Monday, May 28, 2007

Electronica Obscurities: Frank Bretschneider Curve
I recently managed to pick up a copy of this stone-cold glitch classic for a mere $5. That's five bucks for a double LP - proof (as if you needed it) that this stuff has fallen far below the record-buying radar.

Hard to believe that glitchy electronica was the hip sound of experimental music just a few years back. On reflection, the genre's downfall probably had a lot to do with how quickly it ossified into a state of cold, sterile formalism. How exactly did glitch start off with the wonder and magic of Oval's 94 Diskont and end up in the dross of those terrible Clicks and Cuts compilations that the Mille Plateaux label ended up foisting upon an increasingly uninterested world?

Personally, I put a lot of the blame on Carsten "Alva Noto" Nicolai's Raster-Noton label. Don't get me wrong, I think Noto is great, as is just about everything he's put out on Raster. But the label's influence is another matter. Basically the formalistic, formulaic language of those Clicks and Cuts comps was pretty much invented by Raster artists like Noto, Senking, Bytone and Komet aka Frank Bretschneider.

Curve - interestingly, released by Mille Plateaux - is probably the most beautifully realized use of the Raster language. It eschews the gritty fuzz of Basic Channel-style dub-techno and the disorientating uncanniness of post-Oval abstract electronica in favor
of an incredibly elegant and formally beautiful take on IDM. Bretschneider did a beautiful job of cleansing the glitch palette and was smart enough to create music that thrived on the contradiction inherent in making something pristine out of tiny fragments of dirt and grime.

Most of the records Mille Platueaux released in the wake of Curve were merely tasteful. By creating the click'n'cut dialect, the Raster crew cleared the way for a legion of one-dimensional crap perpetrated by point-missing imitators. Consequently, glitch started to suck and all but the most dedicated devotees lost interest.

In a sense, then, Curve is the sound of Frank Bretschneider digging his own grave. But - like I said - he did a beautiful job of it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Top Five Albums of the Year So Far?
Been meaning to do an Albums of the Year So Far type post but I've held off because of the many exciting 2007 albums that haven't made it to Vancouver yet.

I could probably use the Interweb to mail-order or download most of them but I prefer to wait and buy these things at my local record store.
Still, I'm definitely going to pick up Trimbal's "mixtape" CD while I'm in the UK next month.

In case you don't know, Trim is by far the most talented MC the grime scene has produced so far. For proof positive, head over to DJ/Rupture's blog for not one but two MP3 samples. See, I do know how to use the Interweb after all.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Radio Free connect_icut
Don't forget to listen to me on the radio tonight.

Full details here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Someone's Always Supposed to Pay, Right? Isn't That the Rule We Live By?
The Veronica Mars series finale was as dark and bitter as one would hope/expect. Sigh. End of an era, mate.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We've had some weird feline home invasions recently. Just the other night a fat cat came crashing through our skylight at 2.30 in the morning (nobody was hurt, I hasten to add).

Pushkin has been a more regular and welcome visitor, although she really should learn to knock. Despite looking like some kind of oddly elegant Martian rodent, Pushkin is actually a Cornish Rex. The fact that she's also one of the most charmingly cat-like cats I've met in a long time is genuinely uncanny.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Veronica Mars 2004-2007

Yep, they finally canceled it. Okay, so it's a hardly a surprise at this stage and the third season hasn't really been that great but the news still made me sad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On the Radio
I, connect_icut, will be playing live on Kuma's radio show next Thursday, as part of my continued attempts to persuade people to buy LA (An Apology). Here are the details...

Art Of Beatz Radio

Thursday 24th May, Midnight PST (I'll be on right at the beginning)

CFRO 102.7 FM (in Vancouver)

And, if you're not in Vancouver, you can listen online by going here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

UK Post-Rock Top Five

Someone asked me for some UKPR tips, so here we go...

