Monday, November 17, 2003

Here's my top ten of the year plus some other good titles and some reactions from friends.

Sam's Top 10, 2003 1. The Microphones "Mount Eerie" 2. The Fall "The Real New Fall LP (Formerly 'Country on the Click')" 3. Fennesz "Live in Japan" 4. Why? "Oaklandazulasylum" 5. Noriko Tujiko "Make Me Hard" 6. Matt Elliott "The Mess We Made" 7. The Iditarod "The Ghost, the Elf, the Cat and the Angel" 8. Chris T-T "London is Sinking" 9. Richard Youngs "Airs of the Ear" 10. Charlambides "Increase"

Also Commended Animal Collective "Here Comes the Indian" Atmosphere "Seven's Travels" Beans "Tomorrow Right Now" The Beans “Inner Cosmosis” Buck 65 "Talking Honky Blues" Bug "Pressure" Circle ”Sunrise” Coil (misc re-issues) Jon-Rae Fletcher and the River (can't remember the title) Jackie O Motherfucker "Change" Jandek "The Place" Kid 606 "Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You" King Geedorah "Take Me to Your Leader" Lightning Bolt “Wonderful Rainbow” Majesticons "Beauty Party" New Pornographers "Electric Version" Nurse with Wound "She and Me Fall Together in Free Death" and “Salt Marie Celeste” Radiohead "Hail to the Thief" Rapture "Echoes" Alasdair Roberts "Farewell Sorrow" So "So" Themselves "The No Music AIFFs" Noriko Tujiko "From Tokyo to Niagra" Robert Wyatt "Cuckooland" Young Marble Giants "Colossal Youth" (re-issue) Neil Young "On the Beach" (re-issue)

Hot Tips for 2G4 Connect_icut Dark Archers P:ano Thanksgiving

Apologies to anyone (or thing) I forgot.

Mike Barnes writes...Hi Sam

I should do my own but it would probably look a bit mainstream and girly compared with this. Not heard the Microphones yet. Some stuff I have heard recently that I really liked was So with Markus Popp and Eriko Toyaan, The Books - The Lemon of Pink and the upcoming Piana album on Happy, the new Japanese pop label (all glitchy pop, to use a horrible phrase) Also heard some phenomenal improv stuff by drummer Paal Nilssen-Love just recently made available. Haven't even heard the new Radiohead album. Love Cuckooland by Wyatt and reviewed at as lead review for Mojo except it was, amazingly, miscredited to Jim Irvin. Interviewed Wyatt live in the studio on my Resonance radio show, which was quite exciting. Also Coleen Everyone Alive Wants Answers On Leaf, Susumu Yokota - Laputa, Cat Power - You Are Free ("He War" is my favourite track of the year along with The White Stripes' fantastic version of Black Jack Davey on the Seven Nation Army EP). Just got promos for three great records out next year: OOIOO (Yoshimi from Boredoms) Chicago Underground Trio and Trapist (with guitarist Martin Siewert and the drummer from Radium and others. Can't leave it alone even though I am now over 30!

I think I might have mentioned I'm doing some subbing at the Wire which is great fun. Hip hop is one of the few genres of music that I just can't get into (maybe I'm too old and too white although it has been going on long enough for me to have had time in this respect). I love reading the Hiphop reviews in The Wire though and thought that Buck 65 looked really interesting.


When did Sunrise by Circle come out? I've got Alotus which I think was out originally last year. It sounds to me how Loop always imagined they sounded but didn't.

The boy T-T's album is really good, I agree. I prefer him when he's less whimsical or less 'silly' as he puts it.

Mike Pycock writes...

What about the new Iron Maiden album?

Indeed

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

cd replacement scheme about to commence - will keep you updated

material for 3rd part of connect_icut trilogy is prepared - going into rehearsal

new chris t-t CD is a cracker - a great relief and his best since "beatverse" (you buy now, yes?)

Sunday, November 09, 2003

today at work the nerds have decided that it's "vinyl only day". yes it's scratchy old pop group and pere ubu bootlegs all day. actually, i'm fine with this being a born again vinyl snob. some reasons for this are...

i. the ritual aspect of putting on a record encourages engagement with the music

ii. they look neat and are fun to collect

iii. cds sometimes rot (as happened to my copy of disco inferno's "summer's last sound" - think i'll ever find another one of those?) vinyl may get scratchy but it seldom gets as destroyed as a fucked-up cd.

iv. vinyl seems to add a little compression plus light distortion to the extreme frequencies, making for a more pleasant (if less hi-fi) sound.

i'm - in all seriousness - going to try to replace as many of my cds as i can with vinyl.

ps i'm not one of those people who equates old with good but i am old and have learned to have courage of conviction about personal taste.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

parental visit now over and a very great success

still, i'm having too much of a thoroughly nice time elsewhere to be doing much blogging

some reasons being....

thoroughly excellent new fall album - much better than the last one + i managed to snag one of the ltd ed vinyl copies

also just got "sleep has his house" by current 93 on purple viny mmmmmmmmmm

parents brought my copy of "euphoria" by insides with them - now THERE'S a lost classic

making the switch to reason 2.5 and (yikes!) osx

all going very well thank you

Sunday, November 02, 2003

parental visit still in full swing.

motherlode fennesz show described as "dreary" by know-nothing georgia straight journo.

spending all my money on back issues of chris ware's "acme novelty library" and alan moore's "promethea".

running up large credit card bill to buy cowboy shirts

not hearing any music that inspires flights of critical fancy - probably not looking hard enough.

new fall and chris t-t albums should be in the mail as we speak.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Please ignore the following statement. I misread the... Oh you don't need to know. Just obey me!
I mean "too".
I also spoke to Noriko. I told her I was the guy who interviewed her for Discorder magazine and she had *no idea* what I was talking about. It was deeply humiliating but she was very nice about it. She apologized a lot.

