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 →
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.
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.
This was a low-end affair, caught inside the world’s most well-orchestrated bass car.
Security was remarkably tight; despite the Class of Nuke’em High brigade’s plumage, mistaking signals of menace for fashion trapped in (gothy 80s) amber is confusion. Perhaps the city has been causing issues as of late? Regardless, if you enjoy a good pat-down, the Santos security team has you covered.
Not Breathing continues to be one of the most criminally underrated electronic acts in the United States.
The intersection of booty bass and broken glass crushing out of Santos fairly dang amazing sound system had this woman in front of us doing aerobics. Other people were bopping and dancing – the set’s undercurrent was a solid slab of a heavy kick drum – but she was genuinely doing aerobics. It was a bit disconcerting, no matter how appropriate for an evening of painfully loud power electronics meets acid dancehall.
But what I like most about Not Breathing is that perfect mix of the ugly and the funky, but humanized and humorized just enough to avoid the sterility of the clinical UK style take on that ideal. Check out the video below for the basic idea.
Meat Beat Manifesto is one of the few acts I’ve seen that actually gets the whole VISUAL MULTIMEDIA DJ EXPERIENCE right. Triggered samples and clips from movies running forward and backward in perfect synchronization. Jack Dangers knows he’s just a dude with a beret, and responds accordingly. The music was excellent, mixing old classics with a mostly straightforward runthrough of the new album, Answers Come in Dreams. The bass was nearly sickening, as in “blaarrrghhhh” sickening, not “bro that was most sick” sickening. The last show I remember being that dense on the low end was Pole (remember him?) doing a neat and tidy set in the old neat and tidy Cooler back when it still existed.
It was kind of absurd, but in a way that convinced me to pick up the last copy of the new album they had at the merch table. Much of the crowd had come to a similar conclusion at this and the other shows that had come before; bless their hair extended and welding goggled-hearts.
Murmuure. I don’t rock umlauts, but people who liken this to that Blut Aus Nord hoser make me cry inside. On the outside I’m a study in stoicism, though.
It sounds like a bunch of stuff – old horror soundtracks and primitive synth drones and symphonic metal-ish shoegazey and what-have-yous – but it feels like if Coil had tried to be a band instead of two people who are terribly missed.
It’s more than a bit dismissive of some of his points to declare this conservative reactionary nonsense, but it’s about as far removed from my lived experience with music that it might as well be in Russian. Then again, I’m not a music writer trying to live in a world where bands “hustle” in a multivariate mediaverse because of the 800lb elephant he ignores – people don’t buy music like they used to, and the barriers to entry have fallen or split into dozens of tiny pieces.
I’ve seen a similar notion pop up about the creation of a trans-national musical monoculture (the favorite term of the nattering nabobs of the fearful future) or some such rot, simply because the world we live in is different than the one most of us (meaning post 25-year-olds) grew up in. I am convinced that this is a kind of romanticism, and not just the old cultural cachet of being in the know (the “firsties” of the end of the 20th century), but of a slower media environment. When finding things was more deliberate, perhaps, or at least more easily digested.
That said, a slower pace is not unavoidable. All it requires is a little bit of effort. And more to the point, Robert Christgau invented Twitter-snark decades before the kids who made Twitter existed.
Richard D. James Album [Elektra, 1996]
Jungle sure has livelied up this prematurely ambient postdance snoozemeister. His latest synth tunes are infested with hypertime electrobeats that compel the tunes themselves to get a move on. And where once he settled for austere classical aura, now he cuts big whiffs of 19th-century cheese. He even sings. Hey, fella–I hear Martha Wash needs work. B+
Both Autechre and Warp Records are to be commended for offering an absurd variety of ways to listen to Oversteps. Vinyl, .mp3, 16-bit .wav, 24-bit .wav and CD. Since 320kbs is how most of my music ends up, I only spent ten dollars. I still feel a bit weird about that, since I have every other available CD release sitting on the shelf behind me. I know it’s the future and all, but I still feel a pang of regret, like something has been lost.
There are few regrets on Oversteps – it’s a little bit old, a little bit new. As I’ve mentioned before, the key to each Autechre release are their cover art. A black circle, clean upon first glance but on closer examination appears to be a bit smeared. A mighty grey san serif runs in the left-hand corner, top to bottom, with their name half-eaten by the black stamp.
Music For Infants: My preliminary field notes indicate that babies, by and large, don’t give a shit about music. However, there are two exceptions in Vashti Bunyan and David Tibet, particularly Sleep Has His House. Weirds me the hell out, it does. Not because Sleep is a bad album, or because it is rightfully considered one of Current 93‘s finest works and this indicates supernatural prescience, but because it’s about a dead father, sung by his living son.
But it soothes the savage beast, and so I worry not.
This past year was one of preparation and rediscovery. Health and Death and yet another triumphant Boredoms experience. Throbbing Gristle, set in motion during my own infancy, played “Discipline” in an old Masonic Temple and drew a circle around what I imagined my youth to be. Will Oldham demonstrated extreme American exceptionalism while millions inexplicably mourned a dead pedophile; Antony showed an overwhelming capacity for international superstardom, hemmed in only by being a beautiful woman who doesn’t look like one. Continue reading →
This tour-only CD is going for 50 something bucks on ebay.
It’s more than respectable, but there are very few records worth 50 dollars. It’s a bit surprising that physical digital media would be so valued at this point, but maybe there’s something magical in the air? They played Cochella, after all, so weirdness is definitely afoot during this time of great reformations.
Perhaps it’s time to finally sell that signed copy of Dreams Less Sweet. Continue reading →