Thursday, May 21, 2020

"I had tightened it, I had brightened it"

Some interesting reflections on what blogging is / was, from Bruce Sterling as he announces the closing down of his own long-running (17 years) blog Beyond the Beyond (c/o Wired magazine) ...

Bruce describes it as "a form of psychic relief...  by blogging, I removed things from the fog of vague interest and I oriented them toward possible creative use"

That chimed with my own feelings about the value of unpaid labour: writing as freeform fun, as mental calisthenics, as intellectual hygiene... the blog as public notepad, a testing space or site for the construction of thought-probes

This comment also struck a chord:

"I’m even proud and happy that I managed to spare the readers so much of my own mental compost in this blog. The chosen, curated material that made it on to this blog was maybe one percent of the vast heaps of rubbish I was overturning. I could have stuffed this blog with two hundred times as much “content”..."

One of the problems with having a blog (or blogs multiple) is that you start thinking bloggy  -  everything becomes potential "material", something that could be turned into a riff with only a smidgeon of effort, given the lax standards of the format and the tolerance of the readership.  The incontinence you see (not here these days, but still on the other blogs) is a fraction of the stuff that I have in bulging folders of scrawled notes... and there is more that never even reached paper at all. 

(Perhaps this level of mind-churn was always going on - and getting emitted in letters and later in emails - both of which tend to go copious -  or in conversations in pubs and elsewhere. I don't know. But there's something about the itch caused by having a blog outlet that is generative, for good and for bad).

So here I am in the 18th year of blogging - a little bit longer than Bruce lasted - and although most everybody on the original scene has stopped, a few haven't...  there are newer names who are prolific and copious... and now and then a brannew one gets started.

To adapt the Ivor Cutler ditty, I believe in blogs. I truly believe in blogs.


Besides, it feels like I couldn't cease operations, even if I wanted to... it's too late to stop now.

But something might have to change.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Friday, May 15, 2020

some things

!!!! Foul Play's first two EPs + "Finest Illusion" b/w "Skrewface" get reissued by Sneaker Social Club in a pristine remastered vinyl set titled Origins  !!!!

Here's the blurb I supplied:

"From the slamming science of “Ricochet,” through the jittery ghost-rave of “Survival” and the outer-space lover’s rock of “Dubbing You,” to the manic magic of “Finest Illusion,” this collection of early EPs by rave legends Foul Play tracks an astonishing evolution across barely more than a year. Some of the top tunes to come out of the hardcore > jungle > drum & bass journey? Yes, but also some of the most thrilling and gorgeous music of the entire ‘90s"

Well, it seems the vinyl is already sold out in advance, but the digital album goes on sale on the 22nd of May - and hopefully there will be a repress.

Mexican Summer's Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti reissue program, aka the Ariel Archives, reaches Cycle 2 : The Doldrums, Worn Copy, House Arrest. Each of these retransferred / remastered and deluxely repackaged vinyl double-LPs is accompanied by a liner note essay by yours truly.based on new interviews.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of participating in Donaufestival in Krems, Austria. This year's festival had to be cancelled, like all the others. But a festival reader based on the 2020 leitmotiv, Machines Like Us, has come out with a mixture of essays in German and English. I contributed a piece entitled "Desiring the machine / Machining the desire" which compares the Deleuze-delirious discourse around technorave in the '90s (perped by such as Kodwo, ccru-kru, Kroker and truly yours) with the notably less exultant way that electronic musicians and their critical champions evoke digital technology in the 21st Century: no longer as a Promethean power trip, something exterior to the self that can be harnessed, but as a insidious soft technology worming its way into our interior life, abjecting the self from within.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

RIP (it up) Little Richard

As well as being the ignition point for it all, Little Richard also provided the title for the best book about rock and roll and the Fifties-Sixties POP! explosion.

And Little Richard appears on the cover (albeit the back cover).

That's the UK paperback version. The original hardback had a different title - rather neutral and coolly professional in tone (and thus deceptive - the opposite of the contents).

Although perhaps the cover image itself gives the game away.

Then the book came out in America with a slightly different title

But Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom is what the book should be called - since it's all about the SHOUT!!!, the LOUDness of early rock and roll, the cry of joy that bypasses sense with its wordless eloquence, the blast and the bolt that jolted a generation alive.

Superpop, Cohn named it -  noise that spurred his writing to mirror the impatient and impulsive movement of the music itself...  that didn't wait to do its research properly, to gather in the dusty facts for a responsible accounting. "My purpose was simple: to catch the feel, the pulse of rock, as I had lived through it. What I was after was guts, and flash, and energy, and speed."

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom is what the book deserved to be called. Even though only some of its pages are about Little Richard, the existence of the book, with that title, is the greatest tribute he'll ever receive.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

RIP Florian Schneider

Here's my NPR tribute to Florian Schneider.

It's a deliberately Florian-centric history of Kraftwerk.

I'll do right by Ralf when it's his turn.

when Ralf left for a bit, leaving Florian in charge of the Neu boys


Maybe my favorite K-werk

But then again, there's this

And this of course

RIP Dave Greenfield

The most instantly grabbing musical element in The Stranglers, the keyboards (although the bass too was insistent and unignorable in its gnarly in-your-face way). Greenfield led some of us to Manzarek and a lifelong love of The Doors.

A band difficult to defend, but impossible to deny (The Stranglers, I mean - although some would say the same of The Doors, and perhaps disagree about the deniability bit in both cases).

Such great tunes. Such an original sound.

Is there a rock band that's made better use of waltz-time?

For sure, the lyrics are either nasty or silly, most of the time. But they lodge in your brain. And if nothing else, it all adds up to a worldview, a stance. Gruff misanthropy, sour disillusion.

"tasted man, tasted flea / couldn't tell the difference"

It's only recently I realised that Greenfield actually sang on some Stranglers songs.

And on one of the Meninblack tunes that's too awful to post.

Dave's thick black oily raven's wing mustache certainly contributed to the glowering malevolence of the group image.

Sunday, May 03, 2020