Sunday, December 23, 2012

RIP Mike Scaccia

Mike Scaccia's metallic guitar work in Ministry's catalogue, from In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up onward, is often seen as the nail that slowly secured the coffin of the band, but Scaccia and Jourgenson's work together in support of creating grindingly heavy, ugly monoliths of sound was initially that rare merge of brutal and beautiful that makes most metal I come across now seem like a defeated attempt to re-render that same formula.    In fact, the only metal band from that time frame I can think of that did it better than Ministry was Godflesh* (admittedly, I don't listen to much metal though).  The riffage on Psalm 69 and Filth Pig isn't a technically complicated style, but its use (and abuse) of distortion and effects pedals, particularly when combined with industrial/mechanical locked grooves, takes on an atmospheric and psychedelic quality not out of line with what was going on at the same time in the realm of shoegaze and post-rock.

Check the death's head tantra of "Scarecrow" and tell me its persistence doesn't recall Robert Hampson's textural use of feedback in Loop's discography or Main's first couple of records:

Or the way the very simple call-and-response chords of "The Fall" take on an apocalyptic grandeur when juxtaposed against twinkling pianos and a squealing noise loop synched to a jittery beat:

Unfortunately, after Filth Pig, the band did become everything fans thought they were becoming, though they had one two decent moments here and there.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Feels Like We Always Go Backwards: The Best Music of 2012

I've been avoiding publishing my year-end list because there's so much to say about the music here and I had anticipated being able to scribe some year-end thoughts on the selections listed below, rather than just blankly tag them for spamming purposes.  I hope to still be able to do this, but oh time it does fly and there's apocalypse now going on all around us and all that.

In short though, it was a phenomenal year for music.  I've got lists at least twice as long as the below of heavily-praised records I haven't gotten around to spinning yet.  Also, zoning in on which albums stood out when your listening habits entail psychogeographical forays into obscure labels at Bandcamp and leaps into Youtube wormholes is taxing, vexing, and perplexing.  As I stated in my previous post, I postponed listening critically for a good part of the year and just dove into the dizzy whirlwind of tunes and tones of 2012 and it's been a bit like a memory-crushing drug binge; you remember sensations more than the names of tracks, first impressions rather than solid standings, mystification rather than comprehension.   In a way, this must be what listening to pirate radio was once like.  Still, it doesn't seem sustainable, as what winds up floating to the top of my brain (as indicated below) is the music with plenty of representation at the level of word counts, while the unsuspecting discoveries slip away from me. 

Regardless, I really do commend the selections on my lists.  I'm not just cobbling together enough music to round it off into a cozy number. Each and every one of the selections on the below lists is terrific in its own rite.  The ordering is bound to change as listening habits do.  With dynamic and moving music like this being made, it's hard to fathom a critical community that piledrives adoration over perversely backwards-fawning R&B or MOR hip-hop or strummy indie fluff or post-hardcore opuses that wouldn't recognize hardcore if it tripped over its grave.  In a banner year for gay rights, "queer" as a synonym for "weird" risked being whitewashed into a bracket of discrimination, difference becoming a fatal stance for a culture with its sites set on assimilation.  I'd take Le1f over Frank Ocean any day though.  If a precondition of equality is that all LGBT dress up and act respectably indistinguishable from their hetero peers, it's just another form of conversion therapy.   In a time when women are finally beginning to outnumber men in terms of producing daring sonics, why settle for the middling passivity of Beach House?  If your puffs of weed smoke find you returning to Kendrick Lamar's same old beats rather than trying to figure out the contours of Jam City, Traxman or Arca, you're not a sonic journeyman, you're a headphone couch potato. 

And then there's Death Grips, who in one of music's gothiest years of record was probably the only group to encompass the brutality of a year of Travyvon Martin, Hurricane Sandy, mass shootings, pedophilic cover-ups, Libor, Gaza assaults, zombie cannibals, indefinite detentions of whistleblowers, drone strikes, further austerity,  et al.- a hardline channeling of anger that's like the digital techno animal lashing out at its Frankencreators.

