Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Dave reactivates World of Stelfox, which had been dormant to an almost cryogenic degree, with a frenzied burst of discursive activity. Nick of Fabric/Michael Mayer mix-CD illustriousness
has started a blog. And there's a few more new-ish ones of note added to the linx down there on the right.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Tufluv with amazing evocation of Wiley’s “Ground Zero” (at the bottom of Tuesday’s entry). Desperate, absolutely clamoring, to hear that tune.

Re. Wiley going down to London’s world music emporium Sterns, nice to be able to slot him into that 4th World/neo-geo/ethnological forgeries continuum: Czukay/Canaxis & ‘persian love’, Byrne/Eno/Hassell, 23 Skidoo’s Urban Gamelan, Toop, Wobble, er, Loop Guru, er er Transglobal Underground.. um, never mind…

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Disconcerted, passing the massive Salvation Army building in the West Village, to note that their slogan is “Blood and Fire”. Well, Rastafarianism is a form of fundamentalist Protestantism, and not even the most loopy sect. Apparently along with homophobic invective, at the big dances in Jamaica, the DJ sometimes goes in for a bit of anti-papist ranting-- which recalls all those anti-Catholic secret societies in the 19th Century South, who actually thought the Pope was going to arrive at the head of a modern day Armada and invade America! Wonder if this is why Lee Perry did a track called “Bafflin’ Smoke Signals” which is apparently about Vatican election procedures. Always wanted to hear that track since Ian Penman (where has he gone?) referenced it in the Wire. “Salvation Army” even sounds a bit like the title of a roots track (something by Burning Spear maybe), it would even make a good band name.

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Progmetheus Unbound: the Relick still in preparation; complaints, rebukes, and emissives pointing out sins of ommission or misfiling continue to accumulate.

On which subject: Suspiria. Totally lives up to expectations. (Thanks Mr. Jim Clarke). Funnily enough Two Boots over the road was showing the movie for Halloween but literally haven’t had a spare 90 minutes to go see it.

And in further eerie synchrony got an e-flyer for this:

SpaceBar #3, a night dedicated to Science Fiction, Horror, Italy and Disco.

featuring:

horrorshow analog keyboard/prog rock drumset duo ZOMBI,
live soundtrack reconstructionists MORRICONE YOUTH
and DJ DAN SELZER playing nothing but 70s and 80s italo.

The flyer further says:
ZOMBI's love of the music that often accompanied these films pours over into obsession. The works of filmmakers like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter, accompanied by eerie, driving, relentless musical scores by the likes of Goblin, Fabio Frizzi and Carpenter himself, set standards for the use of rock music as original film scores as well as furthered the cause of electronics as compositional tools for soundtracks. The use of analog synthesizers and progressive musicianship brought about an alien quality that bridged the gap between the 70s prog-rock juggernaut and the icy simplicity of early new wave and industrial music in the 80s. Zombi rock so hard they will make your mind numb. Don't miss this. www.zombi.us

while

“… Morricone Youth promises to play us an entire night of sci-fi soundtrack covers… DJ Dan Selzer will be playing an incredible set of italo disco that should be hotter than the interior of Georgio Moroder's
customized Lamborghini”.

Info:
SpaceBar
Slipper Room
167 orchard street (and stanton st.)
5 dollars
Tuesday, November 11th, 9pm


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feeling

charalambides, unknown spin (kranky)

heroin, orthlorng musork

sun ra, space is the place DVD

smoove presents ‘street beats’ mixed by slimzee & femme fatale, featuring mc'ss b-live & god’s gift (Smoove/Ministry ach spit of Sound spit spit grime mix-cd)

david toop, black chamber (sub rosa)

really feeling

bright eyes, “one foot in front of the other” (off saddle creek 50 comp)

michael mayer, fabric 13 (fabric mix-cd)

grievous angel soundsystem vol 1: nervous ragga

pyrolator, ausland (ata tak, reissue)

josef k, crazy to exist (live) (LTM)

Big up to Bedekar Pickles--virtually a food group for me at this point, esp. mango chilli. If Patak are the Reprezent of indian condiments (excellent, but...), then Bedekar are like Ganja Kru or Congo Natty ya get me. Hardcooooore.
Tiny wee discussion (been transcribing for the Postcard chapter, can you tell?) on Tuuuuuuune of the Nineties "Renegade Snares" at ILM--which reminded me I meant to post on Rob Haigh's pre-breakbeat/'industrial' era music. A feller named Marc Gascoigne responded to my public pleading and wheedling, and burned it up for me. (Big up Marc!). 'S pretty good 'n' all. Particularly like the later-Eighties stuff like Valentine Out of Season, A Waltz in Plain C, which is just pure tinkling on the old joanna (the earlier stuff has a few more gestures in the direction of avant-garde). Definite Satie-damage, and shades of Harold Budd now and then (no bad thing--those albums he did w/ Eno among my absolute all-times). Of course one listens to those little borderline-twee piano motifs and keep expecting a breakbeat to tear out any second. And of course it sent me to the Moving Shadow stuff. The Deepest Cut/Music For the Millenium is even better than I remember. The tracks that seemed a bit filler just seem like majesty now: "Together", "Alien Creed", "Shadowplay". The latter is one of the soul-flaying Amen-tearouts of all time. (I was surprised how much of the album was Amen-limned, but then a lot of the intelligent/ambient stuff back then featured Amens. Indeed Bukem was one of the first with "Demon" and even on the super-serene "Atlantis" there's an Amen in there. It was like the fundamental rhythmic grammar of jungle, in the way that the jacknife/onebarloop thing has been with post-97 d&B). Someone on the ILM thread gave mad love to Nookie's repro of "Soul Promenade", I second that E-motion: what a great push-me pull-you clip-clop giddy-up beat.

