Archive for July, 2010

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Tom Silverman Condescends to Save Music Industry from Itself; Crap Internet Artists

July 27, 2010

Tom Silverman for City Councilman: Intensity You Can Rely On

[Thanks to Overconfident Orientalist for pointing me in the direction of this story. Also, thanks (sort of) to Sedate Me, whose made several points in the follow-up comment that I’m sure I’ll be rehashing. A quick note: any emphasis below has been added by yours truly. You know, to emphasize stuff.]

The long and the short of it is this: Tom Silverman, representing Tommy Boy, has come to the conclusion that the normal (read: rapacious) label/victim artist relationship is broken. The upshot is that he has a plan to fix it: a true, transparent 50-50 split with the artist on all income, whether it is online streaming, record sales, merchandise, licensing, etc. 

The interviewer starts things off on the wrong foot shortly into the introduction, when this statement rears its malformed head: 

“The basic recording contract upon which most of the popular music business has been based for the past 50 years is fundamentally broken. 

This is not the sentiment of one of the countless critics who throw stones at the music industry from afar, usually for vague philosophical reasons, but rather the pragmatic opinion of a true insider..” 

Consider briefly those throwing stones. Are the artists who have been complaining about being indentured-servants-for-life via the truly fucked “advance” system just a bunch of stone-throwing whiny-ass philosophers? Are those who run artist-owned labels tinpot soapboxers bitching just to bitch? Are all the millions of people who spent millions of dollars buying overpriced plastic discs and paying outsized service charges for live gigs just a group of misfits whose opinions can be waved away in a few dismissive sentences? 

Apparently so. And Tom Silverman agrees with interviewer Eliot Van Buskirk, when he marginalizes (by proxy) every bedroom indie artist who has ever recorded and self-published without the aid of a major label: 

“Who uses Photobucket and Flickr? Not professional photographers — those are hobbyists, and those are the people who are using TuneCore and iTunes to clutter the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before.” 

Well, if you wanted to get the unwashed internet to side with this brave new world of 50-50, you certainly couldn’t have stuck your foot any deeper into your mouth, Tom. Quite the feat of contortionism, as the rest of interview indicates it’s currently located deep within your ass. 

This is old news, though. Old school industries who have been rendered extraneous (at best) by the encroaching internet have pitched this fit for years. Those in the high-minded sphere of print journalism have been insulting their potential audience incessantly. Former DJs and talk-show hosts who have seen their audiences shrink have dismissed Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. as moronic and its users as even worse. 

However, Tom goes further. Not content to simply bash millions of enthusiastic amateur photographers and musicians, he goes on to take a swing at Twitter and internet marketing in general: 

They’re not tweeting, they don’t give a shit about any of that stuff. They’re out gigging, that’s what they do. The word is spread through the shows — they’re not marketing through the internet.” 

He’s right about one thing: nothing works quite as well as live performance. Most artists (indie-wise) have already come to this conclusion. They’re out gigging incessantly and connecting with their scattered fans in any way possible. 

Ah. Those were the days. Nonsensical fashion. Nonsensical headspins. Nonsensical CD profit margins.

But Tom doesn’t think that works. Without providing any examples as to why it doesn’t, he expects the reader to take that as fact and write off the power of the internet as nothing more than some widely believed urban legend. 

What he’s really saying, though, is this: it doesn’t work for us. He hasn’t seen it improve anything for his major label artists. There are several reasons for this: 

1. The major labels’ inherent distrust of the internet. They already believe it’s composed solely of thieving morons, so why would they put any genuine effort into marketing via the web? 

2. The major labels have no understanding of the internet. See above. Thieves. Morons. It’s the unmovable force of an industry that desperately wants everything to go back to the way it was. To go back to the halcyon days of CD sales, before Wal-Mart, digital distribution and a bunch of pissed-off music buyers sided with the new forces rather than shell out $18 for 70 minutes of music, most of which was crap. 

(If “90% of everything is crap,” then you’re paying $18 for seven minutes of good music.) 

The labels are not unlike the mullet-headed 50-year-old who drives a primer-grey Camaro and rocks out to whatever the hell it is he was listening to back in the glory days of high school, when he was voted 2nd Runner-Up in the Prom King competition and nearly got to second-base with the B-team cheerleading squad co-captain. 

3. They’ve never really tried. Sure, they might see some bumps for the top 5% of their artists, but the top 5% are the only ones they’re willing to go out-of-the-way for. “Recouped” = GOD in major labeldom. And the only benefit of these actions has been to slightly increase sales on platinum records. 

Everyone else on the roster can go fuck themselves. They won’t get any help because “sales are down” and they’re already way in the hole, thanks to thousands of dollars worth of advances. So, the bands that could use the bump the most are being shoved into the cellar and told to behave. “If you had just had a hit song, we might be able to help you out.” 

Not only that, but because of their contracts, they’re prevented from making moves on their own to improve their situation. They can’t pursue independent licensing deals, switch labels or release new music until the label says it’s OK. 

Tom’s not done going after the internet yet, taking a swipe at Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” theory with this confusing statement: 

“So it’s possible that around 35,000 releases didn’t even sell one copy last year. That means not even the artist or their mother bought a copy, and all those artists are out there gigging, they’re all on social networks, they’re all doing stuff to clutter the marketplace.” 

What is one supposed to gather from this statement? That there’s “too much” product available, producing an unacceptable (to label heads) amount of noise? That there are 35,000 artists out there so unlikable not even their family will spring for a copy? That maybe, just maybe, these 35,000 aren’t really doing any of those things listed, but instead have shoved a slice of recorded music somewhere towards the back of iTunes or the like? 

As for the amount of “noise,” brought on by “too much” product? That’s just a label problem. Anything that isn’t earning them money is just so much noise, pulling people away from their superior craftmanship and amazingly talented roster of artists. 

I would think this is the kind of “noise” music fans have been waiting on for years. Now no one has to sit on the other end of a label-enforced bottleneck, waiting for them to drop new music into their local brick-and-mortar shops or allow it to hit the airwaves of their favorite radio station. 

At this point in time, the cost of entry for artists and fans has never been lower. Bad news for major labels. Great news for artists and fans. Somehow Tom and many others still believe that if it weren’t for them and their Herculean efforts to keep bailing water out of their sinking ships, music fans everywhere would be left with nothing but a vacuum, completely devoid of music. 

I guess we didn't all buy her albums. It just felt that way...

