Thursday, August 30, 2007

that voice (slight re-re-RE-return)

carl impostume maintains his strong recent form with an inspired contribution to the that voice colloquy, a sort-of-paean to CRASS's Eve Libertine and the way she
merged Ice Queen, Matron, Harridan and Dominatrix to end up as a punk mirror image to... but i shan't spoil it for you. "Rum", as Owen put it.

YouTubing with my bruvver Jez last week (five years younger than me, he was a major Crass fan as many second and third wave punx in the Home Counties--see also Brett Anderson--were), he escorted me to a video (some latterday montage type presumably, Crass surely didn't do promos!) for "Walls", which is the "desire desire desire/without your walls I come alive" quasi-funk/"we can do death disco too you know track" I mentioned recently the last time I got Felt Up ("recently"?!? it's been almost six months! How remiss of me. Soon come. Honest.). Here's the song/video in question. But that appears to be Joy de Vivre on that one as opposed to Eve. And while whiter-than-whiter she's a bit too warbly to be that voice.

I thought of a whole bunch more that voice candidates last week while trudging across the shingles and pebbles of Broadstairs beach in a faint drizzle. But the only one I can remember now is Sinead O’Connor. Again it's
that javelin-throwing purity, the tone of scorn and defiance, the aloof autonomy, the keening righteousness...
I want to say "stentorian" but apparently that just means extremely loud. Then again it comes from the Greek word for herald, so the sense of cutting through and proclamation and ringing out does kinda fit.

Correspondent Ari Abramovitz nominates a bunch of people, including Judy Henske ("folk not folk... Powerful, yet almost more performative," he says), Heart's Ann Wilson ("clean, clear... imperious with just a bit of heat, obviously well-trained," yes I can see where Ari's coming from here although the obvious model for Wilson's soprano stridency is Robert Plant, that's blatant with the combo of Heart's Zep-lite sound), Annie Haslam of Renaissance (now that's something I eagerly concur with but really on the basis of "Northern Lights", their sold-out, commercialised era hit, which I found transportingly sublime as a kid and which was something like Abba meets Steeleye Span) and... Wendy and Lisa
("if a removed sensuality is the crux... these two have it down cold"). Hmmm...

Ah now, one of the Broadstairs beach candidates has risen to the surface of my mindstream, prompted by the earlier post on Clem Burke... is Debbie Harry a latterday exponent of that voice? Perhaps here we stray too far from the archetype, but then again: very white, icy-pure at times, quite steely... a platinum-blonde timbre... "glassy" as Owen had it (and never more so than on "Heart of Glass"). And clearly (you only have to look at her eyes in the videos) what put her out of reach, untouchable, in a way beyond sexuality, was the smack. That was the ice in her veins. Lester Bangs complains (and complains) (and complains) in his Blondie book (someone should reprint it) about how there's no strong feelings in the songs, no passion, this utter emotional blankness (not entirely fair or accurate, but he's got a point), arguing that they, not Richard Hell, are New York New Wave's true cold-souled voidoids. But strangely (perhaps for legal reasons) he never once mentions narcotics.

Correspondent Terence J. Mcgaughey offers Annette Peacock, "in general, and on I'm the One and Sky Skating in particular... midway between grace slick's icy reedy alto on 'White Rabbit' and lotte lenya's odd, grainy soprano". Isn't she a bit too jazz though? Too hotly libidinous? X-Dreams is downright raunchy. But I know what Terry means. Saw her once at Ronnie Scott's. She's great, obviously.

Fangirl Emmy Hemmings alludes to an obscure Melbourne outfit called The Paradise Motel, something like the missing link between the Bad Seeds and Broadcast in her description, fronted by one "Merida Sussex (yes, very goth)... she really did have that kind of voice--ice queen". Emmy wrote a retrospective on their discography last year for Mess+Noise magazine. "An interesting band."

