Posts from 1st June 2000

1
Jun 00

Primal Scream – “Loaded 1990”

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LOADED 1990- PRIMAL SCREAM

“Just what is you want to do, Bobby?”
“Well Tanya, what I really want to do is get the indie boys and girls onto the dance floor and make them dance like demented scarecrows trying to rid themselves of arse-jammed pike-staffs. Preferably for the next 10 years”.
“Aaah Yeah, excellent”
“And furthermore Tanya, Iíd like to introduce some bag-pipes, horns, plenty of Soul 2 Soul shuffley back-beats, maybe the odd tambourine, and for a bit of inventiveness, I was thinking a gospel choir.”
“Nice one, Bobby, sounds really eclectic”.

Boom-da-boom

LOADED 2000 – PRML SCRM

How embarrassing. Well readers, that was me and B.Gillespie in conversation back in 1990, one of my first articles for the Student newspaper. Thanks Bobby, itís been a truly wonderful 10 years. I thank you for bring much joy and originality to all those nights out. A weak lager in a plastic glass is that much better when simultaneously hearing you getting “deep down” and being free. I think I can also thank you for being the inspiration behind the Stereo MCís. Sadly, from what Iíve heard lately from you and the boys lately, weíre never going to get another “Inner Flight” or a “Slip inside this house”. I heard “Moviní on Up” in a modern church service – a magic moment. Sorry readers, just getting a bit carried away by fucking ĎScreamadelica” – you know how people do, like itís some kind of sacred cow. Sorry.

We Aren’t Reasonable People: Warp Records

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You might have thought that Morse code had been rendered obsolescent by WAP phones and ISDN. Not so – the “dot-dash” lives on in its more irritating “bleep-blop” incarnation, thanks to Warp.

Warp has been going for 10 years and have been churning out minimal mid-tempo bleepy nonsense relentlessly over this period. Techno chinstrokers will no doubt reminisce about the days of LFO, RAC and Tricky Disco (maybe not) but the reality was that they were all crap. LFO’s “We are back” sounds like someone being beaten to death with a sampler in a back alley by a Dalek. Nightmares on Wax’s “Smoker’s Delight” – give me strength.

To commemorate 10 years of bleepfoolery, Warp released a double-album of its most important influences. Suffice to say, they were all losers like the Ital Rockers and Farley Jackmaster Funk, not to mention the long-suffering A Guy Called Gerald (i.e. “Vooooooooodoooooooo Ray” x 10 mins = yawn).

Worse than old records on Warp are contemporary ones, which seem to be made mainly by a series of interchangeable bands with short names beginning with “P” (Plone, Plaid, Plod, Pond, Poor et al). These bands play songs constructed around three-finger chords on ¬£19.99 keyboards – I think some of them have only newly graduated from playing Axel F in Dixons with one digit.

Even worse than that are “techy” Warp bands – the likes of Autechre, Squarepusher and Boards of Canada. Give them a soldering iron and they think they’re the Aphex Twin. Yes, it is technically quite impressive that you’ve managed to wire a synthesizer to an Oric Atmos, via a Fairlight, a hoover and a blender. But no, the noise that comes out at the end is not even remotely musical (or interesting).

A plea for Warp in a language they might understand- BLOP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP, BLOP BLOP BLOP, BLOP BLOP BLEEP, BLOP BLOP BLOP, BLEEP BLOP BLEEP BLEEP, BLEEP BLOP BLEEP BLEEP. For those of you with a WAPphone, that’s “BOG OFF”.

DANCE MUSIC

I Hate Music13 comments • 1,416 views

DANCE MUSIC

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom – the dopplered sound of a souped up GTi hurtling down any road anywhere – Eee’d up, trendy sunglasses, and ultimately, a Ben Sherman shirt clad member of the Unofficial War Against Guitars army. A speaker on wheels, heading towards the Judge Jules extravaganza in a sweat-filled dance pit, with similarly eee’d up passengers all listening to sounds akin to the Luftwaffe bombing Coventry. Possibly heading to Coventry. Possibly not.

One “song” (and I use the term loosely) flows into another without any regard for ending the first one. For all I know, it could still be the same song playing at the end of a night that was playing at the beginning. From that GTi, every dance song sounds the same. This ubiquity of dance music is reflected in the ubiquity of the club goers. I am on a mission to find the fucking factory where they breed these people and flatten the fucker with a huge bouncer from hell.

Maybe I don’t understand dance culture – maybe my mind was turned by going to too many raves. Maybe I didn’t do enough drugs. Maybe I don’t like the sound of a fucking car alarm going off whil people dance round it. Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe it actually is pure shite. Maybe its a conspiracy. Maybe.

Dance music is evil. It is Satan’s spunk gone mouldy in the corner of Hades. It is the serial killer of music. It is annoying. It is more generic than empty space. It’s not big, and it’s not clever. It’s easy to make, and can make you a fucking fortune. While others spend their musical lives pissing in the wind for large parts, you get these musical charlatans hitting drum machines, and letting computers do most of the work and making a million in no time at all. It pisses me off.

