Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I've always wanted a post that said...

This blog is on an extended leave. Until that day!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

For the record

I am not really putting a full stop to this blog, since with my overall tendency to get tired of things in the blink of an eye, I may just return once in a while.

Those who understand Dutch, will find me here.

Service Announcement / Dienstaankondiging

As some may have noticed my posting has taken a dive recently, due to a new job and the fact that after a day's work behind a computer screen my feelers for the nuances of the English language are close to non-existent. And since I am writing for Foxy Digitalis now, I will reserve my use of that language for my reviews there.

So....

Vanaf nu ga ik opnieuw in het Nederlands schrijven. Co-ordinaten volgen nog, aangezien ik heb vastgesteld dat de naam Fire in the Mind tamelijk populair is en ik natuurlijk absoluut origineel wil zijn en met een übercoole naam voor de dag wil komen. En laten we eerlijk zijn: schrijven doe je toch maar beter in je eigen taal. Ik ben Cioran immers niet (gelukkig maar).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Death of the Media

The last few weeks there have been some - belated to say the least - discussions in Belgium about the quality of the media. People are grumpy about the quality of the restyled national radio, that has lately been oozing the kind of Fun! Fun! Fun! approach to the medium that people (I purposely do not include myself, because I have not been listening any radio now for at least ten years) find irritable. I do not need to listen to the radio to know that they are right (because, as a working person with a desk job I am obliged to at least unconsciously listen to the barrage of bullshit music that is streaming out of the office radio's).

Another thing was the constatation that the television news is spending more and more time on violence and crime, let's call it the belated Americanisation of the European media. Of course, again the critics are right.

These are both truisms, so I will not comment on them. What really bugged me, though, was the sheer poverty of the arguments with which the executives, editors and programmers defended their respective stances (about turning radio into 'a nice passing time for nice people' and showing more violence and reporting more about crime). As always, they were argumenting that 'the people want this' and that they 'are only reflecting what happens in society' and other unholy bullshit that was stale 30 years ago. They do not even bother to construct a sophism or two. No, they just stick to the old and proved untruths.

Who said that we want more fun on the radio? Who said that we want more crime reports? Nobody said that of course. Because most people just do not know what they want. They merely take what is there. The real reason of course is that the traditional media are losing more and more ground to new media like YouTube and the internet in general. So these marketeers* (i.e. people who know what YOU want), instead of producing the kind of quality that is lacking in these new media, resort to pitiful lies that are as empty and transparent as the head of Paris Hilton (another 'brand'?). You cannot possibly hate these people, you can only pity them. And that is just what I will do to my last second.

Just needed to get that out of my system.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Trivia Belgica

To be honest I do not in the least feel inclined to write a post about the so-called troubles in Belgium. Not only because it would require a post as long as a slim novel, but more because I am convinced that eventually the Belgian political caste will do what it does best, that is: compromise.

In case I turn out to be wrong I will have to move house to the French-speaking part of Belgium, because I am most certainly not going to live in what is one of the most rightist regions in Europe, by which I mean my beloved Flanders, also known as The Country Beneath The Church Tower. I also think people outside Belgium are making a lot of fuzz for nothing. If you are born and bred in this country, like myself, you will have seen and heard a lot worse than what is happening these last 100 days.

Another typical Belgian thing I just read somewhere: it would seem that Gavrilo Princip, the Serbian who shot Franz Ferdinand and consequently ignited the first world war, bought his gun, manufactured by Les Fabriques Nationales in Herstal, from a Belgian deserter who fled to Belgrade. Because guns are, beside chocolate, one of our finest achievements. If they are fighting a civil war anywhere on this godforsaken globe you can be sure there is an FN gun in play. The difference is: we do not use them to kill each other. For the time being that is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nazi France Fuck Off

It would seem that these days in France they have an institution that goes by the enlightened name of The Ministry of Immigration and National Identity. Am I the only one who thinks this rather crass?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

St-st-st-st-strange

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shit where you eat

Revealing, if not terrifying, post by Carl over at The Impostume. Interesting because I have seen this kind of political behavior already happening in Belgium and The Netherlands. The bottom-line is of course (and how this makes you sad!) that the formerly oppressed all too frequently join the ranks of the oppressors when they themselves are no longer oppressed. This way a situation becomes apparent in which something like 'being oppressed to the second degree' becomes reality. The Jamaican guy with whom Carl and his mate had a talk is most probably still being treated in a racist way fairly often. For some people he will always remain an Other. Now this Other reaches a mindset with which he, in turn, behaves in a racist way towards other Others.

Still, there should be no doubt that this kind of political behavior is entirely new. In the past immigrants migrated to what they perceived as a kind of Promised Land. They wanted jobs, they wanted to assimilate themselves culturally (naturally not in an absolute way, but relatively: one always retains at the very least a nucleus of the culture from which one springs). Now, we have a immigrant population who no longer view western culture as something to strive for (with, sadly, always one exception: when there is money to be made). Frequently they even view it as evil, something to reject and oppose.

And so you get the kind of situations like the one Carl describes, where those who used to be strangers treat others like undesirables. And then some people dare talk about globalisation and multiculture and all the good things those will bring us. Where, in fact, it would seem that for the greater part our (western) bad habits have been globalised.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just started reading the new Gibson, Spook Country. It is like stumbling upon an old friend. I promised myself I would savour it, rather than speed through it, but I fear I will have finished it well before the weekend.

I still find it remarkable how this guy has eyes and ears for all things futuristic. Even more remarkable is the fact that, while his last two novels have the present as a setting, you do not for a moment have the feeling that he is no longer writing science fiction. A bit like Ballard, but at the same time, worlds apart. Ballard writes about the dystopia inside all of us, while Gibson will always be writing about what is to come, but really already here. I know that sounds like a paradox, but this is a paradoxical age and Gibson catches the simulacrum of the era like no other. The dictum "The future is now" seems invented especially for reading Gibson.

A bonus, for me personally as a Belgian, is that the (ambiguous) man in the background in Pattern Recognition as well as in Spook Country is the Belgian advertising guru Hubertus Bigend. I cannot possibly imagine a Belgian with a name like that, but somehow he fits the profile nonetheless. I could not begin to fathom how Gibson manages to grasp the essence of what it is to be Belgian, but he does.

It is always a challenge to find the right music to go along with the reading of a Gibson. At the moment the latest Dopplereffekt releases and the most sinister parts of the Drexciya discography suit me just fine, with Tangerine Dream's Zeit and Atem as perfect replacements, should the reading turn nocturnal.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Vinyl We Trust

Cobblestone Jazz - DMT
Cobblestone Jazz - Put the Lime in da Coconut
Joel Mull - Begun the End Has (Mathew Jonson Tiger Remix)

If previous years were infested with absolutely killing Mathew Jonson tunes then 2007 is turning into a grand cru year for Cobblestone Jazz. It helps of course when said Jonson is one of the three Jazzers. The single-sided 'DMT' is probably the darkest minimal tune to hit the decks in 2007. Rightout creepy with those muffled voice samples but well worth your money.

Regular 12" 'Put the Lime in the Coconut' combines the best of Jonson's wobbly techno rhythms (think 'Put Your Booty Shorts On') and the trio's jazz-inclined melodies. Don't care too much for the flip, though.

Jonson's Mull remix has been out for some time now but it is surely his best remix ever and one of the best dance tracks of the year. A cosmic delight from beginning to end.

Kelley Polar - Chrysanthemum EP
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music
Osunlade - Elements Beyond

House is in a state of resurrection after years of slowly bleeding to death. But it is striking how most good house records have taken in a lot of techno influence. Kelley Polar strikes again with a beautiful three-tracker that, apart from the electro foundation, is rife with Age of Aquarius-style disco choirs and achingly beautiful melodies all around. Stunning as usual.

Henrik Schwarz's newest is, I humbly dare to state, without a shadow of a doubt his best yet. A tad more techno than house in a pumped up Basic Channel way and proving that Schwarz is one of the best producers in dance music right now.

The new Osunlade (on Strictly Rhythm of all labels) was a mighty surprise after years of Afro-tinged noodling from the man. There are at least five masterpieces on his new longplayer. This guy understands house (i.e. he knows that techno and house are an eternal twin) and that kind of understanding is growing rarer with the year. Amaze yourself and take a listen.

UR - Electronic Warfare 2.0
UR - Ma Ya Ya

Apart from some mid-nineties posing by Alec Empire Mad Mike's Underground Resistance remains the one and only truly political project in the whole of techno. The second episode of Electronic Warfare, as ever, makes no concessions at all, be it on the sonic or on the ideological side. Knife-sharp analog terror beats go hand in hand with soulful - albeit noisy - Red Planet-style techno. With lyrical snippets like "I'm gonna kill my radio station before it kills me" and "I am / U R / We will / Re-sist" it would be all too easy to point out the militant naivity. But only those who do not realize that every revolution requires an honest dose of naivité would come up with that kind of judgement. Essential as ever and comes with a nifty 7-inch sporting a raucous bonus track and an a capella of standout track 'Kill My Radiostation'. Judge or be judged!

