24 October 2003

No doubt everyone's sick to death of hearing about the "end of the supersonic age" but I don't care.

I grew up in the '70s in an area of Bristol that's very near to Filton airport, and so had several opportunities at that young age to witness Concorde test flights. I still remember clear as day the time it came low over our house, seeming to fill my bedroom window as it turned gracefully in front of my awestruck eyes before thundering off into the distance.

In adulthood I soon forgot about all that . Having no real interest in aviation or any likelihood of being able to actually fly on one, I soon took for granted what is essentially a miracle of mankind's engineering skills. It wasn't until August last year, when I took my son to Legoland in Windsor, that I began to realise just what Concorde means to me and everybody else.

Windsor is a stone's throw from Heathrow and so, during our day at Legoland, there was almost constant airplane activity above us, as an endless procession of jumbo jets made their way to and from the landing strip. After an hour or so you stopped noticing them. Then, at around 11.00am, Legoland was suddenly reduced to a standstill as Concorde roared over our heads, ascending into the clear blue sky beyond. Everyone in the theme park just stopped what they were doing and stared in awe, just as I had done all those years earlier. Then, as it hurtled off into the distance, the crowd suddenly broke into a spontaneous round of applause. People were clapping, cheering, whistling and whooping with excitement; their lives momentarily touched by something extraordinary. The feeling of exhilaration hit me too, and I was clapping along with everyone else, a huge grin of childlike delight all over my face. Was that due simply to a surge of hitherto unrecognised national pride? Coming out in support of Britain's recently beleaguered technological flagship? Or was it the display of sheer power, speed, grace and volume that was making us all jump for joy? From my own warped point of view, I think a lot of Concorde's appeal is to do with that sound, the one which it's namesake, Pete Kember, can dream of but never truly replicate. That Sonic Boom which has been Concorde's curse is also it's greatest asset (other than the speed of course). It's the reason why mere TV footage can never thrill you in the way that genuine near-proximity can. It's the sound of mankind tearing the heavens a new arsehole, an audio representation of our might and ingenuity. And as that thunderous tremor splits the air and vibrates through the body, it invigorates and makes you feel alive. I'm sure people used to go to Celtic Frost gigs specifically to get that kind of buzz, but frankly Concorde leaves even the loudest metal band for dead on the thrill-o-meter.

So now Concorde is retired. As my son and I watched it fly over Bristol this afternoon (a mere speck of white in the sky this time) heading for Heathrow on it's final commercial flight, I couldn't help but reflect that never more will we hear that sound in a 'live' situation. Mankind's greatest noise-generator has been turned off permanently. The Americans are already talking about designing a new supersonic jet with dramatically reduced noise-levels. But where's the fun in that? Concorde was conceived in a different era, when Man's technological achievements were given far more importance than any notions of 'conservation' or 'noise pollution'. Nowadays we need to be more energy-conscious, more considerate to the environment, more sensible and grown-up about everything. We have to be if this planet's gonna support us into the 22nd Century. That's one reason why the Concorde story had to end now, but I can't help mourning it's passing.

Concorde: Majestic. Futuristic. Awe-inspiring. Beautiful. Loud as Fuck.

17 October 2003

Blissblog: Talking of Wagon Christ, whole lotta love towards Luke Vibert's YosepH being shown out there. Haven't yet fully succumbed to its undoubted charms--sounds a bit disintegrated, and the acid element makes me yaaaaaawn.

Well I guess it's all down to personal taste. The slightest hint of 303 sends me into raptures, especially when it's as pure and old skool as this. But what exactly is Acid? Last month's Mixmag gave away a free CD called "Acid House Reborn", mixed by John Carter. I enjoyed it, but most of the tracks I wouldn't class as Acid House. I always understood it to be music dominated by the squelchy noises generated by the Roland TB-303 Bassline, and a quick look in the Bible (aka Reynold's "Energy Flash") confirms this definition - see page 24. Only a small percentage of the choons on Carter's mix actually featured 303. So what is the definition of Acid House these days? What makes Underworld's "Cowgirl" or LFO's "Freak" Acid House? Is it something in the groove? A certain lysergic quality? Come to think of it, there's quite a few old skool choons that are classed as Acid which don't feature the 303. Check last years' Double CD compilation "We Call It ACIEEED! - 36 of the maddest Acid Tracks ever". D-Mob's infamous call to arms, which kicks off proceedings (as well as giving this comp. it's title) has no 303. Neither does "House Nation", "No Way Back" or "Pacific State". And I can't see how anyone could class "Pump Up The Volume" or "Good Life" as Acid. Maybe it's just a shit, misinformed compilation. I couldn't resist it though. Acid or not, it's a delicious nostalgia trip. There are some examples of true Acid like Gerald's "Rockin' Ricki", and of course the one that started it all "Acid Tracks". But overall I'd say this should be best described as a diverse selection of late '80's House-based music, rather than Acid-specific. But what the fuck do I know?