And what do they have to offer? Let’s take a look, as Tom bemoans the fact that this collection of masterpieces was somehow unable to bump CD sales: 

“In America, Michael Jackson died, we re-released all of the Beatles stuff, and we had Susan Boyle, the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga — and we were still down 12.7 percent and 16-something percent physical.” 

Holy shit! Two-shit-demos-tacked-on reissues! And not just any shit re-issues, but re-issues of albums everybody already owns! Tremendous! 

OMG! Susan Boyle! BEP!! LADY MOTHERFUCKIN GAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Christ on a bicycle! How did we poor internet morons get so lucky? How could we restrain ourselves from rushing to the store to pick up physical copies of CDs by dead artists with re-issue after re-issue under their corpses already, a reality-show contestant and two over-exposed pop stars? How were we able to resist the lure of this cornucopia of audio delights? How. The. Fuck… 

Good lord. If this is what the majors think should be moving units, they’re more fucked than they could ever imagine. Long tail or no, not every person out there wants the same old shit, endlessly repackaged and cynically hawked. If I want the fucking BEP, I can watch Target’s in-store advertising for 10 minutes or so. If I wanted a Michael Jackson re-issue, I only had to pick one up during the last quarter century. 

So it all comes down to this: Tom and the major labels want music fixed. They don’t want things to necessarily work better for consumers or their roster. They just want what they had before: skyrocketing profits and insane margins. 

You’ll notice that the independents artists aren’t clamoring for some makeover of the distribution system. Many like it the way it is. Some would like a few changes. A few anomalies hum along with the majors. 

I don’t hear anything from the fans. They’ve never had it better. 

If Tom really wants to be bold, he should grandfather his roster in under this new plan and issue back pay. That might help some of the endlessly screwed unrecouped see some daylight. He can stop charging bands for paid-in-full-and-amortized-to-hell-and-back studios. He can stop pushing them into incredibly expensive promos. 

Most importantly, he (and the rest of the labels) can stop trying to push back the clock, via lawsuits, threats and angry, ill-informed statements. They couldn’t stop what was coming and they didn’t even try to make it work for them. They just let file-sharing, etc. erode their business while they wrung their hands and paid massive retainers to lawyers. 

Without a doubt, this is a step in the right direction. But why now? Why not 20, 30, 40 years ago? Are they finally desperate enough to take 50% of something rather than 90-95% of nothing? I think they are. 

I’m sure there are some people who’ll say, “CLT, why don’t you cut him some slack? He’s trying to change things!” 

Don’t bother. There are a lot of people out there who will never earn the right to some slack-cutting (patent lawyers, divorce lawyers, lawyers, the RIAA, ASCAP & etc., career politicians of all stripes…) and “Major Label Executive” is right near the top of that list. 

You never gave anyone on your roster a break. You never cut them a little slack on the endless recoup. You never failed to let them know where they stood when times were tight. You insulted, berated and sued music fans. You bullied retailers and radio stations. You spent as much time as possible being part of the problem. 

Don’t expect me to humour you with your 50%-assed solution. 

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 54

July 25, 2010

I don’t have three links picked out this week due to some scheduling conflicts (read: more going on than I have actual hours for). Instead, I’m posting links to three blogs I read regularly. (Again, time permitting.)

All links open in a new window. Right-click on song titles to download.

Newmark’s Door – Full of killer links

Hit & Run – Reason’s top-notch libertarian blog, which manages to inform and entertain without going all “guns in a shack” psycho.

No Pain in Pop – Way out on the cutting edge. HR wouldn’t be what it is without their ceaseless exploration…

Previous Rotations available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Deftones – Rocket Skates (m83 Remix).mp3
First of all, I’m never really sure whether to pronounce them as the Def-tones or the Deft-ones. (Wiki says “Def-tones,” but then Wiki says a lot of stuff. I’m going to go with the second.)

If you had to listen to one nu metal band, you could do a whole lot worse than Chino Moreno’s band, which has been a formative force in many a lesser nu metal band. Needless to say, we’ll try no to hold that against them.

But what we’re really here for is the remix. And m83 do a number on this one. Somehow, through some sort of electronic sorcery, m83 manage to crank up the aggression while simultaneously losing every single guitar. There’s not a single six-string chord in sight and yet, the track still sounds raw and unhinged. Moreno’s vocals deserve some of the credit here, helping to pace the tune while being set adrift from his usual rhythm section.

It all adds up to a Deftones track that I would not only listen to, but listen to repeatedly.

Twin Sister – Lady Daydream (Glitter Bones Remix).mp3
A gorgeous daytripper filled with the swooning harmonics of the greatest ’60s girl group to never exist, filtered through electronica (via Glitter Bones) that lies somewhere between Telepopmusik and Peepholes. It’s the audio equivalent of an early-morning mist rolling off the ocean as it gently breaks across the empty shoreline.

Plus, it features one of the most self-effacing daily affirmations ever:

Just because I’m losing you
Doesn’t make me a loser

Oh, and check out their site. Not only does it do the usual tours/releases thing, but stems for all songs are available so you can remix them yourselves. Bedroom producers: start your laptops.

Toy – The All Seeing Eye.mp3
English-Norwegian electronic duo Toy’s take on dub will no doubt be shunned by the very genre it embraces, because, for some goddamn reason, dub is taken very seriously by its fans. All thses kids with sunken cheeks and studio tans keep hanging around bringing everybody down with their “it’s 40 degrees and raining in my head… all the time” moodiness.

Who says dub has to be all detached and distended? Toy certainly doesn’t. Their track gurgles away, wandering around carefreely, past some cartoonish noises and into a whole pile of synthed-up strings. Not entirely unlike Dub Narcotic Soundsystem, who seldom took their “job” seriously while still managing to deploy every reverberating trick in the book.

Hot Chip – I Feel Better (Den Haan Remix).mp3
Den Haan, Glaswegian disco-technicians (and featured in an earlier Heavy Rotation), turn in a brilliant retro remix that recalls flourescent-covered bodies strutting their stuff on a smoke-filled dancefloor, when not slipping away to the restrooms to dice up coke rails with their corporate credit cards.

Plushgun – Mixtape (Buffetlibre Remix).mp3
With a track name like “Mixtape,” you know Plushgun is looking backwards. Between their rearview mirror and Buffetlibre’s surehanded post-production, it sounds like nothing less than the second coming of Erasure, who never really went away, actually. It’s just that no one really talks about them anymore…

[Need a track taken down? Got some time on your hands that you’d be willing to part with? Viagra/Cialis for sale at low, low prices? Contact me at: 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films – Volume 5

July 22, 2010

Remember this old thing? 