2012 was devastating, but also liberating.  Though Occupy didn't topple the power structure, they gained undeniable credibility post-Sandy and got a couple candidates from their side of the fence into Congress.  Guns in America seem to be due for a long-awaited twilight. In direct inverse to the norm just a couple years ago, gay marriage won the popular vote in a number of states.   The U.S. is now home to the most progressive drug policy in the world in a couple of its states.  As frustrating as Obama can be, the fact that his opponent did not win can only be seen as a coup in the battle against the race to the bottom.  The Supreme Court and the voting electorate decided that we can't take away people's healthcare, even if the costly band-aid fix of Obamacare kind of sucks.  People power meant cops joining with Anonymous to oppose Westboro Baptist, Wal-Mart working with everything to risk walking off the job,  and fast food employees weighing the benefits of organization.

Likewise, 2012's music contains many reasons to be cheerful, but not to be content.  Music at all times faces the possibility of retreat and that is always more likely the case when we don't recognize the new because we're busy calculating its referents. 

The Best Albums of 2012

1. Death Grips- The Money Store
2. Julia Holter- Ekstasis (listen here)
3. Le1f- Dark York (dl here)
4. Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, The Congos- FRKWYS Vol 9: Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet The Congos- Icon Give Thank (listen here)
5. Carter Tutti Void- Transverse
6. Jam City- Classical Curves
7.  Arca- Stretch 2/ Stretch 1
8. Swans- The Seer
9. Mark Van Hoen- The Revenent Diary
10. Andy Stott- Luxury Problems
11. Tame Impala- Lonerism
12. Dan Deacon- America
13. Nick Edwards- Plekzationz
14. Burial Hex- Eschatology II (or the precession of nightfall pt IIL Awaken sons of the fire festival) (listen here)
15. Traxman- Heat EP/ Da Mind of Traxman (listen/dl)
16. Voices from the Lake Featuring Donato Dozzy & Neel- Voices from the Lake
17. Burial-Kindred EP
18. Container- LP
19. Death Grips- No Love Deep Web
20. Stay+-Arem
21. The Weeknd- Echoes of Silence
22. Tig Notaro-Live
23. Perc- A New Brutality EP (listen)
24. Robert AA Lowe- Timon Irnok Manta (listen)
25. Mykki Blanco- The Cosmic Angel: Illuminati Princess (DL)
26. Sculpture- Slime Code
27. Panabrite- Soft Terminal (listen)
28. Animal Collective- Centipede HZ
29. Grimes- Visions
30. Black Moth Super Rainbow-Cobra Juicy
31. Lilxlil- II- Cirrus (listen)
32. Pye Corner Audio- Black Mill Tapes Volume 3: All Pathways Open (listen)
33. Beak>-Beak>> (listen)
34. Opponents- Temple of Decadence
35. Peter Van Hoesen- Perceiver (listen)
36. Liars- WIXIW
37. B. Bravo & teeko- the starship connection
38. Grubby Little Hands- The Grass Grew Around Our Feet (listen)
39. Ship Canal- Please Let Me Back Into Your House (listen)
40. D'eon- Music for Keyboards vol 1 (DL)

