Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reave on

The new video-single from debonair Estonian chansonnier Mart Avi.

Or rather video-singles, as this is what we used to call a double A-side.

I'm reminded of Junior Boys, not in the particulars so much but the approach: a thoughtful outsider take on / takes on deluxe nowpop aesthetics (Weeknd, Jeremih, etc), that level of gloss and seductive sumptuousness...  but with echoes of earlier pop-not-pop infiltrators such as The Blue Nile, Prefab, Associates, Climate of Hunter Scott.

In the mission-statement, “Soul ReaVer” is described as "a long exhale full of nameless longing, sharing Burial’s introspective yearning for lost cultures and futures, and the wistful elegance of a 21st century Cole Porter".  This dude can write!  And in his second language too!

Avi further explains the video concept as "an alt-history of a torn personality like a Star Wars Sith Lord or some Disney character being revived – brought back to die again, then to awake again, It doesn’t have the oomph and zest of  “Spark”, no yearning for ultimate supremacy, no plans to find anything in particular, not even oneself, in that celluloid shrine — just a vague urge to make the Big Reel spin again.” 

According to the AVICORP communique, flipside "Spark" for its part teems allusively on both audio (New Jack Swing) and video levels (The Matrix, Hype Williams, Bowie's "Little Wonder”) with '90s-ness.

In case you're wondering, "ReaVer" comes from an actual, if archaic, English word, "reave" - "to rob, despoil, deprive one of, tear away."

This lead-dual single is a taster for his late-2020 album Vega Never Sets which promises to be a gorgeous treat.


                                              Avi caught in performance in Tallinn in 2017.

                                       More to explore at

Monday, April 27, 2020

RIP Bohannon

Big tune the year it came out.

For a moment almost my Platonic ideal of what music should be.

"The whole house starts rockin'
As the drummer starts sockin'
That anti-wallflower sound at you"

Rap by Dr. Perri Johnson!

Never heard this Francois K rmx before

Nicely nodded here

Sunday, April 19, 2020

electronic dance music

Here's a piece - the last bit of pre-lockdown writing I did  - for 4:3 on the Alwin Nikolais radical-dance piece Noumenon - choreographed and debuted in 1953, but here caught in a 1995 retrospective of the works of the avant-dance genius.

I first came across Nikolais's work quite by chance back in the early 2000s, when the East Village apartment block complex over the road from us had its annual stoop sale. Not expecting to find anything of interest in a cardboard box crammed with sad, shabby looking LPs, I stumbled upon an album of Nikolais's "choreosonic music of the new dance theatre", going for $1.  The cover sent an electric shudder of anticipatory excitement through me.

The cross-pollination of avant-classical music and avant-garde ballet has a long tradition, but unusually - possibly uniquely - Nikolais created his own electronic and musique concrete scores for his work. He also devised the startling light design, the costumes and wigs and bizarre head-gear, and every other component of the spectacles he staged -  which as I write in the 4:3 appreciation, "hovered somewhere in-between ballet, kinetic sculpture, avant-garde fashion, and ritual ceremonies from the far future or from some alien civilisation".

Here are some examples Nikolais's work, including this recreation of "Tensile Involvement" for the opening sequence to Robert Altman's twilight-era film The Company (the movie heads sharply downhill after this, let me tell you).

Update: Andrew Parker points me to this bizarre film, for which Nikolais did the choreography

How are you all doing out there / in there? Slowly going barmy as time turns mushy.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Saturday, April 11, 2020


My old friend Pat Blashill, writer and photographer, has just published a book of his pictures of the Austin punk>postpunk>80s-alt scene: Texas is the Reason: The Mavericks of Lone Star Punk.  Pat came of age in the thick of the scene that included bands like Butthole Surfers, Big Boys, and Scratch Acid. Alongside the photos, there's guest texts from Richard Linklater (whose Slacker was filmed there and effectively documented that scene as it reached the '90s) Theresa Taylor the flame-haired Buttholes drummer (and Slacker actress),  David Yow of Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard, and others.

Here's some excerpts from Texas is the Reason at The Austin Chronicle, plus an interview with Pat. Here's a quote where he explains the book's title:

'There’s a Misfits song called “Bullet” about the assassination of JFK in Dallas. It includes the line, “Texas is the reason that the president's dead.” I read a review of that single that made a really great point about how America, and maybe especially Texas, has a death wish. Texas is this crazy extreme place, and I think that extreme stuff is what made this music happen in Austin. The bands were reacting against racism, sexism, and conformity, and all of the things we grew up with. They messed around with this idea of being stupid, conservative redneck people. One of the interviews I did was with [Butthole Surfers drummer] King Coffey, who reminded me that when they started the band, they were well-versed art students, and you could say that about a lot of people in the scene. The Buttholes really tried to portray themselves as these weird perverts from the backwoods. None of us really were that, but some people could play with it and turn it on its head.' 


The book is available from Bazillion Points, the publishing imprint specialising in heavy 'n' hard musics launched by Ian Christe.

Me on the Austin slackerdelic vibe when it reached the shores of the U.K.

Thursday, April 02, 2020


I'm not sure I'm going to be able to keep up with the onslaught (I just had to add two more since posting this yesterday). But for now

RIP Cristina

RIP Krzysztof Penderecki

RIP Gabi Delgado

RIP Adam Schlesinger

(who in his early days played piano at our wedding reception in '92)

RIP Manu Dibango

RIP Alan Merrill 

RIP Bill Withers


Penderecki interviewed by Andy Battaglia for Resident Advisor

Gabi Delgado and Robert Gorl of DAF interviewed by David Stubbs for The Quietus.

An interview with Cristina at Festive magazine

Manu Dibango interviewed at Qwest