Thursday, December 20, 2018

wish you a merry blissmas

jouissance


Migos - Culture II
 "Top Down on Da NAWF" - "Auto Pilot" - "MotorSport" -"Made Men" - "Movin' Too Fast" - "Work Hard" - "Narcos" -  "Emoji A Chain" - "Flooded" - "Notice Me" - "Supastars" - "CC"  
Migos - "Bosses Don't Speak"
Migos - "Cocoon"
Offset - "Red Room"


Hugh Hardie - "Nightingale"
Eartheater - "Inclined"
YG featuring 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj - "Big Bank"
Rich the Kid - "Plug Walk"
Carns Hill featuring Dimzy, Monkey, R6 - "Waps Remix"
Mr Eazi featuring Giggs - "London Town"
Loski X Russ X Taze - "Olympic Chinging"
Lil Baby featuring Gunna - "Drip Too Hard"
Lil Yachty featuring Playboi Carti - "Get Dripped"
Playboy Carti featuring Gunna – “No Time”
Chief Keef featuring  Playboi Carti - "Uh Uh"
French Montana - "No Stylist"
Flipp Denero - "Leave Me Alone"
Sheck Wes  - "Mo Bambo"
Travis Scott - "Sicko Mode" (first section mainly)

plaisir

Proc Fiskal – Insula
Various - Sick Music 2018
Gazelle Twin - Pastoral
RP Boo - I’ll Tell You What!
Julia Holter - Aviary
Twenty One Pilots - Trench / live at Inglewood Forum
Moon Wiring Club - Psychic Spirit Show
beautify junkyards - The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards



mouth music

Yoshinori Hayashi  - "Chember"
Taz & Meeks  - "Obviously"
Sophie - "Faceshopping"
ASAP Rocky – "Kids Turned Out Fine
Future in Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar – “King’s Dead”
Chris Carter, "Inkstain"
Laibach, "The Lonely Goatherd"



this was tomorrow

Various - Electronic Music from York 
Catherine Christer Hennix - "The Well Tuned Marimba"
Jim Brown, Wayne Carr, Ross Barrett, etc -  The First See + Hear, Oh See Can You Say
Bernard Parmegiani – Memoire Magnetique vol 1
Various - Radiophonic Tape Compositions
William S. Fischer - Omen
Francois Bayle – Electrucs !
Luigi Nono -  Non Consumiamo Marx
Various, Groupe de Recherches Musicales











































Tuesday, December 18, 2018

big up all haunty cru



A festive mix from the Man like Ian Hodgson, reminding me I've been remiss in not proclaiming the existence of a new Moon Wiring Club album, Psychedelic Spirit Show, which arrived at its customary time of year a few weeks ago and is ruddy excellent.



PSS ventures further down the marshy path towards total entropy - sunken grooves, gappy beats, wilting tones, voices like flickery lantern-lit faces receding into foggy formlessness.

Even though PSS doesn't sound anything like it, the origins of the album lie in a just-for-fun exercise in making "drum & bass / jungle / raveish / whathaveyou tunes", Ian informs. The resulting 25 or so tracks  - never intended for release, designed merely as a "meditational vibe / head-space cleaner process" - then became the mulch out of which grew a completely other project.  Approaching the source material as if doing a mix, Ian took bits from one track and put them together with bits from different tracks. "I split each track into 3 sections ~ rhythm / melody / effects (voice samples and that) then applied numerous knackering techniques and filters, and began to construct whole new shonky-hybrid tunes overlaying a melody from one track with the rhythm of another.  I called this process (wait for it) ‘unconscious compositioning’ -  a way to distance myself from the predictable choices that you inevitably make when composing music for a number of years, and then being able to surprise myself with choices I wouldn’t wholly ever have made."

Less loftily, Ian also described the manky making of the album as "a bit like getting the dust out of an antique carpet with one of those wicker tennis racquet carpet beaters".

In an analogy that really couldn't be further up my alley,  Ian further describes the final sequenced album as reminding him of  "a car tape I had in the 90s. On one side was Grooverider The Prototype Years and on the other a selection of 60s/70s light entertainment tunes. If you imagine that tape festering in a glove compartment for 20 years until both sides play together simultaneously at the wrong speed..."

