Thursday, December 13, 2007
Karlheinz Stockhausen 1928-2007
I'm not going to pretend to be an authority on his work, but even I know that he was a legend. Stockhausen was one of the pioneers of electronic music and 20th century composition. Hugely influential in his use of primitive electronics and tape machines, his influence extends to Krautrock, techno, experimental rock, and modern composition. Maybe there would even have been no Can without Stockhausen? Suppose it's one of those "what if..." questions, but still...really wish I went to that gig he did in a fish market in East London a while ago now. Bet it was awesome.
Ike Turner 1931-2007
For this tune (clip below) with Madame Turner on vocals long before she was mates with Mick Jagger (the 80s did strange things to the careers of music legends). Goodnight London still has it on Tamla Motown 7", like the sad record collector nerd that I am. He looks the business in this clip. And this song still sound enormous on record (Phil Spector, I believe?).
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
- Silver Apples on at around 1:30am
- ditto for Jah Shaka Sound System, who sound terrifying and seriously bass-heavy
- ditto for Aphex Twin, hopefully sans sandpaper machine
- the Sunday triumphate of Earth, Boris and Sun O))), on one after the other, which could well send the bouncers into tears
- Fuck Buttons, whenever they are on. And A Hawk And A Hacksaw
- Glenn Branca playing twice (though one of his sets is fifteen minutes?!)
- whatever films Portishead choose to host on the ATP Portishead TV channel
- the sheer surreality of seeing GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan playing at Butlin's in Somerset
Things I'm possibly not looking forward to:
- getting soaked while walking to the venue from the chalet
- feeling hungover and soaked while watching said bands
- rubbish food in the venue
- queing to watch bands in the Centre Stage
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Some great events going on as part of the celebrations to herald twenty five years of The Wire's existence. Various happenings included a celebration of Finnish psych folk and drone at Bush Hall that was punctuated by a blistering set from guitar and drums duo Pymathon. Then there was also an all-dayer at Cargo beginning at 5pm which saw Jackie O-Motherfucker headline at something like 11:30pm on a Sunday night, reduced to a trio because of illness, and ended with an argument with a member of the audience. It was that kind of day. Still, Jackie-O weren't bad for what it's worth, and earlier on the venue saw the spectre of some wonderfully strange acts - Birds of Delay, Polly Shang Kuan Band (above), The Sound Of The Exquisite Corpse, Axolotl - all of which produced some seriously out-there drone and improvised music. Then again, I could have done without Talibam!, a 'zany' duo with a terrible name and even worse music, and the even more comedic Putting On The Ritz playing in the bar area. Shame the gig at Shoreditch Town Hall - a venue with some amazing endless passageways and catacombs in it's basement, as Goodnight London discovered recently - with the Boredoms and Michael Gira was sold out.
The screening of the documentary about Genesis P-Orridge and his partner Lady Jaye at the Roxy Bar & Screen was of particular interest, though, given Throbbing Gristle's recent resurrection - a band hugely influential in their own right. The scenes of Mr P-Orridge (Neil Megson by birth) with his partner are strangely touching, especially given the recent sad news of Lady Jaye's passing due to stomach cancer. Always one to espouse the visual, interactive, and participatory side of art, P-Orridge's discussions on camera about the 'project'-like nature of his part sex-change - which involved breast implants in order to somehow 'fuse' or 'become one' with his partner to create a 'pandrogynous' synthesis entitled Genesis Breyer P-Orridge - are among the most interesting in the documentary, particularly when much of the doc follows him on tour with Psychic TV or Thee Majesty or whoever it is he's playing with. Whether Ms Jaye participated in reciprocal body modification to appear more, well, manly, is unclear.
