Are you having trouble looking for a holiday gift for the music fan in your life? Phoenix New Times music writers took the time to share what's on their wish list. Hopefully, it will inspire you (and shorten your shopping time this year).
The theremin may not fit into every style of music, but it's lovely in its own right. Sure, it sounds like a broken radio receiver if you can’t play it correctly, it's difficult to learn and eventually master, and it's expensive to purchase a decent one. But the result of hours of manipulating frequencies and amplitude with cramping fingers is unique and entrancing.
The theremin is almost always associated with eerie or spooky sounds, making it a great choice for scoring science fiction films or creating sound effects. You’ll hear it in soundtracks like Miklós Rózsa's Spellbound or The Day the Earth Stood Still. When one thinks of an electronic instrument, the theremin rarely comes to mind because it’s so niche that it’s borderline pretentious. But who cares? It’s like magic. Em Casalena
Ben Folds' A Dream About Lightning Bugs
Ben Folds looks just as much like your cousin who works in IT as he does a bona fide rock star. He’s the undeniable charming everyman, and our neurotic, overly self-aware avatar into the glitz and the glamour of modern rock. So if any one musician should have penned a book, it’s the thoughtful and sensitive Folds. On the surface, A Dream About Lightning Bugs is a pretty typical memoir, with Folds recounting his path from weird kid in North Carolina to unlikely power-pop icon. But the book's still so much more than that. He collects stories from the social periphery (where all lovable losers reside) and delivers life lessons galore. Folds’ story is, in many ways, the tale of anyone who wants to live life amid the endless slog of self-doubt (and who thinks rocking a baby grand piano is sexy). Ben Folds is you and me, but then also your gangly older brother. Chris Coplan
Simon Ford’s Wreckers of Civilisation: The Story of Coum Transmissions & Throbbing Gristle
Ever since I had my world turned upside down by reading Our Band Could Be Your Life, I’ve been a voracious reader of music books. Two books, in particular, became my White Whales over the 20 years. Their perpetual out-of-print status and used copies are wildly overpriced, so they've been kept out of my hands. One of them, David Keenan’s (extraordinary) history of industrial/experimental music, England’s Hidden Reverse, finally got a proper reprint a couple of years ago. But the other Whale eludes me. Try as I might, there are no copies of Simon Ford’s Wreckers of Civilisation: The Story of Coum Transmissions & Throbbing Gristle on my shelf.
As a huge fan of Gristle and their associated projects (Coil, Chris & Cosey, and Psychic TV), I’ve been itching to read this book for years (especially after reading Cosey Fanni Tutti’s riveting autobiography, which touches quite a bit on Ford’s book). The mix of performance art, occultism, and impish pranksterism that defined Throbbing Gristle had a profound impact on me. Every time I read something about Genesis P-Orridge, Tutti, Chris Carter, and Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson, I learn something new about them (and sometimes myself as well). Ashley Naftule
New Order's Movement Reissue
A short dialogue with my wife about my Christmas list:
“Gerrit, I asked you to write a Christmas list.”
“I wrote one.”
“There’s only one thing.”
“You just want New Order’s $110 reissue of Movement?”
“But … you already have Movement.”
“This one is on vinyl.”
“You already have Movement on vinyl.”
“But this one is remastered.”
“You already have the 2006 remaster on CD.”
“It comes with all the surrounding singles and demos and other unreleased content.”
“But … you already got those on the second disc of the 2006 CD remaster, and most of the surrounding singles were on the 1981-1982 vinyl compilation they did a couple of years ago for Record Store Day.”
“But these are on 180-gram vinyl.”
“Not the bonus tracks! Those are just on CD!”
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“But … it’s all the surrounding stuff. With like … more stuff…”
“No! The 12-inch singles are sold separately! And they didn’t even do 'Procession!' That makes shit for sense! It’s a complete oversight, and obviously, just the label continuing to make money off of the Factory brand after its overly mythologized demise without taking the wants or needs of the fanbase seriously!”
“But … it exists.”
“... All right, thank you for your honesty.” Gerrit Feenstra