Tuesday, January 31, 2006

art is just fraud: rip nam june paik

From Wikipedia: Nam June Paik (July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006) was a South Korean-born American artist, particularly noted for his video art. Paik studied music history, art history, and philosophy at the University of Tokyo, where he graduated with a dissertation on Arnold Schoenberg. He went to Germany in 1956 to continue the study of music history at the University of Munich. In Germany he met composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage, who inspired Paik to go into electronic art. Paik worked with Stockhausen in a studio for Electronic Music. He also became involved with the post neo-Dada art movement Fluxus, founded by George Maciunas.

He began working with modified television sets in 1963 and bought his first video camera in 1965, returning to Japan to conduct experiments with electromagnets and color television alongside electronic engineer Shuya Abe. He was known for using rapid cuts and fast motion in his videos. He also claimed to have coined the term "information superhighway" in a paper written in 1974.

He will be remembered as a founding father of video art and will continue to influence the younger generation of artists.

"Art is just fraud. You just have to do something nobody else has done before", he famously declared during an interview with a Korean newspaper, and this has now become a popular quote.

He died on Sunday January 29, at his apartment in Miami, Florida, of natural causes.

Charlotte Moorman & Nam June Paik - TTV Cello Part 2
Nam June Paik - My Jubilee ist Unverhemmet

Friday, January 27, 2006

the family that sings together...

Everyone is freakin' the folk out! Heath and I can't walk across our college towns without an itchy dog and scratchy owner strumming' away. There is some fine creeps out there, but still for my time, the sweet spot of psychedelic folk comes from, ironically, the true freaks of the flock, The Family. When Charlie Manson was on trial in 1970 his "family" recorded an album in hopes of selling it to fatten his defense fund, called The Family Jams. Steve "Clem" Grogan pictured here takes lead on the songs. Oddly, I feel that these carry the same distanced, decayed beauty of David Jackman's Organum or even some of the Pentangle flourish.

A review from AK Press says: In 1970, some close friends of Charles Manson recorded his collection of lost "desert music" as the ultimate statement of friendship and faith during his trial. The definitive release of this classic acid folk-rock session (with vastly improved sound over previous bootlegs) has Steve Grogan (Clem) on vocals and guitar and some ultra-ethereal female vocals. The two-CD set includes an hour of never heard songs and radical alternate takes. The 36-page full-color booklet contains rare psychedelic embroidery, unpublished photos, and texts by Manson, Lynette Fromme, and Sandra Good.

Best to be played when the sun is steaking through the windows and those pesky dust mites are floating free.

The Family Jams - First They Made Me Sleep In The Closet/I'm Scratchin' Peace Symbols On Your Tombstone
The Family Jams - I'll Never Say Never To Always
The Family Jams - The Fires Are Burning

Thursday, January 26, 2006

ok, alright, fine

The Beautiful New Born Children write short and frenetic songs. This is nothing new, people have been doing it for years, from the garages of british invasion straight through Supergrass and into the now. But TBNBC do it well and recklessly with the pedal to the metal. They're all in other bands and all play different instruments in those bands, so this is obviously their "sweet fuck all lets get ripped and make some fun songs and noise" project.

And apparently sending unsolicited demos really does sometimes pay off, because they sent one to Domino, obviously thinking that nothing would become of it because there was no contact information on it. Eventually they were found and we are all better for it. And for once, a description written by the label is surprisingly accurate: Imagine The Sonics recording Slanted And Enchanted in 1966 for In The Red Records and you're in the neighbourhood.

I'd also add that if you toss in some Unrest pop smarts and hyperactivity and you are downright locked in. This CD should come with a warning on the label if you are caffeinated, whoa man you'll hurt yourself flailing along!

the Beautiful New Born Children - Do the Do
the Beautiful New Born Children - Up And Down And Round And Round

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

back home in warn's head

His Name is Alive is back, though of course, Warn Defever & co. were never gone. Since 2002's final album for 4AD, Last Night, HNIA have issued a few pounds of wares on Time Stereo and the art edition LP UFO Catcher. Fugg! Then there was that mountain/sunshine storm called The Cloud Box, 10 CDRs from free jazz jams to earth tone Blithe Sons-esque outdoor folk prayers. Currently Cloud Pop, a single disk summary of the box, is up for free download on the HNIA web home.