If you don’t, get un-rusty here:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4 

Diane Keaton was informed that this would be her "career" wardrobe and was to be worn in every film thereafter.

31. Annie Hall (1977)
Local hero Woody Allen makes good, abandoning his earlier wackiness in favor of subtle comedy, a style more likely to pair him with women out of his league. In this case, his comedic foil and unbelievable girlfriend is played by Diane Keaton, who continues to acquit herself well in lightweight comedies, all the while looking like she hasn’t aged a day since Annie Hall, in which she looked to be about 50. 

One of many Oscar-winning films directed by Allen, who has yet to actually pick up a single statuette as he is otherwise occupied every single Tuesday (in perpetuity) playing his clarinet (in a not pretentious at all sort of way) in some boho New York club. This shows that he is a real artist who creates out of love for the medium, rather than for the acclaim and access to women he wouldn’t otherwise be dating. 

(Note: in his latter years, Allen leapt from women he “wouldn’t” be dating to women he “shouldn’t” be dating. Although there was some fallout from this unfortunate turn of events, he still continues to faithfully blow his own horn every Tuesday night for the rest of whatever.) 

Trey Stone and Matt Parker often cite Coppola's use of "angry marionettes" as an influence.

32. The Godfather Part II (1974) 
Easily twice the film the first one was, but somehow well more than twice as far down the list. The only explanation for the 29-spot difference is the notable lack of noted AFI pre-req Marlon Brando.

Followed by a prequel (1972) and a sequel (1990). The standard against which all other gangster flicks are judged, including The Godfather Part III, which by comparison is Uwe Boll’s cutting room floor. 

Just another "stoner" classic.

33. High Noon (1952) 
Laconic and square-jawed Gary Cooper plays a put-upon marshal faced with the task of taking on a gang of local baddies. To make matters worse, he is forced to drum up support for a this suicide mission in real-time, without the aid of useful montages or fades. 

Finding the townspeople reluctant to serve as bullet-catchers, Cooper laconically decides to face them on his own, aided only by his square jaw and some guns. The tension becomes nearly unbearable as the projectionist has problems switching reels, delaying the solid black and white action for nearly two “real-time” minutes, giving Cooper’s character 120 seconds of darkness with which to escape town and star in a livelier picture. 

Take it from someone who's lived around them: mockingbirds kick in around 10 pm at night and never shut the fuck up. So, I view this title as a suggestion or a list of imaginary instructions.

34. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 
Based on Harper Lee’s bestselling book, To Kill a Mockingbird is a treatise on racism thinly disguised as a courtroom drama. Gregory Peck plays attorney Atticus Finch, who uncovers the town’s unsightly attitude and generally plays himself, only nobler. 

A young Robert Duvall plays local introvert Boo Radley, who finally blossoms into a 4-piece Britpop group thanks to the ceaseless intrusion of Finch’s children. Has done more to improve race relations in this country than any film since Roger Corman’s groundbreaking action flick, Malcom X-Men: Last Stand

Gable's moustache secretly envied Colbert's amazing eyebrow length.

35. It Happened One Night (1934) 
As the Great Depression wore on, filmmakers (in conjunction with “New Deal” legislation) sought to distract viewers from the epic grimness of their lives, utilizing a series of “screwball” comedies. This film, along with other classics of the genre (Bringing Up Baby [#97], Meatballs Pt. 2 [#51]) delighted moviegoers nationwide while relieving them of their last few nickels. 

Remade several times, the most recent being Abel Ferrara’s nun-killing reimagination, Bad Night and David Mamet’s tense but stagey drama, It Happened One Fucking Night.

Thanks to a contractual dispute, Hoffman and Voight were forced to appear under each other's names.

36. Midnight Cowboy (1969) 
Much has been made of Midnight Cowboy’s status as the only X-rated film to win an Oscar. Tame by today’s standards, the most offensive element of this film is its crass portrayal of New York City as a cruel, heartless metropolis populated by rude, self-centered citizens. 

Much has also been made of Dustin Hoffman’s “method” portrayal of Ratso Rizzo, in particular his ad-libbed “Hey! I’m walking here!” Widely considered to be one of several small touches that “made” the role, the larger-than-life legend overshadows the fact that this heavily quoted line is actually a studio overdub, done in post-production. Hoffman’s original ad lib was, in fact, “Hey! I’m acting here!” 

Of course, Jon Voight’s baby face and intensely blonde looks aided Hoffman in their own way, as the contrast between the two leads gave credence to the idea that Rizzo/Hoffman was as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside. 

Thanks to the advent of upskirt photography, the ensuing years were pretty great indeed.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 
Nostalgia-thon in the mold of The Big Chill and Dazed and Confused, The Best Years of Our Lives follows the wistful reminiscing of its protagonists as they wax semi-poetic about their younger days, when they were big fish in an easily impressed small pond. 

Powerful performances aid the viewer in living vicariously through these human time capsules. Thrill along as they still listen to the same music, sport the same hairdos and drag out the same bitchin’ Camaro periodically. Superbly cautionary and infinitely sad. 

Yeah, bro. We’ll keep using “rad” if you want us to. 

[Ed. – Wow. Just wow. Not only have you clearly never seen the flick, but this is like a the review of Smells Like Teen Spirit that no one was asking for.] 

Because nothing says "brutally spare noir" like a pink-as-fuck poster.

38. Double Indemnity (1946) 
The harrowing tale of actuarial tables and the damage done, Double Indemnity is a spare noir masterpiece filled with hard-boiled women and easily duped men. Shot in black and white for maximum impact and film availability, Billy Wilder’s film takes viewers on a twist-filled ride through the greed damaged psyches of a claims adjuster and the two protagonists who wish to “game” the “system” through a reckless combination of murder and quotation marks. 

Hailed as “not even the best film of 1946.” 

The Russians are fond of their bristly makeout sessions. They also dig tiny horsemen emerging from somewhere around their shoulders...

39. Dr. Zhivago (1965) 
As is the case with most long-winded epics, this classic film is dense, Russian and exceedingly long. Packed wall-to-wall with pathos, snow and moustaches, Dr. Zhivago is easily the 39th best film on this list. Exceedingly long. 

Unfortunately, Grant is no match for the spray attachment and soon finds himself hurtling through a series of rectangles.

