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An Introduction to Jeff Mangum from WFMU

19 Mar 2013

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It’s understandable, given the reputation that Jeff Mangum has won based on a relatively small number of cryptic recordings, that commentary on his output runs toward the obsessive. From Slate declaring him to be “The Salinger of Indie Rock” in 2008, to Kim Cooper’s book-length discussion of the impact of Neutral Milk Hotel’s lauded 1998 album, In the Aeroplane Sea.

As we prepare for Mangum’s two (!) shows at The Crowley Theater on 31 March 2013, we would also like to suggest that you direct the internet-connected audio device of your choice to his run of broadcasts on Jersey City’s legendary freeform radio station, WFMU.

In 2002 Mangum took to the airwaves for nine fried shows collaging together snippets of in-studio dialogue from the Beach Boys, poetry by James Wright, field recordings of cheetahs, the sound of “ritual mouth organs” as well as music from Robert Wyatt, Ornette Coleman and John Fahey — and that’s just the first installment.

Mangum is a practiced field recordist and sound collage artist — his discography includes a collection of field recordings from a of Bulgarian festival in 2001 — and it shows in these ecstatic, transformative programs, all of which are currently available for streaming at WFMU.

And though he understandably declined to interrupt these whirling sonic kaleidoscopes by back-announcing his selections, the Mangum fan community has risen to the occasion: Annotations for all nine shows are available over at the Neutral Milk Hotel website, complete with links to more information for many of the esoteric sound bites heard across these hours of music.

It’s not so much a demonstration of what Mangum’s music sounds like, as an exploded guidebook to where it comes from. And an excellent way to GET PUMPED for Mangum’s two performances here in Marfa at the end of March. The early show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the 10:30pm performance.

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