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Jul 00

Interview with

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Interview with The Coup from the Onion’s marvellous A.V. club. Solid, ego-free interviewing with people who have something to say…..what a concept!

Hip Hop Must Die!

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Hip Hop Must Die!: bloody good article which refuses to draw the cosy conclusions most ‘real’ hip-hop heads seem to, and is infinitely better for it.

Time Travellin’

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Time Travellin’: we used to have a section in the bookshop I named ‘Parahistory’, for all the post-Daniken, pre-Millennium “Did Aliens/Christ/Masons/Yeti Build The Pyramids?” books that were flooding in. Here’s a hip-hop take on that stuff, kind of. Grant Morrison’s listening to the wrong music, for certain.

Nick Drake – A Gay Perspective

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Nick Drake – A Gay Perspective: recent articles on Drake have tended to suggest that in fact he was a bit of a womaniser. This article, though, led me to this list of articles on the man, which includes Ian MacDonald’s vast overview of his work, the kind of in-depth piece for which we can forgive Mojo all sorts of pomposity, even if I don’t agree with everything MacDonald says.

Drake’s albums have of course now been reissued, placing the capstone on the process of canonisation which the records have undergone these past five years. You may be sick of hearing about him, but they are damn good. Unfortunately the remastering and reissuing process has shoved Time Of No Reply, the outtakes and final tracks collection, into pop history’s bottom drawer, annoying since I never got round to buying it.

Cultural Artifacts of the Moment: A Musical Education

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Cultural Artifacts of the Moment: A Musical Education – yeah yeah, I host it, but this is a fascinating trip down one fan’s memory lane. Since said fan (Mike) is probably the most eclectic listener I know, this is well worth a look.

Not a bad idea at all: Andy Weatherall has put together a compilation,

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Not a bad idea at all: Andy Weatherall has put together a compilation, 9 O’Clock Drop of early 80s white avant-funk bands (ACR, 23 Skidoo, et al. – lots of Factory acts too, I shouldn’t wonder). Here’s an article (link c/o Martin) where he talks about it. The piece contrasts the skeletal mechano-paranoid effectiveness of the era’s music favourably with Britney et al. but that seems beside the point – the people who should really be paying attention are the trip-hoppers and downtempo purists who have shamefully neglected this whole movement both as an inspiration and as a source for reissues, probably because this edgy, atmospheric music entirely lacks the chilled, cossetted vibe of today’s bar-ready breakbeat nonsense.

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.

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.