Sunday, March 28, 2010

this blog toys and techniques is doing some absolutely marvellous mixes you know
more listings:

new yorkers interested in the music/theory interzone will want to check out this talk by man like Kode 9 on Wednesday

The Colloquium For Unpopular Culture and NYU’s Program for Asian/ Pacific/ American Studies present a new series:
AUSCULTATIONS: sound, noise, (nervous heart)beats

When: Wednesday 31 March 2010, 6:30pm
Where: Room 471, 20 Cooper Square (East 5th and Bowery)
Free and open to the public (refreshments provided)

more information here

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stuart Argabright of Ike Yard/Dominatrix/Death Comet Crew tells me that a J.G. Ballard memorial project he's done with another of his groups,Outpost, is airing this Saturday 3/27/2010 at 10:00 PM GMT on Jonny Mugwump's Exotic Pylon show (Resonance FM), audible later via the Exotic Pylon archive

Here's the blurb from Mugwump HQ:

"This Saturday's show is a very special trans-atalantic collaboration between Judy Nylon, David Silver, Outpost (Stuart Argabright and Mark C) and Jonny Mugwump.

"In tribute to one the 20th Century's finest artist/ psychological saboteur we present a sequence of narratives, songs and soundscapes which collide, collude and are inspired by the great man himself.

"The show will be available for download on Friday 2nd April via a special microsite that is near completion and can be linked from On the site will be a full synopsis of the broadcast along with links and artists biographies...

I left out the bit at the end about Ballard being a portal/visionary, a malignancy, a bomb, not belonging to Guardian readers, etc cos I thought it a little... overblown. I'm sure Ballard must have written one or two opinion pieces for the Guardian over the years!

Ike Yard got their name from another Brit s.f. (well kinda, for three of his 286 books at any rate) writer, Anthony Burgess--it's one of the imaginary Soviet Bloc pop groups in A Clockwork Orange

Ike Yard have also made a return to recording with their new EP Ost, which is excellent
you should really check out this new album fourier's algorhythm by connect_icut (aka sam macklin of bubblegumcage3 blog and the csaf-records netlabel), it's very good and it's a free high-quality MP3 download

[still from Phenomena And Occurrences (Julian House, 2008)]

THURSDAY 1st April 2010
Location: Cafe Oto, 18 - 22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL
Time : 8pm
Tickets : £4 Ticket on the door only

A new series of monthly salon-type events, hosted by The Wire magazine, and dedicated to the fine art and practice of thinking and talking about music. The evenings, which will take place on the first Thursday of each month, will consist of readings, discussions, panel debates, film screenings, DJ sets and even the occasional live performance.

For the first event in the series, Revenant Forms: The Meaning of Hauntology, Mark Fisher (K-Punk), Adam Harper (Rouge’s Foam ) and Joseph Stannard (The Outer Church) will discuss the essence of the spectral, uncanny qualities of much contemporary audio, from dubstep to hypnagogic pop and beyond. The night will also include screenings of a number of short films by Julian House (Ghost Box, The Focus Group), which feature soundtracks by Broadcast, Belbury Poly and others; a live set by Moon Wiring Club; and eldritch vinyl interludes courtesy of Mordant Music.


I shall be there in spirit (boom boom)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ecstatic with relief part 2

there's still time to buy and wear that "Best. President. Ever." T-shirt

Friday, March 19, 2010

i know, i know, don't count your chickens, many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I noticed a curious equivocation in the press release for Contact, Love, Want, Have

"While on the face of it the album seems to traverse a number of retro-futurist styles, including dubstep, UK funky and garage, 80s synth pop and computer game soundtracks, it remains totally contemporary, coherent and focused, making the idea of restraining [Ikonika] to a single genre irrelevant"

That sleight of rhetoric struck me as emblematic for the music of Now (not just the nuum-not-nuum/nu-IDM/nuum-IDM sector, but electronic dance music as a whole, and possibly most left-field music--but that would be too big a topic to address at the present).