This is what happens when you meet your heroes - they apologize a lot. My conversation with Fennesz consisted entirely of me telling him he was awesome and him apologizing for not being good enough (as a live performer, as an interviewee, as a conversationalist... it was unnecesarry on all accounts.)

Whatever, his set was certainly pretty stunning - a brutally distorted blast of shoegazer chords and (analogue!) static. Totally improvised apparently as he hadn't had time to prepared the piece he'd been commissioned to do (too busy finishing "Venice" and doing interviews). It was blissfully loud. People loved it. He did an encore.

Show of the year but I gotta tell you, Francisco Lopez comes a close second. More on that later, hopefully.

Despite lack of advertising, the Dashboard Confessional festival seems to have been quite a success. So a big thank you to the ever loyal abtract electronica fans of Vancouver who are prepared to damn well seek these things out.

Also, the shows themselves were pretty well organized - nice space and a damn fine little PA.

Unfortunately, current parental visit means I don't have much time to go into specifics but I will say that I caved in and introduced myself to Fennesz who was, as expected, a thoroughly nice guy and in pretty good spirits considering he'd been subjected to a body cavity search at the airport.

I'm also going to rate the performances I saw out of ten. Childish, I know, but devilishly efficient:-

Ken Gregory: 4
Noriko Tujiko: 10

Philip Jeck: 9
Tim Hecker: 7
Francisco Lopez: 10

Microsound 1: 4
Microsound 2: 5
Microsound 3: 6
Kim Cascone: 8
Fennesz: 11 (and I do mean 11 in the "one louder" sense).

Sunday, October 19, 2003

so, the dangerous currents festival is approaching and, despite the fact that there is a relatively large audience for experimental electronica in vancouver, it seems set to be a failure. this is largely due to the organizers, vancouver new music, promoting the festival as a classical music event rather than a pop music event. so, for instance, it's only gotten mentioned in the "arts" section of the georgia straight but not the "music" section. doh!

consequently, lots of the indie rockers who like fennesz, tim hecker etc... simply don't know that they're coming to town. either that or they can't afford twenty bucks per ticket. or they saw the posters and thought the dashboard confessional were coming to town (the direct currents logo is almost exactly the same as the one used by the aforementioned Coprorate Emo band). or they were put off by the meaningless jargon-filled "descriptions" on the festival's flyers.

anyway, the whole thing is turning into a bit of a debacle. it could all be very embarrassing for those of us who actually attend the events and may well ensure that nothing like this ever comes to town again. time to be moving on?

still, only a few days 'til FENNESZ FENNESZ FENNESZ!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

sorry for the lack of blogging recently. the reasons are as follows:-

(i) actually getting around to writing the press release for the excellent new p:ano album (not out until feb 04 i'm afraid to say)

(ii) actually FINISHING some music for the first time in months

(iii) being generally wiped out from understaffing at work

(iv) preparing for an upcoming parental visit

(v) nasty infection in my left arm

(vi) impending apocalypse

Sunday, October 05, 2003

What is one to make of the whole Ween phenomenon?

I saw them play this weekend, at Vancouver's ornate Orpheum theatre. The show was *terrible* - interminable stoned jamming through a PA that turned every note to mush. And yet their legions of frat-boy fans were going *crazy* for it - every time there was a solo (which was often) the place would erupt in boorish cheering. Why did this happen to the lo-fi challengers of good taste that I remember from *my* college days?

Because, whatever they're doing at any given time, it sounds funny if you're stoned.

And anyone hoping to make a shitload of cash in the music bussiness would do well to remember that.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

New issue of Discorder finally out, so I don't have to worry about that any more. My articles didn't turn out so well, but what are you going to do? I got another email from Noriko, too late for including it in the article, so here it is for your delectation...

Thank you for replying Noriko. I just have a few more questions and then I should have enough material for my article.

(i) How invoved are you with the graphic design for your releases? How important is this aspect of the work?

it's not so important,as i guess i'm not so talented for this,
but i enjoyed it a lot to make my cd's covers, as i was into my album, cd, which is including cover somehow.

(ii) Is there a message you're trying to get out to the world with your music? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

enjoy those shits.

(iii) Have you made a conscious effort to sing in Japanese more?

no.

(iv) Why did you move to Paris?

because my boyfriend is living in paris, aslo because i wanted to move.

Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks again for all your help.

Sam.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Here's the raw version of my Discorder article

Mego Comes to Vancouver by Sam Macklin



Viennese record label Mego ("My eyes glaze over") has been realizing its vision of music's future since the halcyon days of the '90s experimental music boom. In this proposed future, a kind of psychedelic austerity or po-faced pranksterism is achieved via ecstatic laptop tinkering and the harnessing of errors. Mego has given the world a series of frankly astonishing releases from in-house acts like Farmers Manual, General Magic and Pita whilst also putting out projects by legendary figures such as Jim O'Rourke and Merzbow.



