Minority Interest Reports

Thursday, 18 September 2014

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Racks - 5 Essential Music Box Sets

Box sets are big, stupid and outmoded. Right? Not in the homes of a generation old enough to have bought LPs first time 'round and when the CD box sets started coming collect them too because many contained previously unreleased tracks. And besides, what else were baby boomers going to spend their money on? 

Box sets were exciting for others too, of course, myself included. But to confess that is also to confess to being of certain age, probably. Do kids buy box sets? No, surely not. Many can be downloaded anyway. I'm not precious about sleeve notes and packaging, but they're seen as a bonus by some. 

A box set signifies the old world, the last hurrah of music companies still creating cash from the vaults. Pony-tailed executives rubbing their hands with glee as yet another take of a track is dusted off - ''The suckers'll lap it up!". 

Yet there's something appealing about these digital dinosaurs. They sit heavily (literally) in a world where music is weightless. They defy this anti-gravity world of one-click access and the virtually invisible file storage system where recordings exist in name alone (lost amongst all the others). Almost every day I catch sight of the boxes below. Admittedly this is because I no longer have a large CD collection.

So here are some of my favourites.

Bernard Parmegiani - L'Œuvre Musicale (INA)

Acousmatic/electronic/tape genius. An infinite world of sound.

 Miles Davis - The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (Columbia Legacy)

Of the many Miles Davis box sets, this is the one I play most often. Electric voodoo. 

Various ‎- Popular Electronics: Early Dutch Electronic Music From Philips Research Laboratories (Basta)

Tape/electronic genius.

Ornette Coleman - Beauty Is A Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (Rhino Records)

Arranged as the sessions were recorded. It's Ornette Coleman.

Duke Ellington - Anniversary (Masters Of Jazz)

13-disc epic feast of Ellington. A gift (from myself) that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

We Got To The Gallery - Miriam Elia

Miriam Elia's superb parody of Ladybird books. We Go To The Gallery mocks the modern Art world with an acute sense of the absurd. That may be easy to do, but this succeeds because the jokes are so good. Penguin, who own the rights to the Ladybird series, have tried to prevent her from publishing. They are currently in discussion about the matter. You can buy the second edition from her site.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Collage Throat-Cutting / Funkenstein / Fanzine

(attention-grabbing opening line alert!)

I cut someone's throat today by mistake, of course. I'd cut him out, flipped him over, thrown him on the pile of cut out images and carried on cutting. Then I returned to the pile and started cutting what turned out to be the flip side of the man I wanted to keep in one piece. I sliced straight across his throat. I can patch him back together, though, Frankenstein-style. What is collage but the act of Frankenstein-like artists? Some of us make what some might consider to be monsters. Some make pretty things. 

From Frankenstein to Funkenstein, who else but Parliament...

If you want to hear and see me blathering on about Art look at this. It's only a short film. An impromptu interview. Upon seeing it a friend said chewing gum was very Punk. Perhaps he's right. Whilst, unlike some, I don't believe Punk 'changed the world' it did reinvigorate a creative side of me to the extent that I started a fanzine (didn't we all?). In the early-90s I created one that ran for longer (i.e. more than one issue) I put more into it. There seemed to be a zine revival, of sorts. Here's the cover of issue no.4... 

Thanks for dropping by. If you like what you see, keep it to yourself. That way Include Me Out will remain your special secret and I won't feel under any pressure to perform when it's just for you and me...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Hammer House Horror - Art Deco Delight

Strolling through Soho the other day LJ stopped, saying 'Hold on, look at this!'. So I did. We found ourselves staring in wonder at a magnificent Art Deco doorway. Looking up, we saw it belonged to Hammer House. That's Hammer as in Hammer horror films. Along with Doctor Who, they gave us British kids our first taste of fear on TV in the 60s. Fear and the psycho-sexual terror of busty beauties being ravished by monsters, but perhaps we could not fully understand the (Freudian?) meaning of all that blood and bodice-ripping.  

We chatted to the guy sitting behind what must be one of the oldest reception desks in London, the country, even. It was tiny, the original 30s desk, squatting in a nook under the stairs and in front of the lift. Part of it is visible in the reflection on the first shot, to the right of me squatting on the stairs. I would have photographed it but we were too busy listening to him tell us about the building. You read a bit about it here

Modern film production companies run by the likes of comedian Jimmy Carr use the building, so it's still involved in horror. Unless you think those 'comedy' panel shows are good. Anyway, here's the door from inside and out.

