Friday, December 30, 2011

this tune, which i heard for the first time only the other day, sums up pop music in 2011

the king of crunk hooks up with the clown princes of party-rocking

result: a track that brings out the latent gabber i always heard in crunk

damn near just-drums and that bugle-like sax parp calling the assembled to attention

Lil Jon mad-barking like a drill sergeant of reckless getting-wrecked-ness

an anthem of concussive hedonism

kickdrum beat like a battery of shots to the dome

have a wicked New Year's Eve

and a happy 2012

Sunday, December 25, 2011

christmas rapping

canine rapper, made by Tasmin
RIP Sean Bonniwell

Thursday, December 22, 2011

one of my earliest epiphanies with pop involved the disjuncture between


i could not get my child-head around the fact that the Beatles could contradict themselves between songs

talking of "Money", recently remembered that another song that made an impression on me as a child was this

i loved the cash-clinky sound effects, the clockwork-treadmill groove, and the lyric's bleakness /feigned-or-genuine cynicism ("a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing"--who said that then?)

as an adult, though, what I listen for now is the bit where it takes off with the solo and the abrupt spike in tempo

a measure of listener "maturity": finally learning to appreciate the guitar solos of David Gilmour

like the blistering lickmanship of this one (starts around the seven minute mark)

Nineties and Newness

Kulkarni continues his New Nineties series at Quietus with a paean to Pram, perpetrators (sez Neil) of the Best Album of that decade

in the interview part, Pram's Matt Eaton says this:

"The whole ethic of the band, though it was unwritten and rarely spoken, was to create new music, so if a piece had a similarity/reminded someone of another work it was generally rejected. The emphasis was on new... It was all about new sounds and new ways of writing a song.... Even now, making a new sound is still our first impulse, and that includes not repeating previous Pram recordings...To repeat ourselves or someone else would be boring and not really worth the effort.... My working life is ten times harder than it needs to be because I hate repeating what’s gone before.“

There's people - quite a lot of people, I've discovered this year - who'll tell you that's an old-fashioned attitude, an outmoded approach.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

11 for ‘11

Metronomy, The English Riviera
Rustie, Glass Swords
Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica
James Ferraro, Far Side Virtual
Woebot, Chunks
Maria Minerva, Tallinn At Dawn
Ekoplekz, Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1
KWJAZ, s/t
The Horrorist, Joyless Pleasure
Ursula Bogner, Sonne = Black Box
Moon Wiring Club, Clutch It Like A Gonk

the next 11

Kuedo, Severant
Jon Brooks, Music for Thomas Carnacki
Rangers, Pan Am Stories
Julia Holter, Tragedy
Various, Bangs & Works Vol 2
Kangding Ray, Or
Peaking lights, 936
tUnE-yArDs, whokill
Ford & Lopatin, Channel Pressure
Toro Y Moi, Underneath the Pine
Hacker Farm, Poundland

another 11

Tim Hecker, ravedeath 1972
Laurel Halo, Hour Logic
Andrew Pekler, Sentimental Favourites
The Deeep, Life Light
Maria Minerva, Cabaret Cixous
2562, Fever
Prince Rama, Trust Now
Charles Vaughan, Documenting the Decay
Destroyer, Kaputt
Bee Mask, Canzoni Dal Laboratorio Del Silenzio Cosmico
Clams Casino, Rainforest

tunes of '11

Dev, “In the Dark”
Maria Minerva, “A Little Lonely”
Ke$ha, “We R Who We R”
Rihanna, “Cheers (Drink to That)”
Britney Spears, “Till the World Ends”
Martin Solveig & Dragonette, “Hello”
Etta James featuring Flo Rida, “Good Feeling”
Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”
New Boyz featuring The Cataracts & Dev’s “Backseat Driver”
Afrojack featuring Eva Simons, “Take Over Control”
LMFAO, “Party Rock Anthem”
LMFAO, “Sexy and I Know It”
Toro Y Moi, “Still Sound”
Scritti Politti, “A Day Late and a Dollar Short (unreleased new-ish track on Absolute comp)
Maria Minerva, “Hagasuxzzavol”
Rustie, “Ultra Thizz”
Lil Wayne, “How To Love”
Y.G., "Toot It and Boot It"
Joker featuring Buggsy & Otis Brown, “Lost”
Big Sean featuring Nicki Minaj, “Dance (A$$)”
Chris Brown not featuring Chris Brown, “Look at Me Now (INSTRUMENTAL)”
Laurel Halo, "Head"
Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kids"
Lana Del Ray, "Video Games"
Poolside, "Harvest Moon"
Kreayshawn, “Gucci Gucci”
Lil Jon featuring LMFAo, "Drink"
Pitbull featuring T-Pain, "Hey Baby"
Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer, "Give Me Everything"
Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg + Akon, "Kush"
Ke$ha, "Blow"
Maria Minerva, “Ruff Trade”

inexplicably uninvolved by

PJ Harvey
John Maus
Panda Bear
Hype Williams
James Blake

transfixed at the border twixt rapture and revulsion

Katy Perry
a selection of faves

Steven Hyden of A.V. Club argues it was a year profuse with Good Albums but devoid of Important Albums

here's something I wrote a couple of years back about Importance as an increasingly less relevant criteria for evaluation, or a decreasingly frequent occurrence, or... either way, on the way out... an old-fashioned thing to concern yourself with