The Best Singles/Tracks of 2012

1. Death Grips- Get Got
2. Plan B- Ill Manors
3. Grimes- Oblivion
4. Julia Holter- In the same room
5. Mykki Blanco- Wavvy
6. Jam City- How We relate to the body
7. Perc- A New Brutality
8. Holly Herndon- Fade
9. Tame Impala- Apocalypse Dreams
10. Dan Deacon- True Thrush
11. Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland- The Narcissist
12. Death Grips- Hustle Bones
13. Nicki Minaj- Come on a Cone
14. Jay-Z and Kanye West- No Church in the Wild
15. Traxman- Footworkin on Air
16. Burial- Kindred
17. Blawan- Why They Hide Their Bodies Under my Garage?
18. Maria & the Mirrors- Gemini Save My Life
19. Jessie Ware-110%
20. Andy Stott- Luxury Problems
21. Nite Jewel & Julia Holter- What We See
22. Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny- Sweet Tooth Bird
23. Ital- Boi
24. Stay+- Hush Money
25. Kuedo- Work, Live & Sleep in Collapsing Space/" "(Laurel Halo Mix)
26. Charlie XCX- Nuclear Seasons
27. Darq E Freaker feat Danny Brown- Blueberry (Pills and Cocaine)
28. Tame Impala- Feels like we only go backwards
29. Nicki Minaj- Stupid Hoe
30. Nicki Minaj- Beez in the Trap
31. Le1f- Wut
32. Tame Impala- Elephant (Todd Rundgren Mix)
33. Grubby Little Hands- uneek
34. D'eon- Al-qiyamah
35. Nite Jewel- One Second of Love
36. Jessie Ware- Running
37. Sleigh Bells- Comeback Kid
38. fun.- Some Nights
39. Liars- No 1 Against the Rush
40. Scott Walker- Epizootics!
41. Nicki Minaj- Pound the Alarm
42. Salva & Grenier- forest floor
43. Frank Ocean- Bad Religion
44. Elite Gymnastics- Here, in Heaven 4 & 5 (CFCF mix)
45. David Guetta feat Sia- Titanium
46. Daphni- Ye Ye
47. The Weeknd- Wicked Games
48. The Flaming Lips ft Erykah Badu- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
49. Jai Paul- Jasmine
50. Kanye West ft big sean, pusha t, and 2 chainz- Mercy (Salva and RM Grime mix)

The Best Old Stuff Newly Released:
Com Truise- In Decay
Carl Craig- Elements
Aaron Dilloway- Modern Jester
Drexciya- Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller
David Lynch and Alan Splet- Eraserhead OST
John Maus- A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material
My Bloody Valentine-Loveless, Isn't Anything, EPs
Jurgen Muller- Science of the Sea
Regis- Adolescence
Laurie Spiegel- The Expanding Universe
Vatican Shadow- Kneel Before Religious Icons

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

EOY Superlatives begin

Read a couple entries I wrote at The Best Electronic Music of 2012 list on Carter Tutti Void, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Pye Corner Audio, Burial, Burial Hex, and Traxman.

Also, I wrote a pair of entries on Death Grips and the FRKWYS collaboration between Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, and The Congos on the best albums list  (also, Swans at #5!  Not bad for an otherwise fairly conservative list).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Past Year's Man

Hello trolls and other fine digital creatures,

As you might have already figured out, I'm a bit of an irregular blogger, not to mention a pretty awful twitterer, and an absentee tumblrer. Early in 2012, I made the conscious decision to slow down my music-centered writing for a number of reasons.  In terms of criticism, I felt like I was running out of things to say that the music couldn't speak for itself and seriously questioned the need for all these words induced at the inception of a musical object (reviews specifically) in a world where the music naturally creates dialogues.  I'm not even really sure that music needs to be judged right out of the box anymore, and if it does I'm not sure I'm the one to do it.

Prior to this decision, I seemed to be getting bogged down by assignments and was missing out on finding things for myself.  I had a strong desire to distance myself from the rush of exploration and the subsequent crash of divestment, a perpetual cycle of hype and discontent filtered through the feedback apparatus of a bunch of wincing curmudgeons intent on destroying the enjoyment of anyone whose exacting tastes didn't match theirs.  If music writing was becoming a joyless affair, music writers certainly didn't help with their sweeping generalizations, their inattention to detail, their proud prejudices, and their general lack of adventurousness.  I know, I know- all the more reason to keep going, but I kept feeling-and continue to feel- as if it's the trolls that set the parameters for the conversation.    

