Tag Archives: ruminations on culture war

Standing Athwart The Record Bin Yelling “Please Slow Down!”

A plea for the gatekeepers of yore.

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+


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Dog/Cat, Round 2

I also like to throw the occasional stone at The Quietus, if only because their Britishness is often overwhelming in a way that makes me feel slightly punchy*,  but this particular essay is mostly true. I have no stake in what happens to hip hop as it wallows in its hair metal denouement, but autotune and dancehall seem like a perfect match to me.

My own version of that article would skip AutoTune and jump directly into British rappers, as in “No Brits – and perhaps no Europeans – should ever rap in public.”

The sidebar would be a transcript of a prank call to The Spaceape asking how many shillings a year he gets paid to mumble about his grocery bills. (I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all but holy mother of fuck is he ever a musical shit midas.)

* As in “wanting to punch something”, not tired. But if you needed an indie rock and pop and a little bit of whatever source to read on the internet, you’d be hard pressed to do better than they.

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2009 Was The Sort of Year That Passed In One Month Increments

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


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Genre Is A Millstone And Tom Araya Is Pushing 50

arayaThe original article was indeed filled with some inadequacies concerning genre specificity, as more than a few commentors pointed out. It was interesting, if a bit overwrought, but I think most folks can sympathize with the general concept of catharsis via sound.

The follow up was basically shameless fan service, but some interesting patterns emerged.

You not only have genre snobs, some of whom were performing fact-checking (Slayer being thrash, not death metal) and some of whom were being jerks for the sake of being jerks. On top of that, you had the anti-snob folks who were also being helpful or jerky. That’s fascinating. Genre is such a powerful social divider that you have preemptive snobbery!

Also, please note that when cropped correctly, Tom Araya looks a bit like Abraham Lincoln. Continue reading


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Ask A Former Banking IT Guy Who Wants To Become An O-Chemist (Or Something Like That)

mediciT. is part of my e-minarchisto posse (much love for the gry massive) but sometimes he’d say things about music that would make me cry blood. This is my attempt to eff the ineffable.

You and I are ebony and ivory (I probably tan better than you do) musically-speaking. If you’re into it I’m out of it, and vice versa. However, we both seem to like James Blackshaw. How is this possible?

Both of us liking James Blackshaw is possible because the universe is a vast and confusing place.  I mean, it’s like electrons right?  No two in the same atom can have the same quantum state, but they can have a few quantum numbers in common.  Our tastes, well, they’re both in an outer shell around n = 4, but you’re l = 3 and I’m l = 2. Continue reading


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Subway DJs Are Messing With My Cocoon

42-16080304A small part of the problem is a design flaw – the stock earbuds that come with any player are going to be shitty. They never fit anyone’s ears properly, so there’s always going to be leakage.

The larger issue is that people desire a cocoon. It’s a bit like the bass car issue, but in the opposite direction. The bass car is meant to attract attention, to say “I live with my mom and am probably a rapist.” A poem written in shitty music by shitty people.

The loud earbud issue is about isolation. If I cannot hear the world, it ceases to exist, at least until it’s time to get off the train. Whether this is a desire for a contemplative space in a hurried, secular world or simply wanting to drown out the hundreds of people who are also pretending that no one else is on the train…well, that is for each seeker to decide on their own. What it does mean is that you end up hearing a lot of cymbals. It’s also a bit of a blow against ethnic stereotyping, as (what sounds to be) cock rock is beloved by people of all races. When did that happen? Why did that happen? Continue reading


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Autechre Live @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (April 15)

This was easily the best tax day I’ve spent in a long time. Of course, I file months ahead of time to keep ahead of the voluntary taxation trainwrecking machine we call the Federal Government, but I am unusually paranoid about such things. Though I cast a very dim view toward the “tax amnesty” types and their scams/religious crusades, I do understand the crucible in which their fear/joyful mania is forged. Continue reading


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