The Dream Perception Machine mix is also splendid seasonal stuff with a loose "Psychedelic Telly" thematic. In an apt time-twisty metaphor, Ian describes the contents as "retroactive inspirations" - the kind of stuff that could have informed the making of the album, except they didn't.


Psychedelic Spirit Show, incidentally, is a vinyl-only release, purchasable here (UK), here (Europe), or here (rest of world). 

But - breaking with customary seasonal release rhythms - there looks likely to be a Moon Wiring Club compact disc in the spring. 

things to read




I've often wondered about the half-swallowed askew-vowel / eroded-consonants thing in pop today - most exemplified by Billie Eilish, whose surname almost spells/sounds like one of her own delicious, absurdly self-delectating, smudge-mouth choruses, but there's loads of other exponents, from Selena Gomez on "Good For You" to Let's Eat Grandma.  Where did it start, why did it start, what does it signify... Well, here's a really detailed genealogy and analysis of vowel-breaking (as some call it) by an academic whose blog Ace Linguist is dedicated to the technical and physical intricacies of voice-production. There are, like, diagrams of the vocal tract and shit!

I've noted before that the concept of "world-building" has become a bit of a cliche in musical and music-critical discourse. And elsewhere I've suggested that conceptronica might have reached a point of exhaustion (it's certainly exhausting).  Here's an interesting polemic by Nick James Scavo in the Tiny Mix Tapes end-year round-up: an essay that declares itself to be "Against Worldbuilding."  At the risk of simplifying an involved and world-size argument, Scavo targets the totalizing hubris and over-coding that goes into these grand projects: "the verbosity of sound as it exists in sonic world-building".



Sunday, December 09, 2018

P.S. we love you

Here's my tribute at Pitchfork to Pete Shelley and the timeless newness and nowness of Buzzcocks.

Getting older, as a person and as a writer, means having to get used to not just losing people, but writing about the loss of them.

The last month for me has been substantially taken up with commemoration of Mark Fisher and now Pete Shelley.

Strange indeed that the last time I should have seen both of them alive was at the same place - the Incubate festival in Tilburg, Holland, September 2012.

Writing about a dead person that mattered to you - personally known or not - is a odd business.

On the one hand, you're confronting loss, and trying to measure and convey in words the dimensions and the particularity of the loss.Which is a gloomy business. But on the other hand - being a writer and all - there is joy and satisfaction in finding the right words. A pride that can feel inappropriate, given the context, but in its own way is a defiant flexing of the life force.

Well, eventually there is joy and satisfaction. At first there is struggle - the usual struggle, but more severe in this case, because more is at stake: this is a life, and a life's work, in review, not just a recording or a performance.  There is a sense of gravity. The Shelley piece was an all-nighter. That used to be how I wrote everything that was larger than a record or gig review, back in the Eighties. But over the last 25 years or so, this kind of all-night ordeal became a vanishingly rare occurrence for me. This was a flashback and... well, let's just say it was touch-and-go for a moment there.

It's sobering to consider that I'll be doing more and more of this kind of writing in the years ahead. That's just the way life will be going, from here on out. It'll be.. going. More and more gaps will appear in the company of the valued and meant-a-lot. Life, increasingly replaced by death. Presence, outnumbered by absence.

Alongside public memorials, there'll be private occasions for writing about lost people - eulogies addressed  to smaller, more intimate and exclusive audiences. Twice in the last three years I've faced the challenge and the duty of summing up, or catching aspects of, a life.

When we write these things, or read them, we are of course mourning ourselves too, as well the lost precious individual. Confronting the passing of our time. All the things that mattered, all the people who kept us company on our journey -  in real, first-hand ways, or in remote and mediated ways that are nonetheless just as intimate and essential.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

This is the first Buzzcocks song I ever did hear -  when my brother Tim (another person who's gone, eight years now) brought the single home. There's still something wonderfully insolent and adolescent and bratty about "when your mummy says 'noise annoys; - GO" and the blare of guitar that follows.



I love all the obvious Buzzcocks classics, of course, but this one is a fave that I haven't seen other people posting. Love that endlessly cycling guitar figure needling away like a twilight-zone thought-beam.  Apparently "ESP" has the longest fade in recorded history.



