Posts from 17th October 2000

17
Oct 00

MAGNETOPHONE –

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MAGNETOPHONE – Oh Darlin’ EP

In TV’s Scrapheap Challenge, participants have to build some working device out of stuff they can find in, yes, a scrapheap. (By amazing coincidence someone always seems to have thrown away a working motor, but that’s another entry entirely). Magnetophone, and their endless winking and clanking peers, are the musical equivalent: rusting and wheezing robots juddering around electric junkyards, springs popping and coils groaning. Sometimes they kick over a music box and some pretty old tune spools out; sometimes their gears seize entirely and the music hums to a nothing and then drags itself back.

It’s surely entertaining and likeable: maybe asking what it’s for is a question too far. But Magnetophone are so relentlessly abstract (without, note, being abrasive or groundbreaking) that the most interesting thing about Oh Darlin’ was the label, art-goth mainstay 4AD planting its flag on the electronic pack ice. Even the press release – a catalogue of unlikely feats and made-up personal histories, all very droll but an exercise in obfuscation which goes hand in hand with the music to make Magnetophone a strangely forbidding, self-sufficient exercise: go away, listener. We don’t need you. It’s a stance as old as electronic music itself, and two or three years ago felt fresher, neccessary even, with the pop charts so full of loudmouthed ninnies shouting out how ordinary they were. But after a while you get sick of it. Magnetophone have good ideas to spare – “Come on the ‘phone” is a fussy, tactile clatter of delightfully unlikely rhythms; “Lubeecha” is exhausted and lovely – but there’s a lack of substance here too, and worse, the sense it might be here on purpose.

The saddest thing about

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The saddest thing about Salon‘s copping out of its music criticism is that when it does bother to run a pop feature – like The Hard Rap Cafe, a review of the new hip-hop exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum – they’re often excellent. After a sarky opening, Alex Pappademas produces a tart, elegantly written and intelligent overview of the issues surrounding the Museum’s opening and exhibits, arguing that it signally fails to get a grip on the complexity of 00s hip-hop: he’s particularly cutting, and good, on the characterisation of Tupac Shakur as the ‘black Kurt Cobain’ (why does he have to be the black anyone?). Still, god forbid Salon should now do anything as jejune as review a record, particularly not when there’s the Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure DVD to cover.

On his own site

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On his own site, NYLPM stalwart Robin C reviews The Coup, and also has updated his meticulous history/analysis of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

On the forum

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On the forum, Fred pops the question: What are you ten favourite singles this year?. Aren’t lists fun?