Lambchop’s Ryan Norris On Brian Eno And Peter Schmidt (“Oblique Strategies: Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas”)

Lambchop’s first release in nearly four years, Mr. M (Merge) is a thoughtful interweaving of music, portraiture and feeling. With song titles such as “Gone Tomorrow” and “The Good Life (Is Wasted),” the 11-track album—dedicated to the late, great Vic Chesnutt—explores the messy-yet-universal emotions of love, loss and the minutiae of everyday life. The CD packaging is full of Wagner’s painted black-and-white portraits of young men dressed for formal occasions; he turned to portraiture as solace after Chesnutt’s 2009 overdose. Lambchop will be guest editing all week. Check out our recent feature on the band.

Norris:  I started writing this entry about what is certainly my favorite Brian Eno album and possibly my favorite album period, Another Green World. But as I began to write, I remembered all the ink already spilled over that vaunted work, and as I’ve read much of the scholarship myself I doubt I have anything new to add to the conversation. Instead, I’ve decided to take a more, er, oblique approach. Though oblique, this deck of cards is hardly obscure, having long since become part of the musical/cultural landscape. The cards were designed by Eno and Peter Schmidt as a series of ways to circumvent, circumnavigate or otherwise get around or through creative impasses. They can be used in myriad ways but in the basic approach when an artistic block arises one simply draws a card from the deck and takes its advice no matter its seeming irrelevance to the situation. Unfortunately, this rarely works for me. My preferred method, sanctioned in the instructions under the “set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind” purview, is to rifle through the deck whenever the urge arises, looking for inspiration. I’ve memorized many of them by now. “Honour thy error as a hidden intention” is the first, most famous and one of the best. Other personal favorites are “gardening not architecture” and “not building a wall but making a brick.” I try not to go to the studio without them.

Video after the jump.