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[thewire] Re: erm ... you'll need this link

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  • Jason Witherspoon
    Sweet Jesus, where to start. Most of you probably want to hit the delete button about now.... First off, you re really, really, caught up w/how many chords
    Message 1 of 32 , Sep 3, 2001
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      Sweet Jesus, where to start. Most of you probably want to hit the
      "delete" button about now....

      First off, you're really, really, caught up w/how many chords a song
      has. While admitting you don't know much about music.

      Here's a little secret: all those complicated "jazz" chords that
      bad, evil prog rockers like to use? When used properly, they're just
      a way of melting from one chord to another, based upon a simple scale
      & simple harmony. Concepts that are as simple as a Ramones song.
      Listen to some Burt Bacharach-- incredibly rich harmonic chord
      progressions that don't wallow in their own cleverness.

      At 4:43 PM +0000 9/3/01, Stevo wrote:
      >--- In thewire@y..., Jason Witherspoon <arzachel@s...> wrote:
      >> At 7:15 PM +0000 8/27/01, Stevo wrote:
      >> >-somebody elsewhere was talking about bands i had a very hard time
      >> >believing had any connection to being part of this
      >> >-like is a band playing rock from Germany - Krautrock ?
      >> >is a band playing German prog -Krautrock or German prog?
      >ok -this has been bugging me for the last week -while I've had
      >no access to a computer
      >note that i said 'elsewhere' -another list
      >where the band i had difficulty with was the Scorpions
      >-whose early work I'm not familiar with but whose 80s work is hair
      >metal -if i was judging the Pink Floyd by their later material I'd
      >have as much difficulty with connecting to them being very good

      This has got to be the most convoluted post ever from someone
      espousing a militant "simple/minimalist" philosophy. The Scorpions?
      Yeah, I've heard they've got some good albums back there. Do you
      consider early Floyd to be minimalist? They were a big influence on
      Krautrock too. What music that you like *isn't* minimalist (by
      your-- still opaque to me-- definition)?

      >> If it's psychedelic/"kosmiche" German rock/folk "prog" from the
      > > sixties to early , then I call it Krautrock.
      > >
      >> >
      >> >to me -not by any standards an expert
      >> > krautrock is a stripped down music based on repetition and
      >> >minimalism and improvisation
      >> >(-can may sound full sounded but the amount they stay on the same
      >> >chord is talked about in most articles)
      >> I think that's an exceedingly narrow definition. It certainly
      >> out Amon Düül II, who generally get bandied about as an A-lister.
      >> And I don't really see it applying to Can either. _Tago Mago_
      >> stripped down? Can't think of any one-chord Can songs at the
      >> either....
      >-this is where I realise that the definition I left is different to
      >the one I thought I had - what's been going around in my head is
      >stripped down -i.e -no major elaboration-what is not played is as
      >important as what is.no weedly- weedly guitar solos etc-no

      Wankiness, noodliness, & showboating are the things that seem to
      bother you the most. I don't really know anyone who'll take a stand
      for those qualities in music, but okay, let's all agree they're bad.
      What about well-played, understated even, soloing over a fairly
      complex harmonic progression? Do you like *any* jazz?

      >compare any krautrock to what was around at the same time and what do
      >you have?
      >also -i thought i said used very few chords -which i didn't
      >and was therefore wondering how you could know anything about the
      >music -if you disagreed

      Amon Duul II uses lots of chords. Ever heard "I've Got My Car & My
      TV" by Faust? How is that minimalist? How does that fit your
      definition? And the first Faust album, which is really Zappa-damaged?

      I've been listening to this music for over decade now. I was playing
      Faust back on my radio show in '87. I know a fair amount about it.

      Also, I disagreed w/you. I never said "how can you know anything
      about this music and say what you said". You do quite a bit of that,
      along w/a long digression on how flaming is bad. "Trying to see how
      I'm not stupid"? Well, thanks.

