Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated recent release he thinks we need to know about. This week it's Omar-S's "Psychotic Photosynthesis (No Drums Version)" 12-inch Listen to the song below, buy the record and read Schnipper's thoughts on it after the jump.
Over the summer I used to eat in the park with my coworker. One day we saw Al Roker doing an interview. He was wearing a baby blue blazer, followed by a camera crew. He did not appear to be sweating and looked happy. I thought it might be nice to trade lives with him. I talked about this with my coworker, then looked around at other people in the park to see who else I could switch with. I thought it would also be nice to switch with most of the dogs in the park but thought they were too close to the ground, which is a good point. Ideally, I would switch with a cool baby or a wild stallion. In San Francisco, over vacation, I went to the museum and saw an exhibit by Maya Lin and decided I would like to switch lives with her. Her exhibit, “Systematic Landscapes,” was variously mediumed sculptural renderings of geographic areas. “Blue Lake Pass,” is a particle board rendering of a Colorado mountain range, split into a four by five grid of sculpture chunks that you can walk through. It said don’t touch but I grazed the side, it felt like particle board. Later in the exhibit, in a series of photos showing her progress in completing an installation, there was a snapshot of her huge studio in New York City. It had big windows with light streaming and, thinking about her while leaving the De Young, walking in San Francisco on my last day of vacation, I wished so hard that I could be Maya Lin. It didn’t work. But at least I was in California.
It was so much colder in San Francisco than it was supposed to be. Either that or I don’t read the weather right, because I brought some buttondowns and a cardigan and canvas sneakers. I did bring some warmer socks, but I also brought this henley shirt I hoped to wear and had to put on over another shirt, which is kind of clumpy. I also took out the liner from my coat, which was totally unnecessary. I did remember to bring my hat and gloves just in case and I am grateful for my own foresight. This did not ruin my trip, as it was much colder in New York. But I wanted it to be hot. I wanted to walk around with a T-shirt and my jacket zipped. I was hoping it might be possible to not wear socks. The hottest I got was when we walked up a super high hill as a detour on the way to the record store.
I went to visit my friends Daniel and Jacob. I met them seven years ago. I see them regularly these days as their band Mi Ami tours and Daniel comes east to see his family. But it’s always sporadic and I wanted to have unfettered time with them. We had plenty, ate banana bread and drank beer. I slept on the couch, woke up early and drank tea in Jacob’s kitchen. Sometimes I just drank hot water. Daniel made a big dinner, got a discount on groceries from his old neighbor whose name he couldn’t remember. He was smooth about it and when he introduced me to her but not vice versa I did not notice. I saw Gran Torino, got harassed by a skeevy dude on the walk back. On New Year’s Eve I went to a small party and then took a taxi to far away to see bands played. We got there two minutes before midnight. My friend Clare’s friend had champagne and I took some. She didn’t know I was Clare’s friend and grabbed it back. It got explained and she felt bad but I didn’t care. A band called Sex Vid who had become a running joke in my office about a year ago played and, despite myself, I moshed. The floor was slippery so I fell down but someone picked me up fast. Outside, people were breaking bottles. The police came but then they left.
During the day we talked about music. We talked about Jacob’s engagement, Daniel being single, about our ages, about clothes, our parents, exchange students, Russian candy, lobster, kale, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Jack Kerouac, gentrification, shortbread, graffiti, publicists, cassette tapes, Berlin, early computer programs, Vice magazine, murder investigations, cornmeal pancakes, comedians, cat puke, newspapers, college football, free books on the street. But mostly we talked about music, like a personal prism, that things filter through. Daniel told me about this Omar-S record that is his song “Psychotic Photosynthesis” without the drums. His friend Damon bought him the record for Christmas, he encouraged me to buy it. I hadn’t heard it, but I did anyway. It’s spooky, a lot of entangled electronics. Why would I have heard this? From the glut of new music that comes delivered to my desk this would find a difficult place standing out. Daniel and Jacob have always loved music and they are good at performing it. Jacob works for a company that does the audio for internet broadcasts. Sometimes, he said, he has to wake up early if people in Europe or Asia need his services. I don’t know exactly what he does because, honestly, he didn’t talk about that much and I don’t think he wanted to. I do know he is a bunch of people’s boss and that he is full time freelance. Daniel works at a garden store, doing sound at a rock club and occasionally fills in at the video store. But they play in Mi Ami and that is what is important. They practice three times a week and will spend much of 2009 touring in the US and the UK and soon their record will come out. It’s good. I’m proud of them. Me, my job kind of is writing about music. Sometimes I envy them, stopping their day-to-day to fly to Europe and do what they like for people who like it. Jacob’s last band went to Japan and played for more people there than they ever did in the US. But they also lost a little bit of money. But if I went on vacation to Japan it would be a complete loss. So it’s a give and take.
What I’m trying to say is that I have a complicated relationship with music, personally and professionally. Fine, big deal, so does everyone. My mom has a complicated relationship with her dogs. My friend has a complicated relationship with weed, his blog and his job. My other friend has a complicated relationship with New Haven, law school, being vegan and smart but dull men. Everything is hard, blah blah. But if you’ll indulge me: just before I left California I was gripped with terror about coming back to my life. Now I am here and it’s warm because New York is properly heated in the winter and I forgot that I cleaned my room really hard before I left so it’s pretty tidy and I have plenty to do here in the office so at least I am focused. Last night I had a dream that my intestines were twisted and protruding from my guts. I woke up rubbing my side and something was hard but it was just my rib.
Anyway, before I went to California, Daniel was in New York. He came to my office just before we left for the holidays. Daniel wanted to interview me for my column. He did and it is below. I forgot about it and watching the video today what I notice is that my temples have really receded, that shirt looks not so bad because I wasn’t so sure about it and I am glad I got rid of the beard because I was starting to look too Hasidic. I cut it right after I got home Sunday night because I paranoid for half the plane ride that the girl in the aisle across from me with the cute cat in a travel bag thought I looked disgusting. I thought about it half the plane ride. But, you know, come to think of it, the other half was pretty calm. I slept through the take off, read through the landing.