The Clouds, The Wonder Stuff and Jesus Jones make a very good combination of acts, although holding the event at The Palace was a questionable choice. It is true, the triple split-level art noveau style from the early twentieth century has a great deal of dilapidated charm, but the acoustics are not the best. The three bands in question were, of course, very significant in the late 80s and early 90s but had only a modest amount of activity since then. As a result there was a fairly narrow age-band among the punters that had come along for the night.
FUC51 no doubt shat, but crusty old post-punks like me will delight at Peter Hook interviewing John Cooper Clarke on BBC Radio 4 Chain Reaction. Though I kept wanting Hook to shut up and stop interrupting the professional wordsmith. You have six days to listen as I write this.
As I have detailed in the past, I want a paper fanzine again, filled from cover to shining cover with good writing about music that doesn’t suck. But not only are paper fanzines basically obsolete, the process of producing one involves dealing with ripoff cowboy advertisers, dealing with ripoff cowboy printers, dealing with ripoff cowboy record shops, dealing with bloody arsehole ripoff cowboy indie record distributors who pay only on threat of lawsuit KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL and I got just a little burnt out on it.
That said, I remember sitting around my then-girlfriend’s back yard in 1998, idly leafing through the Trading Post and looking at stuff going cheap I would have killed for in 1990. Linotypes! Halftone camera setups! Entire clunky publishing systems, Mac IIx still in the middle! That stuff was sorta fun. Except that even 1991-level desktop publishing knocked it into a cocked hat for convenience and ability to get the damned information out, of course.
So I feel some slight old man’s schadenfreude at these meddling kids set to the task of producing a magazine with the technology of the 1980s. Poor dears had to do arithmetic to work out their layout. HA! HA!
The Save Australian Music project continues apace, though not a very fast pace.
I have discovered (as I had presumed) that my old indie music cronies are enormously pleased with the idea of preserving the culture of their youth!
The main problem we have is we don’t have any suitable library to deposit it with. We are working on this. If any of you have contacts at state reference libraries, please get them in touch with us!
That said, there’s no reason to hold off on ripping and scanning. If you have an old flyer collection, then please scan the lot. (600dpi TIFF is ideal.) I have put up pages on digitising audio, image scanning and negative scanning, which I wrote off the top of my head and which desperately need knowledgeable input from others.
If this is catching your attention, do please join the mailing list.
Update: I’ve just posted to the Save Aussie Music blog. An attempt to entice bored suburbanites and leverage their nostalgia. I’ve certainly leveraged mine — just set up my cassette deck and ION turntable again yesterday afternoon.
What It’s Like To Interview A Celebrity, from Lovelyish.
Cleveland rock critic Jane Young died on Monday after 38 years at the job, from 1964 until 2002. Yeah, guess I have to keep rocknerding now until at least age 83.
Aggressive ahistoricality is a problem, but so too is the dead hand of nostalgia, follow the subjects of the nostalgia back when it wasn’t nostalgia as I might have (from afar). FUC51 ran through last year, ranting about the Manchester music scene being firmly fixed in 1988, yellow and black stripes with everything as the last echoes of Saville, New Order as the local Beatles. I’d still quite like one of those basses, though. And this with this is an instructive slice of history.
It’s always heartwarming when someone gets really pissed off and channels it into documenting something that sorely needs it. Kirrily Robert is about to start a project to document the lost past of Australian music. You realise there are ten-year-old records that are effectively orphan works?
Needed: co-conspirators. Preferably ones in the same country. And a good name for the project.
Update: Mailing list.
Last week I took The Wolfgang Press in Wikipedia from two paragraphs to a proper article. Yesterday it was on the front page Did you know? section for six hours and got 3065 hits, compared to its usual 25-50. Not bad for an article about an obscure band approximately no-one cares about. (“Kansas”, from Bird Wood Cage, is a lost goth rock classic. DJs, please play. Thank you.) I’d forgotten how much quiet nerdy fun it is writing and researching a Wikipedia article.
