Dispatches from Classical Workgroup

Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti

Classical workgroup presents two dispatches from what some people might call the front but what we think is not at all a bloody battle field but the friendly confines of the WOBC station with all the great music housed within it.

This is what Franklin Sussman has been checkin’ out:

  • Ravel – Violin Sonata No. 2
    This piece is super chill to listen to in the morning right after waking up. There’s not much to say about it but it is a quaint and intimate sonata with melodies that will definitely get stuck in your head.
  • Dvorak – The Golden Spinning Wheel
    I first learned about this piece, and the existence of Dvorak’s tone poems in general, when I was going to see Cleveland Orchestra for the first time and Bill Preucil was supposed to play Dvorak Violin Concerto, which is one of my favorites. I was so disappointed to hear a few hours before the concert that he had a pinched nerve and wouldn’t be playing that night, but I was happily surprised when they replaced it with this piece. The story, as I remember it from the program notes is like some sort of gruesome and twisted rumpelstiltskin situation, but even without all of the details this wonderfully programmatic piece keeps your attention and has a great beginning and end.
  • Sibelius – En Saga
    This is one of his best tone poems and also one of his earliest works. It combines Finnish inspirations as well as influences from Swedish, his mother tongue, and apparently Iceland as well. I enjoy that it does not really have a specific story, as opposed to many of his other mythology inspired works, but instead just gives the general impression of a saga.
  • Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5
    This is one of my all time favorites, although I had not listened to it for a while until recently. It is a timeless classic and a piece that always has more to offer the more you listen to it.
  • Prokofiev – Quintet in G Minor
    This unusual quintet for violin, viola, bass, oboe, and clarinet is a perfect example of Prokofiev’s unique chamber music skill, and it is even adapted from a chamber ballet. If you like this, check out both of his string quartets as well.
  • Menotti – Violin Concerto
    This seemingly obscure violin concerto is similar in structure to that of Barber, which makes sense because Menotti and Barber were partners while working on their violin concerti. Although Menotti eventually left Barber for a younger man, and never reached the level of fame Barber did, this piece shows his unique style and skill. Unfortunately, not many recordings exist, the best being by Jennifer Koh (Oberlin ’97!), though even that one has some flaws due to the piece simply being awkward to play in many sections.
Cataclysm, by workgroup member Yu Victor Zheng

“A flute and piccolo, a guitar, a snare drum, and a bass drum. Not the most conventional quartet you’d expect to see.I called upon the mighty, deep resonance of the bass drum, the sharp, crisp attack of the snare drum, the hollow wooden knock and the snap of the guitar wood and strings, and the wavering, rich tone of the flute enhanced by the shrill, piercing cutting edge of the piccolo.

What happened then was a fascinating puzzle in which I was presented with a battle that emerged between the four voices. Lacking the type of timbral coherency one would hear in something like a string quartet, the four voices would fight another for dominance. It became obvious to me that I could not compose this like I had my previous ensembles; each instrument was timbrally distinct and I had to think of not only how they would enhance each other but where they would disrupt each other. After a few attempts to write so that the quiet instruments would only play when they could be heard, I had a different idea. What if I were to depict their battle in the music? Embrace their conflict rather than work around it?

This is the story that then emerged from the piece. The counterpoint between the bass drum and snare mesh together well and project powerfully while the flute’s entrance, playing tongue pizzicato tones a minute or two in, is the entrance of an outsider, struggling feebly to imitate, but being beat back by, the tide of the mighty bass and snare. But the flute finds an ally in the guitar, which initially attempts to blend in with its own percussive attacks on damped strings, and they switch tactics: the flute switches to the piercing piccolo and instead of imitating the percussion, they go fully tonal and the piece dissolves into a cheery folk-like duet between the guitar and piccolo while the drums play quietly in the background. This is not to last, however, as the two percussion instruments decide to fight back, setting the stage for a furious finale. Unable to combat the power of the drums head-on, the piccolo and guitar attempt a variety of tactics in the form of diverse sounds ranging from piccolo glissandos to scratching the guitar strings with a pick. But eventually they are overpowered and they bow out of the piece, leaving the two percussion instruments alone. The piece ends with several mighty crashes on the bass drum, evoking cataclysmic explosions.”