This is such a strange and lovely piece of music - such a gorgeous yearn. I can't think of anything else quite like "Why Can't I Touch It?". Love the super-stereo-separated jousting of guitar-riffs, with that unique Buzzcocks feel of clumsy and delicate, stiff and graceful.



Another of the killer B-sides



Late gems on A Different Kind of Tension







What makes first-wave punk-pop like Buzzcocks so different from the melodious emo-punk of the Nineties, its ostensible descendant, is that the Nineties lot (G.Day etc) can really play but are choosing to restrict themselves within an established genre format. Whereas Buzzcocks you can hear them straining against the limits of their ability - and creating that genre template as first-time cultural event. You can feel the freshness still.







Sung by Shelley, written by Diggle



Here's the performance of "Harmony In My Head" from Tilburg with the declamatory middle-bit and guitar-hero poses from Diggle. It doesn't sadly capture the incredulous Shelley comment.



Shelley and the band were staying in the same hotel as me and on the last morning I saw him and a young friend having breakfast in the basement parlour. I did toy with the thought of going up and saying "great concert, thanks for the music" etc etc. But Shelley seemed so quiet, so inwardly focused, that I decided to respect his privacy. Regrets, I've had a few...



Some great TV documentary clips about Buzzcocks and Manchester punk.

Love the way Tony Wilson has gratuitously shoved in some Situationist graffiti slogans at various points throughout.













Pete Shelley as fan - pages from his fanzine, NME Portrait of a Consumer, his testimonial about Can from the 1978 compilation Cannibalism.







His Krautrock fandom also surfaced in this side project with Eric Random - The Tiller Boys. "Big Noise From The Jungle" was in regular rotation on the John Peel show and I was pleased to pop it in an imaginary list of the DJ's favorites of the postpunk era in Rip It Up, although I have no idea if Peelie would have agreed about any of the inclusions. In the book I described "Big Noise" as a clangorous Neu!-like stampede or words to that effect. But of course in 1980, sixteen-year-old me would have had no idea of Neu! existence or what the record's makers were aiming for or inspired by. It was just a glorious clamour. There are advantages to knowing nothing.




Here's a great interview with Shelley by Taylor Parkes from only a few years ago, for the Quietus.

Shelley: "We wanted to be intelligent, but not intellectual. We wanted to be entertaining, but not entertainers..."

Parkes: "At 15, Buzzcocks seemed the perfect music for 15 year olds who were classically randy and anxious and brash and uncertain, and definitely looking for something, but not inclined to heavy metal posturing, nor – that much – to the deep-and-meaningful pose. Fast, rude songs about the urgency and horror of new hormones; a way to come to terms with your preposterous new self, without so much of the narcissism or the ludicrous bravado. I'm not sure I could ever love Buzzcocks quite as much as I did when I was 15. And for some bands that would constitute a diss, but in this case I think it's a compliment."

And here's an interview with the whole band from 1979 on Canadian television.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

K-Punk remembered

Enjoyed chatting with Anna & Dasha of Red Scare for a podcast dedicated to the life and work of Mark Fisher.

You can listen here at I-Tunes or check the Soundcloud version below



Another wistful celebration of our much-missed comrade can be watched here - the New York launch of K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher, hosted by Verso Books and featuring the thoughts of Hari Kunzru, Sukhdev Sandhu, Amber A' Lee Frost and Meredith Graves.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

LA events - Loop summit + Mark Fisher panel discussion

Busy week approaching, as I participate this weekend in all three days of the Loop summit - Ableton's annual gathering for musicians, producers, technologists, educators and pundits, which this year is being held in Los Angeles for the first time. Then, a few days later, I join a panel discussion in celebration of Mark Fisher's life and work, pegged to the publication of the massive Repeater anthology, K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher. That's at Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park.


LOOP


Friday 9th November  -  "Rewind / Fast Forward"  - 2:15pm – 3:15pm

I'll be speaking about "the past, present and future of musical innovation" in a video-illustrated talk

Location: Montalban Theatre (Main Stage), Hollywood.


Saturday 10th November - Listening Session - 2:00pm – 3:30pm

I'll be commenting on tracks submitted by summit participants. Moderator is David Reid

Location: EastWest Studios (Lounge 2), Hollywood.