"On the face of it"--what does that mean in this context? This being music, it must refer to "the sound-surface as it directly presents itself to the listener's ears." So the first half of the sentence is saying "well audio-wise it's, you know, recombinant bizniz yeah?" But there's this immediate pivot to the assertion that, in some way that we can't quite pinpoint or articulate but nonetheless insist on, it's groundbreaking, pushing the envelope,etc.

You get this kind of slippage in reviews of dance music all the time (which often consist in greater part of intricate breakdowns of the dance-historical sources and components that the track or artist's style or sub-sub-subgenre assembles itself out of). Nobody ever really gets around to explaining how something can be retro-futurist/recombinant and yet contemporary/original at the same time (the closest anyone's got would be various writings by Rouge's Foam -- perhaps he could have a go with Ikonika?).

The equivocation in the press release does actually capture precisely the equivocal reaction I have listening to the album and most other things in its genre-not-genre, which combines being impressed ("well this is relentlessly intelligent, well-made, etc") with nagging reservations about the fact that you are never actually smacked in the face with the feeling "this is utterly new," "never heard anything like this before" and so forth.

A common aesthetic strategy that pervades the glutted/clotted era (and that extends beyond dance music for sure) is the artist who avoids having one influence by having lots of influences--so that there's no single lineage you can be gen(r)ealogically traced back to and placed within, no specific forebear that puts you in shadow. Now you could call that being multifaceted/open-minded/poly-whatever; certainly fusion can lead to the forging of new compounds. Too often though, it just means that the artist in question is diversely derivative.

What I get off even the most inventive and energised nuum-not-nuum stuff is a sense of these potent musical intellects struggling to find exit routes to a beyond, to terra incognita. Hence the peculiar quality of hyperactive evasiveness to things like Untold: the music shuttles back and forth within a kind of grid-space of influences and sources, never settling into genre-icity, yet remaining a long way short of being limitless (there are areas that are off limits to it).

The word that springs to mind for this restless sensation--for this Moment in music--is hyperstasis.

Perhaps if there wasn't such a lot of hype about its output, the sensation of vague dissatisfaction induced by it wouldn't be so pronounced.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I like it when an artist has a hit and then tries to repeat the exact same formula a couple of times (sometimes using the same keyword in the song title--as with Peter Frampton's run of "way" hits--seemingly in the hopes that people will buy it by mistake thinking its the first song, or just out of habit).

"Love Bug" [embedding disabled goshdarnit] doesn't repeat the title but does reuse "The Race Is On"'s love as athletic contest trope in one verse ("lost that race by a good old country mile" etc).

Then "I'm A People" [embedding forbad AGAIN!!] which has a six-string bass solo even more wetly reverby than the one on "The Race Is On" (but you really have to hear "Race" and "People" on record/CD, over a proper system, to get the full awesomely bass-twangy effect, courtesy Kelso Herston)

George terrific throughout, even though his prime mode is not uptempo shitkicking but the woebegone ballad, going "all to pi-i-i-e-ces"

Monday, March 15, 2010

strange how pub rock is hip now, with the Ian Dury biopic, and Oil City Confidential

i've been obsessed with this one. those choogling gels. brilleaux's amphetamine-vehement gestures and hanky brandishing. the way the bassist holds his instrument.

Feelgood kinda only had the one song though ("Roxette" is a chip off the same block as "She Does It Right", similarly written around Wilko's no-plectrum-just-tough-as-ivory fingernails, hard-flecked rhythm-as-lead guitar)


Wilko left and John 'Gypie' Mayo replaced him as guitarist and co-wrote their other killer tune (and one big hit) "Milk and Alcohol" which i remember enjoying on the radio at the time

Brilleaux's complexion looks as unhealthy as a cross-section of his liver, he looks like he's got that smell people give off when they're sweating out the alcohol the next day