40. North by Northwest (1959) 
The second of over 50 Hitchcock films on this list, North by Northwest is an unparalleled thriller dealing with a case of mistaken identity. Everyman stand-in (as if) Cary Grant plays Richard Thornhill, an ad executive mistaken for another devastatingly attractive clotheshorse who has apparently found time in his busy schedule of being adored and aging immaculately to attempt to smuggle some state secrets out of the country. 

The film follows Grant’s handsome escape from his comparatively unattractive pursuers, which takes him everywhere from the Heart of America (an airplane-ravaged cornfield) to the Nose and Upper Lip of America (Mt. Rushmore). Contains approximately one (1) thrill per minute (TPM). 

-CLT

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Elsewhere on the Web…

July 21, 2010

 

Look. It’s that guy. Only with his real name.

http://www.thebigjewel.com/a-guide-to-homicide-investigation/

(Hit the home page for a nice little intro.)

I can now say that I’m a “published” writer when accosting random strangers or forcing my way into conversational huddles. I’ll leave it vaguely worded in order to indicate a large body of published work, rather than just the first (in what is hoped to be many) appearance outside the confines of self-publishing.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 53

July 18, 2010

5 tracks. 3 links. Synergistic.

First, the links.

[All links open in a new window. All tracks can be downloaded by right-clicking on their titles.]

Who do you write like? Drop in a few paragraphs and find out.

The “Rap Metal” paragraphs from the last Music Genre guide gave me this incredibly pleasing result:

[Full disclosure: three paragraphs from the post you’re reading gave me “Dan Brown.” And their badge code doesn’t play nice with WordPress.]

Golden Ages’ website, We’re So Future. (Check out their track and come back to this.)

A periodic table of swearing. And you can buy one for your wall. (Via kottke.org.)

Previous versions not numbered 53 available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Felix & Volcano! – Shaadows.mp3
I don’t care what you’re listening to or what you’re doing. Drop all of it and listen to this. This is best fucking thing you will hear all day/week/month/year. I don’t say this lightly or routinely throw around hyperbolic statements, so fuck all the genre bullshit about who this sounds like or what their influences might be or how the rest of their catalog doesn’t really resemble this.

It’s the kind of track that kicks you in the head and makes you want to sing along even though you don’t know the words yet.

It starts out slowly, riding a low key bassline that wouldn’t seem out of place in quality R&B/soul track, accompanied by some sort of buzzing, synthetic organ. The lyric obliquely detail the turning point in a relationship. A fight. An ultimatum. A release.

Hey
Let’s not make up
Let’s just leave it alone…

The hardest thing to do sometimes is just… let… go. But then the levee breaks. And you’re free.

Because when we surface
With our minds intact
We’ll finally be home…

They follow this melody for a few moments, singing wordlessly. The chorus returns, its original form sung underneath a slight rewriting:

Because when we slow down
Let go my hand
Don’t you worry…

3:23. Wind howls past, blowing away the past. Clarity is acheived. The weight is removed. All you had to do was let it go.

The song picks up pace, racing away, weightless and triumphant. A soul unanchored.

Check them out.

Golden Ages – It Doesn’t Mean Shit.mp3
Like the previous track, impossible to pinpoint and steeped in the same sentiment. Fuck all the genre bullshit. It’s as though Golden Ages decided to make some electronica and cobbled it all together using only instinct and enthusiasm.

And when the tastemakers showed up with the All Knowing Guide to Electronica Standards and Guidelines, they were horrified to find this distorted, jovial mess rattling along like a circuitious Rube Goldberg contraption, whose very existence was the only ends that justified the looping means.

Oh. It’s fun alright. Name that influence. Find the title (spoken once). Is that running water? Why does this add up to great music when all the components feel like they would cancel each other out? Who knows… enjoy.

UNKLE – Natural Selection (featuring the Black Angels).mp3
Like the bluesy-psychedelia of the late-’60s Rolling Stones crossed with UNKLE’s electronic sensibilities. Moves along with a confident swagger, as I imagine UNKLE themselves must, what with their impeccable production and godawesome catalog.

It’s the effortless cool that David Holmes projects. Or Death in Vegas. Or the Stones themselves, back in their heyday. The Black Angels classically-rockist vocals aid greatly as do their tasteful insertion of huge, distorted riffs.

†‡† – goth bb.mp3
Google-unfriendly †‡† (a.k.a. ritualzzz) take to the airwaves with a darker-than-darkwave collection of killer bass and disembodied screams, all moving at a menacing, zombie-esque pace.

Some people have bandied about the term “witch house” to describe this sort of post-gothic, post-industrial electronica that dwells at the deeper, deadlier end of the genre pool. It’s a terrible term, conjuring up Blair Witch sequels and weekend Wiccans dancing around candles and incense. But what would you call it? Goth-tronica? Death disco? Nightmare pop?

SALEM – King Night.mp3
Returning to their signature death disco sound after a dalliance with chopped and screwed hip hop, SALEM dial up the evil in this audio rendition of an apocalyptic midnight mass. The suffocating sounds of a black celebration as hell reigns on earth, summoned by ritually abused drum machines and overdriven amps.

Those who manage to pull themselves from the primordial sinkhole will be haunted by a Hallelujah chorus of the damned. It’s enough to make the living envy the dead. All hail King Night.

[Need a track removed? Looking for a glimpse of daylight? Goth-tronica? Seriously? Email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Volume 3

July 15, 2010

After a bit of a delay, the final (?) installment of the Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres has arrived. You’ll notice I threw a question mark in after “final” in an attempt to create some sort of cliffhanger-type moment. We can never really be sure that a one-off series won’t rear its malformed head again, while other ongoing series gather dust on the back burner, filling the blog with dusty and most likely poisonous fumes.

If you’re just joining us, be sure and check out Volume One and Volume Two, wherein other music genres such as goth, world music and post-punk were ridiculed mercilessly for simply existing.

But enough “fucking about” as they say in the Old Country. Here’s our final installment (or is it?) [Ed. – Two volumes would seem to have been plenty…] of the Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres.

Another IDM live set; another "packed" house.

IDM
Stands for “Intelligent Dance Music,” but has about as much to do with “dance music” as physics lectures have to do with “fun.” Crafted with the same electronics as good old dance music, but with an interest in motivating heads rather than feet, IDM is the eternally bored hipster of electronica, sneering contemptuously at those who enjoy music and its accompanying physical expression.

