Monday, July 24, 2017

dust of stars

The cover of the Italian edition of Shock and Awe, which is out in a  month or two on minimum fax, in a translation by Michele Piumini

 Polvere di Stelle translates as Star Dust

Friday, July 07, 2017

Here's the text of a chat I had with Todd L. Burns of Red Bull Music Academy about glam rock + art-pop, from the Seventies to the 21st Century.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

un géant tombe

RIP Pierre Henry

My first Pierre Henry album, picked up for a quid at an Oxford jumble sale in 1983.

Bon voyage, Monsieur Henry

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Feeling Love

Here's a feature I wrote for Pitchfork on "I Feel Love" - which turns 40 in a few days time - and on the miraculous, world-changing synergy that formed between Donna Summer + Giorgio Moroder + Pete Bellotte, along with the rest of the Munich Musicland squad.

I got to meet Moroder and Bellotte, spoke with drummer man Keith Forsey and with the original disco critic Vince Aletti, and communed cosmically with Summer, who has - alas - departed for another plane.

and finally, on this one, note the movie-style credits, delivered via vocoder, that name-check everybody involved in the production - right down to "tea and coffee" by Laurie Kanner, GM's secretary

Monday, June 26, 2017

Let's Eat Grandma

here's a profile I did for NPR's The Record of Let's Eat Grandma -  makers of wondrously askew pop-not-pop, but somewhat elusive interviewees....  and a group currently in transition, most likely towards something even more wondrously askew

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Shock and Awe paperback - out July 6th

The UK paperback edition of Shock and Awe is out on July 6th. 

Friday, June 09, 2017

From the Desert to the Sea: The Desolation Center Experience

LA people interested in underground events and the history of alternative culture should hie over to San Pedro on Saturday June 17th for this exhibition about the legendary Desolation Center desert festivals of the mid-Eighties, followed by live performances later that night from Mike Watt, 100 Flowers (nee Urinals) and Saccharine Trust.

Those LA people ought also hie themselves thither a second time the following Saturday June 24th for a panel discussion on Underground Events from the speakeasy days to Merry Pranksters to early Burning Man. Line-up includes John Law (Cacophony Society, co-founder Burning Man), Chuck Dukowski (Black Flag/SST), Rev. Al (Cacophony Society,) Skylaire Alflevgren (Fortean journalist) and Jack Sargeant (underground historian).

Press release: 

June 17–July 30, 2017
Opening reception Saturday, June 17 from 6–9 p.m.

Before the era of Burning Man, Lollapalooza and Coachella, Desolation Center drew punk and industrial music fans to the far reaches of the Mojave Desert for the first of five events, "Mojave Exodus," in April of 1983. Traveling by rented school bus, hardy devotees journeyed to witness events that the LA Weekly described as being like “some bizarre ritual at the end of the world.” A seafaring music expedition launched from LA Harbor in San Pedro led the LA Reader’s Chris Morris to declare it had “opened a new window in my head.” These surreal guerrilla shows featured site-specific performances by Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Minutemen, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Redd Kross, Saccharine Trust, Savage Republic and Swans, and paved the way for the mega-festivals that have become a crucial part of music and alternative culture in the 21st century.

Cornelius Projects pays tribute to Desolation Center’s pioneering vision with an exhibition featuring painting, photography, sculpture, video and ephemera. Participating in the show are Desolation Center alumni Mike Watt, Curt and Cris Kirkwood, Mark Pauline, Raymond Pettibon, Anthony Ausgang, Kristine Kryttre, John Tottenham, Joe Baiza, Ann Summa, Dave Markey, Bruce Licher, Naomi Petersen, SPOT and more. Images from the exhibition will be featured in Stuart Swezey's documentary Desolation Center (, slated for release next year.

is co-curated by Laurie Steelink, Stuart Swezey, Craig Ibarra and Mariska Leyssius. Readings, panel discussions, live music performances and rarely seen underground films and videos will be presented during the run of the exhibition. A schedule is forthcoming.

Cornelius Projects is a space dedicated to promoting culture and art in San Pedro, CA. During the exhibition Cornelius Projects will be open Thursday through Sunday from 12–5 pm or by appointment.

