Saturday, December 31, 2011

strange dude, gregg wossname... ever listen to the album this is off?... wild 'n' wacky stuff... where was his head at eh?

this tune still sounds great to me

what a groove

oddly reminds me, though, of

but without the hungry vocal or force-of-personality, obviously
3 years in the extracurricular life of Niles


also sublime!


not so sublime!

not sublime!

sublime in a peculiarly haggard and harrowed sort of way!

Friday, December 30, 2011

further to my "is rock finally dead then?" query here

jon caramanica states the obvious, but states it starkly and sharply, and it's a point well worth making:

mainstream rock (he means rock released on US major labels, regardless of whether it's from the US or not, played on mainstream radio) is

"a musical universe in crisis like no other, full of old bands spinning their wheels, praying for one more summer out under big-tour sheds, and their young reinforcements, not much more than a field of dullards who are the artistic equivalent of grocery store generic brands. 2011 may well be remembered as the most numbing year for mainstream rock music in history.The genre didn’t produce a single great album, and the best of the middling walked blindly in footprints laid out years, even decades, earlier. Plenty of juggernauts — U2 and Bruce Springsteen, among others — took the year off, but the genre’s failings are creative, not commercial. At this point rock is becoming a graveyard of aesthetic innovation and creativity, a lie perpetrated by major labels, radio conglomerates and touring concerns, all of whom need — or feel they need — the continued sustenance of this style of music. The fringes remain interesting, and regenerate constantly, but the center has been left to rot."

the only thing i disagree with is the word "regenerate" in the otherwise correct nod to the continued interesting-ness of the fringes... i don't think that word, with its biologistic connotations of renewal and growth and evolution ... of generation and generative-ness... i don't think it really applies to the way that the Zones of Alteration operate... Hyperstasis, being a fundamentally digital/inorganic rather than analogue/organic syndrome, works through replication, recycling and recirculation, techniques of recreativity such as pastiche, appropriation, citation -- in other words, forms of asexual reproduction. (Or perhaps that should be asocial production - art practice that is incapaable, through its mode of operation and dissemination, of letting "the social" leak into it)

Repro ( according to this dude )as opposed to retro in the strict sense of the term, maybe, but still something that very much falls under the sceptical and unforgiving gaze of Retromania.

(Hyperstasis is, after all, nothing if not a churlish concept, looking a gift horse in the mouth, looking past the immediate bounty to the long-term dearth).

"Mark McGuire owes me MONEY!"--Manuel Gottsching

"The Edge too 'n all"--Manuel Gottsching

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Steve Jones, in Hustler, on Glenn Matlock

"I'm tired of Glen Matlock saying he was the songwriter for the Sex Pistols. I co-wrote as many songs… but I don't go shouting about it. Every time I read it, it bugs me. If he was such a great songwriter, where are the songs after the Sex Pistols? It's just annoying."

He's got a point...

Then again, the jibe bounces back when you think about Jones's post-Pistols (post-Matlock, even) output

as my brother Jez sez, they all sound like "Silly Thing"

probably the only person on earth who remembers this supergroup of r'n'r lags (jones + cook + lynott) called the greedy basstards

but presumably Jones had a large hand in "Nobody is Innocent" aka "Cosh the Driver", one of the tracks done with Ronald Biggs and pretty great, and also the title track of The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle, which is really great

and then there was this

as covered by G'N R

pretty cruddy

still on balance Jones > Matlock

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

thoughts on the end-of-year faves (work in progress)

* Nearly everything in my fave album st is electronic, but little of it is electronic in the electronic dance music sense (the little that is, is so in a rather notional way, as with Glass Swords, most of which I find hard to imagine to rocking clubfloors, or Maria Minerva’s stuff which is more like a private interior dream of dance than actual functional bodymusic for crowded gregarious spaces) (and in the case of footwork is functional for those only for whom it was originally and specifically made and highly dysfunctional for everybody else, making it much more of a headtrip contemplative experience). But all this electronic music isn’t much to do with the IDM/electronic listening music tradition either. It’s coming out of post-noise, or 5th wave industrial esoterica...

There’s hardly any guitars in there, and when there are they’re not particularly rocking uses of guitar. Is rock finally over, in both the underground and the overground? (Ignoring all the living dead still walking around in earshot like Black Keys). Is all this underground stuff in some sense “post-rock”? Dunno, but the guitar seems to have lost any privileged status as an instrument. It’s just one of many sound-generating implements available.

