Saturday, 30 August 2014

New Collages

Recent work with paper, made quick-fire fashion, improvisational rather than meticulously planned placement of objects. You know, I'm just crazy like that....but...I think the pace of production lends them a quality that they would lack if pondered over for too long. Designed as a pair, obviously. 

Get Ready For Old Age With One Direction

The Ready for Ageing Alliance has set out an 11 point prescription to help individuals prepare for ageing. Point number 9 in the prescription is:

Keep up to date with the kids: The world is changing around us. Keep your mind active and engaged, from new digital technology through to new attitudes. Make sure you aren’t missing out and take every opportunity to talk to younger people. Try to get yourself online. Listen to One Direction (at least once).

Yes, be a groovy grandparent and impress the kids with your knowledge of One Direction! You know it makes sense. You're over 50, getting longer in rotten tooth and grey-haired, cut adrift from what is cool...and the kids aren't impressed by your insistence that The Beach Boys or The Clash constitute great music. Don't let your brain rot from over-indulging in all that saccharine nostalgia for the music of yesteryear, you old fart.

So what if the kids laugh behind your back at your pathetic attempt to be modern, at least you try, eh? And don't come out with that Classic Rock nonsense because there's no such thing any more. Astral Weeks means nothing. Neither does Kind Of Blue or Pet Sounds. They are the musical equivalents of home-made jam and basket-weaving.

As for that wild music of your youth, it's already antiquated - turning rebellion into sounds for the old folk's home. "Put on some NWA, they like that", says the nurse. But sadly, they won't even have retirement home sing-along sessions in the future because every old person will be locked into their own musical world with personal players. This is a shame because they won't be sat 'round singing 'White riot!' or 'Fuck the police comin' straight from the underground!'.

All old (over 50) people need to keep their minds 'active and engaged' and One Direction will do just that. Put Sinatra or Aretha Franklin aside, just for a while. They might be good, but listen to these boys...the harmonies, melody and rich tonal variation of those voices! You see? If you don't see, you'll remain on the road to cerebral ruin.

As for the few of you who prefer obscure nonsense like Stockhausen, Bach or Sun Ra, that's all well and good but it doesn't mean a thing to the kids and no-one else in the old folk's home will understand it either. So you lose on both counts. Isolation in old age is a real problem. Listening to that kind of music will only isolate you further. Whilst your peers are extolling the virtues of Paul Weller you will be left trembling (even more) with indignation at their failure to recognise the brilliance of Gesang der Jünglinge. Is that what you want? To be alienated from other old people as well as the music of the times? No, you don't.

Reading is a good way to keep the brain nimble. JK Rowling is recommended, as are other popular authors. If you don't read books, try one. They're very good for you. Except James Joyce...or Thomas Pynchon. They'll only make you more confused than you already are.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Albums: Lee Gamble, Black Rain, Shit and Shine

Lee Gamble - Koch (PAN) > understated, not complex machine manipulation unless these ears cannot pick up the fine pointillist precision with which Lee Gamble has assembled it all - that's possible - No Beat quasi New Age (?!) and a track 2 (Motor System) thumper that wakes you up. 'What you got is a whole, miserable sub-culture' (vocal sample on You Concrete) - that's good; it's the core/basis of the track. Does it echo Gamble's feelings? Surely not. More low-end slow drag thumps (Nueme) - Motorbass have sprung to mind a few times whilst listening to the album. Voxel City Spirals stands out with it's bell chimes, squished beats and broken-tech components. Gillsman might be a tribute to Drexciya. The whole album might be a tribute to Detroit/Berlin halcyon daze when to be Techno was boffin enough and avant-gardism in the electronic pioneer sense wasn't needed.