'This coach is bound for a terrifying destination' (as the voice-over says) should be an announcement on the 259 to Tottenham...

Asger Jorn Collages

Two great pieces from 1956 by Asger Jorn, co-founder of both COBRA and the Situationist movement. He collaborated with other Situ superstar Guy Debord on a couple of visual/text collage classics, Mémoires and Fin de Copenhague. There's a good feature on the latter here.

Untitled, 1956

Worthless Grave, 1956

Ekoplekz - Four Track Mind (Planet Mu)

Ekoplekz and Pierre Henry together is a pairing Nick Edwards (Ekoplekz) would enjoy, I'm sure. He doesn't know that he's already collaborated with the legend, if only in my room. I happened to leave Pierre Henry's Coexistence (honestly) playing whilst listening to Four Track Mind. It worked, of course.

Most of these tracks come from the Unfidelity sessions but I think this is a better album. With three tracks stretching over the 8-minute mark, Edwards has room to stretch his legs, so-to-speak and it's to our benefit. Ariel Grey can therefore evolve to the point where the trademark Ekoplekz mood goes East of The River into Augustus Pablo territory for a while. Ekoplekz Meets Augustus Pablo Uptown is another imaginary collaboration I'd like to hear.

This is like Ekoplekz plus, if you get my drift. It's darker than a lot of what he's done, Return To The Annexe especially. But those DIY beats are still in evidence, as is the overall feeling that Nick is experimenting as he goes and leaving much of it alone rather than heavily editing the results. Only 300 available.

Planet Mu

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Neotantrik - Blue Amiga (Pre-Cert)

With an instant MP3 version available when bought from Boomkat,  you may as well throw the record away when it arrives. No, give it to your local charity shop. Imagine the delight in someone's eyes when they see it there amongst the Elton John and Queen albums. Assuming they know what the Pre-Cert label is about...and they slept on buying Blue Amiga. What are the chances of that happening? You giving it away, I mean, never mind the rest.

Andy Votel and Sean Canty know how to make cults of themselves; only get 500 LPs pressed. Not just that, they make astonishingly good music as Neotantrik and on Pre-Cert have put out quality releases by Xian Orphic and N.Racker. More than mere Giallo soundtrack copyists, they avoid wearing obvious influences on their sleeves. Guests Suzanne Ciani and Bruno Spoerri give you some clues as to where they're coming from, but throughout the six tracks so many sounds are woven in as to defy simple categorisation.

With chattering synths, drones and unnameable sound elements, the collage of Mimologue echoes the early electronic pioneers. Amanita Cecilae (almost the name of a mushroom minus one 'i', honest) is more obviously Giallo soundtrack-influenced but succeeds by keeping it's distance. Ferrat Nova's title tells you it might be a space-age soundtrack and it would make a good one...film by John Carpenter. Within The Boundaries Of Knowledge is Neotantrik at their best. It splices a hint of wordless horror vocal with Free sax and rewound high-speed speech that suggest dark psychosis, whilst the minimal simple organ refrain suggests the tragic plight of some tortured soul from the asylum and his victims. That sort of thing.

The sort of thing this short album (37mins) suggests, like most Pre-Cert releases, is that the Devil is in the detail. Less is more. What is suggested through stealth equals more than throwing buckets of sonic blood at the listener.

E.P: Zavoloka - Volya (Kvitnu)

Another solid release from Kvitnu. It has balls of steel, but let's not get all macho about it. Balls without brains are...I was going to say 'useless', but for procreation, that's not strictly true....as you can see by watching people in any high street for five minutes. 

It's from Ukraine, and funds from sales will go to 'volunteers' working for the good of the country. That aside, it's a damned good session which may display Pan Sonic influences has enough about it to deny accusations of simply being a rip-off. The longest track, Slavlennya, is especially good, building on a great post-hoover bass with the kind of rich dynamics that fill all three tracks. There are subtle touches and attention to detail that make it stand out from the pack.


Friday, 12 September 2014

In Praise Of Little (Art) Stuff / James Hoff Video

Move Up 2014

There are no more great men, no more geniuses. We are finally free of these malevolent dummies. Genius was an invention of the Greeks, like the centaurs and the hippogryphs. There are as many geniuses as there are unicorns. We have been so scared of them for three thousand years. - Jean Dubuffet 

We emerged from an Art Fair the other week with LJ complaining about 'all that clutter', by which she meant the little stuff people had made and spread out on their tables. Then we had a row. I know what she means, though. That little stuff; the cards, crude, simple drawings and collages, what does it amount to? I fought their corner , saying how important it was that the little stuff is made, not only for the makers but as a stance against the Big Art stuff, you know, the stuff that signifies that an artist's 'made it', the stuff dealers deal in and Frieze magazine writes about. That stuff. But there were the common people making little stuff. It was great. 