      >-I'll just give the description that I thought i had done -which is
      >stripped down music using few chords based on repetition -actually i
      >think it was a bit longer and i was going to amend it to add
      >Spontaneity over complexity
      >-I was wondering why you were saying it was a very limited
      >description -now i got a clearer idea
      >-because i think if used in its broadest sense that description is
      >way too inclusive -thinking about having given the description i
      >thought i had i listened through a whole lot of music -from my broad
      >collection -most of which fit -if i ignored anything about germany
      >things that didn't were -Motrhers Of Invention -absolutely Free
      >because of its chord content
      >Jimi hendrix -same
      >gentle giant

      Not really following where all this is coming from, but I'll go
      along. Please remember that the Mothers were *always* quoted as one
      of the biggest influences on the German Rock Scene by its
      *participants*. You are *really* hung up on this chord thing, while
      simultaneously admitting to not know too much about chord theory.

      >and Deep purple's Made In Japan - because they were too busy and
      >spent too much time trying to impress-and from what i hear they were
      >far from the most extreme -both are thought of as 'good prog'
      >from what i understand

      Huh? Deep Purple?

      Almost anyone would point to prog's neo-classicisms as one of it's
      biggest weaknesses (& now I'll throw in a *Bach* quote to show how
      upper-crusty I am!) Jon Lord did this quite a bit, but could still
      rock out & boogie down.

      I guess you're painting any form of complexity or technical mastery
      as a demon, whereas I would consider the *love* of complexity or
      technical mastery as an end in itself as the only real problem.

      >actually a lot of the 2nd Asian Dub Foundation cd -despite the
      >group's sound -because the samples gave too full a soundpicture
      >-did think that saying 'good' and 'bad' prog were somewhat similar to
      >Chris Morris talking about Aids.

      fascinating ramblings, every last one of them....

      >-the stereotype prog music is as complex as possible -slipping in as
      >many special chords as possible -you know the type that your guitar
      >tutor taught you though they were really just for specialists.

      or people who are generally interested in harmonic theory. People
      using them just to seem clever are, we would all agree, bad.

      I would, however, argue that musicians deliberately hamstringing
      themselves & opting only for the simplest possible harmonic motifs to
      fit some notion of coolness is equally bad.

      >-I believe that stripping down excess as much as possible is far
      >I still don't think I've repeated the description i was waiting to
      >see why you had a problem with -but I would have included both
      >Television and early Grateful Dead inside of it -didn't use excess
      >chord variety to express how clever it was -got rid of excess-no
      >showboating -I'd say both of those just mentioned actually didn't add
      >to show off -I sat listening to see how many chords weere used
      >throughout last week -
      >I'm not a musician so I don't know chords -i get some kind of
      >synaesthetic reaction -colours or something.

      You don't know chords, yet you're counting them? Television is
      minimalist? Okay, well, I disagree w/you. Television is jazzy &
      harmonically intricate, & they make it all work *because* they
      subjugate their technical mastery (which is considerable) to their
      passion. Same w/the Dead.

      >Listening to the Television Live Adventures bootleg -Marquee Moon had
      >most players using 2 or 3 chords and keeping them going for most
      >of the track -exception being mid solo where i don't think the count
      >goes up that heavily
      >Dark Star by Grateful Dead is a 4 chord(?) riff repeated to end -with
      >the rest of the band reacting around it -you could basically sample
      >the first usage and duplicate thereon -I don't think the rest of the
      >band is using much more -its basically nuance.

      Well, very few songs use many more than 4 chords. Which 4 chords,
      though? Are we talking about G13flat9 & Csus2 chords? You could
      just use 2 or three of those & find yourself in trouble w/the
      minimalist pogrom. Look at a song like Herbie Hancock's _Maiden
      Voyage_-- give it enough time, it'll cycle through every chord in the
      book, but it's a very simple sounding song. Harmonic, cycling chord
      progressions-- they're not *always* an instrument of prog terror, I

      >I'm trying to work out if Modal music as a whole stops working the
      >more complex you make it. I read tthrough the section of the Miles
      >Davis autobiography where he talks about getting pete Cosey in the
      >band -he goes on about too many blended colours turning the paint
      >brown-yuk(sorry paraphrase)
      >Outside my Door off Can's first lp has the line -any colour is bad
      >which i think was a central philosophical statement-as i go into
      >further later.