Plus I've also developed this weird associational thing about Vibert's music being kinda gamey. Partly the resinous beard thing but also comes from something I once read in a Vibert interview that i've not been able to get out of my head since--how when he's working hard on his music he holes up and lives on nothing but really black coffee and really strong foods like olives and pungent French cheeses (and presumably vast quantities of weed) but "after a three days of this it really does your guts in".

Hahaha! I remember that interview too. That was back in the days when it was also essential for any self-respecting Cornish technocrat to claim that they only slept for 2 hours a week. Vibert's a family man these days, so we can assume that his missus keeps an eye on his diet and ensures he gets to bed by 10.30 every night. I'm sure he smells as fresh as a daisy now!

16 October 2003


Some more thoughts on the new Rev album....

Firstly, it should be noted that this album was entirely composed, performed, programmed, recorded, engineered and produced by Martin at his own home studio in NYC. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time that he's worked without external producers or pro-studios since the earliest demos. It sounds to me like he's trying to emulate the recording conditions under which he and Vega made 'The First Rehearsal Tapes' which, along with the Cabs' 'Attic Tapes' and John Cale's '60's demos, are some of the most astonishingly intense, otherworldy home recordings I've ever heard. Finally released after 25 years as a bonus disc on Mute's re-issue of Suicide's 'Second Album', 'The First Rehearsal Tapes' were a revelation. Recorded 'live' onto a domestic two-track reel-to-reel tape machine in their basement hideout sometime in '75, with Rev playing a battered Farfisa organ with primitive drum machine accompaniment and Vega (yet to fully develop his 'dark Elvis' persona) whispering through dense clouds of spring reverb. The sound is so stark, so compressed, so utterly alien. Waves of echo, flanger and phaser fx seem to come out of nowhere, temporarily drowning the music in a mush of electronically treated insanity, until it gradually begins to coalesce. (Somewhat improbably, one of these tracks, 'A-Man' ,was used in a TV advert campaign by Tia Maria. I nearly shat my pants in astonishment the first time I saw it!)

Okay, so Rev has long since ditched the simplicity of the organ and drum machine set up. These days he's using modern, affordable digital sequencers and a host of digitally-reproduced timbres; from electric guitar stabs, slap bass, vibes, acoustic-like drums, turntable scratching...the whole range of sonic 'possibles' found in the vast memory banks of today's keyboards and tone modules. But he's messed with them somehow. The sound is so punchy and compressed, like he's deliberately set the recording level too high or something - the music sounds like it's gonna break your hi-fi if you play it too loud. It's that sense of 'perceived' loudness and the rampantly aggressive mix which makes this album so startling on first listen. And Rev's voice - which, incidentally, seems to mimic Vega's early vocal style - is so overdriven it just punches a big fucking hole in the mix, like all the other sounds get beaten into the background. There's simply not enough room for them all in the frequency spectrum. I imagine that the method of getting the music onto tape was as crucial to Martin as the actual compositions. It's all about density, reaching that point of critical mass where it seems like everything going to implode on itself at any minute. The recording process as Weapon of Mass Destruction.

That's not to say that the choons are of secondary importance. Far from it. The opening title track tears through the speakers with all guns blazing. It sounds like the Young Gods covering the Stooges' 'Penetration'. It's as though the souls of the Ashton brothers have somehow been encoded into Rev's machines. "Water" and "Black Ice" work in a similar way: chugging Detroit rock 'n' roll reduced to a series of binary codes, spat out by Rev's sequencers; relentless, unforgiving, the musical equivalent of The Terminator come to wipe out those puny human rock musicians.

