Friday, December 23, 2011

2011

2011 Albums

5 Post-Industrial Apocalypse Albums

Perc- Wicker & Steel
Ekoplekz- Memowrekz
Surgeon- Breaking the Frame
Tommy Four Seven- Primate
Andy Stott- We Stay Together

4 Synth-Ecstatic Albums

The Advisory Circle- As the Crow Flies
Com Truise- Galactic Melt
Blanck Mass- Blanck Mass
Salva- Complex Housing

4 Hypnagogic Delights

Vatican Shadow- Kneel Before Religious Icons
Black Zone Myth Chant- Straight Cassette
Forma- Forma
Sun Araw- Ancient Romans

4 Weird Pop Albums

The Weeknd- House of Balloons
James Blake- James Blake
Diddy Dirty Money- Last Train to Paris
Junior Boys- It's All True


3 Hazy Fever Dreams

Grouper- A I A: Dream Loss/Alien Observer
Balam Acab- Wonder/Where
Walls- Coracle


2 Four-on-the-Floors

Container- Container LP
Virgo Four- Resurrection


5 Slugs-ish EPs

Deadboy- Here EP
Julio Bashmore- Everyone Needs a Theme Tune EP
Mr. Beatnik- Synthetes EP
Jacques Greene- The Look EP
Jacques Greene- Lay it Down EP


Top of the Pops

The Weeknd “What You Need”
Dev- “In the Dark”
Rihanna ft Calvin Harris- “We Found Love”
Britney Spears- “Till the World Ends”
Rihanna- “S + M”
Ke$ha- “Blow”
Chris Brown ft Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne- “Look at Me Now”
Nicki Minaj- “Super Bass”
Katy B ft Ms. Dynamite- “Lights On”
Magnetic Man- “I Need Air”
Dev ft the Cataracts- “Bass Down Lown”
Drake- “Dreams Money Can Buy”
Diddy Dirty Money- “Strobe Lights”, “Your Love”, “I Hate That You Love Me”


Uncharted Pop

Metronomy- “The Look”
Lana Del Ray- "Video Games"
Ford & Lopatin- "emergency room"
Blood Diamonds- “Lasting Love”
Pale Sketcher- “Seventh Heaven”
Clams Casino- “I’m God” (Instrumental)
M83- “Midnight City”
Panda Bear- “Last Night at the Jetty”
Grubby Little Hands- "Uneek"
John Maus- “Believer”
AlunaGeorge- "You Know You Like It"
Holy Other- "Know Where", "Yr Love"
D’Eon- “Transparency”
Peaking Lights- “All the Sun that Shines”
Dylan Ettinger- "Lion of Judah"
St. Vincent- “Cruel”
Pure X- “Easy”



Hipster House

Innergaze- “Shadow Disco”
Octa Octa- “I’m Trying”
Maria Minerva- “A Little Lonely”
Stay+- “Stay Positive”

TUUUUUNES

Slava- “Dreaming Tiger”
Jamie XX- “Far Nearer”
Surgeon- “Radiance”
Blawan- “Getting Me Down”
SCB- “Loss”
CREEP- “Days (Deadboy Mix)”
Perc- “My Head is Slowly Exploding”
Salva- “Wake Ups”
Jacques Greene- “Tell Me”, “The Look”
Raffertie- “Not Asleep, Not Awake”
Deadboys- “Wish U Were Here”/”Afrika Starr”
Funkystepz- "Fuller"
Peter Van Hoesen- “North 6th”
Baobinga- "Make Me Feel", "Transpennine Express (w/ Jack Sparrow)"
Burial- “Street Halo”
Mike Dehnert- "Palindrom"
Friendly Fires- "Live Those Days Tonight (Lone mix)"
Steffi- “Mine”

Unearthed:

Throbbing Gristle- 2nd Annual Report, Third and Final Report/20 Jazz Funk Greats/ Heathen Earth
Bruce Gilbert- This Way/The Shivering Man
Cabaret Voltaire- Johnny Yesno Redux
Sweet Exorcist- Retroactivity


TeleVisual:
An American Horror Story
Enlightened
Louie
Community
Children's Hospital
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Game of Thrones
Treme
Fringe
Parks & Recreation

Tree of Life:
Tree of Life

Monday, November 28, 2011

Re-doomed



Greyhoos responds to my response to his Burden piece:

"One thing: Doomed actually dragged on for nearly 45 hours, not minutes. Burden later said that going into the piece, he'd expected it'd only end up lasting a few hours, tops. [Ed- I changed the time length in the original piece. A critical typo on my part].