Sunday 11th Nov - "Sounds like tomorrow: making music for the future"  - 6:00pm – 7:00pm

I'll be joining  Equiknoxx and Coco Solid + moderator Craig Schuftan for a panel discussion 

Location: East/West Studios (Studio 1 Stage EWS)

Loop schedule 
Loop locations



MARK FISHER (Tuesday November 13 - 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm)

To mark the publication by Repeater Books of K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher - which includes a foreword by myself - I join Meagan Day (of Jacobin) and Geeta Dayal for a panel discussion in celebration of his life, work, and legacy.  Mark will be present not just in spirit but in video form. 

Location - Stories Books & Cafe, 1716 W Sunset BLVD, Los Angeles, CA  90026


Information - 213-413-3733




Monday, November 05, 2018

obituaries and bitchery

An essay I wrote for Stanford Live about the death of David Bowie, our culture of public mourning, and the challenge of writing an honest eulogy.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Here's a playlist about Invented Instruments I did for 4:3, the Boiler Room's platform for film and video to do with subculture, sonic extremes and all things oddball and avant.

Here's a few sonic inventions that didn't make the cut.










The Apprehension Engine from Mark Korven on Vimeo.






Pierre-Andre Arcand 1986 from Productions Rhizome on Vimeo.




Monday, September 17, 2018

Futuremania

Here's a piece I wrote for Pitchfork about 20 years of Auto-Tune - and the whole related realm of pitch-correction and "vocal design" technologies. It spans from from Cher's "Believe" to  Migos's "Slippery," via Britney, Kanye, Ke$ha,  Keef, Flavour N'abania, Man like Nayvadius, and more. Detractors dispatched; digital existence dissected; defining sound of the 21st Century delineated.














Sunday, September 02, 2018

Writing in Reading ( x 2)

Next week I arrive in Reading for the conference Writing the Noise: the Politics and History of Subcultural Music, organised by the Subcultures Network at the University of Reading.

On Thursday 6th September, I'm delivering the opening keynote, a talk titled "Writing About Music: Then, Now and Tomorrow", followed by Q+A. That's at 11 am, in the Henley Business School Room  G11.

On Friday 7th September, I join fellow Melody Maker vets David Stubbs and Cathi Unsworth for the closing session of the conference: a panel discussion about the UK weekly music press and rock journalism moderated by Matt Worley (the man behind the whole conference). That's at  5: 15 pm in the Henley Business School Room G11.

In between there are tons of other interesting talks and discussions about subcultures, music genres, sonic formations, and the politics of fandom and tribal identity - everything from the Bristol Sound to John Maus via Italian punk, skiffle, female skinheads and the Meatwhistle.

More information about Writing the Noise here.

Bizarrely - having never been to Reading in my life before, not even for the Reading Festival - I return to the city a little over a fortnight later for another conference at the University, this one organised by Pil and Galia Kollectiv.

EuroNoize: Art Bands, DiY Music and Cultural Identity takes place on  Friday 21st September.  My talk is at 4.30 p.m. and is titled "DIY - then, now, tomorrow." Location for the conference is Madjieski Lecture Theatre, Room RGL04, Agriculture Building, University of Reading.

Loads of other interesting talks and speakers that day including glam scholar Philip Auslander, critic Sarah Lowndes and Chris Bohn of The Wire / NME renown. And that chap Matt Worley pops up again talking about the Marquis de Sade with a paper titled "Whip In My Valise" !

More information about EuroNoize and full schedule here. Tickets available here.



Thursday, August 16, 2018

prayers and thoughts - soul and meta-soul



One of the first pop songs I noticed as a child - and liked.

Aretha had a comeback in the early Eighties  with a more contemporary club-friendly sound - this was one Stubbs used to play as a deejay.  Bass and synth from Marcus Miller.



And she was around in the culture then as inspiration and talisman



Michael Clarke providing the "dance deficit" left by Green (check out other Scritti videos for artful compensations and evasions - lots of sitting down - rivaled only by Whitney Houston's  craftily edited vids!)

Oh and there's a subtle Aretha nod in "The Word Girl" too -  "She found a place for you / Along her chain of fools"





Wrote about the whiteBrit thing for blackAmerican soul, with specific reference to Green, here

"Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" prefigured in many ways by these meta-soul beauties:





And this too, where the explicit citation is Percy Sledge



"A Slow Soul" though was a duff track on Songs To Remember - a song to forget!

