Excellent

LITTLE ORPHAN ANI

TYLENOL TALENT

STUPID BLOODY STUPID!

Interview

All the News That Didn't Fit

On the Record

The Olympia Connection, Or Lack Thereof

Excellent

The Numbness Is Just a Bonus

Hiphop City

WEEN ARE THE WORLD

Soul by the Pound

EXCELLENT REAL ROCK QUOTES

Incest is Best

The Rise and Fall of the N-Word

DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Tell the Truth Anyway

You Don't Own Me

Summer Lovin'

Stagger Lee

Music to Lose Your Job By

Boy, You Sure Can Take the Fun Out of Music

CINEMATIC CLICHE

Stuart Braithwaite From Mogwai

Going to New York City?

THE CHURCH OF COLTRANE

A Whole N'other Level

Who Says Morrissey Fans Don't Get Laid?

ISSA ROCKA ROLL

Not Modest Enough

For too many critics and listeners, the name John Coltrane is an empty signifier. It conjures up Coltrane Lite, an incomplete three-album discography that boils his legacy down to a bebop release (Giant Steps), an exposition of melody (My Favorite Things), and a somewhat easily accessible step into spiritual jazz (A Love Supreme). But if you want easy access, stick with Eazy E. The best Coltrane record is an obscure and abstract set of improvisations called Interstellar Space.

The tenor player recorded Interstellar Space in February 1967, with drummer Rashied Ali as his only accompaniment. The entire album is made up of Ali's moving swells of percussion and Coltrane's terrifying solos, bleating and screaming in overtones and octave jumps. To some, it might at first not even sound like music, but that's just a matter of expectations. Coltrane constantly challenges traditional notions of what a saxophone should do, opting instead for aggressive displays of form and rhythm. And yet, through this formalism, the album is intensely emotional. When Coltrane recorded Interstellar Space, the cancer in his liver was rapidly metastasizing: he died a few months after the session, at the age of 40. But death, to Coltrane, was not a gothic event: with his horn blazing through tracks titled "Saturn--Sixth from the Sun: Joy," Coltrane predicts an afterlife in the radiated cosmos, not a stroll with the Grim Reaper. The music is likewise stripped of all pretentious clichés, and it radiates honest terror, genuine agitation, and real death.

Ironically, it's this mortality that also kept Interstellar Space in the shadows. The album is filled with earthshaking innovations, but when Coltrane passed, there was no one else to continue down his path, and Interstellar Space became a revolutionary album with no revolution to follow it. As for jazzers today who claim to have transcended melody and chords--they are full of shit. Only Coltrane did that for real, and only toward the end of his life. If you get a chance to listen to this album, you'll see what I mean--Interstellar Space has nothing to do with self-congratulatory avant-gardism. Rather, it's all about the listener and Death, sitting together in the living room, eyeing each other through the remarkable medium of Coltrane's solos.