1996 was my first city summer. I lived in Cambridge, MA, and most memories of that summer involve the particularly sharp bouncing-off-pavement heat that only treeless city streets ever seem to have. Biking home from Star Market, I would squint my eyes against the glare coming off car windshields, staircase railings, and even just the muggy air itself, desperately trying to hold on to each afternoon as September slipped closer in; and waking up early in the morning from the T shaking my loft, I would pull the pillow over my head until I couldn't breathe through the heat. Watching the sidewalks come alive at 10 PM was an alien experience to a suburban kid; summer evenings had meant lightening bugs and swimming, not street musicians and midnight ginger flavored ice cream cones.
That heat has hung around my new home for the last few days, draining me of much desire to listen to anything. I had to put The Private Press into my discman and walk out of the apartment to listen to it; I bought it a few days ago, but it's taken a while to play it. While it sat on my bookshelf, I tried to forget what a disappointment Endtroducing... had been for me. Now the shimmering start of Six Days reflects the heat here; the skittering drumming over the deeper and slower beat under it are the first bits that I start out loving; it's an amazing little piece of a song, wrapped around a sample with the right feeling of August sleepiness. Fixed Income reminds me of Dissolved Girl- maybe it's just the beginnings of both of these songs. I want to play Dissolved Girl right after this one, but the only unpacked copy that I have of it is on my laptop, which still won't play any music without a static overlay. All I'm going on here is my memory of that song, which is probably not to be trusted. Listening to Fixed Income, I'm back to listening to Massive Attack on repeat in the darkroom at school, making print after print, each one maybe 3 seconds more exposure or one filter down. There was a way that Mezzanine was the best possible music for the repitition, which probably colored the version of that album in my head. This afternoon I'm enjoying the non-vocal tracks the most so far, which is I think the opposite of the ones that I like on Rjd2's Deadringer. Both of these albums are hard to write about for me. I was concentrating on what made each song good or not good, and felt that I had no criteria for judging any of them. Guitar band music is easier for me- I know what I consider to be transcendently good playing, and it's a structure that I can understand. When I venture far away from it, I can still tell if I like a track, but I'm at a loss to figure out why, which rules are involved in the sucess of a few of them and the failure of others. Whoops, wrong Massive Attack album title. It just popped into my head over lunch today that I had the wrong one, so I've corrected it now.