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

porpoises into the past, lambs casino, teehee

trenchant (yet also cloudy) thoughts on EOY lists and cool, from mnml sggs
couple of good personal end-of-year faves:

scott seward's

alex niven's

mine'll be along in a sec

Monday, December 19, 2011

... talking of stocking-fillers, this isn't out officially until next year but, in that peculiar publishing-world jumping-the-gun way, can already be found in some UK book stores such as Waterstones: the B-format edition of Retromania, more economically-priced and portable than the original heavy-paper-stock quasi-hardback edition (now sold out). It comes with a new nifty bas-relief cover and is compact enough to actually fit into a Christmas stocking without undue distension.
Gonk's Coming /Clonk's Coming (Again)

a long crammed-with-tracks mix by Moon Wiring Club for FACT

like Advent calendars, Moon Wiring Club albums come around every year around this time of year... the new one Clutch It Like A Gonk is dependably splendid while also working in a whole bunch of fresh tricks and shapes

an ideal stocking stuffer

as is this pretty package RetroActivity: basically the Best of Sweet Exorcist on two discs.

almost the All of Sweet Exorcist, actually... well, there was this later album Spirit Guide To Low Tech on Touch (when Kirk & Parrot had moved into the post-Artificial Intelligence zone and accordingly sound closer to R.H.K's work as Sandoz, also for Touch) but RetroActivity scoops up the bleep/clonk era material for Warp

here's a fave Sweet Exorcist tune, minimalism getting maximal - the title track of the C.C. EP and C.C.C.D.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Must cosign Tom Ewing's mild amazement at this piece that argues for Donna Summer's worthiness for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall Fame but doesn't even mention the world-historical recording "I Feel Love"

Lots that was news to me in the piece, but the general gist - the idea of Donna-as-rocker; like some girl in a Stones song come to defiant life, or a female Rick James - actually seemed familiar. Then I remembered that Summer makes it into Marcus's List of Canonic Records at the end of Stranded... but for "Hot Stuff". The first time I read that I was like "why not 'I Feel Love'?! Or Once Upon A Time!". But then realised that it figured, given that Kraftwerk are noticeably absent from the List as is indeed pretty much anything European or electronic.

Another example of the Stranded generation's deaf spot in terms of disco came into my ken recently when I acquired the 1981 book Lester Bangs wrote with Paul Nelson about Rod Stewart. (For years I'd labored under the false impression that this was rare, on account of never seeing it in second-hand book shops but you can find it perfectly reasonably priced online). Until really quite recently I had never realised just how much of a touchstone figure the Classic Rod of the Faces and those early solo albums was for American rock critics: someone they held in the same company of esteem as Van Morrison and Neil Young and Randy Newman and The Band; someone they had a lot invested in emotionally in terms of a future for a populist rock rooted in American music that avoided the paths of either Heavy or Progressive; someone who kept them keeping their faith all through the pre-punk/pre-Clash'n'Costello Seventies, only to leave them feeling jilted and aghast when Rod "went Hollywood".

I haven't got far into Rod Stewart but there's a good verbatim-style shooting-the-shit dialogue between Nelson and Bangs, during which Nelson, who'd interviewed the singer fairly recently, talks about how Stewart can't even conceive that he "might have lost anything"

Bangs asks:

"Do you think he really feels that 'D'ya Think I'm Sexy?' is as good as 'Maggie Mae?'"

What struck me was how it was inconceivable to those guys and their peer generation that someone might actually prefer "D'ya Think I'm Sexy?" to "Maggie Mae". (Someone, in fact, like me).

Inconceivable, also, that Stewart might actually have dug disco, not just as social scene (the glitz, the sex), but as a musical form.

But there's a perfect logic to the way all those Brit Sixties cats evolved: what they started with was a passion for contemporary black music and that's what they stayed with, right through into the Eighties, when they were making records using the same machines that state-of-art black pop was using, drawing on the same ideas to do with beats and sounds and arrangement. The Stones doing funk and disco (and reggae) in the 70s, Pink Floyd going disco with "Another Brick in the Wall", P. Collins and P. Gabriel using EW&F style horns and discofunk grooves, Steve Winwood making slick post-Jam & Lewis records in the late Eighties... it all makes perfect sense. They actually followed through the trajectory of rhythm-and-blues into the early days of R&B as we currently know it (ie. a studio-concocted, producer + machines, non-performance oriented music).*

Of course they all wanted to get on the radio and make money too. Got to keep the mortgage payments up on their mansions.

* a few American equivalents did too, but less convincingly, and with more of a sense of desperation. E.g. that other Lester Bangs talismanic fave Bob Seger, who did "Shakedown" for the Beverley Hills Cop II soundtrack in 1987 (c.f.Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom" on the Running Scared soundtrack). Seger doesn't look or sound very comfortable amid the new sound.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

amen to that

superb archaeology of the most famous break in jungle by Tom Nuttall for The Economist (although in Economist style he's not given a byline)

at the Economist blog T.N. has further thoughts on classic instances of Amentalism + soundclips

here's my vote for the mightiest of the mighty - Renegade, a/k/a Ray Keith, "Terrorist" - an amen army

immortal, invincible

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

excellent piece by Andy Battalgia comparing James Ferraro and the video artist Ryan Trecartin

little thing on my year in music for The Thoughtfox, the Faber & Faber blog

more extensive inventory of the year's faves to be posted here shortly

Thursday, December 08, 2011

there's exoticism and then there's exotica

as in the Polynesia and Oceania allusions of Dolphins Into the Future

Lieven Martens has been putting out a steady stream of releases since Music of Belief

mostly in the "nature sounds tapes" / ethnological field recording vein

all good audio-idyll background listening

(the track "The Mirning Heart" is dedicated to the Mirning, an indigenous tribe from South West Australia)

("Ko'okika Moku'aina" here is described as "an evocative sound postcard from Hawaii's Big Island, the Orchid Isle", while the title track uses recordings of Pacific Ocean waves, Polynesian choirs and "site specific bird sounds")

there's also been the odd side project like this--L.R.J. Martens And Ada Van Hoorebeke's Eternal Landscapes--which is a collaboration with a visual artist and consists of two long tracks each taking up a side of vinyl ("Eternal Hunting Grounds" and "Spirits and Landscapes") wrapped in a gatefold

early next year though there's going to be a more Album-like release on Underwater Peoples entitled Canto Arquiplelago

a couple of listens suggest this could be his best since ...On Sea-Faring Isolation

