Radio Quarantine -Alger Hiss – Graft vs Host (1997)

It may be time to rename these entries, quarantine being over for all intents and purposes. Most restrictions have been officially lifted on the state level. The MTA still requires masks for the full ride, and most people observe the regulation, but not everyone and it’s not being reinforced. Commuting is back for at least a few days a week. Restaurants are open, and so on. Times have changed once again.

Possible new name: Post-Pandemic Sounds?

No. Just no. We shall see how this shapes up.

ALGER HISS, named for the infamous Soviet spy (maybe a spy), is a band that came and went right here in my backyard without ever having appeared on my radar as even a momentary blip. I thought I’d heard all the entries in the New York Noise Rock field, but apparently I hadn’t. Were they well known in music circles here? Hard call, but I’m only the 4th viewer on the Youtube entry and that went up a few days ago. It’s not a well-travelled channel but still, only being the 4th is rare by internet standards. Who was this band? What else were they involved in that I may know? I guess we’ll just stick with this album for now.

What’s to be said? It’s yet another good example of my assertion that music doesn’t have to be pretty to be beautiful. There are entire universes in a sea of distortion and feedback. There are sounds we push down. There are entire aesthetics we seem trained to dismiss in favor of the traditionally melodic and musical. There are undiscovered planets out there though, if you’re willing.

I am willing.

It’s not even just a case of being willing. I am eager. Sometimes you have to break a window to see through it and let the air in, and if you do that enough times then you come to associate the sound of breaking glass with release and freedom. Alger Hiss breaks the glass. There’s a vibe too. There’s a feeling. They are dark even by noise standards. It’s the sound of a city in perpetual darkness, or at least semi-darkness. This music is so New York at night that you can hear the express train on the local track while you’re waiting forever on the local platform.

I guess you have to be from here to understand that sound and feeling.

Maybe it’s resonating this morning because I’ve recently been back to the morning commute and reconnected to the energy of the underground and the hustle. It’s strange to be back in the grime of the West 30s after nearly 1 1/2 years. Yes, it’s been that long. I mean, I know it’s been that long but being back in it frames the length of time differently. It’s strange and dirty and loud. It smells different. It’s definitely an all senses waking up thing. I didn’t expect that I’d been away so long that the experience would be a little unsettling. Conversely I hadn’t realized sitting here all this time that pre-lockdown I’d become numb to all of it, mostly.

I’ve always said that the music I choose to listen to at any given time is a reflection of what I’m experiencing at that time, so… yah. There you go. Even just a month ago, this album may not have done the job for me. I’d have enjoyed it for sure, but it probably wouldn’t have hit me the same way. I can’t say for sure, but that’s my suspicion.

So again, maybe it’s time to change the name of these morning entries to reflect this new thing. I’m going to have to see how the world around me shapes itself. If something new is developing it hasn’t made itself entirely clear yet. I do really hope there is something new whether or not it’s some manner of progress or improvement. Covid-19 is something we all experienced together but it doesn’t seem yet to have been one of those shared ordeals that bring people together the way mutual hardship is said to do.


We’ll see. I’ll do me in the meantime.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s