Posts from 26th January 2005

Jan 05


FT + New York London Paris Munich4 comments • 614 views


A new NYLPM feature – will it get as far as its third entry? You decide! Well, no, I decide probably.

A few years ago I was reading a comic called Starman. The hero of Starman is, frankly, a big nerd. This particular issue had him talking about “Money’s Too Tight To Mention” to another character. “Of course,” he added, “The Valentine Brothers version”.

This kind of flagrant knowledge drop is something we’ve all done – and file-sharing now means that ANYONE can do it, so it doesn’t even have the tang of expertise any more! Spreading knowledge is a Good Thing but the question has to be asked – is the knowledge right? Not factually right but, you know, right right.

I’ve called this particular rhetorical move a ‘Gloria’ after its most common manifestation. “Tainted Love? (pause) Of course the Gloria Jones version is better.” Here’s how this will work – we will post a Gloria and allow a dignified day or so for comments before the Freaky Trigger Science Factopinion is deployed to answer it. I reckon Glorias are about half correct, but we’ll see. Of course at some point we’ll consider the real actual original Gloria, but for now let us begin with this:

“99 Red Balloons? The German original is much better.”

Nice and simple, no? But is our straw friend right or wrong? Over to you (until tomorrow)…

The Key 20th C Artists, as proven by science

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 499 views

The Key 20th C Artists, as proven by science

So I have this Phaidon book, The 20th Century Artbook. It has one page each, a reproduction and brief text, on 500 20th C artists. Each entry also has 3-6 other artists from the book mentioned as links – some are similar or associated in some way, some influences on or influenced by, whatever. But who gets the most mentions (I saw a recent ranking of universities by citations in learned journals, which perhaps inspired this)? Well, 95% of the 500 artists get at least one link mention – there is a lot of reciprocity – but some winners emerge. The top two were predictable, but Pollock #3 and Rothko at =5th may indicate some American bias, and I think they overvalue the glossy surrealists – Dali, De Chirico, Magritte and Tanguy are high up, Klee (only 6!), Miro (5) and Ernst (4) way behind.

1. (30 link mentions) Pablo Picasso
2. (23) Henri Matisse
3. (21) Jackson Pollock
4. (20) Wassily Kandinsky
5= (17) Salvador Dali, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko
8= (16) Constantin Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp (below Dali!)
10= (15) Sol Lewitt
11= (14) Georges Braque, Giorgio De Chirico, Willem De Kooning
14= (13) Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, Rene Magritte, Amedeo Modigliani
18= (12) Carl Andre, Hermann Nitsch (first I’d barely heard of – have I neglected performance art, I wonder?)
20= (11) Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cezanne (dying early in the century maybe didn’t help his score), Gina Pane (highest woman, and see Nitsch comment above), Robert Ryman, Yves Tanguy, Andy Warhol
26= (10) George Grosz, Edward Hopper, Elie Nadelman, Ben Nicholson (4 ahead of his wife!), Auguste Rodin, Helene Schjerfbeck, David Smith
33= (9) Umberto Boccioni, Andre Derain, Jean Fautrier, Paul Gauguin, Adolph Gottlieb, Mona Hatoum, David Hockney, Henri Laurens, Fernand Leger, Franz Marc, Edvard Munch, Bruce Naumann, Kiki Smith, Daniel Spoerri, Bill Viola, Mark Wallinger
50= (8) Judith Barry, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anthony Caro, Robert Delaunay (Sonia on 2), Raoul Dufy, Richard Estes, Dan Flavin, Juan Gonzalez, Erich Heckel, Eva Hesse, On Kawara, Barbara Kruger, Richard Long, Aristide Maillol, Kasimir Malevich (far too low), Mario Merz, Emil Nolde, Eduardo Paolozzi, Mimmo Rotella, Robert Smithson, Ben Vautrier

Some who seem very underscored to me: on 7 are Giacometti, Henry Moore (sculpture doesn’t do too well here), Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman and Robert Rauschenberg (that far behind Pollock and Rothko?); on 6 are Calder, Hepworth, Agnes Martin (sorry Anthony!) and Monet; on 5 Man Ray, Schwitters and Sherman; on 4 Jean Arp, Gabo, Rae 4 (okay, this is certainly enough, but she’s a big favourite of mine); on 3 Chicago, Christo and Renoir; on 2 Feininger and Ruscha; and Cy Twombly just gets the one mention.