Lieven's fellow-traveler in nu-exotica Spencer Clark is back with the evocatively named Fourth World Magazine present The Spectacle of Light Abductions on Pacific City Sound Visions

now I could swear this turned up in the mail but for the life of me I can't find it in the house, despite a recent de-cluttering initiatve

did i dream its arrival? (I know I met Spencer in Portland)

here's a taster

the Dolphins and Fourth World Magazine nu-exotica thing reminds me a tiny bit of this moment in electronic music

and of course 808 not only had "Pacific State" but they did the team-up with Mr Fourth World Music himself, Jon Hassell


maybe it's because Lieven is from Antwerp but for some reason I got to thinking about a much earlier example of religious exotica, the work of the Belgian priest
Father Guido Haazen, a missionary who went to the Congo, where he formed Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin, a choir of about 45 boys aged nine to fourteen, plus percussion section. In 1958 they toured Europe for six months and there was an album, Missa Luba, one of whose songs, "Sanctus", became famous a decade later because of the way it threads through a certain notorious British movie of the late Sixties.

I haven't been able to find much about how the album was received at the time of its original release, but there definitely seems to have been a questionable aspect to the framing of the record.

The choir, I fear, is posited as doubly "pure", doubly "innocent", on account of not just being boy-children but colonial subjects whose hearts and souls have been filled by the white man's religion.

At the same time the merger of West African music with Western ecclesiastical music is undeniably lovely.

The mini-craze for this kind of record (there were imitator releases: others from Africa and some from Latin America too I think) is an early form of world music but it's hardly ever mentioned, perhaps because it's so blatantly colonial.


"But we’d like to position Paradise of Bachelors as more than a reissue label—introspective, rather than retrospective, and opposed to the fetishized nostalgia peddled by lesser labels... We’re interested in releasing music, historical or futuristic or otherwise, with contemporary relevance and resonance—the music’s rarity matters far less than strong curatorial and aesthetic coherence, compelling narratives, and our ability to articulate untold histories through engagement with the artists, through interviews, oral histories, photography, and friendships. For us, that means looking backwards, to heavy American Indian psych, to Vietnam vet laments, to Carolina soul and gospel, to coastal honky-conch country, to Communist disco (some of our intended future subjects), but also to the contemporary iterations in and out of the infinitely mutable, mercurial traditions of American vernacular music. It’s the dialogue between those modes, and through those years and artifacts, that we find interesting."

Communist Disco!

Native American psychedelia!

That's from "Dem Bones", an interesting essay for Shuffle by Brendan Greaves, one of the people behind the label Paradise of Bachelors

Also liked the sign-off

"Don’t sweat those ghosts, because they aren’t going anywhere, and without them, there’s nothing new anyway. These are the days of the dead"

An echo there maybe of Prince Rama's "ghost modernism"

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

RIP Dobie Gray

one of the greatest songs about dancing ever

the mod manifesto

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

looking-back-at-2011 piece by me on Digital Maximalism - Rustie, James Ferraro, Grimes and others - for Pitchfork

slike Terror Danjah turned into a bouncy castle

more and more I think James Ferraro is our Jeff Koons

Grimes against Nature

yer a dirrty wee radge Russ - a dirrrty dirrty wee radge

Monday, December 05, 2011

happy haunting grounds

Prince Rama would have been a good one to discuss in the context of xenomania

post-everything Fifth Worldism in full effect

v.interesting interview with them at Altered Zones (RIP Altered Zones, sorry to see that shut down)

their concept of "ghost modernism" sounds a bit hauntological

"The core concept of now age is we're living in “ghost-modernism.” It's not really like post-modernism; it's beyond that now. It's gotten to a point where the past is just recapitulating itself through kitschh and nostalgia. Every new gesture is just an imprint of an old gesture. We're haunted by so many other past styles and tastes in so many ways..."

hauntology without the melancholy

the interweb-as-archive-as-cultural-unconscious = happy haunting grounds for modern spiritual seekers

check out their manifesto The Now Age: Meditations on Sound and the Architecture of Utopia

more bands should do manifestos

they're on Paw Tracks which fits as certain aspects of the music (loops, ecstasy, percussion) seem to take off from AC or Person Pitch but go much further into the 5th World

all these currents seem to be related at some level to an attempt to magically reconcile the desire for ethnos/communality/ritual/grounded-and-bounded-being with the very contemporary forces that work against that (cosmopolitanism/telecommunications/always-on connectivity/knowledge-overload/relativism/etc)

a postmodern tribalism reconciling roots and wi-fi
cos everybody hates a tourist

It's Her Factory has some thoughts on xenomania

Orientalism was at the back of my mind

The thing about Orientalism/xenomania/tourism, there's plenty to critique about it for sure, but it's better than
West-is-best-chauvinism/xenophobia/insularity, I'd have thought, on balance, at the end of the day...

talking of Orientalism: check out this dude Onra and his Chinoiseries -- beats made using samples from Chinese and Vietnamese vinyl crate-digged on a visit to Vietnam

Onra reminded me of Holger Czukay and Rolf Dammers 1969 Canaxis project, which involved creating tape-loops out of Vietnamese traditional songs

in the piece there's a brief mention of Can (as in their "Ethnological Forgeries Series") but I didn't have the space to get into how Holger Czukay preempted Sublime Frequencies with “Persian Love” on his 1979 solo album Movies, based around a romantic duet he recorded off an Iranian "pop" station via short-wave....

or how the Canaxis/"Boat-Woman Song" idea probably was influenced by Stockhausen, whom Czuaky studied under... works like Telemusik, which combined electronic sounds with ethnic music and forged strange hybrids (the chants of Japanese monks merged with music from the Shipibo Indians of Amazonian Peru), or Hymnen, based around national anthems from all around the world....

which is basically the concept/method on this later Czukay piece, right, which is based around the anthem of the People's Republic of China?

