Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
now, don’t go imagining that the relative enormousness of the following contradicts remarks here previous about lean times and thin gruel (confirmed by almost everyone I speak to these days, which is both reassuring and disheartening), no it's simply that it's been about five months since I last did one of these, and as you can imagine an awful lot of so-so’s been sifted to produce this relatively bumper-seeming harvest
(I was asked recently to participate in some kind of interweb project that was purportedly set to create some kind of "revolutionary" net community, the gist of it being that you’d install some program in your computer and you wouldn’t need to do anything, it would just automatically pass on information about what you were listening to so everyone would know what everyone else was digging, knowledge would be pooled, buzz and subcultcapital accrued, mainstream media channels bypassed, and utopia brought that little bit nearer. BUT apart from the fact that it reminded me a tiny bit of the "spy in the cab" (you remember, truck drivers having their work rate clocked, now totally common in the work places, but back then, controversial), and apart from being vaguely ideologically opposed on some gut-level to this sort of web-utopian connectivity talk, and apart from the fact since it wouldn’t monitor my vinyl listening it would hardly reflect my listening, apart from all that, the main flaw for me was that of necessity the greater part of my daytime, in-front-of-computer listening is stuff I don’t like--sounds crazy i know, but think about it, the job entails shoving in promo after promo, the bulk of which are only ever going to provoke tepid responses. So this system would not in fact give any indictation what I liked or thought was good. Whereas below you'll find a list of the things that made it through the sieve these last several months and that I do voluntarily listen to--or would, if so much ear-time weren't taken up with the sifting.)
Jackson and his Computer Band, Smash (Warp)
Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom, The Days of Mars (DFA)
Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock’n’Roll
The No Neck Blues Band , Qvaris (5 Rue Christine)
Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, XIAO/Buck Dharma/The Flood
Todd Edwards, “Like A Fire” (i Records)
The Kills, No Wow (Rough Trade)
Vocokesh, The Tenth Corner (Strange Attractors)
Kudu, Death of the Party (forthcoming on Nublu)
Rvng Prsnts Mx4 ‘Crazy Rhythms’, mixed by Mike Simonetti & Dan Selzer
Damian Lazarus, Suck My Deck
Avenged Sevenfold, “Bat Country”
Various Artists, The Electric Institute (New Religion)
High Contrast mix cd Fabriclive 25
Dubstep Allstars: Vol 02 mixed by DJ Youngsta (Tempa)
M.A.N.D.Y mix (Get Physical)
DFA Records Holiday Mix 2005
DJ Koze, Kosi Comes Around (Kompakt)
Boards of Canada, The Campfire Headphase (Warp)
AFX, Analord 01 to 11 (except the boring tracks) (Rephlex)
Franz Ferdinand, new album
Animal Collective, Feels (Paw Tracks)
Lady Sovereign, Vertically Challenged EP (Chocolate Industries)
Three Six Mafia, “Stay Fly” (BET)
Vex’D, Degenerate, (Planet Mu)
Skream, "Midnight Request Line" (Tempa)
Hot Chip, Coming On Strong (Astralwerks)
Franz Ferdinand, “Fade Together”
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, House Arrest (Paw Tracks)
Menstrual Chinese Dream Cdr
Doctor, Bearman, L Man, Purple, “Let It Go (Eye of the Tiger Vol 1)” (True Tiger)
The Advisory Circle, Mind How You Go EP (Ghostbox)
Van Der Graaf Generator, The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other (Caroline/Astralwerks)
as Mercernarias, O Comeco Do Fim Do Mundlo (Soul Jazz) (and live in Sao Paulo)
David Chesworth, 50 Synthesiser Greats (W. Minc)
Eric Random, Subliminal (LTM)
Todd Tamanend Clark, Nova Psychedelia (Anopheles Records)
Maximum Joy, Unlimited (1979-1983) (Crippled Dick Hot Wax)
Ike Yard reissue forthcoming
Delta 5, Singles and Sessions 1979-1981 (kill rock stars)
Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Scream Expanded
The Fire Engines, Codex Teenage Premonition (Domino)
Talking Heads, Box
OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music -- 1948-1980 (3CD box reissue plus all-new DVD)
The CD that comes with The Music Library book (see below)
John Martyn reissue bonanza: Bless The Weather, Inside Out, Sunday’s Child, etc
Van Der Graaf Generator, H to He Who Am The Only One
-- Pawn Hearts
The Stooges, Funhouse Deluxe
-- The Stooges Deluxe Edition
Comus, Song To Comus (Sanctuary)
Robert Wyatt & Friends, Theatre Royal Drury Lane 8th September 1974
(I actually wrote" the best releases of 2005 was recorded 31 years ago", not “one of the best”. Maybe they were right to tone it down. Maybe not.)