Which reminded me that a modern-day exponent of that voice, when she's not too sultry, is Sylvia Gordon, the singer in Kudu. Like if Siouxsie had fronted ESG...

(Which reminds me: amazing to learn that Siouxsie and Budgie have split up, eh?)

Winding up, I wonder if One Dove's Dot Allison belongs in this emerging canon with her pure-as-the-driven-snow tones... her solo records are a bit blah (and for similar "tries too hard/good music society/all the right references" reasons that vitiate Death In Vegas, her boyfriend's immaculate pastiche). But in One Dove, there were definitely some Moments. Above all there was “White Love” (and you want a particular mix... is it the radio mix, in fact? Or perhaps the 12 inch length original version. You definitely don't want the lousy pair of remixes on that they-waited-way-too-long-to-put-it-out album.) But whichever version it is I'm thinking of, the singing on that... ooo-eee. And above all the--can you even call it a chorus? Those wordless gasps and shivers? That's some serious bliss-2-dark bizniz there. "White Love" may or may not be about Ecstasy (the band’s name of course is a sly saucy nod to Doves, that era's pill of ultra-blissy repute) but the chorus sounds like someone swooning into a whitey. Dot emits the kind of deathgasm gaseousness you'd hear a year later on house-diva-looping rave tunes like Shades of Rhythm’s “Sound of Eden”. But really we've strayed a bit too far from that voice here, because that voice must always be commanding and in command of itself, not coming (and coooooming) apart at the seams and out into the cosmos. And "White Love" Dot is Saint Theresa in the throes, it's the sound of surrender not control.
give the drummer some (slightest of re-returns)

hearing the tune on the car radio I suddenly thought, on the basis of "Dreaming" alone then Blondie's Clem Burke would have to be rated one of the great rock drummers

and then fuck me if a few days later, there he is, the man himself, sat in the front row of economy on our plane flight back to New York
fascinating account by the Impostume about his chance encouter on a train platform with an inebriated and voluble ex-Labour voter turned BNP supporter (who'd vote Green as his second choice!) and who turns out to be... but I shan't spoil the twist for you. Carl draws all kinds of intriguing, troubling, yet also strangely exhilirating implications out of this conversation, the possibility of some seismic shake-up in the political landscape, new alliances, new "historic blocs" to use G-man's term, although who knows if these forces will be progressive or reactionary, or whether indeed those classifications will make any sense at all anymore...
[cough], er, elevating the tone a bit from the previous two deposits (dunno what came over me there) here's a very thoughtful post from Dan at The End Times on Joy Division and much much else, itself picking up from K-punk's recent hauntologically-themed post (and how thrilling to actually see Leeks Hill wood)
(This Dan guy I see from further down his blog, only just did his A-levels! Making him, what, eighteen at most, presumably? Remarkable. I certainly wasn't reading Blanchot or anything equivalent at that age.)
puke and pubes--what more could you want from TV?
the excellent james hannaham on cottaging

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

RIP Richard Cook

there is a tribute to this great NME writer/Wire editor/jazz critic
at Rock's Back Pages including links to some of his pieces

Friday, August 17, 2007

that voice (re-re-return!)

Fangirl and Sit Down Man You're a Bloody Tragedy both chip in re. that voice

Owen is spot on--yes, it’s the absence of grain and groin, of rhythm-and-blues grit and raspy earthiness, that makes for a different kind of alluring

there's a commanding quality that could be sexy (if that’s what turns you on)but there's no sensuality as such

also heard from a young man called Christian Schick who used the word "enchantress" which is also dead on

Grace Slick described her onstage image/aura as "a bit witchy"-- also 'fascist' meant in a jokey way for sure, but still..)

chatting to Christian, it struck me there might be some European singers who belong in the that voice canon -- the woman in Curved Air (Sonja Kristian? what a great ice queen name eh) -- the singer in Shocking Blue (who died recently, didn't she) not so much for "Venus" which is great in its Doors-in-pop-mode way but for the harrowing thrill-chill of "Love Buzz" -- also the woman who fronted Savage Rose maybe, although the only one of their discography I've actually heard is the one that's almost entirely instrumental so I'm just going by repute here