'Ma Ya Ya' is from a few years ago but I only managed to lay my hands on it a few weeks ago. The combination of funky electrobeats, afro chants and accordion is just pure genius. Underground Resistance forever!!!

Q Lazarus / The The - Dark & Lovely 6

More tasty edits from Pilooski, here assisted by Krikor, who comes up with a heartbreaking electro edit of the Q Lazarus track, once part of the original Silence of the Lambs soundtrack. Pilooski himself beefs up The The's 'Giant', a track that was waiting to be reintroduced to the new dance generation.

Marc Ashken - Skream Remixes EP
Skream - Box of Dub
Andy Stott - Fear of Heights EP
Mala - Lean Forward

Dubstep's zenith is far from reached when someone like Skream (a genius that youngster) keeps providing the dope. The two remixes for Marc Ashken, originally minimal techno, are among his darkest tracks ever and they are oozing bass like snails ooze slime. The sample that rightly decries "R&B shit" is an added bonus.

The 12-inch drawn from the Box of Dub compilation on Soul Jazz sees him in straight-out dub mode. One might have doubts when there is only one extra track on this two-tracker, but 'Pass the Red Line' is one of the dubbiest tracks to ever emerge from the movement and certainly essential.

Andy Stott is the guy who cannot choose between techno and dubstep and it should come as no surprise then that the sublime Fear of Heights refrains from crossing the divide and insteads bridges both styles. Melancholic like Detroit techno and meditative like the best of Deep Chord, with, of course, deeeeeep bass.

The new DMZ comes courtesy of Mala who returns to murky dub waters after the techno cross-over of 'Left Leg Out'. 'Lean Forward' is the more dancefloor orientated track with a skanking climax after the Haile Selassie invoking break, while the slower 'Lean' reminds of Loefah's classic 'Mud' . Another topper indeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

After what seems like ages (indeed, internet moves at the speed of light compared with non-e life) I am relieved to be back online. Not too burdened though by the e-pause. Gave me some time to catch up on my reading. Rediscovered Nietzsche after way too long a time and have voraciously reread Jenseits von Gut und Böse, Der Antichrist and Der Fröliche Wissenschaft. Am raving about Badiou, who is rapidly becoming the in-house thinker over at Fire in the Mind's. Almost bought L'Être et l'Événement, but settled for Le Siècle, which I think is just what we all need. Am thoroughly enjoying myself with Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, kind of a light version of Gravity's Rainbow (which must then be the next to-read). Have finally managed to obtain a nicely paid dayjob enabling me again to go raiding the vinyl shops once a week (reviews to follow). All things come to those who wait. Anyway, writing should restart from this weekend on.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Son Electronique

2562 - Channel Two

To myself it has always been an immediacy, but hopefully it will, thanks to Appleblim and Shackleton's latest releases, Ewan Pearson opening his latest Fabric mix (sort of) with it and records like this one, become clear to the general techno/dance populace as well: (minimal) techno and dubstep were always made for each other. Take these two razorsharp technodubbers by young Dutch producer 2562 and mix them with off-kilter minimal techno, say of the Villalobos persuasion, and nobody should even notice that you are no longer playing techno. Great divides being closed, if the world at large does not start with it, it may as well be happening in music.

Shackleton feat. Jackson Del Rey - Next to Nothing

Strangely enough I find the usual Shackleton magic not entirely present on this outing for Crosstown Rebels. The techno remixes by both Guillaume and the Coutu Dumonts and Exercise One are for once far superior. They stick to the percussion and the result is two very memorable and funky as hell club stormers. Essential.

Aril Brikha - Ex Machine

Aril Brikha has to be one of the most unlucky producers of all time. He started out with 'Groove la' Chord', without any doubt one of the ten best techno tracks of all time (if not the best). It just could not get better after that. It almost did a few months ago with 'Berghain'. But there is not a single note on Ex Machine that so much as equals the power of the two aforementioned tracks. Everything is incredibly beautifully produced, everything sounds lush and warm. But it leaves me colder than both poles combined. Terrible, is it not?

Cybotron - Clear (Cobblestone Jazz Remix)

This could have been an outrageous sacrilege. But surprisingly it is far from that. It is actually very good with the Cobblestoners doubling the length of the original and adding subtle and non-invasive effects. But it will forever remain anyone's guess why they did not call this 'The Mathew Jonson Mix', because it is overly clear that those are Jonson's settings.

B12 - Slope

Talking about retro. The return of B12 is at the very least quite unexpected. After a silence of almost a decade the duo are back and they deliver. Only three tracks for the time being but 'Slope' itself can be played out by any self-respecting techno dj. The other two tracks are more akin to their previous incarnation, but even there you can hear a definite progression away from their eternal post-Transmat leanings. Awesome and welcome back.

Innersphere - Phunk (Ricardo Villalobos Remix)

Ricardo does one for the floor. It was about time. No self-reflection, darkness or ultra-minimalism this time (mind you, not that I have anything against that), just an original interpretation that will give this classic a second life. Villalobos The New Remix King? Pretty sure.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Silence (and what to do with it) Part 2

Terrific interview by Dan Warburton with Radu Malfatti, a composer and player I have become obsessed with over the last few months. Almost seven years on his ideas about music (and the absence of it) still are more relevant than ever. He is also totally my kind of guy, sparing nobody and nothing, saying what has to be said and ever looking forward.



Addendum:

Following extract is, I think, the most important passus of the interview. I will deconstruct (and reconstruct) this further in the following days when I have got the time. For the time being I will refer to an earlier post of a few months ago which led to a minor discussion with K-Punk at the time (who got his point from - or agreed with the point of - Simon Reynolds) and whose argument I find I have neglected to rebut. The dichotomy/oppposition under discussion has nonetheless been grinding at the back of my mind ever since. (Incidentally, it also ties in with Ralf Wehowsky's quote I referred to a few posts below.) Anyway, more on this the following days.

"Warburton: (...) I can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse to be fantastically aware of very tiny details (acoustic or otherwise) of wherever you happen to be."

Malfatti: For me it's a blessing: the more we are aware of things the better. We can decide later if we "need" them or not, but look at all those people who are unaware of most of what's going on around them. Sure, it would be a curse if every little detail entered our brain and passed through the short-term memory gate and stayed in long-term-memory - then we really would have a lot to carry around with us! - but someone once said that we don't use more than 65% of our brain capacity, and I'm absolutely sure that most folk don't even use that. I assume that this is the underlying structure or meaning of the meditational aspect of certain human knowlege. What happens if we elevate the known into the realm of unknown, the unimportant into the realm of important? We sharpen the consciousness and I think we then are able to become aware of the acoustic environment surrounding the music - and: the music itself!!
"

Monday, July 16, 2007

No words.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A funny side effect of reading the news headlines when you are only half awake is that your linguistic interpreters are still half asleep too.

So I am reading this headline on the BBC News site: "LA Church in record abuse deal."

Could you believe that the first thing I thought was: why would anyone, and especially the church, abuse a record?

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Beast is Back

216. So now we're encouraged to think of the world of the 1970s as glittery, but with the occasional off-colour joke, whereas in fact it was a world where the threat of violence seemed almost omnipresent. We might like to imagine that we've made progress, although never forget, this was the decade of petrol shortages and power-cuts. If the people of 2007 lost the use of their televisions, broadband connections and mobile 'phone rechargers for just a single evening, or were told that they'd have to leave their cars at home for the next week or so, then I'm fairly sure the riots would make Bloody Sunday look clean by comparison. Consumerism makes us less volatile, but only as long as it's there and it's working properly. Today, people tend to go berserk if the video goes wrong for any reason. So imagine what would happen if everything blacked out simultaneously, the way it often did, thirty years ago.

I have spend the last two evenings plowing through the - no less than - 243 snippets over at Beasthouse (indeed, my social life is non-existent; only when I choose to, of course) and I will continue to spread the word about this guy. If you have to be depressed and angst-ridden to write up things like this, I would like to be depressed and angst-ridden.

OK, that's stretching the point a little, I suppose (were it only for the fact that half of the time I actually am depressed and angst-ridden, though that is still a better average than most people in the Western world can claim), but this is by far my favourite blog of 2007. Culture-at-large, linguistics, psychology, politics, society and even health care are discussed and thoroughly dissected and... Deleuze, Lacan and Derrida are not referenced, not even cursorily. Ah! Those were the days...