"In Your Arms" might sound familiar to hardcore fans, as the backing track has been part of Suicide's live set for several years now. It can be heard as "White Man" on the live bonus disc that came with early copies of last years' "American Supreme" album. Rev adds a new lyric that seems to hark back to the First Rehearsal Tapes track "Into My Arms". The riff is an absolute monster. Up there with Suicide classics like "Girl" and "Rain Of Ruin" for sheer magnetism.

Things get really strange when you get to "Shimmer", which starts out like another rocker, before being consumed by an avalanche of digital processing; smeared, stretched and crushed by delay, flanger and god knows what else, until it becomes unintelligible. It sounds like improvisation, as though the Digital FX Processor is Rev's new Lead Instrument. The sound becomes more insane and chaotic as Rev travels into the furthest reaches of freeform extemporisation, twisting knobs and pushing buttons as deftly and intuitively as Pharoah Sanders attacking the tenor sax at the peak of his powers. The amazing thing is that Rev was already hinting at this technique on those early home recordings.

"Painted" throws layers of abstract sound-matter over a beat that's pure mid-80's NYC Electro. It's like Arthur Baker jamming with Autechre. "Lost In The Orbits" adds manic DJ 'scratching' and urgent synthetic horn punctuation over percussive clatter, whilst "Jaded" sounds like 'Wizard Of The Vibes' Milt Jackson improvising over the nightmarish echo-chamber special FX from "Frankie Teardrop".

But it's not all skull-crushing intensity. The brilliantly titled "Gutter Rock" is in fact a gorgeous slice of cosmopolitan jazz-funk with high, keening strings, brass vamps, subtle layers of percussion and a chord change to die for, over which Martin scats like a love-struck Travis Bickle, cruising downtown Manhatten, observing the "Street Corner Harmony", reveling in the lowlife underworld that he inhabits.

Not bad for an old bloke, you say? That's an insult when you consider that there are places on this album as intense as any of Aphex Twin's more experimental pieces, and ten times more listenable too. No doubt John Cale will get all the headlines with his latest excursions with digital technology, but Rev's still out there forging ahead with his remarkable vision for future rock 'n' roll. Believe it.

14 October 2003

Special thanks to TWANBOC and K-Punk for those e-mails of support concerning a recent war of words in K-Punk's comments box. I'm with you guys all the way, and don't worry, I'm pretty thick-skinned.


Martin Rev's new solo CD "To Live" arrived on my doormatt this weekend. I'm still trying to come to terms with this mindfuck album. So much so that I'm still not quite ready compose a fitting description of it's contents, or explain my own personal reactions. So, as a prologue here's...

...some history. I guess most people with an interest in electronica & punk know at least some of the Suicide story, so I'll try and focus on a few key points and offer some fresh viewpoints.

Vega luv Rev

Suicide came into being sometime in 1971 when jazz keyboardist Martin Rev hooked up with avant-garde sculptor Alan Vega at the Project For Living Artists in New York City. Together they created a sound once described by David Fricke as "a joyless noise so relentlessly brutal in it's crude electronic throb, so abrasively savage in it's vocal primitivism, that it was widely assumed that some day - sooner or later - Rev and Vega would fall back into the gaping hole in pop sauce from where they'd crawled".

Luckily for us, that didn't happen. But for several years Suicide struggled to get gigs at all those legendary NYC venues like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City, living on their wits as Vega recalled "The years on the streets, man. Me and Rev used to go behind the local supermarkets at night looking for the bruised fruit they used to throw out. We'd find these bakeries on the west side of Greenwich Village; early in the morning they'd be baking bread. We'd walk by and they'd throw us free bread. That's how we lived for five years".

Jesus! Talk about suffering for your art!

Anyway, eventually the New York Dolls' manager took them into a studio and the resulting eponymous debut long-player was released in 1977. Predating all debut releases by UK post-punk electronic experimenters (except maybe TG) "Suicide" remains the foundation on which Rev and Vega's reputation stands, along with those intensely violent audience confrontations when they toured Europe in 1977/78.

