Archive for March, 2011

Make my day.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Music services that aren’t iTunes need to be better to compete. Google is politely negotiating streaming. Amazon, on the other hand, has decided to just enable streaming — since people are only supposed to upload music they already bought, in which case they bought it — and have asked the RIAA’s lawyers if they’re feeling lucky. This would be the first locker service from a company big enough to shoot back.

Leftfield, Melbourne, March 18, 2011

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

The early 1990s were a depressing time, and even more so in Victoria, Australia. The Gorbachev revolution, which successfully led to the unravelling of dictatorships in the Eastern bloc, failed to transform those countries to a more ideal model of libertarian socialism. In Victoria a thoroughly ideologue government was engaging in savage cuts to basic public services that Thatcher would have been envious. At one stage the state was losing one hundred people per day to other states, mainly teachers and nurses. And as for music, the rise and eventual dominance of house and dance music by the late ’80s was getting very tired. To be sure, it had rhythm, it was sensual, it was strongly associated with the rave scene culture and happy club drugs; but it most cases it was seriously lacking in substance.

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Hawkwind, Billboard, Melbourne March 12, 2011

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

As they announced, these are the warriors on the edge of space and time. Now in their forty-second year of performance and correlating with the release of their twenty-sixth studio album, Blood of the Earth, Hawkwind still deliver the goods when it comes to their diverse blend of space rock, psychedelia, proto-punk, ambient and progressive rock. The crowd too reflected this diversity: ageing grey-beards in Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd t-shirts, enthusiastic punks proclaiming their preferences to Conflict, D.O.A. and Black Flag, hard rockers in their AC/DC garb and even an eighties indie-pop fan with a Pixies shirt; that’s the sort of range and influence that one finds with Hawkwind. Although it must be mentioned that the crowd were about two-thirds blokes; being a participant in a science fantasy rock universe inspired by Michael Moorcock and Philippe Druillet is still something that some wimmin-folk are apparently less inclined towards.

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One soul less on your fiery list.

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Paul Harding emails to tell of his blog Perthmusic (and earlier version), a pile of unavailable CDs, records and tapes from no-longer-gigging bands of the past thirty years. The gratuitous mention is also just fine. I would contribute except that I left almost all my tapes with Ross Chisholm when I moved to Melbourne in 1994. So instead I’ll just binge on the soundtrack to my youth.

A requiem for the Luminaire.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I just returned from the last of many gigs I saw at the Luminaire, and indeed, the last ever gig there.

The bands playing were SPC ECO (whom I, alas, missed), Ringo Deathstarr (a band from Texas who are one of the better exponents of the shoegaze revival, mixing it with a bit of driving garage rock) and the latest incarnation of noir expressionists Piano Magic, whose first song, appropriately enough, began with “Music won’t save you from anything but silence”.

The Luminaire was (it feels odd to use the past tense, knowing it’s accurate as of maybe an hour ago as I write this) one of London’s better music venues. It suffered from being in the wrong part of London, in Kilburn, in the north-west, when the music scene started to solidify around the hipster lek of Shoreditch/Hoxton/Dalston. However, it had a number of advantages: a great atmosphere, good sound, and the famous signs on the walls, advising punters, in no uncertain terms, that if they came to talk to their pals while the band was playing, they were unwelcome. This made it more amenable to listening to the music, even if the bands weren’t balls-to-the-wall rock; you knew the bands didn’t have to compete with a bunch of loud haircuts at the front, standing with their backs to the stage and discussing who’s shagging whom in fashion school.

Now, the music has stopped and the punters have left. Soon they’ll paint over the famous black walls, sandblast the layers of stickers off the bathrooms, and remove the red velvet curtains and mirror ball, and so, a sacred space is deconsecrated. Perhaps it’ll become luxury flats, or be subdivided into cheap, miserable bedsits.

I remember the loss of another sacred space of music, nine years earlier and half a world away. It’s now a trendy pizza parlour which plays canned house/dance music to its fashion-conscious patrons, its artificially distressed walls adorned with an oversized kewpie doll. Before then, it was the place legends were born. The Lucksmiths wrote a song in memory of this venue; it’s playing as I write this, in memory of it, the Luminaire and all other sacred spaces now lost.

Quite possibly the most horrible record of 2011.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

George Michael doing a laid back MOR version of “True Faith” by New Order. Through a vocoder. While wrapped around a lamp post.

Why movies right now suck more than music.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

The Internet has set off a desperately-needed nuclear viral cancer bomb under the music industry. The majors are going down the tubes, the distribution channels have been blown wide-open, approximately no-one actually buys or cares about the contents of the “charts” (thirty years ago, the sales of a current UK Top 10 single would have made number five on the indie charts), popular taste has fragmented into a thousand tiny subgenres, the musicians are breathing the terrible and fearsome air of freedom and more good music is being made and spread in 2011 than ever before. And making even more money.

So why do movies still suck so bad? Why does the conservatism of a control-addicted twentieth-century industry finding itself living in the future make the field suck for everyone? Because the means of production are still locked down. This leaves the key question being: “Can it be marketed?”

“The closer you get to (or the farther you get from) your thirtieth birthday, the more likely you are to develop things like taste and discernment, which render you such an exhausting proposition in terms of selling a movie that, well, you might as well have a vagina.”

Breaking the production monopoly will go slowly. But the Edge of the City festival has a category for films made on a mobile phone.

The hope of Audacity.

Monday, March 7th, 2011

People seem insufficiently aware of Audacity, the open-source sound recording and editing program. This is the four-track everyone desperately wanted twenty years ago. If you have a vaguely realistic mental model of recording sound to tracks and doing things with it, you’ll be able to use it never even reading the manual. First time I used it, it was three hours between installing it and uploading the finished recording. You may be unable to work computers, but if you know what you want to do with your recording then this will let you do it.