Sunday, June 02, 2019

linkage thinkage

Typical really - you declare your intention to revive the long-lapsed custom of inter-blog conviviality. Only to (almost) immediately lapse back again into unlinking entropy.

Here goes with another effort. Starting with an interesting piece on the pop hologram phenom by Owen Myers at The Guardian. Featuring a few quotes from me about the exploitation of dead stars. Here also is the full batch of thoughts I sent Owen a week or two ago.

Also quoted in the pop hologram piece is Professor Robin James, who's been on a little tear of posts recently at It's Her Factory. Here's an analysis of Panic! At The Disco's "High Hopes" (oh how I loathe that song) in terms of the financial logic of the derivative, and a related post about Panic! singer Brendon Urine's team-up with Taylor Swift for the even more putridly self-empowered "ME!" and its promo atrocity. (And to think I once hailed "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" as the "Party Fears Two" of emo). Robin also identifies a mini-trend for "Brexit Techno."

Carl the Impostume with a short sweet paean to the Cocteaus and Felt's Liz-powered "Primitive Painters".  I never got on with Treasure myself - too frou frou and frilly -but loved the Cocteaus on either side of that. Like Carl, I feel that, with Felt, "Primitive Painters" is the One - a pearly peal of  heroic inadequacy from the howling heart of those Years of Exile - although there are a few other high moments in the discography, amid much over-exquisite filigree. (How right somehow that the primary instrumentalist in the group should be called Maurice - not your run-of-the-mill British rock name).  Seems to be something Lawrentian in the air, what with this appreciation (Quinn Moreland on Forever Breathes the Lonely Word) that appeared only days ago in Pitchfork....

"and in the Eighties, there were wide-brim hats, there were...  lots of wide-brim hats, there were.... lots of large wide-brim hats - indie-wear, indie-wear - everywhere"

"When the Owls Cry in the Night" is the peculiar Belbury Poly-ish title  - never actually unpacked or even referenced during the piece itself, as I recall - of an interesting column by Rob Horning that recounts listening strategies he's developed in order to make music compelling in the face of the curiosity-killing overload.  Tasks he sets himself to reenchant, or renarrativize, the vast accumulated past (a past that nonetheless seems way more alluring than the vast sprawling present). Always enjoyed Horning's meditations at The New Inquiry on the effects of social media, the internet, smartphones, etc etc on life, culture, mentality, mood, etc etc. Now he and some of the same Inquiring minds  seem to be doing similar sort of  now-analysis at a new-ish location:  Real Life.

The idea of rationing one's exposure to music, keeping a distance from it, as a passion-protection strategy actually comes up over 35 years ago in this ancient radio interview with Sounds's Dave McCullough - a lost legend of the punk / postpunk / postpostpunk music press. He appears to have disappeared - nobody from that era seems to know for sure where he went after London or what he went on to do after quitting the rock press, most likely in a state of  savage disillusion. I have written on one of my  less-frequented blogs about how beguiling I find this unexpected discovery, this seemingly sole document of  McCullough in the audio flesh.

McCullough in the photo flesh, strolling through Leicester Sq with the Clash

Must have listened to the show about four times now, entranced by his spiky yet silver-tongued patter, by the brittle and impetuous movements of his mind, by the texture of a different age - 1983. Even grown fond of McCullough's odd and motley selection of favorite records from his collection, which include Hall & Oates, Dory Previn, and contemporaneous releases by the Pastels, Microdisney, Hurrah, Peter Hammill.

One thing McCullough said that struck me as true is that reviewers  - at least those with keen instincts and sharp sensibility - can tell by the first playing of the first track whether an album is any good or not. Which reminds me that I still haven't listened to Vampire Weekend's Father of the Bride all the way through - and that's because the memory of the first few tracks as heard several weeks back left an indelibly unappetizing after-aroma. This review by Lucas Fagen at Hyperallergic has the ring of truth: earnest maturity and emotional "depth" has turned to stodge all that was spring-heeled sprightly sparkly in Vampire's blithe and ravishingly superficial soundspirit. But it could be that I "agree" in large part because that gives me permission to shirk the chore of listening to all four sides of it.

Talking of the postpunk era, here's an interview with David Wilkinson, the author of Post-Punk, Politics and Pleasure in Britain. Which I confess - scared off by the academic publisher price - I have not actually read, but I've seen Wilkinson give a conference talk and he has a lot of interesting stuff to say about the era.


Another book of note published relatively recently is Low End Theory: Bass, Bodies and the Materiality of Sonic Experience by Paul C. Jasen, who some in this parish will remember as the man behind this . With subsections bearing titles like "Spectral Catalysis", "Numinous Strategies", "Baroque Affect Engineering" and "Three Physio-Logics", it's some heady stuff ranging far beyond obvious compatibles like roots reggae and jungle and dubstep. More information and favorable appraisals can be checked out here.

Also notable are two books just out or imminent from old pals of mine, Erik "Techgnosis" Davis with High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies (US release info here, UK release info here) and the legendary Vivien Goldman with Revenge of the She-Punks
A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot

Oh yes and I'm looking forward to reading the new book by Richard King,  The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape - which looks to be the holloway connecting the two Robs (Young's Electric Eden, Macfarlane's  Landmarks).

Oh yes, and erm,  - going back to the joint counter-entropy campaign -  I'm hatching a post about the Noughties for the collective (if as yet only potential) blog -  honest I am. Coming soon... ish