1. Disco Inferno - DI Go Pop
One of the most visionary groups of all time. DI Go Pop isn't their most well-realized effort but it is their most ambitious. Disco Inferno's idea for a sampledelic protest music played via MIDI-enabled rock instruments was always going to be beyond their grasp both financially and technically. On this album, they just decided to go for it anyway.

Bark Psychosis - Hex
Unbelievably, Disco Inferno's Leytonstone neighbours started off as a Napalm Death covers band. By the time of their debut LP, they'd evolved into late-Talk Talk nocturnal song-scaping. Hex is an album of endless subtlety which reveals more with each new listen.

Scorn - Evanescence
Even more unbelievably, Scorn started off as the actual rhythm section from Napalm Death. Their music as Scorn eschewed full-on metal madness in favour of mixing Skinny Puppy, PiL, Public Enemy and King Tubby into an unholy ambient dub brew. The results were, on the whole, decidedly patchy but Evanescence is devastatingly groovy from start to finish.

Moonshake - Eva Luna
Moonshake's early work, before half the group jumped ship to form Laika, is among the best UK post-rock has to offer. An archetypal mix of My Bloody Valentine, The Young Gods, dub and hip-hop, with scathing personal-political lyrics, Eva Luna is a pretty good summation of what the scene was really all about.

God - The Anatomy of Addiction
More ex-members of Napalm Death feature here but - given the sound of the album - that's not as surprising as it might be. God was a noise-jam big-band project headed by Kevin Martin (Techno Animal, Ice, The Bug etc.) The Anatomy of Addiction was UK post-rock's heaviest moment but also one of its most compelling.

Also Highly Recommended (an incomplete list)
Butterfly Child - Ghetto Speak EP
Ice - Bad Blood
Insides - Euphoria
Laika - Silver Apples of the Moon
Papa Sprain - Flying to
Vegas EP
Piano Magic - Low Birth Weight
- Quique
Spoonfed Hybrid - s/t
Techno Animal - Re-Entry
The Third Eye Foundation - You Guys Kill Me

Friday, May 11, 2007

This is a Poop Song

It would be pretty easy for me to defend The Sarah Silverman Program as an acute satire on narcissism in late capitalist society but honestly... Seldom has the term "mature content" been so magnificently misapplied. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Either Ether of the Other
It’s good to see that “Sleazy” is trying to keep the Coil back catalogue in print. And it’s especially good to see both volumes of Musick to Play in the Dark back in print, if only on CD.

The common feeling among Coil fans (both fickle and fanatical) is that the band’s finest work came early on, with Scatology and Horse Rotorvator. As far as the Blogglebum Cage is concerned, though, these albums are little more than juvenilia and things didn’t really take off until the post-acid house delirium of Love’s Secret Domain.

LSD seems to inspire an unnecessarily ambivalent reaction among aCOILytes. This is understandable as the band’s early Mars music is, at least, focused on the classic rock themes of adolescent rebellion and male empowerment. Under the spell of Kate Bush, The Butthole Surfers, Tim Buckley and acid house, LSD saw Coil move into their Moon phase and a world of their own.

A world that’s far too symbolically feminine and unrepentantly new-agey for most rock snobs and industrialists. Coil’s subsequent move deeper into what they openly called “healing music” found its ultimate expression on the Musick to Play in the Dark albums.

On a purely musical level, it's hard to fault the Musick to Play in the Dark project, either in terms of being good or in terms of being in line with the current zeitgeist. As on LSD, Coil's musickal architecture is constructed with the utmost attention to sonic detail and the results are startling both in clarity and density. The influences on display are pretty hip too - prog, library music, early academic electronica...

But how does one square all this with the - surely laughable - scented candle-lighting aspect of the albums' content? I mean, "musick" with a K, for goodness' sake! What's the deal with these superstitious old fishwives?