It would almost re-point you to the all too often forgotten fact that funny and to-the-point should be near identitical. Or make that: it should be no crime to be funny and to the point at the same time. Which of course is mostly the case (I won't even add 'these days' to that last sentence, because I suspect from experience with pre-80ies fun-ness, that it used to be even worse).

And, more importantly, you might learn something. For example, did you know who Sax Rohmer was? Bet you didn't. Not that it does matter in the least. But still...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It seems I am more and more retreating from the world of 'normal' music these days. One way or another these days I always end up, or listening to a whole lot of unstructured improv and noise assaults, or investigating the merits of this or that modernist composer (Scelsi, Webern, Xenakis). It goes even that far that a lot of my time is spent listening to silence on disc. With 'silence on disc' I mean the kind of music that makes you wonder whether it is your computer humming, the house squeaking or, indeed, the music that you put on that you are hearing at a given moment. Anyway, if less is more, nothing is everything.

None the less I am again amazed at the gullability of the common music scribe to believe that Interpol has anything whatsoever to do with Joy Division. I have never detected a single trace of Joy Division-ness in Interpol and the new album makes that point even clearer. I almost threw up when that overacting singer pointed out to the world that "it's not so bad". Ian Curtis would never have daigned to come up with a silly line like that. For Christ sakes', not only is it that bad, it is even worse. Then again, Our Love to Admire is easily their least irritating record to date, though there is not a single note on it that even comes close to the brilliant 'Evil', the group's only non-irritable sequence of notes.

On another tip: whether it is Richard James or not (I think it is him, though), I think The Tuss is absolutely worth your time.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Melting Vinyl ... So Hot

Appleblim/Shackleton - Soundboy's Ashes Gety Chopped Out and Snorted

A shame for those who bought the cd, but this is easily the best Skull Disco release up to date. Probably the darkest too. Appleblim's 'Vansan' eerily approaches dubstep's equivalent of the Basic Channel esthetic. Those Carl Craig-ish syncopated synth lines are an added bonus. Shackleton keeps to what he does best: developping the bass to unearthly deepness with leading ritual tribal percussion and creepy whispers as superstructure. Minimal as fuck, too.

Avus - Furry Hat/Spnkr

Go for 'Spnkr', Border Community's bid for 'Spastik'-fame. Do not know if it will outlast the ages, but at the moment it sounds damn fine.

Tolga Fidan - Venice/Tanbulistan

Veeeeery hot shit, this one. Between minimal house and techno with eerie voice samples and some ethnic atmosphere thrown in to make this one of the ep's of 2007. Huge!

Luciano - Fourges et Sabres/Back to Front

Not really dance floor material but addictively well-constructed and full of little detailed melodic fancy. One of his best and one of Perlon's most maximal. Luciano and Perlon still make a mighty duo.

John Edwards - Codeine (Tim Paris Rework)

Tim Paris and elegance? Never thought I would combine them. Toned down Initial-style house with lots of musical elements from the original well employed. And like the best records the climax comes right before the end. Tasty!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mad Mike interview online here.
"I realised, more than before, that the talent is to use simple words to explain difficult concepts and not to hide simple concepts behind difficult words."

Thank you, Jacques Attali.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rather Raving (about)

Helmut Lachenmann - Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelholzern

It was bound to happen. After listening to noise, improvisation and free jazz for some time I just needed to submerge myself into modern composition. Do not ask me any musical specifications about this one because I am far from steeped in the finer points of counterpoint, pitch, serialism or twelve-tone theory. But I sure know this is one of the best things I have ever heard. As you can guess from the title this is sort of an opera. There are actually not too much vocals, rather vocalisations and Sprechgesang. I just wish now that I had taken up musical theory when I was younger, because now I can only tell you that I am playing this to death. I think, though, that it, again, has to do something with the recurring silence and the minute gradations of volume in this kind of music. And of course with the fact that Ralf Wehowsky (of P16.d4) once pointed out in an interview that this music sounds right and everything by Madonna sounds wrong.

[It would not be honest to throw that last bit in the reader's face without providing any context, however. What Wehowsky meant was that to listen to pop music you do not need to adapt yourself, because the melodies are for the most part quite simple and harmonically pleasing. Listening to dissonant, unpredictable music requires of your brain that it adapts itself to patterns that it is not used to. Adapting is learning and learning is acquiring more knowledge. Anyway, I think he is right.]

Karl-Heinz Stockhausen - Mikrophonie I & II / Telemusik

Einstürzende Neubauten, but 25 years earlier. These are probably the Stockhausen works that were most ahead of their age. The musical equivalent of stealing the fire from the gods. Amazing.

Cornad Schnitzler - Rot

I knew Schnitzler from his pioneering roles in Kluster and Tangerine Dream, but I had not yet checked out his solo works. So this came on like a revelation. 'Meditation' is a mechanic ambient soundscape much in the vein of Seesselberg or Vangelis's Beaubourg, while 'Krautrock' is the real works: lots of bubbling proto-industrial electronics with an ensnaring percussion loop being segued in later on. Schnitzler's music (and there is an awful lot of it) always sounds a bit like an automatic factory turned into music, so refrain if you are looking for emotional satisfaction. Of course I am exaggerating here, because there are pleasing sweeping synth tones woven through most of 'Krautrock'.

Magma - Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh

Mostly when people reference Magma it is to ridicule them for their self-invented Zeuhl language and general hippy antics. But then they better take heat of this. This reminds me of Archie Shepp's Attica Blues and that's saying something. Probably one of the best prog records ever. Shows that these guys were highly knowledgeable of the most interesting periods of black music (Tribe, Strata East, Black Jazz). You have got to take the ridiculously high female chanting for granted, though, otherwise you will not be able to sit this through.

Robert Ashley - Automatic Writing

Robert Ashley now makes experimental opera's but this is something different altogether. The title track consists of no more than two voices, one female whispering in French (think L'Année Dernière à Marienbad, and closer to home Nurse With Wound's 'Echo Poème', which is a total rip-off of Ashley) and one slowed down to a sort of unholy grunt, plus some unidentified background noises.

On 'Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon', when a girl's voice is talking about a guy who puts his fingers between her legs and then tries to put that finger in her mouth (and so on) over the sound of a music box, things get very creepy, as if you are listening to an excerpt from Sex, Lies and Videotape, but without any help of context. 'She Was a Visitor' is no more than that same sentence repeated ad nauseam over particularly uneasy listening.

One of the most powerful and impressive pieces of sound art
you are bound to hear. Ever. Do not play this with the lights out, unless you want to end up in an asylum for the mentally challenged.

Robert Ashley - Private Parts


After Automatic Writing this is almost easy listening, though it is also far from that. Basically it is a guy with a soothing but also slightly bored voice reciting a text of seemingly unrelated text fragments over tablas, piano and delicate synth tones. Alienating to say the least, though less psychologically invasive as Automatic Writing.

Mordant Music - Carrion Squared

Mistah Fisha is going all "hauntological" over this ("Music is dead. Long live hauntology!", LOL), again, although he hastens to set aside this release from the label's usual output. He'd better, because this album was made for library music publisher Boosey & Hawkes* and consists of no less than 40 mini-drones à la Cluster, Conrad Schnitzler or Seesselberg. So no "hauntology" then, but kosmische music, though of course the shortness of the pieces contradict their cosmic nature. All very confusing, but that's "hauntology" for ya, I guess.

Threshold Houseboys Choir - Form Grows Rampant

Being Peter Christopherson's first outing since the demise of John Balance, Coil's other half. This actually sounds like an instrumental version of the new Throbbing Gristle album. That it contains heavy trace elements of the later Coil (and Balance's voice for that matter) will not surprise either. Themes and even melodies of certain Coil records are leisurely reemployed (especially the heavy use of vocoders from post-mortem album The Ape of Naples) and thus this sounds a lot like the slightly perverted fairy-tale music that the duo were famous for in their later carreer. And yes, you are probably right about the homosexual innuendo contained in the project's name, given the fact that Christopherson has been living in Thailand for some while now. Intriguing as ever nonetheless.

Box of Dub

Always nice to notice that dubstep has some margin for progression. The top dogs of the game come up with roots inspired dubstep and show along the way that dubstep is really only at the beginning of its odyssey. Which in this case means going back to the roots of the style and toning down the overall darkness.

Rumble in the Jungle


A supreme compilation that shows after the fact where jungle went wrong. No electronic basses or metallic percussion here, just vocally hyperactive rude boys and superfunky drum'n'bass. Party time music.

Burial - Ghost Hardware

No sign of slacking here. Three tracks in the style of the album with lots of wet background noises and sad echoing vocals. Nothing new or much progression compared to his previous outings but that need not always be the case as we all know. I would have wished he'd chosen another title, though. "Hauntology", is there no escape?