Andrew Rudin, Tragoedia (Nonesuch)
Morton Subotnik, Touch,
Quintessence, “Notting Hill Gate” (Island)
Shocking Blue, “Love Buzz”
Spooky Tooth, “Lost In My Dream”
Various, NDW Selection (Woebot Productions)
Janet Kay, “Silly Games”
Cool Notes, “My Tune”
Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, ‘Folke Songs of Olde England Volume 1’ especially “Maid That’s Deep In Love”
--- Summer Solstice
Luke Vibert, Nuggets, library music compilation of some years back
Rattlebone and Ploughjack (Island, 1975)
[Ashley Hutching’s Morris Dancing project!]
Monoton (see NDW comp)
Luciano Cilio, Dell’ Univers Assente
Nuno Canavvaro - Plux Qubu
Klaus Schulze, oeuvre (presque, pre-digital) entiere
Tomita, The Planets (RCA Red Seal)
George Harrison, Electronic Sound (Zapple)
Conrad Schnitzler, Con
Saint Etienne Presents Finisterre (Plexifilm)
K-Punk, London Under London audio-mentary/radio-docu-derive
Frank Kogan, Real Punks Don’t Wear Black: Music Writing By Frank Kogan (The University of Georgia Press)
Ethan Brown, Queens Reigns Surpreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and The Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler (Anchor)
Marta Petreu, An Infamous Past; EM Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania,
(Ivan R. Dee)
Jan Jagodzinski, Music in Youth Culture: A Lacanian Approach (Palgrave)
ed. Jonny Trunk, The Music Library (Fuel)
I Am Not An Animal
Bodies (except the crap last episode)
Hero Blackcurrant Jam
Ahmed Mixed Pickle in Oil Hyberadi Taste
Friday, November 18, 2005
Thursday, November 17, 2005
However, it behoves me to inform that Kode 9 and his big bag of subplates are in town the very same night. Rothko and subTonic are within a few blocks of each other, though, so oscillating between the two is perfectly feasible.
* the subTonic/Bunker event is actually free admission, making it the competitive option for those of reduced means, or if you're a cheapskate
Friday, November 11, 2005
and taketh away with the other
in this, the blogmos, as much as any other plane of reality...
sad to hear
relieved to hear though that Simes will still be writing a lot and...
has plans for a website dedicated to archiving pirate radio tapes in mp3 form!
PS if all this bloggworld upheaval continues i fully expect the return of The Pillbox within a week
Thursday, November 10, 2005
wouldya believe it!
stone the bleedin crows!
as i live and breathe!
it's the unexpected un-announced super-on-the-downlow reactivation.....
almost one whole year after its retirement
of the mighty mighty
tis a banner week for the bloggusssphear and no mistake!
Monday, November 07, 2005
-- reformed bands doing special concerts where they perform their classic or signature album in its entirety and original sequence
--the 'expanded' cd trend, the second disc full of out-takes/alternate versions/radio sessions/stuff that wasn't good enough to release in the first place etc
cmon it's getting out of hand!
Saturday, November 05, 2005
"is there such an erosion? Or is that sense of forward movement something that dies for everyone, and for every generation, in some new and different way, via different signals? Is there an historical narrative here (one didn't used to see this, now one does), or is there rather a mythic narrative, one which is occult 'til a person (you; me) has been kicking around long enough to notice it, at which point it's a new story? After all - in older pop worlds (jazz, classical really [Vienna being a very pop> scene in its day, albeit with shockingly different social cues & mores], vaudeville) the same entertainers-sticking-around-as-long-as-they-possibly-can tendency is also present; see also film, where Bela Lugosi was appearing in whatever no-budget production would have him, stage or screen, up to the week of his death. And Maria Callas starring in Pasolini's Medea after her voice was shot. Chaplain's "Limelight." Etc".
