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23
Jul 00

Does the world need a

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Does the world need a Mark E Smith font? Apparently so, though judging from the Fall’s sleeves etc. it looks not very much like his depraved scrawl. Almost certainly of more lasting use is the excellent page of Fall News the same site maintains.

22
Jul 00

Tonight’s the night

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Tonight’s the night when They Came From The Stars (I Saw Them) party on at the Octocapsule in Stoke Newington. A long performance of their epical masterpiece “Blok Rock” is promised, plus DJing, belly dancers, and dodgy punch. No details as to time – I’d guess late – many details as to place. The Octocapsule, 25a Belfast Road, next to Stoke Newington tube, and if you go be sure to wear a mask. Unavoidable and irritating circumstances prevent me from going, so assuage my guilt by dropping in if you’re in the area.

Planet Revolution

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Planet Revolution: Revolution is the “music magazine for the digital age”, and its site is a joke: not a good start. It’s not a joke because of poor design or navigability, certainly not – even on my pretty slow home machine it loads quickly, looks pretty and flows smoothly. But my dears, the content!

The bulk of what’s up there currently is a very long marketing-schmooze brochure, peppered with wannabe-punchy prose like this: “Music matters. That’s worth repeating. Even in today’s hyper-marketed, demographically-driven, deafeningly competetive world, the music still matters. It matters enough, in fact, to launch REVOLUTION”. This sort of hackneyed waffle would be pretty tedious in a first-time fanzine – from a big magazine launch it’s unforgiveably lazy. And also a bit hypocritical – click on from that a couple of times and you get to a page or two on “Revolution’s target market”, with agegroup and attitudinal segmentation details a-go-go. Cuz, you see, we’re the “Internet Generation” and apparently all look like smooth-boned Diesel models. Hyper-marketed? Demographically-driven? Yeah, baby!

This stuff pisses me off because I spend a couple of days a month writing it, but I can’t believe that any of Revolution’s ‘target market’ would sit through the 12-page shitefest and not feel somehow cheapened. Unfortunately, this kind of vapid biz-speak, where the stripped-down form of the straight-talking no-bullshit zinester disguises the bloated content of the marketing gecko, is pretty much the lingua franca of music and the internet.

Oh yeah, the quotes from the desired demographic on Revolution are also tat: “I want to know what is out and hot, from underground house to progressive.” Now, he might be talking about prog rock, but if he’s not, well, that’s not very much of a gap. Gillet, who’s actually seen a copy, reports that the music featured is as bland as you’d expect, house music for First Tuesday hangers-on. Some revolution.

Can we forgive Wagner?

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Can we forgive Wagner? “It would be naive to feel that we must whitewash Wagner’s works in order to be able to enjoy them, for such an argument suggests that there is such a thing as an ideologically unproblematic work of art. On the other hand, it would be equally indefensible to censor the works (their performance or publication) altogether, even in Israel, for, ironically, to do so would mean that Wagner had won – that his works were indeed reserved for Germans, and that Jews had no place in their reception and enjoyment.” – fascinating article on the continuing response to Wagner’s anti-semitism. With Wagner, the nay-sayers are in a minority: mostly he’s as canonical as it gets. In more ‘popular’ cultural areas, the questions are much more everyday and live – do deplorable views affect creative work? What happens when they spill into that work?

On the one hand I agree with the quoted comment – there is a tendency among critics (‘high’ or ‘low) to ‘prettify’ music, to only offer coverage and respect to works which fit squarely into the “ideologically unproblematic” category. But I also feel it must be possible to acknowledge both the greatness of an artwork and the shortcomings of its creator – or even to use the art to spotlight the shortcomings. Forgiving need not necessarily imply forgetting, in other words.

It’s also interesting that ideological critics are far harsher on political and attitudinal ‘lapses’ than on personal ones. A 19th centry artist with racist views would – and this is only a hunch – be vilified considerably more today than one who was a serial adulterer or even a wife-beater. The former is the Problem at the Heart of their Work; the latter would be a bit of tasty biographical colour.

21
Jul 00

motion review: Urawa

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motion review: Urawa. Noted here not for the review itself (looks to be typical motion content – weird music, good review), but the slight digression at its beginning regarding the sub-independent level of music production: formerly tapes, now CDRs and (they don’t say so, but…) MP3s, of course.

I still find it an odd thing, reading through old discographies to see “tape-only release.” I still, despite my love for things independent, equate (just barely) “tape-only” with “we dubbed this ourselves because, uh, no one would release it for us.” Understandably, I don’t hang out on mp3.com a lot either.

Tedious Admin Note

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The FTP is once again down, so currently I Hate Music and CAOTM can’t be updated. Apologies to Mike, Tanya and their readers. This also means that we can’t launch the Films Issue as planned: I’m in contact with the people who host ft.com, or rather, I’m contacting them to no response whatsoever. Needless to say a new hosting service is very high on my list of priorities right now.

At least Tom managed to remove some of the pretentiousness

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At least Tom managed to remove some of the pretentiousness from the actual title: MACHINA/the machines of god.

PCC’s Pre-Mixed Tapes

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PCC’s Pre-Mixed Tapes – better than most mixtape articles, not as good as the huge ever-growing article that rules from the centre of kempa.com. The Stalker one Kathleen likes is in fact rubbish, as it leaves off such notable stalky classics as Tony Orlando And Dawn’s “Knock Three Times” (“Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me” slobbers ‘our hero’, having made it pretty clear he’d take any 3 random sounds if it allowed him to further fuel his sick obsession with his upstairs neighbour.)

Sing Along With Stephin

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Sing Along With Stephin: been after this one for a while – Stephin Merritt selects one ‘best’ recording from every year, 1900-1999. And no, he’s not arrogant enough to choose any of his own. Anyone who picks Julie London as the best of 1955 wins me over, and he gets the early 60s right too. It’s frothy stuff, but that’s lists for you.

Reviews ‘n’ Rants

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Reviews ‘n’ Rants from Uncle Fester. Uncle Fester’s been around on the internet reviewing music for ages, and he doesn’t get enough respect from us young bucks (hollow laugh). Here are his thoughtful, straightforward reviews of 2000’s discs so far – mostly high-profile indie stuff, but with a useful smattering of worldwide releases too. I love his marking system: he roasts the Official Worst Band In The World’s Machina: The Machines Of God – no, hold on, I have to go and laugh myself sick after typing that.

That’s better. Anyway, he gives that record a kicking, avowedly to lend a sense of scale to his record reviews, but not much of one because it still gets 6- out of 10. I dread to think what kind of nameless Cthulhoid recording would merit a 1.