Digitalism - Idealism
Justice
-

Or I'm getting old, or I just don't like this. The Digitalism album, though, is much better than the Justice abomination, which is just plain vulgar in its desire to please the less discerning ears. Furthermore I always will despise people who choose a symbol as title for their album. I am not going to waste any more words on this, neither am I going to vilify these guys. I just think Daft punk was better. So it would seem I am getting old after all. Nevertheless I am pretty sure that these two will tear the roof off in a live setting. Mixed feelings, then.

* There are two ways to interpret the fact that Mordant's "hauntology", a music that has library music has one of its main influences, is now in turn being used as library music. You could, if you are a believer, say that "hauntology" has come full circle. One could also, more viciously, state that it pre-empts itself, having turned into a sort of parody on its own influence. Probably the truth lies somewhere between a bit of both.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Epiphany

"Madness and Civilization was also famously criticised by Jacques Derrida who took issue with Foucault's reading of René Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy. Derrida's criticism led to a break in their friendship and marked the beginning of a fifteen-year–long feud between the two. (At one point, in a 1983 interview with Paul Rabinow, Foucault seemed to criticize Derrida's reading of Plato's Phaedrus in Of Grammatology, considering the writing/speech distinction unimportant.) They eventually reconciled in the early 1980s (reportedly, this reconciliation was due in part to Foucault's defense of Derrida after the latter was alleged to have been caught with marijuana in Prague)."

from

Derrida and marijuana? Things are suddenly becoming much clearer. What's next? Deleuze and acid?

Of course we know that Derrida was indicted by the communists for speaking up against them during a conference. Still you can't but wonder.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Il convient que la poésie soit inséparable du prévisible, mais non encore formulé.

René Char, Partage Formel

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mixology

Two essential mixes floating around at the moment.

First up is Kode9's absolutely brilliant mix on the Sónar site. At the moment it is only streamable (is that an actual word?), but Kode9 has promised on his blog to make it available for download later on. And he'd better 'cause it is hot as hell featuring some brand new Hyperdub dubplates.

Next is Sebo K's mix for Resident Advisor, a site that has been responsable for the majority of good mixes on the net for the last year or so (Ewan Pearson, Ripperton, Alexander Robotnick). A very nice mix positioning itself somewhere between deep techno and house, with a few old hits thrown in for good measure.

As we speak the latest RA mix by up-and-coming man Efdemin has been added to the site. Listening to that one now, so do not really know whether it is recommendable.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Deux Vérités de Marguerite


In France they still Love Literature with two capital L's. The ultimate proof are the Quarto editions on Gallimard. With those you get a load of essential texts of one writer in one book. The paper is ultra-thin but you get more than 1000 pages for a reasonable price.

So I was thumbing through the Quarto of Marguerite Duras and in the introduction she was being quite honest about being a writer. She said - and I am quoting from memory here - that "the essential thing about being a writer is daring to write. I have written incomprehensible things and they were read."

Two truths if there ever were truths. I mean, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida, while still among the living, all they did was write, write, write. They were frequently accused of being opaque and rightout incomprehensible, and - this is what it is all about - they probably were, if you observe the thousand-plus interpretations that are to this day (and probably for many years to come) plaguing the blogosphere alone. I mean, I was reading Badiou's take on Deleuze (La Clameur de l'Être) and thanks to Badiou I now feel that I understand even less of Deleuze than before.

But I guess that it is what writing is about: Write now, think later.

Second truth, then. I remember reading Duras' Le Ravissement de Lol. V. Stein - a long time ago that was, tempus fugit - and to this day I still could not possibly fathom what that book is about (I even suspect that, with all the additional knowledge I have acquired since then about France's cultural climate at the time the book was written, I now will understand even less if I decide to re-read it). Bearing in mind Duras' quotation I am bound to believe that even the writer herself did not know what it was about.

A few years ago for me there would not have been any point whatsoever to reading an incomprehensible book. Now it has become a challenge. When incomprehensible (or seeming to be), literature becomes pure language again, the ground zero of writing, mere signs, signifiers and symptoms waiting to be deciphered, like hieroglyphs by an Egyptologue. Meaning leading to other meanings, "a Thousand Plateaus" of Meaning.

Why settle for one meaning if you can have all the truths in the world? Or how nihilism and holism are just two sides of the same coin.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Vinyl ist Nicht Tod

Neu! Neu!! Neu!!! Neu!!!! Neu!!!!!

Quince - Sole Trader

I can hardly fathom how the people over at Delsin keep the quality of their releases so vertigineously high. Quince has been making ace tracks since his first release and this is another scorcher of a beauty beyond compare that does not neglect the dance floor part either. Heavily influenced by Carl Craig (Who else?) it is the kind of techno you always think they stopped making ages ago. Lots of warm strings, sharply tuned jump chords and ecstatic melodic highs remind you that Detroit techno remains the yardstick for emotionally satisfying techno.

Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars

Dubby techno business, also hailing from the Netherlands. The A-side is a fine techno dub with rootsy lyrics, while the flip harbours a beatless Carl Craig style workout that is all strings and trancey sounds, and a more rave-inspired techno track that pumps up the bpm's and will fit nicely into an inspired retro set.

Redshape - Dog Day

Single-sided monster from the maestro that has Derrick-May-in-1989 written all over it. Rave sounds are back on the block it would seem. The percussion is all Transmat, the beats hiphop. Hell of a combination.

Âme - Balandine

Why is everybody shouting about that grossly overrated 'Fiori', when this is so much better? Âme's music seems to be taking on a more epic strain with each new release, but you can not complain when they keep on producing this kind of quality. Another awesome duo, with the title track being the more ingeniously structured of the two, while 'Eoni' sticks to one good idea and makes the most of it. Innervisions rules!

Fuse presents Steve Bug

I included this one just to signal that Foremost Poets' 'Reasons to Be Dismal' (orginally released on the mighty Nu Groove) is available again on a nice fat pressing. Thanks for that, Mr. Bug. And you get two more excellent minimal techno tracks on the flip. Nice!

Wolfsdorf und Freunde

Shackleton - Blood on My Hands (Ricardo Villalobos Apocalypso Now Mix)

I just can't get this out of my head ("When I see the towers fall, fall, fall..."). Depressing and endless in a cosmic way at the same time. Why they felt the need to split the track in two halves will remain a mystery forever. But then you always have the cd-version for that experience, I suppose. My record of the year, for sure.

Beck - Cellphone's Dead (Villalobos & Ellen Allien Remixes)

Allien's version is not too bad, but couldn't possibly compete with Ricardo's already classic remix. Again Villalobos keeps it dark and moody by accentuating the spooky Gregorian chant-style sample. Anyone who wants to see his remix end up in the 2007 listings better take heed of the mighty Ricardo.

Not so M_nus

Marc Houle - Bay of Figs

Two M_nus related releases to end this round-up. Houle's double-pack is dangerously perfect minimal. And by 'minimal' I mean funky Daniel 'DBX' Bell bleeps and Hawtin spaceousness. The term 'DJ-friendly' seems to be invented for this record.

VA - Spaceships and Pings

I bought this one a few months ago, but it keeps getting better and better. So I thought, why not write a bit about this one? It was released in 2006 on Items And Things, which is a M_nus sub managed by the Magda-Houle-Pierce trio (aka Run Stop Restore). Each of the bosses get a track, with Magda going in an electro direction, Marc Houle opting for his usual spare electro-ish style and Troy Pierce keeping it moody and technoïd, the result not to dissimilar to his Louderbach alias. Konrad Black delivers the best track, though, here deviating from his usual atmospheric minimalism with a driving melodic Italo disco synth stomper. Very nice package! Catch it if you can.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Silence (and what to do with it)

Right now listening to Radu Malfatti's Nonostante II, a piece of solo piano. It stretches well over 30 minutes, but - and this is the crux - there is about ten minutes of music on the cd (and then I am being generous, I think it totals even less).

Though I was forewarned by a review in The Wire, I still thought it was some kind of mistake, since the first minutes were reasonably filled with piano tones. But then a strange thing happens. You literally have to count the minutes before you get served some more notes. Sometimes you get three notes, sometimes only one, sometimes four or five. In between there is just silence.

It creates quite an awkward atmosphere. You are actually waiting for the music to come. So, what to do while you are waiting? Listening, of course. And while you are listening the sounds of the immediate environment (me typing this, lighting a fag, my pets moving through the loft, public transport in the streets) get sort of amplified. Silence yes, but no void.