to which I responded:
"Well some of this had crossed my mind a bit--the idea that entertainers keep on treading the boards and always have done (cos what else can they do?). but i think there's differences. one is that the reformation thing--bands coming back after having split up, a long time after they split up--is pretty unique to rock/pop. (As is the tribute/clone band thing, come to think of it). i also think that showbiz/variety/MOR/whatever you want to call, it is not based around the idea of moving forward/progression etc as rock was in its identity-defining heyday, either on the macro level of the music-culture and on the individual level of the career (the artistic need to progress, change styles, a big jump with each album, etc). i do think rock is uniquely afflicted by this retro inundation effect--and it's made worse because you have a whole bunch of syndromes going on at once. You have the natural greying of the music 40 years into its existence (bands just carrying on, becoming cabaret versions of themselves), you have the endless reformations, you have the reissue explosion; you also have sampling and the whole 'record collection rock' thing i've written about. You get remakes of songs and cover versions. Mash up culture. You have an explosion of historical documentation: TV and film documentaries, books, magazines that are heavily slanted to retro like Uncut and Mojo, at least in their features. And then there's all the spin-off issues, like the Mojo specials: magazines that are like smallbooks, one on synthpop/New Romanticism, one on ska/2-Tone, one on punk, one on prog, and so on; some on individual bands like The Clash. NME has done all these similar books, basically reprints of old reviews and interviews: one on Britpop, one on Manchester--really recent history becoming dug-up, in a way that feels premature to me. Then you factor in VH1, all the endless documentarys, the I Love the 80s, I Love the 90s things, etc. So I do think it is a unique predicament for rock music and for this era--it started a while ago, but it just keeps building and building, and I wonder if it's reaching a tipping point, when the present is buried in the past.
"One thing that chimes with your point about MOR folk treading the boards forever, though is that I remembered Broadway Danny Rose, where the guy that Woody Allen's character is managing is a washed up MOR singer who had one hit in the 60s. But then "the nostalgia circuit starts to take off" and the guy's career gets a big shot in the arm, which is why he ditches Woody for a big-name manager. But then it's actually kinda hazy what era Broadway Danny Rose is set in, anyway... but it did make me curious about nostalgia, and about when it actually became an industry. The first nostalgia phenom I can remember is 1920s nostalgia in the early Seventies, which was in fashion, in movies like The Sting. I wonder if there have been any historical studies of nostalgia? Were there nostalgia crazes in the Victorian era, in the 18th Century?"
John also wondered:
"is this an erosion of our sense of time, or is it a clearer view of time? When we stop moving forward, might it not be the case that we only noticed we weren't really moving forward in the first place? I don't think of this as a depressing possibility but a liberating one, since I suffer from the dual attractions of classical studies & poetry, where the possibility that time is a painting rather than a film drives further engagement. The best point of a night out dancing, I mean, are those moments in which one feels certain that the flow of time has been somehow changed - the sorts of words used to describe this feeling, such as "lost in the moment," point directly at this thirst for an ahistorical experience of life/music/what-have-you."
to which i responded:
"that's a good point, but i think the kind of "in the now"/"outside time"experience you talk about to do with dancing is something different from retro time. i think there's some Greek term for that kind of ecstatic immersion in the now, kairos maybe, it's the opposite of chronos, which is like the everyday time of routine and work and going about your business. Kairos, if i've got the word right, it means intensified time or epiphanic time, or ritual time--something like that. At any rate i think it's different from retro time--there's an uncanniness when you see certain bands where it all refers back to a period in rock history. Or a reformation, seeing Gang of Four live on their current tour was strange and bleak, as powerful as they still areas a band. I always felt the rave-now was a kind of future-now, like the music was totally immersing you in the present moment but somehow that moment was tilting into the future at the same time."