Now I freely admit that I was too young to witness Suicide's original explosion onto the scene, but I can imagine it, thanks to people like Ian Tyson, a correspondent of mine, who (after much persuading from myself) was kind enough to write about his experience of witnessing Suicide when they supported the Clash in Glasgow in 1978. Over to you, Ian:

"No introduction. A bare stage. ( two piece synth bands did not
exist at this time, guitars drums, that was it!) A man (Martin Rev) walks on
and holds a note on the keyboard. The audience is still talking amongst
themselves unaware that half the band is already on stage and the
performance has started. The noise gets louder, a tape loop.. Repetitive
electronic noise.. Gets louder, the audience start to look at the stage.
Alan Vega walks on. He is wearing a glitter jacket, with one sleeve torn
off. Is this punk? He takes the microphone and screams. The noise echoes
round the theatre. He says something. Just a distorted echo. I remember
thinking.. "What the fuck is this!!!" It was clear his accent was American,
and he posed like the audience loved him. (at the time punk was a
particularly British thing, The Clash had a song called "I'm so bored with
the USA" ). So who was this American strutting around in a glitter jacket
sounding like Elvis, and where the hell was that loud distorted pounding
beat coming from! The audience looked in bewilderment for a few minutes
before deciding to start a slow handclap of disapproval. This is usually
the sign for a support band to finish off before things get worse. But
Suicide were only just on stage. Alan joined in with the handclap acting
like the audience were clapping along to the music. This stopped the hand
clapping but provoked the audience to shout abuse and hurl objects at the
stage. I did not see an axe, but I can quite believe the reports that this
happened would be true. I did see cans, bottles and even an attempt to
through the first row of (formerly fixed) seating onto the stage. The
Apollo Theatre had a notoriously high stage of about 10 feet so this was not
successful. I remember Allan poised on the edge of the stage on his knees
supported by one hand, the microphone in the other, looking down at the
audience like a hunting dog ready to attack. Alan picked up one of the cans
thrown at him and pretended to drink from it, giving a wave of thanks to the
person who sent it. I was completely confused. Punk was the most outrageous
thing to have happened in my lifetime, so what was this? A loud industrial
noise. Drum beats like disco music but psychotic. A singer who tolerates
this abuse and performs with such confidence and seems to think he is a star
like Elvis. I was open minded about music. Even in those days I was
listening to the avant garde, and had at least three Kraftwerk albums so was
not unfamiliar with electronic music (although I am sure this would not be
the case for most of the audience). I couldn't make out the words.. they
just echoed round the theatre.. He seemed to be screaming and taunting the
audience, but also speaking with affection and passion. A real emotional
explosion. And that could be said about the audience as well I suppose.
How could it be possible to create such a violent reaction so quickly with
just music. And then silence. I thought I saw blood on his face. Whether
it was the result of the missiles being thrown or self mutilation I don't
know. He seemed not to be bothered by it. He still acted like a showman.
The music stopped, he said something.I don't know what, but then calmly and
coolly he walked off. It seemed like the audience were suspended in silence
as they suddenly came to terms with the state of madness they were in. In
probably just 20 minutes they were taken from a state complacent acceptance
of a another support act, to complete anger, then suddenly nothing. As for
me, I didn't know if I hated the band or not. All I knew was that I had to
buy a record to try and make some sort of sense out of what I had just
witnessed. I bought the first and only Suicide album of the time, and here
I am still listening to it, and every other Suicide, Vega, Rev album that
followed to this day."

Now, when was the last time YOU witnessed a gig like that?

And YES, Suicide played in Sheffield and YES everyone who was anyone was there to witness it and absorb the influences. Check this quote (unfortunately I can't remember who wrote it, so my apologies to the author):

"I first saw Suicide perform in Sheffield (The Top Rank), England in
1977 supporting The Clash. The music was so new - no guitars, no
drummer - it was VERY shocking at the time; an event so thrilling,
you never forget... Cabaret Voltaire , The Human League, ABC, they
were all there, like myself, not to see the clash-city-rockers, but
to see Suicide, whose strange, scary album had been released in
America only months before they played here. They managed to play
for about 10 minutes under an ABSOLUTELY CONSTANT barrage of bottles
& phlegm - not unusual in those days, but certainly THE most
consistently spirited attack I've ever seen from an audience at

So remember kids, next time you're headbanging to the latest Pan Sonic album (or whatever), Kraftwerk are only part of the equation. Suicide fought the Electro Wars so you could enjoy all this crazy shit today, and don't you ever forget that, mutherfucker.