"Soul" - alongside "funk" - was very much a highly libidinized term in the post-postpunk / early new pop discourse (from Dexys onward, if not earlier). So I had already been listening to Stax and JB (could only find a live-in-Japan-circa-79 album, everything else was out of print!) and other things (including an Aretha Greatest, naturally) for a while by the time I read this beautiful testimonial to "lost soul" by Barney Hoskyns  in June '82 - but it certainly propelled me deeper. Peaking really with buying into the whole Bobby Womack as "Last Soul Man Standing" oversell (see also this great BH profile from '84).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Departing Pitchfork editor Mark Richardson signs off with the final edition of his long-running Resonant Frequency column - a meditation about sound-cocooning, listening-in-motion, and silence.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Never was that big a fan of the "walk" bit in Walkman - I like to hear the sounds of the city, or Nature, not be sealed off or shielded from them. But I have enjoyed static outdoor listening (the beach - one vivid memory to match Mark's many examples would be listening to "Gesture Without Motion" by Neil Trix by the shore of Shelter Island). And I do love cocooned-listening while travelling, particularly trains and planes.

One problem with this private-yet-public listening, though, is that you can be so immersively  wrapped up in / rapt by the music, so affected, that some kind of physical response is demanded.  A facial expression, a gesture, a flourish of "air" instrumentation - guitar lick, drum roll - or some kind of sitting-down-version of dancing.  Perhaps even singing along or an MC / ad lib style outburst. But you are surrounded on all sides by strangers!  You can either allow yourself to be inhibited by their presence and listen in this sort of "internally turbulent", externally impassive, expressionless / motionless way -  which is  frustrating, possibly unhealthy even. Or you can go "fuck it, it's highly unlikely I will ever see any of these fellow passengers again" and allow yourself the odd physically demonstrative  reaction to the sonic peak experiences you are undergoing. Increasingly, I find myself going for the second of these options. This is a roundabout way of apologising to anybody who has ever sat in my vicinity on a train or a plane.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Three electronica conversion experiences + raptures of mine appear in this collective list-making effort (contributors include Scanner, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Jon Savage, Bobby Gillespie, Stephen Mallinder, Chris Frantz....) convened by Faber Social upon the occasion of David Stubbs's electronochronicle MARS BY 1980.

This is one that could easily have made the cut - from an album which, now I think about it, I probably taped off Stubbsy when we were students.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Here's a playlist  + commentary I did for 4:3 (Boiler Room's platform for underground film + video + docs) on the subject of anti-drug films and commercials. I particularly commend to your eyeballs + eardrums "Curious Alice", "The Maggot", and "Illusions", but the whole thing is worth a peruse, as indeed is the rest of the stuff up at the site.

Here are some extra drug-scare films that didn't make the cut.




[A history of drugs] from I•HATE•THIS•FILM on Vimeo.







Monday, July 16, 2018

"visual music" talk at Tate Modern July 27 ++++ Post Punk events in Italy - Locorotondo (July 21-22), Milan (23), Rome (24)

Presented by 4:3 as part of the Uniqlo Tate Late series, on July 27 I'm giving a YouTube illustrated talk about "visual music" - a subset of 20th Century experimental animation - with particular focus on alliances between film makers and musique concrete composers, and on animators who created their own electronic scores.  

The event is free, but requires a ticket - these can be picked up from 17.00 hrs onwards on  the day of the event at the Level 0 Ticket Desk at the Tate Modern.


UNIQLO TATE LATE

TATE MODERN - FRIDAY 27 JULY 2018
Visual Music
Starr Cinema, Boiler House Level 1
19:10: doors open
19:30 - 21:00 talk + films 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


Before arriving in London, I'm participating in the LOCUS FESTIVAL in Locorotondo (near Bari, in the Apulia region of S.E. Italy) and doing events in Milan and Rome based around the minimum fax republication of Postpunk 1978-1984 (aka Rip It Up and Start Again)


LOCOROTONDO


Saturday July 21

19:00 hrs, Largo Mazzini
POST-PUNK 1978-2018: 40 anni di musiche, cultura e società.
Gli ultimi decenni di musica negli scritti di Simon Reynolds.
Con Simon Reynolds, Vittorio Bongiorno, Nicola Gaeta ed Enzo Mansueto

