Monday, February 27, 2017

RIP Bill Paxton

Cyberpunk center square:

Co-Director of

Bill Paxton also found time to be in his own Devo-esque synthpop band, who just so happened to have a single produced by Bob Casale and Alan Meyers and Mark Mothersbaugh playing on it (!)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

This Week In

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Various- Rise William Rise

I'm very fortunate to be included in this fantastic compilation of dark experimental types.  It was compiled by Don Sigal of Opposite Records/Ken Timber/The Alienist.  Don and I did a number of shows together in the early-mid 2000s and his two Alienist recordings on Opposite feature my other HvEXAS collaborators and bandmates Tom (of m0dnAr) and Evan (Mr. Noise, eL).  The album is a benefit to support health costs of Wm Berger, who runs Prison Tatt Records and is the host of WFMU's My Castle of Quiet.  The title references a line from Al Adamson's "Nurse Sherri (Hospital of Horro), a clip which regularly launches his WMFU show (thanks to Don for the correction).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ain't Life a Bitch?

A few hours after the POTUS went on TV and talked in moral relativistic terms about how we make good bedfellows and killer allies with his buddy Putin, Americans tuned into the Superbowl, America's second favorite violent ritual, a centerpiece of Debordian spectacle for a dying culture. "Hallelullah/Praise the Lord for all good things/We blew them into fucking shit/They are eating it", Harold Pinter commented in his famous poem "American Football". Progressives, fancying themselves average Americans and attempting to revel in collective experience, tried to find shards of spectral light in this morass, but found little else but an enthusiastic orgy.

Prior to the Big Event, Heinz announced that it was offering their employees a paid day off on the Monday after the Superbowl, but it turns out that this only applied to their salaried workers. Hourly workers were stuck picking up the slack while their white collar comrades slept in. So, progressives looked to the ads for the feels. Here, there a lot of nondescript multiculturalism, which wouldn't have bothered to move an eyelash 6 months to a year ago, but for some reason felt like molotovs to those waiting in the wings for some show of identification. But was there anything really radical about Google and Airbnb just showing a bunch of diverse faces? Annheuser Busch, who regularly give the bulk of of their campaign contributions to Republicans, came out with a staunch pro-immigration piece- in which a white German named Adolpohus is harassed while looking to start a legal drug empire in America.

Even more insiduous was 84 Lumber's ad, which seemed at first glance to be a wordless riposte to Trump's America. The ad depicts a mother and daughter facing some minor adversity attempting to immigrate out of an unnamed Latin American country (psst, it's Mexico). The two hitch a minimally scary ride in a truck and take shelter in a house, observing a coyote before the ad fades to black. Viewers hoping to catch the "rest of the journey" rushed online, where the traffic crashed 84's website. Sadly, the zinger is in the rest of the video. It turns out that they hadn't crossed the border yet, but further movement found them reaching a giant wall with a "big beautiful door" in the middle, echoing sentiments Trump made in his interview with Jimmy Kimmel. The CEO of the company is a Trump supporter. (source).

Alas, as a last ditch, viewers turned to Lady Gaga, doing what Gaga does best- spectacle-infused medleys embedded with winking references, coded enough to delight those looking for hints of subversion and hidden enough so that Marco Rubio could delight with glee at good ol' American show business. In the end, it was like the ads, identity politics as substance without taking aim at the specific perpetrators of injustice, who watch a ton of TV and get riled up at this shit. It was Hillary's gambit of managerial better-world-ism with the Pepsi logo displaying loud and proud in fireworks behind the wreckage of a new world order. Revolution as civility in a world run by pirates, nazis, and thugs.

So, somewhat unsurprisingly, a game where women aren't invited, where two white men tell a bunch of black guys to brutalize each other's bodies over a ball they keep kicking and throwing slightly farther away from them (often causing concussions and brain damage in the process) wasn't the bastion of hope we'd anticipated it would be. Geez, maybe our institutions are complicit in all of this. Maybe capitalism won't save us.

Friday, February 3, 2017

All Alone Amongst the Toxic Fires

"The punk-poet tradition has not endured a healthy shelf-life. Though the florid confessionals of Patti Smith and the beatific nihilism of Vega’s Suicide remain canon, few these days recognize as essential Henry Rollins’ late stage career on the spoken word circuit or Jim Caroll’s crossover appearance in the ridiculous James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. vehicle Tuff Turf. Other names like John Cooper Clarke and Attila the Stockbroker have nearly faded entirely from view. As spoken lyrics gradually became the exclusive terrain of the hip-hop artists, those peddling in not-quite def poetry jamming soon fell by the wayside as a historical punch line.
Annie Anxiety, in both her early singles and on her debut LP Soul Possession, should be considered both inside and outside of this tradition. Each of the eight tracks on Soul Possession represent a single contained performance piece, a poem set to music, but it’s in her musical vanguardism, indebted equally to post-punk, industrial, and especially dub, that she frees herself from the musty preconceptions of what punk poetry has to sound or feel like. She adopts a perfectly suited voice for each piece, giving her license to explore a broad terrain while pinning herself to a broad ideological thread and a series of unsettling luxated dub riddim and grooves"
-new review up by me of the reissues of Annie Anxiety's Soul Possession

This was initially released on Crass's Corpus Christi imprint, which itself is pretty interesting little enclave.  If I had to guess, this was where Crass records could explore a more goth output. If you check out their output, you'll see a number of artists (UK Decay, Rudimentary Peni, Omega Tribe) who were still dangling on the fringes of punk, but who also fit neatly on those Blackest Ever Black mixes that were coming out pretty regularly a few years back.  Here, Annie Anxiety really was an outlier.  She'd later become a figurehead making the rounds with the Threshold House folk (Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Coil) and she does seem to fit perhaps better here, but it was maybe her unwillingness to divorce herself from overtly radical politics (as many of the industrial/dark ambient artists had- to the point of even venturing close to fascist flirtations at times) that made her never really lock into the groove of any one scene.  She continues to record to this day as Little Annie, where she takes on more of a dark croon aesthetic, a sort of occult Eartha Kitt that would've probably fit nicely as a female corollary to kinda forgotten early 80s camp of grumpy and frothy "dark side of masculinity" art-damaged songwriter milieu that included Nick Cave, fellow Bad Seed Barry Adamson, Jim Thirwell of Foetus, and Michael Allen of Wolfgang Press.  That lot's aesthetic seemed to be Fat Elvis with id on the outside, the Vegas strip bombast surrounded by corresponding lurid sonic exteriority

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Weekly farewell roundup

RIP John Wetton, bass player par excellence

RIP James Laurence, who helped bring celestial dream pop into hip-hop

RIP John Hurt