Gil Evans & Arnold Schoenberg In The House




Two good vinyl finds yesterday. The Schoenberg was only a quid. Mind you that's more than most people would pay for him. I don't blame them. It's a right racket. No tunes. The painting is by Gaetano Citeroni. No, I'd never heard of him either. The record was pressed in 1962. 


The Gil Evans is from 1959. Have I mentioned Cool recently? Gil made an album called out Of The Cool the following year. He never got out of being cool. On this he's arranged Django which, as created by the Modern Jazz Quartet, is the coolest track ever recorded. Gil does it justice.





The Top 10 Coolest Record Labels Of All Time


To name a list 'The Coolest' anything is absurd, of course, but this week-end The Guardian, as part of it's record label feature, presented The Coolest Labels Of All Time. Yes, it's pointless arguing about a list, but then, that's partly their function, is it not? It doesn't say who created this one but presumably it was a handful of their music 'critics', you know the kind; they think Footwork is cutting-edge and inhabit an anti-chamber of Hell in which post-modernity, irony and the pressure to give modern Pop culture credence present terrible dilemmas.

One glaring absence is Blue Note. I mean glaring. You don't exactly need an encyclopaedic knowledge of Jazz to know that it was the coolest of the genre, therefore should have been first on everyone's list. But I'm ignoring the fact that Jazz probably isn't 'cool' in their world. Not even in their hip-by-numbers pseudo Cool world. For the artwork alone it should qualify, never mind the one or two decent artists they signed.


Island is included for it's reggae breakthrough, although it strikes me they're only thinking of how Bob Marley was sold to the Rock crowd. In my experience, a greater number of white working class youths were dancing to Trojan records. It therefore has a greater claim as a label that 'brought reggae to the UK' than Island. Perhaps it doesn't count because it's impact was on working-class kids, not middle-class Rock fans suddenly taking reggae seriously.

Stax is in over Motown, due to it 'breaking down racial barriers'. With more hits to it's name, surely Motown did this to a greater extent. If Motown's Pop formula isn't considered 'black enough' to be as 'cool' as Stax, the idiots don't understand that the very presence of so many black stars in the limelight broke down barriers. Besides, Motown had Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, both of whom, as you probably noticed, made decent albums too.

Atlantic should be in there. Too big? Too corporate? Here are some artists who were on the label: The Modern Jazz Quartet, Mose Allison, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Ray Charles. Are you arguing now?

They chose Warp and R&S in the electronic music area. It's a close contest but UR is far cooler, darling, carrying as it does that whiff of danger, political anger and futurist ethos from the ruins of post-industrial Detroit.

Sub Pop is in because to these ex-grammar school hacks grunge was 'cool', so they thought, or heard. Perhaps it was, but not in my world. I bought a Mudhoney album once, though.

Anyway, here's my list, based on fact rather than personal taste:

Blue Note
Chess
Motown
Atlantic
Trojan
UR
Metalheadz
Evidence
INA-GRM
PAN 

Depth Charge, Shelfie, Hoovering No U Turn


Easter. What you goin' to do? Roast dinner at The Colonel Fawcett, that's what. 
Eat an egg, of course. 
Look out the window at the rain. Leaves in the garden getting into top gear green mode, seemingly exploding from the branches as I watch.
Play some music such as this, Lust, by Depth Charge, who I turn to roughly every other month and never think 'Oh, it's not aged well'.





LJ's piano and two of her collages. She's learning How Can I Be Sure and tried to get me to sing it. That didn't happen.



Shelfie.



Bank Holiday house cleaning's a tradition, isn't it? So, time for some hoovering. Fierce & Nico's Input sucks the dust from your ears. A prime example of the 'hoover' bass line (as it was known back in 1886) is heard on this ancient artefact. It used to send us crazy. No U Turn twelves were always a big event. Now you can buy them starting at £1.48 on Discogs. There's something sad about that, although I don't know why, exactly. It's not as if the price now is going reflect it's musical value 18 years ago. if that was the case, it would cost about...(puts little finger to his mouth Dr Evil style)...$1,000,000!



Odds 'n' sods: Feminist Art, I Am Monet, The Great Depression & Sleaford Mods

L-R: Cay Lang, Vanalyne Green, Dori Atlantis and Sue Boud
Posted this yesterday on Facebook thinking I could just name the women involved and that would be enough to signify that it wasn't the work of some nasty male Photoshopist. Then I covered myself by adding that it's part of a photo shoot by a feminist Art group. The way Lang's hair lays over the C indicates to me that it's an original photo but you know how clever some people are at manipulating images.