Without sounding bitter….well, sounding bitter alot actually….it is a more evil form of musical expression than farting the hits of the seventies through a loudspeaker outside an old peoples home. It is more evil than getting Engelburt Humperdinck to front a death metal band. It is more evil than telling an eight year old boy that santa doesn’t exist…….a week before Christmas.

I hate dance music. Dance music probably hates me, but I don’t care. I don’t need friends like dance music. Meanwhile, it appears that there is more than one of those fucking factories……

TRIP-HOP

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TRIP-HOP

Yes kids, any blunted moron with a sampler can now become an musical icon!

The idea that someone would purposely take the do-it-yourself-even-if-you-have-no-talent aesthetic of bad punk music and combine it with the worst idea in hip-hop (namely that the more obscure your sample is, the better the result) staggers me. The fact that a lot of people like it is pretty damn typical.

Reviewmania!

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Reviewmania!: us against them comments on the scepticism surrounding Signal Drench‘s decision to move to what has – perhaps unfairly but I think not – become known as ‘Pitchfork format’, i.e. come rain, snow or shine the reviews will get through. It also linked to this site and pointed out that “indie rock” contains a multitude of subgenres, though quite how pop, folk, punk, jazz and hip-hop are better served by being umbrella’ed into “indie rock” rather than allowed to keep their own names escapes me. It is certainly true to point out that indie rock bands exist who have absorbed styles and influences from these types of music and many more, but indie rock, considered as a genre, doesn’t seem more broad than any other.

But there certainly is a lot of it out there, and that’s why I’ve returned to this storm in a music-zine teacup. Looking down the links on Us Vs Them a theme begins to emerge – this site has updated with four new reviews, but this one has five, and that one can’t even manage a measly two a day! Following one of the links we come to a site update promising a glorious ten new reviews! The endless production of reviews is clearly something a music zine is meant to aspire to. But the casual observer is in severe danger of getting review-ed out. I can look down the list of new and recent reviews at Adequacy and find myself completely lost – where to even begin to explore this critical jungle?

This is no reflection on the quality of these zines, or the committment they show to the music they love – any half-decent online zine (and these are among the cream!) tends to be more useful than print media, offer more heartfelt opinions, and does it all free to boot. It’s also not a reflection on the music they cover – my aesthetics are obviously more ‘mainstream’ than the Us Vs Them or Westernhomes people, but the ever-spiralling glut of reviewable product affects the mainstream too, and any genre you could possibly care to mention. No, I suppose my problem is with putting reviews so much at the centre of music writing.

Most of these online reviews are pretty rigidly formatted, no matter how baroque the turns and twists a writer like Brent D. manages to come up with. 3-600 words, and at their core a single record and an ultimate recommendation of whether or not it’s worth listening to. But music writing can be so much more than that! Any of the really good music journalists did a lot of their best stuff in big, sprawling, multi-referential thinkpieces, which may have spun out of a single review but ended up being fantastic documents of how a passion for music can inspire you and more importantly inspire readers too. And even better, the best pieces by Eddy or Reynolds, Marcus or Bangs, Morley or Cohn or Eshun make you think, too, draw new connections and make you listen to your music in completely fresh ways. That kind of insight is a lot harder to come by if you see your writing mission in life to pump out n reviews a day, like clockwork.

Of course reviewing things is important, not least to some of the small bands and labels for whom dedicated online review-troopers are the only means of getting publicity in a sewn-up business. But music is as much about the people who listen to it as the people who make it – limiting your content to review-review-review-show review-interview-review, and the occasional snidey list, is reducing music to product at worst, tally stick at best, as surely as any other marketing strategy is. Why not get four or five records and ram all your reviews together in one big piece which is really going to excite readers, make them draw lines they hadn’t before? Why not spend 3,000 words on one unbelievable record, and pull in the whole damn history of pop too while you’re at it? Why not come up with big ideas about why all this music is doing what it does and then try to prove it? Why not argue, pick fights, rant if you want to call it ranting, anything other than just rubber-stamp another four records and think “Well, that’s Thursday over”.

I can get passionate about this because the people working on some of these zines are plainly brilliant writers, and in my very personal opinion they’re hobbling themselves by sticking to this format. That’s why a zine like kempa.com is so refreshing, because it does start putting together longer pieces (and by the way good unformatted pieces don’t have to be longer – check out josh blog for quality insights on a near-daily basis, with hardly a review in sight). Even if you think reviews are essential – and I don’t, in fact I find writing album reviews deathly boring in comparison to writing anything else – their tyranny still needs to be broken. Music is about more than whether a record is good or not, it’s about the conversations those records have with each other and with the people who listen to them. Why restrict yourselves?

