Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Forthcoming connect_icut show: Blim, Fri Nov 26th 2004 (full moon !) w/Crys Cole, Burquitlam Plaza and (maybe) Parks and Rec. There may also be a Bastion Mews hippy jam session coming up at some bookstore on Main but I don't have any details on that yet. Watch this space for updates on both events.

Have regained contact with that superb human being Ian Hirvonen. Unfortunately, I had to use "Friendster" to do it. "Friendster" is creepy.

Finally caved in and bought a used CD of the latest Animal Collective CD. Usually if I buy something relatively new it sinks without trace commercially, so I wanted those guys to have a crack at building up a fan base before I jumped on the bandwagon. Well, they seem to be pretty popular now so... A lot of avant rock snobs kinda look down on the AC/Black Dice scene but I have to tell you, I think these kids are really onto something unique, beautiful and creative. The album's fucking fantastic and not quite like anything else.

What's most exciting, though, is that - as with Tigerbeat6 a few years back - these guys are turning a bunch of punk/hardcore/emo fans onto some pretty abstract sounds. So what happens when these kids form bands? Can't wait to see.

In other news, I have finished work on the second trilogy of connect_icut CDRs and will be handing them out to people once I've nice little sleeves for them (all featuring pictures of The Sneefler's summer vacation in West Wales this year). The albums are called "Four", "Wheeee!" and "Oceanic Epilogue". Hopefully, two "proper" CDs will be available at some point collecting highlights from these two trilogies. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I suppose Ween have had pretty much had the last word on liking "bad" music, with the wildfire success of their deliberately annoying pastiche rock.

Talking of pastiche rock, I just saw that Dandy Warhols/Brian Jonestown Massacre movie "Dig!" It's very well put together, thoughtful and entertaining with pretty high (post)production values - so I think it will probably be fairly well distributed. And, yes, that Anton Newcombe certainly is a crazy person. Whereas the Dandys have made a living out of playing with the past, Anton has no choice but to live in it. That's gotta hurt.

Talking of living in the past, I did go to see The Pentangle's John Renbourn and Jaqui Macshee in a church in Vancouver the night before last. The whole experience was quite an eye-opener. First of all there were about 500 people there (as oppossed to about 150 at Pan Sonic the previous night). Also they were ALL English. PLus, I was the only person there who didn't have a bald patch and a beer belly (and that includes the ladies!) I'd have to go back to the days of primary school country fairs to remember a time when I'd seen so many frumpy, middle-aged Englishpeople in one place.

Actually, the show was great. Jaqui's voice sounded a little worse for wear, but her a capella numbers were still stunning. Renbourn's playing is still incredible although the audience seemed more impressed by his straighter playing than his wilder moments (perhaps they thought his lapses into arhythmicality were mistakes?) They ended with an absoloutely enchanting version of "Cruel Sister" and I went home very happy.

The whole folk club thing really is strange though. Why is it necesarry to always make jokes about drinking and how miserable English folk songs are. Will the audience riot if you don't? Is that what these frumpy English people are paying for? I don't get it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Pan Sonic review written in haste for Discorder......

Pan Sonic
-outhern acific+
Richard’s on Richards
September 23
How strange, to experience an abstract electronica show within the drafty and sticky-floored environs of Richard’s on Richards. Certainly it wasn’t the ideal launch pad for one of -outhern acific+’s tripzone excursions. –oa+ is the nom d’electronique of Vancouver scenester extraordinaire Joshua Stevenson, a sometime member of continent-spanning free-rock phenomenon Jackie O Motherfucker. You never know quite what to expect from an –oa+ show – glitchy computer music, proggy ambience, recontextualised world music... On this occasion he employed all manner of distressed analogue hardware to create a murky, nocturnal fug - similar to that conjured by UK dark ambient veterans :zoviet*france:. The set was well complemented by a projection of flashing, fading lo-bit visuals but - let’s face it – this kind of thing is better appreciated whilst contemplating the texture of one’s bedroom ceiling or the floor of a nice white-cube gallery.

As soon as Finland’s kings of brute minimalism took the stage, it became clear why we were standing in a cavernous rock club, not sitting in a cosy art centre. Pan Sonic’s current sound – as displayed at extraordinary length on the recent four-CD set Ketso ­– is LOUD. Though their modus operandi of beats’n’drones has remained firmly intact, Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen have at least progressed enough as artists to allow generic influences to seep into their fundamentally hermetic sound-world. Pan Sonic 2004-style deploys blasts of mid-range noise that would impress any metal act worth its salt and booty-shaking beats low-slung enough to shame a Miami bass producer. In short, they rocked and nerds were seen to dance (a spiritually enriching, though aesthetically un-edifying sight).

