Novos Baianos - Acabou Chorare (#1): Nice. This is something like my third non-contemporary album -- everything else I've heard has been via compilations -- and it works as an album. Great music, and I learned a bit about the Brazilian scene and national character from looking it up. Just really chill.
Various - Tropicália, ou Panis et Circensis (#2): Enough musicians play/sing on this album that I had to bust out the "et al." in the %artist% field, but it never seems like there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Figured I'd want to hear this until I'm familiar with it, as it's such a pillar of Brazilian music that I'd heard of it -- well, the term, at least -- years ago. "Três Caravelas" is a nice catchy little number that couldn't get made today, especially in musical circles; I'd heard "Baby" in translation before but not the original. It's cool.
Chico Buarque - Construção (#3): I like the music on this one but I'll probably never put it on again. I'm sure that if I knew more about the social and political context (which I looked up after a couple of listens) I'd appreciate it stronger, but for what it is it's not bad at all. Loving the arrangements and Chico's vocals. Listening to more vocal-based music without knowing the language can go totally differently than if you do: for example, there's a long succession of "sh" and "zh" sounds, more so than is usual to Portuguese, in "Valsinha" that you might not hear if you're focusing on the meaning of the words rather than the sound as a native (or even novice) speaker would.
João Gilberto - Chega de Saudade (#4): I could hardly think of a better way to spend 30 minutes. Fifteen songs, all around or under two minutes long, without much threat to overstay its welcome; plenty of warm melodies and a fantastic vocal performance. Only complaint is that the melodies don't always have real hooks and so some of the tracks are forgettable, but they're over quickly, and most of the songs are great. I misread this album title as "chinga de saudade", which actually isn't that far off.
Secos & Molhados - s/t (#5): This is the damnedest album. It's up there with Bitches Brew and certain Mothers albums in sheer number of spins the material on which I don't actually like that much. (In a weird sort of good way they still burrow into your memories just like any other album you play a lot would.) Anyway, it's glam and kind of trippy. Weird disc and it doesn't quite work for me, but I like it.
Jorge Ben - A Tábua de Esmeralda (#6): I gave this a whole ton of spins and, while I kind of liked the sound -- more in that in a moment -- I didn't really dig any of the songs, and could hear zero of the funkiness this album, at least, and seemingly Ben generally, has in spades. An embarrassing mistake, but for such a key element to their sound, the bass guitar is awfully weak in the mix. I actually heard a more art-pop or even folksy vibe to this at first. (In my defense, I listened to this one mostly with earphones that didn't always have an adequate seal.) I especially like the intro to "Menina mulher da pele preta", with a guy with a really gruff voice saying, "blah blah something pele PRE-ta!" and then a sexy female laugh. Actually not a bad album at all once you're hearing it as the right kind of music.
Don Byas - A Night in Tunisia: Boring. A live album of typical standards, nothing really stands out. (TBH I didn't give this one a fair shot. I played it twice and it made no impression on me, so I kind of wrote it off.)
Quincy Jones & Bill Cosby - The Original Jam Sessions 1969: Despite the title, Cosby only appears on one track: the closing "Hikky-Burr", where he makes stupid noises for three minutes over a pretty cool funky groove. No: this is music done for Cosby's television show at the time, and it's pretty damned good. Electric fusion, more primitive and elemental than the kind of stuff Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock were doing at the time. It's a fun experience.
Thad Jones - s/t: Well this is a classic guy I'd never heard of (especially compared to his well-known brothers Hank -- who plays piano here -- and Elvin). The blurb on the CD describes him simply as Charles Mingus' protégé, which is the sole reason I picked it up. (Mingus does indeed play bass on the album and is one of the musical highlights.) Thad is amazing, with a brilliant yet dark tone and who knocks out some impressive solos on the first half of the album, mostly hard-boppish extended numbers, and he taps a nerve on the second side: mostly standards. The closing "Chazzanova" reminds me of Chas Jankel's album Chasanova, though the similarities end at the title. Recommended.
Sun Ra - Space Is the Place: I just listened to this high. The title track is kind of cool the first time you hear it, and then it gets annoying. Unless I was overimpressionable to "Sea of Sounds", this album sucks stoned. It would probably be really cool tripping, but I don't want to, considering some of the darker things I've been ruminating lately on only marijuana, if I even could trip. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this album has heavily influenced a lot of electronic music.
Tony Williams - Civilization: This 1986 CD is an analog recording, digitally mixed and mastered. I don't think I've ever seen such. Anyway, it's typical mid-'80s fare (though Williams wasn't that old at the time, if he ever was old), which at its best is a backgroundy "dip-in" album to be paid attention to more or less ad libitum. It's a great album as far as that goes. There's little groundbreaking besides the presence of an oboe, but the solos are consistently inventive and clever. I don't know if I've finished writing up this album but I'm not writing any more.