I have to admit I tittered a bit at the scene in which P-Orridge elaborated on how the human race must embrace pandrogyny in order to advance to the next stage of human evolution. Daring transgressive artists living in New York and attending galleries such as P-Orridge is one thing, but whether Dave from Telford is willing to ascribe to this next step is another. I suppose it depends on whether you subscribe to the belief that humans have reached the limit of our evolution, or whether evolution is a constant, modifying force in our life which we simply don't notice. In any case, pandrogyny is essentially artificial, i.e. created synthetically by doctors in the surgery clinic.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Anyway, the real Bono, in unbelievably self-important fashion, has threatened the band with his lawyers. There's something inherently hilarious about the singer of one of the biggest bands of the world - if you don't count that American Express-sponsored, increasingly embarrassing outfit known as the Rolling Stones - threatening a law suit against a suitably trashy-looking minor Shoreditch band (well, they're Shoreditch in spirit anyway) that probably barely plays outside the area. Exactly how many records have BMD sold? Of course, it no doubt came about because of Bob Geldof - who else? - being less than impressed at his daughter's fondness for said outfit. And Geldof and Bono are mates, right? I can just see them in the pub, and the look on Bono's face when Geldof relays the news. Does Bono not have better things to do with him time? Like, discover irony or have a photo opportunity with the Pope, or something?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
As urban guerrilla sounding in it's own way as Throbbing Gristle, drum 'n' bass or techno, Glenn Branca has always produced some awe-inspiring music. My particular favourites are 'Lesson No.1 for Electric Guitar' and 'The Ascension', in which you can hear the endless oscillating strands of sound that come from multiple guitars. Presumably an orchestra of one hundred guitars at once would produce endless micro-tonal possibilities? I actually think that the two tracks by him mentioned above sort of predate genres like shoegazing and post-rock that we've become used to. There's not a huge difference between the tracks and some of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's work, for example. Or Seefel's 'Quiqe'. Anyway, this gig is something I wish I'd went to, along with the Boredoms gig in New York, in a park with 77 drummers on the 7th July 2007, at 7pm, which would perfectly fit their frenzied drum incantations:
Sadly, though, I couldn't go to Branca, due to relocating this weekend to a new house near Walthamstow Dog Tracks of all places, where my famous neighbours will include Blazin' Squad, Daniella Westbrook (her of the nose sans septum), Teddy Sheringham, and - of course - Brian Harvey. Exactly how I've gone from Glenn Branca to Brian Harvey in one post I don't know. Still, Branca's playing two sets at the Portishead ATP in December (including one set with 'special guests' - no doubt Thurston Moore will be among them, as he's doing a solo set too), so will catch him then.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
So, despite the endless petition signatures, the leafleting, the articles in newspapers, and even the pleas by dear old Red Ken Livingstone, it wasn't enough for the Spitz to close, the latest victim of the area's corporatisation (though the venue has done stuff since at Rich Mix). I guess the sight of people making weird left-field experimental music at an interesting venue in a perfect location was just to much to bare for Ballymore Properties, who would prefer the an anodyne wine bar full of city yuppies. Although CBGB's had reportedly become a parody of its former self near the time it was shut down, you could almost draw parallels: the two areas around the Spitz and CBGB's are accelerating in the property market, and live music is always going to be the casualty (particularly once the new East London line is built). This is no place for nostalgia about what both venues have gave their respective cities in terms of culture or an arts scene. Obviously the Spitz was only one venue in London. But it was pretty much the best venue. Anyway, nostalgia doesn't count for anything when you have a prime location near the financial district. Who wants to listen to that unlistenable music when you can have an All Bar One? It's not like that area is lacking in investment bankers / lawyers etc to frequent the posh bars spouting up, of which the Spitz's replacement on that site will be one.
Another nail in the coffin for an independent scene in London, then (along with the Hammersmith Palais - another great venue). Still, there's always Starbucks across the road...