Nico is an ice queen for sure but doesn't have the sheer lung power for that voice

what makes me think of show tunes is that ability to really hold a long note (e.g. 'White Rabbit', that final sustained cry which always makes me think of a lance or javelin running through your body)

I've been toying for a while with the idea that's there an inherent authoritarianism to showbiz.. is it innately right-wing in some way? Evita as a pre-Thatcherite fantasy of the strong leader reimposing order, that's obvious... Andrew Lloyd Weber was part of a cabal of people who favored a coup in the mid-Seventies, to tame the unions, right? But the whole structure of showbiz is the opposite of rock's idea of community, it's a monologue, a spectacle, a one-way transmission... singer as authority figure not representative of the people. the more showbiz rock gets (Queen a good example here) the more it gets fascist-y

Although she's a bit grainy to really fit the that voice mode Stevie Nicks got close at points, and the piercingly pure voiced "Rhiannon" is where witchiness rises to the surface as a conscious trope -- "she rules her life like a bird in flight" (Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" reversed, turned feminist)... woman as endlessly receding from your grasp mystery ... "will you ever win?" -- the answer: No!

a look, don't touch thing -- yes it's appeal (to both genders, for different reasons)is easy to see

then there's Siouxsie who i always thought owed something to Grace Slick (although she never mentions her as an influence) -- and with the Creatures 'Right Now', she takes the ice queen thing back to showbiz (it's a cover of some famous big band standard, right?). on that song Siouxsie sounds brassy yet still ice-veined -- totally imperious. a dominatrix.

that voice pops up in the oddest places -- like the theme song of Kath and Kim! Which i'm guessing is actually sung by the actress who plays Kim. 'The Joker' was originally an Anthony Newley song I believe. Again it's the long sustained final note - 'the joker is meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' plus the 'ha!' exhalation-as-bitter-self-scornful-laughter that gives me a genuine frisson
in a camp sublime sort of way

and talking of the interface of between show tunes and rock, and Evita on passant, having i ever confessed here before my erm susceptibility to Rock Follies? Videocassettes of the entirety of series 1 and all but the last episode (oh the frustration!) of series 2 were left in a cardboard box in our garbage chute area some years ago and I scooped them up out of curiosity.

The stridency of Julie Covington has a strange appeal, despite it at times verging on unpleasantly shrill.

Her folk rock album for Virgin, despite the Richard and Linda Thompson song, John Cale, creme of Britfolk session players etc involved, is lame though, her voice is too strident for folk, again suggesting that that voice comes from a different place altogether, has nothing to do with the Anne Briggs or Joan Baez lineages
Next Wednesday, August 22, there's an event for the Marooned book at Housing Works Used Book Cafe in downtown Manhattan (126 Crosby Street, just below Houston). It's 7pm, a bunch of contributors will be reading from their essays (Rob Harvilla, Scott Seward, Daphne Carr, Tom Breihan, Kandia Crazy Horse, plus editor Phil Freeman naturally), there'll be Q and A, and it's FREE. Unfortunately I can't participate as I'm off on our annual hols (same place as ever year, Broadstairs, Mrs Pitkin, fried bread etc etc). Shame as I had a whole riff mentally prepared, wasn't going to read from my Solid Air essay, but talk about why I chose that album, reasons that relate to the role of critics and criticism, and specifically that Bloosm-ian agon between generations that Marooned dramatises through its joust with Stranded ... perhaps i'll riff it out here at a later date
nice Kpunk tribute to the legendary Tom Vague, founder of radzine Vague and more recently renegade urban historian of the ladbroke grove/notting hill area

on a vaguely (or even Vague-ly)similar theme (hauntological psychogeography) check out this blog dedicated to industrial ruins, urban dereliction,, abandoned amusement parks, and such like
that voice (slight re-return)

