Monday, February 25, 2013

Saw Dick's Picks Volume Three in South Pasadena library and thought - remembering that great New Yorker piece on Deadheadism - "oh, I'll give 'em another try".

Listening, it struck me that the problem with the Grateful Dead is:

They're shit at song writing.

They're shit at singing.

As a groove band, they're ain't that hot either.

Really it's only the noodle, and those moments, few and far between, when the noodle takes off, that just about redeem them...   To get to those moments involves waiting through protracted stretches of  shit-song and shit-sing ....

But the remarkable thing about the Dead is that so shit are they at singing, they can take someone else's song and make it their own in the worst possible sense, i.e. make it as bad as something they wrote themselves.

Viz, this -  one of the greatest pop songs ever, turned to shite...

I quite like the disco-ish groove here, the glinting meshwork of the guitar lines and the keyboard. But is it enough to make up for the enshitenment inflicted upon Martha and the Vandellas?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Carl Neville  a.k.a. the Impostume, with a new blog, Holding Out For A Hero, that isn't really a blog but is more like a book. A book about the effects on pop culture, especially but not exclusively the movies, of neoliberalism (cheap credit, government debt, deregulation, an economy fueled by financial and real estate speculation, etc).  This cultural economy  Carl analyses / analogises in terms of steroids (artificial growth) and cocaine (artificial triumphalism).  When the economic base is ever more ungrounded, ever more baseless, what happens to the superstructure?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

 RIP Kevin Ayers

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There are times I wish I was still living in the U.K.... 

Mark Fisher and Justin Barton: On Vanishing Land - now open and running till March 30th  at  The Showroom63 Penfold Street, London NW8

related events:

March 7 - Performances by John Foxx and Raime (Thursday March 7, 7pm)

March 16  -- discussion with Fisher, Barton, The Otolith Collective, John  Foxx, Frances Morgan + Elizabeth Walling (Gazelle Twin).  (Saturday 16 March, 3pm - free, no booking required).

tickets and schedule


The Otolith Collective and The Showroom present On Vanishing Land, a new work by British sound artists and theorists Mark Fisher and Justin Barton.

On Vanishing Land (2013, 45m) is a magisterial audio-essay that evokes a walk undertaken by the artists along the Suffolk coastline in 2005, from Felixstowe container port to the Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Sutton Hoo. Fisher and Barton have conjured a new form of sonic fiction from the dreamings, gleamings and prefigurations that pervade the Suffolk coast. The work includes commissions from digital musicians, interviews and the reflections of the artists. Inspired by the cumulative force of the Eerie that animates this landscape, On Vanishing Land pursues affinities between the modernist reinvention of the ghost story in M.R. James’ Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad (1904) and the atmospheric engineering of  Brian Eno’s album On Land (1982). “Themes of incursion - by unnameable forces, geological sentience or temporal anomaly - recur throughout.” (Kodwo Eshun, The Otolith Collective, Curator,  On Vanishing Land)

On Vanishing Land integrates new compositions by digital musicians Baron Mordant, Dolly Dolly, Ekoplekz, Farmers of Vega, Gazelle Twin, John Foxx, Pete Wiseman, Raime and Skjolbrot. For the
installation at The Showroom it will be accompanied by an untitled  sequence of a wide range of visual references, produced in collaboration with artist Andy Sharp (English Heretic).

Events accompanying the exhibition include a performance on 7 March by John Foxx and Raime of compositions from the project.

On  16 March, Fisher and Barton, with The Otolith Collective, John  Foxx, Frances Morgan (Deputy Editor, The Wire) and Elizabeth Walling (Gazelle Twin), will explore the contemporary cultural
fascination with the illogics of the Eerie.

Finally, a  conversation at the Boathouse café on the River Deben, Suffolk  between the artists and Andy Sharp (English Heretic) will discuss the reimagining of MR James’ ghost stories by television directors Jonathan Miller and Lawrence Gordon Clark since the late 1960s.

more information


talking of wishing you still lived in the U.K....  there's an argument for On Land as the proto-hauntological work...  the homesick conjuration of the East Suffolk of his childhood by Englishman-in-New-York Eno 

(then again On Land was itself shaped by an earlier memory-work with an uncommonly spacious soundscape - Miles Davis's Duke Ellington elegy "He Loved Him Madly" [that was Ellington's sign-off to audiences - "we love you madly"]  )

("a very haunting tune" says the YouTube poster of "The Lost Day")

someone affixes their own landscape-of-memory images to the tune here 

                                                              (that's Cork, if you're wondering)

i have elegaic memories of my own attached to On Land , but they relate to the first time I ever heard the album ... it was in  Paul Oldfield's room with-a-view at St John's...  several stories up in a tall and narrow, modern-style concrete block of student accommodation... the rooms had floor to ceiling windows, which meant from outside and below you looked like your were kind of onstage  ...  that particular day the others had gone to see Eno's video art at MOMA in Oxford, Mistaken Memories of Medieval Manhattan...  not sure why I hadn't accompanied them...  naturally kick myself about it now...  at any rate Paul had picked up the LP

i remember the grey wintry light streaming through the window... that glinting bell tone texture on "The Lost Day," like something fluttering in the distance that keeps catching the sun...  the sound and the vision of that moment are indelibly linked in my mind

it's an unusually vivid memory, that lost afternoon in early 1983...  maybe even a thursday one....  it had inertial feeling that Eno loved to write songs about...   yes the LP and "Lost Day" especially made quite an impression....  yet, despite loving Remain In Light and Bush of Ghosts, I never taped On Land for some reason...  probably my metabolism wasn't sufficiently placid in those days to make much room for ambient music

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

drummige cru (slight return)

Aaron at Airport Through The Trees with pt 2 of his posts on 1970s drummage

Saturday, February 09, 2013

In the latest issue of The Point, the Chicago-based print journal, there's a great essay by Ben Jeffery about Retromania. Now the piece has gone online

Seldom have I felt so well understood. Actually, after reading it,  I felt like I understood the book better myself. Which is saying something, considering I'm the bleeding author.

Saturday, February 02, 2013