Posts from 16th August 2000

16
Aug 00

SICK NOTES

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SICK NOTES

Where have I been? In bed. What have I been? Ill. “Am I still ill?” Morrissey asked once in a thinly-disguised bid to break his Rough Trade contract and sign to Def Jam. The answer was in that sense no, though anyone hearing his tortuous bawlings would have been forgiven for calling a doctor immediately, preferably Kervorkian or Crippen. I however am still ill and will return to full-time writing duties when I can get back on the gin, which will hopefully be soon. If it’s kept the Queen Mum alive all these years it’s good enough for me.

Pop stars falling ill is in general a good thing, as it means they cancel tours. Or die. However germs are not always the music-hater’s friend. Brian Eno has long kept his pate in polish by retelling the story of how when he was sick in bed and hallucinating a ‘friend’ came over and put on an album of harp music, which then blended with the street noise outside and lo, invented ambient, appropriately since so many of its listeners are themselves to be found lying almost immobile whilst experiencing bizarre visions, and since any sane person would need to be at death’s door before they’d tolerate a Pete Namlook record for more than ten seconds.

Anyhow I can now tell a similar story, as on Monday my wretched flatmate put a David Gray album on before leaving for the pub. For the next five minutes Mr.Gray’s godless throaty drivel was interspersed with the sound of alarm clocks, glasses, slippers and books being thrown at the stereo until finally a hit was scored. I hardly think it constitutes a new genre but it certainly provided fine sport.

MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT – “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan”

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MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT – “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan”

Industrial is disco, obviously. The most fun things about industrial music (which like most genres can’t be defined, but you know it when you hear it) are its beat-based shamelessness, drugginess and crassness: D.I.S.C.O. from head to toe. Of course the words are dystopically different – “I wanna rot my stinkin’ brain…dope forever, forever loaded” versus, I don’t know, “What’cha doin on your back? You should be dancing!”…but this is black sheep of the family stuff, not a whole different evolutionary branch. It’s only words.

When industrial music gets too harsh and knowing, it tends to go wrong. You could say the same with any genre, really: it’s this whole authenticity thing again. Where people slip up sometimes is assuming that you have to oppose authenticity with the inauthentic and the plastic, which is silly. Rejecting authenticity or ‘meaning it’ as a critical category doesn’t mean dashing headlong after the first J-pop diva or hand-me-down trash manifesto that comes along. What it means to me is realising that ideas of creative sincerity and integrity have precious little to do with my enjoyment of a record, and that attempts to take them into account lead in general to bad criticism and bad music, which is just as well because we can’t know those things for sure anyway.

My guess is you’re likely to get more out of music if you don’t ask the question in the first place: take everything at wide-eyed face value and let the good stuff filter through. I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do with NYLPM: what I didn’t want to do was paint myself into an indie=bad, pop=good corner, which judging by the site’s approval by the indie rock ‘scene’ hasn’t been an issue. This bout of self-analysis sprung out of HumanClick conversations and my self-conscious attempt to nail the Freaky Trigger aesthetic on a shirt Mike was making (follow the link and judge for yourself if I managed it or not).

Sorry, yes, meant to be reviewing a record. All that stuff is little to do with 1990’s “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan”, a favourite of mine from back then which I was glad to rediscover the other day. It’s a romp – 4/4 beats and stalker basslines, glam-fuzz guitar, muezzin cries, guttural howlings and layer on layer of drugsploitation sampling. Dark and exhilarating like a dumb videogame (and it makes it clear that muezzin cries only became such a monster cut-up cliche because they were ace).