Victor also recommends this piece:
The Yellow River Cantata (黄河大合唱), set for combined orchestra and choir, was written by Xian Xinghai, depicting the Chinese struggle against the Japanese invasion during World War II. The Yellow River Piano Concerto (黄河协奏曲) is an adaptation by Yin Chengzong of the most important melodies of the Cantata into a piano concerto, but being written after the Communist takeover, also includes quotations from Communist-endorsed melodies such as The East is Red and The Internationale. Both pieces are popular as patriotic Chinese pieces and represent a fusion of Chinese melodies and instruments with Western orchestration and structure.



It’s that time of year once again. We are conducting our annual search for the next wobc board, and we want YOU to apply! If you are interested, we ask that you email a statement of interest to owobc@oberlin.edu by next Friday [April 10th]. Statements will be sent out to the entire station and voted on, so make sure you’re proud of what you write! If you’re interested in applying but have questions, reach out to the person who current holds the position you’re drawn towards, or talk to any of us during office hours or via email.

A couple things about board: Each position is stipended 10 hours a week of paid work at minimum wage, although often we do more work than this. In addition, any students can apply for these positions, and in fact, we encourage underclassmen to apply, in order to improve the station’s sustainability. Unfortunately, as per our charter, only college students may apply to board.

Please reach out if you have questions — we’re so excited to start the process of passing our torches to y’all!

With Love,

Sophie, Michael, Asher, Katie, Sivan and Nick

General Manager
The General Manager (GM) is the spokesperson for WOBC, the chair of the Board, and is responsible for the smooth operation of the organization as a whole. The GM, in conjunction with the other Board members, oversees the Station, its assets, its broadcasts, and coordinates the activities of WOBC staff and DJs. Most importantly, the General Manager ensures that tasks set forth by the board are accomplished and that those delegated those tasks have the resources they require. The station manager keeps frequent office hours and is on call 24/7.
Current General Manager: Sophie Hess
Contact information: owobc@oberlin.edu (or shess@oberlin.edu)

Operations Manager
The Operations Manager oversees compliance with all FCC regulations and legal agreements with copyright holders. The Ops Manager works with the Student Engineer to maintain technical equipment and ensure that station members follow proper procedures. Tasks include organizing DJ training, reviewing daily operating logs, reviewing Radio Activity logs, assisting Program Director with attendance, and completing quarterly issues/program reports. The Operations Manager is on call 24/7.
Current Ops Manager: Michael Stenovec
Contact information: ops@wobc.org

Program Director
The Program Director is responsible for the fair and timely creation and maintenance of the schedule of shows. The PD ensures that radio show applications are publicized widely within the broadcast area, both in Oberlin and surrounding communities. The PD is the primary contact with DJs over programming issues. The PD works to ensure that WOBC’s broadcast is interrupted as infrequently as possible, including during interim periods. The PD works with the Ops Manager to keep track of who attends or misses their shows. The PD listens to the radio often, makes suggestions to DJs and contacts those who do not attend their show. The Program Director is on call 24/7.
Current Program Director: Kathleen Thornton
Contact information: pd@wobc.org

Music Director
The Music Director oversees the station’s music collection, facilitates the processing of incoming music, and manages workgroup members and directors. A large portion of the job entails talking on the phone and e-mailing with promotion companies and record labels to request music for the station and to track music the station has received. The music director organizes and oversees workgroups – they are in charge of assigning DJs to workgroups, as well as assisting and meeting with workgroup directors. The music director produces weekly music charts, submits them to the College Music Journal, and posts them on the Music Blog. In addition, they are also in charge of most blog content, including posting workgroups’ contributions, and should work to make the blog consistent and exciting. The Music Director is on call 24/7.
Current Music Director: Sivan Silver-Swartz
Contact information: music@wobc.org

The Treasurer is responsible for managing WOBC’s finances, preparing the annual budget, and serving as the liaison with the SFC. The Treasurer purchases everything the station needs and works with the Operations Manager and Student Engineer to maintain and replace technical equipment. The Treasurer is on call 24/7.
Current Treasurer: Asher Kaplan
Contact information: treasurer@wobc.org