Black Rain - Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black) > Stuart Argabright and Shinichi Shimokawa take to the mean streets, cruising through a city of glass populated by gangsters, pimps and new romancers neuromancers - very hi-tech; blade-sharp, it cuts flesh, bone and probably binary codes, but thankfully the pristine production ethic is a bonus despite running contrary to the popular methodology of stirring electronics in a vat of mud. Perhaps I'm a sucker for million dollar, penthouse-tech such as Endourban and the whole wide-screen moodiness - it works for me. Even the track Burst, which almost dies from a drum beat, sounds enough like being sucked into a meat grinder to make it worthwhile. Glossy, but as a sonic version of your favourite modern action movie, it succeeds. 

Shit and Shine - Powder Horn (Diagonal)  > Craig Clouse takes control of the Technics for a Disco from hell, the anarcho-beat Ball of the Year, certainly - if only more (anti) music-makers like him existed. Yes, I know, there are plenty of Noise-makers, but to shred Disco, throw in some Rock, rip it all up and sound this good takes some doing. The Say No Go bass on You Can't works a treat, as does the shitty mix on Pearl Drop, all bass drop and faded fuzz like half-arsed but demented No Wave disco. Likewise PG13, which clearly depicts Bianca Jagger being thrown off her white horse at Studio 54 then disembowelled by it's big fierce teeth. Who's Your Waitress reworks wine bar soul and is a sickening and seductive as the tart in heels who licks your ear, then smothers you to death with her Armani jacket...or something. Crunching breaks, mock Acid...twisted, mutated, mutilated; there's more mad invention here than most manage in a lifetime. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Books Are Useless

"I'll take your books if you should die and your house needs clearing," the bookseller said, in so many words, but different ones, to the effect that he didn't want to buy the bagful of books I was offering since the shop only made money on house clearances. I hate booksellers. A miserable breed, contaminated by dust and mould spores from all the grubby pages they've handled; it's rotted their souls.

I thought I could sell a few books on Charing Cross Road, where a few second-hand book shops constitute some kind of final stand for such things in London. The road has a long history of bookshops. They're dying now, of course, slowly, one-by-one, being replaced by places selling food. Soon, food is all you'll be able to buy in London. That and plastic policeman's helmets...and cheap clothes. Because everyone has to eat and wear clothes...who buys souvenir tat I don't know, but the shops don't seem to be disappearing.

The bookseller smiled awkwardly when refusing my very decent selection. Yes, you can smile you vulture! You exploiter of the dead! I'd already been refused once by a shop up the road. They claimed to have 'too much of that kind of thing'. Yes, right, you lying bastards. I knew that couldn't be true. Just admit you're not not buying, contrary to the sign that says 'Books Bought' on your door.

No-one wants books. Not even the public. Unless they're dirt cheap. Who can blame them? Even I don't want books. They're useless things...bulky...and frankly too time-consuming. It's impossible to read all the ones you own. Books needs to be transformed into iPhone-sized gadgets that you plug into your head and zap all those words into your brain, instantly. You don't buy them, just borrow for a minute. This will cause some readers to get quite ill by OD-ing on War and Peace, Ulysses and Infinite Jest in three quick hits, but so what.

A friend recently said "Nobody reads blogs". So what are you doing? I think she meant they read Tweets. I think by 'nobody' she meant people under 30. Soon it'll be true of everyone over 30 too. They say 'old' people have taken over Facebook so they're on their way down the slippery slope to giving that up for Twittter. Books must seem ridiculous to the micro-text generation. All those words! What for? What can't be said in one line? What else needs to be said?

How JK Rowling got rich I'll never know. I suppose those kids will grow out of books, or worse still, go on to keep the middlebrow literature market going. So someone's buying books. Like music, they just don't sell in the quantity they used to, I suppose. Unless they're cookery books, judging by the end-of-year sales charts. Them and 'page turning' thrillers, which are the quickest kind of novel to read because nothing's said in them that causes you to think, or linger, or re-read to fully understand. They're the Big Macs of the book world.