My favorite line about Haigh's music is Kodwo Eshun's phrase "the kindness of Omni Trio." You really get this feeling that the music cares for you, it's a healing or a blessing or something.

(Of course, along with the openhearted tenderness, the aura of benediction and benevolence, the other, totally contradictory aspect of Omni is the aggression of the music, the sheer attack, the raging furore.
The smiting might of the drops ‘Renegade Snares (Foul Play VIP)’; those shearing-metal Amens in ‘Shadowplay’ and ‘Thru The Vibe’; the snare breakdown in the second version of ‘Soul Promenade’ on Vol 5 with its amazing alloy of mayhem and elegance, poise and pathology. This is violent music, it really has the same wrecking effect on me as The Stooges, something of that order.)

I actually think Mr. Haigh might be my #1 musician of the Nineties in terms of the sheer amount and duration of pleasure he's given me. The only one who really comes close is Aphex Twin. "Amount of pleasure" is an interesting criterion because it's not about "best", it's about what delights, and it automatically empties the field--if you've done more than one great album you're already a front runner. And Omni's done about two and half, effectively--Deepest Cut, another album's worth of tunes scattered across the EPs Vol 2 to 5, and a little less than half of Haunted Science (underrated record--once i got over the initial disappointment of it not being exploding-divas as before, really grew to like the widescreen atmospheric approach [he said he was trying to go for a more "fat" sound] which really pays off on 'Who Are You?'. "Soul of Darkness" and above all "The Elemental", one of his most magical tune and picking up off the eerie enchantment vibe of "Alien Creed' on Deepest.

I vow again to buy the two or is it three post-Haunted albums--I owe ya big Mr. Haigh. God bless and big up ya chest wherever you are (probably somewhere in Hertfordshire).

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Fascinating interview with Sino-Grime god and "Eski-Dance" coiner Wiley at Hyperdub, conducted by Martin Clark of Deuce.

Two highlights:

"I used to watch a lot of Kung Fu films.... I like Chinese music. I like Greek music. I’ve been buying loads of kinds of music: Greek, Chinese, African. I just went to some place called Sterns? It sells world music and I bought loads of stuff there. I’ll take it back and sometimes I’ll sample it...."

and

"I’m a winter person but the cold… sometimes I just feel cold hearted. I felt cold at that time, towards my family, towards everyone. That’s why I used those names. I was going to use “North Pole” but I didn’t even get that far. It was all things that were cold because that’s how I was feeling. There are times when I feel warm. I am a nice person but sometimes I switch off and I’m just cold. I feel angry and cold."

Sterns!

Can't wait to hear the album...

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

okay that's enough contemporary musik for now, next thing you'll be getting is Progmetheus: the Return.
A current music interlude:

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We Are All French Today. The Strokes new single: It was on the tip of my tongue and the wife pipped me to the post--"this sounds like if Daft Punk made a rock record". Marital telepathy or objective truth? It's no secret that France has a bit of a chequered history with la musique roque. There tends to be this twice-removed, distanced aura to that nation's guitarband output. It can be enjoyable for precisely that quality: Plastic Bertrand "Ca Plane Pour Moi" (he was Belgian though right? apparently he didn't even sing on his own records, sez Malcolm McLaren, admiringly), Les Ritas Mitsoukos (not sure 'bout the spelling) on their one great track whose title escapes me (sounded very T.Rexy though), even things like Metal Urbain (check their great new reissue Anarchy In Paris!, Acute's best yet) and Les Thugs. And of course Daft Punk took that nonreal vibe and turned it into a positive aesthetic strength. The new Strokes has that artificiel quality--not as in fake, inauthentic, bogus, so much as made out of some ersatz substance that resembles but isn't real-deal rock. There's a plasticized glazed gloss to the record, a deep unrocking stiltedness. It's particular the case with that track which more than any Strokes tune seems plotted out on graph paper, and is delivered in unusually desultory and remote-control mode. But maybe that degree of twice-removed and hyper-selfconsciousness is our common condition today, maybe it's impossible for anyone anywhere to rock in that basic pure from-the-gut unreflecting scare-quote-free way that was available to James Gang or AC/DC or whoever. (Look at the Darkness or Andrew W.K., where for all their intent to rock, their straight faces... well, let's just say I'm not convinced). Maybe we are all French today.

