Monday, March 27, 2006

RIP Nikki Sudden

Thursday, March 23, 2006

a reminder:

On Tuesday March 28th I'm giving a talk about postpunk New York and the synergy between the downtown art world and the No Wave/mutant disco scene, as part of The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984 exhibition which is running at the Grey Gallery and at NYU's Fales Library.

Admission is free, the time is 6-30 PM, and the location for the talk is:
NYU Fales Library (inside Bobst Library)
70 Washington Square South at La Guardia, 3rd Floor
(further information: 212 998 2596)

Another free Downtown Show event worth checking out is Friday 3/31's Nightclubbing: The Original Punk Rock Music Video Series, which is at the Cantor Film Center, 36 East Eighth Street, starts at 6PM, and has live footage of Contortions, DNA, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Suicide, Talking Heads, Bush Tetras, Lounge Lizards, the Voidoids, Cramps, Pylon, John Cale, Bad Brains, and many more, and is followed by a discussion between the curators of the event Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong moderated by Amos Poe.

Aggravatingly I won't get to see this as that very night I'll to be walking in Memphis (youngest brother's getting married)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dissonant domestic scene #2: cradling a newborn girl-child on one's chest while watching Videodrome on TV. For some reason this film struck me as a lot more powerful this time round (the third? something like that). Can anyone enlighten here? Are there, like, two edits of the movie in circulation? (C.f. The Man Who Fell To Earth, where the original edit for the American market is an utter travesty, but still pops up on TV now and then). The Videodrome I saw the other night seemed to have lot more in the way of graphically abject and revolting effects in it, and be somewhat easier to follow narrative-wise. However it was absent something, strangely--the other Videodromes I remember don't end with James Wood about to blow his brains out, but a bizarre mural/cave painting daubed on the interior hull of the rusted boat--a craply-done-yet-eerily-grotesque image of the heads of all the main characters connected by (memory a bit hazy here) tendrils of pigment, like they've become some kind of rhizome being. Is this a false memory? I missed it, though; in some ways, the most befuddling, lingering moment of the movie for me, the previous times i've seen it at least.
hard to picture: ian p + acoustic guitar
geeta discourse explosion! hilarious on german religiosity towards techno, perils of stepping into Hard Wax if you're a girl, and a heap of new releases some raveworthy some revile-able.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Anachronesis enters a new phase of grotesque hybrids and chimeras, viz. the VH1-sponsored tour starring a reanimated Blondie and the New Cars--the latter featuring Todd Rundgren as prosthesis for the absent (presumably unwilling) Ric Ocasek. Blondie have a new greatest hits, promoted by a "new" single, "Rapture Riders"--a mash-up that seamlessly melds "Rapture" with "Riders On the Storm".
Gutterbreakz on The Tomorrow People ,whose incidental sinistronica, due for reissue on Trunk very soon, turns out to have been made by some hallowed hauntological ancestors operating under an alias.

i don't remember the music especially but the series itself did make a vivid impression (so disappointed to hear it hasn't aged well--it was the same with The Survivors, another favourite from slightly later in the Seventies, when i chanced upon them as repeats on PBS in the mid-Nineties. The concepts of each episode still shone but the acting, dialogue, etc, was diabolical). But Tomorrow People--I recall one episode as particularly powerful--about how a craze for wearing colours spreads across the globe (this is years before Crips and Bloods were well-known), the friction between the two subcultural tribes (Greens and Blues?) escalating into violence, mass disorder in the streets, etc. Turns out the whole fad was seeded by street teams of aliens who feed off negative energy and who are orbiting the Earth sucking up all the bad vibes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I've been consistently wrongfooted in my attempts to guess what Matt is going to do next in his epic FrogProg suite of blogposts.

Each guess--

Etron Fou Leloublan?
--stonewalled by a wry smile wreathed in gaulloise smoke and a terse, slightly smug "pas inconnu assez".
When he veered off into Library Music I was sure it was going to touch on Guy Pedersen but it was, of course, a bunch of people I'd never heard of.

Still, I'm relieved to learn that Magma are going to get the Woebot treatment.
Courtesy of reader Andrew Beddow, a whole label dedicated to second-tier avant-classical! If "Québécois electro-acoustic," Dutch concrete, electronic composers from Greece and Denmark, or sub-Nono/Mimaroglu "aggro-politico tape-collage" is your fancy, let Creel Pone be your one-stop shop.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Talking of second-tier avant-classical/electronic guys, recently picked up this. Michael Czajkowski was the guy who slathered kewl burbling noises over Buffy Sainte-Marie's Illuminations, which I've yet to hear but it seems as though it might be like the Fantastic Track (ie. "parallelograms") on that Linda Perhacs album, except like that all the way through.
if my life were considerably emptier, I think i might cultivate an interest in modernist churches

they used to trigger Prince Charles/carbuncle-style revulsion

now they have a certain intrigue

the same kind of pathos of the long-past vanguard stirred by looking at the record packaging of 20th Century classical music-- the typography, the graphics, the invariably modernist/abstract expressionist/minimalist/Op Art etc paintings chosen; the unsmiling formality and sternly meticulous detail of the sleevenotes...