      >Davis also talks about very complex one chord music that he was
      >making with the band -intricate drum beats /rhythms etc -but very
      >little chord variation.
      >I sat watching Enter The DRagon last night listening to the 2nd disc
      >of Dark magus over and over because i thought i must be hearing too
      >much chord variation -2or 3 per instrument per track.
      >meant I missed Lalo Schiffrin's soundtrack which was a drag.
      >Saw the 79 britflick Bloody Kids last night where they had an Ennio
      >Morricone rip off -very little individual instrumental colour - i
      >assume Morricone's the same only better.
      >What about the Coltyrane Live iN japan My Favourite things -I don't
      >think it was remotely about chords anymore.

      Coltrane eventually preferred pure modality coz he could just wail
      w/o worrying about changes. It's kind of a final reaction against
      be-bop, which was getting way too macho w/the mass amounts of changes.

      Still, you seem to be on this crusade to reduce everything to one
      chord. Modal music still has tons of harmonic coloration, depending
      upon which parts of the scale you're accenting at any given time.

      >also Troutmask replica -very little chord variation -3 or 4 at the
      >most per instrument per track -its all based on simple guitar lines
      >deeply repeated -I rerad that Van Vliet had picked up on Reich -to
      >the extent that that coming out to show them on Moonlight on Vermont
      >was acvtually a quote from Reich's famous 65 track -where i always
      >took it as mimicking a preacher
      >In Yeti by Amon Duul II I hear -continually evolving 4-chord
      >primitive repetitive riffs -where does the guitar sound excessive -in
      >fact where does anything sound excessive - i don't think stripped
      >down goes too far from good description -unless its in comparison
      >with the Ramones -which it certainly neever meant to be.

      I don't find Amon Duul II to be "stripped down" at all. They have
      complex harmonic progressions, operatic intervals, suite-segments--
      basically the entire prog panoply. You seriously think most people
      would consider _Yeti_ or _Tanz der Lemmings_ to be "stripped down"?
      Compared to Wagner, *maybe*.

      > and you don't think Faust are stripped down? -god what have you
      >heard by them

      Duh I don't know nothin' 'bout Faust, I's just talkin' out my ass--

      All of the first album. Most of _So Far_. Most of _Faust IV_,
      except for the *parodic* "Krautrock", which does meet your definition.

      Then again, I can point to a song like "I've Got My Car & My TV", &
      you'll probably just come back & say that, though you don't really
      know anything about music theory, you get a synaesthetic sensation
      that it's "stripped down" and doesn't use many chords.

      Why the terror over excess? There's a place for everything out
      there, & I consider this music to be far-reaching rather than
      restrictive. This seems to be our main philosophical impasse.

      >-the 2nd lp is based on 2 chord riffs and pounding drums

      Yeah, the *first song* is.

      >-i guess i wasn't the first person to think of No Harm as a cubist
      >take on Sister Ray -just came to me trippiong on strong coffe last
      >week as i sat there listening to it.
      >-the first is even sparser -can you describe to me every individual
      >instrumental part and not call it stripped down.

      Well, I know *you* can't. What on earth is stripped down about the
      first album? It's got all these wild fanfares that modulate into
      still more wild fanfares-- it's easily their busiest record!

      >noodles -whereat?
      >I was going to say that that you had a problem with the description
      >probably meant you werre coming from the right place.
      >The wrong place being -complexity for complexity's sake rules
      >-if you don't understand that, you're stupid etc -which seems to be
      >the prog rock apologist party line.
      >I think from what else you say that isn't what you're talking about
      >-I thought maybe you got shortsighted since you thought you got

      If I disagree w/you, I'm stupid or shortsighted. That's kind of at
      the core of everything you're saying, so yeah, I do feel fairly
      insulted by your take. I disagree w/it, and yet I feel I'm not an

      >I think I said above that you didn't - I don't think those bands you
      >mentioned disagree with my idea. stripped down music using few chords
      >based on group improvisation -sorry i still can't get what i had
      >earlier right -i knew i should have written it down.
      >I think the Scorpions may be in or outside of it depending on what
      >i've heard - Barrett Pink Floyd are inside -Velvet Underground
      >inside, Stooges inside Black Sabbath inside -Zappa doesn't quite
      >because hes too chordy but conforms to most of what i was thinking -
      >especially sponmtraneity over complexity
      >-Deep Purple -too weedly weedly
      >-what i would exclude is -anything that thought adding to a sound
      >making it more complex was an end in itself -and strings