oh there's loads more instances of Otherly-projecting tendencies in the past century of music... various currents in jazz and fusion (ECM, any number of examples there - Stephan Micus's unusual instruments, Oregon) to 90s ethnotechno (Transglobal Underground, Loop Guru) to Bill Laswellism to...

it's not all marginal-experimental dudes either, think the Sixties craze for Indian raga that influenced The Byrds and the Beatles... or composers like Debussy who was inspired by non-Western tonalities he encountered at the 1889 Paris World Exhibition

conversely, you then get actual denizens of "the Orient" who do the 4th World cosmopolitan thing themselves, otherizing the West and other parts of the Non-East globe too -- that's what a lot of YMO/Haruomi Hosono is about, as well aas obviously Ryuichi "Neo Geo" Sakomoto (who cited Debussy as one of his biggest influences)

clean forgot that Ryuichi did an album in 1985 actually called Esperanto . (Woebot's fave Sakomoto record as it happens)

finally found a vinyl copy of B-2 Unit this year

Friday, December 02, 2011

I was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of David Sanjek a few days ago. I didn't know David well but I really enjoyed chatting with him at EMP conferences over the years. We were on the same panel at the most recent EMP in Los Angeles early this year and he delivered a brilliant talk addressing the need for scholars and historians to pay more attention to the business side of music, the roles played by record executives, A&R, management, promotion etc, in the actual mechanics of culture-making... that blurry zone between aesthetics and business... not exactly "let's hear it for The Man" but definitely agitating against reflexive anti-corporation-ism in the academy. (I didn't realise until looking just now that he was continuing his father's interest in this area). Apparently this year David was readying for publication a book--Always On My Mind: Music, Memory and Money--that appears to partly concern this very topic so I'm hoping this was completed and will be out presently. Again, very sad to hear about his untimely passing and my thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues and students.

here's an IASPM page of tributes and memories

and here's a memorial facebook page

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a piece by me on xenomania -- the new exoticism/loving the alien, a.k.a net-enabled music tourism

it's at (part of MTV World)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

not forgetting this musical


The Secret Life of Arnold Bax


Ken's video for "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" by Pandora's Box, Jim Steinman's post-Meatloaf project

(which is weird because when I reviewed that LP I compared Jim to Ken, and I'm sure I never saw or even knew about the video)

oh yes and this, Russell's film about Isadora Duncan

reminding me of this

oh, and Ken done all these too:

1961 Portrait of a Soviet Composer
1962 Lotte Lenya Sings Kurt Weill
1964 Bartok
1966 Don't Shoot the Composer
1984 Vaughan Williams
1988 Ken Russell's ABC of British Music
1990 Strange Affliction of Anton Bruckner


Monday, November 28, 2011

RIP Ken Russell

Ken's wacky doc In Search of the English Folk Song, so good i kept it on our tivo-equivalent for about four years, then when the cable box went on the blink and it disappeared, just had to buy the DVD

first time i watched Tommy, this scene was what prompted me to turn it off. but i've come to appreciate the film subsequently

are there any other film directors who've been quite as obsessed with music as Ken?

Liztomania -- "the film that out-Tommys 'Tommy'"!!

regular as clockwork, come november/december each and every year, there's new Moon Wiring Club product in the shoppes

the video for the first single off Clutch it Like a Gonk promises some new departures

Sunday, November 27, 2011

when pop rocked

super graunchy guitar sound there

now this here Tommy James and Shondells tune doesn't get rockin' until about half-way through when a fab wah-wah solo takes off, that then becomes a fab wah-wah / fuzztone gtr duet. hang on for the weird-wobbly vocal science drop-out effect near the end

this doesn't rock, much, at all, but i always lump it together with "spirit in the sky" for some reason. 1970 too. Sideburns!

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" = one of the first pop songs that made an impression on me, i could tell it was slightly saucy

not sure if i heard this at the time... hairy palmed stuff

pretty certain i saw Alice do "School's Out" on TOTP. "Elected" is my favourite though

makes perfect sense, this team-up

could almost believe whoever produced this had been listening to footwork

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

lotsa good stuff to read

james parker on bangs + works vol 2

leaving earth blog on reasons to be cheerful in this year's electronic music

reed scott reid on oneohtrix point never's replica

daniel lopatin on his favorite 13 albums

a feast of ferraro!
* interviewed by Elle (!)
* in altered zones
* in Dummy Magazine (in part 2 of this 90s-echoes/hypnagogia-moves-nearer-the-present piece by adam harper)

talking about Nineties: Giovanni Tiso at the 90s blog on Forrest Gump and much more besides

talking even more about Nineties (a different nineties, even): Kulkarni continues his triffic p***-r*** series at Quietus with a lovely piece on/interview with Insides. (With Main and Disco Inferno preceding it that makes 3 for 3 out of the 5 artists featured in my 1994 Wire piece on post-rock -- odd that, given that Neil's series is emphatically not about post-rock! What do you think, is the next one (on "the greatest album of the 90s") going to continue this run (could it be Seefeel? Techno Animal?) or will he do a swerve and write about Moonshake? Long Fin Killie?) (here's what i wrote about Insides back in the day, which was actually the very first time I used "post-rock", albeit adjectivally rather than noun-ally)

talking about Eighties (and a bit of late Seventies), Musical Urbanism's reet neet breakdown of New Wave's key figures/appealing features and follow-up post on same topic. (Been wondering for a while now if New Wave will ever have its day as a hip reference point/genre-mining seam?) (reminded me also that I need to get this book by Theo Cateforis)

talking about Seventies, greyhoos on Chris Burden

talking about Sixties (but also about now, and all the time in between) Robin Carmody on "the coming battle for the Beatles"

Matos's Oral History of... wait for it... the Oral History

more scrumptious word-cake from Reed Scott Reid, this time on Sun Araw's Ancient Romans