Station Engineer
The student Station Engineer is chiefly responsible for the daily maintenance, operation, and execution of station broadcasting. This includes upkeep of station equipment, making sure broadcasting is functioning properly, repair of broken or malfunctioning equipment, and keeping the station and studio operating professionally and properly. Applicants should have a general knowledge of the station’s studio equipment, radio broadcasting techniques, audio cables and electronics, signal flow, troubleshooting, and basic sound engineering skills. Though aspects of this position can and should be learned over time, a basic interest in, familiarity with, or knowledge of audio engineering is highly recommended for any applicant. The position requires the Engineer to be on call 24/7 during the semester and will require time in the station familiarizing with the equipment and various troubleshooting scenarios. The Station Engineer is also responsible for operating the Remote Broadcast Unit and for any use and maintenance/upkeep of the WOBC PA System for events or shows sponsored by WOBC. The Engineer position is in constant contact with both the Studio B Directors and the Webmaster, so should also be familiar with the operations of those positions. Applicants are also highly encouraged to spend time during the Summer and Winter sessions working in the station. An inclination for woodworking and building, soldering, and other “handy-work” is also highly encouraged.
**note, due to the highly technical nature of the engineer position, this will not be an elected role. instead, the current engineer, Nick Plett, will select the new engineer.**

From the Vault: Greetings from the WOBC Library Workgroup!

Map of the WOBC Library designed by the wondrous Claire Kotarski
Map of the WOBC Library designed by the wondrous Claire Kotarski

Library workgroup specializes in maintaining and exploring the immense and diverse WOBC Music Library on Saturdays from 4-5pm. Check out some of these gems that our librarians were able to find among the thousands of CDs, LPs, cassettes, and 45s that the station has to offer! Wanna learn more about the WOBC library or explore it for yourself? Come hang out with library workgroup or email WOBC Librarian Becca Winer at librarian@wobc.org!


Danny: Mogwai – Happy Songs for Happy People
Happy Songs for Happy People displays a mid-period Mogwai at their finest. It boasts the rousing buildups of Young Team, but also offers electronic-tinged moments that suggest the krauty weirdness of later records. Super deep cut – I don’t know why more people don’t love this album.

Sabina: Hole – Celebrity Skin
Hole helped me get through my freshman year. In Celebrity Skin, their raw sound  is more polished and upbeat than in their earlier work, but the angst is ever-present.
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Julia S:
Joy Division – Closer
I used to listen to this with my dad while he taught me how to drive. He’d tell me about being a DJ and booking bands at Carnegie Mellon, and I’d run a red light or forget to use my turn signal because his stories were too distracting.
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Matt: Mountain Goats – Why You All So Thief?
“Deep cut.”
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Julia B: Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place

I chose a 45 of “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads.  It’s one my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands and just the other day, my dad was telling me about when he saw them live at Finney Chapel when he was at Oberlin in 1979.

Becca: Talking Heads – Fear of Music

I also chose Talking Heads because if there’s anything I love more than workgroup snacks, it’s workgroup jams to Tina Weymouth bass riffs. This was the first album that made me feel like the coolest kid in school when I listened to it while romping around my middle school hallways – a very, very special connection. Finding it in the WOBC Library (in many different formats) made me want to bop and flop my way over to Social Studies just like the good ol’ days. Wow this album is the best ever.

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Owen: Gong- Radio Gnome Invisible Pt. 2: Angel’s Egg

Cool record, from a very eccentric British Canterbury-Scene prog-rock band.  Not the best of the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, but it was the only one in the vault. It’s still pretty cool nonetheless.  The band’s founder, Daevid Allen, passed away recently at age 77.
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The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin and Burrito Deluxe
“I think it was in pop.”
-special guest librarian Julia S’s twin sister
Lya: Tim Buckley – The Dream Belongs To Me

NSFW: Tim Buckley’s voice makes all of my internal organs melt into a puddle of orgasmic liquid wonder. I only recently got into him when I started looking into artists to play on my psych/prog folk radio show this semester. I think “Sing a Song For You” off this album is really beautiful. If you’re into beautiful wonderful passionate things, you should check out the better Buckley. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

DJ album reviews: “Black Messiah” and “First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate”

We proudly present two album reviews by WOBC DJ Joseph Peek. Catch his show, “Underground Railroad,” Mondays from 6-7 pm!