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Talking of ersatz, after "Hardest Button" I'm so close to really liking The White Stripes, at this point the only thing holding me back is Jack White's voice. It's so.... is arch the right word? Whatever it is that was in Frank Black's voice that made it clear it was in some sense a put-on or once-removed-from-the-source, is like quadruply present in his voice. What Joe Levy called
meta-casm, referring to that minigenre of pretend-superstar-rock of groups like his beloved Pooh Sticks and Urge Overkill. Somehow that quality spreads from Jack's voice to his whole face (and the pencil moustache in the new video really is the grated snail on top of the turd cake). So my favorite element of White Stripes is Meg's drumming--granted good female drummers are always unfeasibly exciting (c.f. Quasi) but she's so heavy, she's got that Bonham drag and sexy ponderousness to her beat. (Incidentally, what is it about 1963 that makes it their technological cut-off point? Why not 66-67, circa Yardbirds which seems to be a big part of where they're coming from? Or 71, circa Led Zep? Also, aren't they cheating a bit, or creating an ideological discrepancy, by using state-of-the-art techniques in their ace videos, but not in the music? Shouldn't they for consistency's sake stick with whatever gear and film stock the guy who made A Hard Day's Night had?).

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rap bits

Rah Digga, "party & bullshit"
most exciting B-boys-on-E tune for a long while, this is essentially furiously rutting and stankonic techno-house.

Loon, "down for me"
In the category of "radical, but bad": typewriter funk taken to the grooveless limit, this is almost like a Blectum dubstrumental or dissassembled Thomas Leer or the Cabs-gone-hardcore of Bodysnatch's "Revenge of the Punter." What's on top--loon and some R& singer--has no relationship to what's below, it's total superimposition, like two totally different tracks.

Ja Rule, new one.
Seems to be making a desperate attempt to de-poppify his image, almost Hammer-goes-gangsta levels of overcompensation going on here. Prefer him in Love Muppet mode.

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz "Get Low" Remix. Just when you thought it couldn't get any gnarlier and growlier and more like the black Sabbath, Elephant Man does a cameo. Not sure though about the bit where it goes into soca--the happy hardcore of the Caribbean.

OutKast, "Hey Ya". okay this is great, although in cold light of scrutiny it does seem to be not so much a chorus in search of a song as a wisp of harmony backing vocal in search of a chorus. But oooh whattavideo. The one by his other half is a bit slight and sapped-sounding though.
Carlin seemingly emerging from recent oddly cantakerous phase with his most entertaining and goodhumoured piece in a while-- ironically it's about non-current music! Concept: the records that will never, ever have any kind of hipster cred or rehabilitation-kudos but are nonetheless excellent or loveable. Not sure about the "they tell you not to like" set-up--most of this stuff seems to belong in a category of stuff that's neither reprehensible nor naff but just there, somehow outside the discussion--the solid background pop that 70 percent of the charts has always consisted of. Especially concur re. the love shown toward Imagination (and to think i sold my Imagination remix album--possibly the first example of the genus, come to think of it -- actually the remixes uniformly marred the sublime originals), Cliff's "We Don't Talk", Sweet Sensation, Shania, Lyndsey De Paul, Skellern, and Julie Covington (although more for Rock Follies than that lame Virgin solo album--despite presence of prog-folkies like Richard Thompson etc), plus the nod to Judie Tzuke. Ommissions? Tasmin Archer's "Sleeping Satellite" (although, despite its being Number One in the UK, I only ever heard of its existence thanks to a late '92 ardkore versioning of it that turned whatever-ecological-allegory-stuff-she-was-on-about into E-code ("did we fly to the moon too soon" = dangerous over-blissed mind-burn darkness impending) if anyone knows the hardkore track in question that sampled Tasmin can they please tell me, that's an all time Most Wanted Mystery Track). Renaissance, "Northern Lights" natch. Steeleye Span's "All Around My Hat" and "Gaudete". Other stuff by David Essex: "Silver Dream Machine" (a bob stanley favorite) and "Me and My Girl Nightclubbing". Heatwave. Hi-Tension (on that most alluring looking Soul Jazz Britfunk comp). As is Freez, "Southern Freez". Hot Chocolate. Joan Armatrading had a few moments. Sailor, "Glass of Champagne". Kenny, "The Bump". Hello, "New York Groove". Geordie. Genesis, "Turn It On Again". Queen, "Another One Bites The Dust"--the dubdisco production. Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar"--ditto. John Cougar Mellencamp, "Jack and Diane"--dub-newwave/heartland rock production. Chris Rea, "Fool". Loose Ends, "Hanging On a String" -- or is that too cool for this criterion? Gap Band deserve more love--"Humpin'". Deniece Williams, "Free". Rose Royce. Yarborough & Peoples. SOS Band. Oh and UB40 had their moments--"King", the ultrachilling and quite dread "The Earth Dies Screaming", even as late as "Don't Break My Heart".
Ingram starts a new chapter. Relieved to hear it will be business more-or-less as usual.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Progphobes, steer clear; prognostics, tread cautiously