With Nonostante III it is mostly the same, though the instruments (mostly clarinet) are different. The thing is, you do not mind, because it kind of puts you in touch with your surroundings, something a melomaniac like myself tends to forget. Music tends to fill up your living space, be it as a mere backdrop or as a more intense experience. Moments of silence change all that. It allows your hearing - and your body - to build up a system of suspense and release.

The effect is different also from a radical piece like Cage's 4' 33". In that case, you know there will not be any music played at all, and although Cage put it forth mostly with philosophical considerations, silence has become some kind of a gimmick, employed from time to time by many a lesser spirit, solely as an empty reference.

For the majority of people, for whom pop music is the only music they recognize as such, silence has become a threat rather than a moment of contemplation. Silence forces the mind inward or outward, stasis becomes impossible. Anyone who attends a live show these days will have noticed that artists regularly have to ask the audience to shut their big mouths. People nowadays just do not know how to handle silence anymore.

With Malfatti's recent music your listening experience is continually suspended. The surprising element of improvisation comes alive again. Most improv sets tend to be exciting for just one listening, but this way the discovery is allowed to happen time and time again.

Note the difference with minimalism. With minimal music (be it La Monte Young, Steve Reich or or the ultra-minimal techno of Richie Hawtin and Wolfgang Voigt) you tend to fill in the empty parts with your imagination. You amplify not your surroundings, but a single element within the minimal composition, which becomes a focal point. Or, alternately, you switch from one element to another, choosing to single out one sound over another. Returning silence compells you to listen more attentively, it instigates a search for sound in itself.

Ultimately this leads to the realization that silence is a defining part of music. Classical and jazz musicians and people who are into musique concrète or sound art will consider this a truism of course. But like most truisms its significance has long been lost.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rather Raving (about)

Grails - Burning Off Impurities

I am repeating myself but this is my record of the year so far and I am predicting the 'so far' will become a 'definitive'. Awesome record that encompasses almost everything I love: folk, ethnic sounds, the best bits of postrock, epic progressive and twangy motorik. Love it, love it, love it! Play loud and all the time!

Poor School - Voor Niets In Zijn

I am predicting hereby that Joris's productive label will be a household name by next year. After the brilliant Psalm Alarm release this is already the second absolute scorcher on Cut Hands. This guitar-drums-sax trio goes freak-out all the way on two sizzling hot avant jazzrock workouts. Blistering shit!

Merzbow - Coma Berenices

This is the first Merzbow release that I found listenable. More than that, I even enjoyed it. OK, it is still a whole lot of unpenetrable and pitch-black noise but at times I could hear some kind of beauty deep down in the heart of darkness. A nice entry into the Merzbow catalogue for the uninitiated.

Goldie presents Rufige Kru - Malice in Wonderland

Six new tracks that sound like mid-nineties d'n'b. Nothing wrong with that. Liquidly exciting.

Björk - Volta

Stop the presses of the world! Björk has made a good record. And Goldie too! This resurrection of two old lovers can be no coincidence. No, seriously, the Timbaland tracks are the best (no signs of running on empty from the R&B maestro) and even Antony is agreeable. Rejoice!

KTL - KTL 2

Four more ambientish dark epics inspired by the sounds of the previous Kindertotenlieder. Not a lot of guitar to be heard this time around (except, and this is typical, on 'Abattoir'), but still creepy as hell, particularly the almost psychotically intense 'Theme' with its distorted organ tones.

Mute Audio Documents Volume 1

37 tracks constitute the first episode of the reissue program of the first Mute releases. And what a joy it is to hear all those classics again. Fad Gadget, The Normal, Silicon Teens, Depeche Mode, DAF... each and everyone groundbreaking and, more importantly, still relevant. Also included: timely cd reissues of the insanely rare Robert Rental, Boyd Rice and Smegma 7-inches. The second set is on the way as you read this.

Embryo - Reise

From 1981 and a great mix-up of progressive, funk and ethnic sounds from the Middle East and Central Asia. The band was on a two year journey to record sounds for this album and rather unluckily got stuck in Teheran during the Islamic Revolution of Khomeiny. I just love that kind of anecdotica. An album that proves that there was still plenty of life in the old Krautrock bitch well into the eighties. Highly recommended.

M.I.A. - Bittersüss

Long time ago that there was some techno on these pages (To be honest I am very, very bored with techno, especially of the minimal persuasion, at the moment). This is a nice one, though, from Michaela Grobelny. Sexy nocturnal electro-ish not-too-minimal techno with a female touch (love those longing string samples) and featuring M.I.A.'s sensual vocal(i)s(ations) on top.

Shackleton & Appleblim - Soundboy Punishments

A fat and über-essential compilation of the first five Skull Disco releases plus some unfindable Shackleton tracks on other labels, AND - at last, at last! - the 19-minute Villalobos remix of 'Blood on My Hands', one of those addictive Ricardo remixes that gets better and better with each listening. Ricardo rules, man! But Shackleton and Appleblim rule even harder with the fattest basses on the planet and the best percussion in the whole of dubstep. Get punished!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ground

"All of this we choose to forget. We devise a counter-system of elaborate forgetfulness. We agree on this together. (...) But the experience is no less deep because we've agreed to forget it."

Don DeLillo, from: The Names

I have now read three novels by Don DeLillo: White Noise, Underworld and The Names. And out of those reading experiences re-emerges the essence of what makes a great writer. The great writer, in essence, does not write about the so-called great themes of life. He does not write about (on) love, hate, loss, sex, health, madness, politics, ethics. No, the great writer writes about the things that escape the incidental, the surface look. He writes about what is beyond all those grand themes. He writes about what is beneath. He writes about the things under these things. He understands.

The great writer (Borges, Dick, Ballard, Pynchon) mentions, employs and deploys all these great themes to keep his story going and he may even say very meaningful things about them. But he does not position them as the essence of his story. His story is about the phenomena that are always there, so omnipresent that we tend to forget the realm of their importance. The noise, the murmur in the background (in White Noise), waste and junk, the things we use and then throw aside - and then are stuck with (in Underworld), language, the words we use, the way we express ourselves (in The Names).

In parallel you will see emerge other important undercurrents in Borges (language, myth, knowledge), Dick (reality, believe and make believe), Pynchon (science, history) and Ballard (violence, dis-ease, man against nature). It is not the believe in, the knowledge of, the science of, the myth about, the language with which that are important. No, it is the believe itself, the science and the knowledge themselves, language itself that need explanation, inquiry. It is not what those mechanisms produce, no, it is the mechanisms themselves that a great writer concerns himself with.

It is no coincidence, then, that the sentence that emerges as most important from those DeLillo's three books is the eternal "What does it mean?". The truly great writer does not care for surface, symptom or attributes. They all come second, they are a means. He is looking for the first causes. He is trying to unforget. He may not immediately find what he is looking for. Of course, he does not find what he is looking for. That is why he writes.
You do not sense what is really wrong with a certain kind of music until you hear that one record that does things differently, grabs you totally, takes you away to places you thought you would never reach. The psychedelic noise rock that has been going under the name of New Weird America, for some time now, has been hitting rock-bottom. In the same way it is getting harder and harder to equal, let alone surpass, the intensity of Wolf Eyes or Hair Police in the noise quadrant, it was becoming almost impossible to excell in the neo-psych folk corners after definitive statements by Six Organs Of Admittance, Jack Rose, Pelt, Charalambides et alia. To cut it short: A lot of noodling has been going on lately, thousands of 'interesting' cd-r's flood the market, but nobody is making a point anymore.

And then suddenly there is Grails, a band that makes you point your ears and realize there is still a margin for progress. Grails boldly reach across continents, their music is literally of this world. Like the best moments of Can, they transport you from the endless prairies and highways of America, sweep you through the Indian backlands and deserts of Central Asia and then safely put you down so you can take a breath again and marvel at the sultry Mediterranean vistas of Greece and Turkey and Spain. In the time of one record they make you feel as if you are experiencing soundless dawn and plain sunlight and atmospheric dusk and the still of the night. Grails relish in rain and thunder, wind and storm, mountains and sea, sun and moon, steam and sand. Grails has eloquence, Grails knows what intimacy is, Grails loves grand gestures, Grails revels in datails. Grails make music a discovery again. Grails prove that music can still be exciting. Grails dare but do not fail.

Grails have many things for them. But most of all, they have got IT. Hearing is believing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Folie à la française

So it is Président Sarkozy. As if I care. As if policy makers today are anything more than commissaires du capitalisme. As if the world would have stopped turning if Mme Royal had been elected, a new French Revolution coming our way. Yeah, right!

Nevertheless those French lefties are a strange bunch. Libération could not wait a day to report that nasty boy Sarko spent his pre-presidential retreat on the yacht of a business friend (the scandal of it!). So what? Do presidents have to spend their retreat in a cave or something? Furthermore the newspaper is already comparing Sarkozy to mobster Berlusconi. Bottom-line: this guy must be the Antichrist in person.