Ted adds that in fact there is a version of the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls O/S/T that features Lynn Carey's voice like on celluloid-- came out in 2004

Thursday, August 16, 2007

that voice (slight return)

Ted Wilkison of lateadopter blog tells me that the lead voice if not the lead face of the Carrie Nations in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was one Lynn Carey, a Los Angeles singer in various 1960s and 1970s bands. However she was, owing to a dispute between labels, replaced for the soundtrack album. Which means for the full might of that voice there's no substitute for watching the film for the umpteenth time.

Ted's email reminded me of the question I forgot to ask with the previous post: where did that voice come from? Lynn Carey's use of the word "belt" or "belting" in this interview reminded me that somewhere I read that Dorothy Moskowitz of United States of America, as well as studying with electronic/concrete pioneer Otto Luening, had also done some show tunes singing. Is that perhaps the secret source of the purity/power 1960s white-girl sound? Where show tunes meets LSD... I'd always thought Jefferson Airplane like most of the San Francisco groups were folkies before they went electric, but perhaps in Grace Slick’s case that’s where her voice came from too, at least in part. And wasn't Marty Balin the other principal voice in the Airplane actually more of show biz/cabaret type singer than a blues/folk dude?

Talking of Jefferson Airplane and acid rock, New Yorkers hurry down to catch the Summer of Love art exhibition at the Whitney before it closes on September 14. (On the way out pick up a copy of the exhibition book in which I have an essay on psychedelic rock). This is the show that debuted at the Liverpool Tate a couple of years back. Along with photographs, paintings, record covers, posters, flyers, underground magazines and other period ephemera, there are recreations of various light-art installations, Op-Art-meets-mandala style motion sculptures and wall hangings, chill out rooms with cushions and colored-oil-and-condom projections dappling the walls, and so forth. One of these spaces, a strobe room created by an outfit called USCO, provided Tasmin with the second major aesthetic experience (visual arts division)of her life: it's a chamber full of sheets of foil hanging down from the ceiling, which ripple and kink and crinkle and crackle when you bump into them, and in combination with the fast-flicker of the strobes, sends rivulets of dazzle everywhichway... well Tazzy went mental as you can imagine, kept charging in and out of the room like a tiny blissed-out bull. Unphotographable, cos of the oscillating light, the USCO exhibit, but another one she and Kieran loved was the Phantasy Landscape Visiona II, a sort of cross between a lava lamp and wall-to-wall carpeted living room, you can see it here. Fun for all the family, this exhibition!

As to the art itself, well, the British stuff (UK and America get a floor each) stood up far better, on the whole. Great to see Richard Avedon's portraits of the Beatles, including the one below of George Harrison, as appropriated by my fave ardkore club Labrynth as its mascot-logo on flyers like this one.

Also loved all the fantastical playful building plans designed by impossibilist architect team Archigram. Overall the British stuff of that era, while just as dated and daft and kandy-kolored kitschy if you wanna be stern about it, just looks way better than its American counterpart. Where the latter is all fugged up and frowsty with the Beat influence, the British work has more of a Pop Art influence, it's more stylized and stylish. In some of the photographs of rock bands and scenesters you can see the seeds of glam. No British group of the Sixties would let themselves look as shit as, say, Jerry Garcia and the rest of the Dead. (Even after the the mustaches came in big-time, they were more shapely, stylized mustaches in the UK.)
a review of Frank Owen's riveting-sounding new book on crystal meth, No Speed Limit: The Highs and Lows of Meth, which I'm looking forward to reading

(Frank, if you're out there, gimme a ring, i must have scribbled your number down wrong cos i got an unlikely-seeming answering machine)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

and another swipe at Cage in Griffiths' Electronic Music:

"All these pieces by Cage, it should be clear, cannot offer, and are not meant to offer, an auditory experience of any great significance."