Writing about anything artistic on Wikipedia is arse, though, unless you can find critics to quote. Printed ones by preference. (Wikipedia’s epistemology is severely broken at the edges, and knowing how it got that way doesn’t actually help.) Google Books and Google Scholar help, but if you don’t have access to a significant clippings pile, or a really well-indexed library collection, it’s ridiculously difficult to write about things that happened before 1995. Though McFarlane is still on the Internet Archive and basically just needs someone experienced in Wikipedia’s little ways slogging through it. Do you feel lucky, punk?
The Forum is one of Melbourne’s many stylish venues. Built in the 1920s it has a baroque level of art nouveau features with a high-level of Hellenic influence. Designed for theatre and ‘talkies’, as they called back then, it proved to be a somewhat unusual venue for Gary Numan’s tour for the thirtieth anniversary of Gary Numan’s 1979 LP The Pleasure Principle with local band Severed Heads in support. The austere electronica, “slow industrial” as one punter put it, was a seriously juxtaposition with the surroundings. One cannot sing great praises for the acoustics either. The high roof of the main hall was perhaps acceptable, but the speaker system for the low ceiling under the balcony was very ordinary. Clarity of sound shouldn’t be an issue with either of these performers.
TIME, Dark side of the moan, Wednesday (N! News) — Both remaining members of Pink Floyd have announced the launch of the “Why Pink Floyd?” reissue campaign, wherein literally every tape containing a detectable grunt or squeak is pressed onto CD, SACD and 5.1-channel DVD-audio.
“This is the last chance for really nice packaging,” said drummer Nick Mason, “because even in 2011, it’s remarkable what you can charge for a physical object rather than a download. Even a FLAC. You could make the complete collection, which of course you’ll be wanting, into a ring of standing stones for the lounge. You’ll have to rebalance your speakers to compensate for the gravitational pull, of course.”
UbuWeb is an archive of avant-garde text, music and film operating on the basis of putting up unavailable stuff and taking it down as and when asked. They don’t take donations or sponsorship and serving is donated by various universities.
And you can guess what happens: artists decide they really want to be there even if their stuff is commercially available. There’s some controversy over this, but on the whole it’s loved and accepted. And as he says, if they asked permission for everything it wouldn’t exist. Go there and download to your bandwidth cap and beyond.
And now there’s a lovely interview with the founder, New York poet Kenneth Goldsmith, who says: put up more UbuWebs and make this one irrelevant. He’s right. Why aren’t you? Why aren’t I?
Melbourne’s famous alternative music venue ‘The Arthouse’ is closing its doors forever on May 1st due to issues caused by the same liquor licensing changes that closed ‘The Tote’ (now reopened under different management), compounded by a “frosty relationship” with the building’s owner.
It is however going out with a bang, with favourite acts that have played there in the past like Depression, Fuck I’m Dead, and Dreadnaught playing shows in its final weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
George Michael doing a laid back MOR version of “True Faith” by New Order. Through a vocoder.
While wrapped around a lamp post.
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.
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.
The Big Day Out is Australia’s largest touring rock festival. Just how male dominated is a mainstream rock festival these days? The stats in detail at The Flying Blogspot. A not entirely surprising teaser stat: the number of performers on the two main stages that do not have a penis was 0.
This post was submitted by Dave Cake.
My house has teenagers in it. They are actively interested in music, read Kerrang! (which is now a land of sensitive boys with floppy fringes ripping off bad Metallica solos) and are in every way the desperately desired target demographic of the music industry in general. They own a few precious favourite CDs, but mostly they get music off YouTube. They use it as their jukebox. Quite a bit from official label channels.
The execs have finally noticed and, as usual, are channelling their inner Gollum. Streaming services (YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, last.fm) are now considered a bigger problem than piracy, because they’re not the cash cow CDs were. Note that this is the legal and paid-for channels they’re complaining about.