Concurrently, there had been a number of creative projects I'd been shelving for years (probably literally over a decade in some instances).  I thrived for a clean break, but every time the e-mail got sent out with the new list of shiny new free objects, the temptation was usually too hard to resist.  I did drastically reduce my output, as you may or may not have noticed, but I found myself still being sucked into the surface web vortex of updates, streams, newness, and novelty.  In truth, I probably enjoyed music far more this year than any past year in recent memory and my semi-objective determination in the long run is that 2012 was a great year for sound.  I'm not yet clear on whether this has anything to do with the the way I listened (without a bypassed deadline roaming around my neck like an albatross) or the music itself, but I'm leaning towards the latter.  Still, reflecting on how 12 months could have passed without any clear objectives being met (in a strictly extracurricular sense since I also work full-time in a draining role at the inverse spectrum of my own personal ideology), I can't help but conclude that it's been a failure. Outside of this, it's been a great year.  Being a father constantly produces levels of joy in me I never knew possible and being more financially secure than ever, owning a fantastic home, and having a great family I can't wait to spend time with make my life a consistent blessing.  Yet, in terms of my goals, my fictional output amounts to some research notes and outline sketches.  I capped off some long dormant musical renderings, but produced very little new (4 Albums may not seem like nothing, but almost everything here was 3/4 of the way done and there are tons of talented folks that shit out twice as much quantity-wise that's at least twice as good quality-wise). I played two live sets and met some wonderful folks via those settings, but still feel desolately alone in terms of an artistic community and support network.  Researching potential peers in the surrounding area recently was a grim undertaking that probably could have been time well spent towards other endeavors (If you're in CT and have even a semblance of interest in the stuff I regularly talk about here, please contact me.  I'm not as much of a sad sack as I'm making myself out to be).

I'm grateful to the handful that do check up on me when I decide to utter some amount of jargon on this or other forums, particularly given the good company of other folks you read.  I'm still not sure that a blog or the other forms of writing I've done in the past are the best outlet to channel the limited amount of energy my exhausted body and brain can tweak out these days, but I'm looking to find a way to make it work better in the upcoming year. If you have any recommendations, I've reenabled comments on this site after a long hiatus.  Feel free to DM me as well.

Here's a couple things I recently scribed:

A review of Konx-Om-Pax's new one on Planet Mu
A review of Gary War's insane album of Spectrum Spools
And a minor blurb on Death Grips's "Get Got" in the annual PM Top 75 Songs List (So much more to say about this band at some point).

RIP Dave Brubeck

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Haunted Weather

In terms of historical circumstances operating at the level of metaphor, nothing could be more nakedly symbolic than Hurricane Sandy.  Sandy itself was widely seen as a disruptive force for the presidential campaign, its destructive force spiraled into a discussion, albeit a superficial one, on climate change after the subject was left out of the debate process.  But beyond this stunted and somewhat teethless reaction was an enunciation of what we all knew about the election and which none of the nonstop chatter could seem to articulate; the fact that regardless of who won the vote,  our only certainty in the aftermath was a continuation down the path of disaster capitalism.   And if climate change wasn’t touched upon in the debates, neither were the failures that lead to the 2008 crash, another time when thousands of homes were underwater, and how little has been done to preclude the repetition of those events. 

In Sandy were a vast swath of the American population caught up in circumstances beyond their control, left powerless to a destructive force laid upon them and, in the wreckage, literally without power, left to the ramshackle devices of a busted government  that had been purposely stripped down to incapacitation.   This is not to downplay the amazing work of emergency crews and first responders operating on the government dime, who did do truly incredible work at both avoiding catastrophe and lessening its impact when it transpired.  However, you don’t have to go far to find places where FEMA and even the Red Cross was totally impotent, inert, or absent.

Until recently, you would think Lower Manhattan was the only place that got hit.  Though the devastation was wide, reaching across several countries and over 20 states, the media aimed its focus on New York as the center of culture.  The flooded subways were cleared days before precious resources were even getting to poorer areas like Staten Island, Long Island, and Rockaway Beach.  The concerns of the poor were washed away as the bankers returned to work, Broadway shows began bustling again, and we restarted the marathon race to the bottom. 