Funny that you mention the Milgram experiments. Initially I'd though of referencing them, but that wound up being one of the tangents (among many) that I jettisoned for the sake of brevity. Instead, I chose to just imply the matter through more generalized references to the whole matter of socialization.

But yes, I believe you're probably right. Milgram's experiments have always been widely cited, and I'm fairly certain they were at the time in question (even in the years shortly before he finally published his own book). And Milgram's experiments fit in a certain broader discussion that was going on at the time; an anxious discussion about the character of modern society, whether people were becoming more callous and unfeeling -- whether there was a pervasive loss of empathy starting to emerge. Milgram's experiments were usually cited in the context of their relation to the military and to the war in Vietnam, but they also discussed in a more generalized psycho-social context, as well.

Another example that comes to mind: The famous 1964 case of the slaying of Kitty Genovese also fit into this broader discussion. Of course, we were to find out years later that initial reports of the killing had been exaggerated and distorted by the press for the sake of optimal dramatic/sensationalits effect. Nonetheless, it dovetailed with the dominant anxiety about the direction society might be heading. (Additionally, it also dovetailed perfectly with the anti-urban sentiments that were growing at the time -- since it was allegedly urban environments that bred such "dehumanized" behavior.)

So yeah, I'd say your hunch is most likely correct. These were all ideas that were very much "in the air" during that time.
"

I think it's also notable to point out that, like Burden's pieces, the Milgram experiments are often used in abbreviated format as diagnostics working towards a confirmation bias for those predisposed to damn the modern world, to paint the banality of evil as a simple relationship between man and his master, one that could be directly abrogated with the elimination of pitiless and vile leaders.

But Milgram's experiments capture a more complex dynamic. Subjects only rarely carried out their duties without resistance or frustration. Each of their reactions were different, but nearly all of them were emotionally and even physically depleted from stress by the end of the experiment. In the end, the only thing that binded them was their obedience to authority, their respect for the authorship of the experiment and faith in the institutions supporting it (the experiments took place at Yale, where I currently work). Much of this can probably be attributed to what K-Punk has called "class unconsciousness"- that ingrained/planted feeling of inferiority that causes the lower castes to accept the wisdom and moral authority of those above them. Who are the plebian subjects to question a group of Ivy League scientists? If the man with the heart condition's life was really in danger, surely these learned men of science would do something about it, right?

One can only speculate without having been there, but I'd imagine the curators of Burden's performance underwent a similar anxiety regarding Burden's exhibition as waiting for a sign that the performance was over(that sealed envelope that never arrivived). But who were they to stand in the way of an artist's vision? If there is a deity in the art world, it is autonomy. If Burden wanted to die under that plate of glass, who were they to deny him that last statement- a performance that could not be fully comprehended understood until it was complete, until the clock was smashed and time had stopped for Burden, either figuratively as a dead man or literally as it so happened to play out? Art's audiences are wont to take art often more seriously than it takes itself (as Greyhoos's article deftly points out), often confusing, or even substituting, art's staged realities with the ones outside of the gallery. It's hard not to see why, what with the implied theater of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Patty Hearst, and, as Stockhausen infamously noted, the September 11th attacks.