pathos, but also honour


here's a good example of the kind of sleeve i'm talking about

and in a similar vein

this series (which woebot wrote about along time ago here) are major fetish items (nearly bought on the other day -- Jean Guillou, Visions Cosmiques, deranged church organ music--purely for the cover)

varese ones--those endless versions of the same set of five or six classic Works--Arcana, Ionisation, Poeme Electronique, etc--tend to be particularly evocative

see also
more stockhausen
and even more stockhausen

i've developed quite an interest in the second-tier avant-classical/electronic guys like this chap -- see also kenneth gaburo, charles wuorinen, etc -- partly because they're, well, more affordable -but also because the pathos is particularly intense with these guys-- they really thought electronic music was the next stage in the grand forward march of Western Civilisation (hence the loftiness of the themes behind Rudin's Tragoedia) only to have their genuine enthusiasm (as opposed to bandwagon jumping) for all these new machines wrong-footed by where classical music and the broader culture went next (i.e. backwards, pretty much)... So where are they now? Returned to tonality and the orchestral palette with their tails between their legs (Wuorinen, whose Time's Encomium on Nonesuch won some kind of massively prestigious award, a Pulitzer or something, back in the late Sixties when all this was hot). Or still beavering away doing granular synthesis and similar digital whatnot in one of the computer music labs that so many major universities in America still maintain?

whole bunch more here mixed up with more kitschy electronic stuff (who's listening superfically then eh? "kewl burbling alien noises!" well, me too to be honest)

i also dig the packaging of the non-electronic/non-concrete end of 20th Century classical, your Messaiens and Pendereckis and Ligetis and Berios; all those neglected Eastern European composers and British serialists and such like, e.g. the CRI label where the composers have names like Birtwhistle etc (this stuff goes real real cheap--nobody wants it!)

the sobriety, the severity, the solemnity ... it's quite affecting ... so much of this stuff was spiritually driven

hence the affinity with modernist churches
checking the audio master of the Rip It Up compilation (now due May 15th), i was struck by a "White Car in Germany" lyric I'd never noticed before:

"androgynous as daschunds"
extraordinary boy versus the ordinary boys

retro-bloggery! Mark revisits one of his back pages (Sylvian/"Ghosts")

I must admit, the only time I feel K-punk-like sensations vis-a-viz the Arctic Monkeys is when I happen upon a photograph of the band--do they have to look so bleedin' ordinary?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

a reminder about the party this saturday:

XLR8R and Nublu present Rip It Up and Start Again

Saturday March 11 2006
Nublu, 62 Avenue C between 4th & 5th
10 PM

KUDU - live performance at 1am

Dan Selzer (Acute Records)
Mike Simonetti (Troubleman Unlimited)
Roy Dank (Pop Your Funk)

come harangue the author, rendered defenceless through alcohol plus newborn-baby-induced lack of sleep, about why he should have included band X or group Y...
video of the Mo Pitkins Rip it Up panel

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ivor Cutler RIP
first instalment of the Slate Book Club dialogue about Rip It Up--Stephen Metcalf's initital missive and my reply

Sunday, March 05, 2006

instalment one of an irregular series


300/ Acen, "Window In the Sky" (Production House, 1993)

"Window In the Sky" was Acen's "River Deep Mountain High." After such a colossus was spurned by both general public and hardcore rave scene, what else was there to do but retreat from view. (Well there was a cool trip-hoppy thing as Spacepimp on Clear several years later, and I heard that more recently he's returned to making drum'n'bass in a low-key way). But "Window in the Sky," wow: a spectacular exit. The drum programming alone contains more creativity than most bands cram into their entire career. You want the mix ("Kingdom of Light") that's on Hard Leaders III: Enter the Darkside and also starts the 75 minutes CD that Profile put on in 1994, a weird little posthumous monument/semi-anthology that's highly listenable (six other mixes of "Window" by other Production House bods like DMS and Nino in state-of-art-94-junglist style, plus various other Acen tracks) but ultimately inadequate (doesn't have the definitive mixes of "Trip to the Moon" or "Close Your Eyes"). Someone really should do a proper Acen anthology, with the original mixes/remixes of "Trip" and Close". But yeah, with "Window", the moment at which hardcore could be pop has passed (it had passed with "Trip" which narrowly failed to be a hit in the late summer of '92) but it's like Acen is trying to hold onto that moment by force of will. And also hold the rave scene together (the sound at times is almost jungle-trance--epic and cheesy and dark and pop and hardcore all at once) under the roof of a single anthem-of-anthems.
A dissonant domestic scene: Kieran doing his homework on the dinner table while "Heroin" plays in the background.