The kids don’t listen to radio, or any similar rigidly controlled stream fed to them on a provider-consumer model. The execs’ dilemma now is how to advertise the music without people being able to hear it. Or something. Analyst Russ Crupnick suggests creating some form of “artificial scarcity.” Let me know how that works out for you.
“We never really made the digital transformation,” says Crupnick. No shit.
Apple is in talks with the majors to finally outdo CD, with 24-bit audio downloads. Current iPods can’t play it, and lossless stereo 24/96 compressed files are around 17MB/minute or 1.2GB for 70 minutes — or, as Linn already sells, nearly 3GB for 24/192 stereo, and multiply by three for 5.1 … but what price this against getting you to buy your collection again? Until they do what most recording tools do these days and go to 32-bit floating point.
In the early 1990s, I tried very hard to become a serious Anthony Burgess fan. A Clockwork Orange is absolutely first-class and probably my favourite novel of all time. Burgess was an incredibly intelligent and erudite man, and my other favourite is Homage to Qwert Yuiop, a collection of his book reviews (which I strongly recommend, even as I curse its lack of an index).
However, all his other novels suck. All of them. Over the course of a few years I read as many as I could get my hands on, in the desperate hope of more Burgess greatness. Every single one was mediocre at best. Humdrum writing and story, lots of showing off, occasional attempts at epic, but nothing coming together properly. I can authoritatively state that A Clockwork Orange was a freak event: he accidentally wrote something that was significantly greater than everything else he did, and would never again get within a mile of it.
Here in the future, this is much easier. I recently heard a great track, “Herzlos” by Absurd Minds, a German EBM (bleepy “industrial”) band, on a compilation. Enormously interested by this, I went in search of more of their stuff. As it turned out, I had the opportunity to hear their complete works — every note they’ve recorded from 1996 to the present. All of it. The lot.
And guess what? That track was a freak — everything else they’ve ever done is mediocre at best and inept at typical. In fact, the original version of “Herzlos” also sucks — the good version was a remix by a third party. (And the lyrics, oh God. I’m glad they’re in German.)
The band is not important. The important bit is that even a burst of true brilliance will no longer let you get away with selling us pigs in a poke. This alone is why the majors are going DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, and musicians who still think the world owes them a living with them.
For my birthday, my darling girlfriend just gave me some shitty, shitty eight quid laptop speakers from Curry’s, to serve as cruel and vicious Truth Boxes for mixing in LMMS! They’re powered from USB, they do 0.5W RMS total (5V at 500mA), they’re about 2.5″ in diameter each, the bass barely exists and they are just what I wanted, because if I want a mix that survives anything it has to work on these. Listening to stuff through them is revelatory. For added cruelty, mix in mono. I am most pleased.
You’re young? Never got into the Australian mainstream in the ’80s when it was happening? Annoyed that most of Mushroom’s output is not available anywhere because Warner are idiots? You’d like to catch up? Sassbandit points out our dear friend “nzoz[year]” on YouTube — a different username for each year. 1983, for example. A good start for stuff that was at least slightly popular with someone that you can then try to track down unavailable vinyl of, given Warner are too stupid to rerelease it even digitally. Did I mention that Warner are fuckwits enough times yet?
Android phones are hugely popular, and now the most popular smartphone in the world. Google would love a music store for Android to compete with iTunes, only it has to be even better than iTunes. They have the record labels themselves mostly on-side. What do customers want? To be able to re-download stuff they’ve bought and paid for. Who doesn’t want that to happen? The publishers. And Sony.
Thomas Hesse from Sony says: “We are very uncomfortable with a model where you can just throw anything into the cloud and stream it, if what you threw into the cloud was not legitimately purchased.” Never mind we already have that — it’s called RapidShare. YOU’RE ALREADY COMPETING WITH FREE. PEOPLE WANT TO GIVE YOU MONEY ANYWAY. YOU’RE REFUSING IT. AAAAAAAA