Thursday, July 31, 2008


PopMatters has a running feature going on this week called "Detours" that explores some of the more prestigious abortions and oddities from amainstream artists. It's worth checking out if you're interested in such arcane histories, liminal phases, or the like. I have a brief spot on Devo's E-Z Listening Disc. Probably should have contributed more, but I was falling behind on reviews and pretty busy with other stuff. There's definitely a couple they missed. (of course the features not over, but I know what they're publishing).

Off the top of my head:

Elton John- Visions of Love (his lone eurodisco album)

Amon Duul II- Only Human (their only eurodisco album)

Sun Ra and The Blues Project- Batman and Robin (remarkable for how tepid and commercial a Sun Ra project could be)

Prince- Batman Soundtrack (remarkable for how tepid and lame a Prince project could be and confounding as to why Tim Burton would choose Prince of all people for freiking Batman)

Neil Young- Arc (composed entirely of feedback and instrumental fragments from years of touring)

Moby- Animal Rights (the ill-advised, though not entirely career-killing foray into an odd mixture of post-hardcore and ambient)

The Beastie Boys- Aglio E Olio (their ill-advised, though not entirely career killing reforay into hardcore)

Daryl Hall- Sacred Songs (to be the first in a trilogy of Robert Fripp-produced albums, which later included one of the untitled Peter Gabriel albums and Fripp's own Exposure. Hall amazingly pulls off a madcap Bowie here before he sailed off into smooth pop stylings with longtime partner John Oates).

Also, a nice addition to my one published item would be an album any spudboy would be remiss not to check out at least once; Devo 2.0. Devo repositioned Kids Incorporated style, being sung by pre-teens for modern audiences. This apparently sells really well too. I could think of nothing more inappropriate or properly devo in and of itself.

Think of any other ones?

I've also got another review at PopMatters of Vibert/Simmonds's Rodulate, an odd artifact of tail-eating nostalgia, odd mainly because IDM seems to be the odd electronic genre that mostly sounds now as it probably did when it was released.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

555 Enterprises Allstars

(Feat. L'il Timh)

Dubstep Allstars Vol.06 is out now and it's hosted by Appleblim, one half of the excellent Skull Disco label. It's an unusual mix considering how skrunky and tetanus-inducing much of his work is. Check out the review here.

I've also got a short take review on the decannual (wrd? nt crtn. prtmnteau? mosdef!) celebration of Traum Schallplatten, a label I know considerably little about, but which seems mostly swell from this comp.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thank You For Being a Friend

RIP Estelle Getty

sidenote: I realize this picture may seem in bad taste due to Getty's severe dementia late in life, but this is how I prefer to remember her.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Slow Motion Suicide

Perhaps like most of you, I wasn't aware that Daft Punk had released a film two years back. It has just been released on DVD via Vice Records. It's not at all what you might expect, especially had you seen their anime Inter5tella 5555, for reasons detailed in my review here. Quite interesting stuff though, for those willing to brave the desert terrain.

More reviewing here for Grouper's new album, which is a really rare find. Didn't know what I was expecting when this arrived in the post, but I was definitely blown away when it came through the speakers. The unintentional sibling to Belong's fantastic Colorloss Record, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill might just be the perfect pairing for a year-end superlative blowout.

On the non-authored-by-me front, there continues to be a great dearth of textual analysis emerging from the Dubstep scene. Notably in recent weeks, K-Punk's article on 2562 and the convergence of the scene with minimalism. The Quietus also has a nice review of the Bug's new album (a long awaited follow-up that more than lives up to its anticipation, which i will also be weighing in on in a few weeks) which explores the double meaning of the word "Dread", particularly how it pertains to the new school of dub (though it doesn't really talk about the album itself too much).

Adventures in Shoplifting

A rather starry-eyed look back at the golden years of Napster, when everything seemed new and fresh. Life was simple. Music was free. Kids swapped MP3s like baseball cards while State department members overlooked ominously titled memos about impending attacks on the United States. Years later, guess which of those activities has gone unpenalized?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Disparate Methods

Two new reviews up:

One on The War on Drugs from my native Philadelphia. I saw them open for Bardo Pond about a year ago, maybe two, and they weren't anything to write home about. So I was shocked when this album came in and it was actually quite good. There's been a little bit of appeal in our little rock scene of late, but truth be told Philadelphia, with some notable exceptions, is somewhat of a bust for music. It's dominated by scenesters and most of the attention winds up going to bands revolving around a few closely linked groups rather than bands who might actually warrant our attention (Weyes Bluhd, Northern Valentine, Sonic Liberation Front, etc.).

