Sunday, September 25, 2011

quick reminder about this week's West Coast Retromania tour:

PORTLAND - Monday 26/9 - 7:30 PM - POWELL'S BOOKS - 1005 W. Burnside - dialogue with Douglas Wolk

SEATTLE - Tuesday 27/9 - 7:00 PM - THE GROTTO - 2322 Second Ave - dialogue with Luke Burbank

BERKELEY - Wednesday 28/9 - 7:30 PM - PEGASUS BOOKS - 2349 Shattuck Ave - talk/Q&A

SAN FRANCISCO - Thursday 29/9 - 7:30 PM - BOOKSMITH - 1644 Haight St - dialogue with Scott Hewicker

LOS ANGELES - Sunday 2/10 - 12:15 pm - WEST HOLLYWOOD BOOKFAIR - 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard - panel with Kent Crowley and Nic Adler
recreativity (part 237)

recreativity (part 236)

Monday, September 12, 2011


1/ ITALY TOUR, mid-September

PISTOIA / 18th September

Arcana Puccini festival (September 11th – 18th)
organised by Nevrosi

Sunday 18th September - 10.30 am
Hall of Saint Dominic Friary, Pistoia (piazza San Domenico, 1)
Nevrosi and John Vignola meet Simon Reynolds
A “question time” is held for music critics and practitioners, who must submit questions or topics to be be admitted, seats being limited. Send questons to

Sunday 18th September - 3.00 pm
Hall of Saint Dominic Friary, Pistoia (piazza San Domenico, 1)
Panel with Simon Reynolds, Zakhar Prilepin, Jaroslaw Mikolajevski, Paolo Cognetti, John Vignola. Moderator: Goffredo Fofi.
A talk about weaves, affinities and differences between western and eastern culture production processes.

ROME / Monday 19th SEPTEMBER

6.00 – 7.30 "Make It New" vs. "Positivise The Remake", a lecture at John Cabot University (JCU Aula Magna Regina). Via Della Lungara, 233 Rome. Bring picture ID.

9.30pm PRESENTATION of RETROMANIA at Circolo degli Artisti - Via Casilina Vecchia 42
with Alberto Piccinini, Federico Guglielmi (Mucchio Selvaggio), Emiliano Colasanti ( Blow Up), Claudia Durastanti (writer).

followed by DJ sets by Simon Reynolds, Lele Sacchi

MILAN / Tuesday 20th SEPTEMBER

7.00 pm - PRESENTATION of RETROMANIA at FNAC Bookshop - Via della Palla 2
with Carlo Antonelli

10.30pm to 1.00 AM - DJ sets by Simon Reynolds, Lele Sacchi, at ATOMIC - Via Panfilo Castaldi

2/ WEST COAST USA TOUR, Late September

PORTLAND - Monday, September 26

1005 W. BurnsidePortland, OR 97209

Dialogue with Douglas Wolk, followed by Q&A and book signing.

SEATTLE / Tuesday, September 27

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM PT THE GROTTO (downstairs at the Rendezvous restaurant)
2322 Second Ave. Seattle, WA 98121

Dialogue with Luke Burbank followed by Q & A and book signing

BERKELEY / Wednesday, September 28

2349 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704

talk/Q&A/book signing

SAN FRANCISCO / Thursday, September 29

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM BOOKSMITH
1644 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

Dialogue with Scott Hewicker, followed by Q&A and book signing.

LOS ANGELES / Sunday, October 2

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069-6216

Panel event/signing. Also on the panel are Kent Crowley (author of 'Surf Beat,') and moderator Nic Adler.

precise location details TK

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sacre bleu!

Sacri lege!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

WoT a band

Friday, September 09, 2011

Music-criticism geeks take heed: I have an extended review in the new issue of Bookforum contrasting the life-projects of Greil Marcus and Chuck Eddy, via their new tomes The Doors and Rock and Roll Always Forgets.


Reading The Doors, his best in a while, I was struck by how faithful Marcus stays to the way the band’s records impacted him as a first-time, at-the-time listener: blown away by the debut, disappointed by most everything that came afterwards. At one point he breaks it down, something on the lines of: played the self-titled debut hundreds of times the year it came out, the next one (Strange Days) had strong songs but seemed somehow hollow (the band already self-conscious, playing at being “The Doors”) and then barely listened to the ones that came after, interest picking up only slightly with Morrison Hotel (for “Roadhouse Blues” mostly, the rest of the record struck him as inconsequential) and the final album. Marcus is particularly harsh on The Soft Parade, hilariously abusive in fact (which I enjoyed even though I L.O.V.E. the record, or parts thereof anyway). The book consists of short chapters on specific songs and as it turns out the majority of them are from that first, endlessly-relistened-to album (but often later live versions bootlegged by fans).

