Archive for the 'Hauntology' category

Top 10/Bottom 3: March 2013

Ix Tab

Top 10

  2. Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
  3. IX Tab, Spindle & the Bregnut Tree
  4. Hacker Farm, UHF
  5. The League
  7. Start of MLS season!
  8. Spring Training in MLB
  9. New EP from Pye Corner Audio
  10. Meeting Dick Mills

Bottom 3

  1. Republicans
  2. The word “sequester”
  3. Fat

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Top 10/Bottom 3: February 2013

Top 10

  1. The Cookbook
  2. MuffWiggler
  3. Analog Haven
  4. Seahawks–next year?
  5. Angels–this year?
  6. Pye Corner Audio, The Ever-Present Hum
  7. Hacker Farm, UHF
  8. NHL is back!  Go Kings!
  9. Gallifrey One
  10. Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio (and don’t forget the film itself!)

Bottom 3

  1. Republicans
  2. The guy who writes the labyrinthine manual for the Maths module
  3. You (or me)

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Top 10/Bottom 3: December 2012


Top 10

  1. Berberian Sound Studio
  2. Obama and the Dems
  3. 2012 Holiday Bowl — UCLA vs Baylor (I’m going!)
  4. Seahawks not sucking
  5. UCLA football not sucking
  6. Crack in the Cosmic Egg (encyclopedia of Krautrock/Kosmische Musik)
  7. Gallifrey One: February in LA
  8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  9. Pye Corner Audio’s Sleep Games
  10. My modular synth!

Bottom 3

  1. Kidney Stones
  2. Moles on my head
  3. Plagiarism

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New Broadcast!

Nov 01 2012 Published by under Film/TV, Hauntology, Music

Broadcast did the soundtrack to the indie film Berberian Sound Studio before Trish Keenan’s death in 2011.  It’s finally being released in January 2013.  Here’s a sneak preview video, which reminds me a LOT of their collaboration with The Focus Group (perhaps done around the same time?).

For more, visit XLR8R.

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Top 10/Bottom 3: November 2012

Oct 31 2012 Published by under Hauntology, Internet/Media, Music, Personal, Top 10/Bottom 3

Pye Corner Audio Album Cover

Top 10 Reasons Sleep Games Is Awesome

Wire writer Nick Cain, in his review of Pye Corner Audio’s latest album Sleep Games (see November 2012 edition), said the music was “ephemeral and forgettable.”  I disagree.  Here’s my take.

  1. Bassline in “The Mirror Ball Cracked” is explosive.  If I could create basslines like that, I’d quit my job today.
  2. “A Door in the Dry Ice” — love the pairing of the giant bass and drums with the high-pitched glockenspiel sound.
  3. Granted, there’s a heavy horror film soundtrack feel to the album (especially the smaller “fragment” songs), but it’s missing those “cliches” that make horror soundtracks all sound pretty much the same (the stabs of synths, the swirl of organs, the creeping baselines).  It’s a soundtrack that doesn’t need to rely on a film or sound effects for its context.
  4. So the music might be a little scary, but it’s also really, really fun.  Take “Into the Maze”; that plodding kick is a bit ominous, but the ploppy bass is anything but.
  5. “The Black Mill Video Tape” — my wife says it’s a total Depeche Mode ripoff.  So what’s wrong with that?
  6. The earliest hauntology music used the sounds of the past to reveal an ominous present.  The past doesn’t exist in Pye Corner Audio’s music; the music seems to exist in limbo, outside time.  Perhaps that is what people mean when they call it “ominous.”
  7. I’ve listened to the album a dozen times or more and I hear something new every time.  Isn’t that the mark of good music?
  8. “Chlorine” is a great song to play on Halloween (and, yes, it’s still Halloween as I write this).
  9. First Pye Corner Audio on CD (so I can play it in my car)
  10. The cover IS fantastic, as are the liner notes and the great quotes from JG Ballard.

Bottom 3 Reasons Nick Cain Can Suck It

  1. He review dismisses Sleep Games but then, instead of explaining why the music deserves dismissal, he instead name drops Julian House and “Wire contributor Mark Fisher” and their part in the album cover.
  2. He talks about his “disenchantment” with Ghost Box music because their music has become stale and repetitive as justification for the lameness of Pye Corner Audio.  If you’re going to complain about Belbury Poly’s last album (which was pretty weak), then complain about Belbury Poly.
  3. He complains that Ghost Box music too-often alludes to “immediately recognisable signifiers” like radiophonics, horror films, and TV tunes.  Then he says that Pye Corner Audio adds “a couple of new ones,” like techno and Boards of Canada.  That’s like saying The Rolling Stones too-often alludes to the blues, but then they also add a few other things, like catchy hooks and sarcastic lyrics and awesomeness.  I mean, what’s the point of being an electronic band if you can’t include “tweaked Techno rhythms” in your songs?  Sheesh.