Schubert - Die Schöne Müllerin (Olaf Baer, Geoffrey Parsons): It has to have been only a year since I picked up Winterreise but now, having heard all three song cycles, I'd say they're among the best stuff Schubert ever did. Certainly they're his best set of works, if there are only three of them: there are crappy symphonies and less impressive sonatas, but the song cycles are three-for-three. Schwanengesang > Die schöne Müllerin > Winterreise, but they're all top shelf. Müllerin is the warmest and most tender, as well as the earliest. Like Winterreise, this tells a coherent story, or at least theme. Put this one on and suddenly an hour has passed. (Funny that they'd include the umlauts in the title but not in Olaf Bär.)
Johann II, Josef Strauss - Waltzes, Polkas, Marches
Johann (I & II), Josef Strauss - Radetzky-Marsch, etc. (both Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan): Is "Wiener Blut" the best piece of music ever written? Probably not, but when it's on it's a fair question. These were both $1.99, and last of the clearances, which is why I bought two discs of this stuff at the same time. There's surprisingly little overlap between the discs (basically just "Tales from the Vienna Woods" and "Sphärenklänge") and no "Blue Danube" on either. The discs were released over ten years apart. TBH I'm not sure what separates a good recording of this music from an uninspired one. Terrific background music, especially first thing in the morning.
Abos, Tartini, Gasparini - Stabat Mater (Stradivaria): As the name suggests, here are three Italian Baroque-into-Classical settings of the Stabat mater. Without looking at the other classical CDs I bought, I think I saved the best for last here (how did an A/G/T end up last alphabetically? Must have filed it under Various). Abos' setting is the first of them and is very operatic, and decidedly Baroque. These settings often obscure the trochaic tetrameter of the Stabat mater, where it's usually emphasized in the Dies irae (in the same meter). This is especially true of the Abos. Tartini, God bless him, preserves it quite well, which is the one good thing about his seven-minute, single-movement setting. The Gasparini is the churchiest on the disc, as well as the latest (1770) and the longest. Still, I think the Abos is overall the most satisfying: and it's first on the disc, too! So you're still in peak listening form. I need to go to the record store soon. Here endeth the epist-HAUL.
Windows 11: Actually a pretty good product, though it's had its share of problems (notably, I now get the BSOD when I try to soft-restart. What this means regarding updates is to be seen.) Expensive (Home is $160 and Pro, $200) but hey, it's going to become standard; it's not like Windows XP and 7 where the following version is so inferior where you'd want to hang on to the older OS. And yes, they did get rid of the Start button and replaced it with a kind of home-page-ish menu screen. Basically, if you're like me and pin every program you ever use to the taskbar, you're going to love this operating system. If you prefer to go through menus, YMMV. It's more decentralized than past versions of Windows. They changed the "copy", "paste" et cetera commands in the right-click menu to little icons on the top of said menu, which takes some time to get down for no real benefit. It doesn't ask you if you *really* want to delete a file, so if you accidentally misclick while you're getting used to it, you could be shit out of luck. Besides that I haven't noticed much difference.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Beat it, having worked through only two factions' quests to the end before starting on the main storyline (great story BTW). That's fine, because 100%ing this game would probably take hundreds of hours (and besides, you can't beat the game 100% in one playthrough because you can't join all the factions). I'm a bit sick of the game and decided against going and doing the expansions (you can keep playing after beating the last boss).
Leisure Suit Larry 2: Looking for Love in Several Wrong Places: Beat this as well. The difficulty ramps up pretty severely through the game, where in the first areas of the game you can get by with just your wits, while in the final area you pretty much need a walkthrough. Fun game, but you're reminded once again that Sierra was a hint book company that made software on the side. As with everything like this in life, when you reach an impasse it's possible that (a) you don't have a key item that you can't go back and get, (b) the puzzles can make no sense and can be hard to guess easily, but you don't know which is which.
WWE 2K22: Eh, a wrestling game, for shits and giggles. What I really wanted was a hockey game, but there hasn't been a PC NHL game since 2009, if you'll believe it. I don't have anything to compare this to more recent than the first PS2 SmackDown. My main complaint is the controls. Everything's so ####ing complicated in their quest for cool-wrestling-game-dom -- then I remember WWF Attitude for N64 and that game had a fighting game's repertoire of moves so what do I know. Anyway, it's very outdated, being this late into its life cycle, and I'll need the new one simply because WWE has been so radically shaken up lately. Not bad.