After that initial period of madness, Suicide had mixed fortunes with the onset of the '80s. Their second album, produced by The Cars' Ric Ocasek, was a sleeker, cleaner interpretation of their sound; in some ways as radical as it's predecessor. In fact, when reviewing the album for the NME in June 1980, Andy Gill thought it was "incomparably better" than the first LP. Nevertheless, Suicide fell on hard times and, apart from the occasional gigs and 'comeback' albums, Vega and Rev went on to pursue very different solo careers, which I won't go into here, otherwise this post will go on for hours. Another time maybe.

Those solo careers continue to this day, happily co-existing with Suicide's occasional reformations. Last year Suicide released their fifth studio album "American Supreme" on Blast First and, as I can personally attest, were on top form for the accompanying tour. As with most Rev-related albums, "American Supreme" seemed determined not to repeat that winning formula that made Suicide so special in the first place. Like an electropunk Todd Rundgren, Rev seems to be always running away from his previous work, always trying to break new ground, always looking forward, never behind. An admirable attitude of course, and one that has brought some fascinating music, but I always felt that he had some unfinished business with his old style that needed to be confronted, and with "To Live", I think maybe he's done just that....

10 October 2003

Shit, just spotted this at Tufluv: 'I Luv Acid' = Jean-Jacque Perrey-meets-Phuture
Okay, it was posted before my Vibert review, but I swear I've only just read it. Wouldn't want anyone thinking I was cribbing from other blogs! Good work fella, btw.
Good Album: I'm luvin' this new Vibert shit. Possibly his best since Throbbing Pouch. More overtly electronic than his usual sampladelic constructions. The acid theme is no surprise, he's been hinting at it for a while now. It's great to hear these fruity 303 lines at slower tempo's again. That sparse, spacious sound is the best way to appreciate acid, I think. Luke's found a way produce choons that hark back to the classic Chicago '88 vibe, whilst adding his own distinctive signature. There's a freedom and playfulness here that's generally lacking in the more aggressive, locked-down grind of most European acid. Blame Hardfloor for that. And it's just so pleasurable to listen to. Much as I admire the headphuck acid overkill of Squarepusher and Aphex, you have to be in a certain kind of mood to deal with that kind of intensity. Vibert makes nice squelchy noises that can work in various 'normal' situations (doing the washing up, driving, fucking - background or foreground). But there's another influence at work here and it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. The shadow of Moogmeister Jean Jacques Perrey looms large over this collection. Vibert's love of cheesy Moog music from the 60's & 70's is well known - check out his 'Nuggets' compilations for confirmation. Also, on the track 'I Love Acid', Vibert samples some sonics from JJP's Moog funk classic 'E.V.A.' (bit of an obvious choice though, Luke - everyone from Gang Starr to Fat Boy Slim have fucked around with that choon). Then there's the hello to JJP on the sleeve. And apparently he's made an album with JJP that due for release next year. Overall this album reminds me of JJP's lesser known French library LP's like 'Moog Sensations' and 'Moog Generation'. Retrofuturism is nothing new I suppose, but this concept - essentially "if you put JJ Perrey and Phuture in a studio together, what would it sound like?" - sounds pretty fresh to these ears.

Good TV: I'm getting sucked into this new ITV drama 'Family', starring Martin Kemp. It a mini-series set in the world of organized crime; the threat of violence lurks around ever corner. It gets me really uptight. Top marks to all concerned.

Good Book: Neil Gaiman. He wrote those fucking amazing 'Sandman' comics. Well, turns out he writes 'proper' novels too, as I inadvertently discovered in the library this week. This ones called "American Gods" and has all the ingredients that made Sandman so engrossing. All these strange supernatural characters spinning a web of intrigue that builds up to feelings of impending doom of biblical proportions. Masterful writing. The Devil's in the details....

08 October 2003

Frampton weighs in with one of his most harmonically rich solos yet, to the theme of J G Ballard.
Listen and learn, kids....
Re: Blissblog on Afro-Prog skeletons

...and let's not forget that Larry 'Mr Fingers' Heard was a huge fan of Rush.