Yet, the view from Manhattan made it abundantly clear where the concerns of private concentrated power lay, as the skyline went dark except for the Goldman Sachs building, a bold demonstration of the self-preservation of industry.  GS can’t be blamed for the surrounding area not being hooked into its own grid of generators, but this illustration of the vastly unfair centralization of resources certainly made them look indifferent to the suffering of those around it.

Like clockwork, the quips about whatever convenient pet cause God seemed to be punishing us for came spewing out of the mouths of the attention-seekers, but overall we were spared the quips about cleaning up public housing and the like that came out of Katrina, because, you know, rich people were affected too.  Still, God, if he was present, seemed to be telling us a whole lot of things in the rich tapestry of young adult level symbolism masked in drowning Dumbo Carousels and Seaside Heights rollercoasters being carried out to sea, telling us that the halcyon days of the American dream were over. 

In the gas shortages, we were treated to what might have looked to believers to be a recursive loop back to 1979 when the current economic crisis really started and the Fed created new ontologies to deal with it.  With a more global oil crisis a near-guarantee in the near future, those gas lines looked less like a circumstantial setback and more like a grim vision of the future.  The democrats scored great points in the election off of the “success” of the auto bailout (a success paved with concessions by one of the last strong unions around), but without a concerted effort to build fuel efficient cars that the least wealthy Americans (the largest growing population) can afford ,we can only expect to see higher prices and longer lines at the pump we run out of places to bomb for our depleting resources.

As the storm barreled towards the U.S., it caused a massive amount of damage in Haiti, Cuba, The Bahamas and other places that regularly get affected by U.S. actions/inactions but hardly garner a notice in the national attention span.  The news media, in the spirit of Halloween, declared the Hurricane’s mixture of tropical and wintry conditions a “Frankenstorm”, and though it’s hard to make the case for any single weather event being the direct result of climate change, it was hard not to view this beast as something man-made, a Frankenstein’s monster out for revenge on her maker.
The storm approached at a glacial pace and telejournalists, unsure of what to do with no new facts coming in, spent an inordinate amount of time focusing on the HMS Bounty, a ship best known for its use in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies that had been lost at sea.   As certain doom loomed over millions of people, people stranded in their homes strapped to their TVs were using their last bit of energy for weeks watching the news tell them how relics designed to look like they were from the 17th century were in serious danger.  Kind of like being told that corporate monoliths needed to be bailed out while underwater homes who had been pirated by these vessels sank without so much as a life vest. 

America, via the filter of Sandy, was a home exposed, like the one pictured above, but it wasn’t the image of a bunch of unreliable backstabbers looking to swindle one another on the lifeboat as it went down, sharks patrolling the waters looking for things to loot as the “fake” Sandy pictures indicated.  On the contrary, overwhelmingly, people came out to help their displaced neighbors.   What stuck out was institutional rot, piled up like lines of debris on the side of the street.

Romney’s death knell was not even the campaign rally-not-rally in Ohio that turned into an empty gesture of filling trucks with canned goods that his staff bought to give to people to give back to him that the Red Cross didn’t even want.  Instead, the fatal blow was a quip made at the Republic National Convention months earlier in which Romney ironically mocked the very thing that was about to happen.  “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans”, he said pausing for a laugh with gusto as the sea levels ensure that they’d have the last one, “and to heal the planet.  My promise is to help you and your family.”