Anyway on a more serious note, the spirit of the Spitz lives on in part just down the road, at a great venue called the Gramaphone. And there's the Duke of Uke and the new Rough Trade East, to remind me why I still go to the area.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
...this time curated by Portishead, and Silver Apples have just been added to the bill! Along with four doom metal bands, Jah Shaka Soundsystem, Glenn Branca (playing twice!), the Aphex Twin, Julian Cope, and countless others, some of whom I've heard of (Oneida) and some I haven't (Crippled Black Phoenix? The Heads? Jo Volk?). Why aren't Movietone on the bill? Anyway, it confirms my theory that Portishead have always had more in common aesthetically with left-field guitar music than most electronica (and especially aberrations of the 'trip-hop' genre such as Zero 7 and Groove Armada - music for media people living in 'pads' in Notting Hill). They also take a nice swipe at another aberration of music, Mark Ronson, here. Exactly who is choosing to pay to go to Shepherd's Bush Empire and see this man do karaoke versions of the Kaiser Chiefs, among other acts, is mystifying; clearly someone is, as his gig there is sold out. Ronson is the prime example of music as background music; it can be played anywhere and, because it's not even his own compositions but rather pointless covers, it's easy to digest anywhere. You can play it on your iPod anywhere and not have to really think about the music. He's a prime example of music's superficiality in the digital age, when the sheer abundance of music negates it's importance: it's everywhere, from the clothes shop to the hairdresser. "Oh, but they're inventively done covers that add a twist to the original". So what, though? I guess I don't hang at the right parties at the Notting Hill Arts Club, so I wouldn't understand. This is Ronson's demographic. His music is seen as "cool" and "fresh" takes on old songs, which Kate Nash/Lilly Allen/Amy Winehouse types put on at parties.
At this point, I should just point I have an iPod myself and actually like it. But I also take the music on it seriously rather than treating it as background music. Which is one reason for the importance of All Tomorrow's Parties. Roll on December.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
So Sonic Youth performing Daydream Nation at the Roundhouse did have the twinge of nostalgia workout about it (see previous blog entry here). The whole experience of watching bands perform albums in their entirety (as part of the Don't Look Back festival) is still a weird experience - you know exactly what's coming next and in which order the songs are going to be. Viewed cynically, it's simply a band reciting their greatest work without expanding on it.
Yet the gig was still a fantastic experience that brought back so many memories. There's something about it's distinctive tidal wash of oceanic noise and open-ended guitar symphony, with melodies spilling off in all directions, that keeps me returning to it - particularly as it soundtracked years of my adolescent life. Like Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures (which I cover in this post), there was something mysterious and intense about the front cover when I first saw it, an image that's about as far removed from punk rock as you can get. At the gig, there was something apt about watching the godfathers of dissonance and noise performing an album that offered a whole new chapter in rock dynamics, and a whole new language with its innovative tunings, at the Roundhouse, where Zeppelin and Hendrix expanded the possibilities of what could be utilized with a rock set-up in the 60's.
Ahh, bliss...those opening chords...
Friday, August 31, 2007
Perhaps the closure of The Spitz could be the nail in the coffin for the eventual decline of Shoreditch. This might sound a bit drastic, as anyone whose lived near there can testify, what with the endless galleries and things to do. It's still a hell of an interesting area. So is it just me being embittered because I can't really afford to live there any more? Maybe, but then go on this website, scroll to the bottom, and click on 'London Shoreditch', 'London Hoxton', and 'London Brick Lane'. And check out the rents.
Anyway, it looks as if K-Punk is on a similar state of mind with a typically brilliant post on the subject.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I can still remember the first time that I saw the image of the front cover of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. It was in an issue of the NME from 91 or earlier - some list of 'the best British albums of the 80s' or somesuch. I hate top 100 lists now but at that age they're a bit more, well, palatable and exciting. Now they just annoy me. But I digress. The front cover of UP was the first time I had a seen a record cover which was somehow other-worldly and different. It was totally mysterious and inscrutable, with no band/album title on the cover, never mind band members grimacing like goons at the camera. I was obsessed, especially as the short description mentioned that "it still sounds like nothing else on Earth". It seemed enormously secretive and austere, like some gateway to some parallel Universe. For ages I assumed that it was a photograph of a valley on the moon, with peaks on either side (subconsciously it reminded me of some of the pictures from the Tintin book when he goes to the moon). I only found out later that it was a radiograph of waves emanating from a pulsar.
The contents were just as inscrutable, with Martin Hannett's ghostly production incorporating industrial factory noises (lifts moving, glass breaking, etc.) among the methodically arranged music. Even now, it sounds so of it's time, where post-punk was slowly absorbing elements of synthesised music creeping in from Kraftwerk's equally exotic recording, musique concrète, and others.
