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My week in music

Well, I finally made it to the soon-to-be closed Ozone on Saturday (see story in Oct. 10 issue of the Vanguard). It was the last day of the 25 percent-off sale. Now, everything is 50 percent off. On Sunday, it jumps up to 75 percent.

It was a sad sight indeed. The shelves had been picked over and everything was rearranged. It took a few minutes for me to orient myself to the new look of a place I visit twice a month or more. Come Sunday, I’ll be the first in line to take my pick of the stuff that I need for my collection, stuff that I either lost in the fallout of old relationships, sold in moments of financial desperation, or just never got around to buying.

Unfortunately, the best indie pop record of the ’90s, Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, already sold out. I lost that to a woman I dated for four years. Nirvana’s Bleach, which everyone should own for its historical significance alone, was gone as well. That’s one I sold 11 years ago as a famished 19-year-old in desperate need of a cup of coffee. The only thing I’m crossing my fingers on is a 3LP thing I won’t discuss – because you might get to it first.

At the risk of missing out on some good stuff, I must urge everyone to help in the shelf-cleaning of the West Coast’s best record store, as well as a Northwest institution. Hurry though, it’s going fast.

On Saturday I bought three things that I would have bought regardless, so the 25 percent off was simply an added bonus. The Fourtet release Pause (Domino, 2001) came highly recommended by a DJ friend. It is a nice excursion into downtempo-ish territory, but it is a little predictable. It comes off sounding like part 2 of DJ Shadow’s Entroducing… Mr. Fourtet is coming to town soon, according to an Ozone employee. She was excited, but I don’t see what the fuss is about.

Kit Clayton’s Lateral Forces (Surface Fault) (Vertical Form, 2001) begins at a snail’s, or rather, a slug’s pace. A low rumbling, punctuated with a crackle here and there builds and Builds and BUILDS, until something like a beat comes forth out of nowhere, a good eight minutes into the disk. This is essentially a single musical piece with seven movements. Clayton makes his changes so slowly and smoothly and perfectly that the listener almost misses them.

I also picked up a used copy of Zero Hour (Red Star, 1997) by the seminal ’70s New York art-rockers Suicide. It was nice to finally get my hands on some of their stuff. It is hard driving and way ahead of its time. Recorded live in New York and Berlin in 1978, Alan Vega (“voice”) and Martin Rev (“instrument”) send pain-inducing electronic meanness out over the crowd. It is macho and it is arty and it does not hold back.

Speaking of live stuff, I’ve recently acquainted myself with Curtis Mayfield’s Curtis/Live!. Reissued by Rhino in 2000, this contains the compete 1971 recording originally issued on the Custom imprint. Featuring tracks like “Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey)” and “Stone Junky,” this is a disc with some of the best late ’60s early ’70s sould you’ll hear. It is laid back and danceable and, of course, socially conscious.

The disc actually belonged to one of my many bosses. Two of these bosses are currently in the possession of the soundtrack to Ken Burns’ “Jazz.” If I end up getting fired for insubordination I don’t care – they will never live this one down. Owning Ken Burns’ Jazz and calling yourself a jazz fan is like buying a Montovani collection sold on TV and calling yourself a classical music fan.

And finally, Friday’s High on Fire show at Berbati’s proved that it’s wise to wear earplugs. I couldn’t hear anything for two days, and felt like I was touched by the hand of God reaching to me from a huge Green amplifier. The bay area (where Metallica was spawned) is still home to the best metal you’ll hear.