      So now it's chords AND strings that are evil? What about Tony
      Conrad? Sounds like he'd be your hero, 'cept he plays violin--

      >I was going to go into Flaming -or rather why i think its one of the
      >lowest forms of abuse possible -again its down to showboating .
      >The flamer thinks he is inherently superior to the flamee -which is
      >normally a joke beghind which lies a supremely smug person -the kind
      >who think that showing off shows you are intelligent.
      >-normal stereotype first line flame -I'll run your low IQ ass ragged -
      >for example -what this shows is a deeply confused level of pomposity.
      >-um didn't the IQ test get rebuffed as being too white boy public
      >school type-centric?
      >-see any gathering of attention to your intelligence puts it in
      >normally winds up with people thinking that the flamer has severe
      >mental problems.
      >also -showboating -this is a public list -are people really
      >interested in flamer's inflated self opinion?

      or mentally half-digested ramblings?

      >Please note this is not adressed to the person the rest of this is
      >addressed to -its actually about why i wouldn't come onto a list and
      >start by flaming -which i assume Jim took it as.
      >Is there some kind of tradition of flaming among prog rock fans?
      >which is a russian review site that centres on prog -the reviewer
      >keeps going on about hoping not to be flamed.
      >and most places where i've come across flaming being a hobyy have
      >been from prog -rock fans
      >-normal reason p-as said before -you don't like this exteremely
      >overcomplex pompous music -you must be too stupid to understand it
      >-I'll show off and call you stupid.
      >-levels of lack of understanding of basic freudian maxims
      >(shit =gold -in your dreams)

      Where *is* this stuff coming from?

      >I'm trying to think how much variation there is in Can - i had myself
      >convinced i'd said how much that was played was the same rather than
      >stayed on the same chord -again throughout tracks on Cannibalism 1
      >(which yes -I stuck down as 2 by mistake)-each instrument plays a
      >figure then repeats it several times -so you could sample it once and
      >stick it down several times -you'd lose the nuance of quiet/loud
      >dynamic ok but?
      >and where are the band overcomplicated - i've said thjat i thought
      >i'd said something a little different -but still not a million miles
      >from the truth -i had myself wondering if you knerw the history of
      >the band

      And I find myself wondering how you can listen to _Ege Bamyasi_ or
      _Tago Mago_ or _Future Days_, or christ, _Landed_, & consider
      everything Can did to be guided strictly by minimalism & simplicity.
      But you seem to be able to shoehorn *anything* you like into your

      >-2 minimalist compsers -a guitarist who makes Cheese Martin
      >of the JBs look expansive and a drummer who wanted to be a machine -
      >and subsequently plays endlessly minimally varied drum loops.
      >-have you heard the one guitar solo the boxset book says Michael
      >Karoli plays - i guess you have -thats based on repetition and makes
      >most bands rhythm lines look expansive -middle of Mother Sky.
      >You talk about me being miles out in terms of 1/2 of Tago Mago -
      >which? I had the lp the best part of 10 years -though not recently
      >since somebody nicked it and 600 other lps from me a few years back.
      >is it my memory? -the tracks on Cannibalism wouldn't sufggest it
      >neither would Colchester finale from the boxset -how long without
      >chord change?

      I'm wondering, from what *you yourself have said*, if you'd even
      *recognize* a chord change?

      >nor would seeing Sofortkontakt back in 99 in Dublin -that ex members
      >of Can show -where Jaki played with about half a kit -he's stopped
      >using pedals -so no bass drum
      >I read through the Can book that came with the boxset and things
      >turned up -the idea of the band as group improvisation -
      >which i think i mixed up with things said in the AMMusic 66 cd and
      >read differently to what i remembered from the 97 WIRE interview
      >-that you didn't want to showboat because it took away from the group
      >dynamic - i was thinking earlier about this -and it actually seems
      >more like to keep the tension/group dynamic going every player has to
      >make some contribution -which everybody is fighting against as much
      >as possible -playing as little as possible -this isn't the quote but
      >is talking about the techinique
      >and comes from here
      >"This is one thing, second is that we were a group which was making
      >music by listening more to what others did than what oneself did, the
      >idea was to create together by listening to what the other musicians
      >did. So we wanted to record together directly on a 2 track machine
      >without having all these possibilities to correct like later so that
      >was it fitted into the spirit of the group: direct recording created
      >direct feeling for this, you couldn't take it apart anymore. So
      >actually the best music was that of CAN when the technological
      >standard was "primitive". But at the time totally fitted to the
      >spirit of the group because playing together and listening with all
      >possible awareness to the process of making music by the rest of the
      >members so putting all these together immediately into a stereo
      >picture without any possibity later to correct it, gives you much
      >more when you're in any moment responsible for the final result of
      >what are playing because you couldn't correct the balance anymore.
      >This is the balance between the people and any points of musical
      >factors, psychological, spiritual that ever recorded, the mental
      >balance so you were responsible for the mental balance between and
      >that made the quality of these records than the so-called
      >primitiveness -but doesn't fitting- of the instruments."

