I checked out Liars tonight, having heard they were an incendiary live act, but was left pretty cold. After a long wait, the lead singer came out wearing white velcro sneakers and this too-small white jumpsuit with something about Sauron painted on the front, and later stripped down to reveal a too-small red rayon thrift-store dress covered with some Op Art-ish pattern. He had this annoying habit of letting his shoulder-length orange hair fall in front of his face, and would then sing through his hair, reminding me of early 90s grunge, aka ewww. He'd dance and pose around the stage as if possessed by the music in a way I found really irritating in this bad-performance-art way -- 'I am the tree'...I found him dull and grating, so I spent all my time focusing on the drumming, which was ACE. In fact now that I think about it, that's what I really liked about Liars when I first heard them -- their sense of rhythm. I can usually find something about any live act, no matter how dire, to admire, whether it's the drumming, the basslines, or even just a cool bit of gear or an interesting outfit. I then focus on what I like and tune out all the things I don't like. This strategy has carried me through hundreds upon hundreds of below-par live shows. (Much as I hated 'em live, I still think that full-length album of theirs from last year -- or was it the year before? -- was pretty damn good.)
After Liars, I swung by Tonic and saw Otomo Yoshihide play a turntable-noize set with Martin Tetreault. They sat on stage making a furious din with their mangled Technics decks, while the assembled crowd sat in chairs, watching them quietly and utterly RESPECTFULLY, sometimes speaking to each other in awed hushed tones between sets. That is what unnerves me, I think, about improvised music in that sort of venue, and is why I prefer to get my noise fix from going to Lightning Bolt shows. You'd think with that kind of extremely ugly and powerful music -- and I really like a lot of Otomo Yoshihide's work -- you'd be pushed by it into the physical realm, to dance or at least move, but not just sit there. I couldn't bear sitting down so I stood up, drinking beer and fidgeting while watching them spin warped records, scraping tone arms into grooves under extreme amplification. After the set I went up and looked at their setup; the tone arms had been cut and gouged and taped up with springs hanging out, the 45s used for the performance had titles like 'Lesson #29'. When I looked at the wrecked decks I couldn't help but feel like it was a waste to 'adjust' a table like that, even for a noise project; I'd been so conditioned by a lifetime of loving record players and fixing broken garage-sale ones to treat them with care and calibrate them precisely, so to see expensive Technics 1200s with their guts hanging out seemed, well, so decadent, and shocked me in a way that seeing a wrecked guitar wouldn't. (I remember reading an interview with Kraftwerk from the late 70s where they bemoaned people who smashed guitars, talking about how long it had taken them to save for Hohner amps and how they couldn't comprehend smashing up their own gear.) I think another reason why I feel this way about tables is that in DJing, you're often interested in smoothness, perfection, a continuous mix, getting things beatmatched exactly. (in other words, a lot of work in an attempt to make everything look effortless!) Even in scratching, perfection is key; there's good scratching and bad scratching, and in hip-hop you still have to stay within the bounds of rhythm. But seeing the brutalized Technics being forced to vomit up horrible noise made me realize that they'd made the record players their own, that they were, after all, just machines to be used by people, not people to be used by machines, and that the flinching they provoked in me when they smashed an expensive tone arm into a virgin piece of vinyl was perhaps part of the point.
10.31.03 @ 05:00 AM EST [link]
Pop quiz answer is here! Thanks to all contestants!
The correct answer is not 'their girlfriends all have better hair than they do' nor is it 'haha they all suXoR' but: they all used a Fairlight sampler.
The winner has been notified.
10.30.03 @ 04:34 PM EST [link]
psychic academia mindmeld!
Haha -- Douglas Rushkoff, the NYU media studies professor, is a member of the latest incarnation of Psychic TV. He'll be playing keyboards and doing backing vocals! My god I wish I was joking but I'm not.
Gen sez on his official blog: "We've been rehearsing and thee old feeling ov an extended, joyful famille is already there. Thee first gig IS confirmed for December 3rd, in New York City."
My guess is that Rushkoff might be a bit rusty. From his blog: "Having sold my trusty Roland just last year (on Ebay), I landed my spot as as keyboardist for PTV owning no keyboard. It has presented me with an interesting dilemma, because things have changed a lot since 1984 when I bought my last one."
I love it when reality is stranger than fiction!
10.30.03 @ 02:08 AM EST [link]
original soundtrack pop quiz!