Sunday July 22
18:00 hrs,  Casa Locus, Locorotondo (Ba)
WRITING MUSIC: scrivere la musica
Workshop con Simon Reynolds. Incontro esclusivo ravvicinato su tecniche e metodi del giornalismo musicale.
Posti limitati, prenotazione gratuita RSVP su 
http://bit.ly/scriverelamusica



MILAN


July 23

7 pm Post Punk event at Verso libri bookshop

In conversation with Giulia Vavaliere

Translator Michele Piumini




July 24

11 - 12.30 - playing records on  Radio Raheem



ROME

July 24

8 pm - Post Punk event at Monk 

In conversation with Chiara Colli

Translator Michele Piumini



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

When Mates Make Books - summer book bonanza


The first time I met David Stubbs - I cold-called at his digs after spotting his flamboyant and acerbic prose in the Hertford college paper -  was to recruit him for our fledgling magazine Margin. But all the while I was pitching the idea of him contributing, one eye was greedily scanning the row of LPs that took up most of a wall  - easily the largest and coolest collection I'd ever seen - and mentally filing records to borrow, once a decent period of acquaintance had elapsed. I could see names on the LP spines that I'd only read about then - like Faust and Can and Sun Ra. Names I'd never heard of.  Releases in strange and elaborate packaging.

As I got to know Stubbsy over the ensuing months, I realised that this was one precociously hip cat.  When I had been buying Tubeway Army singles at WHSmith and listening to Kid Jensen's homework-hours slot on Radio One, Stubbs was mail-ordering items from the Recommended Records catalogue and taping Stockhausen concerts off Radio 3. Indeed my first real exposure to  avant-garde electronic music was borrowing a cassette of something like Hymnen that he'd recorded off the radio - I can still picture Stubbs's left-hand scribble on the inlay card. I couldn't make head nor tail of it, but for David this was terra cognita, just one of several regions of outermost sound he'd explored while still in his teens.


Even more than his Krautrock epic Future Days, Stubbs's new tome Mars By 1980 (great title!) is the book he was born to write. The scope runs from the Italian Futurists to the digital maximalist everyday of the 21st Century - the journey of electronic sound from heroic vanguard to current omnipresence - via Pierres Henry and Schaeffer, David's teenage fave Stevie Wonder, Suicide and synthpop, Delia D and J Dilla, and much more besides.


The preface hooks you straight off with a flashback to the flash-forward of "I Feel Love" in 1977. Evoking the future-rush of hearing the Moroder-Bellote-Summer track -  Number One in the UK for a whole month - Stubbs remembers the feeling as -


"like first contact: the slow opening of the spacecraft door, the blinding shaft of green light.... Pure, silver, shimmering, arcing, perfectly puttering hover-car brilliance... Keyboards are played with unheard-of, bionic, rotor-blade capability. It glides the way scissors do when you achieve that perfect synergy between mind, hand and blade, cutting through the dreary brown curtain of 1970s entertainment and revealing space. Space 1977. No exhaust, no vapour trails, no strings, no frills, this is take-off. People will be left behind, people will be laid off. May you never hear rock music again...  There is something coolly indifferent about this sonic craft, indifferent even to Donna Summer as it glides onwards and upwards, for minute after minute, powered on something far more durable than mere human stamina. Even as the record fades away, you sense it is still out there, puttering pneumatically away, cruising at cirrus level." 


Sentences that give me the same electric tingle as when I first encountered David's prose in the Hertford college paper  - most likely a dandyish disdainful diatribe about the conservative musical fare 
on offer at student parties, where there was a distinct deficit of DAF and Thomas Leer!

Mars by 1980 is out in a month's time.






Slick segue ahoy - there is a character in the new novel by Bethan Cole (old mate from the glorious  2-step dayz at the turn of the millennium) who is writing a book about the early development of electronic music in the decades after World War 2 -  musique concrete,  Oram & Derbyshire, etc - and another who soundtracks run-way shows using Ligeti and Cornelius Cardew. Bethan tells me it is a  modern morality tale, set in the early 2000s - a critique of celebrity culture and fashion, centred around the rivalry between two designers.  The Glide of Swans is available from Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. 


