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.