What common thread connects all the following artists?
Stevie Wonder, Keith Emerson, Jean-Michel Jarre, Supertramp, Heaven 17, Hardfloor, ABC, Hall & Oates, Thomas Dolby, Jon Astley, Michael Jackson, Yes, Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes, Vince Clarke (Yazoo/Yaz), Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney, Devo, Julian Lennon, The Cars, Lindsey Buckingham, Jan Hammer, Herbie Hancock, David Gilmour, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Scritti Politti, Starship, Teddy Riley, Brian Wilson, Foreigner, Madonna, Debbie Gibson, Jane Child, Eurythmics, Mike Oldfield, Prince, OMD, Steve Winwood, Duran Duran, John Paul Jones, Queen, Alan Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, B-52's, Pet Shop Boys, Stewart Copeland, Yello.
Winner gets a prize! Oh come on this one is easy.
10.30.03 @ 12:26 AM EST [link]
we are the woebots
I was so petrified when I read the title 'The End of TWANBOC' that Matthew was going to stop writing that I wrote him straightaway and begged him not to! Fortunately, the end of That Was A Naughty Bit of Crap marks the start of something new -- Woebot, Matthew's latest creation. Expect great things. His comics are hilarious and fantastic, too.
10.29.03 @ 01:19 AM EST [link]
Drum machines! I love 'em. I don't have the mad dough though so the only drum machine I've got is the fearsome PLAYSKOOL brand -- purchased at Dollar-A-Pound back in Cambridge for 70 cents! (it weighs 0.7 pounds.) Yeah it can only do 2 beats and one lame fill but it's got a line out (!!) and there's a crude tempo adjustment and pitch adjustment!! With a little bit of fiddling I can play 'Come As You Are' on it -- can you say that about your toy-store drum machine?
But oh, the beautiful drum machines of back in the day! Back when they looked like Atari 2600 consoles!
The Linn LM-1 'Drum Computer'! As used by the Human League, Art of Noise, Thompson Twins, Prince et al. Hey is that fake wood paneling on the sides? (cool!!) Each card for the Drum Computer had 32K of memory (32K!! i get emails longer than 32K now!)
And look it's the Obie DMX -- the "Blue Monday" drum machine! Also used, of course, on lots of hip-hop.
More machine gawking (the Roland 808! etc.) to come! Check out vintagesynth.org for your fix in the meantime. I'm going to get back to playing my Coleco-Vision.
10.27.03 @ 10:49 PM EST [link]
we want fun (i know it's over)
here is where i further my Damo Suzuki + Morrissey = Andrew WK theory
10.26.03 @ 03:16 PM EST [link]
Suggestion for Simon's prog chart: Whitehouse! Apparently William Bennett is a total Yes-head. Or so it says in Forced Exposure #17 dated 1991, in an article by Steve Albini. Quote:
Whitehouse "Thank Your Lucky Stars" 45 and LP: William Bennett can effortlessly play almost any Yes song you could be pained to mention on Spanish guitar. I shit you not. Each of the songs Whitehouse recorded was structurally mapped by a famous heavy metal song. So much so, in fact, that all Bennett used as a headphone cue was a cassette recording of whichever Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Deep Purple song the track was based on. Tidbit -- three guesses which later-famous synthesizer guy that is on the back of that Prag Vec record you haven't listened to since 1980. Ding! Give that man a banana. Fee: $600.
10.25.03 @ 04:07 AM EST [link]
when worlds collide
Spotted at that DFA party I went to last night -- Pharrell from the Neptunes talking to James Murphy. Perhaps they'll produce some tracks together?!
10.24.03 @ 03:35 PM EST [link]
Good lord -- after putting in a bunch of work today on a certain postpunk project (cough) I see that Simon's gone full-guns-ablazin' with a progstravaganza! Jesus man it's like the 'Stairway to Hell' of prog! The urgent and key question, then, remains: is Teena Marie prog? Go read Jon's blog too, while you're at it.
Which reminds me -- did any of you London types check out the Acid Mothers Temple/Gong live collaboration the 'Acid Mothers Gong' earlier this week? I wish I could've been there!
10.23.03 @ 01:31 AM EST [link]
a playa hatin' degree
Errr I'm about to head to a meeting with an old prof at Columbia to discuss going back for a PhD. Totally great idea or total mentalism? You decide!