IMPLUVIUM (Official Video) - SUN ARAW from Daniel Brantley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

303 at #3

now is that the highest in Billboard that Roland 303 acid bass has ever gotten?

actually no: it's burbling away in this US Number 1 hit from 11 years ago, just not quite as IN YER FACEly

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

some call it hipster house, but John Calvert deserves some kind of
award /reward for this coinage:


just let that roll around your palate for a bit

here's his piece on chill-ravers Stay +


re. hip(ster)house, fellow who goes as RSR informs:

"i'm hearing the name 'homeless house' used by practitioners and scenesters, i.e. geneva jacuzzi and xorar. apparently a hat-tip to jus-ed who started djing for the second time while homeless and using only the six records he still owned"

and adds, accusingly:

"sometimes it seems like you think only certain people should like certain music. sometimes it seems like you think there's an authentic way to like music and a non-authentic way".

to which I say: au contraire, if anything hipster/homeless, it's a little too reverent towards early Chicago/ Detroit, they don’t fuck with the blueprint enough, could definitely be bastardised some more. no, what I do find a little odd, a little off, is this... okay they’re so into house music, but it’s not like there isn’t an ongoing house music culture that is the extension of music that inspires them. So why don't they participate in that, contribute to its furtherance? Could be that they don't like current club culture for social reasons, antipathy re. the sort of people into house-as-is. But it's not like house music has disappeared from the face of the earth and needs to be revived and resurrected. it's not even the case that it's changed so much that a Return to Original Principles is required. so there is the suspicion that hipster house = people whose productions wouldn't cut it on a contemporary dancefloor. Which is not to say that the stuff doesn't have a stand-alone charm and appeal outside that context.


James Grant points me to some "hipster hardcore"

a compilation of the stuff from the label Coral Records which you can hear in its entirety here

and an article about the conceptual framing of the project as "seapunk" (!)

well they've really got the old skool sound on that first track

and the third track, it's more Bukem aquajungle / "dolphin" vibes, so even more attuned to the concept (one does wonder if this "seapunk" is for real or a spoof on micro-genritis within the Zones of Alteration...)

other stuff is more omnivorous/post-everything-dance/digi-maximalist in vibe but cool

talking of "dolphin", there was this Nebula II track "Eye Memory" that sampled dolpin-chatter and was about how a dolphin, once it's met you, will never ever forgot you. i remember it getting played on a pirate as a hot-off-the-press tune and the deejay explaining the concept of "eye memory"... it was an incongruous David Attenborough moment on Touchdown or Destiny or whichever pirate it was...

Friday, October 28, 2011

brostep versus blubstep

brostep taking over

they shoulda used this

except it's too pensive and sombre and dark-clouds-a-gathering

too proto-blubstep

the hangover to brostep's binge

the comedown after the rush

(here's the full version of the brostep tune in the advert)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

pt 2 of timothy gabriele's trilogy on industrial music's reverberations thru 90s / 00s pop + semipop + unpop
no please god noooooooo let it not happen let it not happen let it not happen

Adele: "In terms of singing on a track alongside someone, I'd love to collaborate with Mumford and Sons because Marcus Mumford's voice goes straight through me. It reminds me of the first time that I heard Etta James and how that made me feel.
hipster house (slight return)

Where's Yr Child is this LA-based irregular club / DJ collective involving Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones, ex of the NNF family. The name is a nod to this acid house classic.

And then there's this image which bestrides the website--an all-black crowd of dancers with hands raised ecstatically:

I grabbed that image off of the WYC website and the jpeg has the title "cropped paradise garage". so that's what the pic is: Levan's congregation

i suppose that's no different from German techhouseheads calling a club Robert Johnson or indeed the Rolling Stones naming themselves after a Muddy Waters song.. but something about it jarred... i haven't been to a Where's Yr Child, but somehow I'm guessing the audience composition of a typical night is rather different, and probably so is the atmosphere...

right now, along with the Paradise Garage shot, WYC have a picture of a mass of mostly white ravers. But generally the iconography at Where's Yr Child is black--supersharp dancers at various clubs from several decades ago, a picture of dancehall act Scare Dem Crew, a Rasta with enormous bulbous infolded dreads. And didn't I read that Stallones is actually making a record with The Congos?

"Impluvium", the last track on Ancient Romans, the new, incredibly-dense-with-detail Sun Araw record, is a house jam...

i suppose there's a natural fit between digging psychedelic rock and digging psychedelic dance... indeed now and then the wah-wah glare of Sun Araw makes me think of baggy's trippier, looser-fitted moments... that Stone Roses B-side "Something's Burning"... the Can-nier side of Happy Mondays... even Cope's copping a baggy feel on Peggy Suicide

i wonder how he (and "they", in general) got into this stuff in the first place (meaning house, acieed, balearic etc)... most likely from a completely different route than contemporary club people get "there"... i.e. not from clubbing but from records, books, Internet deposits (Hot Mix 5 radio sets from Eighties Chicago, Baldelli mixes, Youtubes of classic jams).