D’Angelo – Black Messiah

black messiahThis is an album for any fan of D’Angelo NOT to miss, buy it a sight unseen! You won’t be disappointed. I continue to be impressed with D’Angelo’s growth, I can’t say production, because D’Angelo only puts out a major release every decade or so, so far, but his musical compilations are worth waiting for. His albums only seem to get better and this is rare as artists usually burst onto the scene with their initial hit release only to fall into their “sophomore slump syndrome” aided and abetted as much by their record co. constantly wavering search for the next pop king. In fact, some never regain their debut level of success. D’Angelo’s third release, Black Messiah, should be an exception to this rule. Although I don’t hear the one clear cut 3min 45sec. cookie cutter commercial radio hit, the entire album did not disappoint. D’Angelo’s soulful, blues & jazz influenced musicality intertwined with his patently complex yet sensuous harmonies and gospel inspired vocals, coming straight out of the African-American church and experience, what’s NOT to like!

This Album is funky and catchy yet as bright and positive as D’Angelo’s compared to Voodoo which was dark and depressing. Some people might say there is an undeniable Prince derivative to his music but Prince, in MY humble opinion, never quite gets this consistently funky and locked in the pocket over the course of an entire album. Black Messiah by D’Angelo is consistently appealing, with a song for everyone’s fancy and an album uniquely funky, as only a few in the present diaspora of African American musical performers can do (save George Clinton, Stevie Wonder and a precious few others).

Key Trax:

1. Ain’t That Easy
4. Sugar Daddy
5. Really Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVsQwJfWzoI
6. Back to the Future

Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate

FirstYaGottaChackTheGateThis is a real Funkadelic album, not a P-funk All-Stars or George and Friends, but a genuine Funkadelic musical sighting in the 21st century. It is hot off the press with original sounds, songs, and artwork; a three CD release with a song for every year since funkadelic dropped their last album… are you kidding me!?

Any “almost fan” should get this album, and anyone looking to get a late pass on the Funkadelic soultrain, this is as good a time as any with the release of “First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate.” Though much of the live rhythm section has been replaced by sequenced bass-n-drums, the album still manages to have that trademark Ole School Funkadelic feel.

George Clinton, one of my all time favorite musicians, incorporates the modern sound of rappers, experiments with electronics and everything from hip hop to dubstep and back again to his purest origins, an all live band “rocking out” with the best of them in hard edged classic 70’s rock forms. George STILL manages to deliver the funk as only he can, with zany lyrics, infectious hooks, and the most soulful vocals of Mount Zion Baptist Church. The gospel and blues origination of the harmonies and melodies is why even old folks will groove to this one….”Who da hell knows or cares what he’s sayin, right?!” The hits are too many to mention, as is often the case with sophisticated musicianship but some songs require a few reviews to fully peruse their genius.

*Funkadelic will also be touring this Spring and in Cleveland at the House of Blues on Friday, May 8th

-Joseph Peek

Metal Workgroup Presents: From The Vault

While reorganizing the Metal Vault over the course of the last few years, Metal Workgroup got to chance to pick through a lot of forgotten favorites and new discoveries. The workgroup plans to continue featuring albums found in the vault over the course of the semester. Here are a few of the releases we’ve found noteworthy, written by the members of the workgroup:
Redemption – Snowfall on Judgment Day

Redemption are a power/prog metal band with no pretension. Let that sink in a second. Man’o’war: totally earnest power metal band with music about the pictures from DnD manuals. Dream Theater: so earnest about technicality that their name is a shorthand Guitar Center hell.