I bought the latest package from Indestructible Energy. It's filled with little stuff. Some of it's good. Some of it is so insignificant as to hardly seem worth making, however crudely. It reminded me of the olde fanzine days, naturally. There were zines at the Art Fair. Not many, mind. Most were filled with cartoons, which aren't really my thing. It doesn't matter that some of this stuff isn't your thing, if you don't support it in some way you are, by default, supporting the idea that none of it matters compared to Proper Art and Literature. You could also be resisting on the grounds that your tiny flat is already crammed with books and stuff.

I bought a couple of prints by Ben Rider. Here's something else he's made...

They only cost £5 for two, but as usual at these kinds of events I felt like Saatchi, throwing money at struggling artists like a big-time philanthropist. I do this partly because I hope that if I'm ever sat there selling my work someone else will be as supportive. Not that makers of little stuff should be treated as desperate charities. 

No-one else ever seems to be buy much, except pretty postcards, for 50p. There's nothing wrong with pretty. The worlds needs pretty, yes. But it's disheartening that the edgier stuff doesn't seem as popular. What a surprise; pretty pictures are more popular than something deeper, more cynical, or 'weird'. 

I didn't see much edgy material there. Perhaps that was simply a matter of who booked a table rather than a reflection of the state of things. Darkness is all over the place in the form of terrible Goth angst in music and visuals. I don't blame people for wanting to look at something that lifts their spirits. But I find those who only embrace the 'beautiful' a little tiresome, like people who only listen to 'happy', 'upbeat' music. Oh, and whinging singer/songwriters, they get right up my nose.

Here's some nice music made by a fairly successful artist called James Hoff. The video is new. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Jackson Pollock and Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman

Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman was used during the BBC Four documentary, The Rules of Abstraction with Matthew Collings, for the Jackson Pollock sequence. A good fit, although Lonely Woman wasn't recorded until 3 years after Pollock's death, but let's not be picky. Still, I can't help thinking about whether music chosen to accompany clips from the past does fit, time-wise. In that sense, perhaps a Thelonious Monk tune would have been better, but who cares or thinks about that kind of thing? Whatever, the usage made me fall in love with the tune all over again.

Here's Collings standing in front of Pollock's Number 32, which is supposedly abstract, but quite clearly contains a figurative element in the form of a horse's head. I'm surprised few critics have pointed this out. Collings talks of structure and control to counter those who think Jack The Dripper was merely working in a random fashion, but doesn't mention the horse. Pollock obviously included it in part as a joke, but also to represent the country life and freedom it symbolised as opposed to claustrophobic (New York) city pressure. That or the equine element occurred purely by chance. Surely not.

Perhaps Pollock's organised 'chaos' is in tune with Ornette Coleman's sound. After all, both were despised, to some extent, for breaking the rules; one making a visual racket, the other a sonic one to many ears. Yet both are now regarded as legends in their respective art forms. And, of course, both still puzzle those for whom painting should represent something that's easily recognisable and music should be melodic, or harmonious, or whatever constitutes 'normal'.

Lonely Woman does contain one of the greatest melodies ever written in Jazz, it just does so in a wayward fashion. It's as if the Free land that was only a year away for Coleman and, later, many others, is already calling, just about to be approached. Lonely Woman lives on the border between old constraints and that vast open territory, the abstract expression of sound.

Perhaps Ornette believed he was forging The Shape Of Jazz To Come when, in 1959, he made the album of the same name which features Lonely Woman. Or was he being ironic? Either way, it remains one of the best album titles ever, as well as a musical masterpiece. The title as a put-down to all the critics? It is not the shape they wanted Jazz to be in, but here it is anyway as offered by Ornette Coleman's quartet.

Being incredibly hip as well as Cool personified, the Modern Jazz Quartet were amongst the first to recognise the genius of Ornette Coleman and specifically Lonely Woman, which they covered on their 1962 album of the same name. To call it a 'cover' does not do it justice. It is both homage to Ornette and a brilliant arrangement in itself...

If anyone had the right to play their version of the tune it is Charlie Haden, who played the stunning opening to the original. Here he is playing it solo...

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