And this isn't even mentioning the legacy of New Order, Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio etc, which Wilson's vision helped bring about...
Monday, August 06, 2007
Having only seen Fanny and Alexander, can't really comment on Bergman, but Antonioni's Blow-Up must surely go down as the authoritative Swinging London film - even if it's been parodied to death by Austin Powers. It still looks great today, even the groovy swinging cats in the hilarious club scene. It's sad to see most London-based films today lacking any near the style and excitement or cerebral humour, but then I guess Hugh Grant sells.
Some other great London films (James Bond films don't count, and certainly not anything by Guy Ritchie):
- Mona Lisa
- The Long Good Friday
Any other suggestions?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Of course, while it's an addictive site it doesn't necessarily capture the fact that not everything you listen to you're gonna like. I have to say that the new Arcade Fire album is just too bombastic and Springsteen-sounding for my liking...surely there's others out there who preferred Funeral?
Some new pictures too up at Flickr.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Well, Devon rained and rained. For proof of global warming look no further than Britain rather than Greenland, judging from the mental weather this summer. I thought parts of London can look depressing in the drizzle, but places like Tiverton look far worse - desolate town centres struck by the phenomenon of the out-of-town supermarket. Still, across the county border in Cornwall there's always the Eden Project, a surreal experience that makes you feel like you're on a colony on the surface of the Moon. It's straight out of an Isaac Asimov novel, particularly this charming robot assembled from pieces of old abandoned cars. To get poetic, the very detrius of our consumer society laid before our eyes. Or maybe it just reminds me of a few too many car ads:
Anyway, very Terminator-like, even if's nearer to St Ives than Los Angeles.
Wasn't Susan Cooper's fantastic children's fantasy series The Dark Is Rising Sequence set around these parts? I seem to remember in the last book, Silver On The Tree, a huge horse made only of bones. Which is why this in the reception area caught my eye:
Poor old Peter Gabriel's fans got soaked. At least he wasn't playing in Genesis. Then Him up there in the sky could have been really pissed off and made the downpour even worse than it was.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Slightly syncophantic, I admit. But the point is, blimey that makes me feel pretty old. When that album came out many guys who are now in bands would have been about two years old. Me? I was around ten years old. Then again, Sonic Youth must be seriously pushing fifty now, so they at least make me feel young. I suppose it's the kind of thing punk rock set out to destroy, but nonetheless I'll be going to the Roundhouse to see them do the album track-by-track. Yes, I know this All Tomorrow's Parties Don't Look Back thing is pure nostalgia - Whitehouse member William Bennett certainly thinks so on this blog comment - but fuck it, I'm gonna go anyway. Maybe Whitehouse will play at Don't Look Back too? Would be interesting to hear charming classics such as "I'm Coming Up Your Ass" and "Just Like a Cunt" at Koko...but seriously, it's amazing to think that they've been going almost as long as SY, which would make them one of the first originators of the 'noise' genre along with The New Blockaders, Merzbow, etc. Incredible as it seems given the inherent uncommercial nature of the genre, noise music has now been going as long as goth (which I reckon started around '82 or so - any objections?). Of course, some smartarse could point out that something like 'Metal Machine Music' preceded noise bands by a couple of years, and before that you can cite modern experimental composers, but Lou Reed obviously wasn't a noise artist as such. Noise music must be one of the few genres where you geniunely don't need to play your instrument (even less so than punk), something that was brought home to me at a Wolf Eyes gig recently where the support act Putrifier ran around the venue with a strange guitar/drill hybrid attached to his chest. To bring this argument full circular,
SY themselves have dabbed in the genre of course - Sonic Death being a sort of neo-noise record of sorts.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
K-Punk again on The Apprentice.
I'd go further than this and say that while the program is an interesting for what it reveals about the class system in this country - as K-Punk pointed out - it's also a sort of repository for our catharsis when it comes to office politics: most of us will have met characters similar to this in work, and enjoy watching all of them (except for one, obviously) get their comeuppance. I guess Katie is the long in a line.