10.22.03 @ 02:03 PM EST [link]
pulsewidth-modulation sine triangle sawtooth square
I took my Ensoniq ESQ-1 (old-skool! waveforms are digital, but the filters and envelopes are analog. 3 independent oscillators per voice...ok I'll stop now) out of storage today and started screwing around with it, programming cheesy sequences. God I luv synthesizers so much. I really miss the feeling of making music. Synths are fantastic, most rock instrument ever invented. I tried to teach my 6-year-old nephew to play keys but he's not down; he went straight back to his game of Sonic the Hedgehog. But synths are like video games! Really! When I was small I loved playing piano cuz I could express complicated feelings I couldn't express in words on it, and even now I feel crippled without a piano though I'm sure I'd be awful at it now if I tried to play. I know this because, in a masochistic experiment, I dug out the sheet music for an old Rachmaninoff prelude that I used to rock and now I could barely play it at all. I looked with disgust at my hands, so out of practice they tripped over keys, clumsily and slowly pounding out chords I could've aced age 15. Which is why I make sequences now. Can't play the whole thing? No prob, I'll play each part individually and overlay 'em on top of each other. Sounds more interesting that way anyhow and leads me to think about music differently and more spontaneously than the high-theory way I was trained. Like a miraculous mash of whirring, clicking, interlocking parts each beautiful in their own right, rather than some grand holy whole to aspire to. Noize!
10.20.03 @ 03:24 AM EST [link]
love songs to polygons
I've finally listened to Sascha Funke's long-player Bravo, and I must say I'd rather listen to Doktor Tufluv's passionately argued review of the album ('a love song to polygons'! 'a disco groove oiled with love'! So compelling!) than listen to the album. The album is nice, but not nearly as gripping as I'd hoped. It's like when I was a kid I'd be totally enamored of space-age-sounding ingredients listed on cereal boxes ('riboflavin'! 'folic acid'!) and then be sorely disappointed to find out that there were cornflakes inside and not silver rocketships.
10.17.03 @ 03:41 AM EST [link]
Matos has gone mental with his new project Boogie Fever, the R&B answer to Tom's Popular and Mike's American Hot Wax. Go check 'em all out.
Meanwhile I'm still weeping about the Sox blowing a perfectly good lead and choking to the baseball equivalent to Microsoft Windows, the Yankees. Just seeing the self-satisfied look on the faces of their grinning 'roided-up robotic army makes me nauseous. There's something endearing about the permanent underdog status of Boston teams: the hopeful-puppy we're-gonna-make-it-this-time-fellas expression on their faces, the wide-eyed, halfway incredulous look of rejection as you see the inevitable failure start to seep in, the sinking feeling that they're gonna lose it again -- god it's all so drenched in pathos I can hardly bear it!
10.17.03 @ 02:02 AM EST [link]
restaurants, albums, what's the difference
I picked up a used copy of the entirely ludicrous and horrible recent Zagat Music Guide for a few bucks the other day. It attempts to apply the Zagat restaurant review treatment (itself an absurd exercise in pretend statistical analysis) directly to the music they anoint the '1000 top albums of all time', and succeeds in being the most unintentionally funny humor zine I've read this year! The range of so-called top albums is a little suspect -- it appears to have been put together by an editor with a serious jonesin' for 80s British indie, showtunes, and TV themes, which makes for a bewildering read. I demand that all music reviews be written using arbitrary survey data from now on!
"Here's" a "good" one":"
Miami Vice (Soundtrack)
1985, MCA, "In the Air Tonight"
"Jan Hammer's decision to give some characters their own theme dramatically enhanced the attraction" of "the first music video masquerading as a TV show"; his score might provide "the closest tie-in to a series since Peter Gunn", which is fitting because the "haunting" music "helped the plot" of a detective show as cool as its predecessor; Phil Collins, Chaka Khan and a host of 80s pop stars quicken the "solid album" -- "just watch out if you're driving!"
10.15.03 @ 01:51 PM EST [link]
music, you're needed in aisle five
I love hearing music I like in stores. I like the staticky way that songs sound over the intercom, the shock of recognition, the way that the soundtrack affects my buying mood, and the challenge of figuring out why particular songs were chosen by Faceless Corporate Headquarters to construct a certain 'ambience'. Most fucked-up song heard in a supermarket: 'Singin' in the Rain', which would play on repeat each time the vegetable mist-jets were activated in the produce section (about once every 10 minutes), inspiring awful Clockwork Orange flashbacks. Most affecting song heard over the intercom, in some hip store: Pere Ubu's 'Heart of Darkness', which almost moved me to tears when it got abruptly cut off, during the long, hauntingly slow buildup, for the announcement 'Susie in sales, you're needed in Aisle 3!' Most hilarious song heard while buying a reading lamp the other day: ABC's 'Look of Love', which prompted the middle-aged women shopping next to me in Housewares with babies in tow to start dancing and karaoke-ing the lyrics when they thought no one was looking.