But where Romney’s truck fiasco failed at both the level of symbolism and the level of real aid to real families in need, the Occupy movement, quickly regrouped into Occupy Sandy, succeeded in New York.   All the things the media had criticized OWS for were proven immediately wrong- that they would ultimately falter without strong central leadership (on the contrary, without a hierarchical bureaucracy, they were able to help more people), they were too disorganized (the group used real time social media to call attention to hot spots in need of immediate attention and direct essential aid where it was needed), they were a bunch of spoiled whining college hippies (they sprung to direct action almost immediately after the storm struck), the movement was basically dead (recent forecasts on their one year anniversary were almost unanimous in pronouncing the movement irrelevant), and that they would never win popular support without streamlining into a single message (unless they make their core message assistance to those victimized by economic inequality). 

Reports began pouring in from everyday citizens that they had yet to see any government or Red Cross aid, but Occupy Sandy was there.  The effort was so great that even the mayor’s office and the National Guard conceded and acknowledged their service to the city.  Somewhat unthinkably, New York police officers stood in solidarity with the volunteers, chanting “We are unstoppable” with them.  

40 Years back, when our country was the closest it ever got to real revolution since it could only conceive of things with war, a fringe group took its name from a Dylan lyric that claimed “You don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind’s blowin’”.  A mere week later, a nor’eastern blew in and dropped far more snow than had been predicted in recent weather reports.  Sometimes, all it takes is a strong enough gust to show just how worthless those weathermen are. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


A couple of "face-melting:" dance remixes I did for the Grubby Little Hands song "Uneek" after their new hazy sunbaked and adoringly miswired pop album The Grass Grew Around Our Feet

Monday, September 3, 2012

Olympic Privilege and the Villany of Hope in Recent Hollywood Blockbusters

Watching The Hunger Games again, it was hard not to think back to the recently completed Olympics and understand clearly how the spectacle was really just a narrative conceived about American exceptionalism.  Hidden completely from the scorecarding is the concept of privilege.  Like The Hunger Games, the Olympics are supposed to be bound by a universal fairness; the rules are supposedly the same for every participant.  And while that’s probably true, it ignores the whole spectrum of human experience that takes place before the contenders even set foot on Olympic turf, not to mention home court advantage, something regularly doled out almost exclusively to the top tier of the first world.   Like the Hunger Games where contenders from the wealthier/leisure class districts are always poised to win, the first world tends to come out on top every Olympic season.

The British population was understandably disturbed by the degree to which London became a police state during the games, the ways in which free speech and democracy were suspended in Olympic Park.  But the type of TV show, the entire genre of the program, would be radically altered if the security state took place in some war-torn part of the world (Afghanistan, for instance, competes in the games).   The meaning of the security state is not to protect London’s guests from the internal threat of its own megalomaniacs, but to protect London itself from outsiders.   

The Olympics may be about unity for some, but conveniently enough it also fulfills the needs of nationalism for the Winners as well, as illustrated in the graph below taken from NBC’s final polling 

The U.S., thought by most in the world to be in decline, symbolically re-asserts its dominance in the final tally, with China trailing shortly behind.  Meanwhile, Britain, a relatively small country compared to the other top 4 nations, is considered a loser in this game, but not because of its breakdown of winners and losers.  Britain’s failure is said to be due to falling behind the high standard of spectacle set by China (despite a painfully forced attempt at a definitive assertion of British influence in its cluttered and clumsy closing ceremony).

In The Hunger Games, the games exist as a metaphorical declaration of power and control, but their audience is no one in particular.  This makes them a popular pastime in the leisure class communities and a grim reinforcement of despair in the poorer districts.  Still, while the Capitol seems content with pleasing only those with the luxury to enjoy bloodsports, a secondary goal seems to be to market the games as a source of enthusiasm for the disenfranchised.  

The individual stakes are obviously much lower for the Olympics, but why would any of the smaller nations even bother to compete when the outcome is consistently a reassertion of the existing hierarchy of nations if not for the almost universally accepted notion that the games themselves exist as some kind of harmonious global accord? What most of these countries have in common though is certainly not a level playing field in which one can reasonably ordain athletic excellence.  The thing that truly unites nations under the Olympic banner is the sponsors.  Why exactly would a state competition need private sponsors if not to grant said economic benefactors exclusive two week VIP access to the world’s attention span?