Bringing up the rear


and quite undeterred by lack of auditory acquaintance with most of the music referenced below...

herewith unfurls

PROGMETHEUS UNBOUND
a provisional cartography of progward tendencies through the last 40 years of music; a prototype taxonomy of prog substyles, prog-adjacent musics, and post-1976 prog sprog genres

TWANGY PROTO-PROG
The Shadows *

* according to Chris Cutler in File Under Pop and he should know

PROTO-PROG
Procol Harum
United States of America
50 Foot Hose
Pearls Before Swine
White Noise
The Nice
The Red Krayola
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

HAIGHT STREET PRE-PROG
Sopwith Camel
Hot Tuna

DIONYSIAN POST-SINATRA/PROTO-DISCO PROTO-PROG-LITE
The Doors--The Soft Parade

DIONYSIAN ELEVATOR MUZAK PROTO-PROG-LITE
The Doors--LA Woman

SYNTH-PROG
Tonto’s Expanding Headband
Beaver & Krause

BLUES-PROG
The Electric Flag

RAGA-PROG
George Harrison--Wonderwall Music
Quintessence
Beaver & Krause--Gandharva

BRASS-SECTION PROG
Blood Sweat & Tears
Chicago

SHOWBIZ/AFROHIPPIE-HYBRID PROG
The Rotary Connection

COMEDY-PROG
Bonzo Dog Band/Viv Stanshall
Ivor Cutler
The Firesign Theater
Frank Zappa
Tea & Symphony
Gong
The Goons? *

* George Martin produced them, right?

SUB-PROG
Uriah Heep
Black Sabbath
Iron Butterfly
Deep Purple

“BIG IN GERMANY” PROG
Barclay James Harvest
Nektar*

* as used in latest issue of Uncut as a positive reference point for current “Neo-Prog” band Elbow!

GREEK PROG
Aphrodite’s Child*

* Demis Roussos and Vangelis!

FROG PROG
Magma
Heldon
Lard Free
Univers Zero
Jean-Michel Jarre

ITALO-PROG
Goblin

PARSONS PROG
Dave Parsons
Alan Parson Project
Amanda Parsons*
Parson Sound**

* singer of Hatfield and the North)
** Swedish, see Jon Dale’s epic

SOUND LIBRARY PROG *
Gas Mask
Secret Oyster
Zzebra
If
Ekseption
Jam Factory
Solar Plexus

* prized sample sources for hot (and crucially, beyond-obscure) breaks and licks apparently


WEST COAST PROG
Spirit *

* check video for “I Got A Line On You” for prog hallmark: overmanning. Two drummers, AND a percussionist, six or seven guitarists….


JAZZ PROG
Carla Bley
Weather Report
Terje Rypdal
Oregon

AFRO-PROG
Mandrill
Tower of Power
War
Oneness of Juju
Cymande

REAL AFRICAN AFRO-PROG
Osibisa
Salt/Ginger Baker/Fela Kuti--Strativarious

PROG SOUL
Stevie Wonder

BOSSANOVA-PROG
Azymuth
Ivan Conti--The Human Factor

FUZAK-PROG
The Doors circa Other Voices/Full Circle

PROG-CONCRETE
Spooky Tooth & Pierre Henry
Egg--“Boilk” (from The Polite Force)
Peter Hammill--“Magog (in bromine chambers)” (from In Camera)

HEAVY SICK PROGFOLK*
Comus

* this category by Francesco Brunetti

DRUMMER PROG
Ginger Baker’s Airforce
Cozy Powell

CELTIC PROG
Clannad
Planxty
Horslips

PROG-LITE
Moody Blues
Todd Rundgren
Electric Light Orchestra
Supertramp

POP ART PROG
10 CC

“FIVE YEARS OF EXQUISITE NOTHING”* PROG
Be Bop Deluxe

* so sayeth Paul Morley

MORLEY-PROG
Tangerine Dream *
Edgar Froese solo **

* blew his teenage mind, see Words and Music
** one of his first interviews, shaking like a leaf to meet his hero, ibid

PENMAN-PROG
Wigwam
Frank Zappa*

* straight up squire, no kidding

DIXIE PROG
Allman Brothers
White Witch
Hampton Grease Band

QUAINT OLD LADIES’ NAME PROG
The Enid
Granny

MERSH PROG
Jefferson Starship
Kansas
Alan Parsons Project
Styx
Journey
Asia

CLASSICAL PROG
Sky
Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds
Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Variations

PROG-FOLK
Blowzabella
John Martyn *

* not just another folkie luddite no sir --into guitar FX and delay systems to almost Frippertronic degrees

PROTO-PUNK PROG
Peter Hammill--Nadir’s Big Chance

GREAT DIVIDE CROSSING HIPPY-PUNK-PROG CONVERGENCE
Here and Now/The Fall/ATV*

* famous free tour of 1978

NEW WAVE PROG
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise
Punishment of Luxury
Tin Huey
Lene Lovich
XTC
Angletrax
The Buggles
Magazine *
Psychedelic Furs
The Cardiacs
The Stranglers--Black and White/The Raven/Men-in-Black
Belew-era King Crimson
Simple Minds**