Stuart Swezey (Desolation Center/Amok Books)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Rise, like lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number! Shake your chains to earth like dew. Which in sleep had fallen on you: Ye are many—they are few! -  Shelley

Monday, May 29, 2017

Vitamin C

Check out this animated documentary by Matthew Ingram a/k/a the Man like Woebot - a delightfully rendered, deeply researched edutainment, that's full of fascinating details about the discovery of Vitamin C, the effects of deficiency, and the vaunted benefits of higher-than-the-RDA doses.

Talking of things that are nourishing and delectable at the same time, Matt has recently made available at a new budget price his blog compendium The Big Book of Woe (which features a foreword by yours truly). Just shy of 1200 pages, it now goes for only $2.99! That's a quarter of a cent per page, man - cor you're gonna be sorted!! The only way now to read this "golden age of blogging" legend, The Big Book of Woe is purchasable here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

My Guardian feature on Doctors of Madness and Richard Strange, pegged around their excellent Cherry Red box set Perfect Past and upcoming UK tour.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

some things in Italy

This weekend I will be attending Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino - the International Book Fair in Turin - in tandem with minimum fax, who are publishing Shock and Awe in Italy later this year and have also picked up Retromania and Rip It Up And Start Again (Post-punk 1978-1984 as it's known over there). Then on Tuesday the following week I'll be in Rome for an event.

Torino, Saturday May 20 

Salone Internazionale del Libro, Lingotto Fiere, via Nizza 294 

2-4 pm I'll be at the minimum fax stand 

4.30 pm - Sala Blu - discussion with journalists Valerio Mattioli and Luca Valtorta

Rome,  Tuesday May 23rd

Salotto di Monk, via Giuseppe Mirri35

9-30 PM - discussion with Valerio Mattioli 

Our covers are now made in Turin by robots!” - Green 
I interviewed Jlin about her new album Black Origami for The Guardian.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Jean​-​Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline

I am delighted to have contributed the liner note essay for a very special reissue project: a selection of Jean-Jacques Perrey's pieces performed on Georges Jenny's proto-synthesiser the Ondioline. 

These super-rare and in some cases never-before-released examples of early electronic music have been lovingly restored and elegantly packaged under the auspices of a new label, Forgotten Futures -  the passion project of Wally De Backer, also known as Gotye

In the essay for Jean-Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline, I position Perrey among the "friendly futurists":musicians who embraced the new technology but applied it to purposes of entertainment and relaxation rather than lofty and forbidding avant-garde ends. Perrey's instincts were melodic and groove-oriented, so when he deployed tape-splice trickery and electronic keyboards, the result was generally antic whimsy (The In Sound From Way Out, with Gershon Kinsley) or beguiling wistfulness.  "What drew him to the Ondioline – and drove the dedication that made him become the instrument’s virtuoso non pareil – was the combination of its mimetic powers (the way it could substitute for existing instruments and lend itself to pastiche, stylistic allusion, and sonic witticisms in the style of his beloved Spike Jones) with its plangent emotionalism, the uniquely yearning ache of its timbre."

The deluxe vinyl package is the true objet du désir, for sure, but those digitally-inclined can partake via

Georges Jenny's Ondioline

Look out for more electronic archaeology from Forgotten Futures in the year ahead. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Making a Messe


Pierre Henry composed Messe De Liverpool  for the 1967 inaugural mass at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. However he wasn't able to complete the work in time, so another work was actually played on the day.
Now, finally, on the 50th Anniversary,  the work is being aired in this magnificent example of post-WW2 modernist ecclesiastical architecture,  designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd. Introduced by Jarvis Cocker, it takes place this coming Saturday May 13th - and how I wish I could attend.

Further information about tickets and times.


Musique concrète for a temple of concrete! Actually Messe is not like one Henry's typical tape-splice works, it's more like a blend of text-sound, mouth-music and electro-acoustic - fractured syllables, ecstatic jabbers and droney incantations, interspersed with traditional instruments that are processed.  It's not on YouTube but you can hear it here.


Sir Frederick Gibberd, "Harlow's architect"

Almost a decade ago, a fledgling fan of the modernist church / modernist synagogue, I stumbled unawares on the Metropolitan Cathedral while on a trip to Liverpool.  And it is stunning, outside and inside.




