Jacob David Sudol(b. Des Moines, Iowa 1980) writes intimate compositions that explore enigmatic phenomena and the inner nature of how we perceive sound. He recently finished his M.Mus. at McGill University and currently resides in La Jolla, CA where he is working towards a Ph.D. in composition at the University of California at San Diego with Roger Reynolds, Chinary Ung, Philippe Manoury, and Rand Steiger.
Over the last five years some of Jacob's mentors in composition have included John Rea, Denys Bouliane, Philippe Leroux, Sean Ferguson, Dan Asia, and Craig Walsh. He has also participated in master classes with Danish composer Bent Sørensen and German composer Manfred Stahnke.
During 2005-2006, Jacob was the first-ever composer-in-residence for the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble under the direction of Denys Bouliane, in collaboration with the McGill Digital Composition Studio. He has also written music for the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Contemporary Keyboard Society, percussionist Fernando Rocha, saxophonist Elizabeth Bunt, and clarinetist Krista Martynes. As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, he composed the music for a collaborative dance project with choreographer Hillary Peterson, and he was the principal composer and pianist for El Proyecto de Santa Barbara, a chamber Latin jazz ensemble.
During the 2005 and 2007 Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques and 2006 MusiMars festivals Jacob was an electronic assistant for performances with Court-Circuit, Matt Haimovitz, Sara Laimon, Martin Matalon, Moritz Eggert, Manfred Stahnke, the Caput Ensemble, and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble. These concerts were broadcast by the CBC and the European Broadcasting Union in over fifty countries throughout the world. He is currently a studio research assistant for Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds.
During his free time Jacob takes an active interest in religious phenomenology, cinema, acoustics, literature, poetry, and visual art. As a composer and performer, he always attempts to bring insights from these other fields into his work.
All music posted on this blog is posted out of love and the idea that for the truly great music of our time(s) to be known it must first and foremost be heard. If you like what you hear please support the artist by buying the recordings, scores, and/or encouraging the performances of the music in every way possible.
If you are the composer, performer, performing organization, artist or directly represent the composer, performer, performing organization, or artist of anything posted on this website and would like your material removed please contact me and I will happily oblige.
Socrates said that “No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death” and I think that the same holds true for good memories. This latter idea is a perennial theme in song, for example at the end of “Blood on the Tracks” Bob Dylan finds consolation after catharsis singing Little red wagon, little red bike/I ain’t no monkey but I know what I like/I like the way you love me strong and slow,/I’m taking you with me, honey baby, when I go and Tom Waits more simply centers one of his finest songs “Take it With Me” around a chorus iterating the exact same idea.
Daniel Bejar (otherwise known in his many disguises as Destroyer) in his axiomatically referential manner hits upon the same point in the song “In Dreams.” However, unlike Bob Dylan or Tom Waits, he doesn’t see much value in directly stating this idea, for him it is only an idea that slowly reveals itself under a repeated chorus only after he first describes a personal polar repulsion and the related movement from “heartbreak to heartlessness.”
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Nancy is many different things to different people, many different identities for some people. She is at least three different people intimately known to me – all dynamic yet frozen in my mind’s wintry time. She seems to long to be none of these and One. She gives and has given endlessly to try and find her communion yet still feels something missing as she examines her memory’s frozen crystals. We all want the best for her because her longing seems too great for one person to bear. In her mind there seems to be only one possible horrible solution left and no guaranty was ever possible. I only want the best for her because the longing seems too great for one person to bear, I only want the best for her because the longing seems too great for anyone to bear,
Disclaimers: * It may seem probably a little strange to a best of 2006 almost one month into 2007. I began writing this in November and had a draft ready in late December. I wanted to post it the first draft but didn’t because I wanted to include mp3 selections and didn’t have access to a fast enough connection to upload music while I was in Arizona. Since coming back I also began to know some albums on the list better and was able to rank and write about them with greater insight.
* I’m not posting a “classical music” best album list because I typically don’t pay too much attention to new “classical music” album releases. Since it often takes so long for new classical works to get recorded, I’ve come to believe that the best place to hear contemporary art music is the concert hall. Furthermore, since I’m always just surfacing enough to catch my breath and trying to hear as much classical music that I didn’t know beforehand I barely have a chance to also keep up with the large stream of new classical releases. These points aside, I also feel that the album medium is one that better suited for more popular song-based music and in 2006, more than any other year before, I really tried to keep up with new album releases.
* The following mostly represents my personal tastes for highly literary songs and things that, although they may be on the radar, are not necessarily what you’ll hear the most on commercial radio stations or see regularly on some music video channel. Also, to try and make this a bit more precise I’m appending an “Almost Best…” list for a few albums that are almost good enough to be included.
