January Emusic/NiN The Slip/Sacred Sea
This month's Emusic:
Grabbed a bunch of A Hack and a Hacksaw, including Darkness at Noon, The Way the Wind Blows, and A Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun Hangár Ensemble. Also downloaded an EP by Gogol Bordello, so I'm even better stocked with Gypsy/Eastern European-flavored music. In the cases of both bands, the names drew me. I had heard about Hack because of Neutral Milk Hotel, and Darkness at Noon is one of my favorite short books. I don't think I really need to say anything about Gogol Bordello. Dude. Gogol. Bordello.
Closing out the Gypsy/EE tuneage, I went for more Beirut, including Elephant Gun, Lon Gisland EP, and Pompeii.
The last Emusic folder belongs to The Rural Alberta Advantage's Hometowns. I enjoyed an initial listen, whose lead singer seems to have a bit of a--to mention Neutral Milk Hotel once more--Jeff Mangum compressed-snarl and is sometimes accompanied by a female voice. Musically, it's an interesting album, and I think I'm really going to take to it. Unfortunately, I don't think I've found a "Two-Headed Boy" on the album as of yet.
I finally noticed Nine Inch Nails' The Slip and scooped it from the band's website. I haven't bought a NiN album since The Downward Spiral, but free is hard to pass up, especially since I've recently had an urge to acquire some ambient electronic pieces. In the end, I suppose twenty years doesn't make a lot of difference because any of it could have fit on Pretty Hate Machine, which I think is still immensely listenable and a classic.
Have almost finished reading Sacred Sea by Peter Thomson. I really dig the structure of this book. He starts with chapters about an excursion on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal and with lake ecology, goes back to how he left the States, and finishes by returning to Irkutsk and examining some of the environmental issues that the lake faces, along with some of its culprits. (I have not yet read the chapters about visiting European Russia and the rest of Europe and returning home to Boston. I've been to Moscow and to St. Petersburg, so I doubt I'll get much out of those.) The doublespeak and bureaucracy is all there. Problems with visas. The Trans-Siberian.
My favorite chapters are early, the "Into the Lake-Shallow" and "Into the Lake-Deep." I wish there had been more about the ecology of the lake, but there's enough to scratch the crystal clear surface.
Speaking of clear surfaces, when I read Captain John Smith's excerpts about the clarity of the Chesapeake, when the oyster and the SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation) ruled the Bay, I'm unable to truly grasp what that really means and how it must have looked. If I see a few feet below the surface, it's a good day. And the Chesapeake is, in general, a shallow body of water, albeit brackish. To be able to see down God knows how far in the deepest lake in the world is just mind blowing and boggling and awesome.
Lastly, I also enjoyed the chapters dealing with non-profit and individual attempts to protect the lake and volunteer efforts. Very readable book with the injection of the personal and an interesting adventure. The biggest negative? The tiny, black and white photos that just don't give enough of anything. If you're going to do that, at least make the full photos available online.