I was with Lisa Blanning and Mark Fisher (all of us were in Liverpool for the FACT art centre's hardcore continuum event in 2009). I like to think Owen Hatherley was there in spirit.

Which reminds me there's a related event on Friday May 12th: Concrete Utopias, a symposium that "explores concrete, both as construction material and its use metaphorically to describe experiments in music and poetry.  Bringing together architectural, social and cultural perspectives, it will explore the utopian impulses and modernist thinking that informed different practices in architecture and the arts in the 1960s – brutalist architecture, musique concrète and concrete poetry – and their continuing interrogation by academics, artists and activists today."

There is also a "Brutalist Liverpool" walking tour on Sat 13th May at 10.30am – 1.30pm, £5/£4, conducted by The Modernist Society and taking in "the pre-cast concrete of the Liver Building" and
much more.



Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hauntology Parish Newsletter, May 2017 : Further at the Portico Gallery, South London, this Saturday; ToiToiToi; The Focus Group; IX Tab; Radionics Radio; Portland Vows; The Heartwood Institute; "folk horror".

News of an exciting gathering in London this weekend. Organised by DJ Food & Pete Williams, Further takes place at  a former theatre turned community centre in West Norwood (my old parish in the mid-Eighties, it so happens). Featured artists include Ghost Box's Jupp & House doing an audio-visual set and Howlround live sound-tracking  the film A Creak In Time by Steven McInerney of Psyché Tropes.

Says DJ Food a/k/a Kevin Foakes, the concept is neither a club nor a film night, but "somewhere in between... where the visual is as important as the musical."  

Date: Saturday May 6th
Location: Portico Gallery, 23B Knight's Hill, London, SE27 0HS,
Price: £7.55




Talking of Ghost Box, the label has a really cool new release out by a name completely unfamilar to me - ToiToiToi. Who turns out to be a German fellow (a first for the label, I believe... Indeed I wonder if they've ever put out anything by someone who wasn't British?). Appropriately they use the term "wunderkammer" - German for cabinet of curiosities - to describe Im Hag. Which seems bang-on, for the previous Ghost Box release it reminds me of a tiny bit is The Transactional Dharma of Roj  - which itself very much felt like a cabinet of ungainly marvels... queer little audio-contraptions whose design and purpose was unclear but that nonetheless entranced the ear.

 I also think sometimes of Mouse On Mars's buoyant and airy dinkytronica  

Release Rationale: 

Im Hag is the debut Ghost Box album for Berlin based Sebastian Counts’ ToiToiToi, following on from his single for the label’s Other Voices series in 2015. It’s very detailed and lovingly produced music, crafted from electronic, synth, sampled and acoustic sources. Its a wunderkammer of an album crammed with original ideas. All at once managing to be witty, spooky, melodic and abstract.

The music and design explores the polarities of folklore vs modernity, and wilderness vs civilization. It’s an album about German culture but it pre-empts a nostalgia for the vanishing concept of internationalism, once exemplified by town twinning. It’s also a warm-hearted record, hopefully a tiny morale booster against Europe’s resurgent spectres.

It's the best thing Ghost Box have put out for a while I think .... although it may not be for long, judging by the preview I've been permitted of the forthcoming and splendid album by The Focus Group - possibly Julian H's best since hey let loose your love.  

This reminded me of my remissness in forgetting to mention in the last newsletter the excellent debut album by Children of Alice - the ghosty supergroop comprising House, Roj, and Broadcast's James Cargill. I was supposed to be writing a feature on them, but owing to elusive obstacles that still mystify, this came undone. A classic of the ungenre, nonetheless, so don't miss it


A soul-sister to Focus Group in some respects, but less twitchy with detail, IX Tab's The World Is Not Where We Are  (due June 1st via Twiggwytch Recordings) is another fab excursion of dronescape-gardening and abstract-leaning bucolictronica... finding the (un)common hinterland between Laurie Lee and Luc Ferrari....  And hark at those mind's-eye-activating titles: "The Orchard Dream",   "Meeting in a Roofless Church", "The Smoke and The Birds", "The Tired Synths"...