What famous artist are you? Yes, another one of those answer-questions-to-find-out-who-you-are quizzes. Lately I've been Wes Anderson, 'a major music nerd' and now Monet - Monet! Christ, I'm more boring than I thought. Damn that quiz. I wanted to be Duchamp, maybe, if he's one of the answers. You know how things are shaping up if you answer honestly. Just give all the 'rebellious' answers if you want to fool yourself that you're a rebel. Perhaps you really are. Perhaps Monet was. I rebelled against learning anything at school and I'm not about to stop now...


Ignorance is bliss. A guy I used to work with would come in all smiles and pretty much stay that way the whole day. He was an idiot. I was miserable. If only we could have fused together to form a happy soul who hated what capitalism was doing to society. That's a contradiction in terms, I suppose. 'You're just too hip to be happy', said Gene Hackman in David Mamet's Heist. That would have been a perfect riposte for my work colleague whenever I snarled at him.


I never turned to drugs, legal or otherwise, during the Great Depression (roughly the first 10 years at Work). At least Punk Rock said some of what I was feeling...



I once dreamt of a career opportunity in music, as a journalist. Years later, I didn't regret not getting one. What does a band with principles do when bigger labels start sniffing around? Take the money and run? By principles I mean a healthy mistrust/hatred of the music biz and what fame does to musicians. Would success spoil Jason Williamson? I suspect they're getting offers. 'Slam dunk with a concrete record deal...it's bound to sink'. I'm going to see them 'live' in London soon. The trouble is, I'll have to put up with three other bands unless Sleaford Mods are on first and I doubt that. They're the reason the night has sold out. It'll be like waiting for the Chelsea game on Match of the Day and having to suffer Stoke vs West Brom, Fulham vs Aston Villa and Sunderland vs Hull City first...only worse...




from the book: Buñuel! La mirada del siglo


'You're going to love this', said LJ, sat in a chair in the St John's Wood Oxfam shop. So I went over, amazed that she'd found a great book. She's not the book finder general 'round here! That's my role, mainly because it's me that goes out looking. If she came with me every time I'd have far less books because she'd try and enforce common sense on me by saying 'Do you really need that?' And 'You've got enough Art books already!' Also 'You haven't read half the books you've got'. Which is true, and this one will not be read for sure since it's in Spanish. It's split into sections such as Art and films featuring skulls, religious iconography, nudes and eyes; key surrealist visual influences/elements of Buñuel's films. Good work LJ.










Bruno Nicolai - Tutti i colori del buio (Finders Keepers)


Bruno Nicolai fever breaking out in the bunker. Oh Bruno, how my heart soars at the sound of your film scores. Rome, Lake Como, spaghetti, Michelangelo...La Dolce Vita...Dolcelatte...Sophia Loren...of all the wonders your country has given the world your music is their equal! If you lived today I would catch a plane to your house and speak sonnets in praise of you from beneath your balcony...by moonlight...honest...

You can see that he brings out the romantic in me. But hold on, aside from the trillion top class, string-soaked and heart string-tugging film themes he has written he also made amazing, dark experimental music. This he has in common with his fratello musical Mr Ennio Morricone. Some might say he is as Tony Bennett is to Sinatra in that respect.; prince and king. Except neither sing. And that would do him a disservice.

The track Medium alone proves how capable he was of concocting a nightmarish atmosphere, the kind, in fact, that puts most contemporary, clichéd efforts to shame. Then there's Insidia, which ramps up the psycho tension before breaking out into a cool Jazz-drum driven archetypal Giallo theme complete with Herrmannesque strings. Alessandro Alessandroni plays sitar, even solo on Evocazione, but imbues it with a kind of bluesy, funky feel when he gets into his own groove. Brilliant. Propiziazione is another high point, but there are no lows. It's pretty much a perfect fusion of rhythm and radical orchestration that gets horror music fans high on frantic piano and nerve-jangling violins.

For other sides of Nicolai, ie more Pop, Romantic and Funky, there's a great 72 track Nicolai comp here

Bass Clef - Raven Yr Own Worl (PAN)


Self-confessed 'dubstep exile' Ralph Cumbers plays his BugBrand Modular system, blowing sonic bubbles in your ear; a pure pleasure to behold. Less the phuture, more the past remixed. Whether the Raven of the title is intended as a pun on Ravin' or not, echoes (literally) of that era abound in happy chopped hand-clapping, even whistles. Current listeners are more likely to be dancing in their heads than in muddy fields but either through experience or historical digging the references will be familiar. Synth lines wiggle in and out of focus, bolstered by choice bass lines, all artfully done, if not quite turning Acid into Art. There's enough detail to reveal fresh components after several rewinds.



Writing, writing, writing...


writing wrongs
writing wrong is OK
write?

I've written since I learned to write.