On the other end of the spectrum is a fantastic experimental collaboration by Alan Licht and Aki Onda, the review of which can be found here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ghost, Devils, and the Spectre of the Music Industry

Sorry for my lack of activity on this here blog. I've been distracted by a number of things, not the least of which being Guitar Hero, one of the last things I'd imagine I'd fall prey to (as anybody who knows my feelings on the deification of the guitar can attest). It really is rather addicting. I'm late to the game on this one and I may never be able to play it on "hard", but it's enjoyable nonetheless.

I've got a few new things for you to read if you're so inclined though/

Over at Edge, I've got a review of Cut Copy's new disc In Ghost Colours, which I was surprisingly smitten with. The review is admittedly a tad hyperbolic, which is grounds for crucifixion in the critical complex, but I felt it the only way (or perhaps just the easiest) to express the pure glee encoded within the polypantoned synths. If Interpol are today's Joy Division, Cut Copy are today's New Order, except more pristine and shiny that N.O. even at their poppiest.

You'll notice I neglected to use the word Blog House in the bulk of the review. This is no accident. I accept neologism and sub-stratification as part of the process of dancing about architecture, but can't we come up with a term less...ugly? It's the 21st Century and the only options for the kids are Blog House and Funky House? Aren't we in the music community supposed to be the exception to the Orwellian sociolingual assault perpetrated by the mass media/ culture industry? Come on, guys. At least call it Cosmic House or Discotech or some other clever portmonteau I'm too miffed right now to think of?

And while we're at it, why haven't they invented a genre with a curse word in it? That'd be true defiance. Sure, call your band Fuck Buttons or The Fucking Champs or what have you. It'll only guarantee you perpetual undergroundness. But start a movement with a swear word, and they have to acknowledge you (like when the music press refused to print the Sex Pistols's name when their album went to number one on the UK charts). Why not rename the scumtronics of RRR, Hospital, Groundfault, etc. "Shithouse" instead the dated and somewhat irrelevant tag "Noise"? It's what patron godfather Merzbow's name literally translates to anyhow.

Kurt Schwitter's Merzbau

Getting even further off-track, I was browsing through the DVD of The Signal for an upcoming article for PopMatters and noticed something interesting in the bonus features. During the 20 minute or so psychedelic visual presentation of the standalone signal broadcast used in the film, there's an uncredited noise track playing in the background (likely performed by the film's composer Ben Lovett). It got me thinking; has there ever been a narrative film that truly incorporates noise music into its soundtrack? The Boredoms did Ichi the Killer, but it was far from noise. There's been abrasive, atonal, or free-jazz work like Ligeti in 2001, Ornette Coleman in Naked Lunch, and the various artists who've score old avant-silents like Page of Madness. But has there ever been just pure feedback-addled, tone-shifting, fuzzed-out noise on the soundtrack? I understand how composers and music coordinators generally try not to have music audio compete with the action on screen (except in big Hollywood flicks or Elfman-orchestrated scores), making it a difficult genre of music to incorporate. But imagine the possibilities of that kind of sonic device, especially within a horror context? With killer cell phones and internet snuff sites and such, is death by audio such a far-fetched conceit for a skilled horror director to take on? Imagine how fun and atmospheric the potential Lynch/Splet-like sonic universe as a whole would be adopting a POV of the deafened and defenseless subjects?

Perhaps this is the closest example of noise being incorporated into a mainstream flick:

Back to the future, or rather forward to the rewind, I've also got a review of the newest by Black Devil Disco Club, the weakest in his canon but by no means a bad album. In my research, I discovered a few things:

1) Though Italo-Disco is all the rage these days, it's earliest influence did not exactly produce the most stellar material. Though the sound samples on this page have long since passed into the Internet cemetery, do a preliminary search through Youtube of the songs mentioned and you'll find a host of cringe-worthy arpeggiated Limburger. It's not all bad, but you have to wade through a pride day's parade worth of crap to find the glorious pink flag material.

2) Bernard Fevre's pre-Black Devil output, no longer available commercially (save for a lone track on one of Luke Vibert's Nuggets comps), is phenomenal and rivals the Disco Club album in terms of quality and significance (especially with regards to a Radiophonic obsessed Mordant Music/Ghost Box aesthetic). These OOP discs can be attained relatively easily on Soulseek. Perhaps the best is Cosmos 2043, a spacey blast of textural electronics which precedes early records by Cluster and Deuter (who put out a couple great albums in his pre-New Age, post Krautrock phase). It also includes "Earth Message", the track which comprises the bulk of The Chemical Brothers's "Got Glint?". There are still those who doubt the Black Devil album's chronological authenticity, but listening to these albums it's not hard to bridge the technological gap. Many of the Fevre solo tunes could be dance smashes of today by simply adding a disco beat to them (don't get any ideas Norman Cook), which would seem the logical link for a saavy Frenchman getting on in the late 70's.

Lastly, I published the first part of a mini-essay (a little hastily written I apologize) on the music industry's obliviousness at PopMatters on the Sound Affects. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this or anything else.