Sunday, August 13, 2006


What Am I To Do?
Carl's concept of Ascetic Bohemianism has led to a lot of introspection in my little corner of the blogsphere. (By the by, has anyone else thought of using the term AsBo as an acronym for this - hilarious if you read the English papers. ) My soul-searching/navel-gazing has led me back towards an old quandary: how do you reconcile a life of quiet self-improvement with a love of Dionysian, bonkers or downright unpleasant art?

Let's back-track to the early 90s, when I went through my major rap music obsession. I loved hip-hop passionately at that time and the music opened my mind to a lot of interesting, worthwhile lines of thought. Still, I always had to take rap music/hip-hop culture with more than a pinch of salt because I found so much of the content morally and politically objectionable.

I guess I only had so much salt to hand because, some time in the last few years, I started to find the whole shebang distinctly unpalatable. Nowadays, I hardly listen to any rap music at all and am honestly made queasy by overt displays of affiliation with hip-hop culture. The other day Kris forced me to watch an episode of MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen in which people kept describing things as being "off the chain" and yelling "let's get crunk!" It was sickening.

Anyhoo, just recently, I had a similar experience, albeit within a shorter time-frame. This time it was the industrial underground centering around Coil/Current 93/Nurse with Wound that got me open. Delving deep into this peculiar sub-scene led me into a treasure trove of entirely unique and extremely meaningful music. At the same time I was always a little put off by scene's rather adolescent obsession with sex, death and "magick". Once again, I find my figurative salt cellar running low. I've seen a couple of Myspace "favourite music" lists recently that place connect_icut alongside awful, awful Nazi/Satanists Death in June and Non. I've started to wonder what I've gotten myself into.

And yet and yet... Here's the catch, the central paradox, if you will: I realise now, that the elements I find most objectionable in hip-hop and industrial music are essential to the appeal of said genres - at least they are for me. That's why I prefer Black Moon to Black Star and Coil to Nurse with Wound.

I've always admired the way Nurse's Steven Stapleton scoffs at the more ludicrous excesses of his industrial peers. But, honestly, isn't it ludicrous excess that makes Current 93 and Coil so much more satisfying than NWW? It's the excess of imagination, sincerity and wonder what makes this music great. Likewise, its the terrifyingly cold and hard acceptance of late capitalist "reality" that makes the music of Mobb Deep and their ilk so compelling.

So where does that leave me? Sitting at home, listening to Jonathan Richman and wishing we could all be nice and reasonable - or, at least, wishing things could ever be that simple.

22 comments:

charlie m. said...

I really, really hate the "neofolk" scene (I've yet to meet anyone in person who's into those bands hardcore and does the whole military dress thing that isn't a moron) about DIJ and non: Death In June has two fantastic albums "rose clouds of holocaust" and "but what ends when the symbols shatter?" and about non:: boyd has been beating a dead horse for over 16 years with the "social darwinism,survival of the fitest" crap, NON was good when it was a "noise band" because during hte industrial scene when everyone was centered on burroughs,serial killers and nazism, it was just about the music for him. (well I guess he liked charlie manson and was a satanist but that didnt come out so much in the music?)

I want to write something about nww but Im not sure where you're coming from with disliking his stuff, you perhaps need a recc. of the amazing nww material thats out there :D.

Samuel said...

I should clarify: I LOVE Nurse with Wound and have lots of his albums. I just PREFER Coil and C93.

Good to know Charlie and I are pretty much on the same page with this stuff. Shows he has his head screwed on and that I can enjoy his CD without worrying that it might be a concept album about Social Darwinism.

Talking of which, every one of you should go out and see "Little Miss Sunshine" right now! You'll see what I mean.

charlie m. said...

actually I think boyds ok when he keeps his mouth closed I realized the wonderful instrumental "children of the balck sun" came out in like 2002 or 2003.

And thank you for clarifying your stuff on nww was confusing me in the original post :).

Saelan said...

good post, sam. of course, i'm at home listening to caetano veloso wishing everyone could just be nicer to each other. no doubt i'll be the first one crucified when the US economy collapses and North America's ruled by rampaging wigger warlords in SUVs. did I ever tell you that my great-grandfather (an enthusiastic Nazi supporter in Germany) was one of the first to volunteer when Hitler declared war on Poland, only to be killed in the first week by friendly fire?

Samuel said...

I am lucky enough not to have any Nazis in my family history (or my record collection, for that matter). On the contrary, my paternal grandfather was Hereford's only signed-up member of the British Communist party.

"no doubt i'll be the first one crucified when the US economy collapses and North America's ruled by rampaging wigger warlords in SUV"

You have to wonder how well Boyd Rice and Douglas P would fare in a "society" run along Social Darwinist lines. Do they seriously think a bunch of outsider artists would be running the show? Hmmm... I guess Hitler was kind of an outsider artist...

charlie m. said...

Well Douglas is an old homosexual and didn't nazi's hate homosexuals?

I'm not exactly sure about boyd I know he has ties to different groups (maybe the church of satan would bail him out :P)

Samuel said...

The thing about the Nazi party was that it was run by a pack of freaks and misfits (failed artists, drug addicts, occultists...) who - paradoxically - wanted to rule the world with a rod of iron. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Nazi policy was that homosexuals should be exterminated but that a few leading Nazis were, in fact, homosexuals. Maybe someone who knows their history can fill me in on this.