Perhaps Mego's most accessible and well-known releases have come courtesy of Christian Fennesz and Noriko Tujiko, both of whom will be visiting Vancouver this October. In anticipation of their arrival, Discorder decided to contact Fennesz and Noriko in order to provide advance information for the curious and further illumination for the already addicted.



Fennesz



Avoid meeting your heroes. The chances are you’ve received that particular pearl of wisdom before from some other source but don’t write it off as a mere cliché. This is sage advice because the whimsical children’s author genius will always turn out to be a curmudgeonly misanthrope who wants you to fuck off and the tortured artist genius will always turn out to be a thoroughly genial type who wants to buy you a drink. And yet it’s so hard to resist, bearing in mind that any such idol will trail a mass of rumour and misconception in his/her wake. Don’t you want to get it all cleared up? Don’t you want to know?



Such was your trusty correspondent’s dilemma when asked to interview Austrian computer-music virtuoso Christian Fennesz. Luckily, the resolution presented itself via the very technology that makes Fennesz’s music possible. We’d do an e-mail interview. Of course, this was just enough contact to destroy my wonderful vision of Fennesz as the first arrogant, scowling rock-star of abstract electronica. Thoroughly genial indeed, he began his second e-mail of the exchange with the salutation “boing!!” The format of this interview also allowed him to be somewhat evasive, and frustratingly lean, in his answers. It’s unlikely that any real insight was achieved in the process but, at the very least, a few misconceptions were put to rest and a few rumours scotched.



Oh, but some of it turned out to be true. For instance, Fennesz did indeed start his career (if you wish to call it that) as the guitarist and singer in a rock band. The outfit in question, Maische, was based in Vienna and primarily influenced by the My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth school of noise. They were, apparently, moderately popular in their native land during the early ‘90s. However, Fennesz was never quite comfortable working in this format. “Me and the drummer were singing” he recalls, “I hated it and of course I would be happy to leave that to the likes of David Sylvian,” the ex-Japan vocalist who contributes to Fennesz’s forthcoming album Venice, which will mark a kind of full-circle in his work - from song-form to abstraction and back again.



Fennesz does feel that, although it “depends on the lyrics”, the application of words to music can limit the meaning of a piece. “I don’t think my own music needs additional lyrics,” he says, qualifying that “I do like to work on other people’s songs though, just like I did with David, and I’m curious to hear what he did with one of the tracks I sent him.”



But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. By the time that Maische started to end, Fennesz was thoroughly disillusioned with the logistics of the rock band set-up. His solution was to purchase a sampler and begin work on what became the Instrument EP. Although ostensibly a leap into electronic music, Instrument was entirely sourced from sounds created by Fennesz’s Fender Stratocaster and the resulting music has a great deal of aesthetic common ground with the man’s noise-rock heroes. Hearing that a member of Maische was working on some electronica, Mego leapt in and offered to release the results, which they did as a long out-of-print 12” single.



By 1997, and the release of his first Mego full-length hotel.parralel, Fennesz had seemingly left behind the strictures of rock for something way more rarefied. The album was a great deal more generically electronic sounding than Instrument, with only “Aus”, the gorgeous closing track, showing hints of rock harmony, instrumentation and rhythm. The contents of this album may come as a surprise to those who only know Fennesz through his reputation as the man who brought warmth to European “glitch” music. Nevertheless, he does not see it as an austere or anomalous piece of work. “I don’t think that it sounds cold” he rebukes, “I still like it!”



His next step was to pull in both directions at once - simultaneously committing fully to computer composition/digital signal processing (DSP) and taking an aesthetic step “back” into blissed-out noise territory. Since then, his work has become less abrasive and the elements of live guitar and keyboard playing have come increasingly to the fore. Meanwhile, Fennesz has become openly scornful of electronica’s obsession with software-and-process over music-and-results. However, he is quick to deny that his approach now favours musicianship over programming. “Both are equally important”, he counters, “I am still fascinated with technology”. Indeed, although he enthusiastically thanks me for not asking any questions about software, he also - rather surprisingly - offers that “if this is any help, I use Max/MSP, Reaktor, Logic, GRM Tools, Kontakt, FM7 and Soundhack.”



Ultimately though, he does agree that there is something obnoxiously macho about the virtuosic use of high-end software. “It is like the return of ‘guitar solos’”, he avers, “and some people get it wrong.” He concludes that “I’m a musician, not a computer scientist, so I want to write music, not ‘code’.”



It seems undeniable, then, that - for this musician - music will always be more important than technology. As for whether he’s given up his penchant for extreme noise, he merely teases: “Wait for the next album...”



Fennesz’s DSP noise masterpiece, 1999’s Plus 48 Degrees North..., was released on the British label Touch. It was immediately remarkable for the way it wrapped scouring blizzards of distortion within designer Jon Wozencroft’s rural cover photography. Clearly, something was happening here. In rejecting the standard “dots-and-loops” approach to packaging that is all-but ubiquitous in experimental electronics, Fennesz was taking control of the context in which his work was received - something most laptop artists appear to consciously avoid. He evidently loves the design of his Touch and Mego releases, noting that, “I was lucky enough to work with great designers like Jon Wozencroft and (Mego’s) Tina Frank. I was always happy with the results.” More significantly, he notes that “Every artwork they made for me was well-discussed.”