This narrative arc of the Doors oeuvre – explosive entrance, rapid fading of powers, belated resurgence — is the standard critical shape for the group’s output and probably representative of how people of Marcus’s generation responded in real-time. You might say that this is the Historical Truth of the Doors. But why should listeners who discover the band subsequently, long after the fact, feel obliged to keep faith with that historical truth as it unfolded so many years ago? More to the point, how could they stay faithful to it even if they wanted to? The way music listening is now organized and freed up by digital archiving systems, trying to abide by that Truth would entail a great deal of effort: not just listening to things in exact sequence, but trying to keep out of your mind what happened next to the band. It's impossible and probably pointless. The knowledge is out there. (Another example of this syndrome is how it's impossible to hear the Joy Division's two albums how they were heard at the time, when fans didn't A/ know that Ian Curtis would kill himself B/ didn't know anything at all of the back story, marital strife, epilepsy, etc).

Exactly eighteen years younger than Marcus (no really, we share the same birthday!), I first encountered The Doors at the very end of the Seventies through various “best of...”’s. I had two different ones on cassette (one was the famous bare-chested Jim compilation), off the same friend whose Stranglers albums I taped (spot the connection). Then a few years later I bought Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine, a gorgeous looking vinyl double album gatefold with a real period-piece sleeve note inside written in the early 70s and oozing this heavy, bummed-out sense of “the dream is gone, but let’s not forget what the prophet Jim told us”. A great compilation, Weird Scenes, but with lots of odd inclusions (“You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further)”, ugh) and the discography totally jumbled up and out of sequence.

I don’t think I heard any of the actual original Doors LPs until much later, in most cases maybe when they’d come out as CDs. As a youth in those far-off days you were limited by what you could afford and there was so much current music making demands on your attention. But the net result of this is that the overfamiliarity of the debut’s famous tracks (through those three comps plus airplay over the years) ensured that the first album, when I did finally hear it, couldn’t possibly have the same overwhelming effect as it did on Marcus and his ilk in early 1967. Conversely, the later LPs seemed “pretty great” because I had fallen in love with the nuggets salvaged from them for anthologies like Weird Scenes. Whereas people like Marcus, upon buying Waiting For the Sun and The Soft Parade were probably so disappointed they didn’t play the records enough to discover the gems. They had already given up on the group.

This ahistorical perspective, the out of sequence listening to a band’s oeuvre, was already possible in the late ’70s, if not earlier. And it's intensified with each ensuing decade: each new generation hears rock’s sprawling, ever-accumulating past in shuffle mode, a kind of de facto and irreversible process of dehistoricisation. (The radio, especially in America, is doing this work also, and has been doing it for a while, long before iPod Shuffle and Spotify). This has its upsides and downsides: music is liberated from its original meanings and the verdicts of either critics or of popular success; gems can be found in the twilight phases of an artist career long after their original audience had ceased to care. On the other hand, music becomes just music, it loses the dimension of what it meant and the reverberations it created in its original time-and-place. Sometimes this means it can be repurposed with new meanings. But mostly, not. Mostly it becomes just-music.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

the wife meets Buffy!

Andrew Parker drops more science on the subject of Doom Metal....

Apparently there's seven sub-flavours of Doom listed in a Terrorizer special on the Best 40 Doom Albums ever.

True Doom, Doom/Death, Gothic Doom, Funereal Doom,Drone Doom, Stoner, Sludge

I wonder what exactly is it that makes Funereal Doom so much more funereal than regular doomy Doom? Or the other sorts. Seeing as they are all a bit on the funereal side...

Looking at the True Doom list, I see that Saint Vitus were not in fact the Original Non-Originals. That title goes to Witchfinder General with their 1982 LP Death Penalty (that band name almost makes them Hauntological Doom). And a year before Born Too Late, in 1986, Candlemass clinch the honor of genre-definer with their album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus

Here's that True Doom list in full:

Witchfinder General -- Death Penalty (1982)
Trouble -- Psalm 9 (1984)
Pentagram -- Self Titled (1985)
Candlemass -- Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986)
Saint Vitus -- Born Too Late (1987)
Cathedral -- Forest of Equilibrium (1991)
Solitude Aeturnus -- Beyond the Crimson Horizon (1992)
Sevenchurch -- Bleak Insight (1993)
Solstice -- New Dark Age (1998)
Reverend Bizarre -- In the Rectory ... (2002)

Perhaps by the time of Solstice and Reverend Bizarre, "True Doom" is turning into "Retro Doom"?

