When Was The Last Time You Were Baffled By A Record?

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As in: your existing experience of music meant you couldn't work out how to 'understand' or 'process' a record.

Crap directions this thread could go:

i) lists of records with weird noises on them. I'm not really talking about weird records - I can't speak for anyone else, but I wasn't baffled by hearing, say, the Shaggs because I knew it was meant to be weird.

ii) "I am baffled that Limp Bizkit/Dane Bowers/Radiohead sells so many copies". Well sure, but that's not the point either ;)

Tom, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Miles Davis' "Bitches brew"....I love Miles' early stuff like "Kind of blue" and "Sketches of Spain" but I cant get my head around Bitches Brew at all....it just sounds too trepid...I like some sort of a riff or motif when I listen to music...something to latch on to...theres nothing to latch on to with this....I'd love to hear suggestions on how to understand or appreciate it....at least with a lot of free jazz you can get off on its squak and noise in a rock n' roll way....but I'm afraid Bitches Brew wrecks my noggin.

Michael Bourke, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Well Michael, I'm afraid "Bitches Brew" is one of those "either-you- get-it-or-you-don't" records. The same with "On the Corner". Don't know what mindset I had at the time I bought these (around the time is was lost in rave) but I liked them the first time I heard them. Actually I remember something Brian Eno said about these records that they're "leap of faith" records (or something similar). After "Bitches Brew" I could never really get into "Kind of Blue", way too neat. Okay, okay, I have one suggestion: get "In a Silent Way" by Miles Davis, it's the gateway record. Gentle and not as weird as "Bitches Brew". Maybe after that it's easier to get into? I for one can't imagine my life without "Bitches Brew", you always new discover new things it grows with you.

I have said it before but the two records that baffle me, and I can really take a lot, are "Trout Mask Replica" and "69". I finally made the connection between the two: it's the voices, something in the tone-deaf flatness that I just don't find enjoyable on any level.

Omar, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Whereas Trout Mask Replica was possibly my favorite album from the first time I heard it, offering exactly what I was looking for in music. Bitches Brew, however, has been baffling me for years. I'm guessing a full immersion into Miles is the only way it'll make any sense, but what I've heard of the man's other music has been just as off-putting to me. The last record that I had such an immediately violent dislike for without knowing exactly why was a Fela Kuti twofer which I found physically nauseating to listen to.

Otis Wheeler, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I was baffled pretty recently by Pilldriver's "Pitch Hiker". It's gabber, but ultra-minimalist in the extreme: just a cavernous 4/4 909 kick with slight changes to effects and harmonics every few bars or so- then after about 5 minutes, it ends!!!!

Old Fart!!!

Old Fart!!!, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

TROUT MASK REPLICA

, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'd agree that gabba can be terribly baffling the moment you venture outside the "hits" or the really experimental stuff. It's just terribly difficult to meaningfully assess a kickdrum.

Tim, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Bitches Brew was probably one of the earliest records I remember being baffled by. But I wasn't really baffled, just unaffected, really. Now it's one of my favorite records (and, interestingly enough, it's up there with Kind of Blue for me - appreciating the two definitely need not be a one-or-the-other deal). The other day I read someone suggest that focusing on the main rhythmic figure in each track really helps to "get" the music, and I think that's helpful advice. Unfortunately I can't really tell you what those are, because I would have to sing them. But they're pretty obvious - pretend like you're listening to a really far-out funk record, and listen to whatever sounds like a funk vamp.

Josh, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

"The Big Problem...The Solution = Let It Be" by Crispon Glover.

, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Another great question. For me, I'd say John Zorn's _Locus Solus_. It had a lot of random noise like a lot of his stuff, but I just couldn't seem to put it together into anything meaningful at all (sold it a couple of years ago.) That one baffled me.

I like reading the Bitches Brew comments. Interesting to me because that's my least favorite of Miles' electric albums, and in some ways I'm not sure I "get it" either. It doesn't have the funk of later material like Jack Johnson, Get Up With It, On The Corner, etc., and the melodies seem to be lacking. I've probably only heard it 10 times or so, though, so we'll see. I disagree that _On The Corner_ is a "You get it or you don't" album; though it's noisy and a bit strange, those rhythms are so classicaly funk they're easy to grab onto. I actually think that one quite accessible, for a fan of the funk. I also find "He Loved Him Madly" baffling, while we're on the subject of Miles.

Mark Richardson, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

spacemen 3, an evening in sistar music..there's about 20 minutes of some dinner party and faint "music" wtf? WTF! oh..can someone classify drone music for me

Kevin Enas, Monday, 5 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Josh, I was overreacting a bit: I also like "Kind a Blue" but it's more of an early ambient piece, brilliant background music. As for "Bitches Brew", I once had a very nice (non-drug) experience lying in bed "Bitches Brew" playing in the other room, I had some sort of vision, listening to the first track, of a horde of cartoonish fantasy animals just running in a chaotic happy manner, every sound corresponding with a different animal (high wacky birds, low for gentle mamals). Shit, now I sound like a hippie teacher :) I blame Swedish 70s cartoons!!