Anyway, I think it's this paradox that marks Doug'n'Boyd out as Nazis in the truest, original sense of the word.

Did you know that Douglas started his musical carrer in a staunchly socialist pop-punk band? My boss assures me they were great. Can't remember the name of the band but, again, the better informed are welcome to fill in the blanks here.

Samuel said...

Major response to this over at The Impostume. In relation to a Halo of Flies video(???)

http://theimpostume.blogspot.com/

http://theimpostume.blogspot.com/2006/08/in-ascending-order-locust-spazz-rock.html

Brady said...

According to Lisa Suckdog, former Ms. Boyd Rice and mother of his son, old Boyd is simply a dickhead and, maybe worse, a contrarian. So boring. And for what it's worth, he's supposedly also a bad father, too. Reading the last Wire, the whole Catholic side of Current 93 surprised me. It’s a little like believing again in Santa Claus as an adult. Anyway, I think there’s an interesting parallel between Current 93’s retrograde faith and Burial’s somewhat dated (but still likable) aesthetic. Or at least insofar as they both show up on Sammy’s recent top picks, that is, which generally seems to show a kind of retrograde orientation. But I don’t think Sam’s unique here (perhaps more a canary in a coal mine). There’s general anxiety in the air, perhaps mostly caused by volatile geopolitics. Like Sam's picks, maybe the solution is to look back in order to go forward. Is music leading the way, although not like a beacon so much as a symptom? And more importantly, if I post a heady comment, will Sam re-add me to his links list, as trivial and un-music focused as my blog may seem?

Samuel said...

My friend Bleek once said that Boyd Rice is anti-William Shatner. With Shatner, everybody is in on the joke except him but with Rice NOBODY is in the joke except him. I don't agree but I thought it was a great observation.

The whole David Tibet "I'm a Catholic now" thing is puzzling in one sense - why would a outsider Gnostic want to join the most centralised, authoritarian branch of Christianity (one run by an ex member of the Hitler youth and riddled with child abusers!)??? On the other hand, it kind of makes sense - Catholicism and Gnosticism both favour ritual and mysticism over clarity and everday application of Christ's actual teachings.

And I don't think that my top five was retro at all. The real temporal problem with most of the picks is that they sound too *contemporary* for their own good. The Scritti and Burial albums, in particular, could loose their status as potential classics because of this.

I love that Scritti album but - in a sense - everything you need to know about what's wrong with music today is encoded in its production values. He should get the whole thing remixed by Timbaland or whoever.

charlie m. said...

Well one of Hitlers head men (something Ernst I forget his name) was a very homosexual man...

Where does this David Tibet is a catholic bit come from? He's like a heretic christian from what I've read, beleives in texts such as the gospel of thomas etc. but I haven't seen him call himself a catholic anywhere (I could be wrong but I dont think so)

I'm sure Boyds a horrible dad, he's def. an alcoholic but I don't think his ex-wife should be taken too seriously as she has said he was horribly abusive and if he was shouldn't she have gotten something settled in court where he couldn't see there son at all?

Samuel said...

I don't really think we should speculate about Boyd Rice's private life. That's his business. But what he puts out in public is a different matter. By the same token, does it really matter if he's NOT actually an evil asshole if he glorifies evil asshole-dom in his work?

The David Tibet as Catholic thing is quite true according to the large C93 article in last month's issue of The Wire. I would really like him to clarify his relationship with the Catholic church, though - particularly in regard to his charity work with organizations fighting AIDs in Africa.

charlie m. said...

I agree with you on the boyd thing. Hopefully, his next album is one of those where he doesnt use his voice, as I will enjoy it a lot if so...

I'll have to track down the wire article :).

Brady said...

Boys. Lisa Crystal Carver (Suckdog) made Boyd's "private live" public in her several books, so no speculation is required (of course I tend to side with her). Does this make his music any more or less bad or good -- who knows and who cares? I do know that once upon a time I found the chapter on him in the RE:Search "Pranks" book to be very entertaining and even inspiring. And yet, he still seems to be a total ass. Ooo, a scary fascist! Whatever.

Samuel said...

Yes Boyd Rice does seem like a bit of sad, ludicrous character to the likes of us but - as I've alredy pointed out - the German Nazi Party was a pack of sad, ludicrous characters who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. This is why I can't tolerate Nazi goths.

I now declare this case closed.

charlie m. said...

ahhh "nazi goths fuckoff" is now explained ;)

Brady said...

haha -- nazi goths fuck off. funny stuff.

Samuel said...

A little context: just recently Charlie sent me some really pleasant harmonium and recorder... erm... recordings that he'd made and I transformed them into some nasty lo-fi industrial dronage. I called one of the songs I made "Nazi Punks Fuck Off", partly to see if Charlie had a sene of humour (he does!) Since then, I've sent him some horrible industrial clanking of my own devising (actually made from Not Me files!) which I thoroughly expext him to turn into beautiful new age twinkling.

Samuel said...

The debate continues here...

http://blogglebumcage.blogspot.com/2006/08/on-other-hand.html

charlie m. said...

well I dunno about new age twinkling, but I did make something fairly ok out of it hopefully you enjoy it :)

Samuel said...

Ah yes, that's the sound of working the night shift in a small town. There's a certain melancholy beauty to that, when you're young. Glad I don't have to do it now, though.

charlie m. said...

yes but I work for the evil empire of walmart so its not so romantic