I remember seeing a discussion online a few years ago about the allegations of animal abuse in Jordowsky's The Holy Mountain which lead a few posters to declare that no amount of dead birds who be too few to create a masterpiece of beauty like the film in question. Some even declared that human sacrifice would be warranted, with one poster even offering himself up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Experiment Requires That You Continue



Very interesting post by Greyhoos at Our God is Speed on Chris Burden. I'd heard of Shoot and seen some of Through the Night Softly, but he has a really interesting CV. Of notable interest is Doomed (curious about whether this was the titled before or after the event), in which the artist held himself under a plate of glass with a clock above it for 45 hours. Burden had filled out an envelope with instructions to the museum staff to end the exhibition at any point they saw fit, but did not actually give the envelope to the staff. Thus, it was up to them to sense if Burden was putting himself in any true danger and stop the project themselves.

"And as it turned out, Burden hadn't thought that it would take them so long to act. At most, he expected Doomed would wind up last a few hours. In an interview given some years later, Burden said that as the hours ticked by and the work began to stretch towards its third day, he realized his miscalculation and began to wonder if the attendees were going to continue to stand back and leave him to die."

Greyhoos rightly points to Kafka as a precedent for this piece, but it also got me thinking of Milgram's Obedience to Authority experiments wherein participants willfully shocked what they understood to be a man with a heart condition, seemingly to death, because a research scientist instructed them to. In Doomed, art too was acting as an authority. The passivity of the spectator allows him or her to mitigate actions framed by their own set of reality principles. In a sense, Burden's piece exposed the religiosity of the artistic performance. Burden created an environment that screamed for intervention, but discouraged it by the faith of the spectators in the totality of the act. In a system abiding by this kind of logical detachment, belief and authority in and of themselves are arbitrary.

As I push the wrong buttons, I disappear



review of the collaboration between The Flaming Lips and Lightning Bolt

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Occupied States of America













Despite everything that has happened in the past few days with the reports of fascistic violence against peaceful protesters (and deafening silence in the Obama administration), Occupy Wall Street remains the most potent political movement the left has seen in decades. Their very refusal of terms of compliance and defiance of the calls to issue a list of demands are perhaps their greatest strengths and their most revolutionary concept- the idea that we don't need to wait for millionaires to tell us to cut their taxes. We don't have to beg the corporations not to poison us, not to push us into privation, not to enslave us to jobs designed to service the luxury of those who forever remain above us, not to steal from the collective goodwill of government while lobbying against the levelling power of the state, et al. State and private power are right to be afraid of OWS. What they are proposing is an end to the end of history, a cap on the final judgment of capitalism as the epitomical system of the evolved man, the beginning of the end of settling for the way things are, a final stripping of the institutional chains of bondage that grip us all.




Family obligations prohibit me from participating in the mass actions. This is perhaps the first time in my life though that I've felt optimistic about the future. Yes, ever. As a father, I fear bestowing upon my daughter the dread I felt growing up that adulthood was a continual series of disappointments and compromises, that the entirety of life was a downward spiral that descended from an epoch of community and nurturing to a lonely death wherein the majority of hours lived were spent away from family and loved ones, parked behind a desk where one's intellect is undermined, individuality is suppressed, creativity is wasted, self-worth is decimated, and empathy is systematically proven redundant. After graduating to the "real world", the world of capitalist realism, the opportunities available, even to someone of relative privilege like myself, have mirrored all my most terrifying fears about the end of childhood. I can offer then nothing but solidarity to a cause who refuses this reality for my daughter and for future generations. Let us all be the last men to live for a mistake.




As OWS dominates the news, every other bit of everyday business feels trite and silly. You feel like history is happening without you an you're just a bystander. You can even sense the envy in those who take the system so seriously, those who hold an enormous stake in the success of the status quo (my work requires interaction with quite a few of them). They want to believe that OWS is a hiccup, the work of lazy assholes afraid of a hard day's work and under a spell of mass hypnosis permeating from an ideological vacuum. The apprehension is strong because the potential of OWS's success is far more frightening than its eventual withering and dispersal. The protesters succumbing to infighting and its cooption by petty showmen and hucksters is far more in line with our cynicism. It has historical precedent in the hippies-turned-yuppies, Obama, Kerry, Bansky books in Urban Outfitters, Che Guevara t-shirts, "Think Different" campaigns, and vanguard music in car ads. OWS can come off as just another space for capitalism to itself occupy, a consumer populace that its own mechanisms can accommodate.