10.15.03 @ 12:42 AM EST [link]
Dublin-based dance-music-maven and all-around-cool-cat Ronan is back in the music blogosphere in full force. Feel the voibe Ro (ha ha!)
10.14.03 @ 07:17 PM EST [link]
I saw the spectacular and ridiculous Daft Punk movie Interstella 5555 this weekend with Jess, Jody and Lauren (my god they all have blogs!) and I'll be writing about it soon on NYLPM (hah yes another time sink! thanks Tom!)
Spent most of this weekend outside enjoying this beautiful - and brief - spate of 75-degree weather; it's never felt so glorious to live in Manhattan. On Saturday afternoon I walked to Central Park, and watched the walruses flop around before settling on a smooth rock atop a grassy knoll to read. All Central Park-ed out, I wound my way up Fifth, loitering in front of the Plaza Hotel in an attempt to look surly, jumping up onto the fountain at the Met, teetering on its edge and hopping up and down the steps through the crowds. I kept going up the street, stopped in at the Guggenheim, and circled the Cooper-Hewitt design museum and peered into the garden where they were setting up some installation. Walked all the way back down, ran into the street fair happening in the 20's, got conned into buying a scarf for $10, hung out with the dudes at the 'Israeli/Middle Eastern beats' table (freshest sounds I've heard in a long while!), ate spinach pie with some Greeks, hung out with the fruit and veg sellers ringing Union Sq for a while and then watched some lunatic who (unfortunately) possessed a microphone talk about the apocalypse before deciding it was high time that I got a beer in me. Ah, beer.
10.13.03 @ 09:23 AM EST [link]
me against the music
My god the new Britney single is dire.
10.10.03 @ 05:41 PM EST [link]
Merzbow's gotten a little soft since he went all laptop, hasn't he? I find his music kind of nice at low volume; listening to music that's abrasive and wound-up generally makes me less so. I wasn't feeling so well this morning so I sat on my bed swaddled up in a blanket drinking a cup of tea, listening to last year's 'Taste of Merzbow' that came out on Mego while watching TV news with the sound turned off (it's less scary that way.) 'Taste' is a loose concept album based on Japanese food, with elaborate liner notes and songs named after raw fish delicacies and miso soups and whatnot. It's got its fair share of crunchy charred noiseblasts, sure, but then there are these pleasing-sounding bleeps and little drips of melody layered on top, sort of Fenneszish in a way. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by it. TV news still scares me, though.
10.10.03 @ 01:52 PM EST [link]
brains, music, brains, music
I just wrote a short piece on the brain and music on proven. The neural processing of music is a really fascinating subject that I've been researching recently for a part-time gig (which ends this week, actually -- anyone else want to pay me $20 an hour to 'think about science'?)
The same wiring in our brains that responds favorably to cigarettes, sex, food, cocaine, etc is what gives us that intensely pleasurable rush when we listen to music we like. Using positron emission tomography, researchers at McGill showed that cerebral blood flow could be seen increasing and decreasing in patients’ responses to music. The regions of the brain most responsible for reward, motivation, emotion, and arousal were all activated: the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, ventral striatum, midbrain, and ventral medial prefrontal cortex. Our pleasure centers are quite literally activated by music we like. So when you say you're 'addicted to music' you may really mean it.
10.08.03 @ 10:52 AM EST [link]
prog-blogs: a challenge for matthew!
see if you've got something that can top this!
10.07.03 @ 09:34 PM EST [link]
modern noise-rock, and spk, z'ev, factrix, and tg
Ok I'm going to take a shot at answering Jon's question as posed yesterday!
