Monday, 19 March 2018

Modern Music is Rubbish! (?)

There comes a time when you really have no interest in such things as 'Junglepussy In the city centre of Ghent, in northwest Belgium' (Quietus headline today). This time comes earlier in some people's lives than others. To say I have only just arrived at that point as I near 60 would be a lie. For a few years now (how many, I cannot count because a gradual development has no definite beginning) I have had such thoughts when faced with contemporary music news.

I could lay the blame, not on Mame, but J.S.Bach; to be precise, his cello suite No.4, which I started playing half an hour ago. It took less than a minute for me to think what all great music is capable of making us think, namely: "This is superior to everything" (except the relatively few other truly great pieces of music I own). The subject in the back of my mind is how middle-aged listeners relate to contemporary music, not that which inhabits the narrow specialist field they may still explore should they be interested in contemporary music, but the 'contemporary' as covered by the larger sites.

Unfortunately, even defining 'contemporary music' is not as simple as it once was, in the olde days when vinyl was all we had. That cassette-only album (but on Bandcamp) your Noise-making friend released recently is still, basically, contemporary music. But the fact that it will not even register on supposed indie-minded sites means that, by inhabiting the very furthest margins, it is beyond being recognised in the contemporary field. 

Pop music may not be aimed at my age group but that does not stop those within the demographic occasionally (or even frequently) blowing their tops about the state of modern Pop. Within most of us there's a trip mechanism liable to be set off at any time by the mere appearance on screen of a modern Pop star as, say, part of of newspaper's front page. Watching coverage of Glastonbury is asking for trouble, yet sometimes we do so to reaffirm prejudices.

We know that musical appreciation is subjective but that doesn't prevent us from making 'definitive' statements sometimes, by which I mean statements which we are convinced are correct, 100%, no question. This is problematic if one tries comparing say, Slade to Ed Sheeran. Both made/make music for teeny boppers. The thing here is that one made music for me, when I was a teeny bopper, which immediately makes Slade better. Ed Sheeran will be better, in 30 years time, for those who love him now, than whoever kids worship then. Apologies for stating the obvious but part of this process must inevitably be the laying out of facts in order to try and find a truth.

As I said to friend in a pub recently, the only chance contemporary music has of trumping what's gone before is by using new technology in such a way as to truly make something new. But it is only those who have 'heard it all before' who must endure that curse/blessing. Yes, we saw Bowie's first Top of the Pops appearance when it happened and we watched the Sex Pistols 'live' on the Bill Grundy Show. Perhaps we also felt the rush of Jungle when it was new and so on. Such experiences taint us terribly, partly because they are firmly placed in the museum of groundbreaking Musical Events. Those who place them there will be from various generations, of course. Older (than me) people will have seen Bill Hayley's first UK tour, Dylan's first electric set and so on. 

What irks some of us, after a few decades, is the site of further additions to that hall of fame. It's as if we have the right to lock the doors of that museum when we think there can be no more worthy additions. One case that springs to mind is is the 90s 'Cool Britannia' phenomenon. I remember well that neither Blur nor Oasis were thought of as actually groundbreaking, original or sensational by seasoned veterans of the listening game. The former were 'mockney' jokes, the latter, Beatles imitators. With some catchy tunes. You don't need me to tell you that for many they too are now deemed worthy nominees for the Hall of Fame. Well, they're already in there. 

As far as the professional music press goes it serves them to maintain a continuum of Great Music for obvious reasons. People's earnings depend on it. This is no cynical conspiracy by 'old' editors, but simply a matter of employing young writers and letting them be enthusiastic about all that music which sounds fresh because to them it is despite easily available evidence to the contrary. 

Although we have the potential for rational thinking, we humans are prone to being irrational. You've noticed? Rational thought and logic aren't easily applied to music. It takes a very cool head to be rational about all this. But isn't music supposed, among other attributes, to arouse a degree of passion? The very thing about the music we love is most likely to blow rational thinking away. There are few greater sounds, for instance, than a Charlie Parker solo. Agreed? Of course not, unless you also happen be a fan. 

Perhaps, when all is said and done, talking/writing about music is a futile exercise. Here on Include Me Out I've written a great deal about music yet I could not begin to describe/explain what it is about a Charlie Parker solo that is so very special. Professional Jazz critics could explain it technically, but no more define the mysterious thrill than I can.

I may think them 'wrong' but I enjoy hearing friends declare a Frank Zappa album to be mind-blowingly brilliant. What worries me more (here's the crux) is seeing the same comment tagged onto a Level 42 album on YouTube. OK, they were a random choice, of course. It would be easier to say Kanye West. Or a contemporary Pop group, but I couldn't name one. Do Pop groups still exist, or are they a dead breed, replaced by solo artists? Is it time for bingo yet, nurse?