Kate Bush covered in the style of "Kate I Wait"

well, less Ariel Pink than John Maus, maybe

like the name Wild Nothing

Good compilation, this, but misleadingly titled--there's not much that's electronische here, or even that's motorik really. In fact the selection could almost have been made as a counter-argument to the line pushed by Julian Cope in his book of Krautrock-as-protopunk. Because rather a lot of the groups here sound like they really wanted to be Quintessence, not Velvet Underground. It's not for nothing that some members of Traffic actually joined the later Can (great here with "A Spectacle", which = Happy Mondays). Indeed there might actually be more flutes on this compilation than synths.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

an even earlier post-rock

David Griffiths spots an appearance of "post-rock" even earlier than Ellen Willis in 1968 -- and in a Time magazine September 22 1967 cover story on The Beatles of all places. In "Pop Music: The Messengers"Time staff writer Christopher Porterfield says:

Rich and secure enough to go on repeating themselves —or to do nothing at all—they have exercised a compulsion for growth, change and experimentation. Messengers from beyond rock 'n' roll, they are creating the most original, expressive and musically interesting sounds being heard in pop music. They are leading an evolution in which the best of current post-rock sounds are becoming something that pop music has never been before: an art form. "Serious musicians" are listening to them and marking their work as a historic departure in the progress of music—any music.

Later in the piece there's a subsection titled "Sound Pictures", and the quotes from George Martin anticipate Eno and studio-as-compositional-tool:

George Martin, the producer whose technical midwifery is helping to make the steps possible, likens them to the shift from representational painting to abstractionism. "Until recently," he says, "the aim has been to reproduce sounds as realistically as possible. Now we are working with pure sound. We are building sound pictures."

In fact, some observers predict that "sound pictures" may prove to be the medium through which the Beatles—and the more adventurous rock groups in their wake—can merge with "classical" contemporary music. Already, says Robert Tusler, who teaches 20th century music at U.C.L.A., "the Beatles have taken over many of the electronic concepts in music that have been worked on by the German composers of the Cologne group. They've made an enormous contribution to electronic music".

So post-rock was not only an achieved reality by the summer of 1967 (or earlier still, with "Strawberry Fields Forever" and 1966's "Tomorrow Never Knows") but already beginning to be conceptualised.

The second issue of Loops is out now and contains "Sound Envisioned", part 2 of my science fiction & music epic, this time looking at imaginings of future music by s.f. writers.

I was slightly embarrassed handing in a piece even longer (11 thousand plus) than the first instalment, but then I learned that Paul Morley had written 30 thousand words on Michael Jackson...

Couple of parishioners in the new issue: Mark Fisher asking "why don't bands split up anymore?" and Owen Hatherley on the sonic psychogeography of postpunk Manchester

More information and extracts from Loops 02.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

a weekend of radiophonic treats

Saturday 6th March, 4:30-6:30 PM (GMT) -- Moon Wiring Club's Ian Hodgson guests on the Jonny Trunk OST show on Resonance FM

Sunday 7th March, 5:30-8:00 PM (GMT)-- The Advisory Circle's Jon Brooks appears on Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone show on BBC 6, for an interview and to air a brand-new Advisory Circle track

yet another earlier post-rock: James Wolcott's July 1975 Circus profile of Todd Rundgren.

Wolcott's penultimate paragraph:

Todd says, "Kids used to go into rock for fame, now it's for money. The proliferation of cheap instruments made it possible for anyone to take up a career in rock." Perhaps he believes that his music has to be majestically thunderous in order to drown out the buzzing of the locusts. When the issue of sexuality in rock came up, Todd said, "Rock right now isn't sexy, it's smutty." All these remarks point to the same conviction: that rock music has become so common (in the bad sense of that word), so repetitive, and so enmeshed in financial interests that its vitality has degenerated into mindlessness. In short, it's time to go beyond rock. What will this post-rock phenomenon be known as? "Why not just call it music?," replied Todd. Common sense has its triumphs.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