As tiresome as the DJs who spin it, IDM should really just stop pretending it was ever about the “D” and go out as “IM,” which will link it with something equally tiresome and annoying: AOL. It makes you wonder what sort of “intelligence” is required to jam a bunch of unlistenable electro-wanking into a pair of ill-fitting dance pants and trot it out for others’ approval, which had better fucking not include dancing.

Fans: The roster at Warp Records. People who like to feel “superior.” Masochists. That one guy at every rave that annoys everyone with his pompous “mellow harshing.” Satan.

Rap metal stock photo. Filed under "Every Rap Metal Band Photo Ever."

Rap Metal
A reprehensible form of music so far behind the curve that it couldn’t even crack the airwaves until years after the success of Faith No More’s Epic made the form prematurely passé and even more years past the point that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had released anything worth listening to.

Rap Metal (or “Nu Metal”) ushered in a reprehensible form of “New Laddism” (or “Nu Laddism”) in which the combination of rap and metal encouraged suburban white males to double up on their misogyny and indulge their vacuous angst. This led directly to “Nu Rock,” a reprehensible blend of blaring tunelessness, monotonous abuse of the loud/quiet/loud dynamic and DJs as extraneous band members carrying “insta-street cred” cards in their oversized novelty pants.

Note to budding “nu rockers”: You really shouldn’t be so eager to show the world how much you suck in two genres simultaneously. 0 + 0 still equals zero, no matter how much Mom didn’t hug you.

Note to Jonathan Davis and Chester “Chet” Bennington: the glasses fool no one.

Fans: White thugs. “Disaffected” suburban youth who need some “inspiration” to help them power through their struggle-free existences. People who still wear their fitted ballcaps in the “reverse cowgirl” position. Purchasers of Rohypnol and the women who inadvertently love them. Tattooists. There’s no way Satan’s not getting in on this.

Another bitchass mannequin wears its heart on its chest...

Folk
A rustic brand of music made by any person who can shell out $15 for a used acoustic guitar and a harmonica and spent most of their adolescence being “misunderstood” and “beat up.” Generally played using unadorned (or “unplugged”) instruments of bygone eras, including (but good lord, certainly not limited to) acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddles, ukuleles, klezmers, harmonicas, mouth harps, moonshine jugs, regular (or “hand”) harps, accordions, mandolins, colanders, washboards, heliotropes, muzzle loaders and cotton gins.

Most folk artists (and their fans) believe their use of outdated instruments to cover Woody Guthrie for the millionth time creates a purer and more honest form of music. This misplaced nostalgia is usually amplified (unelectronically, of course) by their years on the County Fair circuit, leading them to the mistaken belief that outdoor plumbing is superior indoor plumbing and that life would be better if we could all return to a simpler time. Like when women and blacks weren’t allowed to vote or own property.

Fans: Hippies. Luddites. The Amish, most likely. Sheet music salesmen. People who believe public domain = purity. Ruddy-cheeked, guitar-toting assholes who troll for trim on hiking trails and public campgrounds. Beelzebub.

Hair styling by Maxine's Cosmetology College and Technical School's early spring term students.

Industrial
Not so much music as it is a bunch of knob-twiddling basement dwellers with unfortunate hairdos. Its earliest form was usually nothing more than field recordings of telephone lines, smokestacks and ambulance drivers. Then Einsturzende Neubauten showed up and beat the hell out of everything with everything else for upwards of ninety minutes at a time.

Sadly, no one much wanted to trot around the junkyard gathering improvised instruments and tetanus (except for Test Dept.), so budding young industrialists were forced to ape Throbbing Gristle’s throbbing electronica ad infinitum, adding little more than updated wiring and occasional fire code violations.

Suddenly, a force rose out of Chicago, shedding its pale skin and faux accent and gathering every motherfucking guitar in the metropolitan area. Al Jourgensen brought a speed metal sensibility to scene long dominated by sheet metal and field recordings and industrial mutated again, becoming, well, speed metal except with a sequencer or two.

This continued for far longer than it should have, sending budding young industrialists into the waiting arms of coldwave, darkwave and other wave-related genres.

Fans: Masochists. Canadians. Crossover metalheads. Crossover goths. Germans. People who enjoy a good knob twiddling. Ambulance drivers. People who think NIN are industrial. Goths who find the subject matter and usage of black clothing comforting and familiar. Satan is not a fan, although most industrial bands continue to believe he is.

Math rock trios prefer to arrange themselves in isoceles triangles.

Math Rock
An oddity composed of frustrated metalheads who wish they would be taken as seriously as jazz musicians and frustrated jazz musicians who find themselves in a quasi-metal band thanks to badly worded “drummer wanted” ads. Thanks to these frustrated but complementary components, more time is spent crafting intricate time signatures than actually rocking, leaving most would-be crossover fans nonplussed. (Yep. That is one incredibly lazy “math” joke.)

Fans: People who need a slide rule to quantify their enjoyment of music. Metalheads with sizable jazz collections. Chess club kids who wonder why the chicks always dig “regular” metalheads. Engineering students who make “music genre/influence” flowcharts for fun. That guy who always reminded the teacher to assign homework.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 52

July 11, 2010

Well, now that we’ve gotten it all out of our systems (“we” being mainly me), welcome back to the Heavy Rotation, which will be filled once again with pleasant tones both danceable and/or warm.

Oh, and resident clothes horse RF Interference has booted around the idea of helming a few Rotations, so there’s that to look forward to.

Previous versions (including that one we’ve agreed never to speak of again) available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Here’s three to read while the band(s) play on:

[Links will open in a new window. Right-click on song titles to download.]

New stuff to learn! Some of it disturbing and profane! Cleverly illustrated!

The Eight Suckiest Ads on Craigslist.

PJ O’Rourke on public schools.

Japandroids – Sovereignty.mp3
Straight ahead indie rock, all speedy fuzz guitars and a bit of the f-bomb tossed around casually. Not entirely unlike No Age during their more straightforward tracks or a punched-up Mission of Burma. The kind of thing that should soundtrack getting ready for a night out on the town. Or for the night itself.

All in all, it sounds a whole lot bigger than the duo behind all the racket. Amazing.

Ojos Rojos – Step Outside.mp3
Still staying in straight ahead indie rock vein, it’s Ojos Rojos, a four-piece set of Californians, who build a huge guitar wall of sound, putting them in the same league as post-glam rock stars such as Suede and the Verve in their more anthemic moments. Also carries with it a hint of Ride’s bruising take on shoegaze.

LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls (Holy Ghost! Remix).mp3
The lead single from LCD’s latest gets rerubbed by DFA labelmates Holy Ghost!, who run Murphy’s pisstake on clubbing youth down to the local danceteria on retro night, filling it full of cheap tropical drinks and plenty of Duran Duran, Yaz and Animotion. Great faux-everything all over the place as Murphy’s vocals duel with cheap, click-y handclaps and tin-eared drum machines.

It’s all very close to being a bit too much, but the cocksure production keeps it just on this side of cliched retro disaster.

Animotion – Obsession.mp3
And while we’re still in an ’80s mood, here’s one of my favorites from that era. It’s unapologetically electronic, what with the dayglo synth stabs and the most mechanical of drum machines. It’s all some sort of shorthand for “futuristic,” hailing as it does from an era when the facade was at least as important as the interior, which was usually just a whole bunch of black leather and chrome.

Despite all that, it manages to sound coolly retro without sounding hopelessly dated.

Cruise [CTRL] – Eat My Fear (Roswell Conspiracy Mix).mp3
Black as all hell electro from a pair of Twin Peaks-obsessed Belgians. Shades of John Carpenter’s soundtrack work (think The Thing and Halloween) mix with a minimal but unrelenting tech-house beat. The perfect thing to scare the over-sensitive skin off the ecstasy crowd. Makes me wish I was still DJing.

Can’t argue with that track name, either. Perfect. (And looking further, I see they’ve done some work with Jean-Luc De Meyer of Front 242. Even more perfect.)

[Want a track removed? Concerned with a perceived lack of focus? Wondering who the hell this “RF guy” is? Wish to tell me about the millions of pounds I’ve won in a country I’ve never set foot in? Contact me at 2timegrime@gmail.com]

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Part Two

July 9, 2010

In our previous guide we discovered, through the magic of the internet and several broad stereotypes, what various musical genres encompassed. Today it’s more of the same, only with different genre names and stereotypes. The elderly may or may not be abusing Bradypus variegatus. We’ll just have to wait and see. Mainly wait.

So, while the inevitable crawls slowly into view, let’s take a quick, informative look at a few other music genres and their corresponding fans.

It does. Like a motherfucker.

World Music
Any music not produced in the US, Canada or Western Europe, or by Caucasians in general. (For example: Krautrock – not World Music; Drunken gypsy chants – World Music.)

Despite its origins, World Music is mainly sold to white people (Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne) who then co-opt and repackage their watered-down version and sell it to other white people (Vampire Weekend).

Black Americans may recognize this modus operandi as being nearly identical to the repackaging of black rock and roll into friendly, white packages (Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, Fred Durst). The only difference at this point is that the new white purveyors are viewed as “enlightened” rather than as “thieving pricks.”

Fans: White people. White people who think they’re smarter than other white people. White people who think they’re smarter than all other people, regardless of race, which they don’t even think of the world in terms of, because that’s how damn “enlightened” they are. DJs/producers in search of royalty-free samples.

And my vinyl tits run...

Drum n Bass
A perverse offshoot of both hip hop and breakbeats in which the bassline and the drums are programmed by separate producers who are not allowed to contact each other at any time. This results in tracks consisting of a bowel-loosening bassline over which a drumbeat skitters along like cockroaches running from a light source.

Often accompanied live by an MC, or “toaster,” whose impromptu rhyming tends to flow along a melody only he can hear and consists mainly of invitations to dance more or show more enthusiasm, but in a broad Caribbean accent. Inexplicably popular.

Fans: People who have grown tired of “danceable” dance music. Drum n Bass producers/DJs. Radiation-proof insects. Reggae lovers with sizable speed habits.

The scene is nothing without the love. Or the reusable shopping bags.

Drill n Bass
Like Drum n Bass, only utilizing a drum programmer with no previous experience or mechanical aptitude. The bowel-loosening sub-bass remains, but the drumbeats now skitter along like roaches running out of a lit meth foiler.

Fans: People who think drum n bass is too “hummable.” Richard D. James fans. Richard D. James. Hardcore techno fans who are tired of keeping score.

Because it's just not a goth wedding without someone in a Hefty Cinch Sack.

Goth
One of the most maligned music genres, Goth was conceived during a wild three-way involving punk, art school and eyeliner. Blacker than punk but lighter than black metal, Goth gave misunderstood teens the world over a whole new way to be misunderstood.

Taking Henry Ford’s mantra of “any color as long as it’s black” to their bleeding hearts, Goths let their (black) freak flags fly, drawing the intense mockery of music critics, peers, teachers and parents. This of course makes the whole genre that much more “real,” despite it being 90% heavily-madeup artifice.

Fans: Misunderstood teens. Emo fans who don’t really understand genre boundaries. Mislabeled emo fans. Eyeliner manufacturers. People looking to shock the easily shocked. Anne Rice fans. People who greatly overestimate black’s “slimming” power. Cleopatra Record execs.

While Nordic Youth #1 struggles with righting his cross, Youth #2 decides to pick another church made from a more flammable material. Like childrens' sleepwear.

Black Metal
Black metal is a “darker than thou” form of metal, usually found in wintry Nordic countries with centuries of organized religion under their belts. It can often be a very demanding genre, in which you really haven’t “made it” as a band until you’ve had to disband the group, thanks to a majority of the members having committed suicide or facing murder charges.

Perhaps the only genre that can be entirely attributed to a Vitamin D deficiency.

Fans: Former metal fans disillusioned by the lack of dead/arrested musicians in regular metal. Un-murdered Nordic youth. That guy you thought was a harmless goth until he celebrated his latest church burning by killing you and having sex with your corpse. Satan.

Minimal producer Sidney Frost declares LP label to be "too busy;" asks for a 40% cyan reduction.

Minimal
A Germanic-influenced brand of techno deployed by producers with a shortage of equipment/plugins. Has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, perhaps as a backlash to the overblown sounds of trance, or more likely, as a result of there being a very high DJ/fan ratio, which leaves few bedroom producers with the steady income needed to purchase more equipment/plugins.

Or maybe it’s just some sort of Germanic thing, (see also: Krautrock.) in which another genre (in this case, techno) is disassembled and reassembled incorrectly, leaving several “extra” pieces, which are discarded in Germany’s quest to remain both misunderstood and brutally inept.

Fans: Techno fans tired of being asked to enjoy multiple sounds simultaneously. Chin-stroking wallflowers who have mistaken “not much going on” with “artistic integrity.” IDM fans who enjoy an occasional 4/4 beat. The staff at Pitchfork, which is mostly comprised of chin-stroking wallflowers who have mistaken “not much going on” for “artistic integrity.” Painters who believe the real action is the drying time. Satan.

