Ramones – Ramones (Sire, 1976)
The albums we love have it easy. If they’re within earshot they can luxuriate in the praise—be it ham-fisted, needlessly abstract or recklessly passionate—heaped upon them. It’s a relationship complicated primarily, if at all, by extra-musical associations: various and sundry hormone- and/or adrenaline-churning experiences involving love, loss, theft, success, or abject failure.
I can’t remember when I first heard the Ramones’ debut album, but my relationship with these fourteen songs is doubtlessly mirrored in the lives of countless other listeners of all ages, thereby rendering a rhapsodic appreciation of its power to excite, inspire, and transform largely superfluous (and also outside the purview of Wolf Notes).
The Tick Mark Studies came about as an attempt to frustrate my experience with this and other beloved records. In the process, I hoped to interrogate my listening habits and, as a result, cultivate a new form of ‘active listening.’ The following pages consist of two attempts to graphically represent all of the single snare hits present on Ramones. My idea of ‘active listening’ consists of a passive body (usually sitting comfortably or recumbent) and active mind. By transcribing the activity of the snare drum, my body played an active role in listening, and this made for a physically tense hour. The resulting document draws inspiration from, and is indebted to, the visual aesthetics of Minimalism; it attempts to transcribe, embody, and acknowledge the aural and visual rigor that comprised the foundation of the Ramones’ masterfully executed craft.