02 June 2013

All Tomorrow's Yesterdays

Two music-related things that in recent months have amused me, provided me with more than enough chuckles. One being the extremely polarized paroxysm involved in the public reception of Random Access Memories. Which I've been able to watch with a great deal of critical distance, since I never much cared about Daft Punk. But much of the brouhaha is wound up with a recurring topic of late -- with all the discussion about moving backward vs. moving forward vs. running-in-place (or the possible moot-ation of such notions, as far as a lot of recent musical trends might suggest).

The other being this April Fool's item via Fact mag. Mildly, only slightly humorous on it's own; but tipped toward fully-unhinged silliness once all the idiocy that stacked up in the curse-strew comments section is taken into account. Well yeah...as it turned out, Boards of Canada actually did have a new album in the pipeline. And frankly I'm one (among many, I assume) who was relieved to hear that it wouldn't be called Quetzelcoatl. Which begs the question: Where did this item below fit in, except perhaps as someone's effort to extend the joke?...

So yeah, the new BoC has its promotional stream tomorrow. We'll see how it fares on arrival. As for myself: I didn't exactly take to Campfire Headphase at first, but it quickly grew on me. What have done since 2005? All I've encountered was a single track on a Warp label comp some several years ago, a track which failed to leave much of an impression on me, aside from it indication that the duo was tinkering with the idea of pushing things into slightly different sonic territory.

Timh's recent post at his own blog mirrors a number of thoughts I've had in recent months. Yes, 2013 has been -- and will continue to be, by all appearances -- a big year for Hotly-Anticipated releases. Seemed to be shaping up as such as early as last fall when Cody Chesnutt released his first album since his 2002 debut. Soon followed by news of the eminent return of D'Angelo. Neither of which, in the end, made quite the splash or has panned out the way many may've hoped for. But the market seems to have been on a steady roll of Major Releases ever since. And with the exception of a few exceptions like Vampire Weekend, a good many of them fall under the "comeback" category — coming from long-established acts who haven't released anything in at least 5-6 years. The news cycle for such stuff cast a distinct impression, one as Timh describes:

"Rather, 2013 seems to be the year of the zombie vanity project. A ouroboros that doesn't engender recreation, just reaffirmation. Everybody on that list (with a few others that have resurfaced to boot) are brands, name acts whose sudden re-materialization is accompanied by a successful flood of hype. The reaction to the music itself is almost secondary. Simply returning in and of itself reestablishes the brand, and thus pushes the act into the contemporary."

But of course, he demonstrates later in the post, there's plenty more to the picture than that; even if the things you might find that maintain your interest or keep you seeking might only be marginal or scattered moments of intrigue — the type that glimmer outside the periphery of Big Monolithic Events.

And like Timh, my own interests in following "new" music have flagged a bit in the past year. There are a number of reasons for this, with age and its attendant jadedness playing (admittedly) a small influence. But it looks like 2013 has something to offer even me, in the form of a new Boards of Canada album. Which could — of course, of course — prove to be a big disappointment. Maybe it'll sound like outtakes from the Idaho Transfer soundtrack, or maybe it'll sound like Skrillex on oxycontin. Whatever the case, I expect I'll live and continue on unwounded. Wouldn't be the first time. After all, three years ago Amon Tobin dropped ISAM and proved what I had thought impossible for the preceding 14 years -- that the guy was capable of recording and releasing a thoroughly uninteresting album. So it goes.

As far as anticipation and consumer goes, I'm partly I'm reminded of this spiel about "shaking the vending machine" syndrome from a while back. Also of an interview with Derrick May that appeared in The Wire over a decade ago, in which the interviewer asked May how he felt about Kraftwerk — specifically about their fan's displeasure at the fact that the group had built their own state-of-the-art Kling Klang Studio, and then failed release any new recordings for (at the time of writing) nearly 20 years thereafter. To which May rolled his eyes and responded, "Why — are people starving?"

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