The whole program is founded on lies, of course: we must have all heard by now that Alan Sugar doesn't actually own that place, with it's pneumatic secretary, where he fires his wanna-be protégé one by one. The implication when you watch the program - even if it's not actually stated - is undoubtedly that this office is one of many of his 'acquisitions'. Furthermore, "Sir" Alan Sugar's (and what a fuckwittedly lame prefix that is) actual equivalent to Trump Towers - which, funnily enough, Donald Trump doesn't entirely own either - is in Brentwood and looks like this, which is less New York, more Skegness in spirit. As this comment on The Guardian's blog acknowledges, winning that program is double-edged sword - the money may be good, but the actual environment in which you'll be "Sir" Alan Sugar's right-hand man (or woman) is hardly glamorous - and what does Amstrad actually do these days anyway? Sugar's hardly the boss of Tesco. He's simply known as a caricature of himself whose made a few bob from property. Not that he's exactly poor (and he's probably made more money than I ever will), but it's the whole notion that he's some Richard Branson-like genius entrepreneur that's embarrassing. But then I suppose the whole program is essentially charlatan-like anyway.
Perhaps Katie's resignation was a stroke of genius: no-one should really want to actually win the program and work at Amstrad. As that blog points out, what have previous winners of the program gone on to do? In that sense, far from being some kind of gritty reality TV show, The Apprentice is actually as airbrushed as any '15 minutes of fame'-type program, where the exposure granted by getting to the last three contestants is the real goal.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
This looks like something that could have been bestowed on the world by Beezlebub himself. If you'll pardon the expression, John Lennon must be turning in his grave. The endless obsession with all thing 60's - along with the those dreadful 'Top 500 Albums Ever', as with this one - reaches its nadir with Oasis, Stereophonics, and the creative zenith that is Razorlight redoing the whole of Sgt Pepper, along with (yawn) Kaiser Chiefs, James Morrison...still awake?
Look, I'm sure they do love the album, and so did my granny, but that doesn't mean that I want to hear Kelly Jones warbling away at the title track. This is the kind of thing that punk was supposed to destroy. But then, I suppose it's part of the whole nostalgia trip bestowed on the 60's as the shining epochal decade where the young rocked out and saved the world...er, except maybe they didn't, which is why this book, of which the image above is taken from, is such a great read - the author is old enough to have actually been there and pours scorn on the 'baby boomer' generation and it's bogus hippy credentials. Remember, these people are now running the world. Or at least they're running the big multinationals, something that's reflected in this article. Of course, you could Blair to that list, but that would be getting personal.
Admittedly, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't appreciate 60's guitar music - from the Stones and Floyd to the more wigged-out likes of Silver Apples, United States of America, Stooges (a mainly 70's band but they started in the 60's), the 13th Floor Elevators, etc. Moreover, a lot of the music I like owes it's debt to the 60's, not to mention the iconography of films like 2001 and stylish thrillers like Blow-Up, etc. So why do I hate smug 60's obsessives and their endless whistful obsession with that decade? Perhaps because the 60's has become an industry, and with it the consensus that we'll never see anything as good as it again - even though Simon Reynolds in the book Rip It Up and Start Again posits that the years 1978-84 were actually just as exciting and creative for music as anything in the 60's. Maybe it's just the way that the sixties have become like a sacred cow that you can't critize, and with it the inference that all subsequent generations are apathetic and apolitical (despite something like a million people - including me - going on that march in central London against the war in Iraq).
Anyway, Revolver was always a better album than Sgt Pepper. I mean, how can you top "Tomorrow Never Knows"??
