Posts from June 2000

29
Jun 00

SPIRITUALIZED – “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”, “Come Together”

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,199 views

Both songs are in waltz time (3/4, or at least 6/8, but close enough) – but it took me until this week to realize it (typical). Any odd time signature is a funny thing – for whatever reason, we’re so accustomed to 4/4 and similarly even times that the odd ones seem off-kilter, sometimes clumsy (though some, like Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” (from the album of odd-meter experiments, Time Out) in 5/4 time, are eminently swinging; some like Herbie Hancock’s “Hidden Shadows” (from the otherworldly Sextant) use something ungodly like 19/8 and turn the clumsiness into deep, deep funk). I think waltz time is different, though, because it’s still less than four beats per measure – rather than being tempted to hear it as 4 plus some leftover beats, our natural expectations are thwarted, and we have to start counting all over again before we’ve “finished” (1-2-3-1-2-3…).

This is used to great effect in these two Spiritualized songs. In the first, the relatively straightforward 3/4 at the beginning is obscured by the round format, and the patented J. Spaceman kitchen-sink production. Thus the off-balance 3 is stretched out, fitting the song – everything’s off-balance, just sort of drifting about, trying to come into synch with everything else. In the second, the rhythm is more obvious, insistent even, from the bassline and the snare hits especially. The 3 becomes a buffeting 3, where we’re brought through 1, 2, 3, then when off-balance, thrown back into 1 again, violently. Just like Pierce’s production (drums low in the mix, earthly anchors left behind), the meters here help toss the ballast, sending the songs heavenward and beyond.

The Swingle Sisters

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 462 views

cf. Stereolab thirty years ago.

Broadcast

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 984 views

cf. Stereolab with a Brummie accent.

28
Jun 00

Stereolab

I Hate Music1 comment • 648 views

ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba socialism ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba

Enough intellectualism! On a far more interesting note, I find on Teletext today…

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 226 views

(Channel 4 p141 for anyone who’s interested) that your favourite crossover R&B/UK garage star Craig David is the subject of a bidding war between two US majors and Puff Daddy. Apparently Puff heard Craig’s two solo singles on import and became a huge fan. Like I said, if he plays his cards right…

“One of my cymbal patterns is more rebellious than their entire recorded output, which is just a waste of plastic”

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 226 views

“One of my cymbal patterns is more rebellious than their entire recorded output, which is just a waste of plastic” – Liam Howlett of the Prodigy on Chumbawamba.

Fred asked a few months ago what people felt was the reason that they listened to pop music – what role it played in their everyday life. The obvious answer is that pop music is for entertainment. It’s unlikely that we’d sustain much interest in music if it didn’t please us in some way. Aside from the entertainment value, though, many would argue that music needs some kind of meaning or message in order to be artistically valid. One of the criticisms most often levelled at the majority of pop music is that it has no meaning; Britney, Fatboy Slim, *NSync and Atomic Kitten “say nothing to me about my life”, to use Morrissey’s explanation. So why do so many people find that Britney et al do say something to them about their lives?

Last night, I watched music television for about 8 hours whilst talking with friends. Not once in that time did I think of any overtly message-based explanation of my enjoyment of a night in front of MTV, MTV2, MTV Base, The Box, VH1, KISS TV… but as I watched I tried to reason why I liked or disliked each song I heard. It’s clearly apparent that we like the majority of our favourite music because we relate it to our own lives in some way, but that doesn’t explain why this particular Eminem compound rhyme means anything to me:

Y’all act like you never seen a white person before
Jaws all on the floor like Pam, like Tommy just burst in the door
And started whooping her ass worse than before they first were divorced
Throwin’ her over furniture…
The Real Slim Shady

As The Real Slim Shady rotated every five minutes on the various channels, that rhyme hit me every time, but why should I care so much about it? Short of amusing Motley Crue and Methods Of Mayhem anecdotes, I couldn’t care less about Pam and Tommy. Eminem could be rapping about fish paste sandwiches or tape-based data backup systems and that rhyme scheme would still have the same effect on me. But this doesn’t fit in with the theory of relating to a song; beyond a point, how can anyone identify so closely to a specific melody or a specific rhythm? My explanation would be that we identify in a different way. A rhythm can’t relate to our lives so we relate it to our love of dancing. The simplest of melodies or rhythms can strike some inexplicable harmony inside us and cause a very similar enjoyment of the music to that caused by the lyrical or literal identification, yet an enjoyment stemming from a much more abstract root.

The more we try to explain it through logical reasoning, the more we find that music can’t be reduced to a science. However hard I try I can’t fully explain what makes me prefer one Destiny’s Child melody to another so I can only guess that it’s a natural instinct or, perhaps more probably, a reaction based on past experience and interaction with melodies and rhythms. This may explain why similar people often like similar music. Hardly a conclusive answer but it does explain Liam Howlett’s reasoning: his cymbals mean a lot more to him than Chumbawamba’s “political” ranting does. Morrissey just manages to stay on the right side of the argument when he refers to “me” and “my life” rather than saying that the music simply “says nothing”. However community-based a musical listening experience becomes, enjoyment is an intensely personal experience. You can hate the Prodigy as much as you want but you won’t change Liam Howlett’s views on Chumbawamba.

If there’s a song you like and you know why you like it let me know why and I’ll see if I can come up with a more definitive and general answer some time in the future.

while the cat’s away…

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 349 views

Hi, my name is fred. as many of you know, i have my own blog called steal this blog! while tom’s off on holiday, he asked me to fill-in for him. as such, i’ll promise to try to stay on the topic of music, “try” being the operative word. if this gets too boring, though, i know a place where you can go.

anyway, enough shameless self promotion. in closing, i’d like to take this opportunity to publicly call josh kortbein a bitch. when tom asks him to fill in, josh falls into line. when i ask him to fill in, what happens? not a God damned thing. screw him and his algorithms too.

“Pitchfork Review:” us|against|them

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,100 views

“Pitchfork Review:” us|against|them. OK, so (almost) nobody entered uat’s contest. Who cares, the winning entry is fantastic (scroll down a bit, there you go). I’m not even sure the reviewer being toasted didn’t secretly write this one, it’s so perfect an impersonation.

27
Jun 00

My name is Greg

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 343 views

I like sweets and the KLF. I relax by listening to classic hip hop records from 1983 and watching Only Fools And Horses. On a bad day I may rate Toytown Techno as possibly the fourth greatest musical genre of all time. On other days I may listen to some better breakbeat-based music and realise it’s the runt of the hardcore litter. I’ll be accompanying you through the proceeding week. Direct your mail this way.

I’m going on holiday until the 5th. I’ll be having a great time, and I’ll be nowhere near any computers

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 317 views

I leave NYLPM in the hands of Robin, Josh, Fred, Greg, Ned, and Mike, who hopefully between them will be able to post at least something every day (pretty please…?!). Blue Lines will go into hibernation for a week, and I Hate Music remains in the all-too-capable hands of Ms. Headon. Luckily you can still follow all the fabulous music links in the right-hand column. Bye now!