Seelenluft-The Way We Go

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Seelenluft-The Way We Go

It’s worth noting (and a real shame) that distribution problems have meant this record flew undetected past the radar last year. It’s probably my number 1 album of 2004. So it’s only an undiscovered classic cos it never had a decent chance of being discovered. Rumour has it most of them are still stuck in a factory somewhere.

Like alot of 2004 records, The Way We Go is a sort of “super-pop”, existing in that space somewhere between disco-punk, electroclash, and rock music, which seems to drip with sex and glamour. It’s perhaps comparable to Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever.It’s also the sort of record that makes you invent genre names. For instance, I like to call “Mes Amis” acid-pop. And “Strings Of Silvercity” is like an electroclash sea shanty. The vocals throughout are absolutely bubblegum, seldom big but always clever.

The Way We Go is hyper-sophisticated but at the same time kooky, it’s super-sexy and fashionable but also vulnerable and wistful. In an alternate universe the entire world dances to this music! In this sense there’s a real Wizard of Oz feel to the whole thing, was “Silvercity” in Wizard of Oz? If so that makes alot of sense! Anyway, what’s more important is that as far as verse/chorus song based music goes (and in this case very very far, for once) this is one of the freshest, sexiest, coolest and downright best albums I think I’ve ever heard. If you have ever used the phrase dream-pop………………well then you know to go and buy this!

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Blog 7Post a comment • 1,061 views

Post more often again, the holidays were full, this past month has been full, but there are various nice new developments in life in general for me as well as oodles of new music etc. Still wish I could do eight things at once, though.

The Politics Of The Future I:

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 390 views

The Politics Of The Future I: Science fiction is often not THAT speculative about science. Postulating future politics is almost as much fun. Perhaps for satirical effect, or for plot reasons, or just for fun: mooting a future society does mean getting idea of its political infrastructure. Over Christmas I read four books which all rest strongly on their political dimension. Interesting two were ultra-capitalist, two were communist.

The most crude of the bunch was Jennifer Government by Max Barry, which is the No Logo future. Or the Logo future. Basically it stretches the idea that corporations will be running the world, or at least more obviously running the world. A very simplistic extrapolation, the book is basically a rollocking adventure with added (bloody obvious) satire. For example, the title comes from the fact that people take the name of the company they work for as their surname. The book manages to find this unworkable in though it can manipulate it. The book however is well aware of its lack of depth, in it one of the characters reads The Space Merchants, and criticises that for exactly what you would criticise Jennifer Government. The Space Merchants imagines a world dominated by advertising. JG is based on corporate skull-duggery. There may be hubris involved however in suggesting it is better than Pohl & Kornbluth’s book. It is a fast, fun read however, albeit relying on the most outrageous coincidences for resolution.

Brandwatch Special: Girls Allowed

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,218 views

Brandwatch Special: Girls Allowed

I suspect marketing people are a bit divided over Yorkie’s now-quite-long-running “NOT FOR GURLS” campaign. Innovative? Yes. Patronising? Probably. A joke worn thin through repetition? Well…. Schoolboy humour? Now that we call can agree on.

So no surprise then that Yorkie are now teaming up with that British institution most known for its clannish masculinity, the Isle of Man. And no surprise that the Isle of Man turns out to have a sense of humour very similar to that of our friends at Yorkie. For students of the “just a bit of fun” element in British public life this is a rich picking indeed. For women on the Isle, I suspect it’s just business as usual.