If state and capital, business and society, are interchangeable components of one another, there’s no exception to that at the Olympics, where brands often get as big headlines as the athletes.   Winners for the Official Soft Drink and Official restaurant of the Olympic are touted as if they too had won a competition, as if they too had been bidding for the position on the equal opportunity platform called capitalism. 

The Olympics are the soft sell state of the union, showing nature in perfect balance, the status quo in no danger of being knocked loose.  A world coming together under one giant security apparatus.


I was also struck by the following quote in The Hunger Games by Donald Sutherland’s President Snow, as he discusses why the games exist and why the Capitol doesn’t just summarily execute captives from each district”:

“Why do we have a winner?  Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.  A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it is contained.”

I’m sure it’s been commented on before, but this closely parallels Bane’s dreadfully expository comments to Batman in the Dark Knight Rises, which also forms a crucial thesis fueling that film:

“There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope.”

In an election year moving deeper into the post-crash era, the recurrence of a central theme of misbegotten hope in the year’s two biggest blockbusters would appear at a glance to be a referendum on Obama, but The Dark Knight Rises, as illustrated elsewhere, reserves most of its potshots for the Occupy movement.  In depoliticizing class struggle, The Dark Knight Rises ultimately lands at the Obama conclusion, that the masses cannot be trusted with their own revolution and our real hope lies in the charity of a well-intentioned elite of millionaire benefactors who we have to hope will be kind enough to throw us a bone every now and then.

The Hunger Games on the other hand, while not exactly an occupy text, does do a decent job at laying out the framework of income inequality and how privilege predisposes some to unfair advantages.   Notably, the film adds a scene not in the book in which the death of a character causes the citizens from the character’s district to riot.  The all-too-familiar scene of police in riot gear marching in lock-step and fire hoses blazing seems at a moment to be removed from the high concept sci-fi environment and placate itself squarely in the realm of recent history.  In the end though, since there can only be a “contained” spark, Katniss’s battleground is firmed squarely in the symbolic terrain, challenging and thus causing ruptures in the official narrative.

As the baton for the Olympic spectacle gets passed to the election spectacle, one always hopes for these  types of tiny ruptures, ones that refuse to play into the universal narrative of a continued order whose control subjects couldn’t be happier to root for its sustained dominance.   Even if this doesn’t play out in Washington, it seems to have done so in Hollywood, where two of the biggest spectacles of the year have felt compelled to acknowledge the demands and grievances of Occupy, rupturing their way into our most popular narratives, for good or ill.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

RIP Hal David

Debated putting up the My Bloody Valentine version, but decided this was the better one.

He is America and So Should You

Dan Deacon grows up, and this is actually a good thing; review here.

Pitiless Censor No More

John Maus shows his mercy on a sweet set of B-Sides, reviewed here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Manufacturing Consensus

Strange to see such an odd sense of consensus on the P4K contributors' list. I often go out of my way to defend the mag against its detractors, who claim that they act as some kind of consensus-generating machination of hipster evil. As far as defensible criticism goes, it's generally a crapshoot on that site, but one thing it has going for it is that it champions new and interesting stuff regularly. With all its cred-building power, it'd be very easy for the site to ignore (arguably) new trends and innovative movements, but the site refuses to fall back on its laurels, almost to a fault. Judging by the general lack of surprise circulating on the critics' list, it's hard to imagine any oddball selections making their way onto the "People's List" after the tallies are counted next week.