And one more for good measure: His review doesn’t mention anything about Pye Corner Audio’s earlier works, suggesting that he’d never heard them before Sleep Games.

Update (5 Dec): Sleep Games is #46 on The Wire’s Top 50 Albums of 2012 list.  So apparently many other people at the magazine do not share Mr. Cain’s opinion, which is a very good thing indeed.

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Happy Days: The Children of the Stones

Oct 04 2012 Published by under Film/TV, Hauntology, Music, Personal

Children of the Stones

There’s a wonderful 30-min documentary on the making of the epic BBC series Children of the Stones now available at BBC Radio 4.  Listen to it now, as it will probably be gone soon.

For more on Children of the Stones, check out my post from a few years back.

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New (Old) Tod Dockstader

Sep 18 2012 Published by under Hauntology, Music, Technology

Dockstader's Electronic Vol 1

Another great re-release from the electronic music historical archives is coming out on Mordant Music later this week (in the UK) or next week (in the US).  Tod Dockstader is a fantastic artist who has been relevant for about 40 years or so.  His Aerial trilogy was one of the best works of the last decade, but long before that–way back before computers and everything–he was making and releasing some really innovative, exciting music.  A lot of it was collected on a 1979 Creel Pone LP called, simply, Electronic.  This album is now being re-released on the Mordant Music label as Electronic Vol. 1 (with a Vol. 2 to be released later).  I’ve only heard the clips below, but they sound fantastic, and I can’t wait to hear more.

For more info, check out the clips below or visit Mordant Music.  Buy the LP at Boomkat or download it from any of the usual suspects.

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New Pye Corner Audio in October

Sep 12 2012 Published by under Hauntology, Music

Pye Corner Audio Album Cover

I can’t wait!

For more, go to the source.

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Listening Center, Example One

Sep 12 2012 Published by under Hauntology, Music

Example One Album Cover

I’ve you’ve familiar with this blog or follow my Twitter feed, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Pye Corner Audio and Ghost Box artists like Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle.  These bands all owe a debt of gratitude (if not more) to the pioneering electronic music made in the 60s and 70s by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a history that has come to dominate the last decade of electronic music, as musician after musician cite them as an influence, emulate their sounds, or ape their collectivist name (witness The Advisory Circle, Priority Church Film Club, or my own Box Springs Audio Workshop).

I can check off all three of these boxes for Listening Center, the alias of New York drummer and electronic musician David Mason, who is not afraid to list the Radiophonic Workshop among his influences, nor is he afraid to throw out true-blue homages to their sounds on Example One, a 9-track, 30-odd-minute album.

Mason calls his music “a patchwork of imagined pasts/futures, in which the listener can make his or her way through an undergrowth of dream-like melodies and electronic sound palettes which have the effect of being now reassuring, now unsettling.”  That’s a daunting description, to be sure, and one that would be difficult for any artist to live up to.  That said, while I’m not willing to place this work up there with the best of the Ghost Box label (who do such a superb job of creating imagined pasts/futures), I can say that I greatly admire this album, not only for its superb musicianship but because the artist seems to have some excellent taste: I hear not only the Workshop here but Tim Hecker, various unearthed soundtracks from Trunk Records (like The Tomorrow People or Lubos Fiser’s soundtrack to Valerie), weird early Krautrock synth pop from Cluster or Harmonia or Kraftwerk, and even more recent works like Belbury Poly, Jon Brooks, and Mordant Music.

One thing these artists share is a simplicity of sounds, music that adheres to the “less is more” school.  That’s what I hear in Example One.  Take “Town of Tomorrow,” the second track.  Vintage swirls of noise mix with a jazzy beat for a few seconds before a nice synth line straight out of The Advisory Circle’s last album appears, bobbing and weaving its way around the beat.  It’s simple, clean, and elegant.  Or take “Portable Electronic Musical Instrument,” which could be a lost instrumental from a Broadcast album, with a crunchy (and catchy!) rhythm and whiny synths that are distorted just enough to make us think the machines are creating the sound, not the musician–an impression that is magnified when the electronic voice chimes in, repeating the title over and over.  Or take “New Narratives,” which starts with random computer noodliness right out of the Radiophonic Workshop before a nice bass line and synth pad bubble up and float along in a weird, lumbering way.  And, yes, it moves and develops in interesting ways, but it’s really just a bass line and a synth, and that’s all it needs to be.

So many artists add layer upon layer upon layer to their works until the whole thing sounds like a big bunch of trying too hard.  To me, stuff like James Ferraro and Oneohtrix Point Never gets old far too quickly, mainly because the music seems more like a burden than a joy to listen to.  But Listening Center’s debut is different.  It’s simple, well made, elegant, and fun.  It reminds me a lot of Pye Corner Audio, and while it might not rise to the heights that PCA’s music often attains, it is a powerful listen.

Example One is out September 16 on This Is Care Of.

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Pye Corner Audio Live

Aug 20 2012 Published by under Hauntology, Music

My favorite band performs live–TWICE!

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