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Well, All Tomorrow's Parties was fun once again, and had the added bonus of sunshine rather than a torrential downpour soundtracking Hair Police or 16 Bitch Pile-Up or Ashtray Navigation's (as per the one last December). This time it was The Dirty 3 curating - such a great idea, to have a band curate a festival and choose all the bands. What makes ATP great above the music too is the attention to detail - the ATP TV/whoever's curating TV channel, compiling all their favourite films and general weird music videos. Again I missed the other delights on offer (crazy golf, go- karting, the all-night cinema, the swimming-pool, the rodeo nonsense, etc.) Once again ATP chose to put on a ridiculously OTT film on Sunday night on the TV after the bands, when you're generally in a less than coherent state; the December fest had an excruciating, explicit Catherine Brelliat film (her of Romance and A Ma Seur) documenting a confused French teenager; this time, it was an equally grim film (the title escapes me) about the Nazi's invading Belarus in WWII, with images of concentration camp victims, general death and destruction, and a young Belorussian boy venting his anger and so on. It's fair to say that laughs were thin on the ground. In fact, it made any of Ingmar Bergman's miesterworks come across like a rom-com in comparison. Perhaps they'll show The Passion of the Christ at the one this weekend, which will doubtless get the party in the Crazy Horse stage going.
A Silver Mount Zion's stunning set on Sunday was the highlight of the festival, a magnificent evocation of exactly how 'post-rock' - whatever that means these days - should be done, with it's seamless mix of violin drones, chamber rock and pummeling all-out attack, Efrim Munuck's strangled sigh trying to make sense of a post-9/11 world, framed against the unforgettable outline of birds flying over the tent. ASMZ's deeply profound and moving set, with it's subtle, mournful lyrics and incendiary, climatic music, was the perfect antidote to blandness and corporatization (ironic, given that they were surrounded by Pizza Hut and Burger King, though that's no bad reflection on ATP); shame that they were followed by the dull boogie-woogie of Cat Power.
Other highlights: the hosts The Dirty 3, Grinderman, Low, Spiritualized, Einsturzende Neubauten (on at 1:30 in the morning!), Felix Lajko, Smog, Joanna Newsom, Papa M. Sadly I missed Suicide's Alan Vega but apparently he was a treat - your crazy grandad running around the stage shouting insults at the audience to a half-genius/half-rubbish techno soundtrack.
First Smallfish Records nearby on Old Street, then Hammersmith Palais (no jokes about School Disco, please), now this...perhaps Ballymore Properties have decided that people making interesting, challenging music is just too daring and dangerous a concept - all this new-fangled arty-farty stuff. I mean, Vibacathedral Orchestra onstage doing a 20-minute drone or whatever is obviously seriously dangerous and must be curtailed for the good of society and all that is proper in society. So, come September, the best venue in London (fact!) will be no more, and instead we will have...a bistroteque. Because there's obviously not enough of those around, is there? After all, why not stop there and turn the whole of east London into one big fucking chain of Starbucks? Still, there's always Islington Academy...which reminds me of a certain post on this blog, ahem...
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
My joy at having my PC up and running again was short-tempered on Saturday. There I was, thinking that the song that comes up in a link in an entry posted below about the London Underground was harsh...and then I tried to get the Northern Line, en route to a planned meeting with people at London Bridge, from which I would get to the train to Pinewood and be in the audience for the television programme The I.T. Crowd.
Well, that was the plan, anyway.
Surely anyone who is sane, and who'se used the Northern Line - particularly in rush hour - will tell you that it is the depths of Hades. Perhaps it was what the devil came up when bored. Never mind that it is absolutely roasting; that it is perpetually packed; that is about as fast as a tortoise after a heavy dinner; or that it feels like it was designed in 1582. You also have to put up with the endless closures that seemingly bedevil the track. Exactly what those 1-6am nocturnal hours of the morning, when the Underground is closed, are for if not to repair the tube I don't know, but TFL seems to feel that they have to go the whole hog and close down a whole sector of the Northern Line instead - on a Saturday afternoon. All afternoon. When there are almost as many people as in rush hour. Because, strangely enough, that's what a lot of people do on Saturday: they want to go out and about after working all week.
Arriving at Bank, where I got off the Central Line and attempted to go on to the Northern Line, I found a sign saying the Northern Line wasn't running from this station. Trying vainly to find an alternative route to London Bridge, I opted for Tottenham Court Road, only to find that that whole stretch of the Northern Line was closed. Next to Euston; of course, it's closed for a fire hazard. Silly me for being so optimistic. Next to King's Cross, where I'm informed I have to go back on the only available part of the Northern Line, on the route I've just came, but now all the way to Waterloo too, and thence onto the Jubilee line to London Bridge.