So today we are at Detrola the new mass-available CD on the just birthed label (Silver Mountain) and it is an almost non-stop beat-heavy burn with ultra-fine soul swagger from vocalist Andy FM. Though it touches on the vast stitch-work Defever has weaved throughout his past show, overall the album is quite synth-slick yet superimposed with torch folk and rambled pop outbreaks. He can't shake that Beach Boys-melody or the the grime of noise and static. Detrola is a day dream with oft nightmare visions. Overall, there is the feeling of sun staring, squinting enough to let the light bleed in but knowing when you open wide it will all be there or at least FM's voice calling from above.

HNIA - I Thought I Saw Detrola
HNIA - Brown Rice-II Cloud Pop
HNIA - Free Concert Cloud Pop

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

word in your belly

Mira and Laurent met in Paris. She was a Finnish model and he was writing film music. They instantly fell in love and soon chose to move into a cabin together deep in the woods of Finland, completely isolated. Intent to learn about each other and make music. Together they make stark, spacious arrangements of acoustic guitar and vocals. Their debut CD (out now on Young God was recorded in Finland, and then back in New York, M. Gira, who co-produced the record brought in friends such as Akron/Family and Julia Kent of Antony & the Johnsons to occasionally enhance with strings and sounds. Mi's sound reminds me of Nico or the intimacy of Lisa Germano, who put out many amazing records for 4AD in the 90s and has also recently signed with Young God Records. L'au is more of a Nick Drake or Neil Halstead. A simple, plain and solid record that isn't trying to be weird or challenging. Check them on their current, incredibly long tour which has already started:

Tue 1/24 - Andy's Denton TX w/ Akron Family
Wed 1/25 - Emo's Austin TX w/ Akron Family
Thu 1/26 - Opolis - Norman OK
Fri 1/27 - The Pistol Gallery - Kansas City - MO
Sat 1/28 - The Mill Iowa City IA
Sun 1/29 - Iron Post - Urbana IL
Mon 1/30 - Boxcar Books - Bloomington - IN
Tue 1/31 - Viper Room - Cincinnati OH
Thu 2/2 - Mac's - Lansing MI
Fri 2/3 - Urban Institute for Contemporary Art Grand Rapids  MI
Sat 2/4 - Empty Bottle - Chicago IL
Sun 2/5 - Cafe Montmartre - Madison WI
Tue 2/7 - Onopa Brewing Company - Milwaukee WI
Wed 2/8 - Turf Club St. Paul MN
Thu 2/9 - Triple Rock Social Club - Minneapolis - MN
Fri 2/10 - O'leavers - Omaha, NE
Sat 2/11 - Larimer Lounge Denver CO w/ Born Heller
Mon 2/13 - Urban Lounge Salt Lake City UT w/ Born Heller
Tue 2/14 - Neurolux Boise, ID w/ Born Heller
Wed 2/15 - Towne Lounge Portland OR w/ Born Heller
Thu 2/16 - Sunset Tavern Seattle WA w/ Born Heller
Fri 2/17 - 321 Kennewick WA w/ Born Heller
Sat 2/18 - Eagle's Hall Olympia WA w/ Born Heller
Mon 2/20 - Delta of Venus Davis - Ca w/ Born Heller
Tue 2/21 - Cafe Du Nord San Francisco - CA w/ Born Heller
Wed 2/22 - The Attic Santa Cruz Santa Cruz Ca w/ Born Heller
Thu 2/23 - The Mainzer Theater Merced CA w/ Born Heller
Fri 2/24 - The Monday Club San Luis Obispo CA w/ Born Heller
Sat 2/25 - Arthurball Los Angeles CA w/ Born Heller
Mon 2/27 - Casbah San Diego CA w/ Born Heller
Tue 2/28 - Plush Tucson AZ w/ Born Heller
Thu 3/2 - La Zona Rosa - Austin TX
Sat 3/4 - Jack Pot Saloon - Lawrence KS
Mon 3/6 - High Five - Columbus OH
Tue 3/7 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland OH
Wed 3/8 - Garfield Artworks - Pittsburgh PA
Thu 3/9 - Valentine's - Albany NY
Fri 3/10 - Tonic - New York NY