* That said must confess to a certain fatigue with the electronic overload. Got sent so much of the stuff and downloaded even more. Don’t know if it can all be laid at Oneohtrix’s door, but there is a surfeit of music coming out that’s using either real synths or soft synth replicas. A kind of analogue maximalism, since the tracks tend to be on the long side, and if there’s not a proggy busy-busy-fingers ornateness there’s often a certain epic sweep and scale to the music, as well as vaguely conceptual-conceit vibe. Heard rather too many albums where the sound palette presses all the right buttons on an idle, distracted listen, but if you actually pay attention, a certain compositional weakeness becomes apparent... and it’s not at all obvious or clear what the purpose, aim or function of the music actually is. There’s people who release several lengthy records per year who might do better to release just the one.

Another downside aspect to the electronic listening deluge: a lot of this stuff strikes me as part of the syndrome i call "arrested advance" or "arrested futurism". Which is to say that while there's nothing that particularly retro or nostalgic about this synth music's , it's not particularly innovative either... it is resuming approaches developed by Berlin School/New Age/Space Music/etcthat were once exploratory but can now only be considered a settled tradition ... contributing to areas of activity that were already rather crowded in their own heyday (Seventies, Eighties).... so there's a sense of, at worst, redundancy, and even in the better exponents, the nagging doubt, "what is actually being added here, or taken further?"

* As I suggested in the NNF profile for the Wire, this is the time of the concept-musician, where the framing of projects is vital. A certain kind of music-journalist and blogger loves this kind of thing, because it gives them something to riff on and riff off (the musician generates a stream of fully rationalized, eloquently expressed explanations of what they’re doing, and knows very clearly what they’re trying to achieve, and at that extreme verges on obviating any kind of role for the external commentator). The leading exponents of this state-of-art (Lopatin, Ferraro) operate at a very high level, but as with any genre when you get into the second-division there’s a steadily rising quotient of bull-honky. Increasingly with the post-hynagoggy/post-hauntyunderground I’m minded a little of Tom Wolfe’s The Painted Word... the danger zone where music can’t actually be enjoyed or even felt without the intervention of a concept. (Read Tiny Mix Tapes and sometimes it's a bit like how reading October or early Seventies Artforum must have been).

* Another tendency, seemingly countering the music-for-concept’s sake/music-as-text tendency, is towards a kind of pure aestheticism: what you might call the New Exquisite... releases by Balam Acab, Water Borders, the Deeep, etc that are very attractive listens but leave you with a disquieting inkling sense of “why?”... and in that sense remind me a little of certain late Eighties moment of vaguely alternative, atmospheric, well-produced to the point of being slightly prissy music (the 4AD of Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Wolfgang Press... Cindytalk... Talk Talk even). The New Exquisite blends somewhat with the New Religiose: a sort of vague, muffled gesturing at the sacred, the transcendent, that you get in the vocal stylings or vocal science of such as Julianna Barwick or Clams Casino (trip hop meets Burial innit)

* couldn't be bothered with Reissues this year: barely remembered any notable ones (exceptions: LFO’s Frequencies and the Sweet Exorcist RetroActivity package; Those Shocking Shaking Days: : Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk 1970-1978; T.C.M., The Criminal Minds; a few African things earlier in the year...). The well of the past is getting dry, finally?

* Sam Macklin expressed surprise at my singles/tunes-of-2011 list's being over-run by Top 40, since he'd argued in his own end of year thing that the pop mainstream was at its lowest ever ebb! Well no doubt contingency plays its part, being in the car a lot in L.A., the banging beats suit the sensation of motion. The kids are always pressing for "contemporary" rather than classic-rock stations. I think by certain axes of measurement you could indeed say the pop mainstream at its lowest ebb (philosophically, lyrically, songcraft in the mature sense, musicianship in the conventional played sense... the dearth of characters and real stars, with singers reduced to depersonalised components in the blare of faceless clubpop bollocks). But in terms of catchiness, upfulness, danceabilty, crafty thrills-per-minute programming of pleasure-machinery, and sheer antirockism (rock has just disappeared from the mainstream – we are in a post rock universe now – real ordinary people do not give a shit about electric guitars – those Jersey Shore types prefer to listen to Roland 303 riffs!) it’s definitely something of a high point for chartpop.