He goes on:

"Their function is, rather, educational, in that they can serve to make the hearer aware of his sound environment, and for Cage this is perhaps the only intention. 'If you want to know the truth of the matter', Cage has said, 'the music I prefer, even to my own or anybody else's, is what we are hearing if we are just quiet.'"

So why then did he bother to put out all the records, one wonders. Bit of a distraction from the music of silence. Especially the godawful racket of HPSCHD.
nice Momus tribute to AH Wilson as businessman or "anti-businessman"

and nice Morley eulogy

sight better than his first stab!

STOP PRESS: Morley on AHW again, with a the-facts-this-time official obituary for the Guardian

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sad about Tony Wilson but i suppose at least before he left he did

a/ get to see cinematic justice be done the Joy Division story with the shocking visual beauty of Corbijn's Control

b/ have his wish finally come true, that Morley write the book

* * * * *

I had a disorientating experience off the back of Control last week. Went to a screening in mid-town Manhattan. Was utterly lost in the film's recreation of that time-and-place, which is done (as you'd expect of Corbijn, and which is so true to Joy Divison and what their music itself did with their time-and-place) in this way that is at once grimly verite and gloriously aestheticized (and there's certainly things you can critique about the movie, things that are missing or not opened out as you might like, it's not flawless, but while you're actually watching you don't really notice, it's so spellbindingly immersive). Exited the building, still under its spell, and headed down the hill only to almost immediately find myself in the heart of Times Square! Bit of a jolt, going from the lustrous monochrome of Corbijn's recreation of Manchester 1979 into that technicolor farrago, all the more blaringly lurid because dusk was falling. Also, Times Square seems to have gone through some kind of quantum leap since I was last there at night, possibly as long ago as five years back. Last time seems like there were just a couple of videoscreens plus the famous news headlines VDU ticker tape whizzing round and round that building. Now it's like every other billboard is a videoscreen. On every side, things are in dazzling motion. I lurched down the street, eyes wide and for all I know mouth hanging open, looking like the proverbial peasant in the big city. From Control's ravishing tonal austerity and stillness to that fizzy glut of color and animation... it was like being propelled out of Last Year in Marienbad and into The Matrix.

It seemed oddly fitting too, in a way, this drastic contrast, this dramatic swinging between the extremes of our pop culture... thinking about how European Joy Division's reference points were... and about how Ian Curtis ended his life just before they were about to make their debut tour of America... and then, a little later, how important New York and its bright-lights night life would be to New Order in terms of them finding a way forward, a new direction for themselves, away from the darkness. Two different visions of the city, both equally essential, equally seductive.
me on Julian Cope's JapRockSampler: How the Post-War Japanese Blew Their Minds On Rock’n’Roll

plus flashback: me on Krautrocksampler
"malice can't repeat the blisschaos of early rufige"

8 words from one Exoticpylon!

(and s/he's right you know)

that's from a Dissensus thread on that well-chewed topic, "what went wrong with d&b?"

lot of familiar points made as you can imagine but some less-familiar ones too

in particular on this page Gabba Flamenco Crossover chips in with an interesting tech-head's perspective

worth wading through the whole thing also for the bizarre bit on how Doc Scott made some sort of public apology/recantation recently vis-a-vis the music he was deejaying for a couple of years in the early Noughties-- then some close friend/consigliere types had a word in his shell-like, called him on it, and he came to his senses! I wonder what he was spinning that he's now so ashamed of(post-bad company/optical linear blare crowd-pander?) and also intrigued what he's playing now that he feels has more integrity
hey that last one was my 1000th post
refreshing the parts that 1001 pop(tim)ists can't reach -- kpunk on timber-s land and lake
impostume chips in to the enthralling kpunk et al class discussion with a tale that unfolds almost like a horror story
william gibson interviewed by dennis lim