Hear some songs over at Songs:Illinois and Aquarium Drunkard and here:

Mi & L'au - A Word in Your Belly

Monday, January 23, 2006


For awhile now Mattin, the British computer maximist/minimalist improviser/sound stoker, has been claiming an "anti-copyright" on his music -- no ownership/free to all. He has now made his entire discography and all releases published by his label w.m.o. just that: free to all for download. Quite a statement and a coup for everyone else, cause there is some stunning works in there. Mattin's use of laptop and shareware software would seem to, on paper, jack him in a rut but instead he has become the most finely unpredictable, constantly evolving artist in the whole shabag of electro-acousitc-whatever.

Already, his bod of work has fanned out into some grand moments. My fav picks of his own would be the duo with Dion Workman, Via Vespucci; Agur 3" CDr, his first collab with Rosy Parlane; the solo Gora; hovering craft duo with percussionist Tim Barnes Live at Issue, NYC; and various recordings by Sakada, Mattin's group with Rosy Parlane, Eddie Prevost, and sometimes Mark Wastell, Margarida Garcia and others. For w.m.o, I'll hold that off for a future post.

And to get the 'free-for-all' point across more, these downloads are encoded in .ogg form, the open source code created by Vorbis: Ogg Vorbis is a new audio compression format. It is roughly comparable to other formats used to store and play digital music, such as MP3, VQF, AAC, and other digital audio formats. It is different from these other formats because it is completely free, open, and unpatented.

So you will need to dowload the app or get the iTunes to listen.

Tim Barnes & Mattin: Live at Issue, NYC
Sakada: Askatuta pt. 1
Mattin: Gora pt. 1
Mattin & Dion Workman: Via Vespucci

Friday, January 20, 2006

teenage freak girls

Boston's The Mules blew through my little town the other week and caused my drunken feet to moooove. I had no idea what was going on- I was expecting some unexciting punk bands and what I got was a wild mix of the Contortions + Cramps + Os Mutantes and some serious Sonic Youth skreeech. Psychedelic experimental garage rock for the next generation.

Their Myspace page claims soft machine, the monks, the pretty things, the mothers of invention, the doors, james chance, glenn branca, red crayola, os mutantes, amon duul (I+II), goblin, b52s, sonic youth, minutemen as influences and for once its kind of right. It also promises the world's fastest freak out! (no hippys, no young vulgarians, the sound of a black leather glove) - and I think if the club had been as packed as it should have been it could have easily of happened.

They just finished up a tour w/ labelmates Wildlife, who both have newish releases on Bodies of Water Arts and Crafts. The Mules 7inch is so new, in fact, that the artwork wasn't even available yet, but I bought one anyway. Have your own freakout and check out the other track over at their webpage.

the Mules - Electrocution

Thursday, January 19, 2006

minimalist jukebox

Never before in my life have I wished I lived in Los Angeles until I read the information about the upcoming minimalism music festival set to happen in late March. Over the course of two weeks time, festival director and composer John Adams will touch on and perform works from just about every major figure in the movement. From African and Gamelan music to Glenn Branca's electric guitar orchestra to the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing pieces by Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Cage, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Michael Gordon's Decasia film score, and much much more. Sure, in order to go to all these performances you might break your own bank in the process, but it'd be worth it.