Unlike a lot of people I carried on beyond the point of just writing Xmas and Birthday cards, or the occasional letter of condolence or application forms. That was writing before the social net was thrown over everybody with a PC. Then people started writing again. And we could all see how well or badly people wrote.

Like a kid given a build-it-yourself space lab containing every actual component in miniature - wow! I've got to do this! The masses began writing, writing, writing. Comments - inane, absurd, aggressive, puerile, stupid Comments below articles and YouTube clips which, when you read, you wish home computers had never been invented.

Facebook writing - it's easier to just hit the Like button! So people do. But some try to write. Why not? Just because they can't doesn't mean they shouldn't. Democracy in action! The heartfelt comments regarding the loss of a pet, a friend's illness, the death of a celebrity - tragic. Moving in their innocence. No witticisms.

Meanwhile the male of the species sees this writing in public medium as a means to show of his prowess, his knowledge, his wit, his intellect - look how smart I am, world! It's what most men do instead of club each other to death. We have to prove our virility somehow.

Writing, writing...I wrote stories as a kid whilst my family watched TV. I wrote in my room when I finally got one - long letters typed on my first machine, impersonating Kerouac, badly. Remember writing letters? Perhaps you're old enough. I wrote letters to girlfriends in London and waited for returns to drop through the letterbox, seeing them on the carpet there - what joy? One used to send letters doused in perfume, sometime cuttings of her hair inside the folded paper. That now seems like an old age of romance compared to emails modern lovers might receive, or private messages on the network.

I wrote fanzines. I even wrote novels, if they can be called that in an unpublished state. Now they sit on paper packed into big brown envelopes stuffed into a cupboard. I will never read them again but can't part with testimonies to a time when I was so optimistic, hard-working and deluded, probably. I even took a writing course in the late-70s. How To Plot. And so on. It took me years to learn to lose the plot. Then I was free. Then I joyfully worked with text, calling myself a 'text worker' instead of a 'writer'. Moving other people's words around was much more fun than making up the same words in a different order to try and create a story.

A novel? How passé! I've always enjoyed other people's novels, though. Let them do the work - entertain me. Beckett, Burroughs, Greene, Chandler and so on. Now I can read without wishing I could write like that. Bliss.

Now I can write here on this blog. The common advice is to 'write what you know'. That's rubbish. Blogging is freedom. which may not always lead to anything of interest to anyone. But the writer will have hopefully enjoyed herself. Even if that post amounted to an outpouring of grief. Therapy. Writing can be that. It can be anything. Like Art. Except, by it's very nature, writing non-fiction, commonly, then, known as 'fact', is supposed to 'make sense'. Supposed to convey cohesive thoughts. Yes? No. Let writing be. Applaud nonsense. It means something to the writer, doesn't it?

There's too much common sense in the arts. You know it. Perfectly composed pictures of mundane subjects. Perfectly written and produced songs expressing nothing much in a totally unimaginative way. Yes, I applaud certain kinds of perfection. a Motown classic. Debussy. Whoever. But the quest for perfection and only achieving competence (the by-product of those who aspire but lack imagination or talent) is what deters so many would-be creators. Take a writing course? Go away. The goal of the pupils: create more mediocre novels to join millions sitting in WH Smiths. But at least they're published! Yes. The world is full of totally mediocre product. It sells. It's what the majority of the people want. Isn't it? The mediocre is magical to them. They wonder how novels get written - it's a magical process! No. It's not. It's laborious and methodical and reads like it was.

I have written enough now.

If you exist, rather than being just a figment of my imagination. Goodbye.

What's On Your Mind?


prawns (which he's cooking)

the £10 note thrown onto his desk in the office by a disgruntled Arsenal fan who'd bet on Chelsea FC not qualifying for the semi-finals of the Champions League

Bruno Nicolai, whose Marquis de Sade album he had just purchased, thinking 'What the hell, I'm ten  pounds richer than I was yesterday'...


Helm, who he was listening to as he wrote...


...it's not proper music, is it? what's music & what's noise? who's to say? 

how do you know someone's working class? their TV is bigger than their bookcase (a cruel joke he'd recited to a friend last week-end during a discussion about what he could not remember). he is working-class. & there were times in his past when he was almost ashamed to say so - then he told himself that if more working-class people came out of the closet there would be less shame in it because some of those who did so might own bookcases that were bigger than their TVs. so the nasty stereotype of proles being uncultured in the sense of not only watching & reading shit would be challenged. though, he thought, the day would never come when it would disappear...

what is Art? no! no that old question.
what is digital Art?

'Images For Digital Art' (Google)


here's something he made....



...is it Digital Art? is it Art at all?

he thought all this, then remembered the prawns & went to finish cooking them...
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