Great mix of IDM, hard-ish techno and droney noise.
More info on The Village Orchestra here: broken20.com
This is just one of many variations on a common argument these days about artistic oversupply, inter(hyper)connectivity and the general ennui that many of the more vocal type of music fan seems to find themselves in these days. It’s too easy; it’s undervalued; a whole generation does not value what we used to value; the embarrassment of riches.
I don’t understand these arguments. I do not “get it”. I keep trying and failing.
(Somewhere, someone with a degree in missing the point sums up all of these things as “first-world problems” or, more commonly, “white people problems”.) Continue reading
My only complaint about this rather hefty three track EP is that the middle selection – “Berlin Tribal Music” is a seven minute filler piece. It is not unpleasant, but it lacks the relentless thrust which marks the lineage of Urlub. It seems odd to say “Well, twenty-eight minutes is too short, but thirty-five would be just right, so let’s glue on this floaty ethno-dubbish piece that feels completely out of place between two far longer tracks.” It seems unlikely that anyone actually said this out loud, but someone probably should have.
That said, this is a delightful nighttime driving soundtrack. Preferably urban and deserted; failing that, something coastal.
Opener “Riese” is the more upbeat of the two “bangers”; a single staccato melody sandwiched with perfectly smooth minimal tech percussion and surprisingly cheesy-but-effective synth washes.
Closer “Dancing Queen” is either so earnest my jaded brain can’t even begin to process it or so jaded my earnest heart is simply unable to keep up. This twofer seems to have a love of the kind of synthy string sound that would be written off as far too much cheddar in most other contexts, has enough “funk” swing to be just about excusable here.
This is a well-crafted love letter of sorts to the mid-90s. A little Basic Channel, a dash of Global Communications, and a hell of a lot of Higher Intelligence Agency. As such, it carries both the strengths (experiments with sounds and textures, lush for the sake of lushness) and weaknesses (severe repetition) of that moment in musical time.
Some objections: It is a bit baffling; it’s an an odd hill to die on; it often sounds like the weaker and more forgettable moments of the largely forgettable career of HIA* – but she’s enough of a tastemaker to inspire some copycats. Some of these copycats will go in new directions via inspiration rather than settling for echoing the echoes of an echo.
This warms my heart with nostalgia, and perhaps even – dare we say it? – hauntology.
* The fantastic matchups with Biosphere excepted, mind you. He helped transmute their laziness into gold.
Yes, yes, y’all, it’s not hipster, elitist hype — vinyl sounds better. Much better. There is actual music in those grooves. Technically speaking, there is no music whatsoever on a CD. Lots of information but no music.
Yes, yes, y’all, I know it’s supposed to be a metaphor and a commentary (unwitting or not) on the atavistic power we imbue objects with, but c’mon. Using that tortured line of reasoning his column isn’t actually language, just a computer spitting out numbers and stuff.
Add a text-to-speech program and it isn’t even reading.
To be fair, Hank is what he is and he is damn good at being what he is. And I don’t disagree about the power of youth, of objects, of the way things used to be, of taking care and control. But he’s also completely ridiculous, and probably not entirely unintentionally.
I think most music fans of the oldster variety would agree that walking up to their 12 year old (pre-internet, pre-mp3) budding music dork selves and saying “See this thing that looks like a deck of playing cards? There are hundreds of albums on this with no tape hiss and you can hear new music in seconds.” The only thing coming close to being more exciting than introducing the files-without-borders world of internet music distribution to our pre-internet selves would be introducing global pornography distribution to that same set of chronic masturbators.
I never dug Yakuza. Left me cold like an unheated meat sandwich.
But the lead singer channeling Michael Gira and Bill Laswell‘s Axiom Ambient saxophone moments? Fuck yeah.
And it’s six bucks from his myspace page for mp3s, which is what you’re going to listen to eventually anyway. Get on it already.
Now, I’m not a fan of Panda Bear, Ariel Pink, or the rest of the shit-pop-drowned-in-reverb “hauntology”* thing; I’d even go so far as to say the entire concept should drop the Derrida-isms and just call it pastiche. It’s the T.G.I. Friday’s of music, much like mashups are the backyard wrestling of DJ’ing. But to expect some degree of discipline when the objects of sound art contain no inherent cost for most of their listeners is foolish.
Having spent more than a few minutes revealing the lazy fakery on the part of students submitting papers they swear were written days ago and somehow lost in the electro-aether (a modern “dog ate my homework” excuse, but even less believable), I’d even go so far as to call it generational.
These kids grew up with cultural objects being easy to appropriate and basically free to distribute. Yes, it probably means they appreciate music far less than record nerds from 20 or 30 years earlier do, but that’s not only true of most everyone else who grew up back then but also the nature of living at a certain time. We all appreciated not getting polio very, very little in the 70s and 80s.
So “free stuff yay!” is a condition of their existence**, and it’s not going to change unless various doomsayers are right and we get all post-apocalyptic up in here. Having grown up on doom-and-gloom (contrary to popular reimaginings, narratives of impending nuclear and ecological destruction were constant companions in grammar school), I suppose “free stuff for everybody yay!” is something of a decent half-step up in terms of childhood memetic clusters, but it seems to make for fairly shitty proto-adults with no concept of the Real.
That this is an echo of an argument made about every generation since generations were generated is just another bittersweet ha-ha on the road to death.
*Yes, I realize this term is also applied to groups like Demdike Stare and anyone else who samples records from the 70s. It’s still T.G.I. Friday’s, and wholly unremarkable in that sampling and thematic throwbacks have been with us for a long, long time.
**Cheap jokes about bailed-out billionaire banks and spoiled public sector unions and everyone else feeding from the rotted nipples of Leviathan can be deployed or discarded as you wish.
There are no more sacred cows, except maybe giving lip service to the imperial presidency (and even then, it’s a site-specific, team-specific sports bar kind of thing). Not liking The Beatles is up there with giving a small child a mohawk – it may seem a little weird to anyone over 40, but is otherwise unremarkable.
It’s just hair, after all.
Outside of the relatively good advice in bullet point #5, there’s something incredibly false about these articles. It generates pageviews, but passion is far too easy to bait. (Passion may be far too easy in general, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.)
Now, I don’t like The Beatles. Above all else, there’s something glossy and kinda ear-gross about the vocals that I can’t adequately explain. Perhaps it’s just having grown up with them played everywhere, seeping into memories of shoe shopping or waiting for booster shots? Regardless, it’s not a very remarkable stance; even my halfhearted insistence that Yoko got a bad rap isn’t terribly uncommon. Hell, she helped shape the world that La Monte Young was able to garner a foothold in, thus helping in a small way birth the incoming small-a avalanche of minimalism and ambient music to follow. Yoko gives us Tim Hecker, sort of.
I like this:
Very Six Organs of Admittance, no? Or very Yoko of SOoA.
Anyway, I know criticizing NY Mag for being shallow is swimming upstream in a flood but at this point in American culture – pop or otherwise – there is no need for formalized “exit strategies”. It’s a lot of silly nonsense because people can seemingly no longer discuss things without getting all arm-flappy and twittery/Twittery.
It’s just music, after all.
We are all taste tribes of one, united only by some form of extracted tribute to Leviathan (even the underground economy pays some sales taxes) and very little else. Enjoy the ride down while you can. Like The Beatles. Hate The Beatles. Feel utterly indifferent to Bruce Springsteen despite having been born in New Jersey. Get “Laugh Love Live” tattooed on your arm above a well-executed reproduction of Abraham Lincoln’s last moments in Ford’s Theater.