Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians (Coldcut Remix)

Steve Reich - "Music For 18 Musicians (Coldcut Remix)"

Steve Reich remixed? A great idea, for sure, and a hearty bunch of attempts on this 1999 compilation. Unfortunately, it's all downhill after the opening track. Howie B? Tranquility Bass? Barf! There are a few more promising contributors, but even Ken Ishii and Nobukazu Takemura sound like they're phoning it in. Was Aphex Twin busy? John McEntire? This was a great idea that would probably turn out much better today. As it is, it's fodder for the used bins, not a bad album but a missed opportunity.

At least Coldcut get the CD off to a good start. Their remix of this solid little minimalist jam doesn't cover it up with dusty samples or cartoon sound effects like you'd expect, but preserves the original mallet percussion melody and adds some pleasant electronic pulses and swells. It sounds like the album cover looks, and if that floats your boat then you're going to be one happy camper when you give this a spin!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

video #71: KMFDM - A Drug Against War

"Do I really like this, or would I rather be listening to KMFDM instead?" That's probably the closest thing to a personal "test" that I have for any music that I can't form an immediate opinion about. Unfortunately, most of the time the answer doesn't fall in the favor of whatever hot new indie band everyone is talking about.

I can't say how authentic KMFDM's anti-corporate posturing was or how subversive their songs truly were or weren't. They weren't Throbbing Gristle or Negativland but obviously they were aware of this and for a popular band they had a rare self-deprecating streak about themselves that that would soon be lost on an entire generation (or at least whatever tiny fraction of it would actually hear them once their sound was left out of the Vans Warped Tour/Korn Family Values scenes). I think that's what troubles me most, the fact that they were essentially a joke but it was one their fans were in on. Today, they'd be crucified for empty "sloganeering" by bloggers but taken completely literally by everyone else. Just another sign why this decade has surely been the dumbest I've lived through so far. Of course, you can't take this stuff too seriously but why can't some mock-agitprop still be fun in these image-obsessed times?

The transition from the optimistic and culture-savvy 90s (when skepticism of the media and globalization seemed to be growing into a burgeoning movement -- though maybe I'm embellishing the past as everyone eventually does) to the comparitively retarded 00's (seemingly doomed to be remembered for awful television, butchered attention spans, and the shallow self-mythologizing and prejudice-reinforcement enjoyed by all on the Internet) didn't have to happen. I don't think I'm imagining it all either. I'm not nostalgic for the 90's (not in any meaningless VH1-defined sense of the term) but I truly believe that the thought process of the average person was radically different back then. Maybe I'll end up feeling the same way about this decade in another 10 years?

This video was (probably) directed by Aiden Hughes, whose iconic art appeared on pretty much all of KMFDM's releases, even 13 (!) years after this clip was first aired. Of course, this was when MTV actually played videos, which is almost impossible to talk about now without sounding embitteredly out-of-touch or furiously betrayed by its direction since. You can't even talk about talking about it anymore without using tired words like "rockist" or "oldster" and sounding like some 40 year-old who just discovered the world of online music criticism and is discovering how to use it to vent about his deepest-held values and prejudices. But don't act like it's all relative and there's no difference between progams like "120 Minutes"/"Yo! MTV Raps"/"Daria"/"Aeon Flux" and "MADE"/"Room Raiders"/"The Hills"/"Paris Hilton's my New BFF."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fleetwood Mac - Albatross

Fleetwood Mac - "Albatross"

Look, yet another classic song I've somehow never heard before! What's next, blogging about how totally great the Pixies were? Great bands you've never even heard of like Can or Joy Division? How genius the hook in "Toxic" is and how all you indie snobs are too busy stroking your chins and listening to Isan and Brothomstates to ever get it? Stop standing around with your arms crossed and get out there and dance! OMG, this "Losing My Edge" song is so good. I hate those kind of indie pricks! Lol.

A mellow instrumental hit from an era of the band that I pretty much didn't know about at all. I didn't hear it until renting Man on Wire a month ago and since then I've been hooked on it. Brilliant movie, though most of my chums online have a radical aversion to Mr. Petit's excitable recollection of the events portrayed within it, strong enough to keep them from sharing my opinion on the film.

Great song. A number 1 hit in the UK!