If OWS does manage to pull through and create something new in spite of the friction and abrasion of all the history repeating surrounding it, it'll leave the guardians of the new a bit naked, like Adam and Eve at the end of Paradise Lost- finally free of the deadbolts of the Garden, yet still burdened by the original sin of having created this massive empire of suffering in the first place. No one knows what happens next if OWS achieves its goal of revolution. We can only be sure that whatever the next step is, it needs to happen together or all of it will have been for nothing. As Jack Shephard is wont to say, "we either live together or we die alone".




That's why it's important to not give in to the demands of the old world who want to break this movement down into digestible soundbites or a scriptable action-item list. This is not a reality TV narrative and OWS is not looking to prove a thesis using the scientific method. The fact that the source of this frustration eludes the wealthy and the powerful only proves how disconnected they are from the world they command.

We all know what's wrong; everything, everything, and everything- the whole goddamned rotten parasitic system, an idea rotting away like a virus in the hearts and minds of an entire race. An entire species working diligently on a massive, complex, multinational project of self-extinction. A planet whose ballooning population is under work orders to render the earth uninhabitable. And if we don't follow our instructions to make the world slightly nicer for a few at the expense of the welfare of the many, we may lose our sweet source of sustenance, the nectar of Capital, which holds in its hands the tools of survival (doctors, food, housing, protection from corporate predators).

But it's not the bosses and the managers who are issuing the orders, mind you. No, they're just the conduits and they're just as compromised as the rest of us, with very little power to break free of their business models without betraying their legal obligation to the shareholders. No, our orders and theirs come from Capital itself, a self-preservational artificial intelligence that can adapt to any state or social model, can incorporate any tradition or custom, and can accommodate any desire. Frankly speaking, it's everywhere, controlling everything, commanding everyone.




An earlier movement in the 90s sought to "reclaim" the territories that the globalizing tentacles of Capital had conquered, but the language or "reclamation" suggests a mere changing of the guard, an exchange of power. Much better to occupy then, to simply "be" in a space whose authority is manifested aribitrarily or illegitimately. In a sense, OWS is existential, because its resistance comes in the form of being. If there is a demand coming out of OWS, it's a cry for that age old philosophical leap of faith, the acknowledgement of the self-outside-of-the-self; the other. Since we can never occupy another person's consciousness, we can never truly know them. We can never truly be clear of their motives or their feelings. We have to trust them, despite all the horrible shit they've enacted upon their own species. We have to trust others, as King and Christ did up until the moment they were killed. We have to contrast the human animal to property, propriety, ideology, and territory. If we don't want future generations to continue growing up in fear of dying alone, we need to stop pretending that we're alone. We're all occcupying everything together. We're already here. The rest is illusion.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Human Sacrifice Mix: Halloween 2011 pt 2



halloween mix 2
SATANIC RITUAL
1. children of the stones theme
2. coil- in memory of truth
3. jean-pierre massiera- l'estrange mr whinster-horrific child
4. univers zero- la faulx
5. jerry goldsmith- ave satani
6. diamanda galas- the litanies of satan

DEATH AND LAST BREATH
7. swans- a hanging
8. faust- knochentanz (bone dance)
9. pierre henry- breath

BURIAL
10. loop- circle grave
11. la vampire and zola jesus- eulogy
12. bohren & der club of gore- constant fear
13. forcefeel- coffin love

REBIRTH
14. ceramic hello- footsteps in the fog
15. xylitol- ghost office
16. patrick cowley and jore socarras- i'll come see you
17. franz fulckenhaus- trident crisis

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We are the Monsters we Dreamed About: A Mix for Halloween courtesy of 555 Enterprises