They're part of the same continuum more or less, I think. 'Industrial' (I'm using it as an umbrella term, not just strictly in the Industrial Records/TG sense) and post-punk were much more entwined than we think now -- these hard lines that are erected between genres were really pretty fluid. My impression from reading lots of old zines from the late 70s/early 80s is that all this weird stuff kinda blended for a while into this big melty mess before they started to separate. It was not uncommon to see a punk zine covering the Screamers, Devo, and Throbbing Gristle in the same issue, for instance. Some of my favorite things to read in old NMEs and Sounds from the late 70s are the advertisements for concerts -- bands you'd think were really dissimilar would often share the same bill in ways you'd never imagine they would now. Bands like Factrix and TG drew on a lot of the same influences as a lotta the punkers, too -- fer instance they were huge VU fans, but perhaps more on the black angel death song/sister ray axis…(tho i can see Gen, old softie he is, singing 'stephanie says' or somethin when no one's around)
Modern noise-rock as I've experienced it is a very bodily kind of music, something that's often better experienced live than on CD, though even in recorded form you become very aware of your own physiological response to the music in a perhaps painful way -- your brain being pounded, your ears being grated, your heart being pumped. Live it's this weird experience of losing yourself in the physiological response of an entire crowd. I saw Lightning Bolt a couple weeks ago in a really tiny club when I was in Boston. The band didn’t play on the stage of course, but in the audience with us, and the crowd threw themselves into a frenzy, literally. Like it or not, you were enveloped in their sound, enmeshed in it: instead of looking up at a stage and having music pointed at you, you were swallowed into its goo, part of this giant roiling mass of skin and hair and muscle, of sweaty human bodies all spasming involuntarily of themselves. There's a real diff between this and the usual moshpit at a rock show that I can't quite pin down except to say that it's more like watching a whole bunch of people have massive epileptic seizures simultaneously; it's much more geometric and jarring. 'Noise is the unconsciousness of music' said Masami Akita once and I think he was onto something. The friend I was with got his glasses smashed in, I got a little bruised up, a good time was had by all...
And the bodily aspect is also something early industrial had in spades, of course -- dig the pornographic horror in the names themselves: throbbing gristle, SPK -- who started out naming themselves the socialist patients kollektiv (after bunch of german mental hospital patients who blew themselves up trying to make explosives), but then later on the front cover of their Industrial Records 45 was a photo of an impaled you-know-what with the title ‘meat processing section by surgical penis klinik’! then you got TG’s infrasonics experiments, Neubauten’s ‘Zeichnungen des Patienten OT’ with its actual literal recordings of the body...then there's the effect of the chemicals used, which certainly had its effects on the music: the Cabs and Factrix experimented with mushrooms, which are, of all hallucinogens, some of the most body-strange and freakily organic (esp when contrasted with say acid’s cold sweats and metallic, chemical aftertaste), speed use in early Neubauten -- dopamine rush, metabolic overdrive...music that's kinda the sonic equivalent of turning the messy inside outward, like German expressionism/Die Brucke did -- 'Cabinet of Dr Caligari'’s distorted bodies, sharp shadows, the contorted, misshapen city as metaphor for the body and the madness boiling in minds, 'Metropolis''s freakish fusion of machine and human, the grotesquerie running thru Max Beckmann's sketches...but just cuz the insides are messy doesn't mean they're necessarily dripping and fleshy, but they might be jagged and sharp -- check out the Expressionists' deeply emotional work with woodcuts for instance (easier to cut out hard lines in wood than curves).
Another reason maybe for Wolf Eyes' trend towards 70s/80s industrial culture is it's this patch of fertile ground that hasn't nearly been strip-mined to exhaustion yet -- there's so much good stuff in that rich vein (Factrix ruled!) that just never gets enough respect from American hipsters who seem happier to embrace the same coupla Gang of 4 beats over and over. And the hipsters who dig psych-space-rockesque drones should dig this stuff, man; it's the droniest! I had a guest spot DJing on KALX Berkeley when I was visiting California, and somewhere during the set I dropped in a live recording of Z'ev (at a totally random spot on the record) and was astounded by how beautifully luminous the shimmering percussion sounded, and left it on for about ten minutes, hypnotized by its spell until my pal Dandroid yelled 'Geeta! we should switch records!' and I snapped out of my reverie; you know, when you're listening to something that's basically at steady-state and you start becoming enraptured by even the most minute variations. Eno had a weird biological explanation for this, that our ears become a frog's eyes. The idea is, a frog fixes its eyes on something and leaves them there, but a human's eyes keep moving and scanning. When a frog fixes its eyes on one thing, everything turns to soft focus and a disruption, like a fly, flips the switch to high contrast. Say, Eno is kinda like Kermit in a way isn't he?
