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A daily Weblog recommending not only CDs but books and films too.
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2003, July 28; 23:59 :::: normal
Warm Leatherette (1978) - Normal [Amazon US]
The Normal = one Daniel Miller, the eventual head of Mute Records. From this initial single sprang one of the most important labels in modern, trendsetting music from the late 1970s onward, one which gave us Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Einsturzende Neubauten, and very much so on. This is a raw piece of work, bedroom-recorded, and very much a part of the industrial outgrowths of the UK punk scene, like similar efforts by Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Robert Rental, Thomas Leer, and others. Imagine a garage-band Kraftwerk, and you'll get the idea. The sad thing about this meager single, though, is that there's more to the Daniel Miller oeuvre than this, and it's nigh-impossible to get, such as an intense and exposed-nerve-raw live set by Miller (as The Normal) and Robert Rental which was released on Rough Trade c. 1980. So, this gets five stars, both for content and historical import, but a full compilation of The Normal et al would likely get a theoretical six. --DAC Crowell for amazon.com
2003, July 28; 08:36 :::: art of noise
Words and Music (2003) - Paul Morley [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
'This is a book about music from the second century BC to 2003, from before then to after now, from the Italian Futurists to 'File Under Futurism', from the human voice to the processed vocoder, from 78 RPM to MP3, from the heat of early twentieth-century modernism to the chill-out of early twenty-first century lifestyling.' Our guide on this obsessive journey is none other than Kylie herself, as she drives through an industrial landscape in the video for 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head', morphing through time and space, meeting strangers with interesting stories to tell, and personifying the pleasures of pop. For after Tangerine Dream and Pete Waterman, Kraftwerk and Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier and Jarvis Cocker comes the cynical commercial glitter of 'Kylie', who shimmers in the spaces between innocence and sensuality, between the natural and the artificial. But the future of pop remains firmly in our hands, as Morley reminds us that without the listener, there can be no music.
From the Publisher
'Paul Morley is the greatest thinker/writer/social critic/tv presenter
since Plato/keynes/duchamp/betjeman' - Brian Eno
2003, July 24; 13:27 :::: Senor Coconut
Fiesta Songs (2003) - Senor Coconut [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
1. Smoke on the Water
2. Negra Mi Chachacha
3. Riders on the Storm
4. Smooth Operator
5. El Rey de las Galletas
6. Oxygene (Part II)
7. Blue Eyes
8. Las Maracas de Machin
9. Beat It
11. Humo En El Agua
It's always nice to hear music that combines interesting ideas with a sense of humour and Fiesta Songs has plenty of both. Señor Coconut--aka prolific sonic chameleon Uwe Schmidt--has proved himself a master of tongue-in-cheek musical madness on many occasions. Schmidt's Señor Coconut persona has been his most popular project by far though. It's no surprise given the concept, which is the transformation of well-known songs into slightly cheesy, mildly exotic Latino lounge music.
After cha-cha-cha-ing a load of Kraftwerk classics on his previous El Baile Aleman (The German Dance) LP, he returns now with a more diverse collection than before, one that embraces a range of soul, pop and rock classics from the last 30 years. "Smoke on the Water", "Riders on the Storm", "Blue Eyes", "Smooth Operator" and "Beat It" all get the Coconut treatment and sit alongside a few original compositions. Some say he's a renegade genius, others that he's a tacky cover artist--most of us are too busy swaying and smiling to care. --Paul Sullivan for Amazon.co.uk
2003, July 24; 13:27 :::: stan brakhage
By Brakhage - Anthology (2003) - Stan Brakhage [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
While you go out to see most other kinds of movies, you must go inward to see the extraordinary avant-garde films of Stan Brakhage. Foremost among American experimental film artists, Brakhage influenced the evolution of the moving image for nearly 50 years (his impact is readily seen on MTV), and this meticulously prepared Criterion Collection anthology represents a virtual goldmine of Brakhage's finest, most challenging work. Challenging because--as observed by Brakhage film scholar Fred Camper in the accompanying booklet--these 26 carefully selected films require the viewer to be fully receptive to "the act of seeing with one's own eyes" (to quote the title of one film, consisting entirely of autopsy footage), which is to say, open to the perceptual and psychological responses that are provoked by Brakhage's non-narrative shorts, ranging here from nine seconds to 31 minutes in length. While "Dog Star Man" (1961-64) is regarded as Brakhage's masterpiece, what emerges from this superb collection is the creative coherence of Brakhage's total vision. Through multilayered textures (often painted or scratched directly on film) and infinite combinations of imagery and rhythmic cutting, these films (most of them soundless) represent the most daring and purely artistic fulfillment of Criterion's ongoing goal to preserve important films on DVD. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com
2003, July 24; 12:35 :::: rainer truby
Elevator Music (2003) - Truby Trio [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
I just heard the "Jaleo" track on Radio Nova, and this one is hot. [Listening to a Japanese cover of Sea Sex and Sun by Gainsbourg now]. Tunes.co.uk says on "Jaleo": 'Jaleo' is the result of a Flamenco session in Mallorca. If you like the Vengo soundtrack, you will like this track. Haven't heard the rest of the cd.
2003, July 22; 15:59 :::: queer, normal
The Trouble With Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life
(2000) - Michael Warner [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The Trouble with Normal argues passionately against same-sex marriage, but here's the twist: not because it denigrates the institution of marriage, but because it perpetuates the cultural shame attached to sex between consenting but unmarried adults. When gay men and lesbians try to claim that they're just like "normal folk," Michael Warner writes, they do a profound disservice to other queer folk who choose not to live in monogamous or matrimonial bliss and who believe that the solution to being stigmatized for your sexuality is not to pretend it doesn't exist. Same-sex marriage advocates, he continues, often seem to be willfully blind to the cultural ramifications of their position, viewing marriage as "an intensified and deindividuated form of coming out." They don't seem to realize that if society validates their relationships, other types of relationships will by necessity be invalidated. (He also makes a strong case for the fight against sexual shame's being more than a queer issue, citing 1998's presidential impeachment crisis: "[Bill] Clinton, certainly, was not the first to discover how hard it is in this culture to assert any dignity when you stand exposed as a sexual being.") Extending his analysis, Warner shows how the championing of married gays and lesbians as "normal" is part of the same cultural climate that leads to "quality of life" crackdowns against queercentric businesses--as is already underway in New York City--and a deliberate sabotage of safer-sex education that puts millions of Americans at continued risk of exposure to HIV. Warner's precise, straightforward argument is enlivened by numerous sharp zingers, as when he accuses Andrew Sullivan of "breath[ing] new and bitchy life into Jesuitical pieties" about sexual morality. The Trouble with Normal is a bold, provocative book that forces readers to reconsider what sexual liberation really means. --Ron Hogan for amazon.com
2003, July 22; 09:54 :::: Bill Brewster
Praxis - Bill Brewster [Amazon US]