"Mate" is probably stretching it  - we've never met, we've also sparred a few times - but cordial email acquaintance Dan Hancox has written a vivid and serious study of grime, stretching from its earliest stirrings through to its unexpected love-fest clinch with Corbyn, and making all the right (i.e. Left) connections to urban politics, race, class, gentrification as social cleansing etc.  While I can't resist wryly noting the Nuum-iness of using a lyric from a jungle classic to title a grime tome, Inner City Pressure is the perfect title: as Goldie recently commented at a deejay event, "what we did with beats and sounds, the grime kids are doing with words.”  Or to put it less snappily, grime is the product of the same long-running political impasses and social blockages that shaped jungle, and it's powered by the same rage to live.  And, as we approach the end of this century's second decade, grime  seems to me unchallenged in its stature as the most impressive thing that the U.K. has come up with during the 21st Century, in terms of sono-social energy - just as jungle was the most impressive Britmusic phenomenon of the Nineties.  Inner City Pressure is out in a couple of weeks




Another cordial email acquaintance. So far I have just skimmed Will Ashon's Chamber Music but I hear very good things about this experimentally structured celebration-analysis of the Wu-Tang Clan debut, which evokes the world that produced the album, the world that is the album, and the ways the album changed the world.  Out this autumn on Granta.




Another book by an Oxford friend from the early Eighties. (Indeed this features an introduction from one David Stubbs). Back then, Steve Micalef never used to talk much about his days at the epicentre of punk (as Steve Mick of Sniffin' Glue, inventor of the Bin-Liner etc), which frustrated those of us for whom 76-and-all-that was legendary if recent history. Indeed Micalef liked to say that punk got boring very quickly and boasted of having been the first  front-line punk to depart the scene.  Still, nostalgia claims us all eventually... A collection of verse reminiscences and what looks like original diary entries in scribbled handwriting, The Punk Kings of Dyslexia is an appetiser for a full-blown memoir of his mid-Seventies youth that Micalef - nowadays a poet, still a wit and bon vivant non pareil - is hatching... advance glimpses of which are wonderfully vivid and funny.



I've yet to clap eyes on a copy of All Gates Open, but looking forward very much to reading Rob Young's new Can chronicle, written with the close involvement of Irmin Schmidt.





An acquaintance... but one, uniquely, that I've rubbed shoulders with in two different hemispheres, James Bridle - coiner of the optimistic-aspiring, looking-for-future concept The New Aesthetic - comes with an unexpectedly ominous and glass-nearly-empty view of  the Information Age (just check that subtitle "Technology, Knowledge and the End of the Future") in New Dark Age, on Verso - which I am looking forward to reading.






Talking of dark futures and sad presents... not out until November but advance notice of this huge compendium via Repeater of our late friend and much-missed colleague's work - K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 2004-2016, which is edited by Darren Ambrose and for which I wrote the foreword. If anybody in the UK or US (or indeed elsewhere) wants to host an event celebrating Mark's life and work, now would be the time to start getting things in motion.




Another friend and colleague, but thankfully a far from late mate  (well, except for rendez-vous and appointments maybe ;) ). The republication by Verso in rebooted / expanded / updated form of  More Brilliant Than The Sun, the masterwork by Kodwo Eshun, was already once prematurely flagged up in this blog about a year ago. But now it appears to be definitely coming out in October. A completely different vision of music and cultural temporality, proposing a discontinuum rather than the roots 'n future / "neither vanguard nor tradition but both" way I see and hear things - but seductive and mind-shaking nonetheless. (Re)read it with or against the sociohistorical Inner City Pressure  (I've long thought grime was the Problem for the More Brilliant viewpoint, the upshot it couldn't explain or assimilate to its system without misrepresenting - and trap may pose similar difficulties and challenges). Or indeed (re)read it with or against Chamber Music.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hauntology Parish Newsletter - June 2018 : Moon Wiring Club stuff 'n' nonsense; Bloxham Tapes; new A Year in the Country themed album The Shildam Hall Tapes; Andrew Pekler's Phantom Islands

Celebrating the Summer Solstice tomorrow, here's a new Moon Wiring Club mix! 


Mr. Hodgson describes it as starting out as your "pretty standard hyper-soup of the usual 70s/80s audio synth nonsense with added vocal bitsy" that then veers into an unexpected "Industrial dance selection... everyone needs to have heard Soma Holiday at least once."