Release rationale:

"The World Is Not Where We Are completes a trilogy of IX Tab albums and, while clearly cut from the same dirty cloth as Spindle & The Bregnut Tree and R.O.C, it is something of a departure in that, this time around, there is manifestly an acceptance of the feminine into the harte of the wud. The World Is Not Where We Are is moon-driven and burnished in silver. It’s anima(listic) and tidal, altogether more graceful in it’s movements. 

This time around, IX Tab features Eli Murray aka Gentleforce and Joan Pope of The Whip Angels, two collaborators from across the seas who instinctively understood the ritualistic nature of IX Tab and the strong sense of place. Gentleforce released arguably the best ambient album of 2016 in Refuge From The Great Sadness, while Joan Pope’s audio-visual sex cult, sexdeathrebirth, is in the process of taking all the worlds by storm. 

Other things have remained the same: old energies pushed in new directions. Lyrics by Kant by way of the Noumenal; songs by W.B. Yeats and Colette; atmospheres and sex magick exercises from Israel Regardie and Pope Joan; drones made from creaking swings and squeaking munkins; folk dirges and shotgun fire; wassails & poetic re-imaginings of lost causes. We know it’s an increasingly unpopular opinion, but we don’t believe that any music speaks for itself.
As ever, the IX Tab universe spills out into a 16-page full colour booklet bursting at the seams with esoteric ephemera, loose psycho-geographical details, lyrical shards, totems and potentially libelous slurs against 18th C portrait artists."

Pre-order via and downloads soon-come via

Three  other projects of reasonably recent vintage:

Released on SubRosa, Radionics Radio: An Album of Musical Thought Frequencies is a project created by composer / researcher / instrument builder / sonic contemplator Daniel R. Wilson, who informs me that the album "employs a technique theorised by Delawarr Labs that promises a brand new way of making music: by (supposedly) embedding 'thoughts' or 'moods' within the electronic musical tunings".   On pieces like "Heal Chakras" and "Wonderful Feelin" the process generates slowly gyrating planes of drone that put me in mind of Nurse With Wound's Soliloquy for Lilith, but other tracks are more eventful and internally varied excursions in the quirktronic mode. 
Advert and mini-documentary on the project below, while a full-blown release-rationale can be found at Wilson's Miraculous Agitations blog.

Word also reaches me of a newish album from Concrète Tapes -  Play Nicely by Portland Vows, a pleasing set of electronic sketches and mood-vapors. 

Also fresh to the parish: The Heartwood Institute, an apple-cheeked nephew to the gnarly-thumbed wood-whittler of an uncle that is Belbury Poly - at least judging by this album Mix Tape One.


That Heartwood Institute cover image - so redolent of the maypole scene from The Wicker Man  - reminded me that I was chatting over the fence with parish elder Ian Hodgson the other morn... 

Ian remarked how much "‘auntology by any other name" stuff was going on at the moment, pointing to the book Scarred For Life Volume One by Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence, which is blurbed as "an affectionate look at the darker side of pop culture in the 1970s. Public information films, scary kids' TV show, bleak adult dramas, dystopian sci-fi, savage horror films, violent comics, horror-themed toys and sweets and the huge boom in paranormal paraphernalia; all this and much more is covered in depth. Prepare to relive your childhood nightmares. The things that made us... Scarred For Life!".

He also pointed to the imminent Fortean Times feature "Haunted Generation: The Analogue Nightmare of a 70s Childhood" (for which I was interrogated, as it happens). 

Much of the by-another-name activity hides under the another-name "folk horror", as elaborated here in Guardian article  and in a recently-published book by Adam Scovell,  Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange.

And then published this very day: Louis Pattison's Bandcamp listening-guide to artists working in the F-H genre, including various outfits on the Reverb Worship label such as this "spookfolk" group The Hare and the Moon.