I think I'll have a book-burning session this afternoon. That or cut loads up and paste the pages as a collage of disgust with literature. That'll be Art, which no-one's much interested in either, unless it bears the name Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin and is in a big show at Tate Modern. Or it's nice old Art, the kind that's been made into best-selling postcards.

Now excuse me, I'm off to Tweet, then start a big fire...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Book: The Hidden World - Jim Shaw's Didactic Art Collection

To accompany the exhibition of artist Jim Shaw's collection of bizarre illustrations, books, comics, flyers, T-shirts etc. Many mind-boggling examples of crazy cults and curious images. Published soon in the US according to this site. Well worth getting since it also contains interviews with Shaw discussion the collection.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Some Books I've Bought/Read Recently

'Piles of books everywhere!', exclaims LJ before proceeding to point at every one of them, saying 'Pile here' (on one of the Wharfedale speakers), 'Pile here' (on the unit built to house CDs and the records player), 'Pile here!' (on the other Wharfedale), 'Here' (on the low improvised shelf under the window). What can I say? I need to build a new shelf, or two...

First find of the day, Deborah Solomon's biog of Joseph Cornell, Utopia Parkway, sit outside the café, open it up and read: 'One suspects it never occurred to Cornell that one day he himself would become the subject of a biography and that someone, somewhere, would perhaps sit down at a table in a coffee-shop and open a book about him.' Well blimey...

(Homeward-bound fantasy about my biography, in which it will be written: 'One suspects it never occurred to Tomens as he sat outside the café reading about Cornell's probable incredulity at being read about outside a café that someone, somewhere, would perhaps sit down outside a café and open a book about him.' Another episode in periodic fantasies about being the subject of a biography, my fame dream, because unless I become that famous my life, when looked back at from the Last Bed, may be considered a failure - huh!)

This was in the cookery section of the charity shop bookshelves which, luckily, was next to the rest of the non-fiction so I spotted the words 'd'art moderne' and found a goodie. Chefs d'oeuvre du Musee d'art moderne de la ville de Paris - that's a mouthful, which may explain why it was in the cookery section, but I doubt it. £4. I had to scan the cover because no images of it exist online, would you believe. Here's a page from the book too. A brilliant painting by Eduardo Arroyo...

Here's a good read, The Consul, an interview with Ralph Rumney, in which he talks about his interesting life travelling all over the world, being in on the Situationist thing, marrying Peggy Guggenheim's daughter (funny story about fake whisky at one of her parties) and all-round wisdom regarding Art. 'In my experience, artists, the practitioners of artism, are the meanest and most anally retentive people I've ever met.' I know what he means. Some art-makers can't bring themselves to be generous in spirit, ie supporting another, because they're insecure or whatever.

Finally, here's a detail from something I made recently...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fake Review: Aphex Twin - SYRO

Since writing this yesterday I've heard that there are a few fakes around and the version I heard may well be one of them. My article is also a fake, obviously. Rumour has it that James himself created at least one fake. The world's press is in turmoil...

Extremely crap post-modern cover, Richard!

7 Genuine Comments

Great news!
Oh yeah!!!

i remember counting the bpm of digeridoo and marvelling at how fast it was

This is such good news, he was my highlight of glasto, playing in The Temple.

Got to be worth a listen this ! Welcome back from the coma........

How exciting! Some good news at last.

BOC. Burial, Jon Hopkins, Flylo, Four Tet....The master himself returns.

Richard D James used deep web browser Tor to announce SYRO, his first album since Drukqs in 2001. That's the de-e-e-p web, where common browsers like you and and rarely venture...because it's too....deep and inhabited by only the most radically tuned-in people, the type for whom Aphex twin may indeed be some kind of god, or even guru...pass the analogue bubblebath, matey, I'm going in!

Oh Time, what a cruel master you are. None of us can escape the force of your iron heel, despite the best efforts of those mad septuagenarian keep fit fanatics who still try to jog away from it. Even Aphex Twin, for whom one might assume Time is an insignificant concept which plagues only mere mortals, cannot deny the passing of 13 years since his last release.