kid shirt weighs in with some interesting thoughts in semi-response to my wooden wand piece, some cool compare-and-contrast vis-a-viz grime... his idea of free folk being about wanting to disappear is intriguing (theory triggered unconsciously by "vanishing voice" maybe?), yes yes, makes sense: a bourgeois-bohemian impulse to get lost, to unmake the most of yourself, (which makes the Animal Collective's "You Don't Have to Go To College" the closest point at which the scene gets to writing that unwritten manifesto) .... tune in, turn on, drop out... dissipate and radiate.... And some of his comments about WW&VV made me think the closest parallel/precursor to them is the Butthole Surfers (think about the pastoral weirdness on Hairway to Steven, the cover of "Hurdy Gurdy Man"; the Living Theater-esque stageshow; also the thread of classic rock pastiche running through the buttholes c.f. WW's comments re. deep purple, jefferson airplane, etc etc), and the Buttholes would have been something I'd have analysed in those terms, a middle class youth stepping off the career track (gibby trained as an accountant), laying waste to their own potential as a sort of proto-political act of refusal
i was talking to jon dale (who may be on the verge of staging a reappearance act) about this, he having his own dissensions with the piece, and i realised the stumbling block for me is actually not the unwritten manifesto aspect at all, cos when all that stuff says implicit and latent you can groove along with the trippy untethered soundswirl; no the stumbling block specifically with WW&VV is when they do write the manifesto, or at least get into spelling out the "what's it all about" too literally -- either in the lyrics (Toth intoning about how "the mystical power of the beautiful flower has turned sour”, or Satya Sai Baba Scuppety ululating about how "I sought the truth so long… all things must pass away… there is one path to choose” or visioning “a land of wondrous beauty that far exceeds my wildest dreams/where the air is pure and clean”) or just the mode of address: invocational, i-be-the-prophet. Cos, for me as not-ready-to-sign-up-for-membership-in-the-movement bystander-onlooker, it's like you're suddenly put on the spot: you either have to say "yes, i totally buy it, this guy is a visionary" or you hold back. and for a whole bunch of reasons possibly more to do with me than the guy's performance, I hold back from that suspension of disbelief. Woebot described the Wand solo album as "more Bonnie Prince Billie" than the group's stuff, and that's it exactly, cos Will Oldham' another one where I don't quite buy the persona, there's a "you're kidding me, right?" element.
With "performative enactment of the authentic", I guess what I’m suggesting or playing with is simply the idea that nothing is “real” once it takes place before a microphone or on a stage (how could it be?). Everything is glam rock, it's all artifice, the make-believe dependent on suspension of disbelief (bothon the performer's part and the audience's). So Humble Pie, despite being very much the kind of shabby blues-bore drivel that prompted glam rock into being, were no less contrived, absurd, or even grotesque, than Roxy Music. Everything is glam-rock too because it all works through glamour, of which there are many more kinds than "glam" or Hollywood (the glamour of anti-heroism or "ordinary joe" is still the stuff of fantasy, from Springsteen to Mike Skinner). Glamour in its original sense--witchy enchantment--might be a big part of free-folk's allure; the mise-en-scene that is conjured by the music works through exoticisim and mystique--you imagine a raggle-taggle commune on the periphery of society, banging instruments in some Finnish wildland or Vermont grove (or with the ancestor-influences: Incredible String Band and extended family in the woods, Vashti in her caravan, etc).
All the things that Kid Shirt lists, seemingly to refute the idea that there is a manifesto or needs to be a manifesto to the f-folk scene, do actually amount to a charter of principles, albeit quite diffuse and low-key. Not a manifesto in the sense of bulleted declarations and exhortations to be shouted in bold and capitals from a soapbox, but certainly a cluster of tendencies-verging-on-tenets:
-- looseness and spontaneity, a be-here-now approach to the jam
-- flux and mutability
-- shifting line-ups, collaborations, nucleus-groups orbited by solar dust-rings of freefloating occasional participants
-- trance states, creative automatism, music-as-ritual rather than "show"
-- tribalistic/family/commune-like image (and often structure)
-- "I am the music. There is no separation"--Heather Leigh Murray
-- “it’s all music, man” as overtly stated principle of all-gates-open fusion
-- yet at the same time countered by very definite zones of non-influence and attractions to other areas; bias to the organic, the acoustic, the hand-played
then when you factor that in with the hand-made, cottage industry aspect: the lathe-cut vinyl, the small-run pressings and odd formats (painted and decorated cassettes etc), the attempt to de-commoditise the commodity while also re-enchanting it, making it more precious and treasurable; you see an impulse to escape and transcend commerce that echoes the original folk movement's (in both US and UK) drive to reject the commercialism of popular culture music.