talking of rockism what’s interesting me is that rock’n’roll -- not in any musical sense but as an abstract spirit (defiantly heedless hedonism, partying hard, not giving a fuck about the cost or consequences, swagger) is draped all over current pop.(Hence the various songs referring to “Jagger”, or that perfume called Rockstar). All these apocalyptic songs about how this could be my last night, gonna drink like it’s my last night, baby we don’t have tomorrow, britney's "til the World ends" (co-written by Ke$ha), Rihanna's cheerless "cheers" – it’s very Dionysian, very Keith Richards/Guns N'Roses darkside thrillseeking with some recession desperation chucked in. After a few drinks too many myself I tweeted some months ago that Ke$ha is our Jim Morrison but I kind of meant it–she is responsible for a lot of this new reckless get-wrecked spirit in music. The word "fight" appears obsessively in her songs, a deliberate or unconscious echo of her heroes the Beasties and "fight for your right to party". there were moments last year when most of the top 40 seemed to be singing variations on: "well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer/the future's uncertain, and the end is always near"
nano y nano
(work in progress)

I suppose a lot of my problems with the concept of nanoculture (as broached in Tom Ewing's final epic Poptimist column) boil down to the word "nano"

the prefix nano is defined in the dictionary as “indicating extreme smallness”

What that translates to, in nanoculture, is a host of affects and effects that are extremely small, both in impact and in duration

it's not so much the concept, though, as the actual practice of nanoculture -- the day to day, week to week, weak to weaker flow of nanostories... micronarratives, ever petit-er recits

it feels like entropy

the digitally-empowered particulars might have changed a fair amount but in substance and in spirit, these practices of sharing, enthusing, parodying, nerding, etc existed before the web... they took place in informal real-world contexts - -down the pub, in the schoolyard, in fan communities (tape trading, zines,

What has happened with the web is (on the positive side) the extension of those activities to existing friends who are outside your geographical reach these days plus new friends who you’ve never encountered in a geographical sense... and then to strangers with whom you enter into this fleeting relations of comity

And there's a massive degree of facilitation to these processes in terms of physical and financial effort, speed of response (close to real-time)

On the negative side though there is a quasi-public aspect, where it sort of feels like “broadcasting”.... but it isn’t... which leads perhaps to over-estimations of the value and power of these activities

I don’t think global judgements can be made about netlife as a whole... it's about assessing the specific trade-offs between any given analogue-precusor-activity and its digital enhancement/replacement -- in most cases, digiculture is a new way of doing something we used to do before computers and the internet

Blogs retain a lot of what is good about fanzines (in depth writing, eccentric viewpoints, informality) and remove a lot of the stuff that is bad (delays between transmissions, back-breaking graft, the cost, the waste of unsold copies)

Twitter (nano in the nth degree) retains little of what is good about blogs but keep the aspects to do with pseudo-socialisation and self-advertising -- twittering is good for people who have lonely-making professions and like to feel in contact, or self-publicity purposes

What I’m interested in an exploration of the phenomenology of netlife, what it feels like to be “in touch” all the time, to be moving around these great wodges of data, acquiring constantly, attempting to digest and cross-reference

and then on a larger level, what does it mean for the future of a culture when so much energy – psychological, libidinal, emotional, cathectic, also social, the economy of attention – is going into these pursuits and directions and spheres - the endlessly twining stream of discourse, this merging-then-diverging traffic of meta-chat

how nano can nanoculture get before it forfeits any claim on the word "culture"?

what is going on in these streams is definitely not culture in the capital C sense, no Works are being made, this is stuff that is avowedly transient, completely disinterested in passing the Test of Time

but nor is it culture in the subculture sense (the creation of a bounded world, insular, a set of invented rituals, tribal, an ethnos; oppositional to the mainstream, expressive of dissident values and minority worldviews)

if nanoculture isn't sub- then what is it? or rather, where is it, in the topology of culture/society,

the word, i think, is paraculture

something that runs along side the mainstream

a side-stream so very closely entwined with the mainstream as to be inseparable from it, yet not able to affect it to any great degree.... very close, yet beside the point

the prefix ‘para’, as well as suggesting "beside", also contains an insinuation of parasitism -- this stream depends on the creative industries for an endless supply of new material to comment on, recombine, parody, gossip about

(para, or paro? an entire microculture of Weird Al Yankovichs?)

one thinks of the Jaron Lanier quote from You Are Not a Gadget:

"It is astonishing how much of the chatter online is driven by fan responses to expression that was originally created within the sphere of old media and that is now being destroyed by the net. Comments about TV shows, major movies, commercial music releases, and video games must be responsible for almost as much bit traffic as porn. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but since the web is killing the old media, we face a situation in which culture is effectively eating its own seed stock."

for every creative, or cleverly recreative, response within the nano/para-cultural realm, there are thousands upon thousands of pointless, redundant, content-free emissions from "prosumers"

i think of when i was doing a thing on the Video Music Awards and looking on YouTube for footage clips to illustrate the points... but instead of performance excerpts all i could find was dozens and dozens of fan videos... not shaky videos of the performances taken off the TV screen but videos of the fans, in profile, watching the show on a screen (TV, computer) that was invisible to us out there in youtubeland... with the fans commenting in real-time on the show as it happened... the comments all being on the level of "beyonce looks so great", "chris brown's performance is off the hook", etc etc....


in hot, hectic pursuit of the trivial

i think also of Drake's on-the-money comment recently:

"The thing that scares me most is Tumblr... Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments.... Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living.”
DIYstopia [work in progress]

in the Wire essay Excess All Areas i wrote about how the hydraulics of culture went haywire in the post-broadband era, the channels and pipes for data transmission expanding astronomically and worse, becoming traversible in both directions... so that every receiver can also broadcast (indeed increasingly cannot stop themselves emitting)

too much to listen to, too much to read, too much to assimilate (remember re-reading? listening repeatedly?)

this excess of access / superabundance of output leading to a scarcity of reception/ a dearth of consumers

supply vastly exceeding demand

DIY becomes dystopia

well here's an article about experimental music today that chimes in with these concerns and starts with the words:

"In 2011, the flood continued"

it reminded me of another piece i read earlier in the year, which introduced me to the year's bleakest concept: "the no-audience underground"

the guy who coined the concept seems pretty chipper though and not the least bit bothered by any sense of futility, not the teensiest bit deterred from his maniacal archive fever

but back to the Upstate Soundscape post, this concept of a new kind of "regionalism" seems intriguing... the reinvention of the local ... a deliberate narrowing of range in terms of both input and output

it reminded me of something Charles Hayward said when i interviewed him

"I was from Camberwell. And it’s important to me that music which goes 'outside' still has some sort of semi-folk basis in society. It belongs to a place and comes from a place. Which is something I always hear in Sun Ra. They were part of a community in Philadelphia and Washington, even though their music doesn’t overtly describe the situation they lived in. Everyone nowadays is basing their morality and ethics on gadgets, as if a sense of place doesn’t exist anymore. People feel dislocated when they haven't got that. I'm working with special needs people, the so-called disabled. I work alongside all sorts of people and then I'm trying to assimilate those experiences and do my own synthesis of what it is to be with people and make that come through in my music."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

when i go a-roaming randomly through the sharity blogzone, i am always amazed by how much industrial-drone / dark ambient / isolationist / noise-as-chilling-chillout-muzik is out there, how much got made over the last three decades and is still getting made

some of it in the creepy-dodgy zone



described by one blog that specialises in sharing this sort of thing as

"an original combination of cosmic, mythological and national socialistic themes, mixed and served to listener through experiments and manipulations with analog synthesizer"

said blog files 88MM under: "dark ritual, h8tronics, Nazisploitation" (among other categories)

one of the tracks on their 2008 album Motion of the Spinning Black Sun is titled

"14 Showerheads, 1 Gas-Tight Door"

88MM the name comes from a famous WWII German anti-aircraft/anti-tank artillery weapon of the type whose cumbersome got abbreviated to Flak (which i only just realised is the same flak as in the expression "i've been getting serious flack for ____"), a weapon described by one enthusiast on youtube as a "serious asskicking rape gun"

Friday, December 23, 2011

re. where did that clever-clever quirky-arty meta-pop / playing at "pop" lineage go after 70s/80s (M, 10cc, Buggles) well as this review by John Calvert for Quietus suggests, one continuation of it was Gorillaz

Thursday, December 22, 2011

FLizards got me thinking about that UK-only (or UK-mostly) thing of clever-clever, quirky-arty metapop

like 10cc, Buggles, and above all...