As for "On the Corner", I've played this record for all sorts of people, just hoping that one person would say "Omar, you absolutely right, this is genius!" It does not happen (although I agree with you Mark that it should be easy to get, so maybe there's some paradox lurking). But in general interesting comments on "Bitches Brew", I was under the impression that the record was already assimilated as an undeniable classic (which in turn I always find a bit suspect).

Omar, Tuesday, 6 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

"Evening of Sitar" had quite explanitory liner notes, or at least the CD reissue I have does. I tend to tune out the incidental sounds and just focus on the quality of the tone, trying to appreciate it. I am thus surprised and delighted at every minute shift -- and there are in fact many. Sort of how I listen to Feldman. Or, you could just go to sleep with it playing low. That tends to work for me.

The album which baffled me most recently was Bud Powell's "The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol 1" but then I just got that on the third or fourth listen. I find jazz, generally, is the genre where I expect to have to work the hardest to "get" anything. But Joe Jackson's Heaven & Hell gave me a tough time at first too -- and even now, while the album coheres, I still find the lyrics fairly dense and impenetrable.

Also, the newer Lambchop stuff remains a mystery -- sure this is pretty, but... huh?

Sterling Clover, Tuesday, 6 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

the first time i heard mr. bungle's first record, i wanted to throw up. does that count? (incidentally, 'california' was one of the records i listened to more than any other last year, although i guess the band has progressed since that first album.)

maura, Tuesday, 6 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Another album that baffled me too was Scott Walker's "Tilt". Especially the fact that I wasnt expecting it from Scott Walker and I was only familiar with his 60's stuff. I've only listened to it about 4 or 5 times but its a difficult bugger of a record. It does have some fans, it was on Tom's best of the 90's list as I recall.

Michael Bourke, Tuesday, 6 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Can's "Tago Mago" really baffled me when I got it a year ago, and it still does in a way. It's just huge--hard to listen to in one sitting--and even more bizzare when you think about when and where it came from. Sometimes the guitar figures sound so pentatonic and bluesy (and "fawnk-y!"), and the vocals are just... out there. (You know you can't get your head around something when you have a terrible time thinking of adjectives to describe it.) The drums are simply incredible, and I think maybe that's where they had their biggest influence. Anyway, I don't know if I'll ever understand this album completely, but I sure do enjoy listening to it.

Clarke B., Tuesday, 6 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Even though it's one of Can's less weird albums 'Future Days' had a similar effect on me. I'm kinda comfortable with it now, but the only other Can CD I have is the 2 disc set 'Anthology', and whilst it could be due to being heard out of context, there are some trax which just don't fit into any known musical context. Except perhaps they make sense in Can's own world. That's probably a good thing.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 7 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I seem to recall being baffled by The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees, despite knowing most of the chords to it.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 7 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The last album to baffle me was the reissue of Belle & Sebastian's "Tigermilk". $21.00 (£14.50) for 2 fucking sides of vinyl?! Now that's baffling.

george, Friday, 9 March 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
KC's 'Three of a Perfect Pair'. First listen I thought, 'What shit!' But it haunted me for the rest of the day. I couldn't make head or tail of it. My brother's done some searching of the ET website and explained it roughly to me. Now I almost understand it, especially as I've listened to the live versions of some of the songs on 'Absent Lovers.'

Anna Rose, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Saint Etienne's _The Sound of Water_. Apart from two excellent songs, "How We Used to Live" and "Don't Back Down," I thought it was bland. So I listened to it over and over, thinking "I've got to be missing something."

Nope. Bland.

Ernest, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

i was baffled by the latest autechre. i basically assumed that the problem was me.

dyson, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I just bought a compilation called Goodiepal & Friends. I like the album by Danish laptop guy Goodiepal, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The vinyl record arrived from Forced Exposure without a cover, just the record tucked inside a white sleeve. It's easily the most beautiful colored vinyl I've ever seen, this black, brown and gold computer-looking grid that takes up all the space, including the area where the label is supposed to be.

On the vinyl are a series of letters and numbers which, I think, indicate something about the tracks on the record. Handwritten on the paper sleeve are letters and numbers that correspond with those on the vinyl, with signitures next to them. Some are in Chinese, others are in a language I can't make out (Hebrew?) There is no indication of who is on this thing or what they are doing, though I think these mysterious codes are supposed to offer some sort of clue.

More than half the music on the compilation is nothing more than a single click repeated for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, the others are pretty much just random computer noise. Some of it is kind of "interesting" I guess, but nothing there to make you want to pull it out again.

I find this record completely baffling.

Mark, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link


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