every reader is bound to find a bullseye on the journalism front somewhere in this book. The research and quotations are often compelling on their own, but the real gem of Field Recordings is its poetics. Bonomo slides between the skills and conventions of genre with an aptitude and ease that is mightily impressive, never fighting to tie it all together. This is a book that floats, landing on each reader uniquely but with similarly orchestrated intensity.
Field Recordings from the Inside is out now, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, and your local happening bookstore.


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