Next, two lady writers report in a suspiciously timely new book that Royal and her husband-not-husband François Hollande did have a quarrel during the presidential campaign. This quarrel would then have subverted her abilities to campaign. Yeah, right! As if the French are not and have not always been one of the most rightist countries in Europe, where, as everywhere else, the villagers and farmers always vote for the rightist candidate.

And all the while extreme-left sympathizers are torching cars and destroying whatever comes their protesting ways because they suspect Sarkozy is the new Hitler.

Will someone please put some tranquilizers in the French drinking water and tell these people to get a grip.

Rather Raving (about)

Boris - Vein

I am currently very much into Boris, another one of those groups who seem to shit (or should that be vomit) records. As usual with this trio there are more versions of this record (Southern Lord even put out a special low frequency version of one of their records). There is an hardcore version (the so-called 'crust' version) and a slow/drone version. I have only heard the hardcore version and when I put it on I first thought I had mistakenly put something on by Merzbow (with whom they frequently collaborate by the way), so fuzzy and noisy is the attack. Saying that it gets more accessible further on would be a lie. This is as hardcore as it gets, with undecipherable Japanse lyrics to go with it. If you got something to drive out of your system and there is no booze around, go with Vein. The original raw shit.

Jegor Teplov - LAC

Do not know who Jegor Teplov is but I know Sleeparchive collaborated with him on this first release on the Stamp label. It actually sounds like a German version of dubstep, that is, dark, misty and technoish at the same time. Always nice to hear the bonds between minimal techno and dubstep being strengthened. Hopefully more to follow.

Battles - Atlas

This is the one with the funny-sounding vocals. Hate it or love it. More instantly loveable is DJ Koze's remix, who does not leave that much of the original intact but does a fine job anyway, especially because he shuns the easy let's-make-Kompakt-track-out-of-this-track approach.

Anaal Nathrakh - Eschaton

Ok, this is death metal, but there are also some pretty great melodies on this one. As Martijn put it once: Deep down there is something beautiful in Anaal Nathrakh. But you got to dig deeper than a title like 'Between Shit and Piss We Are Born' (which I actually think is a pretty strong title, but do not mind me). Hellish and brutal power to the max.

CoH - Patherns

How have I gone so many years without CoH. Every record I have heard until now by this Russian is great. It would be perhaps best to describe his music as subtly menacing electronics, leaving him somewhere between the Kraftwerk obssession of Dopplereffekt and the brooding soundscapes of the later Coil. On Raster-Noton and not completely anal, faut-le faire.

Fantastic Ego - Trips the Light

On Foxy Digitalis this was described as having leanings with Current 93, but in my opinion it has absolutely nothing to do with that quadrant of psychfolk. I am tending more to link it with the unholy mothergrooves of Belgium's Silvester Anfang. Considering the fact that that last reference is merely a hunch, I cannot possibly give Fantastic Ego a greater compliment than by saying his sound is pretty unique in the current all things freaky and folky climate.

Fursaxa - Alone in the Dark Wood

Most of the time I find Fursaxa, although she is always making very beautiful music, lacking spunk. She is always floating somewhere above the witches circle in the deep forest. But this one is her finest piece to date. I will probably not amuse her by comparing this to the better parts of the early Dead Can Dance discography, but that was the feeling it evoked. Anyway, for the first time I was totally involved into her music.

Library Tapes - Feelings for Something Lost

This is probably one of the most beautiful records I have ever heard. Consisting mostly of piano loops mixed up with gently creaking noise it is so much more than the sum of those parts. It sounds as if someone invaded an old derelict house, one of those places where you can hear the wind blowing through the age-old cracks, stumbled onto a dirty old creaky piano and decided to record an album on the spot with one of those old portable cassette recorders. In the league of Basinski's Disintegration Loops, and the cognoscenti will know that this is one hell of a compliment.

Holy Modal Rounders - 1&2

Never heard anything before by these folkies and it was a pleasure. Very simple bluegrass, country and folk ditties brought with the most basic means. Honest music - never thought I would ever use those two words next to one another - without pretense or pose.

Coil - The Remote Viewer

In 2030 people will still be wandering through the Coil backcatalogue and discovering masterpieces. This one was rereleased with two bonus tracks a few months ago and it defies description. But try to imagine bagpipes, hurdy gurdy and electronic beats in one song, add some early Tangerine Dream kosmische vibes, a tad of Material's 'Mantra', a spoonful of haunting emotions and you are not even halfway there. The effect alltogether is like watching Borges' City of the Immortals rising up from the steaming desert. Massive! Masterful! Genius!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Yes, it's a very bodily thing, and academics and sex is a very sad story. It's very hard to explain to intellectuals about the need to incorporate the body."

Jan St. Werner, of Mouse On Mars, in this month's The Wire

Need I say more?
Ultimately my resistance to psychoanalysis comes down to the fact that it tries to destroy the spiritual and the sublime, reducing them into mere symptoms of societal and cultural conditons. One cannot make science out of the workings of the soul and the mind. Those should forever remain the things that science cannot touch. Once everything has been catalogued and explained (away) there is no more humanity.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"Being called a 'bad citizen' is a compliment to a novelist, at least to my mind. That's exactly what we ought to do. We ought to be bad citizens. We ought to, in the sense that we're writing against what power represents, and often what government represents, and what the corporation dictates, and what consumer consciousness has come to mean. In that sense, if we're bad citizens, we're doing our job."

Don DeLillo

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Radical Thoughts (3)

"The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species."

Christopher Hitchens

from: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Have a Laugh

This guy is the single most funny writer in the blogosphere. He is also the writer of quite a few Doctor Who books, always a plus at the Fireplace. Because, make no fookin' mistake, Doctor Who is the epitome of sci-fi cool.

Nonetheless he also can put up a mean truth, too, as proven by sentences like:

"As a nation which only came into existence through the slavery of the blacks and the extermination of the locals, the US is the only country in the Western world that was founded on evil, and not only remains unrepentant but likes to turn its crimes into a kind of mythology."

or

"No country other than the US would spawn a writer like John Grisham, because no country other than the US would be daft enough to believe that the modern legal profession is really as manly and heroic as wrestling bears."

Suck on that, Jesuslanders!



Afterthought: If those Americans are really that stupid, while at the same time ruling the world, then how stupid is the rest of the world? Something to think about, hey?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A'right!

Am not a fan of Reynolds, but when it is good, why not say so, hey?

Nonetheless, there is something horribly wrong with music journalism if the facts of life are tackled by dinosaurs like Julian Cope and Simon Reynolds. So, thank God for the dinosaurs, then?

Monday, April 30, 2007

PoMo Farts A Go Go

"On "Xerrox", ALVA NOTO works with samples from muzak, advertising, soundtracks and entertainment programs. These sounds we hear randomly in everyday life and thereby they become an always present and available public domain. With "Xerrox" ALVA NOTO manipulates these recognizable melodic (micro) structures by the process of copying. He alienates them beyond recognition so the results manifest their connection to the original only suggestively. In this respect the original is copied to the original."

In these distressing times of jagged heteronormativity, apocalyptic multiplicity and the retro-gaze of the eventual subject my relationship with concepts and theory surrounding popular music has always been rather one of alert suspicion. When the names 'Raster-Noton' and 'Carsten Nicolai' are evoked this suspicion goes into supermega-overdrive and reaches an all-time high.

The above promotional text accompanying Alva Noto's newest project (Nicolai does not make records, he thinks up projects, that are then worked out in detail and, one is inclined to think, are only recorded because, well, they have to be, do they not), is one of the most overblown and anal commentaries I ever encountered. And as a regular record reviewer I have read quite a few promotional papers that were talking out of the metaphorical anus. I, as any other thinking being, crave my daily piece of theory. But when they lay their filthy pomo claws on my music, I am inclined to take out the air-rifle and do some serious damage.

Now, I am asking you to point out in which way there is anything revolutionary about taking samples and copying them beyond recognition? Since the birth of the sampler electronic producers have been doing just that, have they not? Tell me what is so special about that.

All this would not make me grumpy, if not the music that is the result of this incredibly original and shrewd conceptualisation were anything more than white noise and ambient. Mind you, the music on Xerrox Vol.1 (four more episodes, and, one fears, an equal amount of conceptual bullshit along with it, to follow) is some of the most pristine, alienating and beautiful sound you will have ever heard. But even after a few listenings it remains just that: white noise and ambient.

The music even sounds white. It is pure nothing music, a glacial soundtrack to accompany a perverted tourist walk through a cathedral of concrete, glass and shining design materials. Beautiful as levitating through the clouds on a sunny day, but the link with the so-called concept is non-existing.