The thing is that Coil's music is all about the inseparability of the material and spiritual realms. They were always concerned with ritual and ritual is primarily a matter of using material objects and actions to access the mystic. What Coil understood was that all music essentially constitutes this type of ritual. For them, music making was a matter of ontological revelation and nothing captures the substrata of being quite like Musick to Play in the Dark does. Listening to these albums is like being plugged into an always-sensed but never previously seen level of reality. It's almost unbearably lucid. So while it's easy, maybe even fun, to laugh at the more obvious ritual aspects of Coil' musical practice, it's frankly beside the point.

Both volumes are essential for any listeners who consider themselves to have a serious interest in music and what music means. Go and buy them before they go out of print again.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Putting it on Wax (Slight Return)
The recent appearance of a Fennesz's Live in Japan as a limited vinyl edition on Oregon's Autofact records is a welcome, if somewhat puzzling, development. I actually bought a limited-to-100-with-silk-screened-cover version of this item during a trip to Portland a couple of years ago. I always took it to be strictly "fan club", if you catch my drift. But the new version certainly seems to be sanctioned. Perhaps Fennesz or Touch found out about the boot and got in touch with Autofact in order to bestow an official blessing.

Either way, this is a fantastic album and a great introduction to the world of Fennesz. It's great to see Live in Japan widely available on vinyl and I recommend it to you with no reservations. Go buy it but just remember that my copy is rarer than your copy.

So there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

UK Post-Rock MP3 Appeal
I've started work on compiling the third UK post-rock compilation CDR and have found - horror of horrors - that a couple of key tracks are missing from my collection. Anyone who can Yousendit across MP3s of the following tracks will receive the eternal gratitude of this here blog.

Laika - "Bad Times" (sold the CD for some reason)
Moonshake - "Second Hand Clothes" (12" currently languishing in storage)
The Third Eye Foundation - "Universal Cooler" (only ever has this on a dubbed tape)

And while we're at it, here's my current UKPR wish-list. Anyone who can steer me towards reasonably priced vinyl copies of the following will blah blah blah, you know the rest.

The Hair and Skin Trading Company - any LPs or 12"s
Main - "Motion Pool" and "Hydra Calm" LPs
Seefeel - "Quique" LP (apparently, Too Pure is about to re-issue the CD!)
The Third Eye Foundation "Semtex" and "In Version" LPs (confusingly, there's also a 12" called "Semtex" - which I also want, come to think of it)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How Low Can You Go?
Full details of kode9's forthcoming Vancouver appearance are now available and here they are...

"lighta! + newformsfestival present..
[DUBFORMS3] heavyweight bass echo business featuring..

KODE9 // "the daddy of dubstep", [hyperdub, UK] label owner, fearless producer, solid dj DJ COLLAGE // international raggamuffin mc, soundsystem toaster based out of seattle with dj's, vj's & livePA's.. DAEGA SOUND SYSTEM / JACOB CINO / CALAMALKA / MAX ULIS / MICHAEL RED / CLAUDIA MINERVA / JULIE GENDRON / TUSK // & sound overseen by SIRBASSA

NEWFORMS IN DUB was jumping around, lighters in the air, with a broader spectrum of new bass music. DUBFORMS2 was a bit harder, more focused, raw and stripped down, sweaty good times. DUBFORMS3 will be bringing back more dub flavour, while staying focused on expansions on the dubstep sound. warm & hypnotic. fluid & deep. stream-line visuals and bass vibrations. lightly touched by a proper mc presence. with improved sound (more full-spectrum power, less abrasive on the ears), and proper ventilation. safe and secure location.

saturday, may 26th / open studios - 252 E. 1st ave. / 10pm, $15 @ the door advanced tickets info available @ zulu records, scratch records, & soma for advanced reservations
email: all
reservations void after midnight, door price may raise after 1am dubforms events are usually sold out by midnight, so get there early to ensure entry. /"

Friday, May 04, 2007

connect_icut Review Spotted.
That rarest of beasts. This is the first review of La (An Apology), to the best of my knowledge. It comes courtesy of Frans de Waard, from the very excellent Beequeen. I've pasted it in below but if you want to see the review in its original context then go here.