In a groundbreaking first by a major orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presents a wide-ranging survey of Minimalism. Under the watchful ear of Festival Director John Adams, Minimalist Jukebox reflects on where we've been, the current state of the art, and things to come. Run Minimalism's musical gamut from African drums to Branca’s electric guitars, from Riley, Glass and Reich to Andriessen, Pärt and Adams himself. Open your ears and expand your mind.

Steve Reich - Nagoya Marimbas
Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians: Section VIII

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

wind in the branches

The story behind Christopher Tree's solo percussion album, Spontaneous Sound: At the Cathedral of St. John the define, is that Glenn Kotche (in his pre-Wilco days) was looking through an old Paiste catalog and saw a spread on Tree with his hundreds of percussive instruments, jugs, flutes, bells and wild hair. He asked fellow drum buddy Tim Barnes if he knew about this guy. Turns out he played free concerts to NYC school kids in the early 70s as well as touring Europe and California (even playing prisons Sing Sing and San Quentin) -- long, improvised celebrations of sound. Outside of an appearance on an Aspen magazine split flexi-disc in 1971, nothing had ever been issued. So, Barnes found him, Tree sent a tape, and Barnes issued it on his Quakebasket label. Issued in 2002, it seems the album didn't quite reach as many ears as it could've.

The sole liner notes say: "There are no electronic sounds or overdubbing on this record." Those details are spelled out because Tree's thousand arms rustle up tonal clouds, percussive sheets and straight ambient lysergic visions. I'd love to see some footage of him packing up/transporting/setting up his instrument orchestra.

Spontaneous Sound from 1971 Aspen felxi-disc
At the Cathedral of St. John the Devine pt. 2

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

last ride together

Austin's I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness has their bags packed and ticket stamped, ready to board the hype train. They have a hip underground sound of today (dark, indie & retro), they're on a hip, now label (Secretly Canadian) and they have a ridiculously long and silly name (like Crap Your Pants and Say Waaah! (thanks Brainwashed)). But don't let these things deter you. If you are a fan of the icy post-post-punk movement, the genre has not yet died a horrible death.

Fear Is On Our Side is set for release March 7th. Much darker than the previous EP, produced by Spoon's Britt Daniel, this was put down by Paul Barker (Blackouts, Ministry, Revolting Cocks). According to Plan is the obvious single, a warmer Colder, ripe for a strobostrophic remix. I eagerly await the 12" extended mix, thank you...

Elsewhere they channel Lonely Is An Eyesore outtake material into "the Owl". "Today" starts with an infinite guitar loop that slowly builds into the buoyant "We Choose Faces", crescendoing into some serious MBV swirlpool. "At Last Is All" is the inevitable collision of the Cure and early U2. "Long Walk" lopes along, a slow e-bowed train ride through tunnels. The untitled track probably had a name previously, but had to be ditched when they realised Thom Yorke had the same song title. (I mean this in a good way, I still like Radiohead, for now.)

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - According to Plan

other 2 mp3s removed at request of label, sorry folks.

Friday, January 13, 2006

club carioca

With Diplo gaining more and more momentum in the undergroud, his live mixes are spreading throughout the internet fast and furious. And in many of his recent mixes you will find lots of Brazilian baile funk. Furthermore, with the widespread love of 2005's Arular by M.I.A. and its heavily influenced beats, its just a matter of time before more of this type of sound rises to the top.

Man Recordings in Germany is hoping to be a big part of that with their recent signing of Edu K. He has been releasing records in his native Brazil for some time now with De Falla, whose style ranges from punk to metal to rock and beyond over the course of seven albums. Its no surprise that none of us have heard his name, but maybe not for long.

In 2000, he cut the song "Popozuda Rock n Roll", a salute to the baile funk movement from the punks. The song took off and became a huge hit in Brazil, amongst both punks and the dance scene. In 2004, the song got included on Essay's Rio Baile Funk Favela Booty Beats compilation and soon thereafter got picked up by Coca-Cola for a commercial in Germany. Last year, Man put out a 12" with various remixes of the song including a crazy mash-mix by Diplo that somehow merged the Cure with the hard pounding booty bass.