yes it does amount to a taggable worldview/philosophy, one that's in the continuum of the hippies, the beats (Woebot nailed it all a while back with his Are You a Beatnik or an Avant-Yob thesis, plus afterthoughts). and a subculture too, there's strong elements of homology between sound, clothing, discourse, economics
it reminds me a tiny bit of psy-trance: the syncretic spirituality (psy-trance's postmodern tribal package of Tao, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Hatha Yoga, Mayan cosmology, wicca, and alien abduction theories), the trancey-trippy music, the internationalism and dispersed rhizomatic scene structure, the cult of the great outdoors, the freak image
the musical coordinates for psy-folk are a lot cooler than psy-trance, of course, but i reckon that both scenes are expressions of a recurring and perennial syndrome, something that is
almost a structural fixture (if not quite requirement) of Western society... the children of affluence who become see through their parents values and the spiritual void of a life based around ambition/acquisition, become disenchanted with its lack of enchantment and try to build another path that will re-enchant the world ... you could probably even trace the impulse back through the centuries... here's a chunk from the Sex Revolts on those Medieval gnostic heretics and millenarian cultists the Free Spirits:
"The 12th Century initiated a period of unprecedented prosperity, just as in the post-World War Two West. But this materialism prompted a counter-reaction, in the shape of a new class of voluntary poor who renounced riches in search of spiritual values. These downwardly mobile bohemians formed 'a mobile, restless intelligentsia' who went 'on the road', following the trade
routes and preaching a contempt for wordly things. Like the beats, the Free Spirit brethren divided the world into square and hip, a 'crude in spirit' majority and a 'subtle in spirit' elite who could access the Divine Oneness in this life rather than having to wait until the afterlife. "
In the end though, I have to give the f-folkers a cautious "big up ya collective chest", if only for being one of the few things in the last five years (and i know the scene's got longer-back roots than that, but then so's grime: as fruitions, both are really Noughties phenoms when it comes down to it,) that actually amounts to a thang--a movement/scene, with something approaching a manifesto (however buried and vague, which is in itself in keeping with the manifesto, after all), plus accompanying canon it's pulled together for itself (interesting to me that they leave out the straighter Britfolk-Steeleye, Carthy, Tabor, Ashley Hutchings--in favour of the kooky stuff; again, makes me think it's Vashti's biography--and precisely her commercial failure--that inspires as much as her music per se). The whole package is something I can feel the pull of, to an extent, but well, I doubt I could fully get on board.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
always pleased to find it’s not just a case of my suspect faculties misinterpreting the data as per usual, but to get confirmation from the youngers that the gruel actually is getting a wee bit thin 'n' watery out there in music-land. Specifically, martin blackdownsound notes a perturbing lull in grime, while even those of generally poptimistic disposition such as matos are glum, finding it a real chore sifting through all the so-so in order to fill up a cd-r , which leads him to conclude that 2005 is "the worst year for pop music I've yet lived through." His older mate says "nah, 1975, much worse", but seriously, check what came out in '75... 05 by comparison makes the pre-punk nadir look like a ruddy golden age.
benevolently paternalistic government (busy-)body, issuing guidance to the general public on every aspect of their behaviour, loosely inspired by those public safety films they used to show on children’s tv in the 70s (often quite gruesome and disturbing: i remember ones warning about playing on building sites and the unexpected dangers of the english countryside: kids on a trip to a farm coming a cropper one by one--the first tumbling into a pig pen and drowning in the quagmire of mud and ordure, another getting impaled on a pitchfork, and so on). the music, though, is almost devoid of darkness, redolent of various points of radiophonic workshop at their most positivist, ergonomic and heimlich, human league circa dignity of labour and ‘dancevision,’ stereolab's music for the amorphous body center, plus a hint of aphex twin's early euphonious side ("analogue bubblebath", bits of the first selected ambient works, and especially polygon window's surfing on sine waves). typical of this vibe is highlight track "osprey", a fragrant rhapsody of flute-wafting moodtronica that totally fits the title (which brings to mind the vicarious-transcendence-via-falconry scenes in kes, the early ken loach, movie). (digression: i’ve actually been within 30 feet of an osprey--ultra-rare protected species, cordoned off from the public, they may be in the UK, but on shelter island, off the coast of long island, they’re almost as common as crows, and nest on top of telegraph poles by the side of busy roads).
the only faintly creepy aspect on mind how you go are the voices, mingling emollience, solicitousness and over-perfect enunciation in a way that recalls the telescreen announcers in fahrenheit 451 (and did the décor and mise en scene of that movie precede or come after the prisoner?). i wonder what exactly is the appeal of that vibe of postwar planning and efficiency, of benign paternalism (maternalism perhaps more apt, given the welfare state’s associations with free milk and nursery clinics). perhaps it's just nostalgia for something long gone, or maybe it's that the idea of a nanny state doesn't seem nearly so suffocating and oppressively intrusive in this heartless postsocialist world where no one official gives a shit about you.
the advisory circle is an alter-alter-ego for jon brooks, who otherwise traffics as the king of woolworths and like the focus group and belbury poly is a library music fiend (the word 'library' itself giving off a wonderful tang of the municipal/pedagogic/edificatory). i'm not familiar with his other works but after mind how you go i'm eager to check them out.