This comes with a fictitious-TV series mise-en-scene that raises a chuckle:

A five-part ITV children’s drama originally transmitted over the summer of 1972 and produced by Harlech Television based in Wales. Set in a village outside Hereford the story follows the preparations for the annual Wakes event but dark forces are unleashed when the organisers decide to build a ‘Witch’s Hat’ ride on an ancient burial mound. Roy Kinnear plays Mayor Hamilton who wants the Wakes event to go ahead in spite of warnings from local newspaper reporter Jane Meadows (Elisabeth Sladen). Also attempting to avert disaster are young white witch Heddwen (Camila Vargas) and visiting archaeologist Robbie Duggan (Iain Tranter). The series' obscurity is explained by the fact that a Welsh Nationalist transmission engineer deliberately confined the broadcast of the programme to Wales, failing to perform the switch required and thus enabling the Welsh language programme ‘Ffalabalam’ to be shown on the nationwide ITV network whilst ‘Hereford Wakes’ was shown only in Wales. A combination of luck and coincidence led to us being able to contact a relative of the composer and so we're delighted to present the music from Hereford Wakes for the first time. 

Hereford Wakes (1972) from Rachel Laine on Vimeo.

During the piece Pattison mentions this handy survey of the landscape at the site Folk Horror Revival by Andy Paciorek.

It all feels a bit terra cognita  (terror cognita, even!)...  a distinctly compact patch of British film and TV history (as Ian observed - Wicker Man, Blood on Satan's Claw, Witchfinder General - Penda's Fen and Robin Redbreast - Children of the Stones - some PIFs) now trampled frisson-less after successive waves of visitors...

That feeling of deja deja vu exacerbated by the news that English Heretic are soon to release their fourteenth record Wish You Were Heretic, which contains a sampled snatch of  the folk ditty "Bushes and Briars", soundbites from Robin Redbreast, narration of Houseman's "On the Idle Hill of Summer"... 

Round and round and round we go, big kids prancing endlessly around the memory maypole...


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

RIP Erkki Kurenniemi

One thing I was really pleased to squeeze into Retromania was a side-bar on Erkki Kurenniemi - the Finnish futurist polymath who, from the 1960s onward, involved himself in a bizarrely broad gamut of experimental electronic endeavour: computers, robotics, experimental film, electronic music, and much more. My interest was sparked by Mika Taanila's Kurenniemi documentary The Future Is Not What It Used To Be

Then a few years after the book came out - a few years ago -  a trip I took to Finland happened to coincide with  a retrospective exhibition of Kurenniemi's work in multiple media being staged at a big Helsinki art museum. I stumbled on it quite by accident, wandering through the city in the snow. 

Now the news comes through that not only is the future not what it used to be, but neither is Kurenniemi. For he has passed to the other side. 

Much of the fascination of Taanila's documentary concerns Kurenniemi's obsession with ensuring his own immortality, through meticulous self-archiving. He believed that some near-future stage of human civilisation  would be so supremely powerful in terms of technology - but, immortal themselves, so utterly bored out of their minds too - that they'd fill their empty time with the reconstitution of humanity from previous eras. With that prospect in mind,  the bigger the spoor of data you could leave behind - Kurenniemi thought - the better that resurrection would go. 

Guess we'll have to wait and see how that pans out.  

Here, tweaked only slightly, is the side-bar from Retromania:

...  Imagine a Finnish hybrid of Stockhausen, Buckminster Fuller and Steve Jobs--who from the 1960s onwards was a pioneer in electronic music, computing, industrial robotics, instrument invention, and multimedia. Short of presiding over Finland's space programme, he was involved in every aspect of the Future.  Rediscovered and championed by the Finnish techno outfit Pan Sonic, Kurenniemi's clangorous bleepscapes such as "Electronics In the World of Tomorrow" (1964) compare favorably with the avant-classical creations emanating from Paris and Cologne during that time. He was also something of a techno-prophet, talking in the voice-over to 1966's "Computer Music" about how "in the 21st Century people and computers will begin to merge into hyperpersonas. It will be hard to say where man ends and machine begins."

The documentary-- made by director Mika Taanila....  also looks at what became of Kurenniemi in the twilight of his career.  Grey-bearded and careworn, the aging innovator spends most of his time documenting himself. He takes 20 thousand pictures a year, which are carefully touched-up and filed on his computer. He inputs "cassette diaries" he made during the Seventies and records new ones detailing the minutiae of his existence, like the good steak he enjoyed courtesy of a friend.