The visual accompaniment for the set comprised a simple black line that waved and fragmented in response to the music. Though the relationship between sound and visuals was clear, what was more striking was how the projection reflected the remarkable physical and psychological responses induced – big, hip-swinging waves for the elektro beats, chaotic snowstorms for the gushes of white noise. Through sheer force of Pan Sonic will, the duo made us forget about beer-sticky floors and autumnal draft for one mesmerizing hour. Truly transporting – clearly a little still goes a long way.
Sam Macklin.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Oh Yeah! Tom Waits! But he doesn't really fit either mould.

As I remember the story, he was a pretty mellow Randy Newman style singer-songwriter until his wife noticed that Captain Beefheart had retired and a gap had opened in the market. So then you got "Swordfishtrombones" and the rest of history. And it's mostly been pretty great stuff, funnily enough. He through his heart right into it and he never let up. I heard a bit of the new album the other day and it sounded like Neubauten! A unique figure to be sure.

Been going to lots of show this week. Fantastic P:ano show at the Railway (the best ever!) which featured a line up of ukelele, bass clarinet, accordion and floor tom. The Great Aunt Ida at a little cafe on Main. Great stuff and why not better known? Tonight Pan Sonic and Outhern Acific at Richards of all places. And then the next day (maybe) John Renbourn and Jaqui Macshee!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Generally it's a thing in the arts that people start out dark and angry and then mellow with age. Usually, the early period sees the artists producing her/his best work and the quality tails off with the mellowing process. I've been noticing increasing numbers of anomilies to this general rule.

I've mentioned before about prefering the under-appreciated later work of certain goth bands (notably Coil). Another good example would be Blonde Redhead. I don't like anything before their recent "sell out" album, which I think is kinda good. Then, of course, there's Jonathan Richman... Of course, these are my opinions and it's the opinions that are anomolous. Most nerds would disagree with me and the rule would stay in place.

Then you have people who start off producing mellow, charming work and then go all dark. The two who spring to mind are Gilbert Hernandez and Lukas Moodyson. Compare the early "Heartbreak Soup" comics to the joyless, pornograhic crap Beto pumps out now. Or compare "Show me Love" to "Lilya Forever". Jesus! What happened to these people. Are there any examples of this happening in music?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Re: Liking "bad" music. I think I've decided to stop getting uptight about this and just get on with listening to what I like, not caring what other people think. I still find it fascinating that nobody is prepared to tell me why they listen to what they listen to. It seems like a pretty fundamental issue. But it's not "cool" to be honest about why you like things, I guess.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

This is a personal plee to Dave Hirvonen and Ian Forsyth. I need to contact both of you but don't seem to have a current email address for either. If either of you read this, please get in touch.


Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sleep Night 2

Josh Rose - Rejected his usual Ekkehard Ehlers-style ambience in favour of finely exucuted concept art. Basically he turned on a poorly-tuned clock radio, then had a lie down for 10 minutes. The radio was almost tuned to a station playing impressionistic contemporary piano music. Might seem wanky but it worked really well and rewarded some focused listening. Not sure people knew what to make of it but it obviously affected them. Before the "set" everyone was chatting noisily. Afterwards, they whispered.

Lee Hutzulak - Nice electronic set from the improv guitarist, Gastr Del Sol devotee and charmingly flakey artist-about-town. Used several bags of polysyrene pellets and a 4-track mini-disc desk to produce post-glitch music concrete that got all melodic towards the end.

Couldn't stay for the closing improv quartet but as it featured LSim and two ex-members of The Beans, I'm going to say it was probably pretty good.

Turn out v. good for both nights, esp.Sat. Oh why did I agree to play Panic?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sleep Night 1

Katharine Norman - Didn't arrive in time for her. Had to go to a birthday party. But I got there just in time for...

Muarena Helena - Very nice droning for prepared guitar and Korg synth a la Main, Stars of the Lid et al. I get the feeling that they haven't been at it too long but given a bit a practice they coud just nail it.