This speaks volumes about Fennesz’s all encompassing approach to his releases, his unwillingness to allow context to be set by outside forces and his inability to simply do what is usually done. This, along - of course - with the sheer brilliance of his music, allowed Fennesz to create the image of a laptop musician whose creations were infused with humanity and personality. Here, it seemed, was an artist who harnessed new technology to capture the vagueness of human memory and the beauty of corroded nostalgia in a way that was radical and in no way obvious, yet very immediate and, to those with an ear for these things, undeniable.



Having said that, Plus 48 Degrees North... is uneasy listening to say the least and was never likely to capture a particularly large audience. Luckily for the world at large, Fennesz had a big move up his sleeve. Having already referenced classic rock in general, and the Beach Boys in particular, on his Fennesz Plays single (a pair of extremely abstracted but surprisingly accessible cover versions), he set out to make an album that refracted vintage pop through the scratched lens of post-Oval glitch music. It was the resulting 2001 Mego full-length, Endless Summer (named after both a Beach Boys greatest hits and a classic surfing movie) that allowed him to make inroads into the collective consciousness of the indie rock masses. Fennesz still listens to Endless Summer all the time and notes that it’s “the only record of mine that I can listen to without thinking it was me making it.”



The album marked a commercial and artistic high point for Fennesz. It also represented, at least for the time being, the end of his relationship with Mego. Thus emerged another of the rumours this article set out to investigate - that there had been a falling out between artist and label. “There were some ‘interferences’” he admits but adds that, “now we’re fine. They are friends.” As for the future: “There are no plans to release a Fennesz record on Mego. All the upcoming stuff will be on Touch. But never say no.”



Along the way, Fennesz’s rising profile has provided opportunities for a great deal of collaborative work. He’s worked with dance companies, filmmakers, instillation artists and a whole bevy of top free improvisers. He’s also done remixes for the likes of Hrvatski and Ekkehard Ehlers (perhaps the only laptop artist whose music rival’s the Austrian’s for sheer beauty).



Still, probably his most successful and well-known collaborations have been as part of FennO’Berg - the knockabout trio he shares with Mego kingpin Peter “Pita” Rehberg and indie-rock renaissance man Jim O’Rourke. Their two albums are beautiful, hilarious and unutterably strange, often all at the same time. Although he’s been getting more selective with the collaborations he does, Fennesz says he’s willing to do a Fenno’berg record “any time” and confidently states, “I’m sure there will be another one.”



And Fennesz’s collaborations are becoming ever more publicly prominent. As well as the aforementioned work with David Sylvian, he’s jammed on stage with Sonic Youth and worked on the next album by major-label indie rockers Sparklehorse. This last collaboration seems especially close to his heart. Indeed, when I ask him what he aspires to (my big closing gambit!), he responds with a quote from the band’s singer Mark Linkous: “It was like a little child built up to a fountain.”



Fennesz’s fascination with Sparklehorse may be puzzling to some of his hardcore fans but it will certainly help to bring his music to a whole new audience, even beyond the section of indie-rockdom that is already familiar with it. But that’s nothing compared to what might have happened if the bizarre rumour that Fennesz was doing a Madonna remix turned out to be true. He’s heard this tall tale too but apparently it “bullshit” although he’d do it in a shot, given the chance.



Meanwhile, solo releases proceed apace, providing ample material for those of us still catching up. Field Recordings on Touch collected an array of previously released material, including the entire Instrument EP, while the recent Live in Japan (via Japanese Touch affiliate Headz) provided a “greatest hits” set that embodies the perfect summation of and introduction to Fennesz’s work.



It also gives us some king of idea about what will happen when he presents Live in Vancouver at the Scotiabank Dance Center on October 25th, a new piece commissioned by Dangerous Currents, part of the Electric City festival. This performance has been long awaited by his many Vancouver fans and will be a must-hear for all abstract electronica enthusiasts in the area. It’s hard to know what to expect, as all the man himself will give away is “No visuals, just light.” Not terribly illuminating, pardon the pun.



As for Venice, which was slated for release near the start of this year, one has to wonder when that’s finally coming out. “Strange” Fennesz quips, “Mike from Touch is asking me the same question every day now. It will come out this year.”



Something tells me it’ll be worth the wait.





Noriko Tujiko



Over the course of four album’s (the middle two for Mego) Japan’s Noriko Tujiko has slowly been building a grassroots reputation as a genius of experimental song craft. Despite the fact that her amorphously melodious laptop pop seems to confuse the rigidly dogmatic music media, Noriko has managed to win the heart of just about every real person who has been lucky enough to come across her work. Her enthusiastic championing by a select band of fans and her newfound ability to tour Europe after a move to Paris last November have helped to raise her profile significantly.



Noriko’s second album Shojo Toshi, impressed so many Vancouverites that the Powell Street Festival was persuaded to arrange a grant allowing her to visit these shores. She played two shows in town, on consecutive nights - the first at the Sugar Refinery and the second at The Blinding Light!! Cinema (RIP). Both were truly superb, with Noriko seated behind her Apple Mac, whipping up tempestuous eddies of sound and revealing an astonishingly room-filling vocal presence.