Imagine my surprise when it's arrival was announced as the second item (after Iraq) on the BBC News last night! Or did I imagine that? No matter, since the world's media has duly reported the arrival of SYRO geeks fans have been hammering at the digital portal, virtually queueing 'round the block, willing to sleep there all night to be among the first to hear this electronic music event. 

By now many will have heard it. So what is it like? It's very much like electronica circa 1995, which, lest you think otherwise, ie, he hasn't progressed one bit, is obviously a conscious ploy to promote classicism over newfangled electronic noise. Bravo! Why pander to the notion that new, or the fashionably old, technology can stimulate artists to create new sounds? That, surely, is the sign of a fly-by-nighter desperately trying to sound contemporary. As for the new Noise, Richard James taught Russell Haswell everything he knows - he did!

Remember the refinement of drill'n'bass transformed into 'glitch' and made 'intelligent'? Of course you do! Although, it's said that if you remember raving to the sound of didgeridoos, you weren't there. I don't know. The last person I heard playing one is currently in hospital having it removed from his rectum. I feel bad about that now...

Richard James has said he has material for at least ten albums. Perhaps it's all been sitting there since 2011, or even 1995. That's irrelevant to the time lord. And his fans, probably.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

60 Years Of Living Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright

'If our form of society is to be true to it's nature, conscientious independence should prove a proper test of values.'

Booklet to accompany the 1953 exhibition in New York, Sixty Years of Living Architecture: The Work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright's keen on mentioning democracy in typical Cold War fashion, as if both trumpeting good old American values whilst at the same time seeming to suggest they should be tested thoroughly. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Vessel - Punish, Honey (Tri Angle)

Fancy dancing to a different drummer? Here's some fresh bio-mechanoid music from Young Echo's Seb Gainsborough who, praise be, has refused to march to the same old pace as most of his electronic music companions. Whilst some handmade instruments are involved it's not quite Harry Partch but it does sound new (to these ears). 

I don't hold with Kathy Acker's rallying cry (from Ezra Pound) to always 'make it new' (ironic considering her penchant for plagiarism) because first and foremost things should be made good, but so many music-makers can't quite manage that, preferring to lapse into adequate (at best) efforts in the same old genres (Ambient, Tech, Industrial etc). 

So Gainsborough deserves a good slap on the back, probably a naked back...oiled...writhing in ecstasy during some good Red Sex, whatever you might imagine that to be (is it what Christine Keeler got up to?). The cover and titles like Punish Honey suggest some S&M games, perhaps, but that's not the theme. It's been stated that 'Englishness' (the meaning of) is one of the themes behind the album, although I can't hear it myself and it's not evident in the titles.

No matter, starting an album with a disjointed rum roll and road drill is a dramatic and effective way to lead in to the track featured below, probably the 'catchiest' tune and one that immediately worms it's way into your head. That weird lead instrument and the wonky tune played on it will prove to be one of the highlights of this year, I'm certain.

Drowned In Water And Light continues the style, if not the mood, slowing things down to a sludgy beat that would be dull if not for the attention to detail and added textures. Euoi takes thing up a gear, again with emphasis on the drum beat. Whilst there's a good break it's the simple melodic refrain on repeat that starts to suggest Prog from a parallel universe. Kin To Coal borders on, dare I say, the realms of Metal, but I doubt it'll be a favourite at Reading Festival. Still, it is 'heavy', man. DPM is similar to Red Sex and that's no bad thing. 

I wouldn't say it's a total success, simply because the new territory seems to unsettle Gainsborough as much as it will those hoping for a more common kind of electronic music. By which I mean he seems a little fearful of going right out to where the really weird things are. But if his aim was to retain familiar darkness married to some driving beats yet introduce new elements, he succeeded totally.

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