In total I spent nearly an hour on a packed train next to four screaming kids, in the boiling heat, next to someone's armpit. In such circumstances, iPods are mankind's saviour.
So yeah, missed the train to Pinewood. Suddenly the thought of being in that legendary place seemed a long way off. Pissed off and dejected, at London Bridge I had to sheepishly get the bus home, the whole circular trip a pointless waste of time in the end.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
First Jacques Derrida, now Jean Baudrillard, the man who declared that the Gulf War didn't exist (he meant it did, of course, but not in the way that we really thought it presented by the media). He coined the idea that LA is the ultimate post-modern City and that much modern day life is a simulacrum - or simulacra - of itself (does that include dying?.
When I saw that he'd snuffed it today I felt a mild sadness, as I did study the guy a lot at University (but obviously not a huge swell of emotion - steady on there). I seem to remember a website that automatically generated random Baudrillard quotes for any day-to-day situations, which is pretty hilarious if you're au fait with his difficult work. If you're not, erm, I suppose you would fail to see why that's so funny. He's the epitome - or at least was - of the existential French philosopher with a metaphysical comment about everything, delivered with the usual gravitas, even if it's as mundane as mowing the lawn.
Some of his (hilariously titled) books in that Guardian article have a striking resemblance to Michel Hollebecq - perhaps it is he, rather than some French academic, who will be the next globe-trotting Gallic thinker? Given how frequently hilarious his books are, I hope so. In any case, this blog entry, also in the Guardian, is a fitting comment on JB. I didn't know that he wore a silver lamé suit onstage at Las Vegas while reading his poetry. Respect to the man. Can you imagine Richard Dawkins doing the same? I mean, you have to hand it to French philosophers, they had panache.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness some amazing crossroads between art, music and performance recently in London.
The interactive performance of Faust at a warehouse in Wapping has to be one of the most extraordinary experiences that I’ve had recently. This re-enactment of the classic story of man's pact with the devil took place on four floors of a warehouse, wherein you adorned a mask on entering and were took into a lift. The lift operator then chucked out people on different floors one by one, after which you were left to explore the different floors, each themed after the play. 210 different rooms were styled after the play, including one styled as a laboratory with an actor as Faust the alchemist muttering to himself and wondering around with pots, vials of liquid, and papyrus everywhere; another with a 50’s themed American diner; another involving bedrooms and parlours; another one with leaves at your feet and bamboo hut walls; and a plush cinema. Meanwhile, maskless actors flitted about between the rooms acting out the roles, so that at times you would literally be standing right next to them as they recited the lines and acted out the parts of the play. Whoever set up the design and layout of the different rooms did so pretty meticulously, with a million things to explore. A pretty amazing experience all round, which included a floor with fauna and another with dark, winding, endless book cases, where you were literally walking around on your own in darkness.
The other two exhibitions that have came close recently are this one off Brick Lane, in which household appliances, used washing machines and general home appliance detritus took central stage in a huge factory. Walking around it felt like something from Tetsuo: The Iron Body Man, particularly when you could go inside a defunct freezer, which led down to a tunnel.
Finally, the performance of Ray Lee’s Sound Bites at Shunt, the huge, cavernous rail arches next to London Bridge station, in which revolving red lights mounted on plinths circled around at different speed. Walking around these plinths in darkness, all you could see was the lights, set to a swirl of freeform, ambient music, oscilltaing at speed like mini planets orbiting the Sun, with everything else blottled out. It’s now on Kinetica galleries too. Pretty amazing stuff.
Next up is Gilbert & George at the Tate Modern.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Inevitably, one of the remaining members of the Worshop pointed out comparisons in the size of equipment in relation to today. While the huge synthesisers and patch bays took up whole rooms when stacked together, a teenager can produce most of these sounds now in a laptop. I guess this also links to the age of the iPod, in which you can Shuffle songs, taking them totally out of context - something I can never get used to. I still like to listen to albums from start to end - and so do All Tomorrow's Parties, evidently - but with the Shuffle function, an album or collection of disparate songs can be played in any order at all. The other impact of the predominance of mp3s and downloading is that, as David Bowie said recently, music will become as common as running water - whereas just 20 years ago you had to go into a record shop and breathlessly buy your vinyl at the counter (or listen to John Peel on the radio). You can still do that, of course - apart from the bit about Peel, obviously - but I guess the novelty will wear off if you can easily download it for free, and with music in such cheap, plentiful supply...on the other hand, this democratisation of music is pretty DIY in a punk kinda way, if you think about it - it certainly pisses off the major labels. It's never been easier to make your own music.
