Monday, July 30, 2007

a post by Homo Ludens on the flooding in the UK (which as far as I know has received barely any coverage in the US news media--America really giveth not one single shit about anything going on beyond its borders, do it?)

no mention from Mr Ludens of Burial (or The Good the Bad and The Queen for that matter, or indeed The Eraser) but J.G. Ballard makes an appearance w/ the Drowned World

there's a s.f. cataclysm novel by a British author whose title/name escapes me where the premise is a massive earthquake that raises the seabed of the English Channel with a result that the entire aqueous contents of said Channel are abruptly shifted to the interior mainland of England. The hero, who was doing business on Guernsey or on a ferry or yachting mid-Channel, something like that, naturally strives to get back to "land" to find his loved ones, which entails walking across the still-damp but no longer submerged seafloor until he gets to what was recently the coast. Heading inland, he reaches, i dunno (we're talking 30 years since i read this), the South Downs, only to look West and sees.... just this vast ocean where the Home Counties were

another s.f. near-future in which flooding plays a role is Brian Aldiss's Greybeard (1964), in which (pre-echo of Children of Men) humanity has become sterile, leading to an ageing population and the gradual collapse of society. If I remember right, the latter part of the book is set in a partially flooded Oxford; coypu, which have bred rampantly without mankind to check them, have beaverishly weakened the banks of the Thames causing the whole Thames Valley to become indundated, dotted with little archipelagos of towns on higher ground.

driving back and forth between Oxford and Berkhamsted at the start and end of terms in the early Eighties, it seemed like the farmland was often flooded, like it was a natural, seasonal occurrence. i loved to see that total transformation of the landscape, pastures become lakes. (I imagine the farmers had a different perspective than my aestheticized s.f. fan's gaze...). Closer up though (flooded meadows beside the Grand Union Canal on winter walks)there was always something both troubling and eerily alluring about flooded fields for me, the way the color-bleached grass undulates beneath the surface, placid and creepy... the cloud-skidding skies faintly reflecting on the surface of that unnaturally clear, lifeless water...

see also Owen's post "After the Deluge"--that pic of the Thames Barrier is unreal

and Woebot's festival experience (and i thought the Hay Festival was moist)
this at the Horse Hospital looks rather interesting

too bad i'm not going to be in london on august 9th

Sunday, July 22, 2007

he's right you know - it really is an excellent mix
impostume deftly skewers some stuff worth skewering

but people in the comments box think he's in earnest!
hipster metal, slight return -- a new zealand perspective

that album title, Bliss and Void Inseparable, is so arsequake it's not true. but then the band, Black Boned Angel, gets its name from a Godflesh song...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Woebot on Todd Terry. fuck, there's a surprisingly large number of tunes mentiond i haven't got. Matt, when he does a terrain, he really DOES IT.

Funny that two different Todd-is-Gods would play such a seminal role at key junctures in nuum evolution (Edwards, w/ vocal science), although in truth it's more like the first Todd damn near spawned the nuum, got the whole party (people) started. Just follow the line of that wracked-by-XTC "fee-eel-eel it" vocal: a lineage of darkbliss, from Peech Boys "Life is Something Special" via Black Riot's "A Day in the Life" through Coco Steel &and Lovebomb's late-period (and proto-darkside) bleep with "Feel It" to Rufige Cru's "Jim Skreech". Tracky to the 'core (“I’m not a writer of songs, they’re too much trouble”)and thrifty to the point of auto-cannibalism ("Party People" = a dubverted "Can You Party", which itself = a rap-less "I'll House You"), there's no preciousness like with the Detroit techno auteurs, no sense of himself as Artist. In the late Eighties and early Nineties, it's almost like he's barely conscious of his own creative issue, just poops the stuff out and pockets the cash. What I love about the Royal House stuff especially is how it's at once slammin' and ethereal. On "Party People" and other early Terry tunes, the production has a curious cavernous, clanking quality, making you feel like you’re in a bunker-like space full of sound-reflections and muffled noise. Whether deliberate or a by-product of lo-fi studio conditions/fast-money-music wack 'em out carelessness, the effect of playing them in a club must have been to double the “in the club” feel. It's like they've been pre-vibed.
in-depth (and how!) interview with stuart argabright of ike yard and "dominatrix sleeps tonight" fame

Friday, July 13, 2007

WTF, some weirdo sci-fi geek's taken over Jon Dale's old blog Worlds of Possibility and has filled it with freaky stuff about "flying testicles and cloudwhales"... Actually checking his opening mission statement, it sounds kinda interesting, what's he working on...