My final point is that I'm as capable as any idiot of declaring modern music (within the general field) to be RUBBISH!...

You see how easy it is? To return to J.S.Bach, as he once said: If I decide to be an idiot, then I'll be an idiot on my own accord. The best I can do it restrain myself as often as possible.

Thank you

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Various - (not) open to question

Whilst the New Year may be open to question the quality of the work on this album is not. Furthermore, you're invited by the label to make your own additions to these tracks, the first layer 'is created within the collaboration of MƩCHΔNICΔL ΔPƩ and Les Horribles Travailleurs', so the challenge is set, although this is very much in the spirit of collaboration rather than competition. As always, the bar is set high here but why not (re) create? Remake/remodel (should be a Roxy Music title...oh, it is?). 'You are invited to finish this soundwork by altering\adding layers etc. to the first layer, which can be downloaded from Bandcamp'. As it stands it's very good.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

New Year: So What

Let's start the New Year with a whimper...@',mn,mn,qwwwwwhhhhhhhhherrrr'

Fact is this year's going to be the one that sees the downfall of the music industry due to it's incessant gnawing of itself like a doped-up rabid labradoodle, foaming as it very slowly chews its own leg off and keeps going as far as it can reach until it's stinking innards spool out across everything but don't worry, you will be immune to the putrid, poisonous substance due to years of injecting the antidote in the form of JS Bach, James Brown, Bernard Parmegiani and other names involving capital 'B', or 'L', or 'D' about 'D'? Don Cherry, Defunkt...that's enough, that's the ABC of it, your alphabetically registered pantheon of people...the countermeasure to all the crap...

On the subject of letters...

That one's called AB...there's more of my art over here

Whatever...or, actually, all my art work this year will be part of a series called So What...why? I reckon it's the most common response.

In 2018, though, let's not be blase about things, least of all what we love the most and what we make...

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Aclds - Fuadain Liesmas

Under the radar, off the map...such terms hardly do justice to Chris Douglas' non-place in the what we might call 'the music world', even the 'underground electronic' version. No surprise then that Fuadain Liesmas  has not, to my knowledge, appeared in any end-of-the-year charts. As Dalglish, O.S.T. and Scald Rougish, Douglas has persisted in making music for any reason but the desire for publicity or, perhaps, praise. Not that I believe he wouldn't welcome recognition. Searching for reviews of this album I've found no mention other than on this blog and, of course, Boomkat (because their job is to try and sell music). 

Describing the carefully crafted sounds here would be a challenge for most would-be critics, yet that's no reason for it's apparent invisibility; many writers are better equipped than me to talk about 'abstract' sound and do so regularly. Nonetheless, here I am...on the edge of...reviewing what eludes easy categorisation. 

Negin Giv, being just 30secs long, might be a good place to start (and end?) since it is, in microcosm a snapshot of Douglas' methodology....his ability to...punch holes in ...the space-time continuum...? If I improvise, forgive me. Free-flowing word scrambles might suit talk of Jazz, but  Fuadain Liesmas being so meticulously composed I feel duty-bound to attempt the same in writing. And fail. 

OT-IntVxEs 1 is typical of what goes on here, which is not to suggest that it's all predictable from the outset (only in...approach to sound). Rather, I mean, in creating melancholic (?) tones which in other hands would signal mere ambient eternal drift somnambulism, Douglas scatters brittle components throughout. No sleeping here. No daydreaming 'bliss'. Only on Hrm Clng or Dtn#09_Ed do we find what feels like a place of rest, albeit one derived from an afterlife (?). After what? This is life, in all it's restless, skittish, uncertain gravity. 

Perhaps ambiguity renders such albums unpopular; not 'difficult listening' - that, surely, is in the ear of the beholder. Albums that gain attention often shout something, even if in a thoroughly minimalist, quiet fashion. Is the popularity of Ambient a result of what many perceive to be a  politically turbulent world? An escape from that madness? As if the world has ever been stable. Whatever, the thing to do is make music which speaks of either 'the street', or technological trickery in the service of an adrenaline boost. Songs, naturally, are always in favour. Fuadain Liesmas offers no such musical certainties. It's neither flash nor pleasingly serene. Ultimately, I can only say 'It is what it is'. You can get a taste from the stream below, but to fully savour what Chris Douglas has created, I suggest you buy the CD from here.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

2017: Albums of the (y)Ear

RTomens, 2016

WHAT? forgive me. I dunno. WHEN? last year. I mean, this year, 2017. In PC world nobody's memory works so I must consult this blog, scroll back in time (one day everyone will have mental bookmarks implanted, won't they?) to see which albums might be considered memorable worth mentioning in a round-up...

So here goes...