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1. Bob Dylan: Modern Times What can I say? Bob Dylan has done it once again. I think that this is one of the most consistently rewarding albums he has put out since Blood on the Tracks. Also compared to his last excellent album ”Love and Theft” Bob Dylan’s are melodies are much clearer and his lyrics have become much more simple and direct. I feel so glad to be around for what may end up being another of Bob Dylan’s golden ages. A song like “Nettie Moore” possibly has the most devastating chorus Bob has ever written, “Workingman’s Blues’ #2” has one of the best workings of a Robert Johnson line I’ve ever heard (especially since it’s mixed with a Shakespeare reference), and the new lyrics and performances of “Someday Baby” and “Rolling and Tumblin’” even top Muddy Waters’ recordings.
2. Joanna Newsom: Ys Joanna Newsom’s last album was one of the strangest and most charming albums by a singer-songwriter that I had heard in years. It seems almost impossible to understand how she so quickly reached the profound level of song craft found in Ys and its songs like “Emily.” The five songs on this album almost total an hour and show a view into one’s inner mind and life that is rarely found in song. It is a world that isn’t easy but, if you’re willing to let it, can welcome you in tenderly and slowly.
3. Destroyer: Destroyer’s Rubies I first heard this album a month ago and instantly started researching the rest of Dan Bejar’s (or Destroyer’s) catalogue to try and get a point of reference and better sense of the esthetic that drew me to this album so quickly. There’s little more I can say to praise this album except that besides being lyrically challenging and musically intricate it’s also completely listenable and – even exceeding most of the Destroyer catalogue – almost ingratiatingly catchy.
4. Sunset Rubdown: Shut Up I Am Dreaming I know I’m just repeating what many an mp3 blogger has said before, but I think this Spencer Krug is one of the next big things in rock music. I really don’t want to add much to the gushing I’ve heard all over except that I have a particular fondness for the sloppy quirky and eccentric way he seems to reconstruct a standard rock song with his wonderful array of lo-fi keyboards, EBowed acoustic slide guitars, squeezebox, and glockenspiel.
5. TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain This album crept up on me like no other album this year. I first heard it when it leaked over the summer and until a few weeks ago I didn’t intend to include it on this list. Unlike many other albums I heard in 2006, almost every time I heard this album – besides a few times during a brief misanthropic spell in October when I was not particularly enjoying music – I liked it better than the previous time I heard it. One thing that drew me is the unique timbral and tonal it inhabits – for example, it is nearly impossible to play along with any track on this album if you have an equally tempered keyboard. I first noticed this after failing to figure out “Tonight” and discovering that “Wash the Day Away” is in E quarter flat. Besides that there’s also something cryptically truthful and cathartic about the lyrics in songs like “Blues From Down Here.”
6. Band of Horses: Everything All the Time There’s an open shimmering almost golden quality that the sound on this album exudes – I also picture a desert sky clearing after an overnight monsoon rain. It is not hard to enjoy this music it is warm and comfortable just like giving a lover your extra covers on a cold morning. There’s almost a sense of foreboding in the anticipation but there’s also the relief that there will almost always be human comfort to help when the dark comes again.
7. Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood I’ve had a long-standing love/hate relationship with so-called country music in my life. There are arguably few “genres” that I hate with more ferocity that commercial “country music” and although I do enjoy some of the more classic “underground” country artists like Johnny Cash I find I never like these artists so consistently to call them some of my favourites. On the other hand I have a really strong love for some country artists who produce really haunting songs full of grief and silent longing like Gillian Welch or Neko Case on this album. Other than saying that, it’s hard for me to explain the attraction except for the fact that it may relate to my musical upbringing. Maybe her songs will ring true for you too, maybe they won’t.
8. Yo La Tengo: I’m Not Afraid of You and Will Beat Your Ass Yo La Tengo has always one of those mildly schizophrenic bands that seemed to be more themselves when they wear many different disguises. Although I think “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out” may remain Yo La Tengo albums this new one comes in a close second particularly in terms of its eclectic and overall fun – “…Beat Your Ass” is alternatively rocking, meditatively calm, and completely danceable. It also arguably has the best guitar jam song on any Yo La Tengo album – “The Story of Yo La Tango.”
9. Jolie Holland: Springtime Can Kill You Jolie Holland puts on a concert that feels more like an impromptu living room jam session than any sort of ego-driven concert setting. I’ve often said that if you want to create good music now, you need to feel the blues. Jolie knows the blues better than nearly anybody else out there right now and communicates them in an personal honest direct manner that can break your heart just as you realize why it’s breaking or already broken.