Stay tuned for Part Three, which will explore Folk, Rap Metal, IDM and hopefully, many others.

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Part One

July 8, 2010

As you all are very well aware, I’ve subjected you to a weekly Heavy Rotation, spotlighting various bands and musicians of all persuasions. As I’ve rattled along at great length, I have no doubt deployed several musical terms in an attempt to define a sound by obscuring it with meaningless words. 

The following is a guide to the many genres currently polluting our overly defined musical sphere. It is hoped that this information will help you understand what is meant when I (or someone like me, like Pitchfork — especially Pitchfork) uses an insufficiently descriptive term like “minimal” or “slowcore.” 

"I'd like to accept this round of applause on behalf of the many, many more band members who were unable to fit into the panoramic shot..."

Post-Rock
Reserved for all bands who use rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums) but eschew verse-chorus-verse song structures for sprawling, unfocused epics. Vocals are often optional. Could just as easily been called Prog Rock, thus horrifying proponents of these two “disparate” genres. 

Fans: Chin-strokers who have outgrown the need to enjoy music on any level. Any leftover multi-instrumentalists who somehow failed to be invited to the thirty-person collective currently overrunning the stage. Marillion fans who wish to cast themselves as something other than a cheap punchline. 

Punk = no tux. Post-punk = tux.

Post-Punk
Like Post-Rock, but performed by bands who never properly learned to play their instruments. 

Fans: Gainfully-employed former punks. Art school grads. Gainfully employed art school grads. [Ed. Does not exist.] 

Witness the awkward glory that is a full-on tweecore gig.

Tweecore
Oxymoronically aggressively passive form of ultra-lightweight music, relegated to rainbow-colored EPs and Cassingles. Live performances tend to consist of band members huddling in the far corner of the venue and giggling nervously while staring deeply into each others’ eyes. 

While this performance would be graciously called “underwhelming” by normal people, its fans are usually huddled in the opposite corner staring into each others’ eyes while giggling nervously. A tweecore gig is usually breathlessly described (in very hushed tones) as being like that time when they “almost got kissed.” 

Fans: Indeterminate, as lack of spine tends to preclude the forming of any strong opinions or positive declarations. Gentle woodland creatures with anime eyes

Note: this video is running at 30 FPS.

Slowcore 
Hardcore music so glacially paced that band members are often able to work on their side projects (often of another “-core” variety) between downbeats/chord changes. Generally avoided by promoters due to the fact that soundcheck alone can run an entire night. Often described as being like “old people fucking a sloth.” 

Fans: People who find the Melvins’ hectic pacing “a bit much.” Multi-taskers. Quaalude enthusiasts

Take these gentlemen very seriously indeed, for they are well-aware of the score.

Hardcore 
One of the few genres to cross over successfully, covering a harsher, faster brand of both rock and techno. Albums and live performances tend to contain various self-affirming statements such as, “Only for the Hardcore,” “Strictly for the Hardcore,” and “Hardcore, You Know the Score.” 

These pat-yourself-on-the-back statements add a veneer of exclusivity to yet another generic mosh pit/rave, whose attendees like to spend their post-conversion downtime being preached to. 

Fans: People with self-esteem issues. Scorekeepers. Porn fans moving on from the training wheels of Cinemax

Pioneering shoegazers My Bloody Valentine exhibit their pioneering 60-degree head tilt.

Shoegazer 
Named after its proponents’ tendency to avoid eye contact with their fans and gaze on their footwear instead, which everyone thought was delightfully introverted until it was discovered that all the downcast looks were the byproduct of drug-addled guitarists attempting to negotiate their maze of effects pedals. 

With this misconception firmly in their grasp, the shoegaze scene cranked out album after album of delightfully introverted (and misunderstood) music, eventually trademarking the term “ethereal.” Of course, the music was too good (and too introverted) to last, and the scene was soon steamrolled by the heavily forested sounds of grunge, whose proponents weren’t nearly as distracted, thanks to their limited supply of pedals/imagination. 

Fans: Delightfully introverted (and misunderstood) wallflowers. Fans of the word “ethereal.” Other shoegazer bands. This guy

Hawkwind completely encapsulates every aspect of space rock in one unfathomable album cover.

Space Rock 
Like Prog Rock/Post-Rock, only with more heroin. While a prog band might allow its lead guitarist to run off an occasional 12-minute self-indulgent solo, a space rock band* will allow its lead guitarist to run off a 12-minute self-indulgent exploration of a single chord. This, of course, assumes that the guitarist in question is not currently lying in a pool of his own vomit. 

*Unless this band is Hawkwind, in which case everyone is allowed to run off a 12-minute self-indulgent solo, especially the flautist

Fans: Heroin users. Single-chord enthusiasts. Heroin dealers. Acid casualties coming down from a 2001 binge. That guy who was “This guy” in the last section.

Yet another example of uncontained German exuberance.

Krautrock 
Of all the things Germany does well (auto manufacturing, intense nationalistic fervor), “rock” is something it does not. Most of the Western world would define “rock” as the product of a guitar/bass/drum/vox combo, fronted by an immaculately coiffed lead singer. 

The Germans, however, view “rock” as the product of immaculately coiffed and emotionless mannequins playing outdated electronics in front of a beige backdrop. And, while most rock tracks have a distinct beginning, middle and end, Krautrock tracks tend to consist entirely of “middle,” often for 10+ minutes at a time. 

Fans: Metronome enthusiasts (see also: Minimal). Germans. Bands looking for unverifiable “influences.”

That wraps up Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2, which deals with Goth, World Music, Minimal Techno and various other redundant terminology.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 51: Are You Still With Me? Edition

July 4, 2010

At this point, we’ve done nearly a year’s worth of Heavy Rotations. And you all have been simply fantastic to preach music to. But there has to have been a handful of times when you listened to a track I’ve recommended and thought, “The hell?” Maybe even more than a handful. Perhaps this happens quite frequently but you’re all so worried about me and my obviously unhinged brain that you cover up your dismay with streams of compliments and superlatives.

This volume of the Heavy Rotation is an attempt to explain exactly what the hell is wrong with me.

As you’ve heard so many kids say before, “I’m not like the other kids.” Something broke way back in the day. I never was really betrothed to verse-chorus-verse structures. That went away with the acclimation to industrial music. I never really liked over-production or skillful instrument usage. I was more interested in new noises and ritualistic abuse of common musical references.