Broken Ground  - Christian Bouchard

Structures And Light - Group Zero

Some People Really Know How To Live - Shit and Shine

Hesaitix - M.E.S.H

Fuadain Liesmas -  Aclds
review forthcoming

Monika Werkstatt - Various

A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound - Roland Kayn (this didn't even make the Wire charts!?)

Entertaining The Invalid - Various

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Collaborative Soundworks by Les Horribles Travailleurs / MƩCHΔNICΔL ΔPƩ

Texture, abstraction, atmosphere...mood music for the apocalypse in your head. Who is not enduring small (or large) psychotic trauma on a daily basis? It's the modern which other modern people go about their business, answering 'it' with just a 'sigh'. 


Pay what you want but somehow you will pay it all, (play it all) back...

Friday, 8 December 2017

Collage / King Tubby / Underground Resistance / Self-Portrait

All The Marks Of Identity Are Swept Away, RTomens, 2017

Wonder why...I'm not myself of late...

Self-Portrait, RTomens 2017


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Art: Monk's Mood - Tribute To Thelonious Monk

RTomens, 2017
 Three art works from a series I made in honour of Thelonious Monk. The music is taken from his tune, Monk's Mood.

RTomens, 2017

RTomens, 2017

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Insane In The Membrane (Again) With Cypress Hill

So another CD chariddy shop bargain, Cypress Hill's Black Sunday for a quid - whoo-eee! I had this on vinyl too when it came out - then - what happened? 

Remember when hip-hop was big? Remember when Public Enemy were fresh after the old first wave - like dangerous music, like grabbing the torch from The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron bad - eh? Yes. Then, well, not quite then, but a few years after the second wave, maybe even the third, hip-hop got out of control worldwide MASSIVE - didn't it? Like many a street sound before it soon every square on the block was into this thing whilst debates about how good it was for the black community and folks at large, what with all that swearing, cop-killing, female-disrespecting, money-idolising, gang-glorifying lyrical splurge - all of which only endeared it to youth and gangsters, naturally. The bigger hip-hop got, the smaller my interest. What this says about me may be that I'm a snob who reacts against popularity, or simply prefers movements when they're fresh? What? Which?

Here's an album that went Triple platinum in the U.S - fuck! I knew Cypress Hill were popular but...only just saw that stat on Wikipedia. I remember loving Black Sunday when it came out, like millions of others - it had the juice - got the juices flowing - but that was then - how would it sound 24 years later? How about BRILLIANT! tHAT'LL DO. sHOCK. tHERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING ABOUT b-rEAL'S VOCALS THAT WERE DIFFERENT AND STILL SOUND THAT WAY, AS IF HE'S PERMANENTLY, YES, INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE AND HAMMERING AT YOUR WINDOW TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT. Whoops, caps lock - which rhymes with 'Glock, funnily enough. 

In retrospect it's easy to hear how Cypress Hill got so big and so rich. The samples are choice, the mixing is absolutely perfect with the breaks in your face and somehow this album insists that you succumb, not through lyrical force so much as vocal/rhythmic dynamism. It's not original (when did that ever get you rich?). If anything, it's stereotypical of hip-hip subject matter (violence, drugs, bragging) - yet - yet - after the first four tracks you're slaughtered! Putty in their hands. Well, I was, again.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Courtney Pine Revived & Bowie Talkin' All That Jazz

Courtney Pine's debut album for a quid? Couldn't resist. Of course I owned the vinyl when it came out, which was 1986...and Courtney was our Coltrane - he was! We could only watch in awe as our man, a young black man, in a suit, delivered his version of what was then contemporary London Town! He was slimmer then - we all were. He was also the only one to make the cover of the NME. Well how has it aged? Fine, to my surprise. As We Would Say sounds particularity good. OK, in the writing stakes he was no Wayne Shorter or Coltrane, but after 31 years and in the context of all that went before Journey To The Urge Within holds its own with no small help from the likes of Julian Joseph on piano, Gary Crosby's bass and Mark Mondesir's drumming. 


So today I came across an interview Pine conducted with David Bowie in 2005, asking him about the influence of Jazz in his life. Turns out our David had some impressive names to drop. I'd never heard Bowie talking about Jazz before but I've often wondered if he got the 'Wham bam thank you mam' line in Suffragette City from the Charles Mingus track. It's more likely he nicked it from the Small Faces tune of that name, of course. 

To continue the Mingus connection, when asked for the one Jazz tune that really moves him, Bowie goes for Hog Callin' Blues from the album that Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am was also on, Oh Yeah. A man of taste! This also happens to be one of LJ's favourite tunes. Just listen to Roland Kirk tearing the roof off the studio...