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 528 views

Day 12: Eruption

I did not have much time to react. The rumbling of the ground signaled either a very heavy bassline being played (say by the dual bassists of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin) or a major plate tectonic shift. Neither would be a good thing for me. I quickly looked around the lair of the infernal Lawley for something that could help me. Why did people on Desert Island Discs never take emergency lava proof safety craft with them. It was clear that lava had passed this way before as I could see above an old chimney of a dormant (but not for much longer) volcano.

The shelves which had house the infamous discs seemed rather robust so I tipped them over and covered the largest vent with them. I them insulated the whole affair with a four poster bed (possibly the pick of some Lord) under which I found a paragliding parachute. An idea came into my mind based on the properties of hot air. And I don’t mean the ability to send me to sleep when being expelled by Sir Bob Geldof on yet another one of his rants about how fathers are hard done by. No court in the land would grant a man who looks like a tramp and writes songs about mass murder custody of his kids.

As the room rumbled to an alarming degree I fixed the parachute firmly to the four poster bed and the shelving. Then, using a piece of plumbing that only the most anal of castaways would have chosen, I made a rudimetary exhaust to force the supeheated air up.

Needless to say, it worked and soon I, the bed and the shelving were soaring up the chimney. Not a moment too soon, as with a loud Bang, the volcano below me erupted. The slow progress was sped up by the jet of java which was luckily deflected by the metal shelving. Nevertheless, in seconds I was shot free of the volcano, the island and into the strasophere – only to drift over sea, towards land on the parachute.

Landing on a cold, rocky promontory, I took stock of the situation. And then went to sleep. Well I did have a four poster bed.

VAN HALEN: Eruption

Eruption is an instrumental. So at least we do not have to contend with the god-awful lyrics that heavy metal bands shoehorned into their songs. Instead, like all instrumentals, we get to project meaning fromt he ood of those playing, and from the audience reaction. The only hint we have is the songs name to its true meaning. Eruption. What could that refer to.

Well it could refer to a volcano of course, and it is in this sense I am using it. However in reality one need only look at the standard Van Halen fan to deign its true meaning. Lank, greasy hair, leading to the kind of problem combination skins that Laboratoire Garnier blanch at. Such skin which can only be improved by the nocturnal habits of such fans – and I don’t mean air guitar. No, eruption clearly refers to big, fat pustulating zits bursting with zealous glee. The zits being formed by a rebellious body which wants to do anything it can to get away from the appalling guitar wankery of Eddie Van Halen.

And as for David Lee Roth. Well if the words spandex, Pat Sharp hair, mouth the size of the Mersey tunnel, brain the size of a pea do not scare you off, then a quick listen to Why Can’t This Be Love* will soon convince you that this man is a aberration of nature. It could not be love by the way for much the reason their fans could not get girlfriends. You cannot love something too ugly to look in the eye.

THE FT TOP 100 SONGS 92. Girls Aloud – “Love Machine”

FT + New York London Paris Munich/5 comments • 3,963 views

92. Girls Aloud – “Love Machine”

There is one good thing, and one good thing only, about indie zine The Fly. It is free, and handily available for homeward bound tube reading from Victoria HMV.

This month is the first of a new year, and a new year means New Music which only The Fly can ‘turn you on’ to. So the magazine asked some of the movers and shakers on the scene to give their tips for the sound of ’05.

Well their replies were various, yes various, but they all had one thing in common. They all sounded the same. You mean they all sounded similar? No, they –

– ah, hold on, wrong entry.

One of the Fly’s interviewees had something interesting to say, though. “I think rockabilly will be back this year,” said the programme director of XFM. Or maybe it was the publicist for the Kaiser Chiefs. Or the guitarist for Kasabian.

“I think rockabilly will be back this year, but with some electronic sounds, so it’s not just a retro thing.”

And I thought, hold on, that sounds familiar…

Well done Stan Lee

Do You SeePost a comment • 274 views

Well done Stan Lee on getting your due from Marvel’s movie successes! Just be sure not to blow the money on any totally shit vanity projects for your star mates, eh?