I was lucky enough to have a short e-mail discussion with Noriko about her music. Her English is faltering but sure as shit a lot better than my Japanese, as they say. She’s very gracious - I ask her if she minds the fact that everything ever written about her has compared her to Bjork and she replies: “No, not at all. It’s a good advertisement, no?” She’s also clearly confident about her obvious talents - I tell her she looked taken aback by the warm reception she got from her Vancouver audiences and she simply tells me “it’s not true”. Of course not. Nobody who heard those sets would have been surprised to discover that the other people present had enjoyed them a great deal.



The bulk of the material presented on those two nights later emerged as her third album Make Me Hard, which is, to these ears, her masterpiece - a set of songs so fully realized, so perfectly addictive, so artfully skewed that it’s truly uncanny.



Make Me Hard was quickly followed by a new album, From Tokyo to Niagra, on the consistently excellent German indietronica label Tomlab. This fourth album, perhaps Noriko’s most accessible to date, is ostensibly a collaborative exercise with avant-journeyman Aki Onda. “He was taking a lot of photographs of me and then after that we started to make the album naturally”, she explains, “I can’t even remember the beginning of the working. But anyway he was the producer for the album when I noticed. I had never had a producer and it was nice. I want to have a producer for the next album too.”



While it may seem like a step back to the more straightforwardly Bjork-ian trip-hop of her debut album (some of which was re-issued by Mego as the 12” I Forgot The Title), From Tokyo... reveals more and more hidden subtleties and glorious sonic/melodic hooks with every listen. Noriko explains the differences between the new album and her previous work in typically “enigmatic” English: “As I was working alone using only my brain. And for the last album I was not working alone.”



Whatever it is she may be getting at here, I’m sure of one thing: The new album is already capturing the ear of Vancouver’s music-loving public and many new fans must be kicking themselves that they missed Noriko’s Vancouver performances. Fear not, for she is coming back. Noriko will be performing on October 22nd at the Scotiabank Dance Center as part of Dangerous Currents. Don’t miss out this time.
Magick, then. Forgive the pretentious extra "k" but I didn't want you to think I was talking about fellows pulling rabbits out of hats and so forth. As far as I can tell the contemporary definition of "magick" seems to be: immaterial knowlege; or more specifically, a system, or systems, by which one might appear to gain knowledge of things that are not of a material nature. But not just "spiritualism" per se. Magick seems to be an interim space where the material and spiritual realms intersect or interdepend. This is why it is so closely linked in my mind with music - musical material is by its very nature abstract, ephemeral and ethereal. It is only ritual, culture, history, objects etc which give it "form"; make it "real". In this sense, a magickal ritual is no more laughable than a pop song. In fact, they are essentially the same thing.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Unsubscribing from Off the Wire didn't take. It's going to be way more technical than I thought to dismantle the accursed thing.

You know I don't really think the apocalypse has started, right? It's just a satirical joke, right? Nothing's more scary than being taken seriously.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

i just unsubscribed from off the wire! make of that what you will.
smarty-pants apocalypse denial is very amusing. the argument seems to run something like this: "look at it historically - the apocalypse has NEVER HAPPENED (not ONCE!). therefore, we have historical proof that it NEVER WILL happen." hey, just because "they" want you to be afraid, doesn't mean there's nothing to be afraid of.

coming back down to earth for a second, i'm also ammused to see how many people have started to use the term "free folk". at last i can stop refering to the no neck blues band et al as "josh stevenson music".

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Oooh, my slideshow is going to be so awesome. Maybe some people will be lucky enough to see it used in the next few months.

Got another email from Fennesz. Once again, one of my heroes disappoints me by not being an obnoxious haunted artist type. Also, the new Wire magazine comes with a double CD featuring the track he did with David Sylvian, which is excellent. I'll be interested to hear what his work with Sparklehorse sounds like, mainly because I always thought they were crap.

In other news, here's what I'd say if I ever met Emmylou Harris: "Friends don't let friends get Daniel Lanois to produce their albums. If anyone told you Lanois was making you sound hip and contemporary, THAT PERSON IS NOT YOU FRIEND." Seriously, though, I LOVE her voice but the new album could be anyone. Not good.

That Matmos album, really is quite good, though - go Incredible String Band fans!

Monday, September 22, 2003

All projects going well although I've also just started working on a slideshow to use as live visuals - a project I'm becoming strangely obssessed with. Sorry for the uninteresting nature of my last couple of entries but my mind has been a little occuppied.

The new Matmos album is neat.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Phew! Well the Fennesz and Noriko Tujiko interviews are going ahead and proceeding apace. I haven't received any of the info I need from Hive-Fi to do their press blurbs but I did just take the initiative and found some myself with the interweb machine, so that too will soon be preventing me from blogging.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

More technical problems. Yesterday, I tried to paste in a thing I wrote about Coil but it didn't work (clearly it's cursed). I'm going to try again right now.

Before I get to that, I should mention that the Fennesz thing seems to be going ahead and that the Maddonna rumours are COMPLETELY UNTRUE!

******************************************************************

Coil are a veterean musical group who are most commonly associated with the
"industrial" genre. Their considerable body of work is not well-loved by rock connosieurs -
most of whom consider it to be risibly pretentious. In the subculture of 21st-century popular music, you see, the greatest sin one can commit is to aspire to something, anything. Coil, meanwhile, root themselves among the tradition of English spiritual visionaries as a firm basis from which to reach for the proverbial sky. At the small-town high school that is music fandom, nothing could be a surer recipe for ridicule.