07 October 2003

Yessss.....vintage Hall & Oates on TOTP 2 tonight, and what a performance. Daryl flailing around behind his Prophet 5 synth, lip-syncing like a muthafucka. Little John centre-stage yet seemingly invisable whilst the classic H&O backing band (Charlie De Chant on sax, Tom 'T-Bone' Wolk on bass, G.E. Smith on lead guitar...and the drummer) tear into 'Maneater' with the confidence of men who know they're at the top of their game. 'Maneater' is the opening cut on their 1982 album H20, which has the distinction of being the first LP I ever bought with my own money (the first LP I actually called my own was The Shadows' 20 Golden Greats, a present for my 7th birthday I believe). Other hits on this collection include 'One On One' and a cover of Mike Oldfield's 'Family Man'. But the real gem is 'Crime Pays' - a stripped-down irresistible electrophunk groove, one-note cold-synth riffs, eerie waves of electronic soundmatter weaving through the mix, proving these guys were totally in tune with the synthetic street sounds coming out of NYC at that time and perhaps, dare I say it, pioneering their crossover into the mainstream.
A few months back, the recently reformed Hall & Oates played live on Later with Jools Holland. Other than a few extra wrinkles and the sad demise of Oates' famous 'tash, the boys still cut the mustard, performing a wonderfully ramshackle acoustic version of 'One On One' that just sizzled with suppressed energy. Ever time Daryl emitted one of those grunts it was like being hit in the chest by hot gusts of pure Soul.
The Demolished Man will back me up on this, in time....
The trend in blogdom seems to be for more sophisticated presentation - all the graphics, comments boxes and so forth - the triple gatefold era is indeed upon us. Yet visually Gutterbreakz remains unadorned, minimal and speedfreak clean. Content-wise: a direct, unsophisticated prose style, basic vocabulary, deliberately narrow bandwidth of subject matter and no-nonsense punk-trog attitude, offset by occasional lapses into hi-brow conceptualism or infantile rambling.
A tendency to say the same things over and over in the belief that, if you say it enough times, people will start believing it. Also a slightly annoying tendency to self-referentialism.
All this can be boiled down to one simple equation:


05 October 2003

Finally, before I hit the sack, what's going on with all these bloggers fucking my head up, evoking the spirit of childhood obsessions - Dr Who, Sapphire & Steel, The Tripods (holy fucking shit, dudes - it's all too much). So a quick shout out to my homies: The Tomorrow People, Blakes 7, Children Of The Stones, Trillions (novel by Nicholas Fisk), Marvel Comics (esp. Captain America, The Might Avengers and the Defenders), Look-In magazine, 2000 A.D., Six Million Dollar Man, Planet Of The Apes (both live & animated series), Star Trek (again, including animated series), Cyborg & Muton (toys), stereo systems that looked like sideboards...

Okay, hopfully that's all the childhood nostalgia shit outta my system. Normal service will be resumed...
The Demolished Man sez: "trying to come to terms with the fact that I'm beginning to believe that Hall & Oates were the musical peak of the 20th century....more later"

I've already pledged my allegiance to DM's Hall & Oates revival in a previous post, but felt the overpowering urge to reiterate. Like renewing my wedding vows. There was a time long ago, before I'd even heard of Cabaret Voltaire, before I even knew there was 'underground' music, when Daryl and John were my gods. Queen and ELO were big faves too, but I would never listen to them now, on general principle. I spent years denying my love for H&O, yet somehow never had the strength to actually get rid of all the albums. And thank god I didn't. Okay, I admit it still feels like a guilty pleasure when I put 'Abandoned Luncheonette' on the turntable, but it still moves me and I am now able to freely admit to anyone my deep and eternal devotion to their work. And if I could just pipe up with a special mention for their 1974 LP "War Babies". Produced by Todd Rundgren at the height of his 'Wizard/True Star' LSD trip and with Daryl writing some of the weirdest songs of his career, it's the great lost psych-glam-pop masterpiece that never gets mentioned anywhere. Truly, buried treasure. Ripe for rediscovery.
Whoa, what's all this blog activity on a Sunday? Usually on the weekend you can see the virtual tumbleweed blowing across the screen. Still, I'm not complaining. There seems to be a heart-warming outbreak of mutual back-slapping going on in blogdom at the moment, and thanks to all those who've welcomed Gutterbreakz into 'the family'. Love ya. But let's not start sucking each other's dicks just yet. If this is indeed the early '70s prog era of blogdom, then we must ensure that it doesn't degenerate into that pre-punk 'deadzone', or else a new generation of Johnny Rotten bloggers are gonna kick our wrinkly dinosaur arses into the depths of cyberspace.
I like Reynold's diligent analysis of other bloggers' "prog" tendencies, especially as I had just let my guard down and admitted my affection for that whiskery old communist Robert Wyatt in my last post. I claim parentage of the whole concept, Simon. I'm feeling an increasing affinity with TWANBOC....not just the Wyatt angle. All those other little comments too... Not being a big fan of Marshall Jefferson, U.R. or Richie Hawtin's Plastikman material; that little mention of Harmonia (total heroes of mine) etc. Brethren.....

