_What is this CD you sent me? It’s completely unmarked, no label, except for the words "Gloryland Ponycat - Clown Lounge". How can I write about this when I don’t know whether this is the Gloryland Ponycat CD by a table of ex-Ringling men (are you one of this bewigged gang?) or the Clown Lounge CD by some winged horse with a small furry head (are you that mystic creature, George?). >From what I’ve heard, it could go either way! Y’know, I’m just another guy in a cubicle here down at Lucky’s Liner Note Factory (and granted, in the quiet parts, which are many, there is some bleed from my neighbor playing The Stooges’ Funhouse at top volume, and I’m not always able to tell which music is which—great guitar solo there—whichever of you it was—so granted, the listening environment is less than ideal, but ) WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON OUT THERE IN MINNESOTA? I don’t know how you thought this was gonna stand up to Funhouse, one of loudest, bloodiest documents of self-destruction ever made. No, I don’t see this making it as a rock record. It rocks in places, and swings and crashes and does a little curtsy-pirouette now and again, but it just doesn’t have the all-out unilateral attack of Funhouse. I don’t see Iggy Pop losing any sleep over this, George. No, you know what? I hear this more as a jazz record.
_All the elements are there: the freeform style, the cerebral explorations that never quite leave melody behind, the inventive, highly-skilled, highly-sensitive musicians—it’s got saxophones, George. Yes, I know, Funhouse has saxophones, but it’s different.
_Okay. Just for the moment let’s lay aside your vision of this as the most violent, frantic heavy rock record ever made. Can you do that? Just as a hypothetical?
_It’s got all the earmarks of a really fine jazz record. It starts out with one of your by-now trademarked end-of-the-year laments, which frankly have always sounded more jazz than proto-punk to me. It’s alive, it’s always happening right now. The music is made of the listening of its players, that’s what you hear in between the notes. It has that keen sense of mood, the weight of atmosphere—
_Speaking of which, how do you expect me to write "happy" liner notes about this music? Was that the word? You said you wanted something "a little upbeat," for a change. Did you send me the wrong CD? Evocative, yes. The music has a memory. It gives you memories you didn’t know you had, from before your time, from other points of view. Sad? At times, sure! Playful? Okay! Plangent. Poised, stalking. Fleet and full of reverie and recriminations—all of these things. But I think your plan for this as a let-the-good-times-roll, rent-party, pass-the-eightball, kick-out-the-jams, burn-down-the-landlord, beer-ball anthem is wide of the mark. I just don’t hear this as a party record, George.
_Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a different music altogether. This music listens to itself, and finally listens through itself. It reminds me of the void surrounding each note, and yet taken together those notes do warm the void, a little.
_Not, I’m afraid, a realistic answer to the most titanic expression of ill-will ever committed to tape
_The bass and drums are as melodic as the sax. They comment on the sax, they sympathize, they harmonize with it, they mock and reject it, they create landscapes around it, and sometimes, for moments, they all dissolve into the cool night—Oh—now I see, a slip of paper falls out of the CD sleeve...
_Song titles, okay, and I see we’ve got Adam Linz on bass and Alden Akida on drums, and you, George Cartwright, on saxes. That’s a start!
By the way, I like the crowd noise and that confusion-on-the-bandstand business you edited in. I don’t know if it’ll fool anyone, but it really adds to the thing. As I said, the record definitely has a live "feel".
_There’s nothing else in your note, but reading between the lines of your heated scrawl, I don’t see this as "the most brutal act of unwarranted rage ever conceived."
_Biker meth party instant classic? No.
_Taken on its own terms, I love it. A third listening (now that my neighbor’s out) makes me want to hear each note again at the same time I’m hearing it. I’ve been staring at the notes in the air for a while when I realize they’re not in the air, they’re in the rough finish of the wall, which now, along with everything else, is made of them.