The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Wednesday, August 07, 2002
CASSETTE BOY - DON'T CALL ME SIGNIFICATIVE

Baudelaire comments on the difference between what he describes as the "significative" comic and the "absolute" comic. He says that only the latter can provide a whole and true reflection - the grotesque.

As far as plunderphonics go, V/VM and Culturcide would definitely fit into the significative category; there is a greater agenda at work, a wish to expose the envisaged rotten heart of humanity, a wish to create art, a fundamental wish to be top of the bill at the London Musicians' Collective 30th anniversary bash. An awful lot of baggage accompanies the act of listening to their works.

Into the absolute category, one might put John Oswald (though not necessarily as a "comic"); his soundscapes are structured purely in terms of aural art, to create a new "nowness" out of materials previously taken for granted. Apart from the routine politics of "ownership" his world exists in itself.

The world of bootlegs continues to vacillate between the two, but thankfully tends towards "absolute" (fun in itself and sometimes breathtaking in its sculpted skill - Soulwax, Girls on Top, Hideous Wheel Invention). The newest nominee for "absolute comic" is one Cassetteboy, who has just released a CD of dubious legality entitled The Parker Tapes.

For the most part this is superficially straightforward, yet dazzlingly complex and accomplished cut and paste; CB's manipulation of the pause button (he pays tribute in the sleevenotes to all the cassette decks he has buggered up in the seven or so years it has taken him to put this together) is comparable to that of Coldcut in their early (i.e. good) days. On the face of it it's an uncomplicated and very funny romp through cultural debris (like Blue Jam scripted by Johnny Speight) and it's undeniably entertaining (well it is for me anyway) to stroll through cut-ups of ITN, Stan Ridgway's "Camouflage," Two Fat Ladies, Jamie Oliver et al without any LOOK HOW SUBVERSIVE WE ARE tiresomeness. Of course any agenda has to be interpreted from above (or below); there is a loneliness which echoes throughout the hilarity (sometimes very early '70s Virgin/Caroline Records-style oblique humour - a slapstick Faust Tapes?)

and which SUDDENLY comes into focus round about track 94 (of 99) where 9/11 is addressed with cut-ups of Sinatra. "Now ... my skin ... is melting." It is shocking in its apparent, unannounced offhandedness, in such a way that it is clearly NOT offhanded, and in its strange candour is an extraordinarily powerful piece of montage (almost aural Peter Kennard).

Is The Parker Tapes a misanthropic howl against a world which is against him? Or a cry for help? Barry's Bootlegs is the label. Against Nature is the relevant text.


posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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"SELECTED AMBIENT WORKS VOL 2" - RICHARD D JAMES' ARCADES PROJECT

He hasn't done anything better ("Come To Daddy" and "Windowlicker" are the other two, sharper edges of this particular aesthetic isoceles). Had he not done anything else, this would have been enough to ensure him immortality.

Lucid dreaming made flesh (or electric). The musical aesthetics of colour - how the differing shades of yellow and orange on the sleeve correspond to the emotional temperature of each track (cf. Anthony Braxton's titles). All ordered, yet all somehow an assemblage. But not random - unlike free improvisation records, there isn't the inbuilt conflict of "I was stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the studio, thus am in a bad mood, thus am going to project this onto the 45 minutes which I will put on a record, whereas had it been nice and sunny, you would have had a different 45 minutes, but really any 45 minutes would have done."

The music is always in the middleground, always impending but never imposing. Taking as its model the strange breathing tonalities of the dying moments of the Art of Noise's Into Battle EP and expanding it until somehow it ends up cohabiting, with the astonishing final track, in a universe with Vangelis circa 1975.

What does SAW2 mean to me? Languid Saturday afternoons looking out over the enclosed woods which contain Westminster College. Long winter coach journeys which take an unexpected route down abandoned former motorways and come face to face with empty churches. Love, smoke and displaced empowerment. That moment towards the end of Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road where Frank imagines, amidst his tormented dream-filled sleep, that April has come to sit by his side, pleads for her not to go and is comforted, then realises that it was real but is still only half-awake. That moment prolonged forever. Sunday afternoons wandering through deserted Westminster back streets in search of Dr John Dee's spare change. PORT MEADOW FOREVER. Antechambers. What Tradescant's Ark must have sounded like to the undiscerning ears of slum dwellers in High Holborn. The last few thoughts of Walter Benjamin extended forever.

Where Brian Wilson might have ended up.


posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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