The Church Of Me
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Weblogs, and by extension theorising about music (unless you are doing it professionally or your life depends on it - not the same thing), exist principally to fill a gap in the writer's life. Once that gap is filled, by someone and/or something, the personal importance/relevance of weblogs/theory becomes minimal.

A web persona can protect you from danger but also obstruct you from the future.

Establishing closer relationships with others via the internet is often a good excuse for not meeting people in real life.

On the other hand you could look at it as a good lesson in what precisely you want from, or look for in, other people that makes you HAPPY.

There is no need to continue posting on a weblog because you feel under some obscure obligation to do so. If your life has become full and active, then that is what you should be concentrating on. The "obligation" factor becomes very evident in one's writing if this is the case.

Real friendship is based on HONESTY. Web personas must under no circumstances be extended to the "real world." You will otherwise come a cropper. It will kill any potential relationship or friendship stone dead.

To actually ACHIEVE anything you HAVE to face the real world, enter it and negotiate with it. Church of Me exists as my passport. But every passport needs a carrier who is willing to go through Customs and into a better life. That is my responsibility.

(with apologies to my good friend RW, whose wisdom I have gratuitously plagiarised here)

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
. . .

Only a rank sucker would take any notice of The Wire these days. Bereft of life and about as clued up as Clouseau, it prattles on like some wizened old Empire loyalist, so blinded by its own reputation and former glories that it can't see how drab, jaded and out of touch it's become.

And yet, with music media squeezed almost to a point of strangulation, the one thing no music magazine can do right now is stand still or regress. Unless you move with the times, whilst still keeping a firm hold on your principles, the next generation of readers/musicians will go out of their way to avoid you, just as they would give the body swerve to any toothless old soak blethering on about the good old dayssshhhhhh.

A decade ago it looked as though the barriers were about to be smashed down. MBV were given parity with MEV, post rock was invented and de-invented, the d&b jungle was explored. New ways of looking at, and expressing one's love for, music which the mainstream (MM until about 1995/6 excepted) was unwilling to embrace.

But no, it would appear that the Wire's current editor, Rob Young, would like the barriers to be re-erected. For proof of this I refer you to his editorial on page 4 of the current issue (223), a veritable bloodletting of uncurdled rage against...what? Well, now that you come to mention it, he's annoyed about a genre which he's just invented, entitled IRE (It's Really Experimental ha ha). Apparently this species of music is personified as "the burned mark of the dilettante, the tattoo of the genre traitor, the last refuge of the terminally inane" (the italics are mine). And the work which is a "summation of all that's twisted and wrong in the current music climate"? Even if you think that the adjectives "twisted" and "wrong" would be more properly applicable to Dick Cheney or the killer(s) of Holly Wells or Jessica Chapman - you know, save your real spleen for things which DESERVE them - you must be curious as to what exactly has gotten Mr Young's goat.

Why, it's the new Flaming Lips elpee, Yoshimi Vs The Pink Robots (briefly discussed below)! Mr Young concedes that the production is "ravishing and sensuous." And what about the songs? Well, the "songwriting would appeal to anyone, myself included..." Er, so what exactly is the problem?

Well, you see, evil Warner Brothers (the same fascists who inflicted Atlantic and Stax on innocent ears in the past) have spent MONEY "on making a serviceable set of songs (people who use the adjective "serviceable" really ought to slash their wrists) into a pack of creaking, wobbling, stuttering Frankenstein's monsters." So the production, which just one paragraph above was rapturously described as "ravishing" is now raping.

But you see, don't get me wrong, Mr Young says, some of my best friends are gay, "complexity and studio trickery form the backbone of some of the finest musics (AARGH - we stopped pluralising "music" in 1985, do try and keep up) of the past (sic) century." For example? "'70s Jamaican dub...Sun Ra...Harry Partch...Messiaen...Birtwistle...Autechre...Evan Parker...Tony Oxley..." In other words, readers, all the gang. Those whom we ALLOW to be experimental. Those against whom The Wire now defends its rickety palace, just as Jazz Journal co-opted Panama Francis and Soprano Summit 20 years previously. They are the REAL THING. They are PURE. Hail our new artistic Freemason's Lodge! Only those who pass our self-imposed test will be exulted in our pages. All other miscreants will be impaled and branded with the burned mark of the dilettante.

And poor old Yoshimi? "The Lips' sound is impressive, but somehow it doesn't seem hard won." Yes, they don't sweat! The songs might make you cry, but there has been no effort! Wayne Coyne has failed to die, has failed to inject himself into a comatose martyr. He has not been given a thousand lashes. He has not been forcefully starved or bombed. He therefore forgoes any right to aesthetic ambitions. There are no...whisper it...ROOTS?

What did this month's cover stars the Boredoms once proclaim? "Kill All Roots" if I'm not mistaken?

Oh no, let us all instead proceed in a stately fashion towards Mr Young's brave new paradise. Let us all burn our burned mix CDs and instead prostrate ourselves on the Merzbow 50-CD box set. Let us offer the collected works of Timbaland to the pyre as a sacrifice to our martyr, Cornelius Cardew. Let us all solemnly weep and never be caught laughing at the sun. Let us never cry other than in accordance with the tri-chordal template imposed by our guru Albert Ayler.

Let us be completely ignorant of Zaireeka.

Let us equally listen inadequately and improperly to Todd Rundgren. "A Wizard, A True Star" (sic) sounds neither clunky nor dated but is amongst the lightest pop confections ever created.

Let us set standards which we ourselves could never hope to meet. Browning his tongue upon the collective ani of the Boredoms, he declares that they "worship the very best qualities of music, no matter what the genre: irreverence, noise, speed." In the Wire as it stands I see no evidence of any of these. Just sourness and bitter pomposity. "Their in-the-round group dynamic is supported by some intriguing theories of harnessed energies" is a sentence which sums up the magazine's current crisis nicely; it manages not only to be tautological but also guaranteed to put anyone off from ever listening to the group in question.

Let us re-erect our customs post, opening the barrier only to those whom we deem have suffered enough. Like this reader.

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
. . .
"life is not a paragraph and death i think is no parenthesis."
(ee cummings)

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
. . .

Love Story by Layo and Bushwacka! (2002)

"Written compositions are fired off into the future; even if never performed, the writing remains as a point of reference. Improvisation is in the present, its effect may live on in the souls of the participants, both active and passive (i.e. audience) but in its concrete form it is gone for ever from the moment that it occurs, nor did it have any previous existence before the moment that it occurred, so neither is there any historical reference available."
(Cornelius Cardew, from Towards an Ethic of Improvisation)

Which is precisely why those written elements of the past, if they are to be regenerated and relive, have to be configurated in similarly durable forms (although with improvisation, elements and approaches of musicians/groups can be recalled, re-strategised).

Devo and Nina Simone have to my knowledge never had any face to face dealings, yet their individual pleas for love (or its absence) fuse with an envious inevitability. The bassline from "Mongoloid" is instantly recognisable, but misfoots the listener expecting an entirely uncalled for Big Beat revival. Instead, it settles down a gear, the augmented fifths of Simone's piano evolving the rhythm into a different arena altogether. Synthesisers caress, their slight chordal delays rebounding in the manner of the Cocteau Twins circa Echoes in a Shallow Bay. It is warm, it is Crantock in 1985 again. When Simone's voice enters at 2:41, lamenting her loved one's metaphorical purchases of "rags and old iron," it is a remorseful reproach. It asks the listener to reconsider, to flow with patient understanding. It embraces difference and allows for love to re-present itself.

posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
. . .

. . .