(i wonder how i'll feel if/when this crowd latch onto the stuff i really cared about/lived through... "hipster hardcore", "hipster jungle")

then again, I do recall reading somewhere that Stallones comes from a heavy duty religious background... so perhaps there's an underlying trance-endental logic that connects the attraction to psychedelic/kosmische rock, roots reggae and house in both its acid and gospel-deep strands

as the sample on that Ultramarine tune (forget which one) puts it "they're searching for spiritual reasons, they're looking for something more than this world has to offer"

or "dancing is sacred" (from this great late acid jam by Ultramarine)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ghosts and zombies

as zombie versions of Footloose and John Carpenter's The Thing battle for #1 box office in America this weekend, Los Angeles Times's Patrick Goldstein asks: "Is Hollywood's Mania For Remakes Spinning Out of Control?"

mind you The Thing was itself a sort-of-remake of a Howard Hawkes movie already, right? And Halloween has a pomo streak running through it, references to classic horror movies

just five minutes up the road from us is a ghost cinema--a derelict movie theater, the Rialto, one of those old fashioned picture palaces with the ticket booth as this separate little glass box upfront under the awning -- supposedly it actually is haunted -- and one of the pair of posters from its last week open to the public is Rob Zombie's remake of John Carpenter's Halloween

in its later years the Rialto seems to have played on its old-timey appearance and gone-to-seed shabbiness by showing a lot of midnight movie and grindhouse type fare, Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc

a daytime shot from when it was still open but looking delapidated

Friday, October 14, 2011


an odd upshot of the emergence of "hipster house" is that there are now several currents of house-homage /retro-house running concurrently

* hipster house (100% silk *, miracles club et al)

* post-dubstep producers dabbling in early 90s vibes

* german (and elsewhere) producers operating in that zone between mnml and deep house purism (into which category you could shove for convenience sake theo parrish and his ilk)

(this is in addition to output from surviving original producers in the long established Chicago/NYC house tradition (like Dennis Ferrer) plus plus contemporary clubtrax that basically adhere to the house template but bang 'n' bosh it up a bit with filter and trance and digitalizm elements in the mix (Swedish House Mafia)plus all the house-trance/ibiza-lasvegas based stuff in the Top 20 pop charts plus "the kind of international trad house [i.e. not UK funky house] that currently dominates a lot of the pirate shows" in London according to Blackdown.)

(is 2011 house's biggest year internationally since 1989-90 or whenever it was crystal waters was in the US top 10?)

house is clearly rich and long-running and wide-in-scope a tradition to seed off a whole range of retro-house throwback styles...

but equally: hasn't house always had its own innate tendency towards harking back self-reflexively? it's always been as much about invocation as innovation... about the celebration of continuity and continuum-ity... certainly at least since the invention of the idea of deep house (end of Eighties, a swerve away from ACIEEED by many of the people who invented acid house, including Pierre/Phuture himself... and then in UK terms Shoom-head Danny Rampling embraced the New Jersey sound pretty swift I believe as a reactive (and reactionary) move against the Acid Ted incursion

there's always been a side to house that was conservative and preservationist: not acid tracks and jack tracks (i.e. the becoming-hardcore half of its soul - of which Green Velvet was its own resurrection, in a way) but the keep-on-holding-on to disco-underground principles side (as manifested in Cajmere, or a track like Gusto 'Disco's Revenge" )... the idea of "true people" was invented for Detroit by Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes but it is just as applicable to house's self-image

that ethos was always particularly strong in Britain, and indeed one the things that turned me off house for much of the 90s... the fidelity, the purism .... and above all the epigonic narrative of decline that everyone who gets into this music, at whatever point in the timeline, seems to buy into... the location of "Better Days" in the rear-view mirror, rather than just around the corner

Take Black Science Orchestra's album Walter's Room. Named in homage to NYC remix pioneer Walter Gibbons. Nod to Philly's orchestrated lush proto-disco with track "City of Brotherly Love". Another nod to Philly with the track, um, "Philadelphia". Jersey and NYC homaging tracks with titles like "New Jersey Deep" and "Hudson River High" and "Downtown Science". Track that'll make any NYC resident snigger a bit: "St Mark's Square". Cringe-inducing titles like "Rican Opus #9" and "Heavy Gospel Morning" and "Bless the Darkness". All couched in a musical setting of pallid luxuriance and mild slinkiness that is pleasant enough in its tepid way but just as historically redundant as Hives and Jet were in their own traditions.

Black Science Orchestra was masterminded by Ashley Beedle. A different kind of dance-retroism was pursued in his other supergroup project The Ballistic Brothers, particularly with their much-ballyhooed-at-the-time, now unremembered album London Hooligan Soul.

this is the sleevenote:

If our memories serve us well... Bunking school for crackers on a Friday lunchtime, forget your dinner ladies. Pirate radio,codes from the underground...Saturday night blues dances and forbidden moves to Phoebe's,Four Aces and Club Norick. Shaka, Fatman and Sir Coxone, the original drum and bass. Sneaking out of the back door with your brand new shoes. Saturday's alright for fighting. Skinheads getting a beat down, ambush in the night. Stuarts in the day Fila, Lacoste, Tacchini, Armani, Lois, Nike and Kappa. Taxing the rich and famous and rushing the Burberry door. Scoring a draw down the Saints. A pick up from the SPG. Blair Peach a crying shame the NF and unmarked police vans who is to blame? Clash city rockers and white men in Hammersmith Palais. Road trips to Caister, Soul Tribes, The Frontline and the Soul Partners. All dayers in Bournemouth taking the train, taking a train, ego trip dabbing speed it's all you need. Westwood, Family Quest no contest. West End B-boys and fly girls, chrome angels Graff bombing the Met. Breaking in the Garden ... Covent to you suckers. An armful of Studio 1 from Daddy Peckings. Flim Flam to Meltdown. The Jay Brothers, goodtimes and great tribulations. Gilles P and Paul Murphy Zulu style at the Electric. Brother Paul boogie times. The Beat Route and Hard Times. Fifteen years of fucking Tories, on the dole, a thousand stories of promised lands and meccas - Blackpool. To you the sweet sounds of Levine and Curtis. The Language Lab said and Dirtbox spread and old bill cracking miners heads. Who killed Liddle Towers? The Jam at Wembley seven times and National Health for the last time. Bump and hustle, soul 45s, too far gone there is no way back. Phuture, Acid, Confusion, The Rush, The Love, the smiling hooligan with dodgy gear open minds close and get the fear. East Grinstead and Bognor lads away, falling and laughing, escape to Brighton or off to Ibiza tying to maintain the buzz. Getting older and getting wed. Elvis is dead. Is anybody out there? A poll tax riot going on. They have sold my country...