or these proggers playing at pop

70s was the heyday but i'm wondering how and where the lineage extended itself into subsequent decades (White Town?)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

couldn't find the TOTP appearance as discussed in Rip It Up but check for the renowned improv musicians lurking in the back of this promo video

strange how something starting out as/intended as/talked-up as this totally open-ended etc etc entity became a one-trick pony so quick

the Status Quo of the cover (sub)version

and the Residents done it first anyways

there was a lot of this about in your postpunk Peely days

as in this John P fave the Hybrid Kids (aka Morgan Fisher from... Mott the Hoople? or Manfred Mann's Earth Band? can't remember)... there was a whole album of this malarkey

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

been looking for this for a long while

Nesting Stones by playingwithwords

cathy lane on 'nesting stones'

Anybody who has ever had an intense relationship with another person will know that for every positive emotion experienced there is a corresponding negative feeling.

Nesting Stones is based on my feelings about my relationship with my baby daughter.
In this composition I am using and developing anecdotal structures and gestural metaphors harnessing the sense of spatial positioning and movement and the tension between the recognisable and stated and the barely recognisable and unrecognisable to explore and express the contradictions and dualities of that relationship.
The sound material for the piece is all drawn from recordings of myself and my daughter.

Nesting Stones was written in 1996. In 1998 featured on Unknown Public Issue 8: Sensuality Essence And Nonsense and as a result was chosen as one of the Wire magazines "100 Records That Set The World On Fire" along with works such classics as Steve Reich's 'Come Out', Alvin Lucier's 'I Am Sitting In A Room' and Glenn Gould's 'The Solitude Trilogy' as well as works by Louis & Bebe Barron, Youssou N'Dour, William S. Burroughs, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra and Herbie Hancock.

"Stockhausen's Gesang Der Junglinge features the voice of a near-infant boy. Nesting Stones doesn't seem so different: a mix of musique concrete and electronic treatment, featuring the cry of Lane's own child Mia. What's so striking is how insipid and even cowardly Stockhausen's pioneering work suddenly seems, how carefully the young Darmstadt modernist (who had just become a father) distances himself from any of his own feelings about child-as-sound (above all, imposing some irrelevant biblical material on the work). Mia's yowling, by contrast, is looped and treated until its primal empathic pull (she's calling "Mama") folds into maddening repetition, strain and ugliness. Even as the sound mutates into gurgles and chuckles - everything we're programmed to respond positively to - the baby manifests as parasite, as cancerous scrawl, as chaotic insistent thing. A simple idea, on the face of it far from new, and yet - in this age of child abuse panic and false memory syndrome - far more powerful, daring and revelatory than almost any Electronica or concrete I can think of."- Mark Sinker The Wire #175 September 1998


and loads more electroacoustica and musique concrete feminine from cathy lane here

this great find by Carl the Impostume (in reference to this post + comment thread on folky currents in UK Eighties pop -- )

led me to

and then all this

and the great lost unreleased scrit track

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Public Information Materials-Mix by Public Information

judd and jury
shite bands of yesteryear, part 2

bow wow wow imitators no less

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

shite bands of yesteryear, part 1

this sorry shower of funkwagon-jumpers actually made the cover of NME for their first single, which was this, i believe

the francois K mix is almost tolerable

despite the picture here, it's the same Scottish crew as before (including a former member of Slik - Kenny Hyslop)

Monday, December 5, 2011

h-pop made so much more sense to me almost the minute i moved to Southern California

like JFerraro's remark in the Wire hypnagogic piece about KFCs as "dark energy temples"... my response reading that, as someone then living in New York, was woah stoned hippie drivel alert... but you know what, out here as you're driving along the endless strip malls, the fast food outlets and name-brand retailers and supermarkets like Bristol Farms can look a bit like ecclesiastical buildings what with their out-size frontages and spire-like constructions calling out to you from a distance, beacons for the faithful in the church of consumerism ... for that matter the modern-look (or even outright Modernist) churches and synagogues and Scientology temples in this town often look like megastores or flashy corporate buildings (if it's a poor neighbourhood, the churches look commercial in a different sense: like bodegas or repair shop shacks)... but yeah, unlike in new york or london, where fast food places are bunched together with other buildings, in LA your KFCs and McDs and In-N-Out Burgers are separated off (cos there's so much more realty space here) and with often wacky ziggurat-like or pagoda-ish shapes, they can look like queer plastic temples glowing with too much artificial light... there's a trippy-creepy kitschadelic aura pulsing around them