1. the end of all existence- the end of all existence (2010)
2. reign- skeletons march (1996)
3. British Murder Boys- All the Saints have Been Hung (2005)
4. Nine Inch Nails- memorabilia (1994)
5. surgeon- prowler (2001)
6. reeko- witchcraft (2009)
7. t++- voices no bodies (2010)
8. paul damage- mothra (2001)
9. chris mccormack- they feed you scraps like starving bongo dogs (2007)
10. adam x- faces of death (1993)
11. rave creator- atmos-fear (1994)
12. lenny dee- forgotten moments (1997)/kanye west-monster (2010)
13. skinny puppy-deadlines (1983/1984)
14. flowerpot men- jo's so mean to josephine (1984)
15. terre thaemlitz- hush now (dj sprinkles broken record mix) (2006)
16. adam x- state of limbo (2008)
17. anne clark- our darkness (1984)
18. test dept- pulsations 2 (1983)
19. dj tron- murder the world (1996)
20. sped heller- satan is your friend (2009)
21. coil- the last rites of spring (1987)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slow Down, Keep Dreaming




M83's newest reviewed by moi

Can't help but think I went a little light on them here because they're old favorites. Count me among the camp though that thinks the earlier material trumps the new stuff by leaps and bounds.

Walls- Coracle on the other hand, is a big improvement over their debut and all of the Walls stuff is miles ahead of the solo stuff by the two members (Banjo or Freakout and Allez-Allez respectively).

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Survival of the Industrial Sonic in a Deindustrialized West



I've got a new column up at PopMatters on Industrial Music throughout the 90s- that is, not the music most of us in our teens encountered as "Industrial" (though that stuff gets a mention too), but the ways in which the sonic of (de)construction and manual labor survived as an aesthetic in a time when it was becoming a ghost in the Western world.


There's some discussion of this over at SR's blissblog in this post (and makes reference to my first of these columns, as last year's column on minimal synth), which is actually part of a discussion started here about how the eighties is now the endless well of referentiality that the 60s once were. Some useful links in there too, including an interview with Blackest Ever Black/FACT's Kiran Sande, a nice coinage piece by Kek-W on "Work" music, and a link to a Guardian piece on Perc as London riot soundtrack music (More on that in part 3 (hopefully of 3) in my industrial trilogy set for PM.

Catching with Retarde Mode

I've kind of lost track of this blog with busy season at work. Here's a bunch of reviews I wrote recently (and some not so recently)

Balam Acab- See Birds (always my favorite of the witch-house crew, this was reissued on CD this year and he's got a new album which seems quite nice too)

Tommy Four Seven-Primate (One of my favorite albums of the year, though it deserves the 6 rating it got. Too much dull stuff, but the good stuff is great and Emika here is much better than our self-titled debut)

Pure X- Pleasure (another album that's pretty nice, though resoundingly dull in parts. That seems to be the point in this one. Chillwave as Prozac. Served me well during my unemployment stint visiting the beaches of East Haven with Alice).

Various- Laid (More bizness from Dial. I might take this down a point or two would I rewrite it today, but I can't really get on board with the attacks on the Berghain sound. Sure, it's conservative, but it's still great music. Just as pub rock can occasionally be exactly what you know, Dial does the body good even if doesn't exactly propel us forward into the future

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Listomania



I reviewed Simon Reynolds's Retromania. Lots to say about this work. It's a pivotal read. Hopefully, I can post some "bonus beats" on this piece on this blog sometime soon. In the meantime, read the review...and the book. It's fascinating.

I Went For That




I wrote roughly 2500 words on Hall & Oates's "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", a song that has no particular personal resonance with me, but which is plenty interesting. I don't think I can keep up at this rate though, I wouldn't finish the series by the time I die.