and in further reactivated blogs news, as reported earlier by Woebot, the welcome return of the Man Like Derek who despite the sapping grind of being the Wire's reviews editor (all those deserving micro-labels! the torrential outer-limits output to sift through and squeeze in! experimental musicians are so bloody industrious and prolific aren't they... i hasten to add this is entirely my projection, for all i know Derek finds the job a pure breeze) remarkably has spare energy for his old blog Pop Life and has even been doing another one on the sly for a while, as woebot further reported, a very on the downlow return from his retirement a couple of years ago.

i like derek's observations on rave's etiquette and crowd-spatial dynamics and how things have changed totally in today's clubs. Yes it was amazing how people managed to coexist so tightly crammed together without friction on the ravefloors of yore; the cordiality of the shoulder pat from the "just passing through"; the little clusters that would form, the transitory relations in knowing glances and smiles when certain sounds came in that worked the rush-centers. And of course you would still get the occasional throwbacks who weren't on the vibe, the drunks who'd glomm on to a girl in your group, mistaking their chemically-enhanced sunniness for come-hither license-to-hassle. But even jungle, which could be pretty skrewface and sour,was still rave in that sense of everyone being together without infringing each others private dancing space no matter how circumscribed it got. in fact the only times i recall any real friction at jungle events was when i (inadvertently) transgressed the codes; one time at Paradise, the bloke behind me saying (actually quite politely)"not trying to hassle you mate but could you move forward a bit, i'm trying to roll this spliff". And the other time, at Thunder and Joy, in 1994, when me and my friend were chatting excitedly about the music and the scene, a young kid suddenly snarled "if you wanna talk, go to the toilets, cos there's people here wanna rave". I was startled but then thought: well you know what this guy probably does want to get lost in the music, brock out without hearing an audio-commentary. So we did the polite thing and buggered off the dancefloor.

Derek's final thought about dubstep's exaggerated politeness reminded me of the point Woebot made a while back about how dubsteppers "perform" the rewind ritual... i got a bit of a sense of that at the last dubstep thing i saw, the excellent Kode 9 and Shackleton at the excellent Dub War at the excellent Love club in NY, a tremendous sound system with below the floor sub-woofers that really brought out a lot of the dimensions to the genre i'd not experienced somatically. At one point someone behind me roared "COME WIT IT MY SELECTAH!!!" or something along those lines, and it did have this curious air of... not quite ringing true, like it was
a sort of learned response, an act of role-play; there was this studied quality that relates to the general aura of scholarliness that you get off dubstep as a subculture. Like, these people really know their history...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

RIP George Melly

what an old codger he was...
on a MTV2 docu-prog, My Block Virginia, the Clipse are showing us around their old hood, they sit down on one particular stoop and they're smirking a little when they talk about how "y'all know what we used to do here", and the presenter asks, well, don't you feel like you kinda glorify the crack trade a bit with your music? And Malice woffles a bit about how people get into that business cos they need money, they feel they have to have material things for self-affirmation, "to feel like they're somebody". And then Pusha T chips in to complete the thought: "it's ignorant, but it's the truth"

that cracked me up for some reason: it seemed like just such a perfect snappy slogan/get-out-clause for a whole bunch of this-is-me/i-aint-changing, reactionary stances and attitudes. Gangsta's "for real-ism" and Oi!'s "we just report what we see", obviously. But also the political incorrectness current, encompassing everything from the new (now getting on a bit) laddism of the 90s starting with Loaded then spreading to every men's magazine virtually, Vice magazine, the conservative (especially sex-and-gender related) values casually and cheerfully espoused in a show like Entourage (which i watch, of course, avidly), and [fill in your own examples] [there's tons of them].

Where post-political fatalism and authenticity converge:

"it's ignorant, but it's the truth"
when you're watching one of those VH1 yet-another-trawl-through-pop-history-with-noname-talking-heads progs like 100 Greatest Songs of the Eighties, you don't tend to expect musicologically-informed insights, least of all when it's Limahl that's been wheeled out in a strikingly dapper three-piece suit with sky blue waistcoat, but it was he who noted that one of the striking things about "Don't You Want Me" is "lead singer Phil Oakey's monotone vocal style, with almost no vibrato. [adopting impossibly arch, unreadably ironic tone] 'Oh, no--we don't do vibrato'". Martin Fry then offered the trite-r by far observation that "it's kinda one of those records that came from the future--cos you hear it today and it sounds pretty contemporary". I dunno, if anything sounds date-stamped 1981 (in a good way) it's surely "Don't You Want Me". indeed a no-name burly comedian immediately offered the counter-thought that while the music itself "sounds like it was spat out of a computer", in other respects the song resembles "one of those he said/she said songs you've heard from out of the 1950s."
"Low Culture for Highbrows": that was The Modern Review's slogan, i'm kindly reminded by a couple of folk.