Nevertheless, I submitted my choices to be counted and the selections can be viewed in graphic form at this link or in text form below. Already easy to see a couple I missed, but I guess these things are never definitive

* When creating my list, I did not know that albums from 2012 did not qualify. However, I've included my two picks from this year below:


100 Bjork- Vespertine
99 Pierre Bastien-Mecanoid
98 Orbital- Middle of Knowhere
97 Air- Talkie Walkie
96 Britney Spears- Blackout
95 Brock Von Wey- White Clouds Drift On and On
94 Ellen Allien- Berlinette
93 The Bug- Pressure
92 Massive Attack- Mezzanine
91 Kanye West- Late Registration
90 Surgeon- Force and Form
89 Mordant Music- SyMptoMs
88 Locust- Morning Light
87 Golan Levin/Scott Gibbons/Gregory Shakar- Dialtones: A Telesymphony
86 Balam Acab- See Birds EP
85 Pantha Du Prince- This Bliss
84 Marilyn Manson- Antichrist Superstar
83 The Magnetic Fields- 69 Love Songs
82 James Blake- CMYK EP
81 Boris- At Last-Feedbacker
80 Four Tet- Pause
79 Vatican Shadow- Kneel Before Religious Icons
78 Black Moth Super Rainbow- Eating Us
77 PJ Harvey- Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
76 Metro Area- Metro Area
75 Double Leopards- Halve Maen
74 Hnatiw- Life is Good
73 Arp- In Light
72 Arcade Fire- Funeral
71 Orbital- In Sides
70 Burial-Burial
69 Solvent- Solvent City
68 Polmo Polpo- Like Hearts Swelling
67 Junior Boys- Last Exit
66 The Bug- London Zoo
65 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graphitti- Worn Copy
64 Emeralds- Does It Look Like I'm Here?
63 Burial Hex- Intiations
62 Com Truise- Galactic Melt
61 Various- Soundboy Punishments
60 Cannibal Ox- The Cold Vein
59 Tool- Aenima
58 Pole-2
57 Boards of Canada- Geogaddi
56 Windy and Carl- Introspection
55 Belong-Colorloss Record EP
54 To Rococo Rot- The Amateur View
53 Lichens- The Psychic Nature of Being
52 The Weeknd- House of Balloons
51 Missy Elliot- Supa Dupa Fly
50 Of Montreal- Satanic Panic in the Attic
49 Animal Collective- Sung Tongs
48 Wolf Eyes- Dead Hills
47 The Advisory Circle- Other Channels
46 Aphex Twin- Come to Daddy
45 Julia Holter- Ekstasis
44 Various- Splendor Sdtrk
43 Radiohead- Kid A
42 Gas-Gas
41 Various- My Estrogeneration
40 Various- Bang and Works vol 1
39 Fennesz- Endless Summer
38 Gas-Konigforst
37 Tori Amos- Boys For Pele
36 The Postal Service- Give Up
35 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graphitti- Before Today
34 Vex'd-Degenerate
33 Sweet Trip- VelocityDesignComfort
32 Belle and Sebastian- If You Are Feeling Sinister
31 Sun Araw- On Patrol
30 Aaliyah-Aaliyah
29 Arp- The Soft Wave
28 John Maus- We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
27 Fuck Buttons- Tarot Sport
26 Dan Deacon- Bromst
25 High Places- High Places
24 The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi versus the Pink Robots
23 The Boredoms- Vision Creation Newsun
22 Grouper- A I A; Alien Observer/Dream Loss
21 Oneohtrix Point Never- Rifts
20 Various- Night Slugs vol 1
19 Meat Beat Manifesto- Subliminal Sandwich
18 Dizzee Rascal- Boy in Da Corner
17 Broadcast- The Noise Made by people
16 Various- Pure Silk
15 Cut Copy- In Ghost Colours
14 Herbert- Around the House
13 Junior Boys- So This is Goodbye
12 Death Grips- The Money Store
11 Hum- Downward is Heavenward
10 M83- Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts
9 Various- Run the Road 
8 Grouper- Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
7 Aphex Twin- Richard D. James
6 Caribou/Manitoba- Up in Flames
5 Coil presents Black Light District- A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room
4 Broadcast- Haha Sound
3 The Flaming Lips- The Soft Bulletin
2 Burial- Untrue
1 Boards of Canada- Music Has the Right to Children