My brain says, “We’ve all heard enough rock. Enough techno. Enough whatever, done perfectly and repeatedly. What else have you got?”

This is what I found. These are all formative tracks (and one late arrival) that left my musical psyche horribly mutated. I’ve still got a keen ear for beautifully done music and catchy tunes. But this is the shit it must fight through. And this is the shit I turn down before the neighbors can hear. This is the music I don’t introduce to the new in-laws.

There a few things that any one person can truly call their own, especially in terms of culture. But these are MINE.

I do not expect anyone to walk away from this feeling they’ve found a new “go-to” track for their next social event or even hear anything they’d want to hear again. But god help me, I love these songs.

I thank you in advance for indulging me. I also apologize in advance for any damage done to your stereo equipment or relationships with friends and neighbors.

[Right-click to download tracks. All other links open in a new window.]

Easier listening found here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Upside Down.mp3
This is their first single, which I encountered on their Barbed Wire Kisses compilation. It’s an ear-bleeding statement of intent, in which William and Jim Reid pretty much shove their guitars right through their amps, producing a wall of feedback that steamrolls anything Jimi Hendrix had ever done into an unrecognizable white-noise puddle.

Underneath the racket, which one critic memorably described as “a chainsaw in a hurricane,” there’s a hummable melody and some suitably bleak lyrics. But its the banshee-scream of the feedback that acts like a siren song to me, compelling me to place my head between the speakers until every synapse joins in.

And it probably explains the next tune quite a bit. (Still here? I’ll explain…)

Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness (Original Tweakin Acid Funk Mix).mp3
An influential breakbeat/acid house classic, featuring the tortured tones of a Roland bass emulator cut adrift of its factory settings and being made to do unpleasant things to sine waves.

Josh Wink allows it to ride a bit of a groove first before gradually winding it all up into a pulse of piercing tones, the likes of which had only been hinted at by early acid house pioneers like Hardfloor and DJ Pierre. An all-around celebration of making your machine(s) say, “Yes,” rather than simply taking their word for it when they say they shouldn’t.

If I hadn’t already been open to skull-piercing treble tones (thanks Jesus & Mary Chain!), I would never have gotten on board with this one.

Moby – Thousand.mp3
As long as we’re still within arrestable distance of club music, here’s techno popstar Moby, who plays around with his drum machine and ends up in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Fastest Song.”

For everyone who only knows him from Play onward may be surprised by his prolific days as a techno producer/DJ in which he produced several underground techno hits during the formative years of the American rave scene. Some of his best work is collected on Rare:The Collected B-Sides 1989-1993, from which this track is taken.

Thousand relies on little more than an accelerating beat and a parallel diva sample to get the job done. Moby takes the tune around the block a couple of times, opening it all the way up on the straightaways.

Should anyone really do this sort of thing, just because the technology will let them? I doubt it. But some people just have to. Moby is one of them. Should anybody call this “good,” let alone “great”? Of course not. But somebody still will. And that person will most likely be me.

The “Thousand” refers to the beats per minute.

Lightning Bolt – Two Towers.mp3
This nuisance of a band joined my intensely personal (and carefully obscured) heavy rotation thanks to my blog partner RF (who’s back, by the way). He shot this over to me along with a selection of other stuff ranging from the tuneful to the aggravating.

And this is where Lightning Bolt stand. They’re a two-person “band,” one playing a bass guitar and the other, a jazz trap set. What do they sound like? It depends on when you ask. They rarely sound like Primus. They don’t even really sound like their closest analogue, Death From Above 1979.

They sound like a fucked-up thrash band most of the time, but they run some amazing bass-propelled grooves, over which the masked drummer screams unintelligibly. (I can see the line forming now, he said tongue planted firmly in cheek, etc…) This track starts out like the most annoying hardcore track ever, with the guitarist wanking all over the place for about a minute in the most show-offy, tuneless manner possible. (Fingers on the “Next” button…)

But at :55, the track takes off. The song coheres and races off to the next transition, grinding and abrading the edges of a lockstep groove, which falls apart now and then, but seamlessly reassembles and continues, yes, rocking, believe it or not.

By all appearances this should suck. But it does not. Not to me. Not to RF. Not to dozens of fans worldwide. It’s brutal without having the decency to at least be efficient. Seven minutes is a lot to take. Unless you’re me. Or RF. I’m used to seven minutes of minimally changing grooves. I love techno. RF loves him some metal, so he’s used to being smacked around for extended periods as well.

It works like a noisy-ass mantra. It’s a drunken god of war parading through your headspace. It’s all so wrong it has to be right.

Skinny Puppy – Download.mp3
Had enough? Well, there’s just one more. And it’s only 11 minutes long. (Cue insane laughter and Persian cat-stroking.)

This is from a last-gasp effort by Skinny Puppy, Canada’s answer to Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. This is before they imploded. But not much before. Last Rights (from which this is taken) is the sound of self-destruction coupling with drug-fueled paranoia and unfocused rage.

This is the last track from the death knell (although they did reform, but for the sake of this post, we’ll pretend they never did). It’s more Cevin Key’s (keybs, percussion) baby than Nivek Ogre’s (lead singer). It’s an incoherent mess of samples and loops, driveby radio signals, reversed and pitch-shifted vocal snippets, random button mashing and good old-fashioned dial-spinning.

Operates much like Cevin Key’s post-Skinny Puppy work, functioning better as nightmarish soundscape than actual tuneage. Hell, he even named his next project after this track. It’s quite a bit to take, all this cacophony. So I’m going to do you a favor.

I don’t really care for the front half of this track myself. I find it to be pointlessly self-indulgent, much like I find most of Download’s (the band) work. Instead of subjecting yourself to something even I wouldn’t put up with, move on to where I think the track redeems itself.

Spin the virtual dial forward to 5:18. You’ll hear the last fading sonics from the first half meeting the most malevolent selection of bass tones which follow it until the end. They pan and sweep and haunt. They pulse and throb, attack and decay.

That is what I love. 5+ minutes of overdriven, mildly distorted bass lines, sweeping through the headphones and into the most damaged recesses of my personal tastes. It’s like hell’s theremin.

I love these sounds. You can’t make them with rock instruments. You have to work pretty hard to make them with banks of electronics. You have to work even harder to ride this sort of limited idea for 5-1/2 glorious minutes.

[Want a track removed? Would you care to see my blogger’s license? Could I interest you in a new set of speakers/ears? Email me: 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

-CLT