      They're saying their technology was primitive here, and stressing the
      importance of listening & interaction in improvisation. They're not
      saying the music they were making was intrinsically primitive. A
      group of be-boppers could espouse exactly the same philosophy, while
      playing over a dozen chords.

      >i think that i'm alrerady writing more than you are really going to
      >want to read -or i could try to find the AMMusic article -where
      >Prevost goes on about how in free group improvisation not everything
      >goes -if you showboat you disturb the communication
      >> >
      >> >prog is a bloated music based on showing off chops
      >> Yes, that's right, all prog is nothing but that. Sheesh.
      >I'd wathch saying things like that -somebody might think you were
      >trying to be superior

      I'm frustrated w/your oversimplifications.

      > >
      >> >-that might be a stereotype -which is something i'm trying to work
      >> Well, at least you realize you're stereotyping. So easy to pick on
      >> "prog", usually w/good call for the reasons you mentioned.
      >as i say above you dop look like you're coming from the right place

      The right place = your theory. Which seems unschooled &
      ill-considered to me, frankly. Though I do agree w/you on many, many

      > Having
      >> said that, I don't consider any of the bands I mentioned in the
      >> Krautrock thread to be primarily "prog".
      >I don't think i would either -you weren't the person i referred to.
      >His site says that Guru Gurus 4th(?) lp is dead good and Tangerine
      >DReam get better -from Phaedra
      > Improv-oriented rock
      >> w/tinges of jazz, folk, "world", what have you. It's certainly
      >> progressive music w/o being Progressive music; the key difference
      >> being that the latter is today perceived as being completely caught
      >> up in own cleverness/technical adroitness.
      >> Still, open minded prog fans could readily claim Can or Faust,
      >> certainly, as prog exemplars.
      >I'd say way bette examplars than wghat is normally chosen
      >-I'm currently listening to in the Land Of gRey and Pink by Caravan
      >-which is still acceptable - i heard they got really overblown
      >shortly afterward -wish there was less of the 2 guys voices +lyrics
      >-good prog(for which I'd rather not use the p word) King
      >Crimson,Gentle Giant,Gong,Henry Cow, -I'm sure there are others -

      You don't want to call Crimson & Gentle Giant "prog"???

      Prog is apparently just a straw man for you then. Have fun tilting
      at that windmill.

      > >
      >> I'd even want to include heavy groove jazz-rock outfits like
      >> Dauner, Volker Kriegel, & the MPS work of the Dave Pike Set as
      >> Krautrock sympathizers. I tend towards inclusivity rather than
      >> exclusivity, obviously. From Stevo's def. you'd have, let's see,
      >> Neu, early Kraftwerk, maybe a small part of Can's work, & that's
      >> about it. Faust certainly doesn't fit the narrow definition,
      >you've heard the band then?

      And you really don't see the condescension & haughtiness in your tone?

      >right -so we've established this is based on a misunderstanding?
      >you think that krautriock is maximalist?

      Yeah, oftentimes it is. In my opinion.

      >sorry -joking -but you think that Faust can't be described as

      I think Faust can be *poorly* described as minimalist-- certainly
      applies to some of their songs-- "Krautrock", "Sunshine Girl", their
      album w/Conrad, & not much else in their oeuvre.