* almost produced by Fripp; Gabriel mooted at one point also

** in all the early Minds interviews Jim Kerr talked unabashedly about how much he dug and was influenced by Gabriel-era Genesis

PROG-FOLK-LITE
Renaissance--“Northern Lights”, *

* blew Simon’s teenage mind -- 1978, Top of the Pops -- no serious this was possibly my first contact with the “sublime” in pop -- before my ears could differentiate between sonic strands, it was all this shimmering blur, this exultant silverhaze surge, almost Velvets-like -- hearing it again 20 years later, ears quite adept now, I heard it as the mimsy, frou-frou, Abba-influenced prog-folk gone-mersh that it is -- still love it though and prefer it vastly c.f. the rest of Renaissance which is uber-prog in the generally accepted/reviled sense.


PROG-FOLK/NEW WAVE PROG HYBRID
The Skids circa Joy

DAFT CULT PROTO-NEW WAVE PROG
Doctors of Madness/Richard Strange

POSTPUNK-IS-PROG-INNIT PROG
This Heat
The Red Crayola with Art & Language
ATV/Good Missionaries
Pere Ubu
Durutti Column

ITALO-INDUSTRIAL-IS-ITALO-PROG-INNIT ITALO-PROG
Maurizio Bianchi

OI!-PROG
Sham 69--That’s Life*

*a concept album about a day in the life of a working class lad, loosely inspired by Quadrophenia


DEAD POET DISCO-FUZAK-LITE PROG

Jim Morrison --An American Prayer

PROG FUNK
Parliament
Funkadelic
Bootsy Collins
Zapp *

* that Frampton voice-box thing, and Roger Troutman was a bitchin’ blues-influenced guitar and tried to sneak it onto records and into shows when he could


DISCO PROG
Earth Wind & Fire
Big Apple Band/Chic
Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band *

* first hit = disco version of Beethoven on Saturday Night Fever soundtrack

MUTANT DISCO PROG
Was (Not Was) *
Material **

* ex-Yippie/White Panther types; “Walk The Dinosaur” = their “Sledgehammer”
** FACT: Bill Laswell used to be in some latterday NYC-based incarnation of Gong

PERFORMANCE ART PROG
Laurie Anderson

ANARCHO-PROG
Crass (especially the later albums)*
Flux of Pink Indians (especially the later albums)

* c’mon, the artwork alone qualifies; and one of them was pre-1976 in some avant-garde dronerock outfit

WHITE NEW WAVE SKANK PROG
The Clash--Sandinista
The Police circa Ghost In the Machine/Synchronicity*

* Yes + Arthur Koestler + ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist = deadly combination, albeit New York Times endorsed

CRYPTO-PROG SYNTH-POP
Human League first two albums *
Thomas Dolby
Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark
Yellow Magic Orchestra

* Oakey worshipped Roxy, yeah, but also rated Yes as quite glam; the other two loved Zappa

EIGHTIES POSTPUNK SUPERGROUP PROG
Golden Palominos

EIGHTIES MIDI/FAIRLIGHT/SEQUENCER PROG
Landscape
Man Jumping
Startled Insects
Herbie Hancock circa Rockit*
Kate Bush
The Art of Noise **

* Laswell Involvement Warning
** one of AON them actually worked on a Yes album; producer Horn actually IN Yes briefly/Close to the Edge"/Close (to the Edit)" ha ha ha; classically-trained Anne Dudley; instrumentals; concepts. Totally prog AND they reformed to do a drum’n’bass-lite concept album about Claude Debussy.


SCOUSER-POSTPUNK PROG
Echo & the Bunnymen--Porcupine/Ocean Rain
Pink Military/Pink Industry
Pale Fountains
Julian Cope*
Frankie Goes To Hollywood**
The KLF--Chill Out

* Peggy Suicide onwards
**bits of first album; all of Liverpool


EIGHTIES NEO-PROG
Marillion
It Bites

NEW POP PROG
Duran Duran/Arcadia

INDUSTRIAL-PROG/AVANT-FUNK PROG/GAMELAN-PROG 3-WAY HYBRID
23 Skidoo -- The Culling is Coming*

* just reissued on Les Temps Modernes, fucking awesome, especially “healing (For the strong)--a match for anything on Seven Songs

MOD PROG
The Who post-“I Can See For Miles”
The Jam--“Funeral Pyre”
The Style Council--Confessions of A Pop Group
Paul Weller solo *

*albeit tendencies are Dadrock-stifled and innately mod-restrained but definite midperiod Traffic/Winwood vibes -- likes a toke too

GOTH-PROG
Marc & the Mambas
Virgin Prunes *
Siouxsie & the Banshees circa Nocturne **

* the ambient-y sound-collage bits anyway
**c’mon, double live album recorded at the Albert friggin’ Hall?