It reminds me a bit of Garry Bushell's impressionistic "set adrift on memory bliss" freeflow blurb on the back of the Strength Thru Oi! comp, but with rather different reference points... a different version of working class youth-style.... a different route, in fact, from The Clash... closer to the route Mick Jones actually took into Big Audio Dynamite in fact

this Ballistics tune is all right in its repro antique way: reminds me a bit of when the Heavenly Socialists like Jon Carter did Big Beat meets rocksteady type tracks

Of course Ballistic Bros were on Junior Boys Own. As in Terry Farley who was Chief Inspector in terms of policing house music in terms of its fidelity to the source, via his column in Muzik (or was it Mixmag?) in which he was wont to talk in vexed tones about "proper black dance music"

talking of which, here's "Blacker" from the Ballistic Bros's 1997 follow up album Rude System

note the "blacker than thou" sample at the start

and then there was the Black Jazz Chronicles on Nuphonic, home of Idjut Boys and Faze Action (debut LP Original Disco Motion) and others who verily wanted to go back and dwell forever inside Walter's room

and in fact one of Ballistic Bros and possibly Black Science Orchestra too was Dave Hill the dude who founded Nuphonic. So it all ties together! (This is getting to be like one of those Kev Pearce/Yr Heart Out follow-the-lines jobs innit -- all it needs is a couple of studio engineer names plus a snideswipe about yours truly!)

Wiki-facts about Ashley B:

-- born in Hemel Hempstead in 1962 (which means we are neighbours and contemporaries)

-- after the career peak of getting to #2 in the charts in his alter-alter-ego X-Press 2 (with "Lazy" featuring David Byrne on vocals) he spent the 2000s heading the labels Soundboy Entertainment, Afroart, and Ill Sun

-- released an album in 2010 on K7 as another alter-ego, Mavis. (A nod to Staples, presumably. I think I got sent this. It features vocals from Candi Staton but also unlikelies such as Sarah Cracknell and Edwyn Collins)

-- Beedle is referenced in the Daft Punk song "Teachers."

Did that really get to #2 in the UK pop charts?

At least these early X-Press 2 efforts have a bit of British balls about 'em


* thinking about the semiotics of "silk" as in 100% Silk, obviously Steve Silk Hurley aka JM Silk springs to mind.... or the great late-disco West End track "Do It to the Music" by Raw Silk... but then how about King Britt (the US equivalent to Ashley Beedle in many ways, except Britt's actually from Philadelphia) who started out as a resident DJ at Silk City in Philadelphia, later recorded as Sylk 130, and recently did the Black Science/Afrofuturist type project Saturn Never Sleeps inspired by a certain Philly jazz god. But equally "silk" is part of the imagery of UKG, as in Pure Silk the club/compilation.

which then makes me ponder how Dave Keenan is mentally managing the drone/lo-fi/hypnagogic scene's turn towards the very Nineties zones he always reviled as "Dance Plodders" -- Volcanic Tongue blurbs for 100% Silk 12 inches often try to throw in the words 'kosmische' or 'psychedelic' presumably to mitigate against its rather more apparent resemblances to electroclash / Metro Area / Italians Do It Better

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

sentences from a tribute to The Strokes’s debut as bestest /decade-defining-est album of last ten years

style over substance, unoriginality, excessive hype

the most damning early criticism about the Strokes was that they looked and sounded shockingly derivative

“everything about the Strokes seemed like it was lifted from ’60s and ’70s garage rock

the entire song “The Modern Age” was a Velvet Underground song—specifically “I’m Waiting for the Man.”

"[Casablancas to producer Gordon Raphael' 'We want to sound like a band from the past that took a time trip into the future to make their record.'”

a tightly knit musical unit playing live, all in one room, committing it to tape with a fuzzy and nostalgic analog warmth

to the band’s eternal credit, they fought hard to preserve this neo-vintage sound—very much against the wishes of their new bosses at RCA

the album captures the sound of five guys playing as one. For all the griping about the Strokes’ lack of innovation, their emotional commitment was never a question

“while a God who loves his creation will surely see to it that young men won’t be wearing skinny jeans and attending Killers concerts another decade from now, they’ll still be listening to—and loving—Is This It. They might mistake the Strokes for a band from the mid-’70s, but they’ll be listening.

Yes those were sentences from a tribute to The Strokes’s Is This It as bestest/most decade-defining-est LP of the past ten years.

said album/band defining its decade, the writer seems to say, by referring back to an era of rock 25 to 35 years earlier

thing is, i'm not much of fan (enjoyed the album quite a bit at the time, didn't bother to follow what they did next) but even I don’t think the Strokes were that derivative...

i mean, you can tell the sound is not of-this-time, that's its point... there's a vague harking-back but it's not a straight duplication of anything (certainly not Television)

still: interesting, maybe indicative even, that someone ostensibly championing The Strokes would pen something closer to apologia than exaltation

apropos of nothing really

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


"the word 'essential' really shouldn't belong in pop" -- Tom Ewing on never listening to Nevermind ... until now

I recall Ian Penman declaring--in print and in conversation--that he'd never heard Never Mind the Bollocks or the first Clash album. It wasn't a confession, it was a boast. Later the claim was revised to never having listened to either record “all the way through”. But the polemical thrust, and evident pride, remained the same.