Joshua Stevenson - Awesome, natch. Glorious quadraphonic dronage in an early minimalism stylee. Basically a recording of Josh playing a "Chinese mouth organ" played with a time lag between each speaker. Had I been lying on a big comfy bed, I could have listened to this all night. On the hard floor of Blim, it seemed a tad overlong. Fantastic, nevertheless.

Loscil - Left before he started but you fucking KNOW it was awesome. He was certainly awesome the million times I saw him before (which is why I didn't feel obliged to stay past midnight to see him this time - hey! I have to work on Sundays).

Monday, September 06, 2004

Panic - Night Two

Crys Cole Trio - Crys joined by Brady C and Josh Rose. Really great ominous/jarring free improv. Wish she'd play out more because she does really unique and interesting stuff. Very hardcore and pure. Admirable.

Me - Not bad. Seemed to go down well.

Flat Grey - Excellent internal-mixer feedback and guitar pedal manipulation. Almost as Panic-inducing and Daniel and Niall but more musically sophisticated. Toward the end of his set, he reached over to a backpack and pulled out two ominous-looking tannoy things. This was genuinely scary. In fact, they turned out to make a sort of car-alarm noise. For a moment I though a full-blow sonic attack was going to turned my insides to liquid. Panic. Nice guy to.

Turnout - Awful. Mortifying. Amazed how many people DIDN'T show up in spite of the facts that: (i) They are my friends; (ii) They actually like this kind of music (more than I do in some cases!); (iii) I told them about the show repeatedly. Sincere thanks to the few who did make the effort esp. Cheryl and Brian (because it's really not their kind of thing) and Josh Stevenson (he recorded part of my set on his new cell phone and claimed it would become his new ringtone).

Next week - Sleeeeeeeep.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Panic Night One Report.

Brady Cranfield - Very nice abstract computer sound. Maybe a little too nice - not panic inducing in the least. But it's good to see someone taking part was trying for something subtle. Unlike...

Daniel Giantomaso + Niall Morgan - Two white-belt trendy types standing on a home-made metal stage with various lights attached and huge racks of gear bolted to each end producing hilariously brutal spurts of electronic noise. Great stuff in the Wolf Eyes mould and genuinely upsetting. Definitely not subtle though.

Nicole Sanches - Fantastic 3-minute sound piece using recordings of small boys making explosion sounds with their mouths. Source material progressed from recognizable to and uncanny and back again.

The Rita - AKA Sam McKinlay. Had to leave before his set but I've seen hime before. He does pretty obvious harsh noise but damn he does it pretty well.

Turnout: Fairly good all things considered. Nice to see some familiar faces even if most of them did leave after Brady's set. Second act brought in lots of style-mag types which was kinda neat.

Nervous about tonight. Wish I could just play normal connect_icut music - then I know it would be good. Still, I guess it's good to challenge oneself. Weird to be playing a festival based on polar opposite concepts when all of my music is aimed at eradicating such binary splits - or at least toying with them.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Final reminder:-

where: blim #600 23 w.pender (across from tinsel town)
when: september 4th, 5th, (panic) 11th, 12th (sleep) 9:00 pm each night
who: 5th: crys cole, connect icut, flat grey


Now then, some "wrong" tastes for you to acquire. There are plenty of artists whose work can be divided into the Good and Bad years. Often, I find myself prefering the Bad stuff. The big examples being:

Coil - Much prefer the later tree-hugging prog stuff to the early industrial psychedelia.

Jonathan Richman - Much prefer the later acoustic novelty rock to the first Moder Lovers LP

But also -

D Bowie - Never got into him but I do kinda like the really early stuff in a "ha ha" kinda way.

Current 93/NWW - C'mon goths! Admit it! They just got better.

There are more but I can't think of them now. Would welcome your own examples to

Maybe I should stick up for myself more. Okay, okay, I admit it! I HATE the consensus about what constitutes classic (or simply GOOD) music. There! Are you satisfied? The thing is, the consensus seems to be getting stronger and narrower every day. Plus more and more civilians/members of the general public seem to be clued into what used to be the territory of music nerds/rock snobs. It's becoming less like consensus and more like hegemony. Perhaps that's why I've clearly been reacting against it and liking "bad" things.

I think we have to change the terms of debate here. I think that, all along, I haven't been talking about "good" and "bad" taste but "right" and "wrong" taste. I urge you to embrace your Wrongness. Glitch taste! Surface noise taste! It's another manifestation of my tiny personal war on perfection.

Hopefully, upcoming posts will feature examples of my "wrong" tastes.