Why?  Kurenniemi believes that medical advances will virtually eliminate mortality in the not-too-distant future. "Mine is probably the last generation of mortals".  200 years from now, when the greater part of humanity lives off-world, in the asteroids or orbital zones, while the Earth is "a museum planet", he believes that the indolent immortals, confronted by "100, 000 years of uneventful life" and "with nothing else to do but study old archives", may be "genuinely interested in reconstructing the 20th and 21st centuries."  

Kurenniemi's "manic registration" of every trivial detail of his life is intended to provide the "core material" for this resurrection project.  In the near-future, it will be possible to do "brain back ups", to download consciousness and personality into a computer. But Kurenniemi  can't count on lasting that long. So, he advises, "we just have to keep every tram ticket and sales slip, and write down or record all our thoughts." Video would make for a better imprint of his consciousness, a document of the world seen through his eyes, but it's impractical; the still snapshots will at least provide a "jerky account". He plans on doubling his current rate of 100 pictures a day.

Erkki Kurenniemi's journey from future-minded visionary working at the interface of science and art, a fresh-faced young man who pioneered computers and robotics and kept one bright eye always on the stars above,  to the haggard and slightly potty sixty-something frantically collating the remains of his days for the benefit of some future race of curators,  strikes me as a perfect parable for our times.


For those intrigued to explore further there's an in-depth publication about Kurenniemi that was published by MIT Press a couple of years ago, the essay collection Writing and Unwriting (Media) Art History: Erkki Kurenniemi in 2048, edited by Joasia Krysa and Jussi Parkikka. 

Blurb at MIT

"Over the past forty years, Finnish artist and technology pioneer Erkki Kurenniemi (b. 1941) has been a composer of electronic music, experimental filmmaker, computer animator, roboticist, inventor, and futurologist. Kurenniemi is a hybrid—a scientist-humanist-artist. Relatively unknown outside Nordic countries until his 2012 Documenta 13 exhibition, ”In 2048,” Kurenniemi may at last be achieving international recognition. This book offers an excavation, a critical mapping, and an elaboration of Kurenniemi’s multiplicities. The contributors describe Kurenniemi’s enthusiastic, and rather obsessive, recording of everyday life and how this archiving was part of his process; his exploratory artistic practice, with productive failure an inherent part of his method; his relationship to scientific and technological developments in media culture; and his work in electronic and digital music, including his development of automated composition systems and his “video-organ,” DIMI-O. A “Visual Archive,” a section of interviews with the artist, and a selection of his original writings (translated and published for the first time) further document Kurenniemi’s achievements. But the book is not just about one artist in his time; it is about emerging media arts, interfaces, and archival fever in creative practices, read through the lens of Kurenniemi."

Also Kurenniemi at UbuWeb

Monday, May 01, 2017

COMO UN GOLPE DE RAYO - the Spanish edition of Shock and Awe is out now

The Spanish translation of Shock and Awe - titled COMO UN GOLPE DE RAYO, which translates as something like "Like A Flash of Lighting" or "Struck by A Lightning Bolt" - is out now on the Buenos Aires publisher Caja Negra Editora.

Other foreign-language editions of the book coming out later this year:

The Italian version on minimum fax, due August/September. 

The German version on Ventil Verlag, due this autumn. 

The French version on Audimat, most likely end of 2017.


Here's an interview I did with All Music Books's Steve Jurgensmeyer 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

reminder - !! GLAM !! symposium / film mini-festival this Saturday in New York City (with revised line-up + schedule)

This Saturday April 29th there's a day-long celebration of glam, glitter and 70s art pop taking place in downtown NYC. It features talks and discussion involving Mark DeryDan FoxVivien GoldmanSukhdev Sandhu and me, plus the screening of rarely-seen films from or about the early Seventies.

Curated by Sandhu and myself, this event is free and open to the public.

Please note the revised schedule and line-up.




Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 2:00pm - 9:30pm
Location: 721 Broadway (at Waverly Place), New York. Room: 674
Cost: Free



2:00 –  introduction 

2:15 - So Many Ways To Hurt You (Jeremy Deller's film about glam wrestler Adrian Street, 2010)

3:10 - "Everybody’s In Showbiz: Glam and AntiGlam" - a talk by Simon Reynolds

4 - Roxette (John McManus's film about Roxy Music fans, 1977) +  film of the Moodies

4:55 - “I Felt Like An Actor”: Glam and the Authentically Inauthentic - conversation between Dan Fox and Mark Dery.