Billie “Prince” Billie: The Letting Go In the last year Will Oldham – in his many guises (Palace Brothers, Palace Music, Palace, Will Oldham, and most recently Bonnie “Prince” Billie”) – has become one of my favorite singer-songwriters making music today. I’m not quite sure but the main reason that I don’t probably don’t place this album just above in the “Best of” list is because I also came to know some of Will Oldham’s best albums like I See a Darkness and Days in the Wake this year as well.
Mountain Goats: Get Lonely Okay, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a sucker for depressing folk albums but there’s just something strange about this album. It’s almost as if it is too depressing. Maybe it’s how it changes my mood after I listen to it, maybe it’s the lack of resolution that it offers, maybe it’s because its melancholy can seem so gentle at times. I really don’t know.
Flaming Lips: At War With the Mystics At moments this album is lot of fun like most Flaming Lips albums but at most other moments it’s surprisingly introspective and, frankly, almost a downer. It’s refreshingly addictive like most Flaming Lips albums and although the introspection thing isn’t completely novel for them (see some of the tracks on Priest Driven Ambulance) it is nice to hear Wayne Coyne express his uncertainty and doubt some.
I’ve heard that a number of people who speak French make a distinction between chanson or songs and musique, in that one might say that they love chanson whereas, in English, we always say that we love music. Naturally, the complexity found in contemporary songs exceeds that found in a lot of older music and certain non-lyric based music has a simplicity and lyricism that many songs don’t; however, I think making this making this distinction is quite telling and – for the record – I’d like to state that I love songs, music, and all good sounds/noises that fall between or outside the two.
I have to admit that I almost always love a great song. Since I started posting mp3 blogs in June I’ve been trying to find ways to slip in some great songs and, in the very least, keep them somewhat loosely related to the other more abstract contemporary art music selections that I usually post. At this point, after commenting above on a distinction some make between song and music, I think I’m ready to give up trying to find any rational argument for posting songs and, from now on, just post whatever I want to.
I consistently think that Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” is the saddest book I’ve read. Probably because of this, over the years “The Grapes of Wrath” has also been one of the more significant novels I’ve read in terms of how it has influenced my beliefs and thoughts on a number of contemporary ethical, moral, and political issues.
I’ve got a give a hand to Woody Guthrie because he shore knew how to distill the essence of this 600 some page book in one seven minute song – “The Ballad of Tom Joad.” What the song may lack in the detail and imagery that Steinbeck provides, it shore makes up for it in its succinct directness of message.
I, myself, won’t write anymore about this song and, instead, am including the following preface Woody Guthrie wrote to it in my personal favorite songbook, “Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People” (which, by the way, contains includes extensive notes on each song by Woody himself and a forward by John Steinbeck).
The story of Tom Joad is one that a lot of boys went through. From the Oklahoma penitentiary – to his home in the dust bowl, and then they had to get away to California – had to pack up their old car and pull out -- and his mother and his dad, and his sisters and brothers found out about the thugs and the firebugs and the guards and the deputies that guard the fields that the rich man says “are mine” – “You keep off.”
I wonder about them guys, and I wonder what sort of songs they sing when they ain’t a black jacking somebody or beating you over the head with a pick handle. This book ain’t got no songs in it that was wrote by deputy sheriffs. It ain’t got no songs in it that was wrote by company guards, nor cops, nor snitches, nor guys that set fire to the little shacks of the poor folks along the river bottoms. It’s just got some songs wrote by some people. Real people. But, a guard or a deputy can always change over on the real people’s side.
A long son-of-a-gun. Take a deep breath and sail into it.
Admittedly, it’s taken me a long time to figure how what to include and write for the final part in my “trilogy” of Bob Dylan mp3 mixes. I wanted to make them in a chronological order, but after exhausting the 60’s through the mid 70’s, I had the most trouble choosing material from the last thirty years. Personally, I prefer to keep Bob Dylan as the changing enigma he has often sought to put forward and because of this, I continue to ignore a large portion of his material between Slow Train Coming and Oh Mercy. In my opinion, he has only really come into his own again on his last three albums Time Out of Mind, ”Love & Theft”, and Modern Times. So, as a result, for this last Bob Dylan mp3 mix I decided to just include my favorite version of a perennial favorite – “One Too Many Mornings” – and selections from his last three albums.
At this point, I’m hesitant to say anything about the music or lyrics that Bob Dylan has been writing lately. When I first got into Bob Dylan about ten years ago, his current image and music was a joke in many minds including mine. Back then I couldn’t conceived the easy transformation he’s undergone – from hollow shell of the singer and song-writer he used to be to the living undying culmination of his influences and constantly shifting self.
