Wednesday, 8 September 2010

For the Likes of Us.

Meta-point, to get it over with:
"I've started and almost finished this piece half a dozen times, before changing my mind and going right back to the beginning. Although you wouldn't, admittedly, be too far wrong if you concluded that I'm just bone idle."

So, the EDL are changin' things. And it's scaring the shit out of me.

I'm going to start that again.

"If cathedrals are designed to inspire awe, then this.... uh..."
- George Ttoouli on St Michael's Coventry.

I was at Wembly to see Muse a few weeks ago, an event which did much to highlight the curious nature of stadiums. Coliseums of petty human grandeur, demanding spectacle. Heaving to be part of many in raked seating, ranked standing, desperate for the staged, be they long haired ball-kickers, media-shined personalities (smoothed, like pebbles in a river), revolutionary generals, condemned guerilla warriors, or just a couple of guys with expensive instruments on. Parabolic, the stands reflect our [otherwise indirect?] ardour stagewards - whoever we came with, wherever we are, we turn as one, pump our arms in unison.

Speer's 'Cathedral of Light', a design tribute to the Pergamon Altar, Nuremburg 1936

That the climactic, Orwellian tirade of United States of Eurasia borrows gratuitously from Queen - the familiar, the unquestioned, the stadium forebears - can hardly be treated as a mistake, and makes only too much sense in the context. Successful nationalist movements (if not extremist in general) always draw principally on within, on the particularly OURS. It's well noted by enough historians that Hitler did look like a strange little man with a funny moustache to the anglophonic west, but it was something quintessentially Germanic about him (or rather, his movement) that captured the imagination of Nuremberg ralliers.

Which is why - now I've found that horse - the EDL are scary.
They've got football.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Hittin' the Books

Archaeologists must have a really hard time, emotionally.
Fragments of artefacts - artefacts which you just know, when whole, were brilliant, but never will be again - are intensely frustrating. Case in point;
(inasmuch as a sentence is an artefact)

"I dream of crafting a song, a sound-scape so richly dense and complex, that[...]"
- Peter Blegvad, possibly via his 'Static in the Attic' persona adopted for eartoons on BBC Radio 3's 'The Verb', which'd date it to late 2004/early 2005, though it was played to me in August 2006.

My complete inability to recall what came next, or find it recorded anywhere, has been bugging me for about three years. Of course, it's because it's because the open-ended 'well what reaction then...?' nature of the question leaves you scrabbling around to fill the gap that it's so arresting. The rest of the sentence was beautiful, that much I remember. Just not exactly what it was.

In frustration, I've dug up the contextual background to my encounter with it, which was P.B introducing me to The Books. So this is where I went looking.

This is a band accused (that is, they deny that which reviews have attempted to brand them with), unsurprisingly, of aleatoricism. Which'll do as a first go at filling the blank.
"I dream of crafting a song, a sound-scape so richly dense and complex, that it appears aleatory."

To emulate randomness seems perverse, but luckily that isn't the sentiment. Rather, the[/a?] point might be that that what is random and what is tightly controlled are not so far apart.
Note, for example, that the track which immediately follows Thankyoubranch on the studio début Thought For Food (which is all over there -> ) is this, completely different creature.

Well, obviously. But 'hey guys, aren't these dissimilar' is itself pretty meaningless. And juxtaposition has got to mean something or the word wouldn't have been drilled into me so firmly for GCSE Lit.
So: The Books aren't about creating random noises, either for its own sake or to explore the nature of randomness on its own terms. Nor are they avant garde or post-modern in the usual fashion*, casually leaning conventional against unconventional.
To listen to bands like Cougar, [early] Fiery Furnaces, etc, it's often easier to let yourself get buried in their world. Sitting in the musical armchair provided by the commercial sonic conventions of the mainstream** and trying to appreciate strident disharmony and dice-roll time signatures is often uncomfortable (not intentionally, I would claim), so baptismal immersion plays a role in appreciation.
But "I dream of crafting a song, a sound-scape so richly dense and complex, that you have to work hard to enjoy it." is no closer.
And this probably isn't what The Books are after, either, because you're not allowed to be under the surface of obscurity for too long.
"I dream of crafting a song, a sound-scape so richly dense and complex, that those who listen long to be immersed"? Actually, this feels like progress. Communicating that longing for perfect intricacy by impressing the search on the consumer, inducting them into the process. Striving to induce striving,

*yes, 'usual post-modernism'. Take it up with -

Problem is, this is only one route into the question. The Books are a scrambled enigma of eartrigue in their own right (even they struggle to keep a handle on what they're trying to do), and are only tangentially connected to the problem for which they're here employed.

It's silly to suppose that their dream matches Blegvad's, even if they articulate it.
And frankly, what if they do just makes weird shit?.

That title up there was also the name of a song by a mate's-older-brother's ska band 'Kiss My Brass' (expressly NOT after a rather better San Francisco outfit, or that Bette Midler tour) that was floating around my home scene back when I was 15 or so. They weren't very good, but "hey Russell! Russell! ... Not bad, how've you been? ... Have a good one. ... Yeah man, I know the band...", so will always have a grubby little place in my heart.

Another new thing fell out of me and landed here, if you're interested in European post-rock or intense wankery. Especially if you're interested in both.

And since we're on music, let some incredible sax happen to you, immediately.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Smiling, and other combat stances.

Next time I look you in the eye, spread my arms wide and bare my teeth at you, assume I'm going to rip out your jugular.
With friendliness.