This sort of dereliction of critical duty--all the more effective if couched as shruggy "never quite got around to it" rather than policy of active avoidance--could be the ultimate anti-rockist gesture. Because anti-ESSENTIAL-ism is at the core of the Project. First, what's denied is the idea that there have historically been records that Everybody listened to (Sgt Pepper's) ... second, what's rejected, or demurred from, is the notion that there are records that everybody ought to listen to... that everybody would benefit from hearing... that are capable of speaking to everybody ... anti-ESSENTIAL-ism is anti-universalism... it opposes grand narratives... it avoids critical modes that comfortably use the "we", that apply a moral frame to their judgements and claims, that adopt an exhortatory tone...

but hey, it's certainly a fun parlour game

“guilty pleasures” inverted to "guiltless non-interest"

what can I claim on this front?


pretty certain I’ve never listened to What’s Going On (even though I love the title track)

not sure I ever made it all the way through Blonde On Blonde. a few years ago I heard most of it while digging through the crates in a record store,and it sounded pretty great as background sound. Generally like Dylan quite a bit as non-forefront listening, it's when I concentrate that the resistance sets in...

actually, talking of the Clash, I have never heard Give 'Em Enough Rope and it was only quite recently I heard London Calling all the way through. (See I'd got that Story of the Clash box set and assumed "the best bits" were on there and thee desire or opportunity just never presented itself)


actually my exact counter-example to match Tom's not-bothering-to/not-bothered-about vis-a-vis Nevermind: I have never heard Pet Shop Boys’s Behaviour (despite having rather liked the previous album). I find “Being Boring” a bit... boring


Vaguely related in both the crit-geek fun ‘n’ games and profound philosophical issues of our time sense: LA Review of Books have an interview with Chuck Eddy plus a review of Rock and Roll Always Forgets

The interview is by Matos (apparently the longer 8000-plus word version will be aired presently!) and takes the form of a Rockcriticism Jukebox, i.e. like the Wire format but instead of guessing what the record is, Eddy had to guess who the writer is.

The title of the whole LARB package is “King of the Contrarians”. Which probably irritated Chuck since at one point in Rock and Roll Always Forgets, he takes umbrage at being called a contrarian and musters a bunch of not-wholly-convincing evidence to the contrary.

It made me flash me back to the very first time I spoke with him, on the phone, at some point in the early-to-mid Nineties. Very early on in the conversation, I’m not sure apropos of what, he says “I like Poison”, with an odd insistence, like it's meant to be a challenge. Like I'm supposed to be outraged. Water off a duck's back of course: liking-what-you’re-not-“supposed to”-as-polemical-gesture had been a standard move in the U.K. music press for, like, ever( Morley saying Tight Fit 12 inch = better than Led Zep III etc etc;). Plus I quite liked “Unskinny Bop”.

Another flashback: after a music-crit conference in New York in the late 90s I briefly exchanged words with [Rock Critical Legend Who Shall Remain Nameless]. The name “Chuck Eddy” came up (he’d been a rather lively presence at this seminar) and the venerable elder opined with exasperation: “oh, he doesn’t take anything seriously”. But Chuck clearly does takes very seriously the business of not being serious about things that you’re supposed to be serious about, while being serious about things generally deemed external to proper seriousness. That's his Project: challenging orthodox critical notions of what warrants respect and analysis. Despite his reputation as a funnyman, most of the writing in Rock and Roll Always Forgets is not particularly light-hearted. It’s cantankerous. Anger is his energy, disgusted disagreement with his peers is what fuels him, and the best stuff in the collection is not the enthused praiseful stuff but the nihilatory mode: e.g. a scathing attack on mainstream pop in 1986, which strikes me as devastatingly accurate, something I’d have agreed with at that time. Of course Chuck being Chuck in the book’s hindsight-view sections he recants the opinion and says ‘what on earth could I have been thinking!’. How contrarian is that--contradicting your own past self!


But thinking about the role of the professional contrarian, the critic who aims to write a kind of revisionist history of the present ... ( I would count myself in that company, from the heterodox take on dance in the 90s to... well, Retromania). Does that role-- siding with the underdog--still exist in the grand scheme of contemporary music? Digital abundance/atemporality/iPodSpotifyetc is doing that work already... everybody is “listening outside the box”, grazing omnivorously across all fields of potential musical pleasure, refusing to be fenced in by genre divisions.

Take Hannah Murray (Cassie in Skins season 1 & 2), now an Oxbridge student, talking about her favourite music:

"I try to listen to a really wide range of stuff. My favourite bands/people are probably The Beatles, Nirvana, Regina Spektor, The Smiths, Tom Waits and The Velvet Underground. I also really like a lot of 70s punk, a lot of folk, The Gerbils, Lethal Bizzle, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater Kinney, Rufus Wainwright, Destiny's Child, Johnny Cash, 20s jazz, early Rolling Stones, Nina Simone and M.I.A."

I don't think at 22, even as a wannabe music journalist, someone in training as it were, I'd listened that widely... I couldn't afford to, for starters... it's not just that there's been so many more decades of music since then (22 for me = 1985), it's a whole different mentality i think... all-gates-open... eclecticism not as stance but as base-level condition of listener-existence...

People who’ve been consuming music in this fashion are producing music in this fashion. Grimes, a female musician roughly the same age as Ms Murray, talks of her music as “post-Internet... The music of my childhood was really diverse because I had access to everything, so the music I make is sort of schizophrenic. Basically I’m really impressionable and have no sense of consistency in anything I do.”

These new creatives are omnivores and thus omni-gurgitators: their out-spew is the musical equivalent of fusion-cuisine.

So disco-metal --once an intoxicating Eddy fantasy-prophecy (in Stairway To Hell)--is just the kind of hybrid that is par for the post-indie/post-Internet course.

When all barriers of taste are broken down... when the kind of frisson and renegade prestige that attaches to being a breaker of taste-barriers, is no longer available because nobody abides by those barriers anymore... when there is no consensus whose blinkers and biases you can rail against.. what now, contrarian?

Recent pronouncements suggest that Eddy's negative drive is still intact... probably it's too fundamental to who he is and what he does, to ever fade away. But now he's turned against the things he once stood up for: saying he hates most modern manifestations of the disco-continuum (“maybe disco really does suck, this time”), that he's bored by metal, that he's even lost interest in country (the last hurrah of the generalist/no-barriers critic trying to find something Pazz-neglected to triumph). He says he's listening to a lot of old records.