Thursday, August 20, 2020

(Un)cancelled Future

Last November I delivered a paper at the Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions conference, which was themed around "the slow cancellation of the future" - a thought-slogan associated with Mark Fisher

Well, partly delivered - as often seems to happen with me, the allotted period of time ran out before I got anywhere near the end.

Here is the full text, tidied up, expanded here and there, and given a new title: (No) future music?

Cast of characters: Bifo Berardi, Fredric Jameson, J.G. Ballard, Alvin Toffler, Kodwo Eshun, Marc Acardipane, Phil Knight, Oswald Spengler.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Haim Travel

"While recording Something to Tell You, they met every day in studios — four for the drum parts alone. Each space was from a different era, which translated onto the album. At Vox Recording, which dates to the 1930s, 'it’s just linoleum floors, so it sounds very live,' Danielle said. 'We recorded with one mike in the back of the room.” Sunset Sound had “more of a ’70s, tight wood sound. You can really hear the warmth of the drums.'"

- "Haim Wants To Prove Vintage Vibes Feel Just Right Now",  New York Times 2017


Loved loved loved Days Are Gone... it felt like something emotionally real  cutting through the elaborate pasticherie (those canned-sounding mid-late 80s reverbs) ... the tension between the two levels on which the music worked (longing and pain from life; irony and historical hyper-awareness) was delicious... and then there was the internal tension of the music itself as a performance, the thrill I've described before as the shock of ability: the sheer musicality of the singing and playing, the rhythmatization of the voice and the myriad tics of syncopation in the drums and guitar parts...


But Something To Tell You left me cold, just seemed too fiddly and over-worked... 

Conversely the new one feels downbeat and sluggish (I guess there are reasons for that).

I suppose I will give it another go at some point


Overall feels similar to the arc taken by Vampire Weekend - from freshness to fussiness - as commented on in the end of year faves + thoughts at Blissblog


Talking of the Zone of Fruitless Intensification


Nearly forgot - the Unfave!


Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride


After several attempts that only got a little way in before I had to bail, finally, during a long journey, I made another kind of lengthy arduous trek: listening to the entirety of the fourth Vampire album. Eucch - everything that was enjoyably precious and dainty in the first two albums has now definitively become prissy and over-ornamented. What is the sound Koenig & kru are aiming for here - Lindsey Buckingham '80s solo album meets Dave Matthews Band with a bit of Wilco thrown in? And did I mention that it's long? The debut (which still sounds so fleet and fresh) clocked in at under 35 minutes, a canny return to the manageable proportions of the classic LP; Contra was similarly short n' sweet and left you wanting more.  But FotB, in its middle-aged spread, leaves you wanting less. Or in my case, wanting none. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

a past gone mad (eternal returns)



this lineup of horror for 2021 (promoters hopefully assuming things return to normal on the mass gathering front) flashed me back to those strange jumbles of artists from different eras that I would see in the section of concert / tour / festival ads at the back of Uncut in the mid-2000s

blogged about it in this 2005 post A Past Gone Mad, an early expression of befuddled dismay and atemporal disorientation of a kind that culminated in me doing Retromania a few years later

a decade-and-a-half on, there's even more of a Nineties flavour (in 2005 The Farm, Happy Mondays, a Hacienda renactment represented baggy-nostalgia) but there's also a discernible Noughties-redux ripple running through the hodgepodge

if we're retro-blogging (in both senses) here's a couple more Past Gone Mad blogs from back in the day

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"it sounds modern"



Son, on hearing Art of Noise for first time, 35 years after the event: "It sounds modern"

I wonder why: something about the very limitations of early digital technology (incredibly restricted sample time - a second and a half - which necessitates a stab-oriented sound) making everything stark and angular? c.f. later vastly expanded digi-powers that allow for near-naturalistic levels of detail and fiddly nuance







he was also impressed with this Kraftwerk video (although possibly enjoying its retro qualities as with videogames of that era)





this video elicited no reactions...


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ghostly voices


I first heard of this album in connection with Brian Eno -  this 1971 LP was one of only a few recordings he took with him on a vacation to Thailand in the late '70s. It got Eno interested in the musical properties of speech, the "redundant information" it contained, especially when regionally accented or dialect - a non-signifying surplus that supplied character and rhythm. That led ultimately to My Life In the Bush of Ghosts.



Fancied having this for quite a long while before finally splashing out a few years ago (although it wasn't particularly pricey and nowadays seems to be cheaper). But then as you do, only just got around to listening to it.





Listening to the record now, there is a poignant overlay that would not have been present when Eno heard the record only seven or eight years after its release. It's a document of localized speech patterns, idioms and sometimes words that must have largely disappeared by this point. Almost all of the speakers - seemingly middle aged or elderly at the time of recording - will surely have passed away by now too.


Side One 
1 Birmingham
2 Black Country
3 Buckinghamshire
4 Cornwall
5 Cotswolds
6 Cumberland
7 Devonshire
8 Geordie (Durham)
9 Newcastle
10 Hampshire
11 Lancashire
12 Liverpool
13 Manchester
14 Leicestershire

Side Two
1 London (Cockney)
2 Norfolk
3 Somerset
4 Bristol
5 Suffolk
6 Sussex
7 Wiltshire
8 Worcestershire
9 Yorkshire
10 Isle Of Man
11 Ireland: (Ulster / Eire)
12 Scotland: (Edinburgh / Glasgow / Inverness)
13 Wales: (North / South)