I suppose labels will have to be more inventive with their packaging to lure customers, which is something Constellation Records have obviously picked up on - their albums are always amazingly designed.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
This news about the state of the UK's yoof culture is pretty emphatically depressing. Just how did we get this low? It reminds me of a post K-Punk did here (scroll down to 'Reflexive Impotence' post) about the state of British youth, and especially chimes with this:
It is not an exaggeration to say that being a teenager in late capitalist Britain is now close to being reclassified as a sickness.
Exactly why Britain has got so bad is a moot point. It's likely a combination of lots of things: the entrenched class system, the long-hours work culture (I'm thinking of France's 35 working hours a week law - then again, they haven't been hugely successful in the table either), lack of decent public services, and a transport and education system that is still crumbling and inequal (especially the latter, as this testifies). But, as K-Punk taps into in that article, there's also a feeling of impotent helplesness in Britian too, in contrast to France where youth go on protests that inspire the government to change drafted employment laws.
What the list does confirm is that, despite Holland being at the top, Scandinavia is pretty much the best place to live in the world, with all four nations in the top (does Iceland count? Anyway, it's not included at all). The fact that they've hit such a right balance in most forms of life while Britain is lumbering behind is depressing indeed. It's 10 years since Blair got into power - hopefully this report will be the straw that broke the camel's back this year.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Also going to the next ATP, with the Dirty 3 curating. Well, the line-ups allright - first time I'll see Einsturzende Neubauten, Papa M / Pajo (or whatever he's calling himself these days) and Alan Vega (sadly not playing with Suicide, but only on his own). And there's others I've seen already but are happy to see again - Dirty 3 (obviously they're playing), Nick Cave, A Silver Mount Zion, Low, Spiritiualized ('acoustic mainlines'?), Joanna Newsom (that'll bring in the Observer readers). I have to say, though, there does look to be a bit too much acoustic singer-songwritery going on...some of that stuff's allright, but a lot can be just dreaful hackneyed shit - lyrics about shooting stars and people doing histronic sets at the Kashmir club - "can we have a little bit of Kashmir hush, please!" Still, should be great, and ATP is always a blast. Hopefully the crazy golf and go-carting will actually be on this time.
RIP Alice Coltrane - admittely I haven't really heard her stuff, but y'know, hugely influential and pioneering. Respect and alll that.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I was obsessed with Screamadelica when it came out. Even the boogie-woogie of that following album wasn't too bad (and the largely forgotten Dixie Narco EP was amazing). I thought Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR were their last great albums; then came Kate Moss and calling an album 'Riot City Blues'. Now Primal Scream are a ham-fisted pub rock act. Still, rock 'n' roll, eh?
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Those kind of scenes have always had a fascination with the unconventional, of course, and this extends to the packaging of records - after all, who can forget the story about one of Japanese noise-meister Merzbow's many albums coming in a car? So it meant that you had to had to actually buy the car to get the album. Strangely enough, the album didn't sell many records. In fact, it sold very little. Probably about two, I would imagine (I think Rough Trade have got one).
Anyway, in tribute to a genre which has its fair share of stupid band names, here is a list of classics. All these bands are genuine (though not all are noise bands, I should add).
16 Bitch Pile-Up
The Small Faeces
MV / EE + The Bummer Road
To Live and Shave in LA
Smell & Quim
The Atomic Bitchwax
Ten Minutes With My Dad
Somebody Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness
Duran Duran Duran
The Fucking Champs
Shit-Spangled Banner (now Sunburned Hand of the Man)
Birds of Delay
Half Man Half Biscuit
Gays In The Military
My Cat Is An Alien
The Holy Fuck