Monday, July 26, 2021

re-cover versions and re-revivalism

 I did not know of this EP by Amy Winehouse (well I guess it was barely ever released?)

including covers of  two songs - "Monkey Man" and "You're Wondering Now" - that were already covered by The Specials (plus one of their originals)

what do you call it when someone covers a cover? 

A re-cover version?

Amy's in re-covery....

I like most things about Amy Winehouse - apart from her singing voice and nearly all her music

Watched the doc and was struck by her sharp comments about music as well as that radioactive glow of  natural magnetism - that old black-magic charazma 

But ooh dear but when she opened her mouth and attempted jazz... 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

An Evening with Not-Whitney

Las Vegas used to be where stars went when their pop-cultural life was over, a twilight dwindle of half-lives as an embalmed cabaret turn rote-motioning through the old favorites.

But now it is becoming the home of the literally dead and gone

Viz, (via NME), the news of Whitney's post-mortem residency at a Vegas venue: 

"An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Concert, created by BASE Hologram in partnership with the Houston estate, debuted in 2020 and was set to open in Vegas late last year until the coronavirus pandemic forced a delay.

"The show will feature holograms from all stages of Houston’s career alongside backup singers, dancers and musicians.

"The Vegas residency will begin on October 26 at the Harrah’s Showroom and will run until April 30, 2022."

Earlier thoughts on the pop hologram phenom - dead pop stars and their profitable afterlife

and speculations about where it could next 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

futuromania versus retromania - a diagnosis


W.H. Hadow - "Some Aspects of Modern Music", published January 1 1915, in The Musical Quarterly, Volume I, Issue 1

(via Sean Albiez)

Woah that is freaky, the perennial application of this - and how well it captures this kind of evolution in the way you respond to music. What is unsettling to me growing older is a kind of stolidity that creeps in. You just become constitutionally less susceptible to being blown away.

I think it's like a weakening of the cathexis faculty. you can't bond in that really super-intense way that you could do. I guess that is because early on music is bound up with identity-formation - whereas once you are fully-formed (or more or less formed, let's say) which is usually by late '20s, you simply aren't using music in that profound way. it's just stuff that's nice to listen to. There are advantages - I've become way more open and wide in my listening - but you don't get that visceral bonding process of 'this is my music, this music explains me' or that it represents some kind of dream vision of how you'd like Life / your life to be.

If I look back at my end of year lists of faves from the 2000s when I was in my late 30s / early 40s, the lists are very long, reflecting having listened to tons of stuff, but an awful lot of it I can barely remember, it hasn't lasted - whereas things like Slits or Ian Dury or later on jungle - these I could more or less "perform" the songs vocally in their entirety (an excruciating thing for anyone else to hear or witness obviously!) but a sign of how deeply they were imprinted. Some of them I could almost  instrumentally 'perform' (via the voice or physical mimesis aka 'air' playing - again not a pretty sound / sight - but shows how all the parts of the music are so embedded in your being - the drums, the guitar riffs, solos, the structural tension and release).

With aging, much of the urgency and obsessive fixation inevitably fades away. You tend to have a better sense of proportion. When I wrote my early stuff, my life was empty in lots of ways. I was involved in relationships at various points, but the writing and the music took precedence. Nowadays I simply don’t have the huge space of time or of emotional energy that I used to fill up with music-obsession. When you are young, music plays a major role in identity formation but as you get older, your identity is (hopefully, by that point) formed. You’re not looking to music to be a savior or the primary source of excitement and solace in your existence. 

I also know a lot more about the history of music and have heard so much more, so things become more contextualized. There's an ingrained sense of how cycles repeat in rock culture, how they exhaust themselves and then reconstitute themselves with a slightly different inflection again after an interval. So that breeds a certain serene detachment. You are also less easily impressed. Perhaps that good - I don't know... 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Metal's Retromania (updated 7/17)

The blog Hate Meditations, dedicated to musings on extreme metal, has been doing a series of posts called Metal's Retromania. Looks pretty probing, although I confess to being an inadequate reader, since my grip on the doings and goings of extreme metal (or any metal) has been pretty tenuous for nigh on thirty years (nor really was it untenuous before that to be honest, although there was more active curiosity). But should you be familiar with the zone and up for tangling with an argument, this looks to be a fascinating read. 

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Part 3 -

Part 4 -

Part 5 -

And just added this week a sixth and what looks like final installment 

Part 6

I invite the metal-informed to assess what is convincing and unconvincing in Hate's argumentations here. 

The subject of retro-ism within metal has cropped up before on this blog, or actually it was Blissblog now I think of it - including the question of what differentiates doom metal from retro doom metal, given that doom metal is already looking back, more or less a Sabbath reenactment society.

From my slenderly-informed perspective, I should imagine retro-revival currents within metal, a folding back on its own extensive history that parallels what has happened to almost every other genre that's a bit long in the tooth - this must get tangled up interestingly with the tendencies within extreme metal to reject modernity: to cast back, oftentimes more than a tad dubiously, to the primordial, the pagan, the Medieval etc etc. 

Tangentially this has reminded me of my favorite TV show of the moment - the Norwegian series Beforeigners, a  wonderfully witty satire of the modern day struggle between multiculturalism versus nativism, the fraught politics of immigration, refugees and asylum seekers, etc etc. It uses a simple science-fiction premise that - if you go with it,  let it be unexplained - yields plentiful amusement. 

Timeholes have sprung up in the sea off the coast of Norway through which people from earlier eras  of the country are popping out, bedraggled, half-drowned and utterly disoriented. Three epochs specifically: Stone Age, Norse (people from both sides of the Vikings versus early Christians conflict - which is why I was reminded of this in the context of extreme metal, church-burning black metal singers etc), and 19th Century. 

As Norwegian society struggles to cope with the influx and help these timigrants, these beforeigners, to assimilate...  well, you can imagine the satiric possibilities. Graffiti slogans like "Norway for Nowadaypeople". Mixed-temporal marriages. And (I'll stop here because I don't want to do too many spoilers) there is also the phenomenon of transtemporalism - people who realise that although they were born in the late 20th or early 21st Century, inside, they are Viking / paleolithic / Ibsen-era.

Rather than metal, though, the Vikings in this series seem to prefer EDM / hardstyle when they are letting off steam and throwing back many horn-fulls of mead