GOTH SUB-PROG
The Mission
Fields of Nephilim

SHAMBLING PROG
Stump
Shrubs

QUIRK-PROG
David Thomas & the Pedestrians
Primus

PUB ROCK PROG
Costello circa Imperial Bedroom/King of America/Brodsky Quartet

SONDHEIM-PROG
Prefab Sprout

COLLEGE ROCK PROG
10,000 Maniacs *
REM stodgy midperiod Fables of Reconstruction/Life’s Rich Pageant/Document
Camper Van Beethoven

* Cat Stevens cover version, cmon!

RETRO-PROTOPROG
Bevis Frond
Black Sun Ensemble
Outskirts of Infinity
Sun City Girls

PROG-CORE
Bad Brains *
Black Flag **
Phantom Tollboth
Husker Du circa ‘Reoccurring Dreams’
Gone
Blind Idiot God
Saccharine Trust/Universal Congress Of…
Paperbag
Always August
Zoogz Rift

* actually were a fusion group before going ‘punk’
** from My War onwards

SKA-PROG
Fishbone *

* definite Yes influence, according to Jon Pareles; stage craft > songcraft factor

EIGHTIES BLACK PROG
Tackhead
Living Colour
24-7-Spyz

PAISLEY PROG
Prince here and there*
Madhouse

* e.g. Santana-ish instrumental bit in “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”

FROU-FROU PROG/LAURA ASHLEY PROG/MIMSY PROG/GOTH-LITE PROG
Shelleyan Orphan
Enya
All About Eve
This Mortal Coil
Sarah McLachlan
Cmon let’s be honest: Cocteau Twins

ARSEQUAKE-PROG
Butthole Surfers
Walking Seeds
Terminal Cheesecake
Swans --Children of God
Skin

BAGGY-PROG
The Stones Roses--Second Coming
World of Twist*
The Charlatans**
Happy Mondays--Yes Please***

* Hawkwind meets Roxy meets Human League meets Northern Soul meets E meets David Gilmour-admiring guitarist

** that Jon Lord Hammond organ sound

*** somnabulent funkmuzak sub-muso drivel only one notch above The Doors circa Other Voices/Full Circle

SHOEGAZE PROG
Levitation
Pale Saints
Boo Radleys

SHOEGAZE PROG-LITE
Slowdive

INDIE-DANCE PROG
The Shamen

POSTMODERN PROG
Bongwater
BALL
Everything on Shimmydisc

CRUSTY-PROG
The Drum Club
Ozric Tentacles

METAL-IS-PROG-INNIT PROG
Rush
Queensryche
Jane’s Addiction
Metallica (before they went 'grunge')
Old
Tool
Everything Terrorizer ever covers ever

PROG-HOP
Boogiemonsters
PM Dawn
Scienz of Life
OutKast
Loads more

GRUNGE-PROG
Pearl Jam
Melvins
Earth

CHILL-OUT PROG
The Orb
The Irresistible Force/Mixmaster Morris
Namlook entire oeuvre and all his pals

POST-ROCK-IS-PROG-INNIT PROG
Tortoise *
Bark Psychosis
Labradford
Way too many to list

* TNT once unkindly compared to Spyro Gyra!

MATH-ROCK-IS-PROG-INNIT PROG
Don Caballero
Ach cannae even be bothered

NINETIES AMERINDIE PROG
Flaming Lips
Mercury Rev
Sabalon Glitz

NEO-SINGER-SONGWRITER PROG
Tori Amos

PROG’N’BASS
Goldie (no surprise there)
4 Hero
Photek
Damn near the whole lot of them at one point

PROG-HOUSE
Larry Heard
Chris Brann/Wamdue/P-Taah
Joe Claussell

PROGTRONICA
System 7
Future Sound of London

TRIP HOP PROG
Massive Attack--Mezzanine

TRIP HOP/GOTH-LITE HYBRID PROG
Massive Attack -- the last album 200th Window or whatever it was called

BRIT-POP-PROG
Ocean Colour Scene
Blur--The Great Escape

BRITPOP RAGA-PROG HYBRID
Kula Shaker

GLITCH PROG
Oval
Farmer’s Manual*

* didn’t they just release like 30 hours of music as one release, that’s like the equivalent of 10 quadruple albums or something!

QUEERTRONICA PROG
Terre Thaemlitz
Matmos

POSTMODERN PROG-LITE/MERSH-PROG FROG-HOUSE
Daft Punk--Forever

PROG-STEP
Phuturistix

BASTARD PROG/MASHED PROG
Osymyso ‘Intro Inspection’
John Oswald in toto

LIVING DEAD PROG
Post-Waters Pink Floyd

MAGGOT LIVING OFF LIVING DEAD PROG
That orrible goblin-creature with the saxophone in the post-Waters Pink Floyd videos on VH1 Classic


… to be continued… with your help…


APPENDICES

1/
TOP 20 PROGRESSIVE LABELS EVER
Virgin
Island
Deram/Nova
Charisma
Harvest
Celluloid
Vertigo
Axiom
E.G.
Recommended
UA
Ralph
Radar
SST
Some Bizarre
Kranky
Shimmydisc
Crammed
Mego
Hannibal


2/
NOT THE LEAST BIT PROG NOT ONE LITTLE BIT INDEED NO

New York Dolls, Ramones, Undertones, Dr. Feelgood, Postcard, Green Day, David Lee Roth, The Heartbreakers, Grand Funk Railroad, Wedding Present, Tom Petty, The Pretenders, The Cramps, AC-DC, The Mekons, Bronski Beat, Pixies, the Mooney-Suzuki, Talulah Gosh, Oasis (well maybe Be Here Now), Elastica...