10.07.03 @ 07:19 AM EST [link]
Ha, so I see I'm on Simon's list of blogs-if-they-were-progs. It's cool tho, I like Kate Bush. 'Hounds of Love' at least. I saw the music video for 'Running Up That Hill' on MTV India when I was visiting there age 13. I was totally petrified by her antics.
Thanks much to all the people who've linked to me or sent me nice email, by the way!
I wonder what brought on the shift into Wolf Eyes industrial clang. Well, obviously the love of Factrix, but when was noise-rock declared a dead-end and 70s/80s industrial the new thing? Maybe they got their hands on some old analog noise-makers. Why the transvaluation?
Oh god I'll get to this. But first I gotta drink some more tea and get some work done! Soon, though.
Douglas has a new band with a great name: we are the 801.
10.06.03 @ 11:39 AM EST [link]
Here's the link to my article on Freaky Trigger -- hope you enjoy reading it!
10.06.03 @ 06:24 AM EST [link]
The tremendous amount of intelligent cultural criticism and discourse surging through the blogosphere makes me wonder why there aren't more media studies academics catching on. Dick Hebdige, this place is callin' for you, man! Simon Frith, where's your head at? How about one of my fave profs in college, Henry Jenkins (who foresaw the impact of the blog years ago)? NYU punk-rock-prof extraordinaire Steve Duncombe -- is he around? Angela McRobbie -- does she have a blog?
I wonder what it would've been like if Barthes and Adorno and Bourdieu and Lyotard and Foucault and Freud and all those dudes had been blogging, the weird cross-pollinations that would've occurred between minds, what woulda happened if Marinetti had interweb access (think how easy it would've been to crank out those manifestos), Man Ray, Huelsenbeck, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Mayakovsky, Lissitsky...James Joyce...
10.05.03 @ 11:24 PM EST [link]
Oh admit it you like the new Strokes album too. I haven't seen a band harness the spirit of Ric Ocasek this well in a while (ah more proof of the neo-80s in effect!) Though as Jody said 'it sounds like they're trying to make their 'Panorama' without having yet made their 'Candy-O'.'
10.05.03 @ 08:41 PM EST [link]
Was listening to Sparks' totally great 'No. 1 in Heaven' today and wondering why there isn't more rock-disco that sounds like this right now. What's Moroder up to these days anyway, designing sports cars? The album makes me wish that you could always keep ol' handlebar-mustachioed 70s Moroder in a box, just in case you needed to disco-fy something on short notice. 'Giorgio! This album needs you!' Then I flipped thru the copy of the NYT on my doorstep and saw that the New York Times Magazine theme this week is 'Art and Life in the Neo-70s'! As usual with the NYT they come around to a trend just when it's on its sputtering and dying embers, right? I thought we were planted pretty firmly in the neo-80s (with threats that we're moving back to the neo-60s what with this mod revival i keep hearing about.) A.O. Scott (one of my favorite critics aw) has a big piece called 'On the Edge of the Neo-70s' which talks about everything from the graffiti-covered subway cars of 70s New York to the movie 'Wild Style' to the Bush Tetras (who had their debut in 1980 I believe).
Also in the issue are vintage photos of Lydia Lunch and the Mudd Club and quite a few references to 'no wave' and then there's the obligatory photo of The Rapture (who are more 80s Cure than anything 70s, really) with a funny quote from the Rapture's lead singer: "When I was young I thought English bands were really cool just because they were English. People think New York bands are really cool just because they're from New York." Err well I never really was a subscriber to the NYC-is-the-center-of-the-universe theory (cuz it ain't), and when I go back and visit pals of mine in Boston or SF or any other decent-sized city I can usually sense a sort of backlash to hip NYC bands. I'm reminded of what one of my filmmaking profs said once: "I'd rather be an indie filmmaker in Boston than in NYC. If you're in NYC and you say you're an indie filmmaker, so what? Everyone there's an indie filmmaker. In Boston, though, it's something different." True dat, but I'd still rather be living here in Noo Yawk -- as long as I can afford to. Ecch speaking of films time to get back to working on that 'music and the brain' documentary treatment -- hey if you have any ideas for things you'd like to see in a prime-time TV doc on music and the brain, drop me a line using the link on your right!