Oh yee, of little faith…
I think that in his last three albums – and more particularly ”Love & Theft” and Modern Times – Bob Dylan’s songs (in large help to recording with what he calls “the best band I’ve been in”) have become as natural and, arguably, as simply inevitable, as the best material he’s ever done. Oh yeah, and dig the fine bluesman’s voice that he’s developed
Okay now, for the time being I’ve got nothing more to write about Bob Dylan.
I often argue that I listen to popular music mostly for the lyrics. I support this with my fondness for Bob Dylan and folk music and how I can easily be turned off from a band or song if they have no redeemable lyrics. When I’m in a particularly theoretical mindset I try to quantify the percentages that lyrics and music matter to me in a song or composition. Obviously, on one extreme, in instrumental music the music matters 100%. However, I find it much more difficult to quantify the side of the spectra where the lyrics matter more. For example, at times I can say that I listen to Bob Dylan more for the lyrics than the music but I cannot pinpoint the percentage that lyrics matter.
I drew all but two songs for my second Bob Dylan compilation from the four Bob Dylan albums that I listen to the most. In regards to the point above, I think that people really underestimate the musical significance and quality in Bob Dylan’s recordings. Ever since he went electric, Bob Dylan has consistently hired, recorded, and toured with some of the best working musicians in rock and roll. For example, I think that I often listen to Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, and The Basement Tapes as much for the music, if not more so, as for the lyrics.
For a number of years I considered Queen Jane Approximately my favorite Bob Dylan song. I’ve always loved its almost surreal description of everything falling apart and the chorus and music ambience that both offer some sort of bittersweet reconciliation and hope.
Visions of Johanna as well as the entire Blonde on Blonde album offers some of the best mergers of lyrics and music in Bob Dylan’s catalogue. For me this song describes what a mixed blessing it is to realize that memories, longing, dreams, and visions can sometimes last long beyond their initial fleeting appearance.
Hills of Mexico is an old traditional song (I mostly know the Woody Guthrie version) that, after taking a while to get started, starts to cook like some of the best stuff on Time Out of Mind. It’s a shame Dylan forgot the lyrics. Going to Alcapoco and Nothing Was Delivered are two of my favorite down-and-out songs of Bob Dylan and The Band. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine is one of the last songs I used to perform regularly in my folky days.
I consider Blood on Tracks to Bob Dylan’s lyrical masterpiece. The album took many years to unfold and grow on me. It wasn’t until I knew many of the lyrics by heart that they started to come back to me suddenly making sense at the most opportune moments. (This includes the Dylan line I quote the most “Been shooting in the dark too long/when something’s not right it’s wrong…”)
For years I had neglected Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts because of the organ part on the released recording. In fact, it wasn’t until I found a copy of the original unreleased version of Blood on the Tracks that I began to appreciate this song as well as the rest of the album. In the album’s original version, there is a certain simple unified directness that I think the released version lacks; it’s this a certain sloppy honesty that makes a story like Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts so much more personal and approachable. Personally, I almost think it’s dishonest to play this song with a band because, although it may be told in the third person, it demonstrates that the workings of imagination and the outside world can sometimes ring far truer than anything we attempt to describe about ourselves.
Since I’ve already apologized for posting popular music, I feel no reason to do it now. Likewise, since I’ve had to apologize for my strong fondness for Bob Dylan from the time I was a sophomore in High School, I feel no reason to do it here. In these lines I find it interesting that over the years I’ve had to argue for my fondness of Bob Dylan less and less and, more interesting, how I’ve practically always won and made many “Dylan-converts.”
In my (I’m not going to say giddy) anticipation of the new Bob Dylan album Modern Times that comes out next Tuesday, I’ve decided to post a few Dylan mp3 comps. A few years ago I tried a similar task and, because I tried to fit in all my Dylan favorites and “essentials,” I failed miserably. This time I’m keeping it much simpler and concentrating primarily on including some of my personal favorite songs that are not well known.
This first collection of songs concentrates on the early years before Bob Dylan first went electric. All but one of the songs I’ve selected are not on the three classic acoustic albums. I chose two songs, No More Auction Block and Moonshiner, to illustrate the strength of early Dylan as a traditional folk-singer performing traditional songs. I chose If Tomorrow Wasn’t Such a Long Time, I Was Young When I Left Home, and Mama, You’ve Been on Mind to show the quality of songs that Bob Dylan left off his first few albums. I chose Farewell and All Over You, well let’s just say, “for kicks.”
The last song Ballad in Plain D comes off of what has become my favorite acoustic Dylan album, Another Side of Bob Dylan. It is an illusively complex song about fragile and proud characters and reflections on a failed romance. The song ends with what I consider to be one of the most cryptic lines Bob Dylan ever wrote. I spent nearly ten years trying to unravel it until one night – after spending a day struggling to understand some compositional materials – it became a clear description of the relationship between our limitations and freedoms.