POSTSCRIPT: PROG VERSUS PROGRESSIVE

Well, I still strongly suspect that prog may be more enjoyable to think about and talk about than actually listen to. And I’m still fairly certain that prolonged and thorough exposure to the canon of prog-rock as generally understood--Yes Genesis ELP Jethro Tull mid-seventies Gentle Giant Floyd etc--would only confirm/aggravate the impression that’s already been left by my slight, glancing contact with the stuff to date: that on the whole it is, as punk doxa insists, fairly ghastly, deservedly discredited, pretty redundant, beyond salvaging. Even the more interestingly grotesque and edgy-seeming stuff from the prog zone--Hammill/Van Der Graaf Generator, Henry Cow/Art Bears, Soft Machine--is definitely an acquired taste, like black olives or grappa. (I’m acquiring Hammill slowly, Softs too; Cow and Bears are still some way off).

Still it’s worth considering that beyond prog-rock as commonly, narrowly defined, there’s a much broader realm of ‘progressive’ music that is a lot more deserving. In its own time, 1967-75, the concept of ‘progressive’ encompassed a lot of now highly regarded maverick cult figures and ahead-of-their-time innovators. Take Eno--for all his punk-preempting polemics against the prog supergroups' cluttered bombast and over-spiced musical fare, for all his dissident-at-that-time rhetoric about himself as a non-musician--if you judge him by the company he kept, he was ‘progressive’ through and through. Beyond even the obvious Fripp connections, you only have to check the line-ups on his solo albums (where you’ll find Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention and even Phil Collins, along with other progressive musicians) or look at his resume (he played on a Camel album!). In a real historical and record-biz structural sense, ‘progressive’ contained both the highbrow end of glam (Roxy Music were managed by E.G.--whose other clients included King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer--a connection that was established when Ferry auditioned to be Crimson’s vocalist) AND the post-Velvets diaspora (John Cale made that record with Terry Riley, whose Rainbow In Curved Air was a classic “head” elpee; Cale also did the live thing with Kevin Ayers, Eno and Nico; he was on Island for several albums). That argument about noise vs. euphony, non-musicianship vs. virtuosity, was an argument within an art-rock discourse. Likewise, look to the labels, the management, the gig circuits, the media coverage, and it’s clear that the avant-troubadours like Nick Drake, John Martyn, Tim Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Kevin Coyne, were all part of the progressive, album-oriented, non-pop culture as covered by Melody Maker, ZigZag, Rolling Stone, Let It Rock, Sounds, but also (albeit more critically) by Creem and NME too. ‘Progressive’ includes post-Fairports folk-rock and the likes of Roy Harper, as well as quite a lot of raw ‘n’ gutsy music of the era (Groundhogs, Hawkwind, Free, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin). Ditto for the more refined (but not necessarily bloated a la prog stereotype) blues-rock of Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, Atomic Rooster, Family, and arguably the rootsy/Americana type groups like Little Feat and The Band too. And by any sensible measure, ‘progressive’ as a term incorporates ALL Krautrock. Including Kraftwerk. What could be more ‘progressive’ or indeed more prog than having a track that lasts the whole of one side--Autobahn--and putting instrumentals that feature flutes (shudder!) on Side Two?. And virtually every K-werk album was a concept album.

Prog in the punk-vilified sense has come to be associated with only the most gauche and clumsily overblown gestures in quest of sophistication and high art stature (orchestras, mellotrons, single “songs” that take up both sides of an album) but there was a broader “progressive” consensus based around a set of post-Sergeant Pepper’s values (which, while not constituting by any means the full definition of rockism--there’s after all a whole punk/post-Bangs version of rockism too--are certainly consistently opposed to pop music in the chartpop sense and to Pop-ist values). “Progressive” traits and values include: albums > singles; aspiration to “art” and its incumbent notions of artistic development, expression, authenticity; fondness for concept albums or thematic song-suites; not having any problem with songs that go longer than four minutes; an interest in stylistic fusion, merger, hyphenated hybrids; partiality for varying degrees of pretentiousness, fantasticalness, futurism OR antiquity, lofty tone; willingness to do all instrumental music or to abandon for long stretches the focal role of vocals and the concision of pop structure; a production style that emphasises space and is suited to hi-fi stereos and FM radio rather than the Dansette and AM radio; extended works (double albums etc); in live performance, a willingness to embrace theatrics and multimedia.