RIP Nick Ashford

Part of another songwriting duo, Ashford & Simpson, who wrote many classic soul records like this

RIP Jerry Leiber

Along with Mike Stoller, the songwriting force behind these classics:









Friday, August 5, 2011

Building a Society from Bodies in Transit to Death



There's a million things I'd love to write about David Cronenberg if I ever had the time. The title above alone is from notes taken while piecing together a bio for a PopMatters feature on the 100 Greatest Directors that can be read here. From his seldom-discussed early films like Shivers (mentioned in the above article, also an odd parallax to Ballard's High Rise released in the same year) and the underrated student film Stereo (a clinical study of polymorphously perverse psychics) to the finer points of masterpieces like Existenz and Videodrome, Cronenberg definitely ranks near the very top of that list for me. Just consider three films offered to Cronenberg and imagine how amazing they would have been had they ever been made; Return of the Jedi, Total Recall, Basic Instinct 2 (yes, Basic Instinct 2).

In lieu a lengthy dissertation, I'll leave you with two quotes:

“There are a lot of bad things that happen to people as they get older. When you’re young, I think you anticipate those things and (watching horror films) is almost a rehearsal for coping with those things later in life”

“The idea that you carry around the seeds of your own destruction with you always and that they can erupt at any time is a little scary because there is no escape from it”- Cronenberg, on the body.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Joy to the World! More activity over yonder

Speaking of early 1970s post-hippie rock, there's a new post at Documentary Mixtape on Three Dog Night's smash hit "Joy to the World"

RIP Dan Peek

Can't say I'm an enormous America fan, as I am under 50, but I do quite enjoy the following two song, as well as "Children" (which I can't find anywhere). Also, to name your band America is pretty bold. To put Native Americans on the cover of your debut album is even bolder. As far as Christian rock is concerned, "Lonely People" ain't half bad either.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Post-Industrial Devolution









My latest column is a reading on early Industrial music and how its shifts reflected actual shifts in the industrial labor force in late capitalism.

It focuses on the genre's troubling fascination with fascism and rock's avoidance of it, also tracking the ways in which industrial and techno overlapped (with only the latter surviving in the popular imagination).

FYI, I did not choose that image at the top of the page of Kraftwerk, who don't really figure into this story at all.

There will be a part 2 coming soon with information on where industrial sound continued in IDM, Glitch, Downwards Records, Gabber, and other modern musics.

Glory Be to the Resurrection!



A look at Virgo Four's fantastic new reissue Resurrection, which rivals their self-titled debut.

Building Upwards



A review of Moritz Von Oswald Trio's Horizontal Structures

For the historical record, here's my review of their first album.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Am the Alphabet



Finally got a chance to talk about Black Moth Super Rainbow's awesome Dandelion Gum on the occasion of its deluxe reissue. Read the review here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Documentary Mixtape



555 Enterprises long ago dissolved into a series of links about keeping up with whatever I'm writing and whoever's dying any given week, but I've started a new blog with original writing on it and I hope you will all keep it in your blogroll as I do promise to make it as interesting as possible.

The series is called Documentary Mixtape and it is a series of essays devoted to every single song on 28 (so far) mix CD-Rs that I've made, each one representing one year of my life. The earlier years promise to be both intensely personal and somewhat not at all, but each essay will mix personal recollections with historical and sonic surveys of the artists and songs in question.

You can find more about the impetus behind this blog in the opening essay here.

And you can read the first essay on the first song of the first mixtape, Bing Crosby's "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's An Irish Lullaby)" here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Pendle Witches in Eternal Agony



Demdike Stare are one of those bands that seems to have lit up the entire critical community (at least those I respect), but seem far too ascetic to make as lasting impressions as these reviews suggest. With all the kind ink, it seems these words are better reserved for conjuring peers (foremost, Coil) who came first and did it better. With that said, Tryptych is not bad, but for the almgamation it supposes (horror soundtracks/ deep drone/ Modern Love style dubtronics/ Caretaker or concrete Radiophic hauntology/ Shackleton style Fifth World rhythm) it should sound better.

Here's the review

This Island Earth



New review of Friendly Fires' maddeningly enjoyable Pala, an album which is sonically smart and pretty lyrically idiotic.