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

a nice review by Stylus man Mike Powell of White Noise's reissued/remasteredAn Electric Storm, a record that's been tickling my cochlea recently too on account of having to squeeze out some words on it for next month's issue of The Wire

i love that voice. you know the one, that Sixties white girl voice, that's strong and soaring and piercing and pure but doesn't really owe anything to soul or R&B, yet neither is it particularly folky either. The two female singers on the White Noise record, Val Shaw and Annie Bird, have that voice, but neither come anywhere close to Grace Slick (the paragon... truly a goddess), or Dorothy Moskowitz of United States of America (especially the witchy "Garden of Earthly Delights") or even the chick (Michal Shapiro?) in Elephant's Memory who sang "Old Man Willow" (you know, Elephant's Memory, the band/song playing in the Plastic Inevitable-style happening in Midnight Cowboy). Also supreme exponents of that voice are the singers in the Carrie Nations, the fictional girl group in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which on certain nights is my #3 favorite movie of all time, a movie so artificial and misconceived and right in its wrongness it's hallucinatory, and then running right through it there's these great songs, which I find genuinely searing, with singing like a force of nature.

Trish Keenan of Broadcast has dedicated her existence to achieving that voice.
a chewy issue of XLR8R (August)(seems like you can download the whole issue as a pdf here) ... a feature package essentially based around the Woebotic shanty house concept, a survey of rude'n'cheesy subaltern sounds and bass materialist scenes from around the globe... an interview with Daniel Miller by the dude from Adult. ... the mag's sixth annual guide to the best independent labels around (not just electronic, either)... oh yes and an interview with yours truly at the back...

and there on page 34, a piece on how Francois Kevorkian is a big fan of dubstep and second only to Dave Q and the Dub War cru as a NYC champion (of that) sound. Apparently when the tremolo sub-lo hits, the crowds at his regular Monday thing Deep Space go apeshit. Not 100 percent sure what his seal of approval says about dubstep. But it has a certain logic, a historical-poetic rightness, the closing of a circle. Cos it would have been Francois K's remixes of New York postdisco music in the early Eighties that would have played a crucial role in injecting dubbiness and deep spaciness into the music that became garage in the first place.
a chewy issue of the Wire, the current one (August)... Sherburne on Villalabos (hilarious that his forthcoming Fabric mix-CD consists entirely of... his own tunes eh); Rob Young's primer on the British psych-folk tradition; invisible jukebox with Jonathan Harvey "the British Stockhausen"; Epiphany from Dead C's Bruce Russell on hearing the Dolph acetate of The Velvet Underground and Nico (so apparently the thin, reedy, crapness of the production wasn't the band's choice, wasn't a deliberate aesthetic, but came about because of botched decisions by some executive at Verve, which means that the entire history of indie is based on a false premise)...

and a profile of Whitehouse, who, considering they've dedicated almost three decades of their lives to utter idiocy, come across as pleasant and intelligent fellows. Funny, too, especially the bit where Bennett, talking about the new album's title, Racket, says it came from some noise musicians who didn't like the band's recent direction and said, accusingly, "you're not making noise, it's just a fucking racket". Heh heh! Later it occurred to me, the other meanings of "racket":

2/ A dishonest business or practice, especially one that obtains money through fraud.

3/ An easy, profitable means of livelihood.
a few months ago I was appreciative here of the Philip Brophy anti-ephiphany in the back of the Wire in which he aired some heterodox opinions about Johnny Cage, and I noted also that Stockhausen, despite at one point being influenced by the man's theories, later said Cage had zero musical instincts. Then the other week, perusing Andy Mackay's useful and attractively illustrated 1981 book Electronic Music, I was amused to see a lengthy explication of Cage's ideas/techniques/influence immediately followed by this caveat:

“It is a problem for the listener with many of Cage’s works that they are often unpleasant to listen to and extremely boring. Cage is well aware of this, taking the moralistic line that such an ordeal was good for the perceptions generally.”