5:45 -  "Don't Leave Me This Way" (film about Brian Connolly and The Sweet by James Marsh)  
+  Gary Glitter: Did You Miss Me…? (directed by Nigel Finch, 1981)

6:45 - ‘Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacies from the 70s to the 21st century’ – conversation between Vivien Goldman, Sukhdev Sandhu and Simon Reynolds

7:45 - Slade In Flame (directed by Richard Loncraine, 1975).


Saturday, April 22, 2017

TMW #3 - Eeter

Estonia has a very strong tradition of folk vocal music - singing choirs and the like - which worked as a form of nationalist resilience during the long period of Soviet rule and attempted Russification. Indeed Estonia's breaking loose from the crumbling U.S.S.R. actually involved mass protests known as The Singing Revolution.

                                                                  [pic by Maria Aua]

Several artists at the Tallinn Music Week drew on these traditions, working vaguely Medieval / liturgical  or rustic folk vocals (with a tinge of the country's pagan past - it was Christianized as late as the 13th Century)  into soundscapes influenced by industrial / ambient /electroacoustic techniques and atmospheres. The result is a distinctively Estonian contribution to the tradition of  "ethereal girl" music. The most mesmerising of the ones I saw was Eeter - which as it happens, is the Estonian word for "ether". But it's also quite close to  Eesti, the Estonian for, well, Estonia the country and Estonian the language. Thereby - intentionally? - suggesting a native ethereality to this densely forested country, with its countless lakes, its bogs and fens, and indeed the exterior locations it provided for Tarkosvky's wondrously eerie Stalker.

The trio of Anna Hints, Marja-Liisa Plats and Ann Reimann  use their pipes in a variety of ways - ranging from mouth-music / text-sound / voice-scape effects through to much more diva-like Gothic grandeur reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard - and then mesh that with a mixture of acoustic textures (cawing violin, dulcimer-like glints and tingles, piano) and electronic scrapes, drones, glitches etc. Sometimes you're put in mind of Dead Can Dance;  sometimes there's a faint flavour of Nico's The Marble Index. But the setting through which the voices float is much more ambient and IDM in  feel and provenance.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

TMW # 2 - Glintshake

Probably the most pure entertainment-!wow! of the groups I saw at Tallinn Music Week was this Russian outfit Glintshake.

The video above is the best of the ones I could find on YouTube and it doesn't really convey their force-of-personality live - although you do get a glimpse of singer / guitarist Kate Shilonosova's charisma and her repertoire of facial expressions and hand gestures.

Live, Glintshake was obviously a lot louder and in your face (it was a small space in Old Town Tallinn, astonishingly crammed - there's a big buzz about the group - and hot, steamy, and actually a bit smelly). But also the band's wiry punk-funk sound just jumped and writhed and swerved and sparked so much more. Shilonosova's arch "startled" expressions and steadying-my-balance body-moves conveyed perfectly the feeling of being jolted and tumbled by the music. It looked like she was perpetually skidding on an icy pavement and only just managing to stay upright. (You get a sense of this in the middle bit of the song/video above).

The name "Glintshake" puzzled me a bit and that minor mystery was revealed when I went back to check out their earlier material from 2014, which is shoegaze-derivative both sound-wise and image-wise. Thankfully they seem to have chucked all that in the bin and embarked upon intensive studies of the works of the Fire Engines, Contortions, possibly Big Flame, maybe even Stump. But  all that antipop angularity and friction is sluiced through New Wave aesthetics (little bit of Lene Lovich in the mix, maybe, but without the operatics) and the result ends up very pop: catchy, boppy, fun. 

Kate Shilonosova also has a solo career bubbling away and was given a mini-profile in the New Yorker recently, would you believe.

The approach couldn't be further from  Glintshake -  21st Century hip eclectronica with a pop finish.

The dainty/dinky/airy quality is almost Japanese in sensibility.  Those breathy buttery Sarah Cracknell/Sally Shapiro vocals. Nice, but I much prefer her rolled r's and more jagged delivery in Glintshake.