      >-i was also thinking of what crossed over in terms ofinfluence -which
      >is basically -minimalist funk -straightening out of lines -smooth
      >curves -think Bowie -Low
      >Fall -whole ouevre
      >Joy Division
      >Simple Minds (main reason they were ever any good)
      >Wire -which is basically a very good summary of influences -discard
      >extraneous waste-don't overimbellish etc
      >I think that the description i gave above > krautrock is a stripped
      >down music based on repetition and
      >> >minimalism and improvisation
      >is pretty close to what would strike most people as the recognisable
      >krautrock sound
      >i hope you're only thinking that it doesn't because you thought i was
      >excluding what you said -doubt it-haven't heard most of them.
      >but if you have a problem with my amended Can review -and where
      >Holger plays more than a couple of notes in a bassline and Micheal
      >plays more than a couple of chords -you'll have to show me
      >-could you please listen to the music.i.e. earphones etc

      If you think that Holger only ever plays a couple of notes, & Karoli
      a couple of chords, you'll have to show *ME*. Could you please
      listen to the music on earphones? But that won't help, until you
      know more about music theory, chords & harmony, than you at present
      seem to.

      >-makes me wonder exactly how familiar you are with the music to try
      >to debunk things in this way?

      Yeah, I must really know squat about krautrock to be trying to
      "debunk things in this way" (ie-- disagree w/your pet theory).

      >is saying that > >(-can may sound full sounded but the amount they
      >stay on the same
      >> >chord is talked about in most articles)(which it is )
      >very far from the truth -and if so how far ? 2? 3?4? (chords)?
      >I'll say it clearly -i came in here trying to stop myself from
      >believing you're stupid - i think that i've succeeded -that maybe i
      >was a little out but i don't think very far -why argue?

      Because I disagree intensely? I don't think you're stupid, but
      muddle-headed? Yeah. Claiming Gentle Giant isn't prog, that
      Television is stripped down & minimalist-- you've just got these
      concepts that are clearly big bugaboos in your head, so when
      something comes along which you like which you *shouldn't* like based
      upon your rigid preconceptions, you rationalize it into conforming
      w/your theory, even when this is patently absurd. All w/o having the
      benefit of any real understanding of musical theory, by your own

      And you're clearly on the verge of calling me a moron for disagreeing w/you.

      I don't think I'll be able to respond to anything as digressively
      incohesive as the above post again, but as you felt it was worth
      splattering a public forum with, in response to my position, I felt
      obliged to attempt to respond.

      Please try to simplify & strip down excess as much as possible if you
      feel the need to respond to this.

      Jason Witherspoon
      ICQ #62837760

      --- ---
      --- ---
    • ralph2391311@yahoo.com
      I ll be sending your email to the same abuse address. The one where you invite me down to the Bay Area for a fistfight. I was just responding to your
      Message 32 of 32 , Sep 5, 2001
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        I'll be sending your email to the same "abuse" address. The one
        where you invite me "down to the Bay Area" for a fistfight. I was
        just responding to your initial invitation.

        --- In thewire@y..., Jason Witherspoon <arzachel@s...> wrote:
        > At 09:52 AM 9/5/01 +0000, ralph2391311@y... wrote:
        > > It was a typo. Sorry. Of course you never make them. Thanks
        > >for "condescending" and letting me know how to spell it. Speaking
        > >grammar, I think you need to learn how to read. How many times are
        > >you going to trot out that mis-quote? I never in any of my emails
        > >wrote what you keep quoting. And don't tell me your bringing up
        > >the "sad skinhead" was not a lame attempt at baiting me.
        > No, it wasn't, you paranoid freak. It just happened to be one of
        the 3
        > Faust songs I know how to play on the guitar. Since it was the one
        > had the most chords, it best proved my point. You know, the point
        I was
        > making in a conversation that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO W/YOU?
        > I wasn't thinking about you in the least (this is a state I strive
        > 24/7, incidentally). Do you really think I'd transcribe a whole
        song for
        > the list just to get your goat?
        > >Fuck you and
        > >the cockhorse you rode in on. And furthermore, if you're
        > >me, maybe I should "come down there" and knock your fucking teeth
        > >down your throat.
        > This is ENOUGH of this shit. Moderators?
        > I'm sending this to abuse@y... Just as I will w/the next phony
        > address you start skulking around under once they take this one
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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