Furthermore, what is Nicolai talking about when he states that "the results manifest their connection to the original only suggestively"? I challenge everyone to listen a few times to this recording and point out the portion(s) which he thinks manifest any connection whatsoever to a recognizable sound source. Nicolai is so kind to provide us with a list of the original sources, references like "Narita Airport", "Telephone Wait-loop" and "Seven-Eleven Tokyo".

He is right when he says that you will not recognize Narita Airport or the 7/11 in Tokyo on Xerrox Vol.1. But if he had put phrases like "Bear Fart from Amsterdam Zoo" or "80-year Old Being Porked by Said Bear" instead, you would have believed him just as well. Hell, I would even take something like "Carsten Nicolai Hurting His Membranes While Thinking Up A Marvellous New Concept" for granted. But the result would be exactly the same. Is this a cd or an encyclopedia, an example of Nicolai's "work in the transitional area between art and science"? Who knows, dear readers, who knows?

And then of course, as top of the bill, we get a phrase like: "In this respect the original is copied to the original." What the fuck is this guy talking about? Someone. Explain. This. Sentence. To. Me.

But this is not the end of it. Xerrox Vol.1, as you will by now have come to suspect, is not encased in an ordinary jewelcase. Sir, no, Sir! It is presented in a folder. If you fold this open more logorrhoea comes pouring out. Things like:

"In the end the process of copying can itself become a creative tool which analytically generates something new. The mutating copy emerges as a new original and thereby provides space for development." (The sheer invention of it! Serendipity alert!! A sound Revolution!!!)

or

"In our world of constant reproduction the immeasurable number of multiplied images corroborates the original. The copy assumes its independence and its own value. The replication equals the original, which as an icon becomes abstract and virtual." (Yes, dear readers, you read that right. This "Maître Penseur of Microtechno" dares to go all Platonic on us.)

What next? Will Xerrox Vol.2 be an "original replication" of Xerrox Vol.1? And Xerrox Vol.3 an "unrecognizable copy" of the, by that time, iconic, abstract and virtual Xerrox Vol.1? And, most important of all: will we still be able to recognize "Narita Airport" by the time Xerrox Vol.5 will have wreaked more conceptual havoc upon our poor minds? Will the "integral material component of the original remain or can this only be projected?" Give this man some time and in a few months he will be mentioning terms like "substance", "category", "free will" and "eternal recurrence". Anytime would I welcome another tsunami of Tolkien-inspired progressive rock albums with Uriah Heep-style sleeves full of wizards and sci-fi birds before taking in another helping of this kind pseudo-intellectual mumbo jumbo.

With all this mind-poisoning post-techno babble one would almost forget - and this, the ironic cruelty that is always so manifest in pomo, almost makes me weep of frustration - that Xerrox Vol.1 actually is one of the most fascinating ambient records 2007 has yielded up till now.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rather Raving (about)

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

Apart from the bonafide heavy hitters I was not really convinced by the critically lauded first album. But I just love this record and anyone saying that this is a bad record does not know what he is talking about. And the average age of this bunch being twenty we can expect plenty of great things to come (I hope, that is). One of those rare records that makes you wish you were sixteen again.

Circle - Pori

Another record, another style. Which means in this case: how many styles can you handle? This time around endearing panoramic ambient sounds mixed up with bass-heavy electronics and off-kilter rhythms, avant garde versus free jazz versus classical, motorik hardrock with Gregorian chanting, bombastic drum work, epic synthwashes all over the place, lots of nocturnal atmospheres and a whole lot more. These guys are as difficult to follow as their song titles are to pronounce.

Jona - Smart Cats vs Dumb Dogs / Evidence

I bought his previous two 12-inches on Get Physical and this one proves that this Belgian continues his ascent to the top techno drawer. And he is doing something original with the labelsound, of which I was growing a bit tired lately. Like always he royally takes his time and just when you think this is going to be another not-much-happening minimal funk track he gets all emotional and melancholic on you.

Von Südenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions

Forget that horrible last Fall-record. This is the one to worship. Great beats and Smith in full effect. I think he needs a new band or something. Again.

Brainticket - Celestial Ocean

Most of the time Brainticket are considered to be Krautrockers but they were actually of Swiss and Italian descent. This album contains some great ethnic inspired prog. But if an inspired bootlegger/editor (think Dark and Lovely or such) added some good contemporary beats to the mighty 'Jardins', you would get a great slow sub-disco anthem. And those who were wondering where Steven 'NWW' Stapleton got those dreamy foreign sounding vocal bits, look no further, you will find plenty of those on this record. Splendid stuff!

Roxy Music - Country Life

My mother had this record since before I was born and I always liked the horribly made-up girls with the see-through underwear, but never got around to actually checking the music. And it turns out to be one of the best Roxy Music albums. Not everything is genius, but 'The Thrill of It All', 'All I Want is You', 'Out of the Blue' and 'Prairie Rose' are among the best they have ever done. Arty as fuck (dig those Weill-ian phrasings on 'Bitter-sweet') but what was ever wrong with that?

Die Tödliche Doris - " "

Ooooooh! Great deconstructed anarcho-punk artrocky stuff from Berlin. They started the whole Berlin scene along with Einstürzende Neubauten and DAF and they are just as great, but more in a chaotic No Wave style à la DNA and Teenage Jesus. What is more, they are also pleasantly disturbed. Has also one of those titles you cannot pronounce, but only read, which I think is another plus. They once released two records that you could play at the same time and then get a third record, the so-called Invisible LP, which even had a catalogue number of its own. I like those antics! Crazy as fuck and anti-everything, sounds like a Fire in the Mind kinda group.

Shining - Grindstone

Thanks for the tip, Bas! Totally freaked out mix-up of gothic, progressive, jazz, hardrock, electronics and what the fuck do I know. Audacious, ambitious, inventive and completely succeeding where others fail. With operatic vocals, always a big plus at the Fire place.

Glenn Jones - Against Which the Sea Continually Beats

Classic instrumental twangy sounds from Cul De Sac-member. Recommended for the John Fahey and Jack Rose lovers. This guy can play a mean tune.

Ibliss - Supernova

This group is what remained when Hütter and Scheider left the one-off project Organisation to start up Kraftwerk. And Ibliss in turn turned out to be another one-off. But it is a beauty. Very funky and with lots of exotic and ethnic sounds, these four tracks are among the best and most accessible the Krautrock movement ever yielded. Although titles like 'Athir' and 'Marga' promise otherwise there is nothing much psychedelic about Supernova. It sounds more akin to early disco and late jazzfunk actually, a bit like Miles Davis circa Agharta and Pangaea, but a lot tamer of course. Nonetheless well worth checking.

Moebius Neumeier Engler - Other Places

A mix-up of tribal, industrial electronics and that mighty unique Krautfeeling. And 'Sumplige Wasser' sounds like it could have been released on Kompakt, or something by the current incarnation of The Orb. Essential listenening.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vanity


Ah! The label of My Goddess has quoted me. Fire is now one happy bunny.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Old versus New

Excellent article about the state of techno today. Courtesy of OMC.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rather Raving (about)

Circle - Tower

And they noodled on. Beautiful and going nowhere in particular. But to be honest, I like everything this lot does.

Circle - Tyrant

Another Circle, another style. This one's more NWOFS (New Wave of Finnish Shoegaze).

Tod Dockstader - Electronic

There are actually two volumes with exactly the same name. Pretty far removed from the abstract musings of the Aerial series this lies somewhere between the musique concrète experiments of the GRM, krautronics à la Cluster, sci-fi dramatics and industrial. I was absolutely flabbergasted by it.

Edgar Froese - Aqua

Pretty difficult to find something worth listening to in Froese's solo discography. This one's closest to Tangerine Dream circa Phaedra.

Pan American - For Waiting For Chasing

Atmosphere, nothing but atmosphere. Americana ambient, if there were such a thing.

Aphrodite's Child - 666

I confess: I am a prog lover. And this concept album from Roussos and Vangelis about the Apocalypse is as prog as they come. With incredible opera styled vocals from Irene Pappas as a bonus. Only for the brave!

Pentangle - People on the Highway

Folkrock from Bert Jansch's group. With lots of high-pitched girl's voices singing about Albion, snow and sun, wedding dresses, mountains, sweethearts and such. Flowerchildren ahoy!

Sacrificial Totem - Hurqalya

Pagan black metal noise that would scare away even Satan himself. Disturbing shit. For those who can dig the universe-being-born aesthetics of Cluster '71.

Boredoms - Super Roots 9

One track, 40 minutes long, of totally over the top extravaganza. Including insane sampled choirs. Carmina Burana meets Japanoise.