It's been almost two years since we first and last heard of Connect_icut, through his CD 'Moss' on Dehausset Records (see Vital Weekly 467) and now he returns with a super limited LP (apparently less than 100 copies were made) in some fancy handmade cover. In the two years Connect_icut, a.k.a. Sam Macklin, toured a little bit the west coast but never made it to LA, there for an apology. Macklin likes his computer (perhaps like all of us) and he likes popmusic, taking pop sensibilities into the computer and vice versa. Guitars, organs and perhaps processed percussive sounds are the main ingredients in the seven tracks, and sometimes the elements of 'pop' can be recognized, especially on the first side with the shorter tracks. However it seems like those guitars and organ like sound have melted inside the computer, lifted perhaps from another dimension, and pasted together. Because they don't always make sense, it perhaps does make sense. When Connect_icut moves away from anything recognizable, he creates a densely layered sonic mass of sound, such as on the long 'Clear Sight Blinds', which is perhaps an appropriate title for something blurry as this. Blurry, but it does work on the senses. Connect_icut cites Oval, Coil (area 'Worship The Glitch') and Fennesz as influences and perhaps it's not strange to see that. It has that same sensibility of Oval's ambient work, Fennesz' laptop guitar work and the alienation of Coil. Well, perhaps that and much more. It would be too easy to say that Connect_icut is a mere copy of those he admires as he surely knows how to add his own flavor to the mix. Choosing his own sounds, carpeting them about, and staying away from anything remotely click or cut, he is not the most original voice on this scene, but carved out a fine niche for himself."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Let's Hear it for the Vague Blur...

...Is the name of the latest connect_icut master-work in progress. It probably won't see the light of day for around two years (seriously!) but somehow, coming up with an album title has helped me break out a period of creative deadlock. In the mean time, why not buy a copy of my current album?

Of course, the title is in reference to a passage from Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. Strangely, the phrase “vague blur” shows up in a lot of PKD works. Possibly, this is because he wrote a lot of his books extremely quickly while thoroughly munted on a variety of uppers. Whatever the case, this passage from Solar Lottery - which I came across after I'd settled on the title - is spookily connect_icut friendly.

“A vague blur of music had started up at one end of the chamber. A music robot, creating random combinations of sound, harmonic colors and shades that flitted agilely, too subtle to pin down.”

It's like you know me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Have A Lot on My Plate!

In the mean time, why not sign my "Stop Hassling Alec Baldwin" petition? Just leave your name and a short message in the comments box. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

You know, it was surprisingly hard to find a decent, representative YouTube clip displaying Baldwin's genius performance on 30 Rock. I settled on the above montage, even though it includes pet-death "humour", which is a massive turn-off for me. To balance this out, I'll link to a genuinely charming Woebot video.

While we're talking TV:

(i) Don't forget that Veronica Mars starts again tonight.

(ii) This mysterious blog is somewhat interesting, particularly as it features one of the most astute pieces of Buffy-related writing in a while. And I quote...

"An awful lot of bad television comes about as a result of people trying to copy good television without understanding how it works. For example, the whole point of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that it took place in a hormonally-charged, interdimensionally-adolescent world where demonic possessions and blood-soaked vampiric rites were extensions of / metaphors for / parables about the horror of growing up: it wasn’t a fantasy series with teen soap-opera elements, it was a series in which the fantasy and the teen soap-opera were the same thing. All subsequent attempts to copy the Buffy format have missed this fairly basic point, which means that every piece of sci-fi tack on television now has “relationship issues” clumsily grafted into the plot, as if nobody would possibly be interested in seeing a story about giant scorpions escaping from the Earth’s core unless one scene in three looks as if it’s been cut-and-pasted from Sex in the City. "