Beyond the obvious anti-canon of Prog Dinosaurs, an awful lot of not-at-all-awful music was created between 1967-75 that fits some or many or even all of these parameters, and almost all of it was a casualty of punk’s Year Zero clean sweep. Take Roy Harper’s Stormcock, released in 1971 on Harvest, one of the key ‘progressive’ labels. It consists of just four songs, and the longest goes on for nearly 15 minutes; I’ve never been able to work it out but there’s probably some kind of concept to the record, at least there’s a consistent tone/mood/vision, it’s definitely not a collection of singles (the shortest track is about 7 minutes long!). Yet except for a bit of orchestration on “Me and My Woman”, for the most part it’s an incredibly pared down record (just one guy and an acoustic guitar, with some amazing use of the studio here and there to multitrack the vocals but basically virtually unplugged and pretty raw by the standards of the day). Emotionally/lyrically, it’s as caustic and denunciatory as punk. I suppose what I’m getting at is this feeling of being a wee bit cheated because being a good punk-indoctrinated kid I never went near anything like Roy Harper for an incredibly long time, almost that entire period of post-Pepper’s/pre-Ramones music was cordoned off as “irrevelant”. For most of my music-conscious life, Harper was referenced--see also Steve Hillage--as a paradigmatic example of everything that was righteously outmoded and banished by punk. Either that or as a humorous example of the hippie getting-my-head-together-in-the-country syndrome turned to farce--that story of Harper giving one of his sheep mouth to mouth rescuscitation and contracting anthrax. If it weren’t for being hipped to Stormcock by my comrades David Stubbs and Paul Oldfield (separate recommendations, as well) circa 1987 I’d probably have continued to see the guy as some rustic relic in the vague post-hippie vicinity of Catweazle-lookalike Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull with his fish farm. . And I would have missed out on what became one of my absolute all time favorite records. And yet despite that revelatory encounter with Stormcock the anti-prog(ressive) conditioning remained strong enough that I was still deterred for a really long time from investigating further into folk-rock or other progressive areas.

The other thing is that of course an awful lot of not-at-all-awful music after punk fits some or many of those ‘progressive’ parameters. So the cartography above treats ‘prog’ as as a suffix or prefix, something that through hyphenation can come into surprising proximity with things we love. For some, maybe most still, it’s a contaminant, a worrying tendency, something to ward off with punky/indie-rock squeamishness. It’s really weird how long the reflex has persisted, with presumably less and less first-hand contact with the stuff as the years go by.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Flippin' heck that Jaxx album's a bit of a flailing over-egged pudding isn't it? I suppose if your founding premise is "more is more" then it's a bit hard to back away from that or scale it down. The record only really gets enjoyable for me at the point where most reviewers seems to think it starts to flag, 2/3 the way through when it calms down a lot and empties out a bit. Otherwise it's just way crammed and fizzing with whizzing clever bits. It's like they're trying to throw the wildest grooviest party ever with the most eclectic soundtrack and the most unexplected guests (well the Siouxsie track is great admittedly), but it's all a bit strained and strenous. For Basement Jaxx now just about the most surprising and radical thing they could do would be an album entirely consisting of ballads.

Likewise the new OutKast, which I've haven't heard, but somehow just the idea of such a sonic banquet causes all appetite to fade. Plus at this point the very concept of them seems fatigued in advance--that sense (which began to stick them fatally circa Aquemini, which I never cared for) of OutKast as somehow improving, for hip hop, and for the listener. Stankonia, I confess, is one of those records that got ruined for me by the reviewing process; by the time I was done, I'd used up all possible pleasure I could ever derive from it. Such a rich, readable, celebrate-able, eminently endorseable pop-text, and yet as fruity and extravagant and audaciously over-reaching and androgyny/sexual-ambiguity drenched and stankadelic as their music is, it's so hard not to produce an appreciation that doesn't have the faint taint of piety (I certainly failed w/ Stankonia) although SFJ at Slate almost manages and nearly resuscitates my lapsed Outkast-fandom. OutKast have such impeccable sonic/psycho-sexual/cultural/etc credentials, and it seems perverse and churlish to not to join in the applause.... but they're starting to seem like a sort of Fugees of Crunk, donchathink?

It's the Prince syndrome, really, with them and Jaxx too. Adored the Purple One so intensely for so long back in the day but it's been a small aeon since I've felt even the slightest inkling to listen to him. Prince knew about this syndrome very early, he wrote that song on 1999 called "All the Critics Love U In New York", right?
Fascinating stuff in that Hyperdub/Plasticman interview about the power shift away from djs towards mcs. Mr Plastic sez:
"Your tune could be catapulted as the biggest tune in the scene because the MC has spat a certain lyric on top of it, just by chance…. The Djs at Eski [sole Grime rave of note Eskimo Dance]
are only as big as who is spittin’ on their set. The Djs don’t get rated so much for their mixing skills…. there wasn’t so much of a reaction when a tune dropped but rather when an MC dropped a lyric. It was just like 8mile...