Acid Mothers Temple - In C

Terry Riley sounds like Neu! in these hands. Grooved out!

Keiji Haino - Book of Eternity Set Aflame

Scorched earth style guitar noise rules on this one. Wouldn't be amazed if it turned out Stephen O'Malley has this one in his collection. Louder than Wolf Eyes and more unnerving than Sunn o))). Haino is The King.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The 300

"Come on I will show you
how I will change
when you give me
something to slaughter
"

Mark E. Smith, Sparta FC

Hereby the discussions about The 300 are closed.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Vita Ontologica

"The task that confronts thinking today is, in a way, unprecedented. An entirely new mode of thought is now called for. This new thought is easier than conventional philosophy, but harder too, because it demands more careful use of language."

Martin Heidegger


Needless to say that I do not in the least agree with Richard Rorty, who, in this documentary, describes Heidegger as "a bad man who wrote an interesting book". Heidegger's challenge still stands today, more than ever. And it is about time we lived up to it.

I am inclined to think that, although we do live in a postmodern age, most people, and more importantly, most postmodern criticisms, still continue to express themselves in the vocabulary of modernism. It is not because they use all this postmodern terminology that they think differently.

Because, if they are so postmodern, why do they feel obliged to think up new concepts all of the time? After all, is there anything more enlightened than coming up with new concepts? It is much more of a challenge to think new thoughts with the concepts that are already there and that (seem to) have been exhausted.

The biggest problem of postmodernism, then, is perhaps the fact that no-one at all any longer dares to think a tabula rasa. And tabula rasa does not mean another heap of new concepts. No, it means thinking up new meanings. One must think beyond, not 'after' modernism. Mors ontologica is only a fact when you choose to accept it as such.

So there is still hope, perhaps even more than ever. The work is never done. History may have ended, but history is just a concept. The world is ruled by people, not by concepts. Language may speak us, but one still can - no: must - choose by which language one is spoken.

Friday, April 13, 2007

La Tristesse Postmoderne

A few weeks ago I finshed DeLillo's White Noise and now I have started reading Underworld and what strikes me about both books is that, despite the subtle humor that pervades them, the strongest undercurrents are quite different from the initial outlook. It is the aching distress and deep sadness that typifies postmodern man.

The sentence that keeps on returning again and again in White Noise is the existential "What does it mean". DeLillo's protagonists seem to be wandering a theme park where fun, fun, fun is the ultimate goal. But in the end (and sometimes that 'end' comes all to quickly) they always realize that fun, fun, fun only conceals the ever continuing search for a meaning that eludes them. They are not even sure (and we with them) that there is an ultimate meaning. To me they are erring souls, forever striving forward while all the way they do not know if there is something to be reached in the end. Irony seems to be the only way out when truth has been lost.

It makes a joyful reading of these books very difficult. Sure, you laugh a lot, but what, in the end, are you laughing with? There is no salvation, no real conclusion. Maybe Lyotard was right after all. There is no longer any belief in meta-narratives. But what has been constructed in their place leaves all to the imagination and painstakingly avoids any meaning whatsoever (cfr. David Lynch's latest films: sure, they are imaginative and alienating to an absurd maximum, but what does it all mean in the end?)

So we all flee into the detailed and the ultra-particular while never seeing (or should that be: unconsciously a-void-ing) the bigger picture that emerges. That is, total despair and the need to fill in the void regardless of what is being filled up and what we fill it up with. We have everything, but no direction. And the real danger is that when desperately looking for a direction, you choose the wrong one and end up doing very stupid things. You see, for postmodern man, lacking meta-narratives, it just is not necessary any longer to do the right thing. Frequently it seems already enough to do something.

It leads me to think that even the renewed fanatism of muslims as well as christian fundamentalists is no more than a cosmetic affair. After having relinquished religion and having chosen uncritically for wild capitalism, they find out that the chosen path leads to nowhere. But the return to faith is a case of self-deception at its worst. Because in the end they never entirely refute the principles of capitalism. In its place comes an ugly hybrid that combines everything that was wrong about both systems in the first place. So the so-called moral renewal becomes in the end no more than a moral fundament for laissez-faire capitalism. "New", all too often, is just a remodelling of the old forms.

If there were one word with which you would have to sum up our current civilization, it would be unsurprised.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rather Raving (about)

Islaja - Ulual YYY

Goddess! Goddess!! Goddess!!!

Colleen - Les Ondes Silencieuses

Out of time beauty on authentic instruments.

The Young Gods - Superready / Fragmenté

So there was nothing coming out of Switserland besides the cuckoo clock, Harry?

Hermann Nitsch - Harmoniumworks Vol. 1-12

Hypnotizing endless organ loops from the Vienna Actionist.

Alexander Tucker - Old Fog

Psychedelic folk with an atypic but rewarding voice.

Khylst - Chaos is My Name

Messages from the darkest pits of hell.

Frankie Valli - Beggin' (Pilooski Edit)

Frankie 'Four Seasons' Valli gets a postmillenial update.

Motor - Unhuman

Stomping electro-tech to set the dance floor alight.

Nico - The Frozen Borderline

What can I say? Even the demo versions are great.

Efterklang - Under Giant Trees

Another enchanting episode of the Efterklang fairytale.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

RIP Sol LeWitt

Monday, April 09, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

Criticial Conservatism

Theo is complaining about the continuing unacceptance of electronic dance music by mainstream journalism. He is right, but as always there is a rather simple explanation. You see, electronic dance music is highly abstract music. As such it mirrors the ever increasing abstraction of our environment (which is of course in turn - as always - closely related to capitalism's ever forward marching stride). And most people just do not want to be reminded of that when they are 'enjoying' music (as I have stated many times before the music that most people are subjected to from daily radio transmissions is "music for people who do not like music"). They would rather rely on the eternal formulae of pop music with its recognizable lyrics about so-called everyday life.

It is the by now dreary postmodern story of people not wanting to accept the society they have created themselves. So when it comes to entertainment they instinctively shy away from the mechanical and cold aspects of electronic dance music, not realising that nostalgia always leads to sameness and ultimately fascism (that last one I have nicked from DeLillo's profetic White Noise I think, but I am convinced it is true nonetheless).

Worse is that those who call themselves underground journalists also continue to gobble up the structural hypes that are forced upon them by record companies and big broadcasting companies. You just have to casually read two or three so-called independent magazines to realize that week after week, month after month they, too, fill up their columns with the same artists and currents. The critique may be different but the names are all exactly the same. That way a lot of really good music is hardly visible and gets ghettoised toward niches and fragmented interest groups.

There may be, as Theo remarked, a market for niche-music and indeed there is. But the fact that they will forever remain niches also entails that the margin for true innovation continues to grow smaller and smaller.

But then again, true innovation does not let itself be stopped off by the narrowness of its manoeuvring space. It thrives on exactly that. So, in the end, there is always hope.



Addendum: I am wondering though why Theo thinks it is that much different in other countries than Holland. I think this has ultimately more to do with the wider public they are reaching, because most of the magazines he is - I think - talking about are written in English. Relatively speaking I am guessing the difference will not be all that great.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

And while you're at it...

Check this terrifyingly good techno mix by coming-and-rising man Ripperton. Long time ago I had managed to listen to a techno mix without being seduced for one moment to touch that pause or stop button. Techno was never dead, now was it, and hearing this I know it will only get better. RA-RA-Ripperton!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rather Raving (about)

Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss:

The most beautiful techno I have heard in quite a while.

The Field - From Here We Go Sublime:


The most beautiful techno I have heard in quite a while, part 2

Psalm Alarm - Blk Paintings Vol. 1:


Actually sounds like an evil version of Coil's How to Destroy Angels. And, yes, that is a mighty good thing.

Battles - Mirrored:


To art rock or not to art rock? Fuck that! It rocks!

Ignatz - Ignatz II:


Belgian has the blues. Big time.

Religious Knives - Remains:


Not just another collection of drones.

Wolf Eyes - Black Wing over the Sand:


Yes, they have done it again. And again. And again...

Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity:


Supreme pop madness rules supreme.

Gudrun Gut: I Put a Record On:

Sehr gut, ja, danke!

Throbbing Gristle: Part Two, The Endless Not:

Still gets my gristle throbbing after all those years.

I'm in L-O-V-E


Picture by Hans Vanderlinden

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Return in Style

I nearly shit my pants when I read there was a new Throbbing Gristle record around. Not because I was in such dire need of it, but because there was the distinct possibility that it was not going to live up to my expectations. But it did actually. It is a very good record, it may in the future even turn out to be a brilliant record. And though they seem to have mellowed out over the years (some tracks sound almost jazzy), the power of this foursome is still entirely intact. I like it when my heroes still cut it after all those years.