10.05.03 @ 05:46 AM EST [link]
music non stop
Found that recent Ellen Allien album cheap while trawling a used cd bin at Other Music last nite, probably thrown out by some hipstah who thought it was like, so two months ago, and I dig it, really pretty beats. (Not sure if I agree w/ that review I read recently, I forget where, that said that the last name was 'alone': 'alone' is 'allein' auf Deutsch not 'allien', and in German the order of the i and the e is crucial, though feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) Dunno about her voice, though -- kind of Bjorkish but without the vocal range, isn't it? By turns breathy and slippery -- ecch. I like voices that are a little deeper and warmer and grainier, like that awesome anonymous Jurgen Paape 'So Weit Wie Nach Nie' voice. German voices! God I luv German voices in music, from Neubauten to Kraftwerk to that terrible German hip-hop album I've got stowed in a box somewhere. I remember I once tried to convince my snickering priss of an Italian language teacher that German was the most romantic language ever invented. She spun around from the chalkboard and said sneeringly to me in front of the class 'So how does one say 'I love you' in German?' and I responded 'Ich liebe dich!' and she said 'Ew, that's so ugly! Italian is the language of loooooove, in Italian we say 'ti amo!' And I was like 'In German we say 'fuck off'' and that was the end of my Italian-learning experience I'm afraid.
10.04.03 @ 04:15 AM EST [link]
proven by science!
Proven by Science had its Freaky Trigger premiere today, so hooray for that! Go check it out -- I think it's off to a good start. I'll still be doing this blog, in addition to editing and contributing to that one. Also, I wrote an article for FT that'll be going up this weekend -- I'll link to it here when it goes live.
10.03.03 @ 10:42 PM EST [link]
I'm starting to become eager for the post-punk/electro revival of the past two years or so to head into a full-on New Pop revival. That's right -- big hair, ludicrous music videos with cheetahs in them, poorly applied lipstick, over-the-top coked-out production: I'm growing sick of too-stiff beats, exxtreme artiness, aggressive minimalism! Fuck minimalism! Sometimes minimalism is cool -- I dig lots of that stuff, but it seems to work best when you've got ideas coming out of your ears and know how to channel them into something concentrated and fantastic, not when you're using an uber-cool minimalist aesthetic to hide the fact that you don't have very many ideas to begin with.
The records I've enjoyed most recently have been the ones which realize pop music is, well, inherently absurd: the new Basement Jaxx which is like a lurid oversaturated day-glo magic carpet ride thru some hidden groove-galaxy, Junior Senior's Danish disco-velveeta with extra cheese, vintage 70s disco-yes-disco, Beyonce. I only dig that micro-house stuff when it's catchy as hell and crammed to the gills with textures, stuff by dudes like Superpitcher and Justus Koehncke instead of stuff that sounds like it was designed to complement the spartan blond wood decor of the expensive-as-fuck sushi place down the street, or to soundtrack a highbrow gallery opening of neo-abstract expressionists.
I picked up a crate of records a couple of weekends ago that I'd been keeping in storage in Boston and there are some really funny things in that huge pile -- the 'Look of Love' 12" on Neutron with four different versions of the song, yes four! The song wasn't even that good to begin with! But what's really awesome is Martin Fry's hilarious 'Dear Reader' on the back: 'Do you remember 'Poison Arrow' or even 'Tears Are Not Enough'? Well I hope you agree with me that this is the best ABC recording so far. It's time to put down that bow and arrow and dry those tears and enjoy the one thing, yes the one thing that turns this grey sky to blue.' Ha ha! 'Incidentally it comes from the first ABC Long Player 'The Lexicon of Love' which we are making right now. It's my ambition to make a record you can cherish and to be Number One in your personal chart maybe 'The Lexicon of Love' will be such a record.' Aw ABC cares how I feel! I'm writing to the address in Sheffield on the back to join the ABC fan club (using my alter-ego 'Godzilla Jones' of course) -- yeah I know it was 1982 and there's no ABC fan club anymore, but there should be! I entered the Devo fan club as well (as per the address on the back of 'Freedom of Choice'.) Beautiful mutants! Something great I've been listening a lot to from that general time period is the Human League's 'Dignity of Labour pts 1-4' -- this is early sans-vocals Human League (of the general variety documented on that pretty awful 'Golden Hour of the Future' thing that I shelled out $15 for a year or two ago--hey at least it had pretty liner notes) but there's nothing stiffly electro about this - 'Dignity' is poppy and inventive without sounding dated, and it actually sounds pretty damn futuristic (still!)
10.02.03 @ 02:08 AM EST [link]