More Music About Housing Projects



Albeit with a completely different vantage. A short review of Salva's Complex Housing

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Evil is Real



A review of Univers Zero's remaster of Heresie

Univers Zero’s music, both performing and listening to it, is labor—a conscious, concentrated, and exhausting effort full of unresolved tension, illusory endings, and alchemical combinations. It’s ritual magick, seemingly in service of mystical elements that defy communication (it’s largely instrumental music except for the invented language used for the chanting throughout “La Faulx”) or easy comprehension (the odd time signatures, the complex structure, the long periods of atonality, et. al)...

Post-Structuralism



a review of ANBB's new album (Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

RIP Sidney Lumet



Unfortunatey, all clips of Network on Youtube restricted embedding, so here's a tune of mine from 10 years ago (probably recorded earlier). It's not great, but it has that fantastic corporate cosmology speech in it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Re: James Blake and What Makes an Enemy



Dear internet,

Back before the turn of the millenium, underground music found enemies in above-ground culture and waged war against the ongoing celeberation of these figures. There was a sense that the discussion, mediated by a limited number of forums (MTV, Radio, Major Music Pubs), was being dominated at the expense of valid alternatives. At times, the ubiquity of these people (for a partial list, see all the people listed in Negativland's "Michael Jackson") was so vast that it seemed like you couldn't turn around without being forced to hear their name or listen to their crappy music. The cultural assumptions were that you belonged to one of the preordained cliques of commercial claptrap and you could only choose between these culturually approved icons in order to participate in polite society. Furthermore, the burgeoning yuppie culture, which embraced standardization and the pursuit of money (and, tacitly, misogyny, class division, homophobia, racism, et al.), welcomed these enemies as their own- winners. The battle for the conversation was a battle for historical recollection and sacralization. The underground was not necessarilly against commodification, it just wanted to be able to allow itself to be commodified without compromises. The underground wanted a capitalism with meaning as opposed to a capitalism for capitalism's sake, which seemed to be the new mint for the artists that came of age in the wake of neoliberalism.

Therefore, James Blake is not an enemy. His overexposure is the result of an overabundance of media, not a corporate annointment to sainthood. Internet, your backlash stands on weak legs and your vitriol is idiotic. If any of you had ever bough a fucking album in the past ten years, Blake would not be whoring himself to every half-cooked URL. Just because you and your stodgy friends simulatenously bitch about the same artist on message boards does not mean you are inundated with said musician. Guess what? The underground won. It's no longer being drowned out by Lady Gaga. There are hundred of forums that can talk about the new James Blake album for a month and a half before moving on to something else that we'll all hate before it even comes out. Guess what else? People are still listening to Lady Gaga anyway. I'm sure these two things are perfectly coincidental.

This is by no means a call for less valid negative criticism of a flash-in-the-pan when he/she/it deserves it. Just please stop complaining about how you're "sooo sick" of hearing about someone who doesn't even make the charts of an industry that can't top a 40,000 album selling number one. I'm sorry James Blake stole exactly half of your 10 second attention span, but Tumbling your disgust at this fact is not going to accomplish anything save create a culture too afraid to ever welcome anything new for fear they may be laughed at the next day.

I hope this comes out better than I think it does when I re-read it in the morning.


With all this said, here is my review of James Blake


and here's a few other recent reviews:

Sistol (Luomo, Vladislav Delay, Moritz Von Oswald Trio) with a new album and a reissue

Cosmo Vitelli's band Bot'Ox

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Science of Sleep: An Electronic Lullaby



My latest Difference Engine column. Usually, I try not to get personal with my criticism, but for this one I couldn't help myself.

Monday, January 17, 2011



"Will there be another time
Will there be another time
Another year, another wish to say?

Will there be another time
Will there be another time
Another year, another wish to stay?

When the evening light wants to be so bright
And the morning sound is out of sight
Can there be another word to say
Or do we have to give it all away?"

