Sunday, June 24, 2007

retro-fetishism of outmoded music formats, pt 174: a well-researched essay on the history of the flexidisc in Stylus

in peculiar synchrony, there's an excellent eulogy to the C86-era flexi-zine Are You Scared To Get Happy in this month’s Wire, written by Sukhdev Sandhu as one of those Epiphanies columns in the back of the mag (it’s in the latest issue, TGristle on the cover). I’ve got a couple of issues of Are You Scared To Get Happy tucked away in some box from my days as
not-quite-participant/observer writing ethnomusicological treatises on the shambler-cutie tribe. As I recall, the editor, Matt Haynes, was a rabid ideologue who believed that the only true, pure format for pop music was the flexidisc---which should be played on a Dansette for extra lo-fi reproduction and authentic teenaged kicks. Everything else was too high fidelity deluxe sound and therefore adult/hippy/sold-out.

And then in further synchrony I stumble on this, a Trunk release I missed: Flexi Sex

But talking of zines, a long time ago I read a fascinating interview in Tuba Frenzy (same issue as their classic and ahead of its time piece on 99 Records) done with this dude Ian Williams, then playing in a post-Don Caballero math-rock outfit called Storm and Stress. Intellectually heady, highbrow stuff, although when I got hold of the group’s album it wasn’t all that (beautifully pacakaged though in some kind of translucent cd-casing with lettering printed on). Anyway it’s the same Ian Williams who is in Battles--an equally brainy operation judging by this.

here's a taster of Ian’s patter of yore taken from an old press release:
Storm&Stress is of course an historical reference to the German literary movement, Sturm and Drang. Ours is more of a modern day version, where the characters still yearn for revolt, but unfortunately cannot. We would like to feel, but have no feelings left. It’s about an impossible situation: the ridiculousness of another era in our new skin (the wigs hurt), the improperness of pop artifice mixed with legitimate attempts at being serious, and then all of the attendant problems, i.e. teenage aspirations tripped up by music that teenagers probably don’t want to listen to, rock without a beat, etc.

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