Now I come across, in Paul Griffith's succinct and insightful 1979 A Guide to Electronic Music, this bit on Cartridge Music:

"The result is a miscellany of bizarre and very often unpleasant noises... The aural experience of Cartridge Music is bound to be something of a trial..."
and on the whole indeterminacy/open compositions thing:

"It is open to performers to make a 'beautiful' realisation, but the most authentic recordings, such as Tudor's of Variations II, oblige the listener patiently to accept the boring and hideous as well".

So it's official! John Cage: great, but unlistenable; Important, but shit.
give the drummer(s) smore

that guy in Cheap Trick, Bun E. Carlos, just for the image (fat slob with perpetual cig hanging off his lip) and his playing on "Dream Police"

whoever played drums on all those Gary Glitter records (Mike Leander himself?)

more postpunkers: ACR's Donald Johnson; Phill Calvert in the Birthday Party...

today: Panda Bear/Noah Lennox is a very expressive drummer, and the guy in Gang Gang Dance (Tim Dewit?) is interestingly odd

it's supposed to be rock, the Stylus list, but then fusion and funk guys creep in here and there -- so why none of the great reggae drummers?

finally, most heinous ommission: the very great Mick Fleetwood. With John McVie, one of rock's superb yet most undersung rhythm sections, such supple power. The band is not named Fleetwood Mac for nothing. The tight rightness of "Dreams", yielding yet strong, the hardest of soft rock. The way the drums on "Sara" seem to billow in the mix, veil upon veil. Those faces he pulls, the fanatical ostentation of his excitement and delight, the thrill he feels to be playing in this band. And not least the fact that he more than anyone has held the band together through it all, just through his sheer need for Fleetwood Mac to remain in existence.
RIP Lee Hazelwood


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

give the drummer some

enjoyed last week's Stylus piece on the 50 greatest drummers in rock, nice to see Jaki Liebezeit and Klaus Dinger get props and Steve Morris place so highly (#5, and new order, lovely stuff, but something of a tragedy he put the drum kit in storage and started manning the drum machine, eh?). A few surprising inclusions (Bill Berry? Larry Mullen Jnr? both serviceable enough sticksmen but... and Topper Headon? Really?). And some shocking ommissions. Budgie deserves to be in there for his playing on The Slits' Cut let alone all the Banshees prime period albums. Equally aghast at the non-inclusion of Minutemen's George Hurley. While we're on the postpunk tip, somewhat surprised by the failure to place of PiL-head Martin Atkins (who no less an authority than Steve Albini recently described as one of THE great rock drummers), Bruce Smith, Palmolive (unorthodox, I grant you..), Scritti's Tom Morley (Mark E. Smith said they had the best rhythm section in the country at that point--and why no mention of Karl Burns, come to think of it), K.Joke's Paul Ferguson.... Elsewhere, Robert Wyatt was fairly handy with the sticks, right? And I always thought David Narcizo from Throwing Muses was a really interesting, different-sounding drummer, with this military, circular, "Four Sticks"-like motion in his playing. I thought of a whole bunch more the other day, mopping up (see below), but mind is blanking right now. Well, the topic is inexhaustible, clearly--just look at the 102 comments the article has spawned, which I haven't dared read yet.
give the plumber some