-Nico "Sixty-Forty" (also covered by Broadcast)

A few recent reviews

Haven't been keeping up with blogging my reviews lately. Illnesses, upcoming lifechanging events, and the like slowing me down more than usual. Here's a few thing:

A short on the fence take on Shed's The Traveller that seems like it was written eons ago and was finally published:

"The bits and sketches on The Traveller feel like cropped portions of a painting, delineated fractions of the whole lost in transportation, spilled out of the luggage and shattered into shards on the hotel room floor."



A bit longer on Plastikman's career-spanning Kompilation:

It wasn’t a music that sought to expose the secret organic mess of industrialization a la post-punk. Rather, it dispelled the rhetorical agitprop and questions of control/agency altogether and found quiet glory in the pure automatization of late capitalist production, the churning out of military equipment and records equal gears in the same engine.


And then a brief one on Shoegazey wide-eyed Tears Run Rings



I've also got a brief blurb on Arp in the Slipped Discs section on albums that escaped our Top 60 Albums at PopMatters

Friday, January 14, 2011

Make Her Sleep My Song

Absolutely devastated to her about Trish Keenan passing...
Broadcast have been my favorite group for some time now, even as they whittled down to a duo as of late. And though I rarely hold much stock in vocalists, Keenan's gorgeous commandingly sirenic voice was the epicenter of it all. Broadcast could easily fill 3 if not 4 of my top 20 of the naughts list (if I ever get around to making one).






















So many incredible ones...might as well revisit the entire discography.


RIP Trish

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Best Television of 2010

I really didn't see that many films in 2010 due to the whole having a kid thing (still waiting to see Black Swan, Enter the Void, Red Riding Trilogy, Never Let Me Go, The Other Guys, Let Me In, True Grit, etc.) Instead, my wife and I did watch a ton of television.

As such, I've contributed to PopMatter's list of Best in Television with blurbs on my top two picks. Here's the full list.



1. Louie
2. Party Down
3. Friday Night Lights
4. Community
5. Dead Set
6. Fringe
7. Treme
8. Children's Hospital
9. Mad Men
10. Lost


Of the films that I did see, my top picks would probably be Splice, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and the criminally underrated Shutter Island.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Dark Corner of the Multiverse

A review of the Multiverse (Tectonic, Kapsize, Vertical Sound, Caravan) comp from 2010, finally published at PopMatters.



Here's a taste:

"Music has been tracing in dark directions recently. Think witch house, Ben Frost, minimal wave, Miasmah Records, Ancient Methods, Ekoplekz, LA Vampires & Zola Jesus, Type Records, the sadly shortened Throbbing Gristle reunion, Demdike Stare, John Carpenter and Alan Howarth obsessions, et al. Perhaps this gravitation towards more sinister realms has come about because it’s easy to imagine austerity 2010 as dystopia now, a journey from the light, the dreaded cyberpunk end-product of corporate colonization where government and media are functionary arms of business ontology and the slow subtraction of quality of life standards is accelerated to repay the gambling debts of the permanent aristocracy. It seems appropriate that the music of the shadows would match the mood on the streets. Any modern day eschatology of this kind can find roots in the Rastafarian apocalypticism of dub, with it’s becoming-third-world backdrop. Thus, a re-examination of the dystopian origins of dubstep (first made in a far more dubby form than exists now) seems appropriate, as the genre seems to have imagined our current predicament before the fact.

"The compilation Dark Matter: Multiverse 2004-2009 is acutely titled. The “dark matter” of the title refers to both the shaded hue of much of the content (Joker’s neon Rayleight scattering being the major exception) and the astronomical concept of “dark matter”, which is a hypothetical gravitational force that is undetectable, but inferable from the surrounding observable matter. Dark matter in the latter sense is an argument for the influence of the space between, those negative dub apertures which imbue those notes and interspersed riddims with so much more intensity. The paranoia of dubstep then is theoretically proper. Whereas psychedelia seeks to unite all notes until one is indistinguishable from the other, dub estranges and alienates them, examining how one note can never really know another.
"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RIP Mick Karn



A fantastic talent and a bass genius. So crucial to the Japan aesthetic, their albums would have been miserable flops without him.