grinding axes, flogging horses

Saturday, January 10, 2004

On Radio 4 this morning, an interview with someone from Memphis City Council, and a writer from Tunbridge Wells- talking about the 50th Anniversary of RocknRoll celebrations in Memphis.
Elvis' first single was released 50 years ago, apparently, and a dull, dribbly converation followed about whether Elvis' record was rock'n'roll in a way that the singles by black artists before him weren't..
Its a peculiarly white preoccupation, isn't it? First this, original that, precise points of origin, the need for a master signifier-
as opposed to a continuum, a line of inheritance.
True enough, Elvis was a genius, but he didn't invent nuthin'..

Thursday, January 08, 2004

what did I miss?

'Incunabula' by Autechre- imagine if the musicians locked up their studio for the weekend, but accidentally left one little computer and a sampler running..
For 48 hours in the dark the two machines are chattering away to eachother, teasing the sequencers, making offensive remarks about some of the software, making the sounds that the humans won't let them..
On Monday morning, the musicians come back, switch the lights on, and find that their equipment has written 'Incunabula' by itself..

Friday, September 19, 2003

No big theory-mongering today, more in the way of chitchat and foolery [plus ca change].

I think it was TWANBOC [though may be wrong] who would brook no argument regarding something by the Danielson Famile containing the best recorded handclaps ever.. I can't comment on the technical quality of the recording, but 'The Weeping Song' certainly contains the most apposite handclaps of any pop song- some ghastly family gathering joins in as Cave laments about his father..

Has anyone seen the Danielson Famile? At ATP 2 years back, they struck me a perfectly good private joke, that had unwisely got told in public..

I'm not familiar with some of the Aussie rock that Worlds of Possibility compares unfavourably to Cheap Trick [who totally ruled ATP that year- a six-necked, chequer-pattern guitar, anyone?] Though ACDC are heavy rock's Id, a law unto itself, unfettered by fashion, convention, restraint, taste.. and therefore completely essential. Lets face it, they saw off the remains of 70s stadium, NWOBHM, hair metal, and thrash without remotely giving the impression they were paying attention to any of it..

Clap Clap very kindly doesn't take my rather tetchy comments about matters trans-Atlantic as the finger-pointing they may have appeared..
Perhaps the question to ask is: What happens now? Will we find 'Boy in da..' resonating through, and haunting pop for a decade, a la 'Maxinquaye'?

re: Somedisco's coverage of the asylum situation- did anyone see the ace BBC4-on-BBC2 docu about the history of Iraq the other day? Reinforced my view that we [the Brits] have been meddling in other parts of the world with highly undemocratic motives for long enough, that we shouldn't be surprised when problems we have exacerbated/created/let fester 'come home' to 'haunt' us..

Thursday, September 18, 2003

More barely-related thoughts about centres and peripheries-

My mate Mark makes blinding compilation tapes, and the most recent features 'The Curse Of Millhaven' ["Well, foul play really gets a small town going"], and some tunes from 'The Burning World', particularly the sobering, tower-blocks-and-mountain-tops, "Remember Who You Are".

My thoughts below are sadly non-dance-music focused, but only cos I don't know much about the geo-history.

Best British pop record of the last year: "Vulnerabilia" [cracking title] by My Computer [terrible band name], from Manchester, I think? Patchy in places, but has anyone else shed tears to 'No More Dealing' or 'I Don't Care How You Treat Me'?

Blissblog's fantasy documentary- great idea: Camberwell almost looks beautiful at roof level. Doesn't the appeal of it suggest further that 'London' is precisely not a centre? More an arguing, tetchy consciousness, bliss [ahem]fully unaware of its unconsciousnesses, repressed memories?
Well, I was thinking of a way into the London/Elsewhere thing that has blown up..

And as so often, was reminded of 'Robinson in Space' [crucially, Keillor's more accomplished film after he made 'London']:

"For all JG Ballard's megacities, and for all Baudrillard's talk of hyperreality, most people still live in places like Harlesden, and West Bromwich.."

Is it not the case that the relentless digital dissolution of distance, and erasing of the visible horizon [replaced by the screen], is irrevocably altering our perceptions of:

a) The Centre. There is plainly not one any more; hence anxiety on the part of us Londoners, a frantic shoring-up of our credentials, in the way a body is dug up late at night on waste ground. A desperate overdetermining of our significance, attempting to conjure influence out of the bare facts of numbers and money.
Did anyone read about the closure of IBM's main HQ in the US? And its replacement with... nothing at all.

There has never been less of a need for a 'head office' of pop.

b) The Horizon. There is plainly not one any more, hence anxiety on the part of localities [London or anywhere else] regarding our putative influence on anywhere "else", and regarding the visibility of all our elsewheres. Encroaching total telepresence has erased elsewheres/ provinces/dark-sides-of-the-moon, or better still, has made elsewheres of us all. Needless to say, the self-important Londoner may be finding this loss of significance more anxiogenic.