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Sun Ra Exotica / Art Print

Pure (sun sound) pleasure from Modern Harmonic and how clever of them to collate Sun Ra's 'exotica'. For those not familiar with Sun Ra any sampling of tracks from here will be a surprise if they had him down as too 'crazy'. They may even wonder what all the fuss is about but to miss Ra in these moods is to ignore their worldly 'ancient' and thoroughly justified inclusion in the Arkestral sound collage. Essential.

Accelerated Destruction, RTomens, 2017

This along with other art prints is available now in my shop

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

80s Underground Cassette Culture Volume 1 / Various Artists - Under The Concrete / The Field / My Art Prints

How much more 70s/80s cassette culture can we take? - loads! it seems. And why not? There's much pleasure to be had from the beneath-the-underdog bedroom synthesists; the chancers, non-game- changers, radical visionary lunatics and nerds with attitude.

'Nuclear fuel breeds nuclear war/The politics of power/ Rotten to the core' - it's Missing Persons and Rotten To The Core, one of the treats on this superb collection, which illustrates many angles taken by the Lost of Tape Land. PCR's Myths of Seduction and Betrayal (Extract) is another gem. Human Flesh, Urbain Autopsy are names that tell of the Cronenbergian body mutation fixation of the times, when perhaps the recently-evolved opportunity to integrate mind and machine bred obsession with cybernetic mutation. Who knows. 

Cassette-sharing sites are popular now but for obvious technical reasons the sound quality is usually poor so this is a welcome chance to hear hi-resolution lo-fi emissions from the vast cavern of underground cassette culture.

Beneath the concrete field, the beach? Perhaps not. Here, at least, is a contemporary collection worthy of your attention. Material by Mark of Concrete/Field, remixed by various folk, most of whom have remodelled original sounds in a very interesting way. Descent's Freebase has great depth, a build-up of tension pressure that's all the better for never actually being released. AMANTRA's Scorched Earth Policy wouldn't sound out of place on the Underground Cassette comp - I mean that as a compliment. Kek-W got A Fax from Philip Glass (great title), well, I suppose a few people did in the 80s - anyway, as always, KW's work is spot-on/interesting, as is Libbe Matz Gang's Tratamento de Enxaquecas, like death metal machine music! Very good comp.

Windows To The Soul

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Monika Werkstatt at Cafe Oto

Oh, yes, it's Ladies' Night
And the feeling's right
Oh, yes, it's Ladies' Night
Oh, what a night (oh, what a night)...

...Monika Werkstatt at Cafe Oto - yes, what a night! You don't need me to tell that electronic music is a male-dominated world (which part isn't? bingo?), just like Rock, but unlike that traditionally macho realm of phallic axe-wielding at first glance there should be no reason for electronic music being a (mostly) men-only domain, until you start thinking about stereotypical male gadget obsession and the historical culturally-enforced tradition of DIY (inc tinkering with electronics).

Issues surrounding all that (not bingo or DIY) were discussed in the Q&A. An interesting point was raised about how women are expected to be 'brilliant' whereas it's OK for men to be 'all right'. The conclusion was that women should be allowed to be 'all right' too. The issue of expectations aside, pure percentage stats dictate that there's a lot more average male performers in electronic music simply because they dominate.

Politics aside, if it's possible to lay them aside and see the performers as just that (perhaps there's an irony there in rightfully demanding equality, ie not just being viewed as 'female artists', whilst presenting an all-female collective - tricky) with nothing to prove Monika Werkstatt proved it. It was an evening of seductive, passionate, humorous, powerful music, each of the four players performing two songs before a collective session finale. All four were present on stage throughout and it was entertaining just watching their individual reactions to what the performer was doing.

Before the collective, support came from London's La Leif, who brought beats and bass fit to shake Cafe Oto's foundations with a very tough set.

The first of MW to perform was Sonae, whose subtle, richly-textured ambient sounds set a good tone...

Then Barbara Morgenstern ('Queen Of Harmonies') delivered two superb songs, the power of which was amplified times 10 in a 'live' context...

Watch out, it's Pilocka Krach, surely the prankster in the pack, giving us all a good slap with her stomping Electro-Power-Pop! Do you like the beat? Yes, I did!

Finally in solo form, 'the boss', Gudrun Gut, organiser of the whole collective and legendary figure on the scene for years.

The quartet session was as intriguing as you'd expect from four diverse artists with their very own styles, working together intuitively, in the spirit of improvisation, just don't call it 'Improv', Gudrun's ambiguous about that scene and I don't blame her. As she said, it's something you can hate yet be drawn to at the same time. There's nothing to hate about Monika Werkstatt. Do check the collective album. It's an essential release from this year. As an encore, the joint was jumping to Who's Afraid Of Justin Bieber? Here's a brief video I took...

Oh what a night!

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