Mr. Hodgson also points out some related MWC action:


- a MWC interview that features in new "folk horror" book  Harvest Hymns. Volume II - Sweet Fruits

-  MWC track contributed to "3rd Wave" hauntology compilation, Present At The Terminal, on the  Modern Aviation label


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Mr. Hodgson mentions in passing a new 3rd Wave hauntology entity possibly worth checking out -  Bloxham Tapes.  





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A Year In the Country have a new themed album involving multiple contributors out next month, The Shildam Hall Tapes, which sounds excellently eerie on a first listen. 

Release rationale: 

 “Reflections on an imaginary film.” 

In the late 1960s a film crew began work on a well-funded feature film in a country mansion, having been granted permission by the young heir of the estate. 

Amidst rumours of aristocratic decadence, psychedelic use and even possibly dabbling in the occult, the film production collapsed, although it is said that a rough cut of it and the accompanying soundtrack were completed but they are thought to have been filed away and lost amongst storage vaults. 

Few of the cast or crew have spoken about events since and any reports from then seem to contradict one another and vary wildly in terms of what actually happened on the set. 

A large number of those involved, including a number of industry figures who at the time were considered to have bright futures, simply seemed to disappear or step aside from the film industry following the film's collapse, their careers seemingly derailed or cast adrift by their experiences. 

Little is known of the film's plot but several unedited sections of the film and its soundtrack have surfaced, found amongst old film stock sold as a job lot at auction - although how they came to be there is unknown. 

The fragments of footage and audio that have appeared seem to show a film which was attempting to interweave and reflect the heady cultural mix of the times; of experiments and explorations in new ways of living, a burgeoning counter culture, a growing interest in and reinterpretation of folk culture and music, early electronic music experimentation, high fashion, psychedelia and the crossing over of the worlds of the aristocracy with pop/counter culture and elements of the underworld. 

The Shildam Hall Tapes takes those fragments as its starting point and imagines what the completed soundtrack may have sounded like; creating a soundtrack for a film that never was. 

My memory is getting foggier as the years advance, but I think - I think - that I forgot to flag up this recent A Year in the Country release from just last month, Audio Albion


release rationale: 

Audio Albion is a music and field recording map of Britain, which focuses on rural and edgeland areas. 

Each track contains field recordings from locations throughout the land and is accompanied by notes on the recordings by the contributors. 

The tracks record the sounds found and heard when wandering down pathways, over fields, through marshes, alongside rivers, down into caves and caverns, climbing hills, along coastlands, through remote mountain forestland, amongst the signs of industry and infrastructure and its discarded debris. 

Intertwined with the literal recording of locations, the album explores the history, myths and beliefs of the places, their atmospheres and undercurrents, personal and cultural connections - the layered stories that lie amongst, alongside and beneath the earth, plants and wildlife. 


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News from the parish's twinned town in West Germany - Andrew Pekler invents a new genre - hauntonautology - with the announcement of  Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas  - "an interactive online map that charts the sounds and histories of islands that were once found on nautical maps but have since disappeared." Part of the larger Fourth Worlds online project /  real-world exhibition + conference for "l'ethnographie imaginaire dans l'experimentation musicale et sonore". 

Release rationale: 


"Phantom Islands are artifacts of the age of maritime discovery and colonial expansion. During centuries of ocean exploration these islands were sighted, charted, described and even landed on – but their existence was never ultimately verified. Poised between cartographic fact and maritime fiction, they haunted seafarers’ maps for hundreds of years, providing inspiration for legend, fantasy, and counterfactual histories. Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas interprets these imaginations in the form of a map of speculative sounds from 27 phantom islands around the world.

"Explore the map by clicking on the names of phantom islands to learn the histories of their discoveries and the dates of their cartographical existence. Zoom in on individual islands to hear their musical, biophonic and geophonic soundscapes. Or, engage Cruise mode to be taken on an audio tour of all the Phantom Islands – ideal for passive listening in a separate browser window or tab. (In this mode, all the sounds, played in sequence, amount to something like my new album.) Recommended browsers: Chrome (version 67+), Firefox (version 60+ ), Safari (version 11+). Not usable on mobile devices. 

"Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas was commissioned by Jeu de Paume for the exhibition Fourth Worlds: Imaginary Ethnography in Music and Sound and was produced with the support of DICRéAM, CNC. "