Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dark Times of Plenty.
There's a lot of designer darkness in the air right now. You can hardly even take you earplugs out these days without being assaulted by an onslaught of sub-Sabbath psuedo-teenage psuedo-angst. What is there in the world of music to help us intelligent grown-ups through these dark times? May I humbly suggest the new CDs by Ekkehard Ehlers (A Life Without Fear) and Giuseppe Ielasi (self-titled)? Each of these albums has an aura of darkness while being intelligent and mature (not "old" and "clever") enough to lend said aura some substance.

More on Veronica Mars vs. Capitalism soon!

14 comments:

Saelan said...

What about Current 93 and Scott Walker? It's a dark year.

Saelan said...

heh. I should have caught up on your last few entries before I started commenting. I was just listening to Current 93 in the grocery store and thinking about him and Scott Walker vis-a-vis self-parody and darkness-as-depth. Coil fits on this axis, too, I guess. You really have to buy into it, otherwise it's a bit of a joke. And it's not always an easy purchase.

Samuel said...

"I was just listening to Current 93 in the grocery store and thinking about him and Scott Walker vis-a-vis self-parody and darkness-as-depth."

The suggestion being that music this grand and mystical doesn't fit in with the mundanity of real life as evidenced by the existence of grocery stores. It could be argued that grocery stores are a distraction from the true nature of being and that deep, dark art is the only thing that can pull us out of the Matrix.

"Coil fits on this axis, too, I guess."

Coil is diffrent, actually. They had more of a Butthole Surfers aesthetic - slipping into darkness as a state of grace, not raging against the dying of the light.

"You really have to buy into it, otherwise it's a bit of a joke. And it's not always an easy purchase."

That's only really true if the work isn't totally tip-top. If you start to see the cracks in this sort of thing, it can look kind of silly. I'd say that the new Scott Walker and Current 93 albums are so compelling and well-put-together that they're totally convincing.

Brady said...

After a few times listening now I’d have to say that the new Scott Walker more than crosses the line into parody. It’s ridiculously pretentious to the extreme. I can imagine him flopping around the studio in dark glasses and a rumpled designer suit, his hands stained with red wine and nicotine and an army of sycophants hanging on every mumble he makes. So over the top it’s more "serious" than serious, like a Hollywood rendition of the thing it aims to be. Perhaps this is the basis for its appeal, this canny theatricality. But if so, how is this really all that different from the stupidity and obviousness of contemporary so-called stoner rock, as castigated (predictably) by Sammy? Seems like the same corned beef in different tin cans, if one with more highbrow packaging. Perhaps pseudo-ness is little more than perspective? All that said, how can argue with the sound of meat being punched as percussion? Hilarious!

Samuel said...

Geez, goodness knows what Brady'd make of the Current 93 album.

"I’d have to say that the new Scott Walker more than crosses the line into parody."

My original point was that it self-consciously flirts with self-parody and that this doesn't really work - at this point, I think it's the only part of the album that isn't totally spot-on. The overall mood is too monolithically dark to allow anything but the most bitterly mirthless jokes.

"I can imagine him flopping around the studio in dark glasses and a rumpled designer suit..."

I can't imagine him "flopping around" at all. He seems utterly, unflinchingly precise to me.

"So over the top it’s more "serious" than serious, like a Hollywood rendition of the thing it aims to be. Perhaps this is the basis for its appeal, this canny theatricality."

Nonesense. "The Drift" has real substance and refuses to deploy any of the standard rock signifiers for seriousness. I'm afraid Brady's 100% wrong about this part.

"But if so, how is this really all that different from the stupidity and obviousness of contemporary so-called stoner rock, as castigated (predictably) by Sammy?"

Erm... Is it because everything Scott does is intelligently conceived and brilliantly realised? There's a serious, vital point to everything behind his work and he knows EXACTLY how to get that point across with the utmost impact.

If stoner rock bands can manage this level of artistic brilliance, then more power too them. If they can do so whilst flirting with self-parody, all the more fun for everyone concerned. In other words, Om and Sunn0))) fucking rule, dude.

Brady said...

"Geez, goodness knows what Brady'd make of the Current 93 album."

Funny stuff, a real comedy laugh riot.

"The overall mood is too monolithically dark to allow anything but the most bitterly mirthless jokes."

And this is the same thing that's so fucking laughable about The Drift.

"I can't imagine him "flopping around" at all. He seems utterly, unflinchingly precise to me."

Okay then, flopping around...with his brain.

"Nonesense. "The Drift" has real substance and refuses to deploy any of the standard rock signifiers for seriousness. I'm afraid Brady's 100% wrong about this part."

But dude, I never said anything about The Drift using rock signifiers. Rather I was saying that The Drift's deployment of its particular (very Modernist) high culture signifiers functionally resembled the use of "stoner rock" signifiers by "stoner rock" bands.

"Erm... Is it because everything Scott does is intelligently conceived and brilliantly realised? There's a serious, vital point to everything behind his work and he knows EXACTLY how to get that point across with the utmost impact."

Didn't I read that in The Wire magazine? Yawn.... Anyway, he'll never top the Walker Brother's version of Bob Crewe's Sun Ain't Going to Shine (Anymore). Talk about darkness. Also, Farmer in the City. Super chilly.

"If stoner rock bands can manage this level of artistic brilliance, then more power too them. If they can do so whilst flirting with self-parody, all the more fun for everyone concerned. In other words, Om and Sunn0))) fucking rule, dude."

Fuck stoner rock altogether -- I've been listening to the Rhythm and Sound CDR you gave me all morning. Sweetness.

Samuel said...

"I was saying that The Drift's deployment of its particular (very Modernist) high culture signifiers functionally resembled the use of "stoner rock" signifiers by "stoner rock" bands."

I guess I'll take modernist signifiers over post-modern inability to engage, any day.

Brady said...

"I guess I'll take modernist signifiers over post-modern inability to engage, any day."

Oh, me too. Not that I was endorsing the latter over the former, mind you . And by the way, on The Drift you and Pitchfork agree (9.0 out of 10!). Now what?

Brady said...

dude, after consulting nic bragg on the subject, i respectfully concede the all-round brilliance of mr. walker. as if there was ever any doubt. however, the drift still sinks so far into its own darkness that it often threatens to become cliché (thus canny). and yet it is consistently sonically impressive -- the blocks of sound are awesome! 'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Nothing shocks me more in the men of rock and their flocks than their pretensions to be the only rock people.

Samuel said...

I'm not sure I know what you're getting at.

crys said...

Very entertaining discourse fellas. More MORE!!!
Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

I am getting at the following: "Your critical discourse about my record is welcome but not necessary". After all, As far as I can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. I lied very well last time.

Saelan said...

More on Mr. Walker from the considerable pen of Thom Jurek:

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57A1BDC4AAC7220C3803A5DDAB766FF29D64CEE831F29461BDFBA3C549F0865EE52F4879EFDFC6ABD66ADFF2EA2160ED9CFEA5CFFDE764C40&sql=61::66IP