For those of us who do not wish to spend the rest of our lives in a playground mentality,
Coil's shameless artistic and spiritual ambition is profoundly alluring. That is to say, these
guys have their fans, many of whom are deeply devoted. My own interest is a relatively
recent one and I almost hope that it won't last because Coil's mind altering Moon Musick is not an
easy thing to assimilate into a productive day-to-day life. I can at least comfort myself with the fact that by giving it my attention, even for a short time, this music has rewarded me very deeply indeed. Coil have taught me two simple but vital lessons - that sincerity is its own reward and that Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil.

***********************************************************************

Monday, September 15, 2003

I meant to type "a phase you're going through" at the end of the following entry. Don't know what happened there.
I'm going to see the White Stripes tonight. AHHH! I bet you didn't expect me to say that, did you?!? I must confess that I have a penchant for ruthlessly unoriginal retro rock - especially if it has really catchy tunes. I was going to paste in a live review I did of the Dandy Warhols a couple of years ago but I couldn't retrieve it from my old web-site, which seems to be down. However, the fact that I once did a positive live review of the Dandy Warhols should speak volumes about quite how uncool I really am.

Don't buy records that you think are "cool". It never lasts. If you feel embarrassed to like something but you just can't help it... well, that shit probably isn't just se you're going through.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Just heard the new P:ano and Buck 65 album's. Congratulations Canada, seems like you have a couple of big hits on your hands. Gotta say, it's nice when it happens to the right people every once in a while.

Those of you who are unfortunate enough not to live in Vancouver probably won't know who P:ano are (yet). Those of you who DO live here will be jealous that I've heard their new album yet. To cut to the chase, they're most commonly described as a cross between Low and Belle and Sebastian but that doesn't even begin to describe the subtle beauty and cliche-dodging ambition of their music. Pick up their debut "When It's Dark and It's Summer" as soon as you can - you'll be very taken with it but it won't really prepare you for the follow-up (called "The Den", right now) which outsrips its predecessor in every regard.

It's coming out on Hive-Fi, so I may be doing the press release to go with it but don't consider the above a first draft - it's just my own honest opinion.

The Buck 65 album kicks a little ass too and I definitely hear a hit single or two in there.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Yeah, don't click on that link to the right, it won't work.

I'm begining to think it's better to keep one's (virtual) mouth shut. I already regret most of what I've blogged so far. Oh well, I remember Mark E Smith saying he always felt that way halfway through an interview and people seem to think he makes good copy, so...

As I write, I can hear the new Atmosphere album playing in the background. It sounds like Atmosphere and I haven't heard any blatant misoginy yet, so that's a good start.

Unfortunately, the reason I'm hearing it is that I've had to start working on Saturdays again. This is inherently unpleseant and a blow to the old self-esteem. But what else am I going to do? Get a proper job, like a real 30-year-old. If only dear friend, if only...

Another reason I get the feeling it's best not to say shit about shit is that I'm basically a misanthrope who doesn't like to have to engage with people in any way at any point if I can avoid it. You can imagine how good I am at working in retail, then. This is, I suppose a story as old as time in the history of music-fan nerd-dom. This is why that guy in the record store is always such a jackass when you're just trying to ask a perfectly reasonable question.

You have my personal apologies.

No word about Fennesz yet. What did I tell you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Just got asked to interview Fennesz for Discorder magazine (I was their THIRD choice, which smarts a bit). I agreed to do it by email. I don't really want to do it at all but I don't want some clueless idiot to do it either (e.g. the fucking moron who wrote the horribly inaccurate Fennesz entry on All Music Guide). Anyway, in my experience, nothing comes of these things, more often that not.

Can't recommend the great man's "Live in Japan" CD highly enough, by the way. A superb "greatest hits" set and thus a great introduction to the work of one of the most talented players in music today. You know what to do.

Great to see that the final issue of Alan Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is finally available. Let's just try not to mention the movie, okay? Sometimes it ain't easy being a nerd.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Don't be put off by things that are annoying. As my man Chris T-T once said to me: "Hitler found the Jews annoying." He's right, too - some of my best friends are annoying. (Why? - "Oaklandazulasylum")

Don't be put off by the idea of "easy listening". This kind of music can be just as challenging as the noisiest free improv when proper attention is applied to your listening. (Scott Walker - "Scott 3")

Don't be put off by superstition. Superstitions can be as rigorous and meaningful as anything science has to offer. (Coil - "Musick to Play in the Dark")

Don't be put off by logic. Logic can be as psychedelic as madness. (Alva Noto - "Prototypes")

I have spoken!

ps The new Chris T-T album "London is Sinking" is out now but I haven't heard it because someone seems to have neglected to send me a promo copy. I advise you to pick up his "Beatverse", one of my favourite albums of all time - no kidding!

Monday, September 08, 2003

New Aesop Rock and Jandek albums both very good, for what it's worth. Well, I'm not sure you could ever really describe Jandek as "good" but...
Just skimmed a bit of an article in Canada rock rag Exclaim (ashamed to admit I usually take a look) that seemed to be about a new movement in British hip-hop (and what a contradiction in terms that's always been!) that they're calling "Crime Wave". This kind of bullshit is the last thing anyone needs: the people of the UK; hip-hop fans; innocent black people who are just minding the're own business. The ongoing racist glamourization of "playas" makes me want to fucking barf! I don't even give a shit if the music's any good. There's plenty of good music out there that isn't totally socially pernicious, so why even bother fucking with the banality of evil? Fuck that shit! Listen to Mr Lif instead.