Even if this was not enough, pop is littered with cases of viruses, untranslatable shocks, Pied Pipers, dictators, arising anywhere but the centre/capital/melting pot.
[eg Butthole Surfers, REM, Young Gods, Joy Division, Aphex Twin].

[If anyone finds the above impenetrable, feel free to check the source of these badly-expressed views: 'Open Sky' by Paul Virilio.]

Freud suggests that an aesthetic temperament and aesthetic production are a means of liberating consciously unacceptable material, such that it is freed from the unconscious and is thus not able to produce hysterical/neurotic symptoms. Could we see the relationship between London/Provinces, black/white musics [I generalise wildly here], as a mesh of consciously unacceptable material, being fed toward the Other [province, black, centre, white, whichever] for translation out of subconsciousness, into... pop.

This continuum of horizon-defying pop fireworks suggests a healthily polymorphous a-centric pop landscape.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I'm not sure if I entirely understood Dominic at kpunk, but he certainly got under someone's skin..
[see the 'comments'- I'm only a nurse, but I'm struggling to imagine the anatomy of the catheter/prop-forward image].
But with Dominic- Is this how the UK looks from over there? I'm not clear about where appeals to 'authenticity' are taking us, to be honest.
Ah, Candy Flip.. I'll have to try to forget about them all over again, now.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Thinking about humidity some more:
WoP is right, though I'm not familiar with the electronica he mentions; his comments brought to mind 'Consumed' by Plastikman: dense, thick [but constructed out of very few components]. The bass is almost organic- the sound of a coat of bacteria covering a petridish.
If the language use to describe Souxsie/Cocteaus etc evokes hanging gardens/ice-floes etc, then perhaps 'Consumed' is more of a morgue.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

I keep getting sent over to the tape-boxes in the corner by all the blog-talk; I should have listened more carefully to 'The Correct Use of Soap' when I was first given it. Kpunk is right to describe the guitar as pure effect/incident/map-coordinate, rather than 'chord progression' or melody. Which calls to mind Wire's laudable obsession with geology and cartography.

Likewise 'Treasure', which I'm more reimagining in the light of the 10 years since I got it. I wasn't plugged into the early 80s humidity at the time [there were Marillion shows to go to, sadly] but WoP's thought occurs to me also- is this strand/frond in pop now behind heated glass in the Kew Gardens tropical house of our pop history, or is it living on anywhere? Has its DNA been inserted somewhere else?

I find some favourites of mine in the bands-to-hate-for-their-fanbases list..
Just a couple of thoughts-

John Peel: 'hmmn, this intelligent jungle business.. I think I'd probably prefer something if they called it dumb jungle'

Wilful complexity, muso wankery [the Ganger, Trans-Am axis from awhile back] rile because they take us for granted. The best of this music pulls us into a place we weren't expecting- from the familiar to the alien. The worst of it assumes we will supply the disorientation and other-worldliness ourselves, if the packaging is sufficiently Warp[ed] and the tracktitles logo[anti]rhythmic enough.
Lazy, in other words.

Get-off-the-fence, Jonathan:

The good stuff-
Aphex [SAW 1&2, 'Windowlicker', 'Surfing on Sine Waves'],
Autechre ['Incunabula'- if only for the wet-eyed melody in "Eggshell"]
BoC ['Music Has The Right To Children' sounds as if it was made on steam-powered machines, the sound of running fingers over the ancient flock wallpaper you remember from your Gran's house]
Mr Bungle ['California'- a eye-popping reinvention: surf ballads, mountainous rock and doowop all making sense in the service of Patton's preening, leering, [self] loathing delivery]

Haven't London and The Provinces always had a symbiotic/suspicious relationship? Not just in pop, either. We need them at least as much as they need us. London is claustrophobic, endlessly self-referential, but always able to reimagine its own myth [see Iain Sinclair's 'London Orbital' for a splendid recent instance of this. Sample chapter title: "Soothing the Seething"]. London may be variously burning, calling, squirming, or seething, but its never sleeping.

I don't think there's any evidence of encroaching US hegemony in this- perhaps precisely the opposite: The economy of the relationship between the capital and the provinces is one means by which the necessary Brit self-doubt endures, exactly defusing the nails-down-a-blackboard [to UK ears] US cheerleading tendency. London's Ego to the Provinces' Id, anyone?

For the sources of a '51st State' possible future, we should be worrying about the 'Special Relationship' between the UK/US- is it morphing from 'Worldly Uncle/Enthusiastic Teenager' into 'Poverty Stricken Thai Woman/Fat Euro Sex Tourist'?
Is Blair finding himself trying to spin the unspinnable to a rightly suspicious/frightened world?
Adopt Ben Elton frantic gabble: 'ooh, bit of politics there... my name's jonathan, goodnight'

email: jd2@whsmithnet.co.uk

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