(And come to think of it, "Venus In Furs" was the reason we decided not to call him Severin)

A chap called Jeremy Gilbert wrote an interesting essay on the VU's noise as androgynous--‘White Light/ White Heat; Jouissance Beyond Gender in the Velvet Underground’ (in Andrew Blake ed. Living Through Pop. Routledge, July 1999)--during the course of which he mentioned the Velvets as a significant ommission from The Sex Revolts. He was right, although you could say we had it covered, implicitly, with the stuff on MBV.

They're an odd one, for me, the Velvet Underground. Love the recorded artifacts, but for some reason would never describe myself as a "Velvets fan"--something about that cluster of New York/"cool"/Warhol holds me back from loving the group (the "what they're about" factor).

But yeah, now I come to think of it, I can't recall ever expending an ounce of thought on the subject of The Velvet Underground. Not going to start now, not really, but here's a couple of half-formed notions.

1/ listening to how thin and underproduced and tatty the first album sounds, even by Sixties standards, it struck me: this is the beginning of "indie" isn't it? the beginning of failure and deficiency and a certain shaky quality fetishised as positives? Not by the group (I'm sure they wanted to sell by the truckload) but by their worshippers. That mid-Eighties idea of perfect pop or "pure pop" as something other than what actually is in the hit parade, it starts with the VU. Up until the VU, the best bands of the era, the most innovative and important ones, were also the biggest selling ones: Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Byrds, Hendrix etc. Quality and quantity of units shifted go hand in hand. Velvet Underground (and also Love) are where the idea of the genius/visionary spurned by the mainstream record-buying public originates, along with the defensive fantasy of "this is the true pop music, not that garbage in the charts". They're the first instances where that argument is even tenable to make (c.f. John's Children, who I adore, but I can totally see why they didn't make it to Who-level). Later comes Big Star, perfect pop that splits the difference between Beatles and Velvets but barely manages to touch the ankles of ELO and Supertramp... and so we have the foundations of indie-rock/alt-rock, the perfect fit between idolising Pop's "losers" and the slacker-style advocacy of noble failure as life outcome(replacements etc etc).

2/ Strange to think that the VU are the grand-daddy's of both "indie" and glam (via their effect on bowie/roxy/eno). Think about the gulf between Japan covering "All Tomorrow's Parties" and that whole other strand of VU-love (Jesus & Mary Chain, Galaxie 500, Spacemen 3, Sonic Youth etc). Weird!
Interesting to read the NYT magazine piece last week on Broken Social Scene and the whole "Torontopia" milieu. Obviously post-Rip anything to do with a renaissance of collectives in rock is gonna to intrigue me, with its echoes of Scritti Politti and London Musicians Collective and Rough Trade as cooperative (plus that larger history of rock collectives: Faust at Wumme their former schoolhouse turned into studio-cum-living space--did a phoner with Hans Joachim Irmler the other day, around the reish of Faust IV, lovely feller--Amon Duul, Jefferson Airplane & coterie in their big rambling Victorian at 2400 Fulton Street, Gong living as an anarchist commune in rural France, Crass...) . But mainly it's Scritti's attempt to merge the "beat group" and think-tank that immediately sprung to mind on picking up the mag. Reading, a whole bunch of differences emerged. Clearly, a lot of idealism is involved, but seemingly, nothing approaching the theoretical intensity involved in the Scritti project. All the BSS members are musicians, whereas in Scritti the three instrumentalists were vastly outnumbered by mentalists: comrades whose contribution was purely intellectual. And the BSS thing comes across so touchy-feely (the references to band members pre-gig giving each other back-rubs, to taking a masseuse on tour with them). It's almost as though the eradication of tension is the point of the project. C.f. the Scrit HQ as a zone of argument, conflict, productive friction; a harrowing lifestyle that made its members ill, rather than a BSS style haven from the bad outside world. There's also little intimation of that postpunk notion of the indivisibility of radical music/radical politics; music not just as a supportive sonic backdrop for your struggle against power, but something you have to struggle with. Indeed, in a weird sort of way there's a sense (although again this may just be the journalist's take) that the music was kind of irrevelant, or at least of secondary consideration; that what the fans (if such a hierarchical concept is appropriate) really enjoy is the drama of egalitarian social relations presented by that many people being on stage, the endless proliferation of solo projects, side groups; being in on the rhizomatic intimacy of it all.

But I suppose I should listen to the actual records at some point.
the very TOTP performance that shook my world in 1979!
(sadly without the bit at the start where the presenter looks ashen-faced as he utters the words "death disco")

Saturday, March 04, 2006

the depressing thing about the Scandal of the Week isn't the made-up bit in the story but the true stuff--are relationships between men and women really still that retarded?
the missus on the best new drama on american tv
k-punk whets appetites for the junior boys new album
(who knew he was a sinatra fan!)