On an up note, someone just gave a cassette (a CASSETTE, mind you) of all the early AR Kane singles, which I've been trying to track down for years. Thanks Dave (real name)! Now I have to dig Il Tape Deck out of Il Laundry Room. Anyone who wants to make me a CDR of the complete works of Papa Sprain is very welcome to do so, especially if they make a nice sleeve like Dave did, showing all the original record covers (actually, it's kind of scary, all the trouble he went to).

I should mention that I probably shouldn't jump to such firm and angry conclusions about the Crime Wave article because I didn't really read it - sorry if I'm getting the wrong end of the stick. I think it was written by Martin Turrene, who I've always thought of as one of the more intelligent Simon Reynolds wannabes out there - even if he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about most of the time.

Also, I'm sorry but NO FORCE ON THIS EARTH will convince me that The Streets "Original Pirate Material" isn't THE WORST ALBUM EVER RELEASED.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Having trouble figuring how to get the links up and running on Il Blog. Any advice would be appreciated.

Since I announced that Off the Wire was no more, two complete strangers have tried to join. The list is cool now that it's no longer around and thus not a threat. Like Nick Drake.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

the bubblegum cage
Il Blog may slow down a bit for a while because I've actually been asked to do some writing! I hasten to add that I'm only doing it on a voluntary basis and that it is in no way a result of someone reading Il Blog. I'm going to be writing press-releases, bios etc... for Hive Fi, the label related to Vancouver's Hive Studio's and home of P:ano, Secret 3 etc... I've been asked to start the rumour that the Hive will soon be moving to Snazzy new premises.

I will try to do some blogging, it just might not be as much as up to this point.

Just heard "Live in Japan" by Fennesz and fuck me is it ever awesome.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

So... Microphones - "Mt Eerie"... where to begin?

I always thought of the Microphones as being as uninteresting and generic as indie rock got. Of course, I'd never heard them - actually HIM, one Phil Elvrum - but I knew he put out records on K and alledgedly based his "career" on trying to sound like alt. Can Con legends Eric's Trip (themselves a deeply unoriginal band). So, I don't know what it was that possesed me to put "Mt Eerie" on at work, soon after it came out.

It begins with a hiss and a rumble. That goes on for a couple of minutes before it starts to alternate between a heraldic chord of unknown provenance and a battery of ethnic percussion. After a while, the persussion really builds up a head of steam and grinds abruptly to a halt, giving way to a lament about a natural disaster, back by a choir of (I think) live and sampled voices. At about the twenty minute mark, an indie rock band starts to play behind the lament, gathering pace until they blend into a huge torrent of distorted noise. And that's how the first song ends.

"Mt Eerie" is the most ambitious record I've heard all year. It's also perfectly realized. And yet, it's so hard to say exactly what makes it so great. The grand concept behind is nebulous at best, it's hard to tell what instruments or objects are producing most of the sounds and difficult to tell exactly which circumstances such a work of grandiose folly should be endured. It slides between aesthetically oppossed genres while retaining absoloute sonic consistency. It's a baffling, exhausting record. It's the best record of the year and you *must* experience it.

I guess it was calloing out to me from somewhere.
Re: The apocalypse. The question is not *if* nor *when*, its *whose*: ours (the end of time) or theirs (the end of the world). My advice to you? It has to do with drugs and it's probably not very good advice. Don't do drugs, kids.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

So, the best albums of the year so far, then. First of all "Mt Eerie" by The Microphones is THE best. Then you've got, in no particular order, Matt Elliott - "The Mess We Made", King Geedorah - "Take Me to Your Leader", Noriko Tujiko "Make me Hard" and "From Tokyo to Niagra", Richard Youngs - "Airs of the Ear", Nurse With Wound - "Her and Me Fall Together in Free Death", Why? - "Oaklandazulasylum"....

And I could go on but the point here is not to create another useless ROCK LIST but to point out that, while these albums are stylistically divergent, I like them all for the same reason. They all seem to be the result of an IDIOSYNCRATIC PERSONAL VISION. In a time where just about every existing genre has recycled its history to the point of utter redundancy and just about every idea from the avant garde of the past hundred years has been co-opted by the mainstream, this element comes to seem all the more important.

Resist the music of empty gestures - support the grand artistic statement!

Of course, there's two problems with this

(i) Eccentricity is just as easily co-opted as anything else and do we really want a million Polyphonic Spree style phonies clogging up the record bins?

(ii) Some visionary artists simply run out of inspiration and should either give up or seriously reign their ambitions in - witness Lou Reed's "The Raven" and Neil Young's "Greendale", two truly awful concept albums from formaerly visionary artists.

Still, that Microphones album, man....

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Notciably, I haven't got any email about my blog yet. Don't know if I'm being too insulting or not insulting enough (everything I've written so far has been loaded with sly insults aimed at people I know). Typically, I'm desparate to cause a controversy, just to get some kind of reaction. I guess I'm just trying not to disappear completely.

I guess that's what I'm focussed on. It doesn't seem like much to build a great artistic career on, does it Marilyn Manson (I don't know him, by the way, but I did know someone who looked like him - that's another story).