Even by the standard of sincerity for those groups, Redemption is honest. They have lyrics like “And in the solitude I’ve crafted for myself/I cry a single tear for beauty left unfelt.” Every song has keyboard solos that sound like a Final Fantasy game (Redemption are really a key player’s band). And it’s cool! It’s neat to listen to music that sounds like the people making it enjoyed it. Bonus, the drum performances are great! The technicality is there, but it avoids sounding like someone worshipped too long at the House of Peart.
The crispness of the production will be divisive. Snowfall has no dirt, and sometimes feels like it was engineered by a drum sequencer. If you need raw production, it’s not for you. Most of the songs drag a little; the median track length is about 6 and half minutes. The bloat comes from parts being repeated a few dozen times too many, so pace yourself. But the pearl is worth the price. Unironically liking earnest stuff is hard nowadays. Just give a track or two an honest shot.
-Kevin Gilfether
Soilent Green – A String of Lies

Clocking in at 11 minutes and 26 seconds, this 1998 EP from grindcore mainstay Soilent Green packs a fierce punch. The band sounds tight as hell, and they have no trouble making split-second transitions from brutal, straight grind sections to slow, sludgey riffs that you can’t help but bang your head to. The vocals, split between high pitched shrieks and deep growls, are unrelenting, and their consistency ties the various changes in tempo/energy within each song together. A String of Lies sums up pretty well what I love about good grindcore: concise, no-frills songwriting, excellent musicianship and a fearless intensity which makes it a lot of fun to listen to. Favorite track: Cat With Nine Claws.
-Gil Young
Ana Kefr – Volume One
2009 was a time of transition for new NWOAHM bands. Artists found themselves unsure how to present themselves, caught between the fading remnants of groove and metalcore, the derivative but ever-popular crush of deathcore, and the pretension of the burgenoning djent movement. The lack of a clear direction led bands to develop previously unheard-of genre-bending, for better and for worse LINK. LA’s Ana Kefr were one such band that successfully managed to cobble together seemingly disparate elements. Volume One, their 2009 debut, is technical but not ostentatious, melodic but not pandering, heavy but not contrived. Don’t let that make you think that the album is an easy pill to swallow: it’s all over the place, sliding back and forth between gritty Animosity-esque breakdowns, baroque riffs & vocals that reek of Nekrogoblikon, and keyboards that wouldn’t be out of place on an Ovid’s Withering album. Unconventional and underproduced, Volume One might not appeal to all, but its unique blend of stylistic elements will undoubtedly resonate with those who do take the time to delve into the album.
-Mark M-R

Samael – Solar Soul

Samael are a Swiss black/industrial metal group. While on our dangerous excavation into the vault we stumbled across their album Solar Soul. As the genre would suggest, Samael combine elements of black and industrial metal. The instrumentals are slow but heavy, combining guitars and drums with elements of middle eastern music (such as the oud). The vocals are smooth and honeyed with just a few bees left in to pack a sting.
Recommended tracks:
Quasar Waves
Suspended Time
-Anna Rose Greenberg

Staff Picks!™, Part 2

Cleveland's own Pleasure Leftists are featured in this edition of Staff Picks.
Cleveland’s own Pleasure Leftists are featured in this edition of Staff Picks.

Nandita, talk: Asha Bhosle – Dum Maro Dum

Just chill enough to make you wanna be a dirty hippie, just shrill enough to remind you that hippie culture destroys everything.

Becca, library: Tonstartssbandht – Shot To La Parc

The album Overseas by Tonstartssbandht has a crazy variety of wavey psych soothy sounds and knee-dropping rock N roll jams that are sure to please a wide range of list’ners for just zer0 bandcamp $bucks$. Also sure to please – library workgroup! Saturdays at 4! come help us redecorize the station’s immensely impressive music library, explore the vaults, eat snacks, and relish in the camaraderie of librarians who shall never be “shh!” ‘ed.

Chuck, freeform: Amon Duul 11: Archangel Thunderbird

Madeleine, promo: My Bloody Valentine – Thorn

Arcadia, news: Pleasure Leftists – Not Over

Isaac, electronic: Marc Ribot + Kazu – I Cover the Waterfront

this is a beautiful rendition of the Green/Heyman jazz standard by marc ribot and kazu, inspired performance w strong visual sensibilities as well

Savannah, talk: Ibeyi – River

These are two really cool French-Cuban sisters who play Afro-Cuban influenced soul music.

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