The newest 12", Sex-O-Matic, features one of the hottest female MCs in Rio at the moment, Deize Tigrona. The single includes remixes by Solid Groove from London, a reggaeton remix by Edu K and a baile funk remix by DJs Sany and Mavi (which features a great GNR guitar stab, check it out!). Edu K is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on his Man Recordings solo album "Frenétiko", which is scheduled for a release in March 2006.

De Falla - Popozuda Rock n Roll
Edu K (feat. Deize Tigrona) - Sex-O-Matic (original mix)
Edu K (feat. Deize Tigrona) - Sex-O-Matic (DJ Mavi + DJ Sany Funk Carioca Mix)

Friday, January 06, 2006


A post over at Channel 9 chronicles the visit from forward-thinking prog-guitar maestro Robert Fripp to Microsoft's campus to record the new sounds that are going to be used for the next version of Microsoft's operating system, Windows Vista.

Some of these sounds will replace the ubiquitous sounds that Brian Eno created years ago for Windows 95. Eno told XFM that he was paid $35k for the six second sound. He also somewhat explained these dealings in this interview, excerpted here:

The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I'd been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, "Here's a specific problem -- solve it.''

The thing from the agency said, "We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,'' this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said "and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long.''

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It's like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I'd finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

Watch and listen... clear, confident and connected...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

witchcraft breaker

Psychic Ills is the latest, greatest post-Velvet Underground, post-Spacemen 3, stoned-to-the-bone, psych phenomena from The Social Registry. They finished a tour opening for labelmates Blood on the Wall last month, gearing up for the release of their debut full length, Dins on February 7th. Last year saw the release of their first 7" and a recent 12" featuring a remix by former Spaceman, Sonic Boom.

Recorded by Charles Burst, who has worked with bands such as Black Dice and Gang Gang Dance, the Ills alchemize wailing analogue drone, tight kraut rhythms, and zonked out of the atmosphere vocals to the max. Combining all the good shit into a murky brew that goes down easy for you syrup-heads. Lick my decals off, baby.

You can hear a couple other tracks from their upcoming LP over at the always wonderful 20 Jazz Funk Greats and Daughters of Invention.

Psychic Ills - January Rain

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

eleven finger saulte

A few more glimpses into the work of Derek Bailey including a great interview with fellow guitarist Henry Kaiser from 1987. Here is a bit from the expanding Wikipedia entry on Bailey:

Eschewing labels such as 'jazz', Bailey prefered to describe his music as 'non-idiomatic'. To this end he collaborated with other players as diverse as Pat Metheny, John Zorn, Lee Konitz, David Sylvian, Cyro Baptista, Cecil Taylor, tap dancer Will Gaines, 'Drum 'n' Bass' DJ Ninj, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and the Japanese group Ruins. In fact despite often performing and recording in a solo context, he was far more interested in the dynamics and challenges of working with other musicians, especially those who did not necessarily share his own approach; "There has to be some degree, not just of unfamiliarity, but incompatibility [with a partner]. Otherwise, what are you improvising for? What are you improvising with or around? You've got to find somewhere where you can work. If there are no difficulties, it seems to me that there's pretty much no point in playing. I find that the things that excite me are trying to make something work. And when it does work, it's the most fantastic thing. Maybe the most obvious analogy would be the grit that produces the pearl in an oyster, or some shit like that."

Bailey was also known for his dry sense of humour. In 1977 Musics magazine sent the question "What happens to time-awareness during improvisation?" to about thirty musicians associated with the free improvisation scene. The answers received varied from highly theoretical page and a half essays to more direct comments. Typically pithy was Bailey's reply; "The ticks turn into tocks and the tocks turn into ticks."

Derek Bailey - Niigata Snow (1981)
Derek Bailey - Two 50 (1991)
Derek Bailey & Jamie Muir - Jara (1981)
Derek Bailey & Min Xiao-Fen - Bai Ha She (Viper) (1998)
Derek Bailey Interview by Henry Kaiser, KPFA