Heard a great quote from Robert Wyatt the other day - something along the lines of "I'm not a political activist, I'm a piss artist and an aesthete". Wish I could ther same - I'm not EVEN a political activist, I'm an uptight dilatante (sp?) I'm simultaneously too focussed (on music to the detriment of any other inspirational interests) and not focussed enough (I've never been able to settle on a schtick or involve myself with a sub-culture). Under such circumstances, it's hard to make any kind of a bold statement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I've been considering a carrer in advertising or technical writing as I seem to have quite the talent for bullshitting about things of which I have no knowledge. Take for instance the copy I wrote for my employers monthly ad....

VILLAIN ACCELERATE (Sixtoo and Stigg) - Maid of Gold CD 19.98 Sale
Now that you doubtless own everything ever released by DJ Shadow and RJD2, you’ll be looking for something else to spend your instrumental hip-hop dollar on. May we (re)introduce Canada’s own Sixtoo, who, in collaboration with Stigg of the Dump, has just released Maid of Gold – a slab of dark-side downtempo that is confidently comparable, in tone and quality, to breakbeat classics like Entroducing. Not that Six is some kinda B-boy-come-lately. This is a head whose resume details collaborations with Buck 65 and Sage Francis as well as dealings with estimable imprints including Anticon, Ninja Tune and, for this project, Mush. Impressive, yes? Get ready to nod your head.

MADLIB- Shades of Blue CD 19.98 Sale
In a climate that elevates mediocre mainstream R&B producers to the stature of venerated rap auteurs, it’s good to be reminded that hip-hop still has a place for the occasional authentic oddball genius. When the smoke has cleared and the bling-bling beat-smiths have faded from memory, Madlib will remain, standing tall in the pantheon of great African American eccentrics alongside Sun Ra, George Clinton and their ilk. In light of this, it’s only right that Mad should be the latest studio head to be let loose on a bunch of classic jazz master-tapes. Shades of Blue sees the producer of countless subterranean rap classics invading the vaults of the legendary Blue Note label, putting into practice the lessons he learned on his own faux-jazz excursions as Yesterday’s New Quintet. As likely to appeal to fans of Verve Remixed and readers of The Wire magazine as it is to hardened hip-hoppers, Shades of Blue looks set to take this Mad isht to the next level.

I bet you want to buy them both now, don't you. The truth is, I've never heard the Madlib record and the Villain Accelerate album is a piece of fucking shit. Don't tell anyone, though.
Briefly considered changing the subject of this blog from music to politics. Prompted by new stories on climate change. The apocalypse has started, people - everyone dies.

But music is all I can really pretend to be truly informed about. It wouldn't be so bad if my mind was not clogged with trivia and bitterness half the time. For instance...

Is it just me or has Stephen Malkmus turned into a character from Seinfeld? Not a specific character, you understand, but a what if... character - What if Elaine had a boyfriend who was a minor rock star?

Also, I just thought of a great example of irony: People who put pretend bullet holes on their cars SHOULD be shot (or at least shot AT). Anyone else noticed this disturbing trend?

This is where the bitterness comes in: When I confessed to someone about my monomania vis-a-vis music, said person called me a "fascist". As any psych 101 student knows, the best way to attack someone's self esteem is to challenge their self-image. I like to think of myself as definitley not a fascist, so when someone accusses me of being one (happens worryingly often) it's very irksome indeed. Clearly I need to become a more well-rounded person but I just can't bring myself to care about movies or books or - God forbid - sports or whatever else it is that people are interested in. It's all about tha choons, yo.

My accuser in this case was a critical theory head, so I suspect the thinking behind his accusation was not all that straightforward. Only liking one thing is one dimensional and heirarchical and therefore not "rhizomatic" and thus fascistic. Funny, isn't it how post-structural and post-modern theory have become a dogma for so many middle-brow types? That's another fucking good example of irony for you.

The truth is that I'm not a fascist - I just know what I like and I'm very focussed on it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Okay. I know the time has never been worse for me to start a weblog because:-

(i) The last thing the world needs is another half-assed Simon Reynolds wannabe

(ii) or more bullshit about music full-stop for that matter

(iii) My writing is good but never in first-draft form which is what blogs tend to be (and what I fully intend this one to be)

(iv) and - oh - a thousand other reasons

It all started when I grew disenchanted with The Wire magazine. I wanted to create an alternative outlet/inlet for finding out and spreading the news about new music. So I started a mailing list that I cheekily called "Off the Wire". Next to nobody joined and next to none of those who joined ever posted anything. So I gave up. This, I guess, is try number two.

In the mean time, I've started reading the Wire again. It's the best of the bad lot and, while not as vital it used to be, it can't really be blamed - it's modus operandi is a little redundant. Right now, I'm not interested in what's next or what's now, I'm interested in WHO THE FUCK IS THAT. That is to say - personality. You got it baby - outsiders are in.

All the best albums have been idiosyncratic and highly personal (often to the point that it's slightly painful for both resons). Meanwhile the mainstream is riddled with nonentities doing there best to sound contemporary or futuristic - and the media is packed with Simon Reynolds wannabes, too stupid not to lap it all up.

And all this time, I have to devote most of my energy to a low-paying day-job. I mention this because my 45 minute (!) luch break (the only break I get all day) is over.

I will try to post a few times a week. I hope I keep it up, if only for my own sake.
This is just a test, of course.