Friday, June 15, 2007

Intermission
Well, I'm going on my holidays on Monday, so don't expect any new posts over the next three weeks. In the down time, why not catch up on some recent posts that you may have missed?

Philip K Dick Top Five

Electronica Obscurities: Frank Bretschneider Curve

UK Post-Rock Top Five

It's Either Ether of the Other

Electronica Obscurities: Ultra Milkmaids disko 2k

Album of the Year So Far

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I've Got a Lot on My Plate Part 12 Billion
1. Another thing that'll make it hard to move from our present abode is the bedroom window view - an example of which is provided above (click on it for a closer look).

2. Talking of pictures, Matt Woebot provides some of his trademark big cover scans in this round-up of the promo CDs people have sent him recently. And - guess what - it actually includes a couple of connect_icut promos. If you haven't seen the artwork for the Secret Beaches demos I've been sending out, then you really should take a look.

3. But, of course, what everyone really wants to see is a really cute picture of my cat. Luckily for you, Roxie's website has just been updated. Behold!

4. Taking of pictures of cats, this is a bit of larf, courtesy of Undateable Mixtape. Seriously, though, I've been meaning to do a post about the cat in the last episode of The Sopranos.

5. Talking of mixtapes, I've decided to delay the UK Post-Rock Volume Three mix until after I get back from my holidays because... I've got a lot on my plate!!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

God Bless My Local Record Store
For those of you who've been following this exciting story, The Blogglebum Cage can now confirm that Zulu Records did indeed get the Fennesz Sakamoto CD (Cendre) in stock. It's great stuff too - like that guy from Popol Vuh came back to life and discovered Max/MSP.

Furthermore, whilst at the record store, I discovered that Tim Hecker's much-acclaimed 2006 album Harmony in Ultraviolet just came out on vinyl, in what looks like a very limited edition. Picked that up too. Also fantastic stuff - whereas most post-Fennesz electronica picks up on the great man's bucolic side, Harmony gets its hands dirty in some serious grit and murk.

And just think, if I hadn't been in the store, I never would have found out about it. Kris and I are hoping to get a bigger place some time soon and that could well mean moving far to the south-east of where we are now. While I'm actually pretty keen to get away from the yuppie-infested west side of Vancouver, I have to admit that it'll be sad not to be within walking distance of Canada's finest record store.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Can't Make It!
Just got an email from the promoter of the Can't show telling me that Jessica got turned away at the Canadian border yesterday and won't be playing in Vancouver tonight. Nevertheless, I would still encourage all of you to go to the show tonight as it will feature a stellar line-up of Vancouver noise talent including Flat Grey and Sick Buildings.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Can't: Make It
It's not often that I get really excited about a musical event that's happening in Vancouver. Oddly, on the rare occasions that I do get - like - super psyched for a show,
I often only find out about it a few days in advance. Which always makes me think: if I didn't know about it until now, surely there are other people who would want to know about it but still haven't found out.

Therefore, as a public service, I am writing to inform you that Can't aka Jessica Rylan is playing at the Cobalt this Wednesday (6th). You may remember that I liked the Can't album New Secret so much that I put it in my 2006 top-ten even though it technically came out in 2005.

Jessica Rylan does something truly bizarre and unique with music/noise that I won't belittle with a short, inevitably trite description. Let's just say that if you live in Vancouver and you're looking for avant kicks, you seriously don't want to miss this show.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Philip K Dick Top Five
The first thing that you have to accept about Philip K Dick's work is that a lot of it isn't that well written. Dick was, at his best, a superb prose stylist. Unfortunately, he was also a speed-freak with persistent financial problems. Consequently, he tended to work pretty quickly and a lot of the resulting prose is pretty slap-dash.

Still, reading PKD is a lot like listening to The Fall. In either case, anyone who really wants to understand what the work is about can't just dip into the more (ahem) conventionally well-realized work. You really have to get the complete picture to get any picture at all.

So, just because the following PKD primer largely concentrates on the widely-recognized "good" novels, don't think I'll let you get away with holding forth on the the subject of Philip K Dick if you haven't suffered through the shoddier chapters of The Crack in Space and Solar Lottery.

1. A Scanner Darkly (1977)
Dick’s best-written novel is also his funniest, his most moving and quite possibly his most thought-provoking. All of the key themes are here and it all holds together uncommonly well. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll ask difficult questions about the nature of being.


2. Valis (1981)
Towards the end of his life, Dick started to receive important theological information via telepathic transmissions from an alien satellite. He probably believed that this experience represented nothing more than the onset of drug-induced schizophrenia. Nevertheless, he set about the task of obsessively documenting the data provided. Some of the results emerged in two novels, of which Valis is by far the best (Radio Free Albemuth being the other). Valis is a surprisingly sardonic semi-autobiographical caper and punk Gnosticism of the highest order.

3. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974)
Dick’s most romantic novel is also one of his most fucked up. I’ve already talked about the theme of empathy in Dick’s work but – to summarize – he seemed to think it was vital that people should be able to feel empathy for anyone and anything. Flow My Tears… pushes this point way out there, making the reader complicit in a police state official's incestuous “marriage” to his sister. Audacious and moving.

4. The Man in the High Castle (1962)
PKD was insanely productive during the sixties. Somewhere amid the general typing frenzy he found time to craft this astonishingly well-realized alternative history thriller. The Man in the High Castle features some extremely gripping sequences but most of the action is internal. Dick conjectures that to experience evil as a real, tangible presence (in this case, manifested as Nazism) is the most terrifying thing of all.


5. The Zap Gun
Underrated! Dick was an extremely talented but tragically underutilized humorist. The Zap Gun, Dick’s satirical take on the arms race is probably his most straightforwardly funny book. Still, it’s nowhere near as goofy as the vintage cover reproduced here might suggest and it has just as much emotional and philosophical gravitas as anything PKD wrote. Enough to push The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (which some consider Dick’s masterwork) out of this top five, in fact.