Course when I think of "doom" I also think of doomcore / doomtroopers / "Doomed Bunkerloops"

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

superb in-depth Conrad Schnitzler tribute + mini-biography by Geeta Dayal for Frieze

in "Here Comes Everything" I speculate that hyperstasis/Net-induced post-everything omnivorousness might well be affecting metal like it's affecting dance music like it's affecting modern classical like it's affecting ___ ...

"speculate" because I haven't been paying much attention to metal since the last time i paid attention to metal

but Andrew Parker says the intuition is sound judging by these excerpts from
Terrorizer magazine’s summing up the 2000s (see cover above) special issue:

So, now what? What boundaries remain to be broken? What borders are left to be crossed? According to Chris Chantler [Moss], there are none. “The radical impulse of extreme music has faded, everything’s a variation on something else,” he says gloomily. “Aesthetically too, there’s no further to go – Dead was digging up his wormy Mayhem stage clothes nearly twenty years ago. By the mid-‘80s, Whitehouse and Sutcliffe Jugend had pushed sonic tolerance levels as far as anyone since. This is why the craze that has dominated the last part of the decade in metal has been the conservatively precise replication of old, reliable genres.”


“We’re better than everyone else,” exclaims Gama Bomb’s Philly Byrne, when asked what they offer the broader pantheon of thrash metal, “and we’re way more old school than everyone in the ‘new’ wave of thrash, in that we’re a better representation of the best parts of thrash than any other band out there. We’ve got our own attitude and sound, not just a mish-mash of Dark Angel and Sodom and the more ‘acceptable’ portions.”


Do the old dudes get frustrated with the dearth of imagination? Stagnancy and lack of progression definitely nags Sacrifices [Rob] Urbinati. “Sometimes I wish someone would take a chance and go out in a different direction. I don’t mean do ballads like bands did in the ‘80s, but just mixing things up. It always seems like the vocalists have the same cadence and phrasing and there aren’t a lot of new bands expanding on the old sound. But at the same time, some of these bands are writing some pretty good material.”

“Well, it’s kind of cool, but kind of a bummer at the same time,” laments [Matt] Harvey. “It’s that feeling that everything that could be done has been done, which is kind of depressing. But that’s the perception of a guy in his mid-30s, not a seventeen-year-old that wasn’t even alive when any of this stuff was happening. I can’t blame them for wanting to experience it in the same way it happened, because it was awesome! But it’s gonna be the bands that step back from that worshipfulness and have the balls to put their own stamp on it that will survive. And I know that’s kind of intimidating – it’s like writing your own chapter of the bible or something, but someone’s got to do it.”

Actually what those quotes suggest is more a case of metal-retromania than the "it's everything time"/atemporality-fusion syndrome (which probably relates more to post-metal and all those hipster metal bands who have really eclectic music tastes)

Also looks like the same syndromes of historicisation/list-mania/commemorative issues that you get in non-metal music mags like Mojo and Uncut are also going on in the metal world, judging by this issue

(Recently watched part of a metal-nostalgia festival on VH1, it was a Monsters of Eighties Thrash affair with Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. In somewhere like Hungary)

(The weirdly compelling in its tedium/lack-of-substantive content/near-zero-budget half-assedness That Metal Show is basically old metal geezers shooting the nostalgic shit isn't it... Did learn from the last series, or the one before that maybe, and to my utter fascination, that W.A.S.P. are born-again Christians now and that Blackie Lawless really seriously earnestly and truly believes that all the sub-Alice Cooper girl-slaying theatrics they used to go in for - and which I witnessed back in the day at Donington were Art in a living theater/confront the audience style)

As I say, not been following the post-metal zones barely at all, but on this vague topic and related issue of generic splintering, which metal has even worse than dance (and there may well be something to the idea that the delta-isation of a genre leads to its slowing down, the dissipating of all that tightly channeled forward momentum into innumerable ever-narrowing creeks) ... it always tickled me that you have doom metal and then you also have "retro doom metal". Doom being already decidedly enslaved to the Sabbath template laid down aeons ago, as then further codified by Saint Vitus, but I guess "retro doom" must mean groups that are unusually enslaved to the Sabbath/Vitus template? Or dress like Sabbath circa 1971?

Bet none of them can beat the original non-originals though - the mighty mighty Saint Vitus putting the EPIC into EPIGONE

here's a live version ripped from the Reunion DVD!

Friday, September 02, 2011

"Here Comes Everything"--the last of this summer's guest-blogs at Bruce Sterling's Beyond the Beyond @ Wired uses a recent article on nu-school modern composers in NYC as a launchpad for examining the challenges of post-Internet musicking