Posts from 16th February 2003

Feb 03

Wolf Eyes – “Dead Hills Pt. 2”

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Apparently a whole generation of latch-keyers reared on the NES, skateboard vids, and 7 Seconds albums are discovering the joys of rudimentary, home-cobbled electronics, raining cold gray slush – Residents chirrups, Whitehouse grind, Masonna shrieks, Neubauten bongo oil cans – on an unsuspecting hardcore underground. It’s a measure of hardcore’s insularity as a genre that “noise” is the New! Now! Over To You! order of the day because “noise” as a genre doesn’t change much: because it can encompass Everything it usually ends up encompassing nothing but its own cannibalized guts. So the same repeat motifs — vid games in meltdown, metal on metal scrape, feedback blare, strangulated vocalese, abused FX pedals — wash alleviatory and unchecked over the unwashed. (The last 30 years of ‘avant’ anything have traded on the rather hackneyed notion that experimental = drifty, and Noise does nothing disruptive here, reinforcing its own widdle womb. An ocean made of razor wire or brillo pads is still an ocean.) As always, the best noise acts attack their material with a bloodyminded humor; Wolf Eyes (the lastest cause celeb in a milieu where 500 cassettes sold makes you a star) render early Swans in negative, flipping and reversing their plod so that the heft of the guitar chunk-a-chunk becomes a swarm of addled texture blips, leaving only the agonizing pace and groaning humanoid yelps. It’s hilarious (if tiring), and says only one thing about (my/your/their) life: steaming rectal intubation with intolerable hot enema now.

British Image No.1

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Live Forever

Pop music has always been an audiovisual medium, but documentary movies about pop have been rare, and successful ones rarer still. Two problems confront the film-maker wanting to do more than simply record a performance. The most interesting pop subjects are often rich and jaded or inarticulate, and pop criticism seems particularly prone to nostalgia or easy, uncritical myth-making. Live Forever, John Dowey’s entertaining documentary about the rise and fall of Britpop, avoids the first pitfall but never quite escapes the second.