Sunday, May 22, 2011

Music Notes – Frio Suite

Phil Keaggy is one of the finest guitar players most of you have never heard of, and Jeff Johnson is a keyboardist and producer extraordinaire. I have long found their music, particularly the instrumental albums, uplifting. When I found that they had collaborated on a project, I had to give it a listen.
Frio Suite is a beautiful sounding album, meant  to evoke the wonder of the Frio River in Texas. The two had met at a retreat at Laity Lodge. Though I have never been here, the music certainly does make me want to take the trip. Each song brings a sense of peace and communion to mind.
While there are plenty of tasty moments by both performers, fans should not expect the kind of fireworks one usually hears from Keaggy’s guitar or the ballad/hymn like runs from Johnson’s keyboard. These can be found, but they are more subtle, perhaps. The album is more about texture. That said, the music does not disappoint.
What is disappointing, as least for me, is that I paid more for this project than is usual for digital albums, and got nothing extra. The CD supposedly comes with images from artist Kathy Hastings (who did the cover), but nothing comes to the purchaser of the album in digital format.

Music Notes – The Prayer Closet, Volume I

Hopefully it is not insulting to say this project is perfect for times of prayer and meditation. Many albums designed for such are either dull and only fill dead space so that the pilgrim can avoid silence, or they are so overblown as to artificially heighten the experience. Richard Souther's phenomenal record, I think, brings listeners to a state where distractions melt away.
That is not to say this isn't fine art. It is. I love the melding if acoustic and electronic, and the way the music uses silence and space. This is good, necessary, music for the spiritual being in all of us.


Some people tell me that if I don’t like what is on the radio to just change the station. When it comes to Lady Gaga, that shouldn’t be a problem. I avoid any station that might play her music. At first it wasn’t so much about her controversies or her music. I simply wasn’t interested. To each his own, right?

But I still get Ms. Gaga from time to time. It can’t be helped. She’s very popular. Now and then I am next to some guy at a red light that turns up “Born This Way” with evangelistic fervor. I have gone through my living room and seen her on my television, which I have allowed my children to watch. Pictures of her appear in ads sometimes where I may read the news on the Internet.

I don’t like it, but I generally chalk it up to being on the wrong side of forty in a world ruled by teenagers. Live and let live, right?

Wrong. Now, Gagamania has invaded two of my favorite games: Farmville and Words With Friends.

On Farmville, not only is one able to plant Chrome Roses and Spiky Black Tress and purchase Purple Disco Sheep, one is inundated with offers to download music from her new album. The game, which now runs more slowly and has glitches galore, will not start without some grotesque add with Lady Gaga’s face on a motorcycle glaring at everyone who tries to play the game.

I have to suffer from Gaga madness  when I try to play my other game: Words With Friends. At any time, I may have up to a dozen games going at once. And not only is the woman’s upcoming album being advertised, but I have to deal with the Gaga word of the day.

Look, I can deal with a few ads if I’m going to be cheap enough to stick with the free versions of my games. But just how long will the game itself be altered to fit a marketing campaign I have no interest in? There is no opt in, or opt out.

And that is where I think that it has all crossed the line. Lady Gaga has the right to make her money and market her product, but when the games, the programs themselves are changed, and not just for a brief time, then someone has as much as forced his or her way into my car and turned my radio from the station I have a right to listen to. No. They have broken into the office of my favorite station and crammed her stuff on the airwaves at the same time he or she seals me into my car.

So I’m sorry neighbors. Until Gaga gets off my farm, I can’t play. Nothing personal. I’m just born this way: to despise what is shoved down my throat.