"a glistened turd in your ear"--Neil Kulkarni fingers AutoTune as the culprit that's "making much black pop feel so foil-on-the-filling nasty right now", then proclaims that only Jamaicans should be allowed to use AutoTune. Could the current crop of dancehall inventoried in this Quietus column (#2 of a 3 part series) possibly be as delirious as Neil's descriptions of them?
Radif Kashapov from Saint-Petersburg writes to tell me that Russian jazz musician Alexey Kozlov formed an "Association of Post-Rock" in 1990! In Russian, post-rock is пост-рок apparently. Kozlov writes about it in this book. Not being able to decipher Cyrillic, I asked for eludication, and Radif explained that Kozlov thought пост-рок "was next step after art-rock, where 'rock'-part became less appreciable. Instead... jazz, ethno, avant-garde comes forward." Sounds pretty post-rocky. "So he tried to gather musicians to association. He failed, eventually." Sounds even more post-rocky.

(On which subject, we didn't call them the Lost Generation at the time, silly. At that point--1993/94--the UK postrock sector looked like, if not the way of the future, then at least something that had a future)

the earlier post-rocks

As prefixes (with optional hyphen) go, it's a fairly obvious one, so it's hardly surprising that some people came up with it earlier than me. But I was surprised to find just how early...

Take this:

That's the earliest I've seen, and it's really early--1968! But what did Ellen Willis mean by "postrock" exactly? In this essay she never returns to the term, but it possibly refers to the grown-up, expansive music being made after rock's post-67 maturation (a development she semi-laments).

Meltzer's use of post-rock here in the subtitle to 1972's Gulcher: Post-Rock Cultural Pluralism in America (1649-1993) doesn't seem to be a musical usage particularly. He's talking (I think--never made it very deep into the book) in general terms about mass culture after Elvis and the loosening-up/leveling-down engendered by rock'n'roll, Pop, etc etc. There's also a sense that "post" refers to Meltzer's own loss of faith in rock (hence his writing a whole book about anything but rock music).(Funny though that the absurdist time-span in Gulcher's subtitle should be bracketed at one end by 1993, the year of post-rock's "official" commencement as genre).

After Gulcher, "post-rock" next crops up in the pages of the early Eighties New Musical Express as ammunition in the rockism vs. popism war. New Pop champion Paul Morley, reviewing Altered Images live in the February 13 1982 NME, hails Grogan and boys as key players in “the vitalizing anti-crisis post-rock pre-packaged HIGHLY USEFUL teented-pop bubble and trouble.”
So here "post-rock" signifies not a genre or musical form but something conceptual/cognitive, ie. a move beyond rockist assumptions/values/prejudices into some brand new kind of mental space.

Picking up on the term in the next issue, Morley's then adversary (and original nu-rockist) Barney Hoskyns writes an Echo & The Bunnymen cover story/nu-rockist manifesto, during which he pinpoints the group's debt to Marquee Moon and hails Television as the "first post-rock rockists”. A few weeks later, writing about Athens, Georgia's The Method Actors (whose Acute anthology I enthused about recently), Hoskyns describes their double LP Little Figures as being a more "radical post-rock statement" than PiL.

Funnily enough, the next occurrence of "post-rock"...

... I know of is in this Rolling Stone Album Guide entry on Public Image Ltd. M.C. is Mark Coleman. The Guide came out in 1992, not sure when I got my copy of the book, but it's fairly likely I saw that and the term lodged in my head. In this context, it's a suggestive formulation, but some way short of being a concept.


another precocious use of post-rock from James Wolcott in 1975, more here

russian jazz musician tries to form Association of Post-Rock in 1990 or earlier, more here

fuck me the earliest post-rock yet -- from 1967!!!!!
weird watching District 9 for the first time after a week of banging Die Antwoord--kept expecting Vikas to suddenly snarl at his persecutors "you pickt the wrrrrroooooooong ninja to fokk with!"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010