Bloggers I.T.A.

03 October 2003

Oh, btw. It might surprise regular visitors to this blog that I'm really enjoying the new Robert Wyatt album. In fact, I like old Bob in general. My fave album of his is Old Rottenhat. More power to him!
Thanks to Mr Reynolds for alerting us to Tufluv. Wonderful stuff, especially the Vibert review, which was so beautiful it inspired me to pre-order a copy from Warpmart right away!

02 October 2003

Perhaps this month's issue of Mojo magazine might regenerate some interest....billed as "Mojo's Motor City Meltdown - DETROIT SPECIAL", it includes two pages on Detroit Techno. A miserly amount, I know, but this is meant to be a primer for those more Rock-orientated readers. It's quite amusing how they word it to be understandable to classic-rock fans. For instance, describing "Strings Of Life" as Techno's "Stairway To Heaven" or like 'Coldplay gone disco'. Or how about describing Richie Hawtin as 'techno's Elvis'? Ha ha. Well, if it helps get Detroit Techno back on the agenda, I'll live with it.
A crucial point raised at TWANBOC: "Chicago? Short of one reissue on Rephlex, this music has been pretty much ignored. There was the ABSOLUTELY AMAZING "Influences" Compilation which came out on WARP..."
There is a huge gap in the market for a quality, organized re-issue program for classic Chicago House and Detroit Techno. Most other genres, from reggae to psychedelia to krautrock, have their benefactors, who diligently unearth forgotten b-sides, lost albums etc, lovingly re-master them and put out some attractive looking CDs with sleeve notes, unpublished photos and original artwork. Even Library music, that previously inaccessible area of vinyl fetishism, has seen a wave of CD collections in recent times.
Now, in my own personal sphere of friends and acquaintances (in the real world), I'm the most knowledgeable person on Detroit Techno that I know. Yet I barely knew 10% of the choons listed in TWANBOC's Detroit list a while back. Fascinating to read his comments, but short of spending years searching and hundreds of pounds, I'm not gonna get to hear 'em, which is very frustrating. Why isn't some enterprising label out there licencing all this stuff and putting out good CD comps?
There have been several 'Classic' House CDs over the years, but it's always the same handful of standards. One of the most recent comes from the surprisingly good budget 'Music Club' series. Called "The Original Chicago House Classics", it features full-length cornerstones like "Your Love", "House Nation"and "Baby Wants To Ride". Points are deducted for using that awful re-hash of "Can You Feel It" (y'know, the one with Martin Luther King samples), but earns respect for including lesser known triumphs like Robert Owen's "Bring Down The Walls".
Back in 2001, Unisex Recordings issued "Chicago Trax- The Original Sound Of House", which promised to be the first in a series "dedicated to brushing the dust off" some lost choons. Including Phuture b-side "Phuture Jacks", Virgo's "Do You Know Who You Are" and Hercules' inspirational "7 Ways To Jack", this was what I'd been waiting for. Unfortunately, I've yet to see any further installments.
Detroit Techno has faired even worse. I can't think of any decent collections since "Retro Techno/Detroit definitive" back in the early '90s. There've been a few artist-specific collections, like the Derrick May "Innovator" one (itself now a deleted rarity), "Classics" by Model 500, even "Interface - The Roots Of Techno" by Juan's earlier project Cybotron. The "True People" compilation is the most impressive for gathering all the main players in one place, but I can't help feeling that this doesn't really reflect the greatest work of those concerned.
Frankly, the current situation is a disgrace. Something needs to be done about it now!

01 October 2003

Go to TWANBOC now, if you haven't already. I'm too stunned to even talk about it right now. I think I must be hallucinating . Clearly, we are in the presence of a legend...