News Unlimited | Second sight

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News Unlimited | Second sight: Douglas Rushkoff on digital manipulation in films, and on MP3s:

“By eliminating the real overtones associated with different instruments and the environments in which they are being played, then replacing them with set of similar frequencies, MP3 files save a lot of space. The algorithm imitates some of the qualities of good sound production, even though it can’t actually achieve it. Ultimately, our brain must use the sonic clues it receives to imagine the real musical event. We fill in the blank spots.

Again, this might succeed with electronic music, which exists in a vacuum with no real world basis for comparison. But MP3 re-creations of recorded instruments and voices do not impact our body in the same way that a real recording does. Our brain might be fooled into believing that it’s hearing an accurate reproduction of sound, but our body resonates about as much as it would with a cheap AM radio. It’s the disparity between what we think we’re hearing and what we’re actually hearing that causes the confusion and discomfort.”

NB: The below post isn’t meant to be an attack on Atley

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NB: The below post isn’t meant to be an attack on Atley, who I don’t know at all and who for all I know may be just like me and use MP3s as a buyer’s-guide more than a source of free music (and even if he doesn’t he’s not a bad person etc.). It’s more a development of the train of thought kicked off here.

NYLPM blogs the blogs: Guy at

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NYLPM blogs the blogs: Guy at Blahness writes: “I think that simplicity at times, especially when it manages to tap into some emotional response, can be extremely, extremely powerful. Space Invader bleeps may sound cool for a few years, but they don’t determine the artistic “merit” of modern music.”. Tsch! It’s the simplicity of ‘bleep music’ (remembering fondly here when ‘Bleep’ was a genre as well as a noise) that gives it power, too. And Travis are ‘simple’ in the same unpleasant, conceited way that Ikea furniture can be. I am surprised though that Tim doesn’t like them more, given his penchant for iffy blusterous rock.

And Atley at Atesque writes “I’m going to let Napster do it’s job and peace and go to sleep. I’ve got like 5 albums queued to bring tonights total up to 7 albums. My burner is going to be busy! I’m getting some Lifetime, Elliot, Discount, Saves The Day, Dismemberment Plan, and At the Drive in”. I have to admit it’s posts like this that make my enthusiasm for the MP3 revolution quaver a bit. It’s all very well talking about a new business model for the music industry, but it’s not in place yet, and I’m leaning more and more to the idea that we should at least pay lip service to the old one while that’s what’s around, by buying CDs by the smaller artists who do probably actually need the money while we download Britney tracks left, right and centre. Yes, indie and punk rock were built on the provision of cheap, even free, music, which in turn built up a ‘scene’ etc. etc., but the point is that it was an artist’s choice to play free shows or give away CDs – in fact it was that very freedom of choice which ideally separated indie artists from major label counterparts (it certainly wasn’t the music quality). Download culture takes that choice away, which may be inevitable, but it doesn’t make that right. What a tangled business this ethics of MP3s is, eh.

(In the spirit of full disclosure: I’ve downloaded 2 full albums since getting a computer with a soundcard. Neither of them I’ve burned, one of them I intend to buy, one of them I’m not decided on yet.)

GUIDING YOUR VOICES

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GUIDING YOUR VOICES

Or how to make your own Guided By Voices masterpiece.

1. Take an old R.E.M. song, you know from one of the earlier, better albums (in as much as solid stools are preferable to sloppy shits).
2. Remove lyrics (not sounding bad so far eh?)
3. Start fifty seconds in.
4. End exactly ninety seconds later. Note it is preferable that you end halfway through a chorus, or at least at a point where it really makes no sense to finish.
5. Think of a name. There are two types of names to GBV songs. The short and the long. If making an album you must restrict yourself to three long and seventeen short.
i) The short names consist of two words, one of which must be a noun – the second of which must have no connection to said noun. It must however be pleasing on the tongue – so that someone with no knowledge of English will think it is a perfectly ordinary phrase. Examples of the short title to get you going are : Pimple Zoo, Liquid Indian, Hollow Cheek and the peerless Bread Alone.
ii) The long name is equally nonsensical and can either be created by taking two randomly generated short names and sticking them together (14 Cheerleader Cold Front or Burning Flag Birthday Suit) or excerpt a chapter heading from a fantasy, science fiction or porn novel. (Ghosts Of A Different Dream, A Contest Featuring Human Beings or The Stir-Crazy Pornographer). You’ll soon get the hang of this, and you will need to.
6. Take your title and write a relatively generic pop song lyric, subtly substituting words associated with the words in your title when necessary. Sing said lyrics in a gruff yet anthemic way, robbing them of whatever meaning they may have ever had. If you can make the chorus catchy all the better, it becomes much more annoying when you finish halfway through it.
7. Repeat twenty times and slap on an album five times a year.

Piece of piss really. Mind you, you won’t make that much money out of it, and two albums down the line you’ll run out of R.E.M. tracks and have to move on to the Afghan Whigs or Buffalo Tom for your source material. If you find you have to get on to Superchunk albums you are Robert Pollard and you must stop this madness now.

DUEL!

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DUEL!: another day, another Duel. Travis vs Catatonia.