as some kind of karmic punishment for the blog post on flooding, we had an actual flood in our building last week. narrowly averted, in our apartment on the second floor, caught in the nick of time, but there was inches of water in the basement and the fourth floor apartment in our line got quite moist apparently, the owner being away. the plumbing here is ancient, doubtless dating back to when the building was built in the 1920s, and has always been mysterious and distinctly eerie. there'd be disconcerting gastric gurglings emanating from the kitchen at odd hours, LOUD. then there was the period when the sink would fill up with soapy bubbles. you'd come in and it was up to the brim. clear white bubbles at first, later flecked with alarming looking black bits. the first theory was an improperly installed dishwasher on a higher floor, but then it turned out it was the ancient drainage pipes that had become clogged with decades of sediment, like a chlorestorol-coated artery (so that was what the black bits were, arterial placque, ancient scum. yum yum). a "trap" was installed, a sort of unidirectional filter designed to prevent flow-back, and that worked for a while, the foam ceased. But recently--a warning sign we should have heeded--there were a few incidents of low-level froth-back, and the Eraserhead-like rumblings from the building's intestines had a new intensity. anyway last week i come in the kitchen and the sinks--enormous old fashioned ceramic tubs that make me think of the word "scullery" --were full to the brim with brackish brown water, seconds from overspilling. Panic stations! I started ferrying the stuff by the bucket to a sink in the hallway's garbage chute area, and the bleedin' bucket disintegrates in my hand, flooding the hallway. Took me an hour to mop up it up. An upclose and well whiffy reminder that there's nothing aesthetic about floods when they interact with the human word; looks nice in a field, all oneiric and utopian-uterine maybe. but in urban areas, it's abjection time, with sewage, garbage, allsortsa ordure to reckon with. Decay and ruined possessions and rotten food. Next day the plumbers arrived and embarked on a major project of wrenching out the clogged-up ancient drains, which had finally become impassable, resulting in the waste kitchen water from all twelve floors backing up to the fourth floor. As well as the main drain they replaced a vent originally designed to evacuate sewer gases--yum--but completely compacted with grot--double yum). The work is done, the dust and lead-paint particles are mostly cleared up, the holes in the walls awaiting to be replastered and restored, covered for now with cardboard and sticky blue tape. There's just this faint, moldy odor, which i'm hoping comes from the interior of the building, escaped moisture that's festered. No, nothing aesthetic about first-hand flooding, nothing at all.


Returning (gingerly) to the subject of flood lit, Frieze-man Dan Fox pointed me in the direction of Deluge, a 1927 s.f. novel by S. Fowler Wright. Sez Dan, "it involves cataclysmic tectonic plate shifts somewhere else in the world causing mass flooding across the globe. a family, living the quiet life in their cottage in the country, is torn apart, as the floods claim the whole country, save for a small archipelago of villages once collectively known as 'the cotswolds'... in its own way, considering the time at which it was written, it's quite a brutal novel."

James Taylor tells me that the English Channel rises/Home Counties inundated novel I'm thinking of is by John Christopher, which is what I'd actually suspected but wasn't sure. (He also did a cataclysmic novel called The Death of Grass, which concerns about massive crop failure leading to famine and social collapse). The novel is called A Wrinkle in the Skin, the skin presumably being the continental plates which ripple causing the oceans and dry land to swap places.) I was surprised by how much of the plot I'd remembered from one read 30 years ago.

Another obvious one is John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes, although the flooding element comes only in the later stage of the book. Basically aliens arrive on Earth with a view to taking over, getting rid of us, they establish themselves on the bottom of the seabed, there's a series of mysterious events, attacks, boats disappearing. Then later on they decide to literally liquid-ate humanity, and start melting the polar ice caps, the ocean rises 200 feet or something, more rapidly than human civilisation can adapt to, everyone flees to the mountains, which become islands. But (as per the denouement of The Triffids), a plucky scientist discovers the enemy's Achilles heel...

Finally, Kpunk passes on some info sent to him a while back by one China Miéville,
on the subject of the resemblance between Aldiss's Greybeard and P.D. James's Children of Men. Well, apparently, there was a bit of stink about this, accusations flying (Aldiss apparently wrote a piece called "Literary Coincidence" for the Spectactor), resulting in angry denials from P.D. James. The s.f. community was particularly peeved on account of James' attempt to distance her book from the science fiction category, a common move by "proper" novelists who dabble in the s.f. mode (with the honorable exception of Kingsley Amis and Anthony Burgess who were generous with their praise and respect for the genre.)